Twins!! Triplets!!! Multiple births have been fairly common in our family. The first children born to Hank and me on January 18, 1958 were twin baby girls. They arrived nine weeks premature. Janet, the first baby born, weighed 2.3 pounds and Jean, the second little girl, weighed 3.11 pounds.
Janet developed complications and lived only six days before passing away. She weighed one pound and was buried in a little white doll dress, helping her look like the angel that she was. We held a short, but very sweet and tender funeral for her with family members and a few close friends. (I might add that my mother, who was currently serving on the Primary General Board, told us that a nine-year-old girl with a pure, clear voice had just sung a beautiful, recently composed song at the Primary General Conference in the Tabernacle. Mother felt it would be a perfect song for a baby’s funeral. At our request, Mother arranged for the young girl to sing it at our service. The song touched our hearts deeply. Little did we know then that “I Am a Child of God” would come to be one of the most beloved and widely sung of all Latter-day Saint hymns.)
Jean, the other baby, spent two months growing and gaining strength in the neonatal unit at the hospital before she was finally ready to come home to us. She was blessed with health and strength and grew up to become a mother of seven children, including a set of triplets. Now, nineteen years old, these triplets are wonderful young adults. Abigail and Aliza are college students and Andrew is serving in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission.
At the time of the triplets’ birth in 1992, my husband, Hank and I were on a mission in The Netherlands where he was serving as mission president. My sister quipped, “I would have left the country, too, if my daughter were having triplets.”
Fortunately there were many others eager to help during those wild, but wonderful first months when feeding and diapering three babies was an around-the-clock experience. A letter from the babies’ father, my son-in-law, comforted me. He wrote, “I know, Mom, that you’re concerned about not being here to help, but you would be just another pair of hands. We feel you have been of greater service where you are—we believe it is because of your mission that Jean was able to carry the babies to the 34th week and that she is doing well and the babies were born healthy and are off to such a good start in life.”
Now, a generation later, we have been blessed with two sets of twin great grandsons. They don’t live close to us, so we rely on SKYPE, blogs, and a few cross country visits to help us enjoy them.
Twins can be a handful and a heart full. They can also be a “foot full,” as is evident by seeing our granddaughter, Melissa, feeding ten month old Andrew and Isaac at our house and holding them in booster chairs with her feet.
Lauren, mother of two-year-old Quentin and Jackson, reports that the babies have outgrown the constant care stage, and now she appreciates opportunities to teach them to share and play happily together. They love to attend nursery at church and sing the songs they have learned at home during the week.
In our family we’ve rejoiced over the twins and triplets who have been sent to us. They have doubled and tripled our fun and joy. We would be thrilled to have more multiples come our way.
Following are some helpful tips from these three amazing mothers, Jean, Melissa, and Lauren. They’ve also listed books they recommend that offer valuable advice for healthy, happy babies as well as healthy, happy mothers (fathers, too).
(Note these suggestions are applicable to raising twins and triplets, but for simplification they are written in the context of twins. –Daryl)
Don’t worry, you can do it!
Ask for help. You can’t do it alone, and you don’t have to. People love to help others, especially when cute babies are involved. Consider engaging helpers, such as young girls to serve as nannies after school, so you can run errands or prepare dinner.
Arrange, if possible, to have your family and friends bring you meals throughout the first few weeks. You can also freeze meals in advance.
Make sure you eat, sleep, and get dressed in addition to caring for the babies. Don’t add other things to your to do list in the beginning. You are in survival mode.
Purchase a good double stroller. It is the only way you will be able to get out with the babies. It’s okay to be thrifty with other baby gear, but a good double stroller is imperative! You don’t need two of everything. For example, see if you can buy one swing and borrow another.
Find a “Mothers of Multiples” group in your area. Even if you decide not to join the club, they often have consignment sales where you can buy used multiples’ clothing and other items.
Do your best to sleep when the babies sleep.
Put the babies on the same sleeping and eating schedule, and try not to stress too much when despite all of your efforts it is hard to
Stick to a routine. It doesn’t have to be overly strict or rigid, just something fluid you can count on every day so that you and your babies know what to expect. It will help to keep you sane and the children happy because they are comfortable with the process.
Have routines, not just for the day, but for specific events as well. For example, establish a bath time routine, a leaving the house routine, a grocery shopping routine, and so forth. At first it will seem like a big production just to do something simple like load the babies into the car. Your mind will be calculating a mile a minute as you figure out how to go about each step. But before you know it, these routines will become second nature and your hands will go through the motions on their own. Consistency invites cooperation from children.
Remember, crying is okay! Babies cry and yours will, too. It’s all right to let one baby cry for a few minutes while you tend to the other. Don’t let it get to you. If you panic, the babies will respond likewise and become even more upset. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mother. Just stay calm. The babies will know how much you love them and it’s good for them to learn to wait and to take turns.