My fraternal twin girls just turned five on Sunday. Over the past week, as I do every birthday, I’ve done a lot of reflecting. In thinking back to their infanthood, the complicated logistics of feeding are still very clear in my mind. By now they’re fond memories…but at the time, I remember any new stage bringing about great stress. Here are the highlights from our journey…
My twin girls, born at 34 weeks, came home after 10 days in the NICU. While we don’t have family nearby, my husband is a teacher and he was able to take an extended leave to be home with me those first few weeks.
During that time, we generally each fed one baby. (I would breastfeed a baby, then supplement with a bottle, and then pump…rinse and repeat, again and again and again.) During those first few weeks, we were mostly waking the girls to feed them. On the rare occasions when I had solo duty, I woke one baby (the faster eater) and fed her, and then fed the other baby immediately thereafter, trying to keep them on the same schedule as much as possible.
As my husband neared the end of his leave, I began to panic. How would I ever feed both babies by myself? Keeping the girls on the same schedule was a huge priority for me, and I knew the wake-one-baby-at-a-time method wouldn’t serve us long-term.
I reached out to the only other twin mom I knew at the time for some advice. (Actually, I didn’t know her…she was the daughter of a former colleague who lived about 150 miles from me…but she was kind enough to take my phone call at random.) She described how she bottle-fed her infant twins, who were about three months older than my girls. She somehow held both babies in her lap, facing the same way, her arm wrapped around one of them from behind.
I couldn’t begin to imagine how I’d manage my girls in that fashion, but her advice encouraged me to try propping up the girls in different ways. I remember the look of astonishment when my husband came home to find me feeding both girls…with a huge smile on my face, to boot!
This set-up worked for us for many months, until I started giving the girls bottles in their highchairs, probably around 7 or 8 months old.
Once I finally had bottle-feeding under my belt, I was feeling pretty good about myself…until the pediatrician told me it was time to start feeding the girls cereal. WHAT??!!! I **just** got comfortable with milk!!! Can a twin mama get a break??!!!
I set the girls up for their first feeding, their highchairs side by side and the husband and the camera at the ready to capture what I knew would be the most adorable faces. Their faces may have been adorable…but the MESS they made wasn’t.
I quickly decided I would take to spoon-feeding the girls one at a time to curb as much of the MESS as possible. That approach I never changed, although I did have to devise a system, as one of my babes wasn’t very patient once she learned how yummy those fruits and veggies were.
While I have since read about some twin mamas who adamantly rotated which baby was fed first, I never did. I put Patient Baby in her swing and fed Anxious Baby first. When Anxious Baby was finished, I could sometimes put her in the swing to feed Patient Baby. There were times, though, when I would position Super-Anxious Baby in a bouncy seat at my feet. I would wedge my foot under her and bounce and jiggle while I fed Patient Baby. Once the spoon-feeding was complete, I would load both girls into their highchairs for bottles.
It was not until the girls graduated to finger foods, around 14 months, that I let them eat at the same time. And I was right there in front of them…yes, to make sure they didn’t choke…but also to try to keep the smearing of avocado cubes in the hair at bay.
So…in looking back through the trials and triumphs of feeding two babies during that first year or so…I can’t say I had a consistent, or even judicious approach. But I did manage to experiment to find a methodology that worked for us through the various stages. It’s OK by me that the girls don’t read this post in a few years, though. Unless they have twins themselves, may they never know that one was temporarily labeled Patient Baby, and one, Anxious Baby.
MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.
This picture was taken on the girls’ fifth birthday. Yes, they’re still wearing bibs, as this mama still tries to avoid messes, when possible. And yes, they’re still a mess…but in their partial defense, they requested homemade blueberry syrup for their French toast…and this mama just let them go to town.