Sunday, August 11, 2013

twin wisdom

The other day I met a woman during storytime at the museum. She observed my boys for a bit and then confessed that she is pregnant with twins (funny enough, she also has a daughter named Maya!). She asked me if I had any advice for her and at first I said no but on further thought I realized that I do have some ideas and lessons learned that I would've appreciated knowing before Benjamin and Corrigan made their appearance. I hesitate to share lest I come off as knowledgeable and experienced (au contraire!), but if this stuff can prove helpful to anyone else out there then that would make me happy.
Here are some thoughts and things that worked for me:

Eat a lot. Don't worry about gaining weight. Carrying multiples is so very different from a singleton. And rest. Really. Don't feel guilty and don't think you're wasting your time. If you can sleep or at least put your feet up, do it!
Read as much as you can to prepare for this. Some books I found helpful were:
Having Twins and More: A Parent's Guide to Multiple Pregnancy, Birth and Early Childhood by Elizabeth Noble
When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads; Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke
Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada

Everyone says that you need to flexible and open when it comes to your birthing experience because things rarely go the way you want them to. And while I believe that is true, I also think there are definitely things you can do to prepare yourself. Some people find birthing classes to be helpful, others hire a doula to support them through the process. I think sometimes it can be helpful to hear other women's birth stories to give you an idea of what it could be like.

My story: I was determined to take my babies full term and have them naturally and vaginally, but it seemed that wouldn't be possible; I had some bleeding in my second trimester and was diagnosed with placenta previa. I had birthed my fist child, my daughter, with a midwife in a birth center and was already disappointed that with the twins I was being pushed into a hospital birth with an OB, so the news that I would also need to have a C-section was a bit crushing. Because we all have this ideal that we're striving for and though we try to be flexible it can still be a tremendous let-down if things don't go the way we want, right?
But you know what? In the end I didn't need that C-section.
On my doula's recommendation I had a few acupuncture visits in an attempt to move my placenta and it may have actually worked. Though I went into labor at 35 weeks (I had been hoping I could make it to 40!) I was able to birth my boys naturally and vaginally, just like I wanted. After my water broke and I arrived at the hospital, an ultrasound technician was called in to analyze the location of my placenta and determine whether or not it had moved enough and whether a c-section was truly necessary. The doctors and technicians all stepped outside the room to discuss my fate and while they were out there my body just slipped into high gear. I got slammed with super-hard contractions and the urge to push. By the time the pros slipped back into the room to announce they were sending me down to the OR I was already crowning. The midwife and doula had me covered, though. Out came Benjamin, followed 6 minutes later by double footling breech Corrigan. All natural, right out the wazoo. Zero problems with my placenta. It was one of the most amazing and miraculous things I have ever done in my life.
If I had ended up having a C-section it certainly wouldn't have been the end of the world. I was prepared to do it, really, I was. But I'm happy that I was able to avoid it. I know not everyone's birth experience can be the way they want it to be and I don't share my story to say that there is no place for C-sections or that I had my ideal birth. But I have a lot of respect for the human mind and body. I think my meditation practice and the acupuncture were key in helping me to have the kind of birth I wanted. But who knows? Those things may have had nothing to do with it and it may have been dumb luck. I'm glad things happened the way they did, but I'm even more grateful that those boys arrived safely and in good health.

My Brest Friend Twins Deluxe Nursing pillow
This nursing pillow came in really handy for the first three months. I don't know how else you could support both babies and tandem nurse. I highly recommend this - it is large and cumbersome and I didn't use it after three months, but nursing just one at a time with a regular pillow or Boppy would mean you are nursing constantly, so this is super helpful.

TwinGo baby carrier

I'm a huge advocate of babywearing and I was thrilled when I discovered that a local mom had created this brilliantly-designed twin carrier. It is very similar to an Ergo but with a front panel in addition to the back. I carry the boys in this all the time. It is how I get them from the house to the car (I live in the city and need to park on the street and sometimes it is a bit of a trek to get there), how I get them to calm down, how I get anything done around the house while they're fussy... it has been a godsend to me.

Double baby stroller

I wanted a sturdy, good quality side-by-side stroller, but nice, new ones are so pricey, so I resorted to getting a used Valco off of Craig's List. It is sturdy, comparable in value to a Bob's stroller and we have gotten quite a bit of use out of it - it has proven effective over bumpy city sidewalks as well as off-roading. Truthfully, if I had to do it all over I probably would've opted for a Bob's because there are a few design elements of the Valco that irk me (the under carriage basket is extremely hard to access and the buckle closures get caught when folding up the stroller and break). I have never tried the front and back stroller (like a Phil&Ted's or City Mini) with the twins. While it may be easier to navigate through doorways, I like the idea of the boys being side-by-side.

I get a lot of Oh, you have your hands full
or That's double trouble right there
or Two for the price of one!
When you have twins you get used to a certain amount of celebrity-ism. It's mostly cute and benign.
And everyone who is a twin or has twins or knows a twin let's me know about it.
There are a lot of twins out there these days!
But I am partial to these ones:

Having twins is really fun. Except for when it's not. Like when they're both screaming and crying and you can only comfort one at a time, or when one sets the other one off, or when they take off in opposite directions or when they both have blowouts at the same time (you might be surprised by how often this actually happens) or when you are in a public restroom and you don't know where to put them or when you're flying on an airplane or managing them both when you're in a restaurant...  oh my, there are lots of tough times.
But there are good times. Mine usually sleep at the same time, which is a truly sweet sight:
Sometimes people shake their heads a say I don't know how you do it but the thing is, you just do. It isn't ever easy. Ever. But it is so cool. Having two at once is a joyful, wondrous thing. 
Some people say that the first two years are the most challenging and then they start to entertain and play with each other and in some ways it becomes easier. I'm not necessarily counting on it, but I am hopeful!

That's it, I guess. It's not much, but those are some of my thoughts. Let me know if you have any other pieces of advice to add!


ginger said...

I have a friend who had twins a couple of years ago called them "the BOGOs" during her pregnancy and their infancy. An amusing twist on two-for-one.

Alyson said...

Loved what you had to say. I'm a friend of Ginger's who had twins a few months ago. I felt so inspired reading about somebody who had just had twins. I agree with everything that you wrote. All of those items are so critical. And you're right- somehow you just do it and you survive.

Alyson said...
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Hailey said...

I love this post. For obvious reasons. I still can't believe we both had twins. My girls STILL poop at the same time. Blows my mind!