parenting

Minute by minute

The absolute hardest thing about having twins is balancing each baby’s need for attention. I’m sure I’ve said it before: I am SO jealous of singleton parents for their opportunity to hold their babies. Hattie and Joe don’t yet understand that their mother is a shared resource, and I hate that I have to choose which baby to hold and comfort when both are upset. As is so often the way of the world, the squeaky wheel gets the oil in most instances; I tend to reach first for whichever baby is making the most noise! This morning I’ve already had several moments where I’m jiggling a crying baby on each knee, while I stare into the middle distance and wonder how the hell I’m supposed to cater to the conflicting needs of two babies at once. And I’m sure that every parent of more than one child faces this problem, but when both children are babies it’s really challenging at times. Things are probably more difficult today because we’ve just come home after visiting my family for ten days. I had Tristan around to muck in, and my mother, oldest niece and younger sister were all on hand and extremely willing to hold a baby at a moment’s notice. It was wonderful. Now, I’m flying solo once again: Natalie, who helped me in the first few weeks, got a great work opportunity elsewhere for a few weeks. And while we could probably find somebody else to help me on a short term basis, I kind of feel like I need to harden up a bit and get used to doing this alone – unless we win the lottery, we can’t afford to pay for help on a permanent basis. And I know that most twin mothers do handle things by themselves after they’ve survived the ghastly early weeks. Today, though, it feels as if we’ve gone from a feast to a famine. On the bright side, it’s wonderful that the babies are now old enough to be entertained by things, albeit briefly. 

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I’m also relieved that we’ve done lots of work to improve Hattie and Joe’s sleep habits (which is a topic for a whole other blog post), as I’ve been able to put them down for a couple of short naps today and buy myself a bit of breathing space amidst their relentless demands! I mean ‘short’ – they won’t nap for more than 45 minutes at a time during the day – but it’s a damned sight better than nothing, and it stops them from getting too grouchy. The other big benefit of the sleep training is that we’re all getting a lot more sleep overnight, which is certainly improving my ability to cope with life (particularly as Hattie and Joe’s short daytime naps leave me no time for my own naps). And I’ve finally learned not to automatically tend to chores during the babies’ naps, as doing so invariably meant that they’d wake up before I had a chance to take a break myself. My new approach is to eat something as soon as they fall asleep, and then to do one thing, before chilling out until they wake up again. This ensures that I get enough food at regular intervals throughout the day, and also helps to prevent the house from being too chaotic: so far today I’ve done some laundry, unpacked our bag from our trip away, unpacked the babies’ bag, cleaned the loo, and vacuumed the living room. Sometimes the days spent with my babies fly by, and other days – like today – things move very slowly indeed, and I’m practically counting down the minutes until Tristan can come home and take some of the parenting weight off my shoulders. All I can do until he gets here is just fill each few minutes of my and the babies’ day as painlessly as possible!

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