Semblance of my Former Self

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Categories Mommy Issues, PregnancyTags , , 6 Comments

When I was pregnant with my boys, I remember very early on being obsessed with looking at belly shots. I can’t tell you how many times I googled “pregnant twin belly photos.” I just couldn’t fathom what two babies growing on the inside of me would look like on the outside. And honestly, I was scared to death. When I started telling people I was pregnant with twins, just after their elated congratulations would come, “you are going to be HUGE!” Thanks, that’s just what I needed to hear. So what better place to go and find out exactly how huge I would get then the Internet! Big mistake.

I found several sites dedicated to pregnant bellies with twins and triplets, along with blogs and personal websites. And what I saw, in many cases, was even more frightening then what my imagination had conjured. Crazy stretch marks. Full-term size at only 25 weeks. OMG! What was going to happen to me?!?! And then I hit the mother of all pictures that induced such fear and spine-tingling horror…the postpartum photos. What the hell is “twin skin?!”Now, I’m not a vain person. But I am 5’3” on a very good day and weigh about 120. Aside from thinking about these frightening future aesthetics, I wondered if my body could even handle this?

33 weeksWell, of course it could…and it did. Despite being fairly paranoid of how enormous I was getting, I lucked out and didn’t reach full-term size until I was 33 weeks. I delivered at 36 weeks, thank god, because my belly felt like it just couldn’t stretch any more. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t get my twin “badge,” or I like to say “badges,” because if these suckers were like girl scout badges, I’d have a whole sash filled in. Yes I have stretch marks. Yes I have twin skin. Yes I have a herniated belly button (the outie that just won’t go back in). Yes I have diastasis (my very own abdominal crevasse). Yes I want my old stomach back!

I think some women are blessed with a combination of great skin genes, a long torso, height in general, and can manage to have a twin pregnancy without all the postpartum ugliness. But I think most moms of multiples have a constant reminder of their pregnancy written across their tummies. I’m not trying to scare any preggos out there who are reading this, I just want to be realistic. Because I deluded myself while I was pregnant, rubbing tubs of 100 percent organic cocoa butter and vitamin e thinking I would be spared. I would be one of the lucky ones.

I know everyone is different, but it wasn’t until six months postpartum that I could even look at my stomach in the mirror without totally cringing. The good news is that after a year, I’m starting to get used to how my stomach looks. It’s actually not THAT bad. The stretch marks have definitely faded, and if it weren’t for the hernia, I’d feel pretty comfortable with it all. My husband tells me that when the time comes (i.e. when we are officially “done”) and if I’m so inclined, I should just get it fixed. And I’m so NOT the plastic surgery type, but I have to say the idea of walking into Dr. Reys’ office on Dr. 90210 and asking for a “BJJ” – belly button job – is hysterically intriguing to me. Because really I should get a hernia fixed, shouldn’t I?!?! And while I’m there, I might as well get my abs pulled in and skin smoothed, too, right?

And just like that those badges would be gone, forever erased from my twin mom sash. But I don’t think I’d mind a bit, because these two beaming faces smiling up at me are all the reminders I need.

oz and abieP.S. Just like my obsession with researching pregnant bellies, I did the same for the ultimate stretch mark solution. I now rub my belly with some stuff called Bio-Oil and I’m convinced it helps. You can get it at Walgreens.

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Product Review: Top 5 Baby Products You Need to Have for Multiples

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Categories Products10 Comments

Let’s face it – having twins is expensive. I polled the contributors of this blog to share their top 5 must-have products. The lists varied widely but there were some common favorites.

1. The double snap n go. You may think it is a waste of money buying something you will only use for a few months, but it may be the best money you ever spend. This item was the top reason I was able to make it out of the house on solo trips. You don’t have to take the babies out of their infant seats. I can not stress how critical this is when you have two babies. While it does attract attention when you’re out in public, you can easily shield both babies to keep nosey strangers and supergerms away.

Although this costs $100, you can usually find used ones through your local twins group. I bought mine second-hand for $50 and sold it third-hand for $25.


2. Two boppies. You are not going to be able to use a boppy for tandem breastfeeding twins. The boppies are for everything except breastfeeding – bottle feeding, tummy time, sitting time, just hanging out. You will use the boppies every day and they will make an appearance in many photos, so make sure you get covers you like.


And if you ever wondered how to bottle-feed two babies at the same time….. two boppys!


3. Two pack and plays (PNP). My boys are 21 months old and we still have a PNP set up.

* At first, you can use the bassinett attachment so they can sleep in your room.
* You can move them to the big part for naps in places other than their cribs. This is particularly helpful if you have a two-story house.
* Use the PNPs to give your multiples space to play away from each other.
* A PNP is a great place for new crawlers to be contained when you want to take a shower or need them to be in a safe place.
* Fill a PNP with toys to entertain one baby while you bathe the other.
* PNPs are perfect for stopping walkers from destroying a room while you are attending to the other child.
* PNPs are easily transportable for travel.


4. The Skip Hop Duo Double diaper bag. This is the first diaper bag designed for a side-by-side double stroller. Between the size and the pockets, this is universally one of the favorite diaper bags in the multiples community. While on the pricier end, you will be using a diaper bag daily for years. It is worth it to invest in something functional that you love.

See pictures and get more information here.

5. Some type of baby carrier. While opinions are mixed on the Baby Bjorn, Moby Wrap, Maya Wrap, and other baby carriers, a baby carrier is a must-have item in a multiple household. You will not believe the things you can get done while carrying a baby on you. While carrying one twin in a Bjorn, I was able to change the other twin’s diaper, make telephone calls, surf the internet, brush my teeth, wash dishes, do laundry, eat a meal, watch TV, and use the bathroom. Some days I put one child in an infant seat and one child in a carrier to go grocery shopping.

Since these are major purchases, I recommend you try to borrow one of these from a friend before investing. I loved my Moby Wrap for the newborn stage when I had a helper around, but I loved my Bjorn for solo time because it was so fast to get on and off. We ended up with two Bjorns so my husband and I could each carry a baby while getting some much-needed fresh air.


Next week – Bottom 5 Baby Products You Can Live Without!

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Battle of the Moms of Multiples

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Categories Mommy Issues4 Comments

When people find out I have two sets of twins close in age, they almost always mention something about how nice it must be for them to always have playmates. And that’s true, for the most part. They do manage to make up silly songs, act out elaborate games of pretend, and cuddle up to watch TV together, in between screaming arguments. And I do notice that they understand the concept of SHARING pretty well – because in a family of seven, that’s pretty much how it goes. Everyone's HAPPY!

This week, they’ve been super generous about sharing their cold germs, and currently, four out of the seven of us are on antibiotics for strep throat. We’ve spent a whole lot of time in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and waiting in line at the pharmacy. (something I never realized when I was about to become a parent: just how much WAITING I would be doing over the next decade!) I had a great idea in mind to post about today, but I just don’t have it in me to write it all out, so I’m recycling a blog post of mine from a few months ago. It’s all about the whole SUPERMOM thing that so many of us twin mamas try to live up to.

One day last summer, my husband and I had been working in the yard all day and by late afternoon, I looked like pure hell. I was wearing a dirty shirt and my hair was a mess and I had NO makeup on. I was all sweaty and greasy-haired, and I had potting soil under my nails. And I got really sunburned too, so I looked just that much worse. I had to run out to the market, though, because we completely ran out of milk and toilet paper. Whoops! So, I was in line to check out, and there was a lady behind me with three kids – two boys and a girl. I noticed that the boy and girl right near me were the same height, and I asked her, “Are these two twins?” and she said, “Actually, they’re all triplets!” I hadn’t seen that there was a boy standing behind, the same size as the other two!

And let me tell ya – these three kids were SO cute. They were about 6 or 7, I’m guessing – the girl had long, pretty hair, sans tangles, and all three were in cute little outfits. They looked like an ad for Old Navy. They looked so CLEAN and shiny and perfect! And the mom, well…she was pretty hot. She was in a cute little tracksuit, with her cute little body, and her cute little hairstyle. It almost ticked me off. Will it get easier when my kids are older? Will my kids somehow manage to get bathed every day and wear outfits that don’t include pajama tops and cowboy hats and plastic high heels? Will they ever be seen in public without bedhead?

Supermom!And what about MEEEE? Will I suddenly become a complete MILF? Will I find the time and money to get my nails done? Will I start working out every day so I can wear little Baby Phat tracksuits at the supermarket and not scare people with my cottage cheese ass? I just don’t see it happening. Seriously, I started thinking irrationally while my groceries were being scanned. I started thinking, “Maybe I could discreetly follow her home and then start stalking her and figure out how she manages to have well-behaved, adorably dressed, freshly bathed triplets and look like she stepped off the set of a sitcom.” She turned out to be parked three cars down from me. And her SUV was really dirty. And all crowded full of stuff. Yeah, that made me feel better. At least her car wasn’t all shiny, too, then I probably would have cried a little.

It’s so hard sometimes, when you feel like you just can’t get it together. I remember the first year of my twins’ life, I only wore makeup a handful of times – a huge change from when I used to apply mascara and put on a cute shirt before heading out to Target. As my kids have grown older, though, it HAS grown easier. I’m still not the hot mama at the supermarket with the perfect children, but the older they get, the more often I get to be Laura, Friend to Drink Cocktails with at Book Club, instead of always Laura, Mom of All Those Children. I’m still in here somewhere.

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Finger foods for little ones

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Infants, Solid Foods13 Comments

Foodie Friday

So, for the first Foodie Friday post, I thought I’d talk about finger foods—a topic that is near and dear to my heart now that my kids are ten months old. (Seriously, when did that happen???). If you have a topic you’d like to see covered, just post it in the comments. 

We started solid foods at six months, waiting until then because the pediatrician said that breastmilk was all they needed until that point. And, honestly, I had no desire to add one more task into my day if I didn’t need to. We did the usual purees…..rice cereal, pears, applesauce, sweet potatoes. The usual favorites. We introduced more first foods in the next few months, and then…..I realized they were old enough to start finger foods. Yikes! Choking hazards, chewing issues (Can they chew without any teeth? Well, yes, those gums are hard, but still….more things to worry about), another new thing to start. So, I asked around. I talked to people. I talked some more. And then I got the best advice…..try rice krispies. A handful on their tray for them to play with. They are small (no choking!), dissolve quickly (again, no choking), have no wheat (our pedi recommended no wheat until a year, due to a family history of Celiac’s disease), cheap and easy. Huh. So, one night, when they were about eight months old, we tried them. A handful on each tray….the kids were entranced. This was different! They actually spent 20 minutes trying to pick them up. Wow…not only did I get to try something they were ready for, I got 20 minutes to empty the dishwasher, prepare their meals for the next day and get ready for bathtime. Abigail was able to get a few krispies up, Danny, not so much. But, this became our nightly routine. Krispies for kiddos, chores for Mommy. We were all happy. And, within a week or so, Danny could pick up those krispies too. We moved on to chunks of avocado (yummy, but slippery), shredded cheese at nine months (such a hit!), smooshed beans (really, really a hit….any kind will do), pieces of ripe pear (also slippery), shreds of ripe apple, and little pieces of peaches. Now, at ten months, they would prefer to eat with their own fingers than with the spoon. And, while this streak of independence is great (so people tell me) it comes down to this….what do I feed them every night? Really, they have only two half-teeth between them. Both Danny’s. They aren’t allowed to have wheat, honey, egg whites, strawberries, nuts, peanuts……so what do I feed them???!!! I’ll list my ideas down below, and those of you with other great brainstorms, share them with us!

Pieces of fruit (pears, apples, peaches).


Strips of egg yolk

Rice krispies/ Bunny Love (funny named gluten-free cereal)

Beans (black/red/kidney/baked)

Cooked pasta

Cooked sweet potato

Shredded cheese/cubed cheese/slices of cheese (my kiddos love cheese in any form—wonder who they got that from?)

Frozen waffles (yep, you can get gluten-free anything at Whole Foods!)

 Next week…’ve fed the kids, now what do you eat?

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There Are Two Things In Life For Which We Are Never Truly Prepared: Twins

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Categories Family, Pregnancy9 Comments
Clarity and Moxie at 7 weeks

“What do you mean, TWO MORE?”

That was my exact reaction to the ultrasound technician when asked us how we’d feel about having two more babies, in addition to our first daughter. The thought of having twins made me want run for the hills never crossed my mind. The tech was nice enough to send me on my way to the bathroom to empty my obnoxiously full bladder. I remember walking down the hallway thinking “What the hell just happened?!” On our way out, the staff expressed their congratulations, to which I just muttered, “Ha. Yeah. Thanks.” Then I cried. I cried for a good twenty minutes. I cried when I told my parents that we weren’t just expecting one baby. We are not talking tears of joy here. These were tears of absolute fear of what was to come in October. How are we going to handle two full-time careers, two babies, and a five year old?! How will we afford to feed and clothe everyone? How will we afford DAYCARE?! At one point, I even thought to myself, a lot of pregnancies start off as twins and we are only seven weeks in. There’s always a chance of losing one, and that might be for the better.

Around week twelve, after a night of some – ahem – one on one time with my husband, I noticed some spotting as I went to the bathroom. A quick call to my OB’s office led me to believe that I could be possibly suffering a miscarriage of one or even both babies. Once again, there were tears. After only a few weeks of knowing that I was pregnant with twins, I became confident in my ability to handle fact that life was going to get a whole lot harder in a few months. I wanted to meet both of these babies. This is how it is supposed to be! No way was this happening to us. Thankfully, we were able to see them the next morning at an emergency ultrasound. Two strong little heartbeats inside two little tiny black blobs.

Here comes the mushy part. All of the fears that I felt at the beginning are now completely overshadowed by the feeling that comes over me when the twins smile at us, when I see them looking at Monkey (my big girl), and yes, even when they have smelly butts. Now I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to have had only one more. Oh wait, yes I can. Do I wish I had that? Absolutely not. Besides, playing Guitar Hero is more fun at night once everyone has gone to sleep.

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The First Months: Actually Leaving the House

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Categories Breastfeeding, Feeding, Formula, Infants, Pregnancy, Travel5 Comments

After a particularly successful outing with my nine month olds, I was reviewing the trip, analyzing it to figure out exactly why it went so well. And although I doubt I could duplicate the success of the day, I have noticed a few themes that occur more often than not on our good days. As such, I would like to pass along a few tidbits I have learned over the last few months…most of which I learned the the hard way!

When I brought home my two little screaming bundles of joy from the hospital, I was so relieved to be freed from the confines of my pregnant belly, that I couldn’t wait to get out and about without the careful chaperoning of my husband. However, as a new MoM, I wasn’t going anywhere with out said shrieking bundles. The first few weeks I had lots of family help, and was chauffeured as I wasn’t able to drive post c-section. But bright and early on a Monday morning, 3 weeks after Faith and Jonathan were born, I was on my own. So what did I do on my first day flying solo? Well, I went to the mall.

I desperately needed to be around people, and simply could not tolerate being in the house another day without going a little stir crazy. I can’t remember much about that trip, but I do remember the drive home, because both babies were WAILING the whole time. My hormonal nerves were frayed, and I begged each red light to change. Obviously, I had pushed the envelope, and was now paying for it. I arrived home with two babies who were certain they were starving, and were going to pass out if they were not fed right now! After feeding them, they quieted, and my stress level lessened. I realized that I should have fed the babies prior to loading them into the car and heading home…and that is tip #1. Always plan your outings around your feedings.

Babies with full tummies travel and tolerate changes much better than hungry babies. Expect your newborns to need to be fed while you are out and about, and prepare for it. If your babies are drinking their milk in bottles, they can be fed two at a time while in their carseats. If you will need a private place to breastfeed, consider nursing in your vehicle, or in a handicapped changing room. The handicapped rooms have enough room for maneuvering a double or triple stroller, and are great for quick diaper changes, far removed from the prying eyes of all those interested in your “double trouble” duo.

My second tip would be to #2. Quit while you are ahead. And by this I mean, reconsider your time-line. Before I was a mom, I could easily go from one store/activity to the next, with barely a bathroom break in between. But my little ones do not have the ability to go from location to location without a break. Lets face it, no matter how scheduled we try to be, there is nothing like two or more infants to throw a wrench in your perfectly choreographed day. If you overbook your day, or your expectations are too high, you might find yourself frustrated, and itching to check just one more thing off of your to-do list. I vividly recall feeling so annoyed that my babies would barely tolerate one (1.7 mile) trip around the park….didn’t they know that Mama does two laps? I definitely had to change my thinking.

Today, we left our outing with enough time to get home for naps, and before the kids melted down. In this way, I ended the trip feeling quite pleased with our day, rather than put out that I couldn’t window shop/walk/sip my coffee longer.

Lastly, I want to talk about # 3. Technique. The idea of loading and unloading my kiddos from the house to the car and getting them into different restaurants/stores/doctor’sappointments was overwhelming for me. Before I gave birth, I couldn’t imagine how to do it. My babies were in infant car seats from 0-6 months. To get us out the door, I would:

  1. Load babies into car seats, and place by front door.
  2. Run purse, water bottle and diaperbag out to car, and start it with A/C or heat on, depending on the weather.
  3. Carry the babies to the car and snap them in. When they got older and heavier, I would leave one on the front porch, and snap the sibling into the carseat base.
  4. Repeat.

From six months on, we have been using convertible car seats. The trick that I employ is placing a pac-n-play by the front door as a “staging area.” I will take one child out to the car and come back for their sibling, who was contained in a safe place. This has become especially useful as the babies have recently started to crawl. Using the pac-n-play provides me with peace of mind as I shovel the walkway, or scrape ice from our windshield.

I also like to keep a bjorn or similar carrying device tucked into the basket of my stroller. This has come in very handy during meltdowns, and I can comfort one by carrying them while having my hands free to push the other baby in the stroller. It is hard on the back, but then again, nearly everything about motherhood hurts my back!

Also, whenever possible, I park near handicap entrances, and utilize the ramp, automatic doors and lower curbs. And a good trick for grocery shopping or doing your Target run…place one infant carrier in the front of the cart, and carry the other in a bjorn or sling. This leaves your cart free for your purchases.

Leaving the house with two babies is absolutely possible, and totally necessary for the mental health of MoM. Remember, you are strong and capable! The way I figure it, the very worst thing that could happen is both babies could cry/scream/poop/pee/vomit and you could turn into a hormonal pile of mush. Face it, that could just as easily happen at home! But at least this way, you can make good use of the Starbucks drive-thru!

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Full moon philosophies

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Categories Breastfeeding, FeedingTags , , , 6 Comments

If you look up in the sky tonight around nine, you’ll be lucky to witness a total lunar eclipse. Tonight also happens to be a full moon, which you’ll get to see in all its glory about an hour later. I’m a pretty grounded girl, but I never underestimate the power of our solar/lunar cycles. It never ceases to amaze me that on days where everything is out of whack, where our boys seem to be utterly possessed, I come to realize that it’s a full moon. It gives me a strange comfort to believe that they’ll snap out of it by tomorrow, and in most cases – whether it’s the moon’s doing or not – they do.

I have a good friend who gave me a pearl of wisdom before I gave birth to the boys. In a nutshell, she said that there will be days, weeks, maybe months that will seem impossible and never-ending. But each phase is just that – a phase – that will end and initiate something new and different. So when you are in the midst of an utter craptastic place with your babies and you think you just can’t take another day…take heart. It will end. Maybe not tomorrow, but one day soon. Of course like all good advice, I forgot it immediately upon hearing it.

We had some trouble when it came to my grand plan of nursing the boys. I remember the boys being three months old and I thought our woes would last a lifetime. Pile reflux/spitting/misery on top of screaming on top of mastitis on top of having to nurse them while bouncing on a stability ball. Every new mom I knew was relishing the relief that the three month milestone brought them, while I was in the midst of my very own personal hell. And then somehow I remembered that little nugget of advice and I chose to just give it a few more days – okay a few more weeks – before throwing in the towel. Low and behold, four months was our magic number. It was also the time we decided to sleep train the boys. Whatever caused it, we were suddenly in a much different and better place.

Since then I have held this wisdom a little closer and it has never let me down. I call it, “it changes as fast as it changes.” A catch-phrase that is much easier for my suboptimal postpartum brain to remember. And remember.

So tonight I’m going to make a special point of going out onto our patio to witness this dual lunar event. I may even bring a glass of wine and sit on our weathered patio chairs for a while. You know, really take it in. I want it to remind me that moments are fleeting, that things really do change as fast as they change. And how beautiful it is to just soak in the moment, even when you feel you can’t take another second of it.

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Ask The Moms, part 1 – Travel

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Thanks to Jessa for our first “Ask the Moms” question! You and I must have been psychically connected, because this was going to be my topic if no one asked anything.

Yes, today’s topic is air travel with twins. Not for the faint of heart. If you thought it took some organization to bring your multiples out to the park, just imagine what it takes to prepare for several hours on a plane. Here, for your enjoyment, are tips from all over.

Trip Planning

Whenever possible, buy as many seats as you can reasonably afford. Those airplane seats seem to be getting smaller and smaller, so you’ll be glad for the extra space. If extra seats are not in the cards, however (and with flight prices the way they are, that’s no surprise), be aware that there can be only one lap infant per set of three seats due to oxygen mask limitations. So you and your husband/travelmate will have to at least be across the aisle from one another, or in different rows.

If there is a secondary airport near where you live (I’m thinking Manchester, NH instead of Boston, or the like), I have found it very worth it to have the minor tradeoff in convenience and density of Starbucks, to have the smaller airport with friendlier TSA folks, smaller crowds, and generally happier fellow travelers.

Consider the time of day you’ll be flying. While some people swear by flying at bedtime because the kids will sleep, I have sadly found the opposite to be true for my kids. I don’t have easy sleepers, and they are very accustomed to their bedtime routine. When we flew at bedtime once, it was a screaming disaster. Know your kids…

Pack efficiently, and buy it when you get there

Depending on where you’re going, consider what you might be able to purchase when you get there. Especially if you’re visiting family, consider purchasing a few things and leaving them there. We now have a stash of bottles with both sets of grandparents, and two handy umbrella strollers in Florida. Also check out the local craigslist or try to find the moms of multiples club in the area. Especially if you have helpful parents or in-laws, they might be able to pick up a few gently used things for you before you arrive. Also, only pack enough diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, and the like to last the flight. Obviously pack somewhat generously in case of delays, but don’t bring a week’s worth of double diapers in your suitcase. There will be a grocery store or Target when you get there. Remember that, not only do you have to carry all of that luggage around while wrangling two babies/toddlers, but some of the airlines are even going to start charging for more than one bag per passenger. The nickel & diming never ends.

Travel Day

Get to the airport early. You do not want to be rushed trying to check in and get through security, because Murphy’s law dictates that it will be then that your babies have blowout diapers, or your toddlers have blowout temper tantrums. Give yourself plenty of cushion and everyone can be more relaxed.

Pack your carry-on judiciously. While you want to be well-equipped, you also don’t want to have to dig around and completely unpack everything in the middle of the airport just to find that spare pacifier. (Speaking of which, Lissa recommends a good stash of extra pacifiers if your kids take them. You never know whether the local store will carry the “right” ones.) Consider compartments, packing things in plastic bags for easy organization and retrieval. Obviously plenty of diapers and wipes, as well as extra clothes for everyone (nothing like arriving at your destination covered in spitup…). For older babies and toddlers, plenty of non-sugary snacks.

When checking in and checking your baggage, remember that even if you are not going to have the carseats on the plane with you in extra seats, you can keep them all the way until you board, and then gate-check them. Well worth it to have the seats/strollers with you all the way through security and to the gate. Reader AKLizzy also suggests that using the phrase “non-ticketed infants” is special airport code for “dear god, get these people a whole row to themselves if you can.” Hey, can’t hurt!

Speaking of security, this one involves careful maneuvering. In addition to the usual shoes, jackets, and laptop rules that you have to deal with, you will most definitely need to have both children out of their stroller and/or carseat. When traveling with infants in carseat carriers, this is indeed a feat. Here’s how we did it: keep babies in carseats in the double stroller all the way up to the security table. Get shoes, jackets, etc. into the bins (good lord, avoid bringing your laptop if you can!). Assign one parent to be the carrier of babies. Undo both babies, parent 1 can go through security with both of them. That leaves parent 2 with free hands to turn over the carseats (they go through upside down, make sure you take hanging toys off and put them in your carry-on first), collapse the stroller, and push all of your stuff through the screener. Hopefully you’ll have helpful TSA folk and patient fellow passengers. If not, well, try not to scream at anyone.

If you have kids in convertible carseats, LauraC heartily recommends the GoGo Kidz, which essentially turns those seats into a rolling suitcase. Much less bulk than a stroller!

To Pre-board or not to pre-board

Depending on the age and energy level of your kids, you may or may not want to consider pre-boarding (yes, you now qualify as someone who needs extra time getting down the jetway!). If you have infants in carseat carriers, or if you’re bringing your carseats into the plane with you, consider pre-boarding so that there is less of a risk of hitting other passengers in the head with all of your stuff. If you have mobile toddlers, and especially if you are keeping them on your lap, LauraC advocates waiting until much later to board, letting the kids run around (controlled, please, don’t let them pester other travelers) and burn off energy before the confinement of the flight.

On the plane

First, we all remember back in our pre-parent days when we were traveling. A parent came on the plane with a child, and we crossed our fingers that they wouldn’t sit next to us, and hoped against hope that they wouldn’t scream the whole flight. Be considerate of your fellow travelers. Make extra efforts to keep your kids happy and entertained. Some people have even been known to bring a bunch of inexpensive earplugs and pass them out to seatmates. It’s a thought.

For sensitive ears on takeoff and landing, it helps to suck on something. Nursing (please be discreet and considerate of fellow passengers – yes, you absolutely have the right to nurse in public, but I would argue that this is a good time to put effort into garnering goodwill with nearby strangers), bottles, pacifiers, even a lollipop will help with the changing pressure and avoid some of the worst screams.

For all but the youngest babies, new (small) toys can be something interesting and keep their attention for a few extra minutes. LauraC also suggests asking the flight attendants for extra cups, stirrers, etc. if they get bored (much in the same way that boxes are almost always more fun than what’s in them). This also may be a time when parents of toddlers might consider an exception to a no-TV rule: consider a portable DVD player, or find the kiddie channel on planes with televisions in the seat. Also some of their favorite books will come in handy. Reader AKLizzy suggests playdoh and finger puppets!

We have heard some people suggest a little dose of Benadryl to help kids sleep during the flight. If you’re considering it, please discuss it with your pediatrician. If you decide to use it, try it first at home, as some children actually become more hyper instead of drowsy. We aren’t advocating it, but we’ve heard of it being done. Desperate times and all…

Traveling diaper changes

Be aware that not all planes have changing tables in the lavatories, and even the ones that do can be next to impossible. For short-to-moderate length flights, consider a fresh diaper before boarding, and then tough it out until you get to your destination (unless you have diaper rash concerns or a poop incident, of course). The plane bathrooms are awfully hard to navigate, and people don’t take too kindly to you busting out the changing pad on your seat.

At your destination

Remember how it always felt like you waited forever for your bags at baggage claim? There’s a funny side effect to being the last one off the plane and stopping for diaper and outfit changes: twice I have gotten down to the baggage claim and found my flight was already long gone and they were moving the bags off to the side! From now on, I take the kids into the ladies’ bathroom (where there’s more likely to be a changing table, anyways) and do diaper and clothing changes while my husband heads down to the baggage area. After all, since I gate-checked my stroller, it was right there waiting for me!


Some hotels offer a babyproofing service. Not sure if it’s worth the expense, since how much time will you be spending in the room, anyways? LauraC found a great (and cheap) method on Parent Hacks. Also, while some say they offer portable cribs, a lot of times they just mean a Pack & Play.

One more thing…

More than anything, and this is obviously the case with all stressful parenting situations, keep your patience and sense of humor about you. If you’re stressed out and snippy, you probably won’t have happy kids on your hands. Practice and model good behavior ahead of time, prepare older kids for what to expect. Stick to routines and rules whenever possible, and listen to your kids’ cues and respect their need for rest (even if they claim they aren’t tired). If you stay positive and consistent, your kids are more likely to be relaxed in a new and overwhelming situation. And remember what my mom told me: “once you have kids, they aren’t vacations anymore – they’re trips.”

From the archives, travel stories from the moms of How Do You Do It?

LauraC had a successful trip with her boys to Florida, and a more harrowing one to exotic Fargo (though she did see a newly-twin-mom-minted Mia Hamm in the airport).

Yours truly has made two trips so far, once at 4.5 months to Chicago for Christmas (when I learned the “don’t fly at bedtime” lesson for my kids), and a month later to Florida for some grandparent time. God help us, we’re flying cross-country in two weeks for my brother’s wedding. I must be insane.

TraceyS had a busy trip to Washington, DC, and quite a Christmas saga this past year.

Major props to CarrieinAK, as there are no short trips to and from Alaska. She made it to and from Chicago in one piece, and then did it again at Thanksgiving to Washington and Oregon. Her boys are super travelers!

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The Milestone Competition

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Categories Identical, Infants, Other people, Singletons7 Comments

It is interesting to me how much of a competition mothering has become. Sure, conversations about our children appear to be nice and friendly on the surface, but underneath it is there. Lurking. Our natural competitive nature secretly keeping track of whose child did what first. And by how much. And who is doing it better.

In an ideal world, all babies would hit their milestones at the same time thereby eliminating this Mommy Milestone Competition. With my older daughter, I found myself getting caught up in the game. I would (subtely) brag when she accomplished something before one of her “peers”. I would wonder what I could do better as a mother when someone else’s baby accomplished something first.

But since my sons arrived, I no longer have the drive to compete with other Mommies. Part of the reason is that I am very content watching the competition in my own house. Currently we are waiting for Brady’s first tooth to break through and we expect he will crawl across the room any day. While Aaron doesn’t appear to be near-ready with either of those things, he sits unsupported and holds his own bottle. Brady isn’t interested much in either of those things. The race to be “first” is an ongoing event between the brothers and as I am the Mommy of both – I always come out a winner!

But, it’s also something more than that. My sons share the exact same DNA, are raised in the same home, and are in the same room with the same teachers at daycare. Yet, even THEY do not hit their milestones at the exact same time. With these differences, do I consider one to be “ahead” or “behind” in any particular area. Do I think that I’ve parented one of them better than the other? No, absolutely not. They are simply different.

So, if they – the identical twins with the exact same nature and nurture influences – are different from each other, what possible benefit can come of me comparing them to other children? Especially if those children were born a) full-term; b) a singleton; or c) first in their family. My sons have taught me that every single child – and their family situation – is truly unique. And that often makes comparisons a bit unfair.

This time around, there is no more dwelling on who is “ahead” and who is “behind”. There are only warm, well wishes and proud feelings when something is accomplished. Very liberating and much more enjoyable!

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One if by Land, Two if by…Mini Van?

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Categories Travel10 Comments

Traveling with small children is always an adventure. Traveling with multiples – well, that’s really more of a quest. Whether you have twins in diapers or triplets in big kid underwear, bathrooms (and where to find them) are always a main concern.

I’m past the baby stage of traveling, so I’m blessed with a much-less-stuffed-full “diaper” bag. (I need a new name for our diaper bag, as it no longer holds diapers.) My twin boys are four years old. Both are long since potty-trained and yet, the attention to potties has not yet ended.

Car travel is one of the (few) times when it may be to an advantage to be a boy. I have traveled with the boys several times by myself through the middle of nowhere Missouri when one of the boys shouts out the dreaded “MOMMYIHAVETOGOPOTTYNOW!!” Never mind that we just stopped at McD’s three exits ago – he didn’t have to go then, of course. So I have been forced to pull over to the side of the road and let him go. (Luckily that usually prompts the other guy to go too.) As a woman, I’m slightly jealous at the ease at which they are able to just go, anywhere, anytime. Then again, I don’t have to worry about getting pee on my shoes.

During long road trips, my husband and I are divided on the best strategy. My advice is to put them in pull-ups to avoid accidents. He disagrees, believing that they should be able to tell us when they need to go potty. I rebut, saying that a sleeping boy doesn’t have much ability to speak, except to awaken screaming that his clothes are all wet, his car seat is all wet, and we are to blame. At that point, my husband doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, as he’s remembering all the times when I’ve been right (at least, that’s what I tell myself).

Once your kids are potty-trained, it really comes down to this: can they hold it while they are sleeping? If they are napping or sleeping at night in big kid underwear without accidents, you are probably safe to leave them in underwear while traveling. If not, then save yourself the stress and just put them in a pull-up.

Other crucial items for car travel from a potty-perspective are extra pull-ups and/or underwear, extra clothing (all the way down to the socks, please trust me on this one), wet wipes, a plastic bag for holding wet clothes, two or more bath towels (to dry off with and to place on the wet car seat), and possibly some candy as a bribe to get them to calm down. Or is that just me?

This past weekend, we had a four-hour road trip with our boys, and it was the first time we have made it that far without: a) an accident; b) stopping by the side of the road (it was about 18 degrees that day); or c) going potty in a water bottle in a moving vehicle (by the boys, not myself or my husband). The water bottle trick is an interesting one taught to me by my husband. Apparently men do this all the time (at least that’s what he told me). I was outraged and appalled. Then it came down to the emergency potty-situation (too cold to stop and no restroom in sight), and I was forced to give it a try. As strange as the experience is while it’s happening, it’s even worse to try to figure out what to do with the water bottle after the incident.

My advice is to make Dad figure that one out.

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