Twins & Multiples: Surviving the First Year

Bonding with Your Babies

Just as learning to take care of your babies takes time, so does getting to know who they are. In fact, it may take a few days to master the most basic information: which one is which! To avoid confusion, don't remove your babies' hospital ID bands until you're sure you can tell who's who. Julie, the Chicago mom, wrote the names of her twins on their wristbands in indelible ink. After a day or two she could tell them apart by the shape of their head. "Michael's was round like a softball, and Henry's was like a flattened circle," she says. Finding a freckle or birthmark on one baby, dressing them in different colors, or painting one toenail can help with identification too.

Of course, you may not have this problem if one of your multiples is still in an intensive-care nursery. In that case, dividing your time between hospital visits and home can make life more stressful and bonding harder. "One of my twins came home two weeks earlier than the other," says Maria. "No matter where I was or which twin I was with, I felt torn -- and guilty that I wasn't with the other one. Once they were both home, things got a lot better."

Tending to the needs of two newborns may mean that you don't fall in love as instantly as you'd expected, but this is completely normal. "The more you get to know your babies as individuals, the closer and more connected you will feel to each of them," says family and child therapist Eileen Pearlman, PhD, coauthor of Raising Twins (Simply Collins). Try to notice what's unique about each one, like the way your daughter curls her lip before she cries or the way your son startles when he hears a loud noise.

Celebrate Their Individuality

Jodi, the West Bloomfield mom, says she thinks of her twins as two children who just happen to be the same age. "They look different, they act different, and they are going through different stages at different times," she says. "We call Ellie the girl with a thousand faces because she changes her expressions all the time, whereas Jenna always has a smile on her face. When people want to know who's happier, stronger, or funnier, I just tell them it depends when you ask!"

It's important to treat your babies as individuals so that they begin to see themselves that way too. Refer to them by name rather than as "the twins," and as they get older, make sure they have their own clothes and special toys. Kathy, of Atlanta, says that her 8-month-old daughter, Abigail, is outgoing and never tires of social interaction, whereas Abigail's twin, Virginia, is quieter and will reach a point where she's had enough. "So at the end of the day, we'll continue playing with Abigail and just do more snuggling with Virginia," says Kathy.

While raising multiples can make you feel as if you're at the center of a three-ring circus, you will adjust to them more with each passing day, and they will reach milestones that will make life easier -- like sleeping through the night and holding their own bottle. "At 6 months, Jay and Ava were smiling and entertaining each other. It didn't take long for us to realize how lucky we are to have them and how lucky they are to have each other," Carline says. "They're double the work, but also double the love, kisses, and hugs."

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