Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Favorites | Thoughts from a Twin with Twins

 (Originally posted 11.3.14)

Way back on May 31st, 1983, my parents went to the hospital anxiously awaiting the arrival of their third child. As was typically the case at that time, they had no idea if baby #3 would be a boy or a girl, so they knew they were in for a surprise. What they did not expect, however, was for the doctor to perform the c-section and then announce (in shock himself) that there were not ONE, but TWO baby girls inside. And thus, my identical twin sister, Allison, and I made our debut!

Yes, you read that right: my parents had "un-diagnosed" (as if we were a disease) twins. Fast forward 29 years later, and after a lengthy struggle with infertility (which you can read more about here), my husband, Brian, and I were overjoyed to welcome our own twins, Colby and Clara, into the world on April 5th, 2013. They were very much "diagnosed," thanks to the 8 million ultrasounds that come along with IVF and a twin pregnancy, but it's definitely safe to say that I was a little surprised to be a twin having twins of my own!

 L: My mom with me and my sister; R: me with Colby and Clara

You can probably all appreciate and in some way relate to the fact that every.single.time someone finds out about this phenomenon, they nod their heads knowingly and say, "Ohhhh, so that's why you ended up having twins!" Right. Except for not. Sometimes I just smile and let them believe that. I'm a chronic over-sharer, however, so most of the time, I feel compelled to explain what really happened, petri dish references and all. Strangers love that stuff.

Even though I really never expected that I would actually have twins myself, I remember growing up and thinking it would be fun. I thought that surely my experience as a twin made me a subject matter expert, and since knowledge is power, then surely parenting twins would be a breeze for me? Ha! Oh, how naive I was.

Nonetheless, I do feel like being a twin gives me a unique perspective on dealing with twins, so allow me to share a few thoughts based on my experience:

1. Get used to the attention. In fact, I recommend that you go ahead and just embrace the attention. I don't remember going out in public as a child without someone making a "you two should be on a Doublemint commercial!" comment or simply asking if we were twins, and now that I have two matching children of my own, I've found the same to be true. Just try to think of it as an opportunity to make friends with strangers and show the world how cute your kids are!

2. Relatedly, people will not stop asking dumb questions. You all know and love to hate them, but they're not going to stop. My favorite dumb twin question that we received when growing up? "If you and your sister were locked in a dark closet together and you weren't wearing glow-in-the-dark name tags, would you be able to tell each other apart?" And, of course, my obvious favorite dumb twin question now as a twin mom: "Are your boy/girl twins identical?"

My best advice is to smile, nod, and remember that the person is generally just curious (and/or uneducated). If that doesn't work, then there's always sarcasm. :)

3. Don’t feel bad that they don’t get much alone time. It honestly never bothered me that my sister was always around, and even though my parents didn't necessarily make a concentrated effort to have one-on-one time with us individually, I never felt like I was missing out.

What you have to remember about being a twin is that we don't know life any other way. It's not like we started out as only children and then got stuck with a permanent sidekick. So the good news is that even if we were missing out, we never would have known it :) This has provided me a lot of comfort as a twin mom and kept me from feeling guilty about not hanging out with them separately on a regular basis.

4. They are their own people, yes, but their identities are and will likely always be very much wrapped up in one another. Nothing provides proof of this in my life as much as the fact that I almost always refer to my childhood using "we” and “us” instead of “I” or “me." In fact, there are still events that I remember from when we (see?) were little that I can't say for sure if they happened to me or happened to her.

I know the same will be true for Colby and Clara. Having a twin is part of who they are, and I love that their memories will be tangled up in one another's in the years to come.

5. It’s not always going to be fair, and that’s ok. I won't lie- Allison and I spent a lot of time keeping tabs on each other to make sure neither one of us got too far "ahead" of the other. But we both eventually learned that there was no point in doing that because the scales always balanced in the end.

When Colby and Clara were born and someone was a much needier infant (I'm looking at you, Colby), I shed many a tear about the fact that he was getting held way more than his perfectly content sister. And then several months later, Clara realized she was a girl and therefore crazy (you know it's true), and now I am laughing at the fact that I ever worried about her getting less of my attention. Just trust me: it will never be perfectly fair but it will always even out in the end.

So there you have it. Nothing mind-blowing, but all helpful to remember just the same. And now I will leave you with one interesting twin tidbit:

Because Allison and I are identical twins (and therefore have identical DNA), our respective children are actually half-siblings, genetically speaking. Crazy, huh?

If you have any questions for Amanda, CLICK HERE to email her!

Amanda's Blog: Meet the Joiners

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Favorites | Tips To Make Your Life Easier

(Originally posted 4.21.14) 

Some of us create amazing weekly meal plans for the entire family.  Meanwhile, I had the following text exchange with my husband when we were making baby food:


We asked you guys for your best tips and absolutely loved your input.  The tips have been divided into a few categories and I hope they make your life a little easier!

Pour the creamer first and then add the coffee.  You don't dirty a spoon or overdo it with the creamer!

Use Reynolds Wrap slow cooker liners.  Once the meal is done, remove the liner and throw it away!  Super easy cleanup!

Have assigned spots in the dishwasher for utensils (e.g., knives always go in the far right divider).  When your dishes are clean it takes half the time to put them away.

I use a Command Hook on the back of the babies' highchairs to store their bibs. - Tori

I cook double of every recipe and freeze the other half for later. - Christina

When my twin boys started eating fruit, vegetables, and meats I had to find something that could cut the food up in little bite-sized pieces fast. With two hungry boys wanting watermelon, I couldn't chop it fast enough. I found the Vidalia Chop Wizard at the grocery store and the smallest blade it comes with was an amazing life saver. Its easy to clean, dishwasher safe. It is a must have at that age. - Kimberli

I transfer all the goldfish, Cheerios, and Annie's Bunny Grahams to glass containers (or good plastic storage containers/jars) and leave them on the counter. The girls can clearly see the contents and point (or yell or grunt) for whichever snack they want. - Daria

We love the Baby Brezza.  Now that the twins are eating finger foods it still comes in handy to steam sweet potato chunks or make homemade hummus. - Carolyn

Wash bottles on high temp in the dishwasher, hand washing is for the birds! - Brittany

I made myself a "sterilizing station" in my kitchen. In an ordered line, I would have a box for bits ready to sterilize, then the sterilizer, and then a big tub at the end to put things that had been sterilized.  - Joanna

Keep a crockpot of water on warm in the kitchen and the bedroom. Makes heating up bottles so much easier. - Nicole

If you use formula, get a protein shake shaker bottle to mix formula. Making bottles is so easy.  -@erykaann

Stock your freezer full of muffins! I lived on muffins for the first six months - easy nutrition to grab before a feed or something to eat when consoling babies. - @kbrandes 

When mine were just weeks old, I got a Keurig. I need coffee fast! Ain't nobody got time for French press anymore. - Katie

No Keurig here so I like to prep the coffee pot the night before or I don't get any!  Lately I've been making a batch of cold brew coffee on the weekend (Pioneer Woman and Velvet Bird have good recipes) and then each morning all I have to do is pour it over ice and add some cream and coffee syrup.  Just like Starbucks but cheap and fast! - Leslie

Get a jumper and a saucer! I put them in the kitchen while I cook or clean and it keeps my babies contained and happy. @mckenzeeskeen

Upon the suggestion of another twin mom friend, we also installed an instant hot water dispenser to thaw frozen bags of milk and/or warm up bottles. Way faster than having to use the microwave and more functional than a bottle warmer. As an added bonus, my husband has been able to use it for making coffee, and I think all new parents can appreciate the necessity of readily available hot coffee. - Amanda

I loved having my Ikea Spoling changing table. Mine are 12 months and I still use it daily. It folds up and has made its way to just about every room in the house over the last year. In the beginning I used it in our bedroom for nighttime changes. When they weren't mobile I kept it in the playroom so I didn't have to leave one to go change the other. Now it's just outside the playroom so I can still see the other. I love the mobility of it and being able to fold it up and put it away if we have company. It has been so helpful! - Krista

We have two changing tables - one upstairs in the babies' room and one downstairs in our room so it's convenient no matter where we are in the house to change them. - Tori

I learned to change the babies' diapers as they were drinking their bottle in the middle of the night/early morning feedings so we didn't take any more time than needed. We lay them on a Boppy, they hold their bottles, and we change their diapers. We are done in less than five minutes. - Tori

Two words: Amazon Prime. - Ashley

I used a flashlight at night when one would wake to change a diaper or get a feeding going….it helped shed just enough light to see, but not wake the babies. - CMB

I liked having a pack 'n play by the front door when my twins were young toddlers so I would have a place to corral them as I got them dressed to go out. - Samantha

Rock 'n plays and Boppy loungers for tandem bottle feedings when they are newborns. - Allison

Clean one room each weeknight.  I hate knowing the whole house has to be cleaned come Saturday. - Kaitlin

I have two-year-old twins and a new baby. The Moby wrap is the only way I get things done when I get home from work. Wear the baby and cook dinner, all while entertaining the twins! - @twinbaby0609

If something takes less than a minute, do it right then.  - Summer

Use a phone app to avoid creating a grocery list each time (also helps you to not forget anything)!  Two recommendations: Grocery IQ and Trello.

Ziplock bags in every size. Dirty diapers on the run. Carsickness (the big sister gets very carsick).  Food.  Individual outfit changes. Banana peels and other sticky food while you're out and about.  Wet bathing suit or dirty clothes. Literally anything and everything.  I pack two boxes of gallon sized bags when we travel. - Daria

Now that my babies are eating more solids we bought a Costco membership. - Christina

We moved all errands to weekdays/nights so weekends were family time and we didn't have to run around.  My husband goes grocery shopping on Monday night  and I go to Target during lunch. - Emily

Only wash your hair two-three times a week.  You have to train your hair in order to do this.  When I was pregnant I started washing my hair every other day.  After it was used to that I switched to every third day.  Not having to blow dry it every day has been such a timesaver and my hair is so much healthier!

I like Herbal Essences dry shampoo and it's a great price point! - Leslie

At first I only showered while the twins were sleeping. Big mistake! Get yourself a clear shower curtain and put your pack 'n play in the bathroom. To keep my kids happy I usually put a sippy cup of milk or water and a small snack with them in addition to a few soft toys.  - Carolyn


CLICK HERE to visit another 2014 Favorites "tips" post:  Photographing Kids | Tips From An Amateur

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Favorites | Traveling on a Plane with Twins

(Originally posted 6.3.14)

Hello Twin Talk readers! My name is Samantha. I'm a lawyer turned stay-at-home-mom of fraternal twin girls, Mia and Alexa, born in December 2010. I blog about life with twins at where I have shared our experiences flying from our home near Toronto, Canada to Sarasota, Florida every winter for family vacation. We have made the trip three times so far -- when our twins were 13 months, 27 months and 37 months old, respectively -- and I have 10 tips for flying with twin toddlers for you today.
Sarasota (2013)
10 Tips for Flying with Twin Toddlers
Tip #10 - Avoid It Our first trip was when our twins were 13 months old and let me just say it did not go very well. Despite all of my preparations and advanced planning, this was just a difficult age to have two toddlers on a plane. Our girls were in the walking toddler discovery stage and were just not interested in sitting still. Mia spent the duration of the flight shrieking on the ground while touching all of the dirt and germs beneath the airplane seats. Alexa cried in my arms for most of the flight and once she fell asleep then Mia started crying. Twin mom problems, right? Despite the histrionics, we managed the short flights and lived to tell the tale -- and to travel again.
Alexa was not happy (2012)
Mia touched every germ on board (2012)
Now I'm sure you're wondering why I would share stories about disaster flights in a guest post about tips for flying, right? My point is that if you are flexible and can avoid flying when your twins are between 12 and 18 months, then I say avoid it. Maybe go a little earlier when your twins will be content to sit in your lap or a little later when they can be distracted with electronics. If that's not the case and you have to fly with toddlers at this stage, then don't fret and the read the tips below. Even if it's awful, you will survive.

Tip #9 - Plan Ahead If you have twins under two years of age and are planning to fly with them as lap infants, this is a very important tip to note: most airlines do not allow two lap infants per row. This means, they probably will not permit you, your husband and your twins to sit all together. That's very important when you are planning and packing for your flight. When flying with my twins at 13 months old as lap infants, we preselected two aisle seats in adjoining rows so that we would be nearby with a toddler each. We checked in as normal (another warning: often an airline will not permit you to do online check in when you have lap infants so you must check in at the terminal) and then once we got to the gate, we spoke to the flight crew about moving us to be together. The flight crew was kind and moved things around so that the four of us had an entire row to ourselves. My husband sat in the window seat, I sat in the aisle seat with one twin and the other twin was technically sitting in the middle seat (which is how we got around the "no two lap infants" rule). Other passengers were very generous in switching seats for us (they were actually thrilled to get away from us). Obviously, there's no guarantee you can get a row once you're at the gate but it's very well worth talking to the flight crew about it. Once my girls turned two years old, we purchased seats for all four of us and pre-selected our seats upon booking. I sat in a row with my girls and my husband sat in the adjacent aisle seat. This configuration worked out great. It's expensive for a family of four (or more) to purchase airline tickets but I have to admit that traveling was a lot easier once my girls were in seats and were no longer lap infants.
Much easier the following year (2013)
And even easier the year after that (2014)
Tip #8 - Time It This next tip also has to do with planning ahead. When booking your flights, try to pick a flight at a time of day that you think will work with your twins and their schedule. For my twins, I have always found that flying earlier in the day is better because they are usually happier in the morning. Plus, airports are usually less busy and have shorter lines in the morning. You may prefer to instead fly at night and hope that your twins sleep. It's not always possible to fly at a time that you would like but it's worth looking at different flights to pick the best option for your family. And of course, avoid connections by flying direct to your destination if possible.

 Tip #7 - Pack Smartly I am a major over-packer and like to be prepared for anything. On our past flights, I have carried the following bags: (1) a purse for passports, boarding passes wallet, phone, sunglasses, hand sanitizer spray, etc., (2) a diaper bag with diapers/pull-ups/potty seat, wipes, spare clothes, bibs, pacifiers, sippy cups, snacks and light blankets, (3) a backpack for my hubby to carry filled with things to entertain the twins (click here to see more about my entertainment bag) and (4) small backpacks for each twin to carry with a favourite stuffy or other comfort item.
If only we could pack our kids in our luggage (2012)
I think packing is a very personal thing and there's a huge spectrum of what's acceptable from people that like to be over-prepared versus those that prefer to travel light. In my experience, twin moms are the over-prepared types because we know how quickly a situation can get messy, loud and crazy and we want to be ready. My best tips would be to make sure : * you carry a cross-body bag or purse with essentials for easy access * go light on toys instead bringing an iPad or other electronic device to entertain your twins (see tip #6 below) * bring a variety of snacks for the twins to eat to pass the time and candy for when they may be inconsolable * when packing changes of clothes for your twins, throw in an extra shirt for yourself in case you get peed, pooped or barfed on
* do not wear jewelry while flying because your twins will likely pull at it and drive you insane And remember... if you are flying with two lap infants then chances are your family will be separated and accordingly, your carry-on should be arranged so that each parent had the supplies like sippy cups, diapers, etc. that they will need for one twin for the duration of the flight.
Diaper bag and purse carry-on (2013)
Tip #6 - Do Not Rely on the In-Flight Entertainment Adding to my last point about electronic devices, my advice is to not rely on the in-flight entertainment to entertain your twins. I have experienced one flight which had personal TVs with no satellite connection (i.e. totally useless) and another flight where you had to download the in-flight entertainment app on your phone before boarding the plane except we were only advised of this after boarding the flight #wouldhavebeengoodtoknowbeforeboarding. We might just be the last family in North America to not have an iPad (only because we would need two of them with twins -- and that's a whole other story). We have relied on our iPhones and our MacBook Air to provide in-flight entertainment to our twins. These were the absolute best way to keep our twins occupied while flying (not so much when they were crazy 13 month olds but definitely since then). We made sure to have child-friendly headphones and a headphone splitter cable with us, and Mia and Alexa were more than happy to watch movies on the MacBook or play iPhone games. Whatever it may be that works to occupy your twins at home, whether it's movies, apps, computer games, TV shows, iPads, mini iPads, iPods, iPhones, LeapFrogs or whatever, bring them with you when you fly. My girls were so well behaved while watching movies on our last trip to Florida that I was actually able to read a book on the plane.
MacBook Air, child friendly headphones + headphone splitter cable (2014)
Tip #5 - Accept That Going Through Security Is a Pain Going through security is a pain, there's no way to escape it. It's especially painful when you have twin toddlers. Keep an eye out for the family lanes in the security area because they move faster and are more accommodating. I have carried formula and baby food across security and have never had an issue since baby formula/milk/food is exempt from the normal liquid restrictions. Children are not allowed to go through security while sitting in strollers so be prepared to take them out of the strollers, collapse the strollers and have the strollers go through the security x-ray machine. Small children do not have to remove their shoes but they do have to go through the metal detectors. It's also worth noting that you can reject the full body x-ray scanner for children. Here's a story to highlight the frustration of going through security: On our trip out of Toronto when our twins were 27 months old, we tried to do online check-in from home. The online system wouldn't permit it, so we went to the check-in desk at the Toronto airport where we were notified that Alexa had been randomly selected by the computer for enhanced security screening. Yes, a two year old needed extra security. Apparently, the security system does not check for age when doing the random screening. So at every step of the airport process, she was flagged. Now the extra frustrating part is that the Toronto airport is set-up so that if you are flying to a U.S. destination you clear U.S. customs at the airport in Toronto before you go to security. So we had to take all of our checked luggage, carry-on luggage plus the twins in their strollers and make our way from the check-in desk, through U.S. customs, to the checked luggage drop off and then through security. It was a total pain. And then because of the security flag they inspected every bit of Alexa's belongings at every step. It was ridiculous. I almost lost it when they asked to pat her down at security. We refused because... come on, she was two! I know the security guards were following protocol but it was just too much. In the end, they asked if they could pat me down in her place and I agreed before proceeding to make our way through security, regroup and head to the gate to wait for our flight. So you see why I say airport security is a pain. There was nothing we could have done to prepare ourselves for this unanticipated hassle; however, it was good that we arrived at the airport early and had plenty of time.  

Tip #4 - Gate Check Your Stroller I highly recommend bringing your stroller into the airport because it helps to keep your twins contained as you travel through the airport (and you probably want it at your travel destination). We have always traveled with two Maclaren Triumph umbrella strollers rather than our Baby Jogger City Mini double stroller. It's our preference to have two light and collapsable strollers when traveling rather than the double stroller. Whatever stroller(s) you travel with, consult the airline's policy on gate checking the stroller before going to the airport. We were always able to take our strollers all the way to the gate and down right to boarding before having to collapse the strollers and have them checked below the undercarriage of the plane. Our strollers would be waiting at the gate at our destination. Easy peasy.
Umbrella strollers at the beach (2012)
Asleep in Magic Kingdom (2014)
Tip #3 - The Car Seat Question The number one thing my mom friends have worried about when traveling with babies and young children, twins and singletons alike, is whether to rent or bring the car seats. If you need car seats at your travel destination, the issue is this: if you bring your car seats from home then you have to check them with the airline and worry about them getting lost or damaged in transit. If you rent car seats at your destination (whether from the car rental company or a baby gear rental company), then you have to trust that you get clean and safe car seats at your destination. And with twins, it's more of a hassle in either case because you obviously need two car seats. Admittedly, this isn't something we have had to consider. We travel to Sarasota because my husband's parents live there in the winter. This means that we have been able to purchase car seats online from Walmart, ship them to my in-laws in advance and my in-laws have them waiting at the airport for us. We know this is a huge advantage for us. Buying the car seats alleviates this hassle for us and it's also cheaper than renting. If buying car seats is an option to you (or borrowing from friends/family at your destination), then my advice is to go for it.
Cosco Scerena Convertible (2012 + 2013)
Cosco High Back Booster (2014)
Otherwise, I think it's okay to rent car seats if you are traveling to a major North American city. If you are going to somewhere tropical or to Europe, then I would recommend bringing your own car seats and checking them with the airline to avoid any surprises at your destination. I have also known people to bring the car seats right on the plane to ensure the utmost of safety. In order to do so, your twins would each need their own paid seat and could not be lap infants. You should call ahead to the airline to let them know of your plans to bring two car seats on the plane and how they would want your seats arranged (again, they may not be permitted in the same row). They will want to know the make and model of your car seats to ensure they meet the airline's safety requirements. We have never tried this; my concern would be navigating the airport with the twins, strollers, luggage, carry-on and car seats.  

Tip #2 - Plan Plenty of Potty Breaks We have flown with twins in every stage -- in diapers, in pull-ups and in underwear. Each situation had it's own challenges. Diapers were easier in many ways because the "situation" was contained. If you have twins in diapers, try to time one last diaper change before they call for family boarding. Same goes for twins that are potty trained even if they say they don't have to go. It's not fun to change a diaper on a plane or to bring a small child to use a plane toilet. In the case of using the toilet in the airport or on the plane, you may want to bring a folding potty seat with you in terms of making potty-going more comfortable for your toddlers, and also to reduce exposure to germs. And remember, hand sanitizer is your best friend while traveling through an airport!
We used this folding potty seat...
... and this hand sanitizer spray
Tip #1 - Try Not To Stress Try to not stress about traveling with twin toddlers. The best things about toddlers is that they are endlessly enthusiastic. Since they get excited about every little thing, air travel can have plenty of fun moments as your twins experience the sights and sounds of an airport even if the experience is stressful for you. You are already a twin mom, so you are AMAZING in what you handle on a daily basis. When you're traveling with twin toddlers, expect things to take longer, expect one or both of your twins to meltdown, expect people to look at you like a circus show, expect that both twins will want to sit with mommy, expect delays, expect the worst.... No matter how badly things may go, you can handle it and it will all be worth it for the family memories that you're making. And if all else fails, have a few emergency lollipops in your pockets to give to your twins.
Worth it (2014)
*** Like all things twin-related, traveling with twin toddlers may not be easy but it is totally doable and completely worthwhile. Our last trip to Florida included a visit to Disney for Mia and Alexa's third birthday and it was the most magical time for our family (click here if you want to read more about going to Disney with three year old twins). We are already planning our annual trip to Florida next winter.
It really is the most magical place (2014)
It's been a pleasure sharing my twin travel tips with you today. If you have any questions, comments or follow-up thoughts on my post, please email me at and I will get back to you.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Favorites | Bringing Homes Twins with an Older Sibling

(Originally posted 5.13.14)

Hi Twin Talk Readers! 

I’m Jillian, and I blog over at Earning Our Stripes. I’m a wife, momma to 3-year-old Anthony, and 3-month-old twin boys, Luca & James. I’m so honored to be sharing our story today!

Last year after Anthony turned two, my husband and I decided we were ready to grow our family. We’ve always had a running joke about how many children we’d have - I always wanted three and my husband wanted two. His favorite line was “You’ll have to find another husband to have the third!” We agreed we were ready for a second; a sibling for Anthony. We would “wait and see” on a third, and talk about it when we were ready.

Fast forward to June and two positive pregnancy tests later, I calculated we’d be expecting our baby in mid-February. Not long after those tests, I started having intense pain & cramping, which sent me to the doctor on a rainy Friday afternoon. I told my husband not to leave work early, and that I probably wouldn’t even have an ultrasound. My doctor was concerned with my symptoms and in order to rule out an ectopic pregnancy she decided to give me an ultrasound at  four weeks. She assured me as we walked towards the ultrasound room, "Don't get too excited, there's no way we can see the baby... it's still too small." As I was laying on the table, I heard her say “Well, it’s definitely an intrauterine pregnancy… and… it looks like there are two in there! You're having twins! DON’T FREAK OUT.” Ha! Famous last words. 

Because I was still so early in my pregnancy, we decided to only tell our families that I was pregnant, but withhold information about the twins until my 8-week ultrasound. There was no hiding my pregnancy - locking myself in the bathroom after every meal was starting to be a dead giveaway. It also gave Craig and I some time to soak it all in… we were still in shock ourselves!

One decision we talked a lot about was how we would tell Anthony. He was just two at the time and I didn’t think he could fully comprehend that he’d be having not one, but two siblings after the new year. I didn’t read any articles, or books - we decided to wing it. Anthony was immediately excited about the prospect of a baby in my belly, so we decided to tread slowly. We talked a lot about the baby and when he/she would be coming, and then slowly introduced the idea of two babies. To a toddler, it was simple - more is better. Do you want one cookie or two? Do you want one scoop of ice cream or two? Anthony quickly embraced the idea of two babies in my belly, so we decided to just roll with it.

Over the next few months we remained open and honest about almost everything with Anthony. I never hid from him when I was going to the doctor (he loved seeing pictures of his “brudders” when I came home), or why momma needed to rest for a bit. We made sure he was a big part of preparing their nursery: setting up two cribs, two swings and two rock n'plays seemed to make it more real for him. To a toddler, it was all relative. Anthony had nothing to compare to - so my big belly, all the doctor appointments, and the idea of two babies… he embraced it all. In his eyes, everyone has two babies.

As January approached we started to prepare him that the babies could come any day. Every morning, Anthony would ask if today was “the day." There were several false-alarms and subsequent trips to L&D, but each of those times I would just tell him we were going to the doctor to check on the babies. But these boys were definitely on their own schedule. At 38 weeks and 1 day, the day before I was about to be induced, I ended up going into labor on my own. My contractions started in the middle of the night, and all I could think about was holding out until Anthony woke up at 7. I was terrified that if we had to leave in the middle of the night he’d be upset and confused, and that our goodbyes would scar him forever (yes, my pregnancy hormones were out.of.control). After four hours of contractions, and the impending snowstorm on its way to the area, we made the decision to call my parents over and head to the hospital. Listening from our bedroom, I could hear my husband wake up Anthony to tell him what was happening. “Momma go to hod-it-tal to have bee-bees? Gigi and Pa stay here with me-me? Otay. Bye dadda.” It was as simple as that. 

Labor was quicker than I expected, and after only four pushes, Luca came out screaming at 3:52 pm, weighing 7lbs 4oz, and 21 inches long. James needed a little more help, but entered the world 11 minutes later at 6 lbs 7oz and 20.25 inches long. After we were settled in our recovery room, we sent pictures to our friends and family, and I called my parents to see how Anthony was doing. My mom told me that she got him to stop sledding just long enough to look at the picture, to which he said “Luca and James tame out of momma’s belly?” and then right back to playing with the neighbors. 

We were so thankful that the flu ban at our hospital excluded siblings, so Anthony was able to come visit us and meet his brothers the day after they were born. We didn’t make a huge deal of their meeting (of course there were pictures and video, but we wanted him to adjust on his own terms). His first reaction was to come hug me, and tell me about all the big trucks he saw outside the hospital. Once he saw his brothers though, he was completely smitten. We let him touch them, hold them, love on them. His love was so innocent and instantaneous. And in that moment I prayed that the three of them would have an unbreakable bond for the rest of their lives.

Once we brought the boys home with us, we knew we had two goals: to make Anthony always feel included, and to try and spend some special, one-on-one time with just him. The next few weeks were crazy - the twins' demanding feeding schedule made it hard for me to leave the house, and Craig and I were exhausted from being up every two hours. But we did make time for Anthony - I took him out to lunch once a week, and Craig and Anthony ran errands together on the weekends. While we were home, we made an extra effort to focus on the things he could do to help: get us diapers or pacifiers, or help sing songs to calm Luca & James down. Honestly, the evolution happened all on its own. He loved these little boys SO much. I couldn’t have asked for it to turn out any better than it did!

Over the last two months, Craig and I have witnessed just how much their bond is growing. Anthony is their ultimate protector, and asks where they are as soon as he wakes up in the morning. He entertains whichever baby is waiting to nurse, trying to get a smile or get them to "talk" to him. I love seeing the three of them interact, and watching Anthony become a big brother has been one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. 

While everyone’s situation is different, here are some tips I can offer on making this transition as smooth as possible.
  1. Talk it up. Obviously a lot depends on your child’s age, but I genuinely believe the smooth transition started with our openness from the beginning. Tell your child(ren) how many babies are coming, when they’re coming, and slowly introduce the concept of you leaving to have the babies at the hospital. For us, the “time” concept was general - “the babies will be here this winter” or “after Santa comes.”
  2. Ask your older child questions / make them feel part of the process. We asked Anthony a lot of silly questions, and a lot of serious ones too. Did he think he’d have brothers or sisters, or one of each? Did he think his brothers would like oatmeal as much as he did? What should we name the babies? I think this helped him realize that his voice could be heard, too. Having your child pick out a gift for the new babies could also get them excited about meeting his/her siblings.
  3. Have them come to the hospital. If given the opportunity, I would suggest having your older child(ren) come to see you in the hospital once you’ve been moved to the Mommy/Child floor. It was important to me that Anthony not see me with an IV, etc., so that he wouldn’t associate his brothers being born with mommy getting hurt, so we made sure he came the day after they were born.
  4. Give them “tasks” to feel included. Again, it all depends on the age of your older child, but having Anthony “help” us makes him important. He helps with bath time, diaper changes and play time. We also make sure that when he says he doesn’t want to help, to not push him. It’s ok that he wants some separation from his brothers, too.
  5. Make sure to give them one-on-one time. It’s so hard, and I struggled with this every day of my maternity leave, but even 10 minutes of quality one-on-one time would help with Anthony’s attitude. I could tell on the days he’d be struggling - those were the days the twins were super fussy and needy, and Anthony felt sidelined. If you have help at home in the beginning, have that person stay with the twins while you go play outside, or have some quiet time reading a book or playing a game. 

If you have questions for Jillian, CLICK HERE to email her.  Also, check out her personal blog: Earning Our Stripes and her Etsy/Business Instagram account: @bellacartaboutique (she makes adorable birth & baptism announcements)!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Favorites | Thoughts from a Twin Dad

(Originally posted 9.22.14)

Today's guest contributor is a very close friend of mine.  He also happens to be my husband and the first male writer for Twin Talk!

I asked if he would write to new and soon-to-be twin dads and offer a bit of knowledge now that he's got (almost) two years under his belt.  He replied, "I don't remember the first six weeks.  At all.  Nothing."  And I believe him.  But after thinking on it a few days, he came up with some pretty great tips (and a few lighthearted stories) that I hope new dads will appreciate and new moms will applaud! 


There is a stereotype that pregnant women can be a bit emotional.  I'm not here to address this rumor, but I simply suggest this is a special time in your relationship and you should let your pregnant wife know how pretty she is even more than usual.  Speaking of emotional, she's going to say things that may come across as insulting.  Either to you or about you.  Don't take it personally, I'm pretty sure she doesn't mean it. 

If you choose to sleep in the hospital room (and I highly advise you do), they provide you with a nice couch that extends into a torture bed.  It's too short to stretch out and it has a firm wooden arm that will slice your Achilles if you follow that path.  Since you're in the room with a woman who has recently expelled two humans from her body, the hospital wants to ensure you don't wake up all peppy and ready to go.  

Be aware that most babies are nocturnal in the womb.  Their mom knows this, but you didn't get to enjoy the sensation of two tiny humans stomping the yard on your bladder.  The kids slept in the nursery at night during our hospital stay, so we only saw them when the nurses would bring them in every three hours to feed.  This didn't allow us to fully grasp their sleeping patterns.  Surprise!  The children gave us more joy than we could imagine during the day and then slowly sucked it away at night.  We'll still call it a net profit, but man those first few nights at home were rough.  The first night Meredith became very paranoid and thought everything in our room would suffocate the babies.  Another night I was so tired I walked back and forth between the pack n plays thinking I was holding a baby.  I was actually holding my pillow and offering zero help whatsoever.  One night I ended up on the couch with my knees up.  A baby was on each leg and they were both sucking on my pinky finger.  It was uncomfortable and I couldn't sleep, but I didn't want to stop when Meredith came to relieve me because they were quiet.  This stage passes quickly, in retrospect.  

I would encourage everyone with new babies to take pictures all the time and label them when possible.  Albums can be put together later, but the pictures and a little context will serve as the memory your mind failed to create on a Saturday morning after sleeping 3.5 hours.  

On that note, sleep when you can.  There was a period in the first few weeks where I would sleep from 7-10:30 at night.  It was a time where they both usually slept between feedings.  Waking up at 10:30 isn't easy, but it's sleep I wouldn't have had otherwise and I was still able to help Meredith.  

Speaking of being helpful...  There are certainly times where you'll feel like a waste of space.  If the kids are breastfeeding, the dad can't really tag in.  Dad can help in all the prep that goes into making breastfeeding a (hopefully) quick and successful task.  When the kids needed to eat, I would get up and throw all the pillows to Meredith so she could get set up (this was before she purchased that giant nursing pillow).  I would grab the loudest baby and change their diaper and hand off to Meredith.  This would give her time to get one going, while I changed the second diaper.  I stayed up during the process and helped burp and get everyone back to bed.   I was obviously able to participate more if she pumped and we were feeding the kids bottles.  

The first few months are also a time for dads to complete the household chores.  All of them.  And don't even tell her everything you did - no scorekeeping necessary. After birthing two babies at the same time, she's always going to win.

Diapers were not as terrible as I imagined.  The first few are rough for a couple of different reasons.  If it's a boy and he undergoes the snippity snip snip, you have to apply Vaseline generously and it can get to be messy and weird.  For either sex, the first few bowel movements are...different.  I think I compared them to those commercials where they're trying to wipe oil off of a seagull and it's not working at all.

She's not going to want to share her personal space with you for a very long time.  After spending every waking hour with two babies in her space, she wants a break.  I remember trying to cuddle up next to Meredith one night and she asked if holding hands could count.  And then she offered me a pinky. 

The easiest advice is to enjoy the little moments of downtime with your new additions to the family.  You may only hear the stories of the work involved in keeping infants happy, but there's plenty of time where they're perfectly happy to sleep on your chest for an hour or lay quietly on a blanket and practice smiling.  Every stage with our kids has been so much fun, but those first few months are your chance to have them in your arms for as long as you want.   


If you have a question for Michael, CLICK HERE to email him!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Favorites | Surviving Hospital Bedrest

(Originally posted 4.17.14)

When you first find out you're pregnant with twins, there's a good chance your doctor will share the likelihood of bed rest.  Whether it takes place at the hospital or your home, it's so common with twin pregnancies.  Andrea, who is currently 32 weeks pregnant, is on hospital bed rest taking care of her sweet baby boys.  Today she shares her tips on how to survive bed rest.   We appreciate her honestly, humor, and positive attitude.


My name is Andrea. I'm a stay-at-home mom to my daughter, Madison, and married to my high school sweetheart, Josh. I'm a part-time photographer, a Chai tea latte enthusiast, and about to be a busy mom of three.

At 27 weeks I went in for a routine cervical length check at my doctor's office. After my cervix had measured well over 4 cm my entire pregnancy, we were shocked to see it was now 1.4 cm. My doctor had me out the door & headed for the large hospital in Denver within 20 minutes. By the time I got to the hospital my contractions had picked up and were coming every 2-3 minutes. After about 24 hours of contractions, my cervix was now measuring 6mm. I have now been in the hospital for five weeks, with no changes and with the possibility of going home in 10 days, unless the boys decide to make their debut.

 32 Weeks

How To Survive Hospital Bed Rest

Be Pleasant.
No one wants to be here. None of us planned on being here. We are stuck in lumpy beds with bad hospital food and daytime television. I am bombarded with tubes, straps, pills and swabs every three hours. I am being watched like a hawk. But you know what helps? A good attitude. There is absolutely nothing I can do about being here. I am here for the long haul, as are a lot of these women, so I'm making the most of it.

I have really great nurses who actually enjoy coming to see me because I decided to be pleasant. The boys are the most stressful fetuses to get on the monitors, which means my poor nurses have to sit here for at least 30 minutes before we are all hooked up and being monitored. Many have thanked me for being a trooper because they have lots of patients who are mean and get mad. Get over it! You're stuck here all day and it's your fetus that is already creating problems and is still on the inside.

Laugh it up.
So much of this is disgusting. So disgusting. I have probably apologized to nearly every nurse that has worked with me for the disgusting things they have to do and see. "When was your last bowel movement?" has become my favorite question of the day. One of these days, I will work up the courage to say, "This morning! When was yours?" We talk about body fluids and mucus and blood and leakage. I mean, di-freaking-sgusting. The best way to deal is to just laugh about it. Make light of the gross and just roll with it. Being happy and pleasant and enjoyable to be around makes everyone happier. Be the patient that the nurses enjoy. There will always be the girl who is a crab - don't be her, because the patients talk about you and so do the nurses. Be the one who makes them laugh.

My two best friends at my hospital baby shower shortly after I was admitted

Cry it out.
For the majority of your hospital stay, be fun and enjoyable. However, if you need to have a good, hard sob, do it. Turn on Steel Magnolias and let the river flow. I was teary many nights when my friends and family would leave, but it was short-lived. Ten days into my stay, I hit my wall. Ugly crying into the phone while my Mom tried to calm me down. It's hard to be here. It's hard to watch your family leave. And it's hard to be stuck here with no end in sight. So, it's ok to be hysterical. Just don't be the girl who lives there.

I'm sure some of the nurses think I'm nuts. My room is the most decked out on the floor. My favorite part is the banner of photos of my myself throughout the pregnancy, which I refer to as my "Narcissist Banner" every time a new nurse looks at it. I have balloons, flowers, pictures, and banners hanging on the walls to make it feel more homey. Over the top? Yes. Necessary? No. Cheerful? Yes. Worth it? Yes. You're here for weeks on end - make the best of it.

Narcissist banner.

I am very lucky to be semi-close to home. Many of the women on my floor are from neighboring states and aren't as fortunate as I am to have company. I have had friends and/or family here every single day of my stay. When people ask me what I want or need most, my response is always company. I have people I've never even met before popping in to see me, who just want to help make my day a little more pleasant. Seeing people (for Type A extroverts, like myself) help the days not drag so slowly. Tell people what you need. They want to help. If you just want them to stop by and play Scrabble with you, tell them.

My daughter, Maddie, bringing me balloons the day after I was admitted

Don't be ugly.
My husband was slightly offended that he has seen me with more makeup on since I've been here than I had been wearing pre-bed rest. My argument is that it makes me feel better. Deep.

It's true though. After beached whale society water immersion therapy, I take a shower, dry my hair, style it and put some makeup on. Is it necessary? Of course not. Does it make me feel like I'm doing something with my day? Yes. If you are schlepping around the hospital like the girl from The Ring, your days will be longer and crankier. If you put a little pep in your step on purpose, you will feel better.

Hospital bed rest is so hard. There is no getting around it, but like every situation in life, you have to choose to make the best of it. Make friends with your nurses because they want to like you, but they can't if you're a jerk. Try out the old lady activities that the hospital offers. You might enjoy it and it might make you less of a crab. And if you need a visitor, I'll come sit with you. I can bring you junk food and/or Starbucks, and I will lose terribly to you if we play Scrabble. Win/win for you.

Thanks so much, Andrea!  If you'd like to read more about Andrea and her family, visit her blog:  The Life & Times of Andrea Rosenbohm.  

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