Having Twins : The First Yearby Candace Alnaji
When you’re expecting twins, it’s normal to worry about what to expect. No matter what anyone says, having multiples is very different than welcoming a singleton. When I was expecting twins two years ago, I was already a mother of one. While I knew the second time around as a parent would be different, I had no clue just how different it would be. Learning that we were expecting twins changed everything. We needed double the amount of baby gear. We needed to upgrade to a bigger vehicle, and we needed to prepare ourselves to juggle two times the new baby needs.
The thought of surviving the first year with twins threw me for a loop. I had no idea how we would manage going from one to three children in an instant, but, somehow, we managed. We made it through the first year, and now we’re closing in on the end of our second year, too. So, if you’re expecting twins and wondering how on earth you’re going to survive your first year with them, read on.
First, be confident. The thought of welcoming two babies (or more) may sound daunting, but many a twin mom has walked in your shoes before and come out okay. You’ve probably read all kinds of scary birth stories and tales of horror about the first year of twin parenthood but remember to take everything with a grain of salt. Everyone has different experiences. Being a parent is the toughest job out there, but the challenges we face as parents teach us about ourselves and ready us for other challenges we’ll face later. You will be ready for whatever twin life throws at you.
Accept all the help you can get.
This isn’t the time to get shy about asking for help. Double the new babies means double the work, and it can exhaust even the most seasoned parent. If you have friends or family nearby, take them up on their offers of assistance. Tell them directly what you need and how they can help you. If you don’t have built-in help from nearby family or friends, then actively create your own village. Look for the moms of multiples groups in your area. Connect with people you meet through school or work. Hire a babysitter. Even an hour of relief each week can make the difference between a healthy, happy parent and a frazzled, weary one. If you have a partner, the two of you should work to ensure you are united as a team. This is not the time for scorekeeping. Work together to ensure the workload is distributed equitably and that each parent has time rest or re-energize each day.
Lower your standards.
That’s right. I said it. Lower your standards for what you can expect to accomplish each day during your first year with twins. If that sounds absurdly impossible to you, I understand. As a lifelong perfectionist, I couldn’t fathom the idea of lowering my standards or expectations before becoming a mom of twins. Even as a mom of one, I maintained very high standards for myself—and also a ridiculous amount of pressure. Welcoming twins meant we couldn’t do the zillion activities we had previously done each day. After having our twins, our house was no longer magazine-perfect all the time. Sometimes laundry didn’t get folded for days. We ordered a lot of takeout some weeks. But, we survived, and we emerged from the first year stronger and happier than we would have if we had worried about every little unimportant detail.
Stay caffeinated, friends.
Twin life brought new levels of sleep deprivation to our lives. Like many twin parents, we worked to get our twins onto the same schedule, and we were successful to a degree. Our twins always went down at the same time for naps and at bedtime. We also tried to keep them in sync with night wakings, but, at the end of the day, our twins were still different babies with different preferences and temperaments. Like all babies, their sleep changed with physical and mental developments, sickness, teething, and more. As a result, we were up every hour each night for almost a year, and yes, it was as exhausting as it sounds. Now, that doesn’t mean that exact scenario will happen to you, but in addition to finding your favorite sleep routines and daily schedules, you should probably stock up on your favorite coffee.
Find an outlet.
Life with two (or more) babies is demanding. You will be needed in ways you’ve never experienced. Make it a point to try to engage in healthy outlets you enjoy often. For me, working out has always been a non-negotiable. During my first year after the twins, it didn’t matter when or where it happened each day as long as it happened. Sometimes self-care will look like booking a spa day. Other times it will look like sitting in your car eating carbs and nacho cheese (been there, too). You do you and do it without guilt.
You’ve got this.
Finally, no matter how worried you are about the impending sleepless nights, double feedings, or sibling adjustment, just know you’ve got this. Trust you will take twin life not only one day at a time, but one minute at a time. You will adapt, adjust, and rise to the occasion of life with your new crew. However, more than that, know you will love your new babies more than you could have imagined. Soon, you won’t even be able to imagine life without them. Good luck out there. You’ve got this!