I always wanted a big family. As a little girl I carried around my baby dolls, loved them, cared for them, and knew that one day I was going be a mom. Perhaps my desire came from watching my own mother. She is an amazing woman who constantly demonstrated unconditional love.
I was single into my late thirties. After finding my spouse, I couldn’t wait to start a family. Unfortunately, the waiting for us continued. We spent a lot of time crying, and a lot of time praying. Having a big or small family wasn’t going to be easy and I often doubted if it would even be possible.
I was overcome with emotion the day we learned that I was expecting, but at just 7 weeks I started experiencing complications. I was in the emergency room when we learned that I was pregnant with twins. That is when our multiples journey began. I remember feeling EVERY emotion. I had no idea what to prepare for, so I kind of just went with the flow. I had my rough spots throughout my pregnancy, but the last several weeks were the hardest. We made it to 36 weeks!
I had discussed every possible scenario with my husband prior to delivery. I knew exactly how I wanted everything to go. The day finally arrived and I never could have imagined how it all played out. I woke up in a recovery room, only to find out that my husband was under observation in the emergency room. He had grown ill and testing was underway.
That was our crazy beginning, and it only got better. The day we all arrived home from the hospital we had a contractor in to do repairs on our home. Later that night our refrigerator died, so on day two my father went shopping for a new fridge and we had delivery men into our house to install the new appliance. On day three my parents spent the day chauffeuring our little family to the neurologist, pediatrician, and OB offices. I was trying to pump, feed, and get our babies on a schedule. At this point I was completely overwhelmed! We learned that my husband would be out of work for a while and I was scheduling appointments, organizing FMLA paperwork, and trying to manage two new babies.
I was never very good at allowing other people to serve me, so this was the greatest lesson I could have learned postpartum. IT IS OK TO ASK FOR HELP!
I learned just how valuable a support system can be both pre- and postpartum. I hope that by sharing our story, we can help some of you that need to ask, and those of you who want to ask … how to help!
Before the Babies
Multiple pregnancies are NOT like any other pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, a study released that 60% of twins and 90% of triplet babies will be born premature. Twins are commonly delivered by 36 weeks, and triplets by 32 weeks. Some of these moms may encounter hospitalization and/or bed rest during their pregnancy. In addition, many twin moms will measure much larger than a mother carrying a singleton who is at the same stage in pregnancy. This may also complicate her inability to do things easily.
Here are some ways to help before the babies:
- Driving (Mom may not fit behind the steering wheel of her car): Helping to chauffeur older siblings and mom to necessary appointments.
- Bending and reaching can be difficult. Helping with laundry, vacuuming (especially stairs), washing windows. These are simple but difficult tasks to accomplish.
- Having freezer meals on hand helps a great deal. Some days can be exhausting. Putting a freezer meal in for dinner can make all the difference.
- Company … For moms that may be in the hospital and or on bed rest, having conversation can pass the time. It means a lot to have the support.
Bringing home twins is quite the adventure. We had the world of spectators showing up at our doorstep to see our little ones. While we appreciated the sentiments and the sweet gestures, we needed our time to adjust. Please understand that TIME is one of the most valuable things you can give postpartum. The new family needs time to adjust. In addition, many multiple parents are bringing home premature babies. These little babies need time to grow and develop. Crowds of people and unexpected visitors can add to the stress of coming home. We limited our visits to close family and friends:
I don’t know what we would have done without my mom, dad, and sister. My mom stayed the first week with us to help us get life under our feet. My dad ran errands for us, and my sister offered her expert advice that often times was greatly needed.
If you have family or friends that can help, LET THEM! Here is a list of things they can help you do:
- Cleaning: Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, sweeping floors
- Nap time: Preemie babies have to eat every 1 ½ – 3 hours. When you are pumping and feeding this gets even more exhausting. Moms and Dads need naps! Help to watch the babies for a few hours while the parents sneak in a nap.
- Siblings: Helping with the older kid’s carpools, homework, after school activities, or even taking them to the park or for a play date.
Church or Community Support
These are ways that we were supported by our church family, neighbors, and friends:
- Meals: Both freezer meals and hot meals are a huge help (take out delivery is great too)
- Grocery Shopping: It is difficult to get out of the house. Picking up items at the store can be a life saver.
- Sibling outings: Taking siblings to the park or helping to give them special attention really helps with the adjustment. Also helping with their car pools and supporting them in after school activities.
Multiples Parents Helping Other Multiples Parents
For those of us that have been through it we can understand how exhausting it can be, how expensive it can be, and how stressful it can be.
- Join your local parents of multiples groups. Your advice and experience is appreciated.
- Donate or resell your cribs, strollers, high chairs, and clothing as you outgrow it or no longer need it to other multiple parents.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do is offer up kindness. Not one of us is better at this “multiples parent” thing than another. It is not a competition. Each of us has our strengths and our weaknesses. Each of us has different kids. Just because something worked for you, doesn’t mean it is going to work for someone else. What a parent of multiples really needs is support, understanding, and love. Kind words can go a long way. Simple gestures can go a long way. We are a community of parents seeking inspiration, understanding, and friendship. Be kind, loving, and offer service. Laugh with us, and cry with us. We need each other.
If you are an expecting mother of multiples or a new parent of multiples and feeling overwhelmed, please know that you are not alone.
I often tell people that I did not become a mother of twins because God knew that I could handle it, but because God knew just how much our little girls would need each other. Our little family grew by two. They bless our lives and we are so lucky to have them. We are extremely blessed to have support systems: our families, our friends, our church families, and our community. We welcome every parent into the multiples club. We come in as cubs and go out as lions.
Minden Buckingham lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Mike and fraternal twin girls, Hanna and Emma. She has two bachelor degrees from Portland State University in Business Management and Human Resources Management. Minden is a stay home mom and enjoys the outdoors, photography, and writing.
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Are you a new twin parent? Check out Natalie Diaz’s new book “What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twin Survival Guide From Pregnancy Through the First Year”, available in stores now!
The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
What to Do When You’re Having Two is the definitive how-to guide to parenting twins, covering how to make a Birth Plan checklist, sticking to one sleep schedule, managing double-duty breastfeeding, stocking up on all the necessary gear, building one-on-one relationships with each child, and more.
Accessible and informative, What to Do When You’re Having Two is the must-have manual for all parents of twins.
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Check out the latest issue of Multiplicity Magazine! Twiniversity’s quarterly online magazine is FREE and features all the hot topics and new trends for parents of multiples, as well as great coupons and product reviews!
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Join our FREE forums and connect with parents of multiples all over the WORLD! Visit https://www.twiniversity.com/join-
Whether you’re a twin parent in the big city surrounded by scores of resources, or a triplet parent out in the country with no one around for miles — our multiples parenting forums are for YOU! Sign up for FREE and connect with people who are just like you — parents of multiples looking for advice, parenting tips, or even just people to chat with who will understand what you’re going through. Our forums are open to people all over the world and we offer scads of specialty rooms to find others who are going through the exact same thing as you. Check it out today!
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