My First Year as a Twin Mom

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Categories Infants, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Perspective, SAHM, Sleep, Twinfant TuesdayTags ,

I haven’t posted much lately. I start writing and then read it over and it just sounds so… negative. Complain-y. I don’t want to read posts like that, so I never hit “publish.”

How Do You Do It? mom RebeccaD reflects on her first year of twin motherhood.The thing is, being a new parent, a stay-at-home parent, of infant twins, is hard. I want to be real about the difficult side of it – without diminishing how much I love my family and my life, how blessed I feel to be so bathed in abundance. It can feel like too much, but that’s a problem I love.

M and R will be one in September. My mom-self will be one too. It seems like a fresh start, a new chapter. All the planning and studying and dreaming that went into preparing for my babies was focused on brand new infants. Now I see toddlers peeking back at me, walking, teeth, opinions, self-efficacy. It’s hitting me that I didn’t just have babies. I had kids. I get to keep them, God willing, forever. I’m excited and nervous and so so happy for the future with these amazing little people that I know and like and love.

The most unexpected lessons I’ve learned this year are:

  1. The sleep thing is tough, and there is no right answer. What would you do if your children could only eat if you starved? That’s what sleep deprivation is like. You have to tend to their needs, but it sort of kills you. Our boys never liked the swing, and honestly, I never felt comfortable placing them in a mechanical thing. I felt that they belonged in my arms. We were making some progress with sleeping on their own until the 3 month sleep regression hit hard, and forced us into co-sleeping (my husband with M and me with R). After a month of torture, we were desperate. We did pure extinction cry it out. It was the hardest thing I’ve done, and I still don’t know if it was the right thing. Now, we’ve settled into a gentler pattern of response using pick up/put down. My 11-month-olds are up 1-4 times per night, and I believe they will sleep through the night when they’re ready.
  2. There’s the parent you want to be, and then there’s the parent you can be. My mom shakes her head at all my research and agonizing, saying she just followed her instincts. That’s fine and good, but with twins, you simply can’t follow all your instincts unless you can also expand yourself into two mothers. I wanted to breastfeed on demand and hold each baby on my chest afterward. Impossible (for me. I tried). I wanted to be the one to respond to my newborns rather than ask for help. It was logistically impossible. I had to accept that I have limits and that ideals must make way for messy, beautiful reality.
  3. When you think you have no more, there is more. I found a wellspring of patience, courage, strength, humility, and gentleness that I didn’t know I had. I was so afraid of not being enough to these two tiny people that needed so much, but like watching my body expand and expand as they grew, I felt my inner core grow to meet them where they were at, everyday. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being present.
  4. You will get mad at your babies, and that’s when it’s time to take a break. That’s what it means to be a family – you go through the whole range of experiences together. It’s normal. Sometimes it’s a 3am feeding that morphs into a poopy diaper change that turns into a whole outfit change when he pees everywhere and when you finally get him all bundled up again, he spits up everywhere. And this is the third time it’s all happened since midnight. And then the other one wakes up. No better time to start modeling self-care and proper anger management. Make sure the babies are safe, even if screaming, and leave the room for a couple deep breaths. Then get back in there, mama.
  5. It ends. It changes. It doesn’t last. The worst things disappear overnight, or melt slowly over time until you can barely remember them. The best things rise out of the chaos and endure in your memory forever. M would do this hilarious thing we called stretchy-stretch. When we opened his swaddle, his arms would pop up as if by springs and his fists would shake. We’d unnecessarily undo his swaddle at a night feeding just to find some hint of joy in the Groundhog Day that was (who are we kidding, still is) our lives. My husband and I were laughing about it the other day, and saying how much we miss stretchy-stretch.
  6. At the end, it’s just the beginning. You’re never done – and that’s an awful, drudgey sort of thing when it comes to dishes and cleaning and feeding and all those tasks. But it’s a wonderful gift when you see your little ones laughing at each other in the pillow fort after dinner and you realize you get to hear them laugh for years. You get to know them through everything. You’re going forward together. You’re a family.

RebeccaD is a SAHM of 11 month old fraternal twin boys, M and R. She wears the first year like a badge of honor and can’t wait for what the future holds!

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RebeccaD

RebeccaD has 8 month old fraternal twin boys, R and M. She’s a teacher-turned-SAHM in San Francisco who loves dance, quilting, and geeking out over DIY projects. Having twins is challenging her perfectionism in the best possible way.

9 thoughts on “My First Year as a Twin Mom”

  1. Rebecca, it sounds to me like you’ve the first year down pat! Thanks for “telling it like it is.” I know plenty of moms who can do it on instinct alone. You’re not one of them and neither am I. That’s probably why we blog, right!?

    I love the point you make that raising kids isn’t just about caring for babies. That was a mantra of mine, perhaps mostly because it never occurred to my parents. My sister and I were never taught basic life skills at home; I got them and school and she never got them. I think our parents were still trying to care for babies when we were teens. Your kids are going to benefit hugely from your long-term view.

    Best line: “The worst things disappear overnight, or melt slowly over time until you can barely remember them. The best things rise out of the chaos and endure in your memory forever.”

  2. I think I blocked out most of the hard times, and put out one fire at a time :o)
    I also found myself only being able to focus on the negative during that first year, and often had to leave the screaming babies in cribs, walk away and take a breath.
    I’m not going to say it gets easier, but now that my boys are 3 I often find myself baffled at the little people that seem to be growing up so fast!
    Keep it up Mama!

  3. The first year is so so hard! Stay strong, you are about to cross over into a place where things get much easier! Yes, you will meet new challenges, but year two is nothing like year one! REST assured (yes, sleep comes back in this chapter), you will get back to your old self as the next few months pass. Stay strong, you are about to reap some of the benefits of all the hard work you put into your babies!

  4. I’ve been looking back at this post throughout the day. I think it may be my favourite on HDYDI. You do such a great job of capturing the complexity and paradox of motherhood.

  5. I really relate to your feeling that you want to be “real”…but that’s not always positive…so you don’t want to seem ungrateful…and then you feel disingenuous (or at least that’s how I’d describe it). My girls are 4 1/2, and 97% of the time my posts on FB and on my blog are pretty rosy. I feel guilty sometimes as I worry I’m contributing to that “slice of life that we want others to see” that is so written about these days. I finally decided I’d continue to write about the sunshine, and only occasionally about the pull-my-hair-out / eat-a-dozen-cookies issues. I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal, and I’m going to roll with it. :)

    I thank you for being so candid in this post. And I love you wearing the first year like a badge of honor…you should!!! That’s exactly the way I felt, and still feel! When our girls turned a year old, it was a huge celebration, mostly to the tune of “I MADE IT!!!” :)

    I feel more and more every month or so that I’m hitting my stride. There are things that I miss from the girls being infants, and then toddlers, but each age I’ve declared to be “my favorite age”. No matter the age, though, my guess is that the key points you’ve outlined will continue to be relevant, just in new ways.

  6. Exactly! The first year is brutal. My boys are three now, and I promise you it will get better and easier. Especially once you start getting full nights of sleep. You will feel like you can conquer the world when you can get a solid 8 hours.

  7. I agree with Sadia – this is a GREAT post! Captures the hilarity, the tiredness, the drudgery, but also a bit of the joy, and the hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. The first year is for sure the hardest, followed by the second, but then it really starts to get much much better in my opinion. Two year olds and three year olds have been so. much. fun! I love that stage.

    BUT, the first year is rough, and you sound like you’ve certainly come to the right lessons. Twins sure teach us moms and dads an awful lot huh?

  8. I’m in the process of experiencing ALL of this! My identical girls keep me on the go, and as a SAHM (single) enrolled in online school I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to survive this first year without losing it! The sleeping has gotten WAY better and that’s helped a lot but being the primary caregiver is definitely NOT easy (especially with twins and as a first time mom). Regardless, when I see my little beauties smile its all worth it! Great to meet and hear stories from others who know EXACTLY what I’m going through!

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