Please Vote! Friday, June 5th

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Hello Everyone! Enormous thanks go to our wonderful MoM’s who have agreed to “try out” for HDYDI! We are beyond thrilled that so many of you are reading along with us, and we hope you enjoy our contest week. Please vote for the author you would like to hear more from, as the authors with the most votes at 12:00am Eastern Time on Sunday, June 7th, will be invited to write for HDYDI. Enjoy and PLEASE VOTE!

Post #1: My Little Twin by Lisa

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a full-time employee, a friend and a triathlete. I am also an information junkie and a writer. I try to tackle everything with 100 percent of my energy and passion, but balancing all of these roles is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am learning and growing along with my nine-month-old daughters, Sarah and Jessica, and my husband of almost eight years, Jeff. Follow our adventure: www.ferrariflies.blogspot.com.

As a mother of twins, it is normal to have a beta twin or a little twin. I also know it is normal for identical twins to develop at different rates. But normal doesn’t mean you don’t worry and this has been very hard for me to internalize.

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When Sarah and Jessica were born, both girls were pretty physically stressed by the birth experience. Sarah, my Baby A, was 5 pounds, 15 ounces and she bounced back very quickly. Jessica, my Baby B, was 5 pounds, 10 ounces and had to be resuscitated after birth.  Although Jessica recovered relatively fast, she did have to spend time on a ventilator, had an arterial line and couldn’t be held or nursed for her first precious four days of life.IMG_0200

We got to come home from the NICU after nine very long days, but part of our discharge discussion included instructions on the follow ups we would need to have for Jessica with neurologists, signs of cerebral palsy to look for and a referral to early childhood intervention. I will never forget holding a sleeping Jessica on my chest as the nurse practitioner told me that Jessica’s discharge MRI was normal and she showed no indications of problems…yet. I made the nurse practitioner repeat the results twice because hearing it just once wasn’t enough.

So here we are almost nine months later. Jessica is about 1.5 pounds lighter than Sarah.  Jessica is also a little more reserved and quiet than Sarah, her rowdy, smile and holler at anyone sister. Sarah is days away from crawling, but Jessica is just fine. By all accounts her development is right on track. In fact, she even smiled first, cut teeth first and rolled over first. But still I worry…

I want to meet the needs of both my girls. I recognize that fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal, and I don’t want to create a scenario where my worry actually creates or reinforces the disparity I worry about. I have talked to other twin moms where one of their babies becomes known as “the Little One,” but I hope neither Jessica nor Sarah ever knows that once we made it past some of the first milestones, that I continued to carry the trauma of their first few days with me. I try to delight in their individual accomplishments on their individual timetables, but when Sarah is rocking on all fours and Jessica only rolls over occasionally that niggling worry continues.

I’m curious to hear from other twin moms. Do you have a little twin that you worry about or wish that you weren’t worrying about? Is this something you were able to successfully put behind you?

Post #2: Multiples And The Six Degrees of Separation by Anamika

After finding out that if we ever wanted to have biological children, we’d have to try IVF with ICSI, my husband and I decided we didn’t want to go that route. A few months later, we decided to adopt. Six months later, miraculously, our twins, Mrinalinee and Nayantara, came home. Mrini and Tara, as we call them, were 13 months old to the day when we brought them to our home (which is in Bangalore, India) in September 2007. Since then, I’ve been a SAHM, and it’s been quite a journey. You can read all about it on my personal blog: The Twins & I

I’ve read about how parents of multiples need to spend significant 1:1 time with each of their kids. And about how multiples, if not carefully monitored and directed, tend to develop an unhealthy degree of togetherness and dependence on each other; that they don’t develop fully as individuals; that, in order for them to be healthy, happy, independent adults, they have to be given opportunities to be apart; and that one way of giving them this ‘opportunity’ is to separate them in school. I’ve written before of how I feel on that matter, but I’ve been wondering, of late, just how much separation is enough.

I’ve somewhat arbitrarily allocated six separate degrees of separation, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the usual connotation of the terms “Six Degrees of Separation”.

1: Multiples who spend a few minutes spent apart from each other, everyday or a few times a week. This separation is likely to be largely unplanned and inevitable. Example: one kid wakes up before the other, or one kid has to go to the doctor, or both parents are engaged in some activity, one with each child.

2: Multiples who routinely sleep separately: which means, falling asleep, sleeping, and waking up in separate rooms (not simply separate cribs or beds in the same room).

3: Multiples who spend significant time apart, everyday or most days. This could just be time spent in different areas of the house, or could be time spent on separate activities that take them out of the house, such as sports or music lessons. To differentiate it from the first degree of separation, it would have to be at least an hour or so spent apart everyday. It’s difficult to visualize this as an unplanned separation, specially if it is a regular occurrence.

4: Multiples who have separate schedules; or, no schedule. Multiples have few overlap in their daily schedules and activities on most or all days. This could include any or all activities in the house, such as sleeping, eating, bathing, playing etc, and maybe even separate activities outside the house, such as sports sessions, playgroups etc.  (Personally, I can’t imagine how parents survive this; I’d go crazy in a week.)

5: Multiples who are in separate sections in school, or, worse still, separate schools. This, of course, could be initiated by the multiples themselves, or by their parents; or it might be mandatory due to external regulations or laws.

6: Multiples who live in separate homes. This is the saddest of all. Adoption laws in India prohibit siblings from being separated. But I don’t know if divorce laws do, too. In any case, this might happen if parents live separately, for any reason, or if multiples are sent to separate (for instance, boy/girl) boarding schools.

Out of these six degrees, in my opinion, the first is inevitable and harmless, perhaps even useful; and the sixth is tragic. Most of the in-between levels are functions of preference and convenience (parental, usually), and also a function of the age of the kids. My twins, now almost three, are comfortable with the first degree of separation and a bit of the second degree. They sleep separately in the afternoon, though nights apart are rare.

My girls might opt for – or indicate readiness for – the third and fifth degree of separation, as they grow older and discover different interests. At the right age and stage of development, I don’t think there’s any harm in that, and it is even to be encouraged. What I would not be happy about, is if that choice were to be made for them, without considering their opinion. (And if you’re thinking that, at 3, they can hardly have an opinion in the matter… well, you’d have to meet my kids to know.)

For my part, I hope they never opt for completely out-of-sync  food and sleep schedules, as indicated in the fourth degree of separation. I’ll certainly do my best to keep them on largely ‘normal’ (and in-sync) schedules, but if they do ultimately want to adopt completely different schedules, I’ll have to give in with good grace, I suppose. I only hope they’re teenagers by then.

As for the sixth degree of separation: naturally, multiples have to learn to live away from each other in their adult lives. The question is when and how they learn this. If it comes naturally, in the course of their education and career choices, and if they themselves have a say in the decision, then it is a positive development. But, if the separation comes about as a result of external causes and is not a decision in which the multiples have any say at all… that’s sad.

What do other MoMs out there think? How many degrees of separation would you consider and how good, bad, or ugly are these? Which separations work for your family, and why?

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Separate them? How can I possibly?

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Post #3: My Quest for a Good Night’s Sleep by Renae

Renae is a coupon clipping, penny pinching, bargain shopper living in a suburb northwest of Boston. She is a biracial (African American/Caucasian) stay at home mother to 15 month old biracial girl/boy twins. Although Renae has lived in New England for 13 years, she is still a Midwestern girl at heart (born and raised in Iowa). She loves spending her days with her kids, and hardly misses her elementary school teaching job at all. Renae loves taking her twins on field trips all over town (the grocery store, library, playground, etc.) and especially loves getting her twins together with other twins.

Not long after my twins and I began getting out and about in our small community, I started to get the question that I’m sure all new mothers of multiples must hear a lot: “So, are you getting any sleep?” Mind you, these were total strangers who would stop me in stores, get way too close to my tiny babies, ask the dreaded question, offer me parenting advice, and then walk away saying, “Boy, you’ve got your hands full.” What fun! Using every ounce of control I had in me, I would stifle my impulses to scream, cry, and lash out at the idiots who would dare ask a severely sleep deprived, highly emotional mother of twins such a ridiculous question. I wanted to shout, “Of course I’m not getting any sleep! I have two newborns!” But instead I would politely explain that while they were both pretty good sleepers, they woke approximately every 2 ½ hours to feed. Still, I wondered whether this was how it was supposed to be.

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So one day, instead of napping like I was supposed to (you know, the whole sleep when the babies are sleeping thing), I combed the archives of my twin club’s message board looking for information about infants and sleep. After reading several dozen posts on the topic, I concluded that we were basically on the right track. I also learned that when my twins got to the 4-6 month range, we could do something called “sleep training” and get them to sleep through the night. Although I had no idea what sleep training was at that time, it sounded good to me, and I couldn’t wait for my little guys to be old enough for us to start.

But at 6 months old, my son weighed 13 ½ pounds, and my daughter was just over 12 pounds. I was still getting up twice each night to breastfeed (yes, an improvement from the early newborn days, but still…), and I was completely exhausted. I talked to our pediatrician about sleep training, but given their slow weight gains, he advised that we continue with night feedings. And so we did.

But by 9 months old, I’d had it with night feedings. Without consulting our pediatrician, my husband and I decided to finally go ahead with sleep training. My son now weighed 16 pounds, and my daughter weighed almost 14 pounds. Their weights were still low, but I was convinced by the early morning playdate, that took place after our remaining 4am feeding, that they no longer needed a night feeding to get them through till morning. So we just stopped going in when we heard them stirring. There was some crying in the beginning, but three nights later, they began sleeping through the night regularly. Sleep problems solved, right?

Wrong. Because for the past 9 months when my husband and I would get up for night feedings (I was in charge of feeding, he helped with burping and diapering), our beloved kitty, who sleeps in our bed, would get up too. And she had grown accustom to being fed around 4:30am, which we did to keep her from bothering us before the alarm clock went off around 6:45am. The kids were sleeping through the night, but the cat was not! She would wake up around 4:00/4:30am, howl and cry and demand to be fed. Super annoying! My husband would cave and get up and feed her. But finally I asked, “Honey, if we’re expecting our children to sleep through the night, shouldn’t we expect the same of the cat?” Sleep training the cat began promptly, and within a week, she was back to starting her day when the alarm went off. So, sleep problems solved, right?

Not quite. Try as I might, I continued to wake between 3 and 5am. Often I woke to use the bathroom, but sometimes I would just wake up suddenly for no apparent reason. One might think, no big deal, just roll over and go back to sleep. But that seemed near impossible. I would lay awake for 1-3 hours, usually falling asleep just before the alarm clock would ring. Ugh! How very disappointing that everyone was getting a good night’s sleep except me, the most tired of us all!

This lasted for months, while I tried various things to keep me asleep until morning. For example: no drinks of any kind after dinner, going to bed earlier, going to bed later, ear plugs, sleeping on the couch, sleeping with more pillows, sleeping with no pillow. I tried everything I could think of, short of checking into a hotel at night.

So, what finally did the trick? Well, everything sort of fell into place when I joined a gym after weaning my kids at 13 ½ months. I started exercising from 7:45-8:45pm 5 nights a week, which pushed my bedtime back to about 10:30/11pm. Most nights, I don’t even wake up at all, but if I do have to get up to use the bathroom, I try to unconsciously do these things: 1) Stay in the drowsy awake phase (I try to barely open my eyes, except when absolutely necessary). 2) When I get back to bed, I take several deep breaths to help work my way back to sleep. 3) NO THINKING ALLOWED! As soon as I let my mind wander to playdates and grocery lists, I’m done for. I must keep my mind blank. It doesn’t work every night, but now at 15 months, I’m getting a good night’s sleep more often than I am not.

So, what do you think? Is this unusual or par for the course? Are all the rest of you sleeping soundly without any issues at all? If you are, I’m so jealous, you lucky ducks!

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One thought on “Please Vote! Friday, June 5th”

  1. Hi Renae,

    Good Luck!! I really hope you win. You are an amazing writer and mom. I don’t know where you find the time to keep everyone in the family updated on the day to day progress of the twins, be a good wife and a mom but you do it very well.

    I know you will keep us posted:)

    All The Best,
    Tamiko

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