Author: Danielle McGregor
We went into our scan, like many multi parents, holding our breath, just hoping and praying for a heartbeat! As the doppler grazed my stomach, it was clear that there were two sacs and, in fact, two babies. I cried and cried (happy tears – two strong heart beats!) and my husband simply didn’t speak!
As we got into the car his head immediately went to logistics – we would have to move, what car would we get, how could we afford to live on one wage with three children … However, my mind went to one place – Spencer. I was worried about introducing a toddler to newborn twins after ha had had my full attention his whole life.
Mother guilt when pregnant with baby number two…….and three!
At that stage our first born was 2 years and 8 months old. He was going to go from being the only child, to a brother of twins! The mum guilt hit hard! I wondered how on earth was I going to spread my love evenly between three children? How could I prepare my baby boy for an upheaval on his life? How would Spencer understand that he would no longer receive 1:1 attention?
Telling a toddler you are expecting twins
After a turbulent beginning, we decided to wait until the illustrious ’12 week scan’ before we told him. I went to good old Kmart and purchased twin dolls (and to this day he calls his ‘pretend babies’). We sat him down, gave him his dolls and told him he was about to become a big brother. His instant reply, “I don’t want to be a big brother …” My heart sank!
Throughout the pregnancy we tried to include Spencer. He came to lots of scans, he had a ‘Big Brother’ book, we talked to him about how things might change. He thought perhaps the twins could sleep in his room in bunk beds like in Peppa Pig. We prepared him as best we could – but as the time drew closer he fed from my energy. He was attached to my side. He wouldn’t sleep without me lying next to him and he cried when I left the room.
Introducing a toddler to newborn twins
Luckily my obstetricians’ office held a ‘sibling’ course for new parents. I went along and whilst I was the only parent there who would be going from one child to three, I learnt some important information.
Don’t be holding your babies when introducing a toddler to newborn twins
The first piece of advice was that when it came time for Spencer to meet the twins I was to make sure I wasn’t holding them. He came into the hospital room and we had a chat. He did not want to cuddle because I still had a catheter in my arm. When Spencer was ready, the nurses bought the twins down from the nursery on portable monitors. Spencer was scared of the feeding tubes and just wanted to look at them. But because I was not holding the babies when he first walked in, he seemed to feel like he was in control. The whole experience was very calm and I was thankful for the advice we had received.
Ensure your toddler comes to the hospital and you “go home” as a family
The next idea that I never would have given a thought to was to ensure Spencer came to the hospital when we brought the twins home. In all honesty, I probably would have left Spencer at home with his grandparents (a 3 year old isn’t easy to wrangle at the best of times, let alone when trying to navigate a twin pram for the first time). However the advice we followed was to bring Spencer into the hospital the day the twins would return home. We picked them up from Special Care together and then entered our home as a family unit, without anyone else in the house. This really seemed to help Spencer understand the twins were staying – they weren’t going anywhere AND they were part of our family!
We had a few regressions throughout the first few months as a family of five! He went backwards with his toilet training and needed more cuddles overnight, but generally he adapted to our new family really well. Thankfully, he enjoyed helping with feeding and patting to sleep. He loved to sit on the bed saying ‘shhh’ and rocking their bassinet – grinning at me and somehow it seemed like we were ‘in this together’ and it wasn’t ‘Spencer vs. the Twins and Me’!
Spend one on one time with your toddler when you can
I was really careful to spend 1:1 time with him during the twin’s naps and when dad was home and even now, 8 months on, he craves that 1:1 time but seems to understand that it isn’t coming when the twins are awake. The mum guilt is still there but fortunately my eldest is old enough to rationalise with (most of the time!)
He loves his baby brother and sister and despite his sister getting into absolutely everything – ripping his craft, pulling apart his train track, climbing on his back – he really adapted quite well and for that, we are truly lucky!
For more tips on bringing home multiples when you already have a toddler, please read our article HERE.
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