I’ve taken yet another hiatus from writing this blog due to the holiday season. A lot of energy is exerted when schlepping two babies around different Christmas venues and writing about my life with twins was far from the priority.
With that being said, I’m jumping back into it with a fun post detailing a night in the life with twins…dun, dun, dun.
In my life before kids, I used to complain about being tired when I went to sleep later than ten-thirty. Now I realize I didn’t even know the meaning of tired. The haze in which I live my life now is the epitome of pure exhaustion. Yet somehow, my body has the will to function. (I mean, we aren’t talking high functioning…sometimes my brain can’t form a coherent sentence. But still functioning enough to keep two humans alive…which is admirable).
One night, I decided to keep notes in my phone that chronicle an average night with the twins. For the first few months of their life, my mom had been coming to live with us on week days to help care for the babies during the day and at night (she’s a saint). On this particular night that I documented feedings, we didn’t have her help there. This night was just average and typical. Not a fluke night (like them waking only once at night, which has happened twice, or the opposite side of the spectrum fluke, where I didn’t go to sleep until 4 am). Just me, Jimmy and the twins on a typical nighttime schedule.
When first starting out, the twins were given formula in the hospital to increase weight and maintain their low blood sugar (I had gestational diabetes). We were put on a rigid schedule during our stay that included 15 minutes of breastfeeding (or as long as they’d stay on), 20 milliliters of formula and 15 minutes of pumping afterwards every two to three hours. We were to follow this through the day and night. This was to up their calorie intake and grow my own milk supply. I continued this schedule when we returned home from the hospital, but as you can imagine, it was both time consuming and unsustainable. By the time we finished this feeding routine for each twin, it was already time to feed the other one.
In the following weeks, we fell into a cadence that was more natural and we played with trial and error to find what worked for us and what schedule would bring the optimal amount of sleep. We landed on exclusively breastfeeding and giving breast milk bottles during the day while formula feeding at night. We found bottle feeding twins at night time was most efficient and meant that feedings didn’t rest solely on my shoulders. I could delegate feedings and diaper changes to other willing participants. Breast milk is digested quickly, which meant the twins would sleep for shorter stretches. Formula kept them fuller longer, guaranteeing more sleep for us.
So, I experimented with note-taking one night, just so I’d have a record to look back on, detailing how much truly went into raising twins (like I’d ever forget). And I wanted to see how much sleep I was actually getting each night (spoiler alert: it’s none). With one puppy, two newborns and endless tasks to do around the house, this schedule is also a prime example of the teamwork required to “do it all.”
So here it is: a detailed look into a night of feeding, changing, and rocking twins back to sleep.
8:00-8:45– Bath time! This can be quite exhausting in itself. The twins aren’t old enough to sit up in a bath tub together, so I bathe them one at a time in our counter-top tub. I shampoo in the sink, bathe on the counter-top, rub him down with lotion and get him zipped up in his jammies. Then, I either set him in the swing (or some other baby activity) or hand him to my husband to snuggle. I then empty the counter-top tub, refill it with clean, warm water and repeat this for the second baby.
8:45-9:45-After bathtime, we get the boys zipped into their swaddles and then proceed with the night time feeding, which typically happens in our bedroom. This is when we begin formula. The twins are still sleeping in their bassinet in our room. I don’t feel ready (and I don’t think they’re ready) to move to the nursery. Plus, as you’re about to read, they still wake up a lot during the night, so I’d be making a lot of trips to the nursery….and I’m too tired for that. On this particular night, I was pretty proud that the boys were bathed, fed, and in their bassinet before ten (or even eleven).
9:45-10:00– Ah, finally some me-time…which is just a quick shower (haha mom life). Jimmy gets ready for bed and is usually asleep when I get out because poor guy also has work tomorrow morning.
10:00-10:30-Because we move to formula, I pump before bed and throughout the night so my supply won’t drop. And so my boobs don’t explode. I make some lactation tea and then head to bed.
10:40-I’m in bed (thank you, Lord) and will probably fall asleep immediately.
10:45-I hear Sadie (our one year old pup) rummaging around our laundry basket. Chase Sadie to get sock back.
10:50-Sadie cries by the master doorway. Get Sadie water. Lay back in bed and pray the boys let me sleep at least an hour before I have to feed them again.
10:55-It’s been 5 minutes of pure sleepy bliss. James wakes up crying, but isn’t displaying any hunger cues. Rock, cuddle and kiss those chubby cheeks back to sleep.
11:10-Put James back in the bassinet.
11:40-James wakes up crying. Rock and try to console him, but realize this kid is super hungry. Put James’ pacifier in and set him down to go make a bottle.
11:45-Walk into the bathroom to make a bottle, but see that there isn’t enough formula in this container. I’ll have to make a trip to the pantry (rookie mistake or an act of Satan?). Make a trip to the pantry while Jimmy comforts and rocks James.
11:50-Begin alternating with feeding and burping James.
12:20-After feeding, burping and rocking James back to sleep, put James back in bassinet. Debate staying awake to feed John, but decide to try to sleep considering I haven’t yet. Maybe by an act of God, John will sleep until the 3 ‘clock feeding.
12:38-No miracles this time, but I did get a heavenly, near 20 minutes. John wakes up crying and he’s definitely ready to eat.
12:43-As he’s eating, John starts having major gas. He occasionally poops while he eats, so I assume this is what’s happening. I take him to the nursery for a diaper change, but I’ve mistaken toots for poops. No need for a change, so we’ll continue with his feeding.
12:57-John finishes his bottle. I burp him a little more. He seems to be drifting as I pat his back, so I keep patting until he falls asleep.
1:11– As I put John into the bassinet, James begins to stir and fuss. I try patting him, but the fussing seems like it could amp up into crying if I’m not careful. Then he’d wake John. So, I pick up fussy James and rock him back to sleep.
1:20-Put James back in bassinet.
3:18-Woohoo! A whole two hours! James wakes up hungry. I simultaneously rock him for comfort and make him his bottle.
3:27-As I feed James, John begins to wake up. As his cries grow louder, I hand off James and his bottle to Jimmy so Jimmy can finish this feeding. I snag a crying John and make his bottle.
3:30-Jimmy makes hungry James another few ounces of formula.
3:40-James falls asleep on Jimmy. Jimmy falls asleep.
3:50-I take John to the nursery and change John’s diaper.
3:44-John and I head back to the bedroom. I offer the rest of his bottle, but he doesn’t want it. I snuggle up with John to get him back to sleep.
4:00-I wake up leaned against the headboard with John asleep in my arms. I Velcro John’s swaddle and place him back in the bassinet. I walk around to Jimmy’s side of the bed and take James from Jimmy and place James back in the bassinet.
4:15-I realize I haven’t pumped since 10:30 pm. I would’ve typically pumped another time before this and my boobs feel like they might implode. I begin pumping again, much later than I wanted to.
4:32-A sleepy mama heads back to bed.
6:10-John wakes up crying, but displays no hunger cues. I assume it’s just to be comforted, so I put in bed with me. Co-sleeping is sometimes the only way I can sneak in another hour of sleep.
7:08-John begins crying next to me and I attempt to use the pacifier as a snooze button. Crying floats in from the bassinet and James is now awake, as well. As with most things these days, I follow their lead and they’ve decided it’s time to get out of bed and start our day.
And that’s it…a night in the life. Are you tired just reading that? Honestly, I am, too. I’m laughing because I can’t believe this is what I do every night, but that God designed me (and other mamas) with the ability to keep on keeping on. Sometimes I feel the effects of only getting 3-4 hours of sleep (usually when I’m overwhelmed, crying and on the brink of a meltdown), but day-to-day, I laugh and play with the boys, I clean the house (eh, sometimes), I do laundry (okay, mostly just the boys’ stuff) and I keep two tiny humans alive.
One day I’ll know what a full night’s sleep feels like again. And I’m sure I’ll look back and wonder how I made it through this chapter. As for now, I’ll bask in sleepy snuggles and the warmth of a little nose nuzzled in my armpit as we fall into sweet dreaming together.