Twinfant Tuesday: Remembering to Remember

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I am really sentimental. I have all my yearbooks saved K-12. I remember my 3rd grade crush’s birthday. And I wrote in a journal every night all the way through high school and college.

Enter Twins. And suddenly keeping track of milestones for 2 babies in the middle of sleep deprived pumping, feeding, rocking and surviving did not seem possible or practical. But I knew that just because these kids came 2 at once and were a little bit more high maintenance, they still deserved to know when they sat up and what their first words were.

So, how do I record these memories despite the lack of brain cells and time? Cute, Pinterest worthy baby pics and professional photo shoots are not my thing.

Here are a few ideas for what has worked for me:

Calendars:

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I kept one of this calendars in a drawer with a pen right next to my rocker. As soon as something “calendar worthy” happened, I would get it out and jot it down. I knew I could always go back and add details later. I just knew I needed to get it down. The beauty to this is that the date and age is automatic. So for example, after the doctor’s office I would run home and jot down their height and weight on that day. It didn’t have to be a typical milestone either. If they had a favorite book, I would jot that down at the end of the month, “read Mr. Brown can Moo over and over.” Throw a picture on at the end of the month and you’re done!

Journals:

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We have a journal for each kid and we write in it for significant days: birthdays, mother’s day, 1st day of school, Christmas, when they need an uplift, etc. I record my thoughts and feelings, anything that captures their personality at the time, and my advice to them. The plan is for them to each take it with them on their 18th birthday. I think it’s important for them to have a record of my handwriting and a way to gain confidence if they are going through a hard time.

Handprints:

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This was a lot of work, but I thought it was really important. You can’t remember much about those early days, but at least now I have something tangible that shows how small my kids were. From months 0-12 we ink their hand and footprints onto cardstock. (see Calendar picture). Then we do it at 18 months and 2. From 2 on we only do handprints once a year onto the wall or growth chart. It is one of their most favorite things to look forward to.

Chatbooks:

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This is my new favorite thing. If you use Instagram, you can subscribe to the chatbooks app and they will automatically mail you a photobook for only $6 a piece. It is automatic and you can design your own. So you could make one with just pics of your kids first year, etc.

Digital Picture Frame:

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We were tired of taking thousands of cute digital photos that never surfaced again. So we invested in a large digital photo frame for our family room. We load it every January with the best pictures from the previous year. It’s really fun to watch and tell stories with the kids, “Remember when…”

Private Blog:

This is pretty self explanatory. But there are certain things that you just need to keep in your own mother heart. I have a private blog for this reason. I almost never use it, but if there’s something that happens that I need to record, but don’t want my kids or society to know about yet, that’s where I put it. Differences between kids fit in this category!

Memory Boxes:

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Birthday cards, School Papers, Hospital bracelets, Art projects, etc. etc. that pass the trash can test all get stuffed in a bin. We have 1 for each set of twins, and 1 for my husband and I. When they are full they go to the attic and we get a new one. We try to be picky and so far they have only filled up once in 7 years. School papers are collected in a cardboard box all year and then I sort through them in June and select only the elite to save in the “box”.

Interview Videos:

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One of my favorite things for twins is giving them a Special Day that is just for them. It is close to their birthday but not shared with their twin. Sometimes we do a big activity, but most of the time it’s just a quiet day with one on one time. We do 2 things for sure though: Video tape an interview with the special kid and measure their height for the growth chart. This is also when we do their yearly handprint. I really think they look forward to these things more than their birthday! Also, about quarterly throughout the year, my husband will “interview” each child individually about how they are doing in life. Since they are still young enough, he will video these as well for our family records. When they are older and need their privacy the interviews will only be on tape with permission.

Family Photos:

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We also try to take a “professional” family photo to frame on the wall once a year. This does not have to be expensive or fancy. This one was done by a friend at the last minute. I picked out our outfits that morning. Our favorite ones were from WalMart. Also, please take pictures of your kids with YOU in them. You feel gross and unshowered and pudgy, but they will just want to see what their mom looked like when she was taking care of them.

Okay, so when you look at this all at once it can seem pretty overwhelming especially for you new twin parents! But, I promise it has all been doable and done in little chunks. The handprints have been done while screaming and ended up with smudges. The calendars have big gaps in them.  I still don’t know what my daughter’s first word was. But the main reason I do this is to remind myself that someday I really will be out of survival mode and my kids will be grown humans who might want to remember how they started out :)

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Twinfant Tuesday: Congratulations!

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Dear MoM to be,

Congratulations! You’ve recently found out your expecting multiples! The shock has worn off (a little) and if you’re like most MoMs you’ve now entered the Must Find All the Information Mode.  This where you begin frantically googling things like:

  • Twin pregnancy tummy- images
  • How soon do twins sleep through the night?
  • Can I afford electricity and diapers for twins?
  • Nursing twins-really?

All joking aside I bet you’re a big mess of happy, worried, scared , and excited.  We’ve all been there.  Crying one minute and smiling the next is completely normal.  You’re about to experience pregnancy and parenthood in a very unique and wonderful way.  You’ll wish you had other MoMs to talk to and confide in- Don’t worry you’ll find them.  Until you do, here’s some advice I wish I’d been given at the beginning of my pregnancy.

When you’re announcing your pregnancy you’ll find parents of singletons saying adorable things like “Better you than me” and “Ugh, I’m so sorry!”.  Parents of multiples will squeal with glee, crush you in a hug, and make you a list of all the MoMs groups in your area.  Take comfort in the fact that those with actual experience in parenting multiples are the ones excited for you.  They know what you’re facing and how amazing it is.

I know you’re wondering and the answer is YES!  Your belly is going to get huge.  Bigger than you can even imagine.  Bigger than the maternity clothes sold in most stores can handle.  Even more shocking is that you will grow to miss this belly.  My twins are almost two and I’ve just recently started pining for my pregnant belly.  I look at pictures of myself pregnant and wish I could feel my sweet babies bump around inside me one more time. You won’t want to, but please take lots of pictures.  Document the amazingness of your body.

I didn't take many pictures of my growing belly. This selfie was taken at 30 weeks.

Caring for newborn multiples is hard.  Harder than anyone can prepare you for.  Give yourself permission now to do what works in the moment.  My twins slept in their swings until they were 9 months old.  That’s right… 9 months.  If I wanted to sleep (and oh how I did) then they had to be swinging.  The only reason they moved to cribs was because they got so heavy the swings stopped working (that was a sad, sad day). Throw out your books, plans, and ideas of how things “should” be.  Start practicing your mantra “Whatever works NOW”.

Enjoy long showers and baths, eat hot meals, and wear clean clothes now.  Once the babies come these will all become luxuries.  This sounds horrible and awful but I promise you won’t mind (much).  The first year with your multiples will most likely be a blur.  I have some very distinct memories that I cherish, but mostly what I remember is a feeling.  I was sleepy, overwhelmed, and so very happy.

Practice walking briskly while smiling and nodding.  This is how you will maneuver through all public spaces for the next two years.  The  amount of comments you are receiving right now about your growing belly will multiply by a million when you have infant multiples in tow.  Don’t stop, don’t engage, don’t make eye contact.  I’m kidding… just prepare yourself.  You will attract attention and people will  love to talk about your babies.  Sometimes this will bother you and sometimes it won’t.

This last one is a biggie…  You probably have some very specific fears regarding your pregnancy and postpartum period.  You may worry that you’ll end up on bed rest or that you won’t be able to nurse your babies.  As scary and awful as these things seem I promise you that if they do occur you will handle it.  You will rise up to the challenge and do what needs to be done.  Parents of multiples are a unique breed.  We are a resilient and creative bunch.  We figure things out and make it work.  YOU are now a part of this group which means you are more than capable of conquering your fear.  I had two worries during my pregnancy: that I might have to have a C section and that the babies would potentially have NICU stays. I have 3 other children and thinking about managing babies in the hospital with the needs of my kids at home scared me. Both of those things happened.  I gave birth vaginally to Laurel and had Rhodes by C section 40 minutes later.  To add to the fun my epidural wasn’t working so I had to be put totally asleep for Rhodes’ birth.  My babies were born at 34 weeks and had to stay in the NICU for 2 weeks.  It was a rough time, but my husband and I pulled together and did it.  You can handle whatever this phase of life throws at you.

My sweet Rhodes in the NICU.
My sweet Rhodes in the NICU.

Please enjoy this time, sweet MoM.  You have so many happy and exciting things ahead of you.

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Love,

Elizabeth, Laurel, and Rhodes

 

What advice do you wish you could give your pregnant self?

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Twinfant Tuesday: Infant Sleep Positions

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Babies do some super adorable things, and it’s often a crazy scramble to capture moments of cuteness before they’re gone. For example, I will always regret never having gotten video of my son’s weird half-sneeze/half-yowl when he was itty bitty. Every time he did it, I would giggle and think I’d better record it. But it’s not easy to be armed with a recording device at all times to capture whenever he happened to sneeze. And then of course he grew out of it.

What I do have though, is an entire folder of photos of them sleeping… specifically, their crazy sleep positions. Oftentimes because babies are so flexible, they end up in amazing contorted positions when they sleep, and we would catch them on the video monitor while checking on them. Then I would take a picture at my leisure. Chuckle, chuckle.

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Sadly, they’ve grown out of this as well. But at least I will always have this folder.

lunchldyd is a part-time teacher to high school freshmen and full-time Mommy to 32mo b/g twins and their 5yo sister.

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Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Shower Ring Breastmilk Storage

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Categories Breastfeeding, How Do The Moms Do It, Infants, Organization, Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday2 Comments

I’ve been expressing breast milk for my babies and freezing the excess. With everything that comes with caring for two newborns, the last thing I wanted to do was to search through dates when it’s time to thaw some milk. I had an epiphany in the shower.

I can punch a hole in the top of each bag and string them in chronological order on a shower hook!

Genius solution for keeping your pumped milk ordered by date!

It’s a cheap and easy way to keep breastmilk in order. A binder ring might work too, although the plastic gets less cold to the touch in the freezer. I just slide the newest bag on one end and slide the oldest one off the other.

What cheap and easy time saving solutions have helped you through the first months with twins?

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Twinfant Tuesday: Social Life with Infants

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Categories Community, Infants, Other people, Parenting, Relationships, Twinfant Tuesday3 Comments

In case you hadn’t figured this out, I’m quite the friendly outgoing person. I’m extroverted to degree that I max out the extroversion scale on every personality test known to man. Staying home alone with my children all day, every day, simply wasn’t an option for me. I knew that would have been a recipe for resentment, and I’m glad to report that I have never resented my daughters.

J and M came home from the hospital tiny (under 5 lbs each) but otherwise healthy. Their immune systems were immature, although boosted by my breastmilk, and so I initially kept the babies out of large crowds and sick people. Still, once I was clear to drive, we could go to our local outdoor mall and people watch. The fresh air of the outdoors meant that even though there was a good number of people around, the babies weren’t any more exposed to pathogens that in our home. Texas summers get very hot, so these adventures were usually complete by 10:00 am.

Getting stir crazy with a new baby? Go people watching at an outdoor mall.

People watching is fine and all, but getting out of the house was far more fun with friends.

The friends who were easiest to socialize with were those with children of a similar age. They understood why I took forever to get anywhere and would happily breastfeed unobtrusively (or bottle feed less unobtrusively) with me. They had no problem with my umpteen diaper change stops or my need to order two entrees at a restaurant to have enough calories for myself and my two nurslings.

Out and about with other new mommy friends.

They understood my great love for my double stroller system.

Three car seats? That's what you get when you make friends when you're pregnant with a woman expecting twins!

Even while I was getting my extrovert top-up, my girls were learning about friendship themselves. They were learning to interact with children other than their twin.

Interactions with other babies set the stage for understanding social norms.

Once my littles were slightly less little and far more prone to run away on chubby little legs, these same friends had chubby little legs of their own to contain.

The Three Musketeers at the mall. Holding hands keeps them headed in generally the same direction, make moms' lives a little easier.

We quickly learned that requiring them to hold hands kept them all going in the same direction, which made our lives easier.

If you’re expecting and make friends with another pregnant woman, don’t be surprised if that friendship lasts the rest of your lives… and your children’s!

 

 

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Quintessential Twin Pictures

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When my girls were born 6 1/2 years ago, I wasn’t on Facebook. I hadn’t started blogging. And — to my knowledge — Pinterest didn’t yet exist. I barely had any mommy friends, let alone friends with twins. (That’s funny to think now, since almost all my mommy friends have multiples!)

I say that to say, I didn’t have a ton of inspiration for pictures. I took a blue million. Now, though, I look around at all the adorableness on social media, and I wish I could rewind the clock, if for no other reason than to take some adorable smooshy baby pictures.

One picture I’m thankful I captured is what I think of as a truly quintessential “twin” picture. I’m not sure where I got the idea back in the day (how old am I???), but it’s one that just makes me smile.

What is cuter than a baby in a bucket swing? Twins in a bucket swing!

Two kiddos, back to back in a bucket swing at the park. How I love those matching hats, baby-soft skin, chunky little legs, and uber-clean tennis shoes…all TIMES TWO.

If you have infant or toddler twins and haven’t taken such a picture: GET THEE TO A PLAYGROUND. FIND THYSELF A BUCKET SWING. Aaaaand GO!!!

These days I’m almost always at the ready with my trusty camera. And a couple of weeks ago, I realized I had an opportunity to sorta-kinda recreate this quintessential twin shot.

No, I didn’t cram my kiddos into a bucket seat at the park. (They’re slight, but I think that would be pushing it.) My dad has a disc swing [there’s probably a real name for this?] at his house. The girls were delighted to play on it last month when we went down for a visit. They were taking turns well enough, but then I suggested they try to swing together. (Oh, and please do so while I find the perfect camera angle… HA!)

Too big for a bucket swing, perhaps, but these twin sisters are never too big for an outdoor adventure.

Voilà!

I still love that baby-soft skin, now with matching ponytails and scruffed up tennis shoes.

I can’t foresee what my next recreation might be, but know I’ll be on the lookout, ever ready to capture the moment.

What’s your favorite twin/triplet/more pose? Share it on our Facebook page. We’d love to see!!!

MandyE is mom to 6 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Twinfant Tuesday: What Do You Prioritize During Infancy?

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Categories Balance, Feeling Overwhelmed, Household and Family Management, Mommy Issues, Twinfant TuesdayLeave a comment

I thought I could do it all.

Even though so many books, articles and blogs for new parents told me to prioritize, I really thought that didn’t apply to me. For one, I have never cared about having a spotless home—something that has been an issue for my husband! For me, “doing it all” didn’t mean having a clean home, clean laundry, and dinner ready for the husband, all on top of having healthy and happy kids. That’s not what I strived for.

In my mind, I was already prioritizing.

I wanted to breastfeed my twins, play with them, bond with them, tend to their elimination needs. Yes, we tried Elimination Communication for several months. Of course, I wanted to eat every now and then. Before having babies (and again now that they are toddlers), I enjoyed cooking, but gourmet meals were beyond my grasp for the first year. And certainly, I wanted to sleep. But attachment parenting—breastfeeding on demand and co-sleeping—were higher on my priority list.

And I thought I could do it all. I even blogged about it for a while.

But now that my twins are nearly three, I realize how close I was to crashing and burning. In reality, it was more like I was flying a plane with a severe, smoking malfunction that led to an abrupt landing with screeching, slow-burning wheels.

My question to my new parent self is: What took me so long to see that?

Would it have been such a blow to my pride if I had hired a babysitter once a week while I took a nap or even just a shower?

Yes, we call the first couple of years with multiples “survival mode”. If you are in the thick of it right now, you know it is aptly named. But now when I think of surviving, I think of getting through some difficult challenges. I don’t think it means you get out of it barely alive.

If I could do it over again, I would ask for help. I would prioritize… by putting myself up a little higher on the list.

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Increase Your Breastmilk Supply: Tips from a MoM

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Categories Breastfeeding, How Do The Moms Do It, Twinfant Tuesday6 Comments

Having Twins Isn’t a One Way Ticket to Formula

People are sometimes surprised to realize that it’s even possible for a woman to produce enough milk to breastfeed twins. They just assume that every MoM has to supplement their newborns’ diets with formula.

Twins and more can be exclusively breastfed. I’m living proof.

My babies are 24 days old and were born at 31 weeks, 6 days. I’m currently up to pumping 16 oz each time I pump and sometimes even get 24 oz in one pump session from both breasts. As early as 4 hrs after delivery I hand expressed drops into the little bottles given to me at the hospital and continued to hand express before each pump session. Hand expressing is more stimulating than a pump so I feel these two combinations alone have gotten me to this abundant supply!

I didn’t know we had so much frozen until I pulled it out of the freezer.

Raquel's twins are in the NICU and her ability to produce milk is second to none. She shares her tips for successfully increasing her milk supply.
This is my supply at about 15 days. Of course, it doesn’t include what my babies have been consuming fresh.

NICU staff is in shock at my supply. One nurse said, “It’s like a dairy farm over here.” I will probably donate anything I produce that can’t fit in my freezer. Clearly, I’m in the minority in my ability to produce. It’s a combination of good fortune, hard work, and informed technique. I’m here to share my techniques with you. Maybe you won’t end up filling a cart with your excess supply, but maybe my tips can help you get a few more ounces.

Get Informed

I encourage you to educate yourself about how much milk your babies actually need. “Low Milk Supply 101” by Emma Picket IBCLC is one of the best articles I’ve read about breastfeeding.

It hasn’t been all easy for me, and it may not be for you. I was getting clogged up on the left side and had to massage the engorged breast in order to prevent mastitis. It hurt but we got through it!

My Tips

To all the mommas wanting to breastfeed or pump to be able to provide for their babies, I just want to say: Pump. Hand express. Empty, empty, empty those breasts!

Breastmilk supply tips from a mom who is making more than enough milk for TWINS!

Brush

A coworker’s sister in Denver was encouraged by hospital staff to “brush” her breasts to stimulate milk production. Yes. Grab a comb or brush and brush your breasts as if you’re brushing your hair. I remembered this advice, also a Salvadoran folk remedy, and had my significant other brush lightly as I hand expressed. We did that during the first 4 pump/hand express sessions.

Maximize Skin-to-Skin Contact

Kangaroo care is the gold standard for preemies. Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just good for babies, though. The biological response to your baby’s skin against your own can trigger can be increased milk production. Whether your baby is sick or healthy, premature or full-term, spend some time holding him or her directly against your body, inside your clothes if necessary. After I hold my babies for a couple of hours, I start leaking!

Hand Express

The nurse who originally brought me my hospital grade pump told me that studies have shown that a combination of  hand expression and pumping helps you produce more milk. Just massage your breast to squeeze the milk out of your nipple. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the lactation consultant at your hospital to show you how to do it! I hand express before and after every pumping session.

Get the Right Pump

The Medela Symphony, a hospital grade pump provided by the hospital, has contributed to my incredible supply. I used the insurance provided pump with my other two children and I never expressed this much milk. Between both breasts I think the most I would get after a feeding was about 4 oz from each side and when they were first born.

The hospital told me I could use this pump until babies came home. I am seriously looking to buying one now even if it’s been used. It’s worth the investment.

Don’t Pump for Too Long

I initially let the pump go on its own until it stopped. I started having issues with my swollen left nipple a day or two later. The lactation consultant told me I was pumping for too long. The pump ran for 30 minutes, not the recommended 10-15 minutes.

I was told my milk would level off after about week two. I was exhausted and  unable to wake very often during the night to pump. I slept for about 5 hours straight, then pumped and started getting the 8 oz from each breast.

Keep At It

The first week, I pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock. The second week, I reduced that to about every 3 to 4 hours. The third week is just about same as week two. I’m currently waiting about 4 hrs in between. I’m not getting as engorged as I was in the begining but I really think I was having trouble emptying my breasts enough to catch a break

Empty Your Breasts

If you are still somewhat solid in the breasts after you’ve pumped and think you’ve “emptied”, you could very well have a good amount in there. Since it’s not coming out like it should, your breasts won’t think they have to make more. Once empty, breasts should keep working at production.

I got less out of my left breast when I was pumping for the whole 30 minutes. It still felt hard. I knew that was off and that there might be milk there but just not able to get it out. I had to massage the painful breast. It was excruciating!

I’m not going to lie. There have been moments I wanted to just stop it all. To top it off, my left nipple (which still hurts) swelled up to the size of a smoked sausage while I pumped. It refused to go back down to its normal size! The lactation consultant told me it might be the size of the pumping shield/flange, but I’ve tried different sizes and have better luck with the smaller one. It just seems to expand with the little tunnel and burns towards the end of pumping.

Eat and Drink on Behalf of Your Babies

I drink water like no other. I drink 1-2 gallons of water a day. That’s no exaggeration! I haven’t had to push myself because I find myself more thirsty this time around compared to with my older singletons.

I never skip out on meals and I snack in between. I pack almonds and cheese and ham sandwiches, or peanut butter and PB&J for my daily NICU visits. Did you know that you actually need more calories while breastfeeding than you do during pregnancy? Your babies have to work a lot harder outside your womb than inside.

I had noticed that skipping meals with my firstborn drastically reduced my supply. Stay hydrated and do not run on an empty stomach. I still take my prenatal vitamins and the NICU doctor overseeing the babies told me to take 3 fish oil pills a day and one vitamin D tablet too.

Be Kind to Yourself

I was able to give birth naturally, without an epidural. Your personal medical situation and many other things you cannot control will impact your ability to produce milk. Childbirth is a traumatic experience for your body. A C-section is major surgery. If you can make breastfeeding work, that’s great. If you can’t, that doesn’t make you any less of a mother.

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Twinfant Tuesday: What About the Older Children? Childcare During Childbirth

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Categories Birth Order, Birth Stories, Childcare, Community, Household and Family Management, How Do The Moms Do It, Infants, Older Children, Parenting, Pregnancy, Twinfant TuesdayLeave a comment

We had returned from the hospital after receiving the most incredible news. In approximately six months’ time we were going to become the parents of twins! I was going to be a Mummy to four children!! We felt overwhelmed, excited, nervous, scared, and curious! I think I felt every emotion possible that afternoon.

Looking back to when I become pregnant with my first child, I remember my worries and concerns so clearly:

Was my baby healthy?

Was labour going to hurt?

Was I going to get fat?

What buggy? Cot? Bottles?

Seven years later as a pregnant mother of two children my concerns and worries could not have been more different. In addition to the health and wellbeing of my unborn babies, at the forefront of my mind were my two children and who was going to care for them when I was in hospital giving birth to our twins. I knew at that point that carrying twins meant that I was at increased chance of having a C-section. For me, that would mean a longer recovery time and the need to make extra arrangements for them.

Arranging the care of our older two children was our priority and it was something that we began to plan for more or less straight away.

These are my top tips for putting a plan into place for childcare during childbirth.

Make a List

We made a list of everyone who we could call on for help with the children if we needed too! At the top of our list were our parents. They would have been our first choice, but it just so happened that my in-laws were taking a holiday when the babies were born. My Mum works full time so was unable to take sole responsibility. We filled our list with Aunties, Uncles and Godparents.

We are lucky to have such a big family and support network, but as soon as we announced the news we were pregnant with multiples we were inundated with offers of help from friends and extended family members. We could have filled our list ten times over.

Have a Plan A and B, … C, D, E, and F

The morning I was due to be induced with the babies, we had everything figured out. The children knew exactly where they were staying, who was collecting them from school and nursery, who was driving them to their out of school clubs. I was happy, relaxed, and confident and ready to meet the two newest members of our family.

But I wasn’t induced on that day! They didn’t have enough room or enough staff in the hospital to perform a safe deliver. I didn’t end up giving birth until the following day!

Be prepared for every eventuality. Make sure your children and the people who are caring for them are aware that everything might not go to plan. I was due to be induced so I had an idea of when I was going to have my babies. Still, being pregnant with twins puts you at increased risk of premature delivery. The timing of your babies’ births could be very unpredictable.

I was lucky to get to nearly 38 weeks with my babies but many Mums of Multiples don’t make it that far. Having someone on the end of the phone that you could call upon at short notice or a neighbour who lives close by would be ideal.

Inform School and Nursery

Our daughter’s nursery was fantastic around the time the twins were born. She was able to do extra days at short notice and we were able to collect her later during my pregnancy when appointments at the hospital ran over. My son’s school showed the same support and helpfulness. After the babies were born, the sincere offers of help we received from school were a great comfort. Knowing they were there if we needed them was priceless, especially through those first few tricky weeks.

Be Prepared for a Caesarean Section

The chances of having a normal delivery compared to having a C-section with twins is around 50/50.

Even if, like me, you plan to have a normal delivery, making arrangements for someone else to do the school run and help out with your older children for at least six weeks following the birth is a necessity. I was lucky. I got to have the birth I wanted and was fit to drive and do the school run not long after. Still, my husband had previously rearranged all his working hours for those first six weeks to make sure he was on hand to do school runs and chauffeur our little ones to after school clubs.

We had lots of offers from our children’s friends’ parents, who were eager to help us out with school transportation. Sometimes even now I will get someone to come and sit with the babies whilst I quickly dash out to collect our little boy. Anything that makes life easier is a good thing!!

Prepare Your Older Children for Change

Having made a plan for the care of our children, I felt content and happy with knowing who was going to look after them. My other biggest concern was how my little boy and girl were feeling about the arrival of their new siblings. Our little girl had limited knowledge of what was going on.

She knew that mummy had a big belly and there were two babies living in there. I knew that their arrival was probably going to affect her just as much as much as our little boy, if not more. I couldn’t talk through her worries or her concerns about the situation as she didn’t fully understand.

We read a book called I’m Having Twins by Paris Morris.

I'm Having Twins by Paris Morris can help prepare your toddler for the arrival to two new babies.

It’s a book that tells the story of a family having twins from the perspective of the little girl. It’s a book I would definitely recommend. Both our children enjoyed it. It is aimed at children a little older than our then nearly-two-year-old but our daughter still loves the story 10 months after her twins’ birth!

Our little boy was initially really excited for the arrival of the twins but as my due day approached he expressed concern about how our life would continue as before. We were open and honest with him and explained that life was going to change, but in a positive way. Children are extremely resilient in the face of change.

Although we are always advised of this, as parents we can’t help but worry about the impact that huge life events are going to have on our little ones. As a parent who has already been through this, I can assure you that when your twin babies do arrive, your older children will adapt and they will take all the changes that there new siblings bring in their stride. In fact, less than 24 hours after the babies’ homecoming our eldest two children were more concerned with planning a trip to the park.

Kerry Shaw's older children adjusted remarkably quickly to the addition of two new babies to their family.

We’re ten months on from the birth of our babies. It’s very hard to imagine our life before. Our little girl, I’m sure, does not remember life before and our little boy is the most wonderful big brother. He absolutely adores his siblings and for a child that’s gone from been an only child to having three siblings in less than two years, his attitude and resilience to change is remarkable.

As for all the worrying I did, it was completely unnecessary. If I could give one piece of advice to every expectant mother, it would be to try not to worry. The children you already have will exhibit strength, resilience, and an ability to adapt to situations that really will have you beaming with pride. Maybe you’ll feel, as I do, as much pride in them as you have in yourself for giving birth to multiples!

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Making Room for More

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Categories Guilt, Independence, Infants, Older Children, Parenting, Relationships, Siblings, Singletons, Twinfant Tuesday38 Comments

Every mother worries how her first-born will adapt to life with a new baby. How can we quantify and plan for the way our hearts expand to supply enough love for more babies? When preparing for twins, I wondered how bad it would be to bring twins into a family that already housed a three-year-old.

It turned out not to be a matter measured as, “how bad,” but more “how different.” From the beginning, we were keenly aware of how important it would be, during those first few weeks, to give her a role to play as big sister, and to keep up on our promise to love her. Love comes in cuddles, extra helpings of dessert, shared bubble baths, movie nights and special walks together, at least when one is three years old.

The First Days at Home

My husband and I kept a close eye on how our oldest handled the transition. It was important to involve her in as many of the new changes as possible, so we did: She bottle-fed, sang to them, changed diapers, and drew pictures to decorate their nursery. Anytime a visitor came with a gift for the babies, we made sure to express our gratitude, but not evoke much fanfare if there wasn’t also a gift for the new big sister. This was the beginning of our learning the lesson of being even-Steven with everything in a family with multiple children.

bigsister1

One-on-One Time

We chose to do a combination of direct breastfeeding and bottle-feeding pumped milk and formula, which gave my husband and I some free time to spend one-on-one with our oldest girl. This. Was. KEY. Honestly, having a energetic three-year-old was often more work than having twinfants. She did not care if we were sleep-deprived, and she had more needs to be met than ever before. Initially, this intimidated me, and fed my worry about how I would ever have enough time and energy to satisfy each daughter.

Each day, I took a moment or two to capitalize on time together. If she woke before the twins, we would enjoy a quiet breakfast together, just us two. If the twins happened to nap at the same time, I would take her for a walk, or a quick trip into town. If all were awake, I would pile everyone onto my lap and read books, letting my oldest have a chance to ‘read’ to her sisters.

bigsister3

Let Their Bond Grow Organically

I watched my oldest with our twins and recognized there was a new dynamic in the family that required very little from me. New sister relationships were forming, and I moved out of the way. Sometimes, she was too rough with them, and they would cry or whimper in response. Rather than scold her, I watched her face process the twins’ reaction, and she learned how to better handle them. Giving her the space to learn how to be a big sister to twins on her own has given her the confidence to forge ahead, to the beat of her own drum.

She has learned when to shut them out (kindly), because she needs to be alone and doesn’t want to be a big sister sometimes. That’s her prerogative, and rightly so. In turn, the twins have learned to idolize their big sister, and today at age three themselves, they are elated when they are invited to play with her.

We also let her paint on their faces; It was non-toxic and washable!

bigsister4

When Our Hands Were Full

There were, of course, times I was busy feeding the twins, or rocking them to sleep, and I couldn’t physically respond to our oldest’s requests. I would do my best to explain I could help her with my words, but not my hands. I would sing songs if she had a tantrum, I would play word games if she was amenable. I even took to setting up a pile of stuffed animals beside me as I nursed, so I could throw them at her if she was getting into something she wasn’t supposed to!

Telling her, “I’m sorry, mama’s busy feeding” was heartbreaking and, I’ll be honest, is a guilt that doesn’t go away, although it changes as they grow older. I never feel like I am giving each of my (now four) girls everything they need at all times. How can I possibly? I cannot raise four girls with 24/7 individual attention from their parents, but I am happily raising four girls who have established a true sisterhood. They have learned from infancy the values of cooperating with others, empathy, shared joy, and patience.

Sarah is the mother to four girls, two of whom are identical twins Hailey and Robin. They were born in the Yukon in a very small hospital at 35 weeks, and though they were small, they were mighty. She now lives in Ontario, where her high school sweetheart husband works very hard, and she stays home with the girls, freelance reporting on the side. In her past life, she was a journalist who covered everything from fast-paced federal politics to cats stuck in trees. Her writing has appeared in local newspapers and magazines, and in national publications like the Globe and Mail and ParentsCanada Magazine. She is a yogi, a mediocre cook, an awesome Beyonce dance move imitator, and an avid blogger at Cure for Boredom.

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