The first week is kind of a blur. I had to go back to the hospital twice – first for a blood patch and then for excessive dizziness (which I think was from blood loss but they treated as dehydration). It’s only been a month but I literally don’t remember how much they woke or ate in that first week. Below is what I recall from weeks 2-3:
Of all aspects of having twins, I was most worried about breastfeeding. I had read LLL’s “Mothering Mulitples” while pregnant and it cautioned that due to preterm delivery and just the logisitics of having twins, one or more babies usually had difficulty breastfeeding. I’m sure it was meant to be encouraging, but I was totally convinced that at least one baby was going to come out with a significant problem like not being able to latch.
As usual, my worrying was a waste of time because they were able to latch and suck from birth. I could immediately tell that Samuel had a severe tongue tie, and boy did it hurt, but we had it clipped in the pediatrician’s office 2 days after he was born and the pain improved. I could also see that both babies had lip ties but I decided to hold off on revising those to see if we were able to overcome the issue with time, as I was with Vera.
My milk came in super quickly this time. I noticed the white colored transitional milk only about 15 hours after delivery! I assume that’s because a) this was my 3rd delivery and b) I was nursing twice as much.
In the hospital I nursed them separately because I failed to bring my twin nursing pillow and it was too complicated to arrange the bed pillows in a way that would facilitate tandem nursing. I did it a couple of times just to get a feel for it but mostly I nursed them separately.
For the first few weeks I fed on demand, but went no more than 2.5hrs between feedings. This follows the model of Babywise‘s “Parent Directed Feeding” (PDF), which is that you nurse when they are hungry but with an upper limit on the length of time between feedings. We pretty much exclusively tandem nursed as soon as we got home from the hospital, focusing heavily on full feeds (basically, getting the babies to eat as much as they possibly can at each individual feeding). It can be difficult to keep newborns awake for long enough to accept a full feeding, but it is essential in order to avoid snack feeding (nursing every hour).
As a result of the lip and tongue ties, I had pretty severe nipple damage by the end of the first week. I saw two lactation consultants and was able to latch them well during the consultations but I had difficultly reproducing the painless latch on my own. The silver lining to the bloody nipples was that my milk came in bountifully and I had more than enough to satisfy the two babes.
In addition to the pain issue, I had a plugged duct that absolutely would. not. budge. for a full week, and by the end of week 3 I had developed thrush.
Napping was so easy the first few weeks. I tried to follow the Babywise eat, wake, sleep cycle, but truthfully there was very little awake time involved. They took 4-5 naps a day with little to no protest.
In the night they woke every 1.5-2.5hrs to nurse, which was frustrating because I was having to wake them at the 2.5hr mark during the day. They clearly had their days and nights mixed up. For the first 2 weeks I fed at every waking, but this was creating a problem: one twin would wake up only an hour and a half or two hours after I last nursed. So I would wake the other twin and nurse them together. But the twin I woke wouldn’t actually be hungry because it had only been two hours since they last ate, so they wouldn’t take a full feeding. Then an hour and a half or two hours later that twin would wake up because they didn’t eat well enough previously. It was a vicious cycle! For the record, I did try one night of only nursing the twin that woke, and I was literally awake and nursing from 9:30pm to 3:15am. It was just the torturous experience I needed to confirm what every single twin parent has told me: FEED THEM TOGETHER, ALWAYS.
To combat the aforementioned cycle of nursing every 1.5-2.5hrs, I decided to feed them a minimum of 3hrs from their last feeding in the night. This was rough – it’s difficult to deny a hungry baby (although really – it’s not like they could have been starving only 1 hour after they last ate), but I actually only had to do it for a couple of nights before they naturally started waking at the 3 hour mark. This decreased our night feedings to 3, which was much more manageable for me.
Between 1-2 weeks, the babies developed a serious witching hour. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the SAME hour for both babies, so I was up trying to nurse/rock/pat/shush/soothe a baby for an unreasonable length of time. After 3 nights of the exhausting routine, I reached out to some friends on a Babywise-focused google group I’m a part of. One suggested doing a later bedtime and trying to keep the babies awake for about 2 hours prior – from about 7pm-9pm. This totally goes against anything Babywise recommends, so I was hesitant, but I figured what the heck – the situation can’t get much worse. It turned out to not be very difficult to keep them awake at that time because without the comfort of their cribs, they literally cried (screamed) the entire time. It didn’t matter if we held them, rocked them, or left them alone in their bouncers – they just wailed. But, as my friend predicted, that scream session preempted the witching hour and when I put them to bed after nursing at 9pm, they went to sleep without protest and had no witching hour later in the night. Because I’m writing this after the fact, I can tell you that we kept up the 7-9pm cryfest until 4 weeks and when we started putting them to bed at 7pm again, the witching hour was gone.
Obviously our schedule was a very rough outline during the first few weeks because nap lengths were inconsistent at times, but generally this is what I aimed for:
8:00am DWT (desired wake time), Nurse
8:35am Nap 1
11:10am Nap 2
1:40pm Nap 3
4:10pm Nap 4
6:15pm Nap 5
7:00pm Nurse and keep awake
9:00pm Nurse and bed
MOTN feedings happened sporadically at first, and then settled into a pattern of 12:00am, 3:00am, and 5:45am
As with my last two babies, I have incredible insomnia. Unmedicated, I am often unable to fall asleep between MOTN feedings. This time I decided not to mess around with fatigue and started taking 1/2 melatonin every night when I woke up for the first feeding (around 12am). This mostly solved the problem and I was able to fall asleep.
The older kids (Vera-3 and Abel -1) love the babies. At first Abel didn’t seem to realize there was anything different, but by the second week he started copying Vera’s interaction with them – which is basically to kiss them a billion times a day and do her very best to spread germs by close proximity. Abel has regressed a little with potty training, which I assume is from the change in routine.
It is much easier than I thought it would be to get out with four. I assume that’s because two of the four don’t walk so I’m really only having to keep track of 2 kids still. For outings like the park I generally use the double snap and go stroller because the babies nap pretty predictably in their car seats. For errands I keep one baby in their car seat in the cart and wear the other baby. Toward the end of the second week I got a twin weebo as a gift and it was fun to use that for a stroller-free walk on the pier. It’s nice to have so many options!
General State of Things:
Overall I was pleasantly surprised about how well things were going. This has definitely been an easier transition than having my first newborn was. I was feeling very positive!