A really common question I am asked these days is, “How are you doing?” This is said with the sympathetic head tilt, the widened eyes, the raised eyebrows. It’s asked in a way that says, “I already know the answer. You’re drowning! You’re barely surviving! You’re lighting flares for emergency backup!”
And when I answer that we’re doing really well, that it’s not abject chaos from morning ’til night, the person most surprised by that answer is me. Mike and I went into this with expectations so low you’d have to be on your knees to see them. We moved toward the twins’ birthday waving white flags to surrender our former life, acknowledging that we were willing to sacrifice anything, that having two infants would likely require sacrificing everything.
But…it hasn’t. Our life is completely different, but it’s entirely better. There are moments of madness, of course, but overall we’ve found that these babies are not the tornado of terror we expected. They’re not crying for hours on end; they hardly ever cry at the same time. They’re fine with not being held for a few moments (most of the time). They’ve slept in three-hour chunks at night since day one, which we can only attribute to the graciousness of the Lord, forever and ever, amen.
We know plenty of families who have had one baby with colic, and we’re certain that is more challenging than two calm babies.
Much of this “success” we attribute to scheduling. Scheduling is everything. The peace and the happy babies depend on a fairly rigid schedule. It goes like this:
Step one: feed babies
Step two: keep babies awake for an hour and a half
Step three: put babies down for an hour to an hour and a half long nap
Repeat every three hours, all day long.
This is the Baby Wise method and it’s working for us. I totally understand that everyone has their own way of doing things, but with twins, attachment parenting or on-demand feeding was never, ever an option. Structure is the order of the day, and it’s paying off in spades. The babies are largely in sync, eating, playing and sleeping at the same times. They cry for less than five minutes when put down for their naps, if they cry at all. It’s truly remarkable.
Don’t these babies look happy?
But who isn’t happy in stripes?
The other reason we’re able to say we’re doing well is the tremendous amount of help we’ve been given. My sister Erin took four days straight off of work to help me all day long when Mike when back to work. The generosity of that act was staggering, and I can never repay her. She still comes every other Friday to help all day — it’s an amazing gift to the babies and me. My mom comes to help three afternoons a week, which I absolutely adore because I get time with my best friend and the babies get to play with their grandmother (please stay tuned for official name — she has yet to decide. Nona? GG? LeaLea? Gamma? It’s anybody’s guess.). My mother-in-love comes every other Friday to help all day, which is glorious because we can catch up and the babies get precious time with their Nana. My girlfriend Catlyn used to come every Wednesday to help and we had such a good time. She has a full-time job now, for which the babies and I try to be happy for her, if we didn’t miss her so much.
Did I mention the meals? Scores of friends and family have dropped off delicious meals, without which we might have starved by now. I’m dipping my toe back into grocery shopping and cooking, but it’s going to be a tricky little game figuring out how to successfully do both.
So when I answer that we’re doing great — that’s what I mean. Overall, we’re doing great. But I’d also happily tell anyone who asked that things are hard.
The hard things are probably the things we don’t get to do — the loss of freedom to go out when we want to, the long conversations we don’t get to have with each other, the time alone that we really, really miss. And evenings! That time when you expect to be able to shut off your brain, have a glass of wine and watch TV — that is something we haven’t had for eight weeks. It’s starting to come back now that the babies are going to sleep earlier and earlier, but we miss that time enormously.
Oh and the breastfeeding and pumping. My word, are those time-consuming activities with two babies. I enjoy breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, but pumping is really nobody’s friend. I’m not bonding with a baby when pumping. I’m attached to a machine like a dairy cow, unable to do anything else at all because my hands are holding the receiving containers. I can’t even scroll idly on my cell phone. This sounds like an incredibly inane first-world complaint, but when it’s done four or five times a day for fifteen minutes each time, believe me, it gets old.
(I feel morally obligated to mention how grateful I am that I’m able to feed two children entirely from breastmilk. Thank God that I have enough, truly, as it’s something that is very important to me. End of parenthetical statement.)
There are a million more things to write about, and I’m excited to, but for now I’m sending the smoke signal that we’re alive and well, slightly sleep-deprived, and obsessed with Henry and Arden.