Friday, May 29, 2015

Twin Birth Story: Amanda McDaniel

If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out the questionnaire!

Amanda McDaniel

Where do you currently live?  Katy, TX

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pumping & Breastfeeding Twins

Hi, I'm Ashley!  I did not have an easy start to breastfeeding. It is, hands down, the hardest thing I have ever done! Ethan and Felix were born at 35 weeks and 6 days, 5 lbs 6 oz and 5 lbs 11 oz. They were tiny and they had a tough time latching. They often looked confused and would stop sucking. Their little mouths were so tight and for weeks their latch was too shallow. Breastfeeding was painful to say the least. So, I pumped. And I pumped and I pumped. And pumped some more!

We were in the NICU for 1 week and I stayed in a mom bed the entire time. Day 3 my milk came in. They actually had a couple of feeds with donor breast milk before my milk came in. The boys were taking in 30 ml a feeding by the end of their first week and I liked being able to measure how much they were getting when we pumped into bottles. I liked that it didn't hurt to feed them, but they were still getting breast milk. They took to the bottle like champs!

I hadn't done much research on breastfeeding or breastfeeding twins, so I didn't realize how hard it would be. The nurses were very helpful and they respected every decision I made, but I got the sense that they didn't have a ton of experience with twins.The lack of sleep combined with poor latches, nipple confusion, and soreness led to more and more pumping... and less and less breastfeeding. 

When we got back from the hospital I still nursed and pumped intermittently, but I was finding it easier to pump (using the Medela Freestyle double pump) and get help from my husband with the feeds. I found it impossible to tandem nurse or nurse one at a time - how do you keep the other one happy when you're feeding the first one? Picture this: Brand new, severely sleep-deprived mom trying to breast feed a baby with a poor latch at 3 am while her other baby is wailing his head off. The whole process would take more than an hour and then we would have to start it all over again in two hours! I needed to do whatever it took to survive... and pumping and bottle feeding was the best thing for us at the time. 

I felt awful and guilty every day that I wasn't taking the time to practice breastfeeding. I wasn't giving them the chance to learn. I was being selfish, but boy did it feel better to pump. I received a lot of support from family, but also a little bit of pressure to nurse know, those passive aggressive comments under the breath (e.g. "they should be able to latch by now..."). That kind of thing drove me nuts! I am a sensitive person, mixed with being an over achiever, and I cried a lot when I thought about how I was failing them and myself by not being able to breastfeed my boys.

I justified my exclusive pumping by telling myself, "They were premature so they are still little and unable to figure out how to nurse." Or, "I have twins so it is of course going to be difficult at first!" The boys were still healthy and getting enough food and that was the important thing. I really believed these points and still do, so that helped me get through the first couple of months.

A couple of weeks after we got back from the hospital I made a conscious effort to exclusively breastfeed. It was mid-January and I wanted to be a tandem nursing goddess by the time my sister came out to visit at the end of the month. I went out and bought that giant green tandem nursing pillow (My Breast Friend twin pillow) and a couple of tubes of nipple cream. I even washed the pump and put it away. 

After 24 hours I was in excruciating pain unlike I've ever felt before. I couldn't believe how awful it was - scabby, bleeding nipples, blisters, white tips, mastitis (I had about 8 bouts of mastitis over the past four months). Anyone who hasn't gone through it honestly cannot imagine how much it sucks every time you have to feed a crying baby (or TWO CRYING BABIES) with sore nipples. I believe I had a rough case because of their shallow latches. Attempting to nurse them at the same time made it utterly impossible. 

My mistake was trying too much, too soon. I wanted all or nothing. I was so determined to nurse, but I completely crashed and burned. I'm embarrassed to admit that I gave up after only a couple of days. I had to bring in the troops and come up with a better plan... I could absolutely not go on with what I was doing. My nipples healed after a few days and I was happily pumping again.

I continued to breastfeed them directly once every couple of days maybe... sometimes a couple times a day if I was feeling ambitious. For several more weeks that went on... Sometimes I went for days and days without nursing. The pumping was going quite well and I was making enough milk.

But I still had that nagging pressure to nurse. I really wanted the freedom of breastfeeding without having to wash pump parts and bottles all the time. I still had this image of myself tandem nursing like a boss...

So, my second BIG attempt to breastfeed exclusively was on! It was almost as though I had forgotten how much it hurt the first time. I went out and bought those gel pads to ease the nipple pain. And again I nursed at every feeding for about 48 hours this time. And back came the blisters and blood. I distinctly remember pumping strawberry pink milk one night (ugh). This was not getting any easier and this time I really cried, feeling totally broken and beaten.

I researched online and found affirming stories about exclusively pumping for twins ( There were some HUGE pointers in this blog post that helped me:

- Get a hands free pumping bra (this was one of the best purchases I've ever made)
- Pump for at least 15-20 minutes so you get two or more let-downs
- Use larger suction cups than the ones that come with the pump

It helped immensely to read other twin mom stories. I was set on pumping only... I didn't want to breastfeed AND pump because I was losing patience and that seemed way too time consuming. 

I was going to give up on breastfeeding... but that's when the severe mastitis set in. My boobs were so hard and lumpy (and PAINFUL) that I had no choice but to nurse the boys. The only way to relieve the blocked ducts was to breastfeed. I got mastitis a couple times a week for a few weeks and I tried everything to reduce the swelling, from hot and cold compresses and hot showers to cabbage leaves.

Now my milk production was decreasing and the boys were getting HUNGRIER. Mid-to late Feb I was starting to get worried about the amount of milk I was expressing. So, after talking with a nurse I made a game plan with my husband and now that he was working from home, he would help me with the feedings until we established some kind of system.

This is what we did: At each feed he bottle fed one of the boys and I pumped on one side and breastfed on the other side simultaneously. The next feed the other boy got the bottle and I pumped and BF the first guy. This way I wasn't nursing with both sides every single feeding (reducing the wear and tear). I stopped pressuring myself to nurse at every feeding, especially at night. Sometimes I would just pump and bottle feed, allowing my nipples to take a breather. I think having more patience and allowing myself to pump and breastfeed gradually was the game changer. Having the support and help from my husband was absolutely necessary. 

I used the gel pads and the disposable pads to soothe and stop chafing. Gradually over a few weeks, the pain reduced. I only bottle fed at night because it was easier and I could prop the boys on a pillow and feed them at the same time. My breasts weren't lumpy and sore anymore. My milk production was back up. I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Now, I pump and/or breastfeed whenever I feel like it. There's no perfect routine - I just do what I need to do and it doesn't have to be the same every time. I TYPICALLY tandem breastfeed at around 8 pm to top them up and put them to sleep. Then my hubby and I quietly carry them to their crib. I pump sometime between 12 and 2 am (boys sleep through) to prevent the lumps. 

Depending on what's going on throughout the day and what kind of help I have, I either BF one baby at a time, tandem feed with my green pillow, or bottle feed and pump (usually having to top up each bottle with whatever milk stores I have in the fridge from the previous night). I can pump 20-30 oz over two sessions in the night so I put whatever left over milk into the fridge. 

Tandem feeding with the big green pillow continuously gets easier.

Boys normally get 5 oz each when they bottle feed. When I BF, it takes about 15 minutes for each of them to feel full and satisfied. They are 5 months and weigh just over 15 lbs.

I feel like a different person and I'm so glad I stuck with only took 4 months! Now, it can only get better.

Side note: Wine and chocolate helped a lot during this process.

Side note #2: As irritating as unwanted advice can be, I secretly love the attention that I get from people when I'm out and about. I love questions like "How do you do it?" or comments like, "You are supermom!" Thank you to the people who open doors, let us go ahead in lineups, and shower us with compliments. I also have to chuckle when I get that second look and someone says, "Oh, there are TWO babies!" Double take!

It is too bad so many moms go through so much agony over feeding their babies - whether it's emotional guilt, exhaustion, pain, or feelings of failure... I want you moms to know that you are AMAZING and you are doing your best and what YOU think is best for your child. Nothing can get in the way of that! Your baby will be healthy and happy no matter what you decide to do and your decision is no one else's business but your own. My advice (take it or leave it) is to do whatever it takes to make yourself feel good and happy and enjoy this time with your little one as much as you can.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Twin Birth Story: Kaydee Alton

If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out the questionnaire!

Kaydee Alton

Where do you currently live?  Jacksonville, Arkansas

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day in the Life: 16 Months

Hi, I'm Vanessa! My husband, Matthew, and I both work full time while my mother-in-law stays at home with our beautiful twin boys.  I am a Library Manager and Matt is an installation technician, so we both have long hours, although they are usually pretty stable.  We have two large dogs and own a home in Texas.  We didn't "try" to get pregnant very long although we did experience one miscarriage before I got pregnant with the boys.  I don't get "days" with the boys very often.  These are usually weekends (if I am not working) and occasional week days when I am off with them.  Because of that, I feel that my day is far different than a SAHM experience may be although still typical of what their daily overall schedule looks like.

7:15am: I hear J start quietly chatting around in his crib.  I look at the clock and think it’s been a great night!  No one woke me up crying, both boys went to sleep sweetly and my husband didn’t wake them up while he got ready at left for work an hour ago.  It will be a great Saturday!  I take advantage of the “me time” between when they start to wake up and are ACTUALLY awake.  I do basic house chores for about 30 minutes and listen as their conversations get louder and louder as if to say “OK Mama, we are waiting now!”

7:45am: I go into their room and change their diapers.  We do a little snuggling and read a couple books. 

7:55am: I put out our Melissa and Doug refrigerator magnet sets that we got for them to play with while I scramble eggs and make them a smoothie.  The magnets are a hit but the dog bowls are EVEN BETTER.  They toss them around and hit each other in the head with them.  

8:10am: I get the boys in their high chairs and the eat breakfast - eggs, smoothie and chicken sausage.  I have a few nibbles of their eggs and make a cup of coffee (priorities!!). 

B is a little smoothie uneasy at this point he would rather just eat his food... J on the other hand is a smoothie monster!  Good thing too!  I have been making him spinach smoothies for a couple of days during the week for about two weeks now because he was recently diagnosed with a mild anemia.  He hates the texture of meat and dark leafy greens but this has been an amazing solution! 

8:30am: Clean off high chairs, boys play with magnets and bowls more while I clean up the kitchen mess.

8:50am: Take boys into their room to get dressed and another diaper change.

9:15am: Get myself dressed (barely), room picked up and bag packed for park and errands. 
9:30am: We all brush our teeth and then leave the house.  Brushing teeth is adorable yet frustrating all at the same time.  First, they get into it, I brush their teeth a little and then they do.  Quickly, they get distracted and try climbing on the toliet, into the tub and pulling out all of the toilet paper.  Yes husband, it is challenging to get anything done with them around especially if it is in a typical "off limits" room.  If I don't get dolled up before they are out of the cribs, it PROBABLY won't happen :) 
9:40am: STARBUCKS!

9:50am: New Park – huge mistake.  Play structure just felt wayyy too big compared to the park we usually visit.  They were way to confident walking on up and trying to slide down these HUGE slides.  I will stick to our smaller (lower to the ground) park until they get a little bigger unless I have someone to help me! 

10:30am: Loaded up and snacks (raspberries, Annie’s cheddar bunnies and raisins) in the car with milk.  I stopped to get gas and do a quick drive thru car wash (mine was so dirty!).  
11am: Home and played in front yard.  Tried to run away to a tractor doing some road construction on our road. Ayi!  I love how much they notice the world around them now.  B is OBSESSED with cars/trucks/motorcycles/tractors.  It's amazing to see how aware they are!

11:30am: We play inside for a bit while mom preps lunch.  More magnets, dogs and overall chaos in climbing, etc.
Noon: Lunch – Havarti and roast beef sandwich, raspberries, a little left over smoothie, milk and sweet potatoes.

12:30pm: Clean off high chairs and a do a few more kitchen chores. 
12:45pm: Off into their room to wind down before nap.  They love to roll around in their blankets and act silly! We change diapers, read a few books and sing one song.  I lay J down at 1pm and he sweetly goes right to sleep.  I lay B down and… he is a maniac..  He finally falls asleep around 1:15pm.  I stay in the room until B is calm and "shuuuush" for him.

I quietly leave the room and he immediately has a panic attack.  I re-enter the room, calm him with shhhing and back patting and repeat about 10 times.  Going through a huge separation anxiety phase where he really really wants to be held.  The funny thing is how much my little boys have role reversed this month.  Last month, J was tough to go to bed and now he is doing it like a Rockstar.  I think it's obvious how much developmental milestones change their abilities and view of the world around them.
2:30pm: Boys up.  Shorter nap than usual (or preferable) so they are very fussy upon wake up.  Crying like crazy, quick diaper changes and playing with the dog to help cheer them up.

3:00pm: snacks – blueberries, milk and cheese at their picnic table in the kitchen.  They LOVE to eat at their little table like big boys.  They also love to go to the refrigerator and say "snack" when they are ready, they open up their drawer and at least get to have a portion of the snack decision making. 
3:30pm: Mom’s friends come over to visit so there is LOTS of showing off and playing for about one hour. (Totally spaced on pictures here as 1. I was getting tired and 2. I was enjoying our company.
4:30pm: Outside time in backyard, slide, swing and playing with dogs.  They LOVE to be outside.  I am so happy Spring in Texas is finally here for us to enjoy the weather. 

5:45pm: Dinner – Rice with mixed veggies, grilled chicken and apples.  J is so over it at this point.  His short nap has caught up to him and he hardly eats anything.  B eats like a super eater – as usual. 
6:15pm: Clean high chairs and pick up kitchen.
6:30pm: Bath – short and sweet as B has eczema and cannot be in longer than 10 mins.

6:40pm: Put on diapers, cover the boys in lotion and put on their jammies.    Play for a bit to get out all of the energy.  LOTS of daredevil activities and climbing.

7:15pm: Start bedtime routine.  Turn down lights and use lamp, change diapers, read 3 books.  We sing one song and I lay them down in the crib.  They were both so exhausted after a long day and short nap that they fell asleep rather quickly in their beds by 7:40pm.

7:45pm: I eat a quick dinner of leftovers and then clean up time for the house – mom gets as much housework as she wants/cares to for one hour.
8:45pm: T.V. and wine.
9:15pm: Shower and then BED. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Adopting Twins

Hi, I'm Lucy!  Since my boys were born I have followed many support groups online for twin mommas and I have used Instagram to find photos of other ridiculously cute twins so I could follow their accounts and be a proud member of the "twin club." I enjoy seeing mommas of precious kiddos and I love to share the wonder and beauty that our boys are. I love to see posts of their kiddos sharing/snatching things from each other, learning to walk together, and talking to their sibling in that special little mumble that only the two of them can understand. I love the community I find in these forums but sometimes I am reminded that I don't fully belong. Without fail every twin momma I have come across has "the photo" that they are oh so proud of! You know the one I mean! The day before delivery, belly round as it can stretch, arms wrapped around the bottom because defying gravity is so hard!!! They are miserable and tired but they sure are proud that by sacrificing their body they have not one, but two humans about to meet the world! I don't have this photo of myself. I have a photo of another woman's tummy sacrificing for my boys and ultimately for my husband and our entire family.

This is our family!!!

Now let's rewind! My hubby and I met in high school. I was 15 and he was 17 when we first started hanging out. We dated all through school and on and off though college. We were married exactly 8 years after our first kiss. We knew we wanted kids but we were going to wait a while and enjoy married life before we tried. One of our first big surprises happened on February 13, 2009, just 4 months after our wedding... we were pregnant! We were terrified, excited, happy, and scared. Everything all at once. Our pregnancy continued to be a roller coaster of emotions. At 14 weeks we had a blood draw for our AFP test and it came back with all kinds of scary markers. My blood pressure was very high throughout the pregnancy and I was placed on bed rest. At 20 weeks I was put on hospital bed rest because of protein in my urine. I was told I would be there until delivery. Unfortunately that was only 3 more weeks. Our son was born via emergency c-section on June 26th. He weighed 13 ounces and was 11 inches long. He was alive for about two hours, most of our family and friends were there with us to welcome him, say hello and say goodbye as well.

Our son Thomas Wade

Our journey back to center after such a tough start was very terrible. Days were hard, nights were harder. Many nights I went to bed angry and sad. My awesome husband and family did what they could. We supported each other through tears and talks. We took the opportunity to travel, go back to school, and strengthen our marriage like we always thought we would do before having kids. Even doing fun, amazing things with our life led to guilt because we were supposed to be raising a child, not spending time alone together. There was not a magic moment that everything was just "ok" but I came across a quote that is what I chose to cling to. "Just keep living until you are alive again." That is what we did and slowly sadness turned to peace and I finally allowed anger to turn to happiness. 

On New Years Eve of 2013 the healed patch on our heart was strong enough that our resolution would be to look into how we could safely become parents again. We decided that pregnancy nor biological children were the important part to us.  The person I love the most in the whole world is my husband and we thankfully don't share one thread of DNA so I knew it was possible to love someone with my everything that wasn't biologically related to me. In March of that year we went to our first informational meeting with an agency about adoption. We came home and put the paperwork in a drawer! It was such a big commitment. They wanted to know about our home, our jobs, our faith, our money! We had to be screened psychologically and our doctor had to deem us healthy enough to parent! (What does that even mean?!?!) We finally got up the guts to finish all the paperwork and we were ready to attend the 8 hours of adoption parenting classes required by our agency by that fall. 

Trying to smile but really freaking out because
we were on our way to our first parenting meeting!!!

Getting ready for an early dinner on New Years Eve 2014 we got a call from our agency that we had filled out all of the paper work, our homestudy was done, and we were officially approved and ready to start sharing our profile with expectant moms. The way domestic adoption works now with the agency we chose is that potential adoptive parents create a profile book that condenses everything they wish to share about their life with a mom that wants to place her baby. Expectant mothers come to an agency wanting to place their babies with a family and they are shown many books. It is their job to pick the family that they feel will be the best fit for their child. This is why the process can take several years. Our agency does not have a first come, first serve list. They leave it up to the birth parent to select the family that is the right fit for their child. Potential adoptive parents receive an e-mail telling them about a situation and they are able to decide if they want their profile book shown or not. 

On January 17th (two and a half weeks after we were approved and started sharing our book!!!) we got an e-mail from our agency. They had an expectant mom who had come to them and had a special situation. They wanted to reach out to us and see if we were interested or not. This situation would come with lots of extra paper work because the expectant mother was pregnant with twins!! My heart jumped out of my chest!! I have only wanted twins since the beginning of time! We were very excited but also cautious and scared because we knew that several of the couples at our agency would want their books shown too. I mean, the list of people that would not be open to twins must be extremely short right?! We had to keep it together and wait. We had to answer within four days yes or no, we answered YES within 2 hours. 

Our birthmom was the first expectant mom to ever see our book. We found out on Saturday January 25, 2014 that she wanted to give us the biggest gift we have ever received, our sons to raise. We were over the moon. We set up a time to meet her in person so we could hug her and see her face!!! Do you know how crazy it is to be completely in love and afraid of someone AND YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE?!?  It is mind-blowing! 

This is the first picture we have of the fellas. (We don't post our
 birthmom's face because that is her side of the story to share.)

Our whirlwind had begun. The fellas were due March 21st so we had soooo much to do to get ready for their arrival. Our birthmom told me at one of our meetings that the boys shared a placenta but not a sack so I dove into Google. Mistake! I found out that she needed Dopplers and a Maternal Fetal specialist, all things she was not getting.  Her doctor told her it was fine to go 40 weeks with modi twins and there were no risks. I had to add that to my list of worries and prayers but not be too pushy because at any time this amazing lady could walk away from us and pick another family. Thankfully the boys came early at 37w2d. Our birthmom was a rockstar and had them both vaginally. I got to be in the delivery room with her and her mom. It was a very powerful moment to witness all the mommas join forces to get these amazing fellas here. 

Happiness over flowing!

Life at this moment is awesome! It has been 14 and a half months since the photo above was taken. We have an open adoption with our birthmom and she is working very hard to continue to shape her life into something beautiful. My hubby and I wake up every morning with a 97 page list of reasons to be happy! The boys and I dance around the playroom and I wonder how I ever got this lucky.  I do my best to ignore dirty dishes and laundry as long as possible just to be able to soak up the amazing wonders that they are. These little rays of light shine into every dark spot that exists and I owe them so much for just being their marvelous selves. 

Our little light rays!

If you are considering adoption or have other questions for Lucy, CLICK HERE to email her!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Twin Birth Story: Brandy Stoffel

If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out the questionnaire!

Brandy Stoffel

Where do you currently live?  Madison, Wisconsin

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Camp Sunshine

Last week, Jerusha shared her twin birth story.  She mentioned one of her twins (Foster) had eye cancer at six months so I asked how he was doing.  Thankfully, Foster has been cancer free for two years!  As we were emailing, Camp Sunshine came up.  The more I heard about this amazing camp, the more I felt it needed to be shared with the group.  I know there are camps across the country similar to Camp Sunshine, but I wanted to specifically highlight this camp and her family's amazing experience.


Hi, I'm Jerusha!  We welcomed our identical twin boys, Foster and Weston, in August of 2012.  Their older brother, Broderick, was just 26 months old at the time.  It was a rough first few months with a lot of chaos in our house.  Just as we were getting into the swing of things, we found out Foster had a tumor in his left eye at six months old.  His left eye was removed in March of 2013 and he was diagnosed with intraocular medulloepithelioma, an extremely rare form of eye tumors.  It is very similar to retinoblastoma, a rare but slightly more common type of eye cancer.  

I immediately started researching and emailing groups about retinoblastoma.  One support group emailed me back and suggested that I look into going to Camp Sunshine.  Camp Sunshine is a camp for children with life threatening illnesses less than an hour away from our home.  I have attended several fundraisers for the camp over the years.  As a parent, you never think you will need to attend a camp for kids with cancer.  The thought never crossed my mind, even when we got our diagnosis. 

First trip to Camp Sunshine, June 2013
First trip to camp, June 2013
I contacted Camp and found out that they had a week just for retinoblastoma in a few weeks (early June).  I decided to apply and give it a chance.  Since it was so close to home, I thought that if it didn't go well, we could just come home.  I arrived the second day of camp in the morning with my three boys in tow.  Just me and three kids under three, attending a camp.  I was scared and had no idea what would happen.  

There are three doors at the entrance of camp, of three different sizes.  It is a welcome like no other.  We were immediately greeted with help.  Volunteers at Camp Sunshine wear bright yellow shirts and they are truly rays of sunshine that help in any way possible.  We were assigned volunteers just for us to help me with everything.  They unpacked the car, set up our room, and helped me bring the boys to the onsite daycare.  The parents can drop their kids off with volunteers during designated times to participate in activities or just have some quiet time to themselves.  

The famous yellow doors
My boys fell in love with their volunteers and had an amazing time.  I got a chance to meet other families who were dealing with similar situations as I was.  They have counseling groups run by a social worker for the parents. They give you time with your family and time to just relax and feel normal.  The best part of retinoblastoma week is that there are other parents who are dealing with unique issues like us.  Foster has a prosthetic left eye, which brings with it several specialists and specific difficulties, beyond just a tumor.  Camp is one of the only places I have ever been where that seems "normal."  There is an onsite doctor on call 24/7.  All your meals are prepared for you and cleaned up after you (which is always a joy when you have three small children at home).

I have stayed in contact with most of the families we met at Camp.  We are each other's sounding boards, our experts that we can email in the middle of the night when you can't sleep, our support system.  I have stayed in contact with the volunteers we have met, including one who lives in our town and has become our babysitter.  I can't imagine my life without Camp Sunshine.

Superboys at Camp, 2014

We have attended our favorite session, retinoblastoma week, twice (with an application in for this summer), twice to Trick or Treat weekend, and two winter sessions.  I always leave Camp refreshed and ready to face another few months of work.  I get new ideas and new friends each time.

Trick or Treat Session, 2013 (Brody, Clint, Foster, Weston)
Parade at the Pumpkin Festival for Camp Sunshine 2014
Our family now raises money for Camp, including an annual Polar Dip.  We love to spread the word in order to support Camp Sunshine and also invite new families to attend and people to volunteer.  You never want to become part of the sick kids club, but it is nice to have a place to go for support.

You can find out more about Camp Sunshine on their website

Talent show, February 2014

Monday, May 11, 2015

Handling Twins Alone…in Public

I’m sure like most moms, and especially moms of multiples, you often daydream of a time when errands were easy.  Remember when you used to wander aimlessly through Target and maybe even try things on?  Or order a coffee and SIT DOWN to drink it?  Dropping off dry-cleaning, getting your teeth cleaned, mailing a package – once simple tasks now require the preparation of a space excursion.  Especially when you are alone.
The Day We Went to Ash Wednesday Mass Alone.  I’ve never prayed so hard in my life…that they would stay quiet and somewhat still in their stroller.
We just relocated to Chicago last year, leaving friends, family and an entire support system of help more than 700 miles behind.  I thought I was independent before, but now trying to figure out how to do the most mundane things – usually with the girls in tow – has taught me a thing or two!
Check out my top recommendations and please share your tips and tricks:
  1. Back it up! – I’ve learned the best way to get in and out of doors is to use your tush to push.  (Salt-n-Pepa, anyone?) Whether you are the captain of a snap-n-go, tandem or double wide side-by-side strollers, it is much easier to open the door and back in then then trying to lean over your children and swing the door open and push them through.  I’m actually so quick at this then when people offer to help me it can sometimes mess up my mojo!  (But, you should always, ALWAYS, accept the kindness of a stranger holding the door for you!)

I miss the days of newborns.  They would just look peaceful – like here outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  If your children are under 9 months…NOW is the time to be alone in public!
  1. Stroller accessible – Most moms rely on their strollers, but being a mom of multiples, your stroller is your lifeline.  For me, it is my second set of hands so I can actually get stuff done! I pay attention to ramps, sidewalks and which malls/stores have the most convenient elevators.

  1. Double carts – The coveted double cart or kid-friendly shopping carts are so key.  Target and Costco definitely have them and so do some of my local grocery stores.  (It can’t hurt to call ahead too, if you are venturing out for the first time alone.)  Snagging one of these can be the tricky part.  It’s like hunting a wooly mammoth.  I scout these bad boys by doing multiple trips in the parking lot and by, hopefully, parking next to it.  When I don’t spy one, I usually try to flag down the employee who’s collecting the carts.  I’m the crazy mom, leaning out the window, with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star in the background, “hey, do you mind bringing me one of those double cart thingies, please? I’ve got twin toddlers in here!”  It’s a jungle out there, ladies!

Target AGAIN, Mom? You better feed us animal crackers the whole trip.

  1. Heel kid, HEEL! – The phrases of ‘child harnesses and safety tethers’ were just invented to make you feel better about putting a leash on your child.  My girls wear leashes ALL THE TIME.  I’ve gotten a few looks but it is better than you losing one!  We love these adorable options from Skip Hop.  These are crucial for any mobile children who want to be on the move in a public place rather than stuck in the stroller.  

This is definitely a scene of out of 101 Dalmations.
  1. Know your and your children’s limits – I’ve had some major fails while being alone with my girls in public.  Planning too many errands in a day.  Running around during naptime.  Changing diapers in fitting rooms. Forgetting snacks, water or BLAAAAAAANKIEEEEEEE.  The list goes on and on.  As any mom will tell you, wrangling your kids in public – by yourself - is a constant work in progress.  It’s not perfect, it’s rarely fun but we all know it is part of the job!  Plus, when you do get those rare chances alone – trips to the drugstore, post office, heck, even the gynecologist – will feel like a vacation!    

Wine me!