Responding to "we're having twins!"

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Categories Ask the Moms, Pregnancy, Relationships

This morning, one of my husband’s college friends sent news that they’re expecting twins. I have heard of a lot of multiples since becoming a twin mom, but all of those announcements have been through my local multiples group. This is my first experience with a real-life friend becoming pregnant with multiples. I had no idea how excited I would be!  I can’t stop myself from making the longest mental list of advice (and assvice). Before responding to their request for advice, I need to narrow down my response. So… what three things would you tell a real-life friend expecting multiples? They already have one kid, so they’re not rookie parents. Here’s my gut reaction advice:

1. Pick up Dr. Barbara Luke’s book When You’re Expecting Twin, Triplets, and Quadruplets. Read the nutrition information, pre-term labor, and prematurity sections. Post the pre-term labor signs on your fridge.

2. Make sure you are going to an OB that specializes in high-risk (or multiple) pregnancies.

3. Line up as much help as humanly possible for after the babies are born.

What do you think? What would be your best three tips?

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40 thoughts on “Responding to "we're having twins!"”

  1. Well, Dr. Luke’s book is one of mine too, so you got that already. My #2 and #3 tips are:

    Look into your local twin club, they have lots of resources for expectant and new MOMs, like a lending library, breastfeeding pillows, a great listserv for questions, expecting and new mom get togethers, and the sales!

    Also, I always tell people to check out this blog, of course, but also a blog called Looky Daddy. It’s fun, but there is one post in particular which is must-read:

    http://www.lookydaddy.com/weblog/2007/06/i_know_that_mos.html

    “The Mom” writes about going full term with her identical twins. She asks for comments, and there are now 7 pages of stories of twin moms going full or near term. It’s really positive, inspiring reading. Parents that just found out about twins are in the midst of twin shock. There’s so much scary information out there, it’s nice to see the optimistic side too.

  2. 1. Go to the movies as much as possible over the next six months.

    2. Go out to eat at non-kid-friendly restaurants as much as possible over the next six months.

    3. Sleep as much as possible over the next six months.

    I also would ditto your number three. Oh, and get the older child into preschool as soon as possible!

  3. 1. Stock up on a lot of caffeinated beverages – you are going to need it.

    2. Definitely line up as much help as possible – you and your spouse are going to be exhausted.

    3. Read up on premature babies and NICU experiences. If you have the babies early, you will be more prepared for what is in store.

    I also agree with Laura’s #2 as well.

  4. 1. Join MOT group and see if you can but stuff used. Your kids don’t need new furniture/toys/clothes.

    2. Finish your thank you notes early.

    3. Put together a chore list – everything under the sun (including “sealing your granite countertops” for example) and post it on your refridgerator. I really, really wish I had done that.

  5. 1. Join a local moms of multiples group
    2. Prepare yourself mentally for the possibility of bed rest
    3. Tour the NICU so you have an idea of what it means to have preemies

  6. 1. make a plan in advance, with your husband or helper, for exactly how you plan to handle night feedings.
    2. get educated about nursing twins but be ready to forgive yourself if nursing doesn’t work well for your lifestyle! (I switched to formula at 3 months with no regrets, and I refused to pump to save my sanity.)
    3. Buy and use these items: TWO boppy pillows and TWO bottle prop devices (IF you use bottles). The bottle bundle by Little Wonders was my miracle product- bottle holder enabled me to feed both at once and saved so much time!

  7. How fun!

    MOT Club, MOT Club, MOT club. I ran into a woman at Whole Foods with twins and asked if she was in my MOT club, and her response was “no, I already had an older kid, I didn’t need a moms of twins club.”

    SO NOT TRUE! There’s lots of people in the MOT club with an older child, and it’s so critical to have a network of people who get it.

  8. I agree, join a MOT club! It’s like any other mom’s club, except people really understand the challenges that come with multiples.

    Other thing I’d say is don’t get too pysched out with horror stories. I’ve had plenty of friends with singletons get less sleep than I did. If she’s already had one, she knows what to expect…no need to multiply those fears by two :)

    Oh, and line up a great MFM/high risk pregnancy specialist. Hopefully she’ll never need it (plenty of moms of twins have full-term, uncomplicated pregnancies…I was lucky enough to!), but better to have the relationship with a specialist and not need it than need it and not have it.

  9. There is a lot of advice. I like to tell people that you can read all the books you want but that you need to listen to your body.

    1. Enjoy all the time you can with the older child, because when the babies come there is a going to be a blur for about 3-4 months.

    2. Get mentally ready to answer a lot of questions that you might not have had to answer with your first child. I know that my husband and I had to answer a lot of questions when we got pregnant with triplets.

    3. being to blog. this is where you can put down your thoughts and then come back to them and not lose them. Also it is a great way to get everyone who loves you involved in the pregnancy without having to be there.

    all the other advice is great. I love the one about going to the movies and eating out a lot. that is funny but true.

    I used hands-free bottles because i could not breastfeed.
    http://www.podee.com/index.html

  10. 1. Join a MOT club. BEFORE you have the babies. Get a Big Sister. Go to some meetings—meet people while you’re pregnant and it’s easier.

    2. Work to meet other MOT’s with twins about your twins’ age. I don’t care if you have lots of mommy friends already, you NEED MOT friends too. See #1 for where to meet them.

    3. Make a list of all chores, for each day, as a checklist and put on fridge. All visitors can check off different ones. AND, prepare—buy in bulk the basics so you won’t have to run out in the first few weeks. Make some meals and freeze them.

    As an aside, I didn’t find the Luke book helpful—it was too different from what my OB was telling me. Not starting a debate, since I know some people love it, but it’s not for everyone.

    Rebecca

    PS Goddess, I think I have met that same mom at Whole Foods. So wrong, so wrong….

  11. All good advice. My best friend actually delivered her twins almost 5 months to the day after I delivered mine. Also boy/girl. Yay!

    I also recommended “Twinspiration” by Cheryl Lage (who contributes here, right?)

  12. GREAT advice! I would say:
    – Have EVERYTHING (nursery, frozen meals stocked up, etc) ready by your 3rd trimester… you never know when they’ll come!

    – Make sure your hospital have a level 3 NICU (it’s stressful to be sent to a different hospital and dr in an emergency situation!)

    – Seek out help help help: whether it be- food, hands, or just prayer! and ACCEPT help for your sanity! :)

  13. #1 – Don’t let people freak you out! LOTS of moms have healthy, term, normal birthweight twins. Keep your eyes peeled for problems but don’t obsess!

    #2 – Ditto what people have said about buying used. There is no need to spend tons on all new stuff, unless you have money to burn (in which case, we should talk, you can send it to me!). Go to baby sales, garage sales, etc while you are pregnant and can get around. Get stuff in a bunch of different sizes.

    #3 – Get a box you designate as your keepsake box, even if it is just an old shoebox. That way when you get things you want to hold onto, you can put it in there. That way when you get around to making baby books (don’t ask me when that will happen! When they turn 18?) everything will be in one place.

  14. Ironically, a coworker told me this morning that her best friend just found out she’s expecting twins. God help me, my first reaction was “I’m so sorry!” For me, twin pregnancy was one of the worst experiences of my life (preterm labor, 12 weeks of hospital bed rest, NICU, insane angst, etc.). Good thing my babies are so cute and sweet; they’ve made up for it already!

    But I told my coworker to pass along some advice from me:

    1. Get Dr. Luke’s book! It was very reassuring for my entire pregnancy, especially when I would read the week milestones that I had achieved while in the hospital. It’s not scary, but very matter-of-fact, and had good nutritional advice. It also prepares you for what you might expect if you have babies in NICU.

    2. Be prepared that you might be taken off of work at 24 weeks for some sort of bed rest. No one wants to contemplate it, but it’s better to face reality than to be blindsided. Figure out how you will handle work, older children, household duties, etc.

    3. Try to relax and maintain some calm. Easier said than done, but worrying doesn’t help anything!

  15. Great advice, Laura, as well as everyone else. Esp Laura’s advice #2. I just went to my regular obgyn who has plenty of twin deliveries under her belt, but toward the end of the second trimester, when the babies’ growth discrepancy seemed to be widening quickly, I seriously regretted not being under a perinatologist’s care, and my obgyn’s office really didn’t have the resources for the weekly monitoring in the third trimester. And she really

    I would also emphasize stocking the freezer — every week I bought a couple of freezer meals (since most homemade meals only last about 3 months in the freezer) — and getting as much fresh air and walking or swimming as possible.

    Joining a MOT club is a good idea during pregnancy. I was too nervous about “jinxing” to join during pregnancy, and now I have no idea when I’ll have the time/energy to get to one of our local club’s required pre-membership meetings.

  16. Everyone has mentioned mine:

    1) Dr. Luke’s book – saved me! I read it when I was 4 months pregnant so when I ended up in the hospital on bedrest at 23 weeks, I knew what to expect. The visit from the NICU doc wasn’t as scary.

    2) Start a blog. Start a blog! I started mine when I was in the hospital and now I can laugh at the 13 weeks I spent there. I also have a way to save all of the memories of Gracie and Luke’s every day life. I’m not a scrapbooker and I can’t get a photo album together to save my life. But I can blog!

    3) For crying out loud, ask for help! Everyone wants to help, but most of them want you to TELL them what to do. I really wish I had been better about that!

  17. There’s so much great advice already. Mine are more general to parenting, I think, than to parenting multiples specifically.

    1. Accept help.
    2. Forgive yourself for mistakes and imperfections.
    3. Ignore the advice that doesn’t sound right.

  18. 1) Nursing twins is so hard…. be prepared for that. Once they learn to nurse one at a time you can use the EZ-2-Nurse pillow to feed them at the same time. It is a huge time saver. You can get it at doubleblessings.com

    2) When people ask you if they can help send them to http://www.carecalendar.org. They can sign up to bring you dinner, sit with the babies while you nap or clean out your dish washer. Anything you ask for. We had dinner brought to us three times a week for 6 weeks. We would have been eating cold cereal if not for that.

    3) Accept that you will have no privacy for a while. You have to have help and that means people have to be in your house. They have to see your underwear when they are folding it for you, they have to use your dirty bathroom, and see your messy cabinets. Now, I’m used to people just walking into our house. And it’s out of necessity… I usually don’t have a free hand to answer the door.

    And just some words of encouragement… it gets easier… each day, week, month gets easier. But, those first few are sure tough!

  19. 1. Spend the money on a good coffee/espresso machine – one that needs minimal work from you in order to brew that morning jolt. If you are a coffee/espresso drinker, I am For Real on this one.

    2. Definitely pick up a Twin Pregnancy book.

    3. Google: Twin Mom Blogs, etc. I truly believe that if we had Internet before the girls were five months old that I would have felt more “support” for breastfeeding twins, sleepless nights, and dealing with my new life as SAHM.
    I can’t begin to express how wonderful reading the blogs of fellow MOM’s have been to me. All your advice has been priceless to me. Next time we have twins (yes, we’re hoping I’m always dropping eggs left and right – pun not really intended), I’ll be much better prepared.

    Adding a #4: You don’t need two of everything.

  20. Do what feels right for your family. We did not join a MOT club and really have no desire to ever return to a meeting. I didn’t find our local, and only, group very helpful. I have remained active in MOPS and online groups, it works for us.

    Plan! For example, my twins were due in Oct. My plan was to have back to school stuff ready for my son in June and to have all the twin stuff ordered or planned by July. That way I didn’t have to worry about bedrest or premies keeping me from making decisions. I also made basic grocery lists and schedules. That way if my mom had to step in she knew what we did with our 5yo and when and what food we had in the house! Some folks make a binder of local things for older kids to do, with the annual passes and directions inside. Take out menus all in one place.

    Read what you can, but know when to stop. Not every twin ends up in the NICU or with a complication. It was nice to breeze over those topics and come back when necessary. If you read everything you could drive yourself batty!

  21. 1. Focus on positive thoughts and stay away from the horror stories and people who want to tell you every horrible birth story they have ever heard.
    2. Get prepared early. Plan to have the nursery and showers done by the end of your second trimester. Bedrest was easier for me to stomach since I had all of my showers around 25 weeks and felt less like I had completely missed out. And if you don’t have to go on bedrest you can get to all the second priority stuff.
    3. Good doctors and hospitals are critical – already covered.
    4. Get real about the support you will need after the babies come. Plan to hire a night nanny if you can afford it or line up family/friends because you will have to get some sleep – this goes for nursing mothers too. Just a couple nights off a week can make a world of difference. For me a paid night nanny that I was the boss of was the only way I could relax.

  22. I have a lot of the same advice as PP’s about lots of help, etc…..
    1. Eat as much as possible, especially protein. (I didn’t get Dr. Luke’s book but followed similar advice.
    2. Find a twin’s/mulitples birth class if there is one in your area and meet other twin parents.
    3. Go to a Dr. that has practiced delivering twins/mulitples many many many times.

  23. I had twin boys just before my older son turned 2. My advice:

    1. EZ-2-nurse twins pillow. After a couple of weeks, I could nurse twins, eat a sandwich, and operate the remote control at the SAME TIME! Still using it at 15 months.

    2. Evening help, like 6 p.m. until everyone’s in bed. The toddler needs daddy to put him to bed, and the twins are likely to be screaming. Once i didn’t have to supplement with formula anymore, I didn’t find night feedings any worse with twins than with a singleton.

    3. Line up help every day for the older kid. I found I really could manage the twins, but newborn twins Plus toddler was absolutely impossible. Fortunately we could afford a nanny part time, and enlisted family help on a schedule for the other days. I think this was definitely more important for me than a night nanny.

    I considered the twin pregnancy books but I just didn’t want to eat all that food etc. I was fortunate to have an uncomplicated, full term pregnancy, and I didn’t do or eat anything out of the ordinary. For me, I think the twin pregnancy books would have just bothered me and made me wonder if I was doing well enough. I had an OB and ultrasounds every two weeks to tell me I was doing just fine.

  24. Great tips.

    1. I keep a calender in the kitchen and write down “firsts”. Then when it comes time to transfer all the milestones, you have it in your small calender ready to go. (It’s the cheapy ones from Dollar Tree)

    2. Take a tour of the NICU.

    3. Have 2 cribs.

    ….and of course, start a blog!

  25. Happy to comment right after Kim:)

    1. Practice your deep Yoga breathing. Not for the actual labor part but for the many hours of crying that will follow with 2 babies. If you are not into Yoga find some way to relax and release the tension that is coming:)

    2. Start reading and deciding about a sleeping/eating schedule while still pregnant. Even if you didn’t schedule for the first baby get those twins sleeping and eating TOGETHER and ON THE CLOCK as quickly as possible. Having twins eating great meals and sleeping through the night very early has made our life doable.

    3. Buy the double snap and go. It has been one of the BEST newborn twin purchases we have made. Followed closely by the Podee feeding system, which has been a life saver!

  26. 1. I followed the gain 24lbs by 24 weeks rule-I think this was from the March of Dimes.

    2. Listen to your body. Seriously. Be aware of when it is telling you to rest, eat and drink.

    3. Remember that twins are a blessing, not a curse!

    (My twins were born at 39 weeks via scheduled c-section. I was on modified bed rest (told to take it easy) after a incorrect ultrasound of my cervix at 34 weeks. My baby A (boy) weighed 7.12 and my baby B (girl) weighed 6.12. We were so blessed by their good health, and will be celebrating their 2nd birthday on May 15th!

    I did not join a twin club, but have made many blogger buddies who are MOT’s, and I did not need to see a high risk doctor, but was closely monitored in the best hospital in Pittsburgh with a Children’s hospital NICU, just in case. Helped with peace of mind, and I was certain I was getting good care.

  27. 1. Be positive. Get all necessary info about complications, but focus on the positive side. Be optimistic.

    2. Prepare your firstborn(s). Talk to them about the upcoming siblings as soon as you start showing. My twins brought my 3-year old daughter her first bicycle as a present when we came back from the maternity ward.

    3. Don’t plan too much. Don’t buy too much ahead. Don’t prepare too much. Enjoy your family of three as much as you can.

  28. 1. lactation consultant! Find one! Check to see if your pediatrician has one. Plan to make a couple of visits post babies or have her come to your house a couple of time. Figuring out a tandem hold saved my life and I couldn’t have done it w/o the help of the consultant

    2. Make sure friends and family know that when they come over they are not there to just hold a baby. I read somewhere about having a bowl w/ cards that have chores on them. When someone walks in they pick a card and do the chore before they leave. Fold laundry, make a snack for mom, unload the dishwasher.. so forth and so on.

    3. Always have food and water close by! ALWAYS. I put some in a basket that I could carry from upstairs to downstairs w/ me… had food/water/baby nail clippers/lansinoh/notepad and pen…. things I always needed on hand. She will be trapped under babies in the beginning.

  29. 1) Take it easy – a twin pregnancy is not the same as a singleton pregnancy. Lay down. Let people run errands for you. Let people cook dinner for you. Let people do WHATEVER they are willing to do to make things easier for you.

    2) When they are born, be mentally prepared to put the twins on a schedule immediately. Feeding on demand with twins is a really good way to drive yourself crazy immediately. Having a schedule from the get-go makes everything that follows (sleep training, for example) that much easier.

    3) Take it easy on yourself – no one is going to judge you over some dust, dirty dishes and laundry. Eat what YOU want to eat and do what YOU want to do when YOU want to do it.

    I suffered a lot through the first month or two with my boys because I had a lot of family around – granted they were trying to be helpful – telling me what to do. It wasn’t until they left and I was alone with my boys that I found my rhythm with them.

    And we were just fine.

  30. If at all possible, try to breastfeed. Aside from all the other reasons why breastfeeding is a good choice, I found it to be so much easier to nurse two babies at once than to give them both bottles at once. It’s also a great way to save money!

  31. Well said, Alli! My girls are 7 months now and when we are out I can hardly figure out how to feed them both bottles. I think it is WAY easier and faster to latch them for 10 minutes and be done. Hooray!

  32. What great advice! My twin girls are 3 months old and I have 2.5 year son. Here’s my suggestions:

    1. Read Dr. Luke’s book, as others have suggested.

    2. If you have an older sibling, plan for him or her. We had him pick out gifts for the baby and they “brought” gifts for him. He got a big brother t-shirt to wear when they were born. We made sure there was someone around to help out with him and now he goes to the day home 2 days a week. As someone else mentioned, I can handle 2 babies OR an active toddler, but not both at the same time.

    3. Get helpers for the first 6 weeks, at least. If you have a c-section, that’s how long it takes before you are supposed to lift anything heavier than your baby. That means no carrying laundry, no lifting car seats, no carrying toddlers, no pushing strollers, etc. This was really hard, but it was good advice.

    4. Let people know how they can help, ask for help and accept it. If someone comes to visit ask them to fold laundry, or play with your toddler, or change diapers. Anything to give you a little break. The most helpful people were the ones who knew what was needed before they came. One day a friend called to say she’d made soup and she was bringing me lunch. That was so much easier than having someone say “what can I do?”

    5. Get out of the house! It might be hard, but you’ll have to do it eventually. It took 2 months before I was ready to take the twins and toddler out by myself, but it was a really important step. It would have been easy to just stay inside, especially since it was cold and snowy, but I didn’t want to risk getting in to that routine.

    6. Make sure dad gets a chance to look after the babies. I know lots of moms who take on all the baby care responsibilities and the dads never get a chance to help. They unintentionally keep the dads from learning how to look after their children, and then the moms never feel they can leave their little ones at home. If you can do it, your partner can learn to do it too, if you just give him a chance.

  33. i got so many negative, horror stories when i was pregnant, then a colleague at work who has twins said to me;

    be positive and determined that you can do it!
    you can have a ‘normal’ delivery
    you will learn how to carry 2 babies at once
    you can breastfeed 2 babies

    she was like a breath of fresh air and in the early days i thought about her advice a lot. so please take her advice!

    my advice is;

    drink plenty of water
    get dh to make you a peanut butter,banana and icecream smoothie for breakfast (that was the reason i got out of bed!)
    do some kind of relaxation class before. i did hypnobirthing and it gave me a confidence and a focus to prepare for labour and to care for 2 newborns afterwards. id say any kind of relaxation class could do a similar job.

  34. 1. If you want to breastfeed, read up on breastfeeding twins before they are born. A critical mistake I made was not to push the hospital to help me begin pumping almost immediately, so it took forever for my milk to come in (and I never made enough for 2 babies). Meanwhile, I had no idea my babies weren’t getting enough and they continued to drop weight in the hospital. Luckily they were big to begin with (7 lbs 0 oz and 6 lbs 0 oz) so everything ended up OK, but make sure you find a good lactation consultant BEFORE they’re born to help you through breastfeeding twins.
    2. Borrow, borrow, borrow! I bought the twin nursing pillow that everyone recommends but never figured out how to breastfeed 2 at once, so it was a waste of $50, and a woman with twins around the corner gave me hers after I’d already bought mine (and once you’re on bed rest or the babies are here you won’t have time to return stuff!).
    3. GET HELP! Our twins are our first, so I can only imagine that having a toddler makes it even more of a challenge, and consider that you may have to have a c-section. I was not alone with my babies for the first 6 weeks. We had a night nurse for 6 nights a week, plus my mother would come over in the morning and then my mother in law would help in the afternoons. We had friends bringing us dinners 3 nights/week for 2 months. I realize not everyone has the same resources, but get what help you can. The money we spent on a night nurse was worth every penny – and I truly believe my babies are good sleepers (hoping I’m not jinxing myself here) because we had a night nurse. It allows you to be consistent with how you respond to them and how you begin to sleep train them.

  35. New mom question: How do you get them to stay on the same schedule? We brought the girls home from the hospital on an eat every 3 hour schedule, but Thalia is hungry every 2 hours (or more) lately. Calli eats every 3 still, but Thalia is making it hard to keep a schedule going. They’re only two weeks old and we’re not sure how to deal with this.

    There is no MOTs club that I can get to around here. They’re all over an hour away and meet on schoolnights. Teaching doesn’t leave me with much time for that.

  36. I didn’t have any thing close to a schedule until after 2 months. Both my boys weighed about 10 pounds then. That is about when they can start going 4 or 5 hours through the night. Until then you pretty much have to feed on demand. For us that was sometimes every hour and a half, but sometimes only one baby at a time. I would sometimes wake the other baby up to eat, but not always… especially in the middle of the night. I would feed number one and get him back to sleep and look down at number two who was sleeping peacefully and choose to grab a hour of sleep for myslef instead of waking number two to eat. For me it wasnt always best to feed them at the same time everytime. One could go longer than the other. And if I had to wake them up they would be too tired to eat so it was a waste of time anyway.

    And there is a growth spurt around two weeks that really makes it tough. But,I promise it gets easier. I’m still nursing both of mine (4 months old) and I would think it is about the same level of difficulty as nursing one baby. They eat 6 times a day, starting at 5 am, every three hours. They know the schedule better than I do!

  37. I agree totally with all of Allison’s points.

    Regarding family – if you have them over to help, remember that many of us will also have to endure all of their (certainly well-meaning) advice at times, which, coupled with lack of sleep and hormones, I found overwhelming at times. Our twins are our firstborns and sometimes my husband and I just needed to figure things out on our own instead of being told what to do at every turn.

    But we still needed the help! If you can afford paid help for at least the first 2 months even for a few hours during the days (so you can rest) I would go for it.

    I would add – a double snap and go (we used ours for the first 5 months, then it got too heavy to manouever), and a side by side stroller with nice thick tires for long walks over any surface. Just load the babies up and it’s just you and them in the nice fresh air between feedings…love it!

  38. Simple but true. I’m a newbie here. I have identical twin girls. We also have a three year old. Here’s my advice (I was on hospital bed rest for 2 months).
    If you land on bed rest……

    Schedule the days you’ll see your family because if your husband was like mine he will feel terribly guilty and kill himself trying to be at your side 24/7. Not fun for a three year old. We scheduled 3x’s a week. Wow, did I look forward to those visits but in between…

    When people said what can I do? Ask them to commit to a day to visit you. I loved hanging out with my friends for hours like we were 16 again (now 33).

    Eat, watch junk TV (guilt free) and keep a journal.

    Be friendly to the nurses because trust me you get more flies with honey.

    Tour the NICU! It is allot easier to see other people children in their before seeing your own newborns. Stop thinking this won’t happen to me, it probably will and you’ll be great! Sadia, I love # 2. By the way preschool rocks!

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