In preparation for the arrival of Henry and Clara, I read several books available to moms of multiples. I did the same while pregnant with Madelyn - read every "new parent" book out there. I've definitely discovered that while reading these books may make you feel prepared for the arrival(s) of your new little one(s), you are never actually fully prepared!
I've also found that the most helpful tips come not from the books but from parents that have been there before....and from trusting your own process!
The following is a list of our top ten, in no particular order. The top ten tips and tricks to surviving the first two weeks with newborn twins and a toddler - we can now officially say we have survived the first two weeks!
1. Crock pot
I can't remember who gave me this idea but it's brilliant! Instead of a commercial bottle warmer, cup of hot water (which takes forever), or using the microwave (GASP!) - use the crock pot you most likely already have in the kitchen for a bottle warmer. Keep it half full of water and turned on low. Put the bottle(s) in, go change a diaper, and it's ready when you return. You can also get the small crock pot version, the kind used to keep dips warm, to heat one bottle at a time (I've talked to other parents who put this one in the bedroom for night time feedings).
2. Special Jobs for Big Sis
Our favorite (and Madelyn's too) was suggested to us by a nurse at the hospital. She is in charge of the "special soap" to give each visitor. The "special soap" is a bottle of hand sanitizer that sits on a shelf (within Madelyn's reach) for her to give each visitor that comes in the door. She is very proud of this job and will often announce to visitors, "This is my job!"
Other special jobs for older siblings include helping with feedings (Madelyn loves to hold bottles), bringing diapers, burp cloths, blankies, and pacifiers when needed, and Madelyn likes to share her favorite stuffed doggie when Henry or Clara is crying.
3. Hospital Grade Breast Pump
This has made it possible and much less painful for me to pump every three hours! It only takes 10-15 minutes and so far, it's been a success. Since Henry isn't a fan of latching on, I've been able to provide him with the benefits of breast milk that his little sister is getting while latched on.
We are renting the Medela Symphony breast pump and highly recommend it!
4. Swaddling twins together and Co-sleeping
Again, something that was suggested to us from a nurse at the hospital. We swaddle the twins together each night and put them in a cradle together. The best swaddlers for us have been the Aden + Anais swaddlers. They are super soft and large enough to fit both babes!
5. Recruit friends and family and Schedule help
Do NOT be afraid to ask for help! Fortunately, we have an extremely supportive group of family and friends who have offered services from cleaning our house while I was on bed rest to cooking dinner since Henry and Clara arrived. Take advantage of these offers. Not only will it help you keep some sanity it will provide you with much needed time to rest.
I'm a planner. The day we came home from the hospital, I got out my calendar and with my mom's help lined up daily help for me for at least two weeks out. Slowly, I'm adding more help for week three!
6. Schedule people to cook/bring dinner several nights a week
My good friend, Shauna, used this website to set up a menu planner for our household. The link was sent to friends and family that offered to help us out and now we have meals coming to us through the end of this month! It's been wonderful. While we have yet to all eat at the same time, it is SO nice to have a hot meal when we find the time to eat it.
7. Making formula in large batches
This suggestion came from one of my favorite "preparing for twins" books - Ready or Not…Here We Come! The Real Experts’ Guide to the First Year With Twins, by Elizabeth Lyons - prepare formula in batches! You do not want to find yourself in the kitchen mixing up formula for individual bottles with two babes screaming in the other room.
I like this container from Pampered Chef.
8. Polysporin for bad diaper rash followed by Fanny Cream
We plan to use cloth diapers for Henry and Clara but they are still too little for our Bum Genius stash. Until then, they are in disposable and unfortunately struggling with some diaper rash issues. Our pediatrician suggested using Polysporin on the rash and my sister-in-law sent us a big tub of Fanny Cream to cover the ointment with. Guess what - it works!
9. Snap and Go Double Stroller
Without this stroller, outings at this point would not be possible!
10. Ergocarrier with newborn insert
It seems like the moment you have completely run out of bottles and need to do dishes is the moment one of the babes decides they absolutely MUST be held. This is when you need the Ergocarrier with newborn insert.
We used the Ergocarrier for Madelyn (actually still can since she is so petite) but hadn't heard of the newborn insert until a friend let us borrow hers. It's been very useful - thanks Faith!
And then there are the *bonus* extras that no amount of money can buy. Bonus extras that I am SO very lucky to have..if you are expecting multiples, I pray you have the following (or at least one of the following) -
*An amazingly supportive husband, one who will tell you stories of times to be had with the twins to get you through labor pains, one who will do dishes and laundry without being asked, one who will go back to work quickly after the babies birth and come home each day with enough energy to play with your toddler and kiss and hug the new babes (and you), and one who makes you fall in love with him all over again after the birth of the babes!
*A wonderfully supportive group of friends and family- especially a mom who surpasses all moms (I can only hope to be as good as a mom as she is to me)!
*An outgoing 2 1/2 year old who will play with anyone - Madelyn has pleasantly surprised us with her thought that all the visitors come to play with her (which most actually do end up doing while holding a baby).
I think that about does it for my list of surviving the first two weeks with newborn twins and a toddler. I'm sure I'll need to update this list when we hit the month mark - who knows what tips and tricks we'll figure out next!