February 5, 2015

How We Survived The First Three Months With Twins

So you just popped out not just one but two (or more) babies! Congratulations, life is about to get a whole lot more interesting. The first few weeks will be an absolute blur of crying, diapers and feedings and at times you will feel like a dirty, exhausted human milk machine. Press on, dear friend, for you too will survive and thrive as I have. We are six months in and those days are but a distant memory as we have settled into a groove, gotten to know each other better and found a routine that works for us. I'm a little more relaxed now when it comes to scheduling and doing everything "right" but I swear having a routine saved my sanity in the beginning.

We followed the eat, play, sleep schedule from day one. I found it gave me ample "me" time in the beginning and helped set the groundwork for the ideal schedule later on. Newborns sleep constantly though so sometimes activity time was only a few minutes in between sleeps. Somedays it looks more like eat, sleep, play, sleep or eat, sleep, eat. As long as you're doing something interactive when baby is awake you're doing great - even if it's just a snuggle and a song. So, here's what our days looked like those first few weeks:

Daily Schedule for Newborn Twins:

Juliette was often "milk drunk" and it was hard to rouse her after a feeding
9am - Have bottles/boobs ready to go. Wake babies, change and dress for the day. I always dressed them in clothes mainly because I had approximately 1 million Newborn outfits given to them and felt the need to get them all on at least once. Have one twin do tummy time in the crib while you change the other. Turn on lights, open the curtains and put on music to signify this is wake up time. Feed and pump on the couch with boppies/nursing pillow. They may fall asleep while eating for the first few weeks and they will need to be burped during and after but take heart - feeding doesn't take this long forever. Eventually you get into a groove.

945 -  Activity time and twin bonding time - Assuming babies are awake play music, do baby exercises, tummy time, baby yoga or mama yoga with babies. Lay them together and help them find each other. If they want to sleep, let them. Jules always fell asleep eating, Viv not so much. If they wake up early do exercises or sing songs then long as they're not hungry. Get them to nap at the same time if you can but the one-on-one time is actually kind of nice.

1030 - First Nap. Keep an eye on the clock so they don't get overtired. I found an hour and a half was max time including feeding time. Try to put them down drowsy but awake, let them look at their mobile and listen to lullabies. I put babies in the same crib for naps. But really when it comes down to it how ever you have to make it happen, just make sure they sleep. Sleep is more important than anything right now. Whether it's in the rock and plays, swings, momaroos or on you, who cares, as long as they're sleeping. It's ideal if you can walk away to shower or eat but get them sleeping however you can.

12pm - Wake up, change, tummy time for other twin and do personal grooming -  brush hair, apply lotion, nails clipped, check creases and folds for yuck, especially the neck. Give a bath if you want/if there's time but I found it made them too sleepy during feedings. You can do this in the morning but I liked to split checking and dressing to save time before a feeding. Feed and pump

1245 - Storytime, sing songs, snuggle, learning play. I did a version of circle time and some fingerplay songs before we snuggled and read books. Eventually I want this to be quiet time before the afternoon nap so I try not to overstimulate them after "lunch" with too much active play. Now they come in the kitchen with me (here's my post on 10 Ways to Get Things Done with Infant Twins) while I make myself lunch, meal prep for dinner or make purees for them and talk to them.

130 - Second Nap. Same as before. Take this time to do something productive or for yourself. Read some articles on parenting or a book. Write down your pregnancy and birth stories. Start filling in baby books. Pet your cat. Zone out with some trashy soap operas. Take a nap if your babies don't wake up as soon as you get comfortable like mine did.

3pm - Wake and change. Tummy time in crib for other twin while changing. Feed and pump

345 - More active play. Play fun music while babies play on playmat, do tummy time, sensory play, and other activities. End with a story and a snuggle.

430 - Third Nap. Same as before. Start thinking about dinner and making preparations. Eat. Have a cup of coffee if it won't keep you up all night. Do a load of laundry. Relax if you can.

600pm - Wake, change, tummy time in crib. Feed and pump. If SO comes home around this time have them participate and feed one or be ready to take babies as they come off the boob. When both babies are fed SO should play with them while you get a break to shower or eat and then make dinner.  This is SO's special time with babies and the break is super important to the sanity of the stay at home parent.

645 - Babies have quiet play/snuggling/bonding time with SO. Together do bath time (every 3-4 days, sponge bath on off days) and put pajamas on babies and everyone reads stories either on the couch or with twins in bed/cribs.  Rock babies together, sing lullabies and lay them down.

730-845 - While babies sleep you and SO eat dinner together at the kitchen/dining room table. Talk to each other. After  a run down of your day or any concerns, talk about anything not related to babies so you feel like you're still a part of the human race.

Because even identicals can be opposites. Viv liked to ponder life after every feeding.
900pm - Wake both babies, change diapers and feed together with SO. Keep lights very low and TV off. Keep lullaby music/white noise on and if you can feed them in the nursery. If you're like us and live in a shoebox then feed in the living room as quietly as you can. This time put the twins right back to sleep after feeding. Viv almost never fell asleep immediately after a feeding no matter how late so if they have energy to burn we would do stretches with them, offer a massage, sing lullabies, hold and rock to let them know it's back to sleep time. Put them down drowsy but awake or nurse to sleep if you want. Although it's a good idea to set good habits from the start the first few weeks you can get away with this.

9:45pm - One parent puts babies down while the other cleans up then washes and makes half a dozen bottles for the overnight. Trust me, you don't want to be making bottles at 3am. It is so much easier to just put some hot water in a bowl and warm them up. Get boppies, blankets, bibs, cloths and diapers ready for late night feeding and changing wherever you will do it to minimize wakefulness and clumsy accidents. Teamwork is key here in getting some sleep. Unless you're on your own and are awesome!

10:15pm - Downtime/Bedtime/Pumping time/Husbandtime/Whatever.  We watched a show or I blogged while CJ played Xbox. If the babies didn't go down so easily we dealt with them and I would go straight to bed after pumping.

11:00pm - You go to bed if not attached to a baby. Really, the goal is for you to be in bed by 11:30 at the latest and if you have a helpful SO have them do the midnight feeding solo. Then SO goes to bed around 12:45 and you get up for the 3am feeding solo. This way you both get four-five hours of straight sleep. This is even possible to do while nursing unless babies are cluster feeding or need extra comfort through the night and you're not in pain.

12am - SO does a quiet solo feeding or if you're nursing they change babies and bring them to you in bed to eat. Stagger them if you can so you can do a dreamfeed with side-laying nursing. Don't overstimulate yourself or the babies. Everyone goes to sleep after feeding.

3am - You wake, change diapers and feed/pump, going back to sleep right after. Let SO sleep so they get at least 5 hours.

345 - Babies back to bed, you go back to sleep.

6am - SO wakes up, changes diapers, keeping the room dark and quiet. They wake you to feed or if using bottles and they're particulary helpful they let you sleep and do the feeding themselves before getting ready for work. Either way put babies back to sleep right after. If they want to be up try to have some quiet snuggle time. If they're active do some stretches and quiet play. Try to get them back down as soon as you can.

7-9 - SO wakes you up so you can get a cup of coffee and something to eat before babies get up. Then you take it from the top!

Six months in and we're still pretty close to this schedule. 

Some Necessities for Keeping Your Sanity Those First Few Weeks

  • Two boppy pillows or a twin nursing pillow
  • Boxes/bins of approximately 50 burp cloths and bibs, plus wipes nearby feeding area
  • Have pre-made bottles ready to go in the fridge at least 3 feedings ahead of time
  • Easy to grab snacks and ready-made meals for quick eating whenever you get the chance
  • Room darkening shades or curtains to facilitate good naps in the twins' room
  • Coconut oil for sore nipples from feeding or pumping. They will toughen up eventually
  • Learn to let the little things go. And by the little things I mean almost everything not pertaining to babies. The laundry, cleaning and housework will get done eventually. 
  • Remind yourself every day of two things: 1) It WILL get easier. 2) They could be triplets!
  • Take pictures. Lots of pictures. When babies are driving you nuts look at said pictures and remind yourself this is the most important thing you've ever done. And these moments will pass all too quickly so try to snap a pic every day.
Best Daddy Ever.
  • Make a pact with your SO that no matter how exhausted or stressed you both are you will not turn on each other. I repeat - DO NOT TURN ON EACH OTHER. Stay a team and you will make it through this. This is so incredibly important to remember. It's like my favorite survivor Jack Shepard once said, "We either live together or die alone." No, you won't die but your life will be a hell of a lot harder if you two are constantly butting heads and bickering. Plus, babies pick up on that tension and play it out with crankiness and no sleep. No one wants that.

There were days when I felt so incredibly blessed and happy. Then there were nights when I felt like there was no way I could possibly do this anymore. But the sun rose and we made it through the night and every day it got a little bit easier.  Eventually these days will be a thing of the distant past so hold on to the moments as they pass, smile and laugh through the tears and know that you can and will do this!


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