The Nights Of Which Few Dare Speak
So for many, perhaps especially parents of one child, the nights of a twin parent are unfathomable. In fairness, they are pretty unfathomable for those of us going through them ourselves! Anyway, here's my insight... (if it's not too arrogant to call myself insightful?!)
Before the boys arrived I spent some time reading up in order to 'prepare' for it. I was as good as convinced that I'd just put my babies into bed and they'd be sleeping through the night within the first 12 weeks (laughable and I now realise wildly unlikely!). One by one each of the assumptions/plans we'd had fell by the wayside: Not having the babies sleep in bed with us, not changing nappies during the night-time, thinking they would just sleep if we left them to it to cry it out (the latter of which we trialled once and found so horribly unpleasant neither of us has spoken of it again!)
The early weeks with premie babies were TOUGH. Both had dreadful reflux and it took 12 weeks of us struggling with babies who arched their backs in agony and vomited up most of their night feeds (much to my dismay as my breastmilk felt so very precious having not come in for ten days post C-section and having been pumping exclusively for the best part of a month), before a friend pointed out that infant Gaviscon would provide us with instant relief - something our community support team and health visitor had neglected to mention (in favour of attempting to get the boys onto the 'harder drugs' and skip the first, necessary, step in the dance!). They also, despite us having been told in hospital that they had been checked for tongue tie and didn't have it, had tongue ties, which caused them to take in a lot of extra air when feeding. They both needed to be burped for 2 hours after every feed - even just after a ten minute breastfeed. It was exhausting and very much a two-parent job!
To make matters worse, if you try to put babies' needs first and respond to them whenever they need you, chances are that you'll end up in a 'tag team' situation, one commonly suffered by myself and fellow twin mum friends, where as one baby finally goes to sleep, the other wakes. The result: Each baby gets a fairly decent amount of sleep, albeit on-and-off, and mum (and/or dad) gets close to zero sleep. We decided that all night feeds would be tandem to try to avoid this - so as soon as one baby woke, we'd wake the other and I'd feed both. This helped to a degree, but did mean we needed two burpers on duty after each feed.
Without wanting to brag (because there is certainly no credit due to me for it, it seems to be almost entirely luck of the draw!), I have been fairly lucky with my two, but I recall a particularly dark time in the first few weeks of having the boys home when I had two nights on the bounce of only getting 1.5hrs sleep. Needless to say, I was a shadow of a woman afterwards, reduced to floods of tears and insisting to my poor overwhelmed husband that we needed professional help. Funnily enough a few early-evening naps (aforementioned long-suffering husband took the 4-7pm or 7pm-10pm shift), meant that I could get sufficient sleep to function without feeling like the world was an unbearable place to be and I. just. couldn't. do. it. So those precious few hours (and the occasional power nap) helped to restore some semblance of survivability. It's a wonder there weren't more nights like that at the start.
Those early months are gradually becoming a hazy memory, no doubt partially because I relished the joy of not being nauseous and/or sick every day, which I had been for the entirety of my pregnancy (not to mention my ingrained fear that something would go wrong and we might lose one, or both babies), which made mere sleep deprivation a joyous relief initially! But there are so many bumps in the road! Just as soon as you dare to think "we might just have cracked this!", there's another sleep regression or developmental leap to contend with!
This morning though, some light at the end of the tunnel: we made it through 12 hours without needing a nappy change (or a leak)! Revelling in the glory of it, Len decided to wave his legs in the air, creating a picturesque (or so I thought) shadow on the duvet behind him. I've attempted to take an 'arty' picture of it, but I appreciate the bulging nappy somewhat takes away from the moody nature of it!