I’m an expert on kids… or at least I thought I was before I had them. Now, before you decide to hate me, allow me to explain.
I’m from a big family. I’ve always been around kids. Siblings, cousins, neighbors, etc. I took child development classes from middle school until college. I babysat from the time I was 12, including babies. I read all the books. You get the point. I was a know-it-all.
SURPRISE!!!! It’s TWINS!!!! No problem. I got this. Oh, how naive I was. I was in for some surprises… and a fresh dose of humility.
The books, the pregnancy apps, even the childbirth classes were all geared toward singletons. I was the only one expecting multiples in all the classes I took. I got very used to hearing, “except for you.” Okay… so, what should I expect? Lacking for proper information, I took to the internet.
I was told from the very beginning that twin pregnancies are high risk. Oh! You’re over 30? That’s even worse! All the stories of doom preoccupied my mind throughout my entire pregnancy. That mom had her babies at 24 weeks! That one had preeclampsia! Gestational diabetes? Yeah. I’ll get that. I know it! I was prepared for the worst to the point of paranoia.
This was the first thing that didn’t go as I had expected. I actually made it to my scheduled c-section date. No problems or complications. In fact, aside from a messed up back, I had pretty much a perfect pregnancy. Who knew?
9. No distracted parenting!
“Put down your phone and look at your baby,” I used to think when I saw parents. My heart ached for a baby of my own back then, and for a while I thought I’d never have one. Look at that little angel face! How can you possibly look away?
I’ll admit that I used to sit in quiet judgment of the mom in the park on her smart phone. Now I’ve become her. What I didn’t understand at the time was that moms get lonely. Sometimes a brief break into the digital world can be a sanity saver.
8. I can keep working
First off, kudos a million times over to working moms everywhere. I bow down at your aching feet!
I had a career that I loved, and had worked hard to build. I was closing in on a master’s degree. When we decided that it made sense for me to stay home with the twins, I resigned from my job with a heavy heart. I cried right there in my bosses’ office (for what I wish I could say was the first time). I asked to remain on as a per diem.
The night before my first per diem shift, my baby got sick, and I had to call out. I have to admit, though, that it made me realize that I just wasn’t ready to be away from them.
7. Get Them on a Schedule
HA HA HA HA HAAAA!!! Schedule?
Everybody’s advice was the same: get them on the same schedule from day one. Feed one, feed the other. Change one, change the other. Yeah. That worked out great. As it turned out, my twins couldn’t have possibly been more different than one another. They have different temperaments, needs, and yes, different schedules.
Sleep regressions happen. Teething happens. Sometimes one is simply going to have to cry it out while you tend to the other. Despite best efforts, feeling like the worst mommy ever is inevitable.
They eventually fell into something resembling a schedule. Strictly by accident, I assure you!
6. Such and such parenting strategy is best
I read in this article that blah blah blah is best. Surely, all the other moms agree! Right? Wrong.
In fact, what I found was strikingly different. I found moms at war with each other over every little thing, and shaming others whose parenting philosophies differ from theirs. I couldn’t believe it!
I learned very quickly not to engage in these battles. You do A, B, and C? Cool. I do X, Y, and Z… and that’s okay!
So, which parenting strategy is best? The one that works! The only way to see is through trial and error. Best to just go with the flow.
5. Absolutely no screen time until they’re 2!
I still feel pretty strongly about this one, but I’ll admit that I’ve had moments of weakness. While I place no judgment at all on the moms who allow their babies to watch TV, I don’t allow mine to. Every once in a while, I’ll notice that their eyes lock on it during a feeding. I used to physically turn them away from it or turn the TV off. These days, I figure if it’s just for a moment, it’s okay.
I will also admit to plopping them (safely) in front of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for a few minutes just to use the bathroom in peace. Once. Guess what? No harm done. I will not be making a habit of it, but sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
4. Finding your mom friends
I was among the last among my social group to have kids. I had observed many before me finding their mom friends, complete with same age children. I couldn’t wait to find mine!
This went both better and worse than I expected, depending on how you look at it.
The local moms’ groups were okay. I went to a couple meetups. The problem was that I just couldn’t seem to relate to the singleton moms. Or perhaps more accurately, they seemed to think that they couldn’t relate to me. “Oh, your kid was up all night crying? Yeah. Teething sucks. Both of mine are teething, too.” Blank stare. OMG! She thinks I’m trying to one-up her!
So yet again, I took to the internet. I found my twin mom friends, albeit digitally, and they’re incredible! I couldn’t ask for a better group of ladies than them. Most of us have never met in person, but that means nothing. So what if they all “live” in my phone? It’s like a 24/7 party. Drop in when you like. No need to put on pants or brush your teeth. No need to pack the kids into the car. No judgment. Just support. I wish all women treated each other so kindly.
3. No leaving the house with dirty clothes or faces
“Look at that little kid with stains on his shirt. Boogers on his face! What kind of mother would take their child out in public looking like that?” Now that I have two tiny people to corral out the door, I finally understand this. Kids are messy. All. The. Time.
My baby went from all smiles to nuclear meltdown in about 5 seconds. Right in the middle of Walmart, of course. Why? Because I tried to clean his nose. Yeah. Bath time tonight, but for now, snot nose it is! I extend retroactive apologies to all the other moms that I silently judged. I get it now.
2. Breast feeding
It all seemed so simple. Baby + boob = food. Why, yes, I’ll be exclusively breast feeding! It’s the only way! SIGH. This one still stings quite a bit. I wholeheartedly thought that all my babies would ever need for sustenance was right there in my bra. Finally a use for these things!
I wish I had known just how complicated this could be. I never knew that having a c-section would delay the milk coming in. I never considered the idea that twins require twice the supply. In fact, I never considered supply at all. You mean it doesn’t just magically happen?
I eventually had to make the heart wrenching decision to stop. It took a team of my nearest and dearest to finally convince me to supplement, and eventually to stop entirely. I still judge myself sometimes, but ultimately it was the right decision. And guess what? My babies are thriving.
1. Everything 50 / 50
I thought the only way to raise two babies was to do exactly for one what you did for the other. Feed one. Feed the other. Next time, I’ll switch up who goes first. Must always be fair, and take turns with them.
I can’t help but laugh at my own naivete on this one. My two babies couldn’t be more different. They have different needs at different times. As it turned out, I got one easy-going baby and one who required almost constant attention. So naturally, I felt guilty that my easy-going one wasn’t getting enough attention.
Now I finally realize that fairness isn’t about doing the same thing for two different kids. It’s about doing for each what he needs.
So what did this know-it-all first time mommy learn?
Flexibility. The most important thing that I’ve taken away from my experience as a first time mother to twins is that no matter how much you plan, life happens. Things change. What works for one kid, one parent, or one family won’t necessarily work for another. That is more than just okay. It’s actually a beautiful thing!
Stephanie Turner is a first time mommy to twin baby boys. Prior to this, she worked for many years in the mental health field. In the spare time that she likes to pretend she has, Stephanie enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, and starting projects that she’ll never finish. Her current hobbies include breaking up baby fights, wandering aimlessly around Target, and attempting to write while a baby (or two) uses her as a sofa. She lives in New England with her overworked husband, adorable sons, and attention seeking cat. She aspires to one day take a nap. Follow her on Facebook at Behind the Binkies.