When you have twins you forget that other people do not. This is a perfectly normal part of the human condition. I grew up after my maternal grandparents had passed and had no idea that most children had two sets of grandparents until I had to complete a school assignment in which I had to interview my grandparents. It being impossible to interview the dead and my paternal grandmother having Alzheimer’s. I turned in one interview when the teacher was expecting four. It also didn’t help that I asked the interview questions wrong. The point of the assignment was to give us an idea of what life was like when our grandparents were our age and I asked my grandfather what life was like the day before.
The point of that long aside is that up until that moment I had no idea that my condition was not shared by most other people. This is what it is like when you have twins. You get a little confused when your friends introduce you to their five month old and there is only one of them. Or you look at ultrasound images posted on social media and look longer than you should trying to find the second baby. The most interesting part about this phenomena is I should be smart enough and self-aware enough to realize the era. This isn’t like a school aged child finding out for the first time that most children have two complete sets of grandparents. I know that ours is the unique condition and yet I can’t stop myself from continually looking for a second baby or being confused when expecting couples are only planning for one child.
With Windsor having come home a couple weeks before Roland we did get a preview of what having one baby would’ve been like, and I have to say it would’ve been nice. I don’t want to offend any parents of single babies out there but you guys have it easy. When it was just Windsor I’d stay up to do the 11:00 PM feeding and then go to bed until morning while Lara took care of the 2:00 AM feeding. Once the second one was home we tried this and it was a disaster.
The first challenge was getting them upstairs. In order to do this you have to break the rule of never leaving your child unattended and believe me you think of all the bad things that can happen in the 30 seconds it takes you to get the other one up into their crib, and, of course, once that one is in their crib they start screaming while you go back to get the other one. Once both babies are in their cribs you need bottles and milk and, for us, oatmeal. When it was just the one baby home there were plenty of bottles and plenty of time to prep bottles for the evening feedings. With both home there wasn’t any time and there were no bottles prepped and up until this point all I’d done is grab a bottle, warm it up, and pop it in baby’s mouth.
With no bottles prepared I first had to find bottles, put bottles together, figure out which milk was the fortified milk and which was not, and then how much milk to give each baby, take it upstairs making certain not to mix up or forget which bottle was for which baby, and then there was also the oatmeal. Not to be overlooked during all of this there were two very hungry babies growing hungrier by the minute creating a cacophony of harmonious screaming an have I mentioned that Roland is on a monitor that beeps and beeps when it gets no reading and it gets no reading when he is screaming? I think I forgot that part.
Now it is 11:30 and they need their 11:00 feeding, diapers haven’t been changed, but at least bottles are warming. The monitor also want shut-up at this point. I later find out that when it is turned off it resets to adult settings and for adults a pulse of 130 beats per minute is bad and that there is a setting that beeps with every heart beat. Two screaming babies, a beeping monitor, diapers needing to be changed, and milk warming is slowly causing me to lose my mind. lose my mind to the point where I start yelling into the camera of our baby monitor, “Help me. Help me. Please wake up and help me,” but my wife is dead asleep and there will be no help.
This plan that worked so well with one baby was a complete disaster with two and I hadn’t even started feeding yet. Because these children are preemies they have bad acid re-flux and need to be held upright for 15-30 minutes. closer to 30 if not more at this point. This is also why they get the oatmeal. Thinking about the hour or more of work in front of me I lose it and go and shake Lara awake, and tell her the babies need their mother and I need my wife. She comes in and within 30 minutes both babies are fed, the monitor is working properly, and we are headed back to bed to do it all again in an hour and 45 minutes.
Since this first night with them home we have changed the system. The systems applied to the care of one baby do not work with two and I can’t even imagine what life is like for people with triplets or more. We have come up with a system that allows us to easier feed both babies by ourselves but for most of the feedings we still need help, and then there was the night that as soon as one would go to sleep the other would wake up screaming. All of this is why we never purchased a baby book or found the advice online of much help. We would read something or hear some advice given and always ask the unasked question, “But what if there are two?”