Randi is a registered nurse living in suburban Philadelphia who works in emergency medicine and has experience with medical/surgical nursing and pediatrics. She and husband Steve welcomed their twins, Gavin and Gabriella, over eight months ago. Learning about their experiences raising twins should be a great help to anyone facing the parenting of multiples or even JUST ONE at a time!
Gavin and Gabriella are our first children. I have quite a bit of experience with children as I have an extensive family and have been caring for babies and children since I was 12 years old. Steve had very little experience. He cared for some of his nieces and nephews 15 years ago but has very few interactions with children since. My husband is a physician's assistant in emergency medicine. Therefore, we treat most of our childrens' minor illnesses at home. (i.e. minor skin infections, pink eye, etc)
I am the calm parent. I don't get worked up over crying, scratches or what the future holds. My husband is the nervous parent who is always worried about every little cough, bowel movement and how to raise happy children. We seem to balance each other nicely.
When the babies were born we had a lot of family lined up to come over daily and help. I found that after a few days (Steve was home for the first week and a half to help) I was able to handle the two babies by myself. I was breast feeding and because the first few months are mostly rotations of feedings, diapers, and sleeping I was doing a lot of the work. Steve jumped right in to help with diapers, burping, bathing, and walking laps around the house. I had been skeptical that breastfeeding would work with twins before they were born and even had a canister of powdered formula in my cabinet just in case.
I ended up with a c-section which meant I spent 4 days in the hospital. The bright side of the long stay was I had extra help with nursing. After some small supplementing in the hospital (and a resulting 3 days of screaming from gas pains and constipation- the babies, not me) they were completely on breast milk.
The lactation consultants in the hospital were extremely helpful as they gave me tons of literature about twin feeding positions and hands on assistance with latching. I used a supplementing system in the hospital which consisted of a small tube that fed formula into the baby's mouth when they sucked on the breast. Colostrum may be enough for one newborn, but it wasn't enough for two. Gavin was always the better latcher and to this day has the better suck. When I get clogged milk ducts (which happens once or twice a month), he's always the one who clears them. Gabriella would sometimes slip off which was extremely painful during the days of cracked, sore nipples. For the first two or three months I would feed them simultaneously to save time, but as they grew I found it to be much more comfortable to feed one at a time. It's hard enough trying to keep one wiggling baby in place, near impossible to keep two in place. Plus, mealtime started to become eating plus eye poking plus nose grabbing plus scratching. I find feedings much more relaxing one at a time. I still use a support pillow for comfort which is nice with one, but necessary with two- unless you are an octopus, then maybe not.
I started pumping furiously from day one. I got advice- maybe not the best advice- that you can never pump too much. My husband and I had a night out when the babies were a month old and I had some extremely engorged breasts after five hours! Well, two very saggy breasts later I found the perfect combination of feeding and pumping. I had a ton of breast milk in a freezer that, after four months, got used or wasted. I now feed on demand between solid feedings and I still contribute to the freezer every so often. I pump about once a day, sometimes more if I was away from the babies or they get a bottle. I also now need to keep pumped milk in the refrigerator to mix with solid foods.
Seven months later we have two very happy little babies. They are on a loose schedule for naps. They eat on demand, and are now taking three meals of "solid" foods per day.
I have just recently starting making my own baby food. Originally it was an attempt to save money, but after some research I found out the difference in nutrition between store-bought foods and home-made foods. I never realized how easy it was to make baby food. I started with some simple pureed fruits and vegetables and have moved on to vegetable macaroni and cheese and chicken and peas. I'm often on the Internet looking for baby food recipes. My children don't always like my first attempts, but after some tweaking I often have to stop my husband from sharing in their meals. I still used jarred foods for travel because they don't have to be refrigerated.
There are some things you get with twins that you just don't get with a singleton. I will often return from moving laundry to find Gabriella sucking on Gavin's head, or them holding hands. When they lie next to each other one almost always has an arm around the other. I often catch Gavin laughing towards his sister in an attempt to get her attention. And I laugh when Gavin puts her foot in his mouth or Gabriella chews on his fingers as though it is just as good as their own. I cant take enough pictures and video.
Steve and I have become pretty settled with the babies. We have learned their cries and their cues. We know their intermittent yells for attention or the howling of being seriously upset. I work only 4-8 hours per week and Steve works 3-4 twelve hour shifts so we both have multiple days to be with the babies during the week...and with each other. I feel lucky that we're able to raise our own children. It's so funny to overhear him saying "one would be so easy." I'm happy with two. It's all we know and I don't find them overwhelming at all...no more than any other new mother. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Sometimes I feel like a super mom because I hear the horror stories of parenting one and I can say that I have conquered two (until they start walking- OY)!
Please share your stories and thoughts in the handy location below. I'd love to hear how other parents do it.
Gavin and Gabriella