Pardon the rude and humorous picture above, but I thought it was hilarious because I hear that way too often.
No, having two kids under the age of 2 is absolutely NOT the same as having two (or more) babies of the same age. There are huge differences in stress factors, your children’s needs, and schedules. However, just because it’s not the same, it doesn’t mean it’s any easier.
I have twins. They’re on the same developmental stage at the same time. They constantly need my attention. They’re on the same feeding schedule yet they usually nap at different times, which leaves me caring for at least one baby for the majority of my day. They need me to hold their bottles (remember, I don’t and won’t ever prop their bottles – personal preference, I can’t hear you, lalalalalalalala), they need to be burped, and they need me to help them exercise and do what their Early Intervention PT tells me to do in order to get them caught up. It’s a never-ending cycle, especially when they’re both crying because they both want to be picked up and walked around and, in the beginning, it was absolute hell.
Both of them had to eat every 2 hours, whether they were sleeping or not, as per their pediatrician, so they could catch up on their weight gain. Both had a hard time adjusting to the three different types of supplemental formula we tried and added to my breastmilk in their bottles, so they had very upset tummies. I was still pumping for them for the first 2 months of them being home, so on top of them taking about 25 minutes to finish their whole bottles, having to hold them for at least 30 minutes because of reflux, then switching babies and taking the same 55 minutes to care for the other one, then pumping for 25 minutes and cleaning all the bottles and flanges and pump parts, that only left me with a whopping 2 to 3 minutes to spare before the cycle restarted. “But Camila, didn’t Rick help you?” Yes, he bottle fed the girls while he wasn’t working. We eventually developed a sleep schedule. He still had to work, leaving me to do all of it alone in the daytime – having premature twins that were practically not even supposed to be born yet when they came home is not cheap. Boxes of diapers and wipes were used up in a matter of days, we finally switched to a (marvelous, yet very expensive) formula that didn’t upset their tummies (thank you, Gerber), and I patted myself in the back and let go of breastfeeding for my the sake of my own sanity. We’re now in the 3-4 hour feeding schedule and we are beyond lucky that they sleep from 9pm to 7pm, and they sleep really well. We’re hoping this will only get better, and it has been.
Meet my friend, Stephanie. Stephanie and I went to high school together and I taught her siblings TaeKwon Do back in the day (oh, how I miss my beloved TaeKwon Do days). She’s happily married to Chris, and they have two absolutely gorgeous babies – Isaiah and Josephine. Isaiah is 16 months old, Josephine (Josie) is 2 months old. I asked Steph to tell me a little bit about how hard it is having two infants 14 months apart. As we all know, it is not the same as having twins, but it is absolutely not any easier. She told me the most difficult part of it all has been the feeling like there’s not enough of her to be the kind of mom she wants to be to both of them at the same time. They’re in completely different developmental stages and have very different needs, making it almost physically impossible to meet them all.
She gave me a perfect example. “The other day, Isaiah dragged a bag of foam blocks out of his toy chest and brought them to my feet. Josie was having stomach issues and was crying, and I was by myself. Isaiah sat down on the floor and was shaking the bag of blocks looking at me, telling me that he wanted me to open the bag for him. His favorite game is when I build towers for him that he can knock over, so I knew that was probably where this was headed. I laid Josie down long enough to open the bag, dump out some blocks and hand him a couple. hoping that he would entertain himself. But when I stood up to get Josie, who was screaming, he started crying and kicking the blocks away.”
They are on different sleep routines, eating routines, different everything. We hope that in a few months when Josephine sleeps through the night and starts on solids, there will be parts that level out and she can start grouping them together to do things. But right now, when they are both babies but developmentally so far apart, it’s really tough. “I can’t communicate with Isaiah to explain why I have to put Josie first, and I feel distant from him because I don’t get the one-on-one time with him that he wants. And Josie is just at that age where only mom makes her feel better about most things.” This is hard. Very hard. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I were in her shoes, but I do know that Stephanie is an amazing mom and her kiddos are lucky to have her. You can read all about Stephanie and her sweet family on her blog, by clicking here.
I’m part of a couple of twin mom groups on Facebook, and there’s always bashing and dismissal whenever anyone brings up a friend or family member who says they know how it is to have twins because their babies were less than 24 months apart. No, they don’t know what it’s like to have twins, but just because it’s not the same, it doesn’t mean there should be any disrespect towards that difference. It’s absolutely not the same. But, being torn between two babies’ vastly different needs each day can be the most overwhelming part of being a mom of two under 2. Or of three under 3, as my fellow twin mom Marsha, with twins babies and a toddler. My freaking hero.
So, respect the mamas. All the mamas. There’s no competition here, no “Hardest Mom Life” Award to be won. We’re all in this together, whether we know each other in person or not. Don’t try to relate. No situations are the same.