I wasn't scared of my pregnancy.
I wasn't scared of my birth.
I was scared of bringing the twins home.
I remember laying in my hospital room praying the doctor would make me and the babies stay for another day. That ride home felt like driving off a cliff. I wasn't ready. I didn't know how to be ready. I felt more alone in that moment than I had in my entire life.
It didn't have to feel that way.
As new parents of multiples, it can be overwhelming to bring home two babies. It was for me. However, there are so many ways prepare for the postpartum period that can ease the journey. Here is what I learned through my experience:
1. Line up scheduled help early into your third trimester. Whether it is family, friends, a mother's helper or a postpartum doula, make sure you have at least two weeks of 8-hour help. There are a few reasons for this:
- If you've had a c-section you need to rest. You have just had major surgery and you need time to heal and to stay safe.
- You need to get comfortable with the new routines. Feeding and sleeping schedules, the middle of the night wakes, the extra laundry, the extra supplies... it takes time to create a new normal for you and your family.
- You may not be able to do some things that just need to get done. You have two jobs when you come home: 1) feed the babies and 2) rest. Let others handle the rest.
2. Take some classes. Nothing gives you more confidence than education. Take a baby CPR class, a baby wearing class, and attend a Le Leche meeting or a breastfeeding class. There are also Baby 101 classes that teach swaddling, comforting, bathing and other skills you may not feel comfortable with.
3. Join your local Parents of Multiples chapter and ask for a mentor. Many chapters will pair you up with a parent who has been where you are. These mentors can be great for last minute questions, to come over to hold the babies for a while, or to just be a shoulder to cry or laugh on when things get overwhelming.
4. Sign up for meal help. Some Parents of Multiples chapters as well as your local church or HOA will coordinate meal drop offs for new parents. Don't let pride stand in the way. Folks love to cook, ooh and ahh at new babies, and help others out. It is also a great way to meet other parents, neighbors, or church members (and maybe find some future babysitters ;)
5. Line up services. Find your gaps. No one to go grocery shopping? Find a grocery delivery service. No one to do laundry? Find a laundry service. At least for the first two weeks, outsource as much as you can to others.
6. Don't expect your partner to do it all. This is just as overwhelming for them as it is you. They are going to be dealing with their own emotions, fears, and obstacles. Yes, they certainly need to step up and lend a hand but realize that they are going to need time to adjust and learn. Involve them in the coordination of the items mentioned above and then discuss what tasks are left, what they are excited to do, and talk about how they can best support you emotionally and physically during this time. That way they feel like they are going into the postpartum period knowing their role and feeling confident in your shared postpartum plan.
7. Think about hiring a postpartum doula. Postpartum doulas can handle many of the things above and some of the surprises along the way. They can coordinate services, teach you breastfeeding, baby wearing, and comforting techniques. They can help you feel more physically comfortable after your surgery or vaginal birth. They can do some light housework and keep things organized. They can care for the babies while you get some much-needed rest. They can also help communicate your needs to your family and friends and make sure they are honoring your wishes. A postpartum doula can serve as your ally and someone that is there just for you, your partner, and babies.
8. Add some of these items above to your baby registry! Meal delivery, cleaning services, a postpartum doula... all would make wonderful gifts and provide so much comfort to you and your partner in the first few weeks home.
9. Create a postpartum plan. This is a great way to have that open conversation with your partner and get on the same page about your expectations, what is important to you both when it comes to the care of your babies, and to discuss how you'll handle surprises or unanticipated events along the way (long NICU stays, trouble breastfeeding, etc.).
10. Keep in mind what is most important. Fed and loved babies, rested and healthy mother. The other stuff can be set aside for a while. Your partner can be a little sleep deprived, the house can get a little dirty, takeout can be ordered a little more often than normal, and babies can wear outfits more than once. Over time you all will develop a routine and begin doing some of the normal chores again.
In the beginning, just enjoy your new family.
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