Twinfant Tuesday: “Mothering” on Mother’s Day

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Categories Discipline, Emotion, Infants, It Gets Different, Mommy Issues, Older Children, Parenting, Twinfant TuesdayTags 3 Comments

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.

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

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Categories How Do The Moms Do It, Infants, Parenting, Twinfant TuesdayTags , , 1 Comment

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!

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Twinfant Tuesday: Transition to Toddlerhood

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Categories Age Brackets, Development, Independence, Infants, Language, Parenting, ToddlersTags 2 Comments

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.

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Labour Bag Essentials – For Twins

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Categories Infants, Lists, Organization, PregnancyTags , , , 6 Comments

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.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Two Babies – One Pair of Hands

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Categories Infants, Multiple Solutions, Twinfant TuesdayTags , , 8 Comments

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
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Twinfant Tuesday: How to Afford Formula

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Categories Feeding, Finances and Saving, Formula, Twinfant TuesdayTags 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Twinfant Tuesday: How Motherhood Affects Your Social Life

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Categories Community, MoM Groups, Relationships, Twinfant Tuesday1 Comment

I thought that I had a decent idea of what motherhood would be like. I was nothing like the Tacoma, Washington woman who wrote to advice columnist Carolyn Hax (full text).
A particularly clueless childless "friend" just put in her place.My only sibling is nearly 11 years younger than me, so I’d done my share of diaper changing, potty training, and homework help as a pre-teen and teenager. I knew twins would be more work, of course, but becoming a mother seemed another small step in my progression to full adulthood. I’d gotten married, finished grad school, started my career, built a house and gotten pregnant, all within a couple of years. One close friend had ditched me when I got married, but that was the only casualty of all these life changes. I imagined that becoming a mother would have a similarly minor impact on my friendships.

I was completely clueless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The friends you lose when you become a mother are far outweighed by the mommy friendships you make.

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

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

How did parenthood impact your pre-existing relationships?

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Twinfant Tuesday: Are You in Those Baby Photos?

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Categories Mommy Issues, Perspective, Twinfant TuesdayTags , 3 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Twinfant Tuesday: Developmental Differences

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Categories Parenting, Perspective, Twinfant Tuesday3 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Twinfant Tuesday: Maintaining a Sense of Self

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Categories Balance, Infants, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Twinfant Tuesday2 Comments

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

waking up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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