There’s nothing more exciting than the moment you find out you’re having a baby…except when you learn it’s not one, but two! And then you and your partner gaze into one another’s loving eyes and think to yourselves (cause you won’t say it),
C’mon – you know you did. There can’t be anything more daunting than knowing you’d be caring for two newborns… at the same time. I know. I’ve been there. And my twins are now over the halfway-hump of the first year as they encroach seven months. In reflecting on how we arrived to this moment, it’s clear that the first month was the toughest. It was all about surviving.
Surviving the first month is tough, but once you cross the finish line you will seriously look at one another, exhausted, and say “We did great!” But in order to get to the one month finish line there are five things to keep in mind, and if you follow this path it may even bring you and your other half closer together. It did for me.
Communication is by far one of the most important things you’ll have to do; in fact, without this it will get downright ugly. During the first month it’s important to accept the fact that you will be tired. And when we’re tired we can lose our words and ability to speak. We get snippy. Short. Ok, downright rude. But communication isn’t about being snide, rude or condescending, it’s about conveying what you’re thinking to one another. Sleep deprivation will make this process harder, but I swear – breathe, take a moment, and speak up. You and your partner will likely disagree (which is fine, that happens!), but being able to explain your rationale is important. Talk things out. Try to be patient. Accept that you will each have moments of weakness and need to be there to lift one another up!
When we’re exhausted, fatigued and ready to just throw in the towel, our communication gets shot (see above). But if we forgive one another, it helps move communication to a better place. My husband and I had a rule: forgive one another for things nastily said at 2am. It also helped that before the twin’s arrival we spoke about potential scenarios. We truly did our best to develop strategies beforehand. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t, but it got us to communicate, which is an essential key to surviving.
This ensures that each of you get a block of time to sleep. This can be challenging for some situations where breastfeeding is involved. In those cases, if there’s an opportunity to bottle feed expressed breast milk, that would be a great solution. In our case our twins were bottle-fed and we divided the first month into shifts. This allowed us to both get a chunk of sleep at a time. One of us was able to rejuvenate while the other gained confidence in managing two babies at once. This is important – it teaches us all survival! All fathers should be able to manage their children. They should be able to do more than “help out.” We’re fathers, after all, and played a role in bringing our children here.
Share in all of the responsibilities. That means: diapers, bedtime, bathing, (restocking, shopping, playing, cleaning, straightening up, etc) and coming in to the rescue when you see your other half needing assistance. Sharing in the responsibilities ensures that no one person is stuck doing the “dirty work.” Sure, some homes naturally divide up the chores based on preferences (that happens in my home – oddly enough I enjoy loading the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen) and that’s perfectly fine. Just be sure that not too much responsibility falls on one parent. It takes a strong team effort that first month and we easily stress out.
We’re all human and surviving the first month is tough. Neither of you are super heroes, nor do you have to be, which is why it takes teamwork. This cannot be emphasized enough. Parenting is tough and when there are two of you, make the best of it and team up. Split up the chores. Help out where you know your other half needs it (even if they don’t always ask! It’s just nice to do…). A really great unexpected chore to spontaneously do: wash the dishes (including the bottles), if your spouse is pumping wash the parts, pass the vacuum, change the trash, empty the diaper pail – something. Anything.
Having twins is
a lot of work a ton of work. For those of us beyond that first month we are reminders that there is life after. We promise. Furthermore, you’ll likely forget the first month (I swear). It takes a lot of work on everyone’s part but you will survive. It’s a right-of-twin-parenting passage that, much like Lord Voldermort, is that-which-shall-not-be-named. But following the above will help surviving those first 30 days.
Above all, the best advice ever given was, remembering we’re only human. Having one baby is tough let alone having two. There will be moments of greatness followed by not-so-great moments. Give every ounce of energy and try to enjoy them all. And when you feel it won’t ever end, remember that in a few short weeks you’ll have two of the most precious faces smiling and cooing back at you – and that makes it all worth it.
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