Category

Twins

Category

Identical vs. Fraternal Twins: A Short Lesson in Biology

I dedicate this post to future twin mothers everywhere.  The majority of the population has no idea what the actual differences are between identical vs. fraternal twins.  As a twin mom, myself, I am begging anyone who reads this to share it with others so we can educate those around us.  Knowledge is power.

Introduction

I am a proud mother of fraternal boy/girl twins and like every mother of twins, I am constantly asked whether my twins are identical or fraternal.  I am not sure why but there is a ton of confusion that exists on this topic. Even some highly educated people do not actually know the difference between the two.  I am the last person in the world who should be teaching a biology class but this is one subject that I know about from personal experience so grab a pen and pad or open up your notes app in your iPhone and be prepared to be schooled.  The following information reflects the two most common types of twins. There are some very rare twin types as well as different genetic mutations that may result in exceptions to these rules.

Part One

Identical twins are ALWAYS the same gender.  This is true without exception.  Identical twins are virtually an exact genetic match for one another.  Their cells are primarily the same in every single way.  That is why people who are not around them on a daily basis have trouble telling them apart from one another.  Boy/girl twins are always fraternal twins.  This is not up for debate.  It is fact. 

Part Two

If a parent tells you that their twins are actually fraternal and not identical, you should believe them.  I know this sounds blatantly obvious but many people have asked me if my twins are identical and I would tell them no and they would often follow up with the question:  “Are you sure because they look a lot alike?”  I believe some of their confusion stems from the fact that because fraternal twins are siblings, they often do look a lot alike. Plus, fraternal twins often look even more alike than other siblings do because they are exactly the same age.  I think if any non-twin siblings were exactly the same age that they would look more alike as well.

Part Three

When does a woman know if she is carrying identical vs fraternal twins?   The answer to this question varies on a case by case basis.  Identical twins, come from just one embryo that is inexplicably replicated.  This is why identical twins look almost exactly alike because they actually came from the exact same sperm and the exact same egg.   It is sometimes harder to determine if twins are identical on an ultrasound but typically the answer can be determined by the end of the first trimester. However, in rare instances, it cannot be determined until after the twins are actually born.

Fraternal twins, on the other hand are easier to spot.  Fraternal twins come from two different eggs and two different sperm and are genetically just like any normal siblings. The only difference is that they experience gestation together and are born together. Typically during ovulation, women drop one egg each month but when a woman gets pregnant with multiples, she drops more than one egg at a time.  As a result, more than one egg has the opportunity to get fertilized resulting in her getting pregnant with multiples.

Conclusion

To recap:

  1. Identical twins are the same gender.
  2. Twin parents know whether they have identical or fraternal twins so when they tell you, believe them.
  3. Identical twins are a result of an embryo split into two
  4. Fraternal twins are a result of more than one egg being fertilized at the same time
  5. Fraternal twins are genetically no more alike than regular brothers and sisters.

Extra Credit

Please… PLEASE never under any circumstances ask a mom of twins the following question:  “Are your twins natural or artificial?”  First of all, whether parents needed the help of a doctor to conceive their twins or not, is really none of your business.  If a twin mom volunteers this information to you, that’s one thing but if she doesn’t just be happy for her and don’t give it another thought.  Secondly, I assure you that if a woman did require medical help in order to conceive her twins, those children are a real as any other children.  They are by no means artificial.

Twin Baby Registry Items – My Must Haves

Registering for a new baby is overwhelming but registering for twins is even more so.  What do we really need?  Do we need to buy two of something or can we get by with just one?  I compiled a list of some of my favorite Twin Baby Registry items that I couldn’t live without. Check it out below!

The links in this article are all Amazon affiliate links.

Let’s start with feeding!

Feeding   

Bottle Warmers: Dr. Brown’s Bottle Warmer

I bought 2 bottle warmers and I loved them.  During the night if I was pumping and had cold milk in the fridge,  having the bottle warmers was a Godsend.  Within a few short minutes – and believe me that’s all that you have – you have a nice warm ready to drink bottle and having two allows you to warm up two bottles at once so no baby has to wait any longer than they have to!

Bottle Sterilizer:  Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Sterilizer

Do you know how many bottles twins drink each day before they are on solid foods?  A LOT!  To effectively sterilize bottles in the dishwasher for reuse takes an hour but with a bottle sterilizer the process takes just a few minutes.  You only need to buy one of these.

Bottles:  Dr Browns Natural Flow Standard Bottles

I had boy/girl twins so having blue and pink bottles for easy differentiation was awesome.  They have clear and purple bottles too so if you have boy/boy and girl/girl twins you are also covered.  These are nice bottles.  I’d recommend buying a 3 pack for each baby.  This will be enough given that nice sterilizer you are getting!  I used these bottles more when the twins were between 6 and 12 months old and used the Medela bottles that came with my breast pump the majority of the time prior to that.  Also, part of my decision to go with Dr. Browns was because they have nipples by age that have gradually larger openings as baby grows.  Being a new Mom, I thought it made sense and the twins seemed to like it.

Breast Pump:  Medela Freestyle Breast Pump

There are a lot of breast pumps out there.  I decided on Medela because of feedback from other Moms, my own research, and overall name recognition.  I decided to spring for the freestyle model after a long internal debate with myself!  It’s more expensive than the pump in style model but it also has more features.   I used a rental commercial grade pump from the hospital after delivery for the first month until I felt my supply was strong enough.  Then, I started using the Medela Freestyle which was SO much more comfortable and portable than the commercial one!  I really liked this pump.  It’s easy to clean and easy to use. It’s also relatively quiet as pumps go.  Many insurances will refund the purchase price for your pump too so definitely look into that as well!  I also purchased a set of extra Medela bottles to use with the pump.

Burp Clothes: Gerber Birdseye 3-Ply Prefold Cloth Diapers

There are a ton of small, less functional, but much more stylish burp cloths on the market.  You can certainly buy those but get a pack of these as well.  These are large and completely cover your shoulder and this great coverage will save your clothing over and over again.  One baby spits up a lot but two – yikes. Believe me.  Buy these!  They come in a 10 pack so one is probably enough to go with all those pretty ones that people will buy you!

High Chairs:  Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1

I, again, opted for a grow with me option for our high chairs and I would still recommend going in this direction for new twin parents.  At 2 years old, our twins decided that they no longer wanted to sit in high chairs much to our dismay.  However, the grow with me high chairs are the same price as the ones that do not convert so I would still advocate getting this type.  Unfortunately as with things like car seats and high chairs, you need to buy 2.  

No Spill Snack Containers:  Nuby 3 Pack Snack Keepers

I love these!  Twins are messy and I’m not going to say that these containers prevent every mess but they definitely help you play some defense!  They keep things like Cheerios, Goldfish Crackers, and Grapes from spilling ALL over your floors in the house and in the car.  I’d buy 4 containers – 2 for each twin!  They also make kids feel a little more grown up since they can hold the containers and feed themselves.

On To Diapering…

Diapering   

Changing Pad:  Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad

Stores sell changing tables that you can buy that match your nursery furniture and these look very nice but after a year, what are you going to do with a changing table?  I am all about buying a changing pad to put on top of the baby’s dresser for a makeshift changing station.  They work well and they are inexpensive.  Buy 2 total – one for each twin.  You’ll probably only use them for a year or less.  After that, you’ll be more likely to do diaper changes on the couch, the bed, or the floor.

Changing Pad Cover:  Summer Infant Changing Pad Cover

These are great and are easily washable when babies make a mess.  For 1 baby I’d buy 2 but for twins I’d buy 4 and keep washing and swapping!

Diapers for Babies:  Pampers Swaddlers

I admit it.  I was totally brand loyal to Pampers from Newborn to 1 year.  Little ones need diaper changes all the time and Pampers swaddlers have that awesome blue line indicator letting you know if the baby is wet.  Newborns go through 10 diapers per day on average so double that for twins.  I’d start with 2 boxes of 128 newborn diapers if your twins are of average birth weights and more if they are smaller.  You don’t want to buy too many at first as babies grow fast and will probably be in size 1 diapers relatively quickly.

Diapers for Toddlers:  Huggies Little Movers

Now that I have toddlers, I am totally brand loyal to Huggies. I like the diaper fit for toddlers better than Pampers and they are cheaper – so bonus there as well!  Huggies Little Movers also have the Disney designs my toddlers love.  Now that diaper changes are less frequent, the Pampers blue indicator strip really isn’t as important.

Next Up… Bed and Bath

Bed and Bath   

Pajamas

I have to be honest, my twins were comfortable in pajamas so they wore pajamas almost exclusively early on.  People are going to buy you clothes because everyone loves to buy cute baby clothes but definitely register for and/or buy yourself some comfy cotton pajamas with feet from size Newborn through 12 months.  You’ll be happy you have them on hand in the house as babies change sizes so quickly when they are little.  I’d have as many sets of pajamas per twin on hand as possible because from what I’ve found you will change your twins at least 3 times per day.  It’s amazing how easily they ruin a good outfit.  If you are like me and pajamas become your clothing of choice, I would get 6 sets of pajamas per twin.

Swaddle Blankets 0 – 3 Months:  SwaddleMe Original Swaddle

I loved SwaddleMe Swaddle blankets from newborn until we stopped swaddling – which I believe was around the 3 month mark or slightly thereafter.  SwaddleMe blankets give you the perfect, easy swaddle, keeping babies warm and comfortable. Plus the Velcro holds the blanket nicely in place.  I’d buy at least 3 of these each per baby.

Swaddle Blankets Over 3 Months:  HALO Early Walker SleepSack

Once the babies no longer needed to be swaddled, I moved to halo sleep sacks with feet.  I love these.  They provide the ability for babies to easily move their arms, legs, hands, and feet and are a nice blanket at night since babies cannot use the traditional kind.  Halo sleep sacks also come in fleece which are great for the winter months.  I bought 3 each per baby in cotton and 3 each in fleece.

Baby Monitor:  Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor with 2 Cameras

I like our baby monitor which we still use now with our toddlers.  I think that any baby monitor with two cameras would suit your needs.  But we’ve used this one every single night for 2 1/2 years and have never had a problem so I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Bath Tub:  Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Grow-with-Me Tub

The Fisher-Price 4 in 1 Grow with Me Tub was awesome!  I loved the newborn canvas hammock sling that sits in the water. My newborns were comfortable and I felt safe bathing them in it.  I loved the second stage that supported the babies whent they were not quite ready to sit up but wanted to kick and enjoy the tub.  I loved the little chair for the older baby.  This tub seriously was great.

Body Pillow:  Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow

When you are pregnant with twins, sleeping really gets to be tough especially late in the pregnancy.  Using this body pillow definitely helped me feel as comfortable as humanly possible so buy it now!

Pack N Play / Playard:  Ingenuity Smart and Ridgedale Simple Playard

We bought two of these.  The reason we went with the Ingenuity Playard is because it had a changing station and a bassinet. We have a colonial home so we thought we’d have the playards downstairs and the cribs upstairs.  This worked well.  We never used them after the twins turned one, though.  However, I know that a lot of people do.

On the Go   

Let’s Get Going with Some On The Go Items

Infant Carrier Car Seats:  Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 Infant Car Seat

If your twins are of good birth weights, I would love to advocate skipping the infant carrier car seats all together because I try to be really practical with things and prefer to purchase items that grow with your child whenever possible. But when I think about how little newborns are, even when born at healthy birth weights, I feel like they do need to be in infant carriers for a while.  We went with the Graco click connect model which clips directly into the Graco click connect stroller that we also have.  I think the click connect is especially awesome if you have your twins during spring or summer.  My twins were born in late September.  It was a cold fall and a really bad snowy winter so we didn’t connect our seats to our stroller all too often but I liked both the seats and stroller as separate items and I know that I would have used them together more if it wasn’t so cold.

Convertible Car Seats:  Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

We love the Graco Extend to Fit car seats and so do our kids.  Padded and comfortable with dual cup holders – given the twins always want both a snack and a drink this feature is huge, these car seats are large and roomy.   They can be rear or forward facing.  Plus, they have adjustable headrests and a booster option to use as they grow.

Diaper Bag:  Skip Hop Duo Double Signature Diaper Bag

Twins sure do need a lot of stuff and this Skip Hop Duo diaper bag holds all of that stuff very well.  Do I wish it were bigger? At times, yes, but it’s the biggest one that I found that was not a suitcase.  It has tons of pockets and compartments and a changing pad.  Plus, it fits really nicely over the handle of your stroller so that was a nice option.  Love this bag and I still use it.

Stroller:  Graco Fastaction Fold Duo Click Connect Stroller

We chose the Graco click connect stroller and even if you’re like me and don’t connect your infant carriers to it that often, it’s still a very nice stroller.  I kept going back and forth about whether to buy a side by side stroller or a tandem stroller.  I chose to go with the side by side when I read that this stroller easily fits through doors and down grocery aisles, etc. and it does.  I decided against tandem because I felt like the poor twin in the back of the tandem doesn’t get to see much of what’s going on while riding in the backseat.  This was a nice stroller.  It’s not terribly heavy and it rides very nice.

Umbrella Strollers:  Urbini Hummingbird Stroller

The Hummingbird by Urbini – OMG!  I love these strollers!  They are the lightest strollers ever but are also solid and well-made at the very same time.  They are adorable looking too. I bought them before our first trip to Disney World and totally recommend them for travel or any time you have another adult around that is willing to push one alongside you.  Easily changes direction when in mid-stride.  Has a reclining option for sleepy toddlers.  I also purchased a canvas cup and snack tray that Velcro to the front and a parent snack and drink tray that Velcros to the back.

Time for some Fun Items…

Fun  

Evenflo Exersaucer Bounce and Learn and Fisher-Price Roarin’ Rainforest Jumperoo

Exersauser and Jumperoo.  Truth be told, I would either get one of each of these items or I’d get two of your favorite one.  If you go with just getting one kind, I’d lean toward the Exersaucer because it has a mat option for little ones to play with before they are ready to be placed in the actual saucer so you can use it for longer.  When babies are unable to move on their own, they and you will welcome the break that the Exersaucer and Jumperoo provide!  My twins logged a ton of time in their Exersausers and there is nothing like seeing your kids in a Jumperoo.  It may be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

 

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Twins Arrived

  1. There’s Such A Thing As Twin Mommy Guilt
    We are all familiar with traditional Mommy guilt which typically results in a Mother feeling guilty that she isn’t giving her baby enough of herself.  However, on top of this traditional Mom guilt, the Twin Mom often feels Twin Mommy guilt too.  To explain Twin Mommy guilt I am going to state what is blatantly obvious here.  Newborn babies are extremely needy and it’s a pure numbers game. There are two of them and only one of you and both twins will regularly need Mommy at the very same time.  In the beginning, I felt constantly torn because I couldn’t be one baby’s everything all of the time. I felt like I was constantly failing at being a Mom because instead of devoting all of myself to one child, I had to play a never ending tennis match between two.  People with more than one child of different ages will tell you that they too have experienced this kind of Mom guilt.  But trust me when I tell you, they have not.  I am not saying that these Moms do not feel guilty about having to address the needs of one child over the other but it isn’t exactly the same thing.  Newborns do not understand English.  They also do not know what it means to wait their turn and they cannot exactly be reasoned with.  Plus, they are tiny.  So, if you are making them wait for something that is pivotal to their existence like food, you, their Mom, will also stress out as a result.   However, Twin Mommy, please try to give yourself a break.  Understand that you are only one person and that you can only do the best that you can.  You are nurturing from a place of love and trust me when I tell you that your babies will feel that love every single day.
  2. One Twin Might Like To Breastfeed And The Other Might Not
    My daughter loved to breastfeed.  After each nursing session she looked similar to a little puppy who just got her back scratched.  She was perfectly content, comfortable and happy.  My son, on the other hand, was never a fan of it.  He was a hungry little man and preferred the speed of the bottle. Plus, it didn’t help that I was unable to master nursing both babies at once.  Before my twins arrived, my cousin, who is also a Mother of twins, had given me her twin nursing pillow to use.  I just naively believed that once the twins arrived and they needed to eat that I would  just use this magical nursing pillow that she gave me and I wouldn’t have any problems.    Let me explain how feeding time actually went down.  I would have two twins hungrily crying.  I would successfully, almost easily, get one twin to latch on.  Then, while attempting to get the other twin to latch, the first twin would unlatch.  Then, I would work to get the first twin back on and the second twin would unlatch.  So basically the process would get both twins increasing upset and would just result in all three of us crying the end. So, I ended up pumping a lot more than I had originally thought that I would have.  Basically my advice, twin Mom to-be, is to have a plan going in but to adapt in real-time to whatever situation comes up.  Accept that when raising twins, it is truly their world and you as their Mom are just merely living in it.  
  3. Don’t Lift A Finger For Your Guests.
    After you give birth to your two little miracles, family and friends will be chomping at the bit to come and meet them.  I am not taking away from the sweetness of this experience because it is truly wonderful that so many people love you and your new babies.  However, my first piece of advice to the new twin Mommy is to be selective.  Your friend’s Mother’s friend’s sister should not be coming over to meet your twins in the first few weeks – maybe not ever but that’s entirely up to you.  I would keep visitors down to just close family and friends only.  Your twins are going to here for a while and those who are not that close to you will get their chance to meet them eventually if it is truly important to them.  Next — when guests visit, do not be the hostess with the mostess.  People will not judge you for what you are not doing during this time as they will be too busy oohing and ahhing over the babies.  And if anyone actually does judge you, they can walk out the door that they just walked in at anytime they’d like.  If you are in your pajamas when your guests arrive, that is perfectly 100% okay.  Before having twins, I always was the quintessential hostess; offering food and beverages to my guests and ensuring they were comfortable.  You have only two house guests that matter during the beginning stages and these are your twins.  So, unless you are offering the twins the breast or the bottle, stay seated and don’t lift a finger. Empathetic friends and family members will actually be the ones to bring YOU food during this time.  God bless those people.
  4. You Will Be Unable To Take Care Of Your Own Personal Needs But You Must.  You are going to be caring for two little people who are going to be demanding of literally 100% of your time.  It is going to be hard to find a few moments to do the things that normal people totally take for granted like shower or prepare food.  However, you have to keep in mind that you have to take care of yourself at least a little bit and it is by no means selfish of you to do so.  Those babies are nothing without you and you have to have enough strength to care for them.  Plus, if you are nursing you have to eat enough calories each day in order to be physically able to produce their milk.  So, make sure that food is easily accessible and if you don’t have time to sit down to eat a large meal then graze regularly.  I am not embarrassed to say I survived on a lot of takeout during the first few months.  So, keep those takeout menus handy and make sure you tell anyone who will listen what your favorite meal numbers are at all the fast food joints within a 10 mile radius.
  5. You Will Constantly Be Thinking That Having Just One Baby Is Incredibly Easy.  If you are a two parent family, when the twins are born, you are immediately put into a man-to-man defense situation.  This means you really don’t get to take a break and if you do, your partner will be thwarted into zone defense against an extremely high powered and demanding twin offense.  When it’s a two-parent to one-baby scenario, there is an opportunity to take turns.  With twins, you often find yourself thinking of saying something similar to the following to your partner: “Hun, I’m just going to take a quick shower would you mind watching the twins for a few?” And before that otherwise harmless phrase even leaves your lips, guilt will swarm in because you realize what watching two newborns alone entails and you decide that you’re really not that dirty after all.
  6. Twins Give You A Full Blown License To Cut Corners.
    My advice is to cut corners in every aspect of your life that your budget will allow.  Get your groceries delivered.   Hire a maid service.   If you are unable to do so indefinitely, consider hiring one for the first 3 months.  Hire a plow driver if it’s winter or a lawn service if it’s spring.  Hire a personal chef.  And no, I could not personally afford all of these things but whatever you can afford to farm out, do it.  My twins are 2 1/2 now and I still get my groceries delivered.  And I can’t stress this enough: always recruit the free help of friends and family in any capacity in which they are willing to provide it.
  7. You Will Be More Exhausted Than You Can Ever Imagine.
    I’m sorry to say this but I will never be able to adequately put into words the level of exhaustion you will feel during the first few months of twin parenting.  I was never in the military but I would compare it to boot camp and your twins are the drill sergeants, waking you at 0100 hours, 0200 hours, 0300 hours; well, you get it.  But my advice is to do whatever you can do to just get through it.  If you are nursing and you have a partner, have that partner bring the babies to you to nurse when they cry. Saving yourself just a few steps may not seem like much but energy adds up and trust me, save all of the energy that you can whenever you can.  I know everyone will say: when the twins sleep, you sleep. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work.  Exhaustion is a nasty adversary.  At the times you may be actually able to get sleep, your body might be trying to fight it. Plus, when the babies are sleeping you can actually have the ability to get things done like laundry or food prep. or cleaning, etc.  My advice is to have just one daily objective outside of childcare and keep that objective very small.  Daily objectives include doing one load of laundry – yes, just one, making a salad that would last you for a few days, washing and cutting up fruit that you can easily grab when you are hungry etc.
  8. You Will Probably Be Scared To Be Alone With Both Twins Initially.
    I would have never thought in a million years that being alone with my own children would have scared the heck out of me but initially it did.  You fully realize your limits when you become a Mom of twins.  Before twins, I was the person everyone could lean on.  My typical week consisted of countless projects at work, baking 200 cookies for my nephew’s birthday party, making my own pillow cases for my living room throw pillows, working out daily, and always being available to do any favor for anyone at any point in time.  Well, all of that has completely changed.  I mentioned before that when you have twins that you are going to be tired.  When you are tired you will not be operating at full capacity and also when you are tired there is more of a chance for accidents to happen.   Having another pair of eyes, another set of arms, and/or another person to talk to, will be more valuable than gold during the first few months.
  9. It Will Take You Hours Of Preparation To Leave The House And You Will Need To Pack At Least 2 Bags When You Do.
    As a result, you’ll probably feel that leaving your house, unless it is mandatory, is something you’d rather avoid.  It’s just not worth it.  It’s hard as it is to have every gadget, blanket, toy, diapering tool, bottle, etc. at your disposal, never mind when you have to play survivor baby and decide which items are going to be voted off your filled to the brim diaper bags. Unless it’s necessary, stay home and have people come to you initially.
  10. Life Is Probably Not Going To Be How You Pictured It.  Throughout my twin pregnancy, I dreamed of the day my twins would arrive.  I pictured myself staring adoringly at their perfect little faces, watching them in complete awe as they slept, contemplating what they were dreaming about, and constantly wondering how I could be so blessed.  I was convinced that I was going to enjoy every single part of the baby stage with them – documenting everything in a baby book and taking a million pictures.  Honestly, I did adore my twins because they were mine.  They truly were the little miracles that I had always dreamed about. However, I didn’t really have many opportunities to stare at them adoringly and I definitely wasn’t able to enjoy every minute of the baby stage as I had thought I would because I was too flipping tired.  I am here to tell you, prospective twin Mommy, that this is okay.  Don’t fret that you are missing it because you are so knee deep in twin care that you don’t have time to do much else.  You are doing exactly what you should be.  All of the things you are doing to care for your two bundles stems directly from how much you adore them and how much you are truly devoted to them.

 

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Mothering Twins is JUST Doing Everything Twice – I Beg to Differ!

“When Mothering twins, you just have to do everything twice” is probably the biggest understatement you’ll ever hear from other people when you are pregnant with twins. Actually, there is zero truth to the statement and the people who tell you that never actually had twins themselves.

Here I was just a few days away from meeting my twins… excited, nervous, and clueless as to what was really ahead of me.

I remember people telling me when I was expecting… “You feed one, you feed two.”  “You nap one, you nap two.”  And people would say these things in a tone that insinuated that doing these things will be no big deal. You’re taking care of one baby’s needs so you might as well take care of two.  Well, I am here to tell you that it was A BIG DEAL and over two years later, it is STILL A BIG DEAL.

I must admit, however, that their line of thinking is completely accurate if my twins were say… house plants or even pet fish.  But my twins, luckily, are human BABIES.  Multiples may have been born together and some – not mine – may look exactly alike but they are individuals with individual needs and they have these individual needs at different times!  What do you think?  Do you think that they have daily meetings with each other and plan their days out?  “Okay sis, I’ll cry first.  Mom will feed me and you can patiently wait your turn.  Did the 10:00 am nap work for you yesterday, bro? You’re right, let’s do a 9:00 am nap today.”  Well, I assure you there are no meetings and that’s perfectly okay.  Honestly, it’s all okay until night falls.  When you add total and complete sleep deprivation to an already difficult situation, it becomes almost impossible for even the strongest of all human beings to hold it together.

My twins nestled in their swaddle blankets right after a 1:00 am feeding.

Let me tell you how an evening with twins actually goes down.  When babies are first born, they eat every two hours. Yes, EVERY TWO HOURS and the two hour clock starts at the beginning of each feeding… NOT AT THE END. Each feeding, which includes burping, a diaper change, and swaddling takes 45 minutes plus an additional 15 minutes to soothe the baby back to sleep putting you at a full hour.  So, ideally you get a one hour break between feedings, if you are lucky, before the entire process begins again.

Exhaustion is a funny thing.  I am very experienced in exhaustion but for the life of me, I still do not understand it.  When you are truly exhausted, you desperately crave sleep up until the very point that you can actually get some. When you know that you are able to get some much needed sleep, this wave of excitement – I am talking complete elation here – suddenly comes over you resulting in this rush of pure adrenaline taking over your body.  Then, you are totally, 100%, completely awake.

Let me explain further.  You sleepily go through the 45 minute exercise of feeding the babies, completely believing you may in fact drop dead of exhaustion on the floor of the nursery at any given time.   But you get through it somehow and then you ease the babies back to sleep.  And when your babies are sleeping – seriously there is not a more beautiful sight to see on this entire planet than that of your two peacefully sleeping angels – but at that moment is when the adrenaline starts to build.  You head back to your bed with a slight spring in your step and you excitedly lay down to go to sleep.

Then, when your head hits the pillow you are suddenly wide awake. You say to yourself… NO!  NO!  NO!  I can’t be wide awake.  This is my chance. This is my opportunity.  GO TO SLEEP!  And this internal dialogue actually makes it worse because now you begin to stress yourself out that you are not sleeping already and that you have wasted the precious nanoseconds of sleep that you could have had.

For a moment you contemplate not sleeping at all.  You think… 15 minutes have already gone by.  I have to get up in 45 minutes to feed the twins again anyway. If I fall asleep now, they will just wake me up in 45 minutes and I will feel even more tired than I do right now, if that is even possible.  How can that be possible? I’ve never been this tired before in my entire life.  It is physically impossible to feel any more tired than I already do.  But God… what if I am wrong?  Then I’ll be really screwed.  Okay so it’s settled… I’m going to stay wake.  Yes.  Staying awake is the answer.

Maybe someone will come visit us tomorrow and say those magic words… please… thank you… no, not those… the beautiful ones… you know the ones…how do they go again? Oh yeah… “You look tired.  How about I watch the twins for a little while and you can go upstairs and take a nap?  I brought you soup.  You can eat it after you wake up!” Yeah… those.  I told you they were magical.  Maybe someone nice will do that!  I know a lot of nice people.  Someone nice will do this for me.

What time is it?  Oh no.  It’s been another 15 minutes.  How could I have wasted so much time daydreaming of sleep when I could have been ACTUALLY sleeping!?  I only have a half hour left until one of them wants to eat again.  It’s okay… all of experts  – Dr. Oz… Dr. Phil… Oprah (is Oprah an expert?  It’s 2:32 am and I am officially deeming her an expert) – or maybe other people that I can’t think of right now – they always talk about the importance of power naps.  I’ll just take a power nap.  Yes… power naps are supposed to last just 20 minutes and luckily I have exactly 20 minutes.  Here we go off to dreaml- Damn it –  I have to pee.  No I don’t.  No, I’m fine.  I’ll just pull up the covers and turn onto my side until I…. zzzzzzzzzzzz.  WAAAAAHHHH!  What?!  He’s early.  I was supposed to get another 10 minutes.  So, yeah that scenario happened with little variation every night over and over for the first few months.

And I was lucky.  Let me give credit where credit is due.  I did have help.  I had a ton of it.  My parents… may God forever Bless them.  They stayed at my house night after night in the beginning and took shifts helping my husband and I during this process.  Granted I still had to be up for each feeding as I was the babies’ only food source (no pressure there) but my parents’ help was invaluable to me.

A tip for new moms of multiples or even singletons –  if people offer to help you, let them help you!  You might think you can handle it all yourself at the beginning but eventually it’ll catch up to you and be too much.  If you say “no” to the help when it is offered, people will stop asking so take them up on it immediately!

Having one newborn is difficult – especially when you are new parents.  You are learning on the fly.  As much as you think you know what you are in for, you really don’t.  Trust me.  No one really knows.  And having multiples is an entirely different ballgame.  For those fellow Moms of Multiples who made it through the first year still standing with two beautiful babies or more still smiling, I salute you.  You should wear this accomplishment as a badge of true honor.  You operated selflessly day after day and night after sleepless night.  You found strength that you never even realized you had and you used it and you got yourself through.  My twins are two years old now and I know that the difficulties of parenthood haven’t even gotten started yet but each day I’m better able to deal with what is coming.  Each day I’m a better Mother and each day my efforts and the efforts of those around me are helping to shape my kids into wonderful people which is the true source of every Mom’s strength.