Dads Preparing for TwinsLOADING...
By George Ayres
One morning after disappearing into the bathroom for exactly three minutes, my wife hopped into the kitchen pointing at her home pregnancy test. There it was – the color we had been hoping for – the thin blue line telling us our lives would never be the same again.
But it wasn’t until a few weeks later when our doctor saw two heartbeats on the sonogram screen that we began to realize just what kind of event we were in for. That moment took us by surprise, and it was not until the shock wore off that we realized we would soon have twice as much to celebrate.
To say I was nervous was the understatement of the year.
To say I was nervous was the understatement of the year. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t picture myself as the father of two babies. I had no clue how to prepare for such a life-altering event. I didn’t know how to hold a baby, what to feed them, and I knew absolutely nothing about changing a diaper. People would ask me what I thought about the big news. With hopeful anticipation, my answer was always something like “overwhelmed” or “inundated” or “staggering.”
The first thing my wife and I did was start reading. We read everything we could find on twins. Our stack of baby books grew upward from the floor almost as fast as my wife’s stomach grew outward. With the abundance of multiple pregnancies, books as well as the Internet provide vast amounts of information on twins.
We talked to as many parents of twins as we could, asking all the pertinent questions, and as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, we tried to imagine ourselves in their places, knowing deep down that we were in for the most tiring, yet exhilarating, time of our lives.
Early on I learned that the more I became involved in the pregnancy, the more a part of the equation I started to feel. I recommend learning what’s happening with her body. Ask questions. Go with her to the doctor and the baby store. Your input and opinion do matter. You will walk into a world that you may never have been a part of, and it can be both interesting and fun.
Be a part of the morning sickness. I don’t mean vomit along with her to show your compassion. I mean hold back her hair and have a cold wet rag for her face when she reaches for one. I also gave my wife daily massages, a much needed touch that made her back feel better.
One thing I didn’t think about before my girls were born was the lack of sleep that comes with newborns. Those lazy weekend mornings reading the paper with a cup of coffee in hand are gone. I don’t think your body ever really gets used to sleep deprivation, I think it just tolerates it – under protest. Keep telling yourself it gets easier, because it’s true. The first few months may be a blur when you’re exhausted and haven’t had a hot meal in weeks. But before you know it, your arms are full with two smiling, giggling babies that you want to hold over and over again.
A motto that we quickly incorporated into our daily lives was “pick your battles.” Things that used to be a priority suddenly weren’t that much of one anymore. Don’t worry. If something is truly more important than what’s going on with your new babies, you will take care of it.
Accept help. If relatives, in-laws or family friends offer to come and baby-sit, or even stay and help for a while, take whatever is offered. If you’re not comfortable with them around your newborns, perhaps they can help with the laundry, cook meals, shop for groceries or clean up around the house. My in-laws arrived the day after our girls were born and stayed for six weeks. Their help was invaluable.
I woke up at night and helped with the feedings. For a while, my wife breastfed both girls at the same time. I helped change their diapers, sometimes supplemented them with a bottle and put them back down. We got used to watching those middle-of-the-night reruns. The alarm clock always goes off sooner than you want, but by helping out, you give your spouse a few more minutes to sleep, which becomes a rare treat during those first few months.
My most important piece of advice? Make a commitment to be there. Ever since my girls were born, I’ve made a personal vow to be an important part of their lives. Sticking with that has called for sacrifices but I knew that being there early on would play an integral part in creating their own sense of self. Even though your workday is over at the office and you’re exhausted, there’s still work to be done at home and your wife has been at it all day. Help with the dishes, the laundry and cleaning up.
On the weekends, resist the temptations of ESPN or nine holes of golf with your buddies. Sports will always be there, but your twins are only young once. If you have a vacation day coming, take it and stay home. If you can leave the office early, go home. Take the babies from your wife so she gets a break and you get to spend time with your children. Remember: No man on his deathbed ever said, “I should have spent more time at the office.”
Your life will change in many ways. With twins, you’ve been given a wonderful and precious gift. Be there to be a part of it. It will be busy and challenging. You will feel inundated and exhausted and thrilled and amazed. Expect the changes. Plan on them. Look forward to them. Embrace them. And keep in mind: It really does get easier.