Lately I’ve been having a major case of singleton envy.
Now, don’t get all judgy pants on me. I adore my boys. I am so grateful to have two healthy babies. Early in my pregnancy we had some tests that initially indicated that one of the boys might not be okay, and the thought of losing a twin was unbearable. My gratitude to the universe or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whoever is in charge of such things knows no bounds. But that doesn’t stop me from occasionally (perhaps more often than I’d like to admit) thinking about how much easier things would be with just one baby.
I don’t view motherhood through rose-coloured glasses: it’s just as important to give space to the negative thoughts and emotions as it is to celebrate the positive ones, so here it goes.
I miss babywearing.
I mean, yes, I can still babywear. But what I find is that by the time the twins are fed, diapered and settled and so are the big kids, I am just touched out.
I used to love wearing my singletons for no other reason than to have them close to me. Doing dishes, working on my blog, going for walks … they’d nap on my chest, and I’d feel all oxytocin-y and everyone was happy.
And while babywearing definitely does still help me get things done, I’m not doing it with the same joy that I did when there was just one baby to wear. The twins spend way less time in arms than my first two, and they also spend way more time fussing and crying. I used to put Cub to bed while wearing his sister.
Now I feel like if I wear one twin then it’s not fair to the other, who would likely be crying alone in his playpen. So they both cry together in their playpen …
I miss mobility.
Not everyone likes being out and about with baby, but I had two very portable newborns.
When my son was born we didn’t own a car, so I went all over the city by transit with Cub in the stroller or the carrier. Having one baby to care for didn’t stop me from going most places I wanted to go, especially before he became mobile. I wasn’t too fussed about enforcing nap times at home; he slept fine on the go.
When his sister was born, it was definitely a big adjustment from one child to two. But essentially Miss Cub just came along wherever Cub and I needed to go. Play group, gymnastics, preschool drop-off … our schedule was her schedule. It’s really easy to go into most public places with one baby, especially one baby in a carrier. With just one baby I enjoyed lovely lunches with friends, did errands with ease and flew across the country multiple times.
With the twins it’s a whole other story. For one thing, I cannot actually fly with them because you can only have one baby under two per adult. So going home to visit my family with the twins while my husband stays in Calgary to work isn’t even an option. And in terms of non-air travel, it’s not that I haven’t gone anywhere, but the number of places I go has been drastically reduced. Costco is great: I can put one car seat in the shopping cart (note: not ON the shopping cart) and wear one baby. I use online ordering to get our regular groceries (and let’s face it, if Costco had online ordering, I’d be on it like white on rice).
I have been to Starbucks once with the twins in their double stroller, and while we fit through the door, inside it was not easy to manoeuvre. Getting out of the house in the morning and the afternoon to pick up my son at his bus stop is my least favourite thing. Anytime I need to go anywhere, I have to calculate whether or not we will fit.
I miss nursing.
That I am producing enough milk for twins is AMAZING. I am so very happy that I can give breastmilk to the twins.
In the beginning, they had some formula while I figured out my pumping routine and built up my supply. But good grief is that stuff ever expensive! At first I was pumping and giving bottles because they didn’t have enough stamina at the breast. Now I am pumping and giving bottles mainly because I don’t have the stamina to nurse them both.
Tandem nursing is totally possible … just not practical for me. It means sitting down on the couch and being trapped under the babes for half an hour. It’s not relaxing to tandem nurse for me the way it is to curl up on the couch or lie down in bed and nurse one baby. I don’t do it often. So then it becomes a matter of nursing one after the other, and the sad fact of the matter is there just aren’t enough hours in my day. I find I’m functioning better by pumping (and I do chores while I pump), then feeding bottles for most feeds because they drink their bottles faster and take more in at once and therefore remain settled longer than if they nurse. Can you imagine cluster feeding twins? Well, I can imagine it and I know some mamas do it … and I suspect if I only had twins I would be able to handle it, but that’s not the situation.
At bedtime and first thing in the morning I treasure little moments nursing each twin by himself. But whoever’s first to nurse is usually rushed because his brother wakes up crying, and then the second in line doesn’t get my full attention either because his brother still wants cuddles.
I miss socializing.
Who knew that having two babies would be so isolating?
I know a lot of new mothers find just one baby isolating: they feel trapped at home, nervous or unsure about bringing baby out in public, visiting others, or they are put off by the logistics of feeding or changing baby on the go. For me this was never an issue with my singletons. I always felt really at ease taking baby anywhere.
When my first was born, we very quickly established weekly playgroups with other new moms. We’d just hang out at one of our homes in the winter, and when it turned warmer we’d go to the park. I probably hung out with my closest mom-friend and her son at least once a week during that first year as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been trying to organize a simple little hang out with another twin-mom in my neighbourhood for weeks. There are multiple playgroups organized by the Twins, Triplets and More Association of Calgary that we could attend, but I just have not managed to get my ducks enough in a row so we can attend.
Getting out of the house is a whole lot of calculating who’s eaten when and who needs to be changed and what do I need to bring. Then I have to weigh the pros and cons of missing a nap at home (something I never cared about with my first two). If they nap while we are out, then I miss out on napping myself or doing chores or working on my blog … but at least I’ve talked to another adult?
Because I literally did all my chores while babywearing and because dreamfeeding and co-sleeping left me decently rested, these things didn’t concern me anywhere near as much with my singletons.
I miss co-sleeping.
My first two babes never used their cribs. (And my big boy sleeps just fine now all on his own, so don’t worry, they’ll be fine.)
Co-sleeping meant I got really decent rest even in the early days because my babies would dreamfeed. Now when one twin wakes up to eat, I know I can’t just lie there and fall asleep with him because I need to put him back in his playpen before his brother wakes up. Then I have to pump. And I also know that I don’t want to habituate either of them to co-sleeping because, as much as it really breaks my heart, it’s not feasible. Usually one of them ends up sleeping part of the night with me, but then I start feeling guilty that his brother is alone or that I’m going to set them up to not be able to sleep alone. And while I didn’t NEED my singletons to be independent sleepers from such a young age, I recognize I do need this with twins.
Emotion aside, we also do not have room in our house for two cribs. When we were planning for a third child, I’d expected the new addition to sleep in the master bedroom (there’s room for ONE crib or twin bed) for a few years before we got organized enough to move somewhere bigger.
I don’t want to miss a thing.
I know that part of what is making this #TwinMomLife challenging is that it’s not just the twins who need my attention: I have two older kids too. I feel like I almost never have moments when I am focusing on just one of my newbie babies: smelling him, nuzzling him, tickling him … noticing a new milestone.
I know this has been somewhat whiney, but it has felt good to acknowledge the not-so-perfect aspects of mothering twins. It’s interesting to note that despite all this, I’m still happy I had twins after singletons. It’s true that if they had been my first babies, I wouldn’t have any of these experiences to miss. But I do not for a second envy first-time parents who are figuring out every aspect of baby care times two (or three!).
There are so many absolutely wonderful things about having twin babies, and I think as they grow into different stages I’ll find more new things to love than old things to miss. I can’t wait to watch their bond develop, to see how they play together and entertain each other (though I am sure there will be plenty of fighting) and start noticing individual personalities. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!