“When Mothering twins, you just have to do everything twice” is probably the biggest understatement you’ll ever hear from other people when you are pregnant with twins. Actually, there is zero truth to the statement and the people who tell you that never actually had twins themselves.
I remember people telling me when I was expecting… “You feed one, you feed two.” “You nap one, you nap two.” And people would say these things in a tone that insinuated that doing these things will be no big deal. You’re taking care of one baby’s needs so you might as well take care of two. Well, I am here to tell you that it was A BIG DEAL and over two years later, it is STILL A BIG DEAL.
I must admit, however, that their line of thinking is completely accurate if my twins were say… house plants or even pet fish. But my twins, luckily, are human BABIES. Multiples may have been born together and some – not mine – may look exactly alike but they are individuals with individual needs and they have these individual needs at different times! What do you think? Do you think that they have daily meetings with each other and plan their days out? “Okay sis, I’ll cry first. Mom will feed me and you can patiently wait your turn. Did the 10:00 am nap work for you yesterday, bro? You’re right, let’s do a 9:00 am nap today.” Well, I assure you there are no meetings and that’s perfectly okay. Honestly, it’s all okay until night falls. When you add total and complete sleep deprivation to an already difficult situation, it becomes almost impossible for even the strongest of all human beings to hold it together.
Let me tell you how an evening with twins actually goes down. When babies are first born, they eat every two hours. Yes, EVERY TWO HOURS and the two hour clock starts at the beginning of each feeding… NOT AT THE END. Each feeding, which includes burping, a diaper change, and swaddling takes 45 minutes plus an additional 15 minutes to soothe the baby back to sleep putting you at a full hour. So, ideally you get a one hour break between feedings, if you are lucky, before the entire process begins again.
Exhaustion is a funny thing. I am very experienced in exhaustion but for the life of me, I still do not understand it. When you are truly exhausted, you desperately crave sleep up until the very point that you can actually get some. When you know that you are able to get some much needed sleep, this wave of excitement – I am talking complete elation here – suddenly comes over you resulting in this rush of pure adrenaline taking over your body. Then, you are totally, 100%, completely awake.
Let me explain further. You sleepily go through the 45 minute exercise of feeding the babies, completely believing you may in fact drop dead of exhaustion on the floor of the nursery at any given time. But you get through it somehow and then you ease the babies back to sleep. And when your babies are sleeping – seriously there is not a more beautiful sight to see on this entire planet than that of your two peacefully sleeping angels – but at that moment is when the adrenaline starts to build. You head back to your bed with a slight spring in your step and you excitedly lay down to go to sleep.
Then, when your head hits the pillow you are suddenly wide awake. You say to yourself… NO! NO! NO! I can’t be wide awake. This is my chance. This is my opportunity. GO TO SLEEP! And this internal dialogue actually makes it worse because now you begin to stress yourself out that you are not sleeping already and that you have wasted the precious nanoseconds of sleep that you could have had.
For a moment you contemplate not sleeping at all. You think… 15 minutes have already gone by. I have to get up in 45 minutes to feed the twins again anyway. If I fall asleep now, they will just wake me up in 45 minutes and I will feel even more tired than I do right now, if that is even possible. How can that be possible? I’ve never been this tired before in my entire life. It is physically impossible to feel any more tired than I already do. But God… what if I am wrong? Then I’ll be really screwed. Okay so it’s settled… I’m going to stay wake. Yes. Staying awake is the answer.
Maybe someone will come visit us tomorrow and say those magic words… please… thank you… no, not those… the beautiful ones… you know the ones…how do they go again? Oh yeah… “You look tired. How about I watch the twins for a little while and you can go upstairs and take a nap? I brought you soup. You can eat it after you wake up!” Yeah… those. I told you they were magical. Maybe someone nice will do that! I know a lot of nice people. Someone nice will do this for me.
What time is it? Oh no. It’s been another 15 minutes. How could I have wasted so much time daydreaming of sleep when I could have been ACTUALLY sleeping!? I only have a half hour left until one of them wants to eat again. It’s okay… all of experts – Dr. Oz… Dr. Phil… Oprah (is Oprah an expert? It’s 2:32 am and I am officially deeming her an expert) – or maybe other people that I can’t think of right now – they always talk about the importance of power naps. I’ll just take a power nap. Yes… power naps are supposed to last just 20 minutes and luckily I have exactly 20 minutes. Here we go off to dreaml- Damn it – I have to pee. No I don’t. No, I’m fine. I’ll just pull up the covers and turn onto my side until I…. zzzzzzzzzzzz. WAAAAAHHHH! What?! He’s early. I was supposed to get another 10 minutes. So, yeah that scenario happened with little variation every night over and over for the first few months.
And I was lucky. Let me give credit where credit is due. I did have help. I had a ton of it. My parents… may God forever Bless them. They stayed at my house night after night in the beginning and took shifts helping my husband and I during this process. Granted I still had to be up for each feeding as I was the babies’ only food source (no pressure there) but my parents’ help was invaluable to me.
A tip for new moms of multiples or even singletons – if people offer to help you, let them help you! You might think you can handle it all yourself at the beginning but eventually it’ll catch up to you and be too much. If you say “no” to the help when it is offered, people will stop asking so take them up on it immediately!
Having one newborn is difficult – especially when you are new parents. You are learning on the fly. As much as you think you know what you are in for, you really don’t. Trust me. No one really knows. And having multiples is an entirely different ballgame. For those fellow Moms of Multiples who made it through the first year still standing with two beautiful babies or more still smiling, I salute you. You should wear this accomplishment as a badge of true honor. You operated selflessly day after day and night after sleepless night. You found strength that you never even realized you even had and you used it and you got yourself through. My twins are two years old now and I know that the difficulties of parenthood haven’t even gotten started yet but each day I’m better able to deal with what is coming. Each day I’m a better Mother and each day my efforts and the efforts of those around me are helping to shape my kids into wonderful people which is the true source of every Mom’s strength.