Once you celebrate your twins’ first birthday, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You made it. You did it. You survived the first year with twins.
Looking back at my twin daughters’ first year, I’m amazed at how quickly the time went.
The first year with twins is an evolution, not just for the twins, but for you as a dad.
From Shock to Normal
When we found out we were having twins, I was in shock. Even after the girls were born, I’d find myself in disbelief that we had two little babies. Now, it is no longer an anomaly, but rather part of life and I can’t imagine life without my girls.
When we’d go out as a family or travel, people would stop and stare at our twins in the double stroller. I’m so used to having my girls with me that I’m surprised that they draw so much attention. (Well, they are cute, after all…)
From Identical to Unique
Since we had identical girls, I started out paranoid that I couldn’t always tell them apart. As the months went on, I was disappointed with myself as a dad when I couldn’t immediately identify which baby girl that was across the room.
However, even from the beginning, each girl had a distinct personality. This continued to blossom and develop to the point where they physically look different to me now because of their personality, actions, and mannerisms.
It was a joyful realization when I could answer the “how do you tell them apart?” question with a simple “I just know.”
From Overwhelm to No Problem
The logistics of handling two babies at the same time was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Sleep deprivation, rapid-fire diaper changes, feedings, burpings, naps, etc. all took a physical and mental toll on my wife and me.
But guess what? Your twins don’t stay babies forever. By the first year mark, the feeling of being overwhelmed has been replaced by more independent little babies, healthy habits, schedules, and the beginnings of communication.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
Now you’re in a sweet spot of just making sure your twins get their food, sleep, and diapers changed. You figured out how to do all those things long ago, and now they are routine. You can enjoy interacting with your twins and not have to worry as much about how to take care of them.
What I Should Have Done
I’m sure I made mistakes, but if I check those against my primary goals–keep my girls (wife included) alive, healthy, and happy–I think I did fine.
I know my girls approved because they’d happily squawk “dada” while scooting over the floor to me when I got home from work.
When I look back at my girls’ first year, I have just one big regret. I didn’t get more pictures of the two of them and me together. I was usually the photographer and thus rarely found myself in front of the camera.
How to Remember Your First Year with Twins
The nurse at our pediatrician’s office is a mother of twins and gave us a great piece of advice to help us remember the first year of our twins’ lives:
Set aside a day of the week to take a few minutes of video of your twins.
If you take a little video every week, you’ll have a fabulous timeline of your twins’ growth and development that you can showcase at their first birthday or save to embarrass them when they get married.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
How to Overcome the Foggy First Year with Twins
In battle, soldiers are often dazed or inhibited by the “fog of war”. This fog comes from smoke, explosions, shell-shock, lack of information, etc.
As a parent of twins, you have your own fog of war. This fog is thickest during your twins’ first year.
What do I mean by foggy?
Remember the last time you drove when there was a heavy fog. It was hard to see far ahead or behind your car. You had to drive slowly and were constantly on guard so you didn’t run into anything.
You’ll be in a similar fog with your new twins for several reasons:
You’ll be suffering from sleep deprivation.
There will be no time to relax.
You’ll constantly be taking care of one baby or the other.
(RELATED: Expecting twins? Avoid these 4 critical mistakes expectant twin parents make.)
Every day will seem like the last.
You won’t be eating as good as you should since you’re so busy with the babies.
If you have other kids, they will be extra demanding of your attention because you, out of necessity, are giving more to the twins.
If your twins were in the NICU, you’ll have logged countless hours at the hospital.
This foggy haze will cloud your judgment and make days quite challenging.
You can make the first year with twins easier for you and your family. Just be mindful of your body, situation, and family members:
- Plan ahead – as my mother-in-law always told my wife: “plan for the worst, expect the best, and take what comes”
- Stock the freezer with easy ready-to-heat-up meals – for when you’re hungry but don’t have time to cook (which will happen a lot)
- Stick to a schedule – so both you and your twins have a sense of normalcy
- Sleep when your babies sleep – if you are tired, get some rest and let the “to-do” list wait for later
- Eat healthily – you’ll need the energy to keep up with your twins
- Keep logs of vital tasks (feeding and diapering babies) – this will help supplement your fuzzy memory
- Get out of the house – don’t forget to take your wife with you
- Exercise – take care of your body and it will help you with the demands of the first year
- Get a helper to relieve or assist you – an extra pair of hands will make life a lot easier
- Enjoy the happy moments – yes, there will be funny, memorable, and happy moments during the first year. Enjoy them!
Don’t worry, it won’t be foggy forever. Just like the sun burns away the morning fog, so shall time and constantly growing twins clear the fog for you.
Keep your chin up and hang in there!
No matter the regrets or successes of your twins’ first year, now is the time to set yourself up for success.
Going into the twins’ second year, you can correct what you feel is amiss and add in the new traditions and routines you feel are important.
If you weren’t around as much as you wanted in your babies’ first year, make a change now. They won’t remember that first year. You will.
As your twins get older, they will remember more that will stick with them for a lifetime. Will they remember you being there? Let’s hope so.
Want more insight into the first years of twins? Check out my book, the Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins.
Picture by Nate Davis