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Looking back: advice for parents of twins

Can’t believe that it has been almost three years. I think my posts stopped around the time I headed back to work full time.  Still, this rearview look has it’s advantages.  For those of you that will be having twins, here are some things I would have done differently:

1. Have someone at your house that knows babies when you get home from the hospital.   We thought we would have the first week or so to ourselves before my sister (total baby expert) joined me for a week. Big mistake. We knew nothing. I was scared of everything about them. I was too scared to bath them.  I was scared every time they made a peep. And I cringe to this day of how they screamed that first night. I know now they were hungry but I was afraid of overfeeding them.  What an idiot (me, not them).

2. Be easy on yourself. Everything you do will not be perfect but that’s ok.  Look around you – all these people survived to parenthood and believe me, some of them had parents that are more incompetent than you.

3. Forget all the sleep/ sleep training books.  Do what feels right for you. I couldn’t, still can’t let them scream and cry.  So I haven’t slept a lot in almost three years but it can’t go on forever.  When they’re teenagers I will get my revenge when I make them get up in the morning when they want to sleep in.

4. Coffee is no longer bad for you. Drink lots of it.

5. I think the best book I had for early development stuff was Burton White’s “The New First Three Years of Life”  It was actually written awhile ago so you would think they had come out with something newer but I couldnt find anything that wasn’t pop psyhycology.  His book was based on research and I found the development stages and how to handle them very accurate.

6. Gear stuff – what you need and what you don’t – that deserves a post in itself – coming soon!

Antibiotics…yeesh

I was really hoping to get away from giving either of them antibiotics for their first year.  Hence I didn’t enroll them in swimming classes (in case of ear infections) and I gave them breast milk (pumped, with formula supplement) for the first six months a la World Health Organization recommendations to pass on antibodies.

A recent Canadian study found a strong link between between antibiotic use in the first year and asthma, see http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=81720 

Done in by a toenail.  I took Angus in to see a pediatrician at the Kensington clinic and she recommended oral antibiotics as his ingrown toenail was infected and the infection had spread down to the joint.  I was tempted to leave it a couple days to see if it would clear up with soaking and topical antibiotic ointment but he was in pain. I can remember having an infected ingrown toenail and it throbbed with pain.  So we got him on them right away as the pediatrician recommended. 

Then a couple days later Kieran spiked a temp of 39.5 After speaking to an expert (my sister, an ER nurse), I also took him into the clinic.  Checked out his ears, throat, chest and all was fine so no antibiotics for Kieran. Virus is the suspect.  A couple bad nights and the fever now seems under control. 

So here we have an unintentional experiment – identical twins, one getting antibiotics first year, one not (so far).  Hopefully we will get nil results on this one!

Okay, maybe we broke out the bubbly a little too soon….

but we’ve had some definite improvements.  Kieran has slept through the last three nights in a row.  While we were away on holidays, he was the non-sleeper.  Angus, who slept well on holidays, woke up twice last night, once the night before.  But he does go back to sleep very easily if I put his soother back in and shhhhhhh him for awhile.  He hasn’t been really well – ingrown toenail that has become infected, I had to take him into the clinic last night and he is now on oral antibiotics.  I hate to give him oral antibiotics, they say that kids that recieve them before one year of age have a much higher incidence of asthma.  But the infection had moved down the toe so we need to hit it hard.

Turns out Gus has had ingrown toenail issues, his brother has had a number of surgeries to remove toenails because of ingrowness – seems to be a faulty gene on the husband side!  Oh well, I noticed  big gap in their front teeth – this is a genetic “flaw” on the mother’s side – myself and my siblings had expensive orthodontics to fix it but it seems orthodontic fixes don’t fix the DNA yet!

BOTH slept through the night…break out the bubbly!

                                                    http://www.randomclipart.com/clipart/cartoon-champagne-bottle-1003.html

The whole night started out horrendously – decided to let Angus cry for 10 minutes when we put him down  – it was bad, bad bad!  I can’t do that again.  After 10 minutes he was sobbing and heaving and couldn’t get his breath.  Even when I picked him up.  Finally brought him to my bed and lay with him until he went to sleep.  So forget the cry it out method for me, I’m sure if I left him long enough he would eventually sob himself to sleep but by that time I’d be sobbing myself to sleep too.  Put Kieran down in the usual manner, lay beside him until he fell asleep and then transferred him to his bed.

Then Gus and I both went upstairs to sleep (we’ve been doing this the last three nights – otherwise we wake to every peep, this way we only wake when they cry).  I woke at…not 11 PM..not 2 AM……not 3:30 AM but 5 AM to….SILENCE!  Neither baby was awake yet and neither had cried through the night – I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my watch! 

I lay there is silent bliss until 6 AM when Kieran woke.  Beseto (fat cat) woke Gus at 5 AM by lying across his face.  He wasn’t impressed.

Okay it was only one night but cross my fingers we may, may, may , may finally be there?  They just turned nine months.  And it has been a long, hard sleep deprived nine months (and longer, I don’t think I really slept for the last three months of the pregnancy). 

Will try again tonight…shhhhhh!  Babies sleeping!

Sleeping with Baby(ies)

Two well rested twins, 8 months old

Two well rested twins, their parents don't look this good.

Sleeping with babies is not recommended.  Experts say it can be a cause of SIDS.  So when my guys were first born, they never slept with me.  Even when I went to get them in their crib at 3 AM and I took them to my bed to feed them, I always returned them to their cribs.  Even when they were so cuddly and molded against me and all I wanted to do was to drift off with this cuddly baby – I would startle awake to my SIDS paranoia and return them to their bumper free crib in their sleep sacks (all things that were supposed to ward off SIDS, did I mention I was paranoid?).  More on SIDS some other post.

Somewhere around the six month mark I started lying down with Kieran during his nap – he would drift off quickly when I was there.  And then I started taking him to my bed when he woke up in the night.  And then I would take Angus to bed when he woke.  Gus would come in the morning and find all three of us in various positions, with walls of pillows I had built around them to stop them from rolling onto the floor.  I knew it was a bad idea but at 3 AM when you are so tired and sleep deprived, you take the easy solution, something that will get them back to sleep quickly so everyone can sleep.

Thing is, only the babies really sleep.  I now take Kieran to bed almost every night when he wakes.  and he turns, and squirms, and kicks, and pushes his soother into my face and grabs my hair.  But when he’s asleep I can sleep too.  And when he’s screaming in the other room, I can’t.  Latest solution has been me on a mattress on the floor in their room which worked okay last night (first attempt), I can hush them with my voice when they wake.  We were going to take turns on the mattress but they are at a stage when they only want mommy and we only have one of those.

We are away on vacation for a week.  We are considering something more draconian upon our return (Ferber?  I don’t think I cn do it) but I really need these guys sleeping through the night before I go back to work, three short months away!

Will post when we get back.

Baby Free Weekend

The twins spent the weekend at my brother Brad’s place with his wife Pam and three kids: Liam, Teagan and Rowan.  There are very few people we would trust our precious babies with but my brother’s wife is amazing with kids.  I of course had to call all the time to see how they were but I didn’t call as many times as I did the last time they stayed there.  The last time my brother forbid me to call past 10 PM.  Anyway a good time was had by all – Brad got to stay up with Kieran from 12 AM to 3 AM.  Meanwhile I was at home dreaming the babies were in bed with us.  Gus had to keep telling me the babies weren’t there as I lifted blankets and picked up his arm in my sleep, thinking it was  a baby that would fall off the bed.

About the Cats

Since the name of the Blog is Identical Twins and two cats I guess I should mention something about the cats.  You can probably tell I am not really into the cats.  They came with Gus and were full grown and had a full hate-on for me when I came into the picture.  We eventually got to a place where we respectfully ignored each other.  Then when I was off on sick leave due to my twin pregnancy, we actually became quite fond of each other.  They would curl up with me and purr, one liked sitting on my belly, I felt like she was “hatching” the twins.  Then the babies came and I’m sure the cats were thinking “What the hell happened?” because there was absolutely no time for purring or cuddles with them.  Things have calmed down somewhat and we are in somewhat of a routine now that the babies are 8 months old but of course the cats have not fogiven me for ignoring them for eight months. So we’re kind of back to the respectfully ignoring stage.  The babies are fascinated by them.

The Trip was Wonderful (till the last leg home)

My seventeen year old niece and sister each took a baby for two nights and I slept out in their trailer so I couldn’t even hear any fussing.  Two nights uninterrupted sleep – bliss! It’s funny how you are almost tireder when you catch up on sleep – it’s like your body gets used to the interruptions.  I have become a bit of an insomniac since getting up through the night with the babies but I did get a couple good sleeps in.

It was great having more hands around to help with babies and the three little girls (ten, seven, and four) played and played and played with the babies, keeping them entertained.  So in a way it would be easier with twins if you had more kids!

Teagan, my ten year old niece, managed to keep them entertained on the long trip home.  But after I dropped her off and did the last hour on my own – screaming, sobbing babies.  And bumper to bumper traffic to boot.  Very difficult as there is nothing you can really do…I tried talking, singing etc.  I finally had to pull off the freeway and give them a baby mum mum to chew on.  That worked for awhile but then I was worried they would choke on their cookies!  We eventually made it home.  Just trying to get them back on some semblence of a schedule.

Sleep is the theme that keeps comin

5 Hour Trip Alone with Two Babies

Okay, not really alone.  I am bringing my ten year old niece for assistance.  My husband is worried I will be turning around in the seat if the babies start fussing and drive right off the road.  No need to worry, I am ultimate careful when driving with my babies.

We did do one 5 hour (turned into 9 hours) trip before. but Gus was with me.  The way there was fine, the way back a nightmare. 

The trick is to drive when they are sleeping.  This means getting up early, like 4 AM cause they will sleep till 7 AM, when it is time for first bottle.  They then have their cereal at 8 Am and are ready for a 2 hour nap at 9 AM which means another two hours of uniterrrupted driving.  Then 11 AM bottle, 12 PM lunch and back down again at 1 PM.  The two hour stops make the trip much longer but truly more pleasant than driving with them awake in their carseats, they get bored and fussy after 20 minutes or so when they are awake.

Will post again upon return.

The Second Post: I guess I should explain a few things…

The fall (twice) from our deck to bushes below

The fall (twice) from our deck to bushes below

My husband and I are both 43, the twins are eight months old, identical twin boys. Apparently very identical though they look quite different to me.  The cats are about seven or eight years old (not sure, they came with the husband) and are fraternal twins. Very fraternal.  One is fat, has long black hair and has cost us about a million dollars in vet bills.  The other is very slim, black and white short hair and has fallen from the balcony of our top floor condo to the ground (twice), bouncing off the roof below (about five stories) . Gus went and fished her out of the bushes, slight limp one time, never had a vet bill. Gus took a photo of the fall.

The babies love the cats, and squeal with pleasure whenever they spot one.  The cats do not love the babies and go through great lengths to avoid them.  Babies are just starting to crawl. Things should get interesting.