The day my twins were born was the scariest, most exciting and joyful day of my life. The following days in the hospital were exhausting but I was on some weird adrenaline rush that did not end until the moment my husband pulled up to the curb and I got out of the wheelchair to go home. Then it hit me – these kids are my responsibility and I have NO IDEA what I am doing!
I was so blessed to have my mom staying with me (she flew in from my home state in Texas) but even with us three adults – we felt outnumbered. That first night I don’t think any of us got a wink of sleep. In the hospital the babies were so relaxed and well behaved and they had those great little bassinets. At home, the bassinet and crib was so huge compared to my tiny little 5 and 6 pound babies.
Lucky for me, both my mom and my husband are problem solvers and by the next day we were already shaping up a routine. The following are some things that we did that made that week so much better.
Use an app or a chart to track feedings, diapers, medications, etc. It can get so confusing (even with boy/girl twins!) to keep up with who ate last or had their diaper changed. I used this app and it worked great for me. The first day or two we used the charts that the hospital nurses gave us but when its 3am and you’re sleep deprived, its so hard to do even the most basic math. The chart says 1am so 3-1=2 (meaning you fed this baby 2 hours ago) but in your mind you’re thinking 1+3-2y=1x. Do I carry the 1?
The cool feature of this app is that you can track more than one baby at a time. I actually added myself as the third baby profile to keep track of my medications. It can get so busy that you forget to take your pain medications in the first few days and if you are post c-section the pain will hit you like a brick wall. Intense pain brings me to my next tip:
If you’re post c-section, use a step ladder to get in and out of bed. Those first few days you are so sleep deprived that you might hear a baby cry, jerk up out of bed and try to hop right out as usual. This will make you want to shout words no infant should ever hear. I had this folding, 2-step ladder that I kept on my side of the bed and it made a world of difference. (I actually continued using this ladder for about the next three months.) Also, it’s worthy to note that you want a good night light in the room to facilitate moving around late at night.
Another handy thing post c-section is a compression garment to wear around your lower abdomen. Check with your OB/GYN before using one but these can help support the abdominal muscles that were cut during the procedure. I tried a couple of different ones and ended up being between their standard sizes so I took the smaller size and made a few little cuts in it to make it comfortable.
Have people scheduled to bring you a meal each day. This is something that the ladies of our church did for us and it was AMAZING! There are websites (like this one) that someone can setup and people can add themselves to the schedule. If you aren’t part of a church or group that already does this then recruit your best friend, sister, etc. and have them setup the site and be the point person. Then throughout your pregnancy you will have tons of people offering to help. Forward them to your point person or give them the web address and let them know this is a tangible way they can assist. Another cool feature about this site is that you can let people know in advance of any food allergies or foods you don’t like. (I try to stick to a Gluten Free diet and my husband doesn’t like onions in things.) We were able to log on the first week and know what meals were already being covered.
Don’t try to be a superhero – get some help! Look, you’re already a super hero! You just grew two humans inside of you and you are going to need your super strength for the long haul. Just face it, this next year is going to be exhausting (but absolutely worth it). So, that being said – if someone offers to help – LET THEM! If you have someone close that you feel comfortable with, have them come stay with you. My mom stayed with me for a month and we could not have survived without her. Also, my mother-in-law lives right next door and she was so wonderful to come by every day for the first few weeks to help out. They not only helped with the babies so that I could get some much needed rest but they also did the laundry, dishes, took the dogs out, etc. This brings me to my next point.
When you get the chance – SLEEP! The reasoning is the same as the point above. You don’t have to be Super Woman! Those dishes can wait. Someone else can handle the laundry. You need to re-charge your batteries so you have something to give to your babies. I was breastfeeding every two hours and had a hard time getting any sleep because I tend to like things neat and organized. You have to force yourself to shut off that part of your brain and go lay down. Even if you can’t sleep – just relax. Lay on the bed and read my blog.
Get a magnetic whiteboard and put it in a prominent place. This has been so handy for us over the past year. During the first week we would write down things needed at the grocery store or tasks we didn’t want to forget. It was also a great way to communicate when changing over shifts. I kept the app for feedings/diapers on my phone so my husband or mom would write down when they had changed a diaper or fed a baby. I would keep my pediatrician appointment cards there with a magnet. Even now, when I am heading out and leaving the kids with my mother in law or a baby sitter, I leave notes as to when they should next eat, take a nap, etc. This is the type of board I use.
Download an app that creates lists. My husband and I both use the Keep App. It is free and can be synced on both your smartphones so that things can be added and checked off of the list whenever you want. We often will keep a running grocery list on the app and then my husband can stop by the store on the way home from work and pick up whatever we need. I can’t tell you how many times I have made a hand-written list and left it at home. You could also use this app to keep a running list of items you need in your diaper bag or things you need to load up with each trip away from home. The possibilities are endless. It even has a voice recognition feature so you can speak your list items if your hands are full.
Load up on some healthy snacks. Those first few weeks I was ravenously hungry. Nursing twins takes a lot out of your body so don’t feel bad about eating frequently. (You can focus on weight loss in the months to come.) The main problem was that I was so busy caring for them that I needed quick access to food. My mom put together little snack baskets on the side table next to my nursing chair and we all benefited from it! It contained items like granola bars, cheese sticks, fresh fruit, a peanut butter sandwich, my favorite cookies, pretzel sticks, etc. I also kept a refillable water bottle with me at all times. Hydration is just as important after a delivery as it is when you are pregnant!
One cup of coffee each day kept me alive. Now before you haters fill up my comments section, just hear me out. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than three cups daily; La Leche League says that five cups a day is safe. (Read more here.) For me, just having that one cup in the morning made a world of difference in being able to tackle the challenges of the day. You should always check with your pediatrician if you are unsure about something but I tend to think most things like that are OK in moderation.
Keep a radio tuned to positive and uplifting Christian music during the night. I found the background music was great to drown out noises when the babies were sleeping and it was such an encouragement to me in the small morning hours. It can be really tough at 1am when you are running on three hours sleep for the fifth day in a row. Just being reminded that God loves me and that He is in control when I feel powerless got me through those rough nights.
This is going to be one of the worst and best weeks of your life. The number one thing that other twin parents have said to me when we meet in a grocery store or in the street is “it will get a lot better, just hang in there”. Now that I am 13 months into this whole raising twins thing, I can tell you that this advice is completely true. The babies are constantly changing and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the time goes. Their feedings will become less frequent. They will begin to sleep for longer. As the months go by and they smile at you and then they reach for you and then they crawl to you; you realize that your life will never be the same again. It is forever changed, but who cares? I wouldn’t go back to my old life for all of the money in the world.
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