Twinfant Tuesday: Multiple Infants with Multiple Needs

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Categories Balance, Emotion, Feeling Overwhelmed, Mommy Issues, NICU, Parenting, Perspective, Prematurity, Twinfant TuesdayTags , , , , , Leave a comment
Getting ready for a day of appointments.

The topic of Twinfant Tuesday came up and I wondered to myself and to Sadia, did I have a good experience during the infancy stage and do I have something to contribute? At first thought, I had serious doubts. My memories recall close to four months in a NICU, living away from home, the discharge and then the madness of appointments that awaited us, all the while working hard to balance the needs of my older child. My husband was at work Monday to Friday, working very long days due to unfortunate timing and he and I together were trying to figure out how to navigate as parents of 3, two and under, with particularly special needs.

We made it to some special events.

During the infant stage I was busy running my twin boys to appointments in town and out of town, navigating the hospital parking lots, calculating the best and quickest routes to my destinations, and breastfeeding in empty seminar rooms and in the back row of my minivan. I did whatever it took to keep these little infants well. It felt exhausting and unrelenting. These memories are my initial thoughts when I think about their infancy.

But when I think about these things and the other things that are too many to mention which made up the early week s and months of my twins’ first year, I realize that we had somewhat of a unique experience. An amazing experience actually. The healthcare they required and the follow ups that came with it enabled me to get to know these babies cues, health needs and personalities in a way I can’t explain. It’s as though I developed a sixth sense of proactivity when it came to their unspoken needs. That’s what I’m going to call it. I learned that really and truly, I was their expert. They couldn’t articulate their needs, but I knew how to sense them and articulate for them. I knew them best. Doctors knew about healthcare and the typical needs of babies like them, but I came to realize I know them best and if I had a gut feeling about something it was going to be accurate. Don’t get me wrong; I do appreciate every single thing our doctors and specialists have done for us along the way, but I recognize that we worked as a team and I really was my babies’ voice.

Putting some occupational therapy concepts to work.

So when I look back on my twins’ infant stage, I realize that it really was enjoyable. I did many things with them every day, maybe in atypical ways, but I breastfed them like I wanted to and made some fun and unique memories with them along the way. I look forward to sharing their stories with them one day.

On the road again.
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The 4am Feed

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Categories Breastfeeding, Feeding, How Do The Moms Do It, Organization, Overnight, RoutinesTags , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

I confess. I am lazy.

That’s the secret to my efficiency. For example, I’ve got the 4am feed down to a 20-minute science. It took some tweaking for the babies to cooperate, but now most days they do. Actually a lot of what I’m doing now is what I did with Toddler, only I had forgotten until I had to rediscover it all over again. So, if you must do a middle-of-the-night feed, here are some tricks I’ve found that work great for me.

First, not part of the efficiency thing, but greatly helpful to set your babies up for sleep, dim the lights down to one very low wattage bulb. I think mine is 10 watts. It sits in the corner of the room farthest away from the babies. The babies get a clean diaper, swaddled, then placed in their spots in the cosleeper. I sometimes play soft music from my iPhone for them (Pandora’s Lullabye station). Then…

1. Feed babies as much as possible before going to bed. In our case, babies load up before sleeping for good, often 6 ounces over a couple of feedings starting at around 9:30pm. They’re usually out by 11pm.

2. Before going to bed, get all bottles and pump accessories for the night/early morning ready. For me, this means putting nipples on and labeling all bottles. I usually have two bottles of formula made also, as backup. All pump flanges and bottles are clean and screwed together, ready to use.

3. Pump one last time and go to sleep at the same time as the babies. It’s tempting to watch a little TV or get things done while they’re asleep, but I’ve noticed they sleep better with me nearby and I really value my own sleep. I’m sometimes already drifting off while they’re still rustling to settle in.

4. Do not get up before they’re supposed to. If they loaded up on milk before going down, they don’t need to be fed until 4am. Usually all I have to do is replace the paci for the rustling baby and they’re back out before they can really wake up. Toddler never took a paci, so I would just jiggle her bassinet a little and she’d go back to sleep.

5. When the time does come to feed, pop a bottle in the mouth of the hungry one and prop it with whatever you have (I use their blankets). Then do the same with the other one, even if he/she is still fast asleep. They’re still swaddled, so no chance of waving arms knocking the bottles out. My babies will eat while asleep and keep sleeping afterwards without even waking up. I also no longer burp or change them (unless there’s poop) in the middle of the night.

6. While they are eating, pump. There’s a way to secure the flanges with the insides of your elbows by resting the bottles on your thighs, so that you can read your iPhone or reprop a bottle  when necessary. When I’m done, babies have finished eating and have probably also fallen asleep. All I have to do is retrieve their bottles. I leave the flanges on the bottles I just pumped, and everything is left on the nightstand until morning.

7. I can usually do this while still half-asleep myself. Sometimes I will get up to drink some water, pee, and read my phone for a bit in bed before sleeping again, but I can just as easily go right back to sleep. My babies will sleep until 9am, if I replace the paci for them a couple of times starting around 7am. I am usually up by 8ish to watch Toddler after Husband leaves for work, so I can get in a pump and have breakfast with her before they wake up.

Another plus to this is, they usually wake at the same time! That means the day starts off with them on the same schedule. It usually doesn’t stay that way, and I’ve given up imposing a strict togetherness, but sometimes they can stay within a half hour of each other all day.

I’m looking forward to them sleeping all the way till morning and taking regular solid naps (Toddler did it before she was their age), but I think this is as good as it gets for a middle-of-the-night feeding (for twins). But I’ll gladly take any other suggestions to streamline things even further!

lunchldyd is mom to an almost 3 yr old daughter and 4 month old b/g twins, taking whatever sleep she can get!

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Stroller Insanity

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Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed about strollers. As the twins are now 3 months old, and I HATE the double Snap-n-Go that we currently use, I’m ready to get a nice double stroller. I feel so insane scouring the internet for stroller reviews and watching YouTube comparisons for hours. It’s not a small purchase, but if I could just make a decision already I’d be able to spend more time playing with my kids or sleeping!

With our first I bought a travel system. I looked for a 3 wheeled one (called a jogger, I now know), because I think I once saw one at the mall and was intrigued that it looked different from the traditional 4-wheeled ones. I must have been more frugal then, because I looked for the cheapest one I could find and didn’t consider the others at all. I don’t think I even test drove any at the store. We ended up with a Baby Trend Expedition, which cost all of $199, including the carseat! But I soon learned that it was pretty bulky and heavy. Recovering from a c-section in the first few weeks, I opted to use the Bjorn when going out with baby. It didn’t get much use as a travel system either, since I ditched the carseat at 6 months, but it’s still a pretty good stroller. Nice big wheels, very comfortable to push and sit in.

When baby was about a year old, we decided it was time for a family trip somewhere out of town. We picked a place not too far, San Diego, and planned some kid-friendly activities like going to the zoo. Suddenly, I realized that our stroller wouldn’t work. It would fit in my car, but with a pack-n-play and all our luggage for the trip, that was a lot to move around. Plus what if we took a tram at the zoo, or used any other sort of public transportation? So, at the last minute, the night before we planned on leaving, I searched Craigslist for another stroller. I happened to find a Maclaren Quest that was a couple years old, made the deal for $100 early in the morning, and picked it up as we were leaving town. I didn’t even know how to open/close it, so we just figured it out as we used it. I think it weighs something like 12 lbs. I liked it so much that after the trip I considered buying myself a new one, but at $100 and in good condition, there really wasn’t any need. It’s serviced us well.

Both those strollers are now collecting dust in the garage. Toddler doesn’t need to be pushed in a stroller anymore as she likes to run around, and though we think of “jogging” in our jogger now and then, laziness always overtakes us.

It’s time for a new stroller. This time a double. This time more pricey. This time more well-researched. This time, weighing somewhere between the last two. Loving our Maclaren, I was all set on getting the twin version. It’s been sitting in my Amazon cart for months. Grandpa has already given us money to pay for it. But the more I thought about it, the more I read about strollers, the more I was doubting my choice. I’ve come to the conclusion that a double just doesn’t work as an umbrella stroller. Too much to fold up and bulky anyway. Plus it weighs almost 24 lbs, which puts it in the range of non-umbrella doubles.

So, I’ve been looking into other types of double strollers. Turns out there are sooooo many! Tandems, side-by-sides, stacked, re-positionable, carseat adaptable, forever-air tires, one-hand fold, independent recline… one can get sucked into the madness that is stroller comparison. The problem is, since twins are not as prevalent as singles, double strollers are not usually out on sales floors, and for the same reason, you wouldn’t have a “friend’s” to see/test. And the reviews are never-ending, sometimes contradictory, and always refer to yet another previously unresearched stroller for comparison. UGH!

I am leaning towards the Baby Jogger City Mini Double. At under 30″ wide and less than 27 lbs, it’s not too big to stroll around nor too heavy to discourage use.

So the shopping begins. Currently the newest model is the 2012 version. It retails for $450 and I haven’t seen it on sale for much less. The 2011 model is being clearanced, and I have found an orange one for $300. What a steal, right? But I can’t decide if I want to the better seat padding, easier access to the underbasket, and the auto close clip in the newer version. Plus buying the older version would be like buying last year’s car model. A little anti-climatic. Still haven’t decided…

What are you all pushing around?

lunchldyd is mom to a toddler girl and 3 month old b/g twins. She is also a high school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 children under 3, and two neglected dogs who would probably enjoy a walk outside with a new stroller.

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Trying Times of Twinfancy

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Double Trouble?!?!

“Don’t Push me cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head” – GrandmasterFlash

Life with twinfants in the house is HARD. Most of the time I am so busy trying to maintain the peace, that I’m not aware that we’re raising twins. If I were, I think it would wear me out. We are so close to the edge at every minute that it doesn’t take much for our household to spiral out of control.

It is a delicate balance, one that I have best maintained with the help of a routine. If you’ve ever read my personal blog, playdatecrashers.com, you will quickly learn that Tracy Hogg is my baby guru. I owe all of my baby care survival skills to her.

Around my house we live and die by the routine. Our two year old son is a great sleeper, and I think it is due to us keeping a fairly predictable routine since he was a few months old. Thankfully he still enjoys sleeping in the confines of his crib. I am a little nervous about his inevitable transition to the big boy bed, and the new freedoms he will enjoy with it, but I am sure that when the time comes we will tackle it just like everything else, one step at a time.

With the twins it was a lot easier to establish a routine because they were born 8 weeks premature and spent the first two weeks of their lives in the NICU. Since they came home with a three hour routine, the main thing we had to do was help them learn how to sleep at night, which they do quite well. The first six months (since they were born), have been a lot more manageable that I imagined (not that we haven’t faced a few moments of hopeless chaos here and there).

We have recently entered into dangerous territory, which I will refer to as “the change”. It couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time. For those of you who have yet to experience the joys of “the change” it usually falls between 4-6 months and has something to do with baby’s growth spurts, teething, and new skills. Symptoms of the change are drooling, mood swings, sleep disruptions, and inconsolability. There is a much higher success rate to sail smoothly through this face with a singleton, but for Twinfants (especially if they tend to be synchronized) parents should hunker down and prepare for the worst.

Saturday, things finally came to a head when I had reached the third nap of the day and both babies wanted nothing to do with lying in their cribs and drifting peacefully off to sleep like they normally do. I feel like I should also mention the fact that my back-up had been MIA for the past 36 hours because of school and work responsibilities and was recovering from a church youth group over-nighter.

I remember sitting on the bed with one baby crying in the nursery and me holding the other, feeling like all of our hard work had been flushed down the drain and that we would have to start from the ground up to get back to where we were. My solution: escape the chaos and walk away.

I quit trying to stick to the routine for the day and we loaded everyone into the van and headed out on the town. It worked! Then, on Sunday I discovered that I had not been giving them enough Motrin, and once I gave the right dosage they took a peaceful three hour nap, which naturally moved them to the four hour routine I have been trying to transition to for weeks.

Twinfancy is hard. The best we can do is to try not to lose our heads when we realize that we are in over our heads. We may be close to the edge at every moment, but the solution can and will be found among the chaos.

 What strategies have you found helpful when you were in over your head with your multiples?

Jamie is the baby whispering mother to three lively boys, big brother age 2 and identical twins age 6 months. Check out Jamie’s blog and podcast, The Playdate Crashers

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