Home sweet home!
At last we had our precious cargo at home, our Labrador was beside herself with excitement and desperately wanted to meet her new sisters. This is one of the tricky decisions to make, how do you introduce your family pet to your new babies? My advice, slowly! In fact, we parked the car in the garage and left the girls in their car seats while we went in one at a time to cuddle the dog so she could get her madness out of the way before we brought the babies in.
The first time carrying the babies up the stairs in their capsules is scary! I think about it now and wonder what I was worries about, but now I realise that everything is scary the first time! But then we were in the lounge, at home, with our little bundles of joy...
This is what I call the 'holy crap' moment. I know I have talked about it before, when we found out we were having twins, but this is the REAL moment of terror! What are we doing? We are responsible for two little babies, and they are relying on us for everything. This is the true moment we realised we knew nothing!
Having spent ten days in NICU we had already become somewhat institutionalised, as crazy as that sounds, it's true. They have a way of doing things there that you quickly adapt to, which includes checking their temperature every time you do their 'cares' and of course, there is a very prescriptive way to tuck them into bed.
Over the first week at home our midwife helped us get the girls into their own cot, not cots just yet. They started out sleeping together in the same cot, side by side, shock horror! There are plenty of people who will tell you it is sure to kill your babies if you co-sleep them. This is no doubt true for children of different ages, but for twins it is almost the only way to get them to settle. Of course, they would need to be split into their own cots at some stage and that would no doubt present its own issues, but for now, they were sleeping.
I should point out here that the institutionalised feeling quickly wore off and was more than outweighed by what we had learnt about caring for our wee babies. Our wonderful postnatal midwife Sarah (helpful that she shared a name with my wife so I could remember it in a sleep deprived state!) helped us to come to terms with letting other things go. She was simply wonderful! Not pushy at all. When she watched us taking the girls' temperature she asked why, to which we answered "that's what you do in NICU", she softly said "that's great, once you have got the hang of keeping them at the right temperature we can stop doing that unless you think they are sick, but just in the next few days. No rush". Honestly, I don't know how we would have coped without her help!
It is a bit cliché, but you have to enjoy this part. Although when you are in it you think it is the most tired you have every been, sadly its not. You will get more tired! My advice to twin mums and dads is to grab sleep whenever you can, especially while they are little and are only sleeping and eating. Once they start to have more awake times, you are going to have much less sleep so grab the zzz's now!
Sleep does become a currency in the home of twins, with mums and dads making trades as to who should get up to give the dummy and who can sleep through this particular screaming match. As you both get more tired and the screaming gets louder as they develop their vocal cords, the most important thing is to be kind to one another. You are in this together. Dads, remember that the most important thing you can do is give your twins' mum a break. Very early on, I decided that when Sarah needed to have a shower it became her time. That meant for the time that she was in the bathroom she was not to be disturbed. Sounds simple, I know, but its not. When you have a double meltdown on your hands it is very tempting to bang on the bathroom door for help, but I didn't, and I survived! I have since started to extend this time by taking the girls out for a walk in the buggy in their carrycots. This is a sure fire way to not have a double meltdown :)
Carrycots save lives, maybe not the girls' lives, but certainly ours!
So dads, remember, the only thing that you can't do is breastfeed, so try to do as much else as you can, and most of all take care of each other. It may feel like it will never end and that you may never sleep again, but you will, one day... I think...