Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How do you do it?

While I was pregnant, I read and heard about the many questions my husband and I would be asked about our twins when we left the house with them but I wasn't really prepared for the stares we would get as well. People will look, point, and then I'll usually hear, "Oh, look it's twins!"

We certainly never fail to turn many heads - It makes me feel like a celebrity.

I try to smile or respond but depending on the amount of sleep I'm operating on, I may keep my head down and keep walking. I think I'm just going to start dressing the babes in this onesie each time we go out-

photo and onesie from http://www.cafepress.com/+identity+baby-bodysuits

Really, it's not fun to answer the same questions or to acknowledge the same comments over and over again - Are they twins? A boy and a girl? You're busy! How old are they? Do twins run in the family? What a blessing! I'm glad we didn't have twins. and my all time favorite -

How do you do it?

My usual response to this is, "We just do." But I've thought about it and here are some things I'd like to say in response to this...
  • One day at a time.
  • Very carefully.
  • Um, I kind of have to.
  • With an amazingly supportive husband who moonlights as a Superdad.
  • I'm a great multi-tasker (the job that most prepared me for mothering twins AND a toddler - bartending).
  • I laugh a lot. I have to...or things could get quite scary.
  • I throw pacifiers at walls. Seriously. Ask my husband.
  • Cry. Yep, I do that a lot too.
  • Warm baths. That amazingly supportive husband I mentioned before often encourages me to lock myself in the bathroom with a good book, a good beer, and a warm bath. Did I mention how amazingly supportive he is?
  • Our family motto is, "You do what you gotta do." It is said often around here.
  • With the help of other moms of multiples. They know what the day to day is like!
It's hard to get used to the attention from strangers...will we ever get used to it? Maybe the questions and stares will slow down once Henry and Clara are older, maybe not.

They are only 5 weeks old and I'm certain this list will change as they do.

If you are a mother of multiples, what's on your list? How do you do it?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Little More Sanity

Needless to say, It has been a challenging couple of weeks. While most days, I honestly feel like Supermom there are moments where I fear I may fall apart.

Those moments of fear have seemed to all rotate around breastfeeding. Yes, I know in my last post I was bragging about my every "three hour pumping routine." Well, that lasted approximately two weeks.

The first two weeks after Henry and Clara arrived breastfeeding was going great. My milk came in while I was still in the hospital. I mean, it REALLY came in. I think I could have put our local dairy company out of business. Then the sleep deprivation started to set in, Clara developed acid reflux and continued to lose weight, Henry still refused to latch, the daily help was slowly disappearing, my husband went back to work...need I go on? It seemed like every time that three hour mark rolled around, someone needed fed, changed, or held. Or my toddler was screaming for attention. By the time I made it to the pump - it had been well over three hours. My milk supply slowly dwindled. I started to only get an ounce or two at the pump - if I was lucky. I would nurse Clara and a half hour later she'd be hungry. It was not looking good.

And then I had that one day - that day where all I could do was cry. Madelyn, our toddler, was home from school sick (diarrhea that required diaper changes every half hour)! Henry and Clara were both gassy, grumpy, and just refusing to be put down. Naturally, this was the day that my postpartum hormones decided to be raging. Getting milk out of these boobs was down right impossible! On this day, I first started to wonder..."Is breastfeeding going to work this time?"

For those of you that know me, you know how passionate I feel about breastfeeding. I proudly breastfed Madelyn until she was 7 months old. For the first three months of her life the only nipples she knew were mine. Which is why the decision to stop breastfeeding Henry and Clara was an EXTREMELY difficult one for me to make. Oh, the guilt we mothers go through!

I'm not quite sure I have come to complete terms with my decision yet and I'm certain this post will illicit some judgemental, negative comments....but I'm hoping it will also help other Moms of multiples (or singletons) understand that breastfeeding is a personal decision - one to be made with extreme care, with the health and well being of all involved to be considered (mom and babies).

I did all sorts of research, talked to other moms, talked to the pediatrician - all in an attempt to make myself feel okay with no longer breastfeeding. Yes, I completely understand the many, many benefits of breastfeeding. But I also know that a sleep deprived and overly stressed mom isn't good for anyone in the household. Not only was/am I sleep deprived and overly stressed but finding the time to eat, let alone eat a healthy meal, is very difficult these days!  I think the Twin Coach says it best on her recent blog post:

"Breastfeeding is HARD... if it will help your sanity, stop earlier."

Yes, it has helped my sanity.

Then why is it that I'm still struggling with the guilt of it all? I keep reminding myself that my babies are getting the love and nourishment they need, that they received the super good for them colostrum at the beginning and continued to get breast milk for two weeks after.....I keep reminding myself that I am being the best mother that I know how to be.....that my children have a mom who is much less stressed with more time and energy for them....I keep reminding myself that I am a little more sane because of the decision to stop breastfeeding.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Surviving the First Two Weeks with Twins and a Toddler

In preparation for the arrival of Henry and Clara, I read several books available to moms of multiples. I did the same while pregnant with Madelyn - read every "new parent" book out there. I've definitely discovered that while reading these books may make you feel prepared for the arrival(s) of your new little one(s), you are never actually fully prepared!

I've also found that the most helpful tips come not from the books but from parents that have been there before....and from trusting your own process!

The following is a list of our top ten, in no particular order. The top ten tips and tricks to surviving the first two weeks with newborn twins and a toddler - we can now officially say we have survived the first two weeks!

1. Crock pot

I can't remember who gave me this idea but it's brilliant! Instead of a commercial bottle warmer, cup of hot water (which takes forever), or using the microwave (GASP!) - use the crock pot you most likely already have in the kitchen for a bottle warmer. Keep it half full of water and turned on low. Put the bottle(s) in, go change a diaper, and it's ready when you return. You can also get the small crock pot version, the kind used to keep dips warm, to heat one bottle at a time (I've talked to other parents who put this one in the bedroom for night time feedings).

2. Special Jobs for Big Sis

Our favorite (and Madelyn's too) was suggested to us by a nurse at the hospital. She is in charge of the "special soap" to give each visitor. The "special soap" is a bottle of hand sanitizer that sits on a shelf (within Madelyn's reach) for her to give each visitor that comes in the door. She is very proud of this job and will often announce to visitors, "This is my job!"

Other special jobs for older siblings include helping with feedings (Madelyn loves to hold bottles), bringing diapers, burp cloths, blankies, and pacifiers when needed, and Madelyn likes to share her favorite stuffed doggie when Henry or Clara is crying.

3. Hospital Grade Breast Pump

This has made it possible and much less painful for me to pump every three hours! It only takes 10-15 minutes and so far, it's been a success. Since Henry isn't a fan of latching on, I've been able to provide him with the benefits of breast milk that his little sister is getting while latched on.

We are renting the Medela Symphony breast pump and highly recommend it!

4. Swaddling twins together and Co-sleeping

Again, something that was suggested to us from a nurse at the hospital. We swaddle the twins together each night and put them in a cradle together. The best swaddlers for us have been the Aden + Anais swaddlers. They are super soft and large enough to fit both babes!

5. Recruit friends and family and Schedule help

Do NOT be afraid to ask for help! Fortunately, we have an extremely supportive group of family and friends who have offered services from cleaning our house while I was on bed rest to cooking dinner since Henry and Clara arrived. Take advantage of these offers. Not only will it help you keep some sanity it will provide you with much needed time to rest.

I'm a planner. The day we came home from the hospital, I got out my calendar and with my mom's help lined up daily help for me for at least two weeks out. Slowly, I'm adding more help for week three!

6. Schedule people to cook/bring dinner several nights a week

My good friend, Shauna, used this website to set up a menu planner for our household. The link was sent to friends and family that offered to help us out and now we have meals coming to us through the end of this month! It's been wonderful. While we have yet to all eat at the same time, it is SO nice to have a hot meal when we find the time to eat it.

7. Making formula in large batches

This suggestion came from one of my favorite "preparing for twins" books - Ready or Not…Here We Come! The Real Experts’ Guide to the First Year With Twins, by Elizabeth Lyons - prepare formula in batches! You do not want to find yourself in the kitchen mixing up formula for individual bottles with two babes screaming in the other room.

I like this container from Pampered Chef.

8. Polysporin for bad diaper rash followed by Fanny Cream

We plan to use cloth diapers for Henry and Clara but they are still too little for our Bum Genius stash. Until then, they are in disposable and unfortunately struggling with some diaper rash issues. Our pediatrician suggested using Polysporin on the rash and my sister-in-law sent us a big tub of Fanny Cream to cover the ointment with. Guess what - it works!

9. Snap and Go Double Stroller

Without this stroller, outings at this point would not be possible!

10. Ergocarrier with newborn insert

It seems like the moment you have completely run out of bottles and need to do dishes is the moment one of the babes decides they absolutely MUST be held. This is when you need the Ergocarrier with newborn insert.

We used the Ergocarrier for Madelyn (actually still can since she is so petite) but hadn't heard of the newborn insert until a friend let us borrow hers. It's been very useful - thanks Faith!

And then there are the *bonus* extras that no amount of money can buy. Bonus extras that I am SO very lucky to have..if you are expecting multiples, I pray you have the following (or at least one of the following) -

*An amazingly supportive husband, one who will tell you stories of times to be had with the twins to get you through labor pains, one who will do dishes and laundry without being asked, one who will go back to work quickly after the babies birth and come home each day with enough energy to play with your toddler and kiss and hug the new babes (and you), and one who makes you fall in love with him all over again after the birth of the babes!

*A wonderfully supportive group of friends and family- especially a mom who surpasses all moms (I can only hope to be as good as a mom as she is to me)!

*An outgoing 2 1/2 year old who will play with anyone - Madelyn has pleasantly surprised us with her thought that all the visitors come to play with her (which most actually do end up doing while holding a baby).

I think that about does it for my list of surviving the first two weeks with newborn twins and a toddler. I'm sure I'll need to update this list when we hit the month mark - who knows what tips and tricks we'll figure out next!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Birth Stories = Best Stories

I am obsessed with birth stories. I could listen to women (and men) tell the stories of their little ones coming into the world all day, I actually waste away several afternoons browsing "birth stories" online. Each one is so very different, each perception is different, and the babes that are born change the lives of many in so many ways.

There is so much anxiety involved in the pregnancy leading up to these birth stories....anxiety of meeting the new little ones...anxiety of all going well with the birth...and naturally, the anxiety of having it go "according to the birth plan." This last anxiety, I'll tell you - is one to get rid of as soon as possible. You see, the one common theme in most birth stories is that things do NOT typically go according to plan. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a plan but I feel women should work hard to be prepared for whatever may happen, work to have an open mind, and work to put your trust in your midwives or doctors care.

All this, I've learned from experience. With the birth of our baby girl (now toddler) Madelyn, we were quite lucky to have been able to follow our plan almost exactly the way we wanted it. However, with the arrival of Henry & Clara - things could not have been more different (from the very beginning).

To read about the arrival of our new babes, Henry and Clara, click here.