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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Double Trouble or Double the Fun- Part III- The Early Days

Read Part I & Part II
As far as I remember, and as soon as I was old enough to start thinking about it, I have always wanted to have 2 kids, preferably twins so that I would do the hard work only once. I also allowed myself to imagine it would be 1 boy and 1 girl so that I could experience the best of both worlds. (I keep harping on that that don’t I?)

Well, that’s besides the point. What I want to document here is the dilemmas and tough decisions you take when you are brining up twins. A mom of more than 1 kid also goes through similar dilemmas but when the kids are twins (or more??) things are different in many respects. (Before the Moms of more than ones begin to protest- ladies, I just said different, I did not say more difficult or less difficult!!! And that goes for the Dads too, I hate to leave them out of this)

So here goes.

At the most basic level, it is ok to have different levels of feelings/ love/ affection for either of them. There I have brought it out in the open. You may like one's smile better or the other’s looks better or likewise. It is ok to instinctively pick one child up close and let the other be comforted by another care giver. You can’t be doing both at the same time. As both the babies would crave for the Mom’s individual attention, that needs to be given. As far as they are concerned, they are the only baby for their mom & dad and they do demand their space, attention and time. It is best if it is given on a rotation basis. Even in animals you would observe that the mother takes care of the weakest the most. An animal follows its instincts as it has no social self to display. Nobody will censor the animal mom for not taking care of each baby impartially but the ani-mom instinctively supports the ani-babe that is weakest and needs her most at that time. But we human moms tend to worry about what others will comment if she pays more attention to either of her kid. This gets more obvious if the two children are of the same age and their needs are exactly the same at the same time. I was often asked which baby I love more, or I know moms love their older/ oldest kid the most or the youngest is the dearest. I still refuse to answer clearly and yes if I have to analyze in detail, there are reasons why I like Ojas better and there are other set of reasons why I like Tejas better. But nothing will make me share that, as I don’t want them to grow older, read this and mould themselves according to my blog sentiments or otherwise. I want them to be as they are and I will like them for what they are. But yes, it is difficult to choose between the two and decide whom I like better. Maybe equality does exist at a higher level.

Human beings are not designed to feed a litter. Day 1 my Gynaec recommended that I feed one and at the same time give the other the bottle else, in her own words I could never manage it. Especially when they both are hungry at the same time. The pediatrician said strictly no top feed and encouraged me saying you are doing a great job. The ped’s focus was the kids and the gyn’s was me!!
Is there a middle path?
To tell you the truth, with all due respect to my gyn ( as obvious in most of my posts related to my pregnancy and later), I did not want to give them top feed. In the backdrop of all recommendations that Mom’s milk is the best, for the 1st 6 months keep on exclusive b- feed, together with my Leo ego that refused to believe that I could not manage the two, I went by the ped’s instructions.
And it hurt. It hurt me physically when every 45 minutes or less I had one baby hanging on to me for 8-10 minutes or so. I used to sit with a time piece and stop at exact 8 or 10 minutes because of the pain. The duration of each feed increased gradually and a time came when even after 40 minutes the boys refused to relieve me. And the nights were terrible. I never slept for more than 1 hour at a stretch. Even during the day, when the boys deigned to sleep I had other activities like taking bath, kitchen, maid, cleaning etc to take care of. (I had a lousy, lazy, messy maid during that time; even I with my limited jhaadoo pochcha skills could do a better job).
It hurt me emotionally when the other baby was screaming his lungs off and I was in the midst of feeding one baby. And i could not make him release me so that the other could take over. i could feel one being frantically on the job if the other was screaming on his head and waiting in line to be next. Even they could feel the stress.
After 1 week I asked the doc whether I could express milk and give. Another no. But I did that anyway to make things easier for me. The only issue was that the boys did not give sufficient time gap for the expressing to be easy.
There were desperate situations when I used to hold one baby and feed him and prop the other one on a pillow or even better ask my mom to hold the other one and let him feed on the other side.
Everyone said that they cry as they remain hungry inspite of the frequent feeds. They cry as the milk quantity is not enough. They cry as they digest the milk fast and therefore they are hungry quickly. They cry as they are not getting my exclusive attention.
Excuse me! I disagree; the quantity was never a problem. The 60 lactation tablets I took ensured that. It was the ability to feed for enough time that was the problem. it is humanly impossible to do that every 45 minutes for a duration of anything from 10 min to 40 min.

15-20 days into this and I decided to leave egos aside and follow the gyn’s advice. I gave them cow’s milk and that day I cried for being a bad mom. For letting them assimilate germs and diseases from the outside and facing a lifetime of low resistance.

However, I agree, that life became a lot easier. (When I say ‘a lot’ it is still a lot less easier than a normal life.) I switched them to cow’s milk every morning post bath and before bed to ensure a rested sleep post both occasions. Infact they used to sleep easily and cried lesser as their stomach was fuller perhaps. I used the bottle despite advices against it. Practical Problem. I did not have the stamina and patience (yes I am really using that word!), to sit and spoon-feed milk to both of them at that stage.

There were days when both decided to take turns in their sleeping time. When one sleeps the other does not and vice versa. In effect, the entire day I was battling with their needs- feed, clean, sleep, nappy changes. I did not believe in diapering them so I had to always have the paraphernalia, of cloth nappy, rubber cloth, washable diapers whenever needed or simply unlimited number of chaddis/ shorts. Believe me it is annoying. Diapering is much easier. But the tree hugger in me did not allow me to burden the environment. Also, my pet question- what if I had to wear a sanitary napkin all day all month all year? How would I feel then?

For a mom, the easiest way to calm the baby is feeding him/her. And even the baby expects it when he comes to the mom’s lap. So when both are crying for comfort feed, it really becomes difficult to choose. At that time it is very important to have help on hand whether it is maid, relative, mom or MIL. And it always helps to keep the milk bottle ready. The other baby who is left out gets really impatient.

When one is getting a wash and the other is left in the room alone (s)he can bring the roof down with screams. So help is handy in preventing the crying scene! Especially in the stage of- if-I-am-left-alone-I-should-cry.
Infact, I used to squirm at the idea of a maid touching my kid, forget giving them their food/ handling the bottle. But today I am depending on my 2 maids to help me maintain my sanity.

I was keen to sun them everyday for their Vitamin D. My flat does not get direct sunlight all the time which is a blessing, being in Chennai. But I wanted my babies to soak up strong, direct sunlight for atlast 20 minutes straight. So i used to take them for a walk everyday in their double pram. Rather I wanted to take them out in their new double pram instead of my old single pram. But just my luck. I will notice that both are in a good mood and not doing anything in particular (for that age!!) and will plan to take them out. Promptly one will fall asleep and I will have to take the other guy out in the old, single pram. Later on I made it a point to take them out / send them out at the same time every day to make them used to it. Also, the walk gave me the much needed exercise.

While shopping or going for parties, we do not have the luxury of Mom eating while Dad holds the baby or Dad pushes the shopping cart and Mom holds the baby. Both hold their respective charges and also the dinner plate or shopping cart. we do not know the concept of relief. Or we must always request someone to accompany us or look after the babies while we do a quick-but-always-looking-at-the-watch-and-calling-up-home-to-check shopping.

But things get better after the 3rd month and around 6 months even better. Infact progressively the situation gets better. They begin to play with each other, follow you around and have other activities to occupy them. Also we get sensitized and used to handling them better than what we were earlier.

This is as far as the early days- the first 6-8 months go. I will continue with more insights in the post- As they Grow Older which will follow.

I want to tag specifically apu for telling the other side of the story. also any other twin who would like to take it up.
The topic is- A twin's perspective towards others - how they ask you about being psychic with your twin or how similar or different you are or how they compare you both or how your parents bring you up similarly or differently, make you dress alike, you know the works. This will be a great help to me in becoming a better parent.


Anonymous said...

Being a twin myself, I agree with you when you say that humanly, every parent will like one kid for different reasons. This doesnt mean the other is any less loved, maybe just for something else.

All the more critical not to compare. Twins do feel sensitive about this, since people tend to compare them so much (even if the parents themselves do not, others do)

Unknown said...

What a brave brave person you are. Twins....nursing both. I salute you. And more power to you.

Anonymous said...

btw, you've been tagged. Do check my blog and take it up if possible.

DesiGirl said...

itchy - welcome aboard. any friend of ole scatterbrain's and all that....

nah i mean the bit about desicritics. can you email me so i can set you up with login details? ta!

regarding feeding twins, i saw this scary pic of a mum feeding two babies at the same time, with their legs under her arms, if u get me. stayed with me for life! i too had to switch to bottle after 3 months exclusivity and still feel horrible to this day.

How do we know said...

I really like your parenting tips. Someday, I m going to need them, and then one will be even more grateful to you :-)

mommyof2 said...

I don't know how you can manage twins & job;-)your sure are one brave girl:-)

Life Lover said...

wow that was one helluva post...i was gaping thru many a sentences, haven't had experience with this part of life but i am sure i will remember this post when i do :) wish you lotsa luck!

Anonymous said...

Wow, and I thought nursing just one baby was big deal ! I understand when you say you felt like a bad mum for giving them bottle. i felt the same when I had to give my older one bottle when he was just a few days old since I was so exhausted, wasnt lactating well and had no help. I still feel guilty for raising him almost exclusively on formula.

You are one brave girl.

Anonymous said...

Mighty brave of you to be able to handle 2 absolutely demanding babies :-). Also, was nice to read the obvious care and affection you had for your babies.

Usha said...

very very tough and you have managed wonderfully and now you have double the joy everytime you look at them dont you?

By Deepa and Supriya said...

Vow...and I complained with one! you are a brave one!

Hip Grandma said...

I had a friend who had twin sisters'it so happened that one of them went to Andhra and the other stayed back.The one who stayed back had a fall,a fracture and had her right hand plastered.They did not inform the mother thinking that since she was expected to be back in a week's time there was no point worrying her.imagine their shock when the other girl returned from Andhra her left hand was plastered and she had a similar fall around the same time.We found it hard to believe but i assure you this happened.

Cuckoo said...

Excellent post !!

You are a brave and good mom. Raising twins is indeed a tough job. I don't have any twins set in my whole family but can guess how difficult it is.

Waiting for more.

Fuzzylogic said...

Amazing!I think you did an awesome job as a mom.This was such a well written post and I admire you!

Tharini said...

I had read this post earlier but got a chance to share mythought only now. You've provided such an amazing insight into the early time with rearing twins. I was eally touched reading this. How honest and how down to earth an account it was. You are something else to have been able to withstand all those challenges!

A, mama of twins said...

Hi there!
I am an indian twin mom to 11 month old twins and Boo sent me your way from

Your twins are really cute and its nice to read another twin mom perspective especially Indian!

Re: Breastfeeding.. congrats on doing as much as you could. I know how challenging it was for me but I live in Seattle and we have tons of support here to successfully breastfeed two babies. Out of the 14 twin moms I am friends with 50% exclusively breastfed for 6 months or longer, 40 % of us did half Breast milk, half formula and the rest didnt Bf... I found in the US (i dont know in India) there are a lot of misconceptions about twin births, labor, delivery etc.. I found Seattle lactation consultants to be very supportive of helping me breastfeed my babies but I found that some other cities in the US moms didnt have as much support to do the same. I really think its a family decision as its just not breastfeeding that makes parenting great. I think Desigirl is not very sensitive about twin moms who might actually want to feed two babies at the same time. If she knew the time saving that is for the mom she would rethink her statement.. I think breastfeedng one is natural why wouldnt it be beautiful to see two babies breastfeeding?? I did on occasion when my twins were young and it saved a bunch of time.

Re: loving twins.. I find that I love both immensely but not more or less for but different traits. I find both of them to be so special in their own individual selves that its amazing to see how two babies born at the same time to same parents can be so different.

Re: delivery, here in the U.S more hospitals are letting twin moms go vaginal vs C-section if the babies are positioned to deliver that way. They end up almost requiring an epidurl because they want ot make sure if for some reason twin B who is the second one in line doesnt behave and becomes breach they can go in and get the baby out (ouch!!) , i had nightmares about this scenario but thankfully both behaved and came out in less than 8 hrs of labor. Epidural was my friend. :)

Anyway, enough ramblings, I will come visit more now that I know another twin indian mom in the blog world. Congrats on two and it looks like they are over a year??


Krishnapriya said...

Wow. Loved your post and archana's comment. My twins are 11 months old, and 2 months premature. Feeding twins is as you said difficult, but pre mature ones...!!! They would suck a while, then relax cause their cheek muscles weren't developed enough. I would then express milk and give it in a spoon, 5 ml after another till one kid is full and then sit immediately for the next guy.

For me, it was always one feed top feed and other mine. I used to alternate between them, but once they started drinking more than 120 ml, (by around 3 months), I just could not express any more. It was like doing 240 ml in 2 hours which gave me a swollen tendon in my right arm. They never got around to drinking from me the whole feed, so, finally weaned them by 4 months...phew...a swollen tendon, a n over sensitive back and 25 kgs of extra weight to show for my breastfeeding months!

You managed just great. I have tonnes of respect for any twin mom ...I know what you mean by being guilty of giving them top feed..I have felt for the other kid taking the feed when I am feeding his bro. take care..

Just Like That said...

Wow! Phew! I too wanted to go through the trouble only once, and have two in one go. But after reading you, am thankful have only one to cope with at a time.

Am awed at your coping with the feeding. When you know that they are crying for a feed, all you want to do is let them latch on... tough when the other cries for the same thing!

Anonymous said...

I have seen you in many a places in comment boxes and today I suddenly discover your twin pregnancy and birth blogs by google searching!!! :)
A treasure pf blogs you have written for me, since you are practically the first twin mother blogger whom I have stumbled upon after three months of random searching!

Your 3 year old blogs are of great use to me now! :) THANKS