Top Tips for New Parents of Multiples
The other night I was a panelist for our hospital’s Preparing for Multiples class, my third time being on the panel. A little over two years ago, I sat in those chairs, uncomfortable and usually hungry, terrified and exhilarated for what was to come.
For our class, seven parents of multiples showed up: five moms, one dad, and one mom with an infant in a car seat (her five kids included two sets of twins–holy wow). They shared their stories, gear advice, and potential challenges. One mom’s twins were born at 1.5 and 3 pounds.
If her kids can survive and thrive, mine must be able to, I thought.
Now I’m on “the other side” of that hard, hard newborn period. I brought pictures of my babies in the NICU, samples of our feeding chart, and this handout:
Top Tips for New Parents of Multiples:
- Take care of yourself physically: water; healthy, high-cal food; sleeping when you can.
- Set up your nursing / feeding space well. In our bedroom we had nursing pillows, a bottle warmer, bibs and burp cloths, and a mini-fridge for night bottles and snacks for us.
- Don’t clean. If the mess bothers you, hire a cleaning service if you can. You have the rest of your life to have a clean house.
- Say yes to helpers. If someone wants to come by and “hold a baby,” they can fold laundry first. Or put dishes away. Or whatever.
- Have someone set up a http://www.takethemameal.com or something like it for you.
- Acquire baby holders: boppies. Bouncy seats. Swings. Anything that allows you to put the baby down and eat/pump/shower/rest.
- Record your babies’ personalities, activities: photos, videos, journaling, notes, whatever you can.
- As hard as it is, get out of the house. The first walk you take with them will make you feel like rock star parents.
- Connect with other parents of multiples. We’ve been there, and we get it.
- Talk gently to yourself and your partner. You are doing the best you can. You are a team. If a nap or a feeding doesn’t go well, it’s only one of many. It’s okay to get frustrated.
- Take some time for yourself as an individual and yourselves as a couple to be not-parents for a little while. You need time to step off and process the intense roller-coaster ride you’re on.
- Release your expectations. Babies get reflux. Hormones get you. A lot of things are out of your control. Figure out how to cope with what is, not what you think should be.
The panels also end up including “things I wish I had known when my babies were newborns.” Here are mine:
- I wish I knew that newborns sleep almost all the time and can sleep through anything. We might have been able to go out more.
- I wish I had known not to beat myself up for not going out more. My c-section recovery was slow; I was paranoid about them being exposed to germs because they were preemies; there wasn’t a lot of time after feeding, burping, changing, and pumping before the whole cycle started again.
- I wish I had figured out how to find ways around the “either/or”: I can either eat or I can take a shower. I can either sleep or go for a walk. I felt trapped a lot of the time by my own choices.
- I wish I knew that showers were not a luxury. Maybe my incision would have gotten infected anyway, but at least I would have felt more human.
- I wish I knew that someday I would look back and think, “That was the hardest thing I have ever done.” I maybe could have given myself more credit at the time for how survival was success. I went into “it’s not that bad because I could be starving or living in a warzone” mode. Perspective is one thing; comparison to convince myself I should just suck it up is another. Hard is hard.
- I wish I had known that I didn’t have to be SuperMom. I just had to be their mom. That despite my not being perfectly able to meet their every infant need, they would someday cling to my legs and run to me whenever I re-entered the room and want me to hold them all the time.