Sorry for being a little quiet on here recently. I needed to adjust to my new life as a full-time university student as well as mama to Biscuit and Cracker (yes, we all survived our first day at the childminders- only a few tissues required for me!)! I have also been privileged enough to be asked to do a short speech at a TAMBA (Twin and Multiple Birth Association) seminar for expectant parents of multiples. It is always good to share your knowledge and experience as a MOM (mama of multiples) to those who are just starting their journey, just as it’s always great to meet someone further along the journey and think “yes, people do cope and survive”!!
I had to talk, briefly, about their birth, feeding and help, plus any top tips. I wanted to include it on the blog for any other MOM-to-be’s to be able to find.
My name is Charlii. I am a mum of 18 month old boy/girl twins. I am also in the slightly unique position of having worked as a neonatal nurse for the last five and a half years.
I had my twins five weeks early by emergency c-sections as I was poorly with pre-eclampsia. We had experienced good antenatal care for the multiple pregnancy team at our local hospital and felt as prepared and ready as we’d ever be!
My little boy had to go to be neonatal unit for two days as he needed a little breathing support. This was the weirdest experience for me as I had only experienced that environment from the other side, I was usually the one in the blue uniform, not the hospital night gown. My little girl didn’t require and neonatal care and came straight to me.
They were born on the Friday morning and we all got discharged home together on the Sunday afternoon. That, to me, was when the learning curve of looking after twins really began.
I know there are many ways to feed your babies. I made the decision to exclusively express my milk for them. My little boy had taken to the breast as soon as he was out of NICU but my little girl who was tiny as well as early did not suckle well and I did not want to feed one via the breast and one via the bottle. With exclusive expressing they both got my breast milk and, an important issue with multiples, I got people to help me. My husband and I got into a good routine when he was at home and I also had visiting friends and family to help feed them. Expressing any milk is not an easy option and exclusive expressing is not fun but I managed to keep it up for about 35 weeks- the same amount of time they’d been in my tummy for!
My husband is Italian, so all his family is over there. My family are outside of London, so we had no-one local to help us out a lot. One thing I will say is take help where it is offered. When my twins were little my husband worked mostly nights, I had a friend who came over once a week after she finished work to help me out with bathtime. I cannot tell you how much of a Godsend that was to me.
My top tips for getting through the first year with twins are:
ROUTINE: if you can get them both into a good routine regarding feeding, sleeping, bath-story-and-bedtime then your life will be so much easier. They will then respond to cues. It will also be easier to break their routine for holidays etc and then get, quickly back into it.
ACCEPT OFFERS OF HELP: even if it’s someone to watch your children while you have a shower, or put out the washing or even hold one whilst you wash/change/feed the other. If any saintly person cooks a meal then take it so gratefully.
SLEEP: as much as you can, where you can, whenever you can! The age-old adage of sleeping when the baby sleeps might not apply if you have two babies who like to sleep opposite each other. If you ever get the chance, put down the laundry and step away from the washing up and lie down!
RECOGNISE YOUR BLESSINGS, BUT CELEBRATE THEIR INDIVIDUALITY: you have twins, or triplets, or quads! This is amazing and you are lucky people but, especially if you have identicals or same sex twins, it is important as they grow to see them and treat them as individuals.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF: whether this be the fact that your once immaculate house now resembles a cross between Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre with the unmistakeable aroma of vomit or poop, or you’ve just heard the hundredth inappropriate comment from a stranger on your quick trip to the shops then you should learn that it really doesn’t matter. There is always something to smile about with multiples- this is what’s important.
Your little ones will only be little for such a short amount of time. It is not always a fun or easy journey with them but you will get through it. Enjoy them!
I hope this is helpful to someone out there. Let me know!