PHEW!! yes it does… especially when we are talking about raising twins. The first year can be especially tough and parents can do with all the help they can get. Between feeding, diaper changing, calming bawling babies everything may just seem overwhelming.
Abeer and Anvay were premature and it felt weirdly empty when I came back home without them. It also meant going to the hospital at least twice daily with pumped milk for them. Emotionally it was not easy to see the tiny bodies hooked to so many wires. It hurt to see little blue marks where the needles had pricked them. Physically it was tough to make so many trips to the hospital, while recovering from a major surgery myself. The pain naturally took much longer to go away.
Once they came home, focus was weight gain and they needed to be fed every 2-3 hours. Which meant almost no sleep at night! Being on maternity leave at that time, I took on the job of night time feeding. I did manage to catch some sleep in between – but despite that it was quite exhausting.
Some days were tougher than others. Days when one or both of twins would be inconsolable. Nights when they were sick. Trips to the hospital were tough with two infants in tow. And we had a larger share than normal due to a number of extra check ups for preemies. All in all, a physically and emotionally draining first few months.
Everyone pitched in – in whatever way they could. While nani helped in overall baby care, nanaji became the de facto provider of medicines, milk bottles etc. etc. Mausi came down from Bombay to help. Arnav also took on big brother responsibilities – like bottle feeding 🙂
Daddy has a special gift for calming down crying babies and putting them to sleep. I bet no baby anywhere in the world has been put to sleep with their dad loudly singing (while rocking them) songs from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham!!! I can’t claim it will work on other babies – but it worked like magic on ours. (of course only when sung by dad – none of the others ever dared!)
Once I joined work, nana and nani became the primary care givers during the day. Hats off to them for managing two babies so well. And once my travel started, dadi came in from Jaipur to provide support whenever required. And while Babaji could not physically come – his willingness to manage alone was a huge support by itself. The San Francisco, trip would not have been possible without chacha, chachi volunteering help.
In case of a working mother, the ‘village’ extends to the workplace. I am very lucky to be working in a very supportive organisation. Even before the twins were born, I was advised to work from home due to the high risk. My then manager agreed. Despite all the rest, they were born 8 weeks early – I shudder to think what might have happened if my manager had not agreed so readily to let me work from home. Once I joined back, my new manager was happy to support flex hours or work from home as needed. He also helped me move to an office location closer home. My team members were always there to catch the ball if I dropped it. A supportive workplace can do wonders do reduce the stress involved in bringing up infants.
And now all of you, who have read my blog and supported it, have become part of our village too by encouraging us. Please keep reading and sharing.
As I end, just a few tips for new parents, (or older ones too):
- Feel free to ask for help. As Harry Potter Says, “Help shall always be given to those who ask for it”. It might be tough (it is for me), but it will help you get through, and it will actually strengthen relations.
- Get your ‘me’/ ‘together’ time. In our case, it didn’t apply only to me or my husband. It applied equally to nana and nani too. We made sure we give breaks to each other. Many times we went out in ones, or twos or threes, for dinner/ shopping/ movies/ parties.
- Do not take anyone for granted – not even each other. We were all giving up on something or the other – sleep, fun, work. It was a community task – but it is important to appreciate everyone’s role.
- Change roles – sometimes, changing roles can also give one a breather.
- Try online shopping! I got addicted when I started shopping for my older son’s birthday! It saves you time and gives you more choices. And I don’t know if you have felt it too – but whenever an online order is delivered – I feel the same excitement as I would on getting a gift!
- Take a deep breath.
- Try and ask for a supportive work environment. The new Maternity Bill that got passed last year is a huge step towards supporting new mothers.
- Finally, this too shall pass! When you are through the exhaustion, the fatigue, the sleeplessness – you will be able to look back and appreciate the laughs, the tears, the milestones and the stronger you!!