Thursday, July 2, 2015

Raising Multiples - An Instructor’s Personal Experience

by Laurie Kinigstein, LCSW, Mommy & Me Instructor at The Pump Station & Nurtury®

The moment an expecting mother discovers she is having multiples can be surreal. Feelings of shock, excitement, panic and gratitude all set in at once. These conflicting feelings often continue throughout the early stages of parenting multiples, and many parents find themselves overwhelmed and exhausted while simultaneously being overjoyed about their growing family.

In my first few months as a parent of fraternal twin daughters, I experienced all of these conflicting feelings. In addition to the constant conflict between being overwhelmed and elated, I was always exhausted. My friends who had singleton babies experienced a similar range of feelings, but I couldn’t help wonder if my experience was more intense in some ways. I was completely preoccupied with feeding, sleeping, and overall survival.

My journey began with an intense preoccupation with my milk supply and with my babies’ growth and weight gain. It seemed my daughters were always smaller than their same-aged peers, and my decision to attempt to exclusively nurse was often questioned by family and friends. I also found that I was exhausted from severe sleep deprivation and overwhelmed with caretaking responsibilities. Would my babies ever sleep at the same time? Would we ever be on a predictable schedule so that I could get anything done around the house?

In the first couple of months, I consulted anyone I could about these and other questions. I spent hours calling and visiting my pediatrician.  I also sought advice from other medical professionals and my friends with young children. I turned to the internet and read segments of books when time allowed. Nevertheless, the questions kept coming, and the majority of my days were simply about surviving and preparing myself for another long, sleepless night.

When my daughters turned 3 months, I began attending two different Mommy and Me groups. The groups became my primary source of parenting information and support.  Much of my confusion and internal conflict about parenting was alleviated. Through the support of my instructors who had experience raising twins, I was able to get my daughters on a feeding and sleep schedule that worked for all of us. Whereas I was previously questioning my decision to nurse, I now felt supported and motivated to continue nursing my daughters. I gained skills in communicating with my babies and learned about activities to facilitate bonding.  In the end, I found myself more attuned to my babies’ needs and increasingly able to help facilitate a secure parent-child attachment.

The combination of support and concrete skills that I gained from my experience in parenting classes led to my increased satisfaction as a mother. I was a more confident parent, and I learned to trust my instincts.  I also developed lasting friendships and enjoyed the benefits of being part of a parenting community. My daughters are turning seven this summer, and as I reflect on my Mommy and Me experience, I realize that I continue to utilize the communication style and intervention strategies that I developed in my parenting classes.   

Knowing first-hand the rollercoaster ride that is the honest start to many people’s parenting journey, I decided to expand my specialization as a child therapist to include postpartum adjustment challenges and parenting support.  I am thrilled to be facilitating a group focused specifically on parenting multiples for The Pump Station & Nurtury® this fall (Click here to reserve your spot or email for more info).  I feel honored to have the opportunity to support and guide other parents of multiples on their unique, challenging, wonderful and overwhelming journeys of parenthood. 

If you would like more info on our upcoming groups please email the following with your babies' names, Due Date/Birth Date and a phone number. You can reserve your spot with a deposit:
Santa Monica/Conejo Valley:
or reserve your spot here...

Laurie Kinigstein, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in West LA, specializing in perinatal mental health issues and postpartum adjustment challenges. Laurie also works for Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles where she facilitates support groups and provides individual therapy in the New Moms Connect program. She received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin and subsequently worked as a child and adolescent psychotherapist for over ten years prior to expanding her specialization to include parenting support and postpartum depression. Laurie's experience parenting twin daughters has led to her passion for supporting new moms as they attempt to navigate their unique parenting journeys.