Must Haves for Baby Twins
**updated in 2020: rock 'n plays and similar products have been recalled - DO NOT purchase these second hand, they can be dangerous**
In celebration of our twins' half birthday, I'd like to present you with the products I deem must-haves for baby twins - the things we simply couldn't have survived without! I'll also throw in a few which may not be *essential* but are fun to add to your baby registry or splurge on if you have the budget! Ready, set, GO!!!
Twins Prep Book & Classes
"What To Do When You're Having Two" will educate you on how to eat for three and get through your pregnancy, what to expect at the birth, how to tandem breastfeed or bottle feed, create schedules, interview pediatricians and nannies, you name it!! While you're at it, check out author Natalie Diaz' awesome website, Twiniversity, and in-person and on-line twins prep classes!
Tandem Nursing / Feeding Pillow
There are 2 awesome pillows out there for tandem feeding twins. Mothers tend to be divided over preferring one over the other, so I really can't say definitively that one is better. Personally, I preferred the My Brest Friend Twins Feeding Pillow but only because I found the height of the pillow higher and better for me. The Twin Z Pillow (see my review here) is the other beloved one, especially if you have a c-section or are bottle feeding. It also doubles as a baby lounger, and has built-in back support for mama.
Newborn Twins Baby Carrier
For newborn twins, some parents are able to figure out how to tandem wear using the Moby or a woven wrap. This mama? Not so much. For me, the WeeGo Twin Carrier was a lifesaver. Seriously. (Check out my "Life With Newborn Twins" video featuring the magic of this carrier!). The WeeGo is good from 3 pounds until they're about 6 months, however I found that once they hit 10 pounds each I couldn't use it anymore. I never got it to fit right and it hung from my shoulders quite painfully... still, when both newborns were screaming and they'd been fed and changed, this was often the only thing I could do to get them both quiet and asleep!!
Tandem Baby Carrier
For older twins, or even a toddler and baby, the TwinGo Carrier is amazing!!! You can wear them as 2 separate carriers (one for mom and one for dad, let's say), or remove one set of shoulder straps and hook them together so you can wear one child on the front and one on the back. They also have great pocket storage allowing you to forgo the diaper bag! Check out my full review here.
Stroller for Twins
Strollers all have various features which may or may not be what you are looking for. Many twin parents will go with a twin snap 'n go followed by a Baby Jogger City Select, or something like that, because they get the job done and are budget-friendly. But my family had some unique requirements. Being city dwellers with a toddler, newborn twins, and no car, I needed a stroller that had infant-compatible reversible seats, and preferred side-by-side over tandem alignment. The ONLY stroller out there that fit the bill was the StrollAir MyDuo. (If you're thinking Bugaboo Donkey works, no... it's not infant compatible - you have to use the bassinet until baby is 6 months or so). Overall, we LOVE LOVE LOVE our StrollAir!!! You can use with 2 seats (good for infant or toddler), 2 car seats (with universal adapters), 2 infant bassinets, or any combination of those! You can get standard never-flat tires or upgrade to the air-filled tires for a smoother ride (what we have). It's really an amazing stroller!! We also purchased the Englacha X-Rider sit/stand toddler board which has been a GREAT add-on, and later used the Lascal BuggyBoard Maxi+ with Saddle (which doesn't have as sturdy a seat but is easier to take the seat off while out and about to use as a stand board, or to pull the whole thing up and out of the way when not needed). The StrollAir MyDuo comes with 2 plastic rain covers, but we prefer the Manito (see my review here).
**2020 update note: StrollAir's newer version of the MyDuo is the TwinWay, and their tandem version of that is the Solo to Tango a great stroller that goes from single to double! Evenflo Pivot Xpand is another single - double converting stroller that we loved. Video reviews and demo's below!!
Eventually, unless you plan on one giant "family bed," you will need your twins in their own separate cribs. Some choose to go straight there from day one, others wait a month, six months, a year... It's up to you! You can start them off in co-sleepers or cradles, sharing a crib, or whatever, but one really unique option is the Babyhome So-Ro Twin Cradle (see my full review here). It rocks smoothly and has the babies' heads slightly elevated (good for reflux) and when they grow out of it at around 6 months it flips to the side and becomes a storage shelf (or a fun bartender's nook as some friends advised me!!)
I prefer BB Blocks (wooden numbered blocks) for weekly and monthly photos, but Milesone Cards have a twin-specific set with cards such as "We came home today" and "We smiled at each other for the first time today" which are really fun to use and keep (if you ever find the time to put together baby books for them)! They also include a set for each individual baby because let's face it, they will hit most milestones such as rolling over, sleeping through the night, and crawling at different times.
Crib Mattress, Cover & Sheet Savers:
Soothing & Pacifiers:
So there you go, my must-haves for twins! As far as diapers and toys and bathtime and all that, they need pretty much the same products as a regular singleton baby. I took the advice I received at my Twiniversity prep class which was to get one of each and get a 2nd after we're home and decide we NEED another. For example, we started out with two auto-rocking Rock 'n Plays (which they slept in for the first month - BUT THESE ARE NOW RECALLED - DO NOT GET ROCK N PLAYS even second hand!!!), and decided after a few weeks to go ahead and get a 2nd Baby Bjorn Bouncer and Fisher Price Swing. We still have only got one exersaucer, one play mat, one Bumbo seat, and one activity seat, and I just kind of rotate them through those! We also have one baby bath because I can only bathe one at a time, HA! You will most likely eventually need two cribs, two high chairs, and if you drive, two car seats.
My final piece of advice is to search for your local Mothers of Multiples group. You can save a TON by buying all of these products used and/or selling them used after you're finished with them!! This tip and many others are offered in my article "How to prepare for having twins" - check it out!
Did I miss any great twin-related products? Do you have some I should check out for older twins? Share in a comment below!!
Embracing Your Mom Bod
When you grow a human in your belly, things change. Some things are temporary and some are permanent. From stretch marks to hair loss, many women struggle with low self-esteem over their new "mom bod," and this saddens me greatly.
To me, each tiger stripe is a reminder of your most wonderful accomplishment. That remaining "baby bump" brought life and completed your family. So, acknowledge your imperfections, stay fit and eat mindfully, but embrace your mom bod for what it is: beautiful, strong, loving, and amazingly awesome!!
With the help of a few mom friends, I've put together the following video to encourage moms to love themselves and their bodies. I hope you'll help the #MyMomBodIs movement by commenting below and sharing this blog post and video! Thank you!!
Published originally on Mommy Nearest
To find out you are expecting twins or super twins (triplets or more) can be the shock of a lifetime, especially if you hadn’t received any sort of fertility treatment and have no multiples in your family, as in my case. I feel that the infamous five stages of grief can be flexibly applied to the kind of whirlwind emotional journey that I (and probably most) go through after receiving the news. For me, it went something like this:
Stage 1: Denial
The morning sickness and other signs of pregnancy may start earlier and be much more intense. You chalk it up to every pregnancy being different and just brush it off. But when your OB places that wand on your belly or up your hoo-ha for the first ultrasound and announces, “There are TWO babies!!” it’s pretty hard for your first reaction to be anything but denial. My exact words were something like, “WHAT!??! NO!!!! WHAT?!! ARE YOU SURE!?? HOW!? WHAT??,” followed by dozens of expletives. There must be a mistake, a malfunction of the machine where it’s seeing double images. In the words of David After Dentist, “Is this real life!?!???”
Related: How To Prepare for Having Twins
State 2: Anger
The next stage might be brief, but a bit of anger is likely to be lashed out. First, at the poor dear operating the sonogram. I believe I half-jokingly blurted out something along the lines of, “I kind of hate you right now!” The next stream of anger might be directed at your partner (“How could you do this to me with your super sperm!??!”) or even yourself.
Stage 3: Bargaining
Some thoughts that passed through my mind, ever so briefly...
If only we’d waited a bit longer to get pregnant, maybe it would have been a singleton or at least our first child would be a bit older and this would be easier to deal with!
Maybe we should give one away to a family member who can't have kids. Or… we could sell one?? (Note: we did joke about these two options but the were *never* actually on the table for us.)
Stage 4: Depression
I wouldn’t go so far as to say a confirmation of twins will lead to any sort of depression, but it definitely can bring on many negative thoughts and anxieties that are only increased by turning to Google, as we all do, of course! My initial reaction, while still laying on the examination table looking at the two sacks and beans on the sonogram screen, was pretty in line with “HOW can we DO this??” A toddler and two newborns, in our tiny Brooklyn co-op?? Physically, emotionally, and financially, it just didn't seem possible!! Our world had just turned upside down and it’s terrifying. Then, you get home and go straight to Google where you’re overwhelmed with terms like “Vanishing Twin Syndrome”, “Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome”, and all the statistics of your increased risk for preterm labor, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc. It can be overwhelming and frightening.
Stage 5: Acceptance (and JOY!!)
After about a week of insomnia, tossing and turning with worries over the logistics of having twins, I finally reached the stage of acceptance. And not just acceptance, actual joy and excitement! With the help of books such as When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads and What To Do When You're Having Two, and amazing Facebook groups such as Private Page of National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, it’s very easy to get both informed and empowered. Twins and super twins are so incredibly special and we were thrilled to be joining the very small club of families with multiples!! With none in either of our families, it felt like an honor to provide such a unique and exciting change in family dynamics for all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I kneww the road would not be an easy one: the pregnancy could be tough (thankfully it wasn't too bad!), taking care of a toddler and two newborn babies would be a challenge, and money would be a struggle (for the next 21 years or so!!). But it will all be worth it and it’s going to be an amazing ride!
How did you handle the news of a multiples pregnancy? Or how would you? Share in a comment below!
Some related articles you might enjoy:
27 Crazy Things About Twins
Originally posted on Mommy Nearest (since edited) on 3/10/2015
As soon as I found out I was having twins, I became more or less obsessed with understanding everything I could about twins and twin pregnancy. Thanks to great books, Facebook support groups, and Google, here are some of the crazy, cool, and scary things I learned and am happy to pass on to you! Enjoy!!
1. Factors that increase your chance of conceiving twins
Besides IVF and fertility drugs, there are many other factors that increase your chances at having twins. Fraternal twins often run in families because of a gene causing hyperovulation (releasing more than one egg per cycle). Fraternal twins can "skip a generation" because boys don't ovulate, of course, but they'll pass the gene on to their daughters! A mother who is a fraternal twin herself has a four times higher chance of producing twins.
Other factors include advanced maternal age (moms over 30 have more chance for twins), height (taller women have more insulin-like growth factor <IGF>, which results in increased sensitivity of the ovaries), breastfeeding (moms who are breastfeeding when they get pregnant are 9 times more likely to conceive twins, due to elevated IGF levels, and even moms who have weaned but nursed for at least 20 months will have a higher chance of twins), and diet (women who consume dairy may be up to 5 times more likely to conceive twins than a vegan, arguably because cows are given synthetic growth hormones and produce IGF, which is released into their milk).
So, there you have it! You want twins? Do all of the above and you might just get them!! As for me, I had age, height, dairy, and extended breastfeeding (and had only weaned 2 months prior to conception) going for me and didn't even know it. Whoops!
2. The rate of identical twins is universal.
It's not effected by race, nationality, or genetics, and is about 1 in 285 births. Identical twins supposedly do not run in families (though some families with them in each generation will argue BS here), and they are much less common than fraternal twins. There are theories that there is a genetic factor in sperm that can increase the chances of the fertilized egg splitting, but nothing has been proven just yet.
3. Twins have been shown interacting in the womb at as early as 14 weeks.
4. Timing is everything!
Identical twins are the result of one egg splitting post-fertilization, but the timing of the split determines if the twins will each have their own sacs and placentas (split on day 1-3, called di/di twins - the lowest risk), share a placenta (split on day 4-8, called mo/di twins - higher risk), share an amniotic sac *and* placenta (split on day 8-13, called mo/mo twins - quite high risk), or be conjoined (split on day 13-15 - extremely high risk) - the latter of which is of course the most rare, only 1 in 200,000 births.
5. Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS)
TTTS can occur when identical twins share a placenta, when one twin is getting more nutrients and blood volume than the other. It can happen at any point in the pregnancy and can result in the death of one or both twins, and is thus a huge concern for parents and caregivers. There are treatments available, so frequent exams and ultrasounds are necessary to keep an eye on the situation.
6. How do you know if twins are identical or fraternal?
For one, if they are boy/girl they are fraternal (well, actually there can be identical boy/girl twins but this is EXTREMELY rare). If they share a placenta or amniotic sac, they are identical (unless they had two placentas that fused together, which can happen but isn't too common). Other than that, you’ll have to wait until they're born to take a look at them. However, fraternal twins may *look* identical, and "identical" twins don't always look *exactly* the same, so the only way to be sure is to do the Zygosity genetic testing (which we did - read about it here), which is via a simple swab of the cheek. Knowing whether twins are identical or fraternal is not just to satisfy your curiosity, it can help you be prepared for certain health conditions identical twins would share, or warning your kids that they are likely to have twins of their own!
7. Same Same but Different…
Identical twins have nearly the same DNA (99.9% identical) and almost nearly identical brain wave patterns, but different fingerprints and teeth marks. They can also have subtle differences resulting from how they were squished in the womb, such as different head shape, or their size may be dramatically different due to nutritional differences resulting from TTTS.
8. Twins have a higher rate of left-handedness.
22% of twins are southpaws as opposed to 10% of singletons.
9. Did you eat your twin?
An estimated 1 in 8 pregnancies begins with twins with only 1 in 70 actually producing twins, thanks to “Vanishing Twin Syndrome”, where one of the babies doesn’t survive. This is usually quite early on and the embryo is reabsorbed by the mother’s body or by the surviving twin, causing no issues for the remainder of the pregnancy. So, it’s quite possible that you had twins for the first few weeks of your pregnancy and never even knew it! For others who already had twins diagnosed, only to find out later there’s just one remaining baby, it can be devastating news. Rightfully so, it’s something every mother carrying multiples worries about until they are all delivered safely.
10. "Full Term” is Relative.
50% of twins are born before 37 weeks gestation, which is considered “full-term” for twins, and most practitioners will induce by 38 weeks (the risk of still birth goes up significantly after this point for twins). The average birth weight for twins is just 5 pounds 5 ounces (as opposed to the robust 7 pound 7 ounce average singleton).
I feel so lucky our girls made it to 39 weeks 6 days before we were finally induced and had a beautiful safe vaginal delivery (read about it here). Our girls were 6 pounds 11 ounces and 5 pounds 9 ounces.
11. Twins can have different birthdays.
While extremely rare, it’s possible to birth one twin days, weeks, or even months before the other! The current record is twins born 87 days apart (the first twin was born 4 months premature).
12. Twinning highs and lows.
Nigeria has the highest rate of multiple births (4%), whereas China has the lowest (about 1.1%, though it should be noted that they waive the one-child-policy in the case of multiples, which are just counted as a single birth). The rate in the US is about 3% of births.
13. Baby A / Baby B
Baby A refers to the twin located lower in the womb with Baby B being higher. For higher order multiples, the lettering of babies continues for all in order of their closeness to the cervix.
14. Twins put you in the “high risk” category but don’t necessarily mean a Cesarian Section.
Many practitioners will agree to try for a vaginal birth if Baby A is head down and larger than Baby B. Once Baby A is born, Baby B should be able to be born in any position or a practitioner may try to manipulate them into a head down position. Most hospitals and doctors will require you to deliver in the OR, just in case you need an emergency c-section for the second baby (the dreaded "double whammy" birth and recovery).
15. The average time between delivery of the first and second twin is 17 minutes. (Mine were 6 minutes apart).
16. Many parents worry about telling their identical newborns apart.
If there’s no easy distinguishing factor (such as size, birthmarks, cowlicks, or moles), some take to painting a toenail in an identifying color, using infant-safe jewelry, or color coding wardrobes. Also, once the umbilical cords fall off, their belly buttons can be a giveaway.
17. Polar bears most commonly birth twins (and very rarely singletons or triplets).
18. About 25% of identical twins are “Mirror Image Twins”.
This means they are exact reflections of one another. For example, if one has a freckle under the left eye, the other’s freckle will be under the right eye, cowlicks will run in opposite directions, etc.
19. Polar Body / Half Identical Twins
These are the result of one egg that split, and then each half became fertilized by different sperm. They will share 75% of their DNA - which is more than regular siblings or fraternal twins but less than identical twins.
20. Healthier moms have twins?
A study in the Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B that focused on mothers in the 1800’s suggests “Twins could be an evolutionary adaptation in which healthy moms take the chance to pass on double their genes at once.”
21. Twins can have different fathers!
It’s extremely rare, but let’s say the women releases more than one egg and goes on to have intercourse with two different men in her window of peak fertility… boom… fraternal twins with different dads!! And a whole lotta explaining to do! HA!
22. Twins can be different races!
Fraternal twins (i.e. two eggs that got fertilized separately) can look identical or completely different, even black and white. It’s basically a genetic roll of the dice which genes each baby will receive from mom and dad. Fraternal twins are no more alike than any siblings, they just happened to share a womb and birthday.
23. 40% of twins develop their own language.
Sounds cool (and is super cute, have you seen this viral video!?, but actually this can happen when any similarly aged babies are around each other a lot and developing language skills at the same rate. This made-up language usually disappears once the children learn the real language that allows them to communicate with others.
24. If two sets of identical twins married each other...
Their children would technically be cousins but the cousins would have the same genetic closeness as actual siblings. Mind. Blown!!!
25. Celebrities with twin siblings:
Scarlett Johansson has a twin brother, Kiefer Sutherland has a twin sister, Ashton Kutcher has a fraternal twin brother with cerebral palsy, Gisele Bundchen has a fraternal twin sister, Napoleon Dynamite (aka Jon Heder) has an identical twin brother, Isabella Rossallini has a fraternal twin sister, Alanis Morissette has a twin brother, Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen are fraternal twin sisters, Vin Diesel has a twin brother, and Tia and Tamera Mowry are identical twin sisters (though they didn’t find out til they took the test at 35 years old!).
26. Celebrity parents of twins:
Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt, Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon, Celine Dion & Rene Angelil, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony, Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick, Ricky Martin (via surrogate), Anna Paquin & Stephen Moyer, Rebecca Romijn & Jerry O'Connell, Julie Bowen, Holly Robinson & Rodney Peete, Marcia Cross (via IVF), Elsa Pataky & Chris Hemsworth, Lisa Marie Presley, Jon & Kate Gosselin, Mia Hamm & Nomar Garciaparra, Diana Krall & Elvis Costello, Zoe Saldana & Marco Perego, Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka, and Sarah Shahi & Steve Howey.
27. There is a Twins Day celebration held in Twinsburg, Ohio.
Pretty awesome, huh? Did I miss anything crazy, cool, or scary about twins? Are you a twin, parent of twins, or hoping to be? Share in a comment below! And don't miss this post about how to prepare for having twins!!
As soon as you discover you're having twins, you start googling... How big will I get? How much should i eat? Will I have to get a c-section? What will my belly look like after twins? Well, for the latter question, one catch phrase comes up again and again... TWIN SKIN!
Twin skin is basically saggy wrinkly skin that will never bounce back to its former taught self, no matter how much weight you lose or how many crunches you do. Not every twin mom will get twin skin. Some moms will bounce back to their pre-pregnancy bodies in a split second, without a stretch mark or ounce of fluff to show for it. Good for them... but most of us are not quite so lucky.
Some of the unluckier moms will even end up with Diastis Recti, which is a permanent separation of the abdominal muscles. The abs separate during pregnancy, but in some cases, especially multiples pregnancies, the muscles never go back together. This can leave you looking 6 months pregnant for... forever! A physical therapist can guide you through certain exercises that may or may not help, some only find a fix with surgery. On the bright side, they can couple that with a tummy tuck - et voila beautiful belly (minus the hip to hip scar, that is).
We're all so excited to watch our bellies grow through the pregnancy, I even made a stop-motion video about it!
But the belly that remains after your little ones are delivered is not quite so exciting. For the first month or so, you still look very much pregnant. I remember being on the elevator one week postpartum and my neighbor asking in disbelief, "You haven't had them yet!?" Ugh. I nearly socked her!
The fact is, it takes a while for your very overstretched uterus to shrink back, and all the extra fluid and bloating to ease away. But sure enough, little by little your belly disappears, leaving small reminders of the amazing journey your body has been through to carry and birth two beautiful miracles. So, yes. I have twin skin. I have stretch marks. But you know what? I'll take 'em, because I also have the most amazing little twin girls in the world!! And on top of that, my squishy pug-like belly provides endless amusement for my toddler. HA!
Have you learned to embrace your postpartum body, or are you struggling to come to terms with it? Share in a comment below!
UPDATED April 18, 2017!!!
I've been using Nerium Firming Body Contour Cream nightly for 3 months now, it's made a pretty dramatic difference on my twin skin!! It's not gone, but definitely better! I waited until 15 months postpartum, down to pre-pregnancy weight, so my body did all it could do naturally. No more weight to lose, haven't been working out, and still have about a 1-2 finger gap in my diastasis recti. I didn't edit the pix. It's a true before and after, with only the cream at work. Pretty cool, huh? I got my cream free for review, but you can reach out to the rep to try out her Nerium goods here!
My Positive Twin Birth Story
My twin pregnancy, delivery, and recovery couldn't have been more perfect. Seriously, it was about as good as it gets! But when people congratulate me and say they're proud of how well I did I have to say I'm a bit uncomfortable because I really feel like I can't take any credit. If you ask me, it really comes down to something like 30% educating yourself and making smart choices, and 70% pure dumb luck! I'll elaborate...
Educating Yourself & Making Smart Choices:
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, I say! This included finding a birth team I trusted and who had experience with birthing twins, reading books (I highly recommend When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, and Quads as well as What To Do When You're Having Two), taking classes, and of course Googling (a lot!!) and taking what you find with a grain of salt. I ate reasonably well, gained the recommended 24 pounds by 24 weeks (research shows it gives you the best chance of carrying twins to term), and stayed active walking about a mile a day and up to 4 miles a day - right up to delivery at 39 weeks!! (See my post on how to prepare for twins).
Pure Dumb Luck:
How did I avoid Gestational Diabetes, Preterm Labor, Intrauterine Growth Restriction, side effects from Pitocin and Epidural, etc etc?? How did I luck out with twins who had their own placentas, were both head down, and Baby A was bigger than Baby B? Well, it certainly isn't anything I can take credit for!! Everything went smoothly and I am so incredibly thankful, but it really was just luck!!
OK, so now that we've covered that, let's get on with my birth story!!!
Leading up to D-Day (Delivery Day):
38 weeks is considered full term for twins and most docs won't let you go past that. Mine, however, were cool with letting me go til 40 weeks and were monitoring us accordingly. I had several weeks of labor-like Braxton Hicks which were annoying because you would time them, thinking THIS IS IT, only to realize hours later that nothing was progressing and it was time to just go the heck to sleep. When I hit 39 weeks, my MFM (high risk specialist) expressed her concern about me going any longer (risk of still birth!!) and I started to question my OB team, but they encouraged me to keep waiting, which we did! My parents drove up from North Carolina to help out "as long as I needed" and we were all sure that their arrival would give me peace about what we were going to do with our toddler during delivery and things would get rolling, but my girls were simply not budging (I made such a comfy home for them in there??) so we finally scheduled an induction and we went in at 39 weeks 6 days.
Induction with Pitocin:
My son was a 53 hour all-natural labor and delivery, no drugs, it was grueling and horrendously painful, but pretty amazing. I was hoping to go drug-free with the twins as well, but as soon as induction was inevitable I threw my plans out the window and decided to just play it by ear. We had induction scheduled for 11AM on October 6, and waited 1.5 hours to be seen in triage. That was really frustrating, but gave me a chance to scarf down a big lunch down before all food and drink became off limits. We then spent another hour and a half being monitored in triage. I was 100% effaced and 3cm dilated, so thankfully my doc said we could skip the cervical ripening part of induction and go straight for Pitocin. I got a room around 2PM, got my IV in place, and just before 4PM we got the show started with the Pit.
They start your drip with the smallest amount of Pitocin (a synthetic version of Oxytocin, the hormone that gives contractions) and crank it up a level every 15 minutes until you are having strong contractions every 2-3 minutes, but this takes a while. At 4:30pm I still wasn't in any pain and we decided to kick things up a notch by breaking the water of Baby A. Because they weren't able to keep both babies on the external monitors (babies kept moving and both monitors kept honing in on the same baby, leaving one not being monitored), they went ahead and reached up there and placed an external monitor IN BABY A's HEAD!!! Wahhh, this distraught me quite a bit, but it was reassuring to have both babies being continuously monitored finally, and especially so to see them both doing so well through contractions.
My husband took a nap while I enjoyed cable TV from my bed. Pretty ironically and much to my amusement, the Friends episode where the woman giving her baby up for adoption to Monica and Chandler had a surprise delivery of twins! Ha! I took it as a good sign :)
By around 5:30pm the contractions started getting strong and I was having trouble enduring them (picture me groaning and cursing and writhing around like a possessed woman!). Oh yeah, I was also puking my guts out and going through major bouts of shivering, like I couldn't control it at all, my whole body was shaking! Our midwife was amazing, giving me back rubs and putting hot packs on my back, she was just so calm and encouraging! So great! The Pitocin had made it's way up to "8" and my midwife decided that my contractions were unnecessarily overwhelming so she turned it off completely and to our surprise my contractions kept on going with no need for the Pit boost.
Heaven Sent Epidural:
At 7pm I was 8-9cm dilated and the anesthesiologist popped in saying he was about to go into surgery and if I wanted an epidural it was now or never. Well, I think I thought it over for all of 30 seconds before screaming "I WANT IT!!!!" to which my husband and midwife asked "Are you sure?? / You're almost there, you can do this" and I was like screw you guys, give me the damn drugs!!! It took him a while to get all of his stuff ready, and the worst of it was getting into place on the bed and not budging while bent over hugging a pillow through a couple of contractions. The shot with the local anesthetic was not much more than a pinch, and I don't recall if I even felt the actual epidural being placed. I mean, when you're in the middle of ridiculously painful contractions, every other discomfort pales in comparison! Once it was in, they had me lie flat on my back so the drugs would disperse evenly, this was tough too because it hadn't kicked in yet and laying on my back through contractions was HELL!!
But sure enough, within a few minutes the pain started fading and eventually all I felt of the contractions was painless pressure. I never lost sensation or control of my legs, I could wiggle my toes and pick my legs up, etc (though they wouldn't let me get out of bed). I was absolutely giddy that I felt so amazing, on top of the world, epidurals can be amazing!!!! I had such a fear of them because they can be a slippery slope to distress in babies, contractions slowing, and c-section, but in my case it did exactly what it was supposed to do and made me one happy mama!! The puking and shivering stopped, and I was able to relax again. Bliss! I questioned why I didn't do this hours ago, but reminded myself that I had wanted to know just how bad Pitocin-induced contractions were, and also that starting epidural too early could have slowed or stopped progression and caused many problems.
Ready to Push!
By 8pm I was fully dilated but not feeling the urge to push. My doc let me go another hour to see if the urge kicked in... It did not, so we did a practice push and I guess I passed the test cuz he said let's head on over to the OR (twins are required to be delivered in there due to the risk of emergency c-section, and also so they can fit the dozen or so people required - OB team, nurses, pediatrician for each baby, anesthesiologist, etc.)
It was odd to be in the OR. Very bright and sterile, many people but it didn't feel crowded or circus-esque surprisingly. I was on a flat surgical table, though the were able to tilt it a bit so my head was higher. Still, not as comfy as the bed in the labor room! We jokingly placed bets on how long it would take to push out the twinkies. I thought at least an hour and my OB bet me a sushi dinner on it being quicker, thank goodness that was a bet I didn't win haha!
They removed the bottom half of the bed and had my hubby holding my left leg and a medical student holding my right leg. I guess this is much better than stirrups? I got over the awkwardness of it pretty quick!
Once everyone was in place (my midwife was delivering with my OB next to her), they said I could start pushing with my next contraction. It was really odd to feel absolutely no pain and not really feel the need to push, but I have to say it was really really great!! Birth with no pain, yes please!!! They guided my pushes just like with my previous birth, telling me when I was pushing effectively and when to take a deep breath and keep going. It was extremely helpful! My OB asked if I was a swimmer (I'm not), he was apparently impressed with my breath control?? Ha!
Well, in about 15 minutes at 9:56pm Baby A (Emi, 6 pounds 11 ounces) popped out and was placed immediately on my chest and my hubby was instructed to cut her cord. I tried to stop them because I wanted to delay clamping til the cord finished pulsating, but they said they can't do this with twins because there's no time. They weren't joking either... After a few minutes of bonding and taking photos, Emi was taken to the bassinet behind me to be checked by the pediatrician and my OB "guided" Baby B down and into proper positioning with gentle massage on my belly. Just 6 minutes after Emi's debut (in just TWO PUSHES), Baby B (Mia, 5 pounds 9 ounces) was out at 10:02pm!! I simply couldn't believe how easy delivery of these girls was, I didn't realize a birth could be so easy and painless!!! I laughed, a lot, and cried. The joy and surprise was just overwhelming!!
With a total of 21 minutes of pushing, despite it being 2 babies, the recovery from this birth was WAY easier and quicker than my previous, which was 2 hours of pushing out an 8-pounder followed by pretty bad bleeding. Within 2 hours of this birth I was up (unassisted) and using the bathroom, pretty amazing for post-epidural! The after pains (especially when nursing) were much worse, but only lasted a week. The only pretty bad part was some back/hip pain that started while pregnant. I ended up seeing a chiropractor at 2 weeks postpartum, but it didn't help and at around 3 weeks it went away on its own, which was a huge relief!
In a nutshell...
Just because you're having twins does not mean you will have tons of problems throughout the pregnancy and deliver preemies via c-section. Yes, these can all happen, but there is no point in freaking out about the possibilities that hopefully will never happen (and even if they do happen, chances are mama and babies will all be perfectly fine in the end!). It is completely possible you will have a kick ass easy pregnancy, quick and wonderful birth, and amazing ride into the world of being a twin mama!! Good luck to you!!
And in case you missed it, check out my baby bump progression video, followed by the video recap of their birth!
The time is flying and so far everything is still looking A-OK!! Here's what we're dealing with:
Positioning: Baby A & B are both vertex i.e. head down.
Weights: Baby A is about 4 pounds 13 ounces, Baby B is about 4 pounds 9 ounces (she's had a growth spurt - now both are in the 30-35th percentile!), and I'm up 40 pounds, yikes!
Rings: Not experiencing swelling too bad but rings are off just in case.
Clothes: Growing out of my shirts one by one, most regular maternity shirts are simply not long enough to cover such an enormous belly!! I have 4 tank tops that are still plenty long, and a few more that are barely cutting it - I have to pull up the belly panel on my shorts so my skin isn't exposed.
Stretch Marks: Started arriving and multiplying around 30 weeks, all on the under belly so far. Ugh. Never got any with Kenzo who went to 40 weeks 2 days, but I'm stretching much more and much quicker this time.
Movement: TONS!!! Lots of kicking, stretching, and hiccuping. Occasionally uncomfortable, especially when they jab me in the ribs.
Sleep: Not fun. My Snoogle body pillow helps, but rolling over is a struggle, and I have to get up to pee about 3 times a night.
Signs of labor: None, other than frequent but irregular Braxton Hicks contractions, which are a bit uncomfortable but not too bad - just really tight with a lot of pressure, but not painful if I stay still.
Plans for labor: Hoping for an unmedicated vaginal delivery, but may beg for drugs, or may need a c-section in the end, it's totally up in the air!
Biggest challenge: Meeting the goal of 175 grams of protein a day. I'm so not even close to that.
Biggest worry: What's going to happen with our toddler when I go into labor. The hospital won't allow him with us, and my parents probably won't be able to make it up here from North Carolina in time, so I've come up with a list of mommy sitters to call on. Just hoping it's not in the middle of the night!!
What's gotten old: The increasing discomfort, which from what I hear from other twin moms is really small in comparison to what it can be. But if I make it to 37+ weeks, I think there's no avoiding being completely miserable.
What's not gotten old: People's reactions when they realize we're having twins. It usually goes something like this: Shop Clerk "Any day now huh?", Me "Well, hopefully another month.", Shop Clerk "Do you know what you're having?", Me "2 girls", Shop Clerk (polite smile, then after a second their mouth drops open as it hits them) "TWINS!?!?!?!" hahaha so fun!
Things are chugging along pretty smoothly for us, knock on wood!! I'm up 30 pounds, which was my total weight gain when giving birth to Kenzo at 40 weeks 2 days! And we've still got a good 2 months to go...
The girls on the other hand are only at the 15th and 18th percentiles for size, not sure if this was always the case or not, it's just never been mentioned til today. Nobody seemed especially concerned but just said we'll pay close attention to it. I'm still going to the MFM (high risk specialist) every 2 weeks for scans (but today was my last cervical check - hoorah!!) and my OB has just bumped me up from every 4 weeks to every 2-3 weeks, not based on any problems but just that I'm now in the 3rd trimester.
I had been worried about my blood pressure for a while - around 16 weeks it seemed to be rising but by 19 weeks it was back down to under 110/70 and is holding steady, for now!
Kenzo has recently started enjoying feeling the babies kick. They're getting really active and it's so fun to watch him feel them and laugh and jump back and pretend to be scared. He's such a hoot!!
At the moment both babies are head down - Baby A has her head resting on my cervix apparently, and she's facing my back, whereas Baby B is facing my tummy. Baby A's placenta is anterior (my belly side) and Baby B's is posterior (more typical, my back side), so basically they're both resting their backs on their own placentas, ha! Since Baby A was hiding her face, we couldn't get a photo, but the sonographer was kind enough to switch on the 3D function (for free) for a minute to snap a mug shot of a very smushed Baby B:
Last weekend I had my glucose screening - you have to drink a bottle of sugar (like a flat orange Fanta) and then they take your blood an hour later to see if you're processing sugar correctly. I didn't realize but the doc told me today it's quite hard for twin moms to pass the test, but... he said, in these exact words, "You CRUSHED your glucose test!!" and I nearly did a happy dance!!! My score was a 97 and the cutoff for needing a follow up 3-hour test is 130. Just a theory but perhaps my massive sweet tooth has conditioned my body to process sugar super quickly. Is that possible? ha!! Whatever, I'm thrilled I don't have to go on a special (boring) diet for gestational diabetes!! My thyroid levels, which were tested due to my eyebrows thinning, came back A-OK, so they eyebrow thing is either due to low protein or just pregnancy in general.
The doctor is "optimistic" that, as long as Baby A is head down and not smaller than Baby B, I can try for a vaginal delivery. He said the doctors want a vaginal and I want a vaginal so if everything is looking good he thinks we can do it. He mentioned the medical staff are always super excited for a vaginal twin delivery, which made me laugh, and is also refreshing because you so often hear that OB's much rather do a c-section because it's fast and easy for them. But twin vaginal deliveries are less common, and can you imagine if I go for an unmedicated one!?? I'll be like a unicorn in the twin world! LOL!!! I'm scared as hell for all possible birthing scenarios, but am not letting myself worry about it until we are there...
How to prepare for having TWINS!
You just got slammed with the shocker that you're pregnant with twins. Now what? It's a headspinning, terrifying, and thrilling time to be sure (check out my blog post from when we first found out to see how we reacted). There are a few things you can do to help you come to terms with your new (probably very unexpected) situation, start actually being able to sleep again, and keep you and your little ones healthy and comfortable. Here's what helped me:
1. Read BOOKS and beware of Google
As far as educating yourself, the Internet can be both a blessing and a burden. Think twice before googling certain questions and phrases - what you find can be absolutely terrifying and cause much unnecessary anxiety. That said, I did a LOT of googling in the first few weeks and do not regret it. But I know my mentality - I'm definitely the "prepare for the worst and hope for the best" kinda gal, and I find reassurance in understanding the worst that can happen, knowing the signs and symptoms, and then brushing it off and not worrying about it unless it actually happens. If this doesn't sound like you, then stay away from Google!
2. Take a twin specific class
If this will be your first birth, you should take a birthing class. A class through your hospital or birthing center can be great because they will go over the policies and procedures and you'll know better what you can expect. However, if there's a specific method you want to learn that is not offered through your hospital, you should definitely look elsewhere. Hypnobabies and Birthing From Within are a couple of great ones you might want to consider if you're trying to go for a natural birth.
Keep in mind, however, that these birthing classes are usually focused on first time parents having ONE baby. Birthing twins, either vaginally or via Cesarian, is a whole other ball game, and for that you need to take a twin specific class. I took two recently and can't recommend either of them highly enough!!
Twiniversity runs two different 3-hour classes on the first and second Monday nights of each month in New York City, led by Twiniversity's HILARIOUS founder, Natalie Diaz. Their 101 class covers everything from what items to include on your baby registry, to what you can expect during a vaginal or Ceserian delivery, how to find a nanny and pediatrician, and how to deal with NICU time. Their 201 class covers things for the babies' first six months, like how to breast or bottle feed, sleep train, diaper, travel, etc etc. Each class is $160 per family, includes a fabulously yummy Italian dinner, and you'll be sent home with a big bag of swag, including pacifiers, bottles, and Natalie's best-selling book, What to Do When You're Having Two.
Twin Love Concierge (TLC) offers "Expecting Twins" workshops in the Tri-State / New York City area (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Lower Westchester, Northern Westchester, Connecticut), Los Angeles (Hollywood & Pasadena), Boston, Miami (South Miami & Biscayne), and Houston. The 2-hour class costs $105 per couple and covers everything from what gear you do and don't need, preparing for the birth and NICU, what to expect in the first few weeks, and techniques for breast and bottle feeding. You'll be added to a private Facebook group of TLC grads and be sent home with a Parent Pack of useful information and helpful charts. In New York City, TLC also offers a 3-hour long "Bringing Home Babies" class which is a combo of the above twins prep and a RN-led birthing class specialized for twins, a great option for those in the NYC-metro area!! It costs $250 per couple.
3. Join local and virtual twins clubs
Virtual twins clubs on Facebook can be extremely helpful and supportive, but as with Google, can overwhelm you with heartbreaking stories and negative comments as well. So, join at your own risk! Personally, I love love LOVE the Private Page of National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs Inc, a 10K+ member Facebook group. Have a question about whether or not something is normal, want feedback on baby names you're considering, or just want to compare bump photos? Post away!! This group has been so amazingly helpful to me!
You should definitely search out your local twins group, and depending on where you live there might be several. You can do a search on the Multiples of America site, or ask in the above mentioned Facebook group for a recommendation in your area. My local group is run through Yahoo and charges a $20 membership fee, but the amount of for sale and for free items being offered via e-mail every day more than makes up for the joining cost! You can seriously find just about anything you need - you shouldn't have to pay a cent for your double snap 'n go stroller, those are a dime a dozen in these twins groups! I snagged a My Brest Friend Twins Nursing Pillow for $20, picked up bags of maternity clothes and a baby swing for FREE, and am lined up to get a matching set of 2 Pottery Barn cribs and changing table next month. SCORE!!! Not to mention you can arrange meet-ups and make lifelong friends with some of these families.
If you're in Brooklyn, definitely join FB's Brooklyn Parents of Twins as well as the Yahoo group BBPOTC - great for buying / selling twin gear for cheap (and lots for free, too)!
Other great virtual Buy/Sell/Trade for twins groups are:
4. Keep an open mind and positive attitude
You may have certain expectations for your pregnancy, birth, and new family life. But you should probably go ahead and throw those out the window. You are "high risk" and will be treated as such, no matter how healthy you and your babes are. You will give birth in the OR (yes, even if vaginally) with upwards of 14 medical staff in the room with you. You and your little ones will be the center of attention, for better or for worse, for a long time to come and you'll have to deal with daily comments ranging from "Are they NATURAL??" and "Are they identical??" (even when they're obviously boy/girl), to "You sure have your hands full!" (like, DUH!)
So, the quicker you can come to terms with it and not only accept but be happy with the new normal, the better! Cuz... TWINS!!! That is freaking AMAZEBALLS!!!! Welcome to the club ^_^
5. Read my other twin-related posts
If you want to read them all, click and scroll through the categories of "Twin Pregnancy" and "Twins". If you only have time for a few, here are my faves:
6. Document your pregnancy!
Whether this is your first or sixth pregnancy, twins are something incredibly special. If you go full term, your belly will grow to a size you never knew possible!! So, embrace it and document it!! Be sure to take weekly photos - share online or keep them for yourselves, with or without a shirt, just be sure to document it because you will look back on those fondly with your children and just not believe you were actually that big!!! I decided to make a stop motion video of my belly growth, it was pretty easy and an amazing keepsake, check it out here:
I had the big anatomy scan today and - PHEW - the tech was able to reconfirm (with "total confidence") that the twins are both indeed girls. If you have to know, not only couldn't she find any penises but she was able to spot two sets of labia, HA!
She took about half an hour scanning each baby, recording 192 photographs (yet I only got 3 to take home), and taking measurements to make sure the babies are developing with no problems. And indeed, they are!! Their hearts showed 4 chambers pumping away, their faces showed no sign of cleft palate, their heads and femurs measured to date, their kidneys were going to town. The only thing she had trouble capturing were hands and feet. Hands because one of the babies had them clenched and wouldn't open up to show us her fingers. And feet, well, let's just say the babies were playing a major game of footsies and the tech just couldn't tell whose feet were whose!!
One interesting new thing I found out is Baby A's placenta is posterior (in the back) and B's is anterior (in the front). Way to balance each other out ladies!! Right now they are sitting next to each other with their feet down (breech) but the tech said they are still flipping around and not to worry about positioning til around 36 weeks when it would be unlikely for them to flip further (but not impossible).
The babies are measuring 11 ounces each (about 6.5 inches from head to butt), which has me wondering why I'm up 17 pounds already. Yikes!! But of course there are placentas, amniotic fluid, breast tissue, tons of extra blood and fluids being produced and circulated, and a bit of extra chub to support the babies in the womb and once breastfeeding. And if you remember, the goal for twin moms is to gain 24 pounds by week 24 for the best chance of babies gaining enough weight and staying in the oven to term. So... I guess I'm right on track! Though, I kind of feel like a whale. It doesn't help that hubby comments on how huge my belly is getting every single night. But at least he doesn't rub it in that it's not just my belly growing, haha!
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1). This blog is chock full of product reviews, family travel guides, and giveaways galore! It's also home to Bay Ridge Families, and several guides focused on kid-friendly activities and guides to South Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey, as well as family-friendly destinations beyond the NYC area (check the menu bar!)