Today I stumbled across a blog written by a girl who has just been given the news she’s expecting twins — well, a week ago, but that’s not very long at all to get your head around something so enormous.
She had written a list of questions, similar to the kind of things I would agonise over when I was pregnant.
So I figured I’d sit down and reply with some advice for a new twin mum. Because after all, I am an ‘authority’ on the subject now! ;)
OK. Perhaps an ‘authority’ is a bit strong.
But I do have a little bit of experience. And I wish someone had answered all these questions for me when I was pregnant.
Basically the questions and answers go something like this…
My advice for a new twin mum
Question 1: Sleeping Arrangements
“You can put two babies in one moses basket, they have their feet at each end and their heads are in the middle. Fine. Efficient. Cosy.
But how do you know they’re going to fit?
How do you know they’re going to like sharing a bed?
From what I’ve read, it seems that their sleeping arrangements in hospital will play a large part in this. So do I just buy one basket, and then if they don’t like sharing a bed send the husband rushing out to buy another one the day we get home? Leaving me on my own with two tiny babies? Or do I buy two anyway? I guess they won’t both fit in one forever, so sooner or later we would need another one…”
Get two Moses baskets — the babies might start off weeny-tiny but they grow VERY FAST.
Also, ours have been in their own room since day 2. They are so noisy, there was never any chance of getting a second of shut-eye with them in our room. We put the Moses baskets in the cots — rather than on stands — so that when they grew out of them it wouldn’t be such a big deal. After all, I figured that I didn’t want them to get used to being rocked to sleep… this may seem like a novel thing to do when they are first born, but you don’t want to be doing it for the next 12 years.
Settling themselves to sleep, in a stationary, non-rocking bed, seemed like the way forward.
And they have been sleeping though the night since they were 9 weeks old, so we must be doing something right.
Question 2: Feeding time at the zoo.
“I plan to breastfeed, for various reasons – one of them financial, another weight-loss related.
And it’s good for the babies I guess. What if they both want feeding at the same time?
Do you feed them at the same time? One baby per boob? Breastfeeding in public is fine, but I bet I get more looks for having two on the go.
And does this mean my boobies make twice as much milk? Do they know?”
Your boobs work on a supply and demand basis. The more you feed, the more they produce. They are clever — and spookily, they DO seem to know…
Get an EZ2 Twin Nursing Pillow* (the foam one, not the blow up one). They look awful, but they work. I breastfed my boys in tandem for 12 weeks, and am still using it now I’m bottle feeding. It is, without question, the most useful thing that we bought. I got mine off Ebay; it’s covered in a lurid fabric, with revolting multi-coloured cats on it. But it works. And I wouldn’t have survived the last 6 months without it.
I think that the Harmony cushion is similar — but probably less offensive on the eyes. That said, I wouldn’t swap my cushion for the world.
*I wrote a review on ‘Designed For Twins‘
Question 3: Child allowance.
“Benefits. Whatever they’re called. Someone told me that if you have twins, you get less for the second sprog. Is this true?! If so it is absolutely insane! Way to give one child a complex!
I know they obviously won’t know how much the benefits are, but still.”
True. And yes, I had the exact same thoughts…
I find it quite upsetting that my first born is worth more (in monetary terms) than his brother. Who incidentally was born in the same minute. Unfair, but hey! At least you’re getting some free cash.
It goes a little way to pay for the mountain of nappies they get through.
Question 4: Spatial arrangements.
“The buggy won’t fit in the house.
Our front door opens into the living room, which then leads on to the kitchen. Our front room will be full of buggy. This is crazy. And it will have to be a beast, because it’ll need to sit two car-seats. Or do I get one that’s not an all in one jobby? The car-seats can just stay in my car, I guess. Surely it’s no easier lifting a baby in a car-seat in and out of a car, than just the baby itself? But then when you’re inside, where do you put the kid? Ah. I’ve spotted a flaw in this plan. There will be two kids…so I would need two resting places.
So maybe I should just get a pram with car-seats…”
We live in a cottage. We don’t have a hall.
We have a front door with a stupid angled bit that leads to another door. I can’t get a buggy through either.
Basically, what I’m saying is, get used to the fact that your living space will start to resemble a Mothercare showroom.
Initially, you’ll want to put the babies in the seats, before you put them in the car. This proves to be MUCH easier than trying to put them in the seat, IN the car. Having tried to do this, I know from experience, you’ll end up with a cricked neck (or a bruised head) and the baby will cry because you’re trying to squash him in at a funny angle.
Not funny ‘ha-ha’ either.
At least he won’t think so.
Question 5. This leads me onto my next point. How on earth do you know which buggy is the right one for you?
“I guess in one way I’m lucky (ha!) in that there aren’t so many twin buggies, so at least that narrows it down. The only thing I am certain of, is the moses basket I want. And yes, it’s the most expensive one Mothercare do. And it’s only compatible with a particular stand. But it’s a rocking one, which is quite nice.”
We looked at LOADS of buggies, but in the end we went for the BabyJogger City Select Tandem; AKA The BattleBus.
It’s HUGE when the carry-cots are on it but, even then, it’s still as thin as a normal single buggy — just a bit longer. It is awesome. It squashes down to next-to-nothing with the most amazing fold action. Everything pops off really easily — even the wheels — and the frame and all it’s necessary bits and pieces fit into my little boot. I have a Citroen C3, so it’s not bad for a buggy that looks ENORMO when it’s erected.
Go and test drive it… it’s fab.
We use Maxi-Cosi car seats with it — currently, the babies are too small to use the buggy seats, so we use the car seats on the frame or the carry-cots. It has an epic turning circle too (you could spin it on a 50p piece).
All in all we are chuffed to bits with it… it was expensive, but worth every penny.
Question 6. The actual birth.
“I had my booking appointment today, and my next scan is the 15th October.
Now, sooner or later, they’re going to start asking me how I want to have these little people coming out of me.
I’ve said all along that I’m having a Caesarean, even before I was pregnant. And people tried to put me off, saying that you can’t do anything for weeks, you can’t drive, you can’t lift the sprog… which makes you think it would be twice as hard having twins.
But then if it was that much of a problem, they wouldn’t give you one, would they!
The alternative makes me feel physically sick. The thought of certain things ripping, the other involuntary bodily function that happens at the same time…the stitching back up…the general agonising pain of your insides clawing their way out of your vagina…
Scars fade, you know what I’m saying? Bio-oil works wonders.”
I haven’t missed one here… just thought that my next reply answered both questions… keep reading :)
Question 7. The unpredictability of the whole birth thing.
“The last person I know who popped one out planned on having a home birth. She ended up in hospital. With a Caesarean.
So is there really any point in planning these things?
What if I decide I want a Caesarean, but then they come early?
And what if I plan for a natural birth (yeah right) and it all goes tits up and they have to cut me open anyway?
It all seems fairly fluid if you ask me. Pardon the pun.”
My Answers to 6 & 7:
If your babies are anything like mine, they will dictate the birth.
I had a lovely flowery image of a natural birth — perhaps in a birthing pool.
That said, my boys were transverse (lying across me) practically the whole of my pregnancy; they looked like they were in bunk-beds. Until Twin 1 decided to turn — breech — at the the last minute.
My consultant had already put me down for a planned c-section though, so that was how it was.
No water’s breaking. No sweating, panting, or ripping.
Actually, the whole thing (if you can call someone slicing you open, this) was pretty cool. As experiences go, it was good.
Calm, quick and life changing. Quite amazing — and pretty emotional —to meet my beautiful boys at the end of it.
Question 8. The hospital bag.
“This is a really stupid thing to be stressing about, especially at this stage of the game.
But a lot of what they recommend you have in there, are things that you’re going to need right up until you leave. And when you leave, all sweaty and panty and disgusting, how are you supposed to remember, “oh wait, I need my phone charger sweetheart.
And can you grab my toothbrush?” There are going to be lists ALL OVER the house.”
The hospital bag needs another 1000 words to itself.
I guess it totally depends if you do have a natural birth or a c-section. I can’t comment on the former, but have a great list for the latter.
I will send it to you on another day (my fingers are currently starting to turn blue by typing this monologue to you).
Question 9. The waters breaking.
“Especially if this happens at home.
Say it happens in the middle of the night. You’re charging off to hospital, leaving a soaking wet mattress behind. Chances are you’ll be away for at least one night. So the mattress is still wet.
Our bed has wooden slats. Do the maths. And I don’t want to put anyone off their dinner, but does this stuff smell?
How do you even clean a mattress? I think I will be researching this, and doing it as quickly as possible before we leave. Think Bree Van der Kamp making the bed while her husband’s downstairs having a heart attack, waiting for her to take him to hospital. Or do people just use a plastic sheet the closer they get to the due date?
I think that option would annoy the husband less than me flapping at him with a bottle of Dettol and a pair of Marigolds mid-contraction.”
I can’t obviously comment on this from personal experience.
However, my sister got up in the middle of the night to pee and her waters broke when she was on the loo — lucky — but my friend had her baby at home (unplanned) and totally ruined their very expensive Tempur mattress with various bodily fluids.
Apologies if you’re eating when you read this.
The insurance company wouldn’t pay out either, due to some clause in the small-print.
Not so lucky.
Basically, unless you’re having a planned section (and your babies don’t make an early appearance), I think it’s the luck of the draw.
“The only thing that’s not actually terrifying me is the parenting part.
Making sure they both get enough attention, feeding them (once they’re off the boob), keeping them clean, washing their clothes, telling them off, reading them stories, teaching them to ride their bikes, baking cakes with them…shame I have to get through the rest of this list before the good stuff starts.”
Don’t write the baby years off before they’re even here!!!
I was nervous throughout my twin pregnancy — having had losses in the past — but I had an amazing 9 months. I luckily had no morning sickness. At all.
I had the fear about stretch-marks too; after all, my belly could have housed a small village by the time the babies were due. Invest in some Mama Mio Tummy Rub oil. Amazing stuff, I didn’t get one stretch-mark.
I was a
lot little anxious about the c-section and bought numerous books on the subject. I needn’t have bothered.
Finally, motherhood is fantastic. Motherhood with twins is REALLY fantastic.
And a privilege.
Don’t get me wrong… it’s hard work and you sort of feel as though every day is Groundhog Day — especially in the first few weeks — but, all in all, it’s the best buzz ever.
Two little people beaming up at you when you come into a room. That is magic.
Congratulations to you both. Being parents to twins is the best thing ever :)