Sure, I’m a pharmacist, but I truly believe that laughter is the best medicine. Laughter has gotten me through tandem purple crying & defecation disasters. It has also helped me when people say unintentionally mean things. Of all the things to not say to a new twin mom, the one in the title of this article is at the top of my list. If you are about to have kids, share this with those friends/family members most likely to say something on it. If you are already a twin mama just read and laugh along. I’m sure you can relate.
My girls were 4 days old, my legs were still so swollen they looked more like chimneys, and I was a whole new level of exhausted from not sleeping more than 45-60 minutes at a time due to nursing every 2 hours. But despite this, I was really excited to feel ‘normal’ again. I had managed to shower, strap together my belly band contraption and even slap on a little mascara for my lactation consultation appointment. This isn’t the most exciting reason to leave the house, but it was our very 1st outing as a family of four. It was a process getting everyone dressed, organizing the diaper bag, loading up the stroller and heading out the door, but my endorphins were running high. Fresh air, sunshine, and a chance to show off my darling babies!
The appointment went well, but it was a HOT one. I don’t know if it was having 5 people crammed in the world’s smallest office, 2 humans attempting to suck the life out of me or if it was all the hormones trying to shift back into place. Needless to say, I was glistening with a fine layer of sweat and had to strip off my belly band in the middle of it. I thought about putting it back on but knew we were going straight home and I wouldn’t see anybody. We carefully put the full and tired babies into their car seats and snapped them into the double stroller and headed out to the lobby.
Everyone looked at us as we walked from the elevator to the lobby with our double stroller and 2 tiny babies. We both had proud new parent smiles on. About half way to the door an older lady stopped us to say, ‘How sweet 2 babies and another on the way’. I paused and must have looked confused as I was processing what she said because she then proceeded to say ‘How old are they?’ It was at that point it hit me. I realized that she thought I was pregnant. I wasn’t sure what to say so I said ‘Um…4 days!!’ What I wanted to say was ‘ONLY 4 days. Can you give me at least a week before I have to try to suck it in!’ I still couldn’t believe that whole interaction had just happened so we kept walking and made it a whopping 4-5 full steps before my husband couldn’t hold it in anymore. He started laughing SOOOO hard. I am sure everyone on both floors heard him. Part of me felt like crying, but it was kind of funny so I chuckled and then hit him (softly) and told him to shut his mouth!
#2. ‘You look good for just having twins.’ Just please for the LOVE of all things good, leave off the disclaimer. It doesn’t matter if they have had 1 baby or 5, just say ‘you look good’ or ‘you look great’ or even ‘Wow, I can’t believe you had a baby!’ When you add the disclaimer, it unintentionally sounds more like ‘you look moderate but also like you’ve been going through hell.’
#3. ‘My babies are 16 months apart, I know EXACTLY how you feel.’ This is a sticky one because just as people without twins can’t fully relate to having them, I can’t fully relate to what Irish twins must feel like. Regardless, most new moms of multiples are at least borderline exhausted and your attempt to relate to the bags under their eyes might make them want to rip yours out! When I got met with this phrase numerous times, I didn’t get mad. I tried to appreciate their good intentions. Usually I would respond with, ‘I think having 2 that close might even be tougher; at least I can tandem nurse.’ I could even sub out the tandem nursing part for ‘At least I only have to sleep/potty train once.’ Whatever response seemed most appropriate at the time. This avoided a silly debate over what is harder and I hope it helped boost the spirits of whomever I was talking to. Twins or no twins, motherhood isn’t easy!
#4. ‘They’re boys/They’re identical/They’re paternal’. If you don’t know the gender, you are welcome to ask, but don’t walk up and start telling the mom what is in her stroller. I literally had the girls dressed up in dresses with big pink headbands on their 3-month-old heads and some stranger tried to tell me they were boys. I said ‘No, they are girls’ and then she tried to argue responding ‘No, they look like boys.’ Most babies just look like babies and you have to hope they are wearing something gender specific in order to guess. Plus, the mom has probably changed enough diapers to know what gender she gave birth to. Same goes for identical/fraternal. The mom may not know identical vs fraternal, but if she tells you what they are, then she is probably right. Don’t argue. Lastly, there is NO SUCH THING as paternal twins. The term is fraternal (You’re welcome)!
#5. ‘I’m so tired’. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article most new moms aren’t getting much sleep, and even if they are keeping their chin up and not complaining about it, they are still going to be tired. Please don’t talk about how tired you are within earshot of them. My girls were almost a week old and my mom had to go home for my Grandma’s 100th birthday party on Saturday. She was coming back on Sunday. I was getting things down with breastfeeding and was feeling confident, but I knew I would need my husbands help. In preparation, I let him sleep for a SOLID 9 hours on Friday night! When he let out an ‘I’m tired’ the next day I just about lost it (maybe I did lose it). We decided that he had a right to be tired, but that he certainly didn’t have a right to talk about it. At that point in time, I wasn’t sure if I would ever sleep 9 consecutive hours again in my life.
What are some of the sayings on your ‘Do Not Say to a new mom’ List?