Preparing for Twins: Mentally, Emotionally, and Practically
“There are two things in life for which we are never truly prepared: twins.” – Josh Billings
I am now safely into my second trimester with my third pregnancy, and expecting twins. I have gotten over the surprise and have wrapped my head around the fact that we are effectively doubling the number of children in our family. However, I still do not feel truly prepared for twins. I have so many questions and concerns, frankly, and I am driving myself (and my husband) crazy.
To ease some of my worries, I turned to two parenting experts who are well versed in the world of twins: Gina Osher aka The Twin Coach and Dr. Joan Friedman, herself an identical twin, mother of five including fraternal twins, and a psychotherapist.
My first question was “How do we mentally prepare for twins?”
Osher said, “Most of us, as we talk with our [co-]parent (or to ourselves) about the idea of becoming a parent, imagine life with one baby at a time—not two, or more, at a time! I think the best thing parents can do at that point is to talk honestly with each other about their fears and concerns, such as the possibility of a Cesarean section versus a home birth, or the idea of bed rest, as opposed to working until her due date. None of those are certainties, but worst-case concerns sometimes enter a parent's mind when they are told they are going to have twins.
“Both parents-to-be need to look at what their plans had been for the pregnancy, birth, and early months (or years) and then come to terms with the fact that very likely none of it will be as they had expected. Both partners have to be allowed to grieve that loss. Only then can they be open to the joy and beauty that comes along with becoming parents of twins.”
Osher also advised joining an active multiples group in your town or city and speaking with other parents of multiples, as connecting with others who have been in your shoes is a lifeline and a voice of reason in what can feel like an overwhelming time. She added, “These people will be able to share resources, advice, tips, and stories of [how] wonderful (and crazy) life can actually be with twins.”
Having had two children, and thinking we were done having kids, I had given away a lot of baby stuff. And now with the twins on the way, the questions of “What do we need? Do we need double of everything?” arise. (Cribs, car seats, strollers, etc.)
Osher reckons that we do not need two of everything ever, and certainly not in the beginning. She said, “In my opinion, it's important to establish a sense of individuality for your twins from the start, and having separate things helps family and friends get used to that idea. But that doesn't mean you need to take out a second mortgage on your home. Twins can sleep in the same crib until they are beginning to roll over (which can take a few months).”
She listed the very basics for what we need:
- Lots of diapers. (Have preemie size on hand for when they're first born. Even full-term twins are often very, very small.)
- A set of good car seats. Depending on how comfortable you feel with installing and re-installing car seats, you may want to have an extra set for each car that your twins will be using on a regular basis. (For example, if you have a nanny/babysitter full time, or if you and your partner switch off taking the children out regularly). Fortunately, as infants, it's only the extra bases you would have to buy, but if the expense of so many car seats is too great, make sure you learn VERY well how to install your seats safely so that you can be confident your children are always safely secured in whatever car you put them in.
- A sturdy double stroller. (If you can afford it, get a pair of single strollers as well so you can take the babies out separately and have one-on-one time.)
- Slings or carriers if you feel comfortable wearing them. They are an excellent way to be able to take both children out or do a task without having to have a second person around, as they allow you to have at least a hand free while one baby is in the carrier and the other is in a stroller or on the hip.
- Clothes. These are just a given for comfort and warmth. Again, newborn twins are often so small that they will be swimming in size 0–6-month clothes. Have a few preemie outfits on hand. Our multiples club had a “Preemie Lending Closet” where clothes were passed on from member to member, as preemie clothes are so expensive and are worn for such a short time. My personal feeling about clothes is to avoid matching outfits for twins, as building a sense of individuality is done from day one.
I breastfed my older two boys and do want to try breastfeeding the twins. The very idea terrifies me though, as I had enough challenges with just nursing one child at a time. So how does one breastfeed twins?