Thank you so much for the lovely comments in response to my last (overwrought) update. I really appreciated such kind words when I was feeling pretty rough.
Hattie and Joe will be four weeks old tomorrow, and – dare I say it – things have been a bit better in the last couple of days. Last week was hard; the evenings, in particular, were ruled by unsettled behaviour that would start at 6ish and continue to the early hours of the morning. It had me at my wits end, and if it wasn’t one baby, it was the other. That’s what I find the most challenging thing about dealing with newborn twins: when they’re playing up, it’s relentless. And where a couple with one baby could take it in turn to deal with the mayhem, with twins you’re both on duty, all the time. I had a tearful conversation with my midwife about it last week, and she described it perfectly as ‘hitting the wall’ – that moment with twins when reality strikes.
The thing is, I know precisely how fortunate I am to have these children, and I love them more than I can say, and getting them has been such a struggle – and all of this makes me feel bad about not loving every minute (even though I know it’s unrealistic to expect anybody to love every minute!)
And while it’s obviously lovely when people tell me that I’m doing well, when I’m on the verge of a meltdown I feel like a total fraud!
However, two great things from last week were the session with Sharlene, and the help from Natalie.
Sharlene is lovely. She taught us her burping and settling techniques, sorted us out with a routine, and answered a hundred and one questions. And even better, she did it all in such a way that things didn’t feel too scary, and we didn’t feel like we were idiots for not knowing how to do those things already. She’s fab.
Natalie joined us for some of the session with Sharlene, and as of last Thursday she’s been helping me during each week day. The babies are on a three hourly schedule, so they’re up for feeds at 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm and 3 pm during the day. Tristan does the first feed with me in the morning, and Nat comes over for 9 – 10, 12 – 1, and 3 – 4. It’s wonderful to have an extra pair of hands to burp or change a baby, and it’s so nice to get to know Nat better – she’s got a lovely calm way about her and is amazing with Hattie and Joe, despite having no experience of dealing with newborns. And she’s both great at taking advice/doing what she’s asked, and using her initiative. I don’t think I could ask for a better helper at the moment, and having her here has reduced the stress in my day to a huge extent.
Sadly, neither Sharlene or Nat can prevent babies from being colicky little rascals! Dealing with it was really taking its toll on me, and I had started feeling quite blue – I even started thinking that I might need to talk to my doctor about post natal depression. However, I took some good advice from other twin mothers – ideas like chucking the babies in their bassinets and heading out for a walk after the 6 pm feed. This means that I get some fresh air and sunshine, and if the babies do grizzle at least we don’t have to hear it echoing in our living room. We’ve done this for two evenings in a row now, and it’s been a great success: it’s very good for me to leave the house, and by the time we get home the babies are asleep and can be transferred to their cots.
The other thing I’ve been trying very hard to do is rest more during the day. It’s no secret that I become a weepy, hopeless mess when I’m overtired, and my exhausted period in the early evening, after a day of caring for, and producing milk for, two babies was clashing horribly with Hattie and Joe’s most unsettled time – a recipe for disaster! It’s hard to rest when you’ve only got two hours to tidy up after the last feed, express some milk, eat something, etc, but I’m learning than even a 30 minute nap is better than nothing.
And applying Sharlene’s techniques, as well as some other ideas, are helping to deal with the commonplace issues of trapped wind and the like, reducing the chances of baby dramas.
So little by little things seem to be improving. And I know that I don’t have PND, which is great: I just need to take care of myself, get help as and when I need it, and take a breath occasionally!