The twins are coming!
June 17, 2014 6:42 AM   Subscribe

My wife is pregnant with twins who are due in November. We currently have a boy who will be two at the end of July. We know nothing about managing new babies with a toddler, especially twins. How did you manage your (breastfed) twins, particularly if you had a toddler in the house. What did you learn that you wish you had known at the outset, even just in relation to a new baby and a toddler? What worked best for you for developing schedules and splitting duties? Do you have any recommendations for twin specific how-to books?
posted by OmieWise to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I am a postpartum doula, so I have an admitted bias, but a good postpartum doula could be worth her weight in gold for you all this winter. She can help with breastfeeding, coordinating schedules, general twin care, basic housekeeping help (laundry, dishes), making sure your wife is fed & watered, potentially some overnight care, etc. Google around in your area (I'm not sure where you are located) and you'll find some ideas.

There are support groups all over the place for families with multiples -- again, do a search for your location and multiples support groups, and you'll find something.

These are the books I was required to read as part of my postpartum doula training; I've found them valuable as a professional, but I don't know how they do for parents:
Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More! 3rd Edition (2007) by Karen Kerkoff Gromada (La Leche League International)
When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads, Revised Edition (2004) by Dr. Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein
Twinspiration (2005) by Cheryl Lange
posted by linettasky at 7:02 AM on June 17, 2014

Congrats on the twins!

I'll come at this a little differently. I was the 2 year old toddler when my brother and sister were born.

My mom says I was potty trained very very early, because they just couldn't deal with 3 children in diapers.

If you are having boy/girl, be careful of the "one for each of you" mentality leaving your oldest a little outside.

Watch out for the tag team on the older toddler. This isn't to say your kids wont get along great. I had a great childhood with the little bro and sis. In the normal sibling fights though, it was usually me vs them.

Lastly make sure to dress them alike and take lots of pics. If they are boy/girl, be sure to do it backwards by "accident" a few times and take pics. Leave these in a box where the older brother can find them in their teen years. ;)
posted by PlutoniumX at 7:24 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had things under control with one kid, but the second pushed me right over the edge. My husband and I both work, and he works very long hours, so I lone wolf it a lot of evenings. Our families are far away. We have limited friend support networks.

My advice is: Get thee a mother's helper, STAT.

I posted the following ad on SitterCity:
I have a xx month old baby girl and a xx year old boy, and need a mother's helper a few evenings a week. I am looking for someone who will arrive around 5-5:30 (a little before we get home) and stay for 2-3 hours to do light cleaning (pick up toys, fold laundry, empty/load dishwasher) and assist with meal preparation. Depending on cooking skills this could involve actual cooking, or just assembling/warming food that's already in the refrigerator. As far as the kids are concerned, I need help with evening routines - things like bath time, putting pajamas on kids, and generally helping get them ready for bed. The exact days of the week can be flexible (even from week to week) although a baseline of [[preferred days]] is ideal. Start and finish times can also be slightly flexible if needed. I do need someone with their own reliable transportation.

IT HAS BEEN A LIFESAVER. We've paid $12-15/hour in the Chicagoland area and have wound up with 6-10 hours per week. My mental health improves immeasurably when I come downstairs from kid-bedtime and find that the living room has transformed itself into a sparkling oasis of tranquility. Also when food cooks itself. Or clean folded clothes appear in my drawer. If there is any way you can find room in your budget for some help, it is so so so so so so worth it.
posted by telepanda at 7:28 AM on June 17, 2014 [10 favorites]

My sister packed diaper bags ahead of time when she was expecting her second baby very close to her first (yay Irish twins!). So she never had to scramble for a diaper, wipes, etc to assemble when going out. She just grabbed one of her stockpiled kits she put together while pregnant and went out the door. It took some of the pressure off scrambling for baby essentials when the toddler wants attention too.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:12 AM on June 17, 2014

A good friend of mine had twins when her older daughter was two years old - your question could have been written by her! She called me up one night in tears because she couldn't imagine how she would get all three kids into their car seats without putting at least one of them onto the pavement while she dealt with the others (I still don't know how she does it).

She joined the local chapter of Mothers of Multiples and it helped her out a lot. Not just with the practical stuff, but also to have a sounding board and being able to chat with people who were in the same situation.

(and congratulations!!)
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:23 AM on June 17, 2014

Neighbors of my friends were in a very similar situation. I met them at a birthday party --- the mom was adamant that the only way they made it work is because her mother stayed with them for something like a month and then her husband's mother stayed with them for something like 6 weeks. And then they each came back off and on for a week at a time through the next four or five months.

I think the key is HELP -- physical, in person help -- however it is you get it.
posted by zizzle at 8:26 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just had my second baby in February, when my first boy was 2 years 4 months. I don't know what your current child care arrangements are, but if the older one is in day care I would recommend keeping him there after the twins are born, if possible. We did this with my son and I think it really helped, both for keeping his schedule consistent and for letting me bond with the new baby. Honestly, my toddler is such a handful that if I were trying to watch both kids at once, I'm afraid the baby would be ignored. I only had about 3 months of maternity leave, and it was important to me to establish a strong bond and good breastfeeding habits before I had to go back to work. Not to mention recovering from childbirth!

We also got my toddler potty trained a few weeks after his brother was born--I was using cloth diapers and basically decided two kids in diapers was too many. Luckily, he was ready so it wasn't a huge ordeal.

I can't speak to breastfeeding twins, but I will say that the second time around I have had a significantly greater milk supply, even with just one baby (and I had enough milk last time--this time I have more than enough). I've tried to read up on this and it seems that, anecdotally at least, this is not uncommon.

Best of luck to you and your wife =)
posted by Jemstar at 8:47 AM on June 17, 2014

My super-competent mom-of-twins friend keeps records of everything her kids do in notebooks with a pencil. The pencil is sort of tied to the notebook so it can't get separated, just a simple lined notebook. She draws a line down the middle of the page, one half to each twin, and records when they poop, nap, eat (amount/type), fuss etc. I thought she was being somewhat insane at first but it takes just a few seconds - she uses short codes (2pm@M.120 for 120ml of milk at 2pm) and this way she can hand the twins over to her husband and in-laws and other caregivers who also note everything down and there's no miscommunications about their routines. They follow a pretty rigid routine because otherwise it's too much work to cope with. When they diverge - one twin is sick and the other isn't, she splits up their care with one parent/caregiver each rather than try to handle it together.

She regretted not putting them in adjoining cribs earlier. They shared a crib for a while but one wakes up earlier and plays and the other one is so not a morning person, so they were miserable for a while. Now they're in cribs head-to-head, so they can choose to hang out together or go to the other end and ignore their twin.

You really should look into getting another adult in the house for the first year if you can. Buy everything second-hand, cut costs as much as possible so you can get a nanny or some kind of regular help daily. A young toddler and twins, plus breastfeeding, is going to be exhausting and unrelenting. You will have a sick person in your house every month, just through sheer numbers, and presumably one of you has to continue to go to work, so one adult coping with three very small children is skating on thin ice. Build in a buffer of more caregivers and decide now what to give up - send laundry out, give up on the garden, whatever you can cut corners on. Focus on making it through the first year healthy and happy.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:07 PM on June 17, 2014

Mazel tov!

No twins but I have a 20-month old and a five week old. Expect your older child to regress and act out temporarily when the new babies are born. The first few weeks after the new baby was born our son became very defiant and difficult. Per our pediatrician, this is typical. It was temporary but frankly, our first week home from the hospital, dealing with him was a lot more difficult than managing the newborn. Bed time and meal times were dragged out with crying and tantrums wholly uncharacteristic of our kid.

Nthing getting a mother's helper. My husband works nights so I have her come over a few nights a week from 6-8 pm during my older child's dinner and bed time period when my husband is working. It is great to be able to maintain my routine with him at night and not have to worry about the (potentially) crying baby for a few minutes (this particular division of duties with the mother's helper may not work in a breastfeeding scenario). I also use the time that she's here to do household chores that I didn't have time for during the day. I used to find her and I pay $10/hour in NJ.
posted by amro at 9:48 PM on June 17, 2014

Ooh, yes, amro is right about the acting out. There was a period where, when any time someone asked me how my older son was doing, my stock response was "Three-year-olds are assholes." Which is true. But I really think it was equal parts being three, and suddenly having a baby in the house (and the exhausted parents that come along with that).

Potty training took a big hit when the baby came along (Why is it ok for the baby to pee in her diaper? Why do *I* have to use the potty?)

Remind yourself constantly: It takes time for the pool of patience to grow. Right now you have enough patience for one child. When you suddenly have extras, normal age appropriate crap from the younger child will drive you to distraction and you may well find yourself snapping at him for totally age appropriate behavior. The pool of patience WILL GROW. Don't expend extra energy beating yourself up. It will happen. It just takes time. Possibly more time when twins are involved because it has to grow even bigger.

There will be days when your only goal is "Keep everyone alive until tomorrow". There will be days when even that seems daunting. (Scene: 1:30AM. 5 day old on bili blanket with Dr's orders to eat every two hours around the clock; mom with painful ramp-up to breastfeeding; and 3 year old upstairs hysterical because he just barfed blueberries all over his bed and has no idea what happened but is FREAKED. OUT.)

But somehow you manage.
posted by telepanda at 6:59 AM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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