Leaving the hospital with my twins was an incredible moment I will never forget. After an IVF conception, complications in the third trimester and 12 day NICU stay, we were so ready to become a family properly. We stepped out of the hospital on a warm summer evening, asked a passer-by to take our picture, and headed home with our still tiny, premature little boys.
On the way, I sat between the boys. I remember Douglas sleeping and Arthur looking around, as if taking in the outside world for the first time.
Though you’ve been preparing all along, it can be a real shock getting home and having two tiny babies to care for. Here are a few tips for getting through the first few days and weeks.
Accept visitors only when you feel ready
It’s lovely that everyone wants to visit, but there is no rush. You – the parents – are running the show. Being discharged from hospital doesn’t mean you are fully healed and may still need to take it easy. Extra stresses and strains are definitely not welcomed at this point!
…and ensure they know the rules
Newborns, and especially those born prematurely have very fragile immune systems and are particularly susceptible to infection. Pass around the sanitising hand gel, make sure visits are kept short. And if anyone wants tea, they’re to put the kettle on themselves!
It sounds obvious, but really, do rest when you can. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Other people can take care of housework – looking after yourself and your new babies is your prime concern.
Listen to advice (you’ll probably get a lot of it). The majority of people will be well-meaning but ultimately do what YOU feel is right for you and your family. Your own intuition is the best tool you have.
I’m sure every woman has an idea in her head of how she will be as a mother. You’ve gone through a huge change and as much as you have prepared, it can still be a shock to the system! We all have the best of intentions but it can be a struggle and it doesn’t mean you’re failing!
Keep everything you might need close to hand, wherever you might be in the house. Keep nappy supplies, plus muslins and bibs stocked in the bedroom and living areas.
Twins are more likely to be born with low birth weights than singleton babies and you may worry about weight gain. Also it’s easy to lose track of each baby’s output as you beginning a seemingly never-ending cycle of change, feed, sleep. We found it useful to keep notes on the feeds Douglas and Arthur took, for our own record as well as to show health visitors etc. I designed a free printable perfect for this, you can download it here!
Find ways to be comfortable for feeding
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you’ll be feeding a lot in the first few months! Experiment with different feeding positions to see which work for you. You may find a pillow useful to prop your twins on, or you can try bottle feeding them in bouncers either side of you.
Go for a walk
In a whirlwind of feeding cycles, it’s easy to get cabin fever! You might not feel up to much, but even a short walk in the fresh air can do you the world of good. Another twin mum told me to try to do this, especially on the difficult days and it always made me feel better. People love to stop and say hello and coo over the babies, boosting your pride even further!
Take lots of pictures – and don’t forget videos!
My one slight regret about the boys’ early days is that I didn’t take nearly enough video footage. When you’re in the thick of the sleep-deprived fog of the newborn phase, the weeks can go so fast. Make sure you capture the little yawns, sneezes and cuddles. You’ll love looking back on them in time to come!