One of the core emotional dilemmas facing most new parents of twins is how to deal with the guilt over feeling more attached to one baby than the other. It is natural to expect that a sleep-deprived mother of twins will appreciate the baby who needs her less. The more demanding infant will require more of her, while the more contented one is appreciated for being more easily regulated.
On the other hand, it's possible that the baby who needs mother less will become less attached to her if mother comes to think of his independence as rejecting or unloving. Or mother may reward the more easily contented baby with special feelings. Or, as the babies mature and become more easily regulated, the dynamic may play out differently.
The point is that parents of newborn twins need to understand the challenges of bonding with two babies and that their relationship to each child is fluid and changeable. The healthiest way to negotiate this initial phase of getting to know each of your babies is to be honest and authentic in acknowledging your feelings.
Acknowledging How You Feel—Honestly
One mom in our mothers-of-twins group shared that she felt terrible complaining about one baby's irritability while guiltily looking forward to holding and cuddling the other baby. Yet, if we cannot complain, that is, be open about our less-than-warm-and-fuzzy feelings, we are susceptible to distorting the truth of our experience and displacing our uneasy feelings elsewhere.
When parents acknowledge that they prefer one baby over the other for various reasons, they not only unburden themselves of troubling feelings, but they can take whatever steps might be necessary to avert a potential problem. When you're open with yourself about why you might prefer one baby over the other, you can put those preferences in perspective and more readily accept that your feelings will fluctuate throughout your children's childhood.
Some parents are so upset by their feelings of favoring one baby over the other that they can't even acknowledge or discuss the emotional turmoil they're going through. Many insist that they have no preference, that they love both babies the same. But preferring the company of one baby over the other doesn't really have anything to do with love. Showing a preference for one baby at certain times is a way to cope with the overwhelming caretaking tasks required of a parent with two new babies.
Also, preferences reveal the distinctions between two babies whose relationships to you and whose emerging personalities are unique and in flux. My son Jonny was happy gazing into space, while his twin brother David screeched and wailed, but these descriptions in no way typify their personalities today or reveal how much my husband and I loved them then—or now.