Never EVER, turn down help!
We wanted to spend the first few days by ourselves with our new babies. No help.
Towards the end of my pregnancy my husband and I decided we wanted to have the first few days at home with the babies by ourselves. Looking back, I can see how insane this idea turned out to be, because as it turned out we had so much help, starting in the hospital, that there is no way we would have made it without the generosity of others with their time and food.
This crazy idea to spend the first few days alone as a little family was something I had read on the internet as a suggestion from another mother. It was supposed to help you be able to establish your own routines and figure things out by yourself without the added stress of having anyone else around. <insert evil laugh here> Now, we told this to a few people and they were very polite and said, “Oh, that sounds nice.” But I think they knew just how much craziness ONE baby can cause, let alone two. And now, all I can say to this idea now is “What a dumb idea! ”
Reality – The Hospital
Our beautiful baby girls were born weighing five pounds each, a bit premature at 37 weeks. Our care in Labor & Delivery was wonderful. I wish we could say the same for our postpartum care. We didn’t have any help with the girls, and by the time we left Sunday evening (we came in on Friday evening), we had only slept a total of 4 hours since Friday morning. We were exhausted. The nurses never offered to take the girls for a few hours because it was the weekend and they were short staffed, and there wasn’t a nursery. We also were having trouble getting the girls to nurse, so Layla was constantly hungry and tired and did a lot of crying. I remember bawling when visitors were there out of pure exhaustion. The greatest gift was when a couple of our friends came and just offered to hold the babies for awhile so Eloy and I could rest. Eloy slept for like 3 hours. I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep.
We also didn’t eat very well. You had to call and order your food, but with two newborns crying at opposite times and eating at opposite times, we kind of forgot to do this. My husband ate maybe twice while we were at the hospital. We were so grateful when someone brought some snack food, and another brought us a lasagna – Eloy was so hungry he ate the lasagna straight out of the pan!
We were hoping to stay in the hospital until Monday morning, but at about 8PM Sunday night, the nurse came in and said we had to be out by 11 because insurance wouldn’t pay for anymore time in the hospital. At this point, the girls were still not nursing, and not having wet diapers, and not sleeping but a few minutes at a time. Thank goodness a couple of my cousins were there to visit! They encouraged me to shower (I hadn’t showered since Thursday night…eww!), and they organized getting my prescriptions called in, and took everything out to the car. Two of my cousins even drove us home. I don’t think we ever would have made it home without them.
Begging for my Mom’s help
Before we left the hospital, Eloy and I decided that perhaps we needed a little more help than we thought we were going to, so I called my mom asking for her to come and stay the next few days with us. She said, “I was wondering if you would need some help, so I already have my bag packed. I will do the supper dishes and then come on down.” And of course, I bawled. I was crying so hard I couldn’t talk, so I said goodbye to my mom. Eloy looked at me strangely, and asked me if she said no. Crying even harder, I wailed, “No, she said yes <insert hysterical cries>.”
Letting others fold our underwear, do our dishes, and other household chores
Live-in help. For the first two to three months of the girls’ lives, we had nearly constant live-in help. After we got home, my mom stayed with us for several weeks, followed by a two week stay by my older sister Natalie. When she left, Eloy’s mom Trina visited for almost a month. After that, my mom came down and stayed for several days at a time, or I had a cousin-in-law who also stayed for a couple nights. It was an absolute necessity. The girls were not strong enough to get enough milk by nursing and lost too much weight, so I would nurse one girl for ten minutes and someone would take and give that girl a bottle. As soon as the first baby was done nursing, I would nurse the other girl for ten minutes, who would get a bottle afterwards. Then, I would pump for fifteen minutes. Doesn’t sound too bad, but it was a 15-20 minute battle to get the girls latched on properly sometimes.
And by the time I was done pumping, I had a couple minutes break before it was time to start all over again because they had to eat every two hours. Getting a single hour of uninterrupted sleep was rare at this point, even at night. We were sleeping for 15-30 minutes at a time, every few hours.
My job at this point was to nurse the girls, then eat, drink, and rest for a few minutes so I could keep producing milk for the girls. All other household chores fell on the shoulders of whoever was staying with us, or my husband. We had so many people who just stopped and offered to help either hold a baby, throw in a load of laundry, or help fold the clean clothes. They even folded our underwear! This would have embarrassed me before, but it became the norm.
We loved when people brought us meals. With twin newborns, there wasn’t time to cook or clean up, so this was a big help. Helping with dishes was another big help. One friend would always make sure the kitchen was clean before she left. Another helped me fix and freeze meals.
These are just a few things that people helped us with. All of this support from friends and family was crucial because it allowed my husband and I to focus on the most important thing – our new baby girls. I’m not saying it will make your life easy. Ours sure wasn’t, even with the help! We barely slept, I only got a shower once every three days, and walked around with puked on clothes. But I don’t want to think about how it would have been without these friends giving so much of their time and resources.
Moral of the Story
Be humble. Accept help from anyone and everyone who offers. Because in the end, you will realize that this extra help is what helped you survive.