I dropped off my 3-year-old twins at daycare and my 6-year-old at school then ran into the supermarket to pick up a few things we forgot. I was rushing around when I noticed a mom looking exhausted as she slowly moved around the store, pushing a cart with two tiny babies in the infant seats. I caught her eye, smiled and said, "I've got twins, too." Her face lit up. She knows I get it.
There are some things that only parents of multiples will understand, and when we recognize another in the field, there passes between us a sense of solidarity. Just those four words—I've got twins, too—can spark a connection with otherwise perfect strangers.
So this is for you, tired new mom of multiples—welcome to the club.
I feel your loneliness.
Our experience is different from mothers of singletons, and this is often not recognized enough. The prenatal classes my husband and I took had little mention of multiple pregnancies. Often this made us feel like an afterthought or worse, like anomalies.
While other pregnant women were glowing and excited to meet their (one) baby, I was nervous and didn't want our (two) babies to arrive too soon. I didn't often talk about it because I didn't want to seem negative, so it was a stressful and lonely time.
When they arrived, we found handling two babies to be challenging. So many people told me how easy it must be to have newborn twins, because they need the same things at the same time, right? Wrong.
In the early days, I felt like I was breastfeeding all day and all night. As soon as I finished feeding or changing one baby, the other one would start crying or our toddler would need me. Having two or more babies can be incredibly isolating.
I know that even getting out of the house can feel impossible.
Parents of multiples need a lot of support, and not just when our babies are newborns. Tiny babies are super cute and many offers to help seemed to flood in during the early weeks. But our need for support extended long beyond this phase.
Sometimes, we needed practical help just maneuvering our stuff so that we could get out and about. Babies come with a lot of stuff, no matter how minimalist we try to be. Double (or triple, quadruple) all that stuff, and it becomes really difficult to leave the house.
The logistics of getting two babies into car seats and into the car can seem like a military operation. Then there are the accompanying accessories: double stroller, twin baby carrier, twice as many diapers and wipes, snack and drinks, etc. etc... some days I feel like just giving up and staying home.
We also need emotional help. We are exhausted and probably not getting much sleep, especially in the early weeks. We might not feel like trying to leave the house some days, but we don't want to become isolated. We need friends and family to check in on us often, and make sure we are getting physical and emotional support so we can not just survive—but thrive.
I understand why you feel so protective over your babies.
Maybe you have been through fertility treatments and you might feel guilty about not enjoying your longed-for little ones. Maybe your babies had a rough start, spending time in the NICU while you worried about them. Maybe you had a traumatic birth or feeding challenges. Like me, you may have had a tough pregnancy.
If you've had any of these challenges, you may feel worried or anxious and need reassurance. Once your babies arrive, it can be hard for others to understand your feelings. What they mostly see are happy and healthy babies—without the difficulties that came beforehand. To the outside world, your anxiety can be hard to understand. But other parents of multiples? We get it.
I hear the cliches you hear every day.
After almost four years of parenting twins, I still do not understand why, but strangers in the street cannot pass us by without commenting on our kids. Usually, these are complimentary comments we receive, but it can still be uncomfortable to be singled out.
Are they twins? Are they all yours? Were they natural? People have so many questions—and they're sometimes quite invasive. I once joked about getting a shirt made with answers to the most common questions I hear. Funny, yes! But it's also practical as it would save me valuable time when trying to get my oldest off to school!
I know that you just need someone to understand what you're going through.
For any new mom, the right support is key. For moms of multiples, this means connecting with parents who are going through the same experiences. If your area has them, multiples groups can be a lifesaver. A supportive partner, family, or network of friends are essential too.
Be honest with the people who love you. Tell them what you need, talk about how you're feeling, and help them to understand how they can help you.
Hearing from parents of older twins can also be really helpful. Knowing that they got through it will help you keep the faith that you will, too. Plus, other parents of multiples often have amazing tips!
I see that you will get to the other side of this.
I know it's tough right now, and some days you'll wonder how you will keep going. But I also know that one day soon you will go out to the store (alone!) and you'll catch the eye of a tired mom with two infants. And suddenly, you'll realize how far you have come, and you'll smile as you look back on this short but oh-so-intense time in your life with love and wonder.