If you’re anything like me, when you found out you were having twins, you sought sage advice from all the other MoMs (Mothers of Multiples) you met. I’m not even kidding – I approached MoMs at the park, music class (with my older singleton), and on my online mom’s groups. What I wanted was for someone to tell me how I was ever going to survive being a twin mom (and a toddler!), and that I was going to be okay.
The general consensus was that, although raising multiple little people of the exact same age at once is certainly challenging and, at times, crazy-making, it is also incredible. After all, twin parents get to witness this beautiful, innate bond that babes seem to come out of the womb sharing. Though things can be oh-so-rough at the beginning, as twins get older, they have a built-in playmate, someone to play games, giggle and get into trouble with.
16 months in, and I (sometimes) feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this twins thing. When I meet expectant twin moms, I now feel capable of sharing some things I’ve learned along the way. That spawned me to think a lot about this: the things no one ever told me about being a twin mom, but that I truly wished someone would have. And so, without further ado, after much consideration and careful compiling, I share these nuggets with you:
It’s okay to love it and hate it at the same time
Carrying twins, giving birth to twins, and raising them is HARD. Being a twin mom is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It’s not the same as having a singleton. I can confidently say this, because I had a singleton first. No matter how you got here, whether spontaneously or through a period of physically and emotionally exhausting infertility treatments, it’s OKAY if you don’t always think being a twin mom is the greatest, most fulfilling role you’ve ever had. While it is truly incredible much of the time, it’s also hugely difficult, constant and overwhelming. You are allowed to feel validated in this.
If one gets sick…they’re probably both going down
At the beginning, when the twins were tiny, I would make myself crazy separating all three of my kids, sterilizing and sanitizing toys and pacifiers and changing sheets three times a day. By lunchtime I was sweaty (lots of chaotic running around!) and cranky and just plain “over it”. I would do this for as long as the kids were sick, and make myself truly insane – and you know what ALWAYS happened (and still does) anyway? The healthy twin (and the older sibling, too) would always catch the illness. Is it good to sanitize and sterilize sometimes? Yes. Especially after the illness has finally left the house. BUT, if someone’s sick, don’t make yourself crazy trying to prevent the other(s) from catching it also. Germs are germs, they linger and spread, and chances are good at least someone else in the family will catch it. You might as well deal with multiple sick kids at once, and be done with it; get it over in one fall swoop, and move on.
You will constantly be thinking about logistics
The question of “how will I be able to get both of my twins in and out of the car on my own?” is not a dumb one. Every twin mom has wondered it. Also, “How will I get both babies up (or down) the stairs?” and “How will I manage to get both the babies into [fill in the name of the building] at the same time?”
Logistics, my friend. Before you leave the house (or, often, even IN the house), you will do a mental run-through of how it’s all going to work. And here’s the big clue: contraptions. Whether it be a double stroller, a baby carrier and single stroller, a double baby carrier, a wagon, etc., this is how you will manage to do anything, anywhere, by yourself. Or, just build up those muscles mama (which you will, anyway – it’s just what happens when you have two or more kiddos!). Use your super strength to carry a baby in each arm.
Your twins may NOT love sleeping in the same crib, or even in the same room (and that’s okay!)
“Make sure you sleep your twins in the same room, and at the beginning of their lives, even in the same crib! They will find comfort from the closeness, and sleep so much better together!”
Yes – this may be so for some…but not all. I was given this exact advice several times, and so to me, it was clearly a must-do. But here’s what happened: one of my twins was (and still is) a LOUD sleeper! She would startle her sister so many times in the middle of the night, that I’d then have two babies up and screaming as opposed to just one. I finally moved them each into their own cribs (still in the same room, because we don’t have another bedroom), and they started to sleep much better. Though their cries or coughs (or other nap and nighttime noises) still do wake each other up sometimes, they have (mostly) learned to sleep through each other’s racket. Bottom line: do what works best for you and your babies. Oh, and white noise machines are your friends.
Despite your best efforts, keeping them on the same schedule is not always possible or feasible, and it doesn’t mean you have failed!
The other piece of advice offered to me over and over again, was to make sure I kept my babies on the same schedule (one up, both up; one down, both down, etc.) so that I didn’t spend the ENTIRE day changing diapers, feeding babies, rocking babies to sleep, etc. I so badly wanted this to work. I mean, this is THE holy grail of new twin parenting advice. Sometimes it worked out. Yay! On those days, I did the happiest of happy dances and other days…it didn’t. On those days, I cried deep and heavy tears, and felt that I had truly and utterly failed being a twin mom.
Then, one day, the realization hit me: no, my twins didn’t always adhere to the same schedule, and yes, this made my life more difficult. BUT, it also allowed me precious one-on-one time with each baby. This, as a twin parent, is not something to be taken lightly. Every twin mama can tell you that individual quality time with just ONE BABY is rare and should be coveted. I stopped complaining and whining about their staggered schedules, and started enjoying the time spent with each kid individually. This made ALL the difference.
While there are so many more things that no ever told me about being a twin mom, what I’ve come to realize is that one of the greatest parts of being a twin mom is experiencing and learning these things for myself. With each new challenge, I learn so much (about my kids, myself, my marriage, and more), and gain confidence in my abilities as a parent. While difficult, for this I am exceptionally grateful. Here’s one thing that I can say with complete confidence: every mom, baby and family is different, and so, the most important thing is simply to do what works for you and yours, and let the rest go.
Marissa Kristal is a Minneapolis-based writer and mama to a set of twins and a singleton. We all have a narrative, and she is passionate about sharing her life’s stories in an effort to bridge the gaps between people, expose our similarities, and increase acceptance of one another.To read more from Marissa check out her personal blog here.