What to Expect During the First Year with Newborn Twins
Bringing home two newborn babies is a truly unique life experience that is both wondrous and perplexing.
You will ride a wave of adrenaline through a sea of exhaustion, and somewhere along the way, the line between anxiety and elation will become blurred and meaningless.
The magnitude of your responsibility outweighs the trivial, the more you assume, the more you let go.
While being the most demanding task you may ever accomplish, it will also be undoubtedly the most rewarding.
So many twin parents, when asked how to survive newborn twins, say something along the lines of “you just do,” or “it’s all a blur.” Thanks for nothing!
Just kidding! The take-home message here is that you will survive.
Expect to be tired. Expect to be frustrated. Expect to bicker with your partner at 2AM. Expect it to be hard, and you won’t be disappointed.
But don’t be fearful, because you can also expect it to be hilarious.
Expect it to be joyous. Expect to see a softness in your partner and in yourself that you never knew was there.
Here’s a secret: your parents, your in-laws, your boss, your dog… nobody really knows the answers to everything.
Everyone just does the best they can with what they know, and so will you!
10 Tips to Survive the First Year with Newborn Twins
Now that you have an understanding of what you can expect during the first year with newborn twins, now it’s time to devise a strategy to keep your sanity.
The following 10 tips will help you survive this challenging time.
Survival Tip #1: Forget Gourmet Dinners for Awhile
Accept meals from anyone willing to cook for you, even if you just freeze them for later.
If anyone asks how they can help, then preparing dinner for your family is a great relief when you have newborn twins.
When you do need to cook, try to do so when there is an extra set of hands to watch your babies while you prep a week’s worth of food.
Keep it simple, healthful, and comforting.
If you need to hand dice twenty ingredients, maybe look for a recipe that is a little more straightforward.
Survival Tip #2: Share Night Duty
Lack of sleep is just part of having a baby that you know going into it.
But when you have multiple babies, lack of sleep could turn into no sleep and that is just not sustainable.
If you are choosing to wake the other baby when one wakes up and feed them both (a common approach with twins), then you and your partner could alternate feedings once you have both mastered the art of feeding two babies at the same time.
Or, if you are feeding your babies on demand, you can assign a parent to each baby.
If you are breastfeeding, then your partner could change the diapers and/or swaddle the babies so you don’t have to get out of bed every time.
These things make a huge difference when you are breastfeeding two babies every few hours around the clock.
They aren’t called “survival tips” for nothing!
Some parents may work opposite schedules/overnights and can’t share in night duty.
Whatever your situation, just make sure that there is a time within a 24 hour period when you can accrue enough sleep to safely function around two tiny newborn human beings.
Survival Tip #3: Some Level of Synchronization is Essential
Try to feed your twins at the same time and put them down at the same time to nap.
Most twin parents recommend waking them up at the same time too, but that’s up to you!
Some families work better with a stiff schedule, others thrive by going with the flow…but nearly all twin parents will tell you that some level of synchronization is necessary.
While at times it may seem easier to handle only one baby at a time, the problem is that you will be going non-stop without the opportunity to wash bottles, do a load of laundry, or, say…eat? Nap? Shower?
Survival Tip #4: Make a List of Priorities
There simply isn’t enough time, in the beginning, to cook and clean the way you used to while caring for newborn twins (unless you are fortunate enough to have lots of help or the means to hire some).
Write down first what is absolutely necessary for the care of your babies and yourselves, such as eating, sleeping, pumping, etc.
Next, write down important but non-urgent tasks like laundry, washing bottles, or showering.
The order of these tasks will vary depending on what is most important to you, and you can edit and rearrange the list as the first few weeks go on.
You will probably find that you need to lower your expectations, but also be honest with yourself about what makes you feel good.
For instance, if you previously scrubbed your shower every week you might have to realize that you can’t fit that in anymore and it is ok.
Or, if you realize that escaping into a squeaky clean shower is one aspect of your life that makes you feel calm and in control, then make it higher on the list and realize that something else is going to have to give.
While writing this list may seem silly, to the sleep-deprived brain it can be so helpful to be told what to do next.
Babies are napping: Did I eat? Do I need to nap? Is it time to pump? Do I need to shower? Are the bottles washed? Ok, I’ll throw in a load of laundry.
In the beginning, your life will just cycle around the first few items again and again. Don’t expect to get anything more done and you won’t be disappointed!
If the stars align and you manage to make your bed, blow dry your hair, or write a thank-you note, you will be pleasantly surprised : )
Survival Tip #5: Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone
From the time you announced your pregnancy, you have surely been inundated with advice (solicited or not) about how you should raise your children.
Co-workers may boast about how they did the something-or-other method and their little Einstein can now stand on his head while reciting the alphabet in 6 different languages.
And one day, you will also be very proud and tell these stories too.
In the meantime, just focus on loving your babies and doing the best you can.
Every baby is different, every parent is different, and having twins is simply not the same as raising one baby at a time.
Survival Tip #6: Give Yourself Permission to Simplify Your Life
Every expecting mother envisions what sort of parent she will be and the choices she will make in raising her children.
When reality sets in it might not be what you pictured.
Don’t get hung up on fulfilling some ideology, and listen to your instincts.
Allow yourself to do whatever is easier IF it will make you happy.
Formula feeding might seem easier, but if it will make you happy to keep trying to breastfeed, then keep trying!
If breastfeeding is making you miserable and you are over it, then move on to formula and don’t worry about a thing.
If you ended up buying takeout three nights in a row? Whatever…the important thing is you are fed.
If you were convinced you wanted one product before bringing them home and then realized a different product will work better for you? Buy what works and let the other one collect dust.
This isn’t saying spend recklessly or be wasteful, the point is to just give yourself permission to simplify where you can.
Heck, if money isn’t an issue, hire a sitter so you can take a nap or hire a maid to clean your sticky floors. They aren’t indulgences at this point in your life.
Survival tip #7: Welcome Help from Others
Always accept help when you want it and never feel obligated to accept help when you don’t.
Have a list of how people can help you that you can reference when someone asks, and also know how to say “no, thank you”!
Good intentions surround offers of help, though they are often misguided.
Many people offer to watch your babies while you go grocery shopping or clean or take a shower.
While there will be a time when these offers are akin to winning the golden ticket, in the very first months you may not feel that way.
While nobody can probably shower for you, they may be able to go grocery shopping for you or clean for you while YOU bond with your newborn twins…even if this means doing so in the background and respecting your privacy.
Sometimes just nesting in with your new little family is what you need, and your space needs to be respected. No drive-bys. You do not need to entertain anyone. You do not need to feed anyone.
Survival Tip #8: Take a Walk…
…Or a ride.
Most babies will settle down and even sleep in the stroller or the car.
While you probably shouldn’t rely on movement for all of your twins’ sleep, taking a walk outside every day is a wonderful way to calm yourself and your babies; fresh air for all.
Weather not cooperating? Take a ride instead! Just get outta the house.
You can listen to some quiet music and grab a coffee. It’s the little things that can make a big difference.
A coffee ride can also be a chance to catch up with your partner after a busy week caring for babies.
Survival tip #9: Keep the Diaper Bag Packed
Getting a baby ready to go out the door can be a real process…
Getting TWO babies ready to go out the door can be a three-ring circus! But it doesn’t have to be if you stay organized.
Have enough of everything that you can keep extras in the diaper bag at all time, so when its go time, there’s no running around the house grabbing toys and changes of clothes.
Even things you don’t need all the time like sunscreen or mittens-just keep them in the bag! Alternatively, you can keep a car-kit stocked with supplies so the diaper bag stays light.
Survival tip #10: Schedule Well Visits Back-to-Back and Bring a Notebook!
It might seem obvious, but you do not want to take any more trips to the doctor’s office than necessary, so schedule your twins’ well visits back-to-back.
Before the visit, write down any questions you might have for the pedi, and take down notes during the visit of future appointment dates and any special directions.
Remembering everything can be impossible when you have baby brain-write it down!
5 Tips When Feeling Overwhelmed With Twins
Having twins will cause you to feel a wide range of emotions which can most certainly include feelings of being overwhelmed.
This is inevitable when dealing with twins at any age, but especially in the first year with twins, so it’s best you begin to prepare for it mentally now.
Phone a Friend
We’re not talking about babysitting (that’s Tip #2), but company!
The days are long if you are alone with two babies, and even if your friend isn’t a “baby person” per se, you might find the adult conversation refreshing.
Having a visit to look forward to can help you get through the day.
Call for Back Up
If you are home alone with twins all day you may reach a point where you are just too tired or frustrated to carry on without taking a little break.
This is okay and totally normal!
Of course, since you can’t just take a break from being a mom, call anyone who you can trust to come to give you a slight reprieve when the situation gets dire.
Every twin mom deserves a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Know How to Soothe a Baby (or Two!)
This may sound obvious, but one of the most overwhelming aspects of dealing with twins is soothing two crying babies at the same time.
Practice the 5 S’s from Dr. Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block: 1) swaddling 2) side/stomach position in your arms 3) shushing 4) swinging 5) sucking.
The S’s are meant to recreate the sensation of being in the womb.
Employing one or a combination of these tactics works most of the time to calm a baby, and you can learn which work best for each of your twins AND…how to do them at the same time.
Maybe one baby sits in a swing with her pacifier while the other is rocked on her side in your arms.
Treat Yo’ Self
Being a mom is a hard job-so treat yo’ self! Knowing that a treat is waiting for you on the other side can help you get through a hard hour or minute.
It might be alone time, it might be a long, hot shower, it might be watching TV or online shopping, M&Ms or soft-serve ice cream.
Whatever it is, let yourself have it and let yourself look forward to it when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Put the Baby Down and Think for a Second
When your little ones aren’t feeling like their best selves, it can be overwhelming.
Sometimes you feel like you have tried everything and they are still crying, and now you feel on the verge of crying yourself.
When you are at a breaking point, put the babies down in their cribs and walk away-even for just one minute. 60 seconds.
In that time, you will deescalate and think more clearly.
All of a sudden you remember something you have forgotten or a trick you haven’t tried yet.