Charlotte and Romilly and the Quest for the Holy Grail

So, I thought I might try to do a nice practical post today, to help any potential twin parents.

Whilst they were brewing, I obviously devoured every ‘how to’ baby book going, we went to classes, spoke to other twin parents, and it became clear that The Routine wasn’t so much the Holy Grail of twin rearing but actually an utter necessity, being  the only way to stop yourself having a nervous breakdown. One baby screaming in the middle of the night is bad enough; two doing it, and at separate times, well, you might as well buy a season ticket to The Priory.

And it’s not just about the nights. Each of our changing/feeding/changing AGAIN sessions (I’m looking at you, Rumbily) takes almost an hour. Six times a day (hence my au faitness with Jeremy Kyle USA). You simply have to get it down pat if you ever want to do anything else like, oh, I don’t know, go to the loo/get dressed/breathe.

Now, I had assumed that Gina Ford, the patron saint/she devil of babyness, depending on your outlook, would have all the answers in her ‘A Contented House With Twins’ manual which she co wrote with Alice Beer, who had enlisted her help when after 6 weeks of non stop screaming she was stabbing her eyes with forks.

But oddly, though it’s a good book, the one area it falls down on is The Routine. Because Ford seems to have created a worst-of-both-worlds scenario (unsurprisingly really given she has very little multiples experience). She has both babies awake at the same time but feeding separately. So you’d do 10 mins with one, then swap onto the (presumably yelling) second and keep alternating like that. In other words, two very cranky babies, and double the time taken. Incidentally, she also advocates having them up during most of the daytime. I just don’t see how this would be possible with ours or, indeed, most twins – they’re little, mostly premature babies who simply need their sleep. As I write this, mine have just crashed out on the playmat where they had spent a grand total of ten minutes playing! Well, when you have crinkly toys, and your sister slapping you, in your face, it’s EXHAUSTING.

Our routine, devised by the blessed Fiona, is as follows (and for both babies at the same time):

6.30am – wake from the baskets they’ve been in overnight, change, 20 mins breast (and we alternate sides from feed to feed in case one is producing more milk), then up to 40ml formula, leaving it up to them how much to take. Then to sleep in the baskets again.

10.30am – same, but we then keep them up for a bit cuddling/bouncy chairs/mat (this is nothing to do with the fact that by this stage I am engrossed in This Morning and their tips on how to cure your phobia of buttons/checked shirts so can’t be a*sed putting them down)…When they do go down, it’s to the cot, so they get used to a lunchtime nap.

2.30pm – ditto, but then sleeping downstairs so I can keep an eye on them

6.30pm – ditto, but try to make sure this is a specially good feed, they then get swaddled, cuddled and settled down for a good, lights off cot sleep

10.30pm – wake for a feed, they usually don’t take very much bottle at this one, and it can be quite exasperating with the breast feeding too as they keep dozing off, am about to resort to one of those facial mist sprays for the little blighters! They go into the baskets at this point so they can be in our room, which cuts down on time in the middle of the night checking/feeding them.

Then what we had been doing for the first few weeks was waking them at 2.30am for a solus bottle feed of up to 90ml (again, depending how much they seem to want). We’re experimenting now though with leaving them. Latest record is 4am for one of them waking spontaneously (and then we wake the second as well so that they’re still on the same timetable). Obviously the endgame is to have them last from 10.30pm through to the morning.

So, there you go. It seems to be working in that a) they’re piling on the pounds (both twins have just jumped percentiles – for any mother who has been terrorised by the weilding of The Red Book this will mean a lot!) b) we’re getting some semblance of sleep and time to ourselves.

Saying that, one month in, as they become more active, there is more waking up and crying happening. Once we’ve checked it’s not that they’ve been sick/walloped each other, they get left to cry themselves back to sleep, with a 20 minute cut off point. At that point, I am finally allowed to pick them up (I am practically handcuffed beforehand by Jon/Fiona despite my boobs doing an impression of a Yellowstone geyser, apologies for TMI gentlemen readers!) But no cuddles – needs to be playtime until the feed.

Very hard. And we’ll see therefore how The Routine holds, especially when Fiona’s gone as already at the weekends I find myself capitulating and feeding them 10 minutes early…naughty. But I’m sure the neighbours/their revising big brother are grateful.

Finally, to crown this spectacularly boring post, here is a copy of our exciting Pooh Chart, where we write in when each feed is, nappy (as keeping track of two of them to check they’re not constipated, well, you could easily forget), which boob they go on and how much they take. If nothing else, it’s something to wave at the assorted visiting medical professionals 😉

Please ignore my inability to remember which month we’re in, and the tell tale coffee ring – The Routine helps with sleep, yes, but in the sense that you get to have one between midnight and 4am, and 5am and 6.30! We’re still not exactly in Sleeping Beauty’s castle here!

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