By Naomi Dorland
If you've just found out that you're pregnant with twins or triplets, a huge congratulations to you! Your journey is going to be a little different to pregnancy with a singleton, but don't panic ... we've got you covered.
One of the most exciting stages of pregnancy is that first scan. You are finally going to see your tiny baby and it will be a special moment.
The sonographer places the wand on your stomach and then takes it off again. They turn to you and say, "Here is Baby-A". You grin goofily at this peanut shaped splodge on the screen. Then they smile and say, "And here is Baby-B".
If you are really blessed, there even be a Baby-C in there too!
What?! Your mind is racing. You start to panic and random thoughts race through your mind: I've only got a tiny Mazda 3; I don't even know how to look after one baby, let alone two (or three!); But I want to breastfeed, can I do that with more than one; How am I going to cope?
Yes, your life is going to change dramatically, but it will be OK. The changes are mostly positive.
Raising multiples is different to a singleton. It's louder, messier, it's logistically much more difficult ... but you will be in awe every day at their antics, their kindness and the fun they make.
As you are having multiples, you will be classed as a "high risk" pregnancy, which means you'll receive a little extra care. The plus side of this is that you will get to see your little babies a lot more often before they're born.
So let's leave the medical care to the professionals and look at the practical side of things you can do to prepare for life as the parent of multiples.
People will want to help you. Offers for help will come from family, friends and even strangers. Learning to say yes to anything from accepting lifts to taking money will be a huge benefit to you.
Don't be afraid to ask visitors to hang out a load of laundry, or to pick up some bread and milk on their way to visit or to bring you lunch. If a stranger in the car park offers to unload your groceries into the car, let them! If you are struggling to breastfeed, and it's important to you, pay for a lactation consultant to come to your house. If your house is a mess and you can afford it, get a cleaner.
Get out of the house every day, even if it is just to walk around the block. Getting into the habit before your babies arrive, will make it easier to maintain once you have them with you.
To make this easier, ensure your nappy bag is always re-stocked and ready to go at the end of a trip and get into the habit of keeping a bag containing a few nappies, wipes and a change of clothes in the car, that way you're ready to go whenever you need to.
You might also want to consider having two prams; one for walks and one that stays in the car. This makes going out, either for a walk or in the car, so much easier as you don't need to worry about setting up the pram. You're going to have enough on your hands as is.
Communicate with your partner. Communication is key in the workplace, and it's the same at home, particularly with multiple babies.
As tired as you are, make time to communicate with your partner. Your partner was the most important thing to you before your kids, don't want to lose touch now.
Calm, honest and frequent communication with your partner will assist you to work as a team.
Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA) – for a token amount, you can join AMBA. AMBA is Australia's leading charity for twins, triplets and more. They organise regular playgroups, coffee mornings, expectant parent nights and more. AMBA also work to raise awareness in the broader community around the realities for multiple birth families.
Twinfo – is a community for Multiple Birth families. Twinfo has a free Australian directory of products and services (for example, sleep and settling consultants, photographers, lactation consultants and more). These providers all specialise in supporting families with multiple births and all understand the unique dynamics multiples bring (many of them have multiples themselves). You can also read lots of real life stories, written by other parents of multiples.
Some days, all your energy will go into keeping your babies safe, warm and fed. And that is fine. Let any preconceived notions or advice you had about having a "singleton" baby go. Having multiples is a journey and the usual just does not apply.
Do what has to be done; as long as you are all healthy, that's all that matters.
Don't sweat the small stuff! Washing will get done. Everyone will eat. Suddenly, your babies will be two, those last couple of years will be a blur and you'll realise you all survived! Tomorrow is a new day, so don't let today stress you out.
Embrace the noise; make peace with the mayhem and then delight in watching their special bond unfold.
Passionate about all things multiple, Naomi is the founder of Twinfo. Twinfo is a community for multiple birth parents and has services and products that truly meet the needs of multiple birth families.