Twin Mom’s Guide to Surviving the First Year

I have to start out by saying this guide isn’t about patting myself on the back because I’m a twin mom and have all the things figured out. Because I sure as heck don’t! Rather, it’s a celebration of sorts—that I get to share with other expecting moms through my own personal experience. For everyone that contributed help along the way, thank YOU!

If you have kids–one, two, three, or 10–then you now know that momminainteasy. From twin mom pregnancy to navigating the first year with multiples, the every day tasks can become overwhelming at times. I’ve outlined for you some tips and tricks that certainly helped me, and I hope these can help you too!

Day 1

You did it! Your babies are here! You’ve put in a lot of work growing TWO heartbeats, 20 fingers, 20 toes, among everything else that goes along with delivering your bundles of joy on this day. PLEASE! If I can say anything at all to make you listen… NOW is the time. Try to sleep. Take advantage of the help you are receiving in the hospital and sleep as much as you can. I know you’re excited, probably a little scared about what the heck just happened, and full of endorphins and hormones, but seriously…just try.

The First Three Months

This is when things are the most hazy and chaotic, in my opinion. Hormones are plummeting. And as the babies are no longer inside you, your AMAZING body is learning how to regulate itself to a NEW normal. I wish more people would talk about this because it truly is UNREAL what our bodies can do during pregnancy. I remember going for a quick walk one day–about a week and a half postpartum — and my feet were seriously SO swollen, it looked like I had elephantitis. Not pretty. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. My poor body was trying to get rid of the extra fluids my body had during pregnancy. If this happens to you, drink lots of water. Then, drink more water. After you do that, drink more water.

Unless you have a body like a rock star, you will probably still look pregnant for a few months after those babies get here. Let me be among many twin moms who have been there before to tell you that YOU’RE OK. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Stretch marks do fade. And the weight does come off. Just give yourself time. Focus on those babies and your personal well-being. And although I truly believe in daily exercise and eating the right foods, just take it slow.

The good stuff….

Can you say H-E-L-P?! As the babies are learning their surroundings and “waking up,” you now have two different tiny humans to keep alive, fed, changed, and happy. These months are critical to have an extra set of hands on board to help with the tasks you may just not be able to do on your own. I had a little boy that had just turned two when we had our girls. At first I was extremely disappointed in myself for not being able to do it on my own… but you know what… I got over that real quickly.

I am a huge proponent of doing things yourself. Be a hard worker. But you have to also remember that newborns are going to cry just because. And sometimes you can’t fix it. THAT in itself can drive someone to crazy town! I will be eternally thankful for my mom and mother-in-law who not only provided the help we needed, but little do they know, provided help that we DIDN’T know we needed. I know not everyone has the luxury of having help. To be fair, we didn’t either. We moved both moms in with us…both from out of town… to help us. We didn’t have to beg. But it definitely wasn’t like they lived down the street. It doesn’t have to be a mom. It can be a neighbor or a friend or a hired nurse. Whoever it is, I highly recommend it!

Another personal recommendation I have for survival is putting the twins on a schedule. The SAME schedule. I read the book 12 Hours of Sleep by 12 Weeks Old by Suzy Giordano. With my first child, I had no idea how to cope with little sleep mixed with a baby who had acid reflux and screamed for eight hours straight. I swore to myself that I couldn’t do that again, so I put my girls on a schedule and never looked back. I knew I would never survive the first year with THREE children 2 and under without some sort of coping mechanism. And, for me, that was the schedule.

In short, whether breastfeeding or giving formula, the idea is that the babies should have 24 oz of milk in 24 hours. As you build up to that point, your babies should be able to sustain their tummies long enough to sleep for 12 hours.

But seriously… READ. THE. BOOK. I’m not saying you won’t have times when the twins don’t wake up in the night, but you will actually feel like a human when you get even a few nights of uninterrupted sleep! You have to remember, too, that they are babies. And babies (for the first year) are really just learning their world, so be patient and remember, momma, this too shall pass.

How to survive these months?

Set a schedule. Have a routine. Get a sound machine for their room. I used the HoMedics SoundSpa Sound Machine & set it to the “rain” setting. The sound machine helps them to still hear some of the sounds they heard in the womb. It’s very loud in there! And it also helps to have the expectation that when they hear it, they might calm down and be ready for bed.

What else? Get organized. Have a bottle washing and drying station set up in your kitchen. For me, it was easiest to have several pumps and pump parts (one on the main level and one in my bedroom). Depending on where I was in the middle of the night feeds–I could always pump right there without having to sneak downstairs or upstairs to wherever my pump was! Also, I recommend having a small tub or bucket to throw used bottles into. Have several bottles on hand so that you don’t have to wash after each use. Once the tub is full, time to wash! This is usually once a day.

Months 4-6

The babies are becoming more individual and begin to show differences in appearance as well as personality. If you’re a working mom, you’re most likely back at work now. The days without your babies right by your side might be hard, but it makes the moments with them in the evening so so precious. If you stay at home with your babies, you are enduring the ambivalent tasks of feedings, diaper changes, spit up, wardrobe changes, naps, not showering, bouncing, swinging, tummy time, etc. The nights and days of your little ones might be mixed up, and you may or may not be getting any sleep.

Momma, I feel you. I feel you.

You’re changing one diaper, you might as well change two.

You’re giving one bath, you might as well give two. 

You’re feeding one baby, you might as well feed two.

By now, you have probably mastered the ol’ prop & feed. You know–where you use a boppy pillow to lay your baby on and then roll up a blanket to hold the bottle? No? Just me?! I legit had that DOWN! And I know some people will disagree with me because they don’t think it’s safe… but guess what… we all survived!

Or maybe you’ve mastered the tandem breastfeeding?! If you have, my hat goes off to you. My choice was to pump as long as I could, mixed with formula, and then not feel bad about giving my babies formula even though I exclusively breastfed my first.

How to survive these months?

All I can tell you in these months is to hang in there! You’re a FREAKING rock star! Your body did amazing things in pregnancy, you have survived your FIRST three months, and you CAN do this. You can.

Months 6-9

Things are really getting fun! You are getting the hang of everything, seeing smiles, and maybe even sitting up or rolling over?! Tummy time may or may not be more fun for your little one. They probably took their first bites of baby food, might be drinking out of a sippy cup at meals, and also–GASP–you MIGHT even be able to catch a solid nap when they nap! With any luck at all, they have established a bit of a routine. The newborn cloud is gone and you are more inclined to take your baby places–maybe to the park for a swing sesh or even to the grocery store. The loving words from admirers in public are sometimes just the pick-me-up a momma needs for the day.

How to survive these months?

Just keep swimming. Every day is a new day, a new adventure, and a new reason to love them even harder! Hang on tight, momma…because your fierce love is just beginning. 

Months 9-12

While I was in these months, I felt like a lot happened. Like, a lot a lot. Both babies started teething. Let me tell you–two teething babies are a force to be reckoned with. You’ll get through it. PROMISE! My advice to you is to not be afraid of tylenol or another form of pain reliever for them. The babies started on solid foods, which not only helped with teething, but also filled their tummies more with substance so their naps were longer and more efficient. They will enjoy exploring different tastes and textures.

The twins really start coming into their own during these months. Some may start walking–though don’t be surprised if they don’t. Once walking starts, let the REAL games and sweat begin! Baby proof those cabinets, electrical outlets, staircases and toilet bowls. If I had a dime for every time put their hands in the toilet…for. the. love.

How to survive these months?

Try not to compare. Although it will most likely be a visible, physical difference between the two, remind yourself DAILY that they are individuals who just happened to have the same womb and the same birthday. It’s OK to want them to be alike, dress alike, and do things together. But just try not to push it too hard. This advice was given to me, and I couldn’t agree more.

Also, fair warning: your heart may explode from a depth of love you never ever could have asked for or imagined.

Never forget the magnitude of your love on your precious babies. Celebrate this FIRST year! 

You. Did. It.

Kelly Burnison
Kelly is a wife, teacher, and mom of three. She has a very active 5 year old son, Banks, and 3 year old twin girls, Kate and Hayden. Originally a Wichita, KS native, she moved to Kansas City in 2010. After marrying her husband, Shaun, in 2013, they wasted no time starting a family. Having three kids in 2 years takes quite the amount of patience and task mastering. In between picking up toys, chasing monsters, playing in the dirt, potty training, singing songs and fixing meals that her kids don't eat, she loves exercising, coffee dates, wine, and binge watching the latest TV drama series. The busy-ness of life is what keeps her going, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. When life calms down and a date night ensues, Kelly and Shaun enjoy trying new restaurants in the KC area!