The first two weeks home with twins is a learning process for you and your babies. It’s all about finding your rhythm. Jesse and I were very lucky to have a lot of support at home; having people who can help for those first two weeks is my number one recommendation for you. There are a ton of things to do throughout the day: feedings, pumping, changing, washing bottles, eating and cooking meals, etc. and extra sets of hands are invaluable.
Once we left the hospital with the girls I felt pretty good; I was nervous but excited. I knew we had all four of our parents at home waiting for us and Jesse had a week off (he had just started a new job so we were grateful for any time off). When we arrived home everyone was waiting for us to help unload all of our things and the babies (we accumulated a lot of stuff at the hospital between our bags, visitor gifts and hospital supplies). That first day home was filled with lots of baby snuggles for everyone; seriously, the girls were passed between grandparents all day. There was so much love for our two precious babies already. We also made sure the nursery was fully stocked and prepared for our first night home. I was pretty confident that I had everything we needed in place and ready to go.
The first night home was…long. The girls had napped most of the day (while we all snuggled them) and were awake ALL NIGHT. Jesse and I didn’t sleep at all (well I didn’t sleep, Jesse may have dozed a few times). We were up all night feeding, changing, rocking, pumping and repeat. The girls kept busting out of their blanket swaddles and just wanted to be held. By the way, at this point the girls were 4 lbs 8 oz (Isabelle) and 4 lbs 6 oz (Charlotte) after losing weight in the hospital; they were teeny tiny and felt so fragile. Anyway, we knew it was going to be hard, but this was beyond. There were a lot of tears shed (most of them mine). I was very emotional, exhausted, my hormones were all over the place and I was recovering from a major surgery. Luckily the doctors had sent me home on a good pain medication regime of Tylenol plus Oxycodone and I stuck to it 100%. I had a notepad next to my bed with my dosages and time intervals so that I wouldn’t forget in the midst of my new mom fog. I just want to note that the first time I was asked if I wanted pain medication in the hospital I was given the Tylenol but I refused the Oxycodone (I didn’t think I’d need it). I soon realized I shouldn’t have refused and I definitely needed it; my abdominal pain was severe. I definitely recommend taking the pain medication when offered; they tailor your schedule to “stay ahead” of the pain instead of playing “catch up” so stick to it and you should be fine.
The next morning our room was a disaster zone; scattered everywhere were formula bottles, soiled laundry, pump parts and two extremely tired parents. First thing that morning I ordered two preemie Halo Swaddle Sleep Sacks (the ones I had were way too big) and we tried to make a better plan for the next night. After explaining the disaster of a night to my mom, she asked “why didn’t you come get me” because she truly wanted to help. I didn’t really have an answer for her but as a new mom I felt like I needed to do it all myself. Also, just a reminder that we were staying in the basement at my in-laws so our parents probably couldn’t hear the extent of the commotion going on throughout the night (which is good because Jesse’s parents were right above us and had to work each morning). Rest assured, I didn’t hesitate to ask for help after that first night.
The second night was not much better. It seemed impossible to get the girls to sleep; rocking, swaddling, pacifiers, we tried it all. I remember having to go upstairs to grab bottles at a very late hour and when I came back downstairs I found Jesse sitting (asleep) in bed with Charlotte and she was halfway out of his arms. This completely freaked me out. They were little and fragile and I was so worried about them; I think this moment really sent me over the edge. Poor Jesse though, he physically couldn’t stay awake no matter what he tried. He always fell asleep when he was holding them in bed or in the chair and it stressed me out because it was unsafe. I tried to do it on my own for a few hours that second night and let him get some sleep, but at one point both babies were screaming and inconsolable; I didn’t know what to do. From the basement, I called my mom sobbing. I asked her to come downstairs and then I begged her to stay another week (she was due to leave soon). I have never been so vulnerable and desperate in my life. Of course she agreed to stay. She helped me the rest of the night with the girls and I was so grateful. She thought it was quite comical that Jesse was literally fast asleep despite the amount of commotion going on in the room. The lights were all on, the babies were screaming and we were both clanking around and talking. Then there was my precious hubby, fast asleep. I’m glad I can look back at it and laugh now because all I could do was cry then. It was evident that past the hour of 2 AM Jesse was not going to be able to stay awake so we needed to come up with another plan moving forward.
Night Three + Four
The third and fourth nights we decided to do a shift schedule; Jesse would take the early shift (9 pm – 1 am) and I would take the late shift (1 am – whenever). The first night went okay and my mom helped Jesse a little during the early shift. They kept the babies upstairs where we had the Graco Pack N’ Play Playard with Twin Bassinets set up; this allowed me to get a solid 3 hour stretch of sleep and pump before and after; I’m a light sleeper and wouldn’t be able to sleep if anyone else was awake in the room. When it was my shift we brought the babies back to the basement; Jesse could sleep through anything so it didn’t matter that we were all down there. I would get the babies both to sleep, pump for 30 minutes and then try to get a nap in before they woke up again (after I checked to make sure each baby was breathing 100x of course). The night went okay and felt better than the previous two.
The second night of the shift schedule was a disaster. Jesse ended up calling my phone around midnight desperate for help. I went upstairs to a complete disaster zone: poopy diapers, wipes and soiled through clothes EVERYWHERE and they were both screaming hysterically. He had run out of clean clothes so they were just in diapers and probably upset that it was cold; I could tell he was distraught and needed me. Needless to say the shift thing didn’t really work out well. We went back to square one: all of us in the basement and we shared all the duties as best we could. We ended up “taking turns” a lot of the time (AKA: nudging each other and saying “get up it’s YOUR turn”). This wasn’t ideal for me because I’m a very light sleeper and every time it was Jesse’s turn I was awake anyway. This is basically the way all of our nights were for the next few months, us taking turns. Yes, the girls would sleep longer stretches eventually but they were never great sleepers until we were able to sleep train them at 5 months. It was a VERY difficult stage in life. Two sleep deprived parents, two babies who didn’t sleep well and a lot of resentment and bickering. I will write another blog post dedicated to sleep training later on (spoiler: life got 100% better)!
Schedule Is Everything
One of the most important things that I learned before I had the girls was that keeping them on the same schedule would make this stage survivable for us as parents. To this day (they are 2.5 now) I live by this completely. Schedule is everything for us. In the beginning I recommend keeping your babies on the same schedule for eating and sleeping. If one baby wakes up, wake the other up. If one baby is eating, feed the other one. I also recommend writing everything down: what time they ate, how much they ate, what time they slept, how long they slept, what time they pooped, how many wet diapers they had (their pediatrician will ask) and if you’re pumping breast milk I would also keep track of how much is produced each time and what time you pumped. Trust me on all of this because this information is important and even if you *think* you’ll remember, you won’t! Sleep deprivation will make you forget things even in the last hour so just write it all down so that you’re sure. I kept a notebook and pen with me at all times throughout the day; I wish I had kept it because I would love to look back at it now for reference.
The girls ate every 1.5 hours; I continued to attempt breastfeeding while supplementing with formula and pumping for 30 minutes afterwards (I’ll get more detailed in a future post on my breastfeeding/pumping strategies, challenges and successes as well). It took about 5-6 days post c-section for my milk to fully come in. While we were home the girls got a little better at latching and we had a few successful tries, however that was not the norm. Usually they (and I) became frustrated and at this point I was only feeding one at a time so the total time it took to get through everything was exceedingly long. It was very disappointing to me; I truly felt like a failure because I wanted to breastfeed them and have that special bond. When my milk did come in fully I was ecstatic; I was producing a ton and soon was able to stop supplementing with formula. I ultimately made the decision to exclusively pump for the girls. Once I made that decision a weight was lifted off my shoulders; the extreme stress of attempting and failing at breastfeeding everyday was gone. I continued to feel guilt at times and I felt that I gave up too soon, but over the next few months I realized how bad ass it was to be able to exclusively pump for twins. Plus it was awesome that other people could help with feedings too. Feedings are hard with twins no matter what method you use; give yourself grace and choose the best decision for you and your family. Remember, fed is best.
On the second or third day home from the hospital we gave the girls their first bath! Jesse and I were both nervous for this and asked my mom for help. I put so much trust into her, I’m not sure what I would have done without her (she’s a nurse and raised 4 kids so I felt like she knew it all!). I think we were nervous because they were so small and there were TWO of them; the more hands helping the merrier. We had a Fisher Price bath tub with a newborn sling that we put on the dining room table and bathed them one at a time. The girls hated it the first time and they both screamed; once they were dry and dressed they fell asleep. Bath time got easier each time we did it and the girls became more comfortable. I think the key is to keep them as warm as possible: warm up the room before giving them a bath, make sure the water is warm enough and dry them off and dress them quickly.
Telling Twins Apart
Throughout the first two weeks Jesse, all the grandparents and I tried to figure out different ways to tell the girls apart; it was amazing how identical they were! Charlotte was a tad smaller, had pointier ears, fuller lips, an angel kiss on her right eyelid, more hair in the front, a bruise like birthmark on her bum and a smaller head. Isabelle was a tad bigger, had a rounder face, a smaller upper lip, a more oval shaped head and had a small birthmark on her abdomen. We always joked that we’d have to paint a toenail on each baby to recognize who was who, but never ended up needing to do it. There are some pictures that I look back on and have a VERY hard time figuring out who is who.
Once the first week was over Jesse had to go back to work. My mom and I got to spend a lot of quality time together and with the babies which was nice. We spent our days snuggling the girls, trying to keep them a little more alert during the day (so they’d sleep better at night) and learning about both their personalities. Isabelle seemed to be more relaxed and content while Charlotte required a little more attention. When they were still in the womb, Charlotte (Baby A) was always the one kicking me and moving around constantly while Isabelle (Baby B) just chilled. It was so much fun to lay them on the floor and watch them move and kick, looking around (not at each other yet) and wonder what they were thinking. My mom helped me get into a really good rhythm with the girls and we figured out the best feeding strategies, how to swaddle them like a pro and how to hold (and move) them both safely at the same time.
The second week felt more organized, slightly easier and I was more confident in my abilities as a mother. I was running on very little sleep but I had this twin mom energy that kept me going. Something about having twins made me feel like a superhero and that I could do it all. Everyone was always after me to go and take a nap when I didn’t have babies in my arms, but I never did. If anything, I’d go downstairs to pump and them come back up. I never wanted to miss a moment even though I was utterly exhausted.
One of the best things my mom and I did during that second week was implement a gentle eat, play, sleep schedule. We tried to keep the babies alert during feedings so they didn’t fall asleep. Then we would have playtime or tummy time on the floor, in the Twin Z Pillow or on our Lovevery Play Gym. After a few minutes of play we’d let them nap. This strategy didn’t always work; babies love sleeping after feeding (who doesn’t). The girls continued to eat every 1.5-2 hours for a LONG time; they never stretched their eating habits during the daytime, it was always that time frame. Sometimes they would sleep 3-4 hours during the night but rarely longer. It became our normal and we adjusted to being tired twin parents.
Within the first two weeks your twins will likely have a couple of appointments with their pediatrician. We went in for an appointment two days after leaving the hospital and then another a week later. These were basic wellness appointments to check weights and ensure no more weight was lost. The first appointment the girls were still 4 lbs 6 oz and 4 lbs 8 oz but the next appointment they surpassed their birth weights (yay!). This is your chance to bring up any concerns or questions so don’t be shy! We asked so many questions (still do) every time we went in and our pediatrician was amazing; no question was ever silly to her and she answered them all. When we chose a provider they were the only office accepting patients at that time; we met her in the hospital and she seemed fine. Our first appointment we saw someone else (I don’t think she was available that day) and then our second appointment we saw another new person. We immediately clicked with the last one and asked for the girls to be switched to her care. I think it’s so important to trust and connect with your child’s provider so choose wisely and don’t feel guilty if you need to switch. I do recommend choosing your pediatrician well in advance (like in the second trimester).
Going to and from those first few appointments was exciting; I loved getting the girls dressed up, getting out of the house as a family and showing them off. They were the cutest little things! I never minded all of the questions and comments (there were a lot) and enjoyed telling people about them. You will soon learn that twins are extremely special and you now get to be a part of a super fun and unique club! It was also fun to use all of our baby gear when we were out, like the sleek double stroller, cute diaper bag and baby carriers. In the beginning we pretty much only left the house for appointments or a rare trip to a store. Most of my time was spent at home with them and that was fine with me. Taking them out required a ton of planning (especially with my pumping and their feeding schedules) and was difficult on my own so I was content not going anywhere. Plus, we live in such a small town that the only places to go are the grocery store or Walmart. Otherwise we’d be driving 45 minutes to the city which was not something I was interested in with two newborns. We spent our days snuggling and bonding with each other.
I want to talk a little bit more about my c-section recovery. Along with my pain medication regime, an abdominal binder was extremely important for recovery. I wore a hospital provided one everyday for weeks and I feel it truly helped. Having that compression over my incision not only eased some of the pain but it made moving around much easier. In other words it was giving me enough support that I was comfortable bending over and performing daily tasks. It also provided support to my abdominal muscles which were separated; it takes a long time to build that strength up again. Having twin newborns though, meant putting myself on the back burner for a while. I’ll be honest in saying in my mind, recovery was not a priority, the babies were. No lifting things heavier than your baby (what about my two babies), not going up and down stairs (I lived in the basement), nap when baby naps (I usually had to pump when they slept), etc. Thank goodness my mom was around because she forced me to nap, eat meals and took over a lot during the day. I’m also extremely grateful to my mother in law who took over a baby as soon as she got home from work (like seconds within walking in the door) and always had dinner for us all. It was so nice to have so many helping hands. I couldn’t imagine doing it alone those first two weeks.
An aspect of recovery I was not anticipating was the amount of swelling I had post c-section. I had a non-complicated pregnancy with swelling only at the end of the third trimester and it was mostly my feet after standing or sitting too long. After my surgery my legs were really swollen. I remember being home and when I walked I could feel fluid jiggling on the tops of my feet with every step. It was so weird! I actually was worried about it but my doctor and mom said it was pretty normal. I ended up sending Jesse out to buy me knee high compression stockings at the pharmacy and they helped a ton! I felt so much better wearing them and they helped move the fluid back up. I definitely suggest having a pair. As for my incision, it was numb for a really long time. I didn’t use any ointments or creams on it and it healed quickly with no complications. It’s a small scar that you can barely see! Some important things to remember: keep your incision clean and dry (use warm soapy water in the shower and just let it run over it) and let your steri strips fall off on their own (don’t pick at them). I spent most of my days in loose fitting comfortable maternity leggings or sweatpants and I used up all of the mesh underwear that I brought home from the hospital. Take my word for it, you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible the first few weeks while you’re healing! My last piece of advice regarding c-section recovery is hug a pillow when you need to sneeze, cough or laugh to help ease the pain!
The Best Part
The best part of the first two weeks home with twins is the baby snuggles. Two babies to snuggle every single day. What can be better than that? I felt so lucky every time I had both of my babies laying on my chest. How did I grow these two amazing beings. They are both mine to love forever.