For Men Expecting Twins: A Quiet Word

On June 23, 2017 by Lazer Horse

On the 24th of January, 2017, my life changed significantly; I became the father of boy/girl twins. I’m a natural worrier and a perpetual over-thinker, so the build-up to this momentous occasion was fraught, sweaty and seemingly unending.

Now I have come out of the other side, I thought I would write a few words to whisper in the ears of other men in a similar situation. I’m only a few months in, so I have much to learn and experience but, if you are anything like me, my major concerns revolved around the birth and their first few days of life.

I’m not going to give you loads of “tips” because there are plenty of websites, books and friends for that. And I don’t really have anything to add. I’m still new to this.

Personally, my priorities were to make sure the newborns had something to eat, something to wear and somewhere to sleep. After all, they’re the essentials. But, my brain wouldn’t let me stop at that.

I did the NCT course, I did a twin specific NCT course, I did a “Dad course” and I read books. I perused websites, and I spoke to friends. All of the above were helpful in different ways, don’t get me wrong, but, if anything, I felt like there was too much information available. We are humans, we can only retain a certain volume of info and, if we are in panic mode, the amount we can hold in our heads is reduced significantly.

I guess this post applies to men expecting just one baby too, but I’ve never done that, I’ve only ever had twins. And there’s something about the word “twins” that changes the complexion of the situation.

I think men, particularly, are more panicked by the approach of twins than expectant fathers are of singletons. When a woman tells her girlfriends that she is having twins, their jaws might initially drop, but they will quickly pull themselves together and say “wow…. that will be amazing.” When a man tells his male friends that he is having twins, they are more likely to respond with laughter and say something like “OMG, you are totally screwed, you will never sleep again. LOL.”

It’s a fair response. The idea of having two babies is terrifying. It’s a big deal, and nothing can change that. But, you will handle it. You don’t have a choice. Don’t worry about gadgets, don’t worry about the anatomy of the placenta, don’t worry about how you will feel – just get on with it.

So, why am I bothering to write more information for you to read through bloodshot eyes? Well, I’m not offering advice; I just want to tell you a few things you shouldn’t worry about.

Before the little gremlins were born, I was told that everything would change. In fact, I was reminded of that so often that it became annoying. Of course my life would change – I would be the father of two, that really goes without saying.

I was also regularly reminded that I would never sleep again – of course I would get less sleep: children are complete idiots with no regard for the night/day cycle.

But a lack of sleep and a huge change does not change you. You will be the same person, dealing with a tricky situation like you’ve done millions of times before. Twins can be considered a slightly bigger situation than you will have faced before, and they are a longer-lasting situation than most, but you will handle it like you always have.

Will It Be Magical?

A lot of people will tell you how “magical” having twins will be. This might be true, and you’ll certainly be entranced by their little faces and minuscule fingers, but initially, it is far from magical. The chances are, your partner will have a C-section. If you are in the room during the operation, you will find it weird, uncomfortable, frightening and very, very far from magical indeed. It will seem practical, physical, busy, bloody and upsetting.

Then, all of a sudden, you will have two children.

Although the transition from operating table to fatherhood is swift, you will still feel like you. Not everything will change. I think that’s important to keep in mind. As you are worrying in the days before the main event, remember that it won’t all change. Despite what people have told you. You will still be you.

You will learn quickly what it is like to change nappies – this always worried me, I had never changed one before, but it’s easy. It might hurt your back and get tedious pretty quickly, but it is easy.

What about dressing the delicate little flowers? Well, same deal. They will be soiling themselves frequently, so you will quickly adapt to it. They are nowhere near as delicate as you imagine they will be. They are bendy and forgiving. It’s best not to drop them, but their arms and fingers will bend to your will.

Unending Tears?

What about the constant crying? Personally, that was the worst bit. I hate hearing them cry, and not in a maternal “ahhh… poor dears” way, more of a “please stop, that’s the most horrible noise in the universe” kind of way.

The mother will be flooded with hormones and, with any luck, she’ll feel ultra-maternal. You, on the other hand, the guy doing the grunt work (if she has a C-section, she will need to rest up), won’t necessarily have this flood of hormones to keep you focused. Your teats won’t leak milk as their lungs push out the volume.

The good news is, they sleep for a looooong time when they are first born (16-20 hours a day), so the amount of crying you experience will be limited, initially (hopefully).

To reiterate, though, even as the crying scrapes the marrow from your bones –  you will still be you. You can plan as much as you like, but when the twins come out, you’ll forget nearly everything you learned. Don’t worry about it. You will be in hospital for at least two nights, and the hospital staff will tell you the important stuff. You will get so much support from medical professionals. They will focus on the aspects that really matters – the things that will keep the munchkins alive.

So, prepare as much as you like before the birth. It’s good to keep yourself busy, and they will need to have stuff to eat etc. But don’t get yourself too hung up on the details. I’m not saying it will come naturally to you when the time comes, but you will work it out. It’s just another problem to solve.

As the days go on, you will feel tired, and you will feel stressed. You will worry that their poo is the wrong colour, you will worry that their skin is the wrong colour, you will worry that their pee isn’t flowing freely enough. There’s nothing you can do to prepare for that. It will just be dealt with as it arrives.

Having read this post back, I realise it might sound a little cold; it lacks the “babies are wonderful” vibe. It does. To be quite honest, for me, and I assume many others, there is nothing magical about looking after two babies initially. It is work. It is a project. It is something you must do. For many blokes, the magic takes a lot longer to creep in. In fact, it may not creep in for weeks.

All you have to do is your best. Stay as calm as you can before, during and after the birth. You will get through it. Millions before you have managed. Have a bit of faith in yourself. Don’t sweat the details.

Good luck fella.

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