Twinfant Tuesday: Why the First Year is Hard

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Categories Attitude, Breastfeeding, Feeling Overwhelmed, Joy, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Perspective, Sleep, Twinfant Tuesday, WorkingTags , , , , , , , , 9 Comments

Parenting is no cake walk, nor should it be. Raising a child to be a successful adult, regardless of how you define success, is hard work. I’m not one to shy away from labour (pun mostly accidental) but the first year after my daughters’ birth was difficult to a degree that belies words.

What hard about the first year with twinsI’ve been through a lot in the intervening years, including the dissolution of my marriage and the loss of a son I had hoped would be mine, but it is surviving that first year of twins that I wear as my badge of honour. It’s making it to J and M’s first birthday that proved to me that I could survive anything. It was knowing that I made it through that year that gave me the strength to pick myself up and brush myself off after I watched my husband abandon me, my beloved mother-in-law turn her back on me, and my sweet nephew removed from our family.

Some of what made Year One so hard was unique to our family, but many aspects of the challenge are common to new parents. Each of the reasons below could easily deserve its own post.

I Didn’t Know My Kids Yet

The biggest influence in my parenting is my children’s personalities. Knowing their strengths, weaknesses and triggers helps me parent them.

M doesn’t deal well with change or the unexpected. She tends to lash out when she’s overwhelmed. She gets grumpy when she’s hungry. She experiences the world through words and numbers, and is energized by social interaction. She thinks out loud and needs to feel heard. She knows she’s brilliant and sometimes needs help finding humility.

J’s understanding of others’ feelings is near genius. She needs to talk through her emotions and those of others, and doesn’t take it well when people try to baby her to protect her feelings. She gets lost in imaginary worlds, both on screen and in books and needs a moment to snap back into reality. She’s usually very confident, but will confess to insecurities far beyond her age. She’s a more private person than M or I are.

Why the first year of parenting is hardDuring that first year, I didn’t know these things about my children. I was getting to know them at the same time that I was learning incorporate parenting into the other responsibilities of my life. It took me days to learn that M would cry because she wanted to be held, while J would cry because she wanted to be put down. I didn’t realize that J wanted my eye contact while M wanted to hear my voice. It took a while to figure out that J preferred Daddy to burp her while M was a burpless wonder.

The shortcuts I have at my disposal now, just from knowing who my kids are, weren’t there the first year. The first year, however, was when I learned who M and J are at their core. That M was a chatterbox, I figured out by the age of 4 months. That J was aware of and mirrored my emotions, I knew by the time she was 6 months old.

Infants Can’t Speak

Babies are incredible sponges of knowledge, and they start learning the cadences of their native language(s) in utero. They don’t, however, come out talking. They can’t tell you what they want or where it hurts. They can’t tell you that they’re crying because you held them too long (J) or not long enough (M). They can’t tell you that they like to be swaddled with one arm free (J) or that their favourite song is Row, Row, Row Your Boat (M). The slow process of elimination to figure out what would make each of my children comfortable each moment of the day was exhausting, and I had it relatively easy, since my kids were remarkably unfussy.

More than once, I remember saying to one child or the other, “I don’t know what you want!” after I’d checked her diaper, fed her, held her, walked with her, bounced her, sang to her, added more layers of clothes, removed layers of clothes and tried everything else I could think of. It took me months before I realized that wanting to be within reach of Sissy was a basic need both babies shared. I don’t believe that babies “just cry.” I firmly believe that crying is a means of communicating discomfort.

I was fortunate to be surrounded by parents whose approach to their babies was like mine. They didn’t assume their infants were drinking-and-pooping blank slates lacking in personality. Like me, they learned the meanings of their children’s different cries. (Tangent: my kids used the same cries for the same things, speaking the same language of cries. Their hunger cries were similarly urgent and shrill; they had the same whiny cry for, “I want to change positions;” they had the same hiccup-y cry to indicate that they were tired. Other babies used the same repertoire of cries to mean different things. My kids’ tired cry was another baby’s hungry.)

Baby Sign was our saving grace. It doesn’t work for everyone, but at the tender age of 7 months, my itty bitty babies could tell me if wanted milkfood, more or Mama. By 9 months, they could sign please and thank you.

It Was Wartime

The US was at war in both Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006, when my babies were born. They were conceived and born between my (now ex) husband’s tours in Iraq. He needed to be in a constant state of readiness. We had a general idea of when he would be expected to go overseas, but he could be called on at any time.

As a practical matter, this meant that I needed to be on call for the babies all the time. If one of them was sent home from daycare with a fever, I could try calling Daddy to see if he could pick them up, but the answer could very well be, “No.” He might be scheduled to take them to a doctor’s appointment, only to have some sort of last-minute work obligation. Our choice would be between rescheduling the appointment or my taking time off work instead. We always chose the latter. If I was with one child in the ER in the middle of the night, I needed to be ready to take the other because Daddy might get called into base in the wee hours of the morning.

Here’s a concrete example: J and M were born at 33 weeks old. A few days after they were born, my husband’s unit left Texas for California for desert training. He got to stay behind with us. When the girls were 10 days old, his army paternity leave was over and the doctors told us that they were out of the woods. Thankfully, they were no longer at risk of dying when my husband was required to join his unit. He didn’t return home until several weeks after our girls came home from the NICU. I figured out how to care from them solo before he made it home. His dad had been staying with me but needed to go back to Washington State well before my ex returned.

Once Daddy left for Iraq, of course, there was no question about who would take care of the babies. Sleep when the babies sleep? I’m sure that advice works for moms who are home with their singletons, but it wasn’t for this working mama of twins when the twins’ sleep schedules got out of sync! I slept while I breastfed.

Kids are Enormously Expensive

Our daycare payments for two infants came out to be more than our mortgage. Thanks to the 10% discount on the second child, we “only” paid $1650 a month for childcare. That was 7 years ago. Inflation has taken its toll, so I can only imagine what the cost is now.

Daycare took up my salary, so we had to live on my husband’s. Trust me when I tell you that soldiers don’t earn a whole lot. We couldn’t afford to contribute to our retirement that first year, and that was okay.

I cut corners where I could. I made my own baby food to avoid baby food costs. I breastfed for as long as I could, which helped cut down on formula costs. I would have loved to cloth diaper, but our daycare required disposables. It was a while before I discovered Amazon Subscribe and Save, and I kicked myself for all the money I could have saved.

We bought things second-hand. Our girls’ high chairs were hand-me-downs from a twin mom at work. I returned the high chair we received as a baby shower gift and spent the money on formula. I watched my Freecycle list and pounced on clothes and toys others were getting rid of.

I didn’t eat out. If people at work wanted to lunch with me, they could buy something  and I would bring food from home. My splurge was an occasional $2.14 meal from Wendy’s.

Feeling like I couldn’t afford the occasional babysitter was scary. Budgeting without any wiggle room was awful. After a promotion at work, things became less tight. Daycare costs fell as the girls got older. Although summer camp pricing is comparable to infant care, it’s only for 3 months of the year.

I spent the extra pay that my ex got for being in combat on a lawncare service and a biweekly cleaning lady.

We were incredibly fortunate to have military health insurance. No premiums. No deductible. No co-pays, except (at the time) $3 for generic prescriptions and $10 for name brand. The girls’ birth, complete with ambulance ride, C-section and NICU time cost us $6. I had two prescriptions for painkillers.

If we’d have normal medical coverage, I honestly don’t know how we would have made ends meet. I feel like we had a decent middle class income. When you crunch the numbers, it’s a little insane.

I Had to Learn to Let Go

The perfectionist in me got slapped around, and hard, by that first year. I had to let go of all my highfalutin goals of motherhood and dig down deep to decide what really mattered. Did I want to read to perfectly clean babies with lullabies gently playing in the background in a neat and tidy home where all the laundry was folded and get a shower every day? Sure I did. Was that going to happen? No way. Not the first year.

I had the TV on. I dressed myself and the kids straight out of the clean laundry hamper. I ate pre-prepared meals. I slept on my lunch break at work, right on the floor of my office. My social calendar consisted of phone calls cut off mid-sentence and life in the blogosphere.

Being someone who processes through the written word, I devised a parenting credo to carry me through. I set achievable goals and didn’t look more than 2 weeks out. I learned humility and prioritization. I learned that being a super mom has nothing to do with being SuperMom.

Breastfeeding is Hard. Breastfeeding Two is Harder

I’ve told you my breastfeeding story recently, but both breastfeeding and formula-feeding are hard.

My Reproductive Years are My Career-Building Years

I came to conclusion that there wasn’t enough of me to meet my parenting ambitions and my career ambitions. That understanding didn’t come quickly, but it did come easily and organically. I spend my time at home managing children; I don’t have any desire to manage adults at work. Fortunately, since my girls were infants, my workplace has begun to allow for career paths that don’t lead to management. At the time, though, I made peace with motherhood and my military marriage costing me career progression. I liked my job and still do, but I would never again be a superstar.

I Need Sleep

We all need sleep, and there isn’t much to be found when you’re raising kids. My babies didn’t sleep through the night until they were well over a year old. I somehow managed to survive on 3-5 hours of interrupted sleep per night. I’m sure I could have been a much better parent if I weren’t constantly exhausted. It’s a miracle that I didn’t have an accident. I fell asleep while driving to work more than once.

Did I ever tell you about the time I showed up to work with my pants on inside out? Or the time I forgot to button my shirt after nursing and needed my daughters’ teacher to tell me to put my boob away before I got back on the road? Sleep deprivation does that.

It’s hard to have perspective when you’re sleep-deprived. It’s hard to have hope. I would say that the lack of the sleep is the biggest challenge of the first year with a new child or children.

“Wife” and “Mother” are Distinct Roles

This is a huge topic, but suffice it to say that being a wife can take as much energy, time and effort as being mother. The two are not the same thing. My co-parenting relationship with my husband had little overlap with our marital relationship. It’s easy to get so focused on meeting your new babies’ needs together to forget that there are other parts to your marriage.

A C-Section is Major Abdominal Surgery

For those of us who have had caesarean births, the recovery required seriously complicates the first days. Perhaps we can’t lift our kids and it’s painful to nurse them because they kick the incision. Perhaps you cannot physically walk to the NICU to see your baby. I may have pulled out my stitches a few times in my efforts to get to my babies. A C-section may be common, but that doesn’t mean it’s not major.

If ever someone tries to tell you to suck up the pain, remind them that the doctor pulled your uterus (which she’d just sliced open to remove a human being) out of your body to examine it before putting it back and sewing you up.

I’ve never had a vaginal birth, so I honestly can’t speak to how that recovery process might impact the first few days with your baby.

Hormones

There’s a reason that post-partum depression and psychosis exist as medical conditions. The changes that your body is going through as it goes from your pregnant to your non-pregnant state can wreak havoc on your brain chemistry. This is no flippant, “it’s just hormones” issue. Post-partum psychosis can be fatal.

It’s Completely Worth It

I would do it all over again, in a heartbeat. If I had the financial capacity, I would love another child. I’d love another set of twins. You know what? Hand me a set of newborn triplets. I’m in my element with babies. I love how they sound and how they smell and how they act. I love the way a baby will grasp my finger, babble to himself or seek out her own feet. Crying doesn’t faze me, although it has been known to make me lactate. I love that I can love on a baby without any fear of over-coddling him. I love the feeling of complete trust that a baby has when he’s sleeping in my arms.

(Seriously, I’m a baby whisperer. Ask Wiley.)

That first year gave me everything I needed to be able to figure this parenting thing out.

Is/was the first year hard? What made it (or kept it from being) hard? What did you learn about yourself and you babies?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school in order to better protect their privacy and was delighted to have the opportunity to keep a foot in the blogosphere through HDYDI. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Baby Sleep Books: A Review

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Categories Books, Infants, Napping, Overnight, Products, Routines, SleepTags , , , 2 Comments

This post has been put on hold for quite a while. First, it was because I was in the depths of sleep training hell, then when that got better I was waiting to finish up several chapters, and after that, well… I guess I just started to feel like I was writing a book report for school or something. But though I know these books have already been reviewed in the archives of HDYDI, I think the insight I’ve gained from them may possibly help some new MoMs. So here we go:

Weissbluth

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This is the book I started with, because it is more specific to twins, and I just needed a refresher since I already read a friend’s copy before the babies were born. It’s a very easy read, comprised of extremely intuitive advice that completely makes sense to me. I think it helped validate exactly how I’ve always felt about sleep for babies. There are a couple chapters in the beginning regarding his research and theories that are very interesting. If you’re looking for a quick fix for a common problem (e.g. how to create a schedule for both babies, how to stop bedtime crying, etc.), this is probably a good book to start with. The best gem of this book: “Sleep begets sleep.”

Pantley

no_cry_sleep

I bought this one because I wanted to get a perspective that wasn’t “cry it out” related. This book is geared towards parents who are opposed to letting their babies cry themselves to sleep. I was never really one of those parents, even with my first singleton, but now that I have two more babies, Pantley’s strategies really wouldn’t work for me. This book requires creating some pretty extensive sleep logs and QUITE a bit a patience. By that I mean, probably no one desperate for sleep would be able to hang in there for what may take weeks, if not months. But if the sound of your child crying is making you miserable, or if your baby requires a slower approach, you might want to give this a try. It really is a much gentler way.

Ferber

ferberbook

This is by far the most comprehensive book of the three. It includes very detailed information about sleep and virtually every sleep disorder there can be. Definitely some interesting reading in the later chapters (head banging, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, etc.), but you really only need to read half of Part II and Part III (Chapters 4-6, 9-12). Ferber is known for “cry it out”, but in his book it’s called “progressive waiting”, and I don’t find it particularly harsh at all. In fact, this method is probably the one that works the best and quickest. It’s written in a case study format, with some great charts for reference. There are also some great instructions for shifting nap schedules. I think this is the one I will come back to if I run into trouble transitioning my babies to new schedules in the future.

 …………….

So, while going insane with my babies not on any kind of feed/sleep schedule, I scoured the internet and bought these 3 books after reading some Amazon reviews. I believe they pretty decently represent the different schools of thought that are out there (except Sears’ attachment parenting, which I am not interested in). A word of warning: Most of the content of these books can be found on the internet, often even verbatim. I’m sure it’s copyright infringement, as the text is not quoted or cited. I probably could have read enough online to piece together what I needed, but the books definitely lay it out nicer and I feel better that I didn’t “steal”. Ultimately I cobbled together a bit from here and there. I don’t really even know what came from where because I took what made sense to me from different sources and internalized them. I think once you read enough you just start to allow your instincts take over.

The other thing I’ve noticed that really helped with my babies was when became able to find their own sleep positions around 4 or 5 months. Both my babies are stomach sleepers. More often than not, they will find a comfortable position face down sucking on a blanket (Baby Girl), or the two forefingers of his left hand (Baby Boy). And for those of you following my sleep training journey, she’s been good through morning for well over a month now. And they do sleep day/night in side-by-side cribs in the same bedroom. We’ve come a long way from these days. Fellow new MoMs, there is hope!

lunchldyd is mom to 6mo b/g twins and their 3yo big sis, happy to take compliments on her now-well-sleeping twins.

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The 4am Feed

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I confess. I am lazy.

That’s the secret to my efficiency. For example, I’ve got the 4am feed down to a 20-minute science. It took some tweaking for the babies to cooperate, but now most days they do. Actually a lot of what I’m doing now is what I did with Toddler, only I had forgotten until I had to rediscover it all over again. So, if you must do a middle-of-the-night feed, here are some tricks I’ve found that work great for me.

First, not part of the efficiency thing, but greatly helpful to set your babies up for sleep, dim the lights down to one very low wattage bulb. I think mine is 10 watts. It sits in the corner of the room farthest away from the babies. The babies get a clean diaper, swaddled, then placed in their spots in the cosleeper. I sometimes play soft music from my iPhone for them (Pandora’s Lullabye station). Then…

1. Feed babies as much as possible before going to bed. In our case, babies load up before sleeping for good, often 6 ounces over a couple of feedings starting at around 9:30pm. They’re usually out by 11pm.

2. Before going to bed, get all bottles and pump accessories for the night/early morning ready. For me, this means putting nipples on and labeling all bottles. I usually have two bottles of formula made also, as backup. All pump flanges and bottles are clean and screwed together, ready to use.

3. Pump one last time and go to sleep at the same time as the babies. It’s tempting to watch a little TV or get things done while they’re asleep, but I’ve noticed they sleep better with me nearby and I really value my own sleep. I’m sometimes already drifting off while they’re still rustling to settle in.

4. Do not get up before they’re supposed to. If they loaded up on milk before going down, they don’t need to be fed until 4am. Usually all I have to do is replace the paci for the rustling baby and they’re back out before they can really wake up. Toddler never took a paci, so I would just jiggle her bassinet a little and she’d go back to sleep.

5. When the time does come to feed, pop a bottle in the mouth of the hungry one and prop it with whatever you have (I use their blankets). Then do the same with the other one, even if he/she is still fast asleep. They’re still swaddled, so no chance of waving arms knocking the bottles out. My babies will eat while asleep and keep sleeping afterwards without even waking up. I also no longer burp or change them (unless there’s poop) in the middle of the night.

6. While they are eating, pump. There’s a way to secure the flanges with the insides of your elbows by resting the bottles on your thighs, so that you can read your iPhone or reprop a bottle  when necessary. When I’m done, babies have finished eating and have probably also fallen asleep. All I have to do is retrieve their bottles. I leave the flanges on the bottles I just pumped, and everything is left on the nightstand until morning.

7. I can usually do this while still half-asleep myself. Sometimes I will get up to drink some water, pee, and read my phone for a bit in bed before sleeping again, but I can just as easily go right back to sleep. My babies will sleep until 9am, if I replace the paci for them a couple of times starting around 7am. I am usually up by 8ish to watch Toddler after Husband leaves for work, so I can get in a pump and have breakfast with her before they wake up.

Another plus to this is, they usually wake at the same time! That means the day starts off with them on the same schedule. It usually doesn’t stay that way, and I’ve given up imposing a strict togetherness, but sometimes they can stay within a half hour of each other all day.

I’m looking forward to them sleeping all the way till morning and taking regular solid naps (Toddler did it before she was their age), but I think this is as good as it gets for a middle-of-the-night feeding (for twins). But I’ll gladly take any other suggestions to streamline things even further!

lunchldyd is mom to an almost 3 yr old daughter and 4 month old b/g twins, taking whatever sleep she can get!

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Preemie Medical Issues: Lung Function, and also Bad Teeth

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Our daughters, J and M, were born prematurely at 33 weeks gestation. Preemies make up 54% of twin births, compared to 9.6% of singleton births, according to statistics gathered in the 1980s. In my experience, conversations with parents or grandparents of multiples eventually turn towards the issue of prematurity, either its reality and the shared bond of the NICU experience, or how lucky some families are to bypass that rite of passage.

Our family’s experience with prematurity was a lot less scary than it could have been, although it felt devastating at the time. Neither of our girls needed help breathing, but they weighed under 7lb (3.2 kg) put together. Their Apgar scores were excellent, but they didn’t have the body fat they needed to maintain their own body temperatures ex-utero. They were released from the hospital over a month before their due date.

Looking at our vibrant, sassy, smart and downright hilarious five-year-olds, no one who isn’t in the know about twin birth statistics would guess that their birth held any unusual struggle. They’re short for their age, but so am I. My 5 ft 0 in (1.5 m) genes appear to have beaten out those of the girls’ 6 ft 7 in (2.0 m) great uncle. M and J have had only two lasting effects from being born before they were quite ready: a susceptibility to lung infections, and teeth missing enamel.

The lung infection issue came as no surprise. Our pediatrician and the NICU staff had warned us that lung complications were common in babies who began to breath when their lungs were still forming. Our insurance covered Synagis, the vaccine against RSV, a virus that gives you and me the sniffles, but can be fatal to a premature infant. I made the monthly trek to the one local clinic that dispensed the vaccines for the entire seven months of our girls’ first cold season. Their second winter, our insurance company deemed them out of danger. Sure enough, first J and then M came down with RSV. It was another three years before we were able to celebrate the retirement of the nebulizer that J used to ease the laboured breathing that kicked up without warning year-round.

The tooth issue, on the other hand, came as a huge surprise.

I thought we were doing everything right in the dental care department. We started using infant finger toothbrushes to massage the babies’ gums well before they had teeth. We added toothpaste when their first teeth broke through, and brushed morning and night, without fail. We brushed their teeth for them until they turned five, and gave them toothbrushes that they could practice with. Before M and J turned two, we introduced flossing, the the form of one-time-use kids’ flossers. To this day they consider going to bed without flossing unthinkable. Our pediatrician praised the girls for their dental hygiene. Even though I knew full-well that dentists recommended a first visit be scheduled at the sight of the first tooth, I put it off until the girls were three.

At their first visit, the dentist discovered cavities in both girls’ mouths. It turned out that both J and M suffered from enamel hypoplasia, or a lack of enamel on a number of their teeth. As luck, or more likely genes, would have it, our monozygotic daughters had hypoplasia on the same teeth. Their cavities were were also coordinated. Identical twins, with identical tooth issues, I suppose.

We left the dentists’ office with fillings, prescription fluoride toothpaste, and another reminder that however far away their premature birth feels, it keeps popping back up. At our next visit to the pediatrician, I told him the sad tale of the girls’ teeth, and he promised to pass along to the next preemie parents he saw the recommendation to get to a dentist soon. And now, I pass that recommendation to you.

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5 Ways to Help Moms of Multiples (Part I)

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Categories Community, How Do The Moms Do It, Infants, Mommy Issues, Other peopleTags , , 32 Comments

How do we do it?

Most of us do it without any help at all, but that’s not how most of us want it to be. Most of us thought people were going to come out of the woodwork to help us care for our darling multiple babies. Most of us thought people actually meant it when they said they would help out.

If you’ve read my blog, you know I struggled the last couple weeks with feeling alone, and much like a failing mother because I just couldn’t keep up the energy and stamina and passion for all the hard work mothering twins has been.

The thing is, though, that my husband and I have done it primarily without any outside help for the last 2.5 years. That’s nearly 1,000 days of constant, consistent parenting without extra hands to hold two babies, rock two babies, feed two babies or hug two babies. And yet the rest of life — household chores, running errands, household maintenance — still has to get done as well.

It’s always been a wonder to me why people drop off the planet after just the first month of a child’s birth because the hard work of raising kids, as we’ve all realized, doesn’t end as soon as the babies start sleeping four hours at a stretch — or even eight.

And that leads me to this list. It’s too late for me to get what I needed these last two years, but it might not be too late for those of you new to mothering or who are expecting.

Please be bold enough to pass this list along to a grandparent, cousin, aunt, neighbor, friend or spouse of a mother of twins, triplets, quadruplets, or other higher order multiples under the age of 4 and encourage them to use it frequently for as long as they can do so.

And, in the comments, share some of your own thoughts on what would help you as a mother of multiples.

5 Ways to help Moms of Multiples

  1. Listen AND Empathize: Use kind, caring words to show empathy. Please do not compare your situation to a mother of twins. No two mothers’ situations are ever alike. Our homes, both physically and emotionally, are different. Our children are born with unique personalities and challenges. Consider phrases like this: “I cannot imagine what you are going through, but I do know how hard it is with just one,” or “Parenting is so hard, I can’t imagine what it is like with two (or more).” Do not say things like, “Mine were 16 months apart so it was like having twins” or, the dreaded, “Double trouble.”
  2. Offer specific help: How about bringing her a cup of coffee on your way to work? Going to the store for your own groceries? How about calling or emailing the new MoM in your life and asking her if she needs anything. This goes not just for the first few weeks but for the first few years. Do you know how hard it is to get two or more non-walking or new walkers out of a car and into a store just for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread? Picking up your dry cleaning in the local strip mall? How about asking the new MoM in your life if she has any laundry she needs laundered? You could pick it up on your way. No need to go too far out of your way, but your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
  3. Household chores: Can you do dishes? How about sweep floors? What about take out trash or clean bathrooms? If you are capable of doing any of this then that would be a great help to a new mother. You do not need to do it often and you do not need to do it perfectly. Just show up and clean during a regular, scheduled visit.
  4. Bring soul food: I remember very little during those first few weeks other than the crying. But, I remember the oatmeal raisin cookies my mother made and the huge meat and cheese tray my aunt brought one night. We feasted on those sandwiches and cookies for the next several days in those mini-meals we ate a couple times a day. That was the kind of food I wanted – that, and take out. Casseroles are great, but even planning to put them into the oven, eating and cleaning up was too much for us in those first couple months. And, I needed other soul food, too. Chocolate. Flowers. A relaxation CD. A card. I would have loved a card that told me how I was doing a great job and to hang in there.
  5. Put in some time: People are alwayswilling to hold a baby, but sometimes that’s not what is best for a new mom. Parents of multiples are more isolated than most new mothers because it is not easy to just pick up two babies (or more) and go out of the house. Some homes are better laid out for easy outings than others. Two arms are never enough for just one parent with two babies. So, please, offer to go along for doctor visits, offer to go out to lunch, offer to go to a local park, offer to stay in the car while she runs in the store, offer to help her shop for some postnatal clothes. Help her get out of the house and be a part of the world, again. And do this often and for as long as possible. Because there comes a time when her babies will be out of infant carries, but not yet walking. And then, after that, they are new walkers and still need to be carried. And then after that they are runners — going in two different directions.

And it’s all hard. Every last bit of it. So, she needs you. And by mothering the mother, you’re helping her be a better mother.

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