The day that we brought the boys home from the hospital feels like a lifetime ago. They were quite small and my concerns were the same as any new mom: “Are they getting enough milk? Why are they crying? Do they really only sleep for 2-3 hour intervals?!” Not even my intensive Montessori trainings could have prepared me for what real lack of sleep feels like!
The first couple of weeks were spent figuring out life together as a new family. My husband T had never held a baby before let alone change a diaper (times that by two) so getting him comfortable was top priority. I was recovering from a C-Section so not very mobile and required a lot of help with the babies. My mom C was also here staying with us and was a huge support in preparing meals, cleaning, and acting as my personal chauffer since I wasn’t allowed to drive.
In our training we talked about the importance of the “Symbiotic Period” which is the first 6-8 weeks of a child’s life. During this time the mother and the child establish an important relationship with one another which is crucial to each other’s life. Through holding, handling, and feeding the mother and child come to know each other in their new relationship and through this the child develops basic trust in the world. The father plays a very important role as well. He is the protective barrier and can form his own special relationship with the child through participating in the infant’s physical care (hence why it was so important for T to learn how to change a diaper!!).
Bringing home multiples altered this model a bit. I had to be conscious of satisfying both boys’ needs equally and T definitely took more of a role in the everyday holding, handling, and feeding (we had to supplement for first 6 weeks). I found it helpful to read passages of Silvana Montanaro’s book Understanding the Human Being to T in order for him to understand the importance of this period and his role as a father. During this time he began the nightly ritual of bathing the boys which is a special time for all three of them. I truly believe that this routine not only helped the boys go to bed without a fuss but also has made T’s bond with the twins so strong due to these nightly interactions.
When we could, we would make an effort to put the boys down on the movement mat (see my previous post on the area for movement). Now I don’t know what I was expecting but I didn’t realize that with one of my little guys it would take so much work to get him comfortable spending time there! I guess I thought I would just put them down and they would be happy and content for hours! Well, like introducing anything new, it was a process. P was very content to be placed on the mat under the Munari (the first black and white mobile introduced from 2 weeks on) however with R I would literally put him down and he would immediately start crying to be picked up! Over the course of days and weeks it was my goal to ‘remediate’ this as I knew just how important it was for babies to experience the early stages of independence. I started out sitting on the mat while holding him, then put him on my lap, then lay him down beside me….all for very short intervals of time. This was done multiple times throughout each day and eventually I was able to put him down and leave him on the mat without me. I am happy to report that R now loves being on the movement mat for long periods of time (which mommy also loves!).
The first two months of R and P’s lives seems like a distant blur. We survived the Symbiotic Period and the thing that made it all worth it was when the boys finally looked at us after the two months and gave us real smiles!