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Archive for June, 2008

I was so thrilled when my kids finally seemed to notice each other when they were about six months old.  The first time they laughed at each other was a shining moment, for sure.  Now that they almost play with each other (OK, so they grab each other’s toys and ears, but it’s a start), I just love it.  The two of them giggling and babbling at each other is one of the best parts about having twins so far.

Sometimes, though, it’s a little too much fun.  Like at nap time.  Oh my lord.  For two babies who used to not even notice each other, now they can’t be stopped.  Their cribs are lined up end-to-end in the little room they share, and now that they can both crawl around and stand up, it’s party time.  Sometimes, when I hear them shrieking at each other over the monitor, it’s hilariously cute.  45 minutes later, when Rebecca has finally fallen asleep and Daniel is standing at the edge of his crib, glaring down at her, and screaming… not as much.  And he has been fighting the afternoon nap tooth and nail for the last week (they’re only 11 months, and definitely not ready to drop a nap).  Once or twice he has skipped it entirely, other times he takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to finally go to sleep.  The resulting nap (if there is one) isn’t great, so it makes for a rough rest of the day.

It gets me wondering, as I occasionally do, exactly why I have them sharing a room and how long I want to continue doing it.  Back in the days when they were still waking up at night a lot and taking bottles two or three times, I really preferred having them in the same place.  We went through a phase when M freaked out that they were waking each other up, so we separated them, and it drove me nuts.  Because they’d still wake up at the same time, so now I had to be two different places to soothe or feed them.  No thanks, back in the same room they went.  We kept them right next to each other when we Ferberized, and that really did help them learn to sleep through each other’s noises.  And I really do like the idea of these two little kids sharing their room.  I like that they entertain each other, that they make each other laugh.

Except, you know, when I want them to shut up and GO TO SLEEP!

So that’s when I wonder.  Why, truly, do I have them in the same room?  Is it better for them?  Better for me?  Or does it just seem cute but is entirely impractical for the sake of sleep?  The main problem is really naps.  At night, they go down pretty well.  But sometimes those naps… ooh, man.  And maybe separating them wouldn’t help, and it would turn out that Daniel’s just in the midst of a nap strike regardless of who else is in the room.  Hopefully it’ll pass, but I know this is something I’m going to come back to over and over again in the next few years…

What do you guys think?  Do your twins share a room?  Why or why not?  If they do/did, how long did you keep them together?

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Cross-posted at Goddess in Progress

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Never Say Never

Before I had kids I had a lot of “nevers” that I lived by;  I will never feed my kids fast food, I will never leave the baby on top of the car and drive away, I will never yell at my child.  Even if I didn’t articulate them aloud, I held a lot of beliefs dear.  I think most parents do.  But do we pick the right “nevers?”  And do we have some nevers that we should reconsider?

I’m not going to post about letting standards slip a little when you have children.  Everyone reading this knows that sometimes you need to bend your own rules.  In my own case, when I had three toddlers all out of arms’ reach in different directions and something dangerous was about to happen before I could get there, you can believe I raised my voice to get attention.  I don’t think they’re scarred for life.  I never did leave a baby on top of the car though.

But how many of us have said “I could never live without television?”  I know I did for most of my life.  But before we had kids, my husband and I turned off the TV and canceled our cable subscription.  This means no reception at all where we live.  We did it because we were both busy working and seldom watched any TV.  Do we miss it?  Almost never.  Maybe we would miss it more if the 49ers were playing better.  Are we weirdos?  Probably in our own way.  Do our kids feel left out?  I worried about this but my kids have strong personalities and have never been bothered by the comments of others (yet – I wont say they never will).  The enormous payoff from not watching television is that my children are remarkably non-materialistic, avid readers, and excellent conversationalists.  They have long attention spans and many hobbies and interests.  Are they perfect?  Heck no!  I often want to strangle them for various reasons, but I think the absence of television in our house has had a huge positive influence.

If you were to ask me a few months ago if I would get my 11 year old daughter a cell phone, you would have heard an emphatic “Never!” but the truth is, with the erratic schedule of her play rehearsals these days, a cell phone is a must to keep us connected.

Bliss

My point is that you cannot predict what will not work any more than you can predict what will work for your family.  Nor can you predict how your situation or opinions or circumstances will change.  By exploring options you may not have considered before you might discover that you really can do something you never thought you could, like making your own baby food, or working from home, or limiting television.

The picture here is of my oldest daughter opening an American Girl doll several years ago.  She knows there is a Santa because “Mom and Dad would NEVER get me one.”  It’s a good thing she doesn’t know how hard her mom is trying to never say never.

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Very late on the post for today!  Sorry MOMS, but my weekend was C-R-A-Z-Y!  If you were wondering why?  Well, my sister, who is prego with her second child, hasn’t been feeling very well lately.  SO, being the nice sister i am, i volunteered to have HER daughter over for the weekend.  She is 3 months younger than my older daughter, so it was REALLY like having 2 sets of twins.  With that being said, GOD BLESS you ladies who indeed DO have two sets of twins.  The older ones were fun…but it was chaotic.  A semi-organized chaos…but Chaos non the less.  Entertaining four children is A LOT of WORK!  BUT, crazy fun!  We ended our evening with a slumber party for the big girls…and me on the floor in the room going back and forth to the bathroom, since both of the big girls are potty trained! 

Ok, now on to my post! 

I had decided earlier this week to do a post on sippy cups and bottles.  But after polling all our HDYDI MOM writers, I felt i received SOO much info back, that i’m going to do one post on bottle this weekend and another post on sippy cups another weekend.  WHEW, talking about lots of input!  🙂

BTW, thanks for all your input, ladies! 

First, let me say that every pedi i’ve met, will say that breast feeding is the best way to feed your child, for the first year of life.  And i totally agree with that!  BUT, along the same line, if you are reading this, then you more than likely have twins or multiples and breast feeding becomes even more difficult and most women I know personally, either ended up pumping and feeding or just using good ole’ formula(which, by the way is JUST as good as breast milk, it just doesn’t include the immunities your baby gets from you when breast feeding).  I, myself, pumped and fed for a while.  But due to exhaustion, frustration and my girls not really liking my milk, i ended up feeding them formula from about 6 weeks on.  I’m embarrassed and sad to say, i had a FREEZER FULL of breast milk, i ended up pouring down the drain, because my girls REALLY didn’t like it, wouldn’t drink it and cried when i tried to feed it to them!  Weird, i know.  BUT, when you are already all stressed out and exhausted, you do what you have to do to keep your head above water.   

Second, let me say, with all the BPA info going around, i don’t want to point anyone in the wrong direction.  AND most importantly, every child is different so you really have to use your own intuition on the bottle dilemma.  I, myself, have gone through too many bottles in the past 4 years and honestly never really found a bottle i REALLY liked enough to really emphasize that much.  I started out with the gerber bottles and similiac nipples with my first daughter.  Those actually worked great.  That is, until i found i couldn’t just go purchase the similiac(disposable) nipples at the store.  I searched and searched and the only way i found them, was by buying them on ebay for a large amount of money.  

With my twins, things were very different.  I decided to try a different kind of bottle because i didn’t want to go searching for those darn nipples AGAIN!  SO, we bought avent bottles and nipples.  They worked, but ALWAYS seemed to leak.  The babies would be drenched from the neck to the belly button in liquids and i just couldn’t seem to ever figure out how to screw those darn lids on right.  I finally asked my sister what i had been doing wrong.  She actually said there is a gasket on the lids(don’t ask me where or how it works), but that if you screw them on too tight(too many times), you can strip the gasket and they will leak forever.  Uh, that’s probably why mine leaked till the end.  I just learned to use a burb towel underneath their chin, every time i fed a baby.  That makes for TONS of laundry and a very unhappy mom! 

As i polled our MOM writers, here is the feedback i received from others, who used bottles. 

Most moms LOVED Dr. Browns(lots of pieces though)

Playtex ventaire wide were good

avent was good(i, myself, didn’t like the leaks and trying to screw them on just right, as i stated above),

medela were good(BPA free, i think)

Gerber/Gerber clear view were good

evenflo/glass evenflo(which i’m pretty sure are BPA free)

Also note: medela rings & caps leaked badly for one mom, so instead she used gerber caps.

Well, i think that sums all that up, quite quickly and appropriately.  As one MOM stated, each baby has his/her own preference.  SO, we could all go on and on about what is good and what is not good all day long. BUT, My best suggestion is(if you have the money and patience), buy a few kinds and try them out.  SEE for yourself, which one works the best, which on your child likes, which ones don’t leak and most importantly which ones are BPA free.  I went on my weekly target excursion the other day and it seemed like the new thing is the born free bottles.  I don’t have any first hand experience with them, so i can’t say either way. If you do have your own suggestions..please feel free to leave comments!  It may help a fellow MOM and/or pregnant MOM, awaiting the big day! 

With all this being said, i’d like to share a pic of ONE of the best days of a twin mommies life: This was the VERY FIRST day Sarah & Samantha held their bottles and my hands were FREE at last!  Ahh..the joys of having two babies at the same time! 

 

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Food related questions? Topics you’d like to see covered on Foodie Friday? Let us know in the comments or comment on the “Features” page. We’d love to hear from you!

Several posts lately have talked about  getting out with two babies or toddlers. While we usually do a good job getting out of the house, I always look forward to the weekend, when there will be two sets of hands. This means that we can go out to stores that don’t have double shopping carts (Why, oh why  doesn’t Target have double shopping carts?) and I only need to do one shuttle run to the car, buckle in one baby in the carseat….we can play some man-to-man defense.

Sometimes getting out means doing something social. While we did very few social activities in the first few months of having babies, we have been trying to do more now. Sometimes this is a birthday celebration at a friend’s house (brunch so it will be baby friendly), a baby’s birthday party, an afternoon at the grandparents’ or just a quick visit with friends. On a recent summer weekend, we went to two outdoor bbq’s. Several things I learned from these experiences:

1. Picnics at a baby friendly house are much easier. There are baby toys in the backyard (and maybe even baby swings!). There is baby friendly food. No one minds that you stop mid-sentence to go chasing a wandering baby or two. And, best of all, events are often scheduled in that key after nap, pre-bedtime time.

2. Don’t worry about bringing your own food or feeding kiddos before hand (unless they are too young for table food)—they will want to eat whatever everyone else is eating anyway! Fruit salads, often a staple at summer picnics, are fantastic for babies. My babies prefer fruit over most foods anyway. My guys had their first watermelon at a picnic and also enjoy the cantalope, blueberries and strawberries that often come in a fruit salad. They’re in heaven! Messy, but happy. Note Abigail shoving watermelon in her mouth with her whole hand—and the watermelon juice dripping down her dress.

3. Bring sippy cups of water or milk. My guys drink plenty of milk, so when we go out I usually just bring sippies for water. I don’t like the idea of milk sitting out for a couple of hours at a picnic.  If it’s a hot day, make sure that the sippies are available to your kiddos. You can also offer lots of fruit on a hot day, like watermelon, that has lots of water in it.

4. Beware of the hidden nuts! Most pediatricians recommend waiting until 2 years for nuts and peanuts….be aware that nuts can hide in the more unexpected places. Our recent experiences with hidden nuts include cookies, stuffed french toast and raisen bread.

And, of course, picnics are more fun for all concerned if you can do a man-to-man defense. Assign each parent a baby and they will be easier to keep track of. Even better, get together with some friends without babies as well, and the childless (but baby-friendly) friends can help chase down babies. They might even think it’s fun! (Take note: this is another great way to help those POM’s!)

Other hints for enjoying an outdoor picnic? Share them with us in the comments!

TIP   Don’t forget to put sunscreen and a hat on those babies!!!!

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How do we do it?

Most of us do it without any help at all, but that’s not how most of us want it to be. Most of us thought people were going to come out of the woodwork to help us care for our darling multiple babies. Most of us thought people actually meant it when they said they would help out.

If you’ve read my blog, you know I struggled the last couple weeks with feeling alone, and much like a failing mother because I just couldn’t keep up the energy and stamina and passion for all the hard work mothering twins has been.

The thing is, though, that my husband and I have done it primarily without any outside help for the last 2.5 years. That’s nearly 1,000 days of constant, consistent parenting without extra hands to hold two babies, rock two babies, feed two babies or hug two babies. And yet the rest of life — household chores, running errands, household maintenance — still has to get done as well.

It’s always been a wonder to me why people drop off the planet after just the first month of a child’s birth because the hard work of raising kids, as we’ve all realized, doesn’t end as soon as the babies start sleeping four hours at a stretch — or even eight.

And that leads me to this list. It’s too late for me to get what I needed these last two years, but it might not be too late for those of you new to mothering or who are expecting.

Please be bold enough to pass this list along to a grandparent, cousin, aunt, neighbor, friend or spouse of a mother of twins, triplets, quadruplets, or other higher order multiples under the age of 4 and encourage them to use it frequently for as long as they can do so.

And, in the comments, share some of your own thoughts on what would help you as a mother of multiples.

5 Ways to help Moms of Multiples

  1. Listen AND Empathize: Use kind, caring words to show empathy. Please do not compare your situation to a mother of twins. No two mothers’ situations are ever alike. Our homes, both physically and emotionally, are different. Our children are born with unique personalities and challenges. Consider phrases like this: “I cannot imagine what you are going through, but I do know how hard it is with just one,” or “Parenting is so hard, I can’t imagine what it is like with two (or more).” Do not say things like, “Mine were 16 months apart so it was like having twins” or, the dreaded, “Double trouble.”
  2. Offer specific help: How about bringing her a cup of coffee on your way to work? Going to the store for your own groceries? How about calling or emailing the new MoM in your life and asking her if she needs anything. This goes not just for the first few weeks but for the first few years. Do you know how hard it is to get two or more non-walking or new walkers out of a car and into a store just for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread? Picking up your dry cleaning in the local strip mall? How about asking the new MoM in your life if she has any laundry she needs laundered? You could pick it up on your way. No need to go too far out of your way, but your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
  3. Household chores: Can you do dishes? How about sweep floors? What about take out trash or clean bathrooms? If you are capable of doing any of this then that would be a great help to a new mother. You do not need to do it often and you do not need to do it perfectly. Just show up and clean during a regular, scheduled visit.
  4. Bring soul food: I remember very little during those first few weeks other than the crying. But, I remember the oatmeal raisin cookies my mother made and the huge meat and cheese tray my aunt brought one night. We feasted on those sandwiches and cookies for the next several days in those mini-meals we ate a couple times a day. That was the kind of food I wanted – that, and take out. Casseroles are great, but even planning to put them into the oven, eating and cleaning up was too much for us in those first couple months. And, I needed other soul food, too. Chocolate. Flowers. A relaxation CD. A card. I would have loved a card that told me how I was doing a great job and to hang in there.
  5. Put in some time: People are alwayswilling to hold a baby, but sometimes that’s not what is best for a new mom. Parents of multiples are more isolated than most new mothers because it is not easy to just pick up two babies (or more) and go out of the house. Some homes are better laid out for easy outings than others. Two arms are never enough for just one parent with two babies. So, please, offer to go along for doctor visits, offer to go out to lunch, offer to go to a local park, offer to stay in the car while she runs in the store, offer to help her shop for some postnatal clothes. Help her get out of the house and be a part of the world, again. And do this often and for as long as possible. Because there comes a time when her babies will be out of infant carries, but not yet walking. And then, after that, they are new walkers and still need to be carried. And then after that they are runners — going in two different directions.

And it’s all hard. Every last bit of it. So, she needs you. And by mothering the mother, you’re helping her be a better mother.

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We are rapidly approaching my boys first birthday and I wonder: where the hell did the year go?

When we celebrated our daughter’s first birthday, I could look back on that year and remember everything with such great detail. Her first year seemed to go on and on (in a good way) and reaching her birthday was a major, joyous milestone. I sat down and wrote her a detailed letter highlighting all her accomplishments for that year off the top of my head.

With the twins? A year, gone in the blink of an eye!

It really seems like just yesterday I was wondering if what having twins would really be like. And now I’m planning their birthday party. Where did the time go? The year has flown by and in my head, it is all one blurred, sleep-deprived memory of nursing, cuddling, ear infections (Hi Dr. P!)…wait, they’re crawling? When did they learn to stand up? THEY FEED THEMSELVES?? Holy cow!

My suggestion of the day to all new MOMs is this: blog. Or – bless you if you can find the time – scrapbook. Seem silly? It’s not. If it weren’t for my blog, I would reach their first birthday with precious few concrete memories. But when I read my blog entries and I am instantly taken back to various points in the past year and I can really re-live them. I can hear their voices, I can smell the smells (well, the good ones anyway!), I can feel them in my arms.

Surviving the first year with multiples takes takes an enormous amount of time, energy and brain-power. Creating some sort of memory collection as it happens is something you will thank yourself for in the long run.  Good luck!

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Have a question for the How Do You Do It? moms?  Ask away in the comments or on our Features page!

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The HDYDI moms have made no secret of the fact that we’re big fans of getting out of the house with your babies whenever possible.  But just because we think it’s a good idea doesn’t mean that it’s easy.  Case in point, a question from our reader: how on earth do you get out of the house when you’re exclusively breastfeeding multiple newborns?!  Getting out of the house can be a production on its own, so how can that fit into a life when there are two babies who want to nurse every 1.5-2 hours?  As always, we have some suggestions.

The First Few Outings: Plan ahead, coordinate with feedings, and start small.

In my kids’ earliest days, I felt like I had to plan even the smallest outings at least several hours ahead of time.  First, I had to find the five minutes to actually think of what I was going to do!  Then, think of what I’d need to have with me, how long I’d be out of the house, etc.  The key, for me, was to have everything I needed all ready (packed in a diaper bag, carseats set out, etc.).  Then, I’d feed both babies and everything would be ready to go.  I’d all but bolt out of the house the moment they were fed and burped!  No wasted time.

If you haven’t already, start with just going for a walk (hooray for summer!). You don’t need to take much with you, but well in advance, get your carseats and/or stroller at the ready, maybe hats or receiving blankets for shade, maybe a few burp cloths (if your kids are as spitty as mine were!). The next time your kids are ready to eat, feed them both, and out you go!  The littlest ones will likely fall asleep the moment the stroller starts moving (you’ll miss this when it’s gone!).

This same strategy works for bottlefeeding, and for outings more ambitious than a walk around the neighborhood.  But if you’re nervous, start small and just get out there!  The worst that will happen is your babies will cry, and you’ll turn around, head for home, and be fine.

Branching Out: pick nursing/feeding-friendly spots

Ready for more? Think of a place that will have somewhere conducive to sitting and nursing in public.  Many baby stores have lounges for moms, and hey, didn’t you need something there anyways? Malls are also a great destination: indoors, smooth surfaces for the stroller… and department stores can have nice big dressing rooms.  Nordstrom’s is practically famous amongst new moms for their fabulous bathrooms.  One new one near me not only has chandeliers and couches, but (I kid you not) private nursing rooms with a door that locks from the inside, a recliner, and a changing table.  Even the food court can be an option.  If you have a nice park near you that’s a good walking destination, seek out the benches in the shade.  You probably want to avoid handicap stalls in bathrooms, for both the germ and demoralization factors.  Find someplace that will be comfortable and friendly, and go there.  I’ve even found a blog that lists good nursing rooms!  You can click on tags that list by state, store, etc.

Many of us have also nursed in the back of our cars in parking lots. Many cars have the tinted rear windows, which helps a little, and maybe you park a little farther away from everyone else, but it’s totally do-able.

Better than anything else: go to a friend’s house, especially one who also has babies.  Bring your nursing pillow, set yourself up in your friend’s guest room if you need more privacy.  Join your local MOT club and connect with other moms of new twins, and get together at each other’s places.

Specific strategies: Have the right tools

Yeah, they say it’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but sometimes you need the right ones for the job. First and foremost, you need a couple of great nursing bras.  The HDYDI moms recommend those made by Bravado and Medela.  Pricey?  Perhaps.  But you’ll wear them every single day as long as your nursing, so it’s worth the investment.  A crappy bra that you always have to fuss with will only frustrate you.  More important than the brand, however, is the fit.  Find a maternity store or lactation consultant and GET MEASURED.  This is true for all bras, but nursing bras in particular.  If you guess and don’t have the right size, even the fanciest bra won’t be comfortable.

For the sake of modesty, there are plenty of good accessories. I, for one, was more self-conscious about my squishy, stretchmarked belly than I was about the boob factor.  Nursing tanks are great for this, as you can wear them under another shirt, and they keep the belly covered while your providing access to the boob.  Another great “hack” from Emomily is to use the Bella Bands that they make for pregnant moms, and use them to cover and hold in the postpartum belly.  Nursing covers (aka “hooter hiders”) are also a great tool, instead of trying to keep a receiving blanket on baby’s head.

If you have a favorite nursing pillow that you just can’t live without, whether it’s the EZ 2 Nurse one for the tandem folks, or the My Brest Friend for one-at-a-time, bring it with you.  Don’t be shy about having what you’ll need to be successful.  The My Brest Friend totally fits in the basket of the Double Snap N Go.  The EZ 2 Nurse, maybe not (damn, that thing is huge!), but if you’re going somewhere that you’d be comfortable tandem nursing, bring it along!

Even the tandem-nursers in the group generally fed one baby at a time when in public.  Much easier to get situated and maintain a little privacy that way.  And speaking of privacy, many states have laws that specifically protect the right to breastfeed in public.  You do have that right, and I know a few “lactivists” who defend that right by happily tandem-nursing in public with nary a nursing cover in sight. I absolutely defend a woman’s right to nurse her child in public, but I will also say that a little consideration for those around you is never a bad thing.  You should not have to hide when you nurse, but I don’t think you have to shove your boob in your fellow diners’ faces, either.  In all things, moderation.

And, sometimes, you just bring bottles of expressed breastmilk or formula.  If you’re not comfortable nursing in public, that’s really OK.  You bring a bottle or two, you get home and pump if you need to… it’s all good.  As with anything, coordinating outings and feedings is all about practice.  There will be times when it goes well, and there will be times that you all crash and burn.  Keep on trying, and it will become second nature.

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