Twinkie Tips

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Hey there friends! With summer in full swing, I hope you’ve all gotten a chance to have some fun in the sun. For those that are chasing tiny humans around this summer, I hope there has been plenty of wine in the equation for you when the sun has gone down.

Last weekend my tribe and I road tripped to PA so we could visit Hersheypark. Hershey was a long standing tradition throughout my childhood years. We would pile in the car, always stop at Cracker Barrel, and spend a day in the park for a quick mid summer getaway. I have fond memories of these summers spent in Hershey and was excited to start the same traditions with my own family. The twins are MUCH younger than I was when I started going, so there was a realistic expectation that I needed to go into this trip with as it would be a little different than when we went as a family. Now that we’ve had our sweet weekend of “hersheypark happy” there were a few things I thought I’d share so you all would have tips if you do decide to go away with your little, little ones. We had a great weekend filled with fun, and we came out unscathed, but this was for sure an exhausting trip that left this mama needing three days to recover from a day and a half away.

A few things to consider the next time you brave a weekend away with your kiddies:

secure an extra set of eyes and hands
If there’s one thing that made this trip an easier experience, it was having my sister and my dad traveling with us. At best, no matter where we go with the twins, we are at an equal number of babies to adults. This can get dicey at times. The four extra eyes and hands ensured at any given time, myself or my hubs could get a break. Also, there was always someone available to hang out and keep the tiny humans occupied while the rest of us big humans rode the rides.

babyproof your hotel room
I hadn’t thought about this prior to leaving. This was the first time we had stayed with the twins in a hotel. While we have been away from home with them a few times, we have always stayed with family. Let me just say; there are a lot of new things for the twins to discover roaming around a single hotel room. You’d think a room so small wouldn’t hold a million ways for them to get hurt and for mama to panic but low cut and behold I learn more and more on the job as a parent than I thought I would. A few things that were most helpful to us? Keeping the bathroom door closed at all times; this prevented any accidents and desires for little hands to play with little toiletries. Taking the garbage bags out of the garbages and putting them on a high surface out of reach from the kids; I don’t know why but my children were fascinated with throwing things in the garbage. However, this would have been much more helpful if they had been throwing away actual garbage and not important items I needed like their shoes, my sunglasses, etc. We just threw actual garbage away in the bags placed high up and let the kids throw whatever they wanted in the trash cans. This also made it so I didn’t have to worry about one kid suffocating themselves. We basically redecorated; everything was moved into a place where the twins couldn’t touch it including the clock radio, sound machine that we brought, etc etc. One other thing to keep in mind ? There are a LOT of surfaces that are within reach of mischievous toddlers so be wary or you’ll wind up like I did…. watching your kid dump a Red Bull, and then a can of soda all over herself. Oops.

have a plan for the day if you are going to an amusement park or doing an activity
This was something that the usual planner in me didn’t really do and it led to some stressful moments and arguments between me and hubs. Think about nap and meal times to alleviate toddler (and adult) meltdowns. I made the mistake of getting the kids all changed for the water park in hersheypark during their usual nap time (a 45 minute ordeal when you factor in both kids, sunscreen, and changing myself) and then when all was said and done, they were ready to nap and all that work was for naught. VERY frustrating to this mama and I should have thought about it sooner to save time and aggravation. Bring your own food into the parks (if permitted– but it usually is) because again, a mistake I made was trying to feed my kids the park food when they were already off schedule and cranky. They wound up eating an applesauce and some animal crackers that came with their kids meal and it was money wasted. I could have saved myself some cash if I had just prepared some good ol’ pbj beforehand. Then by the time we left the park, I had an #assholeparent moment realizing they hadn’t had dinner so I ran through a panera and chased them around a hotel room at 9pm trying to get them to eat. Learn from my mistakes!!

skip unreasonable souvenirs
You will be tempted to get your kids cute stuff at the park. You will. Your kids will show interest and you will oblige and get them something that glows or makes some annoying sound. For us, it was a bubble machine. We walked around swearing we needed it because the twins were so excited anytime they saw the bubbles! We bought it (an overpriced $20) and then of course chaos ensued because we only bought one and they couldn’t figure out how to use it on their own (and we haven’t learned sharing yet.) The thing wound up leaking bubble soap all over the top of the stroller where I had strategically placed it out of kid-view and I’m pretty sure it has remained in the trunk of our mini van ever since.

Each adventure we take with these kids, I learn something new. Hopefully these tips will save you troubles on your next venture! We had a ball though and I would recommend a Hershey trip to anyone, no matter the ages of your children.  You’d be surprised just how many little babies we noticed there. If anyone has any life-saving travel tips they have acquired over the years, share them! Until next time, happy travels!

Twinadoes Take South Carolina

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Hi friends! Summer is upon us and my tribe is VERY excited. We have a lot of  things planned for this summer and some things will probably prove to be quite the adventure with the twinkies. We recently kicked off summer by traveling to South Carolina to see family. My husband is originally from the palmetto state and my mother, father and sister in laws all still reside there. I have to tell you, the anticipation of taking this trip gave me some extreme anxiety. The first time we flew with the twinkies, we had two extra people accompanying us and four extra hands to help make things a little easier. This go-around, it was just me and William braving it with the twinadoes. I couldn’t help but wonder how the logistics of everything was going to play out.

We (surprisingly) got packed up, left the house and arrived at the airport on time. We let the kids roam the airport a while in the hopes of tiring them out so they would sleep the better part of the flight. There were, for sure, a few judgmental glances and aggravated individuals watching these two peanuts crawl and walk in all directions through the gate. But, I really didn’t care considering we were trying to make the flight a more pleasurable experience for ALL PARTIES.  We boarded, got seated, and things we going seamlessly. But I know better than to trust it when things are going just a liiiiitle too good.

While preparing for take-off, the captain makes a glorious announcement telling us that the flight time is one hour and a half. A manageable time for parents traveling with two unpredictable toddlers. We taxi for a bit and then to my dismay, come to a stop. A second announcement delivers crushing news: we are being held up and rerouted. We sit for an hour on the tarmac, then our re-route adds another hour and a half on to our flying time. By the time we got in to the air the twins had had enough.

The duration of our flight included kids being switched back and forth between mine and William’s lap (you cannot have more than one lap child in a row so William and I both had to pass babies back and forth across the aisle, and neither of us could get a break where our laps were baby-free,) shoving things in the twins’ mouths varying from pacifiers, a boob, and a multitude of snacks to keep them quiet, and many apologies to the people sitting in our general vicinity. I’m sure we didn’t contribute to their “worst flying experience” ever, but we definitely weren’t the family you wish for on your flight.

Once we arrived at got settled, things were great! My mother and father in law loved being able to spend time with their grandbabies. We shared a beach house about an hour and half away from Charleston with my sister in law and her three young kids and it was so much fun watching the twins interact with their big cousins. It was a very cool experience, as their mom, seeing how they are developing and interacting more with those they are around. We took them to the beach for the first time and both were beach bums. Little girl was definitely more adventurous and little dude needed a little more time to get comfortable on the beach but they both were sandy and sun kissed and smiling. And of course, there was another member in this club of “mom’s of multiples” set up with her family on the beach a few yards from us  she came over and said hello.  She told us about her kids (she had two older ones and her six year old twins were the babies) and she made sure to tell us that IT GETS EASIER.  I always love running into fellow twin moms who can relate to the chaos and when she said that, it brought some relief to know there are other moms out there who are still managing… and smiling!

We stayed in Charleston one more day after leaving the beach house and took the kids to the aquarium which kept them entertained for a little while and then it was time to pack up once again and head back to the airport.

The flight home, in comparison to our arrival in South Carolina, was much smoother-sailing. We took off (relatively) on time and flying time was short enough to where both kids slept almost the duration of the flight. Once arriving back at our parked car at a site off JFK I felt like superwoman. We had done it! I had such a sense of accomplishment that William and I had worked together (with only one argument!) and spent seven whole uninterrupted days with our little family. I think we really needed the break. I don’t know that I’d like to travel with the twins all of the time like that; it was a TON of work and it was exhausting and overwhelming but it was great to know that if we wanted to, we COULD do it.

We have a few more trips planned over the next couple of weeks, but those, thank goodness, are road trips. What’s the best vacation you’ve taken with your kids? Or the most cringe-worthy travel experience you’ve had?

all the single(ton) ladies

Where my single(ton) ladies at?

Lately I have been pondering the differences when you’re a mom to multiples and when you have birthed one child at a time.  I am a realist, and my realist perspective is that I don’t care if you have one kid, multiples, two kids born back to back, or a football team… this shit is tough.  But in my more recent outings with the twinkies, I have had more than one moment where I’ve thought: “this is something only twin parents would understand.”

When a baby is born, they are equipped with some sort of magnetic force field that instantly draws the attention of little old ladies who want to kiss their feet and women with baby fever whose ovaries ping with excitement of seeing a new bundle roll by in a stroller.  I am guilty of this myself; the gazing of a tiny newborn in the aisle of the supermarket, asking “how old?” and commenting on how adorable they may be, possibly throwing around a funny face or two at the kid if he/she is a little more engaged.  I’ve done it.  And I’m sorry I’ve done it. Because take it from this mama who goes out and takes the whole circus show with her… when people stop/chat/ask questions … it’s ANNOYING.

Most times, I don’t mind answering people’s questions when I am out and about.  From the very beginning, we have brought the twins out with us to restaurants, the mall, etc.  I take them out solo a lot of the time too.  I never knew two tiny humans and me would be such an attention-grabber.  I’ve gotten used to the repetitive questions thrown out at me as I’m strolling through target, getting groceries, or walking to the park.  It comes with the territory.  I’ll even accept the unsolicited advice about feeding/clothing/raising kids from strangers.  I smile and nod, while using a few expletives in my head and move on.  Here are a few things I have encountered.

“Are they twins?” No, I just happened to stumble across an extra toddler somewhere in the parking lot. Yes, they are twins.

“A boy and a girl!” YAY, you didn’t think my daughter dressed in blue was a boy! Yes, I am very blessed.

“Are they identical?” I thought we just established one has a penis, and one doesn’t.  Do you know what identical means? And where did you get your education? No, boys and girls cannot be identical.

“Do twins run in your family?” ­– They do now. Nope, we were very surprised!

“Did you do fertility treatments?” When did my reproductive health become any of this stranger’s business? Nope, just lucky I guess!

“Is it a lot of work?” Awh, no not at all. I’m just wearing yesterday’s clothes, makeup and my hair hasn’t been washed in two days because I have so much free time to do other fun stuff. Oh yeah, we are very busy.

“You must have your hands full!” – BINGO! I’m holding both kids and you’re stopping to chat! I chuckle and shrug my shoulders.

These are just a few of the most common phrases I hear on any given day, in any given situation when I am out with the twins.  While I know I am guilty of exchanging words with singleton mamas in public, I cant for the life of me remember the last time I asked if their kid was a product of in-vitro or about their family history.

Some words of advice the next time you run in to a mama who’s wrangling two toddlers and you are curious: questions are usually welcome. However, I sincerely apologize in advance if I seem distracted when you tell me your cousin’s wife’s sister on her father’s side had twins somewhere down the line. I also apologize that I will in no way be able to empathize when you tell me that you “kind of know what its like to have twins because your kids were born 12 months apart.” And please, if you are ballsy enough to ask me about the way my twins were conceived when I’m bagging groceries with one kid in the shopping cart and another in a carrier on my chest, at least help me get the food in the bags and to my car!

I welcome other moms of multiples (and singletons) to weigh in! What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to/been said to you when out with your children?

Mama’s Sick

Greetings from ground zero. Sickness has hit this mama hard over the last two days. I begrudgingly have accepted hubby’s offer of taking on twin duty today so I can rest up so I’ve found myself with some unexpected time to update.

I’ve missed blog-land! I’ve had all of these planned posts about various things that have occurred over the last couple of months but we have been inundated with work, running our home and keeping the tiny humans alive.

There are no “days off” when you’re a parent. A huge part of me feels overwhelmingly guilty that hubby has to take on managing the twins on his own today. Logically, I can conceptualize that he is their father, and he can do everything their mama does for them. But I’m their mama. And just as mom’s don’t get days off, mom’s rarely get relief from ‘ mommy guilt. ‘ and the mommy guilt force is strong with this mama today.

These germs are unforgiving. It started with my sister, who also lives in this chaotic place with us. Then the twins started with some runny noses (i.e.: constant faucet of baby boogers) and much of the week was spent running around wiping little noses and trying to keep things as disinfected as possible (no easy feat when each kid wants to slobber all over the other’s belongings.) So when I started with a scratchy throat I chalked it up to catching whatever has been making its way around. Progressively, I began to feel worse…and worse…and worse until there was no denying. I’m sick. I don’t do “sick” well. I don’t do “having to take care of myself” well. I am not a good patient. On top of feeling like death, that small voice in my head becomes even louder kicking in the mommy guilt. Twin B is crying and wants to climb into bed with mommy and mommy can barely lift a head off the pillow. Twin A wants to nurse and mommy wants to crawl into a dark hole and accept the imminent death that’s welcome as long as this cough stops and her head stops pounding.

Reminders that I’m human are needed and sobering. I know my children aren’t going to be damaged long term because their mama spends the day in bed and not with them. I know that my husband is going to make it the best day for them and they will be well taken care of and happy. I know that unless I take care of myself, I’ll be useless to the twins. But it sucks and I still want to complain about it.

Aside from this mess, things have been very exciting. There have been many adventures had with the twinkies and we have a lot of fun things planned that are upcoming as well. I will be sure to update more about those things in the next couple of weeks. For now, though, I’m going to indulge in some ginger ale sipping and hard candy so that this mama can get better and get back to chasing the tiny humans. Until next time, take care of yourselves, mamas! Lower the volume on that voice spreading lies and making you feel sub-par. Let go of the mommy guilt-You’re doing an amazing job.

View From the NICU

Jenny’s and Sully’s entrance into the world was almost as spontaneous as their conception. There was no labor. There was no grand anticipation. There were no family or friends impatiently waiting for their arrival in the waiting room.

What there was, was William and I trying to navigate what was to happen next. We had such very little time to process this moment; one minute we were thinking about the twins’ arrival, the next minute they were here. The hours after delivery and my time in recovery are a blur. I remember only bits and pieces; I remember William going to the NICU, our babies’ new safe haven outside of their comfy womb, and spending a lot of time with them while I was in recovery. I remember thinking about all of the bad things that could happen, but somehow managing to keep it together. I remember seeing them for the first time, in separate rooms, and wanting to be overcome with emotion, but mostly feeling nauseous from the pain meds and afraid that I was going to puke all over my newly birthed daughter.

Our NICU stay was just short of one month. In that time, the twins got the testing, medicine, and care they needed in order to thrive. Jenny persevered and was moved from intensive care, to the lower level of care “special care” side of the nicu within days. Sully had a few more challenges than Jenny did to start and needed some respiratory support before finally being reunited with his sister in special care. In the grand scheme of things we were the lucky ones, and I know and value and am grateful for this. However, I can sum up the experience with one sentiment: it was shitty.

No mother prepares to leave the hospital after delivering a child, with no baby(ies) in her arms. We didn’t pack two tiny babies in to car seats and leave with balloons and smiles, I didn’t sit in the backseat staring at them and yelling at my husband to slow down all the way home, we didn’t show them off to family and friends. We waited four weeks to do those things; for four weeks, I came and left the hospital, leaving my newborns to be cared for by someone other than their mother.

I felt very resentful over this reality during the twin’s time in the hospital, and over the last year. It’s been difficult, as their mom and as their home for 31 weeks, not to somehow blame my body or myself for their premature birth. “Mommy guilt” didn’t take long to kick in. I also struggle with the fact that don’t think this outcome was very fair; nothing about this pregnancy went as planned or expected. Couldn’t I have at least had the delivery I had hoped for? Couldn’t that, if nothing else, somehow resembled what we had planned? I wanted to have my baby shower (which was canceled,) I wanted to revel in the birth of our babies and have a “I am woman hear me roar” moment after delivery, I wanted to spend this time with my husband and reflect on our pregnancy and the imminent changes about to occur in our lives and in our relationship, and I know all of this sounds petty. I had two beautiful babies regardless of how they came in to the world, but it’s important I’m honest. And the truth was: it was really shitty.

The whole experience taught me many positive things, though. For starters, it taught me that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was prior to this. The physical recovery of a c-section, the emotional toll of two fragile babies in the hospital, the no sleep from worry (and pumping) all hours of the night, pulling twelve hour days in the NICU; all amazing feats I’m proud of. The NICU gave me lessons in patience and acceptance of the things I can’t control; something this crazy anxiety-ridden new first time mom really needed. The NICU taught me that there are people, and a lot more than I realized, that care about me. Family, friends, co workers, they all rallied to help out any way they could; which allowed me to realize I was deserving of the support and help. It taught me to love each day, each moment, and each thing no matter how insignificant with my babies. And it taught me to appreciate my husband in ways I didn’t know I needed to. The most important lesson I learned was this: this was only a drop in the bucket. There was a life we were building outside of that hospital and that would be what the twins would remember; not the month that we, or they, weren’t together…because they did come home…and we couldn’t have been happier… and just as I HAD expected, things got crazy, fast.

Spontaneous Twins

Did you know that twins that occur without the use of fertility drugs or treatment are called “spontaneous” twins? Neither did I. Being pregnant opens you up to a whole world of new vocabulary; being pregnant with twins, I learned a whole new language.

I needed to wait until I was eight weeks pregnant before my OB would order an ultrasound. Eight WHOLE weeks I walked around growing a little bean.   Eight weeks of thoughts, anxieties and hopes for the future of our growing family. It was also eight very looooong weeks of waves of nausea that left me feeling like I had spent my whole day getting on, and getting off the gravitron.

See, I don’t do nauseous, and I REALLY don’t do vomiting. Those who are close to me know I can count on one hand how many times I remember puking in my entire life (only one of those times was the result of too much alcohol.) So when I woke up one morning feeling a little queasy, and instead of subsiding, the queasiness got more and more intense by the minute, I had, what only can be described as, a nervous breakdown.

 

Nope. Nope. Nope.

 

We only told a handful of people about my “big fat positive.” My dad was one of the first to know. I called and complained to him often over the first few weeks and I shit you not, I had a conversation with him via text that went like this at six weeks pregnant:

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I felt terrible; I knew William wanted more than one child. I swore up and down that this would not be something I could endure again. Sorry, honey, but you’lI only get the chance to father one kid. Mama ain’t doing this again. I couldn’t believe that women actually go through this more than once. It boggled my mind that there weren’t more only-child-families out there. The women who had more than one pregnancy were all of a sudden heroes in my eyes.

So after eight weeks came and went and William and I were finally going to get a chance to see this little bundle we had created. I had no idea what to expect; looking back, I wish I had been given SOME kind of idea. A young sonogram-tech met William and I and instructed me to pee before the ultrasound. Why? All she was going to do was squirt some cold jelly on my tummy and look around with a wand thing.   After following orders, she brought us in to a barely lit room with a machine, an exam table, and a TV. I was slightly confused when she put my legs in stirrups, I mean, did she KNOW where a baby is located? This was my first understanding that in the beginning of a pregnancy, your baby is so miniscule they cant do a sonogram on top of your belly. Hello, internal sonogram. To spare gory details, the gist is this: lady tech proceeds to pull out an instrument that is strikingly similar to a sex toy but and clearly this would be without any of the fun. I was mortified.

A very uncomfortable me was now looking at a black and white picture that was being projected on to the TV screen above my head. I couldn’t even try to make out what I was looking at. I knew it had to be the general vicinity where a baby would be hanging out; I had seen enough ultrasounds to make out that almost triangle shape of the uterus. Then lady-tech starts asking questions.

 

Lady Tech: “Is this your first pregnancy?”

Me: “Yes.”

Lady Tech: [she pauses] “Natural pregnancy?”

Me: [I take the term ‘natural’ to mean without fertility assistance] “Yes.”

 

I start panicking for a second. Why does she seem so cautious? Are these questions normal? I can feel my anxiety picking up speed. The alarms in my head start going off like crazy; is it possible for this not to be a good news appointment? It occurs to me at this point why they call it an appointment to confirm a pregnancy; there hasn’t been any confirmation yet. There was still time for things to be wrong. She continues looking around.

Lady Tech – “Here’s the heartbeat…”

I look in awe at the blinking ball on the screen and breathe a sigh of relief that could fill a Macy’s Day Parade balloon.

Lady Tech then moves things around a little.

Lady Tech – “And here’s the other heartbeat; did you know you were having two?”

 

I look at her. I look at my husband. I look at her again. I look at the TV screen.

Me and William collectively: “Two what?”

William laughs, I laugh. The tech continues with the ultrasound and confirms two very strong heartbeats. Two babies. Spontaneous twins.

We sit quietly through the rest of the ultrasound. I am reeling. The thoughts, anxieties, hopes are flying again but this time they look completely different. We can’t believe it. There’s another moment of panic, the first of one trillion over the course of my pregnancy (and still today.) We leave the doctor’s office with congratulations and well wishes from the staff.

William and I walk out to our car and he makes the grandest statement that could ever have been made in that moment…

“There’s as many of them as there are of us…”

the very beginning-

I’d like to believe that it’s common for women of child bearing age to fantasize about what life will be like when future imaginary tiny humans (that had been voluntarily conceived) enter the world. I like to believe that there are women out there that were like me; how adorable was I? Imagining myself sitting down with a glass of wine at the end of the night, blissfully gazing at a peaceful cutie patootie on a high tech monitor equipped with motion sensor and night vision after a day filled with diapering cute little tushies and listening to the sweet song of a cooing baby.

What. A. F**king. Idiot.

My whole life, as far back as I can remember, I’ve been an uptight, neurotic, controlling and, above all, anxious person. I’m at a place in my life where I can own these qualities. This is who I am. I love order; I am a notorious rule follower.  Predictability is my best friend.

So the best possible thing I could do, naturally, is to erase a life full of routine and go and have a kid. Right? Like I said..

Idiot.

My husband William and I talked often about having kids for years before we got married. For a long time, our mutually agreed intention was to not wait very long after our wedding to grow our family. In theory, I loved this idea. That is, until we had our amazing wedding, I changed my last name and became an official Mrs…on the verge of being Mrs. Mom to some imaginary kid that was going to change everything. My ever so understanding husband supported me when I suggested we wait a while longer before taking the plunge into parenthood. And the conversation went back and forth for a while as I stalled because I just wasn’t ready for that chapter of my life; I wasn’t even sure who I was in the story yet.

After a while the idea of having little tiny humans with William’s baby blue eyes and my incredible sense of humor (I’m hysterical) was intriguing. I started seeing my friends have babies and I started remembering how much I enjoyed being around children, and how much I was looking forward to having some of our own.

(I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain to you where babies come from so let me skip ahead a little.)

I justified making the decision in beginning the walk to being a parent by reassuring myself that in all of the reading I did… (because naturally, now that we decided kids were something we were actively trying for, I needed to enlist the help of Google to make it happen. I’m a planner, remember?) …every article and page I read had the same theme- GETTING PREGNANT IS HARD. I remember joking that I couldn’t figure out how 15/16 year old high school kids were timing this biological phenomenon so well that they were getting pregnant on accident. It seemed like stars and planets needed to align, mercury had to be in retrograde, a visit from the stork needed to happen and a sprinkle of fairy dust rounded everything out before there was even a 50% shot of winding up with a bun in the oven. This was a relieving reality; thankfully, because of biology, I had a little time to emotionally prepare for this.

Wrong. Shortly after we started trying, maybe even after that first real cycle of “activity,” a digital “yes” was staring at me on a pregnancy test on my bathroom counter at 5 in the morning. “Wait…what?”

I should have known. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of this going differently than I had planned. I sat with things for a while; the irony is that a pregnancy test will confirm your fate to be a new mother, but nothing is all that different for a while. You walk around as you once did, but now with a secret of sorts that will take time for others to be in on. I kept thinking things would feel real upon my first ultrasound (which doesn’t even happen until you’re 8 weeks pregnant…I was so offended that my doctor’s office wasn’t taking haste that the entire world just rocked beneath me.) I thought ok, I’ll see a bouncing bean on a black and white screen and try to make out appendages I’ll say I see (but I’ll be lying,) and then it will be tangible and solidified.

Wrong again.

Because do you know what a self proclaimed anal retentive, anxiety ridden, control freak gets when they try to have a baby?

Twins. They get twins.

And so began a new life full of sponTwineity.