Just get through the first year, then it gets easier.
These were the words we heard in twin antenatal classes. These were the words we were told once the twins were born. These were the words I repeated over and over again when I didn’t think I could cope any longer. And if you are in any of those moments then please do know that it’s true. It does get easier. Does it get easy? No! But in my experience, neither does one child. It changes. The challenges are different. But no, it’s never easy. Why would something so rewarding ever be easy. Also let me say now, before I go any further, that I am only 4 years into my parenting journey and in no way an expert!
31st August 2017 – Our 12 Week Scan
On that day I convinced myself that I wasn’t pregnant. We were going to go to the scan and there would be no baby. The extra weight was my bad eating habits and the sickness just related to vertigo that I suffer from. We had been trying for a while and I guess I didn’t want to get my hopes up. But wow was I wrong. Twins. Two babies. Like I mentioned in my Twin Birth Story (read my Birth Story here) my first reaction was fear. Not fear of what it would be like to have two babies, at the same time. But of the pregnancy and birth. Therefore after the birth when I was handed these two tiny perfect little babies, I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed!
The frustrating thing was I thought I had prepared. We had gone to twin antenatal, we had spoken to other twin parents, we had had another child. I had even met with a breastfeeding councillor! But I still felt this awful, all consuming feeling of overwhelm. Like I wasn’t cut out for this.
22nd February 2018 – The Twins Are Born At 36 Weeks, 4 Days
Now I won’t go into detail on the birth as that’s in my birth story but I will start immediately after they were born. After the birth the twins were both well enough to be with us. A three day stay at the hospital while their blood sugars levelled felt like a lifetime and I was desperate to get home. I missed our eldest and I thought home would ground me and make me feel less overwhelmed. We got home on day 3 which is when my baby blues really took hold. By day 6 we were back in hospital and this time to the neonatal unit for delayed jaundice. This was my first breaking point. They wanted me to stay on my own with both boys and I had a panic attack at the thought of Tony not being there. The staff were amazing and found us a family room where Tony, Noah and I could stay while Flyn received treatment for his jaundice. It was a short stay but felt like another hurdle to pass. Being snowed in on our second day did not help!
The next few weeks I can only describe as the hardest time of my life. Between constant bloods for Flyn to check his continued jaundice, two bouts of bad mastitis for me and suspected reflux for both boys, we never seemed to have a day without a hospital visit. Every day I would say to my husband I can’t do this and every day he would say ‘but you are’! I worried I was suffering from PND as I felt so detached from the babies and felt numb most of the time. The twins seemed to cry constantly and when Tony went back to work at 2 weeks I had all 3 by myself. Without friends and family I don’t think I would have got through those weeks. During this time, the advice that stuck with me was to take each day as it came. To survive and not worry about thriving just yet.
The first few months are now a bit of a blur if I’m totally honest. Feeding, not sleeping and trying to give the toddler some attention were about all I managed. We eventually were discharged from hospital when Flyn’s jaundice cleared. We later found out he had a whole in his heart but after a cardio check up they were happy to just monitor and it has since closed. Their reflux got better once medicated and sleep did eventually even out. We weren’t thriving but we were surviving. For me, I find everything harder on a poor nights sleep and it took us a while to work out how to feed two at night. I mostly combi fed both at the same time and then slept with them on my chest. This was not ideal of course but it meant I did get some shut eye! I regularly went to a breastfeeding group which was a huge source of comfort to me. The breastfeeding councillor would hold a baby, make me a drink, give really helpful advice and it was a safe space for me to really let out how I was feeling. Another thing that really helped me was talking to and making friends with twin mums was also a lifesaver and Lauren and Abbey were a godsend for understanding and getting me when I was struggling.
There were many times people would say or suggest that I was doing things wrong or I was ‘making a rod for my own back’. To those people I say bugger off. Unless you are in it and know how it feels at that exact moment then you don’t know what’s best. For me, I did what I had to in order to keep me in a good place. My mental health was a priority because happy mum, happy baby. Maybe sleeping the twins on my chest wasn’t the best idea but I would tackle sleep when they were older and I was able to cope with that challenge. Maybe feeding them to sleep was a poor choice, but again I would deal with that when I felt stronger. My advice to anyone with one, two or more babies is you do what you have to do. No one can understand how you feel and to be honest, unless it’s the babies daddy, it’s none of their business!
July 2018 – Boys Reach 5 Months Old
When Noah hit 5 months he started crawling and this made him a much happier baby. A really strong memory for me happened when the boys were 5 months. I had avoided going places for lunch since the twins were born as it generally turned into carnage. This made me feel down as with Alfie I was constantly lunching or grabbing juice (I don’t drink tea or coffee!) with pals and I hated I couldn’t do this with the twins. On this day in July, my parents had suggested lunch at a local kid friendly cafe. I said yes as I felt that with 3 of us, surely we could manage. And do you know what, we did! It was a total success. The babies were calm, stayed in their buggies chewing on their teethers and drawing attention while we ate a nice hot lunch! This really stuck with me and made me hope that soon we may get some normality back into our life.
22nd August 2018 – The Boys Are 6 Months Old!
Before we knew it, the boys were turning 6 months and we were halfway through that first year that everyone told us would be the hardest. I looked forward to the exciting challenges that were ahead of us. Weaning, learning to crawl, walk and talk were all things I could get on board with. Those that know me will know that newborns are not my all time fav! Now reading this Blog it might seem like I hated every minute of these early months. I definitely didn’t. I became more confident in my ability to handle two babies and in turn bonded with Flyn and Noah. I loved the double cuddles, the moments they bonded together, the special feeling of having two little identical people. They had fantastic personalties, were super cute and after 4 months stopped screaming all day! We didn’t have miserable babies after all!
Now to talk about the second half of that first year will need to wait until next week. I’m off to look at old photos and remind myself of those second 6 months and how we handled those exciting challenges with two!