Twinfant Tuesday: The Other Side of “Survival Mode”

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Parenting twins is hard.  The first three months are very hard.  You can call it what you like–“the fourth trimester,” “the trenches,” “survival mode”–any veteran mom of twins will tell you that this period is an uphill battle.

The bear climbed over the mountain,
the bear climbed over the mountain.
The bear climbed over the mountain
to see what he could see.

Photo Credit: dbarronoss via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: dbarronoss via Compfight cc

To be honest, I don’t remember much of that time, which I am heartbroken about.  It’s true what they say, that the time goes too fast.  It’s bittersweet in some ways.  You wish for it to get easier, and then when it does, you realize that you’ve wished away their tiny newborn-ness.  You don’t get to have easy and new twins.  Actually, as a twin-mom, I don’t think you get easy–ever!

The good news about survival mode is that you don’t have to feel guilty about it.  You can’t regret anything you did or didn’t do, because you are just doing whatever it takes to survive.  Maybe I’m being a little melodramatic, but knowing this has been a comfort to me when I start to second guess my new mom self.

The bad news about survival mode is…it doesn’t just go away.  It ebbs and flows.  There are easy times and harder times.

For me, the first three months were a blur.  Then it got better–we moved to Scotland and got settled in, my sister-in-law came to visit. We visited castles and tried new food.  My mom and sister came to visit.  More castles, more new things.  When my mom left, though, I felt like I couldn’t get back on track.  Maybe it was because it was summertime, and the days were literally longer?  The twins were 9 months old and not even crawling yet.  Surely things shouldn’t have been so difficult…right?

And all that he could see
And all that he could see
Was the other side of the mountain,
the other side of the mountain.
The other side of the mountain was all that he could see.

Looking back on it now it’s clear how much I was struggling.  At the time, though, I don’t think I fully realized it.  I knew things were difficult, but I think I just accepted that life was hard and didn’t have much hope that they’d get better.  (Did I mention that my 14 month olds still don’t sleep through the night?)

It’s not all bleak though.  In the past month or two, I really feel like my little family unit has turned a corner.  Naps and bedtime are more consistent, we have daily activities planned.  We went on a vacation, and that really helped recharge me.  Not just any vacation will do it, though–we stayed with my husband’s family and I didn’t cook or clean for two weeks.  And I can’t speak for the babies, but I certainly napped like a champ!

The best tip I might give another mama struggling through survival mode, whether it’s three months or six months or even a year old, is to prioritize.

Oh wait, you’ve heard that one before, have you?

I know it sounds easy–let your house be messy, forget about laundry–those are the easy ones.  What is harder is to make yourself a priority.  YOU need to get yours, mama bear.  Recharge.  Sleep.  Eat food food.  Sleep.

You might not see it now, but sooner or later you’ll be coming down the mountain and enjoying the view.  You’ll look back up at that mountain peak proudly. Now that you’re off that mountain, hell, you might even remember it fondly.

Mercedes and her twins
Mercedes and her twins

Mercedes is an American expat raising her toddling twins with her husband in Aberdeen, Scotland. You can read more about their adventures at her blog, Project Procrastinot.


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3 thoughts on “Twinfant Tuesday: The Other Side of “Survival Mode””

  1. I completely agree. Our twin boys are 4.5 years old now and have 2 younger brothers. Each time we have gone through newborn/infant stages with their younger brothers I so clearly recall the early months with them that sometimes it hurts. Then I think what a blessing that babies usually come one at a time because we certainly needed all the support that the novelty of having twins produced from family and friends!

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