You’ve just found out you are pregnant… and with twins! Congratulations! So many thoughts must be racing through your head. Are there really TWO of them in there? How did this happen? What does this mean? Can I still have a natural birth? What if they come early? Do we need to get a bigger car, bigger house? How are we going to PAY for TWO babies at once?
OMG what are we going to do?!?!?
Relax. You are in good company. We’ve all been through it, that’s why we are blogging about it now. It’s been a tough road for many of us, but hey who said raising kids was going to be easy?
If you are new parents, you will be evenly matched. If you already have an older child… well… better prepare your house for battle because YOU WILL BE OUTNUMBERED!
Here’s what you can do.
Arm Yourself With Knowledge
Read up on books which will help you prepare for twin mommy-hood. You could buy them from your local bookstore or online, borrow from a friend, get them second hand or borrow from the library. Our local library has an online book reservation system which made it really handy to place books on hold. You get notified when the books are in and they store them on a special bookshelf near the entrance which makes it quick and easy to pick up. Plus you can renew books online. All you need is a library card, which is almost always free!
Some of the books that a very thoughtful friend gave as a gift:
• Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth, MD
• Ready or Not series on raising twins by Elizabeth Lyons
Not-twin related but still very helpful books I borrowed from the library:
• What to Expect When You’re Expecting – with a special section on multiples (free on Kindle Unlimited)
• Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg
• The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine
• Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on baby furniture, gear, clothes, strollers, maternity wear and much, much more! by Denise & Alan Fields
Register for Bootcamp
Find a prenatal class offered in your area either by your municipality/county, hospital or local Multiple Births Association.
We took a combination of classes. First, we signed up for a local prenatal classes which at the time were a series of evening classes led by a Registered Nurse (RN) from the Public Health department. Now unfortunately those courses are only offered online with an optional one day workshop at the local library.
Once we found out we were having twins, we then signed up for the Multiple Births Families Association (www.MBFA.ca) “Multiple Expectations” prenatal course where we met other families in the same boat.
Finally, I signed up for a special Breastfeeding Multiples session at the local Hospital to get some “hands-on” training with dolls. It sounds funny but you will need the practice. It’s less nerve wracking to position 2 dolls and not worry about dropping them than a pair of REAL babies!
Start building your network with some of the couples you met at these prenatal courses. Join your local Multiple Births Association to meet other families. If you live in Canada, check the Multiple Births Canada website to find a chapter near you. It’s worth the annual membership fee, especially for the first couple of years.
Again, it may sound funny to some (“They have a twins club for you guys?”) but trust me, if you meet another twin mommy with multiples close to your age, you will want to exchange numbers and stay in touch! Many of these clubs also hold events like: summer picnics; holiday parties; meet and greets; and playdates.
You can also join online communities such as right here on HDYDI to connect with other moms, either though Facebook groups (like ours or the official group for Multiples of America – formerly NOMOTC) or blogging websites. Great way to connect with MOMs across North America!
Another great resource we have here in our city is Breastfeeding Buddies. It’s another program offered by the City of Ottawa’s Public Health department for new moms with babies under 6 months old where they pair you up with another mom who has successfully nursed her baby or babies. I was grateful to get a phone call every few days from my BF Buddy to ask how things were going and encourage me along. If it wasn’t for her, I would have given up well before my twins weaned themselves off around 9 months.
Yes, this person is a stranger to you but sometimes you can be more candid speaking with someone you don’t know very well. Plus, these ladies are screened and trained by a Ottawa Public Health nurse on being discreet. They are there to offer advice, not pass judgement. Check your county’s Public Health department website for a similar program.
Select Your Gear
Many people, when having their first child, will buy things brand new or get items as gifts from families and friends. That is not always practical when you are preparing for multiples.
So in addition to joining your local Multiple Births chapter for the events, attend their Mom-to-Mom consignment sales. At our local ‘Twice As Nice’ sale, we have scored new or nearly new snowsuits and winter boots, not to mention toys, nursery essentials and big ticket items like high chairs and toddler bed frames. For more details on what these “Twins Sales” are about and why they are so popular, check out details on our local sale website here.
Before you go, make a list of what you need so you don’t get carried away with buying too much or too little. Luckily, you DON’T need two of everything.
Stockpile Supplies for Survival
You will be needing diapers until your babies are at least 2.5 years old. When shopping for diapers, it’s handy to do a quick calculation on the cost per diaper to know whether you are being ripped off or not. Each diaper can cost between 16 to 40 cents.
If you are using formula, you may want to wait until you figure out what your baby can handle. Not every formula is the same. We found the liquid Similac which the hospital gave us was easily digested but the more inexpensive powder form was hard on them and causing constipation.
So we switched to the iron-fortified President’s Choice* baby formula from our local grocery store which often came on sale for $12.99-$15.99 for a big tin. (regular price at the time was $19.99, compared with $32.99 for other leading brands) A second brand we found worked well was Heinz. Find a brand and stick to it.
Since we were doing both breastmilk and formula, we went through one tin a week for the first few months. Then 1 tin every 4 days until our twins were able to take cow’s milk at one year old.
*President’s Choice label is only available in Canada at our grocery food chain, Loblaws. Their products (including affordable gourmet food items) are worth the trip up north!
Line Up The Troops
Make note of all the well wishers in your life that offer help, whether they be neighbours, parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, or co-workers. If you are like me and have a hard time asking for or taking help, pray that your family and friends know you well enough to know when you need it. We are fortunate enough to have both sets of parents in town, helpful aunts and uncles, friends and neighbours. They all came over on a regular basis (daily or weekly) to help out in some way whether it was taking over the kitchen, folding laundry, bringing over food, and of course caring for the babies.
Have a short list of people you can reach out to by phone. These are well wishes who want to be there for you but can’t physically due to distance and their own situations.
Have a Gameplan
Manage your expectations and logistics of what’s going to happen when the babies’ arrive. Is your house going to be a disaster or will you work yourself to the bone trying to keep it clean? Can you afford to get outside help for a short time to help maintain it?
Will you allow visitors in the hospital and in the early days at home? If so, ask them to bring lunch, or grocery essentials like milk and eggs. Tell them to expect you to open the door in your pyjamas. Let them hold the babies while you go take a shower or a nap.
Are the babies going to sleep in your bed, your room or in the nursery? In one crib or two? Upstairs or downstairs? (depending on whether mom can climb stairs in the early days)
Is hubby going to stay home for a few days, weeks or months? Will you invite your folks to move in with you for a short while? When will you go back to work? Will you go back to work?
If you are nursing, will you hire a lactation consultant to help you? Will you consent to a wellbaby visit by a Public Health Nurse, if this service is offered in your area? Read a previous post I wrote on how to survive the first three months with newborn twins.
Hopefully these tips and suggestions will help you organize your thoughts and figure out how to prepare for your upcoming bundles of joy. Most of all, DON’T PANIC! Soon, you will find yourself saying you “wouldn’t have it any other way”.
Ambereen lives in Canada with her husband and Boy/Girl twins. They survived the first 3 years of raising twins and lived to blog about it. Check out her blog at www.2cute.intiaz.com or tweet her at @2cuteblog.