Twinfant Tuesday: Singleton Moms… and Me

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While my twin boys just turned 7 last week (crazy to believe!) I think about those first few weeks often; especially because I recently had my 3rd son and I’ve been re-living those infant days all over again. Of course, this time around, things are admittedly much easier. I often return to my twin blog (gathering dust since 2011) and recently I ran across a post that generated quite a bit of heat at the time, about the paradox/oddities of a “Moms Group” meeting.

I had attended my first moms-group meeting when the twins were just 6 weeks old. I felt so isolated and desperately ready to connect with other new moms. Upon arrival, I noticed roughly 16 other new moms and their babies who were less than 12 weeks old sitting around in a circle. I also quickly noticed that we were the only trio in attendance.
Once I sat down and got situated with the kiddos on my boppy in front of me, I was immediately met with comments such as:
I am in AWE of you!
How do you do it?”, and
I thought one was bad enough!” (um – did that mom just say her baby was ‘bad enough’?!!)

As all the other moms were openly breastfeeding around the circle, I too started to tandem breastfeed my babes. Once they were both latched on, I glanced up to notice that everyone in the room was staring at me! Some of members of the group even felt the need to applaud! It was humiliating.

Now, let me be clear…my intentions of participating in a new moms group was to chat with moms who share common parenting concerns, discuss breastfeeding, infant care, sleep patterns, etc. I had a strong desire to feel ‘at one’ with the other parents. Unfortunately, this was not what happened at all. And it may seem overly-sensitive and irrational, but all the unwanted attention I had received made me want to pack up my troops and run out in tears.

I admit that sometimes I felt jealous of the other moms who easily maneuvered their small strollers around the room and casually popped out one breast to feed their child while taking a sip of coffee with their other hand. But for the most part, the lack of solidarity I felt with them was due to the fact that it was just plain weird to have all the other moms treat me like some sort of “other”.

Parenting infants is hard, bottom line. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be a need for a moms group. At the time, I had no experience parented a singleton, so I hadn’t really known the difference between the experiences. And while I’m sure these moms meant well with their flattery, what I really hear them saying was, “your life must really suck, how do you even get out of bed each morning?!”

Now that I’m parenting my singleton baby, I think about the learning lessons from that experience. I learned that well-intentioned praise can sting like an insult, and sometimes it’s best to just give a smile instead. I also learned that many of the new moms with only one child tended to be more uptight about issues that, with the twins, I was forced to be more relaxed about. I listened as moms went crazy with their over-protective concerns about the smallest things. I realized that as new mom of twins, I was forced to make hard decisions much earlier on, than moms of singletons. And that I’d rather be too busy caring about the important stuff than worrying about what’s not.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child – A Book Review

A mother of 3yo twins reviews Weissbluth's sleep classicThere are arguably seven popular schools of thought regarding sleep training. Those schools of thought are all led by different experts who do not always play nicely together in the sandbox. On the one end is Richard Ferber; popularly associated with the “Cry it out” method. On the other end of the spectrum are Drs. Sears who favor attachment parenting style. Marc Weissbluth, the author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child falls somewhere in between those two extremes.
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I decided to follow the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book in sleep training my twins and 3 years later, it’s a decision I do not regret. I chose this book because it focuses more on building good sleep habits very early in life to forestall problems later. Some of the concepts I found most useful are:

Differentiating between night and day straight from the hospital: Daytime was for cuddles and games with baby but night times were made as boring as possible so the babies knew the nights were for sleeping and nothing else.

Putting baby to bed awake – as opposed to rocking baby to sleep and then putting them in their bed. The author gives some signs of tiredness to look out for with babies. Once you see those signs, put baby in bed and let them self-soothe to sleep. This advice was hard for me because I really wanted to snuggle my 8lbs of sweetness to sleep all the time. THEN I reminded myself that 8lbs of sweetness quickly grows to become 25lbs of defiance.I’m glad I went with the authors’ recommendation to teach kids to self-soothe.

Sleep transitions – As a light sleeper, I got up every time my babies made a sound. Understanding the concept of sleep transitions helped me manage our nights better.

This book and the concepts it teaches may not necessarily be the best for your family but it’s what worked for me. I consider it an essential part of my twin parenting library and even now, whenever my twins start having disruptions in their sleep schedule, I consult the Healthy Sleep habits book for solutions as it contains tips starting from infanthood all the way to adolescence. As a bonus, there’s also a chapter devoted to special family events and concerns – dual career parents, mother returning to work, vacation, twins, adoption, daylight savings time and health issues.

True-Life Testimonial – When my twins turned 3 in November, I thought it was a good idea to move their bedtime to 9 pm as it seemed they could handle staying up for longer and we got to spend more time together. One month later, I was the mom walking on eggshells around her 3 year old because any wrong move could result in a meltdown of epic proportions. In one month, my daughter Sugar had more meltdowns than both girls combined had when they were 2 year olds. I confess that I started to wonder if my kid has previously undetected behavioral issues.

One day, in the midst of yet another meltdown, the director of their daycare pulled me aside and asked if Sugar was having trouble sleeping as her tantrums had become much more frequent. The next day we went for dance class and this same child was kicked out for being disruptive THREE TIMES in a 30 minute class. I decided to blow the dust off my sleep training book and see if there was a chapter for older kids. There was! I read it and made changes to the girls’ bedtime routine and sleep habits – moved bedtime back to 8 pm at the latest, included 3 minutes of quiet time in a yoga pose for them to physically unwind and totally ignored all unnecessary requests for water, a fallen toy and other night time shenanigans once the lights went out. It worked!

meditation

By the third day, the girls were staying in bed quietly even when they did not immediately fall asleep and there was noticeable improvement in their daytime temperament. A week into our renewed sleep training, I had reason to say a prayer of thanks for Dr Marc Weissbluth. When I arrived to pick up the girls from daycare, Sugar (the same meltdown mistress of the prior week), went round the class hugging all 8 of her classmates and telling them she’d see them later. She did the same for her teachers. I was close to tears. I recognized that beautiful, bubbly child. I had missed that beautiful, bubbly child. I’d almost forgot what her personality was like before lack of good sleep habits turned her into the equivalent of a PMSing 3 year old with a bad hangover. This book gave me my happy child back

Of course its not all rainbows and unicorns… they are after-all still 3 year olds! 

Advice for other parents of multiples

Explore all possible options available to you for sleep training and choose the one that works best for your personalities. To get the gist of any other book out there, just do a search of the book’s title on any parenting forum. (I used the babycenter.com forums). You’ll find a legion of passionate parents for and against the ideas of whichever book you’re researching. By the time you read through a few threads, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the author is advocating and how it can be applied to your family situation.

Most importantly is to have a sleep plan (hopefully) before your multiples are born. When it comes to sleep and two or more babies, having a sleep strategy can be life and sanity saving.

Yetunde is the proud mom of twin girls, affectionately nicknamed Sugar and Spice. She blogs about the twinmom hustle at mytwintopia and is almost sleeping through the night now.

Happiest Baby on the Block – A Book Review

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The Happiest Baby on the Block was one of the first books I bought when I found out I was expecting, although at that time I hadn’t discovered I was carrying twins.

The main premise of the book that Dr. Karp really hammers home is that baby humans are not quite ready to be born yet, and that we must recreate a womb-like environment for them during “the fourth trimester,” or the first three months post=partum.

The Five S’s

How do we simulate a womb, you ask? Dr. Karp proposes the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side or Stomach position, Shushing, Swinging and Sucking. These strategies can work alone or layered in various combinations to soothe your fussy baby, and he explains how to do so safely.

Great for First Time Parents

The book is a great tool for new parents, especially for those who have not been around babies. It is very simple information. He explains the basic needs of an infant, and the reasons that the very act of existing in the real world can be enough to make little one cry. He also addresses colic, and interestingly compares different cultures, their attitudes and behaviors towards newborns and their rates of having colicky, fussy babies.

Short on time? Watch the DVD

The only downside is that the book gets a little redundant towards the end. Since I am a book junkie, I enjoyed reading the book, but if you are short on time I would recommend watching the DVD. You’ll see Dr. Karp handle various babies, wrapped up like baguettes, all of whom stop crying as if he’d flipped a switch. The DVD doesn’t convey as much background information on the “why” of the techniques, but it is effective at showing them in action.

What Worked for Us

1) Infants have a strong need to suck, whether that is from the breast or a pacifier. I had been anti-pacifier until reading this, and even had my doubts after the twins were born because I didn’t want to foster any nipple confusion. I waited about a week before giving my exclusively breastfed babies a pacifier, it did help and I didn’t have to feel guilty about it.

2) White noise is a winner. During our oh so brief periods of sleep at night, we had a white noise machine. It had an automatic timer and the longest interval it had was 45 minutes. That didn’t work! Once we got a decent, loud, unlimited white noise machine, the sleeping periods were a little longer. That was great.

It’s important to remember to take it with a grain of salt, of course. My twins certainly didn’t have off switches, not matter how much I rocked them or breastfed them. But for minor offenses, it was good to have these tools handy. There is no magic, really! But it is important to be aware of things that can help you, even if it is just slightly lessening your load.

Mercedes is the still sleep-deprived mother of 16 month old boy/girl twins. She is the author of Twin Manibreasto and blogs at Project Procrastinot.

What to Expect the First Year – A Book Review

Mom of twins Sadia reviews this bookWhat to Expect When You’re Expecting is a classic that most moms have heard of even if they haven’t read it. It lays out all aspects of pregnancy (singleton pregnancy, mostly), from what’s happening within your body to possible complications to what will happen at your medical appointments and your childbirth options.

What to Expect the First Year is another book in the same series. It is laid out similarly to its predecessor, but focuses on your child’s first year of life. It’s not the kind of book your read cover to cover. I certainly didn’t! Not with two infants showing up 2 months ahead of schedule, a full-time job, and a husband in Iraq! What it is, in my opinion, is the perfect reference book for that first nail-biting year of motherhood. It was my crutch as I discovered my maternal confidence and faith in my instincts. It was my touchstone, letting me know it was all going to be okay.

A review of What to Expect the First Year

During the period in which I leaned on this book, I hadn’t yet discovered the blogosphere and the kinship of other MoMs. My grandmother, the only member of my family I would have trusted with childrearing advice, had died when I was 19. My in-laws were supportive and loving, but they lived 2000 miles away. My neighbours were wonderful, but their babies were 2 and 6 months younger than mine. I was supposed to be the local expert on babies. Ha! I was cheating, passing off nuggets of wisdom from What to Expect the First Year as my own.

The book isn’t perfect. Its content pertaining to twins was limited, generic, and generally unhelpful. I was completely unprepared for the realities of prematurity and the NICU. What to Expect had failed to warn me about what it was going to mean to have a child with a birth defect or the challenges of getting it diagnosed.

However, What to Expect the First Year covers 90% of parenting. For pregnancies and infants without major complications, it might get close to 99%. I started acting upon the advice in the early chapters of the book while I was still pregnant. Of course, while pregnant, I actually had time to sit down and read the first few chapters.

It hadn’t occurred to me to select a doctor for my babies ahead of time, but when I read that recommendation in What to Expect, it made perfect sense. I lucked out in my search, the first practice I interviewed being The One. I had confidence bringing my 4-pounders home from the NICU knowing that I had a doctor I trusted with their care.

I read through the section on preparing pets for a new baby voraciously, and was more interested than alarmed at our cats’ reactions to their arrival. I was an expert on matters of car seat choices, much to the pride of my husband. When we were registering for a travel system, I was able to show off my knowledge of what LATCH stood for. Yep, I’d read it in the book.

When I heard J’s Apgar score, M was being pulled out of my body. I was grateful to have read that far in the book. I knew that her score of 9 was really, really good, especially for a 33-weeker. I hadn’t, however, prepared myself to have my wrists strapped down or for the doctor to tell me he was going to have to cut, whether or not my epidural had kicked in.

Once the babies were actually in my care, What to Expect turned into the reference document it would serve as for the next year. I quit looking at the table of contents altogether and began relying on the index. (It turns out that after the initial chapters about baby care and preparation, the book describes a baby’s development month by month.)

M has a fever. Do I call the doctor? I check for “fever” in the index and learn that anything over 100.4 °F for my newborn meant a call to the doctor was in order.

J is refusing the breast. What do I do? I read through the entire section on breastfeeding and am inspired again to try contacting La Leche League only to, once again, get no response.

I had crazy food allergies as a kid. What can I do to minimize the chances of my kids suffering as I did? I read through the “thinking about solids” section and come away with an understanding of the American Academy of Pediatrics‘ recommendations. I also google the Great Ormond Street recommendations in a nod to my British heritage.

Review of What to Expect the First YearI looked to the staff at the pediatrician’s office as my real partners in figuring out what to worry about and what to let go. They were very knowledgeable about what to schedule based on my daughters’ age adjusted for prematurity: introducing solid foods, immunizations, watching for developmental milestones. They were the ones who let me know that it was okay to have babies in the first percentile for length and weight as long as their growth curve mirrored the shape of the standard curve. For the everyday questions, though, that didn’t rise to needing to call the doctor, this book was my source of knowledge.

More than once, my friend Sara, her son 14 days younger than my girls, her husband deployed with mine, called me up not to talk to me, but to ask me what “The Book” said about her latest question about infant development, diapers, or puke.

This was nearly 8 years ago. A lot has changed in that time. If I were to have newborns now, I’d be much more likely to turn to the internet. I’d have other mothers to turn to. I’d be more confident in knowing what advice to adopt and what to reject. For a first-time mom with a limited support network, though, What to Expect the First Year was indispensable.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Ask the Moms: How to Tandem Nurse

 has written about how to successfully tandem nurse before, but it’s been a few years. In this post, we share the current HDYDI Moms’ experience with tandem breastfeeding. We hope that this can give you some ideas and insight if you are embarking on the adventure of breastfeeding twins!

Skip to: Tandem Nursing Experiences | Pumping and Nursing Experiences | What Helped | What Hindered | Equipment | Support Personnel | Positions | Tandem Nursing in Public | Prematurity | Twin Nursing Ebook

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What is your experience with tandem nursing? How long did you nurse, and why did you stop?

Janna: I successfully tandem nursed my twin boys starting at 3 weeks old. The lactation consultant told me that we were not ready for tandem nursing. Lucky for us, my mom was at the appointment with me and she thought the advice was crazy. My help was going home when the babies were four weeks old, so she defied the woman’s authority and suggested we just try tandem nursing as soon as I got home from that appointment. It was completely successful and with our set up, actually easier than nursing one at a time. From that point on, I nursed the boys at the same time every time.

RebeccaD: I tandem nursed in the hospital (healthy 38 weekers) but hit a glitch when I was re-hospitalized later in the week with a uterine lining infection. One baby stopped latching altogether. I spent a day in bed with him re-learning how to breastfeed. We were back to tandem feeding by about 10 days old. No lactation consultant was as valuable as my mom and mother-in-law constantly cheering me on, telling me I could do it, and supporting me as I figured out how. Their faith in me helped me trust my own instincts. I tandem-fed for most feedings until the boys were 9 months old; by then they were so efficient and so big and wiggly that back-to-back feedings were easier.

Mercedes: As a pregnant twin-mama-to-be, I envisioned myself breastfeeding with the support of a styrofoam-filled “Breast Friend” as I cradled the heads of my peaceful babes while they suckled and intermittently sought out each others hands. It didn’t work out that way. Uncomfortable and pretty much hating life, I soon decided that individually nursing my twins was much more reasonable, although it did take up all of my time. It was my number one (and two) priority, so I made it work. As the twins got older, tandem feeds actually became easier since they required less effort and orchestration on my part. Now that my nurslings are 15 months, it’s pretty much the only way we do it (unless it’s a nighttime feed), because the nursing jealousy is pretty rampant.

Sadia: I tried for 5 months, but was never able to use tandem feeding as my primary mode of breastfeeding. I really wanted to make it work, because I found myself breastfeeding 12+ hours a day while on maternity leave. I needed another adult (my husband) present to hold the first baby while I latched the second on and held her. With both my babies coming home at under 5 lbs and a month before their due date, they didn’t have the neck control to nurse without one adult hand supporting their body and another their head. No number of pillows seemed to raise them up high enough to not need manual support from a parent. When my husband deployed to Iraq, the babies were 5 months kid and there went my extra hands. Also, J went on nursing strike shortly after Daddy deployed, so I had to switch her to expressed breast milk (EBM) from a bottle. I didn’t even try tandem nursing for nighttime feeds; I didn’t trust myself not to doze off, especially since I was working full-time.

Dory: Whenever I have a second set of adult hands (my husband, my mom, or my mother-in-law), I like to tandem nurse. It is so much easier to get them both done at once (no leaking of the other breast or a crying, hungry, waiting baby) and faster (sometimes as quick as 30 minutes, as opposed to at least 1 hour if one-on-one feeding). Because my babies are 2 months old, I can’t speak to stopping tandem nursing, but I imagine that once they get really wiggly (and big), I won’t be able to keep it up anymore.

RachelG: I tandem-nursed until around 8 or 9 months, when my supply wasn’t really enough to satisfy either twin for long. I dealt with supply issues from the very beginning, despite help from lactation consultants, so we tandem-nursed, then supplemented with bottles of formula.

ldskatelyn: I tried tandem nursing in the beginning. I found it was a great thing to do during those nighttime feedings so that I could get back to sleep sooner (aka, get sleep), but I always needed help getting them set up to nurse, which meant waking up my husband. After realizing that my husband was a blessedly sound sleeper and didn’t handle lack of sleep as gracefully as I did (and who also had to work a full time job), I decided I would stick with feeding them one at a time so that I could do let at least one of us get sleep. I also came to love that one-on-one time with each of my girls, where I could just focus on one of them, even if it meant listening to the other cry for 10 minutes.

Tandem nursing dog pile.

Tandem nursing dog pile, featuring Mercedes and her duo.

What were your experiences with pumping and nursing?

Sadia: I tandem nursed one baby on one breast while pumping on the other pretty consistently. This worked great for me because tucking the flange into my bra left me two hands for the nursing baby and pumping gave me EBM for daycare feelings. I returned to work when the babies were 11 weeks old (4 weeks adjusted) and my output fell precipitously. Once J went on nursing strike, “tandem” nursing with the pump and M was my primary means of getting J her breast milk. I could pump so much more with a baby plus the pump than with the pump alone. I tried many, many pumps, and the Medela Pump-in-Style (with extra-wide flanges) was the best fit for me, but babies just fit me better.

Janna: After our morning tandem feed, I would put the boys in bouncy chairs and tell them stories while I used the double breast pump for about ten minutes. I occasionally pumped again after another feeding session if the boys were otherwise occupied and we knew we needed milk for an outing coming up, but mostly I just fed them at the same time in the brown recliner chair every two hours when they were hungry.

RebeccaD: I pumped when I was in the hospital without my boys (when they were 5-8 days old), and when I felt overly full for about the first month. I demand-fed, so there was no predictable schedule, which made direct breastfeeding much easier. What if I had just pumped and then they wanted to eat? It made more sense for me to cut out the middle man. I worried constantly about not having a big freezer stash, and having to be the one to do every single feeding was very taxing. But ultimately, direct feeding worked best for me and my little ones.

Mercedes: I used the pump only very occasionally in the first several months. Sometimes what I would do is start with the pump on both breasts and then get the babies latched on.

Dory: When I was in the hospital with Audrey and David, I needed to get my milk flowing, so I would pump for 5 minutes before nursing. I would then nurse them until they were finished. Then I would try to pump some more and give it to them in a syringe. Once we got home (4 days old), I would continue this pattern, but I wouldn’t let them nurse any longer than 20 minutes. If they nursed any longer, they would use more energy than they would get in calories. I would then supplement afterwards with whatever I had pumped beforehand. Once they passed their birth weight (after their 2 week checkup), I stopped pumping and supplementing. Now, I simply pump whenever I feel like they haven’t emptied me out completely. I have to say that, at 2 months old, they do a pretty good job, and we have our nursing sessions down to 10 minutes latched on! I really only pump every other day in order to build up a supply for when I go away during feedings.

RachelG: I never pumped while nursing. Both babies always ate at the same time, and for much of my nursing life, my pump was set up in a different room from the one I usually nursed in.

ldskatelyn: I never even thought about pumping on one breast while nursing on the other, mostly because my children were always fed back to back. I usually only pumped at night, right before I went to bed, since they were sleeping through the night (12 hours) and I would be engorged and sore by the morning if I didn’t. It also gave me breast milk to supplement their feedings with if they needed it, or to mix with their baby cereal.

What helped the most with tandem success?

Sadia: My husband’s support was key. Knowing that other MoMs, including a triplet mom in the family and a twin mom from my MoM club had done it before me was very inspiring. My husband had observed his triplet cousins breastfeeding when he was a pre-teen and had a surprising amount of breastfeeding experience to offer. I’m so glad that I researched a ton about breastfeeding multiples before giving birth. I was shocked to discover how many people around me just assumed that it couldn’t be done, particularly since I had a career outside the home. Fortunately, my boss was also a breastfeeding mother; her support made it easy to adjust my work environment to allow for pumping time and space.

twnnurs4Janna: My recliner/boppy set up next to an end table made nursing both boys at the same time so easy. I would sit down in the recliner and position the boppy around my stomach with the ends of the boppy situated up on the recliner arms. Then I would lean down and pick up the babies off the floor and put them in the “football hold” laying on the boppy pillow. Once I got them latched, I was hands free and could pick up the food, water, book, remote control, etc… on the end table next to me. I also had my laptop set up on the other side of me, so I could read blogs and email while nursing. My boys ate every two hours for at least thirty minutes, so being hands free and having other things to do really made it easier for me.

RebeccaD: The biggest factors in my success was the support of experienced nursing women in my life — other MoMs, my mother, and mother-in-law – and my husband. The women helped me to develop my nursing relationship with each of my boys, as well as persevere in tandem feeding. My mom stayed with us for 2 weeks after the boys were born, and my mother-in-law for 5 weeks. They would get up at night to help me get everyone in place for feedings. Then they would tell me stories about nursing their babies. It was so lovely. I felt like I was being admitted into a special, ancient circle of wisdom. My MoMs group had several nursing women, and we shared many emails in the wee hours! My husband showed his support by making nursing a priority, by bringing me food and water, and by showing me so much love as I figured it all out.

Mercedes: Time and confidence. Tandem feeds were not for us in the beginning. Over time they just started happening naturally.

Tandem nursing older twins

Tandem nursing older twins.

Dory: For me, I couldn’t have done it without my husband, mom, and mother-in-law. They are my biggest supporters and helpers during nursing. While I get into position in my chair with my pillows and burp cloths, they get the babies ready (taking off sleep sacks or waking them up enough to latch on). Then, while one baby is finishing up, they take the first-to-finish baby off of me to change and re-dress him/her. In addition, I had a very emotional time during the first few weeks in regards to nursing. I wanted to give up every single time I sat in that chair, but they were my cheerleaders (my husband especially), encouraging me to work through it. I’m so glad I did, too! Now, I love my nursing time!

RachelG: I had a fantastic postpartum nurse in the hospital who helped me figure out how to tandem nurse. She showed me how to position the babies on pillows, support their heads properly, and help them relatch when they took a break. I don’t think I could have figured out how to do it on my own without her help early on.

What were the biggest obstacles to tandem nursing?

Sadia: We faced a lot of challenges. For starters, my 33-week preemies spent 16 and 21 days in the NICU. I wasn’t allowed to try to breastfeed J even once the whole time my girls were hospitalized, so I had no opportunity to try it out until after J was home. I had a full time job to which I returned at 11 weeks postpartum, so I couldn’t breastfeed during the day on weekdays. The exhaustion of single parenting twins with a full-time job took its toll on my supply too. I had a very poor supply with the pump, despite taking fenugreek, pumping on a schedule, and having been able to produce enough milk for exclusive breastfeeding during maternity leave. Add to that my husband’s deployment to Iraq and J’s nursing strike, tandem nursing just wasn’t in the cards for us. My huge nipples didn’t help at all. I used standard size pump flanges the first few weeks, and they ripped my breasts to shreds.

Janna: If I hadn’t tandem nursed, I wouldn’t have been able to continue nursing my boys after my help left at four weeks. The nurses and lactation consultant in the hospital and a different lactation consultant we saw at an appointment at three weeks old ALL told us that I couldn’t even attempt tandem nursing until the boys were older, had an expert latch and I was an expert at single nursing. I am so grateful that I didn’t listen to this advice. Everyone should try tandem nursing whenever they want. If it doesn’t work, fine, then go back to single nursing, but if it does work (like it did for me) you can start tandem nursing right away and not have to figure out what to do with that second baby while you’re nursing the first!

RebeccaD: My own physical health was a big obstacle to tandem nursing. The stress of a long (38 week) twin pregnancy, followed by an emergency c-section, subsequent uterine lining infection, and abscess on my tailbone, made it difficult for me to sit up, let alone try to support tiny heads, etc. I did nurse individually side-lying for a while, but I wasn’t able to sleep that way. Tandem nursing turned out to be the best way for me to get rest and feel connected to my babies. Another obstacle was nursing agitation – an intensely uncomfortable feeling that can happen during tandem nursing. I got through it, mainly by distracting myself, and it greatly diminished over time.

Carolyn: I did tandem for a little while once we were home from the NICU. It never felt comfortable, no matter how I set myself up. It was a “me thing” and not an issue with either baby, my nursing pillows, or where I did it. It just wasn’t for me. I had a very easy time nursing, which is maybe why I chose to breastfeed my boys individually, to get it done as fast as possible and move on to the next thing or get back to sleep. (We were feeding every three hours in the early days). I did sacrifice more sleep than I would have liked to, but I got the job done and nursed for about 9ish months. We had EPM bottled, supplemented with higher calorie formula and nursed for the first several weeks in NICU until the babies were stabilized. Tandem feeding was not a negative experience for me, just not my preference.

recliningMercedes: Setting up my “station” and getting into position on my own, at the beginning was very challenging. The only position I found comfortable was a sort of double cradle while reclining position, and this was not sustainable for very long since my hands were not free to do anything else (like scratch a nose, answer the phone, etc.) Now the challenge is that they are so big they can physically overwhelm me at times! The easiest thing to do is just to lie down and let them have at it.

Dory: Early on in nursing (Weeks 1-4 or 5) I really hated feeling “stuck” in that chair. Once I got in, I couldn’t get up without someone getting the babies off of me (especially when I was recovering from giving birth). I wanted to give up every single time I had to sit down to nurse. I didn’t like being a prisoner of the chair and pumping. I felt like I just wasn’t making enough milk (even though in reality I was making more than enough). I felt like I couldn’t do it (emotionally or physically). I was just in a funk. Then, magically around 6 weeks, when my babies were at their fussiest, it was like a light turned on. I was what they wanted and how they stopped crying. Me! Yes, I was feeding much more often than my normal because of their neediness, but I could soothe my babies, and I loved that feeling. No one else could help them like I could. Everyone else could change diapers, hold, and cuddle, but only I could feed them with the nourishment they needed. It took them being at their fussiest for me to love tandem feeding! Now that they are starting to eat fewer times a day, I really truly enjoy our nursing sessions.

RachelG: I found it hard to figure out how to get both babies onto and off of my lap without help. Once I sat down in my chair and got everyone positioned there, we were stuck for hours until I found a way to dis-entangle the babies and get up again.

What equipment was helpful?

Sadia: My breast pump was my saving grace, an alternative to tandem nursing that kept me from going completely insane. I loved my chair with arms. Since my babies were so tiny, a narrow chair actually worked very well for us. Pillows helped relieve the fatigue on my arms, breastfeeding each baby, as I did, for 45 minutes each every 3 hours. I loved my magazine subscriptions. I read those issues of Time, Newsweek and National Geographic from cover to cover.

Janna: A chair with arms and a boppy pillow to support the boys was absolutely helpful. I needed something to do while nursing, so I didn’t go crazy with boredom. A towel tacked over the high window in the living room to cover it so that the workmen fixing the wall outside couldn’t see me nursing.

RebeccaD: The nursing pillow. The Twin Brestfriend wasn’t perfect, but I couldn’t have tandem nursed without it. If I had it to do over again, I would invest in a big recliner to nest in with the nursing pillow. As it was, I had a pretty good set up – armchair, then loveseat, and finally floor. The armchair + nursing pillow held the boys up high when they were really little. I had to have someone hand them to me once I got settled in. When I moved to the loveseat, I could place one baby in the Boppy, put the pillow on over my head, pick up one baby, sit down, then pick up the other baby and latch both on. Once they could crawl, I sat cross-legged on the floor with the nursing pillow, pulled them both on, and when they were done, they just rolled off and crawled away! I would have gone INSANE without distractions – books, iPad, phone. And I always had a little table with water and snacks nearby.

RachelG: I have a big armchair in my living room that I called, “The Chair of Doom,” while I was in the thick of nursing infants. I rarely left it. It was big enough and had enough support that I could juggle everything I needed to there. I had lots of pillows that I used  behind my back, under my nursing pillow, on the sides, etc., just to make everything the right height. I had a small tray table next to me with a bottle of water, remote controls, snacks, etc. Once I was home alone with my kids, I set up a changing table on one side. My changing table came from Ikea, and my mom cut the legs down a little so it was the same height as my chair. I could use it as a staging area for getting kids put onto or taken off of my lap for nursing.

Dory: There are a few pieces of equipment that I couldn’t live without. First, when I am on the couch, in bed, or in a low-armed chair, I have to use my Twin Z nursing pillow. I discussed it during my pregnancy, and it is just as wonderful as I expected. If you have a higher-armed chair, however, it may not work out well. For our armchair in the  nursery (which has very high arms), I use a My Brest Friend (for singletons- the twin version is too large for this chair) with a Boppy Cuddle pillow on top of it. I then place two burp cloths under the babies’ heads, and they latch on using the football hold.

What role did lactation consultants play? Your spouse? Other MoMs? Friends? Family?

Sadia: The NICU nurses were extremely supportive of my pumping and providing expressed milk to the babies, but were strongly against my trying to latch the babies on because of their prematurity. Lactation consultants were useless. Their attitude of amazement that I was even trying made me feel that they’d already decided that I was destined to fail (at breastfeeding, period, forget tandem nursing). The one exception was a consultant at a local breastfeeding supplies store who suggested a nipple shield to counter J’s strike. It didn’t help, but at least she tried to provide advice instead of telling me to give up. Other MoMs and my husband were far more helpful, although their support was more emotional than informational since their experience was with full-term babies. The only preemie mom I knew never had her milk come in, so I was alone in the preemie nursing boat.

Janna: I concur. Lactation consultants were useless. The ones I had just didn’t have any experience with moms successfully nursing twins. Instead it was my mother, mother-in-law and husband who were incredibly supportive, helpful and encouraging. Also, I had two close friends who were currently successfully nursing their singletons. While their advice and support weren’t necessarily specific to twins, they were invaluable with basic nursing questions. For example, NO ONE (not the pediatrician, lactation consultant, no one) had told me about growth spurts so I was almost ready to give up when my boys started crying and acting starving and demanding to eat extra at 6 weeks old. I assumed I wasn’t making enough milk. My friends emailed me back right away and told me it was the (normal, common) 6 week growth spurt and to just keep nursing them all the time & expect to be exhausted, sore and frustrated for a few days and it would all go back to normal… and it did.

RebeccaD: What I needed: confidence, reassurance that I had the basics, and a twin-specific logistical strategy. What I got: two different programs for each baby. Being a twin mom is all about creating a bridge between your babies’ individual needs and your ability, as one person, to meet those needs. Breastfeeding was a serious crash course in this for me. So, my first lactation consultant was basically awful because she treated my babies like two singletons and made me feel horrible for being unable to be two mothers. Luckily I had other support and figured it out. Six months of exclusive breastfeeding later, I started having supply problems, and a different lactation consultant was a wonderful help. I credit her with my ability to continue nursing to 13 months for one and 15 months (and counting!) for the other. But I came into that consultation with a lot more knowledge and confidence. I could tell her, “That won’t work with twins, what else ya got?”

Dory: Our first pre-baby class was a breastfeeding class for couples. It was amazing! I thought it would be silly to take such a class, as I figured I would get all I could at the hospital. I was wrong! There is so much to learn and think about, and it was helpful to have that base understanding. After giving birth, I can’t stress how important it is to talk to the lactation consultants at the hospital, before you come home. We made sure that we got extra time with them to make sure we were getting all of the hints we could. I asked questions over and over, and they were more than happy to help us. They were so sweet and treated us like superstars (get used to it when you are parents of twins!). The were incredible! We also were able to follow up in our pediatrician’s office during the 1 and 2 week appointments. The woman we saw was a lactation specialist. Score for the nursing moms! She was the one that told us not to let them nurse any longer than 20 minutes early on (any longer and they would burn too many calories).

RachelG: As I mentioned earlier, I had a fantastic postpartum nurse who helped me figure out latch, positions, etc. I worked with lactation consultants, but they focused mostly on helping me increase my supply and improving my son’s latch. They weren’t hugely helpful, in that my supply never increased substantially and my son figured out the latch thing on his own eventually, but at least I had the peace of mind that I had tried everything.

ldskatelyn: The hospital lactation specialist was very good about encouraging me to try tandem feedings, and taught me the different positions. My husband and mother-in-law (who was a nurse) were helpful once we got home.

What positions worked or didn’t work for your family?

Tandem nursing positionsSadia: The football hold worked best. My girls hated to be crossed and I felt like I could support them better football style. Our typical setup was as follows:

  1. My husband sat in the chair.
  2. I picked up both babies, one in each arm, cradle hold.
  3. I sat in my husband’s lap.
  4. He held one baby, cradle style across my lap, while I latched on the other in a football hold.
  5. He held the nursing baby while I latched on the second.

Janna:  I had to use a boppy, in a recliner with arms. I put the boppy around me, with the ends of it rested up on the recliner arms. Then I lay the boys down on the boppy in the “football hold” and both my boys were up at the right level, leaving my hands free (for eating, reading books, emailing, etc…). It was ideal at home. I never did try any other position because this one worked so well for us.

bftwins4Rachel: We used the football hold pretty exclusively while tandem nursing.

RebeccaD: Football all the way. They hated crossing, and would kick each other. When they got older, I sometimes pinned their arms under mine or separated their heads with a rolled up blanket so they wouldn’t bother each other.

Dana: I remember getting extremely creative with the positions of the babies in order to tandem nurse. It was something I was actually quite proud of. I didn’t use the boppy too often, but rather lots and lots of pillows.  I encourage any new mom of twins to get real comfortable with having tons of pillows stashed conveniently around the house. (And don’t forget lots of burp cloths stashed in the couch cushions!) Also, don’t be afraid to stack those kids on top of each other! Here is one position I used often:

468051998_e29e4bb03bJenW: I sat in the middle of the couch with the eZ-2-nurse twin pillow, after starting with a boppy but finding it wasn’t enough. I put a baby on each side of me in a boppy so they wouldn’t roll. I maneuvered them both to the pillow first then got them to latch. By about 6 months they were more efficient so it was faster to do one then the other occasionally. Plus, by then they weren’t as interested in staying on the pillow.

ldskatelyn: When I was seriously, regularly, doing tandem feedings, I generally did two football holds, as it gave me the most control over their bodies, keeping them from rolling, allowing me to position their heads correctly. However, kind of just for fun, when I was no longer tandem feeding, but because they were both starving, my husband and I would put our twins into all sorts of different, not-found-in-books, positions. One these was me lying on my side, and feeding them one on top of the other! Another was me lying on my back, and letting them both suckle against gravity.

Dory: When tandem feeding, I only use the football hold. At the hospital, we tried layering them during one feeding, and I was uncomfortable, they looked uncomfortable, and I was on edge the whole time. Once I switched back to the football hold, I felt like I was able to breathe again. One night I was really sick and couldn’t get out of bed. My husband brought me the babies one at a time and I had them against my body and nursing them while we were both on the bed. I haven’t tried that with two babies though.

Did you tandem nurse in public? How?

RebeccaD: Unfortunately… yes. In order of embarrassment: DayOne, a breast-feeding friendly store where my MoMs group had meetings, in the car (with my pillow), on a public park bench (supported by diaper bags and covered by a blanket), on the lawn of a museum with my top almost totally off (they were starving, I was alone, it was a bad day). I usually nursed one right after the other when we were out.

ldskatelyn: I remember feeding both of them at the same time once while staying at my brother’s house. They were both super hungry, so I put my cover on, and fed them that way. It was not the most comfortable (I don’t think I had my Boppy pillow with me) as I was sure I was going to flash his children. Although, it was super funny when one of my nephews commented that his mom only feeds one baby from both sides.

Sadia: Nope. I never figured it out. I easily nursed one — I loved empire opening nursing tops for cradle hold breastfeeding – while bottle feeding the other by about 2 months. If I was walking with our stroller, I’d just push it with my hip while cradling a baby in one arm and holding a bottle for the other baby with the other hand.

Janna: No. When we went out the boppy didn’t really work without my recliner. It wasn’t high up enough, unless I could find a recliner chair with the right size arms. I never did find a convenient way to tandem nurse outside of my home, so I would either stay close to home and only do short outings, or if we had to be out during a feeding, take bottles with expressed breast milk and feed the boys bottles (usually my husband or another family member or friend would help with the feeding) and then I would pump with a homemade, extra large hooter hider giving me privacy.

Mercedes: Nah. I am all for breastfeeding in public and have done it everywhere from cafes to castles to the stands of a Formula 1 race. But it’s always been one baby at a time. Just easier and less conspicuous that way.

Dory: I don’t tandem in public because I don’t have big enough pillows with us. It is easier to feed one at a time and just hold them or prop my arm on a chair. I don’t have the “mom arms” yet to hold both at once and nurse for an extended period of time.

RachelG: No – I really needed my full setup to be able to tandem nurse successfully. In public, I’d either nurse one at a time or feed them a bottle.

Did prematurity play a role in your attempts to tandem feed?

Sadia: Yes, yes, yes. First, there was the matter of the NICU. My babies were tubefed for their first days, so the pump and I got good and intimate. I was only allowed to try breastfeeding once (M only) during my daughters’ hospital stay, so I couldn’t even try tandem nursing until the babes were 3 weeks old. Their sucks were so weak and their muscles so underdeveloped, each nursling needed my full attention during our nursing sessions. Their tiny stomachs and weak sucks meant that they were each at the breast for 45 minutes at a time. I didn’t exactly have a whole lot of wiggle room to try out new positions because I was terrified that they’d drop back below 4 lbs in weight and have to be rehospitalized. Even during maternity leave, our pediatrician had me keep two meals of high-calorie formula enriched with Poly-Vi-Sol in our routine per day just because they had so much weight to gain. J was 3 lbs 6 oz at birth, M 3 lbs 9 oz. Neither baby had achieved 5 lbs when they were released from the NICU. I’d pump during their formula meals.

Janna: No, my boys were born full term, both weighing over 7 pounds. I do think that this is certainly one reason why nursing came so easy for the three of us.

RebeccaD: My boys were also full-term (5 lbs, 15 oz and 6 lbs, 5 oz), which really helped. Baby A was a champion nurser right from the jump. Baby B had a weak latch that never totally resolved, but my let-down was sensitive enough to make it work. I felt terrible when he had to start formula supplements at 6 months, but the lactation consultant pointed out that tandem nursing helped let-down so much that if he wasn’t a twin, he may not have breastfed as successfully as he did, or for as long. That is a tandem nursing success story!

Mercedes: No. My twins were early term, born at 37 weeks and 1 day, although they were small. My daughter, the bigger of the two, was actually the one with more latching difficulty, and the lactation consultant urged me to be patient as the baby learned. She said that 37 weeks is still early and some babies just need more time.

Dory: We were so fortunate that our twins were 36+5 with no NICU time, so we could nurse right away.

RachelG: Not really. My twins were early term (37 weeks), and while my son did struggle a bit with his latch, we never had serious problems nursing as a result of their delivery date.

ldskatelyn: No. My twins were born a day shy of 38 weeks. They weren’t premature. One of my daughters did need help opening up her mouth big enough, but with help of a lactation specialist at WIC, we were able to figure it out, and I was able to stop hurting.

Twin Breastfeeding Ebook

Manibreasto-Cover-3d-WebWould you like more inspiration, support and tools to make breastfeeding twins work? How Do You Do It? author Mercedes has written an ebook on the subject, Twin Manibreasto. She has a special offer for HDYDI readers! Use the code TWIN5 at checkout to pick up your own copy for $5 (code expires Feb. 10).

We hope that this has helped you get some perspectives on tandem breastfeeding. In addition, you can read about how Dory, who is currently breastfeeding, tandem feeds on her blog, Doyle Dispatch.  If you have any follow-up questions or stories of your own, we would love for you to share them in the comments!

Twinfant Tuesday: Feeding Utensils 101

Feeding Utensils 101My twins’ first experience with solid foods was around the 6 month mark. Since then, I’ve had more than my share of of hits and misses when it comes to buying their bowls, cups and other feeding utensils.

I used to think it was just a matter of walking into a store and grabbing the cutest cup/bowl I could find. No siree! I quickly learnt the lesson that you can easily waste spend an embarrassing amount on sippy cups and bowls if you start off on the wrong leg.

To date, I know we may have gone through up to 40+ sippy cups (TWINS!) and probably the same number of bowls and plates. If I had to do it again, here’s what I wish I would have known:

  1. Plates and bowls - Should be microwaveable if you make and freeze your own baby food.  When I had bowls that couldn’t go in the microwave, I would have to defrost the foods in ceramic bowls before transferring to the babies’ bowls. For me, it was just additional dish washing that I would have preferred to avoid.
  2. Bowls – To suction or not? Yes babies have a tendency to grab their bowls, wave them in the air (because they really don’t care!) and create a food shower. Bowls with suctions on the bottom can reduce the frequency of this occurrence BUT the thing with suction bowls is that the ones with permanently attached suctions are not microwaveable.
  3. Sippy cups – Valves or no valves? There is a place for both. I recommend no-valves for when the babies are just learning to drink and don’t have enough suction power to overcome the valves.
  4. Sippy cups – What type valve? The Playtex sippy range has a valve system that consists of 2 joined pieces of rubber that fit into the spout and air hole. Guess what? My babies have really strong arms and enjoy banging their cups against the high chair tray. A few hard knocks and the valve becomes dislodged making the cup spill-proof no more. The Phillips-Avent type spouts have a different, less leaky mechanism but they are hard to suck out of. It’s a trade-off.
  5. Sippy cups – Handles or no? To eliminate problem highlighted in #4, I started using the Take and Toss Spill Proof Cups that do not come with handles.
  6. High chairs – Full versus booster? If floor space is an issue, then go for the booster type that attach to normal chairs.
  7. High chairs – Cloth versus plastic? No matter how easy to clean the cloth material is, the high chair is still going to be a grimy mess. Plastic can be wiped clean, cloth has to be laundered. Consider your laundry tolerance when choosing a high chair.
  8. High chairs – Tray washability. A lot of high chairs now boast of trays that are dishwasher safe. The problem is that those trays are not however dishwasher sized. The trays on the highchairs I’ve had did not fit into the dishwasher or the sink. If you really want to be washing the tray in the dishwasher, shop with a tape measure.
  9. Spoons’ bowl size. When the babies started solids around 5 months, some of those cute spoons had bowls that were too wide to fit into their mouths. My recommendation, start off buying spoons with smaller, tapered bowls.
  10. Washcloth. Regardless of what utensils you buy, an easy-to-clean washcloth is the cornerstone of your solids-feeding arsenal because ovens come with a self-cleaning button, babies do not.

One more free tip: Just because a baby can use a spoon, doesn’t mean you should leave them alone with a bowl of yogurt

Feeding Baby

Yetunde is the proud mom of twin girls, affectionately nicknamed Sugar and Spice.  She blogs at mytwintopia and has officially learnt to never take her eyes off twin babies with yogurt.

Multiple Identities

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I urgently googled everything about twin pregnancies.  I started writing on this website.  I joined our local moms of multiples group.  When people told me I needed to talk to so-and-so who is a mom of twins, I took every phone number or email address.  Stories of sleepless nights were swapped over (a quick) coffee in during maternity leave with local twin mommas, and my first night “out” was to a meet n’ greet for my MoM group when my babies were 7 weeks old.  When I was stressed, I turned to this blog, other twin websites, or emailed other parents of twins. I gritted my teeth when parents of kids who are 16 months apart say it’s “just like having twins.” While nearly all of my friends are moms, I rarely reached out to them, thinking they won’t “get” it, or I wouldn’t feel the same connection as I would with someone who has lived this experience.

However, I’ve noticed recently, that I’ve not had the interest to attend the new moms’ coffees, and while I’ve reflected on dozens of different topics on which to write a blog post, they’re related less and less to a solely twin mom experience.  When did this happen?  All the sudden, it seems I see myself just as a “mom,” with the “twin” qualifier no longer being the first and foremost descriptor of my experience.   All the things that made new motherhood harder with two babies (feeding two at one time, having two babies wake up in the middle of the nights instead of one, not being able to manage getting two babies out of the house on my own) still apply.  I still felt that having two is truly the challenge of a lifetime that you can only understand if you’ve been through it.  (I also still don’t think that having two kids 16 months apart is the same thing as having twins!)  But, it seemed less important to me to try to explain it to others.  Could it be that I’m becoming more confident, knowing that I’m doing all I can and trying my hardest, regardless of how hard others think it is?  Or is it that, now that my babies are smiling, interacting with each other, communicating with us, I’m experiencing double the reward, as well?  Is it that, I’ve found my support (some mothers of multiples and some not) and that feels sufficient?  I can’t quite put my finger on it.

A similar phenomenon I’ve noticed, is that, while others used to turn to me pretty frequently with their struggles, friends of mine with young babies are not venting to me about their experience.  Rather, they’ll start to, and quickly cut themselves off saying, “I feel bad complaining to you,” or, “No matter how tired I am, I’m sure you’re more tired.”  Let’s be honest, they may be right.  But, are we not all struggling with the same thing here?  Whether we’re moms of quads or singletons, five kids or only children, aren’t we all, essentially, wanting to feel like others validate our struggles, understand what we’re going through, and celebrate the joys of parenthood along with us?

Identity is something I’ve thought much about, both in forming my own, and how I hope to help guide my kids in this process.  How important is the “multiple” part in your identity of being a mom of multiples?  Is it sometimes more predominant than the “mom” part, or is it just an adjective?

Twinfant Tuesday: Taking Time for Mom

Hey fellow new M.O.M.’s. Today I just wanted to put in a plug for you to relax.

Babies are awesome. Motherhood is awesome. Let’s be honest though, sometimes it downright stinks.

Fact: Motherhood is extremely hard. There is endless material discussing the hardships of motherhood so I’m not going to go on about what you already know. You’re living it.

What I hope you will ask yourself right now is, are you taking time out for you? For me, the hardest part of mentally coping with the idea of taking time out for me is that I always feel like there is something else my family needs of me. I need to update the budget, I need to clean, I need to do laundry, I need to become a master of nutrition so my family is healthy, I need to update the baby books so these memories are documented, I need to plan all sorts of learning activities, I must figure out the secret of other Super Mom’s, blah blah blah. I could go on for quite a while with my personal list of time fillers.

I know that there is research out there that will back me up in this, but I don’t have any to reference for you right now. My personal experience tells me that none of the things on my list are more important than keeping my stress levels in check. I have to take time to de-stress and so do you. So does everybody on the planet who wants a healthy life style.

Mom TimeOne of my professors in college used to say, “When mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I think about it every once in a while and remind myself that there is nothing selfish about doing what you need to do for yourself to keep you happy. It is more beneficial for your family that you are happy than that the house is spotless.

Need some ideas? Since having your multiples, has the idea of taking time for yourself become so foreign to you that you wouldn’t even know where to begin with de-stressing? Here are some ideas, Mama.

Go take a nap. So simple, right? Sometimes I’m a amazed at how much one good nap can do. Nap when they’re napping, call in a favor from a friend so that someone can watch the kids while you nap.

One of my all time favorites is a bubble bath with a book or a movie. It’s a special treat at the end of a hard day, right after you go through the marathon of putting all the kids down for bed.

Indulge in a little bit of comfort food. One time my husband came home unexpectedly from school (he’s  a med student) and just walked in and said, “Why don’t you just get out of the house for an hour and go grab yourself an ocean water?” Ever had an ocean water from Sonic? Heaven on Earth. It was blissful to peruse apps on my phone and sip my ocean water in a random parking lot for 45 minutes.

Dates. I could do a whole post on date ideas. It may be rare, but it is so nice to be able to get out with my husband and do something fun together. We both come back more energized for day-to-day life.

Work out, join a book club, go on a walk to get fresh air, go sit and people watch on a park bench, watch a favorite movie, have a girl’s night, journal, whatever it is that will recharge you and help you be a happier parent. Let yourself de-stress and don’t feel a lick of guilt about it! Life will be better.

Take time for yourself, Mom.

Twinfant Tuesday: Little Victories

I think the biggest thing to keep in mind with infant twins is that every victory counts, even the tiny ones.  One day, when the babies were 2 months old, Emily’s day care was closed for maintenance, or professional development, or something.  Just too months in, I had all three kids all by myself for an entire day.  Gulp.  So I thought it might be interesting to document the day.  Well, the morning.  And I wanted to share it here.

6:30 Em woke up (in our bed), checked on the babies and we played in bed for a bit.  Now let me just say that this day started off really weird since we are usually up and going before 5:30.  But still, little victories.

6:45 came down, cleaned a bit, did 2 puzzles and vacuumed the kitchen. (so far, not at all typical, why are the babies still sleeping? Did they eat at 4 or 5??)

7:00 made Emily breakfast, assembled and put away bottles (even odder that babies are sleeping, what a great morning!)

7:30 Spencer woke up and peed on the changing table, and at that minute, Em announced she had to go potty. Took Em to the bathroom, dressed Spencer, cleaned up said pee, started negotiations will Emily over today’s clothes (I am rooting for pants, she wants a dress… I will prevail, the negotiations are going my way…)

8:15 nursing Spencer, Sidney waking up upstairs (ok, need more hands now), Em eating and playing.  Chaos commencing.

8:20 Sidney crying, Spencer does not want to stop nursing.  Oh no.

8:25 Sidney changed, dressed, eating. Spencer in bouncy seat, Em hugging babies and telling them about her life as a baby

8:26 Spencer spit up, trying to reach to wipe his mouth without Sidney unlatching. unsuccessful.

8:30 with 2 crying babies, washed Em’s breakfast dishes and last nights bottles while heating up water to make bottles for babies, made 2 bottles with vitamins, ate a handful of candy corn, helped Em unlace her sewing and got set up to bottle feed both at once (I need tea!!)

8:38 I swear Sidney just said “mama”!  She is clearly a child genius, talking at 2 months (or 3 weeks old adjusted, definitely advanced)

8:41 Sidney pushed away bottle to laugh at me, Spencer eating, Sidney regretting earlier actions and frantically looking for bottle

8:45 burping both crying babies, Sid spit up on me, Em asking for help with sticker game, I seriously need tea (Spencer took maybe half an ounce, but did a full nursing, Sidney 2 oz formula, 1 oz breast milk). I have 45 mns to finish feeding babies, shower etc, dress Em, and make a picnic lunch for today’s trip to the zoo with her friend. Oh and while I fed Sidney, Spence spit up. Now feeding him while she chills

9:00 both babies fed and happy, they are in bouncy seats, Em and I race upstairs. I take world’s fastest shower (may have only washed left side of body), while Em gets dressed and reports that they are both crying. Finish shower, babies quiet (crap, did they cry it out, damn!), get dressed, both crying again.

9:20 Sidney finishing earlier bottle, Spencer chilling (I am perfecting one handed typing :) ). Em is gathering pacifiers, I still want tea, and I need to put together our picnic lunch, and the diaper bag.

9:37 picnic packed, diaper bag packed, babies ready to go, heading to the zoo to meet friends, anticipate we will be 10 minutes late…

We arrived at the zoo 20 minutes late.

All in all, a fairly routine (except for the babies late start) morning.

And I never got my tea.

Twinfant Tuesday: Little Victories from hdydi.com

The twins are now about to be 19 months old now, and Emily is almost 5.  But re-reading that account of our day I am amazed first of all that we all slept that late.  Currently, 5:30 is a huge victory. I am also impressed with myself for taking such good notes (likely one handed).  The point, I think, is that that day was a huge victory for me, because I did it.  I won’t say I did it alone because Emily was there and from day 1 she has been a huge help.  But I still claim it as a victory.  The truth is, 17 months later, every morning is a victory.  And I think that as a parent of twins, you need that.  You have the right to celebrate every tiny victory.  Oh the celebrating the day the babies held their own bottles!  Every little victory counts.  Even if that victory is simply a fabulous cup of tea.  Peach tea.

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 4 year old and boy-girl 17 month old twins. She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

(We Will Never Be) Full-Term

My boys are almost two, and I’m 32 weeks pregnant with our third son. Over the weekend, I spent some time in L&D. Everything is fine, but to say I had flashbacks to NICU is an understatement. In order to lighten the mood in my own mind, I re-wrote the lyrics to “Royals” (originally by Lourde). So without further ado, here is:

(We Will Never Be) Full-Term

I’ve got fine hair upon my flesh
I cut my teeth on breathing tubes and a blue Soothie
And I’m not proud of my address
In the NICU wing, no nursery envy

And every nurse is like:
De-sat
Jaundice
That was a bad brady
Art line
PICC line
Puttin’ in an NG

Kangaroo care, we’re being snuggled in our dreams

But everybody’s like:
PDA
Caffeine
Bathing in pink basins
Surgeons
Breast pump
Unplanned extubation

We don’t care, medical terms are your affair

And we’ll never be full-term (full-term)
It don’t run in our blood
Mom’s uterus just ain’t for us, now the machines all beep and buzz
Let me be your ruler (ruler)
You can call me preemie
And someday I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe
Let me live that reality

My twin and I aren’t gonna code
You watch our hearts on the machine when we’re sleeping
And everyone who knows us knows
That we’ll be home soon, give the hospital your money

But every nurse is like:
De-sat
Jaundice
That was a bad brady
Art line
PICC line
Puttin’ in an NG

Kangaroo care, we’re being snuggled in our dreams
But everybody’s like:
PDA
Caffeine
Bathing in pink basins
Surgeons
Breast pump
Unplanned extubation

We don’t care, medical terms are your affair

And we’ll never be full-term (full-term)
It don’t run in our blood
Mom’s uterus just ain’t for us, now the machines all beep and buzz
Let me be your ruler (ruler)
You can call me preemie
And someday I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe
Let me live that reality

ooh ooh oh ooh
We’re smaller than you ever dreamed
And I’m in love with clothes sized “P”

ooh ooh oh ooh
Life is great in Intensive Care
We’re your full-time love affair

And we’ll never be full-term (full-term)
It don’t run in our blood
Mom’s uterus just ain’t for us, now the machines all beep and buzz
Let me be your ruler (ruler)
You can call me preemie
And someday I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe, I’ll breathe
Let me live that reality.