I see you, this is harder than you thought, right? You didn’t think it was possible to reach THIS level of exhaustion. You claw your way through the day until bedtime, fighting breathlessness. Maybe you have other tiny humans to care for, you can no longer run around the park after them like you used too, the ugly face of mum guilt setting in. You fall asleep at the cinema, you pray for nothing else to fall on the floor so you don’t have to bend. You feel starving yet there is no room left inside you for a decent meal. Your belly is stretching and contorting in ways you didn’t think possible, and at night you crawl into bed exhausted desperate for sleep, yet every which way you lay is pained with discomfort and you have to pee approximately every 40 minutes anyway.
Then you lay there, the house quiet. You think, how am I going to do this? How can I function when my brain is now so full, so many things to remember. So many endless questions;
What do we need to buy?
Can we afford a new car?
Where will everything go?
What do we need?
Exactly how many onesies do I even take into hospital?
Is our house big enough?
Should we move? (no energy for that!)
Will my relationship get through the sleep deprivation?
Will my body get through the birth?
How do I care for two newborns after a c section?
The list is long, your anxieties increasing. Whilst blessed you are anxious, your thoughts all consuming. You wonder how you’ll find yourself again once you’re through this.
Well, here are the things I wished someone had told me whilst I was growing all those humans…
Breathe – This is what I want you to know.
You. are. a. frickin. superhero. You are literally growing 4 eyeballs by simply standing there, and there will be many (oh, so many) “I don’t know how you do it’s” thrown your way in the years to come. So, next time you find yourself in paralyzing self doubt wondering how you are going to navigate life and family and self whilst raising two humans (or more!). Remember – you were chosen out of all the women that ever existed, on earth – ever, to be the mother of your children. You were chosen to be the mother of twins, the universe will only send you what you can handle. You’ve got this more than you know.
Get ready for celebrity status.
I once read that having twins was a bit like being a celebrity but didn’t really grasp what that meant. Until I gave birth that is, as I sat in the hospital reception with my two new tiny humans in their new car seats cozily sleeping by my feet things felt different. I felt weird and couldn’t put my finger on it at first, as my husband went off to pay for the parking I realized everyone was staring. Then random strangers started approaching us to coo and offer congratulations, it was sweet and well meaning but bizarre.
Three years on and I’m still regularly approached by random strangers to coo and often ask inappropriate questions – such as “Did you conceive naturally?”. Call me old fashioned but discussing my sex life with random strangers at the park has always felt a little weird. So did the time an elderly man asked me if I’d like to “sell one”. People are strange. Get ready to be quizzed and questioned when you pop out for more milk on the regular.
If you’ve always been an instinctive type of gal / mum who likes to fly by the seat of her pants and take the day as it comes kind of style – you may suddenly find yourself in a whirlwind of confusion. It’s all very well strapping one baby on your boob at the park or popping them in a sling to go about your day, but with two – and possibly older siblings to think about, things can get real confusing. Such as knowing which baby had which bottle, and how much (important if they struggle with weight gain, as one of mine did). When was the last wet nappy? Wait, which one had a wet nappy again?
Throw a fever and calpol into the mix and you suddenly need to know. your. shit. real quick. You can’t accidentally give one baby two doses of pain relief and be like, “whoopsie, wrong one!”. Buy a big a4 pad and use it. For me it really helped calm the chaos of feeding, illnesses, weaning and all the things.
You will find out who your friends are pretty quickly.
You may not want to hear this, so apologies in advance, but navigating life with twins requires a lot of compassion and understanding from the people closest to you. Unfortunately, its not for everyone. Twin parenting is an amazing gift but – people will likely see you at your worst. You may snap, your mind often full. Sleep comes in inconsistent waves at the beginning and you will likely be a little foggy. Text messages will be forgotten to get replied to, nights out cancelled in favour of the sofa. People will come to visit and you will forget to offer them tea.
You will need their help, help navigating dicey park areas with two toddlers, help going out for coffee when one baby needs changing or won’t stop crying. Help with school runs when you have two feverish toddlers. Friends will need to be understanding, friends will need to harass you on Whatsapp when you forget to reply to messages, friends will need to organise girls nights to get you out of your tracksuit bottoms. Know and nurture your tribe, the ones that try and make life easier for you are your lifers, your ride or dies. Especially ones that text you the day after you arrive from hospital to say they’ve left you a red velvet cake on your doorstop (big love to them!).
You don’t need their judgements – or approval for that matter.
When you are pregnant with twins – your mind will be so full from here on in its time to let go of what does not serve you. One of those things likely being interference, opinions and judgements from other people. Unless your advice is coming from someone whose already walked the walk, trust yourself and your instincts.
You’ll genuinely have different concerns and issues that would not have occurred to some people. For example at age 3 my twins still had dummies and I had yet to potty “train”, but that was ok. That was a choice we made as a family that worked for us. We picked our battles. I didn’t want to potty train in the winter when I was already over loaded with washing, so we waited. The dummies were comforting to them through periods of illness and nap dropping, so I chose not to stress about it. Take unhelpful comments and advice with a pinch of salt, you get to decide.
Your heart will expand
Whilst your laundry pile will grow, often it will seem, daily. Your diary bursting with dates, appointments and shopping lists. Your snack cupboard will take on a life of its own and you will stand on many many legos. As your home (and often car) expand to fit in all these extra humans, your heart will grow too. Cheesy but true. For any pregnant twin mamas out there who are scared how they’ll be able offer the same amount of love and affection to their two new babies as much as their first born…. you just will. You will love them all in deeply different wonderful ways. True, unless armed with home help and a nanny you will unlikely be able to lavish the same amount of one on one attention as you did with your first child. However rest safe in the knowledge that your two newbies will never know any different, and waiting turns for them is a regular way of life.
Love yourself and your body.
I can’t honestly remember another time when I was so dissociated and – I’ll be honest here, frustrated and weirded out with my body after giving birth to twins. Ridiculous I now realise, giving the incredible miracle it had just performed. I gained over 3 stone during pregnancy – likely more but I stopped checking. At 5,1 that felt like a lot. My tummy broke out in angry red stretch marks weeks before birth.
Nothing fit. My stomach did not look like mine, my belly button still has a hernia from all the pressure and my skin was – well, weird AF. My abdominal gap was 9 fingers long, a length I did not realise possible. Causing my back to spasm constantly. Sure, I had two gorgeous healthy babies which I was eternally grateful for. But – newsflash, you can be in love with your new babies and ever grateful but still have negative emotions in other areas. Can we just normalise feeling a disassociation with your body after birth for what it is instead of assuming that means you are not thankful for the life that just came out of you. You can be both.
So, if you experience the same feelings after birth I want you to know this is normal, and this is ok. I could have avoided mirrors for the rest of my life but do you know what I did instead? I listened to my body and gave it what it needed. I invested in the right therapist to mend my abdominal gap (you can have a diastis recti 9 fingers long that closes up completely with the right care). I took long baths when I could and nourished my tummy with oils every day. I thanked my body for what it did. I rested when I needed to and pushed it harder when I needed to. I ate biscuits and toast for breakfast every day for a week after giving birth. I added collagen to my coffee and took vitamin c to help my skin.
When I was fit enough I exercised in a way that felt good and gave me energy, I didn’t force it. I thanked my body. I cut myself some slack. I tried to love the shit out of myself despite how I felt when I looked in the mirror.
It took longer than most to get back to what felt good and comfortable but it happened eventually. It will for you too. Growing two humans at once is a huge demand on your body, but give yourself space to adjust. (Side note – I vowed never to talk negatively about my body in front of my children, and when my 3 year old daughter beams at me that her “body is beautiful! my tummy is beautiful!” its been entirely worth it. Actually while we are at it can we stop referring to babies and toddlers about their “cute fat little tummies” now and realise how potentially damaging this may be *face palm*.)
So, go forth twin mamma. May your coffee and be as strong as your patience and please cut yourself some slack. You are amazing, you are a warrior, you were literally built for this. And please don’t forget to love the shit out of yourself.
Thanks for stopping by at my corner of the internet, I’m Maz – you can read about me here – it’s my mission to lift the lid on motherhood and make your parenting journey easier. Stick around for simple recipes, mindset hacks and tips and truths on lessening the overwhelm and simplifying motherhood and twin parenting. If you enjoyed this blog pop me a message or comment – I’d love to hear from you! Read my Blog disclaimer here xo