Please Vote! Thursday, June 4th

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Categories Celebrations, Family, Infants, Mommy Issues, Overnight, WorkingTags 5 Comments

Hello Everyone! Enormous thanks go to our wonderful MoM’s who have agreed to “try out” for HDYDI! We are beyond thrilled that so many of you are reading along with us, and we hope you enjoy our contest week. Please vote for the author you would like to hear more from, as the authors with the most votes at 12:00am Eastern Time on Sunday, June 7th, will be invited to write for HDYDI. Enjoy and PLEASE VOTE!


Post #1: Inseperable, by Carissa

Carissa is a reformed lawyer who now stays at home with her 21 month old boy/girl twins. Carissa and her husband, Aaron brought their twins home from South Korea in October of 2008 when they were 14 months old and have been living and loving life with multiples since! While Carissa started out blogging to get through the adoption process, she now blogs to keep track of the daily happens at their house in central IL as well as get advice on everything from childrearing to fitness! Please visit her at Faith, Hope and Love, http://abc123vn.wordpress.com/

I never expected to be a mother to twins, to be honest I was beginning to wonder if I would be a mother at all. See we could not use any of the usual infertility methods and were told we had about a 2% chance of getting pregnant at all and if it was multiples I would have to be on complete and total bed rest due to some of my issues, so we chose adoption. When we started the process we actually said we would love boy/girl twins and the social worker about laughed us out of the room. See twins in international adoption are rare and boy/girl twins are even more rare so we had about as much chance of getting pregnant as we did of adopting boy/girl twins. Fast forward 14 months and we receive the referral of boy/girl twins from South Korea – boy were they tiny in the pictures even though they were five months old, they had been born at 25 weeks 5 days and must have been fighters to make it that far and be in such good health (though not perfect)! By the time we said yes, we knew that they would be about 14 months old when they came home, the whole thing seemed surreal.

Fast forward again to October 12, 2008 – the day we became a family. Little Man and Little Princess had just turned 14 months old but were more like 7 to 9 months old developmentally. No one had prepared me for one baby let alone two. I will never forget that flight home, Little Princess would ONLY go to her new daddy and would scream when I came near her and Little Man wanted to be walked around the plane for the first 10 hours of the 12 hour flight. My husband’s dinner ended up on the floor and some people were giving us dirty looks, though most were offering to help. I begged my mom to have the pilot turn the plane around so that I could give them back, I didn’t want to do this anymore. My mom, who had come with us for this EXACT reason, quietly told me that was not an option and I was their mother through the good and the bad. 

Little Man and Little Princess have now been home days shy of eight months – yep I have been doing this by trial and error for eight months! As I am sure every mother of multiples has experienced the sleep issues, the eating issues, recently the double tantrum issue and the attachment issues, but that was more adoption than multiples. And some have experienced the multiple doctor visits and the numerous therapists to boot. But as my husband and I were discussing the other day, the thing we love the most about our babies is their bond with each other. See we learned after we said yes that due to a few issues one of our sweet babies has if we had not said yes our babies would have been separated and adopted by different couples possibly worlds apart. We cannot imagine the two of them apart, they don’t even like to play apart. They have their own language that they use to talk to each other – while we love it we hope this goes when they learn to talk. They learn from each other and compliment each other – see our daughter has NO fear and our son will not do anything until he is absolutely sure it is safe, so while he learned to walk first she taught him how to climb the stairs! I love when they try to calm each other or even try to get the other to laugh so that they don’t have to cry anymore. 

I cannot imagine the damage that would have been done if these two had been separated. We are not sure our son would have survived, it took him about 7 months to fully open up to us and really start the attachment process even though he started bonding before that, his sister is the only reason we heard laughter from him before that time. And our daughter may not have been so happy and carefree, she shows us what pure joy is every day!   I have yet to separate them for more than an hour or so at a time, mostly because that causes huge fits and massive jealousy (what is the other one getting that I am not) but I know the day is coming when I will be forced to separate them in some way or another. I already am dreading that day as their bond is greater than any siblings I have ever seen and it will break my heart to see them upset because they do not have each other. For now we keep them together and relish the bond that they have and we will deal with the separation when we have to with the help of the moms from How Do You Do It!

Post #2, by Megan

Married in 2000, my husband and I have entered a new chapter in our life:  parents to 3 children.  Often stopped by strangers with the comment, “Your hands sure are full!” I just smile and remember a quote from an online blogger: “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.” 

I have soon-to-be one year old boy-girl twins and a 5-year-old son.  Recently back to work at a new job after a stint as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m studying in preparation for my massage therapist Board exams, while searching for balance in life, love, and marriage. 

This new road in life is sure to offer many adventures, headaches, joys, frustrations…what greater bliss, though, than to love one’s children and see them grow every day.

Birthdays are a time of reflection for me.  I’ve never really been one to make New Year’s resolutions; instead, come spring, right around my birthday, I feel the need to take stock in myself, my life, and my goals.  The same is true with the kid’s birthdays.  We just celebrated my son Logan’s 5th and later this month we’ll celebrate the babies’ first.  Some pretty major birthdays in my book.  All I can think about is how far we’ve come in the last half-decade since Logan was born, and how different life is from just one year ago before Kade and Addie arrived.  Remembering that I was so big that I couldn’t make the walk around our block this time last year or how I would go to my pre-natal appointments just dreaming of hearing the words “let’s induce” make me realize how different life is today.  And how both my husband and I were completely, totally different parents and people.  So much has changed since we became parents – and then, parents of multiples.

And yet, I find myself fondly gazing forward, too.  I can’t wait to get an idea of who the babies really are.  Their personalities are blossoming.  And every day, there’s something new that they are learning, each at their own pace and own style.  It’s the same with Logan.  He’s more and more a “big kid” every day; I see him practically growing overnight!  Skills that were once hard or challenging now come easily and he is more outgoing and independent than even 6 months ago.

All of this makes me wonder what and who these little people will become.  I would take a sneak-peek into the future if given the option.  Just to see what they look like, or who they are friends with, or who they choose for partners in life.  Is it possible to be completely enthralled with the future at the same time I’m pining for the past?  It’s as if these children are each a special little gift to be opened one day at a time.  I have to remember to be patient and enjoy the joy of watching them grow.

That’s the goal, isn’t it?  To enjoy each day, each milestone for what it is, and not just where it’s leading.  What about all of you?  Do you feel yourselves missing the stage that’s just passed as you pack up the now-too-small clothes?  Or dreaming of what the future holds?  Or, are you able to just sit back and take it all in?

Post #3: A Milestone, by Jenna

Jenna is a mom of a 2.5-year-old son and 4.5-month-old identical twins daughters, and wife to another researcher and student. At some point she will get back to her PhD studies, but in the meantime she’s at home learning with, and from, her three children. She has considered starting a blog to record her experiences and to reflect on her mothering journey, and maybe some day she’ll find the time to do it.

Today marks a milestone in our house. Tonight our 4.5-month-old twin daughters will sleep in their own bedroom.  They usually only wake for one feeding during the night.  Their milestone is about sleeping in their own room. My milestone is about accepting how my life has changed since we found out we were having twins.

I’m a planner and organizer-type person so naturally, before we even conceived the baby, I decided how I was going to balance work, school, my young son, and a new baby About a year ago we decided to have a second child – and I had a plan. According to my plan, I am supposed to be making the final revisions to my doctoral dissertation while I waited for the date to be set for me to defend it….

Instead… yesterday, I found myself at the library with a crying baby in the baby carrier, a crying toddler in one arm, while I pushed a double stroller loaded down with a second baby and a pile of picture books and board books. Clearly my plan is not working out as I imagined it would.

It all changed the day I had my first ultrasound at five months. At three months, and again at four months, I had been thrilled to hear the heartbeat of my baby. My sister had teased me about having twins and even asked the midwife to check for a second heartbeat. The midwife had reassured us that there was only one baby, placing the stethoscope at several different spots to demonstrate that there was only one heartbeat. My plan seemed to be working out just fine. I could finish my research analysis and rough out my thesis before the baby came, relax with my newborn while my committee read through my work – and I’d be ready to make the final changes just as the baby was getting old enough to be eating a little solid food, thus freeing me a little to resume my academic work.

I settled myself on the ultrasound bed ready to see my little one. Seconds later, I was looking at two little heads! We were expecting twins! Immediately, lying on the ultrasound bed, I started frantically trying to revise my plans, to rescue my well laid-out program that would have seen me graduate with a 9 or 10-month-old baby.

Being pregnant with twins turned my plans upside down! I had to give up my academic work so that I could get the rest I needed. I had to shop for all of what a second baby would need, instead of just checking off on my list what I already had from our first child’s babyhood. I had to figure out how to shoehorn two babies into our small 3-bedroom condo that was already overflowing with the accoutrements that our son had brought along with him. Desperately, I tried to preserve my connection to the academic world by maintaining my office in the third bedroom, and having all three children share one room.

Coping with twin girls and a 2.5-year old son continues to be a series of daily lessons in living in the moment. I try not to plan more than one activity, such as a playdate or going to the library, in a day. In fact, a day when I have dinner ready when my husband gets home is a successful day.  Many days I also manage to get a load of laundry done, the floors vacuumed or the dishwasher emptied – all endless tasks with three small children.  But it is an ongoing struggle not to expect to accomplish more in a day than just keeping them clean and dry and fed and safe.

The reality of my derailed plan is particularly apparent this week. My mom is visiting and with her help, I am converting my office into the girls’ bedroom. Soon after our girls were born, I realized that my office space would need to become the girls’ space, and I’ve spent time moving books, office supplies, and craft materials out and packing files and papers in boxes. But really, I’ve resisted the whole process.

I like what my office, no matter how messy it might be, represents.  It is my space in the house. It represents all my years of work as a student and as a researcher, and all that I’ve accomplished. It isn’t about the mundane and repetitive tasks of diapering, feeding and burping babies, and reading and rereading the same picture books. It is about losing track of myself in ideas that interest and excite me.

I don’t want to give up what my office represents.  Being a stay-at-home-mom was never part of my plan. But, I’m a long way from ready to be back at work or study fulltime. I’m not ready to be away from my children. I don’t want to be away from them from breakfast until dinner every day. I don’t want to come home so exhausted that we don’t spend quality time together. I need to find a way to focus on the present and the riches they bring to my life, rather than on what I’m giving up because they are here. I love to watch my daughters sleeping, holding hands. They are so clearly completely comfortable and contented. Seeing them smile when I come to get them up after a nap is the most wonderful feeling. At these moments, it is so clear to me that at home with my children is where I belong.

The challenge this week, and in the weeks and months and years to come, will be to, as time permits, create a new approach – one that will truly balance my time, that considers our family’s financial situation, that allows me to be actively involved in raising our son and our two daughters, and allow me to enhance, enrich, build, develop my sense of self in the process.

Jenna1

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Please Vote! Tuesday, June 2nd

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Categories Fraternal, Higher-Order Multiples, Identical, Infants, Napping, Overnight, Preschoolers, Products, Safety, School-Age, Sleep, Toddlers10 Comments

Hello Everyone! Enormous thanks go to our wonderful MoM’s who have agreed to “try out” for HDYDI! We are beyond thrilled that so many of you are reading along with us, and we hope you enjoy our contest week. Please vote for the author you would like to hear more from, as the authors with the most votes at 12:00am Eastern Time on Sunday, June 7th, will be invited to write for HDYDI. Enjoy and PLEASE VOTE!


Post #1: What Happens After the Stroller? by Jennifer W.

Our story begins with two Aggies meeting on E*Harmony in 2005, and getting married in February 2006.  We started our family early; we had our first child in August 2006. While still getting use to our first son we were pregnant again.  Thinking nothing of it I went to the doctor to find out that we were having spontaneous triplets.  So I carried our triplets for 36 weeks 6 days and had the perfect pregnancy with no complication or limitations put upon me. Four months later we were pregnant again with our last child.  So if you are asking yourself, “I do not think they know how that happens!”  We do and we finally decided that we would have 20 children unless we had surgery to prevent that from happening.  So we are a family of 7 with 5 children under the age of 3.  When our children were small we called them the “zoo” because they were gated in our house.  Now that they are older we call them the “safari” because they roam my house.  You can find our adventures, experiences, and the confessions of a tired mother on our blog: The Wilcoxson’s.

JenW1 

After we found out that we were having triplets there were several things that went through our mind, one of them being that we could not logically escape being a minivan family.  With that dilemma out of the way we had to find a stroller.  We decided that we would get a triplet stroller and still have our single stroller as well.  The nice thing about strollers is that you have some protection from the public and some warning when the grandmother or curious mother gets too close to the stroller.  What happens when the stroller is no longer an option or something that your child dreads?

With our oldest almost 3 and the triplets turning 2 they are at the stage where they no longer want to be strapped into the stroller, but want some of the freedom that comes with being in a family with singletons.  With that want and need for independence my husband and I had to find a way to give that desire to our children.  Independence was not going to come at the cost of safety though.  Holding hands was not an option because my husband and I do not have enough hands.  We like to tell people that we cannot play man-on-man with our children but zone defense.  So the searching began. 

There was an option for leashes, but I could see that in the newspaper: “Mother of 5 decides to walk her children like a dog walker.”  We did not need anymore attention than we already receive when we are in public.  Then one day I was looking at educational toys on the internet and found the solution.  With a little engineering and some common sense we were going to make this work for us.  You see I found a toy for beading animals or cars at One Step Ahead.

14463_2We decided that a rope with 5 animals on it would do the trick.  So my husband and I ordered the beads, got some nylon rope and decided that we were going to put the tractor and the barn at the end so that mommy and daddy could have a bead as well.  Each child gets an animal and then there is a loop for their hand when they get older and do not want to hold onto the animal any longer.

JenW2

After we put our “leash” together we had to try it out before we went into public with it.  For about three weeks we walked to the mail box and around our street to get the kids use to the walking together and the distractions around them.  Then we moved up to using it at church for about a month.  Now my kids will not go anywhere unless they know that the animals are in the bag.  I am so proud of them because they do not let the animal go unless we give them permission and they do not let other people distract them from the “mission” at hand.

I have found that as our children grow older the independence and freedom that their singleton friends have will take some strategic planning on our part to give them the same freedom or a resemblance of that freedom.  No matter if we are in a stroller or walking we will always attract attention and people looking on like we are aliens from another planet because we have more than our normal quota of children in our society. 

Post #2: I Have Two Turning Three, by Alix

Alix is mother to nearly-three-year-old identical twin boys, Nathan and Max.  She spends her time in one of the following ways:  working from home (read: balancing her lap top in one hand while reading Cool Cars for the forty-seventh time while simultaneously microwaving leftovers for dinner), staying up late (read:  loading dishes and folding three hundred size-3T tee shirts), and relaxing (read: actually sitting down while the boys run circles through the house).  Luxurious, it is not.  But fun?  Oh, yeah! Alix works part-time, mostly from home and shares child care with her husband, a university professor.

I found out I was having identical twins at 9 weeks.  Just for the record, this is not a post about the always-humorous but repetitive “I fainted on the ultrasound table!” or “My husband threw up on the ultrasound tech!”.  Or even, “I thought I was having a heart attack!” (O.K., I actually did briefly think I was having one, but that’s for another post).  However, I will say that for the most part, the weeks following this very unexpected news are now a total blur.  One of the few distinct memories I have from that period is of my mother-in-law saying to me, “I’ve gathered that parents of twins say the first three years are the hardest.”  She wasn’t saying this in a patronizing way.  On the contrary, I think she felt a bit of the overwhelming sense of awe and fear that I’m sure I was feeling (but can’t really remember now).  THREE YEARS?? That moment I do remember.  That moment is stamped so clearly in my mind I can actually remember the glare of the fluorescent kitchen light overhead as I tried to absorb this concept (and, of course, failed).  Who can absorb three years??

Fast-forward to May 2009.  My identical twin boys, Max and Nathan, will be turning three in one month.  This is definitely not a post about how everything has suddenly become efficient, peaceful and orderly in our home, nor is it a post about how I pine for those oh-so-difficult-yet-magical early days with two babies (really, I don’t, but again, that is for another post).  Rather, this is a post about the evolution of our family, and the ever-changing challenges of raising two boys born on the same day.

My husband and I spent the first year or so reminding each other that the boys would eventually sleep through the night (they did), they would actually use the bathroom and thus eliminate the need for refrigerator-sized boxes of Costco diapers (again, they did) and would become more independent (still waiting on that but optimistic).  And at every point, we were surprised that the things we waited so eagerly for happened so quickly that we only remembered how eagerly we awaited their arrival after the fact.  I have no idea if this is the same for parents of singletons, but certainly we were so busy and exhausted that all sorts of things in our household were only noticed after the fact (lack of clean laundry, groceries, gasoline in the car, etc.).

The second year of the boys’ lives, the death grip of exhaustion lessened.  I was still nursing, but only in the mornings and before bed, which felt incredibly liberating compared to the hours I’d spent nursing every day during the first year.  The boys were now sleeping, eating regular food, and walking.  Somehow, though, people seemed to think that life must have gotten a lot easier for me than it really had.  People would stop me and say, “Wow, that first year with two must really have been rough, eh?”.  Or, “I bet you feel lucky to have survived that first year!”.  And as I madly chased after two toddling boys incessantly moving from one source of danger to another (and often in opposite directions), I thought to myself, “What the hell??  I’m still just surviving here, people!  Isn’t that obvious?!”  And my mother-in-law’s words came back to haunt me. 

And I knew then, I just had to make it to three.

And here we are.

I decided to host a birthday gathering for the boys, their first big celebration of this sort.  They are really excited to have a party, and I realize that I am, too.  I feel as though this celebration is for all of us.  We have made it this far.  We got to three.  We got to three!!

The boys’ third year will, I know, bring its own round of challenges.  The boys will start preschool in the fall and my husband and I are finding it hard to imagine not having them running through the house trailing laughter and chaos all day long.  This will be a big transition for all of us, one of many.  I remember a parent of twins saying to me, “The days pass so slowly, the months and years, so quickly.”  So true. 

Three, here we come.  I think we’re ready.

Post #3, By Sarah

My name is Sarah and I’m a mid-thirties mother of four.   After a seemingly normal full-term pregnancy, my first baby, Abigail, was born sleeping in June 2006.  In an odd twist of fate, I became pregnant with spontaneous identical triplets a few months after Abigail’s death.  Against the odds, the girls were delivered at 35 weeks, 6 days gestation.  I work full time in the wonderful world of tax and enjoy photography, writing and running in my very limited free time.  I currently blog about our daily craziness at http://thegreatumbrellaheist.blogspot.com/

Today, as I pushed over sixty pounds of toddler in our triple jogging stroller, I thought of that common question asked of parents of multiples everywhere.  When does it get easier?  If you peruse any message board for caregivers of twins, triplets and more, you will see that question asked over and over and the response is usually the same.  It doesn’t get easier.  It just gets different.  So now, as I listen to my three toddlers scream in their cribs because going to bed is such torture, I really do wonder when it will get easier.  My husband, Rich, and I have told ourselves that the magic age will be five.   It seems better than choosing three or four and then being disappointed and I don’t think I can make it to seven or eight. 

We moved into our current home approximately 18 months ago.  The girls, who were 6 months old at the time, began to share a bedroom.  It was a new experience for all of us.  My husband and I debate the room sharing situation on what feels like a daily basis.  We can discuss and theorize all we want – the hard truth is that our standard builder’s special only has 3.5 bedrooms.  The .5 room is an office and seeing as Grammy, my mom, sleeps over quite a bit, we only thought it appropriate to give her a bedroom.  That leaves us with three girls in one room.

I have good friends who are twins and they shared a bedroom until their early 20’s.  I remember being slightly jealous of their camaraderie because I was not lucky enough to have a sister.  I have convinced myself, through a sleep deprived thought process, that once the girls are older, they will enjoy sharing a room.  I expect there to be a lot of comforting going on.  You know what I mean.  One of them wakes up afraid of the dark and her sister will tell her that it’s okay.  Okay, maybe if I believe hard enough, it will happen.

When the girls were about 18 months old, we pushed their three cribs together to form a big square in the middle of the room.  We thought it would be fun for them to share books and dollies during that wind down period prior to falling asleep.  For the most part, this crib configuration worked out.   We experienced a few incidents of book stealing and book tossing.  And by book tossing, I’m referring to a book landing on someone (possibly on the head) while she is sleeping.  It’s not very pleasant – I can assure you.  But then there was the night that I crept into their room to check on them and found Emily and Allie holding hands through the crib slats, asleep.  My heart just about burst open.

We, unfortunately, separated their cribs last month after I caught Allie pulling Anna’s hair.  The girls didn’t complain too much about the new set-up – not that they really could, anyway.  We were hoping that having some space between them would lessen the number of times that they awaken each other.  It hasn’t.

Of course, having the girls share a room means that there is a constant source of entertainment for us when listening in on their conversations.  The latest phase is Allie, the oldest of the three by 30 seconds, telling her sisters to go to sleep.  That’s exactly how she says it.  “Emmy, go to sleep.”  You see, although my girls are genetically identical, their sleep habits are not.  Allie seems to require and/or want more sleep than Emily.  Anna, the middle child, varies.  Allie has decided that the other two should conform to her sleep schedule.  

So back to when does it get easier.  At six o’clock Sunday morning, an alarm went off in the girls’ room.  We keep a sound machine and a Bose CD player in there and apparently, one of the girls accidentally set the alarm while they were “exploring” their room before either nap or bed.  And by alarm, I mean the annoying beeping kind.  Rich ran in there to turn it off and optimistically thought he could sneak out unnoticed.  I listened to events unfold over the monitor from the warmth and comfort of my bed.  Rich picked up Emily, who was the first to spot him, hoping to prevent her from awakening the other two.  Anna started in on one of her uncontrollable crying jags while Allie yelled, “Anna, go to sleep.”

In some sense, life is easier, although different, now.  It is far easier for one adult to care for three toddlers versus three infants.  When mornings such as these occur, my husband and I take turns napping.  I can nap at any point during the day so I always offer Rich the first adult nap slot and I take the next one.

And yes, at almost 26 months old, my girls still sleep in their cribs without crib tents.  I am blissfully unaware of any attempts of crib escape.  Believe me, they will be sleeping in those cribs for as long as possible.

Do your multiples share a room?  If they do share a room and you had the resources, would you separate them? 

Post #4: Best-Laid Plans, by Jen from Diagnosis: Urine

I’m a freelance writer, and mom to a 6-year-old, 4-year-old twin boys, and a 2-year-old. I worked full-time until February 2007, and since then we’ve relocated for a job, lost that job, experienced unemployment, and have lived to tell about it. My blog, diagnosisurine.blogspot.com, is an attempt at entertaining people with my angst over transitioning from breadwinner and go-getter to stay-at-home mom to a tiny quartet of destruction.

Like many others before me, I was at my most knowledgeable during my first pregnancy. I had researched it all. I had a birth plan, an infancy plan, and a toddlerhood plan.

But, alas, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men…” You can guess how long my plans lasted.

Having twins two years later was like my first go-‘round all over again. I relearned everything, from the mechanics of breastfeeding to the mechanics of folding the double stroller. I did it while working full-time, mostly from home, while caring for a 2-year-old as well.

A baby’s cuteness blinds people to the reality of caring for a newborn. “Enjoy every minute of it!” kindly grandmothers admonish in the grocery store, and you smile and nod but fight back tears thinking of how very tired you are, and how the baby only sleeps when you’re out of the house, and how the longest stretch of sleep you’ve had in a week, is 30 minutes.

The baby-blindness goes double for twins. I remember getting a lot of, “Oh! You’re so blessed!” But I didn’t feel especially blessed. My boys were healthy and for that I was grateful, but in all honesty we’d tried for one baby, and we couldn’t afford two. I spent the twins’ first year steeped in guilt for all the times they cried and I could only comfort one of them, for the times I snapped at my daughter, for the way my marriage and the housework were neglected, and for the concessions my employer and coworkers had made for me.

When people saw me out with three kids under three and said, with a chuckle, “It only gets worse!” I wanted to cry or smack them, depending on the day.

I’m here to tell you the truth: It does get better.

My twin boys are four now. My oldest daughter is six, and we even added a fourth – our youngest daughter is two. I work for myself now, so I get to stay home and figure out my own hours. It is worlds easier than our lives were four, three, or two years ago.

Now, because I’m here to tell you the truth, I’ll also admit that it still sucks sometimes. There are speech delays, potty training crises, typical childhood phobias and obsessions that are only magnified by the presence of four children experiencing them simultaneously under one roof. Yes, there are days I hate this.

Today, for example, wasn’t out of the ordinary, but I’m three hours past the deadline for submitting this post. There were fevers and diarrhea and encounters with neighborhood dogs and trampolines, and minor squabbles and tricycle jousting, and that was in the course of about an hour. I do the best I can. Most of us do. Sometimes my best involves a “teachable moment” and a cute blog post with pictures, and other days it turns into me growling at the kids, each word punctuated with brief, terse silence; followed by a blog post lamenting my numerous failures.

So, in case this is the only post of mine you ever read – especially since I am late and will be lucky to be included at all – please know that it does get better. I promise you, what you go through during the newborn and toddler years with your twins is exhausting and punishing and of course it’s worth it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not 18 years away.

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Sleep issues: not just for newborns!

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Categories Behavior, Napping, Overnight, Sleep, Toddlers8 Comments

Around six months of age, my husband and I sleep trained our boys because nobody in our family was getting enough sleep. We were all miserable and sleep training changed that for us. After reading Pantley, Weissbluth, Mindell, and Ferber, we found Ferber’s explanations of schedules and sleep patterns to be most helpful to us. Unfortunately for him, Ferber is known as the CIO King when in fact, he believes CIO should be the measure of last resort AFTER you have fixed all other sleep issues.

The biggest lesson I learned from the book is humans thrive on schedule. I looked at my own life. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at roughly the same time every day. I go to bed and get up at about the same time. I have a bedtime routine where I floss and brush my teeth, talk to my husband, then read a book. After thinking about this and reading Ferber, my husband and I have been committed schedulers for our kids. They go to group day care where they eat and nap at the same time every day and we keep the same schedule at home on weekends. Bedtime is always 7:30. Our nighttime sleep issues have been minimal, with exceptions for illness and teething.

It was smooth sailing for two years, until we recently separated the boys into their own rooms at nap time. Sleeping apart, we found the boys napped much longer. Then we spent two weeks on vacation together… two weeks where the boys started suddenly sleeping later and napping longer, both welcome changes for a vacation schedule. You can probably guess what happened next. The boys started staying up later and later. Even though bedtime lights out is at 7:30, they’re in there talking and singing until as late at 10PM.

It happened so gradually that we didn’t notice there was an issue. A month ago, they were asleep by 7:45 and now it’s between 8:30 and 10PM. I consulted Ferber and of course, there is a section for kids who are up too late at night. And I was not surprised to read this is caused by kids napping too late or sleeping in too late. Both of which my boys are doing.

We are now in the processing of adjusting the boys’ schedule to get back on track. (None of the changes including crying, before anyone flames me.)  I can not stress enough how happy I was to have an expert that I trusted that I could consult on what to do. Once my boys were sleeping through the night, I thought we were done dealing with sleep issues. Our recent experience has shown me that worrying about my kids’ sleep is an important and ongoing part of parenthood.

Since my boys are still happy and sleeping well, you may wonder why we even care that they don’t go to sleep right away. Well, two toddlers unsupervised in a room can do quite a bit of damage. I wrote on my personal blog yesterday about the new fun nighttime past time they use to whittle away those bedtime awake hours – taking off their pajamas. If anything can make me consult a sleep expert, it’s the possibility of two un-potty trained toddlers stripping leaving me to clean up the mess.

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A Simpler Time

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Categories Family, Overnight, Travel2 Comments

It used to be that when Brian and I went to stay overnight for a holiday with a set of our parents, we could bring a backpack. Toothbrush, sweats for the drive home the next day, change of underwear, and deoderant. Done.

I have just finished packing for our Thanksgiving overnight (yes, just one night) and I am amazed at the amount of stuff required to travel for four kids under four:
– 4 pairs of pajamas
– 1 package size 3 diapers
– 1 package size 1 diapers
– wipes (flushable and non)
– 4 outfits for the next day
– 4 sets of back-up clothes for the holiday itself
– Infant thermometer
– A stash of “just in case” medications: infant Tylenol, children’s Triaminic, Saline nasal spray
– 3 toothbrushes
– Portable baby swing
– 3 bottles (with liners and milk)
– 2 favorite sippy cups
– Portable potty for the car
– CD with favorite Nursery Rhymes for the twins
– Boppy Pillow
– 1 Miguel

And that’s just for the kids. And I’m sure I’m missing stuff. It’s really quite a hit list. And forgetting or not bringing something could throw the kids (or us) so far off, it’s not worth it to try and save space by packing less.

I’m starting to think the mini-van is not a big enough vehicle…

Oh Well. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Ask the Moms – Gentle Adjustments for Adopted Babies

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Categories Ask the Moms, Feeding, Napping, Overnight, Sleep, ToddlersLeave a comment

Do you have a question for the HDYDI moms?  Ask away in the comments or through our Features page!

We have a fascinating question from Carissa, who is the proud new mom of 14-month-old boy/girl twins, whom she and her husband adopted from South Korea.  First, Carissa, huge congratulations to your new family!  Now, onto your questions:

Between the time change adjustments and the attachment we have had very little sleep. There are so many things that we are going to have to do though – neither of the twins had been given anything other than formula, the switch to whole milk (our dr wanted them switched) was VERY easy and our son will eat ANYTHING but our daughter refuses to eat unless it come out of a bottle…any suggestions? And do any of you have any experience getting 14 month olds on the same schedule – right now there is usually one awake while the other sleeps, there may be a little overlap but not enough to sleep while they sleep or even get much done (one thing though for attachment purposes we CANNOT at this point let either of them cry anything out).

Becoming a twin mom has definitely brought out my more hard-ass practical side, maybe because I don’t feel like I have time for as much touchy-feely.  But there are (plenty of, I’m sure) times when my blunt, sometimes stubborn tactic is not the way to go.  This is most assuredly one of those times.

First, on food with your pickier eater.  Start as you would with a six-month-old new eater, ignoring for the moment that she’s older than that.  Start with thin purees, treat it more like an activity than a meal.  Then, experiment with flavors and textures, always keeping it low-pressure.  For instance, mash up a banana and thin or puree it with milk or formula.  When she gets the hang of that, dial back the milk and make it a coarser, thicker mash.  Then try banana as finger food.  Try other easy first finger foods like rice krispies and cheerios, or Baby Mum-Mums and graham crackers.  Just remember that, like dogs and horses, babies can smell fear and frustration. 😉 Relax and keep trying, she’ll get the hang of it.

Also, don’t stress about the bottle thing right now.  Introduce sippy cups in the same no-pressure way.  Offer them with water or maybe a little diluted fruit juice.  When they have learned the technical bits on how they work, then you can start thinking about moving the milk away from bottles.

As for sleep schedules, there’s plenty of ways to try to coordinate them without doing cry-it-out.  Yes, it may mean that you don’t get much of a break at first, but hopefully that will improve.  Set a routine and stick to it.  Keep bedtime at the same time for both kids, and make it a nice, calming routine that they enjoy (bath, stories, bottle, etc.).  If you currently have to rock them to sleep, try taking baby steps to back off of that.  Hold them while you sit in the chair, but don’t rock so much.  Or put them in the crib and rub their backs until they fall asleep.  That can transition to rubbing backs until they’re calm and just holding your hand there until they’re asleep, which can become a still hand on the back until they’re calm and sitting next to the crib until they’re asleep.  You get the picture.  But do it for both of them at the same time. They will quickly come to understand what bedtime is all about, and will sleep better for it.

If they wake up overnight, try to keep things quiet and intervention at a minimum.  While you obviously want them to know that you will be there when they need you, you don’t want to reinforce that waking up in the middle of the night is time for fun.  With my daughter, who is currently going through a screaming-at-night thing, we made a rule that we do not actually pick her up out of the crib.  We reach over and sort of hug her over the crib, and we do some back rubbing and sitting next to the crib while she falls back asleep.  She knows we’re there if she needs us, but we try not to make 3AM prime snuggle time.

Bedtime is one thing, daytime sleep is another.  If you have one that starts the day significantly before the other, I might suggest waking the second baby (maybe not immediately, but soon after the first gets up) in the name of getting them into the same pattern.  Then put them down for a nap at the same time, even one seems more ready than the other.  Again, you can slowly back off from whatever interventions they need to fall asleep.  At 14 months, most babies will probably still do two naps: one around 9AM and one around 1PM, give or take.  Keep an eye on their habits and when they seem tired, and then set your schedule appropriately.  Then keep it the same for both.  One may wake up before the other, and that’s fine, but don’t then make big changes to the next nap or bedtime.  Maybe the earlier riser needs to be pushed just a little to make it to bedtime, or maybe the later sleeper can go to bed before he’s exhausted.

The other complicating factor (as if you needed more!) is that they may be nearing the age of really only needing one nap, anyways.  But try to at least instill the routine that there’s quiet time at the same time every day.  Even if one doesn’t sleep, keep up the routine for at least a week or two to see if it’s working or if it needs adjustment.

In the end, you certainly don’t need any of us to tell you that your kids are going through a major adjustment.  So take it easy, one thing at a time.  Let them get used to their new home, new sights and sounds and smells.  Don’t stress out about where other kids of the same age are.  Give them a couple of months to adjust, and if you’re still concerned about where they “should” be, definitely give a call to the nice folks at Early Intervention.  If your kids end up qualifying for services, they’ll get you hooked up with all of the right resources to work on whatever areas need a boost.

And again, congratulations and welcome to the wild world of twin mama-hood!

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Ask the Moms – sleep advice

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Categories Infants, Napping, Overnight, Sleep, Toddlers8 Comments

It’s no surprise that sleep is a frequent topic here on How Do You Do It?.  We think about it quite a lot, ourselves (as evidenced just this week by Snickollet and myself), and we get a lot of questions from our beloved readers. From the moment our kids come home (heck, even before then), the quality of your kids’ sleep impacts the quality of your sleep, and is practically at the very core of child and parental well-being. So, today, a slight departure in style from previous Ask the Moms segments: we’ll be addressing three specific sleep questions we’ve gotten recently.  Let us know what you think, and keep the questions coming!

A quick disclaimer, in case I get snarky or overly blunt in my responses: I totally understand all of the crazy sleep problems we all have. Sometimes we all inadvertently reinforce undesirable behaviors, and especially with sleep, I think it’s hard to see the forest for the trees when you’re in the middle of it. We’ve all done it. Hopefully this will provide a helpful outside perspective, but don’t think I’m excluding myself from the crazy-sleep-issue club.

[Questions have been edited slightly for length and clarityAs this is a pretty lengthy post, I’m going to break it up, click “Continue Reading” to see the whole thing…] Continue reading Ask the Moms – sleep advice

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Multiple Myth #27

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Categories Infants, Overnight, SleepTags , , , , 7 Comments

“One baby crying will not disturb the other baby.”

Perhaps in someone else’s house, but not in mine.

Right now we are going on day/night #10 of no sleep in our house. Between the night terrors, the teething, and the new seperation anxiety phase at least one of the two is up screaming some time between the hours of 12 am and 5 am.

Normally, once a baby has reached a certain stage (i.e. has proven he or she is CAPABLE of sleeping through the night), I am all for letting them cry it out. Sure, I will go in and quickly check for a diaper explosion, and to make sure they are not burning up with fever or something.  But once all that checks out, I like to let them work it out on their own. Here’s the thing though: for us, that only works with one of our two babies.

When it was time (last weekend) to let Brady cry it out, we could. This is because Aaron follows the “twin rule” of sleeping through his brother’s screaming. Within two nights, Brady was back to sleeping through the night and we were pretty pleased with ourselves. But now that Aaron is the one waking up distraught – simply crying it out doesn’t work, unless we want TWO screaming babies.  Brady is much more sensitive to his brother’s cries. Or, at the very least, he’s just a lighter sleeper. So, we end up picking Aaron up. NOT what we want to do, but we have rationlized that dealing with one screaming baby in the wee hours is better than two. So, that’s what we do.

At this point we do not have an extra room so they must remain “roomies”.  What are parents of multiples to do when space is limited and they actually DO disturb one another?

I don’t have the answer…but I’m hoping someone reading this does! HELP!

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Ask the Moms, part 8 – Sleeping through the night

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Categories Ask the Moms, Overnight, Sleep10 Comments

From the early days of round-the-clock feedings, you dream about it: “someday,” you think. “Someday, my kids with sleep through the night.” It feels like it will never happen. Your small, incomprehensible babies seem to think midnight to 4AM is prime party-time. And then, they start to slowly figure it out. They sleep more at night than during the day. The overnight feedings start to spread out a little bit. “Aha!” you think. “Any day now, they’ll just drop those last two feedings and sleep through the night!” You talk to friends, and their babies started sleeping 10 hours at a stretch at 12 weeks old. “Well, OK, mine are 16 weeks old… but they were a month early! Surely, any day now…”

And then five and six months roll around, and the kids still want a bottle or a nursing session once or twice a night. Your pediatrician assures you that they’re physically able to go a 10-12 hour stretch at night without eating, but your kids seem to disagree. Some of the time, they wake up screaming bloody murder, apparently starving. Wasting away in their cribs, in fact, if you take 30 more seconds to arrive with the food. You groggily make a bottle, and are insulted when they only take a paltry two ounces before passing out. “WTF?! I thought you were starving!” And that is when you begin to smell a rat. You begin to suspect that those nighttime bottles are more because they’re used to eating, rather than because they need to eat. But what’s a mom to do?

OK, maybe not everyone goes through this exact train of thought, but many of us arrive at a similar point with our five-, six-, even nine-month-olds. How can I get them to sleep through the night? The months of sleep-deprivation are getting really old, and you find yourself sick with jealousy when you hear about the “easy sleepers” who just kind of did it on their own. You wonder why you didn’t get those kids, or what you’re doing “wrong.” Fear not, you are far from alone. Maybe some kids are just easy sleepers, maybe some moms (intentionally or accidentally) do certain things that engender good sleep habits. Who knows. But there are things you can do to drop that last bottle and have your kids sleeping through.

Let me pause and say that this can be an incredibly controversial topic. There are lots of different theories, methods, and viewpoints out there. Only you can decide what is the right approach for you and your kids, and the moms of How Do You Do It? do not ever mean to imply that there is one “right” way to do something. We all have to what we feel is best. Also, we do not necessarily advocate any of these things for babies younger than 4-6 months old. Check with your pediatrician, trust your instincts. Now, onto some potential strategies…

If you want to cut out an overnight feeding, probably the first thing to try is to make the bottle progressively smaller (or the nursing session shorter). If you’re usually making a six-ounce bottle, try making it five ounces for a night or two, then four, then three… once you hit two ounces, some babies will just stop bothering to wake up for it. I definitely found that, once overnight feeding was eliminated, my kids’ daytime bottles got bigger and they finished them more consistently, so don’t worry about them “missing” calories. They’ll make up for it. And for some babies, this is all it takes. If it works for you, huzzah! Congratulations! For, ahem, some of us… not so much.

Some babies will grudgingly tolerate the reduced (or even eliminated) bottles, but still want your help in getting back to sleep in the middle of the night. You can rock them, snuggle them in your bed, cuddle with the pacifier, etc. But eventually, this too will probably grow old. As delightful as baby cuddles are, you’re going to want to spend an uninterrupted night in your own bed, maybe even cuddling with that familiar-looking man next to you (have we met? oh yeah, we’re married… nice to see you again!). Again, for some people, gradually shortening the amount of time spent rocking in the chair eventually just works. The babies decide it’s not worth waking up for. And, again, some of us are not so lucky.

Indeed, an unofficial survey of the HDYDI moms found that, for those of us who were not fortunate enough to have the “easy” sleepers, many of us got to the point of the controversial and oft-maligned “cry-it-out” method (“CIO”). Whether consulting Weissbluth, Ferber, or the Sleep Easy Solution (TraceyS says it’s “Ferber for dummies”), we decided it was the way to go. And we all say this: before you say it’s absolutely the wrong (or right) thing for you, read the book. There’s a lot of misinformation and hype out there.

We got there through a variety of ways. LauraC felt comfortable with CIO as more of a last resort, having exhausted a variety of other methods. TraceyS might have preferred something that seemed a bit gentler, but found that having two babies made the relatively quick duration of CIO “training” was preferable. I found that, with my kids, the more intervening methods just made things worse. One soothing method cascaded into another until I was cuddling. rocking, shushing, and feeding (and possibly jumping on one foot, I’m not sure) all at the same time. And so, CIO became the method of choice.

We feel strongly enough about reading the book for any of these methods, that we will not actually post all of the details for how to “do” them. I know, I know. You don’t have time to read a book. But we promise that you don’t even have to read it cover-to-cover, just the relevant chapters. The most important things to pay attention to, though, are sleep associations. This was a big “aha!” moment for me. The point of the CIO methods is not that there’s something good or magical about the crying. It’s all about teaching your kids how to go to sleep, in such a way that does not require your intervention. We all wake up a bit overnight, toss and turn, and go back to sleep. Babies are no different. But if we’ve taught them to go to sleep with a bottle in their mouth (that would be me), or rocking, or whatever, then that’s what they’re going to want in order to get to sleep every time. “Aha!”

So, if you’ve read the book (yes, I’m going to keep harping on that point) and decided that one of these methods is for you, then here’s the rest of our recommendations:

  1. Fully commit to your method of choice. It requires 100% follow-through to be effective. Yet again, this is part of why we recommend reading the book. You really have to believe in why you’re doing it and do it all the way. If you don’t believe in it, don’t do it! Commit to doing it at least 3-7 nights straight, so that you have time to see any results.
  2. All of the adults in the household need to be on board with your choice. Crying in the middle of the night does not lead to the most… productive of adult conversations. If one person, at 3AM, is going to suggest that you “feed him, just this once,” you’re in for trouble. Everyone has to agree, and has to be on the same page. Talk about it ahead of time, not at 3AM. Trust us.
  3. Decide whether you’re going to work with your kids one at a time or together. This is really up to you. Some of us felt as though we already had one good sleeper, and didn’t want to disturb that one, so we put the babies in different rooms. Some of us felt as though one of the key things was teaching them to sleep through each other’s noises, so we kept them in the same room. Think ahead of time about which way you’re going to go with that one, because again, you don’t want to scramble in the middle of the night.
  4. If you’re doing a method with timed check-ins (like Ferber), get a kitchen timer or stopwatch. Two minutes can sometimes feel like forever, and I found it helpful to have a kitchen timer to keep me on track.
  5. Try to do something else when they’re crying (and I don’t mean try to sleep!). Sitting and listening to them cry, while staring at the clock, just makes it worse. Time passes more slowly, the cries seem worse than they really are. I found it easier to have one ear on the monitor, set the timer to go off in however-many minutes, and then distract myself on the computer or watching TV. When they were up in the middle of the night, I did the same thing: came downstairs and distracted myself. Much less frustrating than staring at the clock and wishing I could go back to sleep.
  6. Take heart. Listening to your child cry is not easy, but committing to the process really does result in pretty quick changes. Most kids will sleep through on the 3rd or 4th night. Some will continue to wake up periodically for a while longer, but will still get themselves back to sleep on their own within a pretty short period of time. And if you’re like me and LauraC, you may find that the baby who fights sleep training the hardest will actually become your better sleeper!

Pretty universally, we’re all glad we did it. (If you want a play-by-play, I documented my attempts at Ferber on my blog – prologue, nights 1, 2, 3, and 4, and epilogue – just note that my son was abnormally stubborn…) We have disruptions, sure. Travel, illness, teething, or even big developmental changes (like learning to crawl) can throw things off a bit. But having established good sleeping habits, it’s easier to get back on track. Good sleep is important for babies and moms. Not only will you have crabby babies (and mommies) on your hands if no one is sleeping well, but there are even studies that correlate poor sleep with obesity, depression, and a variety of other ills. (See this article from Time magazine…)

And if CIO isn’t your cup of tea, there are lots of other methods out there. The No-Cry Sleep Solution and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer are two of the many alternatives. Some people also find co-sleeping works well for their family. Some people do find that, though one of those methods would have been their ideal in a one-baby world, they’re arguably less practical with multiples. Whatever works for you and your kids, this is just one thing that worked for some of us!

So, readers, do you have a different favorite “method” for getting the less-than-easy sleepers to manage the coveted “through the night?” Post away in the comments. Please, just remember, we’re all friends here. One method works for some people, and something else works for others.

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Product review: My sleep "bible"

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Categories Infants, Napping, Overnight, Products, Sleep15 Comments

Someone asked me about sleep the other night, and why my kids go to sleep so early. (Oh, they do….it’s fantastic! By 7pm, they are tucked into bed and I am happily figuring out what us adults are going to have for dinner and whether American Idol is on tv tonight). Anyway, when it comes to sleep, I consult my sleep “bible”, Weissbluth’s Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

I don’t think there is any question more important to twin moms than “How do you get them to sleep?”. Because really, is there anything we miss more during those first few months than a full night (or even four straight hours?) of sleep? I certainly fantasized about it. And, even owning (and reading) this book didn’t get me sleep then. Oh, it so didn’t. But, by nine months, my kids were happily going down between 6:15pm and 6:45pm and sleeping almost 12 hours. I don’t do everything Weissbluth says you should do….I do go replace pacifiers on occasion (or poke my husband until he gets up to do it) and I have been known to lie down with Abigail so she’ll fall back asleep. But, Weissbluth provides a good outline (if a bit wordy in places) of how babies sleep and how to help them develop structured, regular naps and nighttime sleep.

And, with twins, I’ve found you can’t be flexible about nap times. The rule in my house is “If one baby’s going down for a nap, that other baby better be right behind him/her!” (said in a threatening voice to whomever might be considering breaking one of my rules. Yep, having twins has made me a bit obsessive.) Weissbluth explains when babies are naturally ready to nap during the day and how to help them develop this routine. The book was especially helpful where it talked about how to help colicky babies develop a schedule, since my Danny was a colicky, screamy mess for much of his first three months.

There are other good books out there. I’ve skimmed through parts of Ferber’s book, I really didn’t find Babywise helpful, but I think I was thrown by the VERY detailed schedule for twins in the appendix. I mean, I’m obsessive, but that schedule surpassed even my post-twins OCD. But, some moms have found it quite helpful. What books helped you help your kids sleep? Which ones do you swear by?

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Ask the Moms, part 4 – Newborn 'schedules'

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Categories Ask the Moms, Feeding, Infants, Napping, Overnight, Sleep8 Comments

Today’s question comes from the Campos-Nelson family. As a mom of one-month-old twins, she’s asking about getting twins on the same schedule. Whew, now there’s a topic right there! Before we start dishing advice, let me just say that we’ve all been there (and made it through to the other side), so hang in and it will get better soon.

Note that the following tidbits of advice make it sound like we all knew what we were doing. Don’t believe it for one second. We were clueless too, and figured things out by trial and error. Hindsight, though, is 20/20. May you avoid some of the mistakes we collectively made…

First, we would all note that one month old is a little early to be talking about any kind of real by-the-clock schedule. Still, though, there are practices you can begin to employ that will eventually pay off. As a group, the moms of How Do You Do It? are very much in favor of trying to get your babies doing the same things at (roughly) the same time. You need at least a few minutes every day when both babies are sleeping, lest you lose what’s left of your fragile mind.

Feeding together

Feeding at the same time is a good first step, whether it be tandem nursing, tandem bottles, or even one right after the other. In the very early days, most babies will probably sleep most of the time between bottles, anyways. In general, we are largely in favor of feeding the second baby, even if (s)he doesn’t yet seem hungry, when the first baby eats. Those of us who experimented with simply feeding each baby on demand found that it made for seemingly constant feeding and extra exhaustion for mom. When there’s more than one baby to take care of, sometimes you need to take charge of the situation a bit more than that. On-demand nursing may be important when initially establishing breastfeeding, but once you’ve got the hang of it, we do recommend feeding them at pretty much the same time, even if you don’t tandem.

Many (though not all) of us also applied this reasoning to overnight feeding. When one baby woke up to eat, we would feed the other (at the same time or immediately after, depending on your feeding method of choice). Especially in the earliest weeks and months, it’s a sure thing that if you feed one and let the other sleep, the second baby will wake up as soon as you attempt to return to bed.

This gets trickier, of course, as you begin to approach the magical time of dropping an overnight feeding. Some moms are loathe to wake the second baby, if there’s a chance they’ll just drop that feeding and come close to sleeping through the night. Others take the approach of, “it does me no good if only one sleeps through the night, since I still have to get up anyways. You’re both eating now so I can safely go back to bed.” (OK, that was me.) There’s no known right answer to this one (or almost anything else, for that matter), but it’s an internal debate we all have.

Sleeping together

NICU Sleeping

OK, feeding at the same time is easy, VERY easy compared to having them sleep at the same time. That is the hard part, but it’s also arguably the most important.

Daytime sleep

Our original poster mentioned that one of her twins (at one month old) is sometimes awake up to six hours during the day without so much as a yawn. This is not a good thing. A baby under the age of one should almost never be up that long, much less a newborn. Many of us are fans of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, which asserts that a baby under four or five months old should not be awake more than one to two hours at a stretch. I know that I had to come to the realization that my kids would not just fall asleep when they were tired. It was my job to try to get them to go to sleep when it was time. Watch the clock and put them down after they’ve been awake no more than two hours (sometimes much less if they’re fussy/sleepy). Also, in those early months, do what you have to do to get them to sleep. Swing, wrap/sling, bouncy seat, carseat, car ride, walk… believe me, none of us will be judging you. We’ve all done it. (Exhibit A: the time I drove to New Hampshire during a prolonged nap strike.) And finally, it can be argued that a nap “doesn’t count,” or isn’t restful enough, if it lasts less than 30-45 minutes (again, under about 3-4 months). I used to call it the “90-30” rule. No more than 90 minutes of wakefulness, no less than 30 minutes of sleep.

Most critical to sleep, especially daytime sleep, is putting the babies down at the same time. Or, at least, close to the same time. Sometimes it’ll work, sometimes it won’t. But eventually it will pay off. Sometime in the 4-6 month range is when you might start seeing two or three naps per day, at the same time most days. Before then, definitely go with the 90-30 rule, and put both babies down together.

Pack & Play at home“Now wait,” some will say, “just because they’re twins doesn’t mean I must treat them as a single unit! I must respect their individual needs!” Yes. You should. But there’s someone else’s needs you need to respect, as well: yours. You may very well have one child who goes down for the nap easily, while the other fights it. One who wakes refreshed after a mere 47 minutes, and another who needs at least an hour and 15 minutes. That’s fine, you should be aware of that and respect that. But still do whatever you can to have those different styles overlap, and have naps at the same time. If you know that one of them will take more effort and time to get to sleep, that’s fine. Factor it in. But do everything in your power to get them to sleep at the same time. You need that time to have a moment of peace, to throw in a load of laundry, to eat some lunch, and maybe even go to the bathroom.

Nighttime sleep

I’ve read that newborns do not begin to differentiate between daytime and nighttime sleep until at least 6-8 weeks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t encourage those distinctions. As with anything, being consistent and persistent will pay off. Eventually. We swear.

Double baby bathtimeAs soon as you feel ready (and we don’t think a month or two is too early), create a consistent nighttime routine and bedtime. Dim the lights, quiet the noise. Incorporate whatever soothing elements you want. A bath, some music, a story, a massage, a bottle or nursing session, etc. Change into pajamas, swaddle or put on a sleep sack. Whatever you want your routine to be, make it no more than about 30 minutes long, and make sure it ends on a good note in your overnight sleeping venue of choice (nursery, pack & play in your room, whatever). And put both babies to bed at the same time. Bedtime is best on the early side (say around 7PM, give or take an hour). Then, designate 10-12 hours (say 8PM-6AM) as “nighttime.” Do things differently during nighttime. Keep the lights low, keep interactions quiet. When one or both babies wake up, make the goal to feed and then get back to sleep as soon as possible. They will not always oblige, but this is a way to start setting up the expectation. They’ll come around. In my house, once we had a clear and consistent bedtime routine established, we found that it was a great way to sort of “reset” the twins’ schedules if they got a bit off during the day.

The same applies for starting the day. Make it clearly different. Go downstairs, turn on the lights, change clothes, go outside (weather permitting). If one wants to sleep longer than the other, painful as it might be, try not to let them get too far off from each other. It’s hard to salvage the day when they begin it an hour “off” from one another.

Swaddled babyTruly, the moms of How Do You Do It? sympathize. Managing the ever-changing sleep habits of two infants is arguably the very hardest thing of all, and also the one that will have the biggest impact on quality of life for the whole family. Well-rested babies (and mommies!) are happy babies and mommies.

Recommended Reading

As with any of the myriad baby theory books out there, use the following as tools, not necessarily gospel. Integrate things that work for your family, modify or throw out things that don’t. But don’t be afraid to try.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Dr. Marc Weissbluth – Many of us are fans, but particularly useful are his chapters by age. Helps to understand what is normal for a baby of a given age, and what you can reasonably expect or aim for.

Happiest Baby on the Block, by Dr. Harvey Karp – As far as I’m concerned, this should be required reading (along with viewing the DVD) for all new parents. Critical skills and techniques for soothing (and helping get to sleep) babies under the age of about four months.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracey Hogg – LauraC was not a huge fan of this book in general, but found the “personality quiz” contained therein to be quite useful. It’s very important to learn each baby’s “style,” and in your sleep-deprived, befuddled state, it can be helpful to have something external (like a book) help you to figure it out. Nothing like two newborns to make it so you can’t see the forest for the trees.

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