Days 14 & 15: the best advice for twins, toddler stage

The toddler stage: (n.) When your precious newborn decides s/he has a mind of his/her own and will exercise it freely, especially and particularly when out in public or when in the presence of grandparents

It almost happened overnight: one day, the girls were cuddly, cooing newborns dependent on me entirely for sustenance and who could barely stay awake long enough to eat. And the next day they were walking and talking on their own, taking off in opposite directions from me and from each other to explore their ever-expanding worlds. As enjoyable as it was to applaud them in their new independent ventures, it was absolutely exhausting to try to keep them reigned in physically and to respond to their ever-changeable and ever-increasing emotions.

image from

image from

If you are in the middle of this stage of parenting twins right now, the last thing you need is advice. The first things you need are a break, a nap, a glass of your favorite beverage, some chocolate, a day at the spa, a date night with your husband, or a girls’ night out with good friends. Then – and only then – you may be able to absorb a bit of advice. So give yourself permission to take a deep breath, and then return for a few words which might help you as you continue on this journey. 

I have polled a handful of my fellow mamas of twins who graciously have added their favorite advice to various categories. If you’re also a #mama2twins, add your two cents to the comments. (And note that only positive and encouraging/helpful comments will be approved – no adding to the all-too-common online “mom wars.” We are all warriors doing hard things and so let’s support each other in every way we can.)

Here is a compilation of the best advice for raising twins, toddler stage.

  1. Connect with fellow twin moms either IRL or online to be reminded that you’re not alone: “In early toddlerhood, once the babies grew out of their infant car seats, I struggled to find a method for corralling everyone from the house to the car. I don’t have a great suggestion as to how to do it — but will say that it made me feel TONS better to read a message board post by another twin mama who had the same problem. I wasn’t alone!” – Stacy L., mom to 2-year-old identical twin daughters

  2. Don’t put pressure on yourself to potty train at a certain age or with the same method for both twins. This was very hard for me, because I wanted to be “once and done” with potty training early. It was a loooong drawn-out process for me that produced many tears and prayers, like this one. We started our initial attempts to potty train around 2.5, and it failed pretty miserably – making me alternately tearful and angry. We tried again six months later when the girls were a few months from age 3, and one twin caught on then. Her sister didn’t fully potty train until a year later (a few months before age 4!). And full confession: one of the twins *still* wears pull-ups at night at age 5.
  3. “At age 2, my girls are always underfoot. It takes 10 times as long, but it’s been great when I can find them helping jobs, especially in the kitchen, like putting away non-breakable groceries or helping unload the dishwasher. We also use homemade versions of the Montessori-inspired Learning Tower at the kitchen counter. I probably wouldn’t have gone to that length with one toddler — she’d have used a stool instead — but the towers are much more stable, so I don’t worry about anyone falling when I can’t have a hand on both of them.” – Stacy L., mom of 2-year-old identical twin daughters

  4. Containment + corralling are key to {emotional and physical} survival for you and your twins. I was gifted with a primary care doctor who is also a parent of twins, and I’ll never forget her advice to me to babyproof everything so that the twins could have free reign and I could have peace of mind. We did a modification of this – making our entire downstairs baby-proofed, and then put up a gate on the stairs.
  5. Ask for help early and often. One of the best things my friend Erin did during this hard stage for me was to say, “I’m coming over – I’ll watch the girls; you head out the back door and you can have a few hours to do whatever you need to do.” I felt a bit guilty, but desperation overcame the mom-guilt, and so I accepted her gift and escaped to Target (#justbeinghonest).

I’ll reiterate what I started with: If you’re also a #parent2twins, I invite you to add what you would consider the best advice for newborn twins to the comments. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Days 12 & 13: the best advice for raising twins, newborn stage

This week’s posts are going to be soooo good and rich that I’ve decided for them to “count” as double-editions worth two days. (Which also fits nicely with the reality that it’s October 19th and I’m only on days 12-13 of the #write31days challenge.)

image from

image from

I have polled a handful of my fellow mamas of twins who graciously have added their favorite advice to various categories. If you’re also a #mama2twins, add your two cents to the comments. (And note that only positive and encouraging/helpful comments will be approved – no adding to the all-too-common online “mom wars.” We are all warriors doing hard things and so let’s support each other in every way we can.)

Without further ado – I give to you the best advice for raising twins, newborn stage.

  1. Skip reading the delivery books & articles in favor of reading books about how to feed twins & set them up for healthy sleep habits. With twins, you won’t likely have a lot of say in how your delivery occurs since there are greater risks for complications. I decided to reserve my energy for trying to wrap my mind around the logistics of feeding twins and getting them on a schedule (a common theme of twin moms’ advice for newborns, as you’ll see below).
  2. “The best advice I received was to keep babies on the same sleep schedule- always!  Line up family help at staggered times so it spreads out over weeks and if breast feeding doesn’t work or is stressing you out then it is ok to bottle feed because a relaxed mom means happier babies. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; shower everyday; try to get out with other twin moms – I met a friend with twins the same age for lunch every Friday.” – Rebecca B., mom to a 9-year-old son and 4-year-old fraternal twin daughters

  3. Take the advice of fellow first-time moms (who don’t have more than one child) with a grain of salt. Their advice is well-meaning but often won’t apply to you. You have “two brand-new humans at the same time” (as described by my empathetic friend Susan who had two good friends deliver twins within weeks of each other). What works for one baby probably won’t work for his/her twin and vice versa. It’s an olympic feat of parenting, especially if twins are your first.
  4. Write everything down. Literally. You’ll be sleep-deprived and feeding/changing two newborns and will certainly forget who fed when and how much. “So how many wet diapers has your baby had regularly?” will be a pediatrician’s question that will send you scrambling for your written, daily log. A.k.a., your brain.
  5. A close corollary to #5 is to take lots of pictures. Early into my pregnancy, Seth and I ran into another couple who were parents of twins a few years older than ours. I’ll never forget them telling us that the first six months would be a blur; so take pictures so that you don’t forget these moments. I enjoyed creating photo books along the way to document each stage, and I did it from the perspective of the twins. I.e. “A tale of twins: the first two months” and “A tale of twins: our first Christmas.” I am thankful for these books to return to, and truth be told, I have about 2 years to catch up on in terms of recording memories/photos. My friend Bridget told me about “Groovebook” which seems like it might be a cool option: a $2.99 monthly subscription will give you up to 100 of your Instagram photos in a small booklet. You can cancel at any time. [And no, I’m *not* getting paid to promote them. Although I should be. ;)]
  6. Say “yes” to most of the offers of help that come your way, and direct them into what you most need. I.e. – rocking a baby, feeding twins a bottle, coming over so that you can nap or get out of the house for a few hours alone, bringing the luxury of adult conversation, dropping a meal off on your porch. And if at all possible, have someone else be the point person for all of your care needs. If that’s not do-able, use Care Calendar, Lotsa Helping Hands, and/or TakeThemAMeal.
  7. BUT say “no” to people who feel draining to you, or when you need some quiet moments or days or weeks to figure things out on your own or take a breather from constant people time. Especially if you’re an introvert. There were times we needed to “circle the wagons” and struggle through things, as long as we didn’t get stuck in “isolation-we-can-handle-this-on-our-own” mode.
  8. “The single best advice for us was to keep them on the same schedule. As they got a bit bigger and I didn’t need to instantly jump up when they awoke, we would let the earlier riser wait a bit and the later sleeper get those last few ZZZs. I think this approach has made my girls more patient and able to entertain themselves for a couple of minutes, at least! I would also tell a new mom of twins not to be scared to go out and experience that grocery-cart moment, as you described it. It felt like an Olympic feat — complete with lots of sweating — when we survived our first Target trip! Just be prepared for lots of twin questions 🙂 ” – Stacy L., mom to 2-year-old identical twin daughters

  9. Savor the sweet moments as an invitation to take a step back, take a deep breath, and be thankful for the gift of your babies. These moments may be few and far between, but they will be part of what keeps you going through the hard moments. They’re part of the abundant grace available to you with your twins.

I’ll reiterate what I started with: If you’re also a #parent2twins, I invite you to add what you would consider the best advice for newborn twins to the comments. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 10: Hi, I’m a waitress to twins.

This one will be fresh from the journal – a blog repost from November 10, 2010, when the twins were about 2 months old. I can remember this like it was yesterday. Except that so much of it was/is a blur. !

photo from

photo from

Being a mom to twins is like being a waitress in a very busy restaurant, known for its regular and often grumpy customers. If you have down time, you better be doing something because you never know exactly when you’ll get slammed with tables. And it’s like being a hostess at a restaurant trying to figure out which customer is more patient – and which is least likely to be ok with a long wait. You don’t always guess right. And you’re the one who suffers the most. And if you use down time as a chance to just veg out, you’ll be that much more insane later – and it just won’t work.

Like earlier today when I used a few minutes to just sit and check email. Instead of make sure that I had the “supplies” for the next feeding, which consists of two bouncy seats, a boppy pillow, pacifiers, two bottles, two mugs with hot water to warm the bottles, formula, “the notebook” (where we meticulously record the details of feeding and “output” because let’s be honest, with twins it’s hard to remember much beyond the past 30 minutes), a burp cloth and a bib [and if I’m really thinking I also include a glass of water for me, a snack because I’m constantly hungry, and a magazine for me to read which helps the time pass more quickly].

L. woke up ravenous, alerting me with her hungry wail. And I quickly jumped back into action. But I forgot one important supply. And I didn’t realize it until I had begun feeding A. – and L. wasn’t content to just “chill out” in her bouncy seat. It was the pacifier. As well as the bottles “on the ready” which would now need to be warmed. And it was all the way upstairs in their nursery. Which would have entailed interrupting her sister’s feeding session … leaving TWO screaming babies … and so I didn’t.

And when my friend called who was coming over with lunch and to hold a baby (bless her!), she kindly asked if she could call back in a few minutes (because L. was screaming in the background). I told her that it wouldn’t help … it was likely to be the same situation. Such is a moment in the day of a life with 9 week old twins.

I think I hear a cranky, hungry customer calling right now … must go.

As you read this, I would love to hear your thoughts if you’re a twin mom of whether this sounds familiar to you? What analogies would you use to describe the inimitable experience of twin newborns? 

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 8: the twins arrive in our world

I had ten weeks of strict bed rest and incredible support by family and friends, especially my parents who drove up from South Carolina to complete all the home projects and nursery-readiness-plan that I could only direct from the reclined position of my recliner. Friends threw me beautiful baby showers from our home. And those ten weeks were wonderful and terrifying as I lived with the daily anxiety of, “what if the twins come today?”

At 35 weeks, the twins decided to make their appearance. It was time to meet these girls I’d dreamed about for so long and prayed for every waking moment of pregnancy. I will spare you the labor-and-delivery story that we moms love to share over cocktails or coffee or during playdates. These are our battle stories, and one (male) friend observed that it’s always merely a matter of time before L&D stories come out in a group of moms. #true

The summary is that labor and delivery was quick and relatively easy compared to what came before and after, and by 6:37pm on a beautiful September day, only seven minutes apart, both girls were born and cradled in the arms of proud, exuberant parents. L. was born first with bright, wide eyes that took in the world; and whose screams provided motivation for me to birth her sister, A. Both girls seemed shocked and excited to be in the world, and I will never forget our first moments together as a new family of four. 

L&A newborns

We will pause there, and celebrate the momentous occasion of two healthy newborn twins, born at 5.6 lbs and 4.11 lbs, to a waiting world of 11 medical personnel in the delivery room (yep – that was intense) and countless friends and family who could not wait to meet these newborn twins who had defied medical odds with the miracle of their birth at ten weeks AFTER premature labor. Welcome to the world, sweet girls!

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 6: what to do about fear {when pregnant with twins}

image from

image from

With every pregnancy, fear is an unwelcome undercurrent. For me who already has a predisposition towards anxiety, the fears of pregnancy added to the fears of twin pregnancy almost undid me. As soon as my OB found out it was twins, she was upfront and honest – telling me that I was automatically in the high-risk category despite being otherwise perfectly healthy and that the greatest risk for twin pregnancy is premature delivery. All of this I tried to process at week 6!

And I couldn’t. So the fear grew along with my belly. Here’s a blurb that I wrote on June 25, 2010 – 24.5 weeks into pregnancy. The eerie irony of hindsight is that it barely four days after this post I was going to be hospitalized for the very thing I feared the most: early premature labor. Yet you and I, dear readers, have the benefit of knowing that the story ended well. If you could, try to suspend that knowledge and watch me as (a) I anticipated one of my biggest fears of twin pregnancy and (b) walked through this fear onto the other side.

June 15, 2010

The next two topics I want to address in my “trusting God when you’re expecting” series are fears/anxieties and body image. Soon after finding out we were pregnant, I wrote this: “I think this pregnancy journey will certainly reveal the fear factory my heart often can be: there are truly an almost infinite number of things to worry about, over which I have virtually no control.” If the last post focused on how my heart is a desire factory, this one is about how my heart is also quite expert at producing fear, too. Pregnancy only magnifies this!

I have noticed that I have moved through different stages of fear along the journey of this pregnancy so far. Initially, there was the fear of losing the baby through miscarriage. I have had several friends who have walked through this grief, and I would imagine there are many more who have experienced this yet have not shared the grief with me or others. It’s such a private pain, really. I experienced some unsettling symptoms early on in our pregnancy that led us to think that I might be miscarrying. It was terrifying and dreadful as we waited for our first doctor’s appointment. The wait seemed to be forever – and then to finally be there and anticipate bad news … there just is no way to prepare yourself for that.

Here’s an entry from my journal early during those weeks of waiting:

“Lord, I do not want to be consumed by worry over what I cannot control anyway! So I’m officially crying out to you for help in a big way today. Make this refrain of Psalm 136 mine as well: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

“…to him who led his people through the wilderness for his steadfast love endures forever; It is he who remembered us in our low estate, For his steadfast love endures forever; And rescued us from our foes [fear], For his steadfast love endures forever.”

Help me in my unbelief – in my insatiable desire to control the uncontrollable [having a miscarriage] and to know the unknowable [whether this baby is healthy].”

That’s the thing with anxiety: it is my attempt to control what I cannot control – and in fact, what is not mine to control. My role was to actively trust God, come what may. Easy to say when looking in the “rear-view mirror” of life but it feels impossible when you’re in the midst of the dark valley of death’s shadow. I remember repeating over and over again the words of Psalm 23 and Psalm 139, seeking to meditate on these truths of my Shepherd and entrust these little lives into His care. Practically, I also restricted myself from searching on the internet for more information, as this only served to increase my fear and anxiety at all of the “what ifs” out there.

As the fear of miscarriage faded a bit with each week, it was replaced with the fear of “how in the world will I take care of TWO babies?” This is an anxiety that I am still working through. It certainly comes in waves. For example, I remember the day I went grocery shopping and noticed how cute a mom and her baby were. Immediately following this was the realization that grocery carts don’t have space for TWO infants! And my “natural” fear/thought progression led me to the conclusion that I would never be able to even venture out to buy groceries by myself after the twins’ birth. (twin friends, please leave me in blissful ignorance if that is, in fact, true) I fear the loss of my independence.

Other fears that I experienced especially during the first trimester included:

  • fears of whether I was eating enough and the right kinds of food to nourish the babies
  • fear of unknowingly exposing them to harmful toxins (did using my aerosol hairspray once or twice damage them? What about the day they were refinishing the floors at my workplace and I smelled the fumes for a few hours?)
  • fear of how my fears and anxiety might have a negative impact on their growth and development

More than any pregnancy book I turned to for answers, reading this book on anxiety, Calm My Anxious Heart (by Linda Dillow), and hearing sermons on the book of Hebrews about the faithfulness of God reminded me of God’s care and provision. The God who created the universe is intricately involved in my life, speaking to my fears and reassuring me with His presence – in fact, inviting me into His presence. And I have many friends who helped to demonstrate this truth to me through their prayers and encouraging words and presence with me.

Where does fear show up currently? As I approach the end of my second trimester, I have (naturally) begun worrying about whether I’ll go into premature labor. This fear is certainly grounded in the risks associated with twin pregnancy. I find myself again in the realm of needing to actively trust in a God who knows when these babies will be born. This doesn’t mean that I throw caution to the wind. In fact, I have stopped exercising vigorously and I am more tuned in to resting when I’m tired (novel concept for me) and seeking to continue to eat well. Yet beyond that, the details of when these babies will arrive is really out of my hands.

A few years ago at a baby shower, a woman in my church who was pregnant with her fourth child at the time told me that pregnancy was the best opportunity she had been given to learn how to surrender completely to God because every aspect of pregnancy, labor, and delivery is really out of your control.That has stuck with me, and I pray that I will continue to grow in trust – rather than fear – throughout the remaining weeks of this pregnancy.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 3: exuberant joy becomes overwhelming shock

I can remember the day and the moment like it was yesterday. I also journal my way through life, so I have a convenient entry to remind me precisely when this moment occurred. It was a shift from “wow – I can’t believe the double miracle growing with me” and the fears of miscarriage (since I continued to have regular and unexplained bleeding throughout the first trimester) to one of overwhelming shock. Like shock that fills in every inch of every free mental space you have in the executive function area of your brain. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to manage twins day to day:

3/2/10 (8 weeks)

How will I possibly manage twins? The thought terrifies me, and the fear can creep in triggered by the simple fact of seeing another mom with her baby in the grocery store and then realizing I won’t even be able to do that by myself. They don’t make grocery carts for twin babies!

I think I’m being confronted with a season of dependence like I’ve never experienced in my adult life. I will need help. Seth and I will need help. We won’t be able to do this in our usual M.O. – self-sufficiency and independence. We will truly be dependent on our family and community of friends….

photo credit:

photo credit:

I now affectionately refer to this as “the grocery store moment.” If you’re a parent of twins, did you have a similar revelation of how different and uniquely demanding it would be to parent twins? What was it like for you? And what did you do in response? 

Today will be a double edition since I missed yesterday due to a much-needed deep purge and clean of five years’ worth of twin gear from our basement. And, yes, it has been as overwhelming as I thought and more so in many ways. But spoiler alert: we’ve made it so far, and so will you if you’re an expectant parent-of-twins or in the foggy zone of newborn-age 2 of twins. It gets better – let that be your beacon of hope as it was for me as you navigate this unique journey of parenting twins.

Tonight I’ll write about what I did in response to my overwhelming fear/shock of anticipating the reality of twins.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.”