Oh, hi there! Remember Ask the Moms? Yeah, sorry ’bout that. We’re back now. I apologize for the slacking.
If you have a question for Ask the Moms, please leave it in the comments, or on our Features page.
Today’s question comes from a new mom of twins:
I’ve read some of the great posts on the site about being a SAHM with twins, but it seems like all the posts address older children, and finding the right balance of activity and schedule. My twin boys are only 6 weeks old, and my husband just went back to work. I only just figured out how to (bottle) feed both of them at the same time, never mind leaving the house (or a shower everyday). My question is: how did all the other moms of multiples make it through these early days and keep their sanity?? Ideas for dual feedings, what to do when both are inconsolible and feed/sleep/play schedules would be great!
Ah yes. The newborn days, when all of the help goes back to work or flies home to Florida. It can be a very sad day when the extra hands are gone. But, freak that I am, I also found it kind of empowering and liberating. Truly, now it’s just up to you, in a good way. You’re the mommy, you make the decisions. Following are some of our sanity-savers, tips, and tricks for those very early newborn days when you’re all by your lonesome.
We all have had some variation on the bottle-feed-two-at-once trick.
Prop ’em up in two Boppies, sit them in the bouncy or car seats, or have one little head resting on each leg. In the very earliest (pre-rolling) days, lots of us did it on the couch. Or on the floor, back up against the couch. Get the babies situated on a stable incline and hold both bottles. I for one have a near-permanent butt-print in the center of my couch, with two slightly rubbed spots on either side where the boppies lived for months on end. Is it the cuddly and snuggly image you always dreamed of? Maybe not. And sometimes you might have a situation where one is ready for a bottle while the other isn’t, and you can get your snuggle on. But most of the time, it’s all about efficiency when it comes to food. Snuggles can come when their bellies are nice and full.
When Both are Ballistic
As my friend and fellow HDYDI contributor Rebecca put it at our twin club’s cope meeting last night, sometimes the bad parts are exactly how you pictured them. Both babies red-faced and screaming. It’s no fun for anyone, and it does sometimes happen. We each have our own triage methods. Some just go with whoever seems the most hysterical at that moment. Some first attend to the one that is known to be easier to soothe, so that baby can be quickly calmed and then you move on to the trickier one. Some just try to rotate who gets picked up first. Whatever you need to do, you do it.
Do not fear tools like the swing, the bouncy seat, or pacifiers. My son would only nap in the swing for the first five months of his life. There were times when I’d have them both in bouncy seats on the floor, and I’d bounce them both with my feet so that I could actually eat something (or just get my ears a few more inches away from the screaming). And definitely, if you haven’t already, watch the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD. Swaddling, shushing, swinging… a mom’s best friend.
A baby carrier can be a good friend, even if it only contains one baby. If you have a fussier baby that wants to be close all the time, why not put that one in the Bjorn / Ergo / Sling? Then you still have your hands free to grab a sandwich or pick up the second baby. Don’t worry about the happier baby being neglected. You can’t make a happy baby any happier. So if one is calm and content, do what you need to do for the other. The happy baby will get their share of the love, I promise. (And, at some point, will likely swap personalities and become the fussy baby…)
If Mama Ain’t Happy…
Your sanity and, dare I say, happiness, is extremely important. As moms, it’s easy to start neglecting ourselves. But there has to be a balance. Some people just plain do not feel human until they’ve had a shower in the morning. If that’s the case for you… guess what, Daddy is on baby-duty for the whopping 10 minutes it’ll take you to wash your face and your hair and get that spit-up smell off of your shoulder. Or, if there’s no other adult who can watch them, they’ll really be OK if they sit in their bouncy seats inside the bathroom (or just outside the open door if there’s no room), or even rest in their cribs for a few minutes so that you can hop in the shower. Just make sure they’re in a safe and secure place. If they start crying, it’ll be OK. No need to leap out of the water with your hair still lathered. They’ll be OK for the whole 60 seconds it takes to finish what you’re doing.
Activities and getting out of the house are key for your sanity, and good for the kids, too. Even if they’re still little and can barely see past the handle of the carseat, it’s OK. Get out of the house, get a little fresh air. Take a new mom class. Meet other new moms, and especially meet other new moms of twins (have you joined your local twin club yet?!) Take advantage of the first month or two when they’ll sleep any time you rock the carseat, and go out for lunch with a friend. Look around for local movie theaters that often have a once-a-week mommy movie, where they show a non-kid movie at a baby-friendly time. That way you actually get to see a recent release, and no one else minds if you take up four seats and have to change a diaper or breastfeed most of the way through the movie. Getting out on your own with two babies can be intimidating… until you’ve done it a few times. You’ll get the hang of it quickly, and then you can just let everyone you pass be in awe of your capabilities.
Schedules are a good thing, and many (most? all?) of us here at HDYDI are big fans. But newborns can’t read clocks. More important at the newborn stage is routine. See our previous post on that subject for more details. Routines are good, predictability is good. But don’t expect a true nap schedule until closer to 5 or 6 months.
Finally, remember that those newborn days are not a sprint, they are a grueling marathon. Do what you need to do to power through, nourish yourself (yes, that means make sure you get to eat and sleep), and survive. Roll with the punches, get out of the house even for a short walk around the block. Somewhere in the neighborhood of four months, the haze will lift and you’ll start doing more than simply surviving. That’s when it gets good and interesting…