Five things that are just harder with twins….
Comparisons: All the time, ALL the time. And it’s not just strangers, it’s us too. It’s easy with twins to focus on both babies all the time, rather than connecting with who each one is as a separate entity. The temptation to compare and contrast, to measure and rate is almost impossible to ignore. I find myself worrying about something one twin does, simply because the other doesn’t do it. Or vice versa. When one twin smiles you worry that the other isn’t smiling. When one twin cries you decide that the other is happier. When one reaches for something first, you assume the other is slow to catch on. Even worse you start to attach certain personality traits to them that probably aren’t even appropriate. Monty is a ‘bruiser’, he’s also ‘little and sweet’, ‘intense’, ‘demanding’, ‘a cool dude’ and ‘a total flirt’… (that last one is actually true though). Felix on the other hand is ‘crotchety’, ‘a good baby’, ‘the chilled out one’, ‘very serious’ and ‘really smiley’. Some, none and all of these things are true about both of the babies some of the time. The problem is, that you start to worry abut things, or overthink things or attribute something to a personality trait that just isn’t there. Getting to know your baby is a majorly important part of those first parenting months, but having two babies to compare to each other makes this so much harder.
Cuddles: You know that lovely, soft, milk drunk baby that’s all cooing and cosy, snuggled into you chest, sighing happily? Yeah, that baby. Everyone else gets to cuddle those babies all the time. I don’t. I get handed cross, angry rigid babies, furious at life, desperate for milk, all flailing arms and wild eyes. Then, once they’ve calmed down and had their milk and are all soft and delicious again, I have to hand them back to someone else only to receive another furious little fighter, gasping for milk and inconsolable because they’ve had to wait. And repeat as needed.
Feeding: As above, feeding, if its just you and your breasts is pretty intense – no-one else can do it and it’s all on you. So you’re more exhausted than you might be anyway, you have to eat more and drink more to ensure plentiful supply, your nipples take a major bashing, you feel like you are never actually properly dressed, one part of a nursing top is almost always undone. Lots of people who breastfeed twins favour tandem feeding, putting a baby on each breast and feeding them together. Obviously this saves inordinate amounts of time, but it doesn’t work for everyone and it doesn’t work for me – I hate it. The different sucking rhythm feels weird and even annoying, and, as the twins grow, manoeuvring them onto a feeding pillow is nigh on impossible, they roll off or wiggle off – and then, if they do fall asleep, you have to somehow work out how to stand up and place two sleeping babies (ie two unexploded and very volatile bombs) into their cots, all with no spare hands and usually in the dark. It’s just difficult. And this is before you start feeding them real food…
Tiredness: This isn’t just about not sleeping – though that in itself is nigh on impossible, what with two babies waking in the night to two horrendously different sleeping schedules – but there is also so much else to exhaust you. Just the day to day minutiae of looking after babies is all doubled, and that in itself is simply physically exhausting. It’s two lots of nappies to change, two lots of pram suits to put on, two car sears to put in and out of the car, two carrycots to attach to a pushchair, two baths to do, two bottoms to wipe, two outfits to choose, two faces to wipe, two bedtimes to do, two naps to manage. Everything takes longer, everything has to be done twice, everything just physically takes more out of you.
Questions: Even when you just have one small baby, people want to talk to you about your parenting – is your baby good, does it sleep through the night, are you breastfeeding it, what is its name, and so on. With twins, this is SO MUCH WORSE. Wow, you must have your hands full? Are they twins? What are their names? Are they boys? Did you know you were having them? Are twins in your family? You must have your hands full? How do they sleep? How are you feeding them? Do you dress them the same? Why not? Are they on the same routine? Why not? You must have your hands full? Was it a surprise? Are they natural? Are you happy about it? Do they keep you busy? You must have your hands full? What buggy do you have? How do you fit everyone in the car? Do you have a lot of help? You must have your hands full? So, yes, as you have pointed out, my hands are full, so is my mind. And there is no space for all the questions.