Friday, January 7, 2011

Some thoughts on having infant twins

Benjamin at play group today
Tonight, as I was nursing my boys before bed, I started to think about how difficult those early days with them were.  To some degree, I don't remember how bad things were, or how tired we were.  I remember that I told Eric that I never again wanted to hear the sound of his alarm that we used the first 2 weeks to wake us for feedings!  I don't remember how much breast feeding hurt, fortunately.

Looking back, I am happy with the way we did things.  I am happy that I decided to breastfeed, and kept it up even though there were days it was so difficult.  I am glad that I kept trying to nurse Benjamin, even though his latch was awful for months and left my nipples bruised, because now he is a wonderful nurser and my life is so easy, just breastfeeding and not dealing with bottles or constant pumping.

On one of the message boards I visit, a newer mom of twins was asking about following schedules, doing sleep training, and letting the babies cry.  In the first few months, I read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," Ferber, and "Babywise."  None of them seemed to speak to me, or to have the right answers for our family.  I was not ready to feed them on a schedule, not just because I was not sure what they were getting from nursing, but also because I could not see the point of denying my children food if they were hungry, regardless of how little time had passed since the last feeding.  Yes, this meant I spent entire days with my breasts out, either nursing or pumping, but so be it.

We did not have a nap schedule until they were 5 months old.  At first it was fine, they slept anytime anywhere, but then it became problematic as they got more interested in the world around them and would keep themselves awake to participate.  Now that we have a schedule, life is so much easier, of course, but I am not sure that I could have forced them to sit in their cribs and cry when they were younger than 5 months.

My advice to moms of twins (or any mom) is to do what feels right to you.  Benjamin needed almost constant holding in those first few months, and so we did what we could to meet his needs.  I hired a mothers helper to come some mornings so that she could hold him while I did things like shower, or eat. He only napped in people's arms, so we held him while he slept.  I remember the first time we were able to put him down, awake, for 15 minutes straight without him crying-- it was like a miracle!  Despite how hard it was to hold him all the time AND take care of Asher, while breast feeding them both and pumping several times a day, it was worth it.  Now Benjamin is a cheerful, independent, trusting baby.  In large part, I think this is because we gave him all the love and reassurance he needed in those early months.  And I think that if we were following someone else's rules, or someone else's schedule, it would not have met his needs in the same way.  Not that he would have turned into an unhappy grouch, but instead we now have a sweet, giggly boy who is happy to explore and play on his own, knowing his mommy is there for him when he needs it.

Having twin infants is HARD.  There were so many days where I would fantasize about how easy my life would be if I only had one baby, particularly Asher.  I wouldn't have to pump, I wouldn't have to be holding a baby every minute, and we could have been sleeping through the night sooner (or at least more consistently).  In a lot of ways, we were pretty lucky because neither one of the boys had any serious problems like acid reflux or allergies, and they both took to breastfeeding.  Sometimes I think I had it easier with my two than a lot of people do with only one, if that one is colicky.
Us with some of our play group friends and mommies

But now that I have twin 9 month olds, I definitely think it is easier to have two (most of the time).  They have grown into independent babies who can play together and entertain themselves, and are not dependent on me every waking minute.  And they love each other.  When it is nap time, they often stand up in their cribs and laugh at each other for about 20 minutes before settling down to sleep.  This morning, I woke Asher up and we were in the hallway when Benjamin started babbling to Eric in the other room.  Asher squealed with happiness and started kicking his legs-- he couldn't wait to see Benjamin!  Once they were together, Benjamin began giggling at Asher, and of course Eric and I laughed along with them.   I am so thankful that my boys each have a best friend, and that they are already enjoying each other.
Some of the play group madness-- today we had 3 sets of twins in the group!

There is a lot more to say on other topics today... It was an eventful day!  But I will end by saying that today Asher stood on his own for a few seconds AND made his first sick visit to the pediatrician with pink eye in both his eyes!  Never a dull moment, I guess!

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