And by regular help, I'm simply referring to someone to watch the the twins, so I can: occasionally go to the grocery store without two babies (especially when it is the middle of winter with snow, slush or below zero wind chills), go the gym a few times a week, go to the doctor with just one sick baby instead of dragging one sick baby and one healthy baby to the appointment, have an extra set of hands in the evenings when my husband is traveling out of town, or have an occasional date night with my husband. I'm not talking about watching my kids for a few hours every single day. I'm just talking about the normal help that you get when family lives close.
All of my husband's family is at least one state away, and his mom is a twenty hour drive or a plane ticket away. We had twins....but we didn't have family that lives close enough to help out with the twins.
Since my twins were born, I have said to myself numerous times how much I wish my mom lived ten minutes away....or even better, lived in my neighborhood....or how about just living with us, that would be best, haha! Even having my sisters or my mom live close enough to drop by for an hour a week, would have been such a blessing when my little guys were tiny!
Now don't get me wrong, this is not a woe is me post. We knew when we saw two heartbeats on the monitor at our seven week ultrasound that we were going to have "our hands full", as they say. We knew we were not going to have family close by or be able to pay for any kind of hired help 1-2 days a week. We knew we wouldn't have a village, and that never bothered us.
Lot's of people parent one, two, three or more kids just fine without having a big support system. I'm simply saying that I believe it would be easier if new parents, particularly parents of multiples, had a built-in support system to encourage them and help them during the first year. But for those of us who don't, and I know there are many of us like this, I'm here to say to you .....You Will Survive!
You may feel more exhausted than you ever have in your entire life, but I promise you that your exhaustion will not ruin your babies' lives! Your babies will have no memory of the sleep deprived, hasn't showered in three days, no make up, hair in a messy bun, still wearing the same close from two days ago self, because all of your days and nights run together and all you do is change diapers and feed babies! Your children will only remember the hugs, kisses and love you gave them as they grow up. That first year of parenting multiples, will soon be a distant memory. Just do what I did and take lots of cute pictures of your babies, so when you look back, you'll think the year was nearly perfect and you'll forget about all of those rough days and nights, ha!
Sure, having family nearby would have been awesome, but we got by just fine on our own. That's not to say that you are any less of a parent if you do have help or family that lives close to you....or that you don't have rough days! I'm just saying that is it is possible to get through the first year of twin parenting on your own! Here are some things that I would say to other couples who find themselves in a situation similar to ours.
- The first 4-6 weeks, it was not uncommon to have someone from our church show up once a week with dinner. We greatly appreciated these nights! Making a meal for anyone with a new baby is always a huge help! They did call us ahead of time and tell us they were going to bring dinner by, so I knew I wouldn't need to cook that night.
- I also had friend from our church who was an avid walker, and once in awhile she would volunteer to take the babies for a walk if she was in our area during a time of day where taking the babies for a walk would be helpful to me. It seems small, but something like that was a great help to me when my boys were tinyl. Sometimes, she would call and it wouldn't be a good time for us, due to the babies sleeping or a scheduling conflict. That's ok....the point is that when it worked out, I gladly accepted her kind gesture.
- When we first had the boys, there were a couple of times a few different people volunteered to watch the boys for a few hours, so Matt and I could get out of the house for a bit.
- Within the past few months, we've have two ladies from our church volunteer to babysit for us a couple hours once a month, so we can have a date night. This has been a real blessing for us. We maybe had two or three date nights total during our twins' first year, so we gladly accepted their offer to watch our twins once a month Getting away from the babies for a few hours and being able to focus on time with my husband is priceless.
- When family does come to visit, we let them have ALL the baby time they want, and we often take advantage of the visit and get out of the house ourselves!
- We do have a sweet lady who is like family to us that lives nearby. She and her late husband were like grandparents to me when I moved to their area. The first six months after the boys were born, she was recovering from a surgery, so she wasn't able to visit with us as much as she liked. Now that she is better, she stops by and sees her boys often, and is always willing to do whatever she can to help, as long as it is within her physical limits. But for the most part, my husband and I parented our first year with the twins without any help....and we survived.