The first year of being pregnant and of having a sweet newborn is a joyful time filled with so many rewarding moments. However, as any new parent will tell you, it’s also a time filled with lots of unsolicited advice and seemingly helpful comments and observations that can actually be quite hurtful.
This is especially true when you’re pregnant with twins.
Many adults (most of whom have little or no experience with multiples) will tell you how hard things are going to be, how you’ll never be your old self again, how they’re glad that they never had twins. As someone who has been through this myself and has worked with countless parents of multiples, you need to know that most of these comments are simply untrue.
Here are the six biggest misconceptions about having twins that we’d like to clear up:
Myth 1: You won’t have any alone time with your partner
Obviously as parents of twins (especially in the newborn phase), you’re not going to have as much couple time as you did when you first started dating. You probably won’t spend Sundays leisurely snuggling on the couch and reading the newspaper.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make time to focus on each other. When the babies are tiny, this could mean taking a long stroller walk together a few times each week. As they get a bit older, it might mean having dinner alone (no cell phones or TV allowed!) while the kids are asleep. As long as you have your twins (and siblings) on a schedule, there will be predictable time slots for the two of you.
Try planning a standing date night every week where you put the kids to sleep, eat take-out and share cocktails or a bottle of wine. To take things up a notch, plan a monthly date night out or overnight trip with just the two of you.
If you have helpful family who is willing to babysit, TAKE ADVANTAGE! If you don’t and can afford it, hire a responsible high school or college student to watch the kids for a few hours each month. Never feel guilty about leaving your kids for a date or a trip. By taking care of your relationship, you’re giving yourself and your partner the strength to be better, more patient parents and also setting a good example of what a healthy relationship looks like.
Myth 2: You’ll never get back to your pre-pregnancy weight after carrying multiple babies
Being a pretty active person for most of my adult life, this is something that I definitely worried about when I was pregnant with my twins. I don’t feel like myself if I’m not exercising. To make things worse, I was put on bed rest at 18 weeks pregnant.
The good news is that 21 months after giving birth, I am actually 10 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I don’t have a nanny, a personal trainer, or a nutritionist. I didn’t do any popular diet, take pills, or do a complicated workout regime.
I lost the weight by doing only two things: Counting calories and tracking what I ate (using MyFitnessPal) and tracking my steps (with a pedometer, then a Fitbit). Obviously those two things wouldn’t work for everyone but I do think that everyone can find a way to be healthy that fits their lifestyle.
My advice is to find a way to be active that you like and that you can realistically stick to. If you’re a morning person (or can adjust to being one), wake up for a walk or workout DVD early in the morning before the kids get up. If you do better at night, work out in the evening after the kids go to bed or when your partner can watch them. If you’re home during the day, join a gym that has childcare.
Even many inexpensive gyms have childcare facilities where you can leave your little ones for an hour or so. Note: It might take your twins a few weeks to get used to the childcare facility, especially if they’re toddlers. Bring them as many days as possible, even if it’s just for a short time, for two to three weeks and I promise they’ll become comfortable there. (This advice goes for babysitters and preschool too!)
One last point is that, yes, your body may look a little different after giving birth (tummy not as tight, smaller or larger bra size), but it’s still possible to be healthy and to get your body into a shape that you feel proud of.
Myth 3. You will break the bank buying two of everything
There are tons of baby items that you either don’t need two of or that you don’t need at all!
Some examples of things that you’ll only need one of:
- Travel crib (since you won’t be using it very often, borrow the 2nd from a friend. Better yet, pair up with another twin mom and borrow from each other)
- Baby monitor (you can buy one monitor with two cameras or buy a second camera used. Just make sure it’s compatible.)
- Nursing pillow (buy a double nursing pillow, like Twin Z, that can be used for nursing both babies at once or for a resting place for both babies)
For items like swings and rockers, either buy used or let your babies try it at a friend’s house first. Different babies respond well to different soothers so you could spend a ton of money on something that one or both babies hate.
In terms of items that you do need more than one of, there are so many ways to save money:
- Buy generic brand diapers, wipes and formula
- Borrow as much as you can from friends, search Craigslist and local Buy/Sell/Trade pages for free and cheap items,
- Buy items that can be used for more than one purpose
- Buy from stores that offer a twin discount (see TLC’s list from our Expecting Twins class).
Remember to pay it forward by selling or giving away your baby items when you’re finished with them!
Myth 4: You will never have a full night of sleep again
There are ways to get a respectable amount of sleep even from the beginning. Besides following Harvey Karp’s tips from his book Happiest Baby on the Block (rent the DVD from the library!), if you are breastfeeding I highly recommend pumping as much as you have time for so that you can delegate at least one feeding per day to someone else.
My husband and I created “shifts” where he was in charge of feeding and soothing both babies every night from 7pm to midnight, and I was in charge from midnight until 6am the next morning.
Once your babies are four or five months or so, you can sleep train them, if that’s what you want to do. If you choose to do this, double check with your pediatrician first, or hire a sleep consultant to help you figure out the best plan.
Myth 5: You can say goodbye to your social life
This might be the biggest of the misconceptions. I’m not saying that you’re going to have the SAME social life that you had pre-twins (you probably won’t be staying out all night dancing, then stopping for greasy diner food on the way home). What I will say, though, is that having multiples opens the door for conversations with all kinds of people as well as an instant connection with other parents of multiples.
When you’re out in public with your littles, you will have people stopping you left and right to tell you that you’re a “superhero” or that it “looks like you have your hands full.” Ninety-nine percent of the time, these people are just being friendly and have good intentions. I’ve ended up having conversations with twin-moms and dads who are now in their 80’s as well as teenagers who just want to tell me how cute my babies are. I’ve even made a few friends (without twins) who originally started chatting with me after seeing my twins.
Besides all of this, I highly recommend joining your local Parents of Multiples group. I became close with many of the moms in my group during our weekly stroller walks with our newborn twin babies. It’s so nice to have someone to talk to who’s going through the same thing as you.
Myth 6: You’ll never get out of the house
Getting out of the house with twins can be challenging, but it’s absolutely doable and so important. Being home alone with little ones all day, every day and be isolating. It’s so important to get out even if it’s just for a change of scenery!
For the first few weeks, your pediatrician may tell you that your babies shouldn’t be in public places or around other children because of the risk of getting sick before their vaccinations. During this time, ask if you can still take them for walks outdoors or meet up with friends at a park. You can also run out between feedings (if you’re breastfeeding) or have a partner or relative bottle feed the babies.
Getting out of the house alone, even if it’s just for a trip to the grocery store, will make you feel so much more like your old self. Once the babies are a little older, you can take them to run errands with you (bonus if they’re good stroller/car sleepers!). I used to leave my house with my twins every day from 9 a.m. to noon when they were tiny because it was the easiest way for me to get them to nap. I walked with other twin moms, went shopping, sometimes I even drove aimlessly while eating a treat in the car.
Once the babies become active toddlers, try to keep using the stroller for as long as possible and as frequently as possible so that they’re used to it. The stroller will be the best way to keep them safely contained.
The last, and possibly most important, piece of advice is to always plan to be ready to leave the house about 20 minutes before you actually need to leave. Worst case scenario, you’ll only be a few minutes late and best case scenario, you’re ready early and can relax for a bit before having to leave.
Originally published by Allison Merriman on Twin Love Concierge.