Upon learning this news, I did a very reasonable thing: I freaked out. I probably spent the first two to three months of my pregnancy in total denial and freak-out mode before finally coming to terms with the reality that I was, indeed, carrying twins and come the spring of 2016, would be a parent to three small children.
So the next actually reasonable thing I did was start to prepare. To anyone else expecting multiples, I thought maybe you might find this list of how I am getting ready for life with twins and a preschooler helpful:
- Freak out. I do believe this is mandatory. It doesn’t mean you weren’t trying for or want these babies incredibly, it just means that carrying more than one baby is hard work and raising more than one child at a time is also hard work. Allow yourself a moment (or several) to just freak out. The calm will eventually come. I promise. But don’t feel badly if your first reaction is one of, “Oh my goodness…how am I ever going to do this?!”
- Prepare older children. We waited until after the first trimester to do this, just in case something happened to one or both of the babies before then. But once we were in the “safe zone”, so to speak, we started talking to our 3-year-old about the fact that she was going to be a big sister…to TWO little babies! Over the course of the pregnancy, we have read lots of books on being a big sister (and a big sister to twins), practiced feeding, changing diapers, burping and playing with twin baby dolls that I bought her. We have talked a lot about what babies do (i.e. cry, sleep, eat, poop…repeat!) and have tried to explain that no matter what, our love for her will never change and she will always be our first.
- Find your tribe! While I have several friends with twins, I didn’t realize just how large and amazing the local twin-parent (and twin-mom particularly) community is. These MoMs (Moms of Multiples) have really become a great support system to me and have offered invaluable encouragement and advice throughout my pregnancy. There are local meet-up organizations and Facebook support groups to join.
- Hire a postpartum doula. If you have the means, there are some amazing postpartum doulas out there who specialize in multiples and who will spend night or day shifts at your home helping to get your babies on a synchronized routine, organize your home, teach you helpful hints for caring for multiples and feed them at night so you can sleep.
- Accept help. I have a hard time with this one. I have always been the type of person who wants to do it all herself. But carrying multiples is hard and I simply can’t do it all. I have had to accept a lot of help—childcare, household duties, etc. — during this pregnancy and I know that once the twins are here, I will have to be even MORE open to accepting the help that is offered.
- Figure out which items are necessary to have two (or more) of. This was helpful when my husband and I went to borrow and buy baby gear. We had a lot of stuff, such as a crib, baby swing and pack ‘n play from our first child, but my twin-mom friends and the local tribe I was mentioning, helped me understand that while it is crucial to have two car seats and a double snap ‘n go stroller, two of EVERYTHING is certainly not necessary (or even financially feasible)!
- Read some books. With my first, I read too many baby books and by the time she arrived I had forgotten virtually everything I learned and was panic-stricken. This time around, I read just a few helpful books to learn the very basics about mothering twins. The essential thing I learned is that it is helpful to try and synchronize twins’ schedules from the get-go (one up and eating, both up and eating; one down, both down, etc.) From my books, I am also gleaning helpful tips on tandem feeding and soothing techniques.
- Talk to your spouse about fears and excitements. Your spouse is your teammate in this. He or she is probably having similar fears, anxieties and feelings of excitement. Share those feelings and thoughts with each other. This can bring you closer and help prepare you for working together—and talking through things—once the babies actually arrive.
- Take a baby-moon before travel is restricted! My husband and I spent a glorious, kid-free weekend in Florida. It was pure heaven. Plan your baby-moon earlyish in your pregnancy because once you hit 24 weeks, your feet should remain firmly planted on the ground.
- Line up helpers BEFORE babies arrive. I am a type-A planner, so getting everything in order before the chaos begins is helpful in alleviating my anxiety. But if you’re planning on having help—which I have been strongly encouraged to do—then use the time pre-babies to get as much as possible in place: childcare for older children while in the hospital, helpers to come during the day/night to help with feedings and older childcare duties, people who can help pick up groceries and/or cook meals, friends and family who are willing to help with laundry and tidying up the house, etc.
Truly, I never anticipated three kids. I like things orderly, neat and organized. To say I can be a bit rigid is an understatement. Yet I can’t help but feel this is all part of the plan; I am meant to learn how to loosen up and go with the flow. I actually feel beyond blessed that G-D deems my husband and I capable enough to parent these children and to all the other amazing parents out there (of singletons and multiples), the same goes for you. You are all incredible. We’re in it together. Here’s to the trials and tribulations of parenthood!