Pride and Joy

This is not the introductory post I had planned on writing. Then again, very few things in the past 15 months have gone according to plan, so, here we are.

We are attempting to reduce the number of bottles Mr. D drinks. He day-weaned months and months ago, lacking the patience to sit still at my breast. But he will carry a bottle with him all day, taking sips here and there, if we let him. Dire warnings of ruined mouth and teeth from our pediatrician have us taking action: he only gets bottles at naps and bedtime (and in cases of emergency).

“Ba-ba?” he asks.

“No, sweetheart, you only get bottles when you go night-night. Would you like a cup of water?”

“Ba-ba!”

“Only at night time.”

“Nigh-nigh!” He takes off, down the hall, towards our room. (Our as in mine and his father’s…but yes, we co-sleep, like the push-over, sleep-deprived parents we are.)

“Mister, it’s only 5:30, there’s no way you’re tired. Why don’t you come play with your house?”

“Nigh-nigh!!”

I follow him. He is climbing onto the bed. He lays down, rolls around, puts his bum in the air, then raises his head, looks at me, and triumphantly declares:

“Nigh-nigh!” (Long pause…) “Ba-ba?”

I scoop my deceitful, manipulative little man up into my arms. Trying to pull one over on me, at such a tender age (and with such a limited vocabulary)! How could this little creature, who didn’t even exist two years ago, have so much knowledge of the world?

And I think: could ever a mother be more proud of her son?

I attempt to relay this little story to my husband, by text-message. Phone reception in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the children’s hospital is terrible, pretty much non-existent. But this is far from our first PICU stay, and we have learned that iPhones can somehow get text messages (even from non-smart-phones!) over the internet, and there is wireless access through-out the hospital. My husband is there with Mr. A, though he and I will soon be trading places.

A simple cold left both boys with runny noses, and then Mr. D got better and Mr. A did not. Our pediatrician suspected a sinus infection (not his first), but when the ten-day course of antibiotics was done, he was worse. The pediatrician-on-call for the day (because of course it was Saturday), suspected his recently repaired palate was infected. I filled another prescription, gave him the first dose, and put him down for his nap. He woke up, vomited blood. I pulled his remaining stomach contains back into a syringe via his G-tube: they were bloody. I put them in a small Tupperware container, changed his diaper (poop looked weird, so I bagged that, too), and took him (and his ‘samples’) to the ER, leaving Mr. D with my mother.

I watched them working on my son (it never gets any easier). They wanted to intubate him; I was able to buy a reprieve and repeat blood-gas, which showed that to be unnecessary. I spouted off his medical history better than I ever could my own: dates of hospitalizations, surgeries, tube placements; pertinent findings from swallow studies, sleep studies, upper- and lower-GI studies, MRIs, echoes, everything. And the underlying root of it all: a deletion on the long arm of Chromosome 2.

“Which specific deletion?” asked the attending, and I told her. She nodded sagely, losing my respect. She’d never heard of his deletion, I knew. Which is fine, but be honest with me, as my son’s life is in your hands. She would leave the room and attempt to Google Mr. A’s syndrome, and not find out much. Fewer than 25 cases of similar (and no exact) deletions are known to exist. And, to be perfectly frank, there seems to be not much to say about it except: “This is not good, and will cause lifelong problems. Here is a list of some but not all, of which he may have many.”

We were told awful things: lists of he-will-nevers and he-will-always-needs and the impression that very few people had any faith in Mr. A. But we had held him (after his fourth day of life, once he was stable enough), sang to him, loved him. He was and always will be our first-born, heir to the kingdom, recipient of faith, hope, and love.

It eventually became clear to me—first from suspicions, then from out-right confirmation—that few, if any, had expected him to make it through his first year of life. (That no one bothered to prepare us for this is another post.)

But he has indeed survived. He has blown previous research right out of the water. He is writing his own story, and I get to watch.

This stay was short: 2 nights in the PICU and one on the floor. I bring him home in fine spirits. He wants to stand. I take his hands and help him. He lifts one foot, then the other, walking across the living room with my assistance. A week ago, he would only do this with much prodding and many tears, and now here he is, trying to chase the cat.

And I think: could ever a mother be more proud of her son?

They’re So Different!

I hear this from almost everyone who meets our twins. I guess when anyone thinks “twins”, the image that comes to mind is that of identical twins. Or at least same-sex fraternal twins who look very similar. My twins looked similar for about 36 hrs, when they were just born… but all babies probably look similar when they’re just born.

When finding out we were having twins, I actually did hope for a b/g set. I was (am?) afraid of raising raucous boys, so I didn’t want two of them at the same time, and since we already have a girl, I also preferred not to have two more (well actually I was ok with that, but Husband was deathly afraid), that left b/g twins. Furthermore, I think it’s much easier not to be compared to your twin when you are of a different gender, and I wanted that individuality for my twins. So I got what I wanted, and then some. They share the same birthday and the same parents, but in almost every other way, they are so so different.

Weight

When you look at them, the first thing you would notice is that the boy is much bigger than the girl. In fact, almost 2.5 lbs bigger. I’m not going to lie, at first they did look the same. At 6 lbs 5 oz and 6 lbs 10 oz, there was not a great size difference at birth. In my post-c-section drugged up state, I did mistake them a time or two. Especially in their individual newborn photos where I didn’t have the other one to compare. But very, very quickly, that changed. Within one week, Baby Boy already broke 7 lbs, whereas Baby Girl was still working on recovering back to birth weight. At one month, baby girl finally made it to the 20th percentile at 8 lbs 3 oz. He has once been at the 83rd percentile. Today, she is 14 lbs 12 oz (49th), and he is 17 lbs (66th). Baby Girl has a petite frame, and while she is by no means skinny, she is mostly muscle. Everything about her is small: her nose, her mouth, her hands and her feet. She has an athletic build. Baby Boy has a large head, big belly, thick thighs, rolls on his arms, chunky fingers and toes. He has a lounge-around build. Holding the two of them are completely different experiences.

Eating

Obviously, Baby Boy is a great eater. He was the one who latched correctly and was content to nurse, for the few minutes that we did it. If I had chosen to continue, I’m sure he would have been the one to get it. He almost never rejects a feed, even when it isn’t time. He eats a lot, and he eats it fast. Baby Girl, on the other hand, is more of a recreational eater. She will sip a little here and there, not taking on a full feed until she is almost famished and then finally pound a bunch. I’ve had to train her out of that, so she’s much better now.

Recently I’ve started them on rice cereal. Neither has really taken to it yet, and both will get impatient for their bottles and cry, but I am certain that Baby Boy will take to this first as well. He already runs the cereal around in his mouth to taste it. Baby Girl? Pushes it out with her tongue (which, incidentally, is why she never latched).

Sleeping

As a newborn, Baby Girl would scream when she was tired (or actually overtired), so we gave her a pacifier. That kind of masked her sleep issues until I took it away (successfully after a week or so of agony). Baby Boy didn’t need to be sleep trained. He was capable of sleeping through the night way before I actually let him do it. He’s pretty much set his schedule exactly how I wanted him to, so I’ve just let him be. His naps are usually at predictable times and durations, and not much can wake him before he’s ready.

The sleep training was for Baby Girl. For the longest time she was doing a 4am feeding after sleeping around 11pm, which was the schedule that I put her on when she was an infant to match my own habits. And she was getting to the point where she couldn’t get herself to sleep without her paci, which meant I had to put it back in her mouth all night long. Her naps were all over the place, every little sound bothered her, and she just didn’t sleep as soundly.

With our newly imposed schedule, she has improved. But it’s not perfect. Her naps are usually still shorter than his, and she is still more easily awakened. It takes her longer to settle down for sleep. She also becomes overtired much more easily. Or should I say, it’s a thin line between tired and overtired for her.

Temperament

All of the above actually boils down to this: They have two very different temperaments.

Baby Girl loves excitement and fun. She is our active child, rolling over before 3 months and putting weight on her legs whenever she gets us to hold her up. From the hospital Husband nicknamed her “Crazy Girl”. Her cries were immediate and piercing from day one. But her smiles and subsequent cackles light up her whole face and the entire room. When happy, she kicks her legs with the force of all of her little body. When unhappy, the tears stream down her face while she finds never-ending energy reserves to scream until she’s hoarse. The highest highs and lowest lows.

Having fun comes before eating or sleeping. (As I’m writing this, I’m watching her kick and laugh to herself on the baby monitor. She’s spent half an hour rolling over and helicoptering around her co-sleeper.) She loves going on outings. The louder the better. She actually eats and sleeps better on days when we go out. Strangers? Not a problem. Love, love, love.

Baby Boy is completely the opposite. He is a very easy-going baby, as long as he is in a relaxed, calm, and familiar environment. He does not have a ready laugh as his sister does, in fact he is often downright suspicious of new things and people. But he does have a very dorky trusting gummy smile reserved for his Mama, which melts my heart in a way the girls’ can’t beat. He’s perfectly happy just to hang out– he likes being held while we’re watching TV, or lying around watching his older sister dance around the living room– and doesn’t squirm like Baby Girl would.

His feeds and sleep are self-regulating at home, but take him out of his rhythm and he could be “off” for days. Outings are particularly difficult, as he doesn’t do well with loud noises or unfamiliar environments.

Our Jumping Bean and Sweet Lug. What a pair!

lunchldyd is mom to a 3yo daughter and 5mo b/g twins. She marvels on a daily basis at how different her twins are and looks forward to seeing these kiddos grow up.

 

Hard Days

I read some of the other quad momma bloggers out there, and they are truly super moms.

Or they lie.

Or they don’t blog about the hard stuff.

OK, that’s not entirely true either, over at Littlest Lesnaus, Krista had a blog not to long ago about struggling and finding life difficult.

This past week we had two doctor’s appointments, a PT appointment for Alyssa, and Infant Development twice. School break was coming up for our 4 year old. I haven’t been sleeping well at all.  Not because of babies. I just can’t sleep. Greg had a rough day, then I had a major meltdown.

Twice.

No, maybe three times.

OK, if we’re being honest, perhaps it was a lot of times.

Yup.  It has finally hit us.

We have many visitors in our home… yet life is lonely.

If I hear “oh I don’t know how you do it”, “I couldn’t do it”, “wow you’re organized”, “your babies are always sleeping”, “everything is under control”, I think I might just lose it.

Maybe I have lost it already.

This week maybe I’ll trash the house and screw the schedule.

Friday was a terrible terrible day.  So I checked out of my life Saturday afternoon. I really did.  I left home, and said someone else can deal with it.

And you know, sometimes I wonder if Gods sense of humor is messed up.

Really messed up. No joke this truly happened:

Friday afternoon my sister-in-law said that I could go to their place in Newmarket as they were coming to visit anyways so I’d have the place to myself. Awesome. Friday night, all four babies got sick. No big deal, lots of people around to help.

Saturday morning I got sick.

No big deal, right?

Saturday afternoon, I drove to Newmarket, spenr lots of time in tears, hating the world, not understanding life, but I told myself to buck up and get it together. Sunday morning I thought I’d go out for breakfast.  Car wouldn’t start.

No big deal, I’ll use sister in laws car and deal with mine later.

Drive to Timmie’s, and roll down window. I get my breakfast. Window won’t go back up.  Awesome.

No big deal.  After about a half hour the stupid thing went back up.

Go back to parking lot, then decide, “You know, maybe church is where I should be.”

Drive to church. The pastor speaks, and his first point was how God is the perfect parent.  Are you kidding me?!  Go back to house, call CAA, dude #1 couldn’t get it to start, he calls dude #2 who gets it to start and says, “You better drive straight home. Who knows if it will start again before you get there?” How relaxing is that?

The stupid thing is, the whole time I was away I didn’t read, I didn’t catch up on anything, I didn’t shop.

I laid around and worried about home.  About life.  About my oldest daughter.  About not spending time with each kid.  About the friends that used to call. About the family who doesn’t come. About the people who say “call me anytime” but never answer. About a church that I no longer feel a part of.  About the people I thought were friends that have ignored us completely. About the friends that I’ve helped when they’ve needed it. About the big things. About the stupid little things.

Worked myself into quite the downward spiral.

The more I thought about it the worse it became.

I know there people who care. I do.

I am SO thankful for our parents.

I am beyond grateful for our regular helpers. For the 13 members of the community. For the 6 people from our church.  I am thankful for the occasional helpers who come when they can. For my faithful meal makers. For my fellow mommas who do find time to check in. For our nanny who has been incredibly flexible and loves our kids like her own.

It’s just so flippin’ hard.
—————————————————————————————-
Since writing this post back in March, some things have changed:

  • I have stopped pumping every 3 hours, and have gone to just 5 times a day.
  • I have scheduled life so that at least once a week I have some time to myself.
  • I have admitted that perhaps I cannot handle everything on my own.  In March, I quietly began taking the prescription Zoloft. As much as I hate to admit it, it has helped. While I don’t think I was depressed, I definitely could not find the “off” switch. I would lay awake worrying about things and stressing over daily unimportant things. I would put on a face and say that everything was OK, even though it wasn’t.  I had begun to read more into things people said, and that really wasn’t like me.

So all that to say, “Life is hard, but sometimes we make things harder on ourselves.”

—————————————————-

MrsLubby is a mommy of four cute 6 month old fraternal quadruplets and a 4 1/2 year old, trying desperately to find a balance.

New Author Intro

Hello everyone!

I figured I need to introduce myself while I still have the time.  My name is Katelyn Fagan and I blog over at What’s Up Fagans? 

At 24 years of age I find myself as a wife, a Brigham Young University  graduate, a part-time artist, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a stay-at-home mom to fraternal twin daughters.  My family and I currently live in Indianapolis, IN, USA though I was born and raised in Wisconsin, USA.  My husband and I met while attending our respective colleges out in Utah, which is where we later delivered our twin daughters.  Currently my husband is a part-time graduate student and part-time university math teacher.  Our fraternal twin daughters, Lisa and Alison, will be three next month, and we are expecting our third baby, a boy, ANY day now (I’ve past my due date).  We are excited to finally be able to meet and hold our little boy, and nervous about parenting kids at different ages.

I look forward to writing on How Do You Do It? and getting to know you all better!  I try to write honestly about my struggles as a parent, a person, a Christian, as well as a financially challenged family, with some humor and hopefully some optimism too.

If you want to get to know me better, here are a few posts I have written that you may find interesting:

I look forward to sharing and learning about twins and other multiples!  What a joy we all share!

Thanks!

Katelyn Fagan of whatsupfagans.blogspot.com

A preterm MoM intro

With the new year upon us I thought I’d take on a new blogging opportunity. Let me introduce myself. My name is Carolyn and I am a mom to fraternal b/b twins, living, parenting and working in Ontario, Canada.

My twins are 2.5 years old and are spunky little men, with great personalities of their own. My guys are little for their age due to arriving at 27 weeks and challenging their parents from day one! They are amazing fighters and have come so far!

Canada offers mothers maternity and parental leave if they’ve been working enough hours leading up to the arrival of their child (ren.) I was lucky to be one of those people. I actually took 16 months off to be with my babies. The times were tough, but we made it through. There was definitely a lot of frustration and tears for everyone involved, but these little men taught us much about perseverance and developed our ability to kick adversity in the b-u-t-t time and time again.

I have been writing a personal blog coming up on 2 years about the ups and downs of my family. You can find my blog at http://twintrospectives.blogspot.ca. We also have an older boy, born at 31 weeks, who the twins love and learn so much from. These 3 boys have been our family’s inspiration.

I usually blog on the topic of prematurity and what might come afterward for others and what has evolved for my family in particular. The experience of preterm birth has given me a positive outlook on life, which might sound weird, given the fact preterm birth is the scariest thing most who go through it will ever experience. I figure if I can get through such an uncertain time, along with my family members, then there isn’t really anything else we can’t figure out. This is what I hope to be able to teach my children as I mother them and watch them grow during their childhood.

Aside from helping my own children along the way, my greatest passion is assisting new families going through the preterm birth experience, one step at a time. I have found my way into my local Multiple Births Canada (MBC) chapter, now working as a peer health worker (outreach worker,) as well as I’ve  just taken on a co-chair role in the development of MBC’s Preterm Birth Support Network.

In 4 short years my amazing little preemie men have taught me so much about life and I hope to be able to share some of what they have been teaching me with the How Do You Do It community.

Fighting the Urge to Compare

I am not one of the twin moms who shuns the idea that my kids are a unit. They were born together and I regularly refer to them as “the boys on my blog and quite often in real life. I figure if I had two boys of different ages I would likely shorthand it to “the boys” anyway. I have dressed them either alike or similar since they were born because it’s cute and it’s easy. I think the fact they were born together is incredibly cool and should be celebrated. Yes, they need to be individuals, but since they are fraternal twins there hasn’t really been an issue with individuality. They are so different in temperament and personality and have been since before they were born. They also look different. One has always had more hair. One struggled with weight gain. One had horrible reflux. When I was pregnant, there was the active one and when they were born the bald one, the pukey one, the small one. As they have grown they have taken turns being the clingy one, the needy one, the cuddly one.

The fact of our situation is that there are two children of the same age and developmental station living in our home. If one is doing something the other isn’t, it’s difficult to not compare. Sure, one had to walk first, right? But when it was the same one crawling first, then walking first, then climbing and running first, it made the other seem to be falling behind. When one was saying words and the other was only grunting, we doubled our efforts to help the one we viewed as struggling. (All the while both were well within the expected range for those skills.)

Now they just reached their second birthday and had their 2-year checkup. In the past 6 months we have seen our littlest guy who struggled to gain weight (who was born 1 ounce heavier but by one-month was a full pound smaller) get not just a little bigger, but much bigger than his brother. Suddenly people are asking how far apart they are in age, since there is now a 3 inch and 4 lb. difference in size. I admit was scared to go to the appointment because while I knew one had really grown over the summer (He went through 3 shoes sizes since May!) and the other hadn’t.  was terrified we’d learn he hadn’t grown at all, or worse yet, he would have lost weight. I was afraid the doctor would question why he isn’t growing, why he hadn’t gained weight. I was questioning my own parenting, were we doing enough to make sure he’s eating the right foods? Should we be doing more? Was he really not growing, or was his brother just growing faster so it seemed that he was staying the same size? If we had only one kid that age would we have even noticed his slow-down in growth? Would we notice that he is wearing the same shoes he’s had since Spring is his brother hadn’t gone though so many pairs by now?

I dreaded that appointment for a month.  The good news is that he did gain weight, and height, though admittedly not much. He’s always been on the low end of the percentile chart, but he’s on the chart and his line is moving in the right direction. He’s healthy and happy. He’s just small. The doctor wasn’t concerned about his size or weight. She has a much better perspective of seeing them as two different kids, just two more patients that happen to share a birthday. I was relived to know he did gain some weight. And he did grow a little. I was even more relived that the doctor was fine with his checkup and deemed him healthy.

It’s hard not to notice he’s smaller than his brother. It’s hard to not compare. I have a friend whose twins are 2 months younger, who once told me she always worries about her kids whenever we get all four of ours together because her kids aren’t doing the same things mine are doing. I tried to reassure her that she shouldn’t compare our kids since 2 months at this age is a big difference. In another year they’ll have gained all those milestones and all be about the same skill-wise. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t do the same thing with my own kids. Why is that one doing such and such and the other isn’t? Am I doing enough to make sure one doesn’t fall behind? Maybe the hallmark of a good parent is to worry about these things, after all, I want the very best for my kids equally. How do other parents fight the urge to compare?

Jen Wood is a former computer geek turned stay-at-home-mom to amazing, vastly different and newly minted 2-year-old twin boys. You can follow the daily adventures of our family as we navigate the crazy road of twin toddlerhood, home preschooling and attempt to raise happy, well-adjusted citizens at goteamwood.com.

Multiple Perspectives: Interview with a MoM-to-Be

I’m excited, of course, when friends tell me that they are expecting, but I’m quadruply so when they tell me they are expecting multiples. My co-worker and friend Rachel has met my twin daughters only three or four times, but she became an instant favourite with them because of her warmth and humour. You can imagine my excitement when she showed me an ultrasound image with two separate sacs on display. I talked to her about her impending mother-of-multiples status.

1. What was your reaction when you found out you were pregnant with two babies? [Your husband] Scott’s?

People ask me a lot if I was surprised by the fact that I was pregnant with twins. I’m fairly sure the subtext of that question is, “Were they spontaneous twins?”  Generally, I reply, “I think everybody is surprised by twins!”

In my case, my twins weren’t spontaneous; I’d undergone an ovulation induction cycle, and I knew that the risk of multiples was higher. However, I was also under close observation, and we never had any reason to believe more than one egg had been released.  My hormone levels rose higher than I was expecting them to, so I did wonder if something was up, but at around 5 weeks, 3 days, when I had my first ultrasound, the doctor only saw one gestational sac at first.  The second little peekaboo sac was definitely a surprise!

Scott wasn’t able to make it to that first ultrasound, so I called him at work afterward to let him know.  I told him, “Everything looks good… but we may need to think of some more names.”  He knew what I meant immediately.  He’s a low-key guy, but he was excited, and I’m sure a little bit nervous, when he found out.

2. How did your expectations of parenthood change when you discovered that you would be a mother of multiples.

I was always fairly sure that, despite not having a ton of experience with babies and small children, Scott and I could probably figure out how to raise a child on our own. Raising twins, I’ll admit, still sounds like a much more formidable task than raising one.  You can check with me again in a year to see if I’ve broken them yet.

On the other hand, especially since we struggled with conceiving, I had developed a lot of ideas and theories about how we were going to raise our hypothetical only child. In some ways, finding out that we were expecting twins was freeing. Even in my naivete, I know that there will be times when I can’t meet both babies’ needs at the moment those needs arise. I feel like I’ve been able to give up my expectation of being Super Mom before the kids have even arrived.

3. Can you tell me a little about your experience with doctors specializing in multiple pregnancies? How did you find them, and how do you think working with specialists has benefited you?

I bought Dr. Barbara Luke’sWhen You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads,” not long after seeing the babies’ heartbeats at 6 weeks gestation.  I found the information in the book helpful but general, and I wanted advice more closely tailored to me.  I spent a lot of time searching the Internet for resources on twins, especially locally.  While I didn’t find a whole lot locally (aside from the Moms of Multiples group), I did find the Texas Children’s Hospital Program for Multiples in Houston.  I was most interested in the nutritional assessment they offer, to see how it compared to the one in Luke’s book.  Generally, it was fairly similar, but with a stronger emphasis on lower-fat foods. They also follow similar 20 pounds by 20 weeks guidelines.

My twins are dichorionic and diamniotic, and I’ve really had a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy throughout, so I think the program was less helpful for me as it would have been for, say, parents of identical twins with a higher risk of TTTS. But I learned a lot about my babies and was very relieved to have a clean bill of health as we finished up the first trimester. It’s a great program, for those who are able to get to Houston, and it was completely covered by my insurance.

4. What personality traits do you predict for your babies, based on feeling them move?

Even before I could feel them move, I could see the differences in my babies on each ultrasound.  Starting at 8 or 9 weeks gestation, it became apparent that our little boy, Baby B, is quite a wiggler.  Our girl, Baby A, does her share of moving as well, but she’s never been nearly as active as her brother.  I anticipate we’re going to need to get Baby B involved in lots of physical activity to burn off all that extra energy.  On the other hand, our girl really likes to kick her mama in the bladder, so I’m predicting a typically complicated mother/daughter relationship with her!

5. What reactions do you get from people when they learn that you are expecting twins?

The most common reaction I get is, “Do you know what you’re having?” And when I tell them we’re expecting a boy and a girl, they almost always reply, “Oh, wow, that’s perfect! You can be done!”  As though we would have been required to keep trying for the opposite sex if we’d had two boys or two girls.  Or an only child, for that matter.  I’m learning a bit of zen, when it comes to responding to curious comments.  People generally mean well, and I don’t think they really think through their response. It’s as much small talk as anything.  (I’m sure I’ll be less patient when we can’t walk down an aisle at the grocery store without being interrupted, but people generally can’t tell I’m carrying twins, so I feel like I’m undercover for the time being.)

6. You are 33 weeks into your pregnancy right now. How do you feel, physically?

I’m definitely starting to feel tired and uncomfortable!  I anticipated that I would feel progressively worse as the pregnancy went on.  In actuality, it seems a little more cyclical than that. I hit a wall every couple of weeks, then I adapt and feel better for a while.  My quarter-mile walk to the office is definitely starting to feel like a long way, though!

7. What do you know now about multiple pregnancy, or pregnancy in general, that you wish you’d known earlier?

I spent the first two-thirds of my pregnancy mentally preparing myself for the possibility that I might be on bed rest or out of work for a long time.  I didn’t expect that I’d actually be pretty good at carrying twins, and still working at 33 weeks.  Knowing that would’ve saved me a lot of worrying early on!

8. You and Scott will both be returning to work after parental leave. What will your childcare arrangements be? How are you going about choosing?

This July, we spent our fifth wedding anniversary shopping for infant childcare, three months in advance of the anticipated arrival of our twins, and six months in advance of when we’d expect them to start daycare. It felt really unfair that we had to choose a childcare provider to care for our kids when we haven’t even had a chance to meet them or get to know them yet.  We visited four childcare providers and finally chose a Montessori school with an infant program in our neighborhood.   The rates were comparable to most of the other infant daycares in town, but we were impressed with the age-based Montessori classrooms, and we had a great rapport with the teacher in the infant room.  She lives in our neighborhood, as do many of the kids in the school, and she has twin grandsons.  We felt that our babies would be in good hands in her care.  Picking a place close to home means it’ll be equally convenient for Scott or me to drop them off and pick them up, and we hope we’ll be able to get to know other parents and kids in our area.

9. What have you already done to prepare for your twins’ arrival? What do you have left to do?

I feel as well prepared as a naive almost-mom can be. Our nursery is packed full of onesies, diapers, and random plastic baby accoutrements. We have places for the babies to sleep (though they may have to share for a little while). We’ve got a double stroller.  We’ve got infant car seats, and we’ve installed them into one of our two cars.  We’ve gone to all the classes we plan to go to in advance of their birth, and we’re trying to enjoy some nights out together before the nuclear bomb that is parenthood drops on us both.

I do still have a rigorous nap schedule to try to maintain for the next three to five weeks.  And a lot of work to wrap up.

10. What questions do you have for other parents of multiples?

I feel like I’ve heard the answers to most of my questions, and they all seem to vary from family to family. (How long did it take to feel like you had everything under control?  Were you able to breastfeed two babies at once?  How do you handle the financial burden of two infants at once, especially when you add in the huge expense of childcare?)

I’d rather hear words of reassurance.  Tell me when multiples get to be fun!

Prepping For Preschool

We are now just under four weeks away from Tiny and Buba’s first day of preschool. T and I chose to send them to a local co-op school that strives to build a strong connection between the child’s home and the school. As a result, we’ve already spent a good amount of time on the school grounds, connecting with other classmates and their parents, and talking about what it will be like when they start preschool this fall.

Back in mid-June, we received the kids’ class list noting which days each student will attend. All 20 kids in the class have schedules that allow them to know all the other children in the class, even though only 12 kids attend on any given day (meaning, their schedules all overlap at some point in the week). To help them all get to know each other, optional playdates were set for Monday afternoons and Friday mornings from late June until the week just before school begins. The playdates take place on the school’s playground, helping them become familiar with the school grounds as well.

Recently, each family received a welcome letter from the teachers. The letter included photos of the two teachers to post on our refrigerator for the kids to view and talk about. The teachers are currently in the process of setting up a home visit to each family, where they’ll talk and play with their incoming students and get to know a little more about them.

Similar to many preschools in our area, Buba and Tiny will have a visiting day prior to the real first day of school. On this day parents come into the classroom and stay as the kids get their first introduction to the school and their classroom. The visiting session is just one hour long and only three other students and their parents will be with us (five kids attend each one hour time slot throughout the visiting day). The following Monday, the children begin attending school on their own, but just for two hours each day. It isn’t until the following week that the full schedule of three hours a day, three days a week kicks in.

Tiny is naturally confident and independent, and I’m sure she will have no trouble transitioning to preschool this fall. But for Buba, who has a harder time separating from T and me and who takes longer to warm up in new situations, I’m so, so glad he’s had all of these opportunities to ease into the whole preschool thing. He already knows and looks forward to seeing a handful of his classmates, and he’s confident enough now to explore different areas of the school grounds (there are four different play areas) without me right by his side. He was very shy when we happened to meet his teachers during one of the playdates, but I’m hoping the home visit will help him become a bit more comfortable with them.

Fingers crossed that all this leads to an easy and smooth transition once that first day of school finally rolls around!

So, how are you/will you prepare your children when the time comes for them to begin school?

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Is it Labor Day yet?

My four-year-old twins go back to school in three and a half weeks. 24 days, in fact. What, you think I’m counting?

While I hate to wish away the summer, this one will not go down as one of the best on record. My kids need routine, they need structure, and they need some time away from each other. I am so thrilled that they are in separate classrooms.

When I first learned that my twins’ Montessori preschool “strongly preferred” not to put siblings in the same classroom, my stomach dropped a little. My little ones would be only just three years old and going to school for the first time, having been at home with me this whole time. I always assumed they’d be in the same class in preschool, and then maybe I’d split them up in elementary school. But I loved the school so much, I decided to take the plunge.

I am so, so, so glad that I did.

Don’t get me wrong, my son and daughter really are the best of friends. They play together all day long, and it makes my heart practically burst to see how much fun they have together.  They fight, sure, and push each other’s buttons like any siblings would. But the arguments are forgotten as quickly as they start, and back they go.

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At the same time, however, they are not completely dependent on one another. Both are pretty independent, adaptable, low-anxiety kids.  They love doing separate outings on the weekends, and were thrilled to get their own rooms when we made the move to toddler beds.  In the months before school started, I did my best to explain that they would be in different classrooms, with different teachers, and they thought that was simply peachy.

We have a full year of school under our belts, and I have never regretted having them in separate classrooms. The worst I can say about it is that there’s a little extra juggling on meet-the-teacher night.  While it’s certainly no secret that they are twins, I love that the teacher can see the individual kid, rather than having any temptation to compare to their twin. I love that they can make their own friends and do their own work, relatively free from the influence or distraction of their “other half.”

And for those who would have anxiety over this setup, I will provide the perspective someone pointed out to me. They are in school three hours a day, five days a week. They’re dropped off in the same car, at the same time, to the same building. They play on the same playground at the same time (I’m told they often look for each other – how sweet is that?). They are picked up together, and then spend the other 21 hours of the day in the same house, doing the same activities.  There is no shortage of togetherness.

But as the summer winds down and they are in each other’s faces all day long, I know I’m not the only one who is looking forward to school starting again.  They can’t wait to see their teachers (“and tell her I’m FOUR now!”), and though I don’t expect they’d ever say it in so many words, I think they’re just as excited to have a little personal space, too.

Seeing Double at Twins Days in Twinsburg, OH

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Our family just arrived home from our second trip to the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, OH. Last summer we attended a wedding in Philadelphia with our 9-month-old twins. We packed the car for a road trip from Chicago but had to divide our drive into a few days. Looking for a half-way point we saw Twinsburg, OH on the map and thought, “Hey, we should stay there, it’s a town named Twinsburg.” A quick Google search revealed Twins Days Festival, a record-setting gathering of twins from around the world which just happened to be the weekend we were driving through Ohio. We had to go. How could we pass it up?

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We enjoyed our first Twins Days experience so much, we decided before we even left Ohio we would try to go back every year. It is an experience unlike anything I have seen. The sense of community and camaraderie among twins from all over really is amazing. Among the many activities, our favorite has been the Double Take Parade, which encourages any and all twins to join in the themed parade. This year’s theme was Circus, a truly fitting theme for a gathering of twins. My boys were dressed as Human Cannonballs, with their wagon outfitted as a cannon. There are also lots of research studies for twin participation, and mingling with twins young and old. The youngest set there was 8 weeks, the oldest was 96 years old! There are lots of contests, carnival rides, food, and fun. Friday night is a Wiener Roast for twins and their families, Saturday night there are fireworks and Sunday morning is a pancake breakfast. For older twins there is a golf tournament, a 5K and lots more.

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So much I have read and heard since we were expecting twins focuses on the challenges: the high-risk pregnancy, the bleary-eyed, soul-crushing sleep deprivation, the expense, every-rough-patch-times-two. Dress them alike. Don’t dress them alike. Separate them in school. Keep them together. Everything I read seems to threaten all the ways I am destined to mess my kids up. Plus, as much as strangers are fascinated with and willing to offer up comments about twins, they are almost always negative. “You’ve got your hands full!” or “Double Trouble!” or “Better you than me!”

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It is easy to lose sight of how wonderful it can be raising twins. We have twice the giggles, twice the hugs. My boys are growing up spending every day with a best friend. I get to watch my two tiny infants as they grow into little boys. My boys are 21 months old, racing from milestone to milestone, growing noticeably each day. I wonder every single day how they can possibly be cuter than they were yesterday and how did I get so lucky to be here for the ride. The truth is that while my boys are fraternal and are very different, they were born a pair. Twins Days is such a unique celebration of twinship, I want my boys to grow up appreciating how truly special it is to be a twin. In Twinsburg for that one weekend a year, they can be among people who know what it’s like to go through life with a doppelganger, with a relationship unlike any other. They can be part of the community and celebrate being twins.

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My boys are often subject to lots of attention when we are out and about, and sometimes I feel like they are a spectacle. (I imagine it is nothing compared to identical twins or even triplets or quads!) I want them to feel proud that there are two of them, and love that they came into this world as a set. Twins Days Weekend is always the first weekend in August in Twinsburg, OH. For more photos and information about our trip, you can check out our rundown of our weekend as well as photos form this year and last. You can read more about the adventures of our family at goteamwood.com

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