Getting it right, second time around…
Having your second (or in our case second and third) baby is, in many ways, a chance to get it right the second time around. A chance to have another go, armed with the benefit of hindsight, forethought, confidence and a sense of being slightly more qualified for the job than you were the first time.
With twins, it’s no different, and in fact, it’s a major bonus. There are plenty of wonderful people I know who have had twins as their first babies and I take my hats off to them. What a baptism of fire that must be, a learning curve of the highest order – the self-doubt, the shock of birth, the sudden, instant lack of sleep, the second-guessing, the uncertainty, all the crying – this is bad enough with one baby, it’s much worse with two.
And, sure, even second or third time around, there are some things that just never get any easier….the sight of 4:23am for instance; or all the screaming; or the sore nipples; or the great, endless, yawning tiredness; or trying to wrestle tiny limbs into even tinier sleeves. It’s the same however many babies you’ve got. But there are some things that are just easier the second time around, mostly because of what you know from the first time. If you could package this knowledge and give it to new parents (and they’d actually listen, because newbie parents seem to be the worst for thinking they know what they’re doing…), it could make a whole world of difference.
This is what I wish I’d known then, and what is keeping me sane now…
Now is Now, Then will be Then: Stop worrying about how what you’re doing now will affect things in the future. You cannot love a baby too much. You will not make a ‘rod for your own back’. You aren’t developing ‘bad habits’. No adult I have ever met still uses a dummy, shares a bed with their parents, needs to be rocked to sleep or has to have hot milk before bed. What works now is great, because it works now. Forget how it might play out in the future. You will work it out.
For us, this means that we’re just going with what works for our babies right now, and adapting it as we need to. Every time I find myself worrying about the future, or whether our co-sleeping arrangement or our use of dummies will cause problems down the road I literally stop myself. I physically close that thought down and instead say to myself: “Is it working now? Are we all happy?” If the answer is yes then we carry on regardless. There will be time aplenty in the future to adapt and adjust what we’re doing, when we’re ready to.
Hibernation: Don’t go out. You don’t need to prove your life hasn’t changed to anyone. Because it has. So accept that. Stay indoors, stay in bed even. Cuddle your baby, hold it close to you, wear pyjamas all day, and expect nothing from the day but to simply keep everyone alive.
For us, this means not having left the house more than a handful of times in five weeks. It means not making plans, but deciding what to do from day to day. It means the space to feed and feed and feed the babies without worrying about flashing a boob, or dribbling leaky milk everywhere. It means always having somewhere to escape to, and the chance of a short power nap if the moment presents itself. It means hours on the sofa, cuddles with my babies and chats with my friends. It’s really rather lovely.
This Too Shall Pass: Your babies will not be babies forever, they will not be at the cross-eyed, floppy-limbed stage for long; neither will they be at the screamy, grabby stage; or the trying to crawl stage; or any of the other stages, forever. Life now is about adapting, briefly, to the new order and then changing around it in a very short space of time. If you have a bad day, then it is just that – a bad day. Tomorrow might be a good day.
For us, this means taking each day as it comes. Going slowly when we’re tired, doing more when we’re not tired. It means enjoying spontaneous moments when sleeping babies and lunchtimes coincide, and accepting fraught evenings when the babies are cluster-feeding as part of the process. Essentially, we accept gratefully the times that things go well and work, and ride out the bad times with the knowledge that there are good times to come. Neither state is forever, and neither means we are winning or losing. It’s just parenthood and life with new babies. Sometimes things will go well – one of the babies will sit in his bouncy chair awake for an unprecedented hour and I’ll get absolutely loads done and feel deliriously grateful; and then later that day, I won’t even able to do a wee without a soundtrack of wailing. Rough with the smooth, people, rough with the smooth.
Getting to Know You: It takes time to get to know someone, and that includes your newborn baby. There is an instant bond of course, a rush of maternal, protective love and fascination and wonder that is quite overwhelming at times, but there’s also something that takes longer – the real getting to know you aspect of a new baby, the sense of finding your way with each other. Allow time for this, it’s important.
For me, this means I’m no longer worried about not ‘bonding’ or feeling blank at times, I just relish each moment to gaze at my babies and find out who they are. I look forward to the weeks and months ahead as their personalities start to make themselves known. It’s exciting wondering who they’ll be and what secrets they are keeping, how they will interact with each other and with their big sister, each day we learn more and it’s a treat to get to know these boys as they grow.