I had a lovely message today from a lady who has just discovered she is having multiples, and it got me thinking about all of the things I wish someone had told me to help keep me going during that difficult first year.
You may read that statement “difficult first year” and think “that’s not very encouraging or inspiring.” But as always, I tell the truth. And the truth is that first year is likely to be the biggest challenge of your life. You will forget what sleep is, you’ll feel more guilt than you knew possible, and you’ll struggle to adapt to going out single-handed with your new brood ― but it honestly does get easier. Here’s my run down on how:
You WILL get used to not sleeping, I’m not saying you won’t feel knackered, but it’s amazing how our bodies adapt. Although it may feel like you will never sleep for longer than two hours again, at some point ― and I say some point because there is no set time despite “advice” you may receive ― they will sleep through.
2. One pair of hands
Just like with singletons as they get older, you have to carry them around less. Obvious? Yes, but when you’re juggling multiples, you can think it’s going to be a juggling act forever. It isn’t.
When they start to move around, people (usually the non-multiple parents) will tell you it’s going to get harder, but the truth is this is the relief moment you’ve been waiting months for. Yes, they are into everything and you best not leave them unattended or God only knows what they will get up to ― but they are happy.
You don’t have to carry two car seats at once anymore or run back and forth to the car to bring them in one at a time. You don’t have to leave one on the floor crying whilst you ferry the other to their highchair then run back to the one you left meaning the one in the highchair now starts crying because you’ve left them (god, it’s exhausting just writing it!). Basically, for the first time in months, having just one pair of hands isn’t something you need to beat yourself up about.
3. The guilt
The guilt you feel as a multiple mom is pretty full on, and a lot of it is linked to only having the one pair of hands. You’ve had to choose for months who to pick up first. You’ve had to swing two babies around in midair just to have something vaguely resembling a cuddle with both at the same time. You’ve not been able to rock your baby to sleep, because you have another to tend to and you’ve beaten yourself up daily for these things and more. But once they are on the move, the twin guilt eases massively.
They move themselves around the house meaning no more Mommy running around grabbing babies and transporting them from place to place. And best of all: they crawl to you for cuddles, and you get to have long snugly cuddles for the first time ever.
4. Their frustration
One of the things that makes that first year so difficult is their frustration. Being multiples, and therefore often being premature, they will more than likely take longer to sit, crawl and walk ― and my god, they will let you know they aren’t best pleased about this delay in their independence. The constant head-splitting moaning WILL eventually end ― although, trust me, I know it seems it won’t. The moment my boys crawled for the first time, they were completely different children. At last, I could enjoy them, instead of surviving them.
As they explore their surroundings you are finally able to sit and drink a warm cup of coffee and watch the amazing twin bond develop that you’ve heard so much about. Of course you need to drink that coffee quickly because they now have a best friend, a partner in crime and a fellow trouble maker to get into a world of mischief with but at least they are finally content.
5. Getting out
I remember all to well the days when I wouldn’t leave the house, either because I couldn’t be bothered in my sleep-deprived state to pack up all the bags and load us all into the car, or because I couldn’t cope with the twins at meal times in the useless high chairs provided by cafes, or even because I hated being watched and whispered about and even judged.
The first year was difficult when flying solo. But by 12 months, I was packing a small bag and the boys in the car and venturing off here there and everywhere without a second thought. Again, being able to sit and then crawl was a game changer.
6. The bond they share
The hard work you have to put in during that first 12-18 months is rewarded 10 times over thanks to the fact your children have their best friend with them 24/7. With a singleton, you have to entertain them a lot of the time, and when you aren’t playing with them, you feel guilty. Obviously, you still play with your multiples, but they are often content in their own friendship, playing and exploring together, developing their bond and chatting away in their own language of twinglish, meaning you get a rest.
A disclaimer to this point, however, is that as well as loving each other more than anything, they will also fight like cat and dog so keep an eye out. We are currently in a biting phase.
7. Your sanity
There are times (quite a lot of them) during that first year when it is completely normal to feel you won’t get through this. You must not underestimate the stress involved in raising multiples, and you must not beat yourself up or think you are alone ― you are normal! Once they are on the move, you slowly regain your patience and sanity and start to feel like yourself again. Honestly, you will get there.
8. The reward
Like with all babies ― singleton or multiples ― the older they get, the more you get back from them. Those early weeks and months can feel like all slog and not much reward ― even a smile would be amazing ― but if your multiples were premature, you can put in literally months of work before you get that never mind a “Momma.”
What you have to know though is that, although it can take longer and it is harder work, you eventually get double the reward. Double the smiles, double the kisses and cuddles, double the laughs and double the fun. If you remember any of these points, remember this one because the love and reward you get back from your multiples makes all the slog more than worthwhile, and although it may seem far away now, it will be yours to relish sooner that you realize.
Keep pushing on multiple mommas, you are doing a fantastic job, you rule at this mommying lark and you WILL survive this first year and when you do don’t forget to congratulate yourself because trust me what you have just achieved is AMAZING!