When my son was six-years-old and my daughter was three, I learned that I was expecting twins. Thankfully, Begin with the Children was still by my side.
“I just really want this whole twin newborn experience to strengthen our marriage rather than pull us apart… because I really feel like it could do either,” I cried to my husband one night when I was around 33 weeks pregnant. I knew my husband would be my best support if I could kindly and effectively communicate my needs, but I also knew that was much easier said than done in my typical short-fused postpartum state. Here’s what we came up with:
Basic ground rules for Mom and Dad Communication
I started the conversation with, “We are both going to be tired and frustrated at times with two screaming babies in the middle of the night. We need to avoid having conversations about major decisions or venting frustrations when one of us is too tired to think straight.” My husband nodded, “I agree. We need to be able to table topics for a time when we are both in a decent mood and somewhat rested. We are going to need to take turns resting in the daytime. Sometimes I might need a nap, but I think mostly I’ll need to get out of the house and exercise.
And it will be good for me to spend some time with the older kids. I’m worried about them feeling ignored by us. I’m sure you will need some one-on-one time with them too.” Our conversation continued over the next two weeks. We discussed how we could help each other during the night without resenting each other, how we could help our older kids through the adjustment, and how we could keep our marriage happy and alive. At the time, we had no idea just how important these conversations about responsibilities and teamwork would be.
Our unity and communication skills were put to the test
When I was 35 weeks pregnant, I received an urgent call from my doctor about the blood work I had done earlier that day. “I’ve talked to your high-risk doctor and we both agree that today is a good day to have babies!” It turned out my platelet levels were dropping rapidly. Four hours later, I had two little babies in my arms.
The first few days were difficult but wonderful at the same time. We had a lot of visitors, a lot of help, and a lot of love. This major life adjustment seemed to be going exceptionally well…until it wasn’t. I ended up back in the ER with an infection, my daughter and husband caught the stomach flu, my son caught a cold, and we had faulty medical equipment sending off alarms every three to four minutes around the clock.
Effective communication between me and my husband was key
I can say, without a doubt, that effective communication was the key to us weathering these challenges together. If we had not communicated with each other and agreed on our goals and parenting responsibilities before the birth of our twins, we would have been a mess afterwards! I’m sure this is why, as KinderKronicle Month 1 teaches, “The first element of parent leadership is unity between Mom and Dad…[and] what builds Dad-Mom unity? A major element is
Because of the conversations we had had weeks earlier, I make it a priority for my husband to get out of the house to exercise every day. And my husband makes it a priority for me to have time to spend with my older children. I read to them, take them on brief outings to the library, and even spent a whole day at an amusement park with them.
We divided our responsibilities
My husband and I also figured out our nighttime routine. Our babies need two feedings of special preemie formula each day. My husband does one of these feedings during the night so that I can pump and get back to bed a little bit faster. This also helps me during the day because I don’t have to make bottles, feed babies, and then pump.
Typically, I nurse and put the babies to bed while he gets the older kids to bed. We do our best to share the load. Some days we share the parenting load 50/50. On other days, it may feel more like 80/20 or 20/80. We try to be patient with each other because we believe that it will all even out in the end.
It is hard to believe our twins are officially one month old! As taught in KinderKronicle Month 1, communication continues to be our focus. We are working together to make room for our new babies, solidify our parenting style, and adjust to being parents of FOUR.
How do you divide up the load?
Have you found that communicating your needs beforehand helps make
things easier when you are in the midst of the hard moments?
Has listening to the needs of your spouse made life a little smoother?