Whenever I talk to new Moms about raising my identical twin boys, they often say things like, "Wow, I don't know how you do it!" Since these are my first babies though, I can honestly say that I just don't know any better. I mean, is it harder to have two relatively easy babies or one super-colicky baby? Because when I hear about babies who scream in agony for hours straight, I tend to think, "Wow, I don't know how she does it!"
One thing I can tell you though is that having twins isn't just about juggling two newborns. The joys and challenges of life with twin babies goes beyond double duty feedings and diaper changes. It's not simply that everything you might do with one baby, I just do twice. No, caring for twins is a lot more complicated than that -- emotionally and physically. It's pretty freaking incredible and pretty freaking exhausting, too. When it comes to raising twins, here are a few things you might not have thought about ....
A few of the perks...
- They not only discover you -- they discover each other. All Mamas have that heart-bursting moment when their little one looks them right in the eye and smiles for the first time. Not that gassy or milk-stoned grin, but that, "Heeeey, I know you" look that really makes you go, "Oh wait, I'm not just a milk-machine. I'm a Mommy." With twins though, you also have that moment where they really seem to see each other. In the first month or two, of course, I think sometimes I was looking for things that weren't there. Like, when I would breastfeed them together, I swear I thought they were gazing at each other from across my chest, not realizing that they could barely see that far. In the last several weeks though, they don't just look at one another, but they reach for one another too. In fact, my Berm will often grab at his brother and pull, like he wants to get closer. Herm is a pretty loving brother himself. Just yesterday, at the pediatrician, Berm was having a bit of a meltdown. When I couldn't seem to console him, I laid him down on the table next to his twin and, no joke, Herm reached his arm out to his brother's shoulder, and within seconds, my fussing boy had calmed down. (Side note for those believers out there: At this same pediatrician visit, Berm started screaming bloody murder at the exact second that his brother got his vaccination. Coincidence? I think not. The doctor said one brother was responding to the other's primal cry -- he clearly didn't notice that Berm and Herm started wailing at the exact same split second. Yes, that twin-connection shiz is real! At least, it is with my boys.)
- You get to experience those incredible milestones twice in a row. Speaking of those smiles, I remember the exact moment that Herm gave me his first real one. I was wiping a little spit-up from his face with a burp cloth and then, there it was ... and then I got him to give me another and another. Those smiles were like Mama crack and I couldn't seem to stop, totally bummed when he clearly started to fade. But, lucky me, the next day, I got to do the first smiles thing all over again when Berm took one look at the ceiling fan in the kitchen and gave it one big toothless grin ... and then another ... and then another.
- Strangers think your kids are cool. Alright, this one, I'm a little ashamed to admit, but it's kind of awesome to watch people lose their minds over your twins. I'm sure it will get old at some point, but for now, I'm like, "Yeah, they're twins, they're identical, check it." Of course, I'm proud to show off my babies, so why wouldn't I appreciate the oohs and aahs? And the cool thing is, they don't have to do much to get people's attention. They don't have to be particularly adorable (but, duh, of course they are!) or particularly smiley or know any cool tricks like, I don't know, tracking my finger -- from the second their embryo split in half, they became these rare, special beings.
A few of the downsides...
- I feel like I can't give both of them 100 percent. When your baby cries, desperate for his Mommy, you probably pick him up, soothe him, rock him a little. You can be there for him in a heartbeat. What if you have two babies who need to be comforted though? When both of my little guys are worked up, I often have to quickly decide which one needs me more, and then tend to him while his crying brother looks on. Of course, they're probably not thinking, "Mother, why have you abandoned me?" but when my poor, neglected baby is staring up at me with big, wet eyes, that's certainly what it feels like. When I'm alone and they're both hungry, I have to put them in their car seats and stick a bottle in each of their mouths. Then, I have to keep taking one boy out to burp him, put him back, take the other boy out, burp him, put him back. After all that jostling, they both wind up spitting up. Plus, it takes so long that they often lose interest and don't even finish their bottles like they would if I were holding them. In the last few months, I've said many times that I can handle the work of two babies, but I can't handle feeling like my young babies might not be getting all of the love and attention they need because there's just one of me and two of them.
- With two babies, up all night really means up all night. In the last week or so, each of my babies has been waking up every hour, starting sometime after their dream feeding. Okay, maybe I could handle that, if not for the fact that they're doing it about half an hour apart. So really, I'm running in with a pacifier every thirty minutes until they eat at 5. Sure, I have my boys on a schedule with their feedings and bedtime, but funny, I can't seem to coordinate their middle-of-the-night gas pains or the stuffy nose that woke one and the car alarm that woke the other twenty minutes later.
- It's hard to get out. Going anywhere with a baby can be tough, but imagine taking a double stroller to the supermarket. Or rolling the double-wide up to your table at a restaurant. Or managing two crying babies by yourself when the couple next to you is trying to eat. Or going shopping with two babies in tow. Not fun, people, not fun. When my husband and I are together, we make it work. But I haven't attempted any of the above while solo. It just doesn't feel manageable to me, so I probably spend way more time at home than the Moms of singletons.
So there you have it, but I'm sure I'm forgetting some things. Do you have twins? What would you add?