Girl Talk: A Bit Overwhelmed
Q: I have a 16-month-old and just found out I'm pregnant with twins. How am I going to manage three small children at once?
A: No doubt you're already bleary-eyed from poring over countless twins websites and blogs, but don't forget to consult your most trusted resource: you. Think back to the first time you went down Newborn Road. Remember how it's marked with signs that read "No Showers Mon-Fri" and "Sleep Limit: 65 Mins"? During those first chaotic weeks at home, the best way to care for your baby is to make sure that you're also caring for yourself. You need to get as much rest as you can in order to have energy to give to your toddler and twins.
Which brings us to He Who Can Grant You Sleep Time: your husband. Like many men, Daddy may fall into the habit of letting you be in the driver's seat with the kids. My advice: At least once every few days, slap on an eye patch and say, "Sorry. Can't drive today." The more time he spends with the kids solo, the more adept he'll be at juggling the needs of three tots. This translates into a much more effective division of labor-and less stress for both of you.
When neither of you is fit to get behind the wheel, hand the keys to friends and family members. Start dialing a list of potential helpers now. Even though you don't know when or how you will need their support after the babies arrive -- whether it's a casserole here or babysitting there -- you will need it. Asking ahead of time will garner more offers of help after the twins are born.
And people will help. There's no need to try to do everything yourself or give everyone your undivided attention. Realize that you will still be able to give your toddler limitless love -- it may just be limited to certain times. Likewise, the twins may have to spend the day with Grandma or a good friend so that you can enjoy alone time or play with your eldest.
Now that I've covered how to prepare, let me talk briefly about what to do if you start to panic. A certain amount of raw, adrenaline-fueled fear can be productive, but it's not healthy or sustainable. Conserve your energy by reminding yourself that every day will not be difficult. You may be surprised at how quickly everyone in your newly expanded family gets acclimated. And let's not discount the possibility that you may be blessed with great sleepers or feeders or burpers. Hey, it could happen.