One of my favorite people in the world, Ella, is the rookie mom to three-month-old fraternal twins. I’ve been beyond excited to have her join the ranks of parenthood with two little ones at once. I begged her to share some of her hard-earned nuggets of wisdom and she did not disappoint. She offers these tips to other twin mamas still in the trenches.
Tips to thrive in the first three months
1. Leave the house. I cannot stress enough how important it was to push myself to get out early on. At first leaving the house with both babies seemed like an insurmountable task, by the time I got myself and them ready, someone would need another diaper change or even the next feeding. There were always excuses to stay home and not attempt to visit a friend or run an errand. This overwhelmed state could have developed into a real aversion to taking them out. Instead, I realized I could just push myself little by little, even if it’s for a quick walk around the block.
If you would have seen us early on you would never have believed that by 3 months these babies had been out to restaurants, rode the ferry to Manhattan, been to grocery stores and went on daily walks. But we forced ourselves out of our comfort zone a little at a time and I am so glad we did. I think this is true for all new moms and, doubly so for twin moms!
2. Say yes to offers of help. In the first months take any and all offers for people to bring food. With two babies I never ever have time to cook and eat, even with my husband home since one of us is tending to a baby at all times. Also until we got the hang of it, we solicited help for baths. Now we manage it all, but with two babies in the early days we really appreciated the help: two people for the baby being bathed, clothed, changed, and one to attend to the other baby!
We found that extra hands are very helpful with two babies anywhere we need to fully attend to one baby, like pediatrician visits. This is one of the key differences between caring for multiple babies vs. one.
3. Splurge on the little things that save time and effort. For example, my formula comes in a ready to feed liquid, so I keep that in my diaper bag and save the powder for home. While mixing formula on the go may not seem like a hardship, it can be when I have two crying hungry babies and am holding one of them. Being able to open and pour makes a big difference. Ditto for a bottle warmer. I don’t know if I would have gotten this with one baby but with two it’s a must-have.
4. Follow your instincts. Many people swear by twins mom groups as a resource. However I feel I have my hands full enough and do not let myself feel guilty for not joining one. While I am sure I would benefit, I felt this was another thing I couldn’t attend to on my to do list and therefore it became a point of stress rather than a help. At some point perhaps I will make this happen but as of now it’s just not a priority and we are doing fine.
Best gear for apartment life with twins
1. Strollers: We used the Double Snap n Go for the car seats and agree that it’s a bit of a bear to maneuver but it’s been a lifesaver for getting to and from the car since we are in an apartment so have to walk to the parking garage. This stroller was one of the only things I could manage lifting into the car after my c-section; and twin moms are more likely to have a c-section.
I also appreciate having a single stroller since there are occasions when it’s nice to divide and conquer. Recently I went to a luncheon and took our daughter while leaving our son with my husband. Since he had a single stroller they were able to spend the day outside together. This is also nice for errands: taking one baby to the supermarket is way easier than two.
2. Sleeping arrangements: We love our Arm’s Reach co-sleeper. We had the babies in there together for the first few months, and it was a must-have for us in our two-bedroom apartment. An advantage here is the babies are together. Since the pack n play mattress is not as supported in the middle, many moms of twins say two babies cause it to cave and the babies roll into the middle toward each other. This is not at all an issue in the co-sleeper.
Another point on sleep: There are various crib wedges and sleep positioners available for babies with alignment issues or flattened heads. These kind of issues may be more common for twins because they are so much more cramped in the womb.
3. Nursing pillows: I wish I didn’t buy a breastfeeding pillow before I knew how we’d all like it. I got the My Brest Friend twin pillow only to discover that I much preferred to feed one baby at a time. That pillow thing is enormous and I’ve barely used it as a result; I would have rather had a single Boppy or used nothing at all.
4. Other products: I am relieved we have enough spares for the cover of the changing table and sheets. With two babies, it is extremely likely that someone will soil absolutely everything almost every day. If possible, have one in use, one for the drawer, and one for the laundry.
I found that the cute fashionable diaper bags are just simply not big enough. I love my Skip Hop Duo Deluxe. It felt enormous at the store next to all the other ones. But it fills up quickly once I add two sets if diapers, two changes of clothing, two blankets, etc. It has great pockets and compartments, and it has a strap to conveniently snap on to the back of the double stroller. And it is gender neutral.
5. Go gender-neutral: With multiples, my partner has to be especially hands-on. Having gender-neutral stuff helps him feel better using our gear when he’s out and about. Our strollers and diaper bags are very non-girly, which is helpful because we have a boy and a girl and also because my husband really likes them all.
Thank you Ella for sharing your experiences for Twins Week. I’ll totally shut up about the moms group thing.
[photo of twins less than a week old provided by Farrah.]