Tuesday, September 20, 2011

getting ready for baby: twins! (guest blogger: jennifer from flesworthy)



our guest post today is from mommy of twins and fabulous blogger, jennifer of flesworthy. hope that you love her as much as we do!

if you haven't had a chance to read our previous "getting ready for baby" posts, here they are:

























about our guest blogger:
after four years of reproductive hardships, jennifer was blessed with twins henry and eleanor in 2007. she blogs about life as a mom, photographer wannabe, and fan of bad pop culture at her blog, flesworthy.



for those of you preparing for the arrival of twins, congratulations! twins are, in a nutshell, awesome. yes, that first year can be hectic, but you’re rewarded with the opportunity to see your twins’ wonderful bond develop. as a mom of four-year-olds, my main advice is to hang in there, it only gets better and better and better! yes, you will get to sleep through the night again.

so, what do you need for those early days with twins? some basics are the same no matter how many babies you have, which the other “getting ready for baby” posts have covered. here are some twin-specific suggestions for things that helped me wrangle my two during their first year.

membership in a multiples club
i can’t recommend multiples clubs enough. often the best advice and support comes from other parents of multiples. whether it’s navigating a NICU stay or just laughing at the silly questions you get from strangers (no, my boy/girl twins are NOT identical), it’s immensely helpful to have a network of parents that “get it.” multiples clubs often have moms’ night out, playgroups, and clothing & equipment sales. the sales are a great way to stock up on clothes and gear! you can go to the national organization of mothers of twins clubs site (nomotc.org) to find a club near you.

this stroller is very popular among twin parents. it’s so easy to just pop in both car seats and go. while you can’t use it after your babies outgrow their car seats, it’s still worth every penny. these suckers go fast at my twins club’s sales!





choosing a diaper bag is an individual decision; what worked for me might not work for you. but for carting around all that baby gear x 2, I LOVED my skip hop duo double. lots and lots of pockets, enough that I could carry my wallet/phone/etc in it as well. the simple style meant my husband enjoyed carrying it, too. i loved it so much that when we could finally start traveling lighter, I downgraded to the duo.




we got so much use out of our play yard, aka “baby jail.” once both of my twins started crawling, i loved having the option of a contained space for them to play in when I needed to, say, go to the bathroom or eat lunch (it’s the little things, right?). baby jail played double-duty and helped with babyproofing, too. i had friends who used theirs around the christmas tree. we put a few panels around our entertainment center.


notebook
a notebook? that’s a weird suggestion, right? but look. there’s no way to sugarcoat this—you’re going to be EXHAUSTED those first few months. life might seem like a blurry cycle of nap/feed/diaper change/repeat. this phase WILL pass, i promise, but in the meantime you might need some sort of system to remember who ate when and at what times. for us, we kept a notebook in our kitchen. we had a column for each kid, and noted when each had a bottle or a diaper change. it helped answer our “when was their last feeding?” and “did he poop today?” questions when we were sleep deprived and fuzzy-headed. actually, we got into such a habit that we kept their notebook going for their first year. we noted developmental milestones in the margin and had our families write messages in it on the twins' first birthday. it’s now a wonderful memento of how challenging but wonderful our first year with twins was.




feeding
let’s face it—feeding twins can be a challenge. the advice I wish I could go back and give my mom-to-newborns self is “do what’s best for you.” yes, obviously you want to do the very best for your babies, but your health and well-being matter, too. happy mom = happy family. if you can breastfeed, whether it’s for a week or a year, that’s fantastic. if your kids are formula-fed, that’s okay, too. a combo of breastmilk and formula? if that’s the best for your family, then go for it. breastfeeding was pretty much a disaster for me. neither twin ever mastered latching on, and my milk supply wasn’t enough for two babies. i pumped and did a combination of breast milk and formula for eight weeks. then some colic and reflux issues set in, and the added step of pumping after every feeding was driving me crazy. for my sanity, i made the difficult decision to stop pumping. honestly, I was pretty hard on myself about it; in a way i felt like i failed. But i look at my twins now—they’re healthy and happy and seemingly unaffected by all the formula they had their first year. it’s sometimes hard to see the big picture when you’re in the moment, but it will be okay. you will be okay, and your babies will, too.

let me step off my soapbox and pass along some twin feeding gear recommendations. a lot of breastfeeding moms in my twins club recommend the ez-2-nurse breastfeeding pillows




for bottles, we had the best luck with dr.brown’s (they are good for babies with reflux). if you formula feed, you’ll go through a lot—we averaged a can every 2-3 days. what worked for me was to mix up a pitcher every morning. an immersion blender helped mix everything up quickly. my babies never minded drinking cold or room temperature formula, which saved me an extra step of heating. i could just grab a bottle or two from the fridge and I was good to go.




this book by marc weissbluth gets mentioned the most by my circle of twin moms. getting both my babies on a schedule was crucial to me, and dr. weissbluth’s explanations and advice on sleep cycles helped my kids become champion sleepers. it’s the only pregnancy/childcare book i read. since I’ve had my twins, he’s even published a twin-specific book. definitely worth checking out!






so do I really need two of everything?
well, it will depend. some things are obvious—two car seats, two highchairs, two cribs (although many will share a crib for those first few months). for others? it might be best to buy one, see if both babies like it, and then add a second one if needed. for us, only my son liked the swing, so we got by with one. they both enjoyed exersaucers, so we ended up with two. we had two boppy pillows and bouncers but one bumbo seat. so don’t assume you’ll need two of everything. and if you do, those multiples club sales come in handy for cheaply picking up those second items! (and for selling them when you’re done, too.)

i hope these suggestions are helpful! raising twins has been a wild ride that I’ve been thankful for every day. those early sleep-deprived days can be a blur, though. so help me out, fellow parents of multiples. what am I forgetting? what was essential to your family?