When I was pregnant, I didn’t think much about the reality of doubling the people in our household in one fell swoop. I didn’t think about what kind of mother I would be or how I’d actually navigate life having to care for two tiny little human beings. I was far more concerned with selecting the most amazing little clothes and trying to find names that weren’t too hipster or too ‘twinny’. Of course my babies would sleep. Of course they would do everything these books that I hadn’t read said babies should do. And for a little while they did. I distinctly remember a time when they were about three weeks old. They would wake, have a drink, go back to sleep for 3 hours. I was worried (I worried a heck of a lot in those early days, now I only worry a lot) that they were sleeping too much. Oh how I laugh now!!
Yep – I am one of those losers who has not sleep trained my babies. But guess what is even more remarkable? I don’t care. They’ve learnt to sit up, crawl, walk and talk without me training, or even really teaching, them so I’m sure they will learn to sleep. One day. The whole sleep thing has been on my mind recently, not because I’m not getting any, but because our sleeping arrangements are currently quite laughable.
Mixed in with my search for accessories and names, was a fair about of time spent thinking about cots. I spent hours searching for, and a fortune, on the most amazing, state of the art, designer cots. Perhaps if I’d known how little time the boys would spend in them I may have chosen differently. Nah – I probably wouldn’t have – they are spectacular. And so many uses – bassinet, cot, toddler bed and then table and chairs!!! We might yet get our money’s out of the tables and chairs!
Perhaps this whole sleeping thing (or lack thereof) is my fault. Ever since the early days, I’ve been very quick to pick up the crying baby (I know, how very dare I?) lest he wake his brother. Because I have encountered few things more stressful in my life than two hysterically crying tired babies and a mother who has no idea what she is doing in the middle of nowhere with no reinforcements to call in (that’s another thing all these parenting experts say, ‘call on friends and family to help when it all gets too much’. But for a variety of reasons, that was not an option I had. Unless, of course, I was ‘home home’ in Yarrawonga. And then I had an army of enthusiastic helpers who will never know the depth of my gratitude). It is always better to have one asleep, deal with the unsettled one and try to waylay ‘monitor anxiety’. The advice given to twin parents is ‘get them on the same schedule. When you feed one, wake the other to feed him and put them to sleep at the same time’. What??! Wake a sleeping baby? Never. Additionally, this advice discards the fact that even though they’re tiny, they have freewill.
What did work for us was going to them every time they cried, feeding them to, and back to, sleep and more recently, co sleeping. Which leads me to this farcical situation we find ourselves in now. Of a night time, we do things in a pretty standard fashion dinner, bath, books, bed. They will happily stay in their amazing cots for anywhere between 3 and 6ish hours before they wake. And then they sleep with us. We have a king size bed which suited us fine before multiples. Now it is apparently only big enough for one one year old and me. The other one year old and Shane sleep on a bed he fashions from pushing the couches together. It works, but gee whiz it looks funny and I am well aware that some people will think we are quite off our rockers for doing this. But I can’t operate any other way. I can’t bear to see their scrunched up little faces or hear their heartbroken cries; if I can fix it, why wouldn’t I?
The boys have never, ever been fond of day time sleeps. It’s just not their bag. I’m thankful that they are now down to one sleep a day as it drastically reduces the pressure points in my day. Here’s what usually happens. Get both boys asleep (I’ll spare you the regime, but as you’ve probably guessed it involves feeding and rocking and patting and shooshing). Quickly race to the toilet and try to eat some lunch that I don’t have to share. Think about doing something that I expect other mothers do when their children sleep like clean the house or cook dinner. Have those thoughts cut short when Paddy wakes up. Run (which, for anyone who knows me, is impressive) to get him before he wakes Bede. Sit on the couch and hold him for the rest of the sleep whilst watching some of the “Real Housewives of wherever”, “Shahs of Sunset” or some other drivel that I’ve recorded for such purposes. So, it’s not all bad.
So what kind of mother am I? I find myself as the kind of mother who breastfeeds (for extended periods apparently), baby wears, co sleeps and tries to feed superfoods at every meal. But then, that shouldn’t really be a surprise; it fits with my lefty, flat white sipping bleeding heart. It is highly likely that I’m doing it all wrong. But I’m completely ok with that. It’s what feels right and what works for us.