I'm still in the first trimester, so I know it's early for me to be having all these worries, but I have to say that I can't stop thinking about this stuff and it's making me a little bit batty. Well, that and the terrible nausea, but y'all can't help me with that part! I am sorry to have written a small novel here, but my mind is just racing and I'd love some input from Been There Done That Mamas who can help me problem-solve.
We live in a small (Manhattan small) one-bedroom apartment. It's a third floor walk-up. We're at our limit in terms of what we can afford for rent, so there's no hope of us moving somewhere else. We are actually priced out of Brooklyn, and in terms of location we can't move to the farther boroughs (outer Queens, Midwood, etc) due to our jobs & some other factors not worth getting into here. We figured we'd have the kid, make it work in our cozy space for a year or two until the dust settled, and then try and figure out where to move/what to do next. Sharing the space with a nb-2yo really didn't seem like a big deal. (Did I mention we also have two dogs and two cats? We used to live on a farm and had more space, we're not entirely insane) We talked specifically about really concrete things, for example:
- Co-sleeping- because there's no room for a crib and we can't really afford one anyway.
- Ergo carrier- because I love them (have used them as a nanny) and there's no room in our place for a stroller to park. PLUS I couldn't imagine having to haul one up three flights of stairs every day. I know the Maclarens are light but if I was going to get a stroller I wanted one that had the baby facing me and Maclarens are great for a lot of things, but not Mommy-facing.
- Childcare- I teach university courses, so I figured I would just strap the kid onto me, head to campus and hire a student (not my student) to watch Baby while I taught my 75 minute class. Saves having to pay while I commute!
- Cloth Diapers- Save money, save the earth, have a cute baby bum while doing it? Sign me up! We don't have laundry in the building so we were planning on buying a Haier portable washer that hooks up to the sink then line drying in our apt. and using that system for the diapers. A friend of mine in the city does this and it works fabulously for her.
- Breastfeeding- Saves money, better for the baby, more convenient for me, yes!
- My part-time Nanny job: No problem -- the mother is super supportive of me coming to work with the baby on my back in the Ergo. The family is wealthy as all get-out, they love me, and pay me really well. We aren't high earners so we need to keep this extra income.
Twins have totally upended everything (at least in my head)
- Co-sleeping- we have a queen sized bed and my husband and I are both sprawlers. I'm sure we could make it work with one baby, but two? Out of the question -- we just wouldn't fit comfortably and no one would sleep.
- Ergo carrier - I'd still love to have carriers and use them when Hubs and I are both out with the babies but it's not practical for me to think about carrying both babies on my own that way 100% of the time. I know a lot of women tandem carry but I am not strong enough to tandem carry two growing infants all over New York City while I'm trying to live life (grocery shop, get to work, etc). We'll need a stroller now, that much is clear, but we still don't have room for one AND we still live on the third floor. Honestly, how can I get up the stairs carrying two babies and a stroller? I don't have that many arms!
- Childcare - At this point I can't even fathom how I would get to campus with two kids. NYC Subways don't come with elevators (at least not the stations I need to use) and, well, see above for my stroller quandry. I've helped many a mama carry her stroller up and down stubway steps, but I've never helped someone with a twin stroller -- heck, I've never even SEEN a twin stroller on the subway.
- Cloth Diapers- Cloth diapering twins with a mini washer that hooks up to our kitchen sink? I'd just be doing laundry all the time, not to mention the sheer investment of buying enough cloth diapers for two. My super frugal "prefolds and covers" plan was already expensive for one, but two?? Our new decor would be five drying racks full of damp diapers. Oh, did I mention we don't actually have space for a gazillion drying racks? Disposables aren't really a better solution since it'll be so expensive to disposable diaper two babies.
- Breastfeeding twins- I know people do it but it just seems like A LOT. And what if they're premature and can't bf? Or what if I don't make enough milk for two and we need to supplement? Formula is SO expensive and formula for two? Holy moly. We're making ends meet, but barely, so we wouldn't qualify for WIC (I don't think?)
- My part-time job: Forget it. I don't think there's any way I could care for the kids I'm supposed to care for AND two of my own. I've nannied for a family of 6 before, but it's another thing to bring your own kids into someone's house. One is fine, not sure how they'd respond to two. I'm sensing a no.
All of these problems wouldn't be problems if we lived in a bigger place that had a elevator and/or had fancier jobs where we earned a lot more money. Unfortunately we have none of those things and no nearby family either. I know there are a lot of twin parents in NYC but I think of them as older successful types who've had ART and have the financial wiggle room that allows them to cope (move to a bigger place, get a nanny, etc). I know that's not fair and there are probably lots of struggling young people in NYC with twins (right?) but it doesn't feel that way.
I'm a graduate student, my husband is a manual laborer (no jobs for cowboys in the big city), and I just don't know what to do. I know that having twin children will be easier -- they can walk, eat normal food, use the toilet, etc -- but we've got to go through the baby stage to get to that part!
When we got the news that it was twins I laughed (because I called it) and cried because my mind immediately went to, "Oh no, what are we going to do?"
I know we'll figure it out but I would love, love, love any words of wisdom you ladies can share with me. I'm excited for the babies to come, I'm thinking positive thoughts every day for their health and well-being, but I'll feel a lot better if I have a plan.
Strawberry lover, dog-person, New Yorker. (Who doesn't love a jump-roping sheep?)
We do cosleeping with our twins, they refuse cribs. We did have to get a king which means our whole bedroom is just a bed, seriously the dresser is in the hall but you do what you have to do.
I did nurse both. Supply will come it is rarely an issue. Start finding support for this now bc yes it can be tricky at first but it is totally doable! Think positive and commit to this now bc if your wavering now that will make it harder when they are here.
I couldnt figure out how to carry both, I still don't and wish I did. I live the ergo though and if I must I can hold one BA u while one is in an ergo but not in a crowded subway. I will say at home though it's not ideal but you will have to ga e a safe place to set them, maybe a pack in play then you can quickly go run down and Grab your stroller if no one has stolen it.
I'll keep brainstorming!
Do you have room to side car a crib to the bed? There are a lot of tutorials online on how to side car the IKEA Gulliver, and that is what we are planning in our small bedroom for cosleeping.
- Co-sleeping- You may have to get a king sized bed or a sidecar, but I promise you will get more sleep if you breastfeed and cosleep.
- Ergo carrier - Don't give up on wearing them! There are front/back options, do some more research ok?
- Childcare - Again, don't give up on wearing them! I assume you're a professor? Can you leave a pack n play in your class room?
- Cloth Diapers- This will probably suck but I think $$ wise I would just deal with damp diapers drying everywhere and doing a load every day (some moms of singletons do laundry every day anyway).
- Breastfeeding twins- You can do it, it's so rare to have supply issues. I've heard of women exclusively nursing triplets and more!
- My part-time job: Yeah I'm thinking they probably won't go for it. :(
Try not to stress, the day to day living issues will work themselves out and you'll find a way to make it work. I'm not a mom of twins but I am a mom of three boys four and under and we also barely make ends meet.
Single, student mama to 3 boys
Thanks for all the encouragement ladies. My husband is Mr. Can-Do and I'm the worrier (cue favorite saying: Worrying is like a rocking chair, gives you something to do -- but it doesn't get you anywhere.)
You're all right -- there is a way, we'll figure it out.
I'm trying to be mindful of all the wonderful things we have going for us and concentrate on those. I know stress isn't good for the babies so I'm trying to stay positive!
@bigfoot - we will try sidecaring a crib, I wonder if that would work for two though and the space is a little tight. Maybe we'll just lower our bed (take out the boxspring?) and that'll help?
@ColoradoMama thanks for the twin tips! :)
@Micha Tons of respect to you -- three under four sounds like a challenge!
Strawberry lover, dog-person, New Yorker. (Who doesn't love a jump-roping sheep?)
-Shopping at the thirft stores. 75% of the baby clothes I have bought came from Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
-Shopping on Ebay. Found good deals on baby clothes, slings, diapers, even nursing tops.
-www.blueberrydiapers.com has a clearance section in which they sell "imperfect" but perfectly functional cloth diapers at a discount.
-www.walmart.com is where we bought a cosleeper and 2 Badger Baby moses baskets. The baskets are not top-of-the-line, I will be honest about that, but they do look lke a small, safe, easily movable place for babies to sleep in. The sheets that come with them are thin and flimsy, but I replaced them with pillow cases. I tuck and fold them over the basket's matress, so there is no way they could come loose or fall over the baby's face. The fabric liners look flimsy and I don't know how well they would hold up in the washer, soI ordered extras fom the Badger Basket company website. They are cute but cheap.
My husband and I are not destitute, thank God, but money is an issue. He had just opened his own company right before I got pregnant. One way that we have saved money was firing his 1st (very lazy and incompetent, by the way) office manager and then having me go in as a replacement. It is an easy job--cleaning the office, answering the phone, faxing, filing, answering the door--and I can go back with the kids if I so choose as usually no one is there anyway. Working proved a welcome distraction for me. I enjoyed it.
So, these are just somethings that have worked for us. My parents have given us a dresser to put the babies' things in, along with some clothes, books, and other items they picked up (again, mostly from thrift stores. My dad is getting ready to retire, and both my parents are caregivers for my brother, who is handicapped and recovering from a life-threatening reaction he had from a CT scan. His insurance is jerking them around, so we have helped them with stuff like medical and household items). I hope that some of my ideas prove helpful for you. I am also freaked out by the logistics, trust me. :-)
Here is my input. Mine are 5 months old.
Cosleeping: We do it and love it. But, yes, we had to upgrade to a king bed. We are in a home, but the bedrooms are very small so we have practically nothing else in our bedroom. The tiny nursery has my dresser, their dresser, a loveseat and a changing table. He puts his clothes in the closet and I use the closet in the nursery. Until we got the king bed, he often slept on the couch. It just had to be done. You can also look into a cosleeper or side-carred crib, which didn't put the babies close enough for me but works for many moms.
Ergo: For some reason, the stroller was the hardest part for me to put my mind around when we found out it was twins. I wanted to skip it entirely with a singleton. But I've grown to love it, the babies love it, and I still use the Ergo A TON. We have a double stroller, but you might be able to get away with a single, lightweight stroller and wear one/push one a lot of the time. That's how we grocery shop, etc.
Child care: We're using a high school child care. It is primarily for teachers, so it is affordable, but we snagged open spots. Check with high schools and YMCAs, etc. They are known to actually have the best child care in my area, and are the most affordable.
Cloth diapers: No way. I was not open to cloth diapering twins. (And we even have a full-size washer/dryer.) And, really, disposables have turned out not to be that expensive. We buy the generic ones and they are just as good, so don't get fooled into spending more than you have to. Plus, though they use a lot in the first couple of months, they need changes less frequently after that. So you won't be drowing in diapers forever.
Breastfeeding: Totally possible. I'm weaning right now, but it's due to ongoing, undiagnosed pain rather than the issue of twins. Even easier if you can tandem breastfeed, which I never got the hang of, but many moms of multiples do it really well. And breastfeeding plus cosleeping will save your sanity with twins in the early months sleep-wise. Even if you can't sleep through the feedings, which I couldn't always do, you still don't have to stand up or pick them up, etc. Also, formula is not terribly expensive and supplementing is totally okay. Especially if you can't tandem breastfeed. I've actually spent WAY MORE on breastfeeding than I would have on formula with pumps, clothes, pads, etc (plus, of course, seeking treatment for the pain).
Yes, and honestly, babies can sleep on a pad on the floor if necessary. Try not to get caught up in "the way things are done" and try the things that you think might work for you. Plenty of moms around the world do fine without many of the things we think we need!
Breathe. It's normal to panic, and do let yourself grieve the pregnancy/infancy you were thinking of. It's okay to feel what you feel. Twins are awesome, but as you know, they're not the same thing.
You have some pretty tricky situations. I can't help with all of them, but I have a little input.
We coslept with our twins in a sidecarred-crib for the first six months. And when we visited they slept together in a pack n play. Both of which you might be able to find from a friend getting rid of one or on Craigslist (you can sidecar a drop-side crib, because you're taking off the drop side...and drop side cribs can be easier to find, because it's not legal to sell them anymore)
For the first couple of months, both twins are likely to fit in a single stroller. (and that's the time it was most important to me that they be facing me)
On commuting, yeah, that sucks. But check out your route. Think about other routes. Some are accessible with a double stroller (I've done the subway in NYC on my own with two toddlers in a maclaren, though sometimes I'd rather walk two miles aboveground than deal with the stairs). People are helpful. Also, find a map of NY subways for the disabled. I think someone has made one. Think of your double stroller as a wheelchair. Or think about getting a babysitter who commutes with you. Our kids take all their naps in our Maclaren (bought on craigslist).
Do a price comparison between diaper services in your area and disposables. You may be pleasantly surprised. We did a service for the first six months, and it was wonderful. Our service also had a free covers (used covers, but that was fine) perk for twins (the covers people accidentally sent in to them).
You may be able to breastfeed. You may be able to carry both. Some of these things you may not know until the time comes. I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed. I could carry both when they needed bouncing, but not as a lifestyle choice (when carrying two I can walk, but I certainly couldn't do housework or take care of other kids).
On the nannying, ask. Especially if the other kids are older. Think about logistics. But yeah, this could be hard. Could you and your partner trade off working times somehow? It only works with certain jobs, but it's worth considering to save on childcare. Or somehow commute together? (and each carry a baby)
I send out all my wishes and compassion. Twins were a hard change of thinking for me, too. But you and your partner will figure out a way through this.
Thanks for all the kind and thoughtful replies! As it happens all my panicking was probably for naught because it looks as though we will be moving about a week after the babies are born. This in and of itself, if a little bit crazy -- but my mother is a force of nature and has already offered to come and pack us up here and help us move since I will be of little use at that point. We'll manage.
My husband has been offered a farm job that is within commuting distance of my job in the city (his career has always been agriculture, he just put it aside temporarily because my job required us to be in Manhattan). Happily, as with all our other farm positions this one comes with a house! Although I am really sad to be leaving the city I love, I also love farm life and for a whole host of reasons I am significantly less stressed out about raising twins on a farm than I was about raising twins on this bustling island.
Thanks again for all the encouragement ladies, it definitely helped!
Strawberry lover, dog-person, New Yorker. (Who doesn't love a jump-roping sheep?)