Preparing or Denial

The pendulum seems to be swinging erratically in my mind these days. I shift back and forth from needing to prepare for the arrival of twins to denial that we are pregnant and that there is a real possibility we might bring two babies home.

On the preparing side, the in-laws have secured the nursery furniture and will be bringing it down next weekend when we celebrate Easter. I’ve picked out the crib bumpers that I want, decided on a color for the room, cleaned out Bo’s closet, ordered a new kitchen table (so we can turn the current dining room into a living room), and we are starting the process of cleaning out the guest room to make it a nursery. There is so much to do and I’m worried about the amount of time I’ll be actively able to help do it.

I’m also reading… too much. All of the books talk about having a baby nurse or a nanny (I live in the middle of nowhere, even if we won the lottery, neither is going to happen!). None of them talk about having a toddler on top of twins. And everything I’ve read makes breastfeeding twins sound like a nightmare with 10-15 hours per day devoted to feeding. Not to mention all of the other baby care. Plus toddler care. And apparently I am suppose to eat, sleep, and shower in there too. It is overwhelming and feels like staring down the barrel of a gun that is about to go off and leave our life in chaos for at least the first year. I am trying to prepare myself mentally for this challenge but so far, I appear to be failing.

On the denial side, even on the cusp of entering the second trimester, it seems absurd to actually believe that we will be bringing two babies home in September. I know all of the many aspects of this pregnancy that can go wrong and when I really think about it, I truly do not see all of this ending well for us. And it worries me, makes me want to just shut down and forget that I’m even pregnant until I end up with babies on the other side. I think part of that is the infertility mindset, but I think another part of it is that I just know too many people with bad experiences.

I’m doing my best to balance both extremes — the preparing and the denial — but it’s difficult to just be blindly happy and feel confident that it will all work out in the end when for so many, it hasn’t…

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22 Responses to Preparing or Denial

  1. Rebecca says:

    All I can say is stop reading the books and just have faith that you will be able to handle whatever comes your way after they are born. Perhaps it is my form of denial but I haven’t read anything about twins but I didn’t read anything before my first either. I am just going to have to trust my instincts. I will also try the breastfeeding thing but I’m not going to stress if it doesn’t work out. It didn’t work with my first and I ended up pumping for 7 months. I’m definitely not doing that again!

    Regarding the complications, I’ve made it to 32 weeks (today!) and so far I’ve only experienced some pre-term labor which I didn’t even know I was having until I went in for monitoring for something else. I’m not on bedrest at this point, they just want me to take it easy. Of course, my family is acting like I’m on bedrest! They said can do whatever I want after I reach 35 weeks. I can barely do anything now, I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to do much at 35 weeks, even with their permission. Anyway, now I’m babbling…just hang in there and take it one day at a time. No point in stressing about something that hasn’t happened yet.

  2. Ellen K. says:

    The caution is understandable. That is a downside of being an IF blogger — you know how many pregnancies begin with twins and end with one baby.

    I did find breastfeeding twins to be an absolute nightmare, BUT you have a huge advantage in that you are an experienced breastfeeder. Also, you are an experienced parent, which is another big advantage. My mom had twins when I was 18 months old, and although she didn’t breastfeed me, she didn’t have any problems breastfeeding my brothers. She was not able to tandem-feed them. BTW, note how many twin books are written with the assumption that the reader is a first-time parent. Take their advice with a grain of salt.

    I do wish I’d had a baby nurse at nighttime, but the second-best option is having your husband home for a couple of weeks at least on paternity leave. Talk to your parents or in laws about needing their help for the first few weeks. Ask friends to plan to bring over meals, and if you don’t have a deep freezer, get one and start stocking it with convenience meals. Buy one or two meals every time you go to the grocery store.

    Hang in there, and don’t try to do too much at once right now. The second trimester is ideal for completing projects, and you’ll probably be in a more comfortable place emotionally too.

  3. Twincubator says:

    All of your fears are completely normal. Before I went to my 13 week NT screen I tried to prepare myself for the possibility that one of the twins might have “vanished,” I hate that word. And the way I did it was to think of all of the reasons that it would be easier not to have one, even though losing either would be heartbreaking.

    Prior to the scan I tried not to bond. It really didn’t settle in for me that there were two until after that. My husband has been panicking about how will we deal with two all along, but that is when I started.

    At almost 26 weeks I am under no threat of bed rest and I still feel fine and am moving around easily. Of course everyone is different and it is luck of the draw, but you could be totally fine the whole time.

    I have heard from other mothers of multiples that the secret to breastfeeding is to 50/50 pump and breast feed. Get a good tandem pump and don’t beat yourself up if you need to supplement, eat takeout, and don’t shower for a week. You should also join a local mother’s of multiples. They have been a big help to me.

    Good luck.

  4. sky girl says:

    You have every right to feel the way you do. I wouldn’t be handling it nearly as well as you are.

    You’ve done a bang up job as a mother of one. You’ll adjust and be just as super as the mother of one plus twins. 🙂

  5. Rachel says:

    I know you can do it. I wouldn’t read too many books, it will just give you new worries. I would however talk to other twin mothers. Based on the comments here it sounds like you have some people to ask advise of.

    FYI, my friend who had triplets nursed all 3 for the first 6 weeks. It involved a lot of pumping, but she did it. After that she began supplementing because it was just too much. The triplets are 7 months now and it great health. Don’t get too hard on yourself about breastfeeding. Although it is preferable, if it doesn’t work out you can have healthy and happy babies.

  6. Midwest Mommy says:

    I know it is going to be tough but I am really really excited for you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s totally understandable to be feeling like you are on both counts – taking home two babies and coping with them plus Bo. However, I feel really positive for you on both. It is going to take a lot of energy, support and just plain putting one foot in front of the other to get through those early days but you are so organised and dedicated you can definitely do it. My neighbour had twins 7 months ago and she had a 2 year old and 4 old already!!! Crazy hey! But, she has coped amazingly well and I think it’s a lot to do with some of the things she did to help herself along the way. The ones that come to mine are:
    1) She breastfed both twins 100% for the first few weeks but then she alternate bottle/breast fed them i.e. one feed one twin would get the breast and the other the bottle (formula) and the next feed the bottle twin would get the breast and the breast twin would get the bottle if you know what I mean. She had wanted to do 100% breast for both but when it started exhausting her and their weight gain wasn’t brilliant she cut herself some slack and went with what was practical. I really admired her for having the courage to do this as I can imagine I would have driven myself into the ground trying to stick with 100% breastmilk for both but it wasn’t the best thing to do for her family esp since she had two toddlers to run after and I admired her for taking stock, changing her plan and not beating herself up about it. Maybe this is the sort of confidence and courage that comes from being a seasoned parent? It also meant that other people could help more with the babies. Usually someone else did the bottlefeed and so she just focussed on feeding one baby each feed and so she saved her energy for the feeding that noone else could do.
    2) She arranged a lot of support and of course not everyone has this available to them either due to location or finances etc. They didn’t have finances but they did have a lot of family and friends and they were not shy in asking for help. All of us neighbours helped a lot in the early days (mostly with giving bottle to the baby or in taking the toddlers for a couple of hours play) and they also have a granny and an aunty that scheduled in a couple of half days a week to come and help out. Sometimes they helped with the babies and sometimes they helped by taking the toddlers to the park. She also asked her toddlers friends Mums to help with play dates etc and people were more than happy to do so they just needed to be asked. Again she wasn’t shy she just asked.
    4) She arranged online delivery of groceries and some meal deliveries plus, of course, people from her support group (neighbours, friends and families) cooked meals.
    5) She has religiously taken some part of the week ‘off’ and left her husband with all four kids!!! Every week she does something on her own. Either watches a movie/ does some shopping/ goes for coffee with a friend/ something. I only have one baby and I haven’t even managed to do this but, then again, I don’t think you need the break as much when you are only taking care of one baby/child as opposed to 3 or 4! Taking a break has given her one flexible part of the week to look forward to and I guess, when it all gets too much, she knows she has that free time just for her.

    Not sure if any of these tips will help you and I of course have not been in the position myself but I have been amazed at how my neighbour has coped so well. I don’t underestimate how tired she was in those first couple of months (she said every day just felt like Groundhog day) and I bet I would not have coped as well as she has but I think it gives some hope to see some people doing something so daunting so well.

    Good luck Jamie 🙂 You’ll be great.

    Clare

  8. Cassandra says:

    I think the denial/worry aspect is especially hard to balance because of the increased chance that with multiples, you as the mom will be out of commission sooner at the end of the pregnancy than singleton moms.

    I know that many commenters are recommending reading fewer books instead of more, but I’d love to see a future post where you mention which multiples books you’ve been reading and give your opinions of which ones are worthwhile. I have lots of regular pregnancy books but haven’t bought any twin/multiple books yet! Thanks!

  9. Jessie says:

    One thing that I know is true–you and the babies will make it through the early years alive! I won’t lie. It’ll be tough at times. I have nearly two year old twins, and they are my only children. I think having Bo will definitely be a plus as you won’t have the “OMG I have twins” freakouts on top of the “OMG I am a mom” freakouts.

    My pregnancy was fine until the 3rd trimester when things got complicated medically. Many many twin moms make it through until nearly full term with no problems though. You’re in good hands at Carle so that goes a long way towards keeping both you and the babies safe.

    As far as breastfeeding, I say go with the flow. You just can’t know when the twins will be born, if they will be in the NICU, if they’ll take to the breast well, if they’ll need high calorie formula to help their weight gain, etc. Make a commitment to yourself and your babies to give breastfeeding a good try. If it’s not working out, know that formula is not evil when given by a loving mother. I pumped for 8 weeks, and then realized that the pumping was taking too much time. I was often faced with the choice of pumping while one or both babies fussed/cried in their boppy pillows or not pumping and soothing fussy babies. I also had to pump after every nighttime feeding. It was seriously cutting into my already limited amount of sleep. Eventually, I chose to stop pumping because of that.

    As far as twin books, my favorite was Elizabeth Lyons’ “Ready or Not, Here We Come!” She also has a toddler version of that book which I am loving right now!

    If you want to see some of the joys and struggles of raising twin toddlers, you can check out my blog. htt://mckinneytwins.blogspot.com

  10. MrsAshley says:

    Wow! I found your link from Mom Dot and really didn’t expect a post like this. That sure is a sticky situation (ha, and the name of your blog is sticky feet). I wish you the best of luck with that. Great site!

    Ashley
    Beauty4Moms.blogspot.com

  11. AJ @ A Little Bit Nutty says:

    You sound busy. I haven’t had twins but I know that with each of my kids I hit this wall to wondering how will I manage. But I did and I’m sure you will too!

  12. Heather says:

    If it makes you feel any better… upon hearing we were having twins (at 7 weeks) I was sure I would not end that pregnancy with two newborns. Not only did I, but they had to induce me.

    ALso, I am here as living proof that twins + a toddler is doable. Crazy. Seriously, it is
    cra-zy, but it can be done. Some days I feel like I am losing my mind, but we are surviving, and for the most part, we are happy.

    You are right… there aren’t any books on how to cope with twins and a toddler. Maybe we should write one?

  13. awellcraftedlife says:

    That sounds very exciting, but I am also guarded at the beginning of pregnancy. I know the caution you are proceeding with and it is ok. It is ok to let it all progress and sink in before you start preparing, there is time.

  14. Tracye says:

    I can’t even imagine.

    We’ll be bringing home our third baby in just two weeks… but no twins!

    It’s only been the last month that we really started preparing, and even still, I refuse to open a package of newborn diapers until he’s here safe and sound.

    Good luck.

    Everything will work out. Just try to keep a positive mindset.

  15. Lollipop Goldstein says:

    No baby nurse here either. But what we did was control our schedule since we couldn’t control the twins. I was off from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. (later I got a slot from 9–3 when they stopped waking a lot). If I was off, I slept. So I knew I’d get at least four hours of sleep.

    If you don’t end up breastfeeding (as we couldn’t), I’d recommend having a hands-free feeder in the house for emergencies (or you may find you want to do a double feed each time). You can’t use them at the very beginning, but they were a life-saver at a few months.

    And just accepting limits. The carpet may not be vacuumed, Bo may eat some non-nutritional meals every once in a while. But it all shakes out. And you are going to get through this.

  16. Horace says:

    I remember this feeling soooo well, and it wasn’t even my body carrying the twins. My experience was that the act of preparing helped make the impending arrival feel like a reality: preparing was an act of faith, essentially, in my children.

    And as we found out almost immediately, preparation made all the difference in the world in handling the chaos, which for us was only really rough for about three months (months 2-4). And even that was because we weren’t terribly well prepared for breastfeeding two, and figuring out sleep patterns.

    And as Lollipop Goldstein says above, know your limits (along with your partner), and prepare as a hedge against those limits. It can only help. Good luck!

  17. chicklet says:

    I’m in a similar but more optimistic place. I really feel like this will end well for us cuz after all this, I just think it should with how it happened for us. But I’m with you that I’m hesitant, I don’t believe it, I don’t really get too excited except in little moments. I’m pretty sure I’m driving my mother crazy as she’s off the wall excited, and I keep talking her down that I’m only 9 weeks and if she tells the world she could still have to UN-tell the world as there’s a lot of risk. The problem with the infertility years is you learn way too much about what can go wrong. You’re way too educated on the bad things that most are ignorant to. I’m however hoping for you that this DOES end well:-)

  18. Kristin says:

    It is so hard to truly acknowledge the reality of a post-IF pregnancy. I don’t think I truly believed I was bringing home a baby until I heard him cry in the delivery room.

  19. Parenthood For Me says:

    I can totally understand your dilemna. IF doesn’t allow us to blissful about pregnancy b/c all that we have heard and seen.
    I have never been pregnant but I bet I would think just like you. Having a hard time believing the reality and that everything will be alright. I guess you can only take it one day at a time and try not to think about all the what ifs.

  20. Ms. Perky says:

    Don’t worry about the books – they aren’t ever going to address your specific situation and they make it sound darned near impossible when it isn’t.

    As you know I managed triplets and breastfeeding and an ADHD four year old (who was quite developmentally immature, so he was pretty much an older toddler developmentally at that point – so I can relate). We never had a babynurse or any other kind of full (or part) time help.

    And we did sleep (some).

    Just know that there are lots of us out there who have been through this before you who are available to give you pointers if you need or want them, and we’re here to support you. We made it through and we know you’re at least as (if not more) capable as we were. You can do it, and you will.

    Honest.

  21. Ms. Perky says:

    P.S. I really enjoyed Elizabeth Lyons’ “Ready or Not, Here We Come!” as well. It was short, funny, had reasonable advice and didn’t try to be everything to all mothers.

  22. Lut C. says:

    Popping in from the crème de la crème list.

    Preparing and denying, an age-old strategy for dealing with changes ahead.

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