One of the most trying aspects of having newborn twins is sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation is torture.
Think about those old war or spy movies where the hero is literally tortured by being forced to stay awake. Just when the hero falls asleep, the bad guys wake him up.
You, my friend, are the hero.
Unfortunately, your twins play the part of the torturer. Not that they don’t love you. They just haven’t learned to sleep through the night yet.
By the time we had our twins, we had already had two boys. Since they were both singletons, my wife ended up caring for them most nights because she was breastfeeding.
I didn’t know how spoiled I was.
With twins, your wife can’t do it all herself. This means that you will be working the night shift as well.
Since you will be up and down all night with your babies, you need to be ready to deal with sleep deprivation. It’s time to make a plan.
The key to surviving the early days of your newborn twins is to have some plans in place to overcome the inevitable sleep deprivation.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Sleep When You Can
You must sleep when you get the chance. This means that when babies are asleep, you should be too. You’ll be tempted to get stuff done once the babies are asleep. That “stuff” can wait. Emails are not as important as sleep. Your favorite T.V. show is not as important as sleep. Gaming is not as important as sleep. You need a nap. Take it. Sometimes this means laying down at 7:00 p.m. Do it. Sacrificing some of your normal activities is a small price to pay for functionality. Besides, your twins won’t be the torturers forever–there will be a return to normalcy in your near future. So sleep now.
Sleep deprivation will lower your ability to work effectively, communicate properly, and live normally. This will impact the people around you. Set expectations with your coworkers, friends, and family.
Let everyone know that you aren’t getting any sleep and that you won’t be able to do X, attend Y, or deliver Z. Offer alternatives. Make compromises. But communicate the reason for your altered physical and mental state. Most people are very understanding.
Don’t Take it Personally
Sleep deprivation will try your marriage like almost nothing else you’ve ever seen. Since both you and your spouse will be tortured with no sleep, you must remember to not take anything personally.
If your wife snaps at you, it is because she is beyond tired. If something didn’t get done like you liked it, blame the sleep deprivation.
You’ll live a long, happy life if you don’t take anything personally while you or your spouse are under the effects of sleep deprivation. It will probably be the most charitable action you take in your marriage.
Your twin babies, while the source of your sleep deprivation, are not intentionally torturing you. So don’t take your babies’ actions personally either.
How Are You Doing?
After my paternity leave, I returned to work but was still suffering from sleep deprivation. Whenever anyone asked how I was doing, I answered, “I’m tired.”
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
You’ll be tired too. But hang in there. Your babies will start sleeping through the night and you will, too.
Picture by Russell Harrison Photography
Need more help sleep training your twins? Check out this step-by-step guide to sleep training twins from fellow parent of twins, Nina Garcia: