Twinfant Tuesday: Loving My Babies Differently

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Categories Guilt, Love, Parenting Twins, Twinfant Tuesday
Quality time with my son.
Quality time with my son.

Before I had kids, it was hard for me to understand how or why parents would play favorites with their kids. My relationship with my future hypothetical kids was going to be one of mutual respect and lots of unconditional love. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that my future hypothetical kids were good-natured, agreeable, and their thought processes aligned with mine remarkably well.

When my actual babies were born, I was dismayed to find out that they weren’t altogether agreeable, and that, especially with two babies, bonding wasn’t an immediate, natural thing.

This is part of twin parenting that I don’t see mentioned often; I don’t think it’s unique to my experience. Parents of one baby have time to really get to know that baby, feel comfortable to varying extents with spending time alone with that baby, and are, I think, able to bond more quickly with that single baby thanks to that individual focus. With twins, I found myself constantly having to give each baby just enough so that I could meet the needs of both. It was harder for us to spend the quality time it took get to know one another and build our relationships with one another.

Early on, I felt a very strong bond with my daughter, spunky and independent and favoring her mama in the looks department, but I had to work on my bond with my son. I had always envisioned having a daughter someday, and I felt like I knew what to do with girls. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with a boy. My son was needier in the early days; he really wanted to spend all his time with me, snuggled up to me or nursing, while my daughter was willing to be held and fed by someone else, and to an extent, I resented the time that I couldn’t spend with my smiling, inquisitive daughter while I soothed my fussy, needy son.

I worried a lot that my daughter would feel less loved or wouldn’t bond as well with me because I spent more time with her brother. Likewise, I worried that my son wouldn’t socialize as well because he was bonding only to his mama. I worried for his relationship with his father, that they’d never really become attached, that the way we were dividing most baby duties, assigning one parent to one baby, wasn’t normal. Obviously, I’m a worrier – and post-partum hormones certainly accentuated that trait.

Over time, I reconciled myself to the idea that the time I was spending with my son was time that he really needed, and that the idea of “equal time” was something that would have to work itself out in the long run. And all that time spent one-on-one with my son really did help me to bond with him over the first few months. My needy newborn son turned into a generally laid-back, chill little guy who loves his mama fiercely, and I feel a lot more secure in my role as his parent as we navigate the waters of toddlerhood.

My daughter wound up being the baby who struggled more when they started daycare. I was surprised by that at the time; she was so much more social in home settings. But ultimately, she’s an intense little thing who requires more time to adapt to new situations than my breezy little boy does. She builds stronger relationships with people, but it takes her longer to do it. And thanks to several mama-centric phases in her later infancy and toddlerhood, I’m fairly sure that the “time spent” scale is much more balanced between the two these days.

Over time, I’ve come to find that bonding with my babies is a lot like falling in love. It doesn’t always happen at first sight – though it can happen that way. Sometimes chemistry kicks in quickly, but sometimes, love starts with a friendship and blooms over time. I’m still surprised every day at how different our relationships are, and at how they change constantly.

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5 thoughts on “Twinfant Tuesday: Loving My Babies Differently”

  1. Thank you for sharing this and for saying out loud what I’ve really struggled with. My b/g twins are nearly 14mths and I still feel like in some ways I’m only just starting to bond with them. I’ve found that I’ve not had a favourite as such, more I’ve flip-flopped between them and felt like I just wasn’t connecting with either of them in a deep way. It’s starting to shift a bit now, but I’ve always felt very insecure and like a failure when hearing singleton mum’s talk about their bonds with their babies. I’ve tried to console myself with the fact that it’s hard to fall in love with two people at the same time, and finally being diagnosed with post-natal depression last month has shed some light on why I’ve found it so hard and released some of the guilt. My husband and I have just started to take them out separately for some one-on-one time and I wish I’d done it sooner as I think it will really help. But I think you’re right, my relationship to my babies will continue to evolve over time and I shouldn’t panic that just because I found it really tough to start with that will always be the case. My biggest consolation is that they’re really happy, settled kids who are thriving: it seems like they’ve formed a pretty good attachment to me despite my struggles, so maybe my perception of the quality of our bond is worse than the reality?

  2. Wow I could have written this post, my b/g twins were exactly the same and I felt the same guilt towards my daughter as she was the one others could hold but not my son , who just wanted his mamma. But just like your two mine swapped and at only 18 months will surely swap again.
    Thank you for writing this, it has actually given me some clarity around feelings and thoughts that I have had about my first year as a multiple mum.
    We also have an elder daughter which I had a better bond with at birth then I had with the twins and reading this has made me understand why ( time, constant demands etc)
    Will get hubby to read it to, thanks again

  3. I had the same experience w/my b/g twins. Like all of you, my daughter seemed more independent as a newborn. It made me sad to think she didn’t need me, and I felt guilty for not being able to give her more attention. But then they became mobile, and suddenly it was my little man who ignored me flat out when I came to pick them up at daycare, while baby girl cried and cried if I didn’t go and hold her the moment I walked in the door. Which helped me to realize that of course, she needs me! I’m her momma.

    My affections also flipflopped. I sometimes felt more attached to one than the other – a feeling that would reverse a few days later. Now that they’re approaching toddlerhood, I find I love them both immensely though differently – as the title of the post suggests.

    I’m curious to know if parents of singletons feel more or less attached to one kid at times?

  4. I also wanted to mention to any new moms struggling with fairness. I read in a twin book that we often feel guilty for not giving our twins equal attention. However, we have to remember that they’re individuals with individual needs. And if one needs momma (or dadda) more than the other, it’s ok to give that twin a little more attention.

  5. I have b/b fraternal twins, and I feel exactly the same way. One baby demanded mommy only for the first few months, while the other was content to be passed around – most of the time. There were some very horrible, dark moments, especially when I was on my own with them, that they both needed me urgently, in a different way, at the same time. One child’s needs were easier to meet because they meshed better with what I had to give. Totally tore me up at the time. Now at 19 months, they have flipped a few times and the mommy-centric infant is the toddler who talks about daddy constantly, while the other prefers mommy for the moment. It felt like so much pressure, when they were born, to bond with them immediately, but I couldn’t – I needed to get to know them, and to get out of the weeds as far as my own needs were concerned. I felt a fierce love, but not necessarily a bond, which made it doubly hard to accept help from others. How was I going to bond to my baby, and him to me, if I wasn’t the one answering his every need? In hindsight, I know that my children were surrounded by love, which was a gift to them as well as the family members who helped us in the first weeks and months. I look at my guys with a longer view now – God willing, we have a long time to build a relationship that will grow and transform and adapt to many changes. No matter what, we will be there. Perhaps my early concerns about bonding were more about uncertainty in my role as a mother, which of course feels more solid with 1+ years under my belt!

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