…has gone through a few iterations since we became solely responsible for putting the girls to bed. We’ve tried all sorts since bringing them home from hospital, with varying degrees of success, but I think we’ve finally cracked it with our latest routine. Whether or not this is because we’ve used our hard-won experience to good effect is up for debate, for all I know it might just be that they’re submitting to previously-dormant genetic programming.I doubt very much whether we’ve stumbled on to some sort of magic formula, especially as what we do is simply a variation on an oft suggested theme, but what used to take hours now takes us a little under an hour – at most.
Mrs H begins the process at around 5.50pm. She not only fills the bath, but brings together all the various ointments, lotions, etc. ready for use, prepares fresh nappies and clothing, then boils the kettle ready to keep the bath temperature up. Currently the bath operation happens on the dining room table, which is at a good height to help keep back ache at bay.
At 6pm, Mrs H’s father and brother arrive which frees us both up to begin. Ana is first into the bath. It’s a pleasurable experience for Mrs H as Ana seems to be at her happiest at bath time. I, meanwhile, begin making the bottles for the post-bath feed.
From this point on it’s like a carefully planned military operation.
This is the order for each girl:
- Face and privates washed
- Into the bath
- Creams and lotions applied as necessary
- Nappy on
- Bodysuit and pyjamas on
- Medication given, mixed with a little formula
- Bottle given
- Rocked gently
- Into the cot
The whole process takes anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes for each of them, depending on their mood, desire for food, whether or not they’ve crapped recently, etc. As soon as one is at step 8, she’s passed to someone else and Mrs H begins on the next one. By the time the third one is actually in the bath water, Ana is already upstairs being rocked ready for bed.
On a good night, by 6.45pm, all are asleep in their cots. On a bad night, it might be as late as 8pm, though that’s vary rare and has happened only a couple of times in recent weeks. Once all three are upstairs, Mrs H sits in the nursery with them, ready to prevent a chain reaction caused by a loose dummy or because the lullaby stops playing before all three are in a deep sleep.
The girls get one more bottle before midnight. We always wait for one to start stirring, then we wake each up in turn. This all happens between 11pm and midnight, and that’s it then until late morning. We’re currently feeding the next bottle – between 4am and 5am – on demand only and we don’t wake anyone up for it. The amount given has been gradually reduced and we’re at just 90ml now. This is still a tricky time for us. Ana, if she wakes for this feed, rarely goes back to sleep easily, but the twins will usually go back for another couple of hours, sometimes longer. Ana is taken downstairs when she’s put back to sleep in arms or in the baby relax.
Somehow we’ve found a sweet spot. It happens for everyone eventually I suppose, but we were prepared for a much harder slog before reaching this point. Other than for the two overnight feeds, the girls are in the nursery from between 6.30pm and 7am (except for Ana who is usually downstairs from 6am). And this is despite teething!
All good things must come to an end so we’re just going to enjoy it while it lasts. After months of not getting very much at all, enjoying a few solid hours of sleep every night has given us a new perspective on this grand adventure.