What I’m doing differently this time around
Feeding on demand
With my older son, I struggled with breastfeeding not so much because of the physical pain, but because I felt solely tied down to a task that requires constant interruption with little breaks in between. As such, I didn’t feed him on demand.
And I still wasn’t planning on feeding the twins on demand until their pediatrician suggested doing so, given their preemie status. And what do you know: it’s not as bad as I imagined. For one thing, these kiddos are (so far) good sleepers and tend to sleep in three-hour stretches. I also now understand the benefit of feeding on demand at this age, considering that my little guys need to pack on the pounds and almost always fuss about hunger and not much less. And of course, I realize that this is all temporary, and whatever frustration I felt in my first pregnancy regarding breastfeeding is tempered by my knowledge that it’ll all fly by relatively quickly.
Plus we’re still somewhat feeding on schedule since the boys need to eat no longer than every three hours. So we’re doing a bit of both.
Putting the baby down drowsy but awake
I now get to test out the ubiquitous advice of putting the baby down drowsy enough to invite sleep but awake enough so that he learns to fall asleep on his own (and won’t freak out when he wonders why he’s not in someone’s arms anymore but in the bassinet).
Amazingly, both boys yet again have done well with this method. Of course there are moments when they fall asleep in someone’s arms or by nursing before being set down, but generally they’ll settle themselves to sleep without needing to be in deep sleep.
Putting the baby flat on his back
My first son never liked sleeping flat on his back. In fact, I had to sort through early photos of him sleeping on his back to prove that he had at one point done this, because for the remainder of his infancy until we sleep trained him, he required different methods and contraptions to fall asleep, from wedges to swings to infant seats that curled him into a ball.
This time around, the twin boys are almost always flat on their backs, especially at nights when there isn’t anyone there to hold them all those hours.
Having them nap in different parts of the house
I had always envied kids who would be simply lying down on the couch when—bam!—their eyes close and they’re down for a nap. With my older son, we weren’t too flexible with sleeping places and usually placed him in a swing or eventually his crib to fall asleep. This meant that if we were out and about, no amount of rocking would yield a nap, and he wasn’t able to fall asleep just anywhere.
So far, the twin boys have slept in their bassinets, pack-and-play, cribs, the floor, the couch, in people’s arms… you name it.
Relaxing a bit more and worrying a lot less
I remember feeling so tied down with my first baby, to the point where if I wanted to grab a tissue from the next room, I felt I couldn’t leave him even though he was perfectly safe where he was. I’m a whole lot emotionally able to care for the twins too, despite there being two of them, because I remind myself that whatever discomforts or inconveniences we’re experiencing are but temporary. My expectations are also much lower; with my first, I beat myself up for not having a clean house or not finishing the novel that I would normally read through in a week and instead has taken me months.
And perhaps because I had planned for two kids, or rather, two pregnancies, I also realize that this could very well be the last time I hold newborns in my arms, and the last time my husband and I can roll our eyes at the sleep deprivation that only newborn parents can attest to. Never say never, but I’m holding onto these experiences as (mostly) precious instead of yet another milestone or stage to hurdle over.
What did you learn from being a first-time mom that you applied to your other kids? What would you do differently after having gone through being a parent to your first child that you would do with subsequent kids?