Over the last 15 months, we have perfected (ya, right) this twin thing and I am here to tell you how we survived. I am also here to link up with Karli for 10 on Tuesday.
One. There is a good chance your twins will end up in the NICU. Not all twins do, but a majority of them do. I was always under the impression that MINE wouldn't, but Sutton had other plans. She wanted out early (between 33 and 34 weeks) which meant they were not fully developed. They needed time to grow and learn to suck, swallow and breathe at the same time.
Most babies will be in the NICU if they are born before 35 weeks, are a smaller weight or need time for their organs to mature. It happens and that is ok. You get the added bonus of learning to care for your child by the amazing NICU nurses.
Two. Your twins will reach milestones at different times. And that is ok. I used to fret over my girls not rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking when other babies their ages were doing so. I would forget that I had to take their adjusted age (minus 6 weeks) and go off of that. Twins can take up to 18 months to catch up to other babies. My girls sat up earlier than a lot of babies their age, but they crawled a bit later and we are still waiting on the unassisted steps.
Three. Not only will they reach milestones at different times from their peers, but from each other. When you have two babies, it is hard not to compare them. But you can't because they are their own person. Even if they are identical twins. They are their own individual and they will do things at their own pace. They will also feed off each other and learn from the other.
Four. Breastfeeding babies is hard, but breastfeeding twins is HARDER. I felt like I was never able to catch up. I would feed one, feed the other, then pump and have to start it all over. And when you have preemie twins, they might have latching issues (mine did). If you decide that pumping is better suited for you, go for it. I did. I got mastitis from breastfeeding and it wrecked havoc on my body and I gave up the special bond of breastfeeding. I internally beat myself up over it, but if I was nourishing my girls, that is the only thing that matters. I pumped for 9 1/2 months until I could barely keep up with what they were eating per day. I introduced formula and my girls did beautifully with it. There is no sense on shaming others who chose different ways to feed their babies. As long as you are feeding them, that is OK.
Five. Your heart will expand for the two little loves you have or are about to have. When I was pregnant with the girls, I couldn't conceive how I could and would love the girls THAT much and how there was enough love in me for two. But after they were born, my heart grew so much that I love them both equally. They are a part of me through and through and my heart loves them to no end.
Six. Get them on a schedule. It will save your life and sanity. I have been told when you have one you can be flexible, but I have found that when you have twins under one, a schedule is key. You schedule their feedings, their naps, their playtime, bath time, etc. Keep to that schedule. Having them on the same schedule will allow you to go out (Target was a favorite adventure of ours on maternity leave), do stuff around the house or have "me" time when they nap and have happier babies. When they get older, you can change your routine up a bit to accommodate the child, but when they are under one schedule, schedule, schedule.
Seven. The bond between the babies. I waited and waited for my girls to notice each other and it took a long time. They would be laying next to each other and didn't interact, but once they did, it was the cutest. Those first gazes at each other and utter shock on their faces is something you will cherish forever. They will follow each other around, talk to each other in baby talk (or their own language), learn to share, have a built in playmate and have empathy for the other twin. When one of my twins gets in trouble or gets hit by another baby, the other one will cry with her. So very sweet.
Eight. You will get asked so many questions and hear so many thoughts from people. Some are fun to answer, some are dumb and some you really enjoy.
Are they twins? Nope, I have two babies who look alike (physically and developmentally) but not related.
Having twins must be hard. No shit. Wanna trade places for a day?
I want to get pregnant with twins. It is pretty amazing. It is hard, but I wouldn't change it for the world.
I would never want twins. Well good because God doesn't think you are worthy enough to have twins.
Nine. It is hard raising babies. Whether it is one baby, two babies or three babies. It is hard. And people can prep you for that, but you never know until you are in it. I have spent days crying because I can't even get a shower in when I feel so gross and need just 5 minutes to myself. It gets hard when not only one, but both have massive blow outs in Trader Joes on Mother's Day. It gets hard when they both meltdown in Target because they don't want to be in their carseat/strollers anymore. It is hard and that is ok. You will make it through. My best advice is schedule time for yourself, have a partner who will help you do it all, get a babysitter and have date night, know that you can't do it all and that is ok, enjoy your babies because they grow so fast and let them cry it out while you are chained to the pumping station. They will be ok.
Ten. You will sleep again. The first three months of my girls' lives were crazy. I felt like a zombie in the wake of it all, but it too shall pass. They always say to nap when they nap, but when you have newborn twins, it doesn't work that way. So take turns napping between you and your husband. You can and will survive on three hours of sleep. You may not want to, but you can. And they will eventually develop sleep patterns and habits which will allow you to sleep more. And when the days get rough and you are beyond tired, have a cup or ten of coffee. Coffee has become my best friend. That and wine. Even 15 months later when I only get up zero to two times a night to tend to the girls, I still manage to drink 3 cups of coffee a day.
Bonus. Your twins may end up wearing a helmet to correct a flat spot on their head. My girls spent over 8 months crammed in my belly with little room and then one month in the NICU. They didn't get to move around much and in that time, they developed flat spots on their heads. They were moderately "deformed" (I hate that word, but that is the word the doctor used) and needed helmets to correct the shape of their heads. I was super worried about what everyone would think instead of wondering what the results were going to be. We got questions about the helmets, but everyone was kind about it. And many people just wanted more information about helmets. Some even had stories of their own to share with us. My girls wore their helmets for 8 weeks and since they hit a growth spurt at the right time, it was less than most (3+ months). My girls now have perfectly shaped heads (probably more perfect and proportionate than mine and Rory's) and they didn't even care about the helmets.
Need anymore advice on parenting twins, email me and we can chat some more.