It has been almost 5 years to the date when I found out I was expecting twins. I was about 14 weeks pregnant when the ultrasound technician looked at me and asked, “So how do you feel about having twins?!” At the time, I didn’t know any other mothers of twins that I could turn to for advice about how to raise twins. I knew nothing. And there really weren’t any moms groups or clubs in my area that were designed especially for mothers of multiples, either. So, my husband and I were left to ‘fend for ourselves’ and try to figure out how to manage not just one, but TWO mouths to feed and bottoms to change!
So, because of that, I thought other moms out there who are expecting twins (or who have recently given birth to twins) might appreciate a few tips and words of advice from a mother who has “been there” and “done that.” If it can help you in even the least little bit…then my mission is complete! And I also please ask for other mothers of twins/multiples to please comment with your words of wisdom, too! Thanks so much!
- First and foremost, ENJOY THE NEWS!
I remember when that ultrasound tech told me I was having twins that I was a bit overwhelmed. We already had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old at home. I remember thinking how were we ever going to manage 4 kids under the age of 5…or AFFORD it?!! But don’t worry. It all seems to work out. Everything will be ok. Breathe! And in the end, you won’t be able to imagine your life any other way. Twins are a true blessing. Consider yourself very lucky---not very many people are given this wonderful opportunity.
- Hand-me-downs are a mom’s best friend!
Go to thrift sales, garage sales, second-hand stores. Ask friends if you can borrow clothes or equipment for a few months. There is no need to have ‘brand-new’ of everything…especially when you need twice as much! Like any baby, clothes are outgrown quickly and some equipment is rarely used for more than a couple of months. So if you can get by with borrowing or buying gently used items…go for it!
- You don’t need two of everything.
These babies will need to learn how to share sooner or later…why not right away?! Ha! We had two of a few things…like cribs and high-chairs…but there were many items that the babies could share. And like I said earlier, if you can buy some of these items used or borrow them from friends, it is so much easier and less expensive. We still had some items from our first born, but we went to many thrift sales to find extra items if we needed them.
- Get a nice double-stroller.
One thing I had that I just LOVED was a double-stroller that I could clip two car seats into. That way, I didn’t have to take two sleeping babies out of their car seats when transferring them from the car to the stroller. It was basically just a stroller ‘frame’ that I could clip the seats onto. And it also had lots of storage underneath, which was great because my double-stroller became my new shopping cart! Whatever I could fit into the storage bin under the car seats was what I bought! And you would be amazed how much I could fit in there! Ha! So, if you are going to spend money on something, I would suggest splurging on a good double-stroller. I used it more than any other piece of equipment I had. (Oh, and by the way...I bought it used from another mom who had twins!)
- Give breast-feeding a try.
I had problems nursing my first-born daughter. I thought, “I could hardly breast-feed one baby, how on earth am I going to breast-feed TWO??!” I stocked up on bottles and formula before the babies were born, figuring that I was going to have to bottle-feed instead. But, a nurse in the hospital encouraged me to TRY, (just as I am encouraging you!), and boy, am I so glad I DID!!! Not only was it cheaper (no expensive formula), but it was EASIER and SAVED SO MUCH TIME!! I was able to nurse both babies together, using a gigantic bobby-pillow made especially for twins. I used the ‘football hold’ when nursing and it worked great. Never in a million years did I think it would work to breast-feed two babies at the same time, but it DID, and I was able to do it for 12 months. Of course, it took lots of time, effort, and PATIENCE in the beginning to learn how to do it and get comfortable doing it. I also needed my husband’s help to hand me each baby as I got myself situated, but eventually I could do it myself. Try it. It was worth the extra effort.
- Keep the babies on the same schedule.
This is probably the BEST piece of advice I can give you.
I fed the babies at the same time. I gave them naps at the same time. If you can do this, it will make everyone’s life soooo much easier. If one baby woke up during the middle of the night (crying to eat), I woke the other baby up, too, and fed them together. I felt very bad and guilty waking a sleeping baby at first. But, I figured that he would probably wake up soon after, anyway…and then I would be up all night nursing babies! This would make for a very useless mommy the next day! So, when one woke up, we woke the other up. If one wasn’t very hungry at that particular feeding, then maybe he only ate a little bit…and made up for it by eating more the next feeding. And vice versa. And believe it or not, they learn to adjust! They were just fine. And everyone was happier for it in the long run.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I was so blessed to have a husband who was there for me every step of the way, family, friends, and neighbors who offered to help when I needed it. Even something like bringing a meal or offering to watch my older children (who were home and awake all day), was a HUGE, HUGE help. Please ask for help when you need it. People are always willing and eager to help, but sometimes they are waiting to be asked.
- Remember that your twins are individuals. Try not to compare them to each other.
I remember when my boys were babies, we always referred to them as "the babies." As they got older, my husband lovingly gave them the nickname "the dudes." :) But it is important as they grow older to remember that they are separate individuals with very different personalities. It's easy to lump them together as one "person." Embrace their differences. Don't compare them. One twin may be better at sports, the other may be better at art. One may be shy, the other may be a social butterfly. It is important to allow them the chance to find themselves and become their own person.
I have much more advice to offer, so please feel free to email me at Katie.Kuenkel@weau.com if you have any specific questions. And to all you other moms of twins/multiples---please comment with your own advice! We’d love to hear some other opinions, too!!