I was ‘diagnosed’ with twins during the first ultrasound of my second pregnancy. Our daughter was 18 months and because I was 41 we didn’t want to wait much longer to try for a sister. Now, I know there are some (crazy) people who have ALWAYS wanted twins and think it would be SO COOL. I, however, was NOT one of those people. To say this did not feel like good news may be just a tad of an understatement. After the cloud of panic blew over, I tried to find out more information about what to expect and found it completely overwhelming. I had no idea where to start. Hardly any of the books made it seem like this was going to be any fun at all and ended up scaring me to death. Because of that, in the interest of solidarity I’d like to talk about what to REALLY expect with the aim of encouraging and supporting multiples-mamas-to-be. So, if you or someone you know has found out you will be having twins, I hope to provide you with some useful “Twin Life Hacks”.
Huge, gigantic caveat: My twins are only two and my oldest is 4, so although I’ve kept them alive and intact so far, there is absolutely zero scientific evidence that I know squat about raising successful adults yet. We’ll all just have to keep our fingers crossed on that one!
Before I get into all the practical stuff, I want to spend a bit of time on what it’s actually like having twins. For this part, I’m going to skip over the pregnancy and newborn part and start with the good stuff because if you’re like me, you really need some reassurance that this isn’t going to destroy your life as you know it. Well actually, it kind of will, but you’re probably going to enjoy this more than you’d believe. In subsequent articles I’ll hit things like the baby gear I couldn’t live without, the stuff that was a complete waste, twin-friendly shopping places, surviving the playground, child care and anything else there seems to be a need for.
So, without further ado, here is why having twins actually isn’t the worst thing in the world:
You don’t freak out over milestones anymore. When you have two at the same time, you really get to see that everyone actually does develop differently. Aiden is talking up a storm while Ben can barely manage ‘cheese’ and ‘peepee’ (his favorite things) but Ben can practically dismantle and reassemble a small engine. You get to see the miracle of human development with two. And contrary to what I thought, it doesn’t diminish the awesomeness of seeing your baby take his first steps even when Baby B did it two and a half months ago. It’s really funny as their personalities develop, too. Bisky and Ben are two of the biggest drama queens (gender neutral) I’ve ever met. Both of them took their first steps with much fanfare, clapping (for themselves) and demands for attention. Aiden, on the other hand, is very low key. One day he just walked by us without so much as a clap or cheer. When we exclaimed that he was walking he just looked at us as if to say “I’m 14 months old, what did you expect?”
You get to laugh a lot. I would dare say I’m in the midst of one of the more challenging stages with two two-year-olds and a four-year-old and I can honestly say I’ve never laughed so much in my life. Aiden’s first sentence was “No, Ben” because that’s all either of them hear. The things they get into would make me very rich if I could ever find my phone to video and produce viral content. In the last two weeks alone, I’ve noticed Aiden starting to blame EVERYTHING on his brother. The other morning I walked in to find that Aiden had somehow obtained the industrial-size tub of diaper rash cream and, having already coated himself head to toe, along with all the crib slats, was finger painting his brother. When I walked in, he exclaimed “Ben! No!” Of course, they have given me a perverse sense of humor. For example, we suffered the stomach flu a couple weeks ago. Aiden got it first, but typical Aiden, just produced two little ‘urps’, some tears and he was done and happy again. Ben waited until 2 in the morning until he started shrieking like body parts were being removed and managed to coat AIDEN head to toe in more vomit than seemed possible out of such a little person. And this lasted a week!
The twin relationship is so endearing. I was worried that because my two were fraternal they wouldn’t have a connection. In fact, for the first year it seemed like they didn’t even like each other! Fast forward to two and they can’t get enough of each other. They choose to sleep together every night (which is not cool during the stomach flu, as I mentioned above but is cute otherwise) and even share toys sometimes. I love that they want to play together. They will decide they want to go blow bubbles or go bye-bye and they’ll put on their boots and coats and jump in their wagon or wait by the window. It’s just natural for them to want to play together and at this stage it’s really nice to have a built in playmate because goodness knows there’s no time for play dates!
Your kids will NOT be sissy sissy wah-wahs. It is pretty much impossible to pamper or spoil twins. Especially when you have another kid or two. I kind of thought Bisky learned her ABC’s so quickly due to my stellar parenting, but the boys have gotten a fraction of the time and attention she did at that age. And yes, she did do some things a lot faster but the other day we were lying on the couch, trying to recover from the hour of 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm (I can’t sugarcoat that one…the witching hour is BRUTAL) and we noticed Aiden at his little activity center selecting all the correct letters and animals and everything. Dreamy and I just looked at each other in astonishment. I honestly have NO idea how he learned. They also learn to fall down, get hit (we don’t encourage this but it happens), get stuff taken, get pushed down and all that without necessarily getting comforted immediately because chances are we are triage-ing emergencies and a scraped knee just doesn’t cut it buttercup.
Your older child will NOT be scarred for life. This was, hands down, my biggest concern when I found out there were two. I was sure Bisky would feel like a third wheel, and they’d exclude her and she’d have attachments issues for the rest of her life. ESPECIALLY when we found out they had the nerve to be boys! Like many parents who feel irrationally (or legitimately) guilty, I TOTALLY overcompensated by giving Bisky more one-on-one attention, outings and Mammy time than was emotionally healthy for either of us, which definitely contributed to some behavioral issues and needless exhaustion. I really wish I could have seen just one day in our lives now. Far from being a third w
eel, my little firecracker has taken the divide and conquer route! She’ll rotate between favorite brothers with alarming regularity. In fact, nobody really seems all that concerned with being left out or included. Whenever any two of them pair up, the other is more than content to get some snuggles with whatever adult happens to be around, or even some much coveted alone time. So if you have a lonely only when you find out about your twins please put that fear to bed!
So see? It’s not so bad. In fact, it is actually pretty freaking cool. Next time I’ll address more practical things. If I have time, that is. And energy. Until then I’d love to hear your best twin life hack!