Nellyru: "Did the nasty ultrasound tech change her tune at all when she knew she was going to be the one to tell you something exciting?"
She softened slightly, but she stayed brusque. She was working in a fast, panicky way, pressing WAY too hard on the tum and saying things like, "SorryIDon'tHaveTimeToDoMorePicturesButHereAreAFew." We had to go give the results to the OB, and she walked so fast I literally couldn't keep up (I had two little kids with me) and got lost in the hallways. (For all my other ultrasounds I went to the hospital, even though the OB's office was more convenient. The scheduling nurse asked why, and in a rare moment of bravery I told her. That technician was too rough and brusque even when she WASN'T in a rush.)
Eleanor Q.: "Here's what I'm still wondering: How were the early days (months) different with the twins than it was when William was born? How did you have to adapt your 'bringing home baby/dealing with an older child' plan to the twins? How did you feed them? Did you schedule like crazy? Do you think the twins are closer to each other than their other siblings? Do you think that being a boy/girl set takes away some of the difficulty of establishing ones own identity that some twins have or does it not matter? Did you feel awesome when annoying strangers would say 'must be twins' and then you could retort 'actually, it is.'"
YES it was satisfying to say it was twins when strangers made what they thought was a joke! Or someone would say, "You must be due any minute!" and I'd say, "Not for another 3 months." Hee!
Bringing the twins home was easier than bringing William home. For one thing, William's homecoming gave me a toddler and a newborn, and I've written before about how difficult I think that combination is---but when I brought the twins home, I had a 4-year-old and a 6-year old. And during the pregnancy, I'd done some "Independence Training," mostly with Rob but some with William too: teaching them to wash themselves in the bathtub, teaching Rob to make easy breakfasts and lunches, teaching Rob to go get the mail, teaching them both to put on their own seatbelts, teaching William to get himself dressed. So when I was stuck in a chair nursing the twins and feeling half-crazed with all the things I needed to be doing instead, I could set Rob and William in motion like two little Roombas: "Clear the breakfast dishes, please. Now Rob take those letters out to the mailbox and put the flag up. William, can you please get me more water? Now both of you please pick up the toys on the floor." It was much slower and less efficient than I would have done it, but it was GETTING DONE.
Another thing we did differently: we put a bassinet out in the living room. Instead of having to FREAK OUT that if we let the baby cry the toddler would wake up (newborn William had shared a room with toddler Rob), we had a whole different set-up. If one or both twins needed to cry a bit, the crying was still stressful but at least not because it might wake up the other children.
We didn't need to buy much for the twins: not only did we have a bunch of stuff already, but when people found out we were having twins they donated all kinds of things: a second crib, a second bassinet, a second swing, a ton of clothes. We did buy two La-Z-Boy recliners and those were the best and most practical purchases we made. Each of us could rock a twin in comfort, and the recliners were comfortable to sleep in if it came to that and it often did.
I mostly tandem-nursed the twins, mostly using a twin nursing pillow my cousin gave me. I would put the twins on the couch, then strap the pillow on, then scoop up a twin in each arm, then sit and arrange. It took a minute or two, but once we were all arranged I had my hands free to read or do Sudoku puzzles or whatever. It was so awesome and I highly recommend it to anyone planning to try breastfeeding twins.
The only downside is that it was hard to doze with it on, because the back-support pillow kept me so upright. So sometimes at night I would settle into the recliner instead, with regular bedpillows and throw pillows arranged to support the babies. The problem is that this usually resulted in all three of us waking up in the recliner in the morning.
With twins, you don't have to switch sides mid-feeding as you do with a single baby. Some books recommend switching each feeding (Baby A on the right with this feeding but on the left with the next feeding) to keep things balanced; other books recommend keeping each baby to his/her own side so each baby can regulate his/her own supply. I switched in the beginning, but one baby REALLY PREFERRED to nurse on a particular side so eventually they each had their own side pretty much.
I also did some one-at-a-time nursing, and then I would switch mid-feeding and use the cradle hold and a regular pillow (rather than the football hold and the twin nursing pillow).
I didn't do any scheduling per se, but I did keep a rigid RECORD. I had a legal pad where I wrote down EVERYTHING: nursing times and lengths and sides, diaper changes and contents, baths and shampoos and cradle cap treatments, and any medications I was taking. Otherwise I seriously couldn't remember which baby I'd changed or how long it had been. After a long time (months? many months? I can't remember anymore) I stopped keeping track of diapers and nursing lengths and baths, but I still kept track of feeding start-times/sides until they were weaned. I also used it to keep track of when I introduced which solids.
I do think the twins are closer than any other two siblings in our family, but I think a lot of it is being the same level of development. It'll be interesting to see what happens when they're all adults.
Yes, I think being boy-girl twins helps HUGELY with the identity thing. I'd go so far as to say it's barely been an issue. When they were teensy it was easy to dress them in the blue/pink versions of the same outfit/jacket/hat and I did that a lot---but as soon as they were out of baby sizes, it became difficult and we stopped doing it.
Safire: "Aww...this is taking me back 2 years to my own twins' birth. Those first weeks home from the hospital were killer but I feel like I'm coming out of it now. Yes, 2 years later! When did you feel like you had a handle on things and then, when did you have another?! My hubby really wants another baby but I'm not sure I can wrap my head around that yet."
I'm not sure when I got a handle on it. I feel like I mostly have a handle on it NOW, but.... I mean, FIRST I felt like things started going way better when I wasn't nursing them so often. Then it seemed like things were better when they could sit up and play---but that was so quickly followed by MOBILITY, which was WAY WORSE. Then it was about 2 years before they reached their current stage of being relatively easy.
I've read that the average spacing between singleton babies is 2-point-something years, but that the average spacing between twins and the next baby is 5 years. We had an unexpected pregnancy when the twins were 15 months old, which resulted in another baby just before the twins' 2nd birthday. It worked out okay, but it was too close: I think it would have been way better with a 4-year spacing like we had when the twins were born. As it was, I had the Newborn Plus Toddler problem, but with TWO toddlers---ACK.
Still, we did get through it (the toddler/newborn thing, I mean), and now I'm glad Edward has a boy just 2 years younger than him to play with. (If Henry had been a girl, I would have been glad for Elizabeth.)
More next time!
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...