Which Came First

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Categories Parenting TwinsTags 27 Comments

And of course, I’m not talking about the chicken or the egg debate. It seems that many people (especially complete strangers) love to ask MoMs which baby was born first. From the MoMs I’ve talked to, I’ve learned that this question really, really bothers some mothers, while others think nothing of pointing out which child is Baby A.

My twins were born via c-section, just seconds apart. On their birth certificates, the time of birth is listed as 8:22am for both. So, when people ask me who was first, I usually just say, “They were both born at 8:22am.” If pressed for more details, I’ll usually share that Tiny is twin A, but what I feel like saying (especially if it’s a complete stranger asking) is, “Why do you care?”

I guess I’ve become more bothered by this question as Buba and Tiny have gotten older. When they were infants, it just seemed as though I was sharing a fact about their birth. But now that they’re older, it feels more like a label of their personalities. And I really want to avoid that as much as possible.

But what I’ve really been wondering about lately is what I’ll tell Buba or Tiny if they ever get around to asking that question. I suppose I could just answer honestly and matter-of-factly. After all, if they were singletons, there would be no possibility of keeping their birth order a secret. It just is what it is. But is it somehow different for twins? From reading numerous stories of twins (recorded in One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular), I get the feeling that it is.

How do you feel when you get asked the “which came first” question?  How do you answer it? And will you (or have you) shared birth order information with your multiples. Do you think it makes any difference whether they (or anyone else) know or not?

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Thanks to You

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Categories Celebrations, Parenting TwinsTags , 4 Comments

When I found out that I was carrying twins, it was the biggest shock of my life. I was beyond scared about how long I would be able to carry them, and terrified about how I would manage caring for them once they arrived. I talked with my OB and read books by the experts, but it was MoM communities such as this one and my local twin organization that really helped me to become the mother I am today.

Thanks to you- those who write (or have written) and those who comment- I know how to help my children get the sleep they need, how to take them out into the community, as well as how to travel with them far and wide. You remind me that being a mother of twins brings different kinds of challenges, and that it’s normal to sometimes wish I’d had just one at a time. I know that I have benefited tremendously from being a part of the HDYDI community and it really makes be wonder how they did it- all those MoMs who had children back in the days before the Internet was born. I can’t even imagine it.

So this weekend, I will absorb every smile, every gift, every greeting card that celebrates my role as a mother. It is the most challenging, most exhausting, most rewarding, most fulfilling job I have ever had,  and I can no longer imagine my life any other way.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Joining in With Those Who Scramble

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Categories Parenting Twins, Routines, ToddlersTags 13 Comments

Like most stay at home moms, we have a nice weekly routine that keeps my 2-year-olds, Tiny and Buba, and me busy and out there with other caregivers and similar aged kids. Most of our activities start mid-morning (9:30/10ish) and all are just minutes away. This means that there is plenty of time for everyone to get up, get ready, and get out the door on time.

Our current morning routine goes something like this: T and I get up at 6:30 (often Tiny and Buba are already awake, but if they aren’t they tend to wake once they hear us moving about). T begins getting ready while I get the kids up. Tiny and Buba each drink a sippy cup of milk while I read them four or five books, and then I work on getting them dressed. (Getting dressed has recently started to take a while, as Tiny feels she needs to be involved in choosing her clothing and both kiddos now insist on attempting to dress themselves.) By the time the kids are dressed, T is ready and he spends time with them while I get myself ready. Then we all say bye-bye to daddy and I make breakfast for Buba, Tiny, and myself. We’re usually finishing breakfast around 8:30, so there’s always plenty of time to clean up, play, and pack a bag before heading out for our mid-morning activity.

But starting Monday, I will be joining in with those who scramble to get themselves and their kids ready and out the door on time. Because starting Monday, Buba and Tiny will begin attending a drop-off playgroup (run by Early Intervention) that starts at 9am and is a good 25-35 minutes away (factoring in morning traffic). So obviously, our somewhat leisurely morning routine will have to be kicked into high gear and certain parts will need to get dropped.

There are some things that are no brainers- we will have to eat breakfast earlier, so dropping the milk and books first thing makes sense. And I’ll definitely be packing the bag (with the travel potty, extra clothes, and snacks) the night before. But what worries me are all the things I can’t control- and what I’m talking about here is uncooperative children. Tiny is especially insistent about doing things herself these days, and while she can do quite a bit by herself, it does take her FOR. EV.ER. And I know she will be most unhappy if/when it becomes necessary for me to step in and take over one of her getting ready tasks.

So what do you have in your bag of tricks that keeps your morning routine going smoothly enough so that everyone is ready and out the door on time for work/daycare/school/activities? And what do you do to prevent and/or defuse children who may melt down and jeopardize the chances of you arriving punctually?

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When You Have Two

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Categories Family, Parenting TwinsTags 28 Comments

A couple of weekends ago, two of my best friends from college came to town for the weekend. Another friend, who lives just two towns over, offered to host a family brunch so we could all spend some time together. It was going to be 5 couples with 5 kids- our 2-year-olds, two 19 month old singletons, and a 9 month old baby. Normally, this is the type of invitation that my husband and I would respectfully decline, but these were my closest friends.

Ten minutes into the brunch, it became very clear why we don’t attend events such as these. There we were, in this very lovely, though not at all baby/childproofed apartment, and I was feeling stressed to the max about all the breakable things at 2-year-old eye level just waiting to be discovered by my curious and determined toddlers. There were picture frames, wine bottles, an iPod docking station, tons of books (unfortunately, not ones for kids), and numerous other decorative items. The hosts had a non-mobile 9 month old and had left every room in their apartment open for exploration. Not a baby gate to be found.

The longer we stayed the crankier I felt. All of my friends with their one kid traded their child back and forth between Mommy and Daddy so that one parent could eat and socialize while the other was on kid duty. Meanwhile my husband and I were busy following our kids around the apartment, preventing them from touching the numerous things not meant for little hands, and trying to lure them back to the main room with a few of their favorite toys we’d brought from home. When it was finally time to eat, we occupied the kids with fruit salad while we shoveled food into our mouths as quickly as we could, hoping to get enough to eat before the kids became full and interested in other things.

I felt exhausted and sad when we left, realizing just how much work it had been to participate in this fun-for-the-whole-family event and knowing that, in the end, I had not had one meaningful interaction or conversation with any of my friends. It occurred to me that perhaps if we did this sort of thing more often, we would have better strategies for these types of situations. But it also occurred to me that when you have two little ones, these things are never easy.

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I Always Wanted Twins

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Categories Mommy Issues, Other people, Parenting Twins51 Comments

“Oh, are they twins?  I always wanted to have twins.”

How many times have you heard that one?  It ranks right up there, for me, at the top of the list of incredibly annoying things that complete strangers feel compelled to say to me.  As with most of the inane comments, I generally give a half smile and continue herding my cats children through whatever errand I’m trying in vain to accomplish.

But what I really want to say is… Oh really?  You always wanted to:

  • have a high-risk pregnancy, in which you live in fear of going into labor too early, get five times as huge as a normal human being, and stop being able to tie your own shoes at about 24 weeks?
  • leave the hospital without your babies, because they’re still in the NICU?
  • attempt to breastfeed two premature babies whose mouths are so small they can’t possibly get a decent latch?
  • try with all your might to keep these two infants on roughly the same schedule, in the hopes of maintaining a small shred of your sanity?
  • have your vision of what it’s like to be a first-time mom completely turned on its head, because you don’t have a single spare moment to actually enjoy your babies?
  • live your life by your babies’ synchronized nap schedule in the name of survival?
  • push a double stroller that drives like a school bus?
  • have a simple cold take three weeks to go through your house, as it gets passed from baby to baby to mom to dad?
  • get pulled in the direction of two new crawlers, and then two new walkers?
  • worry about gross motor delays, fine motor delays, plagiocephaly, torticollitis, and speech delays?
  • get stopped by EVERY SINGLE FREAKING PERSON IN THE GROCERY STORE when all you want to do is get a gallon of milk and get back to the car before they both start crying, again?

Oh, no? No, you weren’t saying that because you wanted to experience the most intensely difficult 4 6 12 18 months ever known to man?

No, I think what you really wanted was to have a nice matched set that you could dress the same for formal pictures, and imagine them to have some sort of secret language or ESP or something.

Oh, and maybe you always wanted to:

  • have two babies who became two toddlers who could entertain themselves much better than most of their age-mates.
  • hear the shrieks and giggles and babbling that becomes shrieks and giggling and conversations from their shared bedroom (even if it means they aren’t asleep when they should be).
  • watch them make up games and invite each other to play at a surprisingly young age.
  • have your own little built-in social/parenting experiment, watching them grow in ways that are the same and different. And having the second one there to let you know that not all of the hard stuff is your fault.
  • have that “instant family” with two kids, without having to actually go through labor twice.
  • be a somewhat more laid-back parent by necessity.
  • find an awesome sisterhood of moms simply by virtue of having parented two kids of the same age at the same time.
  • feel kind of like a rock star whenever someone says to you, “I don’t know how you do it.”

Oh yeah.

Me too.

Disney World 2010

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The Machine Age

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Categories Development, Mommy Issues, Other people, Parenting Twins, PreschoolersTags , , , 7 Comments

The weather has been lovely here, and the children have had spring break. My boys know how to pump on a swing, but still beg for a “starting push” to provide a bit of momentum. As I pushed my 3-year-old and provided intermittent starting pushes for the boys, I realized this will probably be the summer they master the swing set, once and for all. By fall, I don’t imagine they’ll need my help with this.

It wasn’t long ago that pushing the boys on the swing set was my art form. The slow effort to get into cadence. The satisfaction in eventually gaining momentum, getting them going just right, the three of us in an intricate repetition like a train engine — me the coupling rod between the driving wheels moving in rhythm. But we’ve gotten smaller, my boys and I. We’re no longer the overbearing locomotive with our quad- or double stroller. They skim along on small red bikes with training wheels, which will probably come off this summer as well. And I follow behind, with my one unobtrusive toddler on her undersized plastic trike.

When my kids were babies, I felt like moms of older twin boys were somehow very different from me. It wasn’t only that their children were older, their lives easier — or less immediate. At the time I couldn’t identify what the difference was. But on a quiet afternoon, standing in the warm spot just outside the shadow of the swing set, I quickly understood how they differed from me:

They were harder.

I think I mean that in every sense of the word. They were the kind of moms who intimidated me. Loud, athletic, tough, seemingly self-assured, unafraid.

And now I understand that quite possibly their twin boys made them that way.

It was easy to hide behind my gigantic strollers and live in the immediacy of twin toddlers. But now my boys aren’t adorable mischievous babies. They are gangly 5-year-olds who will use any stick, crayon, or tube of chapstick as a gun or sword, and when they chase each other their laughing sounds like a pack of hooting monkeys. It is hard for me to be still and allow the behavior I have decided to allow, if that makes any sense. I find myself wanting to admonish them to sit down, be quiet, sit still, stop saying that, etc. But at the same time, I love their energy and exuberance, and if they can’t laugh and chase and hoot like wild monkeys when we’re at a park, then what has the world come to?

So, I raise my voice in public. I chase them down if I have to. I pretend none of it bothers me – that in fact my plan for the day included precisely this. 7:15 – Yell for chasing to remain within certain boundaries. 7:24 – Stop mulch fight. 7:27 – Physically restrain two children. 7:30 – Casually pack up following soccer practice and head to the minivan. Yes, all according to plan.

They’ve toughened me up. I’m still uncomfortable with the stares, but I pretend I don’t notice them as I wrangle my kids. It doesn’t feel like a well oiled machine, but I’m hoping we look the part.

Jen is a work-from-home mom of twins + 2. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.

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But they're the same age, so they should be doing the same things

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Categories Development, Identical, Parenting Twins, ToddlersTags , , , 12 Comments

When you have two (or more) babies who are the same age, it can be hard not to compare them.  For the first 9 months of their lives our girls were very similar in temperament.  There were a few differences, but generally the behaved very much alike.  And, just when we thought we had a way to tell them apart like one was more active than the other or one slept more than the other, they would switch.

Around 9 months, one of our girls figured out how to move.  Slowly at first, then faster and more deliberately.  It took almost two months before her sister started moving; she was content to stay in one place.  I didn’t really consider this difference in their desire to move – I don’t think it had to do with ability as much as motivation – as a problem.

At their one year check up, the pediatrician mentioned that both girls seemed to be on the slower end of the developmental spectrum for gross motor skills (standing, walking, etc).  He said he wasn’t concerned because all children develop at their own speed, but he wanted to see them again in 3 months to follow up. Again, I wasn’t too concerned.  Their big brother didn’t start walking until 16 months.

Since that appointment about 6 weeks ago, one of the girls (the first to move) has become much more active. She can roll over, get from lying down to sitting, pulls herself up to standing, sits down from standing and walks holding on to furniture or a hand.  She’s clearly getting more active, and I’m sure she’ll be where the pediatrician expects her to be by the next appointment.

Her sister is learning things more slowly. Just this week, she figured out how to go from lying down to sitting.  She’ll stand leaning on the furniture, if you can get her in position. When she’s had enough, she’ll fuss until you sit her back down.  I’m not as confident she’ll have achieved the milestones as soon.

It is hard to look at both girls and not compare them.  It takes patience to help them both at their own pace, to celebrate their achievements as they come. But I try to remember that a year from now being a few weeks apart in learning to stand up won’t really matter.  One isn’t ahead and one isn’t behind; they are both learning as they are ready. This is a lesson we’ll all have to keep learning. And the sooner I learn it, the more I can help them and support them as they grow. I’m sure they will face people who expect them to have the same abilities and interests, and that’s when they’ll need to count on their family to affirm they are each unique and valuable as individuals so they can help other realize it too.

How do you encourage your multiples when they are learning at different speeds?  Do you have any ways to remind yourself not to compare them?

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When It’s Time for Bed

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Categories Parenting TwinsTags 15 Comments

Buba and Tiny are pretty cooperative when it comes to bedtime. We give them warnings about how much playtime they have left, and when they see me cleaning up the toys in the playroom living room, they know the bedtime routine is about to begin. I tend to be in charge of getting Buba and Tiny cleaned up and into their nighttime diapers and pajamas while T, my husband, cleans up the dinner messes. Then he joins us for teeth brushing, bedtime stories, and goodnight hugs and kisses.

There have only been a handful of nights in the last two years where T and I have not gone through the bedtime routine together. And only once has T done bedtime solo. During the infant days, I dreaded the nights when I was on my own at bedtime, but at this point in the game, it doesn’t seem nearly as challenging. And while I enjoy that bedtime is something we do together as a family, I’ve started to realize that it may not be necessary and a trade-off approach would give me each of us more free time on those off nights. I could get to the gym a little earlier (which means I could get home earlier too) or finally make it to one of the free moving showings at the library (they start around 6:30/7:00pm).

So I’m curious to know- how is bedtime handled in your home? Is it a family event? Or does one parent handle it alone? I do know that some of you do bedtime solo many, many (if not every) nights and my hat goes off to you. What tips do you have for solo-parenting at bedtime?

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Toddlers

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Categories Behavior, Parenting Twins, Toddlers5 Comments

My sister (who has a 2 1/2 year old) and I (18 month old twins) always laugh about the fact that we will not ‘potty in peace’ for many years to come.  I mean really, Reese and Riley-  can’t Mommy sneak away for a quick moment without you accompanying me into the tiniest space in our entire home?  It becomes a party.  The dog even joins us… good thing she’s small.  The girls begin naming everything they see (good thing they don’t have a complete vocab yet -haha! JK): potty, paper, trash, sink…  Then they begin the oh so fun game of ‘SLAM the door.’  If sister is in the way?  Doesn’t matter- game must go on.  Dog in the way?  Still slamming.  Mommy says no?  Still playing with the door.  I mean, let’s face it: when pottying, we are a bit ‘tied down‘ if you will, and I think our kids know it!  ha!

We’re quickly approaching 19 months where the boundaries are getting pushed and tested.  Which is of course natural, but good heavens- I’m tired!  It also means I am no longer parenting to the extent of ONLY taking care of and loving my children, I now… also have to set boundaries.  Teach them right from wrong.  Provide consequences when needed.  But they’re only 18 1/2 months old- what do they fully comprehend?  It’s hard!  Just as our kids change with age, our parenting must change.  And as you all know, multiples can certainly be partners in crime! :)

It’s a challenging age, but I LOVE watching their little minds soak in everything around them- learning new words and new skills every single day.   MoM to toddlers… How do you do it??! :)

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The Twins

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Categories Parenting Twins9 Comments

Back when I was about six months pregnant, I happened to run into a former colleague at a district wide grade level meeting (which basically means that all the 1st grade teachers in the district were getting together to discuss curriculum). I hadn’t seen her in quite a while, but news of my twin pregnancy had reached her and she came over to congratulate me. “Oh good,” she said when I told her that we were expecting a boy and a girl. “People are much more likely to see them as individuals instead of a packaged deal. I just hate when my friend refers to her girls as the twins. They are two individual girls, and they should be treated as such.”

Her comment came as no surprise to me, as this very topic pops up quite often in the blogoshpere of parents of multiples. It’s not difficult to find a post where a parent writes about trying to distinguish their children for family and friends or passes on tips regarding how to find time for each child when time is something of which we never feel we have enough. And while parenting multiples has quite a few challenges, I imagine parenting identical children (I mean in appearance, of course) has a few more unique challenges on top.

But all this in mind, I have to confess that thus far (almost two years), I’ve done almost nothing to individualize my twins. It helps that I have one girl and one boy, and I rarely dress them alike, but I know that I can and should be doing more to help them develop their own sense of self. They are always together, and have only had a very small amount of one-on-one time with a parent.

And just recently, I’ve begun to wonder how they think of themselves and what they might be wanting. It is clear that they enjoy spending time together (for the most part), but Tiny can sometimes take it hard if Buba wants to go off on his own. She’ll go after him, take him by the hand, and bring him back to the activity that she wants him to play with her.  When I find a bit of time in the day to sit down and play with the kids, often Buba will wander off to do his own thing (read books or play with a toy that Tiny hogs) seeming to know that Tiny will be occupied with me and therefore won’t demand companionship from him.

It’s hard for me to know what’s best for them sometimes. I want them to be close, as singleton siblings might be, but not so extremely close that they can’t do anything without each other. Will this work itself out over time? Will they learn to be individuals when they go to school? Will they independently develop different interests that will lead them to separate activities? Or will I need to take a more active role to help these things happen? For moms with pre-schoolers or older twins, what has been your experiences?

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reanbean is a SAHM to boy/girl twins, Buba and Tiny, who will be 2 on Sunday. You can read more from reanbean at reanbean.com.

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