Childrearing

Twinning: Taking Care Of Sick Twins Means Double The Projectile Vomit

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sick babiesHaving twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.

Taking care of one sick baby is bad enough, but two sick babies can nearly put you over the edge.  One of the lowest moments of my twin motherhood had to be after my twins both projectile vomited in their high chairs, and in a blind panic I grabbed my What To Expect the First Year book to look up what you’re supposed to do when your kid is puking. Most mothers would know what to do, or would stay calm and carry on, but with both babies covered in puke and screaming their heads off, I blanked.

One of the problems with having a sick twin or twins is that the near-constant attention required by a sick child greatly increases the level of exhaustion you were already feeling when you were raising two healthy children.

I quickly learned that trying to keep a sick twin from spreading his cold is completely useless. Unless someone invents a giant room sanitizer, you’ve just got to accept that mucus and spit are covering 85 percent of everything you own. There is just no way to keep everything germ-free. Twins share everything, not because they’re twins but because they’re babies. My twins would put anything in their mouths, whether it’s their twin’s pacifier or my husband’s shoe.

My twins were very healthy babies and they were rarely sick at the same time, but it was a bleak, miserable time for us all when they were. My house would take on the look of a makeshift pharmacy, with “sick baby supplies” on every surface the twins couldn’t reach. Tylenol, Motrin, thermometers for various orifices, Aquafor, Vaseline, A+D Ointment, Vick’s VapoRub, tissues, two nebulizers, a water vaporizer, and a snot sucker. So much of our sick baby arsenal was unnecessary, but because we were new parents with two babies, having twice the normal amount of medical supplies just made us feel safer.

I am still on the fence about the usefulness of the snot sucker. The sad fact is that babies don’t know how to blow their noses, so you’ve got to do the dirty work for them. Retrieving a tiny boogie with one of these suckers was like discovering treasure from the depths of the ocean, but the discomfort experienced by the baby while their nose is suctioned is only worth it if you are a pro who can suck out a nostrilful of mucus.

We also had an ear syringe, which looked so similar to the snot sucker I was afraid I’d get them confused, so that was never even opened (nor needed). Vaporizers require more cleaning and sterilization than baby bottles, so with no time to attend to a high-maintenance vaporizer, I tossed mine in the garbage after only two weeks and a moldy filter.

Another thing that sucks (not literally though) about having sick twins is the increased chance of you getting sick too. We all know that nobody’s happy when Mama is not happy.

I remember being in a NyQuil haze once when my son was also sick with a cold and a chest wheeze. He kept waking up every half hour and I was at the point where all I could think is, “I. Need. Sleep.” My husband had already moved to the guestroom for some peace and quiet, so I brought my son into bed with me, which I rarely did. We both fell asleep, but with all that room to roll, my 2-year old rolled right off the bed onto the hardwood floor. He was fine, but waking up to that awful sound was all I needed to snap out of my zombie-state and remember that even if I think it’s about it me, it’s never about me.

Even when I’m in perfect health, I’ve always found it difficult to remember who’s had Tylenol or which one had the higher temperature when both twins are sick, so I had to write everything down. Especially when they’re infants, you need to know who’s pooping and who’s not, whose temp is hovering around 103 and whose fever has broken. Having a written record for each child also makes for a less embarrassing pediatrician visit because no matter how little sleep you’ve had, you’ll be able to answer all his or her questions.

You can reach this post’s author, Gloria Fallon, on twitter.

(photo: L_amica / Shutterstock)