This book was recommended to me by the lovely JallieDaddy last week in response to my post Dear Parents of Twins. My twins were born at 27 weeks and are now just 7 months old. How I wish that I had owned this book from the start! It gives such good advice that may well have saved my sanity time and time again. I urge anyone who is pregnant with twins or is a new parent of doubles to buy this book. It is available on Amazon and is actually a really good read.
Let me share with you some highlights, the things I wish I had known, the things I long to have read …
Schedule someone to come and help you at least once in every 24 hour period
Ask people to buy you nappies as presents for the babies’ arrival – not cute or glamourous but very very necessary!
Don’t spend hundreds of pounds on an expensive breast pump – I did this and have hardly ever used it. I used the hospital machine all the while the twins’ were in NICU and built up a huge supply of frozen milk that we are still using today for occasional bottles and to soften solid foods. On that note if anyone would like a Medela breast pump please get in touch and you can have mine!
You cannot spoil a child under three months, no matter what anyone tells you, well meaning or otherwise, and you shoud never worry that picking up and comforting a newborn will form bad habits or teach him/her to abuse your services.
Play, in the early days and weeks, means simply to be awake and engaged and not eating. I spent so many hours worried and stressed that I was not providing my babies with enough stimulating activity. If only I had read or heard this one sentence those early days would have been so much better for all of us in the Nairn/Henley household.
In the early days it is almost a necessity to have three pairs of hands, two baby workers and one household worker. While I see the logic in this, I have to say that David and I cherished our first few weeks home alone getting to know Esther and William. Perhaps after that we could have drafted in some help but by then I was stubbornly determined to prove I could go it alone. At 7 months I am now so exhausted, more experienced and rational and I am finally drafting in my mother for help, and looking forward to it too. It has taken me a long time to get to this place and I wonder if I had done it earlier, would I find it easier to accept help now and not see it as a failure on my part.
What takes practice is not just calming the babies, but calming yourself. Over the first few weeks, you need to learn to (1) breathe deeply when a baby (or two) cries, (2) assess their needs, and then (3) provide for them patiently. Such simple advice but so easily fogotten in a sleep deprived state. I have so often felt that everything was my fault and that I must be a terrible mother for having my babies cry. I get like this and Esther and William are really very good babies so for mothers who are not so lucky as I this advice must be very hard to take on board and remember at the toughest of times. But you must, really you must x
Give yourself permission to put all else on hold for your babies’ sake, particularly if you are demand breastfeeding. In the beginning I could be feeding for anything up to 20 hours a day. It is intense and wonderful but you do worry that there is no time for any other thing. The clear advice given in Juggling Twins is to allow yourself this time to enjoy bonding with your twins. It is good advice.
All visitors to your home in the early months must do more work in your house than their visit creates, for example, make the tea, do some washing up, bring a meal. I am pleased to say that most, if not all, of our visitors did do this and we were very thankful for it. Make sure your visitors do the same for you.
Mothers of premature twins need even more care than other twin mummies because of all they have been through. You have not only been through labour (and in my case open abdominal surgery 10 days before!) but have also weathered a host of exhausting emotions including disappointment about the early birth, anxiety about the babies’ outcome and fear that their needs will overwhelm you. Moreover you may have spent weeks or months travelling to and from the NICU and expressing milk for babies who were not by your side. Meghan Regan-Loomis goes on to say if you are to provide the babies the attention and care they need, you’ll have to get good at accepting the attention you need. I have not been very good at this. I feel that as Mummy I should be doing everything for the babies with their Daddy, David. I enjoy caring for them and playing with them, feeding them and bathing them. There is not a part of their day that I would readily give up, but 7 months in and being utterly shattered I realised that you do have to take care of you to be the best mother that you can be. I have had 3 times in 7 months when I have just broken down and I am sure that had I taken better care of myself and accepted more help these isolated events could have been completely avoided. Take the time, you not only deserve it but you need it for your sanity and the babies’ safety x
It is also important to look after the relationship between you and your partner. I know that when I am tired I can be horrible David and I am so sorry for that because I could not ask for a better fiance. He is wonderful to me and a fantastic Dad. I often forget how hard he works and how tired he must be when the dark clouds of my own sleep deprivation surround me. Though we know we love each other sometimes at the moment that is just not enough. We have to make sure that we take time to tell each other and be good to each other and remind each other of what we are together. Our relationship does suffer as we focus all our energies on the babies and now that they are becoming a little less reliant on us we are going to make certain that we take some time out for ourselves. This is one area in which I will definitely be taking my own advice, please ensure you do too x
Megan Regan-Loomis also talks about the guilt that you feel as a parent of twins, guilt that you can’t be as good a mother to your twins as you could to a single baby. I know that David and I have often said, half in jest, how much simpler life would be with just one. You can calm them as soon as they cry, pick them up as soon as they need, take them with you everywhere, allow them to sleep on you all day. With two you are constantly dividing your time and trying to decide where the divisions should fall. I find this so stressful and though I love Esther and William more than all the world I do sometimes suffer from single baby envy. Meghan’s advice is to let the jealousy, the stress and the guilt go. As a parent of twins’ you will meet their needs, you can comfort your babies and settle them. It is not going to harm them to cry for a few minutes. I must try to remember this and not add to the situation by crying or screaming myself which is what I feel like doing sometimes.
I think that Meghan Regan-Loomis hits on the real truth of the situation in this book. The babies are not trying to snnoy us or wear us out. They do not understand fairness yet. Their needs are simple. They do not know any different than what we provide. We project our own stress, guilt and emotions on to them which we should not do. All we can do is be the best parents that we can be and react to situations calmly and methodically. This takes practice but we will get there as we love our children so very much and we want to do the best for them that we can.
In her book, Juggling Twins, Meghan points out some simple truths that every parent of twins needs reminding of. This book is like a close friend giving you a great big hug and saying yes this is hard but you my friend, you are doing okay. You are a great parent and you are doing a fine job and every day things are going to get a little easier.
Thank you Jallie Daddy for recommending such a great book and thank you Meghan Regan-Loomis for writing it.
This is a book that I know I am going to be reading over and over again.
Come back and join me soon to see what I make of pages 219 and on.
Thank you x