Tips: Making it through the first year with twins

My twin babies turned a year! I am thrilled. I am grateful. I am excited about the future and looking forward to the journey ahead. Many have asked how the year has been, how we made it through and to be quite honest, on many instances, I do not know what to say, other than God has been gracious!

My Twins Birthday Cake(First Year)

 Raising multiples is tough, but what we forget mostly is that it is also quite an amazing journey. YES! Despite all the upheavals, motherhood is a beautiful journey! And how more beautiful it is watching your twins, or triplets, play, laugh, learn together. Sometimes they will fight for toys or something, but just the sheer joy of watching them grow together is priceless!

So for those expecting multiples, or those who are already walking the journey, here are some tips on how we made it through this far.

Take a day at a time

Anxiety sets in as soon as you find out that you are carrying multiples. This happened to me. I was anxious from the moment when the doctors announced that we were going to be having twins. I wondered – how would I carry them?  How would I breastfeed?  How many cots would we need? Would I ever sleep at night? I worried about so many things some of which I learnt did not even matter.  I continued worrying even after the twins were born. I totally haven’t gotten rid of all anxiety to date. Can you really? I still worry when one gets sick, because I know the other might fall sick as well. I worry about being separated from them. I actually think about them a lot when I am away. I wonder about whether I am being the greatest mum, and if I am doing my best.

One thing that I have learnt through the year is to take a day at time. There are days when they have slept through the night, and days when they’ve woken up to what feels like a thousand times. Taking a day at a time has been my remedy.  Expect no two days to be the same. Give your best each day and hope for the best.

Keep the babies on one schedule

A mum holding their child, displaying their feet

The sooner you create a routine, the better it will be for everyone involved in raising the multiples.  With time the babies also get to understand that there is an order to things. They can predict that it is bath time, sleeping time, feeding time or even nap time.

It will not always go perfectly and will obviously take some time, but once there is a schedule, your days will be way better than they were with nothing to sort of give a sense of direction.

Accept Help

Raising multiples can be overwhelming.  You cannot do it alone. Accept all the help that comes your way and especially during the first months, while you may also be healing post pregnancy. Work as a team with your partner. If he offers to pick up the groceries, cook, change diapers, bath the twins or even stay with them while you take that well deserved break accept it!

Family and friends also come in handy during this time. So long as you are comfortable with the people around you let them help you. It may not be in directly taking care of the babies, it could be in taking care of other duties.

Make time for yourself

As much as the kids’ welfare is key, your health and sanity is also important. Take a break, you deserve it. Keep post partum depression at bay by taking a break from the babies and all the new responsibilities that you have. If your partner is supportive enough, let him keep watch of the babies as other people such as the nanny, family or friends take over from you. Take those long walks, exercise, go to the mall and enjoy yourself for a little bit.

Being a multiple mum can take a toll on you. Getting out and even talking to people helps a lot in understanding that you are not in this alone and that whatever you face, there is always a way out.

Personally, going out to art events, meeting friends, and going to church even just to pray has kept me grounded.

Don’t be too hard on yourself – accept mistakes

No matter how much you are prepared to be a mum there will always be things that you had not anticipated that will happen.  When something goes wrong, do not be too harsh on yourself. Do not blame yourself.  Just learn from the mistakes, accept them and move on.

Finally, there is really no guide to making it through. Trusting in God and doing my best each day has done it for me.

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Establishing a Twins’ Sleep Pattern

“How do you sleep?” or “When was the last time you had a good night of sleep?” This is a question I often encounter as a twin mum. And to be honest, it sort of irks me as much as it might be coming from a good place. For a long time I was anxious about becoming a parent.  I was afraid of losing my sleep.

The thought of a crying baby keeping me awake all night was nerve wrecking. Little did I know what awaited me. My twins came at exactly 37 weeks and I must say it was both a relief as much as it was nerve wrecking.

We had obviously prepared for everything that we would need way in advance, but nobody had really prepared us for the journey that lay ahead.

My twins in their first week of life

Being home the first week after birth was comforting. I had a support system and did not have to worry about what to eat or who had prepared it. Family also tried their part ensuring that I took all the drugs that I still needed, and that I ate healthy food and got enough rest while at it.

Still, there were those moments, being alone with two infants that both needed my attention.  The sound of crying babies was new to us; there were diapers to be changed, baths to be taken and so many things to be taken care of, mostly by me.

I am grateful for my husband who remained present during such moments However; he still could not know everything that was going on in my mind. And there was breastfeeding, and the interrupted sleep. It did not take long before I had a break down. Things got worse when we moved back into our house, with a domestic manager (a new addition to the home) and the babies, who by the way you come to accept, are also your extension and here to stay.

After a few months of struggle I realized that to get better sleep with a baby and particularly with twins, you have to establish a sleep pattern or a routine that you follow without fail.  Here are a few useful tips on how to get them to sleep better, meaning, more rest for you.

Feed them at the same time

Getting your twins to sleep at the same time is definitely a piece of work. However, if you feed them at the same time, they will most likely also drift off at the same time.

Nap them at the same time

I often do this during the day, and now that we have already established a routine, they also take naps around the same time.

Create a bed time routine

This has personally worked for me. Whenever we are home, I ensure that I bath the twins at 9 in the night, feed them and put them down to sleep.  This is one of the ways that they know it is bedtime. To add to this you can make a habit of playing some lullabies or reading from a story book just to ensure that they begin to understand that it is bed time. How do you put your babies or baby to sleep? Please do share any useful tips.

When They Start to Move

A Child Crawling

My twins recently turned nine months and I am thrilled, especially because I keep counting their age almost every day. With each passing day come changes, irreversible milestones that are both exciting and terrifying.  Think of that first time when they attempted to sit down at four months and wouldn’t stop tipping over, or that first time when they started rolling over.

Now at 9 months my twins won’t stop moving. They want to stand holding on to furniture or anything that may provide support for that matter, they want to reach out and grab everything, regardless of what it is. Most shocking though, they are no longer scared of getting off the bed during bath times. I still can’t wrap my head around how I found my daughter under the bed the other day, or how my son wound up standing on his own, holding on to his cot, all the while laughing at my sight.

As a first time mum all these changes can catch you by surprise. For this reason it is always important to be prepared, so as to avoid any accidents.

Here are a few ways to child proof your home.

Ensure Furniture will not fall and land on your toddler. You can move furniture around to give them more space.

When they start getting up on their hands it is time to remove those hanging toys in their crib. Also ensure that the crib is a distant from any windows or any other furniture that they might try to climb on. The drop side of crib should also be kept up and locked when you’re not in the room.

Baby Room

Avoid leaving your baby alone on beds, sofas, high chairs or anywhere else they could fall off. At this age, I find it safer putting them on the floor on a safe area prepared especially for them.

Make sure there are no chocking hazards around their space. Additionally, keep sharp objects and any breakables, or any other dangerous objects far from their reach.

Children love to explore. Keep electric appliances unplugged and out of reach. Install safe plates on electricity outlets. Conceal wires using wire guards and keep them away from any electric sources altogether.

If you have stairs in your house, it is probably time you started thinking of installing a safety gate at the top otherwise they might get off their bedroom and decide to wander down stairs. You should also control access to unsafe areas by investing in door locks or setting up safety gates.

Even if you feel like you’ve done a thorough job child proofing your home, you’ve probably missed one thing, and you can also not underestimate your child’s intelligence and understanding of things. Always ensure that either you or someone you trust is watching over your child.

Coping With the News of Expecting Twins

When my husband and I found out that I was pregnant, we were both thrilled at the news, having encountered a loss earlier on. A bundle of joy added into our lives would be such a pleasure.

The first time that I went for a scan was at 7 weeks and unfortunately, my partner wasn’t with me as he had to go to work but we had agreed that I needed a check up as soon as possible. What we did not know is the surprise that waited.

When the gynecologist at AAR Thika suggested a scan, I was a bit apprehensive. My husband was not here, and getting through it alone only revived memories that I wanted buried, having undergone a scan after the loss.

When they told me that I was carrying twins, I did not believe it. How could I? There was the memory of the loss so fresh, we had no history of twins in our family and there was no way this would happen. Tears welled up in my face as all these questions flowed through my mind.

Casting my doubts out aloud, the sonographer had no choice but to call the gynecologist in and he too, confirmed it.

I could not wait to tell my husband and so as soon as I was done, I gave him a call and gave him the news and I could tell from his voice that he too was surprised. He had once joked in the past that he would be a father of twins and to think that the dream was coming true was exhilarating.

Receiving the news that you are expecting multiples can be a time of mixed emotions; this is how to calm yourself down.

Speak to someone who understands your anxiety. Closest family members or friends are a good place to start.

Plan ahead. There is so much that you are going to need with the coming of the new visitors. Planning it all ahead and getting what you can in advance saves you lots of trouble last minute.

Get help and support. Besides family and friends there are other networks that are out there to support expectant mothers. For those expecting multiples perhaps its already time you joined Multiples Blessings a Facebook group that has helped a lot.

Read up on experiences; gain as much knowledge as you can. Also attend those Lamaze classes if you can. Nairobi Hospital has great ones. They will help you a lot.

Meet couples with babies or multiples if that’s what you are expecting. I am personally blessed to have two neighbours who have older twin boys. Watching them play gives me so much joy as I look forward to the future. Two of my friends also have twins and walking this journey with them has been one of my greatest gifts.