I Wasn't Expecting This

My son and daughter were born in May of 2007. And as predicted, that first year with twins was exhilarating and brutal. I chronicled sleep-less nights, nursing woes, hip dysplasia x’s 2 and 12-month-long-reflux over hundreds of blog posts.

I cheered on other MoM’s whose little ones were sleeping through the night. I read all the information I could on breastfeeding, pumping and weening. I was delighted in my children, but struggling with regular first-time mom stuff, like how to balance exercise, friendships and my marriage when everything I did was colored by pure exhaustion.

Outings were performed with military precision, complete with an escape route. Nights were long and bled into the days. Laundry was never ending, and I took solace in the fact that my work as a mother was legitimately much harder than that of a mom with only one newborn.

Life was just…so hard.

Months 12-24 were busy, busy, busy. Most of that time was spent trying to keep Faith and Jonathan from prematurely ending their lives. Oh, they tried! Eating crumbling concrete, launching themselves off of high surfaces, careening around on play ground equipment and even a choking incident or two colored my blog posts. Heck, there were even several smothering attempts!

And still, I reassured myself that the amount of stress I was experiencing on a daily basis was the direct result of having 2 same-aged children. I sometimes marveled at my mom-friends with only one child. I never scorned their struggles, I just longed a little bit for the way they seemed to enjoy mothering when I was trying to keep my head above water.

However, and I didn’t see it coming, something amazing has happened. All of those mom friends with one child? Well, they got pregnant and have given birth to their second born. And here is the kicker: my life with 2 two year olds? It is much, much easier and less difficult than having a toddler and a baby! I can hardly believe how much fun I can have with my munchkins with minimal planning, packing and stressing. I honestly have a lot of compassion for my friends who are chasing after a non-napping toddler during the day and are nursing a baby through the night.

I wasn’t expecting it, but having two-same aged children actually seems easier than having two singletons!
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What are your thoughts on this topic? How do you weigh in on the twin vs singleton debate?

Guest Post: Manly Expectations

Mommy, Esq. is a lawyer at a Big Firm and mom to almost 12 month old twins, Edmund (Ned) and Penelope. In between conference calls and deal closings she thanks her lucky stars for an unbelievable Husband (and co-parent) and nanny. You can find her blog about Big Law and the three loves of her life at www.mommyesq.com.

My son Ned is a cuddler. He likes to “stop by” as he cruises the playroom to be picked up and put his head on your shoulder. There are “kisses” too – although sometimes biting would be more accurate. But when Ned gets frustrated he shouts and hollers at the world, tearing up and sometimes throwing himself backward to have a tantrum (I thought that was in our future!). The nanny and I rub his back when he’s upset and tell him “he’s okay”, and will pick him up for a cuddle.

Ned will not like to be diapered and dressed after his nighttime bath. Partly this is because he’s pretty tired by the time bedtime has rolled around and partly because he’s getting out the rest of his energy. I diaper him standing up and lotion and dress him as he barrels around his bedroom. My husband thinks we should be teaching Ned that sometimes you just have to lie still for a few minutes and “get it over with”. I give Ned 3 chances of standing up in the bathtub (dangerous!) before I just take him out (I do say “no” with the ASL sign (the only one I know)); my husband’s approach is to say “no” and putting him down until bathtime (for both kids) is over.

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My husband thinks I coddle Ned. He wants our son to be strong and to problem solve and not always go running to mommy. I sort of laugh because, I mean, he’s a baby! But it has gotten me thinking – how do you turn your little boys from babies into men? We spent so much time this first year of their lives just “surviving” that promoting self reliance and discipline has fallen a bit by the wayside. When both parents work you try to maximize the fun, loving time instead of working on utensil use or self-play. And I know the number of things they will need to learn to do on their own is just going to get longer!

Do you see a difference in the expectations you or your spouse have for sons and daughters? In what ways do you encourage self-reliance in your kids?

Your Registry Cheat-Sheet

This might be a day late and a dollar short for most of you, but I would love your help compiling advice for expectant mother’s for when they are faced with the daunting task of preparing their baby registries.

Personally, I was completely overwhelmed at the thought of buying/choosing/registering for what seemed like a huge amount of baby gear. In fact, I requested a veteran mom walk me through Babies R Us and I took notes while she pointed out the various items I may or may not need. I was so grateful for her help, because it is a huge job to research all of the items for safety ratings/effectiveness/price comparison. And since most of my friends were all having their first baby(s) at the same time, we tended to fuel each other’s drive for baby stuff…especially any item to help with breastfeeding or sleeping!

Would you please leave a comment about what worked or what you would have done differently in terms of baby gear? Thanks!
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Krissy’s Registry Cheat-Sheet

  • As far as car seats go: several friends of singletons have since had baby #2. Many of them had the super cute Chicco travel system (stroller and car seat). The problem is, as far as I can tell, Chicco does not make a double front-to-back stroller, and the mom’s are limited to other brands of double strollers that will accept the Chicco car seat. If you hope to have more than one child, you might want to factor this in.
  • Car seat under mats are a worthy addition to your registry. When you first bring home your newborn, it is hard to envision their little feet hanging over their car seats, dripping muddy or snowy water onto your upholstery, but that time will come, likely around their first birthday.
  • In my humble opinion, the one item that I would insist on buying new is the crib mattress. My son has been sleeping and jumping on his mattress for 2+ years, and it has shown considerable wear and tear. The middle is still nice and firm, but the sides have taken a real beating. There is now enough room between the crib mattress and crib slats for a newborn to get stuck. I know, because his stuffed dog (newborn sized) often ends up wedged down there.
  • The big stuff: exersaucers, bouncy seats, bumbos and swings all have a VERY short life span…borrow them or buy them used if you can. The amount of space they will require in your home is enormous, and you will resent their perfectly matched presence even more if you paid full price for them!
  • One of the biggest wastes of money for many moms are infant carriers. The problem is, you don’t really know what will work for you (how it feels, fits, any area’s of back pain, infant head support, etc. ) until you actually have the baby in your possession. For example, I personally hated the Moby wrap I bought during my pregnancy and never used it. The Baby Bjorn worked for my husband, but hurt my back. However, the consignment store Snugli worked wonderfully for me. Several friends have told me they regretted buying the sling/carrier, etc. that they did because it didn’t end up working for them. If you do decide to buy ahead of time-keep the tags on and save the receipt!

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Jonathan in a borrowed walker.
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Faith in a borrowed Exersaucer…I loved it while we needed it, and loved it even more when I returned it to the owner and it didn’t have to fit in my overflowing storage room!

Okay ladies! Help me out! And for those of you researching your baby gear options, here are a few HDYDI product reviews:

15 Minutes of Manners

Parenting is hard. Really, REALLY hard.

I often tend to focus on the negative aspects of parenting, without acknowledging the really great times. And there are a lot of really amazing aspects of our days…it’s just that they come in small bursts and tend to get overlooked by the tantrums in Target and constant sibling rivalry!

So, Jonathan and Faith, I dedicate this post to you. I urge you other mama’s to chime in and brag about your kids! Let it be an encouragement to the rest of us when we are having a particularly difficult day!

15 Minutes of Manners

On Tuesday of this past week, I took my two 2-year-olds to Panera for breakfast. We arrived sans stroller, sippy cups in hand. The kids stood in line with me while I ordered a cinnamon crunch bagel and a blueberry bagel. I asked them to run them through the bread slicer, and they presented me with a tray of neatly sliced and easy to eat bagel pieces.

I asked Faith to pick a place for us to sit, and she ran to an open table and scampered up. Jonathan climbed into his seat, they bowed their heads for prayer, and we started chowing down. They calmly and politely ate all most all of their bagels. I told them to stay in their seats and I walked back up to the counter to get a to-go bag. I nervously checked back a few times to see if they were in their seats-and THEY WERE!

I had to wait in line no more than 2 minutes, but still! They remained in their seats! I packed up our leftovers for munching in the car, we threw away our trash, and left Panera holding hands, and I know my face was beaming with pride.

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I won’t comment on the rest of the day, in order not to tarnish this lovely story of my children’s obedience. But once in a while, don’t you think we need to cut ourselves some slack and say, “I’m not too bad at this MoM thing, and my kids are pretty amazing little people?!”

Please share your encouraging story of good behavior and/or manners!

Guest Post: Counting Higher Than Two

Mommy, Esq. is a lawyer at a Big Firm and mom to almost 10 month old twins, Edmund (Ned) and Penelope. In between conference calls and deal closings she thanks her lucky stars for an unbelievable Husband (and co-parent) and nanny. You can find her blog about Big Law and the three loves of her life at www.mommyesq.com.

Goddess in Progress has discussed her struggles around whether or not to go for number three and Laura C has also blogged about knowing she is happy with two rambuncious boys. This may shock some of you moms of multiples out there but my husband and I decided to start trying for a third kid right around month 5 with our newborn twins.

If I saw me through a lens I would think we were crazy. After all, I work too much, Husband travels too much, we haven’t even figured out how to be parents – why add another baby into the mix? You may be toying with the idea yourself so I thought I’d let you in on all the discussions we’ve had since deciding to take the plunge:

1. Parenting is Fun. Husband and I originally decided to have kids because “hey, that’s what you do”. If you love each other and want to pass on your values and genetic code you force the next generation to suffer through your parenting mistakes. We both can’t believe how much we like it. It’s not always pretty but we think someday we’ll love our kids not only because of their genetic code but because we helped raise them into loving, self-sufficient (here’s hoping) adults.

2. Did You See My Gray Hair(s)? We started trying for kids before I turned 30. Two years and 2 rounds of Clomid later, we discovered we were having twins. My mom had her FOURTH kid at 32. I’m not getting any younger so I want to have another kid while I can – ideally before I’m 35. The bigger and as-of-yet unresolved issue is whether we undergo any fertility treatments if we don’t have any success in the next 6 months. Husband says no way. I say, hmmm…. [noncommittal noises].

3. TWO MORE? Since I’m a triplet there is some possibility – and every mom of multiples fear – that we could end up pregnant again with two (or more) even without fertility treatments. We’re okay with that. Seriously. I not-so-secretly think having two babies at once is more of a joy than one even when factoring in the headaches that go into two babies. I also think that the third kid might feel a bit left out so why not have another set of twins?

4. Little Helpers vs. Bring On the Chaos. Lots of moms wait until multiples kids are older to have more kids. I’m more of the mindset that we lump the diapers, the potty training, the assertion of independence right in a row so we “get it over with” (can you tell I’m not a big fan of the “newborn” phase?). My brother was 6 years younger than my sisters and me and while yes, we were able to make him breakfast and eventually drive him around we weren’t close or “played” together in any way until he became a full-fledged adult. As my kids have started to go through the development leap phase (as of yet unsuccessful) and I have spent some time with my 2.5 year old nephew I know it will be hard, very hard to have 3 kids under the age of 2 or 3 (since time is ticking without any results). But won’t it be better once they are all 5 and 7, right? Right? Plus if we delay then we could love the self-sufficiency of having older kids so much we don’t dare create new chaos. To be honest I was sort of hoping I would get pregnant my first month back at work so I could keep everything off balance.

5. Logistics/Money. It’s not going to be cheap and it’s not going to be easy. We’ll continue with our retirement savings goals and try to save for their college costs. Our primary financial goal is that we don’t want to have to rely on our kids to support us in old age – even knowing that social security and Medicaid will likely be bankrupt when we retire. I’d like to tell you we carefully looked at our finances but frankly it’s a crap shoot. We have enough faith in ourselves that we can make it work.

Our family would be complete without any more kids; but we have room in our hearts for more. What about you, readers: When is the best time for another kid after multiples (if ever)? Would you go for more if it involved fertility treatments?

Highs and Lows of Parenting by: Krissy

I have noticed a trend among mommy-bloggers and facebook-ers…either the posts and updates are sugary-sweet and upbeat, with the goal being not to seem ungrateful for their multiple bundles of joy; or they are wise-crackin’ disaster stories rife with sarcasm and self-deprecation. An example of the later would be The Meanest Mom. Have you guys read her stuff?!  Or how about Jen at Amazing Trips?Hysterical, honest and definitely not your regular mommy-blog.

I think I fall more in the first category, putting a positive spin on sleepless nights (time to pray over the kids!); illnesses (it could be worse! at least it’s not serious!), and behavioral issues (must be another developmental stage!). As a christian mom, and a mom who conceived due to infertility treatments, I often craft my blogging posts to reflect the best part of the day, so that I don’t seem ungrateful or ungodly…if that seems silly to you, then maybe “ANONYMOUS” has never commented on your blog at the slightest hint of a complaining attitude!

However, I had a day with my kids last week that got me to thinking about the highs and lows of parenting. (Please forgive the crudeness of this story.)

I woke up excited about meeting a couple of friends to go horseback riding. I only go once or twice a summer, and I was so looking forward to trying to hang on and have fun with out falling off or looking like the untrained rider that I am. The ride itself was a blast, I was some what in control of my horse, we cantered in an open field, I didn’t split my head open or need medical attention…as success in my opinion!

Upon arriving home, coated in horse grit and hot from wearing heavy jeans, I was greeted by two unhappy children. For whatever reason, when I leave them with a babysitter (in this case their grandmother), they choose to punish me for leaving them for a few hours. The whining, hitting and unhappiness was at an all time high.

They had been having a great time playing in the sprinkler until I got home, then nothing would satisfy them, and I could feel all the good endorphins from my fun ride and time alone quickly dissipating. Soon, I recognized the unmistakable odor of toddler poop. Realizing that the kids were in soaking wet bathing suits, which are lined with washable swim diapers, I decided to undress the culprit in the front yard rather than risk a wet, nasty mess getting on my living room floor. Can you see where this is headed?!

Pull down 1st diaper…water logged poop and gravity are not a good combo…poop all over the grass. Gagging, I clean up the culprit and leave the mess in the yard. Anxious to get my kids into the tub, I yank down the 2nd diaper, only to find an equally disgusting mess. Child #2  is scrubbed without mercy with the ever present diaper wipes. Two heaps of poopy swim suits are left in the hot sun.

Cajole naked kids up the steps. Place in tub. They fight, fall several times, get scolded, are clean, dry and put in fresh diapers and clean clothes. Nap time begins 1/2 an hour early.

I head back outside to deal with the mess, only to encounter a hoard of flies which have descended upon my children’s feces. Consider blasting the mess with the hose, but realize that will only spread the mess out further. Dispose of used baby wipes, and carry the mess downstairs to the laundry room. I am really unsure of how to proceed, as this has never happened before! Decide to rinse the diapers out in the deep sink-INSTANT MISTAKE! Did you know watery bits of poo can clog a sink?! S***!

Pull out an old craft paintbrush, wiggle around the stick part, dislodge the mess, comence gagging, and pull out the bleach. Oh, did I mention I had to clean up my lawn with baby wipes?!

Nap time did not help my kids’ dispositions. They wake up hungry, demanding and irritable. Irritable is also a good word to describe the state their mother is in. Call my husband to inquire about his ETA. We had plans to take the kids on a short bike ride. Hubby says he will be home soon, and asks me to bring the biking gear to the front yard so he can quickly load it on the bike rack.

While the kids are eating a pitiful dinner of rice crispies, I dash around to the garage and haul up the necessary bike helmets, bikes and tag-along seats. When I return to the dining room, I am greeted with an abstract art piece made of rice crispies. Milk soaked, these little crackling cereal bits coat my dining room table, chairs and floor. Trying not to get flustered, I decide to wait until later to deal with the mess (impossible to clean up the cereal while wet, better to wait until it is dry.)

I get the kids in clean diapers, shoes, and send them outside to wait for their father, who with any luck, will show up in 2.5 seconds. Thankfully, my knight arrives and quickly loads up the bikes and gear. The kids, who are normally ecstatic to go bike-riding, yell at each other the entire 20 minute drive to the park. We quickly assemble the bike seats, plop them in them, and start peddling. I pulled the short straw apparently, as I have the complaining one directly behind me, issuing orders in a pint-sized voice.

What I did not count on is the effect on my legs and posterior from the horseback riding…I could barely pedal my bike up the hills…my toddler companion is swatting me in the bum saying “Go Mommy! GO!”

Bedtime is nearing, and I call it quits. We head home to the chorus of more whining, and my nerves, frayed from the day, are ready to let loose…we pull into parking lot to pick up dinner (what can I say? I don’t like rice crispies for dinner!) and I beg my husband to let me be the one who gets to stand in line at Chipotle! Anything to get me away from the kids!

We get home, change the kids into their pj’s, brush their teeth, pray with them, rock them and put them to bed with a kiss and assurances of how much we love them. And love them we do!

Now, if I had just blogged about the morning horseback riding, and the evening family bike ride, I would have painted a much less accurate portrait of our day…but it would have been a tidier post! Personally, I relate better to the bloggers who speaking lovingly of their family with a good dose of realism thrown in. Any blogs you regularly read for the honest portrayal of parenthood? Are you a glass full or glass empty blogger?

Would love to hear your comments and see your blog recommendations!

And The Winners Are…

(drumroll please!)

Erin! Amy! Sarah! Jen from Diagnosis:Urine! Kim! Jenna! Renae! Nicole! Marcy!

Congratulations ladies! There were a total of 1, 472 votes cast, and the numbers were very close. In fact, Sarah and Jen tied with the exact same number of votes, which is why we will be adding NINE wonderful new contributors to our ranks. Ladies, thank you all for your participation in this contest. We greatly appreciate everyone who reads and comments on HDYDI, and we are excited to introduce our new members!

While we focus on the changes taking place at HDYDI, we will take a look back over the past year of mothering our multipes for “From the Archives” Week. Enjoy!

Last Day To Vote!

Marcy is a 30 year-old first-time mom to fraternal twin girls, Amelia and Ella, born in September of 2007. After taking a one-year maternity leave, she returned (kicking and screaming!) to her job as a state worker. As it so happens, raising twin toddlers and working (albeit part-time) is not all it’s cracked up to be. So, she has decided to pursue a different career, and thus begins her new adventure as a stay-at-home mama at the end of June. She is anxiously awaiting what her two new bosses have in store…

All in the Family, by: Marcy

When we broke the news that I was pregnant with our dynamic duo, I got my first glimpse at twin celebrity. People were amazed that two babies were growing inside my belly. Truth be told, so was I! And, it didn’t take long before the comments started flowing. Oh, you know the ones… “Twins? Good luck!” or “Better you than me!” And, my personal favorite: “What are you going to do with two babies?!” I remember my usual response like it was yesterday. “Oh, don’t worry about us,” I would say. We’ll have lots of help. My in-laws live right upstairs.” Famous last words.

Prior to the girls’ arrival, I had a great relationship with my in-laws( ILs). My husband and I moved into the IL’s second floor apartment days after we were married. Five years later, when we announced my pregnancy, my ILs graciously gave up their larger first floor pad to make room for babies. Nice, huh? By the time Amelia and Ella were born, my mother-in-law (MIL) had retired and was available to us any time, day or night. I know what you’re all thinking… “This is a bad thing because…??” Because it was. It turned out to be an awful thing for our family, and one that I did not see coming.

We hadn’t even made it out of the hospital when I suspected there might be a slight problem. As if it’s not mortifying enough to have countless sets of strange hands on your boobs (I refer here, of course, to the lactation consultants and nurses), it was somewhere in the realm of the insane to have my MIL “show” me the correct way to breastfeed my babies. In case you haven’t experienced this before (and I pray you haven’t!), this is truly an out-of-body experience. I remember thinking, “Um, you breastfed ONE baby 33 frickin’ years ago, and that makes you an expert? Get your hands off my boobs, woman!” Still, who had time to focus on MIL’s grabby hands when I had two poorly-latching babies? And, it was this attitude (born out of pure necessity), that got me into trouble in those early weeks and months.

Between the continued breastfeeding struggles and twin sleep deprivation, I let a lot of stuff go. I was in survival mode. I didn’t care if my husband trained a chimp to relieve me of a late night feeding; I just needed some sleep. MIL doesn’t like the Baby Bjorn because she fears it hurts the babies’ legs? Who cares? Who cares, if, on the day I decide to give it a go with exclusive breastfeeding, MIL is in the other room screaming that I am starving the babies? Not me! But, somewhere around week 8, I started coming out of my haze, albeit slowly. While I had been adamant from the beginning about the girls’ 3-4 hour feeding schedule, I started to figure out some other things, too. It’s right around this time when I noticed that MIL had long ceased knocking at the front door before entering. It had become a free-for-all. I actually felt so much like a prisoner in my own home (ahem, their apartment) that I would pack up two newborns and make a mad dash for the car whenever my anxiety became too overwhelming. I would go out of my way to hit up a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru two towns over just to get some alone time with my babies.

The worst part about the whole ordeal (yes, worse than the aforementioned touching of the boobage!) was that I had no idea how to safely broach the subject with my husband. I mean, how do you tell the man you love that you have visions of strangling the woman who gave birth to him? Very delicately. I decided to make it more about me. I focused on how my MIL’s behavior was negatively affecting me, causing undue stress and anxiety that was not good for our girls. And, I must say that my husband was extremely supportive. He has had my back since Day One. Incidentally, thanks honey! That’s not to say that we haven’t had our fair share of squabbles over the issue. Many a tiff were born out of my perception that he was not appropriately outraged at MIL’s latest escapade. And, as angry as I would get at my husband, I also felt bad for him, too. It is his mom we’re talking about here. You know… the woman who raised him.

I have laid awake many a night wondering why it all went so wrong. What could have been an ideal situation for new parents of twins turned into my own daily episode of Dr. Phil. I think our many battles can be summed up with just one word: control. My MIL has a super controlling personality. And, me? Do I consider myself a control freak? Pre-twins, no. Post-twins, heck yeah! Awake by 7 A.M., fed by 8, nap at 9. Rinse, wash, repeat. Organized chaos — essential for any new mom of twins who desires a semblance of normalcy in her life. And, God help the person who dares interfere with said chaos.

Here’s my best advice for anyone currently struggling with similar issues: Decide as a couple how you want to raise your children. Then, make your wishes known to family and friends and ask for their support. For instance, let your parents and in-laws know that your kids are not allowed to drink juice (no judging here, just an example), and ask that no juice pass your kids’ lips while in their care. If your wishes are not respected, make it clear that you are disappointed and discuss expectations for future visits. Do not be afraid to stick up for your family and your choices, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel in the moment. This has been one of the most difficult lessons for me as a new mom, but one of the most valuable to date. There is part of me that is almost grateful to my MIL for her overbearing ways. She has pushed me to find my own voice as a mother.

Have any of you faced a similar situation with the in-laws, or even your own parents? How did you deal with them?

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My name is Jennifer. I am 34 years old, married to Paul, a wonderful husband and father, since 2007. We were both previously married and we each have a child from that marriage. I have a seven year old daughter named Juliana. Paul has an eighteen year old son named Paulie. We were thrilled to welcome our twin boys, Louis and Anthony, into our family last July. They are now ten months old and a lot of fun. In February, we learned that we were expecting another baby. What a surprise this was! My c-section is set for September 22, 2009. We are expecting another boy.

I have my Master’s Degree in Counseling with an advanced certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy. Prior to the birth of our twins, I was a social worker for a foster care agency here in NYC. I am now a stay at home mom to our children, and although it is the most challenging job I have ever had, it is also the most rewarding. I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Family Circus by Jennifer N.

I thought raising a little girl was difficult. I mean for a seven year old girl, she has the mouth and attitude of a 17 year old! And the outfits, hairdos and the girly melodrama issues are really starting to turn my hair gray!

So finding out I was having twin boys really made me very excited! I wouldn’t have to deal with whining girls, I wouldn’t have to deal with the dramatics, I wouldn’t have to deal with the dressing up and competition with girlfriends… But I guess I was not prepared for the boys!

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My twins are only 10 months old. They are a pleasure to have around. I am amazed that I have been blessed with good sleepers, sleeping through the night since they were seven weeks old. They have never given me any problems with eating, although Louia has acid reflux, and once we put him on Zantac and changed his formula, he became a new baby. We go out and they don’t scream and cry. We go to restaurants and they sit like big kids. They smile at everyone and are always pleasant. They really are great kids!

But boy are they bruisers! I didn’t think I would have to worry about wrestling for years! How can two ten month old boys lie on each other and roll around on top of each other without getting hurt? I guess since they have always known life together, scrunched up inside the womb all those months, they are used to it, but wow! And I would have thought it was way too soon to see them yank back and forth at a toy they both want! I rarely hear them cry over any of this, but I am still amazed that this has begun at only ten months old!

Yesterday, Anthony took off his shoes and socks in the play corral. He was standing up holding on. All of a sudden, I see the tiny toes of one foot creep into the x shaped slats in the corral… then the second set of tiny toes crept in as well… and Anthony was halfway up the corral wall trying to get out! And where was Louis? Right behind him! In a split second after that, I saw a third set of tiny toes creep in there as well. I jumped up and got them both off the corral, but not without more gray hairs!!! I am afraid my little monkeys will be out of the crib, corral and Pack and Plays sooner than I thought!

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 Shortly after the toes in the corral experience, I was cooking dinner and was peeking at them from the kitchen. Luckily I can see everything from the kitchen. I saw Anthony push Louis down on the ground and he stepped right on top of him to gain more leverage to the top of the corral wall! And Louis wasn’t even complaining! Am I in trouble! Especially since I am pregnant again…. with another boy! Boy oh boy… oh boy!

I was hoping maybe I would have another famous family of male actors like the Baldwin family or a famous family of boy singers like the Jonas brothers, the Jacksons or the Osmonds… It would have even been nice to have another famous family of boy athletes like the Mannings of football or the Bodines of Nascar driving! Instead, I may just be looking at the next Ringling Brothers! Well, how fitting, sometimes this house is just that… a circus!

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Christina is mom to 21-month-old fraternal twin girls, Elena and Clara.  She and her husband adopted the girls at birth, and have been on a whirlwind adventure ever since being given the three-day-notice that they were chosen to be parents to twins!  In her life-before-babies, Christina was a full-time professor and researcher of family communication.  Having moved from theory into the reality of family communication, she now keeps her work life at half-time, and revels in the adventures and excitement of life with two almost-two-year-olds.  She chronicles the girls’ adventures at darnhappy.blogspot.com

Research and Reality, by: Christina

The research is clear.  There are two things that happen to almost everyone when they have children: their workload goes up, up, up, and their martial satisfaction goes down, down, down.  As a brand new mom, I was determined that this wouldn’t happen in my own family (and that it definitely wouldn’t happen TIMES TWO just because we have twin girls).  But, as I find often, there is a gap between what I WANT to happen and what DOES happen.  Sure, things have gotten easier now that are girls are 21 months old instead of 2 months old, and my husband and I have some time to sit, breathe, and talk to one another again.   But still, even though I am a professor of family communication and I know what I SHOULD be doing, that doesn’t mean I’m always doing it!  And so, in an effort to keep our family life as good as we can get it, here are a few reflections on the SHOULDS I am working on that may help some other moms of HDYDI:

1.  I SHOULD be careful about messages I send my children about the role they have in our family.  I try to avoid falling into the common twin-trap of answering passerby asking “Which is the outgoing one?”  “Which is the happy one?”  People want to pigeonhole our twins, assign them rigid roles, when they are each outgoing at some times, they are each happy (and unhappy) at others.  Children will naturally take on their own roles in a family, they don’t need to be pegged into them (especially by people outside our family!).  Yet just this week I’ve caught myself telling my daughter Clara: “Look at how nicely your sister is sitting – can’t you sit nicely like her?”  What am I teaching her about her role in our family when I put her in opposition to her sister like that?  That Clara is the “not-good” one who has to try to be “good” like her sister?  Or when I say to Elena: “I’m disappointed you didn’t share with your sister.  It makes me sad when you don’t share” I’m telling her she’s not fulfilling her role as a sister/daughter very well, yet it’s not developmentally appropriate yet for not-quite-two-year-olds to fully grasp the idea of sharing!  Even though we never say to the girls “You’re good” or “You’re bad” (and instead try to focus on telling them when they’ve made good or bad choices) I’m still sending them role messages, and I need to be careful about what I’m telling them. 

2.  I SHOULD reach out for resources when I’m stressed out.  Stress happening to one person is happening to the whole family, and so when I’m feeling overwhelmed about meeting the needs of two very demanding little toddlers at once, it’s not just me who feels that.  It rubs off on my interactions with the girls and my husband, too.  But when we feel pressure, the stress that results is moderated by all kinds of things, and one thing that can help reduce the overall stress on the family is the use of resources.  I should call some friends to come play with us, take the girls out on a beautiful day to get us all out of the house, grab a snack to make me (and them!) less cranky, go to one of the free kid-friendly places in town for a diversion, call a fellow mom of multiples to hear that “this is normal” or schedule in some time just for me after the girls go to bed.  I have a tendency to wrap myself up in my stress, to reflect on it and let it grow and multiply.  Instead of that focus inward, I need to focus outward and grab on to all of the resources that are available to me.

3.  I SHOULD keep a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments with myself, the girls, and my husband.  A researcher named John Gottman found that we have a nifty trick called “positive sentiment override” that happens in relationships.  When we have positivity overall in our relationships, we stay focused on the positive things that happen and overlook the negative.  The reverse also can happen – if you are dissatisfied in your relationship (with your child, your partner, etc.) then you focus more on the negative, and don’t notice the positives that occur.  To keep satisfied relationships, we want to say/do about FIVE positive things for every one negative thing.  Probably best not to do this all in a row (telling my daughters “You’re smart, you’re strong, you’re pretty, I love you, you delight me, STOP JUMPING ON THE COUCH!!!” might be a bit much!) but trying to keep in mind an overall focus on saying/doing many positive things in a day means we don’t have to beat ourselves up over saying one snarky thing or not having patience at one particular moment.  The positive sentiment override will kick in and my family should still be happy with me overall, even if I can’t be perfect!  And I’ll continue to focus on the positives with THEM, which is even more important to me.

girls kiss-HDYDI 

So let’s hear it, other HDYDI moms – what SHOULDS are you missing at the moment, but still aspiring to?  Anyone else interested in comparing research with our reality?

 

Please Vote! Wednesday, June 3rd

 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!

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 Hey everyone, my name is Shannon White.  I am a native Phoenician living in wonderful North Carolina with my Australian/American husband.  He was fortunate enough to be born in HI to Australian parents then raised in Melbourne, Australia.  My main job is taking care of my boy/girl twins, Blake & Madison while my second job is as a photographer.  I work whenever I can fit it in around the kids needs.  My husband is a police officer and part time photographer for our wedding jobs.  Our kids came to us after almost 5 full years of trying (with the help of a super ovulation cycle).  Having twins is exactly what I always dreamed and hoped it would be, and I get to see my childhood dream of having a twin brother acted out in my kids.   We love to travel anywhere we can as often as our budget will allow.  The kids have already been on 12 trips in their 13 months including 5 trips by plane.  My family blog is picture heavy with lots of thoughts on random topics and life events.  http://whitehouse3.blogspot.com.  Trying to only pick two pictures to go along with my post was beyond difficult.  I hope you enjoy my post!

 Post #1: Why every month with twins gets better and better!

by Shannon

 The first month were so excited to meet our kids and spent our time working out how to take care of twins while seeing tiny glimmers of their personalities.  My whole philosophy in life was to get to at least 6 hours of sleep in every 24 hour period!  I watched a lot of TV the first few months with 2-3 hour feeding sessions (no kidding! my kids were slow eaters) and staying in bed until those miraculous 6 hours were reached.  The second and third months each saw a tad more sleep.  Blake often found Madison whenever they were near each other yet he could also sleep through her reflux irritated crying. 

 By the time they got to 3 & 4 months they laughed more, ate a little bit faster, puked a little less, and could hold their heads up all the time.  They still traveled well with great naps.  They ‘lost’ each other completely yet loved to cuddle with their daddy especially.  At around 5 months the process of getting to know Blake and Madison really started.  Madison had almost kicked her reflux.  My guess is she found so much relief she has been calm and mostly content every since.  We affectionately call her our Little Lumpa Love which also may have something to do with her, ehm ehm, large booty.  Blake learned to sit during their 6th month while expanding his range of expressions designed specifically to entertain and amaze.  

 The cold winter arrived during their 7th month.  Little Lumpa Love, Madison, finally learned to sit up.  They began to interact more with each other including some toy stealing.  Madison loved to watch her brother explore all the stuff around them as she sat contentedly in one spot.  By their 8th month they looked at least a year old because of their large size which is somewhat of a prideful thing for me since we are large tall people.  Guy taught them how to kiss with a big open mouthed ‘aaaaawwwwwweeee.’  Nothing melts my heart more then a little reciprocal love.

 On one trip during their 9th month I put them side by side in a glider chair for their dinner.  Blake kept interfering with Madison by reaching for her bite or putting his hand up to her face.  She smartly grabbed his arm and pinned it down between them the rest of the meal.  It was so cute and funny how he just let her hold down his arm.   By 10 months Blake has added a bunch of new expressions and funny things to his cuteness repertoire.  Madison learned she can put just about anything non edible in her mouth.  My favorite was the soap Blake opened for her in our hotel room.  She loved it.  I guess we wont be washing her mouth out with soap when she says a bad word.

 The 11th month brought us a realization of how different they are, and how they will constantly surprise us.  We thought Blake would love the ocean and Madison would hate it.  She loved the ocean including sitting with the waves crashing into her up to her chest.  He screamed and needed cuddles.  So then we thought she would love the slide while he wouldn’t.  Wrong again.  She cried, and he laughed hysterically.  The magic one year arrived along with a switch in their brain causing them to learn at an ever increasing rate.  They crave the outdoors, adventure and finally figured out how marvelous books are.  Maybe in a few more months they’ll let me read them a whole story.

 We are now in their 13th month.  As I sit here writing this post Madison is busy entertaining me with her chair antics.  She loves her space saving feeding chair we keep on the living room floor (best purchase other then the stroller), and she will climb into and out of it often through the day.  Every few times she has a bit of trouble getting turned around to sit in the chair.  She will fuss and scream while trying to get her foot out from under her booty.  I will give her verbal encouragement.  When she finally gets that foot unstuck her joyful and pleased expression is such a pleasure to see.  Now Blake just came over to her trying to climb in the chair with her and give a double cheek grabbing kiss.  I can’t wait for next month’s growth and adventures!

Babies 5 months 1068
Babies 11 months 1512
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Debi is a SAHM in NJ (very soon to be PA) to nine kids, 5 adopted & 4 biological. Although her last pregnancy was planned, twins were the unexpected result and they have completed her home-schooling family. Their blog is all about their journey through autism, learning & physical disabilities, and finding their way through the teen years & pre-teen years  while raising two toddlers all at the same time. Please visit them at Who Says 8 Is Enough, http://bouffard11.blogspot.com/

Post # 2
by Debi
I was never one of those moms that wanted to have twins. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite for me. It was actually one of the main reasons I was terrified to use Clomid to help me get pregnant. I was so fearful I would end up with multiples, but I wanted a baby so badly, that with a 2% chance of having twins, my husband, Russ, & I decided it was worth the risk.
Of course, at seven weeks, I had an ultrasound that confirmed that I was carrying twins.
I was floored.
Russ was silent.
We already had 7 children at home and I had already had two pretty traumatic singleton pregnancies, so we knew a multiple pregnancy was going to be a huge challenge.
Boy, was it ever!
I spent 6 months on strict bed rest after I started bleeding at just 14 weeks and my pregnancy just continued downhill from there. I ended up with pubic bone dysplasia, gall bladder issues, contractions and early effacement & dilation. It was a rough road and thankfully, my church came to the rescue and helped my husband to keep my household going while I was out of commission for so long.
I often wondered during my pregnancy, if I was somehow being punished for not being thrilled with what I now consider a huge blessing. It took me many months to come to grips with the fact that I would have 2 babies to care for, but those feelings all melted away the moment I laid eyes on my sweet babies.
My twins were born at 35 weeks and ended up coming home from the hospital with me just 4 days later. It was incredible. They were both wonderful babies, so teeny tiny and perfect, aside from their absolutely horrible reflux. They were the sweetest babies that hardly ever cried and they quickly made all of my fears about multiples fade away. I am certain it was helped by the fact that I was a “seasoned” mom, but they really were very content babies that I just loved to hold and cuddle all of the time.
Flash forward 2 1/2 years now and I have toddler twins. I have always loved the toddler years and I thought that because I am experienced, it would be easy with Emma & Will. Wrong!
My twins are not your typical twins. At their birth, it was discovered that there had been a problem with their placentas for many weeks that had caused Emma to be getting too much blood & oxygen and Will to be deprived of those same vital needs. As a result, Emma had suffered a stroke in utero and Will had suffered a brain bleed that had left him with cerebral palsy. In the beginning, our main concerns were for Emma, as the evidence from her stroke was incredibly obvious, but with the help of intensive therapy, she made huge strides very quickly.
It was a few months later that our focus turned to Will and that is where it has remained. Emma has continued to flourish and is doing everything a little girl her age should be.
Sadly, Will is lagging behind. All of his physical milestones have been way behind his sister, but he has been meeting them, sometimes with the help of braces or supports, but he is doing it and we are so proud of him.
He was also diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, having severe speech & developmental delays and recently was diagnosed with possible autism.
I will admit, some days are really hard and not just because of all of the challenges that Will faces. Probably the one thing I looked forward to when I found out I was having twins was that they would have built in “buddies”, but my twins aren’t like that. Emma is more like Will’s older sister. She absolutely loves him and it’s so sweet to watch her help him out, but they definitely miss out on the relationship that I assumed they would have.
However, I will also say, that when they do have some “normal” twinny moments, it makes it that much more tender and makes me really appreciate every single minute with my beautiful babies.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share our story.
If you would like to know more about my twins, or my family, please check out our blog, Who Says 8 Is Enough.
Sincerely,
Debi
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Kim, a first time mom to 1 year old boy/girl twins, has not only survived the first year but thinks it’s much more rewarding than she could have ever anticipated.  Spending her days in Marketing and nights/weekends relishing in the life of being a mom of multiples, Kim finds such humor and passion in balancing her career and family.  You can read more about her inspired balance (aka family blog) at www.kimandceasar.blogspot.com where she has a new found love for writing.  Kim is amazed at how natural writing has become since motherhood entered her  life.  A little bit about the family:  Married 8 years to her college sweetheart, Kim & her husband (Ceasar) spent the latter few years trying to get pregnant.  After acupuncture treatments and an organic diet , they got the life changing news …twins!  Pretty incredible.  Kim thinks her husband is amazing and his comical yet genuine approach to fatherhood would make for the perfect “guest blogger”…they make a dynamic team.   

 

Post # 3: A picture is worth a thousand words

by Kim

 

The water cooler conversation today is all about Jon and Kate Plus 8.  I can’t tell you how many times I get asked if I watch that show.  The answer is always no.  I watched it once and I just didn’t like the “job feel” that it portrayed for families of multiples.  I totally get it.  8 kids, that would require a job like atmosphere to get through the day.  I will not even try to understand or judge their situation.  However, I don’t like the picture it/the media is painting for families of multiples…especially marriages of multiples.  So, I want to take this opportunity to paint my family picture.  I believe it’s such a pretty one.  Yes, all families have their struggles but if you put the daily nuances aside, I bet most of you could paint a really beautiful picture of your family of multiples.  Colorful at that!

 

June 21st is quickly approaching and many families will celebrate Father’s day.  I think we will celebrate all week.  I believe that Father’s of multiples should get the entire week.  By no means am I saying that Father’s of singletons are not deserving of their special day.  They absolutely are.  BUT…when you are a Father of multiples, there is no easing into this new role.  They are right in the thick of it from day one.  Changing diapers, feeding every other hour, giving baths…Ceasar was playing dad AND mom while I was in recovery from my c-section.  Fast forward 1 year and he is still feeding meals, changing diapers, cleaning bottles and everything else you can think of.  We share all responsibilities.  So, when our daughter (Tristen) is being held by Ceasar and someone says, “aw, she wants her momma”…we just look at each other and laugh because as much as I would like to think that is true, we know the deal.  She knows and loves us equally.  Yes, I’m her mom but just as frequently and deeply, he’s her dad.

Leaving Hospital 024-HDYDI 

 

 

1 year old 254-HDYDI 

A while back on my family blog, I decided to post an entry about Fatherhood. I thought I would share with you the Q&A portion of it: 

 

“These are the best days of my life”

Since I am always giving MY insight on this blog, I thought I would ask Ceasar some questions on fatherhood to give you a glimpse into his thoughts today. 

What was your first thought when you found out you were having a baby? I felt the greatest amount of accomplishment when I found out we were pregnant. We tried for a year and a half and though I never gave up hope, getting pregnant become this place I knew existed, I just didn’t know how to get there. I was very excited and didn’t think I could wait 9 months for the baby.

What was your first thought when you found out you were having TWO babies? I thought, “how in the world did we get so lucky?” My second thought came out of my mouth and it was, “Are there anymore in there?” There weren’t.
  
What is your favorite thing about fatherhood? Being a father. That entails a ton of things. Things I can’t begin to list due to time constraints. But for me, to touch, kiss, baby scratches to my face, the hugs, the whole experience is my favorite thing about fatherhood. I love being the protector and comforter of my kids.
  
Is it what you expected? It is what I expected. But I think it is a whole lot more too. I thought it would be harder, but it turned out to be easier. The rewards of actually seeing your babies develop is what you don’t envision or expect or can’t begin to measure until they are in your life.
  
What is unique about being a father of twins? With twins, a parent must make an effort to give more love to many, as opposed to all the love to one. This is challenging, but it is also an opportunity like no other. As a father, I get all the kisses and hugs one man could dream of from his babies. And because I can go from one baby to the other, I don’t necessarily annoy them too much! Being a father to boy/girl twins, I am able to have a soft little girl to love on and a tough little busy boy who gets sweaty and cranky and wants to lay his head on my shoulder. The best!
  

What is the most challenging thing about having twins? Obviously, being able to physically take care of two instead of one is the greatest challenge. When I’m alone with them, my fear is that one will need special attention.  So, what do you do with the other one? But so far, so good. The most challenging thing with having twins for me is being able, physically able, to hold them and love on them at the same time. But I know this will be less difficult once they are able to grab and hug daddy’s neck.

 

What are you most excited about? Everything. The next kiss. The next hug. The first words. Bedtime. Waking them up in the morning. Their laughter. Their cry when they want to be held. A smile on their faces. The next time their little hands touch my face. I am excited about them making eye contact with each other again. These are the best days of my life! Thank you God.

 

And that is my family’s simple yet beautiful masterpiece.   

 

Easter 09 032-HDYDI

 

Please Vote! Sunday, May 31st

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!

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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!

 Separation Twinxiety

by Melanie

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.

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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?

by Erin

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!

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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

by Julia

[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!]

Help

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.

Work

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.

Julia and babies_HDYDI

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.

Beatrice_Isabel_HDYDI