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(drumroll please!)

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!

Last Day To Vote!

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?

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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!

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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!

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 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!

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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.

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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
by Barb

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.

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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
by Jennifer

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?
by Nicole

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’.

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That is my family’s story. It is who we are and how we came to be. And that’s pretty extraordinary!

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!

Post #1: My Little Twin by Lisa

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a full-time employee, a friend and a triathlete. I am also an information junkie and a writer. I try to tackle everything with 100 percent of my energy and passion, but balancing all of these roles is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am learning and growing along with my nine-month-old daughters, Sarah and Jessica, and my husband of almost eight years, Jeff. Follow our adventure: www.ferrariflies.blogspot.com.

As a mother of twins, it is normal to have a beta twin or a little twin. I also know it is normal for identical twins to develop at different rates. But normal doesn’t mean you don’t worry and this has been very hard for me to internalize.

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When Sarah and Jessica were born, both girls were pretty physically stressed by the birth experience. Sarah, my Baby A, was 5 pounds, 15 ounces and she bounced back very quickly. Jessica, my Baby B, was 5 pounds, 10 ounces and had to be resuscitated after birth.  Although Jessica recovered relatively fast, she did have to spend time on a ventilator, had an arterial line and couldn’t be held or nursed for her first precious four days of life.IMG_0200

We got to come home from the NICU after nine very long days, but part of our discharge discussion included instructions on the follow ups we would need to have for Jessica with neurologists, signs of cerebral palsy to look for and a referral to early childhood intervention. I will never forget holding a sleeping Jessica on my chest as the nurse practitioner told me that Jessica’s discharge MRI was normal and she showed no indications of problems…yet. I made the nurse practitioner repeat the results twice because hearing it just once wasn’t enough.

So here we are almost nine months later. Jessica is about 1.5 pounds lighter than Sarah.  Jessica is also a little more reserved and quiet than Sarah, her rowdy, smile and holler at anyone sister. Sarah is days away from crawling, but Jessica is just fine. By all accounts her development is right on track. In fact, she even smiled first, cut teeth first and rolled over first. But still I worry…

I want to meet the needs of both my girls. I recognize that fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal, and I don’t want to create a scenario where my worry actually creates or reinforces the disparity I worry about. I have talked to other twin moms where one of their babies becomes known as “the Little One,” but I hope neither Jessica nor Sarah ever knows that once we made it past some of the first milestones, that I continued to carry the trauma of their first few days with me. I try to delight in their individual accomplishments on their individual timetables, but when Sarah is rocking on all fours and Jessica only rolls over occasionally that niggling worry continues.

I’m curious to hear from other twin moms. Do you have a little twin that you worry about or wish that you weren’t worrying about? Is this something you were able to successfully put behind you?

Post #2: Multiples And The Six Degrees of Separation by Anamika

After finding out that if we ever wanted to have biological children, we’d have to try IVF with ICSI, my husband and I decided we didn’t want to go that route. A few months later, we decided to adopt. Six months later, miraculously, our twins, Mrinalinee and Nayantara, came home. Mrini and Tara, as we call them, were 13 months old to the day when we brought them to our home (which is in Bangalore, India) in September 2007. Since then, I’ve been a SAHM, and it’s been quite a journey. You can read all about it on my personal blog: The Twins & I

I’ve read about how parents of multiples need to spend significant 1:1 time with each of their kids. And about how multiples, if not carefully monitored and directed, tend to develop an unhealthy degree of togetherness and dependence on each other; that they don’t develop fully as individuals; that, in order for them to be healthy, happy, independent adults, they have to be given opportunities to be apart; and that one way of giving them this ‘opportunity’ is to separate them in school. I’ve written before of how I feel on that matter, but I’ve been wondering, of late, just how much separation is enough.

I’ve somewhat arbitrarily allocated six separate degrees of separation, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the usual connotation of the terms “Six Degrees of Separation”.

1: Multiples who spend a few minutes spent apart from each other, everyday or a few times a week. This separation is likely to be largely unplanned and inevitable. Example: one kid wakes up before the other, or one kid has to go to the doctor, or both parents are engaged in some activity, one with each child.

2: Multiples who routinely sleep separately: which means, falling asleep, sleeping, and waking up in separate rooms (not simply separate cribs or beds in the same room).

3: Multiples who spend significant time apart, everyday or most days. This could just be time spent in different areas of the house, or could be time spent on separate activities that take them out of the house, such as sports or music lessons. To differentiate it from the first degree of separation, it would have to be at least an hour or so spent apart everyday. It’s difficult to visualize this as an unplanned separation, specially if it is a regular occurrence.

4: Multiples who have separate schedules; or, no schedule. Multiples have few overlap in their daily schedules and activities on most or all days. This could include any or all activities in the house, such as sleeping, eating, bathing, playing etc, and maybe even separate activities outside the house, such as sports sessions, playgroups etc.  (Personally, I can’t imagine how parents survive this; I’d go crazy in a week.)

5: Multiples who are in separate sections in school, or, worse still, separate schools. This, of course, could be initiated by the multiples themselves, or by their parents; or it might be mandatory due to external regulations or laws.

6: Multiples who live in separate homes. This is the saddest of all. Adoption laws in India prohibit siblings from being separated. But I don’t know if divorce laws do, too. In any case, this might happen if parents live separately, for any reason, or if multiples are sent to separate (for instance, boy/girl) boarding schools.

Out of these six degrees, in my opinion, the first is inevitable and harmless, perhaps even useful; and the sixth is tragic. Most of the in-between levels are functions of preference and convenience (parental, usually), and also a function of the age of the kids. My twins, now almost three, are comfortable with the first degree of separation and a bit of the second degree. They sleep separately in the afternoon, though nights apart are rare.

My girls might opt for – or indicate readiness for – the third and fifth degree of separation, as they grow older and discover different interests. At the right age and stage of development, I don’t think there’s any harm in that, and it is even to be encouraged. What I would not be happy about, is if that choice were to be made for them, without considering their opinion. (And if you’re thinking that, at 3, they can hardly have an opinion in the matter… well, you’d have to meet my kids to know.)

For my part, I hope they never opt for completely out-of-sync  food and sleep schedules, as indicated in the fourth degree of separation. I’ll certainly do my best to keep them on largely ‘normal’ (and in-sync) schedules, but if they do ultimately want to adopt completely different schedules, I’ll have to give in with good grace, I suppose. I only hope they’re teenagers by then.

As for the sixth degree of separation: naturally, multiples have to learn to live away from each other in their adult lives. The question is when and how they learn this. If it comes naturally, in the course of their education and career choices, and if they themselves have a say in the decision, then it is a positive development. But, if the separation comes about as a result of external causes and is not a decision in which the multiples have any say at all… that’s sad.

What do other MoMs out there think? How many degrees of separation would you consider and how good, bad, or ugly are these? Which separations work for your family, and why?

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Separate them? How can I possibly?

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Post #3: My Quest for a Good Night’s Sleep by Renae

Renae is a coupon clipping, penny pinching, bargain shopper living in a suburb northwest of Boston. She is a biracial (African American/Caucasian) stay at home mother to 15 month old biracial girl/boy twins. Although Renae has lived in New England for 13 years, she is still a Midwestern girl at heart (born and raised in Iowa). She loves spending her days with her kids, and hardly misses her elementary school teaching job at all. Renae loves taking her twins on field trips all over town (the grocery store, library, playground, etc.) and especially loves getting her twins together with other twins.

Not long after my twins and I began getting out and about in our small community, I started to get the question that I’m sure all new mothers of multiples must hear a lot: “So, are you getting any sleep?” Mind you, these were total strangers who would stop me in stores, get way too close to my tiny babies, ask the dreaded question, offer me parenting advice, and then walk away saying, “Boy, you’ve got your hands full.” What fun! Using every ounce of control I had in me, I would stifle my impulses to scream, cry, and lash out at the idiots who would dare ask a severely sleep deprived, highly emotional mother of twins such a ridiculous question. I wanted to shout, “Of course I’m not getting any sleep! I have two newborns!” But instead I would politely explain that while they were both pretty good sleepers, they woke approximately every 2 ½ hours to feed. Still, I wondered whether this was how it was supposed to be.

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So one day, instead of napping like I was supposed to (you know, the whole sleep when the babies are sleeping thing), I combed the archives of my twin club’s message board looking for information about infants and sleep. After reading several dozen posts on the topic, I concluded that we were basically on the right track. I also learned that when my twins got to the 4-6 month range, we could do something called “sleep training” and get them to sleep through the night. Although I had no idea what sleep training was at that time, it sounded good to me, and I couldn’t wait for my little guys to be old enough for us to start.

But at 6 months old, my son weighed 13 ½ pounds, and my daughter was just over 12 pounds. I was still getting up twice each night to breastfeed (yes, an improvement from the early newborn days, but still…), and I was completely exhausted. I talked to our pediatrician about sleep training, but given their slow weight gains, he advised that we continue with night feedings. And so we did.

But by 9 months old, I’d had it with night feedings. Without consulting our pediatrician, my husband and I decided to finally go ahead with sleep training. My son now weighed 16 pounds, and my daughter weighed almost 14 pounds. Their weights were still low, but I was convinced by the early morning playdate, that took place after our remaining 4am feeding, that they no longer needed a night feeding to get them through till morning. So we just stopped going in when we heard them stirring. There was some crying in the beginning, but three nights later, they began sleeping through the night regularly. Sleep problems solved, right?

Wrong. Because for the past 9 months when my husband and I would get up for night feedings (I was in charge of feeding, he helped with burping and diapering), our beloved kitty, who sleeps in our bed, would get up too. And she had grown accustom to being fed around 4:30am, which we did to keep her from bothering us before the alarm clock went off around 6:45am. The kids were sleeping through the night, but the cat was not! She would wake up around 4:00/4:30am, howl and cry and demand to be fed. Super annoying! My husband would cave and get up and feed her. But finally I asked, “Honey, if we’re expecting our children to sleep through the night, shouldn’t we expect the same of the cat?” Sleep training the cat began promptly, and within a week, she was back to starting her day when the alarm went off. So, sleep problems solved, right?

Not quite. Try as I might, I continued to wake between 3 and 5am. Often I woke to use the bathroom, but sometimes I would just wake up suddenly for no apparent reason. One might think, no big deal, just roll over and go back to sleep. But that seemed near impossible. I would lay awake for 1-3 hours, usually falling asleep just before the alarm clock would ring. Ugh! How very disappointing that everyone was getting a good night’s sleep except me, the most tired of us all!

This lasted for months, while I tried various things to keep me asleep until morning. For example: no drinks of any kind after dinner, going to bed earlier, going to bed later, ear plugs, sleeping on the couch, sleeping with more pillows, sleeping with no pillow. I tried everything I could think of, short of checking into a hotel at night.

So, what finally did the trick? Well, everything sort of fell into place when I joined a gym after weaning my kids at 13 ½ months. I started exercising from 7:45-8:45pm 5 nights a week, which pushed my bedtime back to about 10:30/11pm. Most nights, I don’t even wake up at all, but if I do have to get up to use the bathroom, I try to unconsciously do these things: 1) Stay in the drowsy awake phase (I try to barely open my eyes, except when absolutely necessary). 2) When I get back to bed, I take several deep breaths to help work my way back to sleep. 3) NO THINKING ALLOWED! As soon as I let my mind wander to playdates and grocery lists, I’m done for. I must keep my mind blank. It doesn’t work every night, but now at 15 months, I’m getting a good night’s sleep more often than I am not.

So, what do you think? Is this unusual or par for the course? Are all the rest of you sleeping soundly without any issues at all? If you are, I’m so jealous, you lucky ducks!

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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!


Post #1: Inseperable, by Carissa

Carissa is a reformed lawyer who now stays at home with her 21 month old boy/girl twins. Carissa and her husband, Aaron brought their twins home from South Korea in October of 2008 when they were 14 months old and have been living and loving life with multiples since! While Carissa started out blogging to get through the adoption process, she now blogs to keep track of the daily happens at their house in central IL as well as get advice on everything from childrearing to fitness! Please visit her at Faith, Hope and Love, http://abc123vn.wordpress.com/

I never expected to be a mother to twins, to be honest I was beginning to wonder if I would be a mother at all. See we could not use any of the usual infertility methods and were told we had about a 2% chance of getting pregnant at all and if it was multiples I would have to be on complete and total bed rest due to some of my issues, so we chose adoption. When we started the process we actually said we would love boy/girl twins and the social worker about laughed us out of the room. See twins in international adoption are rare and boy/girl twins are even more rare so we had about as much chance of getting pregnant as we did of adopting boy/girl twins. Fast forward 14 months and we receive the referral of boy/girl twins from South Korea – boy were they tiny in the pictures even though they were five months old, they had been born at 25 weeks 5 days and must have been fighters to make it that far and be in such good health (though not perfect)! By the time we said yes, we knew that they would be about 14 months old when they came home, the whole thing seemed surreal.

Fast forward again to October 12, 2008 – the day we became a family. Little Man and Little Princess had just turned 14 months old but were more like 7 to 9 months old developmentally. No one had prepared me for one baby let alone two. I will never forget that flight home, Little Princess would ONLY go to her new daddy and would scream when I came near her and Little Man wanted to be walked around the plane for the first 10 hours of the 12 hour flight. My husband’s dinner ended up on the floor and some people were giving us dirty looks, though most were offering to help. I begged my mom to have the pilot turn the plane around so that I could give them back, I didn’t want to do this anymore. My mom, who had come with us for this EXACT reason, quietly told me that was not an option and I was their mother through the good and the bad. 

Little Man and Little Princess have now been home days shy of eight months – yep I have been doing this by trial and error for eight months! As I am sure every mother of multiples has experienced the sleep issues, the eating issues, recently the double tantrum issue and the attachment issues, but that was more adoption than multiples. And some have experienced the multiple doctor visits and the numerous therapists to boot. But as my husband and I were discussing the other day, the thing we love the most about our babies is their bond with each other. See we learned after we said yes that due to a few issues one of our sweet babies has if we had not said yes our babies would have been separated and adopted by different couples possibly worlds apart. We cannot imagine the two of them apart, they don’t even like to play apart. They have their own language that they use to talk to each other – while we love it we hope this goes when they learn to talk. They learn from each other and compliment each other – see our daughter has NO fear and our son will not do anything until he is absolutely sure it is safe, so while he learned to walk first she taught him how to climb the stairs! I love when they try to calm each other or even try to get the other to laugh so that they don’t have to cry anymore. 

I cannot imagine the damage that would have been done if these two had been separated. We are not sure our son would have survived, it took him about 7 months to fully open up to us and really start the attachment process even though he started bonding before that, his sister is the only reason we heard laughter from him before that time. And our daughter may not have been so happy and carefree, she shows us what pure joy is every day!   I have yet to separate them for more than an hour or so at a time, mostly because that causes huge fits and massive jealousy (what is the other one getting that I am not) but I know the day is coming when I will be forced to separate them in some way or another. I already am dreading that day as their bond is greater than any siblings I have ever seen and it will break my heart to see them upset because they do not have each other. For now we keep them together and relish the bond that they have and we will deal with the separation when we have to with the help of the moms from How Do You Do It!

Post #2, by Megan

Married in 2000, my husband and I have entered a new chapter in our life:  parents to 3 children.  Often stopped by strangers with the comment, “Your hands sure are full!” I just smile and remember a quote from an online blogger: “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.” 

I have soon-to-be one year old boy-girl twins and a 5-year-old son.  Recently back to work at a new job after a stint as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m studying in preparation for my massage therapist Board exams, while searching for balance in life, love, and marriage. 

This new road in life is sure to offer many adventures, headaches, joys, frustrations…what greater bliss, though, than to love one’s children and see them grow every day.

Birthdays are a time of reflection for me.  I’ve never really been one to make New Year’s resolutions; instead, come spring, right around my birthday, I feel the need to take stock in myself, my life, and my goals.  The same is true with the kid’s birthdays.  We just celebrated my son Logan’s 5th and later this month we’ll celebrate the babies’ first.  Some pretty major birthdays in my book.  All I can think about is how far we’ve come in the last half-decade since Logan was born, and how different life is from just one year ago before Kade and Addie arrived.  Remembering that I was so big that I couldn’t make the walk around our block this time last year or how I would go to my pre-natal appointments just dreaming of hearing the words “let’s induce” make me realize how different life is today.  And how both my husband and I were completely, totally different parents and people.  So much has changed since we became parents – and then, parents of multiples.

And yet, I find myself fondly gazing forward, too.  I can’t wait to get an idea of who the babies really are.  Their personalities are blossoming.  And every day, there’s something new that they are learning, each at their own pace and own style.  It’s the same with Logan.  He’s more and more a “big kid” every day; I see him practically growing overnight!  Skills that were once hard or challenging now come easily and he is more outgoing and independent than even 6 months ago.

All of this makes me wonder what and who these little people will become.  I would take a sneak-peek into the future if given the option.  Just to see what they look like, or who they are friends with, or who they choose for partners in life.  Is it possible to be completely enthralled with the future at the same time I’m pining for the past?  It’s as if these children are each a special little gift to be opened one day at a time.  I have to remember to be patient and enjoy the joy of watching them grow.

That’s the goal, isn’t it?  To enjoy each day, each milestone for what it is, and not just where it’s leading.  What about all of you?  Do you feel yourselves missing the stage that’s just passed as you pack up the now-too-small clothes?  Or dreaming of what the future holds?  Or, are you able to just sit back and take it all in?

Post #3: A Milestone, by Jenna

Jenna is a mom of a 2.5-year-old son and 4.5-month-old identical twins daughters, and wife to another researcher and student. At some point she will get back to her PhD studies, but in the meantime she’s at home learning with, and from, her three children. She has considered starting a blog to record her experiences and to reflect on her mothering journey, and maybe some day she’ll find the time to do it.

Today marks a milestone in our house. Tonight our 4.5-month-old twin daughters will sleep in their own bedroom.  They usually only wake for one feeding during the night.  Their milestone is about sleeping in their own room. My milestone is about accepting how my life has changed since we found out we were having twins.

I’m a planner and organizer-type person so naturally, before we even conceived the baby, I decided how I was going to balance work, school, my young son, and a new baby About a year ago we decided to have a second child – and I had a plan. According to my plan, I am supposed to be making the final revisions to my doctoral dissertation while I waited for the date to be set for me to defend it….

Instead… yesterday, I found myself at the library with a crying baby in the baby carrier, a crying toddler in one arm, while I pushed a double stroller loaded down with a second baby and a pile of picture books and board books. Clearly my plan is not working out as I imagined it would.

It all changed the day I had my first ultrasound at five months. At three months, and again at four months, I had been thrilled to hear the heartbeat of my baby. My sister had teased me about having twins and even asked the midwife to check for a second heartbeat. The midwife had reassured us that there was only one baby, placing the stethoscope at several different spots to demonstrate that there was only one heartbeat. My plan seemed to be working out just fine. I could finish my research analysis and rough out my thesis before the baby came, relax with my newborn while my committee read through my work – and I’d be ready to make the final changes just as the baby was getting old enough to be eating a little solid food, thus freeing me a little to resume my academic work.

I settled myself on the ultrasound bed ready to see my little one. Seconds later, I was looking at two little heads! We were expecting twins! Immediately, lying on the ultrasound bed, I started frantically trying to revise my plans, to rescue my well laid-out program that would have seen me graduate with a 9 or 10-month-old baby.

Being pregnant with twins turned my plans upside down! I had to give up my academic work so that I could get the rest I needed. I had to shop for all of what a second baby would need, instead of just checking off on my list what I already had from our first child’s babyhood. I had to figure out how to shoehorn two babies into our small 3-bedroom condo that was already overflowing with the accoutrements that our son had brought along with him. Desperately, I tried to preserve my connection to the academic world by maintaining my office in the third bedroom, and having all three children share one room.

Coping with twin girls and a 2.5-year old son continues to be a series of daily lessons in living in the moment. I try not to plan more than one activity, such as a playdate or going to the library, in a day. In fact, a day when I have dinner ready when my husband gets home is a successful day.  Many days I also manage to get a load of laundry done, the floors vacuumed or the dishwasher emptied – all endless tasks with three small children.  But it is an ongoing struggle not to expect to accomplish more in a day than just keeping them clean and dry and fed and safe.

The reality of my derailed plan is particularly apparent this week. My mom is visiting and with her help, I am converting my office into the girls’ bedroom. Soon after our girls were born, I realized that my office space would need to become the girls’ space, and I’ve spent time moving books, office supplies, and craft materials out and packing files and papers in boxes. But really, I’ve resisted the whole process.

I like what my office, no matter how messy it might be, represents.  It is my space in the house. It represents all my years of work as a student and as a researcher, and all that I’ve accomplished. It isn’t about the mundane and repetitive tasks of diapering, feeding and burping babies, and reading and rereading the same picture books. It is about losing track of myself in ideas that interest and excite me.

I don’t want to give up what my office represents.  Being a stay-at-home-mom was never part of my plan. But, I’m a long way from ready to be back at work or study fulltime. I’m not ready to be away from my children. I don’t want to be away from them from breakfast until dinner every day. I don’t want to come home so exhausted that we don’t spend quality time together. I need to find a way to focus on the present and the riches they bring to my life, rather than on what I’m giving up because they are here. I love to watch my daughters sleeping, holding hands. They are so clearly completely comfortable and contented. Seeing them smile when I come to get them up after a nap is the most wonderful feeling. At these moments, it is so clear to me that at home with my children is where I belong.

The challenge this week, and in the weeks and months and years to come, will be to, as time permits, create a new approach – one that will truly balance my time, that considers our family’s financial situation, that allows me to be actively involved in raising our son and our two daughters, and allow me to enhance, enrich, build, develop my sense of self in the process.

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 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!

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 Hey everyone, my name is Shannon White.  I am a native Phoenician living in wonderful North Carolina with my Australian/American husband.  He was fortunate enough to be born in HI to Australian parents then raised in Melbourne, Australia.  My main job is taking care of my boy/girl twins, Blake & Madison while my second job is as a photographer.  I work whenever I can fit it in around the kids needs.  My husband is a police officer and part time photographer for our wedding jobs.  Our kids came to us after almost 5 full years of trying (with the help of a super ovulation cycle).  Having twins is exactly what I always dreamed and hoped it would be, and I get to see my childhood dream of having a twin brother acted out in my kids.   We love to travel anywhere we can as often as our budget will allow.  The kids have already been on 12 trips in their 13 months including 5 trips by plane.  My family blog is picture heavy with lots of thoughts on random topics and life events.  http://whitehouse3.blogspot.com.  Trying to only pick two pictures to go along with my post was beyond difficult.  I hope you enjoy my post!

 Post #1: Why every month with twins gets better and better!

by Shannon

 The first month were so excited to meet our kids and spent our time working out how to take care of twins while seeing tiny glimmers of their personalities.  My whole philosophy in life was to get to at least 6 hours of sleep in every 24 hour period!  I watched a lot of TV the first few months with 2-3 hour feeding sessions (no kidding! my kids were slow eaters) and staying in bed until those miraculous 6 hours were reached.  The second and third months each saw a tad more sleep.  Blake often found Madison whenever they were near each other yet he could also sleep through her reflux irritated crying. 

 By the time they got to 3 & 4 months they laughed more, ate a little bit faster, puked a little less, and could hold their heads up all the time.  They still traveled well with great naps.  They ‘lost’ each other completely yet loved to cuddle with their daddy especially.  At around 5 months the process of getting to know Blake and Madison really started.  Madison had almost kicked her reflux.  My guess is she found so much relief she has been calm and mostly content every since.  We affectionately call her our Little Lumpa Love which also may have something to do with her, ehm ehm, large booty.  Blake learned to sit during their 6th month while expanding his range of expressions designed specifically to entertain and amaze.  

 The cold winter arrived during their 7th month.  Little Lumpa Love, Madison, finally learned to sit up.  They began to interact more with each other including some toy stealing.  Madison loved to watch her brother explore all the stuff around them as she sat contentedly in one spot.  By their 8th month they looked at least a year old because of their large size which is somewhat of a prideful thing for me since we are large tall people.  Guy taught them how to kiss with a big open mouthed ‘aaaaawwwwwweeee.’  Nothing melts my heart more then a little reciprocal love.

 On one trip during their 9th month I put them side by side in a glider chair for their dinner.  Blake kept interfering with Madison by reaching for her bite or putting his hand up to her face.  She smartly grabbed his arm and pinned it down between them the rest of the meal.  It was so cute and funny how he just let her hold down his arm.   By 10 months Blake has added a bunch of new expressions and funny things to his cuteness repertoire.  Madison learned she can put just about anything non edible in her mouth.  My favorite was the soap Blake opened for her in our hotel room.  She loved it.  I guess we wont be washing her mouth out with soap when she says a bad word.

 The 11th month brought us a realization of how different they are, and how they will constantly surprise us.  We thought Blake would love the ocean and Madison would hate it.  She loved the ocean including sitting with the waves crashing into her up to her chest.  He screamed and needed cuddles.  So then we thought she would love the slide while he wouldn’t.  Wrong again.  She cried, and he laughed hysterically.  The magic one year arrived along with a switch in their brain causing them to learn at an ever increasing rate.  They crave the outdoors, adventure and finally figured out how marvelous books are.  Maybe in a few more months they’ll let me read them a whole story.

 We are now in their 13th month.  As I sit here writing this post Madison is busy entertaining me with her chair antics.  She loves her space saving feeding chair we keep on the living room floor (best purchase other then the stroller), and she will climb into and out of it often through the day.  Every few times she has a bit of trouble getting turned around to sit in the chair.  She will fuss and scream while trying to get her foot out from under her booty.  I will give her verbal encouragement.  When she finally gets that foot unstuck her joyful and pleased expression is such a pleasure to see.  Now Blake just came over to her trying to climb in the chair with her and give a double cheek grabbing kiss.  I can’t wait for next month’s growth and adventures!

Babies 5 months 1068
Babies 11 months 1512
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Debi is a SAHM in NJ (very soon to be PA) to nine kids, 5 adopted & 4 biological. Although her last pregnancy was planned, twins were the unexpected result and they have completed her home-schooling family. Their blog is all about their journey through autism, learning & physical disabilities, and finding their way through the teen years & pre-teen years  while raising two toddlers all at the same time. Please visit them at Who Says 8 Is Enough, http://bouffard11.blogspot.com/

Post # 2
by Debi
I was never one of those moms that wanted to have twins. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite for me. It was actually one of the main reasons I was terrified to use Clomid to help me get pregnant. I was so fearful I would end up with multiples, but I wanted a baby so badly, that with a 2% chance of having twins, my husband, Russ, & I decided it was worth the risk.
Of course, at seven weeks, I had an ultrasound that confirmed that I was carrying twins.
I was floored.
Russ was silent.
We already had 7 children at home and I had already had two pretty traumatic singleton pregnancies, so we knew a multiple pregnancy was going to be a huge challenge.
Boy, was it ever!
I spent 6 months on strict bed rest after I started bleeding at just 14 weeks and my pregnancy just continued downhill from there. I ended up with pubic bone dysplasia, gall bladder issues, contractions and early effacement & dilation. It was a rough road and thankfully, my church came to the rescue and helped my husband to keep my household going while I was out of commission for so long.
I often wondered during my pregnancy, if I was somehow being punished for not being thrilled with what I now consider a huge blessing. It took me many months to come to grips with the fact that I would have 2 babies to care for, but those feelings all melted away the moment I laid eyes on my sweet babies.
My twins were born at 35 weeks and ended up coming home from the hospital with me just 4 days later. It was incredible. They were both wonderful babies, so teeny tiny and perfect, aside from their absolutely horrible reflux. They were the sweetest babies that hardly ever cried and they quickly made all of my fears about multiples fade away. I am certain it was helped by the fact that I was a “seasoned” mom, but they really were very content babies that I just loved to hold and cuddle all of the time.
Flash forward 2 1/2 years now and I have toddler twins. I have always loved the toddler years and I thought that because I am experienced, it would be easy with Emma & Will. Wrong!
My twins are not your typical twins. At their birth, it was discovered that there had been a problem with their placentas for many weeks that had caused Emma to be getting too much blood & oxygen and Will to be deprived of those same vital needs. As a result, Emma had suffered a stroke in utero and Will had suffered a brain bleed that had left him with cerebral palsy. In the beginning, our main concerns were for Emma, as the evidence from her stroke was incredibly obvious, but with the help of intensive therapy, she made huge strides very quickly.
It was a few months later that our focus turned to Will and that is where it has remained. Emma has continued to flourish and is doing everything a little girl her age should be.
Sadly, Will is lagging behind. All of his physical milestones have been way behind his sister, but he has been meeting them, sometimes with the help of braces or supports, but he is doing it and we are so proud of him.
He was also diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, having severe speech & developmental delays and recently was diagnosed with possible autism.
I will admit, some days are really hard and not just because of all of the challenges that Will faces. Probably the one thing I looked forward to when I found out I was having twins was that they would have built in “buddies”, but my twins aren’t like that. Emma is more like Will’s older sister. She absolutely loves him and it’s so sweet to watch her help him out, but they definitely miss out on the relationship that I assumed they would have.
However, I will also say, that when they do have some “normal” twinny moments, it makes it that much more tender and makes me really appreciate every single minute with my beautiful babies.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share our story.
If you would like to know more about my twins, or my family, please check out our blog, Who Says 8 Is Enough.
Sincerely,
Debi
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Kim, a first time mom to 1 year old boy/girl twins, has not only survived the first year but thinks it’s much more rewarding than she could have ever anticipated.  Spending her days in Marketing and nights/weekends relishing in the life of being a mom of multiples, Kim finds such humor and passion in balancing her career and family.  You can read more about her inspired balance (aka family blog) at www.kimandceasar.blogspot.com where she has a new found love for writing.  Kim is amazed at how natural writing has become since motherhood entered her  life.  A little bit about the family:  Married 8 years to her college sweetheart, Kim & her husband (Ceasar) spent the latter few years trying to get pregnant.  After acupuncture treatments and an organic diet , they got the life changing news …twins!  Pretty incredible.  Kim thinks her husband is amazing and his comical yet genuine approach to fatherhood would make for the perfect “guest blogger”…they make a dynamic team.   

 

Post # 3: A picture is worth a thousand words

by Kim

 

The water cooler conversation today is all about Jon and Kate Plus 8.  I can’t tell you how many times I get asked if I watch that show.  The answer is always no.  I watched it once and I just didn’t like the “job feel” that it portrayed for families of multiples.  I totally get it.  8 kids, that would require a job like atmosphere to get through the day.  I will not even try to understand or judge their situation.  However, I don’t like the picture it/the media is painting for families of multiples…especially marriages of multiples.  So, I want to take this opportunity to paint my family picture.  I believe it’s such a pretty one.  Yes, all families have their struggles but if you put the daily nuances aside, I bet most of you could paint a really beautiful picture of your family of multiples.  Colorful at that!

 

June 21st is quickly approaching and many families will celebrate Father’s day.  I think we will celebrate all week.  I believe that Father’s of multiples should get the entire week.  By no means am I saying that Father’s of singletons are not deserving of their special day.  They absolutely are.  BUT…when you are a Father of multiples, there is no easing into this new role.  They are right in the thick of it from day one.  Changing diapers, feeding every other hour, giving baths…Ceasar was playing dad AND mom while I was in recovery from my c-section.  Fast forward 1 year and he is still feeding meals, changing diapers, cleaning bottles and everything else you can think of.  We share all responsibilities.  So, when our daughter (Tristen) is being held by Ceasar and someone says, “aw, she wants her momma”…we just look at each other and laugh because as much as I would like to think that is true, we know the deal.  She knows and loves us equally.  Yes, I’m her mom but just as frequently and deeply, he’s her dad.

Leaving Hospital 024-HDYDI 

 

 

1 year old 254-HDYDI 

A while back on my family blog, I decided to post an entry about Fatherhood. I thought I would share with you the Q&A portion of it: 

 

“These are the best days of my life”

Since I am always giving MY insight on this blog, I thought I would ask Ceasar some questions on fatherhood to give you a glimpse into his thoughts today. 

What was your first thought when you found out you were having a baby? I felt the greatest amount of accomplishment when I found out we were pregnant. We tried for a year and a half and though I never gave up hope, getting pregnant become this place I knew existed, I just didn’t know how to get there. I was very excited and didn’t think I could wait 9 months for the baby.

What was your first thought when you found out you were having TWO babies? I thought, “how in the world did we get so lucky?” My second thought came out of my mouth and it was, “Are there anymore in there?” There weren’t.
  
What is your favorite thing about fatherhood? Being a father. That entails a ton of things. Things I can’t begin to list due to time constraints. But for me, to touch, kiss, baby scratches to my face, the hugs, the whole experience is my favorite thing about fatherhood. I love being the protector and comforter of my kids.
  
Is it what you expected? It is what I expected. But I think it is a whole lot more too. I thought it would be harder, but it turned out to be easier. The rewards of actually seeing your babies develop is what you don’t envision or expect or can’t begin to measure until they are in your life.
  
What is unique about being a father of twins? With twins, a parent must make an effort to give more love to many, as opposed to all the love to one. This is challenging, but it is also an opportunity like no other. As a father, I get all the kisses and hugs one man could dream of from his babies. And because I can go from one baby to the other, I don’t necessarily annoy them too much! Being a father to boy/girl twins, I am able to have a soft little girl to love on and a tough little busy boy who gets sweaty and cranky and wants to lay his head on my shoulder. The best!
  

What is the most challenging thing about having twins? Obviously, being able to physically take care of two instead of one is the greatest challenge. When I’m alone with them, my fear is that one will need special attention.  So, what do you do with the other one? But so far, so good. The most challenging thing with having twins for me is being able, physically able, to hold them and love on them at the same time. But I know this will be less difficult once they are able to grab and hug daddy’s neck.

 

What are you most excited about? Everything. The next kiss. The next hug. The first words. Bedtime. Waking them up in the morning. Their laughter. Their cry when they want to be held. A smile on their faces. The next time their little hands touch my face. I am excited about them making eye contact with each other again. These are the best days of my life! Thank you God.

 

And that is my family’s simple yet beautiful masterpiece.   

 

Easter 09 032-HDYDI

 

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!


Post #1: What Happens After the Stroller? by Jennifer W.

Our story begins with two Aggies meeting on E*Harmony in 2005, and getting married in February 2006.  We started our family early; we had our first child in August 2006. While still getting use to our first son we were pregnant again.  Thinking nothing of it I went to the doctor to find out that we were having spontaneous triplets.  So I carried our triplets for 36 weeks 6 days and had the perfect pregnancy with no complication or limitations put upon me. Four months later we were pregnant again with our last child.  So if you are asking yourself, “I do not think they know how that happens!”  We do and we finally decided that we would have 20 children unless we had surgery to prevent that from happening.  So we are a family of 7 with 5 children under the age of 3.  When our children were small we called them the “zoo” because they were gated in our house.  Now that they are older we call them the “safari” because they roam my house.  You can find our adventures, experiences, and the confessions of a tired mother on our blog: The Wilcoxson’s.

JenW1 

After we found out that we were having triplets there were several things that went through our mind, one of them being that we could not logically escape being a minivan family.  With that dilemma out of the way we had to find a stroller.  We decided that we would get a triplet stroller and still have our single stroller as well.  The nice thing about strollers is that you have some protection from the public and some warning when the grandmother or curious mother gets too close to the stroller.  What happens when the stroller is no longer an option or something that your child dreads?

With our oldest almost 3 and the triplets turning 2 they are at the stage where they no longer want to be strapped into the stroller, but want some of the freedom that comes with being in a family with singletons.  With that want and need for independence my husband and I had to find a way to give that desire to our children.  Independence was not going to come at the cost of safety though.  Holding hands was not an option because my husband and I do not have enough hands.  We like to tell people that we cannot play man-on-man with our children but zone defense.  So the searching began. 

There was an option for leashes, but I could see that in the newspaper: “Mother of 5 decides to walk her children like a dog walker.”  We did not need anymore attention than we already receive when we are in public.  Then one day I was looking at educational toys on the internet and found the solution.  With a little engineering and some common sense we were going to make this work for us.  You see I found a toy for beading animals or cars at One Step Ahead.

14463_2We decided that a rope with 5 animals on it would do the trick.  So my husband and I ordered the beads, got some nylon rope and decided that we were going to put the tractor and the barn at the end so that mommy and daddy could have a bead as well.  Each child gets an animal and then there is a loop for their hand when they get older and do not want to hold onto the animal any longer.

JenW2

After we put our “leash” together we had to try it out before we went into public with it.  For about three weeks we walked to the mail box and around our street to get the kids use to the walking together and the distractions around them.  Then we moved up to using it at church for about a month.  Now my kids will not go anywhere unless they know that the animals are in the bag.  I am so proud of them because they do not let the animal go unless we give them permission and they do not let other people distract them from the “mission” at hand.

I have found that as our children grow older the independence and freedom that their singleton friends have will take some strategic planning on our part to give them the same freedom or a resemblance of that freedom.  No matter if we are in a stroller or walking we will always attract attention and people looking on like we are aliens from another planet because we have more than our normal quota of children in our society. 

Post #2: I Have Two Turning Three, by Alix

Alix is mother to nearly-three-year-old identical twin boys, Nathan and Max.  She spends her time in one of the following ways:  working from home (read: balancing her lap top in one hand while reading Cool Cars for the forty-seventh time while simultaneously microwaving leftovers for dinner), staying up late (read:  loading dishes and folding three hundred size-3T tee shirts), and relaxing (read: actually sitting down while the boys run circles through the house).  Luxurious, it is not.  But fun?  Oh, yeah! Alix works part-time, mostly from home and shares child care with her husband, a university professor.

I found out I was having identical twins at 9 weeks.  Just for the record, this is not a post about the always-humorous but repetitive “I fainted on the ultrasound table!” or “My husband threw up on the ultrasound tech!”.  Or even, “I thought I was having a heart attack!” (O.K., I actually did briefly think I was having one, but that’s for another post).  However, I will say that for the most part, the weeks following this very unexpected news are now a total blur.  One of the few distinct memories I have from that period is of my mother-in-law saying to me, “I’ve gathered that parents of twins say the first three years are the hardest.”  She wasn’t saying this in a patronizing way.  On the contrary, I think she felt a bit of the overwhelming sense of awe and fear that I’m sure I was feeling (but can’t really remember now).  THREE YEARS?? That moment I do remember.  That moment is stamped so clearly in my mind I can actually remember the glare of the fluorescent kitchen light overhead as I tried to absorb this concept (and, of course, failed).  Who can absorb three years??

Fast-forward to May 2009.  My identical twin boys, Max and Nathan, will be turning three in one month.  This is definitely not a post about how everything has suddenly become efficient, peaceful and orderly in our home, nor is it a post about how I pine for those oh-so-difficult-yet-magical early days with two babies (really, I don’t, but again, that is for another post).  Rather, this is a post about the evolution of our family, and the ever-changing challenges of raising two boys born on the same day.

My husband and I spent the first year or so reminding each other that the boys would eventually sleep through the night (they did), they would actually use the bathroom and thus eliminate the need for refrigerator-sized boxes of Costco diapers (again, they did) and would become more independent (still waiting on that but optimistic).  And at every point, we were surprised that the things we waited so eagerly for happened so quickly that we only remembered how eagerly we awaited their arrival after the fact.  I have no idea if this is the same for parents of singletons, but certainly we were so busy and exhausted that all sorts of things in our household were only noticed after the fact (lack of clean laundry, groceries, gasoline in the car, etc.).

The second year of the boys’ lives, the death grip of exhaustion lessened.  I was still nursing, but only in the mornings and before bed, which felt incredibly liberating compared to the hours I’d spent nursing every day during the first year.  The boys were now sleeping, eating regular food, and walking.  Somehow, though, people seemed to think that life must have gotten a lot easier for me than it really had.  People would stop me and say, “Wow, that first year with two must really have been rough, eh?”.  Or, “I bet you feel lucky to have survived that first year!”.  And as I madly chased after two toddling boys incessantly moving from one source of danger to another (and often in opposite directions), I thought to myself, “What the hell??  I’m still just surviving here, people!  Isn’t that obvious?!”  And my mother-in-law’s words came back to haunt me. 

And I knew then, I just had to make it to three.

And here we are.

I decided to host a birthday gathering for the boys, their first big celebration of this sort.  They are really excited to have a party, and I realize that I am, too.  I feel as though this celebration is for all of us.  We have made it this far.  We got to three.  We got to three!!

The boys’ third year will, I know, bring its own round of challenges.  The boys will start preschool in the fall and my husband and I are finding it hard to imagine not having them running through the house trailing laughter and chaos all day long.  This will be a big transition for all of us, one of many.  I remember a parent of twins saying to me, “The days pass so slowly, the months and years, so quickly.”  So true. 

Three, here we come.  I think we’re ready.

Post #3, By Sarah

My name is Sarah and I’m a mid-thirties mother of four.   After a seemingly normal full-term pregnancy, my first baby, Abigail, was born sleeping in June 2006.  In an odd twist of fate, I became pregnant with spontaneous identical triplets a few months after Abigail’s death.  Against the odds, the girls were delivered at 35 weeks, 6 days gestation.  I work full time in the wonderful world of tax and enjoy photography, writing and running in my very limited free time.  I currently blog about our daily craziness at http://thegreatumbrellaheist.blogspot.com/

Today, as I pushed over sixty pounds of toddler in our triple jogging stroller, I thought of that common question asked of parents of multiples everywhere.  When does it get easier?  If you peruse any message board for caregivers of twins, triplets and more, you will see that question asked over and over and the response is usually the same.  It doesn’t get easier.  It just gets different.  So now, as I listen to my three toddlers scream in their cribs because going to bed is such torture, I really do wonder when it will get easier.  My husband, Rich, and I have told ourselves that the magic age will be five.   It seems better than choosing three or four and then being disappointed and I don’t think I can make it to seven or eight. 

We moved into our current home approximately 18 months ago.  The girls, who were 6 months old at the time, began to share a bedroom.  It was a new experience for all of us.  My husband and I debate the room sharing situation on what feels like a daily basis.  We can discuss and theorize all we want – the hard truth is that our standard builder’s special only has 3.5 bedrooms.  The .5 room is an office and seeing as Grammy, my mom, sleeps over quite a bit, we only thought it appropriate to give her a bedroom.  That leaves us with three girls in one room.

I have good friends who are twins and they shared a bedroom until their early 20’s.  I remember being slightly jealous of their camaraderie because I was not lucky enough to have a sister.  I have convinced myself, through a sleep deprived thought process, that once the girls are older, they will enjoy sharing a room.  I expect there to be a lot of comforting going on.  You know what I mean.  One of them wakes up afraid of the dark and her sister will tell her that it’s okay.  Okay, maybe if I believe hard enough, it will happen.

When the girls were about 18 months old, we pushed their three cribs together to form a big square in the middle of the room.  We thought it would be fun for them to share books and dollies during that wind down period prior to falling asleep.  For the most part, this crib configuration worked out.   We experienced a few incidents of book stealing and book tossing.  And by book tossing, I’m referring to a book landing on someone (possibly on the head) while she is sleeping.  It’s not very pleasant – I can assure you.  But then there was the night that I crept into their room to check on them and found Emily and Allie holding hands through the crib slats, asleep.  My heart just about burst open.

We, unfortunately, separated their cribs last month after I caught Allie pulling Anna’s hair.  The girls didn’t complain too much about the new set-up – not that they really could, anyway.  We were hoping that having some space between them would lessen the number of times that they awaken each other.  It hasn’t.

Of course, having the girls share a room means that there is a constant source of entertainment for us when listening in on their conversations.  The latest phase is Allie, the oldest of the three by 30 seconds, telling her sisters to go to sleep.  That’s exactly how she says it.  “Emmy, go to sleep.”  You see, although my girls are genetically identical, their sleep habits are not.  Allie seems to require and/or want more sleep than Emily.  Anna, the middle child, varies.  Allie has decided that the other two should conform to her sleep schedule.  

So back to when does it get easier.  At six o’clock Sunday morning, an alarm went off in the girls’ room.  We keep a sound machine and a Bose CD player in there and apparently, one of the girls accidentally set the alarm while they were “exploring” their room before either nap or bed.  And by alarm, I mean the annoying beeping kind.  Rich ran in there to turn it off and optimistically thought he could sneak out unnoticed.  I listened to events unfold over the monitor from the warmth and comfort of my bed.  Rich picked up Emily, who was the first to spot him, hoping to prevent her from awakening the other two.  Anna started in on one of her uncontrollable crying jags while Allie yelled, “Anna, go to sleep.”

In some sense, life is easier, although different, now.  It is far easier for one adult to care for three toddlers versus three infants.  When mornings such as these occur, my husband and I take turns napping.  I can nap at any point during the day so I always offer Rich the first adult nap slot and I take the next one.

And yes, at almost 26 months old, my girls still sleep in their cribs without crib tents.  I am blissfully unaware of any attempts of crib escape.  Believe me, they will be sleeping in those cribs for as long as possible.

Do your multiples share a room?  If they do share a room and you had the resources, would you separate them? 

Post #4: Best-Laid Plans, by Jen from Diagnosis: Urine

I’m a freelance writer, and mom to a 6-year-old, 4-year-old twin boys, and a 2-year-old. I worked full-time until February 2007, and since then we’ve relocated for a job, lost that job, experienced unemployment, and have lived to tell about it. My blog, diagnosisurine.blogspot.com, is an attempt at entertaining people with my angst over transitioning from breadwinner and go-getter to stay-at-home mom to a tiny quartet of destruction.

Like many others before me, I was at my most knowledgeable during my first pregnancy. I had researched it all. I had a birth plan, an infancy plan, and a toddlerhood plan.

But, alas, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men…” You can guess how long my plans lasted.

Having twins two years later was like my first go-‘round all over again. I relearned everything, from the mechanics of breastfeeding to the mechanics of folding the double stroller. I did it while working full-time, mostly from home, while caring for a 2-year-old as well.

A baby’s cuteness blinds people to the reality of caring for a newborn. “Enjoy every minute of it!” kindly grandmothers admonish in the grocery store, and you smile and nod but fight back tears thinking of how very tired you are, and how the baby only sleeps when you’re out of the house, and how the longest stretch of sleep you’ve had in a week, is 30 minutes.

The baby-blindness goes double for twins. I remember getting a lot of, “Oh! You’re so blessed!” But I didn’t feel especially blessed. My boys were healthy and for that I was grateful, but in all honesty we’d tried for one baby, and we couldn’t afford two. I spent the twins’ first year steeped in guilt for all the times they cried and I could only comfort one of them, for the times I snapped at my daughter, for the way my marriage and the housework were neglected, and for the concessions my employer and coworkers had made for me.

When people saw me out with three kids under three and said, with a chuckle, “It only gets worse!” I wanted to cry or smack them, depending on the day.

I’m here to tell you the truth: It does get better.

My twin boys are four now. My oldest daughter is six, and we even added a fourth – our youngest daughter is two. I work for myself now, so I get to stay home and figure out my own hours. It is worlds easier than our lives were four, three, or two years ago.

Now, because I’m here to tell you the truth, I’ll also admit that it still sucks sometimes. There are speech delays, potty training crises, typical childhood phobias and obsessions that are only magnified by the presence of four children experiencing them simultaneously under one roof. Yes, there are days I hate this.

Today, for example, wasn’t out of the ordinary, but I’m three hours past the deadline for submitting this post. There were fevers and diarrhea and encounters with neighborhood dogs and trampolines, and minor squabbles and tricycle jousting, and that was in the course of about an hour. I do the best I can. Most of us do. Sometimes my best involves a “teachable moment” and a cute blog post with pictures, and other days it turns into me growling at the kids, each word punctuated with brief, terse silence; followed by a blog post lamenting my numerous failures.

So, in case this is the only post of mine you ever read – especially since I am late and will be lucky to be included at all – please know that it does get better. I promise you, what you go through during the newborn and toddler years with your twins is exhausting and punishing and of course it’s worth it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not 18 years away.