I’m six weeks into motherhood (twin boys) and I keep hearing phrases like, “how are you out and about already?” or “I’m struggling with one, but you have two” and “you’re so lucky they’re so easy”. Ha! Twin moms will never say they have anything easy and my babies are not “easy” babies. I’m working my ass off for normalcy and to keep them calm and happy. I’ll share with you my best decisions thus far as a twin mom to keep things rolling smoothly.
- Get them (and keep them) on the same schedule
This is, by far, THE most important thing a twin mom can do. When my boys were born, one was in the NICU and one was with me in the mother/baby suite. I wasn’t producing enough milk for two since I wasn’t nursing both so one had to be on formula. I called the NICU immediately and asked what time baby A would be fed each day. Then, I made sure to nurse baby B at that same time each day. Once we got home I nursed them at the same time every time. If one wakes up from a nap, or at night, before the other, I wake the other one up. If one has a short nap, the other will too. I feed, bathe, change and swaddle at the same time.
Nursing one baby is taxing. Nursing two babies is literally twice as taxing; however, it’s also twice the savings financially, twice the calorie burn, and twice the health benefits. Think of how much money I’d burn through on formula trying to feed two growing boys! Can you imagine two screaming babies while you’re measuring formula for two bottles, pouring water for two bottles, waiting to heat two bottles? I figure I can either hunch over two babies with bottles or hunch over two babies with breasts. Either way, two babies need to be fed every three hours and this way I’m giving them the right amount of protein, carbs, fats, and nutrition with the benefit of antibodies and immunity boosters to fight off infections.
3. Sleep routines
Immediately following their birth, whilst still in the hospital, I created “sleep triggers” I planned on using at home. I turn on the lavendar essential oil diffuser, lights out, white noise machine on. They slept almost 24/7 at first, but soon we began to establish Eat. Play. Sleep routine meaning I nurse them when they wake up and then we play before each nap. At first they could only stay awake about 45 minutes at a time, then about an hour, then 1.5 hr and now they last between 1.5hr to 2hr in between naps. I’m a clock watcher and I put them down as soon as it’s time AND they’re showing me sleepy cues. I swaddle them in their Woombie, turn on the diffuser and white noise machine and lay them down drowsy, but still awake. They put themselves to sleep within a few minutes. Twin moms, beware of rocking them to sleep or holding them while they sleep. They will keep getting bigger and this is not feasible forever. They’ll get used to being held while sleeping and that’s a hard habit to break.
4. Cloth diapering
This is probably my favorite choice and everone thought I was nuts. Originally I chose cloth diapers to save my babies from the nasty chemicals and toxins in disposables, but after learning that disposable diapers cost an average of 25 cents each I realized I’d be spending almost $5-7 a day on diapers! That’s iterally throwing away $150-200 a month ($2000 or more a year?). And cloth diapers are so much more convenient because newborns grow fast. I can’t imagine stockpiling a certain size of diapers just for them to outgrow them a week later. Or, running out in the middle of the night because we’ve run out of diapers due to unexpected blow outs.
Friends ask me how I get anything done and my only answer is that I’ve become a seriously skilled multi-tasker. I pump breastmilk while I use the restroom, brush my teeth, comb my hair, and put on my makeup after a morning feed (as long as the boys are content on their playmat). I do lunges and squats while filling up my water bottle, waiting on a frozen dinner to heat up, and calming a fussy baby. I do my arm workout for about 5 minutes at the beginning of each nap during the day and I take care of emails from my phone on an afternoon walk. There’s no such thing as down time when you’ve got twins.
6. Snugglenests (co-sleeping)
It’s ridiculous to expect your spouse to get up with you at night when he’s got to work the next day. I’m sorry if that offends you, but it’s just silly. Why should both parents be zombies? My husband sleeps in the guestroom right now and the twins sleep in the bed next to me. I line them up vertically down the center of the bed in their Snugglenests. I keep my nursing pillow at arms reach as well. When they wake up to feed, I pull them out of the nests. pull my pillow over my tummy and put each baby on the breast one at a time. Then I change them, reswaddle, and lay them back down. No muss, no fuss, no wasted time or energy feeling my way to the nursery in the dark. Once they start sleeping longer stretches at night I’ll move them into their cribs and invite my husband back to bed : )
7. Uppababy Vista and Mesa
I made an impulse purchase before the babies were born for some crappy secondhand carseats. They worked when we left the hospital only, but by the time we got in the car again the boys were too big and I had to rethread the straps to resize. It was a nightmare! Both babies screamed frantically as I attempted to get the fit right and they still didn’t feel secure. I immediately went to Buy Buy Baby and purchased two Mesa carseats by Uppababy. They’re lightweight, adjustable with NO rethreading, have cooler fabric, side impact protection, support their head and neck, have sun canopies AND snap into the Vista, which I also purchased. At first we used the bassinet that comes with, but now I use the carseats as the stroller seats and it’s SO easy. Just snap and go!
It’s damn near impossible to calm two fussy babies at the same time safely and efficiently. Occasionally I can scoop them up at the same time and get to a rocking chair, but if one starts squirming or one wants a pacifier, I really need the other hand. In comes the Mamaroo! I have two of these godsends and use them ’round the clock. If both babies are fussy, I swaddle one at a time and place them in the mammaroo. Sometimes I have to bounce back and forth between the two of them until they calm, but they typically calm within minutes in these contraptions and will often fall asleep in them as well. Bonus.
9. Water & intentional snacking
Twin moms who are nursing burn an average of 1000-1500 extra calories per day so it would be easy to just gorge on junk food you know you’re going to burn off. I; however, have tried to be intentional about what I eat from the beginning. Stick to high fat, high protein, high grain, and high nutrient foods to maintain energy, lose unwanted baby weight and increase milk supply. I eat alot of fruit, salads, deli meat on wheat bread, peanut butter, oatmeal, yogurt, nuts, fish, and avocado. Drinking a gallon of water a day is also important to keeping supply going strong, decrease swelling, and flush out postpartum toxins.
10. Don’t be skerred
Don’t be skerred to leave the house! Twins are nuts and unpredictable, but so are babies and so is life. You’ve just got to be as prepared as possible, get out there and go. I try to live my life the same way I did before, only now I’ve got babies in tow. Want to go to a winery? Cool, let me pack some blankets and sunshade. Want to meet for lunch? Meet me at my car and carry in a carseat. Want to go out Friday night? I’ll meet you after 7:00pm so I can put the boys down for bed myself.
PS: Try not to be up in their faces all the time or be worried when they’re wide awake but “alone”. Give them some space to just be for a while and let them entertain themselves. Being awake is super stimulating for a newborn. They don’t need much else right now.
If you’re a new twin mom and people are telling you, “it gets easier”, that’s not true. It doesn’t get easier, but you will get better at it. Taking care of twins has a major learning curve. My boys are my fifth set of twins to care for after I was a twin nanny for several years. I knew what I needed to do before they were even born. So, take my advice and apply what you can. You’ll soon find yourself a master twin mom!