Maybe Twins ARE Different!

Back when I was pregnant I signed up for a weekly email update from BabyCenter.com. For those of you who don’t know, they send out an email letting you know how the baby is developing that week, and how big they might be, etc. After the baby is born the emails continue letting you know what they might be doing developmentally. I only sometimes look at the emails. Most of the time I just delete it before I even open it. I mean, really. I don’t have a whole lot of free time. But this morning I did look, and found what it said to be very funny. Here is just a brief excerpt.

…babies this age parallel play, staying happily engrossed in their own activities alongside one another, but without really interacting. This is normal — focusing on their own abilities and needs is how babies develop. Over time, though, you’ll notice your baby stealing glances at fellow babies and perhaps crawling over to try to use the same toy…

Ya right! I had read when I was pregnant that twins began to notice and interact with their twin before a singleton baby would begin to socialize with other babies, but I did not think this difference would be this drastic. My girls have interacted for a very long time. They hold hands while they are in their high chairs eating , they steal toys from each other, they play together. Alyssa thoroughly enjoys putting things in Kylie’s mouth (blocks, spoons, plastic alphabet letters, etc). They both get such a kick out of it. They ride their cars into each other, they laugh at each other when we play peek-a-boo with blankets over their faces, or behind the big cardboard box. They even use teamwork to get (or get into!) things that they want. They smile when they see each other for the first time in the morning or after a nap.

It is so amazing how different the world of twins can be from the world of singletons.

Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 10:42 am  Comments (1)  

Through the Months

I saw this on another blog I read and thought it was so cute I had to do it for myself. Enjoy!

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 7:56 pm  Comments (3)  

We Are In Trouble

My children are crazy. I blame their father. They climb on anything and everything they can. Last week I caught Alyssa standing up on the front bar on their doll stroller. (Let me remind you, the girls are only 10 months old)

I was only out of the room long enough to pull Kylie away from the Christmas tree, and this is what I found. She looked at me like “What?”

Last night Kylie decided to push the pet stairs over to the rocking chair and climb up.

As any good responsible mom would, I took pictures.

Then she climbed up over the arm of the chair and sat in the seat. Don’t ask me how she did this… like I told you, my kids are crazy.

She was very proud of herself though…

Published in: on December 15, 2010 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Meeting Santa!

Today our MoM’s group had a brunch and we had a surprise visitor… Santa! The girls got to sit on his lap and Mommy got to take some pictures.

Alyssa had to check him out for a while.

Kylie seemed like she couldn’t care less.

Alyssa decided she didn’t like Santa. Kylie was looking at her like “Sister, what is your problem?”

Ya, she really wasn’t happy. Oh well, maybe next year!

Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is this really my life?

 

Being a parent of multiples is a wonderful, exciting, stressful, difficult, exhausting, incredible experience. There are many challenges parents of a singleton never even think about. There are enough frustrations daily to make you want to rip your own hair out. But there are also twice the smiles, twice the hugs and as I recently started to experience- twice the little voices saying “mama”!

Being a parent of multiples is like instant acceptance into an exclusive club. You either are, or you aren’t. When you meet another parent of multiples there is an instant connection of understanding. They know.

Being a parent of multiples (as I am learning) means you also have to develop thicker skin. Not in the literal sense- although there is a significant amount of scratching, clawing, and pulling when you have infants around 🙂 But it seems that everyone from your parents, in-laws, friends, co-workers, kid’s teachers and random people in the grocery store have opinions on how you should raise your kids. This, I am sure also applies to many parents of singletons too. The difference I mean to highlight is that raising twins is an experience all its own. It is not like having kids three, two or even one year apart.

Last night as I was driving down for our monthly Mothers of Multiples meeting I started thinking about how lucky I am to be a part of such a great community. Here is this amazing group of strong, funny, tough women who all know. And I was thinking, “Am I really so lucky to be able to call myself apart of them? Is this really my life??”

Published in: on December 7, 2010 at 10:39 am  Comments (4)  

Christmas Tree fun!

We made the brave step today to go out and get a Christmas tree with twinfants at home. (Although as I write this it is the cats who are making me stop them from messing up the tree) We decided to put it in the dining room, where it will be mostly out of sight from where the girls typically play. And hey, out of sight out of mind, right? Ya… we’ll see. Anyways, here are a few pictures from our day.

We just picked out the girls’ first tree!

Kylie thinking “Hmm. This is new, isn’t it? Have we always had this there?”

Kylie taking after her dad, giving us a lesson about the tree.

Alyssa supervising the decorating.

All done! A few less ornaments than usual. Mostly just the less fragile ones with a few of the nice ones up on top 🙂

Mommy and her girls! (Kylie on the left, Alyssa on the right)

Published in: on December 1, 2010 at 8:09 pm  Comments (2)  

Things Not to Say to Parents of Twins

I understand people are curious about twins. They are not as uncommon as they used to be, but even still they attract a lot more attention than a singleton. I know this for a fact based on my experiences going out with the girls together and when I only take one with me. When I am alone with one we barely turn a head. When I go out with both girls there is hardly a person who doesn’t at least do a double take to look at them, not to mention all the people who stop me to ask one of these stupid questions…

Are they twins? O.k. maybe this is more acceptable for older kids (like 4 or older) but when you see two infants, in a double stroller, in matching car seats please just use your brain.

Are they identical? I am adding this one for all the parents of boy/girl twins. If there is one boy and one girl how could they be identical?

How do you tell them apart? I look at them. I am with these kids day in and day out. Don’t you think I’d be able to pick up on their differences?

Who is older? Really, they are a couple of minutes apart. Does it really matter?

Which one is the better sleeper/eater/whatever? Please don’t ask me to compare my kids in this way. They are going to compete enough already. Do they really need to hear their mom saying “she is not as good as her sister” to random strangers?

Do twins run in your family? I think this is just a polite way to ask if we used fertility treatments. And FYI – fertility treatments do not have any effect on identical twins and neither does family genetics. Both can be causes of fraternal twins, but not identical.

Looks like you have your hands full! Yes I do. Now would you mind letting me get my shopping done while they are still remotely happy? Or could you help me out with that door? Thanks.

Double Trouble! Please don’t ever say this to a parent of twins. It makes our blood boil. We love our kids and see them as blessings, not some kind of burden.

Now by this point you might be saying “Geez Nina, people are just curious”. But I don’t think it is possible to understand the number of times you hear each one of these comments until you live it. For example, I had this conversation with my dad when we visited him in August. Then we went to the store for one item. We could not have been in the store five minutes and were asked three times if they were twins. Now picture that all the time everyday. And if you do want to say something, try one of these things:

Twins! How wonderful, congratulations.

They are beautiful.

Wow, how lucky.

You must feel very blessed.

… and I do. Thanks.

Published in: on November 28, 2010 at 9:48 am  Comments (2)  

All About Bean – 11/22

Since we have twins that share a bedroom, their sleep patterns are not always exactly what we would like for them. And so when one of them fusses in the middle of the night we go in and pick that one up and try to soothe her before she wakes up her sister. It is usually Alyssa that we have to go in for. So she doesn’t think it is just hang out time with us we bring her out to the couch and lay her down – in the dark – until she falls back asleep, and then we move her back to the crib.  This routine usually only takes a few minutes, but can sometimes happen 10 times in a night. Like I said, not ideal. But what else could we do? If we leave her in the crib to “work it out” on her own she’ll just wake up Kylie and then we have two problems to deal with.

Well, last week we decided it was time to make a change. The new rule? Once Alyssa goes into the crib she doesn’t come back out until it is time to eat or wake up. Yes, this does mean that poor Kylie will get woken up, but we figured if we could teach Alyssa that once she was in bed she was just going to stay there that she wouldn’t stir so much at night. We would rather have a week or two of crappy nights where she (or both of them) cry, than spend the next 9 months or more getting up a dozen times every night.

The first night both Russell and I were up a lot trying to help her learn to fall (and stay asleep) in the crib. The next two nights she did awesome and barely stirred at all. We thought we were so wonderful for helping her learn so quickly. Last night, however, was a different story. She actually stirred quite a bit before we went to bed, and then woke up very early to eat. So I fed her and she quickly fell back asleep on my shoulder while I was burping her. Then when I tried to lay her down in the crib she threw a fit! She was up for the next 2 1/2 hours mostly just screaming before she finally gave up and fell asleep for me. Amazingly Kylie stayed asleep through it all. So, wish us luck as we try to be consistent and patient with out little Bean. Hopefully she will sleep better in the long run because of it.

In other news, she is working on tooth number 5, another one of the top ones. She weighed in at 19 pounds exactly at her doctors appointment a couple of weeks ago, and she is standing up a lot more without holding on to anything. Yesterday as we were all just hanging out in the living room she crawled off on her own into the kitchen, sat next to the fridge, and quite contently watched the wind blowing the trees. I love that she is so independent and think it says a lot about her self confidence that she didn’t need us (or Kylie) there with her.

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 9:43 am  Leave a Comment  

I LOVE old people!

Rarely can I honestly say I am very excited about people stopping us in public to look at the girls. I don’t want Alyssa and Kylie growing up feeling like they are on display or something to be “looked at”. Not to mention it can get very tiresome when almost everyone wants to see them and talk to me about them. Not like I don’t have anything else to do… But on Monday Russell, the girls and I stopped into a Winchell’s to grab some doughnuts. As soon as we walked in we found a group of senior citizens socializing and having coffee. (always a good sign in a doughnut shop!) Anyways, they didn’t seem to notice us much when we came in, but as we were leaving they were quite excited to see we had twins so we stopped for a few seconds for them to see the girls.

They were SO excited!

One man was even clapping for them! It was so much fun to see a bunch of older people get so joyful so quickly. As we were leaving they were yelling encouragements for us to come back often, even saying “We want to watch them grow up!”. After only like 30 seconds of meeting them. They were so sweet. I left with the biggest smile on my face.

Published in: on November 10, 2010 at 7:26 am  Leave a Comment  

I always wanted twins!

I am told quite often by strangers “I always wanted twins!” or something to that degree. My external reaction to this is usually a smile or nod, but inside I am always thinking “Really???”.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a mother to twins and I feel completely blessed to have these two beautiful girls in my life.  However, it is not an easy job being a parent to twins. While no parenting is actually easy having twins adds a whole new level of difficulty.

First of all – there is the sleep, or lack of sleep I should say. For anyone who has had a newborn at home, please reflect on that time. Now for every time you had to get up to change a diaper or make a bottle or simply rock that baby to sleep… please double it. But it doesn’t stop there, now imagine you just got that little baby to finally stop crying and set them in the crib and you start to climb into bed. When suddenly another baby wakes up crying which also causes that little angel you just set down to wake back up as well. Think about that. Over and over and over. Sounds fun, right?

I also have to mention the cost. I am not even going to touch on formula, diapers, clothes and everything else babies need, I only want to mention the cost of a multiple pregnancy. While many Americans are left with little or no health coverage the cost of giving birth to twins could put them in debt for the rest of their lives. Frequent visits to a Perinatologist, extended NICU stays, seeing specialists like a gastroenterologist, or pediatric cardiologist can add up very quickly. My pregnancy, plus our hospital stay cost over $250,000. I was talking with another mom this week whose babies’ medical bills were 1 million a piece!

And then there is another issue that has been weighing heavily on my heart recently. Pregnancy complications. I don’t think parents of healthy singleton babies realize just how lucky they are. (I have added healthy to that list as I am aware pregnancy complications are not limited to multiple births) To have a complication free pregnancy, deliver within a week or two of your due date, and to be able to leave the hospital with your baby is truly a blessing. If that has been your experience – please be thankful for it. Unfortunately, for many parents of multiples that is not a reality. Along with those two (or more!) little heartbeats also comes added risks. These include but are not limited to TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome), gestational diabetes, placenta previa and placenta abruptio, pre-eclampsia, heart problems, and preterm labor. It can be easy to just read that list of complications without really understanding the lives that are affected by them. So I want to share with you some real life stories I have come across.

I’ll start with the pre-eclampsia because that is what caused our twins to be born at 7 1/2 months. We were extremely lucky that I did not develop this pregnancy induced, high blood pressure condition until I was already 31 weeks. My doctors worked with me and allowed me to carry to 34 weeks before deciding to take the babies. Here are a couple of pictures of their first days.

Alyssa

Kylie

Kylie on left, Alyssa on right

As I mentioned, I feel so lucky that I was able to carry our girls as long as I did. There is a mom of triplets who just joined our mother of multiples group who was in the hospital with severe pre-eclampsia at 25 weeks. At our meeting on monday one mom said she thought she had to deliver already, although I have not heard for sure. At 25 weeks the babies could be viable, having somewhere around a 50% survival rate. The road would be long though. Babies born that early face a long journey and many possible life long problems.

TTTS. Twin to twin transfusion syndrome affects identical twins sharing a placenta and causes disproportionate nutrition and growth between the babies. Babies can survive TTTS, although sometimes they do not. For this story I am sending you to a friend’s blog. It was their nieces affected. Please go read their story here.

I would also like to share a recent blog post from a dad whose twin boys were born at only 19 weeks. At just 10 ounces and 8 ounces their boys were born alive and actually survived for over an hour. Please read about their struggles here.

These stories are just a few of many, many more out there, and are all too common for parents of multiples. I remember as my pregnancy progressed I was always aware of what my babies’ chances of survival were at any given point. I know other twin moms felt the same. It is a difficult journey and one I am very thankful to have made it through.

Now for the next 17 years….

Published in: on November 5, 2010 at 9:32 am  Comments (1)