It’s exhausting. And it forces compromises. And the compromises can lead to guilt. The many ways parents have found to feel guilty is legendary, and exponential for parents of multiples who cannot possibly give their undivided attention to more than one person at at time, no matter how much they want to.
The thing is, that’s not what we’re trying to imply, at least not this mom of twins. We fully acknowledge that having a baby—or babies—is a huge adjustment. Whether you have one or six, the experience of becoming parent rocks your world in ways you could never imagine, good or bad.
Below is a painfully accurate description of life with newborn twins, taken from Akeeyu, whose girls are almost two months old (emphasis mine):
Then they get a bit older and gradually less needy, at least physically. But the emotional needs ramp up and the tantrums start and then there’s a whole new kind of damage control that kicks in.
But here’s the thing: THE MORE BABIES YOU HAVE AT ONCE, THE HARDER IT IS, at least logistically. There’s just no two ways around it. Sure, parents of multiples get some payback as their kids get older and become developmentally appropriate playmates for each other, and all that, but especially during the months of infancy, it’s harder.
It really is.
Even under the best of circumstances [the girls] never have solitude or anybody’s undivided attention, or at least not for long. [ . . . ] On average, I think I spend about 136% of my waking hours doing just damage control.
I don’t dangle educational toys and coo sweet nothings, mostly because all my available energy has been taking up keeping the girls from crying, or trying. I wouldn’t even chalk up today as particularly successful in that regard, but at least I didn’t find myself saying, “Oh shit, don’t kick your sister’s soft spot!” Not today, anyway.
This is not the kind of parent I thought I would be.
I always get the impression that parents of singletons resent it when parents of multiples go off on how much easier it is to have one baby instead of two (or more). I can see why. It’s a bit rude of us parents of multiples to imply that having one baby is some kind of walk in the park, a life of leisure.
I’m not writing this as a woeful plea for all and sundry to feel sorry for me or for other parents of multiples. Not at all. Just be gentle with your friends who have multiples. We all need a little tenderness, don’t we?
That feeling of spending all of my energy on damage control is so, so familiar. In those early months, it was all about controlling the crying. Not that I think a baby should never cry, but we are talking about babies, here, and often they cry to let you know they need something, and it’s your job as a parent to say on top of those needs, and as a parent of multiples, this is all you do.
Stay on top of needs. Rare is the moment to just enjoy your baby, because let’s face it: babies are needy.