The first year being a twin parent is quite an experience. I’ve just finished the first year of parenting my multiples and when people ask me what it’s like, I usually just say, “It’s wild,” or, “I’m so very tired”. With any child, there are great times and not-so-great times but with multiples, those highs and lows are just multiplied by two or three.
There have been many nights where I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it to the next morning, but somehow we always did – and still do. I remember so many well-intentioned people and articles telling me to “make sure I stop and enjoy it” and to “soak it all up because one day you’ll miss it.”
I understand the sentiment of those suggestions, but can I tell you what I know I won’t miss? I won’t miss the mucus-filled puke I just wiped off the floor. I won’t miss the cracked chest from breastfeeding two hungry babies. And I most certainly won’t miss the pee that seems to defy all physics and get sprayed right into my belly button—twice!
That said, there are so many things I will miss and some I already do. They had their first birthday this February (insert bittersweet tears here.) While I don’t miss the aforementioned instances, I do miss the one-on-one time I had with them while breastfeeding or the accomplished feeling when I nursed both at once. I already miss the first gurgles, snuggles, and sparks of recognition.
I also miss being in the moment, like I was with my first child (a singleton), at every stage. With multiples, it seems to go by a lot quicker. So much of it is blurry because of the one-hour-of-sleep nights and busyness of two babies. I tend to forget parts and pieces. This is hard to realize and I am so very thankful I can look at the ‘old’ pictures and it takes me back to that moment and those feelings immediately.
So many times I wished for them to be older so it would be easier while simultaneously wishing they would stay little forever. Soak up a few moments, but just remember, it’s OK if you don’t soak up all of them. You don’t have to feel guilty.
Here are a few tips that will hopefully help you stay afloat during that wild first year while keeping the presence of mind to soak up some moments:
1. Ask for help. Specific help—if someone you trust has offered to cook, clean, or watch kiddos then please take advantage of it. You do not have to do this alone! Ask people specifically what they would like to help you with; making a meal, watching the kids so you can nap, cleaning the bathroom etc. It was only when I did this that I felt like some of the stress lifted. It wasn’t gone, but it was enough that I could stay afloat.
2. Feed them at the same time. This is a great way to create a routine for the babies. If you are able to feed your babies together, or even one right after the other, it will save you a lot of time. This will teach them to be hungry at the same time and get their sleep routine in sync, allowing you to have more breaks.
3. Take a Rest. Having a night nanny isn’t always an option—it wasn’t for me. However, we were able to have my mother-in-law over to spend a few nights in the first few months. All I had to do was feed them and then go back to sleep. She would take care of burping, changing, soothing and keeping them quiet until the next feeding. This resulted in another 4-5 hours of sleep for me, a gift for which I am forever grateful. Make sure to take advantage of the time when they sleep simultaneously during the day — go take a nap! You need to get sleep in whenever possible.
4. Refuel. You need to give your brain a break, a refresh, with something other than babies and/or poop. For me, listening to praise and worship music or going to the library for a short visit are great refreshers. It can be very difficult to get away in the beginning so maybe it’s music, meditation, or reading a book for you—something you can do in between (or during) feedings. If you are able to get someone to watch the kids, even going to the grocery store alone can be a thrilling and rejuvenating experience. Oh, the mom life! Breathe, interact with adults, and try to ignore the phantom baby cries you keep hearing in the distance.
5. Communicate. My husband and I discussed beforehand that we were probably going to argue more than normal due to lack of sleep and stress. We told each other ahead of time that that was OK and I’m so glad we did. We would think of that when we were arguing or reacting due to lack of sleep and it kept our minds in a better place, helping our communication in the long run. I truly believe it was very good for us. Give each other some grace as well; emotions and hormones are high and although this will be tough, it will also bring you closer together.
BONUS TIP: Use your camera phone a lot! You might be less snap-happy than I am, but take the time to capture a moment or ask whoever’s nearby to capture it for you. Take pictures and video! This way, when you feel like the year was a blur, you can look at them and realize you remember more than you think. It was beautiful and difficult and you made it!
You can do this. You will stay afloat during your twin’s firt year; you’ll even swim at times. You will be in survival mode for a lot of it. While you might mourn what you did not get out of it, you will have done it. And you will have thrived at times without even realizing. You will look at them and be amazed at them, at yourself, and your partner and village of support for what you were and are all able to do.
From carrying two car seats, two babies, cleaning up double the puke, to doing things with the kids on your own and the list goes on. You will feel nostalgia and you will feel happiness and pride. And you will continue to do it. To survive, to stay afloat, to get a good routine, to get a proper sleep and you will always know that you have a special life with your multiples. It is a privilege, a gift, and a truly wild experience.
Stephanie Peters is a happy, tired 27-year-old wife & mom to a 3-year-old girl and 1-year-old fraternal boy/girl twins. She lives for her family, honesty, and relatable memes. She loves nachos, singing, and striking things off lists (i.e. shower?). She’s a procrastinator and an extrovert (who also just wants to be alone & watch Netflix). Keep up with her thoughts & film photos on her blog or Instagram.