I know, I know you probably thought I gave up on blogging. I really had every intention of keeping up with it, especially while I had four months of maternity leave. However, life got in the way, and I am not the least bit upset about it. In fact, I thought my first post back could be a summary of some of my expectations around having twins vs. reality. So, here it goes…..
Expectation 1: Babies sleep a lot, I will have time to rest.
Yes, babies sleep a lot in the beginning, but that time is also your only time to get things done. And I am not just talking about fun activities, but the basics like eating, showering, brushing your teeth and laundry. The first few months, it was a constant struggle between should I take a nap vs. do something on my list for the day. I think God gives new moms an extra bit of energy because amazingly I was tired but not completely exhausted most days. This is pretty impressive considering I did not sleep for more than three hours at a time. You learn to be much more efficient and prioritize what is most important. In the midst of the craziness, I learned (and am still learning) the importance of making sure I still take care of myself. If I am constantly giving, there is no way I can be effective at taking care of those I love.
Expectation 2: My husband or my mom can take middle of the night feedings.
In theory, it would be great if someone could feed the twins in the middle of the night so I could get some more rest. However, there were a few roadblocks to this. One, when there are two young babies, you need two people to feed them. Two, I still had to pump in the middle of the night to keep up with the demand of feeding two babies. Three, the babies slept in our room the first two months so I would still wake up when they cried. While it was challenging to do those middle of the night feedings, they also were a very sweet time for Austin and me to sleepily look in wonder at our two little girls. Also, in the scheme of things, it did not last too long because the girls were sleeping through the night by 10 weeks.
Expectation 3: Nursing will be an enjoyable experience.
You always read about how feeding your child is a beautiful bonding experience. Maybe with a single baby it is like that from the start, but at least with my twins, it definitely was not. We were blessed to be able to bring our girls home from the hospital after only four days, but they were still VERY little and it was crucial they received enough nutrients. Since nursing for a full feeding would cause them to burn too many calories, I had to nurse for half of their feeding and then finish up with a bottle of pumped milk. This meant I also had to pump after every feeding. The whole process would take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, and most the time required three people. Doing this eight times a day was emotionally and physically exhausting. It took a lot of work to get them to latch correctly and those first 4 weeks were pretty painful. If I wasn’t committed to breastfeeding, I would have given up early on. At times I would get so stressed that the girls were not getting enough nutrients. It wasn’t until 3 months that Emma was finally strong enough to breastfeed exclusively.
However, now that I am on the other side, I can promise it does get better. Now, it only takes about 20 minutes to feed the girls and is a much more enjoyable process. The greatest challenge I have is trying to keep them from hitting each other in the face. For other twin moms, my advice is do what works for you and keeps you sane. Maybe you breastfeed and maybe you don’t, but either way is completely fine. If you do decide to breastfeed, I highly recommend seeing a lactation consultant. I cannot say enough great things about them.
Expectation 4: My body will take forever to heal.
While those first few days were pretty painful, and I remember wondering if I would ever be able to walk without pain, that only lasted for a week. After two weeks, most of the baby weight was off but I still was pretty weak. My Belly Bandit wrap did an amazing job of providing core support, which allowed me to be more active. Walks around the neighborhood were an absolute lifesaver. For someone who is very active, this time outside made a world of difference and also gave the girls a chance to get fresh air and take a nice nap. Around 9 weeks out, I went for a short run and over the next two weeks, worked myself back up to 3 miles. Amazingly, it did not take long to get my endurance back. Now that being said, my core strength and abs are not what they use to be. I have been very careful to give them enough time to heal and primarily focused on strengthening my transverse abdominals with exercises from a physical therapist. I will go into more detail in another post about fitness after baby because I found some great resources. I am trying my best to be patient and remind myself that it took 9 months to grow a baby so it will take time to fully heal. The beauty of having twins is that you are so busy you rarely have time to sit and think about being frustrated with how your body is recovering. Even when you do get down on yourself, a little smile or laugh from one of your babies and you completely forget about your frustrations.
Expectation 5: It will take some time for the twins’ personalities to show.
I figured that the first few weeks, the girls would primarily just eat and sleep. One of our nurses predicted Emma would be our calm, relaxed baby and Olivia would be a little more unpredictable. I remember thinking she was crazy to already have an opinion, especially because Emma was the fussy one in the hospital and Olivia was very calm. However, she ended up being correct. It still amazes me we could tell so many differences between the girls from the very start. What comforts one, won’t necessarily comfort the other. Their cries and little noises are very different. A toy that interests one may not be exciting for the other. I think seeing these differences from the start engrained in us the importance of treating each girl as an individual. Now we still make sure they stay on the same eat/wake/sleep schedule (which I highly recommend), but try our best to learn what each girl prefers. Depending on their developmental stage, we have seen them flip-flop personalities several times, and it is so much fun to see them becoming their own unique self.
Expectation 6: People will know they are twin girls.
We quickly learned that having a double stroller attracts MAJOR attention. Now if I saw a double stroller with two babies the same age, I would assume they were twins. However, I cannot tell you how many times people ask if they are twins. They then will proceed to ask about gender and often will ask if they are a boy and girl. While this doesn’t bother me, most times the girls are wearing outfits that make it pretty obvious they are girls…I am talking pink and bows. I have learned to always budget extra time whenever we go anywhere because I can guarantee we will be stopped at least five times. I see it as a blessing that the girls can bring a little joy to others’ lives and it provides me the opportunity to meet people I may have not even spoken to.
Expectation 7: Of course, I will remember what the girls look like as newborns.
I had heard so many people say the first few months were a blur and they could barely remember what their child looked like as a newborn. Before having the girls, I thought this was ridiculous. How could you not remember? While I do remember key moments, those first few weeks definitely blur together thanks to sleep deprivation. I am so thankful for ALL the pictures and videos we took those first few weeks because they help jog my memory. Around 4 months, I came out of that newborn fog and realized, I was starting to get the whole twin mom thing. The girls were both growing and developing well, we had a schedule and I was sleeping at night. The days are still tiring, but you also feel a bit like super mom when you consider that you made it through those first few months.