Still More Twin Questions and Answers

Nellyru: “Did the nasty ultrasound tech change her tune at all when she knew she was going to be the one to tell you something exciting?”

She softened slightly, but she stayed brusque. She was working in a fast, panicky way, pressing WAY too hard on the tum and saying things like, “SorryIDon’tHaveTimeToDoMorePicturesButHereAreAFew.” We had to go give the results to the OB, and she walked so fast I literally couldn’t keep up (I had two little kids with me) and got lost in the hallways. (For all my other ultrasounds I went to the hospital, even though the OB’s office was more convenient. The scheduling nurse asked why, and in a rare moment of bravery I told her. That technician was too rough and brusque even when she WASN’T in a rush.)

Eleanor Q.: “Here’s what I’m still wondering: How were the early days (months) different with the twins than it was when William was born? How did you have to adapt your ‘bringing home baby/dealing with an older child’ plan to the twins? How did you feed them? Did you schedule like crazy? Do you think the twins are closer to each other than their other siblings? Do you think that being a boy/girl set takes away some of the difficulty of establishing ones own identity that some twins have or does it not matter? Did you feel awesome when annoying strangers would say ‘must be twins’ and then you could retort ‘actually, it is.'”

YES it was satisfying to say it was twins when strangers made what they thought was a joke! Or someone would say, “You must be due any minute!” and I’d say, “Not for another 3 months.” Hee!

Bringing the twins home was easier than bringing William home. For one thing, William’s homecoming gave me a toddler and a newborn, and I’ve written before about how difficult I think that combination is—but when I brought the twins home, I had a 4-year-old and a 6-year old. And during the pregnancy, I’d done some “Independence Training,” mostly with Rob but some with William too: teaching them to wash themselves in the bathtub, teaching Rob to make easy breakfasts and lunches, teaching Rob to go get the mail, teaching them both to put on their own seatbelts, teaching William to get himself dressed. So when I was stuck in a chair nursing the twins and feeling half-crazed with all the things I needed to be doing instead, I could set Rob and William in motion like two little Roombas: “Clear the breakfast dishes, please. Now Rob take those letters out to the mailbox and put the flag up. William, can you please get me more water? Now both of you please pick up the toys on the floor.” It was much slower and less efficient than I would have done it, but it was GETTING DONE.

Another thing we did differently: we put a bassinet out in the living room. Instead of having to FREAK OUT that if we let the baby cry the toddler would wake up (newborn William had shared a room with toddler Rob), we had a whole different set-up. If one or both twins needed to cry a bit, the crying was still stressful but at least not because it might wake up the other children.

We didn’t need to buy much for the twins: not only did we have a bunch of stuff already, but when people found out we were having twins they donated all kinds of things: a second crib, a second bassinet, a second swing, a ton of clothes. We did buy two La-Z-Boy recliners and those were the best and most practical purchases we made. Each of us could rock a twin in comfort, and the recliners were comfortable to sleep in if it came to that and it often did.

I mostly tandem-nursed the twins, mostly using a twin nursing pillow my cousin gave me. I would put the twins on the couch, then strap the pillow on, then scoop up a twin in each arm, then sit and arrange. It took a minute or two, but once we were all arranged I had my hands free to read or do Sudoku puzzles or whatever. It was so awesome and I highly recommend it to anyone planning to try breastfeeding twins.

The only downside is that it was hard to doze with it on, because the back-support pillow kept me so upright. So sometimes at night I would settle into the recliner instead, with regular bedpillows and throw pillows arranged to support the babies. The problem is that this usually resulted in all three of us waking up in the recliner in the morning.

With twins, you don’t have to switch sides mid-feeding as you do with a single baby. Some books recommend switching each feeding (Baby A on the right with this feeding but on the left with the next feeding) to keep things balanced; other books recommend keeping each baby to his/her own side so each baby can regulate his/her own supply. I switched in the beginning, but one baby REALLY PREFERRED to nurse on a particular side so eventually they each had their own side pretty much.

I also did some one-at-a-time nursing, and then I would switch mid-feeding and use the cradle hold and a regular pillow (rather than the football hold and the twin nursing pillow).

I didn’t do any scheduling per se, but I did keep a rigid RECORD. I had a legal pad where I wrote down EVERYTHING: nursing times and lengths and sides, diaper changes and contents, baths and shampoos and cradle cap treatments, and any medications I was taking. Otherwise I seriously couldn’t remember which baby I’d changed or how long it had been. After a long time (months? many months? I can’t remember anymore) I stopped keeping track of diapers and nursing lengths and baths, but I still kept track of feeding start-times/sides until they were weaned. I also used it to keep track of when I introduced which solids.

I do think the twins are closer than any other two siblings in our family, but I think a lot of it is being the same level of development. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when they’re all adults.

Yes, I think being boy-girl twins helps HUGELY with the identity thing. I’d go so far as to say it’s barely been an issue. When they were teensy it was easy to dress them in the blue/pink versions of the same outfit/jacket/hat and I did that a lot—but as soon as they were out of baby sizes, it became difficult and we stopped doing it.

Safire: “Aww…this is taking me back 2 years to my own twins’ birth. Those first weeks home from the hospital were killer but I feel like I’m coming out of it now. Yes, 2 years later! When did you feel like you had a handle on things and then, when did you have another?! My hubby really wants another baby but I’m not sure I can wrap my head around that yet.”

I’m not sure when I got a handle on it. I feel like I mostly have a handle on it NOW, but…. I mean, FIRST I felt like things started going way better when I wasn’t nursing them so often. Then it seemed like things were better when they could sit up and play—but that was so quickly followed by MOBILITY, which was WAY WORSE. Then it was about 2 years before they reached their current stage of being relatively easy.

I’ve read that the average spacing between singleton babies is 2-point-something years, but that the average spacing between twins and the next baby is 5 years. We had an unexpected pregnancy when the twins were 15 months old, which resulted in another baby just before the twins’ 2nd birthday. It worked out okay, but it was too close: I think it would have been way better with a 4-year spacing like we had when the twins were born. As it was, I had the Newborn Plus Toddler problem, but with TWO toddlers—ACK.


Still, we did get through it (the toddler/newborn thing, I mean), and now I’m glad Edward has a boy just 2 years younger than him to play with. (If Henry had been a girl, I would have been glad for Elizabeth.)

More next time!

30 thoughts on “Still More Twin Questions and Answers

  1. Melospiza

    I like how Elizabeth is a blur in the second-to-last picture. A CRAFTY blur. It sort of encapsulates the whole toddler stage (and can I say? that picture of the weary you with two toddlers using you as a jungle gym and the baby crashed our on your chest looks exactly like what having ONE toddler feels like. By which I mean my imagination doesn’t STRETCH far enough to picture your actual situation).

  2. Ruthie

    I’m loving this little series so far! I have a question that’s not exactly twin related but I hope you’ll still answer. I’m about to have my 3rd C-section, and my doctor has been not exactly adamant, but let’s say strongly recommending, that 3 is the limit. My husband has taken this to mean that not getting my tubes tied at delivery is the equivalent of a suicide mission. You mentioned that the twins were your 3rd C – did your doctor recommend no more children for you after that point? Did you have any problems with your C for Henry (assuming it was a 4th C)? I’ve read your archives and it seems like you weren’t sure for awhile whether you would have more children after Henry … did the C section thing enter into your decision?

    I understand if you’d rather not answer but if you don’t mind, would love to hear your thoughts! We’re probably done after #3 anyway, but there’s that little tiny part of me …

  3. Andria Stanley

    The last part of Eleanor’s question reminds me of a friend who had twins, and had the following conversation with someone:

    Twins, huh?


    So… Were they born at the same time?

    She had NO clue how to respond to that without dying laughing.

  4. Megan

    I have a personal one for you, but I understand if you don’t want to answer….how much weight have you gained with each pregnancy and how much did you lose before getting pregnant again? Did you try to lose weight or did it just happen? I’m overweight and about to try to get pregnant.

  5. Jane

    I think the picture of you tandem nursing is one of the most beautiful pictures ever! You make it look so easy and it’s pretty cool to see how tandem nursing actually works.

    Thanks for sharing all of these memories with your faithful readers!

  6. Robin P

    I am loving the twin posts! And pregnancy/baby posts in general! More, more! That nursing picture is really amazing, it’s so cool to see tandem nursing in action.

  7. d e v a n

    Yes, I love these posts. :) I can say I really looove seeing more pictures of YOU too. I imagine it was really hard having twin toddlers and a newborn. I was almost there when C was born, I had a 3 and a 1 yr old and when L was born I had a 2.5 and a 1.5 year old. phew! I tell myself though, that they’ll all be so close when they grow up!
    That last picture is adorable.

  8. MoMMY

    I’d like to respond to Ruthie if I may…
    I had 4 c-sections. My doctor didn’t recommend any more. Usually it depends on the level of scar tissue you have. I know one woman whose doctor told her no more than 2 and one who had 7 and her doctor told her she could keep going. It’s more about the individual woman than a set standard.

  9. Nowheymama

    Independence Training: I’ve been having the vague idea that this would be a smart thing to do with the 4-year old before the baby comes. These are great suggestions for things to teach him.

    Also, I am so happy that this toddler/baby spacing is going to be a 32-month spacing instead of a 23-month spacing like the last time. Every little bit helps.

    Love, love, love seeing photos of you! with the kids.

  10. saly

    I think my favorite part of all of this is seeing photos of you with your kiddos. Awesome. I wish I would have thought of Independence Training with Lucy before Liv came along. The difference between Bud, who was 4.5 at the time, and Lucy who was 3 and the way they dealth with having a new baby in the house was astounding.

  11. jiveturkey

    Hot damn, lady, your kids are adorable. And I would like to award you a medal for breastfeeding TWINS. I mean, seriously. My appetite was INSANE when I was nursing – was it twice as insane for you having to nurse twins?

  12. Misty

    I am melting over these pictures, especially the overalls picture and the nursing picture. I feel a bit jealous, but in a good way. *I* want to do that. :)

  13. Jen

    love love LOVING all the pics of you and the kiddos and the wise swistle mama voice that i hear when you talk about them and how it all got done.

    thanks too for posting that link to the toddler/infant post…i need to review and try to (ha!) mentally prepare. :)

  14. Christina

    I’m loving these posts!!! I’ve always felt strongly that when I have kids I might have a set of twins. My paternal grandmother was a twin and HAD twins (my dad’s brothers) and my mom has twin first cousins and her grandmother had sibling twins. I’ve thought w/ 2 sets on both sides of the family relatively close (just 2 generations looking back) my odds were better! It’s very interesting to read how diff. it is than bringing 2 babies home. Also LOVEEE seeing the pics!

  15. Eleanor Q.

    Hmm. Independence training? I’d like to hear more about that. How did you pick what activities to start with? How did you coerce a toddler into doing something that YOU wanted when YOU suggest it? Did you see any regression of abilities once the babies came home?

  16. Ruthie

    Thanks, MoMMY. Good to know! Both of mine were scheduled, and I had minimal scar tissue as far as I know. My doctor is definitely on the conservative side though.

    And Swistle, I also meant to add, I felt so validated when I first read your theory on the newborn/toddler combo. And yet here I am doing it again …

  17. Jess

    This makes me think that the 2-3 year spacing that I was sort of vaguely planning on might not be the best idea. But then the end makes me think that maybe it WOULD be the best idea. I mean, a year or so of stressful toddler plus newborn, but then two kids close in age for the rest of their lives. Ugh. Not that I need to plan this now. But you might have noticed that I like to think ahead about this type of stuff.

  18. Bunnyslippers

    Thanks for posting more pics! You look so good in the last one with your tiny little baby and speedy toddlers. This has been a great series of posts!

  19. Nicole

    The Independence Training is brilliant. BRILLIANT, I say. My two are less than 18 months apart and my younger one was colicky…so it was all a blur. I always wondered how people with twins did it. Survival, as you say, is key. Those pictures are just beautiful.

  20. SeaBird

    I have LOVED reading through these twin posts! Mine were born Jan 06, and my 3rd son July 09… definitely could NOT have handled another child any earlier than that. (and he was a surprise anyway)

  21. DCMomma

    Boo to that sonogram tech. The ones at the ob’s office were always nicer to me. And they remembered me–so it was nice b/c they remembered the 1st baby, so when the second came along there was a lot of excitement. Once I had a sonogram of my gallbladder and they pressed so hard I ended up crying. After that swore I was never going back there.
    I love the independence training. Awesomeness. My son was 2 1/2 when my daughter was born so I can understand this!
    I love those cutie pie pics!

  22. velocibadgergirl

    You have me dumbstruck with the tandem nursing. I sometimes have trouble getting my one new baby latched! Swistle = hero! And that photo of the twins with Henry is so fantastic <3

  23. Claire

    See I kinda think you had things easier with having the twins then a singleton 15 months later. I had a 16month singleton when my twins were born. And I think having the perspective of two babies pared down to just one makes it mentally easier. But I have this picture that reminds me of your second-to-last photo. In it, I am feeding my eldest cereal in a high chair, holding one twin, and rocking one with my foot in a bouncy seat. How I didn’t stick my head in the oven I have no idea.

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