So You're Having Twins
My twins were born in 2008, which is when I started to blog
about the experience. Since
then, I've had lots of people ask for advice, and a lot of Internet searches hit the blog looking for that kind of help,
but you'd have to dig through a lot of content to find it. This page is an attempt to consolidate the important stuff. If you think
something's missing, feel free to mail me
Much of this is based on a motto of mine: "Hope for the best - prepare for the worst." I don't mean to scare, just to prod you
into being ready sooner than later. Some of it might be old news to those who are already parents; I assume you're not.
What to know.
- The first rule to keep in mind is that you can never be fully prepared ... and it'll probably be okay. Repeat this to
yourself when - not if - you start to get nervous.
- You should expect your twins to come around 33-36 weeks' gestation. It might be 39. It might
- You should expect one or both twins to end up in the NICU. However, ours did not.
- Many twin pregnancies include bedrest.
Just to be safe, you should assume that you will go on bedrest at 25 weeks. This is on the conservative side, but you don't want
to be caught blindsided. My wife made it to 36 weeks without bedrest, but a friend of ours went on full bedrest at 19, and another at 22.
It happens, so be ready just in case.
- Most pregnancies get one little ultrasound and one big one near 20 weeks. You'll get a lot more than that - ours were
every few weeks - especially if you have identical twins sharing a placenta, because of ...
- ... TTTS.
- Be ready for personal questions, like whether you had IVF, not that you have to answer them, but so you won't be
too surprised when it comes.
- Identical twins are not hereditary. When people
ask if twins run in your families, and you have identicals, keep this in mind. Fraternals do run in families.
- Breast feeding will be much more difficult than normal - not just because of the two mouths to feed, but also from the
immaturity of early babies, and less time for mom's body to get ready.
- The pregnancy is two for the price of one. After that, everything is two for the price of two.
- Sometimes it's better to let them scream and cry if you really need a few minutes to regroup. They'll live.
- It's going to be hard. I estimate that twins are 1.8 times harder than a singleton, but that varies from just as hard
(both sleeping!) to maybe 2.5 times (no breaks for either parent).
What to do.
- Look into supplemental insurance at your workplaces, in conjunction with learning the short- and long-term disability
policies. If you go on bedrest and/or the babies go to the NICU, you (as either the pregnant one or her partner) can use it to make up the
gap between that policy and your income.
- People will say "get your sleep in now." That's crap. Sleeping more now won't help you later. Instead, get your
fun in now. Go to clubs, movies, plays, concerts, and parties. Paint, play piano, sculpt, do that home improvement
project, whatever. The pregnant person in this is going to get really tired, really soon, and then there will be two newborns to
take care of. Go have fun. Now.
- Take a class on recognizing pre-term labor. Most hospitals with birth centers have them. It's about two hours and
usually free. Take it soon. Recognizing the signs early could be the difference between having the babies very early or not.
- If you're using a hospital or birthing center, they probably have short tours to help you know what to expect. If so,
- Find out if there's a multiples club in your area. Their
general structure is built around helping pregnant and new twin parents. Many have garage sale type events
where you can gear up on the [relative] cheap. Many have mountains of hand-me-downs available, especially in
sizes too small for most stores to bother carrying.
- Infant CPR class.
- I'm meh about the twin-specific parenting class we took. It was okay, but took six Friday nights away.
- Find out if you have access to lactation consultants and make an appointment soon, if only as an informational visit.
You'll hear "breast is best" a lot, but formula is a viable option that's not worth feeling guilty about (but that doesn't mean you won't).
- They say "keep a schedule" with regards to sleep and eat, but good luck, and you can't do it before they're born. My
advice is to identify their natural schedule and then massage it into what you want. This will take a few months.
- Find out which friends and relatives are going to helpful, and solicit their help now. They can help you get sleep,
cook, clean, take the babies for a while so you can shower, go to the store, whatever. Get commitments over vague promises where
you can. A side note to this - make sure whoever's helping is worth the help. Protect your emotional self.
- We had a rule in our house for the first six months or so - if you're over, you're helping. No twin gawkers allowed.
- Cover your doorbell. Don't just disconnect it, because people might not realize it's not working.
- We put a little sign by the doorknob that said "If we're expecting you, please just come in." You don't want to have to
stand up and get the door if there's a sleeping baby or two in your lap. Take it down on Halloween. :-D
- We actually found having a postpartum doula to not be worth the expense ($30/hour). Any nanny or seasoned
babysitter will do for a lot less, if you need to pay for some early help. A night nurse is an especially good idea, even if
it's just once or twice a week for a while. Get referrals and line up the help well before the births.
What to buy (or register for, or get handed down).
This is "twin stuff" or "stuff you might not hear about elsewhere," in addition to the standard cribs, changing table, baby
- Miracle Blanket. Yes, it's a $30 blanket. Yes, it's worth it. Get
two or more.
- Harvey Karp's DVD on methods for
soothing a fussy newborn. Don't bother with the book.
- At least two wubbanubs. We got four. Besides being a binky that doesn't roll away, the
stuffed animal part puts a little weight on their chests, which is soothing. The binky part is the same kind that hospitals use.
- Two swings. You might have to experiment here. We found that the hand-crank type worked better for our boys than the
slower-moving battery types, and they're cheaper, but harder to find.
- A double snap-n-go. It's very useful -
especially with sleeping babies - to be able to move them from car to stroller to house and vice versa without unstrapping them
from the car seats. The three parts (double stroller, car seat, base) need to be compatible. Because we have two cars, we got
four bases so we'd never have to switch bases from car to car.
- At least one sling that can hold a newborn (some can hold both - at first). Note that many kinds can't be used until after the
newborn stage - about three months - when the baby can hold its head up on its own. Some babies are soothed very well in slings.
- You won't need them until at least 3 months, but the sleepers that zip up instead of down make it easier to change a
diaper without waking the kid any more than you have to.
- Multiple sources of white noise. You probably already have things you can use, but you need something loud, too, like an old
portable fan. We ended up putting our TV on static and cranking it. Our daughter's weakness was the bathroom sink on full blast.
Lots of smart phones have white noise apps available, which only feel silly until you see how effective they can be. We
would even hook them into the car and blast them on the radio.
- A fan where they'll be sleeping. Not only is it white noise, but it cuts
the SIDS risk.
- A red light bulb in their room. You can see, they won't wake up from it, win-win.
- The government mandates what goes into baby formula, and all of the brands stick to that. We used Target brand formula,
which is half the price.
- Just get one pack of preemie and one pack of newborn diapers. You won't know what you'll need until they're home with you, and
you're going to get a thousand diapers at the baby shower, anyway.
- Notice there aren't any books on this list - and I read several.
- You also may be thinking that you're going to have to deplete your savings or sell your arm or something to pay
for what your kids will need. This is true.