When we came home from the NICU two and a half months ago, our children ate 50mL of breastmilk every three hours, had their diapers changed right before that to rouse them from their peaceful slumber, were swaddled with their hands by their faces to promote healthy development, were bathed every three days, and had their beds changed once a week. We didn’t even make it through our first night before that all went to hell.
Some people swear by scheduling their children. After seeing it done in the NICU, I thought it was the right thing for us and a piece of cake too! Other moms, especially crunchy moms, feed, sleep, and love on demand. And honestly, whatever works for you is probably the right thing for you. This is what works for us.
Routine. We don’t have a schedule. I’m a stay at home mom of twins, but scheduling is out of the question. I don’t do attachment parenting (I think it might be a physical impossibility), but I can’t stand the idea of letting my children cry because I said it’s nap time and they aren’t ready. That being said, sometimes my babies cry. Sometimes they cry because I missed their sleepy cues and they got overtired. Sometimes they cry because they are hungry, but won’t nurse, so I have to heat a bottle of milk. Sometimes they cry because they feel like it. I know it won’t kill them, but I don’t like it. I want their needs met and I want them happy.
So we have a routine. We wake up, sometimes together, sometimes not, have a bottle for breakfast. I pump. We get dressed, change diapers, play, get sleepy. Sometimes the nap happens after a bottle, sometimes before. We do three naps a day most days. Morning. Noon. Afternoon. I try to get them to nap at the same time, but I can’t force these things. I pump when I can. I wash dishes when I can. I don’t fold laundry. I have a pile of clean clothes as proof. I make dinner every night though. It takes planning and sometimes it sits out, getting cold, because twins are refusing to sleep, but I have gotten to the point where I can feed myself and my husband again.
Bedtime is even more routine, and I think that helps. If it’s a bath night (every 2-3 days), we get baths, spend some time naked, get lotion and infant massage, smiles and kisses, diaper and pajamas, bottle o’ boob milk, and then a swaddle (I love these that we got at Target), pacifier, and bedtime. They go in their crib in our room, by 6:30 pm, where they generally fall asleep without any problem. Sometimes Cormac refuses, so I hold him, maybe nurse him, and snuggle him until he’s sleepy and try again. That usually works. Clara gets fussy if she drops or spits out her pacifier. So I give it back to her, rub we head, shush her, and soothe her. And that usually works too. Then we have twins sound asleep in their own bed. Jed and I watch tv, eat our cold dinner, stuff diapers, hold hands, whatever we want. Then we go to bed in our bed, sans babies.
Of course, Clara generally joins us a few hours in and I nurse her back to sleep. Cormac sleeps really well early in the night. Last night he slept until 3:30 am (yes 9 hours!) before he woke up hungry. He tends to cosleep after that feeding, but not always. We have been working on trying I get them to sleep more in their crib.
And then, at about 6:30 or 7:00 am, we wake up and start all over. No real schedule (except bedtime – and it helps loads!), but always a routine. It makes life so much better.