I picked this post to recycle because, at 26 months, many of these feelings still ring true. Maybe a little less powerfully and a little less frequently, but they are still there. Just this morning, with my mom in town, I took my little girl out running errands by herself. She had a blast. I had a blast. We had some special time together and hit five different places—my work, the post office, the library, CVS and Dunkin Donuts (for a treat for me (caffienated) and her (no caffeine). This is about three errands more than I would ever attempt with the two of them together. She was sweet, easy and charming the entire time. Not, perhaps, how I would always describe her on our trips out as a threesome.
So, I’m going to admit to the un-admitable here for a MOT. Sometimes I have one baby envy. Not that I don’t love my kiddos, because I do. Not that I have a baby picked out that I would choose not to have (at least not since Danny stopped waking up every two hours, ALL NIGHT LONG, to breastfeed. At six months). But, twins were never in my long-range plan. I wasn’t the little girl who thought having twins would be fun. I wasn’t even the newlywed who thought twins would be great. It wasn’t until I had experienced two years of infertility and a failed round of IVF that twins started looking pretty fantastic. That got me through the first nine months or so, saying things like, “I wouldn’t change this for the world!” and “Twins are so much more fun than just one baby!”. And it’s true, I wouldn’t. And they are. But…..lately I’ve been looking around and feeling a bit of one baby envy. A friend tells me about a trip to California site-seeing when their baby was 11 months old. Um, no thanks. I can’t even imagine the stress and lack of sleep that would occur if I tried that with TWO babies. (Props to those of you who might be planning such a trip). I see a couple out to dinner with their six month old. At six months, I was simply trying to survive. Besides, my kids melt down by 6pm—no dinners out for us. Friends start to talk about baby #2. Baby #2? We’ve GOT baby #2. And my husband begins yelling very loudly, “I can’t hear you!” with fingers in ears if the topic of another baby ever comes up. Mommy and me yoga. Baby swimming classes. Running into a store/friend’s house/work with one baby propped on my hip—no stroller or carseats involved. Getting a babysitter. Do you know how many teenagers are NOT into watching two babies? Shocking, really.
And then my babies got sick. Not a little cold or an ear infection sick, but two weeks of every symptom imaginable, rotating through our household one by one. Vomiting for 12 hours (which my husband and I had the pleasure of experiencing as well), fevers (104.2 for Abigail), ear infection (Abigail again), probable pneumonia (also Abigail) and for the duration, clingy, sad, needy babies. Times two. Who ONLY wanted…yep, you guessed it…Mommy. Not Daddy, who is usually Abigail’s favorite person ever. Not my mom. Not the sitter. Me. It’s hard to hold two babies, much less comfort and care for two inconsolable little ones. All I wanted to do was let Abigail nap on me for two hours, since it’s the only place she’d sleep. But Danny needed to be held, and changed, and fed. So I would have to disrupt her, put her down, listen to her cry, while I took care of Danny. And then Danny would cry when I picked up Abigail. Fun times, really. So, I’ll admit it. The past few weeks, I’ve been pretty down on the two babies at a time thing. I love my kids. I’m so happy I finally got to have them. But, boy does that one baby only thing look fun sometimes. Especially when I’m juggling two babies in my arms, an iced coffee and a bag of groceries and I drop my keys. (Yeah, I think the neighbors watch out the windows all day just to get to catch amusing incidents like this). So, I’ve been in a pissy mood. And I feel even worse when I feel guilty about my one baby envy (made worse by a fellow MOT who said to me, while I was in the thick of it, twins are so great, I NEVER wish there was only one. Yeah, the mommy guilt really went nuts over that one. ) Of course, then I look at their cute little faces, or at them giggling with each other, and it’s hard to have one baby envy for long. It helps that they are no longer sick. The envy will will return at some point soon, I’m sure…….probably the next time I walk by a mom carrying her (one) baby out of Dunkin’ Donuts, happily sipping on the iced coffee she’s got in her other hand.
This week, after waiting out a terrible hail storm in our van, the kids and I were tired, hungry and weary of being cooped up. We made an impromptu stop at a diner style restaurant and ordered whole wheat grilled cheese. Our dinner together was very calm, relaxed and enjoyable. But I started getting funny glaces as I signed: Jonathan, would you like “more” “crackers?” Say “thank you” “Mama.” I wondered if the people in the surrounding booths were thinking that one or both of my kids were hearing impaired, or if they were just amazed, as I am, that my 13 month kiddos can communicate via sign language.
My fascination with baby sign language began when my sister-in-law taught my niece to sign. It was amazing! The only problem was, the rest of us had NO IDEA what she was saying! So without Tonya to interpret, we were clueless about what Natalie was talking about!
Signing seemed like a good idea, a possible way to cut down on tantrums and communication frustrations. Plus it was something I thought I could teach the kids for fun, without getting caught up in the whole “baby genius” thing. I am leery of anything that puts unrealistic expectations on babies, but signing seemed like more fun than work. I borrowed my niece’s signing video’s http://mybabycantalk.com/ and started trying to watch them with the kids around the age of 9 months. Their attention span was about 30 seconds, so I ended up watching the video by myself. I learned several signs, and practiced them with the kids often. We tried the video again at 10 months with slightly more success. Faith was entranced for about 5 minutes, and Jonathan could have cared less. At 10 1/2 months, Faith signed “more” for the first time. Jonathan didn’t start signing until after their first birthday. At the time, I thought he was never going to sign, that it just wasn’t his thing. And then, one day, he signed “more” like he had always been doing it. “Dog” and “eat” quickly followed suit.
At 13 months of age, we are all on the signing bandwagon. The kids grandparents think it is cool, as do the aunts and uncles. My normally stoic husband cheers when the kids use a new sign. The kids themselves are so proud when they clearly communicate something to us by sign.
The other day, I did have a moment where I regretted teaching the kids sign language… I was quickly trying to get dinner ready, and Jonathan and Faith were standing at the gate, upset. Faith pounded on the gate, and when I turned to look at her, she frantically signed “EAT! EAT! EAT!” I said “Sweetheart, I know you are hungry. Mom is fixing dinner as fast as I can! “EAT! EAT! EAT!” More banging. I don’t think I have ever cooked with that much pressure before!
The key to our signing fun, has been for me and my husband to learn the signs and use them in normal conversation. We don’t have lesson time, but when the neighbor’s dog barks, we all four turn to eachother and sign “Dog.” The words that I have found easy to integrate into normal conversation are: Eat, More, Milk, Drink, All Done, Mama, Daddy, Dog, Cat, Car, Up, Down, Please, Thank You, No, Share, Baby, Sleep, Crackers and Hat.
I keep this pack on my coffee table and practice my words while watching Jon and Kate Plus 8! The flashcards are also great for our babysitters to refrence, so they know what the kids are saying.
The last point I would like to make, is about baby signing vs. American Sign Language. The signs we teach our kids are a combo, but if you have a choice, I would go for a tool/book/product that is based on ASL. What we teach ourselves and our kids may come in handy someday! I know the little bit of spanish I learned in 2nd grade has stuck with me, but the three years I took in high school are long gone!
Edited to add: at 24 months of age, my kids have learned 75 signs plus a few letters in the alphabet. However, the amount of signing they do has been reduced drastically due to their ability to chatter incessantly!
When contemplating which post to recycle during our Archive week, my personal life collided with my bloglife. I have raved over and over about the GoGo Kidz Travelmate. Since I originally wrote this post, I’ve taken many more flights with my twins using the Travelmates. I took a plane trip by myself with the kids! I’ve lent our GoGo Kidz to an untold numbers of friends for traveling and everyone raves about this product. If you’re planning a plane trip with twins, this would be the #1 product I would recommend.
Last week, one of my friends borrowed a Travelmate to travel cross-country alone with her son. One of the wheels came off it at the airport! She contacted GoGo Babyz, which happens to be located in the same city where she is staying. GoGo Babyz asked her to come in, where they upgraded the axle and replaced both wheels for free. With such great customer service, I decided to recycle this post.
My favorite product for traveling with young twins is the GoGo Kidz Travelmate. This attachment straps onto a car seat essentially turning the car seat into a wheelie bag. Instead of lugging a double stroller, two car seats, and two kids through the airport, you can wheel each kid. Prepare to be stopped when you travel with these because people want to know what they are and where you bought it.
Using Travelmates made our trip logistics easier. At the curb, my husband Jon put the Travelmates on the car seats while I entertained the kids in the car. I wheeled the kids into the terminal while Jon parked the car. We each wheeled one child through security. We quickly strapped the kids in before moving away from security.
As for getting on and off the plane, there is no easy way to do this with young twins. If you do not buy seats for your kids, you can gate-check the car seat/Travelmate combo. We bought seats for our boys so it was a little more complicated.
We took the Travelmate off the car seat before getting on the plane. We put each child in a car seat and carried the car seat with a child in it. We asked the flight attendants to stow the Travelmates for us as soon as we got on board. Upon arrival, we carried the boys into the terminal in the car seats before attaching the Travelmate.
(Side note: now that we have two cars, we keep one set of car seats with Travelmates attached in the trunk. And now that my boys don’t ride in their car seats on the plane, we planeside check the Travelmates.)
Without Travelmates, I found the idea of air travel with twin toddlers daunting. With Travelmates, I can’t say air travel with toddlers is easy, but it is certainly much, much easier and means one less thing to worry over. And if you ever need to RUN from one terminal to another terminal at O’Hare Airport because you have only 10 minutes to make a connection and they are not holding the plane for you, you will want to kiss your Travelmates. Trust me on this one.
Erin! Amy! Sarah! Jen from Diagnosis:Urine! Kim! Jenna! Renae! Nicole! Marcy!
Congratulations ladies! There were a total of 1, 472 votes cast, and the numbers were very close. In fact, Sarah and Jen tied with the exact same number of votes, which is why we will be adding NINE wonderful new contributors to our ranks. Ladies, thank you all for your participation in this contest. We greatly appreciate everyone who reads and comments on HDYDI, and we are excited to introduce our new members!
While we focus on the changes taking place at HDYDI, we will take a look back over the past year of mothering our multipes for “From the Archives” Week. Enjoy!
Marcy is a 30 year-old first-time mom to fraternal twin girls, Amelia and Ella, born in September of 2007. After taking a one-year maternity leave, she returned (kicking and screaming!) to her job as a state worker. As it so happens, raising twin toddlers and working (albeit part-time) is not all it’s cracked up to be. So, she has decided to pursue a different career, and thus begins her new adventure as a stay-at-home mama at the end of June. She is anxiously awaiting what her two new bosses have in store…
All in the Family, by: Marcy
When we broke the news that I was pregnant with our dynamic duo, I got my first glimpse at twin celebrity. People were amazed that two babies were growing inside my belly. Truth be told, so was I! And, it didn’t take long before the comments started flowing. Oh, you know the ones… “Twins? Good luck!” or “Better you than me!” And, my personal favorite: “What are you going to do with two babies?!” I remember my usual response like it was yesterday. “Oh, don’t worry about us,” I would say. We’ll have lots of help. My in-laws live right upstairs.” Famous last words.
Prior to the girls’ arrival, I had a great relationship with my in-laws( ILs). My husband and I moved into the IL’s second floor apartment days after we were married. Five years later, when we announced my pregnancy, my ILs graciously gave up their larger first floor pad to make room for babies. Nice, huh? By the time Amelia and Ella were born, my mother-in-law (MIL) had retired and was available to us any time, day or night. I know what you’re all thinking… “This is a bad thing because…??” Because it was. It turned out to be an awful thing for our family, and one that I did not see coming.
We hadn’t even made it out of the hospital when I suspected there might be a slight problem. As if it’s not mortifying enough to have countless sets of strange hands on your boobs (I refer here, of course, to the lactation consultants and nurses), it was somewhere in the realm of the insane to have my MIL “show” me the correct way to breastfeed my babies. In case you haven’t experienced this before (and I pray you haven’t!), this is truly an out-of-body experience. I remember thinking, “Um, you breastfed ONE baby 33 frickin’ years ago, and that makes you an expert? Get your hands off my boobs, woman!” Still, who had time to focus on MIL’s grabby hands when I had two poorly-latching babies? And, it was this attitude (born out of pure necessity), that got me into trouble in those early weeks and months.
Between the continued breastfeeding struggles and twin sleep deprivation, I let a lot of stuff go. I was in survival mode. I didn’t care if my husband trained a chimp to relieve me of a late night feeding; I just needed some sleep. MIL doesn’t like the Baby Bjorn because she fears it hurts the babies’ legs? Who cares? Who cares, if, on the day I decide to give it a go with exclusive breastfeeding, MIL is in the other room screaming that I am starving the babies? Not me! But, somewhere around week 8, I started coming out of my haze, albeit slowly. While I had been adamant from the beginning about the girls’ 3-4 hour feeding schedule, I started to figure out some other things, too. It’s right around this time when I noticed that MIL had long ceased knocking at the front door before entering. It had become a free-for-all. I actually felt so much like a prisoner in my own home (ahem, their apartment) that I would pack up two newborns and make a mad dash for the car whenever my anxiety became too overwhelming. I would go out of my way to hit up a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru two towns over just to get some alone time with my babies.
The worst part about the whole ordeal (yes, worse than the aforementioned touching of the boobage!) was that I had no idea how to safely broach the subject with my husband. I mean, how do you tell the man you love that you have visions of strangling the woman who gave birth to him? Very delicately. I decided to make it more about me. I focused on how my MIL’s behavior was negatively affecting me, causing undue stress and anxiety that was not good for our girls. And, I must say that my husband was extremely supportive. He has had my back since Day One. Incidentally, thanks honey! That’s not to say that we haven’t had our fair share of squabbles over the issue. Many a tiff were born out of my perception that he was not appropriately outraged at MIL’s latest escapade. And, as angry as I would get at my husband, I also felt bad for him, too. It is his mom we’re talking about here. You know… the woman who raised him.
I have laid awake many a night wondering why it all went so wrong. What could have been an ideal situation for new parents of twins turned into my own daily episode of Dr. Phil. I think our many battles can be summed up with just one word: control. My MIL has a super controlling personality. And, me? Do I consider myself a control freak? Pre-twins, no. Post-twins, heck yeah! Awake by 7 A.M., fed by 8, nap at 9. Rinse, wash, repeat. Organized chaos — essential for any new mom of twins who desires a semblance of normalcy in her life. And, God help the person who dares interfere with said chaos.
Here’s my best advice for anyone currently struggling with similar issues: Decide as a couple how you want to raise your children. Then, make your wishes known to family and friends and ask for their support. For instance, let your parents and in-laws know that your kids are not allowed to drink juice (no judging here, just an example), and ask that no juice pass your kids’ lips while in their care. If your wishes are not respected, make it clear that you are disappointed and discuss expectations for future visits. Do not be afraid to stick up for your family and your choices, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel in the moment. This has been one of the most difficult lessons for me as a new mom, but one of the most valuable to date. There is part of me that is almost grateful to my MIL for her overbearing ways. She has pushed me to find my own voice as a mother.
Have any of you faced a similar situation with the in-laws, or even your own parents? How did you deal with them?
My name is Jennifer. I am 34 years old, married to Paul, a wonderful husband and father, since 2007. We were both previously married and we each have a child from that marriage. I have a seven year old daughter named Juliana. Paul has an eighteen year old son named Paulie. We were thrilled to welcome our twin boys, Louis and Anthony, into our family last July. They are now ten months old and a lot of fun. In February, we learned that we were expecting another baby. What a surprise this was! My c-section is set for September 22, 2009. We are expecting another boy.
I have my Master’s Degree in Counseling with an advanced certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy. Prior to the birth of our twins, I was a social worker for a foster care agency here in NYC. I am now a stay at home mom to our children, and although it is the most challenging job I have ever had, it is also the most rewarding. I wouldn’t want it any other way!
Family Circus by Jennifer N.
I thought raising a little girl was difficult. I mean for a seven year old girl, she has the mouth and attitude of a 17 year old! And the outfits, hairdos and the girly melodrama issues are really starting to turn my hair gray!
So finding out I was having twin boys really made me very excited! I wouldn’t have to deal with whining girls, I wouldn’t have to deal with the dramatics, I wouldn’t have to deal with the dressing up and competition with girlfriends… But I guess I was not prepared for the boys!
My twins are only 10 months old. They are a pleasure to have around. I am amazed that I have been blessed with good sleepers, sleeping through the night since they were seven weeks old. They have never given me any problems with eating, although Louia has acid reflux, and once we put him on Zantac and changed his formula, he became a new baby. We go out and they don’t scream and cry. We go to restaurants and they sit like big kids. They smile at everyone and are always pleasant. They really are great kids!
But boy are they bruisers! I didn’t think I would have to worry about wrestling for years! How can two ten month old boys lie on each other and roll around on top of each other without getting hurt? I guess since they have always known life together, scrunched up inside the womb all those months, they are used to it, but wow! And I would have thought it was way too soon to see them yank back and forth at a toy they both want! I rarely hear them cry over any of this, but I am still amazed that this has begun at only ten months old!
Yesterday, Anthony took off his shoes and socks in the play corral. He was standing up holding on. All of a sudden, I see the tiny toes of one foot creep into the x shaped slats in the corral… then the second set of tiny toes crept in as well… and Anthony was halfway up the corral wall trying to get out! And where was Louis? Right behind him! In a split second after that, I saw a third set of tiny toes creep in there as well. I jumped up and got them both off the corral, but not without more gray hairs!!! I am afraid my little monkeys will be out of the crib, corral and Pack and Plays sooner than I thought!
Shortly after the toes in the corral experience, I was cooking dinner and was peeking at them from the kitchen. Luckily I can see everything from the kitchen. I saw Anthony push Louis down on the ground and he stepped right on top of him to gain more leverage to the top of the corral wall! And Louis wasn’t even complaining! Am I in trouble! Especially since I am pregnant again…. with another boy! Boy oh boy… oh boy!
I was hoping maybe I would have another famous family of male actors like the Baldwin family or a famous family of boy singers like the Jonas brothers, the Jacksons or the Osmonds… It would have even been nice to have another famous family of boy athletes like the Mannings of football or the Bodines of Nascar driving! Instead, I may just be looking at the next Ringling Brothers! Well, how fitting, sometimes this house is just that… a circus!
Christina is mom to 21-month-old fraternal twin girls, Elena and Clara. She and her husband adopted the girls at birth, and have been on a whirlwind adventure ever since being given the three-day-notice that they were chosen to be parents to twins! In her life-before-babies, Christina was a full-time professor and researcher of family communication. Having moved from theory into the reality of family communication, she now keeps her work life at half-time, and revels in the adventures and excitement of life with two almost-two-year-olds. She chronicles the girls’ adventures at darnhappy.blogspot.com
Research and Reality, by: Christina
The research is clear. There are two things that happen to almost everyone when they have children: their workload goes up, up, up, and their martial satisfaction goes down, down, down. As a brand new mom, I was determined that this wouldn’t happen in my own family (and that it definitely wouldn’t happen TIMES TWO just because we have twin girls). But, as I find often, there is a gap between what I WANT to happen and what DOES happen. Sure, things have gotten easier now that are girls are 21 months old instead of 2 months old, and my husband and I have some time to sit, breathe, and talk to one another again. But still, even though I am a professor of family communication and I know what I SHOULD be doing, that doesn’t mean I’m always doing it! And so, in an effort to keep our family life as good as we can get it, here are a few reflections on the SHOULDS I am working on that may help some other moms of HDYDI:
1. I SHOULD be careful about messages I send my children about the role they have in our family. I try to avoid falling into the common twin-trap of answering passerby asking “Which is the outgoing one?” “Which is the happy one?” People want to pigeonhole our twins, assign them rigid roles, when they are each outgoing at some times, they are each happy (and unhappy) at others. Children will naturally take on their own roles in a family, they don’t need to be pegged into them (especially by people outside our family!). Yet just this week I’ve caught myself telling my daughter Clara: “Look at how nicely your sister is sitting – can’t you sit nicely like her?” What am I teaching her about her role in our family when I put her in opposition to her sister like that? That Clara is the “not-good” one who has to try to be “good” like her sister? Or when I say to Elena: “I’m disappointed you didn’t share with your sister. It makes me sad when you don’t share” I’m telling her she’s not fulfilling her role as a sister/daughter very well, yet it’s not developmentally appropriate yet for not-quite-two-year-olds to fully grasp the idea of sharing! Even though we never say to the girls “You’re good” or “You’re bad” (and instead try to focus on telling them when they’ve made good or bad choices) I’m still sending them role messages, and I need to be careful about what I’m telling them.
2. I SHOULD reach out for resources when I’m stressed out. Stress happening to one person is happening to the whole family, and so when I’m feeling overwhelmed about meeting the needs of two very demanding little toddlers at once, it’s not just me who feels that. It rubs off on my interactions with the girls and my husband, too. But when we feel pressure, the stress that results is moderated by all kinds of things, and one thing that can help reduce the overall stress on the family is the use of resources. I should call some friends to come play with us, take the girls out on a beautiful day to get us all out of the house, grab a snack to make me (and them!) less cranky, go to one of the free kid-friendly places in town for a diversion, call a fellow mom of multiples to hear that “this is normal” or schedule in some time just for me after the girls go to bed. I have a tendency to wrap myself up in my stress, to reflect on it and let it grow and multiply. Instead of that focus inward, I need to focus outward and grab on to all of the resources that are available to me.
3. I SHOULD keep a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments with myself, the girls, and my husband. A researcher named John Gottman found that we have a nifty trick called “positive sentiment override” that happens in relationships. When we have positivity overall in our relationships, we stay focused on the positive things that happen and overlook the negative. The reverse also can happen – if you are dissatisfied in your relationship (with your child, your partner, etc.) then you focus more on the negative, and don’t notice the positives that occur. To keep satisfied relationships, we want to say/do about FIVE positive things for every one negative thing. Probably best not to do this all in a row (telling my daughters “You’re smart, you’re strong, you’re pretty, I love you, you delight me, STOP JUMPING ON THE COUCH!!!” might be a bit much!) but trying to keep in mind an overall focus on saying/doing many positive things in a day means we don’t have to beat ourselves up over saying one snarky thing or not having patience at one particular moment. The positive sentiment override will kick in and my family should still be happy with me overall, even if I can’t be perfect! And I’ll continue to focus on the positives with THEM, which is even more important to me.
So let’s hear it, other HDYDI moms – what SHOULDS are you missing at the moment, but still aspiring to? Anyone else interested in comparing research with our reality?
Hello Everyone! Enormous thanks go to our wonderful MoM’s who have agreed to “try out” for HDYDI! We are beyond thrilled that so many of you are reading along with us, and we hope you enjoy our contest week. Please vote for the author you would like to hear more from, as the authors with the most votes at 12:00am Eastern Time on Sunday, June 7th, will be invited to write for HDYDI. Enjoy and PLEASE VOTE!
Barb is an average mom with many hats: Wife of 8 years. Mommy to 2.5 year old boy/girl twins and a 4 month old boy. Teacher of pre-teens with Autism. Newsletter editor for a Mothers of Multiples Group. Daughter, sister, aunt, friend. Boo-Boo kisser. Potty Trainer. Breastfeeder. Mac n Cheese maker. Grocery Shopper. Babywearer. Working Mom. Coupon Saver. Learner. Reader. And Blogger (of course!). You can read more about her “Twinkies” and “Cupcake” at My Sweet Life.
Strength in Numbers
When an ultrasound at 12 weeks unveiled the surprise that we were expecting twins, the first person I called was my Mom (of course!). The first person to actually SEE the image though was my friend Kerry – mom to then 2.5 year old twin girls. We casually stopped by with our first ‘baby’ picture. She knew what she was looking at right away – two babies – and quickly began to let me know what I did (and did NOT) need two of.
Ironically, Kerry had just recently heard about a local Mothers of Multiples (MoM) group and was planning on joining, so that fall, we attended our first meeting together. I must admit, it was nice to walk into a large group of unfamiliar faces with a friend, but I could tell right away, that all those ‘faces’ would soon be friends, too. I remember sitting at the table with all the new members…there were 4 or 5 of us I think, including another MoM-to-be who was due just 3 weeks ahead of me with boy/girl twins, too.
That fall, I got lots of advice and encouragement from moms of singletons and multiples and weighed it all as my pregnancy progressed. At my 33 week appointment, I ran into my fellow MoM friend who was due just before me and she anticipated meeting her bundles soon due to more and more contractions. By 34 weeks, my health deteriorated and I was admitted for an emergency c-section due to pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. After 28 long hours, I finally got to see my precious babies in the NICU. As I was rolled into the NICU, still woozy from the Magnesium Sulfate, I heard a familiar voice – my fellow MoM friend. Her twins had been born 2 days before mine were and we happened to be in the same pod in the NICU together. It was so comforting to come in each day and have a friend to talk to who was going through all the same things I was.
Once we were home, I was so thankful for the friendship and support that I already had in our MoMs group. Some MoMs called or emailed to check in on us. Other MoMs brought us dinner. Lots of MoMs offered advice and encouragement when the breastfeeding was overwhelming. Many MoMs lent a sympathetic ear when I cried when I went back to work. They all helped in so many ways! I got another round of advice when baby #3 came along this year, just 2 short years after the twins. Another MoM friend of mine was pregnant at the same time as me (with a similar age gap between her twins and baby #3) and she had her little girl just a few months before me so we’ve shared lots of ups and downs, once again.
There’s the fun stuff, too! Play dates! Mom’s night out! Mom to Mom Sales! Holiday parties! Meetings! Dinners! Family Picnics! It’s fun for you and the kids. Play dates are manageable because everyone looks out for each others’ kids and we all know what it’s like to juggle kids. Plus, Jacob & Sarah have already made so many twin friends from the group (and even happen to go to day care/school with several sets of twins from our group). Our monthly meeting gives us all a chance to get out, catch our breath, vent, boast, talk and laugh. We all get lots of laughs over the latest kid antics. We can all relate to the highs and lows and help each other make it over each new hurdle at each stage.
I’ve made so many great friends (several of us get together frequently for play dates on our own as do many other MoMs/friends in the group), learned so much, and been able to do the same for other new MoMs. I took my involvement one step further and got involved with the group’s governing board. Our chapter has around 80 members and it’s great to get to know them all, hear their news, answer their questions, get advice, get involved, and have fun!
So, my advice to you if you’re expecting multiples, have toddler multiples, have school-age multiples…any age really! – look up a local Mothers of Multiples group now and get involved! I was so glad I had heard about it before I had the twins, but it’s never too late to get involved. You’ll be so glad you did!
After 12 years of marriage, family and friends finally stopped asking Jennifer and her husband when they were going to have a baby. Then, suddenly, surprise! Not only did they discover they were pregnant, but found out they were having twins during their first ultrasound on Valentines’ Day. Jennifer had a rough pregnancy and spent the last 13 weeks on hospital bed rest terrified that each day would be the day the Twinsies were born. It hasn’t been easy in the 21 months since then. Jennifer returned to work as a middle school teacher when the Twinsies were 4 months old while her husband stayed home with the babies. They’ve been evacuated from their home twice due to wildfires and Jennifer’s husband spent 4 months in the hospital very ill. Through it all, family, friends and Jennifer’s Twin Momma BFFs have kept her sane. Well, that and sharing every crazy thing that happens on her blog: http://uribetwins.blogspot.com.
The Dreaded Binky Debate
Binky. Pacifier. Whatever you call them, there is a ton of debate about giving them to babies. I read a lot of articles before Gracie and Luke were born about pacifiers. Some of the articles led me to believe the Twinsies would be irreparably harmed by the use of binkies. They assured me that they would have horrific teeth. Sorry, that’s a given. They are our kids after all! They assured me that my children would be 10 years old and still using a binky because they would not be able to part with it. Then, other articles reassured me that using a binky allows babies to soothe themselves. My sisters both told me over and over that their children never needed binkies and that my children should not either. Blech! The whole debate made my head hurt!
Taking into consideration all that I had read, I decided, and convinced my husband, that binkies were NOT to touch the Twinsies’ mouths. After all, I did not want 37 year olds living at home because could not grow past their infancy! That is, of course, until I was rolled into the NICU and saw my tiny newborn babies with their little binkies in their mouths. The nurses had decided for me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to rip the offending binkies from them or just leave them be. But, when I saw Gracie calm down as soon as the binky was placed in her mouth, I realized that I was being lame. I was using fear created by everything I had read to keep my children from experiencing calm when I could not be there. The nurses couldn’t be there 24 hours a day, hovering over the babies, and neither could I.
When we came home from the hospital, I tried to use the binky only as needed and discovered that the babies only really wanted them when they were very tired. I could also use them to get a few more minutes to prepare bottles when necessary. Honestly, Gracie and Luke spit the binkies out more than they kept them in! The hospital had provided us with Soothies and, while they seemed wonderful, they were more trouble than they were worth because they did not have anything that would catch on the roof of the babies’ mouths to keep them from falling out. This was problematic when they would spit out the binky and I needed to run from wherever I was to pop it back in before my babies started to wail.
We eventually found one that worked for us, the Playtex Ortho Pro, specially designed to provide room for growing teeth and to stay in the mouth when the babies relaxed. We love these things! I’ve recommended them to new moms everywhere. In fact, I actually stopped a mom in Babies R Us from choosing another one for her registry and insisted she add these instead. They’ve been life savers to us. The best part is that Gracie and Luke’s teeth are fine even though they still use the binkies.
Yesterday, Gracie and Luke turned 21 months old. By some standards, their binkies should be a thing of the past. They are not and I’m not apologizing for it. We’ve been through serious craziness this year with being forced from our home because of the wildfire and my husband’s 4-month hospital stay. Binkies continue to serve as a comfort to Gracie and Luke and I’m grateful for their help.
Before you start to worry that the Twinsies will be taking their binkies to college, I’ve noticed that Luke, at least, has already started to say good-bye to his binky. His favorite binky action is to toss it as hard as it can possibly be tossed. Occasionally, this means that binkies are found under carseats, in the trunk, 1/2 mile back down the road. The binkies are also a source of fun because of Musical Binkies the Twinsies play all day. Gracie will start with the pink one and Luke will start with a blue. By 30 minutes later, Luke will have stolen Gracie’s binky and run away, happily. Gracie steals Luke’s binky more often. They think it’s fun. It can be frustrating, but when it comes down to it, the binky is still needed at bed time. The binky helps Gracie and Luke when they are falling asleep. About an hour after they fall asleep, the binkies get spit out. If they wake up in the night, they have learned to feel around for them and stick them right back in.
So what is the Binky Plan? Well, in order to make sure that I’m not having to conceal binkies in suitcases as they go off on their honeymoons, I’ve started keeping the binkies away from the Twinsies’ immediate sight. They no longer use them at all during the day and only request them when we are on long car rides or as they are falling to sleep at night. One article I read said that babies will wean themselves from binky use and the more of a deal that I make of it, the worse it will be. They seem to be fine if I hide the binkies. The only issue is when they are tired.
Still, I don’t want to be a Mommy with 3 year olds still using binkies. In fact, if we can be done with them before they turn 2, that would be awesome! I’m thinking we’ll start slowly trimming off the tips once we are settled back in our house. That way, Gracie and Luke have a little help deciding to get rid of the binkies on their own.
Shall we start a countdown? T-minus 2 months and counting…
Do/did your twins use pacifiers? What advice do you have for helping to end their use?
“Sometimes on the way to a dream you get lost and find a better one.” That could be the theme of Nicole’s adult life to this point. She wasn’t planning on being a single mom at 25 years old. She wasn’t ‘supposed to’ end up with triplets when they were just praying for one more. She wasn’t ‘supposed to’ be a SAHM. And yet she finds herself now in her thirties, the mother of four amazing little beings (a nearly 7 year old boy and 1 year old g/b/g triplets) and the wife of an incredibly loving and supportive husband. While her knack for detail, efficiency and order has come in handy with their brood, she’s pretty sure that it’s her candor and sense of humor that get her through the daily grind. That and the smiles, antics and unconditional love of the four precious lives that have been entrusted to her and her husband.
So When Does It All Sink In?
Just last month our family celebrated a milestone – our triplets one year birthday. One year ago, these three little beings came into this world and life would never be the same. Lately, people can’t help but ask, “So how does it feel?” “Does it seem like a year has gone by or has it felt longer?” Now that’s a loaded question!
There are days when it seems impossible that one year has already passed. I’ve learned that those are the days when I am most present. Those are the days when I marvel at the progress and development of these tiny miracles who came into this world weighing barely four pounds each. Those are the days when I watch as they sleep & remember a time when just one crib was enough to hold all three of them. Those are the days when I come across a rogue ‘preemie’ outfit, hold it to my face and inhale deeply – breathing in the memory of those first few days. Those are the days when I sort through pictures of them still in the NICU – on monitors and IVs…and then I am yanked back to reality (quite literally!) as one of my three little monkeys pulls on my hair, demanding my attention. At one year old, two of the three have already begun to walk. Our home is full of the babblings of three ‘toddlers’ (!?) – ‘mama’, ‘dada’, baba’ and ‘na-na-na’ (no, no, no). There is laughing and mimicking and the daily blossoming of personalities. All of this in just 12 months?!
And then there are the times when it feels as though it’s been at least a decade already. (Cliché images of the child in the backseat asking every ten seconds, “Are we there yet?” come to mind.) Those are the times when their simultaneous crying brings me to tears. Those are the times when I have to look at a calendar to remind myself of the date because each day just blends into the next. Those are the times when I think of all of the diapers, the wipes and the bottles…the days when I am so tired I can’t see straight. Those are the times when I dare to glimpse ahead to bottle weaning, potty training, ‘the terrible twos’ and sibling rivalry, and I sigh as I pour myself a glass of wine. Those are the days when I give myself mental ‘pep talks’, reminding myself that ‘someone’ up there thought I could do this (and pray that my husband will be home soon)!
How does it all feel? What’s this first year with triplets been like? In a word- ‘surreal’. From the moment they were born…no, wait! – From the moment they told me that we were going to have THREE, it’s been surreal. Anyone who knows me has probably grown tired of hearing me say that word this year. But only those who know me very well know that it’s often been said with sadness, frustration and yes, judgment. And so being the lover of words that I am, I decided to research what I have allowed to become a very powerful word in my life. And this is what I’ve learned…
Surreal: bizarre, weirdly unfamiliar, distorted or disturbing, like the experiences in a dream
Yes, ok – that fits – kind of. But to be more thorough I mean ‘surreal’ in terms of, “Holy $%&! – I have FOUR children now!” I mean that for the past two years there has been a voice inside of me wanting to scream, “Wait! Hold on just a minute! Let me absorb what it feels like to be told that IVF is our best option at another child. Let me take in all of the fertility information and understand what will be happening to my body. I don’t want to mess this up…inject what where? Give me just another second to look at the pictures of our embryos and decide how many to transfer. Wait! You said the chances of all three implanting were 1 in 75,000…there are how many in there???” When I say ‘surreal’, I mean the absolute awe of feeling THREE tiny human beings flipping and kicking inside of you. I’m talking about the joy and gratitude and perfect love I saw in my husband’s eyes on the day they were born. It was surreal for me to watch his heart grow that day. I mean the indescribable feeling of having three sets of eyes trying to focus on you from their cribs in the NICU. Surreal is how it felt to watch my firstborn 6 year old son sit in the NICU and take turns holding his new siblings. I’m referring to the enormous sense of responsibility my husband and I now have. I’m talking about the pressure of keeping my ‘NICU notebook’ in order…who was fed how much at what time? I’m talking about the mixed emotions of joy, anxiety and love (coupled with exhaustion) on the first night ALL of our children were home together. Surreal is taking them for their wellness visits…three exams, three sets of inoculations, three co-pays! It is all of the love and support we got from friends and family. When I say it’s surreal, I mean that I sometimes get so busy with the ‘doing’ required of me as a mother of three infants and a first grader, that I can become detached from the actual experience…enter guilt and judgment. I mean that because I love them all so deeply and want so desperately to do right by them, sometimes all of my energy is concentrated on the endurance, the organization and the patience it takes to raise them. And because of all of this, I’ve spent a lot of time judging myself, wondering when I was really going to ‘feel’ it, when it would all sink in – the huge reality of the last two years.
So yes, this first year has been ‘surreal’…it has been quick and busy and draining and challenging and overwhelmingly emotional. And that’s the reality of it, and it’s ok. You see, because in the end, that is how my family came to be.
And bear with me here, because the deeper I dug, the better it got. I learned that the antonym of ‘surreal’ is ‘ordinary’. As I read it, I could breathe easier and a smile slowly spread across my face. Because if the antonym of surreal is ordinary, then the antonym of ordinary is (drum roll, please…) EXTRAORDINARY! How cool is that?! EXTRAORDINARY…that is what my life as a MoM is. It is ‘unusually excellent or strange; very unusual and deserving of attention and comment because of being wonderful, excellent, strange or shocking’.
That is my family’s story. It is who we are and how we came to be. And that’s pretty extraordinary!