View Full Version : Overwhelmed mother with three babies

04-23-2015, 08:20 PM
I'd love to have some feedback from parents who have had to raise multiple babies on their own.

The scenario is that my FMC has to take care of a 1-2 YO boy and newborn twins (which aren't biologically hers so this isn't right after she gave birth). She's given no help from her husband who has moved out and very little help from a mother-in-law and a 10 YO stepdaughter who will, at times, take one baby off her hands.

How overwhelming of a situation is this? FYI I'm trying to ramp up the feelings of being overwhelmed, not trying to avoid them.

Any cliches I should avoid?

Any stories of personal experience would also be appreciated.

04-23-2015, 08:39 PM
Very overwhelming. I'm not single but I have three kids, I run my own business am VP of a non-profit and write books. It's exhausting. There is never downtime. EVER. As a mom the default parenting often goes to you anyways. So nightimes are interupted. Trying to organize child care or juggle kids to and from daycare while working is difficult. When my two oldest were babies I was working for someone else and going to grad school with two kids under 2.

It's exhausting. You character will relish those ten minutes after the kids are in bed and before they go to bed themselves. And even when you sleep your ears will be tuned to hearing the kids wake up. Newborns won't sleep through the night and if they're twins then it's unlikely they'll wake at the same times. A 1-2 year old also often wakes in the night. This results in sleep deprivation with a lot to do during the day.

lianna williamson
04-23-2015, 09:07 PM
I am the mom of only one, but once upon a time I nannied for twins from the ages of newborn-4 years. It is very overwhelming when they are babies, particularly with no help. It can take a while to get twins on the same sleep schedule; if they are not in synch with each other and you have no partner to take over, it is possible to literally never sleep for the first few months.

Even more challenging to have a two-year-old at the same time. Two-year-olds typically have a lot of energy and need to get out in the world and run around a lot. Taking tiny two babies out by yourself is HARD. Add a two year old bolting into the street and throwing a tantrum when he has to leave the playground because the babies are melting down and need to be fed, and you have a rough day.

When the twins were 18 months, we were in a playgroup with triplets the same age, and their mom told me that since birth, there had not been one moment when all three were happy at the same time. One was always disgruntled about something. Imagine that reality, and there you go.

Myra Bliss
04-23-2015, 11:15 PM
i think it would take more hours then there are in a day for any person to single-handedly take care of twin newborns and a toddler. I have a 3-week-old baby and he wants to eat hourly and be held almost constantly.

04-23-2015, 11:22 PM
To riff off of what Lianna said, crankiness is often contagious. When one baby starts crying, the other one frequently finds a reason to start crying too, and its usually over something way more ridiculous. On really bad days, that's enough to make the caregiver want to burst into tears themselves.

04-23-2015, 11:29 PM
Besides the lack of sleep and emotional toll, think of the practicalities. How exactly do you get a toddler and two infants out of the house, into a car, etc. Does your home have steps? Inside or out? How are you getting all three children from one level to the next, out the front door and back in again? How do you get them and their stroller outside and in again if there are steps?

Not a mother myself, but I've observed another's attempts to merely leave the house with a toddler and twin babies, and their gear, her purse, and a stroller, when there is a stoop with 6 steps between the front door and the sidewalk.


04-24-2015, 05:05 PM
This is all great input, thanks so much!

So one angle I'm now thinking of exploring is the situation where at least one baby is always awake and crying, as if they're taking shifts. I'm going for some long term sleep deprivation for my character.

How long would that kind of situation last? Would their sleep schedules eventually line up, and how long might that take?

Also, if the mother-in-law (who I'm portraying negatively, shocker I know) were to take one baby for several hours, would that mess up the synchronization?

Sorry for all the follow-up questions. My wife and I adopted a six-year-old so we never went through this.

04-24-2015, 05:35 PM
When my kids were little (two of them) my husband worked constantly. Exhaustion doesn't even begin to describe it. There are no breaks, no down times. When they were toddling, I swear I saved their lives almost everyday. (diving out of high chairs, putting toys in their mouths and up their noses.)

Can I add that you are NEVER alone. Like never. Not in the bathroom, not in the shower. I bought a clear shower curtain so I could watch the baby play with his toys on the floor while I tried desperately to wash myself for two minutes.

Sera Trevor
04-25-2015, 10:26 PM
I have a two year old and a five year old, so not quite the same thing, but nap times are EXTREMELY important. Newborns go in and out of naps without much regularity until they are a few months old, but once they get on a schedule, you must do everything in your power to keep them on that schedule. I can only imagine that would be even more important with twins. My five year old obviously doesn't nap anymore, but my life still revolves on getting my toddler to nap. She usually falls asleep on the way home from dropping my son off from preschool around 12:30 and sleeps for two hours. If she doesn't, then she falls asleep at 3:30 when we pick him up. That usually turns out okay, but I have to wake her up within one hour or bed time gets screwed up, and she gets extremely cranky. I usually put her in a bath, or make her stand up until she wakes up.

And if she misses both of those nap times? That is the absolute worst. You would think that would mean an earlier bed time, but she gets a boost of extra energy from being up so long -- kind of how if you have an exhausting day, sometimes it gets harder to sleep because your body kicks in some extra energy to get you through the exhaustion so that you can function. (Oh, and btw, that can totally happen to you as a parent -- feel you could drop dead from being tired, but then can't sleep!) She's cranky, throws tantrums, messes with her brother so that he can't get to sleep either, etc.

Of course, all kids are different so this won't necessarily apply to everyone, but in general, you plan your life around naps.

04-26-2015, 09:41 AM
How long would that kind of situation last? Would their sleep schedules eventually line up, and how long might that take?

Also, if the mother-in-law (who I'm portraying negatively, shocker I know) were to take one baby for several hours, would that mess up the synchronization?

I've got no kids, but a lot of sympathy. A cousin of mine, (with 3 little stair-step kids) came out to visit on her own. She was almost in tears when we went to a mall, and bought her an ice-cream cone. She said it was the first time in years that she had enjoyed an entire ice-cream cone without someone grabbing at her, or needing something, or wanting something right now.

And, if the mother-in-law wants to actually be helpful, she might do better to take the older child, allowing the mother to get the twins on a matching schedule. Just being apart from each other might set the twins off.

04-26-2015, 10:39 AM
If you really want to put the mother through the wringer, have the twins be toddlers. They work together at that age, and 'twins' is an exponential factor on the toddler-trouble tales...

lianna williamson
04-26-2015, 06:55 PM
True, but in my experience, two-year-old twins can entertain themselves for about twenty times longer than a single two-year-old can. When the twins I cared for were that age, I could let them loose in the (fenced-in) backyard and read a book, as long as I glanced up after every line. They were capable of playing happily together for a good twenty-minute stretch. A single two-year-old can play alone for maybe a minute before seeking adult attention.

04-28-2015, 03:49 PM
Thank you, everyone, for your help. You gave me some very helpful details.