It seems like, when people think of having twins, they think, "It must be twice as hard as one baby, right?" And in a way, yes, it is twice as hard. Twice as many bottles, feedings, outfits, carseats, baths, etc. Two babies are certainly more work than one. However, I have sensed MUCH more compassion from the general public about what a "trooper" I am and how hard I must work when I am out and about with the twins than when I was a mom of two young children who were only a year apart. Having two young children just seems much more commonplace, I guess.
Ever since I had Sally, I wondered to myself, "Would it be easier if they were twins?" I mean, at least twins are doing the same types of things throughout the day. But when I wondered that aloud, people generally seemed to think that twins would be harder. Fast forward 3 years later and, lo and behold, I am pregnant with twins! Who else could be an expert on this subject than someone who has two kids very close in age (13 months) AND a set of twins. So, now that the twins have been around for 9 months and are officially mobile, here is my take:
First of all, I have come to realize that there is no definitive answer to my question. What is hard for one mom might be easy for another. A mother of triplets might find herself less stressed than a mother of a single baby, depending on the babies and the circumstances. It all depends on a few things, in my opinion:
Things that make it hard:
-Babies who do not sleep well/sleep through the night by 6 months
Sophie did sleep through the night around 3 months, but Sally didn't until 14 months or so. I always felt tired.
The twins have slept through the night (at the same time) since around 4 months. I am SO thankful for this.
-Being a new mom
When you are a new mom, figuring it all out takes trial and error and time. There is so much to learn and you are always second guessing yourself. Even though I felt a little more confident as a mom with Sally, I was new to having more than one child to care for at a time. This was very stressful to me. I wanted to meet all of their needs perfectly, just like I had with Sophie. Whatever she needed me to do to help her sleep well, eat well, play happily, I could do. When there were two, sometimes I couldn't do it all when they needed.
Once the twins came, I felt very confident and had an idea of what I needed to do to be successful at breastfeeding, getting the babies on a predictable routine, and basically multi-tasking all day long. I knew what it felt like to be so so tired and still have to function. There was no surprise or shock to it all. I also didn't feel the level of panic that I had with the first two when the babies were crying or needing something and I couldn't solve the problem right away.
-Having small children/babies who are on completely different schedules
When S and S were little, their naps hardly ever coincided. If one was sleeping, I was feeding the other one. When Sally was born, Sophie was still taking a bottle and had hardly started eating much solid food (and was SLOW to transition to table food). I felt like I never got a break from baby care.
The twins are on the same schedule and have been since pretty soon after they were born. I do still have S and S to take care of, but the kinds of needs they have are different from the babies, so I do get a break from all the diapers, bottles, consoling, etc. I don't ever really get a true break from childcare in general unless someone else is around to help, but by now, it just seems like second nature.
Things that make it easier:
-Having lots of help/support
I always had plenty of help and support after each childbirth for the first little while, but, as is normal, family and friends weren't around as much once the babies got a little older. I didn't expect them to be, but I still would have appreciated the help (who wouldn't?).
With the twins, my mom came for literally MONTHS before the twins were here and helped me with lots of household projects. She also stayed for 2 weeks after they were born to help. It was awesome. Then, after she left, Ryan had lots of paternity leave. Once he was back at school, my friend Sarah came 2 days a week to help me all day. I am beyond blessed to have all of this help and support. It has made my life dramatically better than it would have been. Sarah only recently stopped coming on a regular basis, so I had months and months of time where I consistently had another adult around during the day to talk to and to help me with everything at home. Biggest blessing and gift of someone's time that I have ever received.
Now that I have four kids, and now that I have walked through the baby stage (almost) 3 times with 4 sweet girls, I can really appreciate things in a way I wasn't able to when S and S were little. Things that used to seem difficult to me now seem like no big deal. I can treasure the baby things so much more easily than I could before because I know how quickly they will grow. I still get stressed out--often. But I can get over it quickly and not let it ruin my day. One thing that helps my worry and stress is to just remind myself that they belong to the Lord and that He loves them more than I do.
If you have not been able to deduce the answer so far, then I will tell you: In my experience, it was a lot harder to have 2 young kids than it is to have twins. Granted, the twins have been really "good" babies so far, so that has certainly helped. Sophie was a great baby though, and I still felt so much more stress on a day to day basis than I do with the twins. So if you ever see a mom with twins and think, "How does she do it?" Don't worry, she might have it a lot easier than you think! And on the flipside, if you know a mom who has two young ones, offer her the compassion and support that you would to a mom of twins!