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What I Learned From Having Twins
By Amy G
My husband and I were so excited when we found out that we were pregnant! We immediately began planning, “we need something other than the two-seater pickup truck,” “we can put the baby in this room,” and “I love this fancy stroller!” A couple weeks later is when we heard the two heartbeats. I burst into tears and my husband threw his head in his hands. Back to square one; “we need the big tank of a car,” “the babies won’t fit in that room,” and “do I get a side-by-side or a front-and-back double stroller?”
Fast forward through an appointment-filled pregnancy, a 2 ½ month NICU stay and the most exhausting year of my life, to now being a full-time working mom to 1 ½ year old twin girls while trying to remember what I used to do with all of my free time. I hope my experiences have provided enough insight to offer advice (because who doesn’t love unsolicited advice? If you’re about to become a new mom, get used to it!) But here’s what I would tell myself if I had to do it all over again:
Don’t be afraid to gain weight when you’re pregnant!
The weight I gained during pregnancy did not feel like the same weight I gained in college. Pregnancy weight is fast and deliberate. For me, it came off much easier than the college weight. After giving birth, I did not have any space in my head for exercising so I just concentrated on sleeping and the babies. Once I was ready, I started walking for 30 minutes on a treadmill while zoning out to bad TV. When the girls were discharged and the weather was nice, my husband and I would go for family walks after dinner to get out of the house. Coupled with eating dinner early in the evening and drinking plenty of water, I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight within a year. Before the girls’ first birthday, I was ready to start working out again. Interval training twice a week during my lunch break is what brought me 10 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight!
Mentally prepare for a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) stay
It is not uncommon for twins to come earlier than they should, and I would be lying if I said the NICU is akin to a fun walk in the park, but it is not the worst or hardest thing you’re going to experience as a twin mom (they eventually come home, people!) I had a team of medical professionals caring for my children around the clock, teaching me how to change a diaper and bathe my children, and keeping me company during the demanding first couple months of their lives. My twins, like many others, needed extra support that I couldn’t give on my own and I’m thankful for the time they spent in the NICU growing stronger.
Get them on a schedule and keep it
We learned many things from our long NICU stay, but the establishment of a schedule might have been the most valuable. The girls would receive care every four hours and we carried this with us upon discharge. Parenting twins is filled with unpredictability, so do whatever you can to keep a schedule. To this day, I get at least two hours to myself in the afternoon so the girls can take their super predictable nap. Thank you, schedule!
They won’t do the same thing
I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me that having children close in age is harder than having twins because “at least twins do the same thing.” I wish this were true! They achieve milestones at different times (sometimes months apart), have different medical needs, and like different foods. Having twins is definitely more of a sprint than a marathon, and that first year feels like you’re sprinting 26.2.
Spend time with each one individually
When you’re in the throes of it all, and because there are two, it’s important to attempt one on one time every once in a while to experience the typical “bonding” you hear all of your singleton parent friends gush about. Because you have more than one infant needing you at the same time (one of the rare things they do do at the same time,) life can feel like a production line. You probably won’t be able to manage it in the beginning, but keep it in mind!
Join a twin mom group in your area
They are an amazing support system for all of your twin-specific questions. It’s like having live access to the authors of all the twin articles you’re reading.
Lastly, remind yourself that you aren’t the first person to have twins and you won’t be the last. You can do it…then you can brag about it.