Recently one of my close friends told me she is expecting twins. She has done what we did, which is decide on a third child, and are going to end up with four instead. She said she could at least come to me for advice. True. To an extent.
My friend already has two children and she is a really good parent, and twin babies are not entirely an alien species. They still drink milk, poo their nappies, get sticky and make noise as much as other babies. There’s not a lot I can add in that respect which will help her. But I do have some advice which is specific to multiples, which I think can help her out…
1. You will learn to become a lot more sociable and tolerant of others. Other people ask dumb questions about multiples which they wouldn’t ask about single babies. Twins and more attract way more attention than single babies. Get used to it – you can’t avoid it, and you can’t stop going out. Learn to tolerate others, especially crazy old ladies and your day will be a lot less stressful. It also helps if you pad extra time into your schedule to allow for any distractions.
2. Take things at a more leisurely pace. You won’t be going anywhere quickly any more. In fact, with a double buggy, there are many places you can’t go at all. Slow down to a more comfortable pace, it will make life a lot easier.
3. Trim the fat from your life. Stop doing any activities which don’t add value to your or your older childrens’ lives. Concentrate on getting those things done which are absolutely essential and anything else is a bonus. You can start re-introducing activities when you get more confident in yourself.
4. Learn to ask for help and to accept help when offered. I appreciate you may not like bothering others, or prefer to do things your own way, but believe me, daily activities are easier if someone else can help you. One pair of hands is never enough. Take note of tip number one – strangers can be a great help when out and about but won’t offer it if you have a defensive face on! Enlist anyone you can think of – grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, mums from school and from the community. Teach the older kids to help out too.
5. Get into a routine and quick. Try and synchronize their routines too. Yourlife will be easier if your babies sleep well, and if they can do it at the same time. It’s preferable to feed them close together too. You don’t want to be having six meal times a day when you can do three. Act as if they are one baby. Importantly though, love them as individuals. On a daily basis, sleeping and feeding them together will make things a lot easier, but appreciate their individual quirks and personalities. This makes things more fun all round.
6. Try not to stress if your one pair of hands is all you have right now. It is ok to let babies cry. They are multiples and have to learn to accept that there is sometimes a queuing system in operation. They were made a multiple because someone, somewhere wanted them to learn the art of patience. As long as your baby is safe, then things like having to wait a few minutes while you feed their sibling really isn’t going to hurt them.
7. Accept used baby things and hand-me-downs. Finances are going to get tight. You can’t re-use all your old stuff you put away after the last babies. A single pram is no good anymore, and you’re going to have to buy another lot of car-seats because they can’t share. You will also need twice as many clothes, nappies and bedding. Accept as much free stuff as you can sand use the money you save to buy anything else you need. Thankfully, twins are special to others and seem to get lots of presents. Ask people to buy them clothes and you’re sorted for the first few weeks at least.
8. Dress them how you feel. Some people like to dress them the same all the time, others never, ever put them in the same outfit. I say it really doesn’t matter either way, especially when they are young. As long as they are clean and warm, who cares? Babies certainly don’t. And you will get dumb comments and questions from others no matter how you dress them, so don’t worry about it.
9. Get used to the hospital and clinic. Even if your babies have no problems and your pregnancy is straight-forward, you will most likely be referred to a consultant as well as a midwife, and will have more scans than normal. Which is nice, but does mean you get to see a lot of the hospital.
10. Enjoy it. It’s easy to fret over the practicalities and let time fly away with the daily routine, but take time out and enjoy your multiples. They really are special, and you are privileged to have been chosen by Mother Nature (or God if you like) to be a multiple-mummy. Cherish it because there are thousands of women out there who would give their right leg to be in your position.
That’s all I have to offer. Some of what I do have to say you would never believe, and the rest you will work out yourself in time. The biggest and most important thing I can say to any multiple-mum would be “Good luck, you never know when you will need it!”
So, multiple-mummies and daddies. What would be your one piece of advice to others? All comments welcome.