My name is Melanie and I have eight year old fraternal twin girls, Reagan and Riyan. I am a SAHM to five, adding number six this week!
When the twins were born, Reagan had to stay in the NICU while Riyan was able to come home immediately. This is the first time they were separated. It is absolutely heartbreaking to have to pull away from the hospital without your baby. Not to mention, I thought somehow this would be damaging to their bonding to one another by being separated for so long immediately after birth.
Reagan came home three weeks later and I remember laying them together on the couch. I held my breath, wondering if they would feel each others presence. When their little hands entwined, it brought tears to my eyes. Finally, the set was once again complete.
When my twins were just under a year, my mom had this idea. She thought maybe it would be fun for the twins to spend some alone time, without the other twin, with mom and dad. Her plan, in theory, sounded like a good one. She took Riyan to stay overnight with her. We both enjoyed our day with our respective twin.
Later that night, my mom calls. She is unable to get Riyan to sleep. She is fussy and unable to settle down. Hours later, she calls again because Riyan is still awake and crying full force now. Around two in the morning, she finally brings Riyan home. I open the door and my crying baby immediately lunges for me and seems to settle somewhat. Then she does the most amazing thing. She points upstairs to her room. It wasn’t me she wanted at all. So I climb the stairs and put her down next to her sister. I quietly stir Reagan awake so Riyan can see her sister. Riyan cuddled up with her and went fast asleep.
Once school started, we were faced with the dilemma on whether they should be in the same kindergarten class or if we should separate them. Riyan was painfully shy so we thought it better to keep them together. After all, starting school is a huge change and we weren’t sure Riyan would handle it well alone. There were some incidences of Reagan speaking for Riyan but they had a wonderful teacher who encouraged them to blossom into individuals.
At the end of the school year, I met with her teacher to decide when it was best to separate them into different classes. The school was very supportive of any decision I made. She introduced me to the first grade teachers and some other parents of twins in school. One mom I talked to encouraged me to do it early. Her twins were in fifth grade and she had kept them together until that year. They had a difficult time adjusting to being in separate classes. Another consideration was Reagan was more advanced then Riyan and by being in different classes, Riyan wouldn’t notice as much. We didn’t want her getting frustrated or feeling inadequate. I decided to put them in different classes and I think it was just the right time. They again blossomed with new friends and new experiences.
Our final challenge with separation came just recently. A friend of Reagan’s invited her to a sleep over…without Riyan. Riyan put on a tough exterior but you could tell she was a little jealous. After Reagan left, she just sat on the fence and looked at the ground. We had arranged for one of her friends to come stay but it was hours until she could come. I could not stand watching my little baby so bummed sitting on that fence. I scooped her up and we went to the movies. It kept her mind off being alone for the first time in a long time.
They are going to be nine soon and I don’t foresee encountering any more separation issues. As they get older, I think they will be better able to cope with being apart. In hindsight, I think maybe be should have tried more to encourage them to more individual, less of a set. They handled it all pretty well. Maybe it was my heart that couldn’t take it. Maybe I am hopelessly doomed to pairs forever since having twins, even with inanimate objects. If I go to buy something at the store and see that there is two left on the shelf, I must by them both. I can’t leave one behind. Now if I could just finish knitting the other sock I promised my mom two Mother’s Days ago.
After a bunch of Clomid cycles and two IUIs with Clomid Erin was finally diagnosed with 700 yr old eggs, so it was straight to IVF. Cycle #1 was a bust, but #2 was the charm. Now she’s the SAHM to 13 month old boy/girl twins!
She and her husband think they used to have some interests, but now they spend all their free time trying to figure out how they got so damn lucky. Musings on that and lots more can be found at www.momsprung.com
To Fence Or Not To Fence?
Ok, this is for real now.
Up ’til now I’ve been doing this twin thing with what I’ll admit is a sense of smug superiority. I often found myself wondering just why all these people were wondering how I do it, and why they kept referring to my tiny pals as “double trouble.” It just didn’t seem so bad! And of course I always had the old, “Well, two babies is all I know!”
I happily rode the “I don’t know any better” train for a long time and let me tell you that train is off the tracks! These two kids move nonstop in opposite directions and they do it fast. They have absolutely no fear and even less common sense. They are addicted to brick, tile, sharp corners and although they hate to be cliché, electrical outlets.
My life as a twin mom has officially begun.
I’m not sure if I’m prepared for it, and I’m certain that my house isn’t. There was a family with one year old twins in our old apartment complex and I used to sneer into their apartment in the evenings. (Don’t you just love looking in people’s houses at night?) Their living room was completely devoid of furniture and there was just a giant play yard. I told just about everyone I know how ridiculous it seemed to me and of course told them how I’d NEVER do that, that the babies need to learn to explore and all kinds of other nonsense. I’m sure you know where this is headed, right?
Yup. I am seriously considering a play yard.
We just got back from ten days at my mom’s house which just so happen to be the same ten days that these two kiddos blossomed from sedentary blobs (thanks Angie!) into the movers and shakers they are today. As Hubs put it on his way to work Monday morning, my vacation was WAY more over than his. I cannot believe how fast they are. And how little regard they have for potential head trauma! Sassy’s new favorite place to pull up is the seat of the jumperoo. You know the one that bounces and swings? DANGER! They also like bookshelves, potted plants, you name it. The safe, padded storage ottomans that I bought for just this purpose are “like so February, Mom!”
So yeah, I’ve been thinking about getting a babyprison. I’ve made it for two days so far with both skulls intact, but that’s included a long drive to pick up the dog from the kennel, a lunch outing, a trip to the Discovery Museum, and countless walks. All in all, very little time in the house of peril. And even with all those diversions I am physically exhausted by 6pm. This safety monitor business is hard work! I will continue to resist the fence as long as I can, but I totally see the benefit of it. Sorry for all the sneers, former neighbors!!
So, other twin moms: Did you use a play yard? If so did it offer a bit of relief? And if not, how did you approach the safety issue? HELP!!!
OK, HDYDI’ers…Right about now you’re thinking, “Wait a second! This chick isn’t helping us at all! She’s asking for help!” You’re right. I was. I even looked to HDYDI for advice! As it turns out there was a twofold solution to my problem.
The first thing we did was to turn our 3rd bedroom into a playroom. I’m really not sure why we didn’t do this beforehand, but thankfully we’ve got it figured out now.
If you ask me, choosing one room and making it completely 100% baby-safe is an absolute must for multiple-moms. Even if you don’t have a spare bedroom, give up your living room or dining room. Trust me, it will be worth it! Converting that room has made every aspect of my day so much better. I used to be at a loss once my husband left for work. Now, we head into the playroom. I can chill on the futon and drink coffee while the kids play, or (once I’m fully awake) I can hang out on the floor and play with them. Either way, I know that the kids are super safe, even before the caffeine has a chance to hit my bloodstream. I can even leave them in there and go to the bathroom! No one told me that having twins meant you never got to go to the bathroom. I mean honestly, people, that would have been good information!
The second piece of the solution is a cocktail of patience, vigilance and wine… UGH! I hate it when people say “patience”! But it’s true. You’ll need a little patience to wait it out until your kids get a bit steadier. You’ll need vigilance to keep them safe. And you’ll need that wine to calm your nerves once they’re asleep.
It’s about two months now since I wrote that plea for help. This relatively short time has seen a huge change in their abilities as well as my ability to let them be a bit daring (aka “stupid”). As long as there’s no major danger (electrical outlets, etc.) I try to let them make some mistakes. In the end, I think it will help them learn. Wait, am I just telling myself that? Only time will tell. They just started walking a couple of days ago, so I’m sure there will be many more “learning opportunities” ahead!
P.S. If you need to crack that vino open before the babies’ bedtime, you go right ahead. I won’t tell!
I am a 28 year-old mother of identical girls, Isabel and Beatrice. We are Brazilian and live in Brazil. I went to college to study music and graduated as a classical guitar player, but since then I have not worked with music, except for helping my husband, who is also a guitarist and teaches in another university. Now I work as a translator and interpreter, mostly of technical stuff – IT, websites, business conferences of all kinds. I believe we would classify as an attachment parenting family, although that is not much different from what most families in Brazil do, except perhaps for the exclusive breastfeeding part. My girls are now 7 months old, extremely healthy and crazily smart – started crawling on their 6 month birthday and are already cruising around the house.
A Successful (but hard) Journey Breastfeeding Twins Exclusively
[This is an abridged and improved version of the report I wrote for the breastfeeding community in orkut (a sort of Brazilian Facebook) when the girls turned 6 months old. You can read the full report in Portuguese in our blog. There will be a mirror version of the blog in English soon!]
The best piece of advice I read (here at HDYDI!) on breastfeeding twins, before they were even born was: get yourself some books, Internet or cable TV, sit your butt on the couch and do nothing else for a couple of months. And accept all the help you can. I took it to the letter. My only obligation was nursing. And I really couldn’t do much else, both because there was no time and because of the c-section pain. Changing diapers, bathing, rocking – those were things I did if I felt like it or were available, which was not often. Usually, what little free time I had was used to have a shower or to sleep. Or brush my teeth. And eat, always.
The grandmas spent most of the first month here. They cooked and brought me food on the couch the whole day. Every half hour, my mom would ask me: “want some water?” I always did. Mother-in-law cooked traditional milk-inducing goodies – corn, chicken soup (whether they worked or not I don’t know, but they were delicious!). Daddy did everything he could (he only just missed breastfeeding, hehe), and they were lucky to have been born just before the school summer vacation. He is a university teacher, so he could stay at home until they were 3 months old. First baths, first diapers, were his. Grandmas took the babies for walks around the block and sunbaths. During the night, the three of them took turns holding one baby while I fed the other. The girls and I have a lot to thank them for that. We also hired a maid when they were about 20 days. She is still with us and is also a wonderful nanny, loves the girls and they love her.
I do believe we could have survived without all that help in the first months. But it would not have been healthy. The way it was, I spent these two or three months on the limit – of sleep deprivation, pain, the desperation of not knowing what to do or when to do things, of isolation. If I had had to do laundry, cook and clean, it would have been a whole other story. Maybe I would have gotten sick, maybe wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed, maybe my marriage would be ruined.
Sleep, food and allergies
We co-sleep since they were born. To prevent one having more milk than the other, I alternate: for one week, Isabel will nurse on my right at night and on the left during the day. Every Monday, we switch. During the day, they would hardly go for more than 15 minutes if I put them in bed, so I developed a technique of feeding both at the same time while laying down and that was how we took 2 hours naps during the day in the crazy 3-4 month crisis when they woke up AT LEAST every hour at night.
At that time of desperation, when I started dreading going to bed knowing I just wouldn’t sleep, it hit me that there might be a food allergy. They presented many classical symptoms: interrupted sleep, mucousy cough, a lot of droll, constant rashes, fussiness while nursing (they kicked and pinched me heavily, my arms were marked by their little nails.) I decided to cut off dairy. In a week, the rash was gone, in two weeks there was no more cough and in three or four weeks they started sleeping a bit better. But it wasn’t very good yet. It improved a lot when I cut off gluten. The end of the night as dawn came closer used to be torture (for them and for me.) From 3 or 4 in the morning onwards, they woke non-stop every half hour and nursed desperately without being able to go back to sleep. Now they usually sleep for two hours, then wake and feed and quickly doze off.
After 6 weeks off dairy, I had a piece of Easter chocolate, which gave me two constipated babies who could hardly nurse five hours later and had runny noses and cough for the next three weeks. It happened again when I unknowingly had a bite of an omelet with cheese a couple of weeks ago. Trying to reintroduce gluten failed, too – they went back to fussy nursing, kicking and tossing the whole night – just not worth it, even though I tried to lessen the impact of the wheat by fermenting it overnight.
A good thing about all this dieting is that at 7 months I have shed all of my pregnancy weight and a couple more pounds, without lifting anything but my babies. It is true that my leg and stomach muscles are mush, though.
I am a translator and interpreter. Before they were born, I worked from home from 4 to 12 hours a day, depending on the demand. I worked out of the house interpreting events and seminars two or three times a month. The last seminar I interpreted was at 34 weeks gestation – 3 days of a conference on medicine I did by myself, speaking for hours on end. I was so big that my breath often failed me. Not to talk about the 400 km I travelled to get there. After that, I did some translation at home and started to slow down.
I started to accept translation jobs again 2 months post partum. I calculated that I could keep only my best clients (i.e. less work for more money), working two to three hours a day and be able to have some income and be merciful on my savings account. Most of the time I work at night when they go to bed, often till very late. When there is too much work I work during the day, baby at the breast, anyway I can. Of course the husband and the maid/nanny are there to help at those times.
Today I have just come back from my first interpreting job in 9 months. It was a wedding between a Brazilian girl and an American guy, his family came and I translated the ceremony for them. The nanny came to spend a couple of hours with my husband, only because it was the crucial bedtime hours. They did well – Isabel slept right after I left and Beatrice did not sleep, but was ok when I came back at 8 p.m. So it seems we are on the road to independence!
Them and me
One of the things that bother me most in having needed a c-section (I labored for 10 hours in full dilation at 39 weeks, but they got stuck – baby A was breech) is that I cannot recall the first time I breastfed. On one hand, this is a good thing – my doctor was adamant about having them on the breast as soon as I left the surgery room. I can vaguely remember a dream where my face itched (morphine) and there were babies on top of me. I have no idea if it hurt, if the latch was good, if there was any milk.
I calculate I spent more than 12 hours a day breastfeeding in the first two months. Today, I probably still spend about 6. When people ask me whether I enjoy nursing, I don’t always know what to say. It used to be so constant there wasn’t much I could compare to. Now that it is calmer, I can say I really like feeding one at a time, playing with their little hands while they play with me. I like it when they need to sleep, come to the breast and immediately become all soft and relaxed. It cracks me up when they are so interested in what is going on around us that they unlatch and throw themselves back to watch. It is delightful to nurse them laying down, with time to hold them and savor their warmth. And it melts my heart to see them holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes whenever they are nursing at the same time.