I attended an event for my Moms of Twins club this weekend, a brunch welcoming new members from the past year. Obviously, that meant a lot of moms with young infants, and even some who are still pregnant.
I ended up in a conversation with three moms whose babies were under 4 months old. Oh, I do not remember that time fondly. The unknown, the lack of feedback (save for the inexplicable crying), the lack of sleep. They were talking about that guilt and worry that we all felt at that age: the sense that you can never give enough to either baby.
As a new mom, you get so caught up in what this newborn thing is “supposed” to be like. Lots of holding, wearing in a sling, close contact. Hours spent idly watching your beautiful child sleep, reading books during those few minutes when they’re awake and alert. Et cetera, et cetera.
Of course, when you’re outnumbered, you get a huge reality check. Sadly, two babies does not mean twice as much time quietly admiring the wonder that is your child. It means twice as much time nursing, pumping, feeding, burping, cleaning bottles, cleaning diapers, cleaning pump parts. And, oh crap, it’s time for them to eat again. I remember remarking to my friend at the time, “I spend so much time managing them, I never get to enjoy them!”
And it’s more than that. In addition to the lack of enjoyment, we worry so much that we are doing our kids irreparable harm. That they are suffering from the fact that we can only hold one of them at a time, and there seems to be a constant rotation in and out of the swing. The moms I talked to on Saturday were so genuinely worried. Are we not bonding enough? Will we have attachment issues?
I can’t tell you how glad I am that I can see the other side of that. That I could assure them that there is, dare I say it, an enormous benefit from those guilt-ridden first months. And it is this: self-sufficiency. I simply couldn’t entertain both kids, all day, every day. I couldn’t attend to their every movement, every squawk, every immediate need. So, to a large extent, they learned to entertain themselves and each other.
Which is not to say, of course, that my kids don’t go through clingier, needier phases. And there’s plenty of contributing personality factors. But the upside to the fact that you simply cannot attend to your little babies in the manner you thought you would, is that you will find them much more capable of playing on their own than many of their singleton age-mates.
So don’t overwhelm yourselves with guilt, new twin mamas. It’s hard, and you try your best. But your kids are not being harmed. This is their life, they know no different. They will still love you, and bond, and otherwise grow to be awesome kids. A few extra minutes in the swing won’t hurt ’em.