Sunday, July 31, 2011

I wish I had known...

I recently saw a post online from a first-time mom expecting twins who simply asked "What do you wish you would have known?" The question really hit home for me, and is really the reason I started this blog. Here's my response:

There are so many things...I don't know where to start. Maybe that my back and hips would start aching at only 3 months and go downhill from there - until I discovered the joy of the chiropractor and massage. Maybe that my boobs would grow a cup size overnight when I was only 10 weeks pregnant while I was out of town and had no correctly-sized bras with. And that that would be the only place I would have permanent, noticeable stretch marks! And how about the new-found hormones that kept my DH and I busy at night (in a good way!)

Might have been good to know that I would really have to work hard to find physicians who knew how, and had experience delivering twins without doing a c-section regardless the presentation of baby B. Or that I would have to call around to find out if the hospital will let a doula in the delivery room because hospital educator and  nurse and charge nurse told me 'no doulas, no way'  while former patients with twins told me 'I had a doula and they didn't say no'. Or maybe that spell check doesn't recognize the word 'doula' - "what crunchy planet are you from anyway!?" I hated knowing that I would be restricted to laboring on my back on an operating table.

Or maybe I should have known that I would NOT need to go on bed rest and I would NOT have preemies and NOT need to spend time in the NICU and NOT have any big medical scares and actually be induced at 39 weeks, deliver vaginally and be able to breastfeed exclusively even for a year. (Praise God for all of that!)

Or maybe that it would be possible to reach almost 220 pounds and a 4 foot girth because I had more than 14 pounds of baby in me and that my belly would get really cold hanging out of my jacket in the -20 Minnesota February.Or how about that dandelion root extract is a miracle cure for PUPPS (itchy belly rash) which perhaps was the worst of my week 36-39 misery....that would have been great to know because no physician could offer me help with that one. (would have been nice if I learned THAT before I delivered)

Or maybe that I should politely ask friends and family to not visit in the hospital or at their pleasure for the first few weeks b/c we were so exhausted and when they babies actually both slept, inevitably, someone had come to visit and was too busy chatting at us to realize we needed privacy and rest. (have a few hour 'open house' so whoever wants to come can get it out of their system).And also that if you ask for help, family and friends will graciously pitch in and save your mental health...providing you keep them moving in the right direction.

Or maybe to know that when babies cry all the time, that it isn't always just 'they way babies are'. And that there is actually a reason for it, but whether or not you can discover that reason and treat it is your job to discover because your pediatrician may not have the same ambition you do (after all, he isn't the one up all night) and brush you off as a freak-out new mom. (reflux, food sensitivities, sensory processing disorder, figured those out when they were older). Or that when they do cry and nursing them is the only way to get them to sleep, that if you take safety measures and let them sleep in your bed you won't have child protective services show up at your door, and in fact that you might get more sleep if you do this than stay up trying to rock/bounce/sooth a baby all night who just wants to nurse. Or that some babies are soooo stubborn and persistent that they will not go to sleep, no matter how long you let them scream.

And finally, would have been nice to know that even di/di girl twins could be identical, even if they look a little different. And even better to know that identical (mono-zygotic) twins may not just be a 'fluke' of nature, but there is actually research being done to determine if some moms and dads produce mono-zygotic offspring reliably. And even more so to know that when it happens all over again and you have yet another set of twins, it will be ok, everything you learned the first time will help you with every baby you welcome to your home and by the grace of God you might just survive it and might actually just love it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What to buy when you're expecting twins? Part 1

It starts for many of us as soon as you find out there’s more than one in there. What do I need to buy? Or maybe someone is throwing you a baby shower and you wonder what to register for.  Or maybe you need to pick a gift for a mommy expecting twins. 

Let’s face it, having two of EVERYTHING is both expensive and takes up a lot of space.  And if you are on a budget (or soon will be! ;) this should help you decide what you need most. It's a list of everything that I am glad I bought to manage my household with 2 little babies to care for. It is not a list of absolute necessities, but of items I thought were the best value and were worthwhile for me. It also tells you how I got by without some of the things many moms buy. Of course, all these items may not all be worthwhile for you, and if you talk to another twin mom, she will have a completely different list! So at the bottom, I have some links to other discussions of what twin moms found useful.

BTW - I tried to pick the items on Amazon that had the best quality, best prices and free or cheapest shipping, also, if you do put an item in your cart from my link and buy it, I'll get a small credit toward my purchases - so if you do patronize, my gratitude to you in advance. 

For Mama

Baby Be Mine Maternity Belly Band 2 Pack 1-Black & 1-White

Therse are absolutely awesome! Wear under your clothes so your belly doesn't show. Saves tons of money so you don't have to buy as many maternity shirts. And I'm no psychic, but with twins even maternity shirts won't cover the whole package at some point in your near future!
Don't waste money on expensive nursing shirts either. Wear these under any shirt and it is instantly a nursing top. Keeps your belly covered so you can lift your shirt and nurse discretely -worked better for me than any of the nursing tops I wasted money on and was always disappionted.  Beware, not all belly bands are wide enough like these - the ones you can get at target the fabric is only perhaps 8 inches wide. It won't be wide enough to stay up over your belly as you get twin size. These you may have to fold over at first, but when you are the size of a beach ball, there is enough fabric to pull over it to stay up! Plus, there is a black and a white band so one or the other will go with almost any outfit. If you want a cream colored one too, you can get the 3 pack:

Sony Alpha DSLRA300X 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with Super SteadyShot Image Stabilization with DT 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 & DT 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Zoom Lenses

Not a necessity, but I'm SO glad we upgraded to a DSLR. This camera snaps photos the instant I push the button AND focuses well on moving objects (2 features that are critical if you want a decent snapshot of your kids!) And that's still using the preview screen. It isn't a Rebel, but it works great for us, the batteries last and this one comes with a good basic lens and a telephoto lens. I wish I had had it about 3 years sooner!

 For maintaining your Sanity

Battery operated tap on light

Put this up by the changing table so you can avoid turning on the bright lights.  Turning on the bright light only interrupts your (and baby’s) circadian rhythms and makes it harder for you and baby to get back to sleep. Make sure you get some AA batteries!

Mesh Lingerie Wash Bag

No – this isn’t for your un-mentionables, as you will probably be washing those less often in the days to come!  Instead, hang a lingerie bag on the hamper for all those little sox and booties and mitts, etc.  It will pay for itself because you won't be paying to replace all the lost sox and bitty pieces!

Ocean Waves CD (no music)

White noise is soothing for babies...reminding them of the womb.  But white noise is annoying to most adults!  These pleasant ocean waves are familiar sound to baby who is used to hearing the ebb and flow of her mother's body sounds and is super relaxing - even for mom and dad!  This may be the one thing that I could absolutely have not gone without.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley

Read this before babies arrive to help prevent sleep problems that are preventable,and it's easier to get reading done before babies arrive anyway and you'll have alot of time in waiting rooms for your prenatal appointments and non-stress tests!

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Melinda Blau

Awesome book for first time parents.  I wish I had read it BEFORE my first set of twins, as I could have avoided many difficulties.  If you read it BEFORE your babies arrive, you will absorb it much better as you won't be half asleep!  There is not much twin-specific advice, but I consider it a must-read for all first time parents- twins or not.

For Breastfeeding Mamas:

Nursing Pillows

I had success tandem nursing with a Boppy as long as I was in my over-stuffed chair. It is also nice when baby is learning to sit up as she can sit in the middle and you don't need to worry about bonkin' her noggin' if she tips over! I used blankets with the boppy to add support where needed when tandem nursing.  Wait to see if boppy works for you, if not, then drop the money on an EZ 2 nurse twins pillow.

I actually tried the EZ 2 nurse pillow and had terrible luck with it. It was too bulky to fit in my easy chair, yet if I sat on the couch with it in my lap, it wasn't large enough to be the right height for the babies to latch on, so I needed a million pillows under it, which made it unstable and I couldn't bend over to lift the babies up on to it anyway. A total waste for me, though I know others who have loved theirs. Here's the link if you are interested:

The Nursing Mother's Companion: Revised Edition by Kathleen Huggins

This is a great general resource for breastfeeding! I referred to it while nursing both my older and younger set of twins.  As for nursing twins specifically, I guess I should write my own book about that...maybe someday. Still have to get that up as blog posts! Sorry I don't have any book recommendations on multiples in general. The books I did read on multiples were highly focused on medical phenomena and not practical life.

Soothies® by Lansinoh® Gel Pads

Do you really need it: Oh yes,you will want these if you are breastfeeding!

For Babies' Care:

A+D Original Ointment, Diaper Rash and All-Purpose Skincare Formula 4 oz (113 g) by A+D

You might as well buy in bulk...
This is great everyday ointment to prevent rashes.  Also, when baby is a bit chapped, I apply it underneath any zinc-oxide (white) cream as many of the white creams sting chaffed skin

Baby Bottle+Dish Liquid 16.90 Ounces by Dapple

Great soap for washing baby bottles!  They don't get clean enough in my dishwasher, so we wash by hand.  This soap helps get the grime off and it doesn't contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate and several other chemicals like most dish soaps! There is also a 34 oz refill for only about $16

Burt's Bees Baby Products

Burt's Bees has great brand promise that guarantees no harsh or potentially dangerous chemicals, "made from ingredients like buttermilk, apricot oil and cornstarch to cleanse, soften and protect baby's precious skin, safely and naturally. As always, they are SLS-, phthalate- and paraben-free." They are less expensive than organic products out there. I think it is the best value in natural baby products out there. This basket has samples of all the Burt's Bees Baby products, and free super saver shipping - woo hoo!

Folgers Brazilian Blend Ground Coffee, 27.8-Ounce Tubs (Pack of 2)

Sure you’ll you need some caffeine, but this container  tub is PERFECT for home made baby wipes!
Here'sthe recipe for how to make your own baby wipes:
Cut VIVA select a size paper towels in half (use a freshly-sharpened non-serrated knife)and put in empty coffee container (clean with baking soda to get out the smell).  Cut cardboard tube with scissors and pull it out.
In bowl, whisk 3 cups warm water, 1-2 Tablespoons aloe, 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite scented baby oil, and 10 drops of melaleuca oil (tea tree oil). (1 tablespoon baby wash is optional).
Whisk and pour over paper towels. Put cover on container and turn up-side-down for several minutes. Pull first wipe from the middle of the roll. You can try cutting and 'x' shape hole in the cover but I didn't try this because I didn't want to ruin my container if it didn't work. It will keep for about 5 days, which is usually just long enough to use it up with twins.

Viva Choose-A-Size Paper Towels - 15 Big Rolls