Q. My friend/wife/sister/daughter is expecting twins. What can I do to help?
A. For some inexplicable reason, new twin moms are reluctant to ask for, or even accept, help when it is offered. Perhaps there is an underlying desire to prove to ourselves that single-handedly we can indeed meet all the expectations and demands of multiple-mommying. If you genuinely want to help, you may need to just "jump in," rather than ask what it is you can do to be of assistance. What were some of the invaluable "helps" we received (or would have appreciated)?
- Prepared meals delivered. Homemade, store-bought, restaurant carry-out, or pizza delivered -- all were a godsend!
- "Visits" that weren't adult social occasions, but timed to allow me (and ideally the babies) to nap while the "visitor" would do a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, or clean a bathroom, while tending to any waking babies.
- Gift certificates/gift cards for baby product providers like Babies "R" Us, Target, Wal-Mart, or the grocery store.
- Loans/hand-me-downs/pass-alongs of infant clothing.
- Diapers left at the door with a note of support. (If the family is bottlefeeding, a formula gift would be equally apropos. Do confirm the type of formula the family needs/uses.)
- A prepaid visit from a maid service.
- Flowers or cards voicing congratulations and providing a phone number to call anytime (24-7) for support or help. (Granted, I never took advantage of the offer, but knowing I could was very reassuring.)
- A gift membership to the local Mothers of Multiples club.
- A gift subscription to Twins Magazine.
Give the Family Bonding Time
If you are a friend committed to helping, make your availability known early; but you may actually wait a bit prior to "jumping in." The family help in-house for those first weeks with twins is more abundant than it ever will be again. When the babies are 1, 2, 3 months old, the twin household acclimation/sleep deprivation is still intense, but the offers of help come less and less frequently. Friends who brought a surprise lunch or diaper supply months into our twin parenthood were greatly appreciated.
Refreshingly, there is rarely an ulterior sub-question behind the question when this inquiry is made...just a heartfelt desire to do something genuinely helpful for a twin-expectant loved one. When you are asked this question when out-and-about with your twosome, be sure to share the ideas that you found most helpful.
Cheryl Lage is a full-time, fully fulfilled mom to fraternal twins Darren and Sarah. During twin-synchronous sleeping hours, she is the Web host of www.twinsights.com, a Web support site for new and expecting twin parents.
Originally published on AmericanBaby.com, May 2006.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.