My modus operandi regarding the twins phenomenon involved asking (discreetly- as I didn't want to get flamed!) on the MOMYS Digest for Moms who had twins after already having a houseful of children, to contact me. (The MOMYS digest is for Moms who have had at least four children in eight years or less, in order to share practical help for women who have children fairly close together.) Since any responders would have lived to tell about it, I figured that these women were the ones to ask.
One Mom in particular was extremely helpful. She acted much like a beloved best friend who would sit you down on the couch, point her finger gently in your face and give you a strong word... in love. Her advice came just hours before my meeting with the midwife for the first time since discovering I was carrying twins. That one e-mail, along with that one meeting with the midwife and our discussions following, have drastically altered the direction of our family during the next few months. This thing is far bigger than I had imagined.
With my history of some early deliveries, my status as an "elderly grand multipara" (a fancy way of saying that I have had several children and I am now considered old) and our desire to not have twins in the NICU, the midwife's strict instructions involved, "Three up, one down". After every three hours of being up and active, I am expected to rest horizontally for a full hour. I was told to be glad, as this was a concession based on our lifestyle with a house full... she normally requires "Two up, one down." Talk about forced scheduling, this is it. (Now where'd I put that MOTH schedule?)
I want to share some of the advice I received from the MOMYS, as I have found very little in my searching for help for families who already have a large family before twins arrive. Much like Holly shared about children with Shingles because of how little she was able to find, I want this information to be out there somewhere for other families who may be looking. Susanna in particular, was a wealth of advice on this topic ~ for Moms expecting twins as well as others who may know someone having twins ~ that I want to share her e-mail in full.
I will split her letter up into several parts, but here is the intro:
I'm going to be straightforward in hopes that you'll take it seriously and avoid some of the avoidable problems ahead!
There was only one thing that I didn't do that I should have done, that every single twin book or article told me to do, and every single other twin mom told me was most important. I did everything else right, but the lack of this one thing made the whole experience almost nightmarish for the three weeks I was on bed rest before the birth and the almost seven weeks postpartum until they both began nursing and sleeping through the night. We were desperate for help. My husband's three weeks off following the birth was ludicrously insufficient for the needs of the household. I wish I would have taken all that counsel seriously. I was too sensitive to others' seeming reluctance to help, too proud to let most people see our household in need (messy or dirty, including children!), too hesitant to ask for help in even modest amounts, especially if I was sure they would think we were just having too many children if we couldn't handle it ourselves. I think my reputation also hurt me. Nobody was close enough to realize the trouble we were having, and when I did attempt to verbalize how things were going ("I feel like we're drowning..."), I think they didn't really believe that the capable Susanna really needed help - I was just being too picky and unwilling to let things go for a while or something. We simply have not faced such tremendous stress before or since...
Stay tuned for Part Two...