Twinfant Tuesday: Two Babies – One Pair of Hands

In the “how to cope with twins” section of my brain lies quite a bit of information and personal advice that I wish I had known before my little angels made their entrance to the world.

So here are a couple of the things that I remember truly stood out.

Two Babies. Two Hands

Breastfeeding twins:

Forget all those cute little pillows when it comes to twins. They only take more space in an area that’s already cramped and uncomfortable. Try the “football hold”, so that you’ve basically got a head in each hand and their bodies under your armpits. You will definitely need someone on hand to pass you each baby as it’s almost impossible to comfortably get to that position without help. But don’t worry, soon enough you will be more used to handling them. Of course you can choose to feed each baby separately, but always bear in mind that each feed will therefore be twice as long and if you have to express in between it will be pretty much like feeding quadruplets.

Bottle-feeding twins:

The best place to sit is on the floor, back to the couch/wall, with a baby facing you on either side. You can place them in bouncy chairs or car seats, as long as they are propped up a bit. Make sure you have everything you need (bibs, muslins ,etc) before you start feeding them. The last thing you need is to start feeding and realize that you have to spend the next half hour or so watching the credits of a movie that just ended. It’s quite likely that this process will be a bit messy at first and you haven’t got a spare hand to catch the dribbles. Try using a muslin or even a cloth diaper if nothing else is on hand around the baby’s front.

Burping twins:

With either method of feeding you will probably need to get some wind out of each twin after a feed. I would normally sit one as upright as possible while winding the other, and then swap. With me if one baby finished their bottle before the other I used a cloth nappy to keep the drinking baby’s bottle propped up while I winded the other, and then vice versa. It can be done; it just takes some patience and lots of practice.

Night times with twins:

So our biggest fear in the beginning was one baby waking the other up. We used to rush to their room at the smallest “peep”. Little did we know that this was actually making things more difficult, and that our little ones were starting to expect it. After a couple of nights of “tough-love”, we realized how quickly they learned to self-sooth. Thereafter I was always amazed how one baby was moaning away or having the time of his life talking to his mobile while the other was soundly sleeping. If mine both woke up at the same time it was more to do with them being in the same routine than anything. To get them into the same routine, you need to feed them at the same time, night and day. This means when one wakes up for a feed, you have to wake the other one as well. Really this is the biggest night time tip I can give: doing it together.

There are two babies, there are two parents – it has to be a team effort.

Picking up the twins:

There really aren’t that many times when you have to pick up both babies at once. Sometimes a little moaning is not necessarily a bad thing, and actually if you leap up and comfort them straight away they will get used to it and expect it every time. Twins need to get used to self-settling. When I needed to move around the house like for changing nappies, I simply placed one in his bouncy seat, carried him to the changing station and then brought the other. That way he wasn’t screaming away in another room. However, most times I could leave the one baby where he was, whether that be a camp cot, having tummy time on the floor or playing in his feeding chair and quickly change the other.

In the house with twins:

For us, it was very helpful to have specific places in the house where we could put the babies down. A camp cot in the lounge, our bed, bouncy chairs, etc. That way you can go about your business and still keep an eye on your little ones.

Transporting twins:

Carrying two car seats is not ideal, but this is pretty much how we got from the house to the car and from the car to wherever we were going in those early days.  I was able to do this up until about six months; thereafter my arms simply couldn’t carry both at the same time anymore. It’s also perfectly fine to leave one in the house while you take the other to the car. Just make sure you’ve got your house keys!

Twins and a Supermarket:

This can be a bit tricky. Always try finding the biggest parking space you see, otherwise opt for shopping centers that have “mommy with children” parking. We generally tried shopping together, that way one of us could push the kids in their pram and the other could push the trolley. Be aware that if your supermarket has one of those revolving gate entrances or exits, that a side-by-side twin pram will not fit through. I learned to bypass those shops whenever I had the twins.

Dealing with twins requires a sensible plan of attack, as well as the ability to change the plan when it’s no longer working for you. Always take a step back and look for a different way of doing things rather than getting stressed and angry when things go wrong. And remember, no matter how impossible it seems, there is always a way.

Christine is a first time mommy to two beautiful 17-month-old twin boys that have recently started walking and are now running in all directions. She’s wife to her high-school sweetheart – the man of her dreams and also a full-time software/web developer in the financial industry. They have two kitties, a very naughty Jack Russell and a home that is fast becoming too small.

Linked at

The Twinkle Diaries

Twinfant Tuesday: How to Afford Formula

7 ideas for saving money on formula, with a particular emphasis on twins, triplets and more... because families of multiples need extra help!Babies are expensive. Next to diapers and daycare, infant formula may be the number one expense. Yes, we all know that “breast is best” but the fact is that exclusive breastfeeding simply isn’t an option for all of us. Many MoMs simply can’t produce enough milk for multiple babies, while for others, the logistics of breastfeeding several babies while providing for their other needs puts nursing beyond reach. Those of us who gave birth prematurely know that preemies and breastfeeding don’t always mix.

Six months worth of formula for just one baby averages out at $860 in the US and ranges from $510 to $3062 in Canada. Now multiply that cost to account for our multiple babies, and I start to feel a little sick.

Unfortunately, I have no magic wand to make this all better, but here are what other MoMs have done to maximize the bang for their formula buck.

  1. Breastfeed/pump. Even a little helps, if you can maintain your sanity while nursing or pumping. Many insurance companies now cover breast pumps and associated supplies, so pumping can be practically free, aside from the additional food you’ll eat to make that milk. Breastfeeding actually requires more calories than pregnancy, I was surprised to learn.
  2. Government assistance. There are two types of US food assistance that may apply to families with infants: WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps).Even if you don’t qualify for SNAP (income is 130% of poverty or less), you may qualify for WIC, so do your research. WIC serves 53 percent of all US-born infants, so your chances are good!

    While implementation varies by state, WIC generally provides families with vouchers for high-nutrition items, including formula for infants who are not exclusively breastfed.

    In Canada, social assistance recipients may be additionally eligible for special financial assistance in buying formula, depending on province. Regular, soy-based and lactose-free formulas are all covered, although additional medical documentation may be required for those last two types. This is in addition to the universal child care benefit of $100/month for any child up to the age of 6.All current HDYDI authors live in the US or Canada.

    If you have information about government support for formula-fed infants in your country, please let us know in the comments.

  3. Free samples. Doctors and hospitals are well supplied with formula samples from companies trying to get you committed to their brand, usually in full-size containers. Don’t be too proud to ask for additional free samples when you exhaust the supply that you may have received in the first few days. Keep in touch with the lactation consultants at your hospital. They can hook you up! Yes, they’re professionals committed to breastfeeding success, but they’re all about making sure babies are nourished. Also consider contacting formula manufacturers to request samples. I’ll talk more about making a multiples-specific pitch below in number 6.
  4. Shop around. Here’s a big secret: you don’t have to commit to a formula brand. Formula is like any other food product. The generic stuff is usually comparable to the brand name, at a lower cost. With the more expensive brands, you’re more likely paying for better marketing than improved quality. Find out whether a warehouse club like Sam’s Club or Costco is worth the cost of membership in formula savings. Buy formula in bulk when it’s on sale, being aware of the expiration date, of course. Maybe purchasing formula through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save service may save you cash. Perhaps your local grocery store has good deals on its store brand formula. A lot of store brand formula lines now include soy and lactose-free offerings. Those of us who need high-calorie preemie formula probably still need to go with the brand names.
  5. Coupons. I have a love-hate relationship with coupons. As a user of in-store coupons when I see them, I just wish that stuff would be offered at the lower price point without the hassle of having to scrounge and clip… or at least that coupon savings would be automated at the register. When it comes to formula, though, coupons can save you a whole bunch. Check out formula company websites, and consider following the Baby Formula Coupons Facebook page. Jen Wood mentioned that her Mother of Multiples club had a coupon exchange table at every meeting where parents could drop off their unused coupons for other parents to use. Why not start something similar in your community?
  6. Manufacturers’ multiples programs. A number of the major formula and baby food manufacturers offer programs specific to multiple birth families, usually in the form of free samples or coupons. You need a doctor’s referral to qualify for the Enfamil program, which provides a case of formula per baby. Call 1-800-4-GERBER to sign up for the Gerber Multiple Births program, which includes Gerber Good Start formula. This post at The Krazy Coupon Lady even has a letter composed for you to send to companies that don’t have an official program.
  7. Insurance. Don’t forget to look into your medical insurance options. Especially if you have a child or children with special dietary needs, such as those associated with premature, food intolerances, or allergies, you insurance may cover part of all of your formula expenses.

Do you have a penny-pinching approach that we’ve missed?

Twinfant Tuesday: How Motherhood Affects Your Social Life

I thought that I had a decent idea of what motherhood would be like. I was nothing like the Tacoma, Washington woman who wrote to advice columnist Carolyn Hax (full text).

My only sibling is nearly 11 years younger than me, so I’d done my share of diaper changing, potty training, and homework help as a pre-teen and teenager. I knew twins would be more work, of course, but becoming a mother seemed another small step in my progression to full adulthood. I’d gotten married, finished grad school, started my career, built a house and gotten pregnant, all within a couple of years. One close friend had ditched me when I got married, but that was the only casualty of all these life changes. I imagined that becoming a mother would have a similarly minor impact on my friendships.

I was completely clueless.

I had no clue how all-consuming parenthood is. I had no idea how rewarding it is. I had no idea how completely everything would change. And I confess that I gave very little thought to the impact my becoming a mother would have on my friendships.

It's impossible to understand how much life changes on becoming a parent, and friendships necessarily change in parallel.

I was one of the truly lucky new mothers out there on the friendship front. My closest friends took my babies in stride, completely welcoming them into all social activities. One of them, Kaylan, even moved in with us after a bad breakup when my daughters were just a few months old. She understood why it took me three hours to make it through a single sandwich and why I had to get up to retrieve a crying child or two mid-sentence. My dear friend Sara and I went through our pregnancies together, giving birth 14 days apart. Our husbands deployed to Iraq together, so we were in exactly the same place in our lives, even though she was a stay-at-home mom and I worked outside the home full-time.

I wasn’t much of a drinker or partier, and chatting over a meal in someone’s home or a restaurant was relatively easy with two easygoing, if premature, infants in tow. My good friends thought nothing of my getting up from the group to change a couple of diapers or of my briefly turning away to latch a baby on. The majority of my friends live a good distance from me, so I was able to maintain those friendships by telephone while breastfeeding my nurslings.

There were friends, though, who drifted away. The folks who wanted to go to the movies or a bar or do something active on relatively little notice, I could simply no longer accommodate. Friends who wanted a leisurely meal with me sitting in one place and making eye contact throughout a conversation found new friendships. Those friends who wanted my undivided attention could now afford none of my attention at all. Those friends who wanted just Sadia, not Sadia-the-mom, moved on. Some of them re-entered my life when they had children a few years later. Others, I check in with every so often. And with some, I have simply parted ways.

Yes, I miss those friends, and occasionally wish they understood why I have so much less time for them. I wish that they, like those friends who have stuck around, had become virtual family to my daughters, M and J.

Far deeper, though, are the friendships that have come to me because of motherhood. The neighbours I merely smiled when I moved in pregnant have become beloved friends, people who took the 9-hour road trip to see us when we briefly moved away. Their children are like siblings to mine. We raised our children together. Our kids peed on each other’s floors and in our yards during the Age of Potty Training. There is no friendship more precious than that. The incredible parents I have met through my daughters’ school and extracurricular activities have become our family. These friendships, born of middle-of-the-night ER visits, shared moments of parental pride, and exchanges of discipline and encouragement strategies, are just as strong as the friendships that stuck through my transition to motherhood.

Many parents need friendships outside the context of parenthood. For me, these relationships are fulfilled at work, and my entire social life beyond the workday revolves around my daughters. The people I enjoy spending time with are also those who I want around my children. I am deeply blessed to have friends who are as likely to look forward to spending time with my children as with me, and I enjoy their children’s company just as much. When we offer to babysit each other’s children, it’s as much for the pleasure of the children’s company as it is to help our friends out. Our children repay our affection. My daughters will occasionally want to discuss weighty matters with both me and a friend’s parent. My friend’s children will ask me to send me a picture of their report cards when they’re especially proud of their performance.

To the new parents who are discovering the impact of parenthood on your friendships, I would encourage you not to consider those who draw back as fair weather friends. They just don’t feel comfortable following you into the parenting stage of life. They may come back later, when they catch up. And I promise you that new, lasting friendships are just around the corner.

How did parenthood impact your pre-existing relationships?

Twinfant Tuesday: Are You in Those Baby Photos?

My 8-year-olds love to hear stories about themselves as babies and revel in browsing through baby photos of themselves… even if they can’t tell who’s who. When I look through these photos, it takes me back to those days of round-the-clock nursing, sweet soft baby nuzzles, diapers, spit-up, and getting to know my daughters for the very first time.

These early photos of your babies are the ones you will hold close forever.

It feels like I blinked, and those tiny little people grew up.

One minute, your babies are newborn, and the next, they're on stage at their third ballet recital.

I can’t help but notice, though, how few of those hundreds of first year photos I’m in. Even though their dad deployed when they were 5 months old, he’s in far more photos than I. I was behind the camera.

Daddy got a lot more photos with the babies than Mommy did.

I regret it. I regret not having more photos of myself with my girls. No matter how un-photogenic I might have felt at the time, my daughters and I deserve to have our relationship, as well as theirs, captured in images. Those photos that I do have of the three of us together are so precious, regardless of how visually unappealing photographic proof of the challenges of new parenthood felt at the time.

Exhausted though the new mother of twins may feel, these photos are so precious a few years further into the motherhood adventure.First laughs, early baths, rolling over, sharing toys—I have photos or videos of it all. I’m in none of them, except as a disembodied voice. The formal family portraits are well and good, but I wish I’d taken more photos of us in our day-to-day lives, at that time where every day brought something new.

Formal family portraits aren't nearly as textured and imbued with memories as the casual snapshot.

This Twinfant Tuesday, I invite all you new MoMs to get in front of the camera. Don’t worry about the dark circles under your eyes, or the baby weight you haven’t shaken yet, or how unevenly your bra is filled in that moment before switching sides. Just get in the picture. You’ll regret it if you don’t, and I promise you that 10 years from now, you’ll see how great new motherhood really looked on you.

Need encouragement? Check out the Mommy and Me Monday posts at Really, Are You Serious? Let Krystyn and her adorable daughters inspire you to get into those photos that you’ll be looking back on in a few short years.

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious? Get inspired to get in the photo with your kids.Hosted by Krystyn

Twinfant Tuesday: Developmental Differences

As a new mom, I heard so much about getting together with other moms for “play groups” and comparing the developmental stages of our same-age children. Suzy’s son may be working on sitting up while Sally’s daughter has just rolled over. Although the moms may be showing support on the outside, they are secretly judging equally their children and the others, noting which child is ahead and which is lagging behind.

As a MOM, I don’t have to go to a play group to compare children. I do it every day. Typically, Audrey (Baby A) is the first to do most developmental tasks: roll over, sit up unassisted, cut a tooth… but there are things that David (Baby B) can do that Audrey can’t. He was the first to start babbling and tell us long stories. He actually started the teething process first, although he was still working on his first tooth when Audrey’s popped up. I can even compare their height, weight, and head size! Whereas Audrey used to be the bigger baby, David passed her on head size and height around the 7 month mark. As of their first birthday check-in, they were the exact same weight.

If anything, having twins has helped me to realize that babies really do develop in different areas at different rates. Both babies are totally healthy, and when they hit developmental milestones, we celebrate! They just do them at different times.

I went to my first baby class at Romp n’ Roll (a kid gym with baby, toddler, and child classes and open play time) halfway through our first year. Besides my two 6-month-olds, there was a 7-month-old and an 11-month-old. I could have sat there and compared our babies, wondering if my babies were behind because the 7mo was sitting up totally fine, smiling, happy, engaged and while Audrey was close to this, David was fussy, clingy, irritable, and not sitting up. I think, though, because I have two babies, I do enough comparing at home. I don’t have to prove myself or my babies to any other moms. I already get the Look of Awe when they find out that I have twins. So what if I have babies that may be a little fussy? Who cares if my babies are developing differently?

Maybe I can feel this relaxed because I get assurances from our pediatrician that everything is ok. Maybe it is because I have relied heavily on The Wonder Weeks app to gauge the appropriate milestones, and they stress about the different skills developing at different times for different personalities. Maybe it is because I simply don’t have time or energy to stress over it.

I have twins. In the world of comparisons, I think I win (she says with a wink)!

 

Dory is a mom of 1-year old twins Audrey and David. She lives with her husband, twins, and their dog and cat in Virginia. She also writes on her personal blog Doyle Dispatch and as the twin mom editor on The Wise Baby.

Twinfant Tuesday: Maintaining a Sense of Self

My twin girls just turned six.  (Gulp!  Still can’t wrap my head around that one!)  I still remember those first few weeks and months very clearly, though.  Particularly when they were teeny-tiny, I remember their eat-sleep schedule was the center of my world.  I remember sleeping when the babies slept, but at random times of the day.  I remember half laughing that I didn’t know when to brush my teeth “at night”…it’s not like I was going to bed for the evening, at least not in the traditional sense.

waking up

At some point I had the realization that I needed to claim something for myself, some small piece of time and space.  Even amid the newborn twinfant haze, I clearly remember how glorious those little claims felt.

For me, these are some of the things that reminded me of “me”.

Read.  I have always loved to read, but when I was caring for two tiny babies, that’s the last thing I thought I had time for.  It didn’t occur to me right away, but I realized that was a huge part of “me” I was missing.

I started small.  I got an easy “beach read”, and I committed to reading just a page or two at a time.  I hope it’s not TMI to share that I did a lot of reading in the bathroom!  I’d enjoy a page or so at a time, and it felt like such treat. When the girls started sleeping more regularly at night, I finally reclaimed my before-bed reading time, and it was nothing short of glorious!

Take a bath.  Yes, take a shower…get yourself clean and take care of yourself…but for me, there was something very therapeutic about taking a soak in the tub.  I didn’t always have a lot of time…and I remember one particular bath that was cut short about 45 seconds in by a howling infant…but there was something about being still and quiet in my bathtub that helped me feel a little less frazzled.

Take a walk.  Once the girls were cleared by our pediatrician to go for walks, around 10 weeks old, I loved pushing them in their stroller through our neighborhood.  I timed it with their naps…I didn’t want to have to risk stopping every few steps to comfort a baby…I loved the peace of pounding the pavement as fast as my little legs would carry me.  And on the rare occasions when Hubby was home and I could get out for a walk myself?  Even better.  I walked with a vengeance (and probably looked like a crazy lady!), but I know I got out a ton of emotion as I worked to beat my best time through the ‘hood.

Exercise.  Once our girls finally fell into a routine, around 3-4 months old, nap times were a little more predictable.  I used morning nap time to exercise, and it felt so very good.  I’ve never been a gym rat…SO far from it…but there was something very cleansing about spending 30 minutes sweating to a DVD workout that really helped center me.  I felt like I was taking care of ME, not *just* taking care of my babies, and that was a great feeling.

Cook.  I’ve always loved to cook, but I felt like I didn’t have time when the girls were first born.  Finally, when they were 6 weeks old or so, the gravy train of neighbor-made meals ran out and I pronounced myself SICK of takeout and frozen stir fry.  We weren’t in a position to go out to eat, so I found some recipes I knew we’d really enjoy.  Once a week or so, I’d make something really nice — with dessert, even! — and Hubby and I would sit down to enjoy it, timed as best we could to coincide with the girls’ evening nap.  I’m no gourmet, but it felt nothing short of decadent to get out the good plates and eat a meal I’d prepared for us.

Get out.  Once my girls were sleeping more regularly, I tried to get out of the house BY MYSELF once a week.  It’s cliche now, but just a quick trip to Target felt like a huge treat.  I’d walk the aisles, and no one knew I was a mom of newborn twins.  Sure, sometimes I felt like screaming it from the rooftop, I was so proud…but other times it was nice to enjoy the anonymity.  Nothing to see here, folks, just a slightly-tired-looking lady shopping for trash bags.  If I could swing a trip through Starbucks on the way home, all the better!

MoMs of little ones, I hope you’re taking the time to claim some “me” time for yourselves, however you define it!  And MoMs of older kiddos, what was your favorite “claim” when you were in the midst of infanthood?

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

Guest Post and Book Giveaway: Elise Bruderly

Today, we have a special treat for you: a guest post and book giveaway from twin mom and author Elise Bruderly. If you’d like to win a copy of her book, be sure to enter the giveaway below! Now, hear her story in her own words. – Sadia

Win a copy of Elise Bruderly's book Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year

 

In May of 2005, I found out I was expecting twins.

As I “recovered” from the shock of this news, I said, “Someday I’m going to write a book about this!” And that day has come. Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is the handbook I wish I had, to guide me through the ups and downs and twists and turns of that first year as a parent of twins. The book weaves together actual stories and journal entries from that first year, with practical parenting advice and ideas, as well as a focus on the emotional journey, and growth, required. I hope that this book serves as both an inspiration and a source of reassurance for expectant parents and parents in the midst of that first year.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the book.

from Chapter 6: How Parenting Twins is Different

How to be a Parent of Twins

When you think about how to parent twins and how to be a parent of twins you really must consider two areas of growth.  First is the actual, physical “doing” of life.  These are the “how to clone yourself” questions, like, how to get two babies a bath when you are home alone, how to pick up two crying babies, what to do when the phone rings and your arms are full.  You can learn how to do all of these things- either with advice from other parents of multiples, from books, or by trial and error.  Never be afraid to try a new idea, and never stop trying new ideas.  As your babies grow and develop things will change, sometimes by the hour.  What did not work yesterday might work today and what you wish would work today might very well work in a few days if you stick with it.  Becoming capable with the tasks of parenting twins is both liberating and confidence-building, two essential traits for your continued journey as a parent.  The sooner you make peace with yourself- giving yourself permission to try something new, and not feeling silly if the whole idea fails- the easier you will find the ongoing tasks of parenting twins.

The being a parent of twins is much harder to learn and much more abstract to describe.  I have often felt “out of step” with friends and others raising singleton children the same age as my babies.  Nothing ever felt quite the same to me as it appeared to be for my friends- the lack of sleep, the ability (or not) to get out of the house.  When a parent is already struggling to adapt to their new role, feeling alone in that role can be even more demoralizing.  I will never forget the first time I felt this difference square in the face.

My babies were born in the late summer and came home in the early fall.  It was a long, cold winter where we did not get out very much.  By the time they were around seven months old I was feeling more capable and a more pressing desire to “be normal.”  I started taking them to a baby playgroup that was held at the library.  There was fifteen minutes of songs and stories and then forty five minutes for the babies and parents to interact with toys and each other.  I saw, quite quickly, what two babies meant for me.  While others picked up their child and moved around the floor, checking out different toys and talking to others while swinging their baby in their arms, I sat on the floor with my babies- in one spot while reaching out to grab a toy here or there that made its way over to our area.  I was not mobile in the least, and, as such, I was not social.  It’s not that others were mean to me, it’s just that they were doing what they could do and did not realize my limitations.

We continued attending the playgroup, and talked to those who might be around us.  I watched others make coffee dates for afterwards and thought to myself that I wasn’t sure my “lunar lander” could even maneuver into or around the coffee shop.  I thought that perhaps I was too much work to be friends with, I couldn’t zip around with a little stroller, or walk around with one arm full of baby and the other with my hot drink.  I wished very much to feel less isolated and wondered if I was having fun.

How did I learn to be a parent of twins?  How did I learn to embrace the challenges and enjoy the moments?  It was a journey, to be sure.  It required building confidence in my parenting decisions both big and small.  It required perseverance- attending those playgroups where I felt alone, getting through failed trips to the store, talking myself through the hard days of nursing through growth spurts, and functioning on a severe lack of sleep.  It required reaching-out, feeling awkward and uncomfortable at times, and making new friends who were parents of twins.  It required an ability to laugh at myself, knowing that there is just nothing that can be done when babies decide to explode through their diapers and spit-up all over at the same time.  It requires “digging deep” to find that better self that is there inside of you and accessible only when you want it and need it so badly.  I’ve often heard that things are given only to those who can handle them.  Personally, I believe that handling the challenges makes us that person.

When you are expecting twins, or are learning to be the parent of twins, what you must know and remember is this:  The road will never be quite as smooth as you might wish and you might never master juggling.  But if you remember to love your children and remember that you are doing the very best you can, you will find the energy and strength to get through the day.  Each day is the beginning of a new adventure and each adventure will provide a smile once you learn to recognize the moments.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elise Bruderly, MSW, LMSW, lives with her husband and boy/girl twins in Dexter, Michigan where she enjoys the ongoing adventure of parenting twins.  Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

A Little Bittersweet

My twins turned two years old two weeks ago. With the hustle and bustle of Halloween then Thanksgiving, I hadn’t realized until the other day when I turned their carseats to forward-facing that my babies are really growing up.

Years ago, right before Big Sis turned one, my husband came home one day to find me looking through her photographs and bawling. I couldn’t believe my baby was becoming a toddler. But now my days are so consumed with the constant exhaustion of 3 kids that I rarely have time to reminisce. And if I do get the chance to think about anything, it’s how nice it would be when they’re all older and we wouldn’t have to deal with tantrums or nap schedules anymore. How great would it be to have a family vacation somewhere far-ish?

But once in a while, like when the twins’ rear-facing carseats flanking Big Sis’s center forward-facing seat became just like hers, it dawns on me that we’ve passed yet another stage of their babyhood. Never again will I see those little faces looking at me through the mirrors hanging from the headrests. Never again will my babies happily throw their chubby little feet towards their sister to be tickled. Thinking about that is kind of worth bawling over.

That’s not to say, however, that forward-facing seats are bad. There is more space between the front seats and second row for the also-growing-bigger Big Sis to get to her seat without having to crouch and squeeze. There are fewer crevices in which crumbs and other nasty stuff can get trapped between the carseats and the car. I actually have access to the front seatback pockets without obstruction. The twins can (and sometimes do) climb into their seats by themselves. And they are really enjoying their increased visibility (how exciting it’s been to drive after dark and hear all 3 of them marvel at the Christmas lights passing by)! I’m glad we’ve graduated to forward-facing seats.

And yet… it’s bittersweet. Every milestone is a triumph tinged with sadness.

Twinfant Tuesday: Moms Need Food, too!

 

A mother expecting twins recently asked on the San Antonio Mother’s of Multiples FB page how the moms fed themselves after the babies were born. What a great question because we are often more concerned with how they will be fed and we forget that we need to eat, too. But, a mom (and dad) can get very run-down if he or she is not sleeping AND not eating well. Sure, we can make do for a while, but being the best parent you can be (even in those crazy first weeks and months) means taking care of your needs, too

Feeding the MomWhen my twins Marc and Maddie were born, we were living far away from our families and we didn’t know our neighbors every well. I think we had two meals brought over by acquaintances from our church. I remember being hungry, tired and cranky a lot of the time. I was trying to lose the baby weight, but I would go for what was quick and available rather than what was the best choice nutritiously.

We were blessed that my mom and my mother-in-law stayed four weeks each, but honestly, I don’t remember them cooking too much because we were all consumed with our premie babies ( I was pumping and everyone else was taking turns feeding them). I do remember that mom made me some excellent salmon patties and individually froze them so that I could take one out of the freezer for lunch after she left. I also remember my 12 year old “mothers helper” learning how to put together lasagna while I shouted out instructions while walking a cranky baby. (Don’t ask me why I decided that I would make lasagna with newborn twins!)

But, leave it to the mother’s of multiples to have some ideas to help new moms and moms-to-be feed themselves AND their families, especially during those weeks (months!) of sleep deprivation and crazy schedules.

Here are five ideas to get YOU fed after you’ve had the babies:

  1. If you are nursing and/or pumping you’ll be HUNGRY. I remember making myself a fried egg almost every night sometime after the midnight feed. You’re burning an extra 600 calories (which is great for losing the baby weight) but you’ll get HUNGRY. Don’t try to diet during this time to get into those pre-pregnancy jeans. EAT MAMA EAT. But, eat the right things: lots of protein, fruits and veggies.
  2. Make freezer meals or better yet, when someone wants to give you a shower suggest a freezer meal shower. Babies don’t need as much stuff as advertisers want you to think they need. BUT you need to EAT! When someone wants to know what you need, don’t be embarrassed to say, FOOD!
  3. Buy fruit and veggies trays. These are already cut up—saving you precious time—and you can munch on them throughout the day/week. This way you aren’t tempted to go for the unhealthy items beckoning from the pantry–especially when you are hungry but you are trying to soothe two (or more) upset babies.
  4. Make double batches of everything and freeze the extra servings. If you are making spaghetti sauce, stew, soup. . .whatever, make double the amount. Start doing this now while you are pregnant.
  5. Buy an electric pressure cooker. Meals can go from frozen to DONE in about 30 minutes. Soups take about 15 minutes. Really this is my go-to appliance when I need dinner on the table FAST. (And you can make extras and freeze another meal for later on.) Here’s a recipe for Beef Green Chili Stew that literally went from freezer to table in 12 minutes.

 

 

What were YOU THINKING? New Parenting with your Partner

parenting with your partner

Your Partner Isn’t Against You. When you have newborn multiples it may feel otherwise, especially in the first few weeks or months of sleep deprivation.

One of the major differences between having a singleton and multiples is the amount of chaos. You are feeding and changing and nurturing these babies simultaneously. If you have premies those demands can seem even greater.

The best scenario would be to have a partner who is in the game with you.

Since my husband and I had decided that I would stay-at-home with our children, I was the main care-giver. But, I was lucky that he never claimed that he couldn’t get up for night feedings because he had to work the next morning. We both agreed that BOTH of us were working the next morning. . .we just had different jobs and different offices.

Having twins meant that as the primary care giver couldn’t do everything on my own (I bow down to single moms or military wives!) and  it was in the best interest of our new family if Scott and I parented as a team.

But, I also had to come to (the slower and sometimes painful) realization that we parented differently. Ok, to be honest, this realization doesn’t come as a lightening bolt—although that would have been helpful—but maybe if someone had given me this one piece of advice when the babies were young I would have

Agree from the beginning that each of you is doing the best that you can in the best interest of the children.

Ignore the fact that he dressed the babies in plaids and polka dots for church. . .that he is embarking on a walk with the babies when they’ll need to be fed in ½ hour and will be screaming banchees. . .that he is literally gagging when changing a poopy diaper. . .that he is trying to watch the Master’s Golf tournament and isn’t catch watching the crawlers make their way to the dog’s bowl for a quick snack.

BE QUIET, Mama.

This works in the reverse as your partner returns home and babies are screaming, you haven’t showered and dishes are still out from breakfast.

No “I told you so’s.” No accusations of “Why didn’t you?” or “What were you thinking?” Or, my personal favorite, “Were you thinking?”

Second most important piece of advice: Leave your partner alone with the babies.

 This was hard for me and I still remember the first time I did it when the babies were a couple months old—actually one month old adjusted. My next door neighbor, Sarah, came over one evening after Scott had come home from work and said, “You’re going to Target with me.” I stared at her in disbelief. No, I thought, I couldn’t leave these babies with Scott–ALONE.

I needed to be able to leave. . .and Scott needed to experience juggling the babies and a feeding and changing session on his own. How else was he going to get good at this if he never did it. Everyone lived.

Date nights may or may not happen; tempers will be short as you are both exhausted; hygiene might not be up to par; the house will probably look like a thift store sale. . .but believing (and living) the piece of advice that both of you are doing the best that you can will help your relationship transition through this very challenging time.