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The Two Little Babies FAQ

March 21st, 2005 by Joyce


Four Months

Here, in this FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Sheet, are the answers to the questions people most often ask us. We hope this information helps you, or at least satisfies your curiosity!

Where did you get those baby carriers?

Well, the answer to that question depends on what we were wearing they day that you saw us. We have made our own, bought a few others, and are now selling EllaRoo wraps, slings, and mei tais because we like them so much.  [update:  When we moved I lost my inventory space and am no longer selling them.  Check EllaRoo.com for a seller near you.]

How we made our own: Actually, we bought the fabric, and we had a neighbor hem it for us. The fabric is cotton gauze from JoAnn’s Fabrics. We paid $1.88/yard and bought about six yards (to account for shrinking). Our neighbor then hemmed the fabric, turning it into a very useful SPOC (Simple Piece of Cloth). This SPOC can be used as a baby wrap to carry the baby at the front, hip, or on our backs. It also makes a good pillow, blankie, changing pad, and peekaboo curtain! An internet search yields many websites for directions to help you tie your wrap; my favorite is www.mamatoto.org. If you cannot sew and do not know someone who can hem the wrap for you, simply choose a fabric that has finished edges, or enjoy a premade wrap made with love.

Our favorite carriers:
Over time we have come to have preferences in how we wear the babies. Matt prefers a mei tai, and I prefer a wrap. EllaRoo carriers are incredibly strong, well-made, and breezier than any of our other carriers, keeping parents and baby cool in the Texas heat.

Benefits to Wearing Baby:
Dr. Sears and several other popular authors have written extensively about “wearing” your baby. If tying a wrap or using a sling feels a little more intimidating to you, consider an Ergo. These backpack-style carriers (that can also be used at your front or side) are popular worldwide, grow with your baby, and are more comfortable for your baby than the ubiquitous Baby Bjorns (which make the baby dangle by his or her crotch).

For more links about wearing your baby, visit Kellymom.

What do you do at night with two babies?
Sleep with them. They sleep longer, happier, and healthier, and so do we. And if they’re hungry, I just roll myself over and feed them, and usually fall back to sleep in the process.

You mean they sleep in your bed?
Yes, they do. The crib seems like a lonely place at night, and our babies are so cuddly and cute; how could we NOT sleep with them? (And they don’t shed like the cat did!) Co-sleeping is very safe, and convenient for all of us. Naps occur in the crib or a swing, place that are safer for our increasingly mobile babies during the busy daytime hours.

As they get bigger, you won’t be able to make enough milk for them both!
Wanna bet? For more information on breastfeeding twins or more, talk to your local La Leche League. If you live in Houston, I strongly suggest visiting A Woman’s Work (a store just for breastfeeding!). Hiring a good doula to help you with the birth and immediately after will help all three of you get started on the right foot, or, uh, boob. And feel free to contact us; I have some additional resources for you if you need them.

You’re one tough mama! When I have my baby I won’t breastfeed because:

  • I probably won’t make any milk when I have my baby. Undersupply is a very uncommon problem. Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding beforehand, and find good support from La Leche League or your doctor or midwife. If you like to read, check out Dr. Newman’s book before you read the others–it’s very informative. The Breastfeeding Fairy‘s website is a good, concise summary.
  • breastfeeding hurts.  Pain is not a “normal” part of breastfeeding!  Pain indicates a problem; read Jack Newman’s Handout #3 for more information.
  • I don’t know how. Get support before, immediately after, and then a few days after you’ve begun to establish your relationship with your bab(ies). A qualified LLL Leader or Lactation Consultant can help you learn what to expect, ensure that the babies have an effective latch, and then later check up on you to make sure mom and babes are on the path to boob bliss. Be prepared to spend some time learning your natural rhythms. Some mothers and babies may need help perfecting their latch to keep breastfeeding efficient and comfortable. A knowledgeable person can watch you and make sure the two (or three, or four . . .) of you are on track. A scale is fun reassurance that your baby is growing and gaining weight; they can be rented for just a couple of dollars a day. We had a great deal of fun with our baby scale rented from A Woman’s Work.
  • I have weird/small boobs/nipples. Share your concern with your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant. Chances are, everything will be just fine. Babies are born to be breastfed, right? If you have inverted nipples, you may be able to do some things during your pregnancy to correct the problem, or you may be able to use some tools to let the baby fix the problem for you! Sometimes, a few days of a good latch from a hungry baby will do the trick.
  • I’m on medication for a health problem. Many medications are safe for breastfeeding mothers. Dr. Sears has an excellent article about breastfeeding and medications that you may want to read before making up your mind.  Kellymom also discusses medications and breastfeeding in great length.
  • breastfeeding will tie me to my baby. It is true that if you are breastfeeding, you will probably more often be responsible for feeding your baby until she is eating on her own. But think now: you love your baby, you’ll not be far from her for very long, anyway! If you are working, or need some relief at nights, a breast pump will allow you to express milk to be fed to your baby by someone else–in the next few hours, days, or even months. Breast pumps range in price from a $20 to $300, and can even be rented. You might also find that once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy to feed a baby when you are out and about–and there are no bottles to bring or formula to mix! A sling or wrap can make your job even easier and more discrete.

Why did you hire a doula? I’m not going to hire one because my husband is going to be there, and he’s really great.
I’m sure he is. But consider finding labor support, anyway. An experienced doula will help you negotiate the red tape at the hospital, ensuring that your wishes are respected. Also, a doula knows how childbirth feels, because she has not only experienced, but seen it dozens of times before. She’ll guide you through the birth process and explain what’s happening. She might even give you a massage when you’re tired and hurting. The result: an increased likelihood of a faster, safer birth.

How do you do it?
Help. Lots of it. Get some.

Where did you get that cool stroller?
It’s made by Combi. It’s available at Babies’R’Us and online.

Why do you have a little blue potty in the back of your Forester? Aren’t your babies too young too be potty-trained?
Ever see those pictures of women holding naked babies in National Geographic? She’s not covered in baby poo, and the nearest Pamper is hundreds of miles away. How do they do it? The babies learn to potty. Some days are better for us than others–you can imagine it’s really hard to keep up with two babies–but we drive around with the potty because, well, you never know when somebody’s gotta go. We wear diapers just in case, and probably will for several more months.

The little blue potty, by the way, is made by Baby Bjorn, and you can find it online for about $10. My favorite for the car, though, is called the Pottette; you can find it at Babies’R’Us or online. It is collapsible (fits in my backpack!) and comes with a disposable liner. The liners are also for sale at BRU.

Visit Diaper Free Baby for information, e-mail listserv opportunities, and local meeting info. Also read Diaper Free! or Infant Potty Training.

They aren’t eating real food/cereal/BBQ, yet?!
Babies are born with tummies made for digesting milk; research has shown that not until they’re about six months (at least) are babies properly able to digest “real” or “solid” foods. If babies start solids too early, they are at increased risk of food allergies and other health problems. Because of a family history of food allergies, we are going to wait trying solids in earnest until we know the babies are ready. Every baby is different, of course. We also don’t see the harm in giving a baby (once they are around 6 months) an occassional carrot, cucumber, sweet potato, or other low-allergenic food to feel, taste, and play with. If, in the worse case scenario, the baby does develop an allergy to one of those foods, a carrot, cucumber, or sweet potato allergy is easily avoidable! For more information on adding solids for allergic infants, check this scale.

Are those their diapers?
Yes! Cloth diapers have come a long way; the days of pins and plastic pants are so over.

Did you use IVF or fertility drugs?
No, we were just twice blessed! We wish you well if you are considering IVF or fertility treatments. Let us know if you have twins!

You had twins, so you had to have a c-section, right?
We had a c-section birth only because our babies were in the birth canal feet first. This is a rare and dangerous position for any baby, but especially twins, to be born. If you are pregnant with twins, your doctor has promised you a c-section, and you don’t want one, consider changing doctors. Many twins have been healthfully delivered naturally.

Why did I not want a c-section until I knew it was medically necessary?

  • For many women, the incision site hurts. For weeks. And months.
  • C-section babies are often less alert than babies born naturally. This means that they are more prone to respiratory, feeding, and other problems.
  • I knew that the pain in my abdomen could affect our breastfeeding relationship, and it did. I could not get into position to properly feed the babies without a great deal of difficulty. I could not nurse on my side comfortably, so we all had to get out of bed for every night feeding. The pain also made me miss spending time with my babies, because it was very hard to hold them.

For those interested in having more children, it can be harder to give birth naturally in the future if you have a c-section. While it’s true that many doctors will consider a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), many will not, so you may have to seek an OB (and hospital) willing to accept you as a patient.

Cesarean sections are not an easy way out, and they are not necessarily safer for mother or baby. Nor are they painless. My incision site hurt for months, and my back still aches from the spinal anesthesia. Natural labor pains, however, are usually over when the baby is born!

Were they born early?

Thankfully, they were very close to being full term. Our EDD (Estimated Date of Delivery) was February 14th, 2005; my water broke the morning of 23 January, 2005. I wish I had been able to carry them a little bit longer, but I guess they ran out of womb (get it? room/womb! Eh, heh.) and wanted to get out of there. We did not need to spend any time in the nursery or NICU, what a blessing! We just went straight home.

How big were they when they were born?
Carmen, the first, was 18″ and 6 pounds, 5 ounces. David was 18.75″ and 5 pounds, 14 ounces. Yes, that is a good size, even for a singleton birth! Even though I felt a bit like Shamu in the 3rd trimester, the pregnancy was normal and healthy.

How did I get through the pregnancy?
I had:

If you are expecting twins, or know someone who is, make sure Mama gets lots of rest, and lots of nutrient-dense, delicious food. She–and the babies–will thank you! I have also made a FAQ for relatives of MOMs (mothers of multiples) that might help you discover other ways to help.

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The C&D Twinalicious Relatives of MOMs (Mothers of Multiples) FAQ

March 20th, 2005 by Joyce

Since I am a mother to twins, people often ask me all kinds of twinny questions. “Do they have their own language?” people ask. Or, “Do they fight?” Sometimes people mention that a friend or relative is expecting twins, and they want to know how to be most helpful to the new family. That is the purpose of this FAQ.

My friend/relative is having a baby shower soon. She is expecting twins/multiples. What should I buy her?

At the beginning, the material items we used most included:

  • a good nursing pillow, so I could nurse C&D comfortably and simultaneously. I recommend the mommy-to-be try on a couple different models at a breastfeeding store like A Woman’s Work. We don’t use ours anymore (we outgrew it), but many mothers of multiples use their pillows for many months.
  • nursing shirts. Easy, civilized access to the babies’ lunch counter. You can find them at a breastfeeding store, various online stores, or even on eBay. I wore nursing shirts exclusively for the first several months.
  • a 1.5-liter water bottle. Nalgene calls theirs the Silo, and you can find it at REI. A mother nursing or pumping for twins will eventually make about 64 ounces of milk every day; that means she needs that much extra water in addition to what she should already be drinking, plus over 1,000 extra calories. A large water bottle will help keep Mom hydrated (she won’t have time to stand at the sink and keep filling a smaller bottle!). Several 1-liter bottles will ensure that she always has a clean one to fill and stuff in the diaper bag, backpack, or stroller when the family is getting ready to go out.
  • an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper. It didn’t work for us as a sidecar crib, but made an excellent and spacious changing table for the living room, and it allowed us to change both babes at once. At 14 months, we are still using ours as a changing table.
  • LED headlamps. REI has a large selection to choose from. It’s an unconventional baby gift, but the headlamps allowed us to tend to and diaper babies without turning on all the lights in the house. This kept us calmer, and prevented us all from turning our sleep cycles upside down. At 14 months, we are still using our headlamps.
  • a white noise device. On iTunes we found a track of a waterfall–no music, just water. Actually, it sounds a bit like a fast-running stream. We put it on my MP3 player, where it cycles all night. The white noise helps prevent us from waking each other up; this is especially important for us since the babies are both light sleepers. If you don’t have an MP3 player or a way to set it up, you can also try a white noise machine, or a CD alarm clock that can run on repeat. We have one in the bedroom that has so far been repeating the same CD nonstop since November (and I’m writing this in March).
  • two baby carriers. Even now, at 14 months, my babies still prefer to be carried than to ride in a stroller. And when David is feeling a little clingy, I just strap him on and continue to go about my day. Their view is better, and they can interact with the world boldly, yet securely. If you or your friend/relative is new to babywearing, a gift certificate might be a good start.
  • tens and twenties. As in, cash. We have had an impressive array of unexpected expenses related to raising C&D. Gifts of cash will help the parents purchase what they need, when they need it, without worrying about the cost. Clever shopping will help your monetary gifts stretch even further if the parents-to-be shop at eBay or consignment stores.

We didn’t need, and often didn’t use:

  • infant outfits. My heart breaks at the sight of all the sleepers, outfits, hats, and other baby clothing that my babes didn’t wear. You probably know how hard it is to get out of the house with a newborn; it is exponentially harder for families with twins. So what were all the outfits for if we weren’t going to go anywhere? Furthermore, we were so busy–and so much wanted our tiny little babes to be comfortable and cozy–that we really just kept our babes in onesies or soft, easily-changed cotton sleepers. Resist the urge to dress up the babies like princesses or superstar athletes and get the family something from the list above, or, better yet, give a gift of your time (see below).
  • burp cloths. The baby will urp wherever the burp cloth is NOT. Better just to get the new mom and dad some extra help with the laundry.
  • diaper bags. We kept a few extra blankets, clothes, and diapers in the car (along with a portable potty). In my backpack (I don’t use a purse) I carry a couple of diapers, a notebook, some wipes, and a small assortment of other baby-related items. And that’s it. Why do I need to lug around a diaper bag?

We also benefited from the following services:

  • Diet Gourmet. I’m not on a diet, of course, but Diet Gourmet guaranteed that this perpetually starving new mommy had access to healthful food, even when I didn’t have time to make it myself. A mother nursing twins needs as much calories per day as a marathon runner, or a new recruit going through basic training. Eating becomes a chore, cooking even more so. Access to some fresh, nutritious food could make all the difference in the new mother’s outlook–and the health of the babies.
  • massage, before and after. A regular massage on my growing, changing body helped keep my body limber and ready for labor. TLC to the mother’s body after the birth is important, as well–after picking up babies all day, my back hurts more now than it did when I was pregnant.
  • a Mother’s Helper for the first year (or longer). Since our families live far away, having a Mother’s Helper was a lot like renting an auntie–she was a companion on shopping excursions, helped rock our little babes to sleep, ensured I could shower, and in general became the extra pair of hands that we so often wish we have with a baby at home. While this kind of help was a large financial commitment, babies and parents benefited from a comfortable, well-kept home and lots of love and attention.
  • rental of a baby scale from a breastfeeding store. It can be hard to know how much milk a baby might be ingesting, and parents of twins want to be especially sure that the mother’s milk production is easily meeting demand, and that the babes have both learned to latch on and eat correctly. A scale is an inexpensive form of insurance for the nursing relationship, and it’s exciting to have an idea of how much milk the babes are drinking every day.

The babies are coming soon! What can I do to help?

How lucky the family is to have you! Here are some ways you can help the family prepare for the big event:

  • Clean up. Mom and Dad are going to want to get the house ready, but . . . have you ever seen Shamu mop? Right. Mom might be on bed rest, uncomfortable, or experiencing contractions with any prolonged effort. She might not be able to bend down or stand for long periods of time. Offer to clean up, or if that doesn’t suit your fancy, hire a cleaning service for her.
  • Cook. Mom is probably hungry; she needs about 1,000 extra calories a day to keep her twins growing strong. If Mom doesn’t eat everything, freeze it; she will be happy to have the food available to her later.
  • Go shopping. Let Mom and Dad send you out on errands; chances are, it’s difficult for Mom to get out of the house, and she’s probably keeping Dad pretty busy.
  • Take Dad’s clothes to the cleaners. Or iron them yourself. When Dad returns to work, “I just had twins” won’t be a sufficient reason to excuse away rumpled collars and pinched pants. A big supply of crisp, freshly-ironed shirts will help Dad look sharp even though sleepless nights have him feeling a little dull.

The babies are here! What can I do to help?

Sometimes, friends and relatives can come into the new parents’ home and despite their best intentions become more of a hindrance than a help. This is uncomfortable and downright stressful to the new family. And anyway, you want to be invited back, don’t you? Here are some tips to ensure that you can keep the family’s baby moon burning bright:

  • Don’t call the hospital. A couple of different times while I was trying to get some much, much-needed sleep, the phone rang at my bedside table at the hospital. Worried and thinking it was Matt, I painfully stretched out to answer the phone. It was not Matt. Please don’t call. The parents of any new baby will be tired, parents of multiples more so. Hospital stays are already so full of interruptions from nurses and doctors. Be considerate and quietly stay by the phone; you will receive a call when the family is ready to call you. Until then, let the new family get some rest. They need it.
  • Don’t ever, ever grab the bab(ies) away, regardless of how excited you are to see them. We teach children not to grab things out of another’s hand, but when we first see a brand new little babe, it’s hard sometimes for friends and family to resist taking him or her into their arms. However, that new little babe–or those new little babies–are their parents’ greatest treasure. Remember that treasure deserves respect, as do the keepers of the treasure. Wait for the parents to give the baby to you, if they wish for you to hold her.
  • Respect the time that mother and children are taking for each other. This is especially important in the case of a c-section (common in multiple births) or after a recent NICU stay (also common in multiple births). Mommy misses her babies, and the babies miss their mommy. Help them get reacquainted and relax with each other. After all, is there any better sight?
  • Make sure the babes maintain lots of cozy skin-to-skin contact with Mom. They need to smell her, hear her, taste her. With her is where they are happiest, and under the least amount of stress. This is especially important if the babes were born early.
  • Do what you can to help keep the atmosphere calm and quiet. Sure, you are excited. But you are also well-rested, well-fed, and have not just experienced childbirth. Keep the atmosphere calm and peaceful, both for the sake of the tired, busy mother, and the babies. This is especially important if the babes were born a bit early; they might be a little sensitive to your overly enthusiastic or foreign voice.
  • Be willing to help Mom latch the babies on. Breastfeeding two at once takes coordination on the part of Mom and babies, and if Mom is sore or babies are frantic, nursing will be especially challenging.
  • If you are visiting, pick up after yourself. In fact, if you really want to be invited back, find ways to leave the place even cleaner than when you found it. Take off your shoes when you walk inside. Mop the floors, wash your sheets, wipe up the bathroom, do dishes, whatever needs to be done. The family will appreciate the effort, and Mom will be able to relax.
  • Cook or purchase food. The new family has no time for cooking, and delivered pizza isn’t the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions. Even if Mom is not nursing her multiples, she is busy, busy, busy and needs her strength quick, quick, quick. Seek nourishing, nutritious foods to help keep her and Daddy functioning and happy! One of the greatest things my mom did for me when night when the babies were first born was make an enchilada dinner. After days of bland hospital food, the enchiladas tasted of culinary Nirvana. Speaking of hospital food, if you are going to visit the family in the hospital, bring something in. The hospital food is nothing special to speak of, and for mothers of multiples, never enough calories. Hospitals are often surrounded by junky fast-food joints, so consider bringing something fresh and interesting.
  • Do laundry. It builds up fast.
  • Don’t call or visit and talk about work. Mom and Dad might pretend to be interested, but, really, they are not, and probably are too tired to remember the conversation, anyway. And why bother Mom and Dad over something they have no control over?

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Pictures

March 1st, 2005 by Joyce



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