When you are a twin, proximity is everything. #twinslife

One of the biggest discussions Sarah and I had while she was pregnant with George and Henry, would we let them sleep together or put them in separate sleeping areas.

We talked to so many families with twins, read so many books, looked at all the sleeping options in our house…it was in-depth research. You have to remember, Sarah and I like to research everything. Sarah reads books and online articles and I talk to anyone I can think of in my network.

This picture above is an interesting moment, one of happiness and one that showcases some unsure moments. From the moment George and Henry were born, they were separated. They were immediately rushed to the NICU at GHS and put into these special warmers, separate warmers. They were close in relative proximity, only separated by a few feet; but they have not slept side-by-side since they were born.

We have many friends that have similar and different experiences. Families who have multiples and did not experience the NICU, share differing opinions about sleeping together initially after birth.

Some felt sleeping together reinforced the bond in the womb, leveraging each others’ touch as comfort. My sister had twins who went almost full term, born around 37 and half weeks, she shares how they initially interacted. They slept some of their early days in a pack-and-play, positioned on opposite sides. When it was time to wake Ruby and Piper for a bottle, they were side-by-side holding each other. Slowly they were separated so they would not disturb each other, but initially they spent lots of sleeping time almost side-by-side.

Some of our friends separated their twins immediately, sharing how each would disturb the other even during the first few days home from the hospital. They shared how necessary it was to create separation because one was either more active, feeding schedules started to conflict, or one was a bad spitter after feeding.

We never had this luxury to decide, the NICU decided for us.

Rose slept her first few weeks in our room in an old fashion bassinet. It was big enough for both of the twins, so our plan was to put George and Henry in the bassinet beside our bed. We had planned to slowly sleep train the twins allowing us to eventually move them to individual cribs in their shared room.

Through out the whole time in the NICU, we searched for moments to bring them together. We would try to stretch their tubes and cords so they could be side-by-side. We created photo opportunities where they were positioned in the same photograph. We also advocated for the nurses to give them a bath at the same time. We just wanted to have a chance to visualize them side-by-side and allow them to interact.

Honestly, we truly did not get to see a true side-by-side comparison until we arrived home after 28 days in the NICU. They were no longer connected to tubes and cords. They were free to move about our house together or separate. This picture is one of the times we put them down side-by-side, and you can tell they are still getting used to each other.

From the first moment they were born, you could see the physical differences. You could see their hair color was different, facial characteristics differed, and their obvious size different. The Wednesday before they were born, the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists showed us the visible differences in weight during the last ultrasound. We were a bit taken back by the nearly 2 pound difference. This was the first time we heard the expression, “you have to look at them as individuals.” This expression carried through the rest of the pregnancy, their birth, and their time in the NICU.

At the time, we did not really notice these expressions from the medical staff, the idea of individualism. We were constantly reminded as they hit differing milestones that as individual babies, they will progress different. We were even being prepared to bring them home at different times.

Thankfully, bringing them home was one of the moments of togetherness we experienced. Yes, during their time in the NICU they were in the same room, their feedings were closely mirrored, they had shots and procedures at the same time…but they were physically separated. It is hard to overcome this notion of being separated; for close to 8 months…we were trained to think of them more as a together unit.

This experience has taught us to create more opportunities for togetherness and bonding; laying them together, one person holding both of them, taking pictures of them together. This intentionality reinforces this undercurrent, this priority to bring them full circle…as a unit. We are having to re-learn so many things post-NICU, one of which is to re-establish the bond they had for the first 7+ months they spent side-by-side is Sarah’s tummy.

This picture brings me happiness, joy that if it was not for the NICU…I have no idea where we would be today! Now, it is up to us to establish a brotherly bond meant for twin brothers.