Our twin girls Scarlett and Rowan are already nearly three weeks old! Time hasn’t slowed down, despite the fact that we’re living off small intervals of sleep (in fact, I started this post when they were 2 weeks old and it’s taken me a week to write it). The days fly by as we “live life on the interval” as Mike likes to say. We’re feeding babies all day long and in between feedings trying to catch up on housework, sleep, and once a day, get in something for ourselves (which doesn’t always happen!). Every night before bed Mike and I say to each other, “We made it though another day!”
Truthfully, at this point life with twins is actually easier than I expected. Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. Not at ALL. But I kind of expected it to be very, very dark and it’s not – just a little dark (ha). A big reason it’s been easier is that we’ve had a ton of help – Mike’s off work and is extremely involved, particularly when it comes to taking care of Siena. We’ve had family and friends do our dishes, go to Costco or Target for us, help feed and rock babies, bring meals that are big enough for leftovers, bring wine and chocolate or volunteer to take Siena off our hands for a bit. They have literally been live savers and I can’t thank everyone who has helped out and has volunteered to help in the future enough!
Second, our babies are both pretty laid back, with Rowan being even more laid back than Scarlett, and they sleep a ton. We’re still in the sleepy phase – so maybe once they snap out of it I’ll be saying how hard it is. For now, they sleep most of the day and are pretty easy to get back to sleep at night. Around two weeks they did start to wake up a little bit and have more awake time, want to be held at times and take a little more convincing to fall back to sleep at times, but overall they’re still pretty sleepy. They’re also pretty predictable and if they’re well fed, particularly during the day, we know they’ll sleep.
Another big part of why it’s easier, or at least why I think it is, is because we’re second time parents. Having experience with this phase helps us be more confident and relaxed and gives us the perspective that this time goes by quickly and will be over before we know it. One of the biggest shocks for me when Siena was born was the loss of freedom we experienced – not being able to do anything as a couple or anything on my own without asking Mike’s “permission” because we can’t leave the house at the same time without a babysitter – plus being tied to a newborn who nurses every 1-3 hours. But now that we’ve already lost a lot of our freedom and we’ve become accustomed to our schedule revolving largely around our toddler, it’s a little easier to handle the newborn schedule!
Two Babies – Two Different Personalities
While pregnant I wondered if I’d be able to easily tell the babies apart. In the womb, I decided to call Baby A Scarlett because she seemed a little feistier and Baby B Rowan because she just seemed more laid back and cooperative. Turns out I was right! They came out of the womb looking and acting really different so it has been very easy to tell them apart! Rowan looks a lot like Siena did as a newborn and Scarlett looks a lot like Mike (although everyone used to say Siena looks like Mike too). Even their cries are distinct – Rowan has more of a squawk (and it takes a while for her to get worked up enough to cry) and Scarlett has more of a high pitched fussy noise, like a squeak or even a whine.
Rowan sleeps more and falls asleep more easily. Scarlett eats more – she’s voracious! Despite both of them losing over 10% of their birth weight at first, Scarlett regained her birth weight plus 4 oz by 2 weeks and Rowan was 2 oz under her birth weight at 2 weeks, which makes sense given their eating tendencies. When Scarlett is hungry, she really lets you know which aggressive movements and gnawing at her hands. Rowan’s hungry signs are a little less obvious. Both of them are more laid back and easier babies than Siena, who would rarely fall asleep on her own and cried a lot more.
Breastfeeding is by far the biggest challenge and I plan to write a separate post just on this topic because I know a lot of twin moms to be are probably curious about all the details. Even though I prepared myself with every tool possible and I was optimistic that I may be able to exclusively breastfeed my twins, so far that has not been possible for me. The first few days they were so sleepy that it was often hard to get them to eat for longer than 15 minutes at a time but they seemed satisfied but after three nights in a row of what felt like constant feedings (which again at first I mistook for cluster feeding at first, just like I did with Siena), I could tell something was wrong. I had already diagnosed Rowan with a lip tie because I could tell her upper lip was super tight and couldn’t flange, plus I figured she also had a tongue tie because when she nursed it felt like she was chomping down on my nipples (and they were very sore!). However, I didn’t think Scarlett had one as her tongue seemed really long and lip didn’t seem super tight to me, though sometimes she would just randomly not want to latch at all (which later I learned was because she wasn’t able to open her mouth wide due to buckle ties on the sides).
Luckily my lactation consultant came the next day (they were 5 days old) and we were able to confirm that both girls had lip and tongue ties (Scarlett even had two buckle ties) and weren’t able to get enough food with the way they were moving their mouth. She recommended supplementation (they had both lost over 10% of their birth weight at 5 days old) plus pumping for me after as many feedings as I could (I try to pump 4-5 times a day though lately it has been more like 3 as I’ve been trying to get them to nurse more now that they’re more awake and they are becoming more efficient nursers) and I was OK with it, though I was pretty sad that both of them had it. We had been down this road before with Siena, though we didn’t get her revision done until 3 weeks. A good friend of mine who overproduces milk and regularly pumps the extra and has been giving us frozen breast milk in anticipation of us needing it and we have a deep freezer full of milk so we supplement with that instead of formula, for now.
We had the lip and tongue tie release done at 1 week old and they girls are still learning to use their newly freed lips and tongues. We have to do stretches on them multiple times a day to make sure they don’t reconnect, and the lactation consultant gave us exercises to help them learn more quickly (which admittedly I’ve found little time to do between everything else we have to do). Feeding these girls is a full time job, between nursing them 8-10 times a day each (I do tandem about half the time), supplementing, pumping, doing stretches and exercises. Thankfully, like I mentioned before, they are chill babies who generally enjoy being in their Rock n’ Plays and usually fall asleep on their own (though they do go through times where they want to be held more).
How The Twins Sleep
The good news is that the babies are well fed and happy. They also sleep well, generally only waking up only 2 times a night between bedtime (which is anywhere from 9:30-10:30, we haven’t quite figured out how to get them down earlier quite yet) and 7:30-8:30 AM. When one wakes up hungry, we wake the other up so that they both get fed at the same time and we can get some rest (More often than not, it’s hungry Scarlett who wakes first). At night I always tandem feed. If we don’t do this, we would literally be up all night. The routine takes about 45 minutes to an hour each time we’re up.
They tend to have their longest stretch of sleep (4-4.5 hours) in the morning which is unfortunate for Mike as he is the one who gets up with Siena (she wakes up anytime between 5:30-7). But lately Mike has been helping me get set up in tandem nursing position and getting the supplement bottle ready for me and then going back to sleep so that he can sleep more in the night. My mom gets up with Siena on Fridays when she’s here which helps and I take a nap every day in the afternoon when Siena and the babies are both asleep. I am actually less tired now than I was while pregnant with twins, but that could change once the sleep debt really adds up. But again, my body was working super hard while pregnant so I guess that makes sense.
My Recovery from Twin Birth
My recovery from birth (which was an induction and vaginal twin birth – read my twin birth story here) has gone excellent. It has actually been even better than it was with my unmedicated labor because this time I did not have any stitches at all. I generally feel pretty good, with the exception of my sore back from bending over to pick up babies and all the time I spend breastfeeding. I’m pretty antsy to get outdoors and do workouts soon but will wait until my doctor appointment to find out when I can work out again (which is at 4 weeks postpartum). Physically, I avoided stretch marks by some miracle (I used this pregnancy belly oil daily) and I’m pretty sure I don’t have diastasic recti, or if I do it’s mild. My stomach has shrunk down much faster than I thought it would (the uterus takes 6 weeks to return to normal size), though it’s super squishy!!!
I try to get out daily for a walk, ideally at least 1 mile long, but that doesn’t always happen. We generally get out of the house just once a day, sometimes twice if its a walk near our house. Between the lip and tongue tie surgery and follow up, the newborn and 2 week doctor appointment, lactation consultant visits and the chiropractor visit for Scarlett (she was only nursing when on her left side and one adjustment fixed it!), we’ve been really busy!
Emotionally, I’ve been better off this time than last time. I know the hormones are adjusting in these first weeks and it’s normal to be emotional at times. Breastfeeding is what has brought me to tears most, as I get really frustrated with how much effort I’m putting in and still not able to completely provide for my babies, but I haven’t been really upset about it for nearly a week, so that’s a good sign. I try to remind myself that my babies are happy and growing so that is all that matters, but sometimes I get down on myself for not being able to provide all the food they need. How I feed my babies doesn’t define my success as a mother.
Besides the Meal train, I made some frozen meals and snacks in advance which has helped (I have a blog post almost ready on that too!). Health-wise, I’m trying to just get one serving of veggies in with each meal plus drink a ton of water. I’m kind of just eating whatever I want and sounds good at this point. I’m kind of addicted to bagged salads – I never used to buy them – but they’re so convenient and many of them are really delicious too.
Taking the Twins Out
On the days we don’t have appointments, we’ve made an effort to get out. Having a toddler kind of forces us to get out to entertain her (she’s in school two days a week at least!) which is good for all of us. Mike and I have done a coffee date at Philz and a walk along the coast twice with just the twins while Siena was with my mom or at school and those outings have been rejuvenating. I hope we can continue them at least weekly until he’s back at work. We also somehow made it to the beach when the twins were just one week old – we were there for just under 2 hours but it was bliss! I got to play with Siena for a while and spent the rest of the time breastfeeding in our little beach tent, watching the waves and the crowd. As you know if you read my blog regularly or follow me on instagram, the beach is our happy place! We also take walks to the park as a family a couple times a week which is nearly a mile roundtrip.
How Siena is Adjusting To Being a Big Sister
Siena has been taking her role as a big sister very seriously – she wants to hold the babies daily and loves to help out however she can. However, she’s also regressing back to baby-like habits (which the doctor said is normal) including stealing the babies’ pacifiers (we took Siena’s away last November), sitting in their rock n’ plays, and putting their swaddle blankets on her. She’s also imitated me and pretended to breastfeeding (even tandem!) and plays with her baby dolls even more than usual. Lately she’s also been waking up in the middle of the night (which she doesn’t usually do) and she wants to sleep in our bed with us. I think she feels left out since the four of us are all together in the room and she’s on her own.
It’s been an adjustment for me to be away from her so much and it has hurt my feelings a few times to see how much she prefers her dad right now, since he’s the one who has been spending the most time with her. Last week I was able to take her to the park by myself and we had a blast – she behaved so well and we just had so much fun together! I also try to do things with her while breastfeeding (not if I’m tandem breastfeeding, then I can’t move!), like read her books or play her memory matching game. But it’s not easy and I definitely find my attention is mostly going to the twins.
I still can’t believe we’re a family of five! I better wrap this up now (in case you’re wondering where I found the time to write a blog post, I wrote most of this post while pumping or nursing one baby using my Brestfriend pillow – it makes nursing handsfree!).
Moms, do you remember when your newborn snapped out the sleepy phase? If your toddler regressed when a baby came into the picture, how did you handle it?