The Twin Mystique
Rose Bianchini is pregnant with twins
It seems hard to believe I am so close to the end of my pregnancy, but the idea of being able to bend down and see my feet again is exciting. I wrapped up my final day of my job last week. There was a nice send off with fancy cupcakes and onesies with the company logo on them. And of course all the usual questions about how in the world we’re going to handle twins.
Information on raising multiples is definitely harder to come by. My husband, Jason and I signed up for a prenatal class. The hospital offered one on multiples but it was full, and was one of the only ones I could find in the entire city. How strange considering fertility treatments have caused the rates of having multiples to rise. It seems every second person knows someone having twins these days. So we diapered dolls and talked about labour with a room full of parents about to have one child. The nurse running the day workshop did go out of her way to make a point to speak to the differences of caring for twins.
It started to dawn on me that although we know a lot of people with children, and have family support they don’t understand the unique experience of having two babies at the same time. We have one good friend who also had twins, but really she is the only one actually fully gets it. It seems like this should have been obvious to me from the start. But it is such an awesome mental adjustment to prepare for motherhood, that having twins is just a bit too much for me to comprehend. So I did what I always do when dealing with a new stage in life… I researched and read.
I went on Amazon and ordered three books specifically about raising twins. For other parents of twins out there here is what I have read and recommend: Double Duty by Christina Balivi Tinglof is full of practical tips by a mother of twins. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins by Marc Weissbluth MD — if you’d like to learn more about sleep training. He has been a pediatrician for more than 35 years and founded a children’s sleep disorder clinic. He also wrote a book for single children called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Another helpful book was by a psychologist who deals with many families with twins, is a twin and is raising twins. It’s called Emotionally Healthy Twins by Joan A. Friedman, Ph.D.
If you, like us, would like connect with other parents of multiples, there is an organization called TPOMBA, the Toronto Parents of Multiple Births Association. The group offers events with other families, garage sales and support. We plan to become members.
Some mothers may believe more in an instinctual approach to parenthood. That they will just know what to do. That sounds amazing to me but impossible to fathom. And can that possibly apply to having two babies with their own needs to contend with simultaneously? So for me reading, planning and sharing all this info with my husband is crucial. We are a team in all this after all.
There will be charts and excel sheets to keep track of their care. In order to maintain some level of sanity our babies will have to eat and sleep at the same time. One baby wakes up hungry, the other little one will need to be woken up too. Since at the beginning babies are feeding every three hours and small babies more – which twins tend to be – if they are not fed at the same time it could be literally impossible to do anything but feed around the clock.
Also, we plan to sleep train the babies as soon as possible. This is controversial for some parents for they may feel it is cruel to let a baby cry without soothing them. I believe it is important to teach babies how to get to sleep on their own and how to sooth themselves if there is any hope of them ever sleeping through the night. This means the whole family will get better sleep and be more functional and happy.
Oh and for their psychological well being, we plan to fit in some individual time with each baby and get to know them as two unique children with their own needs. Yes, for their entire lives they will be mistaken for one another because they are identical; but as their parents we can let them know from the beginning they are allowed to find themselves and develop as individuals and we don’t just see them as the ‘twins.’
Does this all sound impossible? Another parent-to-be idealizing what is possible before I am fully in the trenches. Maybe I will let you know.
Rose Bianchini is a writer, artist, producer and generally creative person living in Toronto’s St. Clair West neighbourhood. You might even have enjoyed some of her work at a Bunch event. See some of her many projects at RoseBiachini.com