I’ve written a fair bit about having Irish twins before. I talked about the joys of closely-spaced siblings. I’ve tried to encourage those in this situation to take heart. Perhaps most notably, I wrote on the topic for Amy over at The Finer Things in Life twice and both posts continue to generate traffic and comments years after their initial publish date– make no mistake: people out there are searching about Irish twins.
People talk a lot about how challenging those first couple of years are. I have people ask me ALL the time about what it was like to have a one-month-old and an eleven-month-old. Or a nine-month-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old. It seems very apparent to everyone that those are some busy, challenging times.
They are. That much is true. Of course, it’s challenging to have a preschooler and a newborn. Or a teen and a toddler. Or “true” twins. Or… well, you get the picture. Irish twin parents don’t have a monopoly on the feeling of overwhelm– no one does, really. Each kind of sibling spacing has its own unique perks and problems.
One topic that is rarely addressed, however, is this:
Irish Twin Pregnancy
Today, I want to talk about this topic a little bit, both to shed light on it for those who might be curious and to stand in solidarity with those women who, right at this moment, are in the throes of it and desperately searching Google. I hear you. I really do.
So let’s start the conversation…
So, here’s the deal– having an infant? Is exhausting. It’s crazy how much those tiny people can suck the life out of you. Ha! Seriously, though. It’s hard having a new baby in the house because sleep patterns become interrupted and unpredictable. Many, many new moms wander around in a sort of zombie state as they make it through those first months.
Here’s another truth: the first trimester of pregnancy is utterly draining. I remember being pregnant with my first and being positively staggered by the fatigue that overwhelmed me. I had never felt like that and it shocked me.
Now, add those two together. Being pregnant while parenting an infant? Is beyond the beyond in terms of tiring. I don’t say this to whine, but just to be honest. I cannot even adequately describe how tired I was at times.
It is absolutely critical that you take help when and if you can get it. Try to solicit nighttime help from your partner, if possible, and nap whenever and however you can. If that means you co-sleep/nap in the middle of the day? Well, that’s what you do.
Being THAT tired can actually make you start to feel kind of crazy, so it’s super important to rest whenever you can.
If you’re prone to the queasy nausea that can come with pregnancy, then you know that certain scents can throw you into a fit of gagging or waves of despair. It’s not fun. Getting up too early or without eating first can also make the sickness worse.
Guess what? Taking care of an infant means you get to be exposed to all kinds of possibly unpleasant aromas, from messy diapers to pureed baby food, all while dealing with the sensitivities of pregnancy. Awesome.
Here’s another wonderful joy of new motherhood: despite all the kegels in the world (and maybe you, like most women, didn’t do all that many), your pelvic floor muscles likely aren’t what they used to be. What this means, in the bluntest of terms, is that some pee might leak out when you’re vomiting. Seriously, people– that’s just adding insult to injury. Nonetheless, it’s a fact of life.
So, what to do? Well, if at all possible, enlist help with what you can. If a spouse, parent, or older child is around, see is he or she can’t handle feeding the baby the pureed broccoli. At the very least, save the stinkiest of the meals for when you don’t have to do it and stick to the milder blends, like squash or applesauce. To combat early morning queasies, keep some granola bars, nuts, or dried fruit in your nightstand to nosh on before you even attempt to get upright.
You can’t very well leave a baby in a filty diaper, so you might have to deal with the stench yourself. Try to breathe through your mouth or smear something minty-scented under your nose. It’ll help, though it won’t block everything.
Wear a light pad or pantiliner during those times of day you feel sickest because, seriously, having damp undies is just too much to have to deal with when you’re going through this. Better to just be prepared and bear with the annoyance.
Finally, to lessen to nausea, you might ask your OB for a prenatal containing a really high dose of B6. The B vitamins “flush” through your system and don’t build up, so you won’t overdose on it. Many studies (and my personal experience) have shown that taking extra B6 can help keep the queasies at bay a bit.
Sometimes, you’ll be given restrictions in pregnancy, such as lifting. Given that my firstborn weighed 24.5 pounds by the six month mark, this was a bit of an issue for me.
You honestly have to just do your best. Take help when you can get it. Try to minimize your motions. Don’t do excessive, unnecessary things.
But don’t beat yourself up if you needed to lift your 22 pound baby out of the crib, either. Pregnancy is not a disability and pregnant women lift, carry, and do things all the time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t heed your doctor’s warnings or try to follow guidelines– I am saying that there comes a point when stressing about it might be more detrimental to your pregnancy that actually lifting the weight.
“You DO know how this happens, right?”
This is one we Irish twin parents share with the parents of large families. Ah, people are always so free to throw out their opinions on your child-bearing habits.
You can get offended by this or you can just ignore it. Or, if you’re a little spunky, you can try some humor. Personally, I like either, “Sure do! And we love it.” or “No! I truly don’t– can you please explain it to me? I don’t know why this keeps happening!” Either one will quiet the remarks pretty quickly.
“Did you PLAN them so close?”
No one’s business. End of story. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. People should really NEVER ask this question, because it has no relevance whatsoever. All it does is satisfy their curiosity. Feel free to ignore it.
Finally, a post on Irish twin pregnancy would be remiss if it didn’t include a brief discussion of worries.
And you will worry. You’ll worry that you got pregnant too soon. You’ll worry that your older baby will get cheated. You’ll worry that your younger baby won’t get as much cuddle time. You’ll worry that you can’t do this. You’ll worry that you’re a lousy mom because you’re tired and sick and unable to get excited some days. You’ll worry that your kids will hate each other. Or hate you. Or both.
You’ll worry a lot.
What makes it harder than your average pregnancy worries is that you likely won’t have a large group who can relate to these worries, rallying around you. You may not know one other single person in real life who has had two babies within one calendar year. Honestly, I’ve never met anyone in my real life who has. Lots and lots and LOTS of those with 14 and 15 month gaps (and they’ll try to tell you it’s the same and you’ll know it’s not, but be nice anyway.) Even more with “two under two”, which is still not the norm, but isn’t exactly uncommon.
But that’s okay. You’re NOT alone. You are not the first woman to have her babies wildly close together. You won’t be the last. You’re not nuts and you didn’t do anything wrong. Your children will sometimes hate each other and sometimes hate you– as do all children. But they will also treasure each other. You have given them a special gift that very few children have– a sibling who is super close in age, but with whom they don’t have to share a birthday.
Try to relax, pregnant Irish twin mama. It’ll be okay. It’s way hard right now. So, so, SO hard. You’re not crazy to think it’s infinitely harder this time around. Your body is simply SPENT.
But you’ll make it. And, someday, when you sit with your own eight- and nine-year-olds (or maybe both eight!– depends on the time of year ), perhaps you can reassure another mother who’s tiredly crying as she worries about the baby due to arrive before his or her sibling even has a first birthday… and you can tell her it’ll be okay.