Do they share a room, or will they in the future? Yes, and yes. Right now the boys are "sleeping" (hardy har har) at night in an Arms Reach Mini Co-sleeper at the foot of our bed. With Bean, we started a slow transition into his own room around 5 months old, and we hope to do that again with the twins. We put a second crib in Bean's old nursery, but we'll probably put both kiddos in the same crib to start so they can continue to snuggle. As they get bigger, they can go into their own cribs, and then eventually their own beds -- but we do plan to keep them in the same room, provided they aren't waking each other up at night with their cries. If they decide they want to split up when they are older, we are fortunate to now have a five-bedroom house, so we could accommodate. But it would take a pretty convincing argument. And maybe an interpretive dance, because that would be super funny to watch.
How is breastfeeding going? What can I expect? It's tough to give advice on what to expect, because just like with a singleton, our experiences can be all over the board. For every new mom plagued with a weak suck, clogged ducts, low supply, and mastitis, there is the new mom whose most difficult challenge is reaching the TV remote while nursing. We struggled the first month, mainly with building enough supply and the fact that each one would fall stone-cold-never-going-to-wake-me-don't-even-try asleep halfway through the meal and then wake up on their own screaming "WTF MOM! I WAS EATING! DO YOU WANT ME TO STARVE?" at the most inconvenient moment possible. With two, that makes for a difficult juggling act. But time, effort, and a crapload of fenugreek have solved those two problems, and we have been doing really well for the past month (they are 8 1/2 weeks now, for the record). Regarding tandem nursing, it does happen maybe once a day, if they both are hungry at the same time. It's not my favorite for various reasons, so I don't initiate it on my own -- even at night when it could potentially save me a few minutes. It gets harder as they get bigger, and I don't want to count on having that as an option. Special pillow is a must for this.
I struggled for months breastfeeding Bean when he was born, and with that experience under my belt, nursing has been SO much easier this time around, even with twice the newborn. I can't say I've come across anything that I didn't expect. For example, you will be nursing A LOT during the day, especially in the beginning. Get a comfy chair and a movie for your toddler. (Hopefully watching Toy Story eight times a day is not doing irreparable damage to Bean.) And the nights are naturally more difficult, which leads me to the next question...
How are the nights? Hell? Amazing guess! In the first few weeks, before they learn that ever-crucial day vs. night distinction, yes it sucks absolutely. You can struggle for hours to get one to fall asleep, only to have the other suddenly staring at you with wide eyes. That's the thing about newborns, they don't give two craps about your plans to get more than an hour of sleep at a time. Is there a solution? I was definitely too sleep deprived (or just stupid) to come up with anything. One of my friends did shifts with her husband -- one of them would sleep from 6 pm to midnight, then the other from midnight to 6 am. But because I was trying to get my milk supply up, I needed to get them latched as often as possible around the clock, so that wasn't really an option. Finally the babies did take pity on us, and extended periods of waking now only occur during the day; the compromise is that they always occur when we are trying to make and/or eat a meal, and total attention on The Twins is required during awake time.
In all fairness to these munchkins, though, they do actually sleep better than Bean did at this point -- which was really horribly, so that's not exactly saying much. But we had our best night ever recently, they slept from 10:30 pm to almost 3 am, and then 4 am to 5:45 am. Haven't repeated it since, but it's moving in the right direction. We do wake them both up when one cries, it's definitely the best method to consolidating your own rest -- so we are only as good as our worst sleeper. The main problem at night now is pretty obvious: we have to change both, feed both, burp both, and get both back to sleep before we can sleep ourselves. It takes about 60 minutes each time they wake up 50 minutes if we are lucky. Some SAHMs do it by themselves when their husbands go back to work. Fortunately my DH doesn't smoke crack so he knows there is no way I'm doing it alone at this point. Eventually, sure, I don't mind. I know the routine will get faster. But in the meantime, he relies heavily on coffee, and since caffeine makes the babies freak out, I rely heavily on my under-eye concealer.
Have you had any behavior issues with Bean? Yes and no. Keep in mind that Bean is two years old, and at this age I think it's impossible not to have at least a few behavioral issues. But fortunately, Bean is a very good kid for his age. Our boundaries are tested regularly, but relatively gently compared with other toddlers we know. I haven't noticed that he acts out more since the twins have come, except for one particularly bad morning when we all went to the pediatrician for the twins' weight check. If my Mom and I are both trying to calm crying babies at the same time, Bean will suddenly proclaim that he needs "Gramma hugs!" or "Mommy hugs!" with a whiny yell. But overall, he has really embraced his roll as big brother -- bringing them his toys, binkies, and beloved Sleep Dog to share completely on his own. I credit that to two factors. First, Bean has always been well-behaved and sweet, which he no doubt inherited from me. And second, I do have my Mom here with me all the time, so he still gets lots of attention. To anyone having twins, and especially twins with a toddler at home already, I recommend soliciting and accepting as much help as possible. When I was pregnant, before my parents had decided to move here, I naively thought I could handle all these kids on my own. I would just have to channel my inner Supermom! But NO WAY. I'd have lost my sanity a loooong time ago. Friends, family, a babysitter, the guy who panhandles at the highway exit -- if someone offers to help, you can't afford to say no. Just keep an eye on your valuables, you really don't know that guy very well.
Are you babywearing at all? Some of you may know that
But that doesn't mean my carriers are gathering dust, quite the opposite. It's very handy to be able to wear even one at a time. One of my twins is fussier than the other (you know who you are, Peanut) and sometimes I have to wear him if I'm going to get anything done. My carrier of choice these days is the Napsack Baby mei tai. Moby wraps are great in their own right, but the Napsack Baby has a few advantages. Most notably, they are more stylish and different from the Moby wraps that five other moms in your playgroup will be wearing. And when you are sporting sweatpants and a t-shirt with spit-up on it, any extra boost in appearance goes a long way. The Napsack Baby is definitely as comfortable as the Moby, and much sturdier so the baby doesn't sag over time. Even my mom and DH use it on occasion. Not my dad yet, but I'm working on him. Our hippy/crunchy lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest is still a bit foreign to him.
Here's a picture of Bean in our mei tai, taken back in November 2008 when he was eight months old. With the littler ones, you'd tie the strap in the middle of their back instead of under their butt, so they don't fall out the side.
Did you buy a stroller for all three kiddos? Nope. For two reasons. First, Bean hates riding in a stroller. He never has been a huge fan of it, and ever since he mastered that whole walking thing, it's been an epic battle to strap him in. And second, those triple strollers are huge, heavy, and cumbersome. It just didn't make sense to go in that direction. Any time that we'd possibly like to have strollers available for all of them (e.g. a trip to the zoo) I have my Mom or DH with me, so one of them can push Bean's single stroller while I take the double.
Because we have two Graco SnugRide car seats (one from Bean, and one given to us by a friend who no longer needed hers), we decided to get a Baby Trend Double Snap N Go Stroller Frame. We had the single version for Bean, and it worked really well. We can pop the babies out of the car and into the stroller without having to disturb them. And as we prefer, the stroller frame is lightweight and easy to use. It still feels like you are trying to maneuver a Winnebago down a bike path when you push it, but I'm not sure you're going to get around that problem when you have infant twins.
We will have to buy a new stroller when the kiddos outgrow their infant car seats. I'd love to get a fancy one like the popular BOB double strollers (such as this one). But a quick search for change under our couch cushions reveals that I am still $568.47 short of being able to afford it, including the generous 99-cent discounted price listed today. Even the craigslist prices are prohibitive. So we will probably stick with the double version of the Maclaren stroller we used with Bean, unless something better arises in the meantime. They are practically giving it away at only $265. There are many other options for strollers -- I recommend visiting the Strollers for Multiples forum on Twinstuff to get more info.
Finally, in case anyone was wondering, yes, I dress them in matching and coordinating outfits. Constantly. Because I can.