I have lived in London for the past five years with my English boyfriend. My family all live in Australia and my boyfriend's family live in Yorkshire in the north of England. We were very excited and surprised to discover that I was pregnant with twins and our boys were born on the first of November 2012.
Jack and Archie were born at 37 weeks and spent their first few weeks of life in the outside world like they were still in the womb. They didn’t do much else other than eat and sleep and I muddled through it in a haze. My mum came from Australia to help us when the boys were two weeks old and she did so much to help ease me into the transition of motherhood. There were lots of people to give hugs and cuddles for the boys in those first few weeks and they slept easily in people’s arms and especially on daddy’s chest.
When the boys were five weeks old my mum and dad flew back to Australia and my boyfriend was back at work. The boys were also becoming more alert and knew when they were being put down. I would feed them together on a double breastfeeding cushion and they would fall asleep at the end of their feed. I would try to carefully place them in bouncing chairs in front of me without waking them up. This would work for about 20 minutes but then they would wake up screaming and I would have two crying babies on my hands. Some days it was just easier for me to stay sitting strapped into the feeding cushion for a few hours to let them sleep, although this made it impossible to do anything else and I knew I was not starting good sleeping habits. I began to try and put them in their cribs after a feed but they would cry so much I would pick them up and then try to rock and comfort them at the same time. Eventually they would fall asleep on me and I would be trapped again. I felt completely overwhelmed and really unsure of what to do. Everything I read about getting a baby to sleep seemed to make sense if you had one baby but just wouldn’t work for two.
My sister knew Karen as she had helped her solve my nephew Harry’s sleep problems a few months earlier. She knew Karen could help me with the boys' sleep and stop any bad habits before they got to used to them. She organised two Skype consultations with Karen for me as a gift. Karen and I came up with an appropriate time to chat over email. My partner was very skeptical and didn’t think that there was any problem that we needed help with. He kept saying, “They’re just babies!” But he wasn’t at home on his own with them every day. I knew I had to get some help. Karen was very easy to talk to and completely understanding. She listened to me talk about the boys' eating and sleeping patterns and the concerns I had. Karen praised me for the things I was doing right (there were a few!) and then talked about what I needed to do to help the boys into a good sleep routine and to get the amount of sleep that they needed. She reassured me that it was normal for babies to cry when they first went down in their cots, especially if they were not used to falling asleep in them. Karen talked about the strategies I could use to help calm the babies if they were crying. I became very skilled in the double tummy rub.
It took my boys seven days to really get used to falling asleep in their cribs. The first three days were really hard and there was a lot of crying (from them and me!) but seeing the difference in the length of their naps and how happy they were when they were awake made it all worthwhile. Karen and I kept in contact over email and she answered the many questions I had as I went along. She gave the confidence and reassurance to know that I was doing the best for my babies. Karen and I did a follow up Skype consultation the next week and discussed what to expect with their sleep in the next few months other things such as tummy time, expressing milk and playing.
Even though Karen was on the other side of the world her advice and expertise was invaluable to helping me set up good sleep routines for Jack and Archie. They are now six months old and sleep in their own room. We still have days where no one wants to sleep and it feels chaotic but normally I can put them down at nap time and bed time and they go to sleep with minimal fuss.
Now I just need to work out how to get them to sleep all night without needing a feed … I think it might be time for another Skype consultation with Karen!
Angela, mum of 2 gorgeous twin boys, Jack & Archie - West Yorkshire UK