Well, the twin pregnancies of my friends keep on coming! Congratulations, ladies! I keep getting asked for my advice, so I finally hopped back on the blog to write my list. Please forgive me for getting on a soapbox here and there. :) PLEASE call / text / email / Facebook me if you need support. You can do it!
- Be an educated advocate for your pregnancy and babies. Because your pregnancy is high-risk, your doctor will ask to perform tests and will make recommendations that aren't normally given in a singleton pregnancy. Some of these things, I know now, are complete malarkey. Your doctor may simply not have a lot of experience when it comes to multiple births, or he may get "over-excited" at a multiple pregnancy and want to try all the stuff he read about in the latest literature, or he may be looking for an opportunity to make a little extra money. If anything seems off or excessive to you, you have the right to refuse procedures or switch doctors.
- During those last weeks (months!) you will be more uncomfortable than you ever thought possible. You have my permission to complain constantly. But if you have healthy babies who are both head down, please carry them until you go into labor on your own and have a vaginal delivery. I understand that sometimes, circumstances (and doctors) don’t allow these things. Overall, though, it's always best to let your body work in the way that God created it to work.
- Be prepared for your twins to be in the NICU. It's easier on you if you're prepared, and if they don't end up there, it's a bonus! Also, don't be afraid to ask questions in the NICU - whether it's about the status of your babies or just general first-time mom questions. Most of the nurses are moms themselves, so they're willing to chat with you. And learn from the NICU! Swaddling, sleep positioning, burping techniques ... I learned it all in the NICU.
- Don't rely on the lactation consultants at the hospital if you plan to breastfeed -- they rarely know how breastfeeding with twins works.
- The first year with twins will probably be the most exhausting, stressful year of your life. That's not an exaggeration. And the next year isn’t much better (although hopefully you’re getting more sleep!). BUT look ahead! It’s not going to last forever! Soon it will be just a memory.
- Breastfeed! You can do it! Whether you have preemies or full-term babies, the learning curve can be pretty steep. But I promise, you can make enough milk for two babies, and in the long-term, it’s so much easier and cheaper (not to mention healthier) than bottle feeding.
- If your babies are premature, find a pediatrician who has expertise in neonatology.
- HUSBANDS: with twins, you do not get a free pass at night, even if your wife is breastfeeding. I tried to let Tony sleep since he had to work, but he was always "on call" and ready to help.
- Don't buy two of all the baby stuff. The only thing I truly needed two of (beside obvious items like car seats) were bouncy seats. Somebody loaned me a second swing and exersaucer, but I wouldn't have purchased them.
- Use a routine. I use a basic “eat, play, sleep, repeat” routine with my babies (not a clock-based routine). When one twin woke up to eat, I would also wake and feed the other one, in order to keep them on the same routine. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than not getting to rest or feeling like all you do is nurse because the babies are on opposite schedules.
- Prioritize the babies’ sleep. Two fussy babies can make you go crazy. I love the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”.
- Your twins don't have to sleep together. Some twins do great in the same room as each other. Mine slept in different rooms for naps, but sleep in the same room at night.
- Your social life might go out the window for a little while. You might sometimes look like a complete wreck in public. You may not even make it into public (or out of your pajamas) for months at a time. This will happen even more with twins than with one baby. (And you might keep saying, "I didn't ask for TWO babies!") And that’s okay. It’s temporary.
- And lastly, don't feel obligated to do what every other twin mom says is best. For example, I didn't tandem breastfeed, even though that's what everybody else said to do, and that's what worked for me!