Reality of twins and older siblings - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For those of you that twins or your multiples were not your first birth, please tell me about life with older siblings. My son is 3 and we have been preparing him for a little while. He's been around other babies so I think he grasps the idea of having a baby in the house, but obviously ones (or rather two) that don't go home is a lot different!

He is already my big helper and loves to feel like he's being useful, so I've got great ideas on how how to integrate him with their care. He's in preschool which will be helpful I'm sure.

I'm looking for the reality. How do you balance time, especially in the early months?

Babywearing, breastfeeding, Mother of MoMo twins and their older brother.
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#2 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 05:02 PM
 
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I am wondering this as well. I have 3 other children who will be 5, 3, and 2 when these two arrive.

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#3 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 05:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by obxbound View Post

I'm looking for the reality. How do you balance time, especially in the early months?
i want an emoticom of someone trying to lift a rock ten times larger than themselves........AND SUCCEEDING :

giggle. it's hard, but it just happens because, like you say, the changes have started already in pregnancy. i don't personally find it harder with two than one in terms of sibling stuff. if they've been ousted, they've been ousted - the number who have dethroned them from 'baby' status is irrelevant.

(my youngest turned four a week after the babies were born)

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#4 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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A lot of the help we asked for was for our DS, who turned 3 just before our girls were born. A lot of people made general and vague offers to help, so I would thank them with a "That would be great! Can you take DS to his favorite park next week on Tuesday" or something like that. We also asked both sets of grandparents (each came for several days) to spend a lot of time with DS and not so much time with the babes (who just wanted to nurse all the time anyway). I think we worried more about him than we did about having two newborns (not true, probably... but it was a big worry).

This was one of the first ways I was able to start asking for help before and after my twins were born. And it made a great difference.

Good luck!
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#5 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 07:42 PM
 
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It's definitely hard. I have to make sure I'm making time for DS1 when the babies are awake, not just when they're asleep, so he knows he's not just my second choice. But I think of all the difficulties of having an older child along with the twins, finding time for him is the least of my problems. Right now the biggest is that DS1 still wakes up at night and wakes up the babies.

Somehow it just works out, that you pay attention to all of them.
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#6 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 08:05 PM
 
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I don't know if I'll be any help, since my DD was 17 months old when the boys were born. At that age, pretty much after the boys had been there for 3 weeks, it was like they'd been there forever.

The hardest thing about having multiples with older kids, especially if they're still relatively little, I think is coming to terms with the blunt fact that no, you WON'T be able to parent before the first wimper like you could with your singleton. Yet you have to lay down the guilt and get on with it, because if you wallow in it you'll just have even less emotional energy for everyone. I am pretty sure this is true for many people's 2nd child and beyond, even if they're not multiples, that you have to learn to take each kid as themselves and try not to worry too much that you can't do everything "just like" you did before, because nobody's really the same kid.

All that being said...I arranged help with DD when the babies were born. She got grandma all to herself. Some of her favorites of my friends (I was fortunate in that very few of my local friends had kids themselves yet) took her swimming and did other fun things with her while I was settling in and recovering. They kept her busy and active, the very things that I couldn't do because of my recovery and some of the complications with one of the boys, so that we could have individual cuddle time.

Everyone filled me up with how older kids just love babies and they were going to have a very close bond, ect...but really that didn't happen for awhile on her side (though the boys instantly fixated on her even as newborns). So I had to guard against uberfluffy expectations and keep it real developmentally.

The kids are all close now. We lucked out and got 3 very complementary personalities. But I was so glad to have helpers that were interested in doing fun things with DD as opposed to being baby crazy. MIL was a great pinch-hitter in that situation because she could flip flop as needed.
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#7 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 10:03 PM
 
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Well I'm at a loss too!

My son will be 3 the end of April and I think he thinks I'm going to have lambs! Seriously!!!

I raise sheep and sheep twin a lot (hopefully most of them twin every year). He's always called the lambs, "Baby sheep or babies". So when I tell him "mommy is going to have two babies" I think he thinks I'm having lambs.

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#8 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 10:50 PM
 
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Well, I'm in the middle of this right now and still trying to figure it out. My twins will be 4 months on the 6th and my DD1 will be 3 on the 25th. For those first few crazy months (even crazier for us, since we moved to a different state and my DH deployed within that time) it was helpful to always have someone else around to pay her some attention that I couldn't. Luckily, she is close with my parents so it felt special always doing something with Grandma, Pop-pop or Daddy when she usually spent every hour of every day with me. Once that continuous help was gone and everyone went back to work, I started her in preschool a few days a week for a few hours. I did this mainly because I felt like she was going a bit bonkers listening to all the crying all the time, but it's also helped get her some socialization and into doing some activities more productive than what she was doing at home while I was trying to just keep my head above water. One thing I've always done since the babies were born is to make sure I'm the one that puts her to bed at night and I spend a decent amount of time reading to her and talking about her day, etc. Sometimes that's the only special time we have together...except on the rare day that I can actually get both babies to nap at the same time!

Good luck!

Kim, mom to : Katie (2/06), : Tommy & Amelia (10/08)
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#9 of 30 Old 01-28-2009, 10:51 PM
 
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Yea I'm always wondering about that too. My 6 yrs old is quite demanding and is not independent. I am really worried that shes gonna have a very hard time handling when my twins are born. I remember how so worn out I was with her during my first month. Her father said he would like to have her for a month during summer and I really hope that it will be during the time my twins are born so that my husband and I could just spent all of our time on the twins and have adjusted to them by the time my daughter comes back to us.

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#10 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 01:15 AM
 
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You have to clone yourself! Nobody told you??

Seriously, if you figure it out, let me know. I don't have enough arms and there aren't enough hours in the day. I think you just do the best you can and it will work itself out.

Heather, Army wife & Mama to M (10), J (9), L & S (my HBAC babies are 7!), N & R (5), and A (born 11/30/12 UBA2C)
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#11 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 02:52 AM
 
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Make sure you pay special attention to the older kids. My son was 19 months when mine were born and he got VERY jealous. He loved them but he was overly affectionate almost agressive and then as time went by he was flat out aggressive. What worked well for us is once the girls were old enough for me to feel comfortable leaving for a few hours, I took DS out on "dates". We do special things, just him and I and it really helps his attitude. It's especially hard on older sibs because the twins get SOOOO much attention from you, dad and everyone who sees them.

It's tough for the first year but I found once they started walking at a year he stopped seeing them as mama stealers and more as playmates. They really do get along swimmingly now!

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#12 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 03:10 AM
 
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This is like the million dollar question here. It's hard. It's freakin' hard. And yet, somehow, it all works out. Lots of books. Lots of telling stories, asking DD1 to play playdough w/me while I nursed, and nursed and nursed..... My mom came to help for a month and my daughter was CRUEL to her. She would say things like "you're still here????" and glare at her. She was 3. So for us, having other people do fun things with DD1 didn't always work, but at least it gave us a *break* ha ha ha to do housework or nurse, nurse, nurse. I really had a grieving process about losing the one on one relationship with my daughter. Of course, postpartum hormones helped that a lot. But it changes things dramatically. I find great consolation in the fact that long after DH and I are gone, the three sisters will have eachother, and that will really be great for all of them. It all works out.... it always does.
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#13 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 03:13 AM
 
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Well i have twins who are 2 and when i had them my daughter was 3 and my son was 2! THEY adored the twins and everything went smoothly good luck!:
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#14 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 11:37 AM
 
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It is hard but it is what it is and you muddle through. Dd1 is 3.5 years and pretty independent. She'll do something quietly on her own if I need her to. Ds1 (6 years), not so much . Make time when you can, involve them. My two love to pick out babies clothes for the day - some great outfits there .

We're another family that found it helpful to have someone around for the older dc's when the babies were born. We actually hired a neighbour girl to come 3 mornings/week to just play with ds1 and dd1 and get them outside.

Karen - spouse to dh for 11 years, mama to ds (Nov '02), dd (May '05) and ds and dd (Jun '08)

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#15 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 02:16 PM
 
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I just read that the mom who just had the octuplets has 6 children already.

I think I'll ask her for advice soon.

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#16 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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Like so many pps said - it is hard but you work it out. My basic approach was to acknowledge that I was making decisions for the good of the whole family, and couldn't focus on any one person too much. DS1 was almost 4 when the trio was born.

Some of the things I did only made sense because the risks with a triplet pregnancy are greater than with twins and because we had a month in the NICU, but here is what helped me. Also, breastfeeding fell apart very quickly, so I had more flexibility about who was caring for the babies early on than I would have if I had been needed for every feeding (though keeping my pumping schedule was a different challenge).

I knew there was a high likelihood that I would be put on bedrest at some point in the pregnancy, so I had DS1 in full day preschool from about 16 weeks to avoid having his schedule change if I had to be on bedrest.

When the LOs were in the NICU, I *always* came home for dinner and bedtime with DS1. We encouraged DS1 to draw pictures and decorate name tags for the isolettes.

When the little ones still had the palm grasp reflex, I made a point of getting DS1 to stimulate it and saying "Look, s/he loves her/his big brother" when they grabbed his finger.

I bought little gifts for DS1 "from" the LOs.

We set up as many playdates and times out for DS1 with grandparents as we could.

For the first year, I had help every day when DS1 came home from school and I focused on DS1 and had the babysitting caring for the babies.

It wasn't ideal in any way, but it was practical and we all survived and are happily attached now.

HTH

Kate
mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)
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#17 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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It's hard. That's no lie; and I only have one older kid. DD was 2.5 and at a very difficult time of her life when the twins came, and we had some very rough spots. We dealt with fear and anxiety from her-- what if I need mama, and mama can't help me because she's busy with the babies? We dealt with jealousy, and acting out from jealousy. She acquired a few nervous habits that we had to be patient in dealing with. And once the twins got mobile, we dealt with bickering and fighting and constant battles over somebody "messing up" somebody else's game or toy. Also, DD had to learn to do a lot of things for herself, and she resisted that a LOT.

I think you just have to take it minute by minute, take care of the one who needs you most urgently first, and every so often step back and take stock and see if there are any needs you're not addressing. Arranging a special time of day for the older child to be alone with each parent is nice if you can manage it-- even 15 minutes is the WORLD to a small child. When you can't, you just do the best you can. I remember teaching DD1 to hold her own book open while I read, because I had my hands full of nursing twins and couldn't hold the book.

The hardest part is the sleep. If you have just infant twins, you can nap when they sleep, but with an older kid, you can't just go to sleep in the middle of the day, and the lack of sleep can REALLY wear you down. Preschool is great for that, as is a helpful grandma or neighbor or friend who'll come and play with the child for a few hours so you can take a snooze with the babies.

And yeah, preschool helped a LOT. It was time for me to bond with the twins, so that I felt okay about spending more time with DD while she was home. It was something DD could do that was JUST FOR HER. And it was a chance for her to escape the general level of anxiety that sometimes exists in a house with multiple newborns in it!

It also really helps to be careful about the relationship you have with your partner. When DS was colicky right in the middle of DD's potty training, and all of us were not sleeping at all, it was easy for me and DH to lapse into being short with each other and bickering, and it was THAT that stressed DD out more than anything directly related to the babies. Watch your general anxiety level and the way you and your partner are dealing with it! Make sure that if you wind up arguing or something in front of the older kid, that you "make up" the argument in front of your child too, so that he can see that his family really is safe and stable.

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#18 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ladies you are amazing! What great advice. In my heart I know it will all work out and we will make it work, but the planner in me wants to plan. This is very helpful.

Thank you!

Babywearing, breastfeeding, Mother of MoMo twins and their older brother.
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#19 of 30 Old 01-29-2009, 11:19 PM
 
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My daughter who was 4 at the time, had a very difficult time. We tried to get her involved with the boys, but she wanted none of it. She was actually mean to them. I felt *so* bad because we had 2 newborns and a lot of our time was taken up by them. My mom did take her but she also had to work. It was just really difficult the first few months.

After some of the chaos died down, I implemented "Mommy and Kalynn Time", where we go somewhere for lunch, go to the park, wherever, just me and her. That seemed to help her.

Now my boys are 2, and it's gotten SO much better. She loves her brothers, and is very good with them. Just those first few months were really difficult.
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#20 of 30 Old 01-30-2009, 01:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeannaK View Post
My son will be 3 the end of April and I think he thinks I'm going to have lambs! Seriously!!!
Oh my!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by magstphil View Post
I just read that the mom who just had the octuplets has 6 children already.
Seriously! Holy cow!!!!! That puts the Cheaper by the Dozen movie to shame.

What I'm worried about is the fact that the twins will be more bonded to one another than to my DD. She'll be a little over 4.5 when they're born, and I just worry about her being the odd one out. She'll be a great big sis, but I also just worry that she's gonna have a LOT more responsibility because of the twins. Poor little girl. But she is so super excited about the babies. She can't wait to teach them how to play her Kung Fu Panda game.

Kimberly, mom & wife - blogging.jpg about pregnancy and birth
DD 2004; 3 angel1.gif babies 2007-08; rainbow1284.gif twin DDs 2009; DD 7/12/11 hospital uhoh3.gif VBAC bouncy.gifafter 2 cesareans!

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#21 of 30 Old 02-01-2009, 04:08 AM
 
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Hard.

DS was 2 when my triplets were born.

Its hard. Here is what I'll say - DH and I spent a LOT of DS 1-1 time. Outings, lengthy bedtime routines, time alone in evening after triplets tucked in, etc. . . . We'd also take him out on a "date" just DH and I about once a week - like to sushi or something? Anyway - my observation was - the more time I gave him - the more he craved. He was a seeming bottomless pit of need for my undivided attention. Time together never seemed to satiate him? I've often felt like the one thing he wants most is the one thing I can't give him - to be an only child~

The good news is . . . at 6 - much of that finally seems to have subsided. So there seems to be something that happens as the sibs get old enough to be an interesting playmate to the older one that can really turn the tide.

I think a multiples pregnancy is difficult for a first-born under any circumstances. Just try to keep that in mind -do your best to carve out time for him where/when you can - and try not to beat yourself up about it.

And all my best to you and your babies on the way!

TripMom . . . . . loving mom : to DS (7) and BBG (4.5)
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#22 of 30 Old 02-01-2009, 04:13 AM
 
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Well i have twins who are 2 and when i had them my daughter was 3 and my son was 2! THEY adored the twins and everything went smoothly good luck!:
I will try not to faint dead away from the shock and the jealousy I am feeling right now . . . . . .??????

TripMom . . . . . loving mom : to DS (7) and BBG (4.5)
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#23 of 30 Old 02-01-2009, 11:01 AM
 
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My DD 1 completely LOST IT after the babies were born. I could not have prepared for how awful things were going to be. She would frequently put blankets and pillows over their faces, pick them up by one arm, ect. She even started a fire in the kitchen while DH was changing the babies diapers one night, (I was in the basement doing my first pp load of laundry and heard the cries). The screaming tantrums, bathroom regression, total lack of cooperation, and unwillingness to EVER compromise almost drove me over the edge. I joined a support group for mothers with PPD. It took about 9 months to get things under control. No amount of help seemed to really help. Well, other mamas bringing food over helped.

The twins are now 2.25. I have just had another baby, and I was very anxious that this behavior would resurface. It hasn't so far. We also learned this fall that DD1 has Asperger's Syndrome, and Sensory Integration Disorder. I don't think we could have done things differently when the twins were born, and we will never know how much was twin jealousy and how much was straight up over stimulation, but we do know that the noise/activity level the infant twins created probably overwhelmed her to the point of hysteria on several memorable occasions.

The twins are neuro-typical so I don't anticipate quite the level of craziness we had last time, but with two princes having to give up their throne to a new baby it has been... interesting on occasion.

Mama to 4 darlings. A ('03), O and K ('06), A ('09), and wife to M since 2002.
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#24 of 30 Old 02-01-2009, 01:20 PM
 
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My ds was 3 1/2 when the babies came along almost 6 months ago. He ADORED them right from the start, but still gets jealous on occasion. When they were very little, it was the end of summer, so I would try to make time to take just him outside to play, even if it was for only 10-15 minutes. If I was alone with all 3 kids, I'd bring a baby monitor outside so I could hear if the twins needed me.

now that they're older, I can spend a little more time with my 3yo, but not much. I do make it a priority to have "special" time alone with him after the babies go down for the night. We both put on our pj's, read a story, have a bed time snack and brush our teeth together. We co-sleep with him but not the twins, so I think that also helps. We snuggle together and watch a little tv before falling asleep.

During the day, he mostly plays alone, or with the babies. I try to get him to help as much as possible, he loves to help. He also loves to cook, so any time I cook anything (even heating water in the microwave), I enlist his help. This morning, we made sticky buns. This afternoon we will make home made lemonade and meatloaf for dinner and snacks for the Super Bowl. Since cooking is one thing I can't do with the babies, he really gets all my attention there. I usually am wearing a baby on my back while we cook, but ds doesn't seem to mind.

You'll figure it all out

Denise, mama to ds1 (03/26/05) and boy/girl twins born 08/12/08
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#25 of 30 Old 02-01-2009, 02:28 PM
 
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Quote:

What I'm worried about is the fact that the twins will be more bonded to one another than to my DD. She'll be a little over 4.5 when they're born, and I just worry about her being the odd one out. She'll be a great big sis, but I also just worry that she's gonna have a LOT more responsibility because of the twins. Poor little girl. But she is so super excited about the babies. She can't wait to teach them how to play her Kung Fu Panda game.

Jack just turned 4 and I am in the hospital with pre-eclampsia. I worry now about how he is dealing with Mommy being gone because of the babies and then they will be born and Mommy will have to take care of the little ones! And I also worry because they are both girls and will be four years younger than Jack so will he be left out I have too much time on my hands lol.v Oh and jack's favorite game is Kung Fu Panda...
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#26 of 30 Old 02-01-2009, 02:32 PM
 
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Mine were 3 1/2 and almost 2 when their sisters were born. Overall, I'd say it went well, but our situation was a bit different than yours, 'cause I had two older ones, and I think that actually made it easier. They had each other, and they've always played together well. So when I was busy with the babies, they weren't abandoned; they still had their favorite playmate, you know?

My twins (now almost one) also really enjoy watching their older siblings run and jump and shout and play. The older two are like a constant floor show for the younger two . . . when the older two are out of the house, visiting Grandma or whatever, the younger two get really fussy. They miss the entertainment!

My son - who was almost two when they were born - really seemed to like being called "the big brother". He thought it was very cool that he had his own new role in the family, you know? We even have a t-shirt that says "big brother" and he wears it every chance he gets.

No kidding, it's very hard. But I love having four kids, and I love watching the interactions between the older ones and the twins. It's very, very hard, but it's not impossible to have kids who like each other, even if they're very young kids and include twins!

Let your older one hold the babies too (supervised!). I've found that this really makes them feel connected and important.
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#27 of 30 Old 02-01-2009, 02:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NicoleMarieLG View Post
Oh and jack's favorite game is Kung Fu Panda...


I'm so sorry you're in the hospital. Take care!!!

Kimberly, mom & wife - blogging.jpg about pregnancy and birth
DD 2004; 3 angel1.gif babies 2007-08; rainbow1284.gif twin DDs 2009; DD 7/12/11 hospital uhoh3.gif VBAC bouncy.gifafter 2 cesareans!

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#28 of 30 Old 02-01-2009, 03:44 PM
 
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I think it's a bit unrealistic/unfair to not expect that the twins may share a 'special bond' that their other siblings might not be a part of. Not all twins feel that, of course, and in my own experience and what I've observed in others a lot of the time if it happens it doesn't always happen early (with my boys it really wasn't until they were 2 1/2).

That being said, as babies they were more bonded to sister than to each other. (and sometimes, it felt like, even us parents!) But as everyone's growing older, they've all got their individual interests, ect.

I tried hard to discourage people from taking a "poor baby, all left out" attitude towards DD, because I didn't feel that it was helpful and I certainly didn't want her to internalize that! So just as I didn't allow people to gush over the twin babies while ignoring her, I didn't allow them to gush over her in a negative way either.

I don't know that it helped either way, since as it turned out all 3 of my kids have very complementary personalities (not everyone gets so lucky) so they don't have a lot of natural personality conflicts. And how a 17 month old reacts is going to be different developmentally than, say, a school age child.

But I found that keeping the balance of family cohesion and *not* denigrating or ignoring the twin relationship to be harder than I thought. It's a difficult line to walk, especially in the early years.
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#29 of 30 Old 02-02-2009, 02:55 PM
 
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This has been one of my biggest worries. How is DS going to adjust? He will be 2y10m when the twins arrive. He has, so far in his life, shown himself to be a fairly adaptable little boy, so I am hoping that he adapts well to this. He is so happy now, and it crushes me to think he might get jealous or resentful because of his new siblings. At this point I am planning to have a babysitter come in a few days/week so DS and I can spend time together, but I realize it may not be that simple. DS goes to preschool two days a week and loves it, so we'll continue that after the babies arrive so he has consistency and a special place just for him. I don't know though, I am just not sure how to prepare for this....

Mama to DS 10/06, DD & DS 08/09
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#30 of 30 Old 02-03-2009, 01:34 AM
 
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DD was almost 4 and DS was almost 2 when the twins were born. DD adjusted fine - she was a great helper, good attitude, understood that she had to wait for help, etc. We did end up putting her 4yr old kindergarten so she wouldn't be bored, couldn't fight with her brother, and gave me some breathing room for the other 3. My DS did not adjust as well - going back to breastfeeding him helped a lot and he just really needed his mommy time.

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Mama to love.gif DD (9yr), DS luxlove.gif (3yr), & 2twins.gif UC twin DDs (5yr)

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