Even from my pregnancies I can tell you that having twins and having a singleton is very different. I didn't get really big really fast this time. I went into labor naturally (without a car accident) and delivered my baby a day before her due date.
I know I've said it before, but life with one baby is just so different from life with two.
As proud of I am of exclusively breastfeeding my twins, I wasn't able to do this from the start with Stella. On our third day in the hospital she cried and cried and acted so hungry. I tried pumping, hand expressing, and nursing her as much as she wanted, but she was still screaming and acting hungry. In addition, she lost 9% of her body weight and the nurses said things get concerning at 10%. I know this is totally normal, but something had to give. My baby was hungry and my milk hadn't come in yet. After talking to my favorite lactation consultant from the NICU I made the decision to supplement a little with formula. I used a syringe and squirted little amounts into her mouth as she was latched. I don't think she got more than 20 ml's total, but it was so different from the girls. I really struggled with this at the time. How could I exclusively breastfeed twins but not a single baby? I think them being preemies gave me a little buffer as they didn't get any milk for a few days. This allowed me time for my milk to come in and to build up a little stash before they started eating. Luckily, my milk came in the night I supplemented Stella with formula, and I haven't given any formula since. It was hard for me to accept at the time, but I look back and don't regret any of it.
When the girls were in the NICU everything I read and heard said to keep them on the NICU schedule once they came home. I took this advice to heart and we kept them on the same schedule. From day one at home they were on a schedule. I rarely fed them more often than every two hours and when one woke to eat I'd wake the other. I remember when Lucy wasn't gaining weight well I was told to feed her on demand. The person who told me that didn't understand life with twins. I couldn't feed one baby on demand and keep the other on a schedule or feed one baby while the other just cried. Well, I guess I could have but it would mean feeding babies all day long. I wasn't up for that.
When Stella was born I thought I'd approach parenting differently. There was only one baby and I wanted to be more relaxed about having her on a schedule.
The thing I'm realizing is, I'm still a mom of multiples. I learned to be a parent to twins as I didn't know anything else. Being their mom molded me into the type of mom I needed to be to best take care of them.
On Monday I went to a tea time circle of moms and their babies hosted by the yoga instructor I loved and took prenatal and mama baby yoga with. I noticed all these other moms just feeding their babies whenever they cried. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one that looked at my watch first.
When the girls were little we used the Babywise book to guide our daytime routine. We did an eat, play, sleep routine. It made life predictable to both them and me and it worked well for us. Even though Stella is only a month old, we've been thinking about this routine and trying to keep her awake some after feedings. I try to be sure when she eats that she gets a full feeding rather than snacking, since I can't be available to feed her all the time. I have two year old twins to take care of. Even though Stella is a singleton, I'm still a mom to multiples.
As time goes on sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not able to be the kind of parent to her that I envisioned. The thing is, with her reflux I can't feed her all the time. Feeding her more just makes her more uncomfortable. Also, there are times in the day when it's just not feasible.
I shared at the tea time my feelings about this and the overwhelming response was, just do what works for you and your family. It doesn't matter what kind of parenting you decide to do as long as it works for you. This made me feel so much better.
I guess even though I only have one baby now I'll always be a mom of multiples. I learned to be a mama with my twins and that's the only kind I know how to be. And you know what? I realize that a mom who needs schedules and structure is just as great as a mom who doesn't.
We all approach parenting differently and I'm learning there's no right or wrong way to do it. It's all about what works.