Bringing Home Twins

Bringing home twins was probably one of the most intimidating experiences of my life. Firstly I was terrified of the hormonal and physical toll I was likely to experience. For example, when my daughter was born postpartum knocked me off my feet. From inconsolable crying to torrential night sweats and almost hourly epsom salt baths, I felt like I had been in a traumatic battle. So needless to say I was terrified of the twin postpartum phase and the hormonal changes times two.

Secondly, I was petrified of bringing home and caring for two tiny babies and one needy toddler. I imagined so many scenarios that ended in me locking myself in the bathroom or taking off down the street half dressed and hysterical. Luckily for me, my imagination made things out to be a lot worse than it was. Do not get me wrong it was a difficult transition, and there were many moments where it was overwhelming and I was on the verge of hysterics. However, as a second time mom I knew what was likely coming my way and this time I was ready for all the ups and downs of postpartum and was well equipped.. The following list I would like to think is what made those first few months tolerable at their worst, and may I dare say wonderful at its best. I am hoping other moms-to-be, twin moms or not will find this list helpful to them as well.

Bringing home twins was probably one of the most intimidating experiences of my life - Fallon Melander for Nesting Story

Mom Friends: someone who you can turn to, who at that exact moment is also experiencing what you are as well. For me it was a neighbour whose son was born two weeks after the twins. We quickly bonded over life as second time moms. From weekly walks to long coffee chats she was my life line during those precious and sleep deprived months. I was fortunate that I didn’t have to look far for a mom pal, but I definitely suggest connecting with other moms through facebook groups, local early years centres or even through apps that are available specifically to connect moms.

Smash + Tess Rompers: I lived in these! So comfortable, flattering, loose in all the right places, perfect for breastfeeding and dare I say pretty cute too. The last thing I wanted to think about postpartum was what I was going to wear. Being able to pull this romper out and put it on within seconds made it a huge win in my books.

Native Deodorant: as I mentioned above, postpartum sweat is real, and so is postpartum smell! For me this deodorant not only worked amazingly well, but it also is aluminum free, cruelty free and paraben free, so I felt safe wearing it around the little ones

Sleep Consultant: this is probably my number one recommendation for twin moms-to be. When I found out I was expecting twins I connected with another twin mom who just had twin boys. She recommended a sleep consultant that she had hired who not only assisted with forming a sleep plan for twins, but also provided overnight sleep support – aka stayed up all night with the babies while you and your spouse slept! Obviously this is not an affordable option for everyone, but for us it was life changing. As you can imagine as a pumping mom I was functioning on very little sleep, as was my husband who was up every few hours feeding one of the twins as well. The ability to have a trusted person in our home looking after and feeding our twins twice a week allowed us to recharge and emerge as functional human beings again. 

Bringing home twins was probably one of the most intimidating experiences of my life - Fallon Melander for Nesting Story

Swaddle and Sound Machine: these were both life savers for us in ensuring our twins fell asleep and stayed asleep, and were recommended by our sleep consultant. With my first child, who hated being swaddled we used terrible velcro swaddles that she would always manage to break out of. We also gave up so easily on swaddling her because she would protest. We also had a sound machine that would turn off just as she was entering into her next sleep cycle, and would wake up. To remedy this with our twins we used the “Swaddle Up” zip up swaddle and used an inexpensive sound machine with a continuous play function we bought on Amazon. 

Snap n Go Double Stroller: I used this baby until the bitter end, when I literally thought it was going to collapse under the weight of the twins. Although this stroller is not the easiest to maneuver and I would not recommend taking it for long trail walks, it was amazing for quick trips into the mall or grocery store. Being able to keep the babies in their infant car seats while quickly snapping them in was invaluable. A bonus, I was able to score one from a second-hand store and definitely got my money’s worth. 

Swing and Bouncy Seat: having numerous places to put the twins down was essential, especially when I was solo. From swings, bouncy seats, baby loungers, rockers, you name it we had it at some point. Every baby is different and instead of buying two of everything I bought a few things and then assessed whether it was worth it to buy a second. My house often looked like a baby amusement park at this stage.

Fallon Melander is a thirty-something wife, reformed lawyer and mother to twins plus one

Homemade Frozen Meals: easy, delicious and fast. That is all you need when you are home, exhausted and hungry! I enlisted my mom to make a bunch of healthy meals that we could freeze and eat without worry.

Diaper Stockpile: especially for twins, you will not believe how many diapers you will go through. Disposable or reusable, stock up in advance! Our family threw us a diaper party and the amount of time and money we saved was such a gift.

Couch: This was a tip that I learned from the Nesting Story blog and probably one of my favourite nursery design decisions ever. I initially intended on purchasing an oversized glider for the twins room but quickly decided that even though it would allow me to sit with both twins, my husband would have no place to sit. Nesting Story showed me how a loveseat sized couch was perfect for not only allowing two people to sit and feed the babies, but also allows a place for one baby to lie down (supervised and within reach) while feeding the other baby. The couch is still used today by us to cuddle, read stories and lounge on while watching the twins play. 

Honourable Mentions: good quality double breast pump, tons of activities to keep any older siblings busy, dry shampoo (this is how I often “washed” my hair), adult diapers for those post-birth days/weeks, and a huge water bottle – stay hydrated and combat all the water loss.

Fallon Melander is a thirty-something wife, reformed lawyer and mother to twins plus one. As a survivor of anxiety and depression, she hopes that by sharing her story she can help to inspire and bring others together.

Twins… what was I getting into?

Me: “Is everything okay in there?”

Ultrasound Technician “Yes, everything is okay… times two.”

Me: “Ummm, excuse me.”

Yes, this is how my twin journey began. It was quite a surprise and one I will never forget. I realize all twin/multiples pregnancies begin their journey in many different ways and each and every one are truly unique, but mine was the classic Hollywood portrayal of stunned parents-to-be who at 12-weeks-pregnant have just found out that they are expecting not one but two babies.

Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy and I had NO idea how I was going to handle taking care of two babies at the same time. See, I was not a rookie mom, a few years earlier I had given birth to a daughter who was the star of our lives, but also demanded a lot of our attention. To be honest I wasn’t even sure if we could have handled bringing another baby into our family without losing our minds. I felt like I was still emerging from the new mom fog and I am ashamed to admit it but I may have googled “how to know if you should have another baby” one too many times. Alas, when we finally decided to give it a shot it didn’t even cross my mind that it could be a double shot.

From a mom of one to expecting two babies, dealing with a twin surprise by Fallon Melander and Nesting Story

So you can imagine how unprepared I felt. From things like strollers, car seats, bassinets and high chairs we needed to either buy new items or in the case of my car we had to upgrade to something larger that would fit three car seats safely. The economic impact alone of having two babies at once was a hard pill to swallow, and still is. But I can tell you the emotional and physical impacts for me were even harder. Extreme nausea, fatigue, joint pain and swelling combined with anxiety, fear, anger and panic kept me up all hours of the night. I read every book, joined every twin mom group and scoured the internet for all the information. But as prepared as I may have been the deep seed of the unknown began to weigh me down. That is until those babies were born. I did not have an “aha” moment during my pregnancy nor did I find a sense of calm. It wasn’t until those two babies were in my face with their perfect little round faces and tiny little bodies did I see the true miracle that was twins.

I was surprised with two babies and became a twin mom by Fallon Melander and Nesting Story

I hope to share my birth story and personal twin journey with you all soon but I really wanted to share my true side of finding out and processing a twin pregnancy and beyond. I hope this provides any of you who may be beginning your multiples journey or those in the midst of it some comfort that it is not all rainbows and butterflies. That fear and anxiety is okay and you are not alone. It does get better and it does get easier in other ways. Reach out to other twin mamas for support, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and know you are stronger than you think.

I was chronically busy and it had to stop

busy mom

“How are you?” a friend asked me at a conference a couple weeks ago. I could feel an inner push and pull as to how to answer this question. I had just checked into the hotel and was crossing the threshold from frantically getting deadlines done, making lunches, breaking up my kids’ fights, and keeping my home afloat, to two days away, to take a minute, reflect and reassess.

“Truthfully,” I started, “I’m burnt out.” I immediately felt guilt bubble up inside of me, scolding me for complaining about life, when I had it so good on paper. My business was booming, my kids were healthy and doing well in school, my marriage was solid and my house was in the midst of getting much needed upgrades and renovations.

But then if you scraped just below the surface, you’d see that my work was so busy that I was neglecting myself and my kids, leaving my body feeling tired and out of sorts, and my kids edgy and vying for my attention. Although date night was keeping my marriage copacetic, Mike and I have been craving more day to day free time to play with our kids and be intimate with each other.

And then there’s our house, oh our house… every room told a story. Whether it was my dining room table, unrecognizable under the boxes of products, random fall and Christmas decor scattered throughout leftover from hosting and filming videos, or my seven-year-old daughter’s room, so messy it was begging for little critters to find it, each room was screaming “I NEED ATTENTION.”

As I continued answering my friend’s harmless question, I heard myself robotically say, “works crazy, and life is a bit off balance, but that’s a good problem, right?” a nervous giggle followed.

“Not always,” she replied.

As I sat in on inspiring panels, and delighted in a mid-afternoon nap, (which only happens when I am away at conferences), it became clear what I had to do going home.

I had to fight for balance.

Balance, less stress, less frantic, how ever you want to put it, wasn’t going to walk up to me one day and say, I’m here! No, it was up to me to fiercely fight for time and to create a life which is less busy, but more manageable and healthy.

So, how am I going to fight for what I so desperately need?

I am going to say no.

I have a lot on my plate between now and Christmas. Social gatherings and work commitments and piling on top of each other. Now, it’s one thing to properly tackle what you have committed to. It’s another thing to close the flood gates and say, “I’m at capacity.”

I am going to drop perfection.

I can tend to have this personality that is very all or nothing. As a kid and teenager it made me tip into the “I don’t care” category, leaving me failing classes and skipping school. But as an adult, it’s tipped the other way. Perfection with work, neglect with myself and home. I will leave a little on the table when it comes to work. Know that I am putting my heart into everything, but quitting the second guessing and the tinkering and just get on with it.

I will make plans.

We’ve booked a BIG vacation. I will document it all, don’t you worry. But what this has done has created a hard end date to my busy schedule. I will take time off a hit the reset button coming back.

I will stop wasting time.

I know, I was squeezing them lemon pretty hard. But guess what? I have been setting my alarm pretty early each morning and doing a pathetic workout and playing on my phone. But today was different. I went to a 6am fitness class where I was held accountable and phones were not allowed. I plan to go to these classes every weekday.

I will stick to my work hours.

Although I may have to still do some work on the weekends due to the nature of the projects I am working on, I will stop working after my kids get home from school and shift into mom-mode. Even if I am not entertaining them, (which isn’t my job), I can be a listening ear while prepping a healthy dinner, making lunches, or tidying up. Actually my kids seem happiest when I am occupied with mom tasks instead of sitting at my desk, shut away in my office.

It’s been a week now since pledging these changes to myself amidst this busy season, and I am happy to report that the “frantic” is gone. Life feels more manageable. I will never get it 100%, but who does? What matters is a calm has come over me and my family. We have slowed down. That burnt out feeling has dissipated.

I am fighting for balance.

 

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Twins, four kids, the truth and why I’ve been afraid to say this out loud

A note to my readers… I have been sitting on this post for almost a year. I wrote it after a particular trying season, while taking a minute to breathe just outside of my daughter’s dance class. I was resistant to share it. Maybe because I needed the clouds to part. Although this still rings true when things get tough, it’s not such an overwhelming sensation anymore. I have updated my kids ages to reflect today. I hope that with sharing this piece, a mother somewhere might feel a little less alone.

Mother and four kids
Christmas portrait with twins and older siblings

I am about to talk about something that is an almost constant thought of mine. It is something that I think about often and I have only said out loud to three people before in fear that when I utter the words, I might not be understood. That I might be judged, or told that I am not grateful.

But I have decided to say these words out loud because I might not be the only parent of multiples to think this.

Maybe you will get it.

I’ve written a lot about our journey, from the moment we found out we were having two babies, to preparing for their arrival and babyhood with two. But the older our twins get, the less I feel I am going through twin-specific phases and the more I feel like we just happen to have two kids with the same birthday.

Truthfully, I forget I have twins half the time. But every once and a while, when we are in a pressure-cooker-situation, like trying to pop into a store and both of my four-year-olds melt down and they are too big to scoop up easily to abandon ship, I remember… oh yeah I have twins!

I should mention to anyone who is new to my blog, that I have two older kids too. An nine-year-old and a seven year old. Which as you can probably imagine, is a very busy life.

So here it is…

There is this sense of relief when I remember I have twins. The fact that I never had the choice to ease into four kids. The fact that I never had three kids and thought, let’s have one more.

Because in those moments, where I feel completely outnumbered and overwhelmed, I find comfort in the fact that I did not choose to jump from two to four.

Now before I get in too deep with this confession, I want to say that moms with four kids, or multiples are not “more of a mom” than moms with one, or two, or three kids. Moms with one kid have their own set of challenges, I get that. In fact I often tell parents that one was WAY harder than four, (no built in playmates, everything is a first, and there’s too much time to overthink every decision).

But we are busier. It’s a mathematical fact.

We have to bring four kids in from the car, who are cranky and hungry and just want to challenge us. We have to do four bedtimes, with four different sleep challenges. We have to satisfy four different appetites and keep track that each one ate at least something other than bread each day. We have four yearly dentist, doctor and eye-doctor appointments. Four different school and friend challenges… and the list goes on and on.

Every fall, here in Canada, we have to track down four sets of mitts, hats, winter coats, boots and snow pants, whether its digging through hand-me-down bins, or running from store to store not settling until you find snow pants with reinforced knee-patches, to save yourself a mid-winter shopping trip.

So, there it is. That’s the truth. It’s out there now.

But here’s the good thing… I wouldn’t have it any other way. I may have not chosen this path to four children, but I am so glad that I was dealt this hand.

Being a mom of four, and twins, has forced me to grow in ways that without my children, I would have never done. It has made me realize that it’s okay to give myself grace when I’ve had a rough day, and be kind to myself when it all feels like a lot.

On the hardest days I, ( after sometimes loosing my cool a little), will remind myself that letting go of perfection, and loving my family fiercely is almost always the solution.

I’m actually enjoying Christmas vacation… well, so far

toddler playing with doll

I am a routine freak. I don’t try to hide it. I need my routine. When pulled out of it, even for a weekend, I unravel.

But here I am, Thursday December 28th, and I am intact, mentally sound, and have not crumbled. Not even during the three straight days of family events, (some with two events per day). Nope, I’m as cool as a cucumber over here.

At least for now.

Maybe this is the sign of the times. I have emerged from the baby haze and can actually cope with life. Okay, okay, our twins went back to full-time daycare yesterday, so maybe I am cheating just a little. But hey, I have learned what works for our family, and I am taking full advantage of childcare so that Mike and I can spend some rare one-on-one time with our big kids.

Christmas morning

Despite the plethora of toys our kids were given for Christmas, I have still heard, “I’m bored,” already at least ten times. My response… saying you’re bored buys you a ticket to play in the mounds of snow in our backyard. This redirects them pretty quickly, especially since it is -23° C outside here in Canada.

So, I survived Christmas. It was pretty great actually, despite some kids getting over colds, and Beau having a bad fall on Christmas morning. It was mostly magical. I’ve added our last couple vlogs below in case you want to catch up on our Christmas vacation.

Fingers crossed I keep going with the flow, and can survive the next week. But for now I am going to enjoy the all-day pj rule, the midday movie outings (we saw Wonder today, it was incredible), and Mike and my evening movie dates enjoying our new basement home theatre.

kids playing

I hope you are surviving the holidays too, and are finding the unstructured days manageable. Fingers crossed!