Before our twins were born and their nursery was a blank canvas with hardwood floors and tan walls, I would walk around their room daydreaming. I imagined painting the walls sky blue with clouds and hot air balloons. I dreamed about picking them up from their cribs as they smile and coo. I couldn't wait for the sweet snuggles, the just bathed baby smell, the double dose of love.
At 35 weeks, 4 days they decided it was time to make their grand entrance. My water broke and reality set in. Everyone says it's nothing like in the movies. It was exactly like a scene from a movie. Unsuspecting soon to be mom carries on her usual day then all of a sudden it happens. Water gushes everywhere as she tells her nervous husband to get her to the hospital stat. They call the OB as they hurry to find their meticulously packed suitcase. He wheels her into the after hours entrance of the hospital and their lives are changed forever. The newborn fog begins.
Other parents warned us about the newborn fog. It's all about survival, lack of sleep, and Venti lattes, they said.
It's all a blur, they warned. They were right. Days blur into nights. Showering becomes an hour long process to prepare for that actually lasts two minutes. You become an expert at making two bottles in under two minutes. You walk around in a fog unsure of when life will ever be "normal" again, yet there are silver linings hiding in all the chaos. Here are ten silver linings I found in the midst of the newborn fog.
1. All the food and help. If you ask for it, most of your friends and family will be happy to help you survive those first few weeks. One of my good friends set up a meal train for us. Maybe I was so hungry everything tasted great, but those were some of the best meals I've had. From scratch cookies, bread, and lasagna? Yes, please! My friend also picked up anything we needed from the grocery store when we couldn't get out. Not having to worry about dinner or groceries and getting to have some good meals helped keep us going.
2. An excuse to do less. Your new temporary mantra becomes "We can't. Two babies!" You can't do it all and that's okay. You learn to lower expectations and rethink what's really important. There is a time and place to say yes, but when you have multiple newborns most people understand when you need to say no. Do less, snuggle more.
3.Cute monthly pictures. I'm one of those Moms. I love to take cute monthly pictures of my twins in coordinated outfits. They don't always cooperate, but it's a fun way to celebrate each monthly milestone. It gave me something fun to look forward to in their newborn stage. We'll always have their monthly pictures to look back on with fondness and to embarrass them when they are teenagers.
4. Newborns sleep most of the day. Getting a few hours of sleep at most leaves you operating in zombie mode. It's just part of the fog. The silver lining is when they do sleep. I'm not going to suggest sleeping when they sleep.
It never worked for me, especially when I was trying to pump for two babies. If it works for you, great! I will suggest using their frequent naps to fit in some self care. Nap time is also a good time to get out of the house, even if only for a short drive. Our twins usually fall asleep as soon as we head out.
5. Becoming part of the parents of multiples club. In addition to local clubs, you get the opportunity to become part of the worldwide, unofficial parents of multiples club. You get to connect with families all over the world and find out what raising twins in other parts of the world looks like. You'll always have a place for support, advice, or just to vent.
6. Adjusting to having one baby when the other is in the NICU. I wish we had left the hospital with both babies, but our daughter had to spend time in the NICU due to her cleft palate. Although we wanted our baby girl home with us, it was a blessing in disguise in some ways. As new parents it gave us a chance to adjust to having one baby before tackling the challenge of two. We also had more time to finish preparing their nursery and enjoyed extra one on one bonding time with our son.
7. Time for hobbies you can do while holding a baby (or two). In the first few days after our twins were born I never got bored holding or feeding them. I loved simply watching them sleep and holding them close. A few months later boredom set in. Don't get me wrong, I will always love watching their sweet faces as they drift off to sleep, but all the feedings and naps become monotonous. I decided I needed something to do. I've always loved writing. When an opportunity to become a regular contributor for a parenting site came up, I went for it. I can write articles from my phone or laptop while my twins nap or while I'm feeding one of them. One of my twin mama friends took up knitting when her girls were born. Another friend completed Sudoku puzzles when her twins were babies.
8. Watching them sleep. There is nothing in the world quite like watching a newborn baby's tiny mouth curl into a sleepy grin. Those sweet, milk coma snuggles almost make up for the sleepless nights (almost). As a parent of multiples we get to witness these moments with more than one little one.
9. Their first laugh. It could happen while playing peek-a-boo or making silly faces. Our twins love the silly voices my husband makes.
However it happens, the first baby giggles are so much fun! It's so rewarding to finally get a response after months of interaction with very little feedback.
10. A chance to catch up on all the TV you've always wanted to watch. Netflix and...bottles? The summer Olympics began just as our twins were born. We took advantage of all the early morning feedings by watching the events we wouldn't otherwise see. We found out there is an Olympic version of almost every kind of sport you can imagine. We also took advantage of the chance to marathon our favorite episodes of The Office and find out what all the Stranger Things and The Crown hype is about.
At six months in the newborn fog has slowly lifted. We no longer feel like zombies. I can get by with just one cup of warm- not- hot coffee most days. I'm glad the newborn phase is over, but I will never forget those first smiles, the early morning snuggles, and becoming part of the best club in the world. I wouldn't trade the newborn fog days, but I look forward to the new adventures ahead.