Friday, June 4, 2010

Let's talk twins

I recently had some questions from a parenting-forum friend of mine, Tawny. She has an adorable daughter who is Bean's age and found out she is expecting twins in the fall (welcome to the club Tawny!!). She gave me permission to post her questions with my answers because 1) I am suffering from a spell of blogger block at the moment and 2) maybe there are some twin-mamas-to-be reading who would like to know as well.

Do they share a room, or will they in the future? Yes, and yes. Right now the boys are "sleeping" (hardy har har) at night in an Arms Reach Mini Co-sleeper at the foot of our bed. With Bean, we started a slow transition into his own room around 5 months old, and we hope to do that again with the twins. We put a second crib in Bean's old nursery, but we'll probably put both kiddos in the same crib to start so they can continue to snuggle. As they get bigger, they can go into their own cribs, and then eventually their own beds -- but we do plan to keep them in the same room, provided they aren't waking each other up at night with their cries. If they decide they want to split up when they are older, we are fortunate to now have a five-bedroom house, so we could accommodate. But it would take a pretty convincing argument. And maybe an interpretive dance, because that would be super funny to watch.

How is breastfeeding going? What can I expect? It's tough to give advice on what to expect, because just like with a singleton, our experiences can be all over the board. For every new mom plagued with a weak suck, clogged ducts, low supply, and mastitis, there is the new mom whose most difficult challenge is reaching the TV remote while nursing. We struggled the first month, mainly with building enough supply and the fact that each one would fall stone-cold-never-going-to-wake-me-don't-even-try asleep halfway through the meal and then wake up on their own screaming "WTF MOM! I WAS EATING! DO YOU WANT ME TO STARVE?" at the most inconvenient moment possible. With two, that makes for a difficult juggling act. But time, effort, and a crapload of fenugreek have solved those two problems, and we have been doing really well for the past month (they are 8 1/2 weeks now, for the record). Regarding tandem nursing, it does happen maybe once a day, if they both are hungry at the same time. It's not my favorite for various reasons, so I don't initiate it on my own -- even at night when it could potentially save me a few minutes. It gets harder as they get bigger, and I don't want to count on having that as an option. Special pillow is a must for this.

I struggled for months breastfeeding Bean when he was born, and with that experience under my belt, nursing has been SO much easier this time around, even with twice the newborn. I can't say I've come across anything that I didn't expect. For example, you will be nursing A LOT during the day, especially in the beginning. Get a comfy chair and a movie for your toddler. (Hopefully watching Toy Story eight times a day is not doing irreparable damage to Bean.) And the nights are naturally more difficult, which leads me to the next question...

How are the nights? Hell? Amazing guess! In the first few weeks, before they learn that ever-crucial day vs. night distinction, yes it sucks absolutely. You can struggle for hours to get one to fall asleep, only to have the other suddenly staring at you with wide eyes. That's the thing about newborns, they don't give two craps about your plans to get more than an hour of sleep at a time. Is there a solution? I was definitely too sleep deprived (or just stupid) to come up with anything. One of my friends did shifts with her husband -- one of them would sleep from 6 pm to midnight, then the other from midnight to 6 am. But because I was trying to get my milk supply up, I needed to get them latched as often as possible around the clock, so that wasn't really an option. Finally the babies did take pity on us, and extended periods of waking now only occur during the day; the compromise is that they always occur when we are trying to make and/or eat a meal, and total attention on The Twins is required during awake time.

In all fairness to these munchkins, though, they do actually sleep better than Bean did at this point -- which was really horribly, so that's not exactly saying much. But we had our best night ever recently, they slept from 10:30 pm to almost 3 am, and then 4 am to 5:45 am. Haven't repeated it since, but it's moving in the right direction. We do wake them both up when one cries, it's definitely the best method to consolidating your own rest -- so we are only as good as our worst sleeper. The main problem at night now is pretty obvious: we have to change both, feed both, burp both, and get both back to sleep before we can sleep ourselves. It takes about 60 minutes each time they wake up 50 minutes if we are lucky. Some SAHMs do it by themselves when their husbands go back to work. Fortunately my DH doesn't smoke crack so he knows there is no way I'm doing it alone at this point. Eventually, sure, I don't mind. I know the routine will get faster. But in the meantime, he relies heavily on coffee, and since caffeine makes the babies freak out, I rely heavily on my under-eye concealer.

Have you had any behavior issues with Bean? Yes and no. Keep in mind that Bean is two years old, and at this age I think it's impossible not to have at least a few behavioral issues. But fortunately, Bean is a very good kid for his age. Our boundaries are tested regularly, but relatively gently compared with other toddlers we know. I haven't noticed that he acts out more since the twins have come, except for one particularly bad morning when we all went to the pediatrician for the twins' weight check. If my Mom and I are both trying to calm crying babies at the same time, Bean will suddenly proclaim that he needs "Gramma hugs!" or "Mommy hugs!" with a whiny yell. But overall, he has really embraced his roll as big brother -- bringing them his toys, binkies, and beloved Sleep Dog to share completely on his own. I credit that to two factors. First, Bean has always been well-behaved and sweet, which he no doubt inherited from me. And second, I do have my Mom here with me all the time, so he still gets lots of attention. To anyone having twins, and especially twins with a toddler at home already, I recommend soliciting and accepting as much help as possible. When I was pregnant, before my parents had decided to move here, I naively thought I could handle all these kids on my own. I would just have to channel my inner Supermom! But NO WAY. I'd have lost my sanity a loooong time ago. Friends, family, a babysitter, the guy who panhandles at the highway exit -- if someone offers to help, you can't afford to say no. Just keep an eye on your valuables, you really don't know that guy very well.

Are you babywearing at all? Some of you may know that I have a consuming obsession with I have a healthy, normal relationship with my baby carriers. So it may be surprising that I do not, nor do I plan to, wear both the kiddos at the same time. It's certainly tempting, not only because it's completely badass, but it'd be nice to be able to hold both munchkins at once. There are many mamas with more babywearing skill than I have who make it work. (You should see these women and their wraps, it's incredible!) But I haven't had the time or inclination to learn to wear both together. And I have to wonder, once you finally get them both in there, calm and quiet... then what? Besides taking a picture to brag to all your friends, of course. It's not like I could bend over and empty the dishwasher. One baby hinders movement enough, I can't imagine two. And all that weight! Sadly I am no help in the twin babywearing area, but if you are interested, there is a forum called "Wearing More than One" on TheBabyWearer that you can access if you register.

But that doesn't mean my carriers are gathering dust, quite the opposite. It's very handy to be able to wear even one at a time. One of my twins is fussier than the other (you know who you are, Peanut) and sometimes I have to wear him if I'm going to get anything done. My carrier of choice these days is the Napsack Baby mei tai. Moby wraps are great in their own right, but the Napsack Baby has a few advantages. Most notably, they are more stylish and different from the Moby wraps that five other moms in your playgroup will be wearing. And when you are sporting sweatpants and a t-shirt with spit-up on it, any extra boost in appearance goes a long way. The Napsack Baby is definitely as comfortable as the Moby, and much sturdier so the baby doesn't sag over time. Even my mom and DH use it on occasion. Not my dad yet, but I'm working on him. Our hippy/crunchy lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest is still a bit foreign to him.

Here's a picture of Bean in our mei tai, taken back in November 2008 when he was eight months old. With the littler ones, you'd tie the strap in the middle of their back instead of under their butt, so they don't fall out the side.

Did you buy a stroller for all three kiddos? Nope. For two reasons. First, Bean hates riding in a stroller. He never has been a huge fan of it, and ever since he mastered that whole walking thing, it's been an epic battle to strap him in. And second, those triple strollers are huge, heavy, and cumbersome. It just didn't make sense to go in that direction. Any time that we'd possibly like to have strollers available for all of them (e.g. a trip to the zoo) I have my Mom or DH with me, so one of them can push Bean's single stroller while I take the double.

Because we have two Graco SnugRide car seats (one from Bean, and one given to us by a friend who no longer needed hers), we decided to get a Baby Trend Double Snap N Go Stroller Frame. We had the single version for Bean, and it worked really well. We can pop the babies out of the car and into the stroller without having to disturb them. And as we prefer, the stroller frame is lightweight and easy to use. It still feels like you are trying to maneuver a Winnebago down a bike path when you push it, but I'm not sure you're going to get around that problem when you have infant twins.

We will have to buy a new stroller when the kiddos outgrow their infant car seats. I'd love to get a fancy one like the popular BOB double strollers (such as this one). But a quick search for change under our couch cushions reveals that I am still $568.47 short of being able to afford it, including the generous 99-cent discounted price listed today. Even the craigslist prices are prohibitive. So we will probably stick with the double version of the Maclaren stroller we used with Bean, unless something better arises in the meantime. They are practically giving it away at only $265. There are many other options for strollers -- I recommend visiting the Strollers for Multiples forum on Twinstuff to get more info.

Finally, in case anyone was wondering, yes, I dress them in matching and coordinating outfits. Constantly. Because I can.



Kristina P. said...

Twins run in my husband's family. I am praying I don't have twins. I am freaked out enough about one! But in the event I do, I will refer to this.

Jingle said...

thank you for visiting me today,
lovely twins,
everything is so cool 4 u..
As I said while your early time,
everything will be okay!

Denise said...

We also used the double snap 'n go when our twins were in their infant seats and it worked great. Once they were bigger and liked to be upright, we switched to the Combi Twin Sport. We love it and they love it. It is easy to push and turn, fits through all doorways we've met, and fits a ton in the basket underneath. The bar with the little cup holders also really comes in handy. Although no cups really fit in those cup holders, we use it to give them snacks (puffs, and now goldfish) while out and about and it keeps them occupied.

My only complaint is that they now fight with each other (hitting, grabbing and pinching) when they get crabby, but we wanted the side by side so they could both see and so they could "entertain" each other. I didn't realize entertaining would involve hitting, grabbing and pinching! You might check out the Combi as I think it is a bit cheaper than the MacLaren, but if the MacLaren is easier because you are used to the single version, totally understandable.

Anonymous said...

I am so bookmarking your carriers post! THANK YOU. ;-)

WiseGuy said...

Had fun reading the is all Greek to a Spanish lady, but still it brought on a smile or two...and I loved the closing sentiment. :-))

Kristi said...

I really, really hope you have twins that do not wake eachother up at night. We had to separate L and N early on into their own bedrooms because nighttime was an utter disaster. They woke eachother up even with a sound machine playing in their rooms.

Wearing two babies at once? People actually do this without buckling under the weight? Wow. Color me impressed.

I am surprised you're not getting a triple stroller! I have the Joovy Big Caboose (which is large, for sure), but Isabella would (and still does, at 3.5) stand on the back or sit if she gets tired. Maybe Bean would like the standing option? What if you want to go for a walk with all 3 and you're by yourself? My triple was the key to my independence in the early days, since I was running the show solo, and at just over 2, Isabella was too young to walk independantly in public.

Jingle said...

two awards on the bottom,
many thanks!

Happy Saturday!

Coffeegrljp said...

I loved our Baby Trend snap and go single stroller and we plan to use it again! Also, baby wearing. *sigh* I have so many wraps/carriers that I lust after. We used a Moby with our first and plan to use it again since it was so darn comfy. But it does get stretchy the bigger the kids get, so I'm intrigued by this napsack model of which I have not heard! In the meantime though, we're opting for the free route (i.e. we're borrowing a Baby Bjorn from some friends who don't currently have plans for a newborn/infant anytime in the near future). We'll see how it goes. Currently, our daughter is wearing it all over the house with various stuffed animals and toys in it. Won't she be sad when I actually need to use it? :) Sounds like you all have hit a stride of sorts. Way to go!

Anonymous said...

I laughed, sorry, at this part:
"How are the nights? Hell?"
Great post, great advice. I am in awe at you. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

great post!

We got the double bob from REI - they have 20% off specials quite a bit - it saved $120 but still a small fortune!

Anonymous said...

i always wanted to try wearing both babies at once just ONE TIME...just to see what it was like. mostly i was afraid that something would happen: to one of them, or to me, or who knows what. lol.

we got a double stroller from ebay: the baby jogger city classic. it's last years model and they don't make it can get them for much less money!

Michelle said...

It sounds like things are going well over there. You are the rockin' mom!

I am glad that Bean has taken well to being a big brother. I imagine trying to wear both babies at once would not be very productive at all. :)

I can't believe you did not jump at the stroller with a whole 99cent discount. It sounds like they were causing quite a stir with that one...they probably have none left at that hefty discounted price. LOL

Furrow said...

It sounds like you're really getting the hang of this twin thing. My brother and SIL have a 2 yr old and new twin boys, so it's like reading about their lives, too. They also have a live-in grandma (for the next two months). I can't imagine people who have to go without that kind of help.

lisawitt said...

enjoyed reading this glimpse into your daily sounds tiring! LOL! So glad to hear things are going well and who can resist matching outfits! while i usually cant match the boys due to ages, I sure do love to coordinate! :)

Chad and Gena said...

Oh yes the double snap-n-go I hated that served its purpose but it was so hard to push...I switched to our sbs at 5 months :-) we bought the baby jogger city mini and LOVE it. E & T do wake each other sometimes on the occasion that they don't STTN but they both go back to sleep so easy it isn't an issue. Before they stated STTN it wasn't an issue when they woke each other because we would be waking them anyway. Also, my dh and I operated the same way, although he worked he would get up and do diaper changes and put back to sleep while I nursed. It was huge having his help and I was thankful that he was so willing :-). I always felt guilty when I would come across other mom's that would talk about how they did everything their self because dh worked, I just don't think I could have handled it all. So glad that part is behind us :-)

I wanted to throw an offer out there. I have some new papers that I need to create samples for to put on my site and since I know how expensive it is to have twins and especially being a SAHM, I wanted to offer to make some letters for your boys at cost (if one of my new collections would go w/your decor). Not sure if you already of something but if not and if you are interested you know how to find can just convo me from my site.

Tawny said...

Thanks for answering all my questions, I am so appreciative of all the great info, it really helps to have a realistic view at what I'm getting into!

I'm so glad things are going well for you these days, keep in touch!