Making Room for More

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Categories Guilt, Independence, Infants, Older Children, Parenting, Relationships, Siblings, Singletons, Twinfant TuesdayLeave a comment

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.

Twinfant Tuesday: Baby Bottle Care

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Categories Feeding, Formula, Products, Twinfant TuesdayTags 31 Comments

We’ve written quite a bit about our infant feeding experiences here on HDYDI, but I realize that I’ve neglected to discuss my bottle feeding experiences. That realization wasn’t a surprise. As I’ve told you before, much of my identity as a new mother was tied up in breastfeeding. Baby bottles were up there with gavage tubes on the list of things that I’d rather forget.

The fact is that baby bottles are genius.

A baby bottle can allow a father to feed a child. A baby bottle can allow a working mother to provide her child with breastmilk when she can’t be with her baby. A baby bottle can allow the bond of feeding between a mother and child when breastfeeding isn’t an option.

It’s been nearly 8 years since my daughters moved on from bottles, so I’m not the person to tell you about the newest and greatest development in baby bottle technology. What I can tell you is that, like every other aspect of parenting, it’s not just about what you like. You’ll have to take your child’s preferences into account. With twins, that means two sets of children’s preference, and they may like different things.

With M and J, we used Playtex VentAire bottles for formula and Playtex Nursers with Lansinoh storage bags for expressed breastmilk.

Baby bottles are for formula and expressed breast milk alike.

Once I returned to work, J and M went through 6-7 bottles a day, each. Every night, I had 12-14 bottles to wash. During my limited hours home, I had to breastfeed, eat, occasionally shower, complete household chores, and do that thing where you lie down and close your eyes. I’ve heard it rumoured that it’s called “sleep”. That last thing I wanted to spend my time on was scrubbing bottles.

Since all the bottles we used were open at each end, a bottle brush wasn’t a necessity. I didn’t use it much once the babies had outgrown preemie bottles. Instead, I used my dishwasher.

I had three of these handy dishwasher baskets. All the small parts associated with baby bottles and breastpumps fit in the basket for dishwasher cleaning and disinfection. I was a master of placing all the nipples, rings, bottle valves, pump valves, and lids so that each one was fully exposed to water.

This basket holds small bottle parts for dishwasher disinfection.For the first several months, I would take the washed bottles out of the dishwasher and boil them in a pot of water for disinfection, but over time, I grew to trust the High Heat setting on the dishwasher. Before long, the girls’ immune systems had built up to where disinfection was no longer called for. After all, they were getting plenty of immune exercise from their time a group daycare.

For simplicity, I assembled rings, nipples and lips and stored those stacked beside all the bottles. That way, there was no need to spend time unscrewing bottles or pulling through nipples when it was time to feed.

What are your timesaving tricks for life filled with baby bottles?

Twinfant Tuesday: Are Newborn Twins Aware of Each Other?

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Mothers of infant twins sometimes ask when they can expect their babies to start interacting with each other. Anecdotally speaking, it appears that this is yet another thing that varies wildly between different sets of twins. It seems quite common for a newborn infant to seem quite unaware of the existence of his or her twin.

My monozygotic daughters, though, always appeared aware of each other. They were separated for 20 days after birth. As soon as J left the NICU to join her twin M at home, she made it perfectly clear that she was aware of her sister, at some level.

I placed both babies on a blanket on the floor, a few inches apart.

Newborn twins, placed a few inches apart, find that expanse to be far too wide for comfort.

After a diaper change, J stretched and wriggled…

Newborn twins, reunited after their stays in the NICU, seem to seek each other out.

…and wriggled and stretched, until she was squished up against her sister. Only then did she fall asleep.

Newborn twins seek each out the comfort of their wombmate.

In nearly every photograph I have of M and J together their first few months, their heads are turned toward each other.

These weeks-old twins turn toward each other instinctively.They both liked to fall asleep holding onto Sister’s hair. As you might imagine, this didn’t often end well. I took to placing a fuzzy blanket above their heads when they were particularly stubborn, to give them both something to hold that didn’t also pull on the other’s scalp.

When did your multiples seem to become aware of each other?

To Breastfeed or Bottle Feed? That is the Question…

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I always thought I would breastfeed my children. When I got pregnant with twins, I hesitated a little bit, but not much. I knew about the football hold, and I knew it could be done.

Then my little bits were born at 29 weeks. And all of a sudden the NICU was raising them and not me. Feeding wasn’t even an option, forget about breastfeeding. But I still had my plan. I started pumping milk every 3 hours one day post C-section. And I didn’t stop until after they were home 3 months later. I was encouraged by the nurses: “Oh yes, we will let you start breastfeeding as soon as they’re strong enough.” I was encouraged by my mom: “It’s so good for them, keep going!”

And then, when they came home it was obvious. They are NOT going to breastfeed. They are hooked on a bottle. Can I fight through it? Yes. Could I retrain them? Yes. Did I want to? No.

I was TIRED! And done letting others dictate how I was going to raise my children.

So I gave up trying to breastfeed. And I kept pumping milk. Sometimes every 3 hours, sometimes every 4 or 5. I was proud of the overflowing freezer filled with liquid gold. And then, one day in the middle of taking-care-of-newborn fatigue, my milk supply started drying up. And I started having some pain. And I knew that I had filled up my last bottle of milk.

SAMSUNG
SAMSUNG

It was totally okay, I thought. Someday I will have one baby and I will cuddle and breastfeed that one all day long.

But fast forward four years and I found myself pregnant again. Only not with one snuggly baby. Two again.

I admit that I mourned a little for what I knew was coming. “This time I’m prepared,” I thought. “I know what’s coming. I’ll be more proactive about breastfeeding in the NICU. I won’t let them get too attached to bottles. But maybe I’ll do some bottle feeding cause I know I’ll need a break.”

I was grateful the second time to make it to 36 weeks. But I still had a painful C-section, and my girls still spent 2 weeks in the NICU.

It was a much better experience. I did breastfeed some and Baby B seemed to like it. Then we came home and even though I had help from grandparents my schedule looked like this: breastfeed some, bottle feed the rest, pump some.

Every 3 hours.

That meant I had less than an hour to eat, spend time with my other children, and sleep. The sleep ended up getting pushed back more and more and the girls were feeding less and less.

This time I wanted more control. My decision was made by simple math. I made a pro/con list of how to feed the babies. The pro list for breastfeeding had only 1 item on it: Breastmilk is the best food for babies. That was it. The cons list went on and on. Bottle feeding had tons of pros and just a few cons. So there I had it. I pumped my last bottle of my own milk, and went looking for formula coupons.

Picture

Afterward I had a friend lecture me about not breastfeeding, and then at the end she said, “But they’ll be okay.”.

And I smiled. Because I knew she didn’t mean any offense. And I knew she was right. They WILL be okay. They ARE okay. Because no matter what our mother heart tells us about feeding our little ones–they somehow or other get fed. And instead of fridges filled with bottles and breast milk and formula, all of a sudden it is filled with whole milk and yogurt and Mickey Mouse shaped chicken nuggets.

SAMSUNG
SAMSUNG

I didn’t want to waste the time I had with them being little stressing over milk. And that was OK.

SAMSUNG
SAMSUNG

Twinfant Tuesday: Getting to Know Your Children

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“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Teddy Roosevelt warned us.

What you have is what YOU have.  Comparison to others can make you feel down,

There’s definitely some truth to that. If you measure your quality of life by comparing it to the lifestyle you perceive others to live, you’re going to be miserable. But how much more joy can be gained from realizing how good we have it?

Parents compare their kids. We compare them to ourselves. We compare them to their siblings. We compare them to their peers. We certainly compare them to statistical averages. “Oh no,” we say, “an average girl can say 50 words at 16 months and mine only says 40!” Or, “my boy already says 50 words at 16 months and the average boy only says 30. He’s a genius!” We forget that the child is a unique person, never intended to be the average of all children in her country.

Parents of multiples can’t help but compare our same-age children to each other. There’s a silver lining to this, though. The comparison highlights each child’s unique personality and quirks. You might not notice how athletic one twin is except in contrast to his more verbally precocious brother.

It's only when we compare ourselves to others that we see what is special about us.

I used to ask new parents what their baby was like. 99% of the time, they’d give me an odd look and shrug. “I dunno,” they’d say, “Eats, poops, sleeps. Acts like a baby.”

It was years before I realized that the contrast between twins had granted me the luxury of identifying their unique personalities well before they were talking. I knew who my twinfants were, in a way that many of my singleton parents did not know their children.

J and M at 12 months old were already demonstrating the personality quirks they have at age 9.

Shortly after J and M’s first birthday, I had this to say about them:

First of all, both M and J are very easy-going, cheerful, low-maintenance babies. They’re both extremely opinionated, love to play together, but can entertain themselves too. They’re affectionate, active and very very very very verbal. They know the rules, but they both enjoy pushing their boundaries. They both love to eat and are growing rapidly. They’re still very small for their birth age, but very advanced in their physical, linguistic and social skills.

8 years later, so much of this is true. My girls are cheerful and relatively low-maintenance. They’re opinionated and capable of playing together and apart. Their verbal abilities are off the charts. They still love to eat what they love to eat, although M’s repertoire is pretty limited. They’re still tiny, but are proven athletes, scholars, and great friends.

M is a people-pleaser. Around new people, or folks they don’t see too often, she definitely comes across as the dominant personality. She smiles and chatters and shows off. Even when she’s doing her own thing, you can catch her checking that the new person is watching her. She loves to explore new spaces, but she checks in with Mommy often for a snuggle.

This is all accurate. M puts herself at ease in new situations by showing off her strengths, usually in mathematics. She’s very aware of her audience when we’re out and about, which is why she’s so easily embarrassed by me.

She’s a pickier eater than J and some days will eat only bananas. She’s getting to be an expert at the sippy cup, so we’re hoping to stop bottles altogether soon.

She was already a picky eater. Well, that hasn’t changed. It’s just magnified.

[M is] quite careful when encountering new objects or acquiring new skills. She tends to figure out how to do things before she tries, and gets frustrated quickly if her attempts fail. For instance, if a toy she wants gets stuck behind something, she starts fussing immediately. Because she does learn how to do things before trying them out, though, she catches up to J very quickly on physical skills, and often surpasses her. For instance, she crawls much much faster than J ever did.

M continues to be a perfectionist, so much so that J skipped a grade while M stayed behind to work on her time management. The girls have an optional after-school cultural performance this week. J can’t wait to get on stage. M is declining to participate because she doesn’t think the class had enough practice to perform to her exacting standards. As far as surpassing J, that still happens. J is still sore that M skipped several swimming levels ahead of her when they took swimming lessons at age 4.

J is defined by the word “determined.” She picks a goal and works and works and works on it. She may fail any number of times, but she keeps trying. This means that she learns physical skills sooner than M, but she falls far more often and has to try the same thing over and over. She’s already running, and has so much to accomplish that she’s been skipping naps recently and falling asleep in her high chair during meals.

J is incredibly determined still. It permeates every aspect of her life.

J likes to push the rules, although if she knows she’s about to break one, she shakes her head at herself and looks around to see if anyone’s going to stop her. She stops immediately on being told “No,” unlike M, who needs to be told “No” multiple times before reacting. She can often stop herself from breaking a rule: there’s some vigourous head-shaking, and then she turns around and runs towards me with a huge smile on her face.

J has excellent self-control. She hardly every makes the same mistake twice. M’s reactions, on the other hand, tend to run away with her, although she always apologizes after she’s calmed down. As she explained to me yesterday, “I feel my feelings and then I don’t say anything about them until they explode like a volcano.” Impulse control is a challenge she’s working to overcome.

J has an extremely good sense of balance, and can navigate her way into very tight spaces. She’s constantly moving around, usually walking, but every now and then, she’ll decide to lie on the floor on her back, very quietly, for a couple of minutes, before resuming her rambles. She likes to carry things around, even things that are too heavy for her. She likes to push toys along the floor while yelling “Eeeeeeeee” at the top of her lungs.

J’s constant motion is the reason I Santa bought a trampoline. She is also the daughter who will come up to and ask if we can read and snuggle. “Hugs make everything better,” is her signature phrase. Now, instead of yelling “Eeeeee”, she makes up silly songs to belt out while bouncing off the furniture.

Twins just bursting with personality! The contrast between these identical has highlighted their unique personalities thruoghout their lives.

J is the least picky eater I have ever met. She’ll eat anything I give her, and is very decisive about being done when she’s full. She simply turns her head away, and refuses to open her mouth.

J is still an adventurous eater. She recently ordered sliders topped with raw onions and chili. When the waitress checked to make sure she’d understood correctly, I confirmed that J loves raw onions.

There are, of course, ways in which M and J have changed as they’ve grown. J’s compassion for others and desire to right the wrongs of the world is astounding. Yesterday, she reported to me that her class has finally reintegrated the genders at their lunch table after having established a “girl side” and “boy side”.

M’s creativity is unbounded. This shows through in her story-telling, inventions, artwork, and, most recently, her CS First programming.

Getting to know your children may just be the greatest gift that comes with twins in that exhausting, overwhelming first year.

Those of you who have twinfants, what parts of their personality can you see already?

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Twinfant Tuesday: “Mothering” on Mother’s Day

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I remember my first Mother’s Day.  My girls were right at four months old.  I was incredibly grateful to have joined the ranks of motherhood, but I was tired…so very, very tired.  How wonderful it would have been to have a break.

But I didn’t get a break that year.  I changed just as many diapers, washed just as many bottles, dealt with just as much laundry as I had the many days before.

While I have yet to enjoy the elusive “day off”, my subsequent Mother’s Days haven’t been quite so grueling.  Certainly at six years old, my girls are largely self-sufficient.  They’re bundles of energy, but they’re so much fun.

I wanted to spend the day with my girls on Sunday.  I’m working full-time these days, and they are in kindergarten, so our downtime is a tiny fraction of what it used to be.  I cherish being with them on the weekends, and I wanted nothing more than to hang out with them and enjoy the spoils of being a mommy.

What I didn’t see as part of my Mother’s Day “bliss”, though, was disciplining my children for talking back to me, or for saying an inappropriate word.  I counted three time-outs between the two girls.  At age six, that’s a bit unusual (fortunately), but it had to be done.

And I certainly didn’t plan to get a “throw-up call” from Baby B a couple of hours after bedtime.  She somehow didn’t get any on her bed, but it was all over her…prompting a full shower and then drying her hair, and then doing a big load of laundry.

During these not-so-blissful times, there was a part of me that wanted to say, “Seriously???  On Mother’s Day??!!!  The last thing I want is to put you in time out!

But I stopped myself.

We may take a break from time to time (a well-deserved break, no doubt!), but our job as mothers never stops.  It changes, and it gets easier in many ways, but this is who I am.

This line of thought helped me keep things in perspective on Sunday.  Certainly I would have enjoyed a perfectly planned day, complete with some pomp and circumstance and some quiet time…and I definitely plan to eek out a pedicure in the next couple of weeks…but in the midst of not-so-fun, I was reminded how important my job is as a mom.

If you’re in the midst of the twinfant stage, hang in there.  If your kiddos are older, but still tucker you out just as much, that’s OK.  If you took some time “off” this weekend, hope it re-energized you.

Whatever stage we’re in, may we keep perspective.  May we appreciate it for what it is.  And may we feel the importance of our roles.

Hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day, in whatever way you marked the day!

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.

Twinfant Tuesday: Triplet Tips & Tricks (that also apply to twins!)

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Sadia asked if I would write a Twinfant Tuesday post about tips and tricks specific to triplets and I drew a blank at first. Now that my triplets are 18 months old those infancy days seem so long ago!

I looked back on my blog and found this post on parenting tips for triplets that I wrote when the babies were about three months old. While I think all of these are still good tips, they aren’t necessarily triplet specific. As I was reading that post I thought of a few more to add to the list that are probably the same as for twins. The last couple may be especially helpful for triplets and higher order multiples.

My #1 tip for all MoMs is the classic Boy Scout motto of “always be prepared!”

A little preparation can go a long way towards making your life feel just a little more under control. When your triplets (or a singleton for that matter) are babies, the first thing everyone tells you is to sleep when they sleep. This is good advice, but sometimes it is worth sacrificing 5-15 minutes of sleep to get things ready for the next awake time!

As the babies get bigger and you start venturing out, plan outings after nap times so you have some time built in to prep for leaving the house. It is INCREDIBLY difficult to get everything ready (pack the diaper bag, have snacks & drinks ready, stroller loaded in the car, etc) with three babies awake and needing mommy. Being prepared can also include prepping bottles for the day the night before (we breastfed so thankfully that wasn’t an issue for us) and prepping nighttime snacks for yourself to get you through the middle of the night feedings! Our favorite night time snacks were energy balls and muffins, both of which you can make in a big batch that will last for days. This is also a great thing to ask others to help you with…

Which leads me to tip #2! Don’t be afraid to ask for and always accept offers of help!

Three babies is A LOT of babies! Parents of singletons are exhausted caring for one newborn and caring for multiples is at least three times harder! Every other MoM will tell you this, but if you are a lifelong overachiever like me you may not believe them and think you can do it on your own. But please, from one overachiever to another, listen to them!

If you are pregant with triplets (or twins) line your help up now! If your mom or sister or cousin or best friend is willing to move into your guestroom for the first couple of months, welcome them with open arms! We scheduled visitors back to back for the first three months and I don’t know how we would have managed without them! We had a few days here and there of it just being us and that was enough! When a coworker offers to start a meal train, say “yes please! that would be amazing!” and when your mother-in-law offers to clean your bathroom for you, get over yourself and just say yes. =)

Tip #3 is especially applicable in the first six months when sleep is hardest to come by.

(Don’t get me wrong, our kiddos were NOT the babies who hit six months and magically started sleeping through the night! Well, one did, but they are 18 months old now and two out of three are STILL terrible sleepers so we still don’t get much sleep! But after the first six months they eat less often, eat faster, and you also get quicker at diaper changes, etc. so you get a little more sleep.)

When you are sleep deprived your brain truly does not function! When our babies were newborns we were lucky to get 45 minutes of sleep after feeding, doing diapers, and pumping before they woke up ready to eat again. During these months we found it incredibly helpful to have a way to track everyone’s feedings, diapers, etc.

We tried two different apps (Total Baby & Baby Connect) and found that we liked Baby Connect the best and we liked that it synced between our phones. We used it religiously at first and then as we got into our groove we didn’t have to rely on it quite as much. But it was super helpful when we went to those first couple months of well checks (which we had to do often for weight checks since they were 6 weeks early) because the doctor would ask us questions about how much they were eating and how many wet diapers they had and we couldn’t answer those questions without pulling up that app! It doesn’t matter what system you use, but tracking the basics is key early on. I know other triplet moms have used whiteboards or even simple notebook paper to jot down feedings, diapers, baths, etc.

Tip #4: Find a baby carrier you love and get comfortable putting it on with a baby in it over and over until you can do it quickly and seamlessly without thought. When all three babies need you and you are flying solo you will be frazzled and won’t be in the right mental space to be futzing with an unfamiliar carrier!

Once your baby is around 4-6 months old have your partner or a friend help you learn to wear a baby on your back. This can be a little tricky at first and takes some getting used to but once you get it, it is a lifesaver! There are a bunch of YouTube videos out there that show you different options for getting a baby in a back carry position. I personally found that I liked one method better (carrier on in front & then spin the carrier around to your back with the baby in it) and now that they are bigger I prefer another (helicoptering them over my shoulder). When you have three babies you don’t have enough arms to carry them all from one place to another so being able to put one or more babies in a carrier makes it possible to get everyone someplace in one trip. This can be from the bedroom to the living room or from the house to the car and into a store. And if you want to have one hand free to carry something other than a baby, look into a twin carrier like the new TwinGo. We just got this carrier in December when our babies were already one, but I so wish I’d had it since they were about 4 or 5 months old! Wearing two separate carriers is bulky and not very comfortable and the TwinGo makes a front & back tandem carry simple! Stay tuned for an upcoming “Wouldn’t want to live without it Wednesday” post about this carrier!

And the last thing I just thought of, so let’s call it tip #5, is to look into getting a Foscam video camera to use as a monitor. Having a video monitor has been super helpful for us and the great thing about the Foscam is that you only have to buy one camera and then you can use an app on your phone, tablet, or computer to see the babies. It can be a little tricky to find the best mounting spot, but once you do then you can pan and zoom the camera from your phone to see all three cribs and see what each little munchkin is up to. This helped us figure out who was crying/stirring, but more importantly we could see if that squirmer/squealer was disrupting anyone else’s sleep. With the Foscam we can see if anyone else is awake before we go in to get the crier because there’s nothing worse than trying to sneak in and grab one baby then to walk in the door and have the other two who might be trying to fall back asleep see you and also start screaming! It also helps me mentally prepare for what I’ll be facing when I walk in their room! When all three are up at once, I need to take a few deep breaths and center myself before I open the door!

That is another good tip actually…when you have three babies crying and all needing mommy at the same time, just pause, take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself that this too shall pass. And before you know it your babies won’t be babies any more and you will have nearly forgotten these moments unless you took lots of pics or blogged about it!

Twinfant Tuesday: Transition to Toddlerhood

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I was not a person who had a lot of experience with babies before having my own. I actually am fairly certain that the first diaper I ever changed was one of my own babies’ in the hospital. I didn’t know the distinction between newborns and infants, googled the difference between infants and toddlers, and I’m sure someday I’ll be confused by what makes a “tween.”

Our twins are now nearly 21 months old and we still refer to them as “the babies.” A quick Wikipedia search tells me that a child becomes a toddler when they’re between the ages of one and three. Our experience of crossing over into Toddlerville has been a sensory one. Let’s focus on three of those senses today.

Katie takes us from infancy to toddlerhood through the senses.

Sound

I’d love for someone to keep tabs on how many times in one week my husband or I say, “I can’t hear you.” This is stated while one or the other is talking and is inevitably interrupted by one of our kids shouting, grunting or whining to communicate what it is they want. They do have a few words in their arsenal (I use the collective “their,” because they seem to say words for the first time at the same time!) but they seem to first try shouting at us or each other.

Ironically, one of the things we made a point of, pre-children, was making the effort in our house to walk to where the other person was to talk, rather than shouting room to room when we were going about our business in our house. It’s like our kids knew this courtesy that we had for each other, and squashed it in those cute, chubby hands on purpose. Their caveman communication seemed to evolve over time, but in retrospect, is markedly different than the distinctly infant coos.

Sight

Sight can be broken down into two categories. First, what our kids can now observe. Back in those hazy infant days, I could eat a rice krispie treat while my kids ate dinner, with them none the wiser. Nowadays, if they see me do that, the aforementioned shouting/whining begins until each has a rice krispie treat in hand. (My husband makes the BEST treats, and they’re around regularly!) Hence, we’ve noticed modeling appropriate behavior (like, not eating dessert first??) has become more important.

Secondly, what I see in my kids’ behavior. One example coming to mind: getting the bath ready, changing poopy diaper of boy toddler, while I watch my daughter take my kindle, run into the bathroom, and chuck it into the filling bathtub. I could give countless examples of seeing the mischief these two are already getting into. But, it’s also seeing their faces light up as they discover new things, like the birds using the birdhouse on our porch, now that spring is finally returning.

And TOUCH

I looked at a photo the other day from the infant days and noticed I had big picture frames on a low shelf in our house. Doesn’t that sound luxuriously decorative? These toddlers want to touch everything! In fact, I would say that the times I feel most frantic as a mom of twin toddlers is when they’re both into EVERYTHING at the same time-one might be emptying out the contents of the nightstand next to our bed, while the other is pulling toilet paper off the roll. One time I was attempting to put laundry away in the same room as them and my son ran into the room and jumped in front of me, with a tampon in one hand and scissors in the other, so proud of his discoveries. Mind you, drawers that contain these things have child locks on them, which brings us back to sight, and them watching how to undo the locks.

Not quite as simple as Wikipedia’s definition, but a bit more fun to reflect on.

Katie is a working mother of 20-month-old b/g twins, eating too many rice krispie treats and loving introducing them to her kids, even when that bites her in the bum.

Labour Bag Essentials – For Twins

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I originally posted this on my own blog after finally finding all my lists and lists of baby notes I made when I was pregnant. I decided to document this list in the hopes that it might be useful to other mommies out there. 

With twins, your chances of going into premature labour rises considerably. So once you reach the seven-month milestone, it might be a good idea to pack your hospital bag and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice. Here’s a list of the items you will need before, during and after delivery for both you and your newborn babies.

Paperwork

Get a file together with written dividers, giving you quick access to the exact paperwork you need This will not only make it fast and easy for you, but also for your partner while you have your hands full with the babies. Paperwork could include any or all of the following;

files

  • Your Id book
  • Hospital Registration Forms
  • Medical Aid card
  • Medical Aid Pre-authorization papers
  • Medical Aid Beneficiary addition papers for both babies
  • Multiple copies of your birthing plan
  • A page with your baby’s names and correct spelling
  • List of people to call

Also leave space for any paperwork you receive from the doctors, hospital, specialists, etc. This could include bills, prescriptions, birth certificates, etc.

Entertainment

This is not only for the hours you will spend in-between feedings and not being able to sleep but also for your partner’s sanity while you rest or feed your little ones. Remember to include chargers for all electronic devices even if they claim to last for days.

entertainment

  • Phone
  • Camera
  • IPad / E-Reader
  • Magazines
  • Novels
  • Baby/Parenting Books

Soothing Items

We all have those specific items that no matter what’s going on, will just take us to our happy place. Take things that will sooth you in the event of both a natural and a C-section birth.

soothing

  • Music
  • Your Favourite Snacks and Drinks
  • A picture of your kids at home (if applicable)
  • Lip Balm
  • Your favourite scented lotion
  • A soft pillow from home

Mommy’s Toiletries

With all the changes in your life, the best thing to do is to make yourself feel as comfortable as possible. Pack mini-versions of all your toiletries to save space, as you will only need a couple of days’ worth. Think of all the toiletries you use on a daily basis.

mommy toiletries

  • Facecloth
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shower Gel and Soap
  • Hairbrush, Hair Elastics and Clips
  • Lotion, Face cream, Hand cream
  • Deodorant and Underarm
  • Contact Lenses, Spectacles and Contact solution
  • Sanitary Pads for after the delivery
  • Nipple Cream and Disposable Breast Pads
  • Nail file
  • Hair dryer
  • An extra towel
  • A clock/watch to time contractions (and later for timing breastfeeding sessions)
  • Important medication, especially if you have a serious condition (make sure you inform/alert your doctor and the hospital staff)

Mommy’s Hospital clothes

The maternity ward is definitely not a fashion show, so this is the one time where you can put comfort first. Your body will be sore from both natural birth or C-section birth and the looser and lighter the clothing, the better.

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  • T-Shirts
  • Stretch Pants
  • Socks
  • Slippers
  • Flip-Flops for the shower
  • A Robe
  • Open-front pajamas for breastfeeding
  • Nursing Bra’s
  • Comfortable Underwear (High-waisted underwear in case of C-Section births)
  • Going home outfit
    • Keep it comfortable and pack a jacket and tekkies for incase.
    • You will still have a belly (it unfortunately doesn’t disappear overnight), so stick to your maternity wear.

Baby’s Toiletries

Most baby toiletries also come in convenient mini versions, so even though you might have an entire cupboard with huge 1litre bottles of baby shampoo at home, opt for the smaller versions in hospital to save space and make the trip to the nursery easier.

With twins, it’s only really the diapers, wipes and cotton balls that need to be doubled.

baby toiletries

  • +- 40 Diapers / per baby (2 large newborn packs)
    • With twins it’s important to pack both premature and newborn nappies due to the risk of premature labour.
  • 2 x Baby wipes (for sensitive skin)
  • Baby Bum Cream
  • 1 large pack Cotton Balls
  • Nail Clippers and/or Emery Board
  • Surgical Spirits (for navel care)
  • Mild Baby Soap
  • Baby Shampoo
  • Baby Powder
  • Baby Oil
  • Baby Lotion (preferably aqueous cream, fragrance free)
  • 4 or 5 baby towels (a hooded towel works best)
  • Petroleum jelly (to help remove meconium from baby’s bum)
  • 4 or more burp cloths
  • Infant colic drops
  • Infant saline nose drops

Baby’s Hospital Clothes and Gear

This is where packing for twins becomes a little different than packing for one baby.

So for those having only one baby, just halve what’s in this list.

baby clothing

  • 8 long-sleeved baby grows
  • 8 body vests (long- or short-sleeved according to season)
  • 8 pairs of baby socks (even in summer)
  • 2 beanies or warm baby hats (a baby can lose a lot of heat through his/her head)
  • 2 warm baby jackets or jerseys
  • 4 pre-mature long-sleeved baby grows
  • 4 pre-mature body vests (long- or short-sleeved according to season)
  • 6 receiving blankets
  • 2 warm baby blankets
  • 2 pacificiers/dummies (optional)
  • 2 newborn bottles + small tin of formula (even if you don’t plan to bottle feed, keep something ready as a backup)
  • Breast Pump and Accessories (if applicable)
  • Nursing Pillow
  • In case of planned bottle feeding
    • 4 or more bottles
    • 2 tins Formula
    • Bottle brush and detergent
    • Sterilizing equipment
    • Formula powder holder
    • Bibs
  • 2 Car Seats
    • Install the car seats before-hand, ensuring you know how to use them before placing baby in the seat.

Packing for your Partner

With all the hours of waiting and worrying about you and your newborn babies, it might be a nice touch to pack some essentials for your partner.

  • Toothbrush
  • Slippers
  • Extra Clothing (incase the babies mess on him)
  • Jacket
  • Snacks and Drinks
  • Money for the vending machine
  • Magazines
  • etc.

Nice to Have’s

These are certainly no necessary but might come in handy.

  • Spare cash and Change for vending machines, gift-store runs, etc.
  • Extra Bag for all those hospital goodies and gifts from family and friends
  • Journal and pen to jot down notes and questions for the doctors or to record feeding times and other details of your babies.

These items will help to make your hospital stay as comfortable as possible. Packing all the above items will also have you fully equipped for the first few days with your newborn babies. Some of these items could also be obtained from your hospital pharmacy, but do keep in mind that they run office hours before relying on that fact.

Each maternity ward have their own preferred list of necessities for you and your baby, so be sure to check with them before finalising your packing.

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.
She mostly blogs about their experiences with the twins in their daily lives adding some tips and tricks they learnt along the way.

Twinfant Tuesday: Two Babies – One Pair of Hands

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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