March 31, 2015

Eight Months!

These beauties have officially been out in the world as long as they were in my belly. We took a look at our first ultrasound photo last night and just can't get over how far they've come!

As you can see we learned how to sit up this month! They aren't doing it themselves yet but they quickly got the hang of holding their balance, reaching in front of them and using their arms to prop themselves up if they start to topple. This makes playtime so much more fun. We're finally getting a chance to use the playnests that Papa T bought them too which makes getting chores done around the house easier for me.

They're both working on their second and third set of teeth, Viv's front two are ready to pop through any day now and Jules' gums are just bulging red beasts. Their amber necklaces are definitely helping as did the breastmilk popsicles and our array of teethers!

Sleep has been better this month thankfully. One night last week we just decided to separate them and tried an extremely modified form of graduated extinction which you can read more about in my upcoming post on our adventures in sleep with twins. Since we're all getting more sleep they have been so happy and joyful while awake. They even wake up smiling rather than crying as they have for such a long time!

This month was pretty uneventful but we did get a chance to get outside for some walks, tried lots of new foods and celebrated my grandmother's birthday with our family. Juliette had a rough start to the month when she developed a UTI but it's been treated and we go back to the urologist next week to make sure everything has healed well and hopefully we can be done with this hydronephrosis once and for all!

Their little personalities are really starting to shine. Vivienne is a wild child and she is going to give us hell once she's mobile. She won't sit still for a second, especially after nursing when she is just itching to jump off the pillow and go play. She loves blowing raspberries and sticking her tongue out and almost everything makes her laugh these days. Juliette is a more laid back, more of an observer than a doer. Where Viv will reach out and take anything you offer her, Jules prefers to investigate and examine. It's tough to get a laugh out of Jules and people often call her so serious but I think she's just quieter and more thoughtful. I am loving getting to know them and noticing the little differences that make them unique.

I'm starting to think about their first birthday party and we're looking forward to a great summer of road trips. We're already planning on going to Syracuse for the 4th of July and the Poconos with my college friends for the weekend of July 13th. This is going to be the best summer ever!


March 25, 2015

Why I'm Glad My Twins Don't Sleep Through the Night *Yet*

Every single person I met at Wal-Mart yesterday asked me if the girls were sleeping through the night. (Side note: remember those questions twin moms receive. I answered every one. At least twice.)  By the last one, a nearly 80 year old greeter/shoplifter sniffer extraordinaire (she legit chased another elderly lady outside when she didn't stop as the sensors went off), I was so done answering this one question. She had twins herself and really just wanted to tell me all about her twins. Birth story and all. It was cute. But she made it a point to tell me that they slept through the night from 3 weeks old. A blessing since she had a 1 year old and got pregnant again when they were a month (!) old.  I laughed but then I thought really? Both of them?! That's unheard of. I could have gotten sad or anxious but instead I chose to be grateful. Yup, I am grateful my girls aren't sleeping through the night yet.

This is new. A week ago I hated it. I was dying for the night wake ups to end and for them to go to bed at a decent hour. I have been so stressed lately about them sleeping better at night. I research it all day and get upset when they wake up AGAIN just as we sit down to eat or watch a show. This week has been different though. As they finished up mental leap 5 and their teeth stopped bothering them they're waking up less on their own, are easier to put down and don't come in our bed until dawn some nights. Last night Jules woke up at 1:20 and I didn't even try to act like I was getting up to feed her. Girl came and snuggled right up and stayed for the night. Because you know what?

I miss them.

I spend every day with them and I still miss them at night. It is so friggin hard when they're up all night. But I know in my heart that those nights will soon end. Plus, even when they're up they're still pretty fun to be around. As we get to the point where they will naturally (hopefully) be going to bed earlier (and staying there longer) I am choosing to focus on the positives and be grateful for the time. When people ask if they're STTN I will happily tell them not yet because all too soon they will be and I will miss them.

Here's why I am choosing the be glad that my twins don't sleep through the night yet:

We are following their lead and I feel good about that

We learned early on that we cannot make the girls do much that they don't want to do. This includes sleeping and eating. Despite our best efforts to put them on our schedule they have made it clear that they will sleep when they are tired. Our job is to watch for their cues and get them down before they cross the threshold into being overtired. We have about a ten minute window from that first yawn to the last big eye rub just before their eyes close. As soon as we see the yawn we start our laying down routine and for the most part they go down happily (unless they're feeling separation anxiety pangs or are hungry little beasts).

They will sleep when they're ready and able when there is nothing keeping them up (like teeth, growing, new tricks, etc). Until then I feel like we need to support them and follow their lead. And they are slowly figuring out on their own what their natural schedule is. I have a feeling we will eventually let them cry a bit but it's crazy how ever since we let go and let them lead the way they have stopped waking up hour after hour pissed off.

Eventually everyone figures out their own biological rhythm and learns that night time is for sleeping. In the end I know now that I am meeting their needs by not forcing them to do what they're not ready for and as an added bonus I don't have to listen to them cry (even if it would only take a day or a week to get "perfect" sleepers, as tempting as that sounds).

Extra family time

When they were just transitioning out of the every 3 hour schedules of eat, sleep, poop, sleep, eat they were finally starting to stay up for longer stretches. I loved having the time to play and talk to them but they were still only awake for maybe 5 hours total during the day. Soon they started sleeping from midnight to six and some nights they had a stretch from 6-12 with a sleepy feed at 9. The problem was that Dad doesn't get home until 6:15 most nights and he was missing all his time with them. So instead of putting them to bed for the night after the 6:00 feeding we brought them into the kitchen with us to cook or one of us played or snuggled with them while the other cooked and then we ate dinner together. They took a short nap at 8 or 830 and then they would eat at 9 and go down and some nights stay down until 6 or 7. It worked for us and it was our special family time. They loved the extra attention and Dad got to see his girls. Now that they're naturally going down at 7:30 or 8 and sleeping longer through the night it's a rush for him to get any time and still have a solid bedtime routine before shit hits the fan and no one sleeps! We miss it.

Extra one-on-one time

Some nights one of them just does not want to go down at 7. Or 8 or 9. The other one will pass out peacefully and sleep for hours while she just screams until I take her out.Usually she's overtired (we missed our window) or not tired enough yet. She's instantly happy, every time, when we take her out into the living room. We are breaking all sorts of sleep training rules but we can never say no. I could never force her to sleep so we don't even try. Again, we learned early on that only they can decide when to sleep no matter how much we would like them to. So we would get this bonus time with one baby while the other slept. It's amazing how different it is with just one baby. You notice things you don't see when both are up and you can really get to know each other better. Sure, if you're going on two weeks of straight up all baby all the time it's time to synchronize them but when it's an extra hour or so once a week it is so worth it.

Extra snuggles

 I doubt it makes sense to people without kids (I never understood it) but it is so hard to get both sleep and snuggles with your kids. For childless adults sleep = snuggles. For parents, snuggles can mean no one sleeps if baby stays up, feet and fingers in your face and up your nose and a constant fear that someone has killed the baby or it fell of the bed. The girls still come in our bed and while we love it it's definitely nearing its peak. So I, of course having the "luxury" of staying home, have found myself staying up with them after they nurse (I'm also trying to curb the habit of nursing to sleep so its not entirely unselfish). Instead of cursing my lost z's I'm snuggling up while she pulls my hair and blows raspberries.  In like a second they will be too old for this so I am going to love every extra second we get.


I write this thanks to my experience at Wal-Mart but also after I found myself reading through a sleep training forum tonight. All these moms were lamenting their inability to snuggle baby in their bed now that they've sleep trained for fear of undoing all their hard work. I totally understand it and I would probably feel differently if my girls were awful sleepers all the time since day one. But you have to do what you and baby are comfortable with and forcing yourself to forgo something you love for the sake of sleep just seems like an impossible choice to me. At the very least it's one I'm just not ready to make just yet. I don't want to give up this time with them knowing full well that they will sleep through the night when they're ready and it may just be sooner than I really want.


March 21, 2015

FIAO 5.8: Feeding The Twins - Trying New Foods!

These girls just cannot make up their minds when it comes to food. I took a step back for a couple of weeks and went back to strictly nursing. I've been working on a better nap and daytime schedule and trying to get them to sleep for longer stretches so we nurse before and after every nap. It's slowly getting better and last night they slept from 7 to 7 with only one wake-up each! I feel like a whole new person! After getting down a good 2 hour wake time between naps I started offering food at the halfway point so now our schedule looks like this:

Wake - Nurse - Play - Food - Play (in high chairs) - Nurse - Sleep

They're still only taking 1 hour max naps so they're still taking 3 naps a day but just yesterday they both slept for an hour and a half for their mid-day nap.

Despite the improvements in their schedule this week has been a bit off thanks to Juliette developing an infection. Upon further research (thanks internet and not our doctors) I think the stent may be the culprit. Apparently some nasty bacteria called enterobactrum found its way into her gut and other parents going through similar ordeals swear the plastic from the stent is like a feeding ground for these bacteria. So, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't I guess since not placing the stent may have caused her blockage to return (look for a whole post on this coming soon). The bacteria is manifesting as a UTI and she is now on Bactrim after being on amoxicillan and cephalexin for the majority of her life. Little lady is definitely not herself and has not been into eating very much at all. I still offer everything to her though and Vivienne is eating it all up! We were doing a mix of baby-led weaning and purees but Viv never cared much for the mushy stuff so she's strict blw now. She's a champ! Here's the foods we've tried and how it went:

Avocado (slices, in feeder, pureed) - No for both of them the numerous times we've tried. I think they don't like the texture but even on a spoon they make a face when they eat it.

Apples (sauce, shredded, chunks in feeder) - They liked the sauce but no go any other way. Going to try baking some this week and see if that helps.

Asparagus (steamed sticks) - Both tried it and Viv loved it. Jules made a face and put it down.

Bananas (puree, whole in skin like a pop) - First two times were great, now they won't touch it.

Blueberries (squashed) - Both touched, Viv tried. Trying again today.

Broccoli (whole steamed) - Both loved it at first, now they won't even pick it up!

Carrots (steamed sticks and purees) - Again, both loved at first, but not anymore. Jules loved the puree but breaks out when she has it so no more carrots for her for a bit. Viv sucks on the sticks.

Cheddar cheese (thin strips) - They both tried it but only Viv swallowed it. 

Cucumbers  (chips and sticks) - They both loved sucking on them the first few times.

Scrambled egg yolks - Risky since I had an egg allergy as a child. No matter, neither one would even look at it.

Green beans (steamed sticks, puree)  - No go for either of them. Wouldn't even touch it.

Organic WW Toasted O's Cereal - True mama's girls they love their carbs. Both will work that pincer grasp and pick them up and sometimes Viv will even get them in her mouth. Of course.

Sweet potatoes (pureed and chunks in feeder) - Big hit initially, now they turn their noses. Going to try roasted sticks this week.

Toast (whole wheat sticks with unsalted butter and cream cheese) - Again, carbaholics in the making. They eat toast like no tomorrow. But now I'm noticing Jules breaks out after so I'm wondering if we have a wheat allergy too.

Steel cut oats (pureee) - Viv never liked it, Jules loved it with banana but again breaks out now. Documenting her exposure to grains to see if that's the problem.

Peanut butter skin test - No one broke out after I put peanut butter behind their ears for 6 hours. Going to try again this week for 12 hours before introducing it orally.

Water (straw cups) - They're quickly getting the hang of their straw cups and have drank some water.

I never thought in a million years that I would be dealing with a potential food allergic child. Yes, I was allergic to eggs from about age 1 to 3 and I have a sensitivity to dairy but no one in our huge families has anything more serious than that. I thought for sure we were in the clear. I'm beginning to wonder if being on antibiotics since she was a week (technically negative 4 weeks) old has something to do with Jules inability to handle certain foods (again more on that in her own special hydronephrosis post). So far she has definitely reacted to banana oatmeal (could be either one but she won't try either one now so I don't know for sure), toast and carrots. I hate that I'm dealing with this and I'm afraid for the future. I've cared for highly allergenic children before and it can be so hard preparing dishes safely. Here's hoping she grows out of them! Until then we're looking in to probiotics to help her gut. This week we will try yogurt and see if that helps.

I'm definitely happy to say our journey is going better than it was a few weeks ago. For the most part I'm not worried about them, I eat well enough and they get more than enough milk to sustain their growing bodies but I would like to be sure they are still gaining well (Jules seems to have plateaued at 14 lbs. while Viv is nearing 15) and getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need. I know breastmilk is the perfect food but I don't believe it's meant to be the sole food source past 6-7 months, if for no other reason than saving the twin moms sanity!  Please, don't think I'm selfish... I just... Actually, go ahead, I am slefish. But this Mama needs a break! Nursing two babies 8-16 times in a 24 hour period may slowly be the death of me. So send us some good eating vibes (and maybe focuson the good stuff and not the carbs!) would ya?


March 14, 2015

My Take on The Mommy Wars: Can't We All Just Get Along?

I've only been a mom for eight months but I've observed and participated in the mom community for nearly 15 years now. I've been a member of BabyCenter, TheBump and CafeMom and love a number of honest mom blogs including ScaryMommy, RenegadeMothering and MommyShorts, so I guess you could say I've had a wide range of exposure. As an observer years ago I started noticing something weird. Now that I am a mom it's glaringly obvious. We're all stuck in freaking high school only now we call it "Mommy Wars"!

What the hell happened? Somewhere along the way we started putting ourselves in these little boxes, complete with our own labels, just like the cliques from back in the day! And then we label others based on what we think they believe? Too many of us are way too crazy about our ideals that instead of just being moms we are now "crunchy" or "silky." What the heck? I know my mom never labeled herself as "free range" or "attached."  She was just a mom. Now it's actually a thing - "What kind of mom are you?" And heaven forbid you meet someone who is the total opposite "type" of mom, who knows what will happen?!

To sum up, moms can be mean. This is especially true when coming across a mom whose beliefs shock, disgust or confuse while online. That's when the bitches come out.

Well, with an aim to help others, and through careful research and observation I subjected myself to this behavior (ok, I just sit in different parenting forums and watch the drama unfold and love it) and I have identified and chronicled each type of mom that you may come across PLUS how to handle her. This should solve all of the mom wars from here on out. So without further ado here's what I've learned:

The Super Mom - 

She has four kids all involved in different activities, works full-time but still signs up to chaperone a field trip, has a happy husband and a fantastic group of best girlfriends. She has it all and seems to be practically perfect in every way. You want to hate her but she's just too damn nice and you can't quite put your finger on it but something about her reminds you of your own mom. She can be your best friend or your worst enemy - it all depends on how you treat her because she sure as hell doesn't need you in her life. She is confident and, above all else, she chooses to be happy, and that is what gives her her power. She doesn't really have it together any more than you do, it's all about the way she handles the curve balls. Get into her fold and watch how she does it or get out of her way. But above all else, support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Wounded Mom - 

She's been through hell and back. Whether it's childhood trauma, sexual assault, infertility, loss, developmental disabilities or chronic health problems she has been hurt and as a result she parents with a vengeance. She is often fierce and proud and she will fight but may still be vulnerable and scared and seeking connection. Don't judge her, don't upset her and unless she wants to talk about it don't pry on her personal details and you will be friends. She may not take kindly to differing opinions, especially if they come off as dismissive of her own, but it's mostly because she has figured out the hard way what works and what doesn't and wants the world to know how much she knows. She's a tough nut to crack but if you can get her to connect she will inevitably be a source of admiration and hope for you in difficult times.  Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Picture Perfect Mom - 

This one is sneaky. I remind myself all the time that every Super Mom I come across could really be The Picture Perfect Mom.  She works her ass off to make sure the world thinks her life is awesome when in reality the shit hit the fan months ago and she's barely holding it together.  She might be barely making ends meet but her kids are always clean, fed and dressed in the best. She may hate her husband and want to leave but tell the world she's lucky to have such a wonderful man. She might despise spending all day every day with her children but post online about how fulfilling it is being a stay-at-home-mom. She is just barely getting by emotionally but you won't ever know it unless you can get her to drink a bottle of wine and bribe her with your own embarrassing life stories. She will be a good friend if you can break down the wall but it's hard to get close enough to see the truth. Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Terrified Mom  - 

She second guesses every single choice every single day regarding her baby and constantly seeks outward approval from family or peers. Even when she tells herself she's doing the right thing she doesn't truly believe it unless it proves to have actually worked. This started very early in her pregnancy and isn't likely to go away so just roll with it. Encourage her and remind her she's doing great and that there's a lot to be said for maternal instinct. Allow her to take charge when she can to build her confidence, don't step in and coach her just because she's unsure of herself. Let her learn and make mistakes and show her that everything will be ok and she'll start to believe it really can be. Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Crunchy Mom - 

She is all natural from conception to college. When pregnant she will tell you about her plans for an all natural homebirth followed by extended breastfeeding, baby led weaning and homeschooling. She likely co-sleeps, babywears and probably would not circumcise. She adheres to some specific parenting choices although the variety of these can span a pretty wide spectrum and she will fight like a beast in support of them (do not ever, EVER stumble into a circumcision debate. You will not emerge unscathed). She's smart and alarmingly well-researched. It could be science-backed and it could be anecdotal evidence, either way she knows her stuff and why it works for her family. She might know a shit ton about babies and child development or she might just like doing things the old fashioned way. She could probably teach you a thing or two about anything you'd like as long you're open to it. Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The Chill Mom - 

She really doesn't let anything get to her. Ever. She might call herself "free-range" but back in the day they would have just called her a mom. She loves her children but is pretty hands off and you really worry that someone might get seriously hurt but miraculously no one ever does. Her house may be a mess sometimes but she usually has it under control before it becomes too much and her kids probably help her clean with no complaints too. She doesn't yell or spank and although her kids might have a lot of stuff or a lot of privileges they're polite, helpful and usually not spoiled. She is always good to call up and have a laugh with because she isn't stressing over dishes or laundry or misbehaving children because despite having such a chill mom her kids are angels. You want to be her but you also kind of fear her. Support her with kindness, acceptance and love, no matter how much you disagree with her.

The "Mom" Mom - 

She is battling against all these labels and refuses to be put in a box. She fits in all of and none of these categories at any given time and she recognizes that she is learning as she goes. She accepts it and does not diminish others for their choices. She's just doing her Mom thing, doing whatever she sees fit, keeping her kids alive and well and herself moderately happy and healthy. She's just Mom and if we let ourselves we would finally see that she is all of us.


There isn't a mom out there who starts off this journey with all the answers. She may have good intentions but you just don't know until you know. We spend every day of our children's lives hoping that the choices we make are "right" and "good" but no one knows anything for sure. And yet we debate things such as birthing and sleeping choices? We vilify each other over breastfeeding or car seats and circumcision or ear piercing.  Why the heck do we allow this?

Aren't we all striving for the same thing? To raise our babies the way we see fit?

Not the "right" way. Not the way "they" say we should. Not in any way but the way we see fit, as mother to those children. Same thing, for everyone, and yet we are so quick to call out a fellow mom when the way THEY do things does not mesh with the way WE do things. Just because we disagree.

It's not everyone, thankfully. Most of us are trying to build the Mom community up but there are these others. We'll call them Sanctimommies for the sake of continuity. They are filled with judgement and hate and ignorance and they just want to watch the world burn.  And the internet makes it a thousand times worse with the guise of anonymity and lack of repercussions. I am so sick of it. 

This is what makes parenting in the 21st century so unique (read: such a pain the ass) compared to anytime in history. We possess the ability to, in the blink of an eye, compare one's parenting choices to someone else's and pass judgement without even a second of consideration for the other person's perspective or experiences. We can even say it right to their face(book)! But instead of being kind and helpful we say:

"You're a shitty mom!" or
"You're a moron and you're going to kill your kid!" or
"Well my kid did this and he's fine but my sister's did that and he now has {insert some super sad or terrifying thing here}!  Good luck!" or
"No more babies for you!"

Dude. She asked if it was ok to give her baby honey nut cheerios. Seriously?

How sad is it that?  Rather than choosing to support, teach and encourage our fellow Moms we feel the need to compete or condemn and tear each other to bits?

We don't even realize how we are harming ourselves and our children. Instead of holding steadfast to our views in the face of opposition we should all take a step back and see how the lines blur.

We have the exact same goal.
We all need support and understanding, no matter what we believe.
We must banish the doubt and judgement and replace them with trust and support.
We need to love each other and ourselves. 

When we are able to do these things the entire community of moms around the world will feel the shift, the weight we burden ourselves with will lift and we can just be moms. No shitty labels or rules that come with them.

As long as we're not hurting anyone we should be free to be whoever we are and do whatever we believe, however we want to do it without getting backlash or advice or a lesson or judgement from someone who just doesn't get it or wouldn't do it themselves

Think about this: Will our children will thank us more for showing them what it is to be a good person or for doing things the "right" way based on what we want them to believe?

We need to model what it is to love no matter what and how to share, learn and grow from each other, rather than how to build walls around ourselves and our ideals.

Because at the end of the day the only thing our children (and all of us) really do need is each other.


March 10, 2015

FIAO 5.7 - Feeding The Twins - First Taste of Real Foods!

I will admit it, I was terrified to start my girls on solids. Despite years of feeding kids and all that I have researched on baby-led weaning and making your own purees the fear of choking and them not being ready kept creeping up.

The medical community flip-flopping their stance on when to introduce high-allergen foods also scared me. I thought I had a plan but like most parents these days I received advice from my pediatrician that conflicts with what I've read making the process even more harrowing.

Originally I had decided to introduce avocado at six months adjusted age around the end of February. The nurse at the pediatrician's heartily discouraged this and told me to introduce rice cereal at four months actual (just 3 months adjusted) followed by oatmeal then purees of any fruit or vegetable I wanted.

I started learning all I could about purees and baby led weaning. This convinced me to skip the cereals and try blw at six months.

I let them look at, touch and sniff ingredients while I was cooking. I talked about the food we eat and why. I don't know if it's overkill or whatever but after years of picky eating myself I really want to help them learn to love good food at a young age. I'll go crazy if they wait until their twenties to eat anything but chicken fingers and pizza (like their mother did).
While you can't prevent a "picky" eater I really believe you can help facilitate healthy eating habits through exposure to a wide variety of foods, letting the child have control over what and how much they eat and not forcing them to eat something they don't want.

I ended up waiting until they were 6.5 months actual (5.5 months adjusted) and started with sweet potatoes. I baked them in the oven, mashed them with a fork, added some breastmilk and spoon fed them. I'm not sure how much they managed to actually swallow but they each tried a spoonful a day for three days.
Then we tried some applesauce which went over better but the one thing that I find hilarious is the way they keep grabbing the spoons and feeding themselves. Obviously it's their instinct at this point to put anything in their mouth but I'm in awe of their ability to coordinate holding a spoon, opening their mouths, putting the spoon in and then closing their mouth, gumming the food and then swallowing. Viv prefers to eat this way, Jules will let me feed her for a bit but almost always ends up feeding herself as we near the end.

A month later we are have introduced a few whole foods as part of BLW but they have very little interest in them. We tried avocado, homemade carrot sticks, broccoli, snap peas and toast. They want none of it! The first few times they touched them and even picked up the broccoli and carrots but at this point when I put something on their trays they just stare at it and reach for their toys on the table.

I offer purees (homemade sweet potatoes, peas and applesauce plus mashed up avocado) but Viv has put her foot down and made it clear she wants only milk right now. I tried a jar of BeechNut Just Carrots that we got from a friend and of course Jules loved them but they made her eczema flare. The only thing they might eat is homemade banana oatmeal but they won't touch the banana or carrot sticks I offer.  Kids - they're so weird.

 I'm not worried, I know they will eat when they're ready but now I'm hoping I just started too early and didn't screw up our hopes of baby-led weaning by offering purees first. Only time will tell and we're having fun trying!

Do you have any tips on helping babies adjust to eating real food?


March 6, 2015

Why Get Mad When You Can Make Someone Smile?

If you're a member of the twin mom community on the internet you have probably seen or been a part of a discussion/blog/article by and for twin parents that addresses the comments so many of us receive. All the twin mom blogs have their lists (which are pretty much universal as most strangers are highly unoriginal in their questions and comments), Twiniversity has an article or two about it and twin groups on bbc and fb get those posts ALL the time. It happens to all of us. It can be annoying, I know, but I wonder if we're coming off a bit bratty as a community when we make these lists of the "stupid" things people ask or say to us. Yes, some of the questions or comments some people get are inappropriate or rude but majority of the time it's the simple curiosity of a person who doesn't know much about life with twins.

Why are we upset by that? Why is it stupid to ask someone if there children are twins? I'd rather they ask if they're not sure. And if you think that every person who asks if they run in your family is trying to find out if they're natural or not I think you're a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Most people don't care about how you got pregnant but more than one set of twins in one family is pretty cool! I just feel like we're being touchy when we should be enjoying making people happy and meeting new people. Hear me out.

One thing I will grant is that it's a little more annoying when you're in a time crunch. However, you're never under an obligation to stop if you don't have the time. To tell you the truth we don't usually have the time so I will apologize if I have to rush people but I don't blame them or get annoyed with them personally. There's a joke that the twin mom has got everyone fed, changed and happy so she has approximately 46 seconds to get something done. This is true but if someone looks like they want to chat or just look at the babies I will take a few of those 46 seconds to stop because where's the harm in it? It's good for me, it's good for the babies and it's good for them. Win all around.

In case you think I just don't get out much or something here's what it looks like when I need to run to Target, Wal-Mart or the grocery store for a few things (usually happens once every 2 weeks or so).

It takes me about an hour to get ready and get out of the house. This includes packing the diaper bag and preparing bottles or nursing before we even start getting ready to go. We change diapers and sometimes full outfits because it's almost inevitable someone will have a poosplosion or puke on their shirt. Ten minutes to strap in and double check all straps, etc. (I'm crazy about the car seats) and five minutes getting everyone and the stroller into the car. We get to the store and as soon as we walk in someone is smiling at us. I judge by body language if they really want to stop and chat or just smile from a distance. Some want to chat, some just coo or cluck or say "Oh! Twins! How cute!" The ones that stop (usually older women, grandmother-types) almost always say the exact same things. Here's where those lists from around the web come in. Every twin mom has heard these things that I generally find harmless and will happily answer the first few times I am stopped:

"Awww are they twins!?" - "They are!"
"Boy and girl?/Two girls?/Two boys?" (sometimes they guess wrong) -  "Two girls. That's Juliette and that's Vivienne."
"Identical or fraternal? How do you know for sure?" - "Identical. The doctors said so. Also, look at them."
"My cousin's uncle's daughter has twins!"- "Aw, that's so cool."
"I always wanted twins!" -  "Haha, you say that now, do you want to take them for the night and find out for sure?"
"You must have your hands full!" - "Yes I do! But thankfully my husband helps a ton and we have family nearby!"
"You look too young/too good to have had twins!" - "I'm 30, but thanks and I just bounced back really well I guess!"
"Do twins run in your family or your husbands?" - "Both!" (Note: Identical twins are not hereditary but I rarely want to get into this with strangers.)
"How do you tell them apart!?" - "We just know! But they have differences if you really look!"
"You're blessed/They're beautiful/Good luck!" - "Thank you!"

Sometimes I get one or two, sometimes it's all of them. It takes me five minutes, they are happy and we all move on. I have never been asked if they're "natural" outside of a medical office. I have never been told "double trouble" or asked which one is my favorite or whether or not I am breastfeeding. I have only once been told that having two close in age is the same thing. So many twin moms hate this one especially but I saw her boys in action. They were 1 and 2, and it was definitely close enough. Not to mention if someone says this they're probably struggling! They're not downplaying how hard twins are, they're just relating to you. This mom just was just trying to connect with me and even she apologized for insinuating she knew what newborn twins was like. And I told her that her life looked harder than mine did!

Am I unique in that I don't have the bad experiences other twin moms have or are other people overreacting to the innocent (or under-educated?) curiosity of strangers? Is it really that annoying when someone just wants to take a peak and smile at your little ones?

See that's the thing: I have found that people are not stopping me simply to ogle the mysterious phenomenon of identical twins and pry or insult me - they stop me because babies are cute and two babies are even cuter! Sure sometimes they're a little pushy, but they also just want to feel really good for a second. I dare you to try feeling grumpy or sad or pissed off when there are two adorable faces beaming up at you. Two faces that remind you that there is beauty in this world and to cherish the simple things. You can't do it. You have no choice but to feel better, even if just for a moment. I see it every time someone stops me. Even if it's just the elderly woman questioning their type or a little girl giggling at them asking their names.

I'm happy if I've made just one person smile simply by leaving the house with my two tiny people. I choose not to be annoyed or made to feel like a spectacle. I welcome it (to a point of course)!

I will share my one really bad experience during my 14 months as a twin carrier/mom so other twin moms don't think I'm completely out of touch. I never said it never happens, just not as often the internet makes it seem. This woman not only insulted me but thought she knew more than me and then topped it with an unnecessary overshare that really threw me. I was at the check out counter at Wal-Mart back in May. I was 30 weeks pregnant (so roughly the size of a mini-van) and buying baby books and the cashier noticed there were two of them:

"Oh, two baby books, are they for twins?"
"Yes they are!"
"Yours or someone else?"  (I almost laughed out loud because I was so huge but I just smiled.) "Mine! Due in a month!"
"Oh god, that's crazy. Better you than me! I'd die if I had two at once!"
"Yeah, I guess you got that right! We're excited!" (I would have left right then but she was still checking me out!)
"Do you know what you're having?" (The baby books were covered in pink polkadots but I played along.)
"Identical girls!"
"Well you don't know that for sure right?"
"Yup, we do. The doctors are certain they're girls and I've had like 10 ultrasounds."
"No, I mean like you can't know they're identical yet."
"Oh, yeah, no they definitely are. Ya know, the ten ultrasounds and stuff."
"No, that's ridiculous, you can't know they're identical until they're born and you see them. Obviously."
"...Oh... ok. I guess you're right."
"Yeah, see my grandmother had identical twins and had no idea until they were born and then they were both stillborn."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Gotta go..."

So if I needed to I would say there are three things twin moms never need or want to hear:

That we're doomed just because we're having two kids at once.

Arguing with us about what type of twins we're having.

And for the love of God do not share your relatives or friends dead twin stories with us!

Especially when our twins are still in utero!

The whole exchange was just in bad taste and left me feeling like crap for a few days. But that's when I made up my mind to let it all slide and seek out the positive interactions. What choice do we have as twin moms? We're in this from the second they're born and we will never stop hearing the same things over and over so instead of complaining we need to make the best of it (just imagine what it will be like for our kids later in life!?) If we let it get to us we will forever be miserable.

The way I see it is we can choose to have an uphill battle and try to educate or berate everyone who makes a false claim about twins or insinuates that our lives are over or we could just not pay them any mind and get on with living those lives, much to their dismay. After all, most of us knew nothing about twins before becoming pregnant with them so we can't blame people for reciting what they've heard or googled.  I say embrace the quips, answer the questions and if someone insists they know more or insults you keep your head up high and seek out someone else who is in need of a smile! Nothing will make you feel better quite like your kids making someone else feel good!


March 3, 2015

Cultivating a Love for Music and Singing Without Having To Hear Five Little Monkeys 700 Times A Day!

I wrote before about how we've had music playing throughout the day and how important I feel this is for my girls. I came across this article by Rice University Shepherd School of Music and just had to write about it. I've always known that singing is one of the "most important primary musical experience(s)." It doesn't matter if you can carry a tune or not, what matters is how the brain responds to singing and the many benefits children can attain from daily song:

“While singing, children develop listening and cooperative skills, coordination of the tongue and lips, gross and fine motor skills (through creative movement and keeping the beat), self-control, concentration skills and memory.”

"Singing encourages brain and language development. Reading, playing pretend games and singing are the three essential educational activities parents should do with a child."

I'm decent enough at singing and some of my favorite memories are of the musicals I did and being part of a choir in high school and college. My sister and I would spend hours just driving around belting our favorites from Wicked and Rent. I didn't put headphones on my belly while pregnant but I sang to them constantly. I also started early on building a playlist of for us to listen to during the day. I knew I wanted to expose them to a wide variety of music, not just children's songs.

I want them to learn to sing and appreciate the creativity of music in general. At the daycare we spent so much time listening to various children's cds non-stop every day. Even our rest time music was classic lullabies. One day I was so over it so popped my own ipod in with a playlist of my favorite songs. I added some of their favorites too like Hannah Montana, Fresh Beat Band and Disney songs. The kids loved the mix and I didn't lose my mind. We also replaced our lullabies with an Irish Relaxation playlist that we still listen to at night here. Kids can appreciate good music just as much as we can and it doesn't need to be kids version either, although the Rock-A-Bye Baby mixes are amazing, we have an entire playlist of them.

It's one thing to hear music all day and something else entirely to cultivate a love for singing which I believe to be truly beneficial, much like the article I referenced. It's the ultimate release to just rock out when you're angry or sing until you cry when your heart is broken. Sappy country break-up songs have gotten me through some of my roughest times. As a teen the angsty whines of emo music made my life liveable. Frank Sinatra's My Way and Yellowcard's View From Heaven got my sister and I through our grandfather's death. Even now at 30 years old when I'm having a bad day I just put on Let It Go and sing my heart out.

So, save your sanity, skip the children's CDs and just expose your kids to real music! They'll get plenty of their ABCs and Five Little Monkeys at school, playgroup or by you teaching them. No need to have a marathon of The Wiggles in the car every day unless you want to or your kid demands it ('cuz whining over that could drive you just as crazy!) Whip up your own playlist and be sure to add my favorites too!

Also, before I ever even dreamed of becoming a mother I would hear parenting love songs and my heart would feel so happy so of course I made sure to add those to our playlist. I'm starting my list for you with as many of these as I can find because I feel like it is one of the true joys of being a Mom - singing these lovely songs to your little one. I hope through daily exposure to good music and singing I can illustrate my love for them and help them understand the joy that is singing your heart out.

Ideas for A Playlist both Mom and Babies Will Love


Parenting Love Songs 

I can't listen to some of these without crying. When they come on I put a baby on my hip and laugh through the tears while we dance and I sing to them. Some of them are real love songs but the lyrics totally work for baby.

Love of My Life - Carly Simon - My all-time favorite. We sing it every day.
"From the moment I first saw you, the second that you were born, I knew that you were the love of my life. Quite simply the love of my life."

The Promise - Tracy Chapman
"Oh, I've longed for you, and I have desired, to see your face, your smile; to be with you wherever you are. Remembering, your touch, your kiss, your warm embrace. I'll find, my way, back to you. If you'll be waiting."

You and Me Against The World - Helen Reddy
"And when one of us is gone, and one of us is left to carry on, then remembering will have to do. Our Memories alone will get us through. Think about the days of me and you, You and Me against the World"

Can't Help Falling In Love - Ingrid Michaelson (Our wedding song!)
"Like a river flows, so surely to the sea, oh my darling so it goes, some things are meant to be."

I'll Stand By You - The Pretenders
"When the night falls on you, baby and you're feeling all alone, you won't be on your own, I'll stand by you."

Lullaby - The Dixie Chicks
"As you wander through this troubled world, in search of all things beautiful, you can close your eyes when you're miles away and hear my voice like a serenade."

I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
"There's no need to complicate. 'Cause our time is short. This oh, this oh, this is our fate. I'm yours."

In My Life - The Beatles 
"But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compared to you."

God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
"I may not always love you, but long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it, I'll make you so sure about it. God only knows what I'd be without you."

Sweet Child Of Mine - Guns N' Roses
"Now and then when I see her face, she takes me away to that special place and if I stared too long, I'd probably break down and cry. Oh, oh, sweet child of mine."

Landslide - Fleetwood Mac (or Dixie Chicks)
"Well, I've been afraid of changing, 'cause I've built my life around you. But time makes you bolder, even children get older, and I'm getting older too. Oh, I'm getting older too"

I Will Take You Home - Grateful Dead (This was my father daughter dance song at my wedding)
"Just when everything gets scary, Daddy's come 'round for his darlin' again. Hold my hand with your little fingers. Daddy's loving arms gonna gather you in."

Teach Your Children - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
"Teach your children well, their father's hell did slowly go by. And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you'll know by."

Never Saw A Miracle - Curtis Stigers
"But I never saw a miracle, 'til baby I found you, I prayed I'd find my heaven, then all my prayers came true"

Lullaby (Good Night My Angel)  - Billy Joel 
"I promised I would never leave you, and you should always know, wherever you may go, no matter where you are, I never will be far away."

Just The Two Of Us - Will Smith
"Touched your head gently, felt my heart melt, 'cause I know I loved you more than life itself. Then to my knees, and I begged the Lord please Let me be a good daddy, all he needs."

I'll Always Be Right There - Michelle Branch
"When you're all alone, and you need a light, someone to guide you through the night, just remember that I am here, to hold you close and dry your tears."

Country Songs about Parenting

Country music is a goldmine for sappy yet sweet parenting songs and some of my absolute favorites. If you can stomach the twang these are guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye while you croon to your little one.

It Won't Be Like This For Long - Darius Rucker
"It won't be like this for long. One day we'll look back laughing at the week we brought her home. This phase is gonna fly by, so baby just hold on It won't be like this for long."

Then They Do - Trace Adkins 
"I swear that I can't wait till they grow up. Then they do, and that's how it is. It's just quiet in the mornin', Can't believe how much you miss, all they do and all they did. You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true, then they do."

In My Daughter's Eyes - Martina McBride
"And when she wraps her hand around my finger, oh it puts a smile in my heart. Everything becomes a little clearer, I realize what life is all about."

Teenage Daughters - Martina McBride -
"Their beautiful, wild and free.Everything we wish we could be. But their still crazy. Oh you know, the make us crazy."

All-American Girl - Carrie Underwood
"And now, he's wrapped around her finger, she's the center of his whole world. And his heart belongs to that sweet, little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect All-American girl."

My Wish - Rascal Flatts
"My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small, you never need to carry more than you can hold."

Butterfly Kisses - I like the Faith Hill and Tim McGraw version -
"And I thank god for all of the joy in my life Oh, but most of all, for butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer."

I Loved Her First - Heartland
"From the first breath she breathed, when she first smiled at me, I knew the love of a father runs deep."

My Little Girl - Tim McGraw
"Sometimes you're asleep I whisper "I Love You!" in the moonlight at your door. As I walk away, I hear you say, "Daddy Love You More!"

Just Fishin' - Trace Adkins
"She ain't even thinkin' 'bout what's really going on right now but I guarantee this memory's a big 'un. We ain't only fishin'."

Tough Little Boys - Gary Allen
"Well I didn't cry, when Old Yeller died, at least not in front of my friends, but when tough little boys grow up to be dads, they turn into big babies again."

I've Been Watching You - Randy Atkins - "I've been watching you Dad, ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo I want to be like you."

Stealing Cinderella - Chuck Wicks
"If he gives me a hard time, I can't blame the fella, I'm the one who's stealing Cinderella"

Some Songs On Our Playlist Just Because I Want My Girls To Know Them 

(don't judge me)


Under Pressure - David Bowie and Queen - To help them release frustration and get over the bad days. Because no matter how stressed I am I can sing it and feel better

Let It Go - Queen Elsa of Arendelle/Idina Menzel - To help them feel empowered. Because when the beat drops you feel invincible. Also, the message isn't too bad either.

Respect - Aretha Franklin - To teach them that if he doesn't respect you he doesn't deserve you.

Defying Gravity - Elpheba and Glinda/Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith - To show them the joy of singing a duet with your sister and how a great show tune can change any bad mood.

The Luckiest - Ben Folds - To help them know what a real love song should sound like.

My Way - Frank Sinatra - To get in touch with their roots. Half my family is Italian and we love Frankie. It also has special meaning for my grandfather.

Fifteen - Taylor Swift - To help them through what was one of the hardest times in my own life and to teach them that in their life they will do much greater things than dating a boy on the football team.

MmmBop - Hanson - To teach them that Mommy was clearly a teeny-bopper to hold on to the ones that really care 'cause in an mmmbop they could be gone.

You Mean Everything To Me - Shawn Mullins - To teach them that love heals everything and they are no exception to that rule. And yes this is that guy who also has a song called Lullaby that is not really a lullaby. This one is beautiful.

Happier - Guster - To teach them that it's important to be happy but not to hurt others in the process. Isn't that what everyone else gets from this song?

Same Love - Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis - To teach them acceptance.

Don't Stop Believin' - Journey -AKA The soundtrack of my college years.  To teach them that sometimes you just need to belt out an 80s rock anthem to feel better.

Call And Answer - Barenaked Ladies - To teach them to think of others feelings and how their actions have consequences.

Perfect - Pink - To teach them that they are perfect just as they are.

Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen - To share an old family favorite. Because... it's epic and I remember my parents played it constantly when I was growing up - it was my mom's "cleaning" song.

Try - Colbie Caillat - This one is self-explanatory if you listen to it.

So there's my ever-incomplete list of songs for my girls. It works for us as I love singing and hope they get the same joy out of it as I do. What are some songs that have special meaning to you that you want your babies to know? Will you sing to them like I sing to mine?


March 2, 2015

Seven Months!

If February had a 30th day then my baby girls would have been seven months old on it. Since it doesn't, we celebrated today. I can't believe they're closer to being one year old than they are to the day they were born!  They just get more and more fun and precious each month that passes.

February was an... interesting month. It was one of little sleep, teething, Jules healing from her surgery and having her stent removed and Mama getting her annual case of the winter blues (along with my first visit from Aunt Flo since getting pregnant 15 months ago). February also ushered in Mental Leap 5 which turned our whole world upside down as the girls sleep actually got worse than it was last month and separation anxiety reared its ugly head. However, as the leap comes to a close we are now all rolling over both ways, pushing up on our hands and rocking, scooting our knees under us (Viv is like thisclose to actually scooting) and sitting up for 1 to 2 minutes unassisted. Our first two teeth each are up and so adorable to see peaking out from their big grins.

Jules is absolutely loving solid foods - her favorites are homemade steel cut oats with banana, sweet potatoes and carrots. Viv is a little less enthusiastic about it all but when she feels like it her favorites are sweet peas and green beans - night and day these identical twins are, night and day! We are only offering them once or twice a day and not even every day yet as I want their primary source of nutrition to be milk as long as I can.

Sleep is slowly returning to our home, just not really at night yet, unless it's a slumber party in our bed. There they can sleep for hours straight. In their cribs we're lucky to get a good 4 hour stretch from 11 to 3 and then they're up all night after nursing every other hour. Days are getting better though - for the third day in a row Viv has had 3 solid fantastic naps, Jules is averaging two out of three. We're still getting in an early evening nap which I'm pretty sure is messing with their bedtime (some nights they're up until 11!) but without it they would be in bed at 530 or 6 and Dad doesn't get home until 515 so that's not going to work for us! We sleep in until 9 so ideally I would love them to go down at 8 and get up at 8 or 9 and follow the 2-3-4 schedule but they can barely make it two hours between naps at this point. I'm just going with their flow and hoping at some point they realize that nighttime is for sleeping!

I hate winter with a passion (I know, why do I live in Upstate NY?!). I hate driving in snow and the cold is like a knife in my heart. We've got a ton of snow and I had visions of taking them out in it but sadly it has been SO cold that we haven't been able to go outside unless we really have to like to doctor's or to visit someone. I've also got a touch of seasonal affective disorder so I've been feeling a little lower than usual and not too kind with my words to my poor husband. He is an angel for putting up with me and taking such fantastic care of all of us girls. He still gets up every single night with them so that I can sleep - despite the fact that he works so hard during the day too. He's amazing. Hopefully March will warm up and allow us to all get outside and get a nice healthy dose of sunshine so Mama can feel better.  Because of the cold we didn't do much this month at all aside from dinner at my Dad's on Valentine's day and at my Aunt's last Saturday. The most memorable thing we did this month was make our first craft project for Daddy for Valentine's day!  Oh but I FINALLY ordered prints of all the pictures we've taken in the last six months - 1,212 (for only $54 @snapfish!) of them to be exact. And that's not even all of them I just had to draw a line somewhere. I'm having fun organizing them and getting ready to send them to our relatives.

So here's hoping the cold goes away and with it the tears when mama walks away. Looking forward to the return of the warmth and sunshine and so many memories being made with my beauties. It's unfathomable to me that the next one of these posts will be 8 months... goosebumps!