It’s hard to describe what the first year with twins is really like. Partly because my memories are a bit scrambled by the chaos and tiredness of it all. Partly because it is quite a surreal experience to have got through. There was such extremes of emotion, amazing highs and horrible lows. There were points in the year when we were 100% in survival mode especially in the early days of night feeds.
Needing an extra pair of hands
The most stressful moments in the early days were when the boys needed feeding at the same time. It was excruciating to hear one of the boys crying with hunger because I couldn’t feed him straight away because I was feeding his brother. I perfected the technique of sitting on the sofa feeding one of the babies while rocking the other in the bouncy chair with my foot. I also figured out how to feed the boys at the same time, breast feeding one while bottle feeding the other.
My daughter Sofia was 4 years old when the twins were born. It was a real challenge trying to balance her needs with those of the twins. That is a whole other blog post in itself! (Preparing an older sibling for twins)
It does get easier
The stress around feeding started to reduce as the first year went on. Things got a lot easier as the boys got to grips with solid food. They were typical boys in that they loved solid food from their very first taste. I got a bit ambidextrous spoon feeding the boys with both hands at the same time.
I loved the stage when the boys could sit up themselves. They seemed more content because they could take in the world around them. I used to take the twins and Sofia to the library, sit them in a line and read stories to them (feeling quite smug at how civilized it was!). Little did I know the chaos that was coming as soon as they learnt to move!
I tried as much as I could not to think about how hard it was. When I did I would feel overwhelmed by it all. Just getting through the days gave me a sense of confidence and achievement. I always tried to take things one day at a time. On really bad days I just tried to get through hour by hour. I used to give myself little treats through the day to celebrate even the tiniest successes (squares of chocolate, playing songs I loved, nice hand cream, hundreds of cups of tea). I didn’t have the time to agonise over what was the right thing to and to do loads of research about everything, like I had done with Sofia. I learnt to trust my instincts and decisions much more. This is something that has carried over into lots of other areas of my life.
The tiredness of the early weeks and days was like nothing that I have ever know. I remember some moments of really struggling to think straight and do the most basic things through my total brain fog. I remember a particular bad morning sitting on the floor in my daughter’s bedroom floor crying because I couldn’t face another difficult day (Rolando took the morning off work and made me go back to bed to get some extra rest).
Routine, routine, routine!
Routine was our saviour! The boys were fed via nasal tubes when they were very first born an were on a very regimented schedule. we stuck to this very set routine after we brought them home. Feeding and naps were all done to a schedule. I used to write out the plan for the day on a white board when I woke up! It all felt a little bit clinical but it was the way that we made our days manageable. I feel a tiny bit sad that I didn’t have the spontaneous moments of letting the boys fall asleep in my arms after a feed like I did with Sofia.
Leaving the house
Getting anywhere was a complete mission. By the time we had got all of the baby kit into the car and got everyone strapped into their car seats I felt almost too exhausted to go anywhere. Even so getting out and about kept us sane.
I tired to get to a baby group once a week and took the boys to a weekly music group too. It was really important to try have a bit of adult conversation and normality, plus there was usually plenty of cake! At times when the boys were really tiny I was a bit disappointed that I spent most of the time at baby group feeding, winding and changing while other mums seemed to be so much more relaxed chatting and drinking coffee.
I found that the moments of triumph were so much sweeter because they were so bloody hard to achieve. I remember taking the boys into town when they were about 7 months old. We went on the train to the baby morning at the cinema and stopping for lunch in a cafe before heading back to collect Sofia from school. I felt amazing afterwards that I’d managed it. Just getting somewhere on time with all of the right stuff and with the kids fed and dressed felt like a major achievement.
Is the grass greener?
At moments I did feel envious of people with one baby to look after. To tired stressed me I thought that yummy mummies had it easy! Before knowing that I was having twins I thought my second experience of motherhood would be so much easier then my first. I was looking forward to being a chilled out second time mum but it was clearly not meant to be! As bad as it is to admit in the early days I did have moments when I thought why has this happened to me? I’d always been very certain that I wanted two children but here I was looking after my tribe of 3 kids. Now that the boys are older and the days are less hard core I see my boys as the absolute blessing that they are. Sometimes the best things in life really are those that you didn’t plan!
If you are expecting twins or in the thick of your twins first year I send you all of my best wishes. It is no walk in the park but you can do it! One day you will be look back on your twins first year and will feel proud of how you coped with those early days and how far you’ve come.