My Two Top Must-Have Twins Parenting Books

Twins BooksOne of the top questions moms who are expecting multiples ask me is: “what books did I find the most helpful when I was pregnant with our twins?”

When I got the big news that two were on the way, I didn’t have a clue what I was up against. I had already had two singletons, but twins were a whole new ballgame. It was time to research. I started to look into which twin books I should read, but I was instantly overwhelmed by all of the choices out there… so I ordered a bunch. Although every twin specific parenting book I read had some great insight, two stood out to me as major game-changers.517iOVSM8SL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or QuadsI swear this book helped me go full term with our twins. Full of tips on how to make it as far as you can with a multiples pregnancy, (hint: eat steak and become very friendly with your sofa), this is the multiples pregnancy bible. Although there are factors that are out of our hands when it comes to going full term with multiples, Dr. Barbara Luke gives you great insight into what warning signs to look for in case there is a problem brewing. It was so refreshing to read a pregnancy book that was completely devoted to a multiples pregnancy.


Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: When it comes to bedtime routines and my sleep, I am a bit type A. I shock people all of the time when I tell them that I have always got a good amount with sleep with our twins. Of course I have to still get up with them during the night here and there, but this book helps you through the many sleep phases babies inevitably go through and identifies problems that may occur… x 2 babies. The best part about Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins? The author, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, never makes you feel like you are failing or that your babies have to conform to this very specific and strict schedule, unlike another sleep training book I read with my first… urgh! This book will become a great resource for you fast!

Don’t forget to Like Nesting Story on Facebook, and follow Nesting Story on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to find out what twin-specific books I found helpful with day-to-day logistical questions I had.

Nesting Story’s Birth Stories – Olivia and Audrey’s Birth Story

collageBy Ashley Hackenmiller

On March 17th I married my husband, Mackenzie and the following September we decided to see a specialist because I knew something was off.  I was ending up in the emergency room on a regular basis due to having horrendous periods with crippling pain that left me bedridden.  I knew cramps could be painful, but it wasn’t supposed to be like this. The specialist was wonderful, but she delivered news we hadn’t expected to hear only 6 months into our marriage. She was pretty sure I had endometriosis and our insurance at the time wouldn’t cover the procedure until we had tried to conceive for a year and failed. I immediately went off my birth control and she documented that we were trying to conceive.

Right at the 1 year mark we moved from Oregon to Georgia. I found a new doctor who I loved even more than the first. She said she couldn’t be sure but she thought I did not have endometriosis. After I went off my birth control everything improved. My periods went from 2 weeks in length to 4 days. My cramps were barely noticeable compared to what I was used to. She thought maybe my body just didn’t do well on hormones. She was concerned that we had been trying for more than a year at that point but was reluctant to start me on fertility medications because of my previous record with hormones. We made an appointment for January and If I wasn’t pregnant by then, I would be started on something.

On November 8th, which was one month later, I conceived and the following January appointment turned into our first Ultrasound. It was then that we discovered we were having twins. We had been joking about it because I was already starting to show. I had never considered that it was a real possibility but it was the best news I had received in a very long time.t1

On June 20th, 2014 I was admitted to labor and delivery for the 10th time since 21 weeks of pregnancy. This time I was 33 weeks and it was very different. Upon a quick exam it was decided that the girls were on their way and there would be no stopping them. It was go time.

Within an hour of getting to the hospital I was placed on magnesium. They knew it wouldn’t be a long term labor staller but they hoped to stall things long enough to get steroids in to develop the girl’s lungs. Ideally they needed 48 hours: 24 hours between the shots and another 24 before I delivered.

When I started the magnesium I was 3 centimeters dilated. Every 6 hours they checked me and I was progressing right on through the magnesium. It was decided that when I reached 6cm they would stop the magnesium and put me on Pitocin so we could get the girls out quickly and safely. I was ecstatic to know there was an end to the magnesium in sight. Some people get sick as a dog on it. I was fine physically but my mental state was altered. Everything was blurred by it. I was hallucinating. I saw a duck run through the room, followed by baby chicks. I couldn’t even see my doctor’s face when she came in.

24 hours after I had the first shot they administered the second steroid shot and checked me again. I had passed up 6cm and it was time to stop the magnesium and start the Pitocin. I was starting to feel quite a bit of pain around this time so I asked for an epidural.

It took two hours for my epidural to arrive. I was very uncomfortable and kept progressing quickly. I wasn’t allowed up because of all the medications I was on. I had planned on walking through the contractions. That wasn’t possible. I had heartburn that I thought was going to kill me, but because I was a C-section risk I wasn’t allowed to have anything. Everything was burning because it was discovered after they had placed a latex catheter that I had developed a latex allergy during my pregnancy. These two hours were the most miserable.

Around 2am I was 9cm. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait! 9cm meant it was practically baby time. Wrong! It took two hours to get to 10cm. The moment they said 10 I could have cried with happiness. Wrong again! They called the doctor and she didn’t want to come down until baby A’s head was practically falling out.

For another hour I experienced the 2nd worst part of childbirth. I felt like I needed to push but they wouldn’t let me. My epidural wasn’t working and nobody believed me. They kept telling me I was just feeling “pressure”. I knew they were wrong but I had to save all my fight for the pushing. It had to be coming soon… we couldn’t stay at 10 forever.

Finally at 5:00 am on June 22nd I was wheeled back to the operating room. This was just a precaution because of the risks associated with a multiples delivery. Just before 5:05 they let me start pushing. I had been sure that I would need them to tell me when to push so that’s how we started out. It didn’t work for me. I started battling my asthma. It was quickly decided that I would need to be in control. It was also decided that I needed an episiotomy. At that time they realized I had not been feeling “pressure”, my epidural really wasn’t working.

At 5:15 am Olivia was born. She was immediately taken away and given to the NICU team. She wasn’t crying. I was. I kept demanding they tell me she was okay. When I was calm they broke the second sac of water. The nurses were holding baby b in place so she couldn’t flip. I was ready to push but they wanted me to rest a couple minutes. When I finally got the green light I pushed her out in less than 2 minutes. Audrey was born at 5:22 am. She came out letting the world know she was here. That was a huge relief after Olivia’s silence. Both of them were born breathing on their own but their personalities were already shining through!t3

As the NICU team assessed the girls I delivered the placenta and was stitched back up. They brought each baby by me quickly and I was allowed to look but not touch. If you want to know what it feels like to have carried babies for 33 weeks, fought to get them to viability, labored for 48 hours, pushed them both out and then been told you couldn’t touch them I suggest ripping your heart out. That killed me emotionally. They are my babies and I wanted to make the rules. Why was a total stranger able to snuggle them before their mommy? Almost 8 months later that is still a struggle for me.t6

By 5:40 am I was back in my room and set to recover. They took both girls to the NICU and didn’t let anyone go with them. They promised to come back for my husband in 30 minutes but an hour later when he called them we were informed that he wouldn’t be allowed to see them until shift change was over at 8:30 am. That is something I would change if I could go back. I had no fight left in me at that point or I would have. For the first 3 hours of our daughters’ lives they had no contact with us.t7

After I delivered the girls I pretty much forgot that I had just given birth. I was sore but I didn’t think much about that. I spent the next two days going back and forth between the NICU and my room. The first day my husband was there to wheel me around. The next day I was on my own and had to make the long walk downstairs alone. My husband had just got a promotion at work and had to return for training if he wanted to keep it. My mom was sick and not allowed in the NICU. That right there leads me to a HUGE piece of advice. If something like that happens do not try to be a trooper. Get a friend in there with you. Being a NICU mom is the hardest thing I have done. Those first few days I could have really used a friend there to hold me up. I tried to “take one for the team” when I should have let myself beg for support.t2

That first day was tough. There were so many rules I had to learn. When I could touch my girls; only 30 minutes out of every 3 hours. How I could touch my girls, not gently because that is apparently irritating to a preemie. I wasn’t even allowed to hold them immediately. It was hours before that happened. That day the doctor came in to tell us what we could expect. Audrey was 3lbs 15oz. Olivia was 4lb 6oz. They would be staying there until they could eat on their own, were growing at a good rate and could manage their own temperatures. They told us it could be a slow process and to be prepared for them to be there until their due date. That freaked me out. That was 7 weeks!

Luckily for us the girls only needed 16 and 17 days to be ready to go home. Those days all blurred together. There was a lot of stress and pressure and there were a lot of things I was told that I took as gospel. That leads me to my biggest piece of advice for all NICU moms. Remember that you are the mom. You have more rights and a bigger say than you may be lead to believe. I didn’t understand that until a couple days before they came home.t5

I was a pumping mom so the girls got bottles. All of a sudden I was told that my parents could no longer feed the girls when they came to visit. They said the girls needed to get use to my husband and my feeding styles. Right there I realized that I had the right to make a call. I told them I thought that was absolutely absurd considering they weren’t having any problems, were finishing every bottle and my mom would be the one helping me while my husband was at work. Imagine my surprise when they listened to me. The whole time I had allowed myself to be bossed around when it came to silly things, like how to touch them, when my opinion would have been respected.

While my start to motherhood may have been unconventional, it has been an amazing journey. I wouldn’t trade one minute of it for anything. Being a twin mom has totally changed my life. It’s crazy but it’s beautiful.

Ashley Hackenmiller gave up her career in Dialysis to stay home with her kids. She lives with her husband and identical twin girls in Georgia. In her free time she reads, takes bubble baths and enjoys traveling. She looks forward to continuing to grow their family in the future.  You can follow Ashley on Instagram @mrshackenmiller and her blog The Happy Hackenmiller’s.


What It Is Like Being Pregnant With Twins – My Personal Journey

collageThere is a curiosity about a pregnancy with multiples.  It’s understandable.  A body is creating more than one person at once.  Not only is there the mind blowing fact that (in my case) multiple eggs have been fertilized, your body then knows to create two placentas, two amniotic sacs, more blood, more amniotic fluid and your skin and muscles can stretch and stretch!  It truly is amazing. I have read that people who’s bodies produce multiples are more evolved than others.   I am not sure if I buy that.  I personally think that God has a hand in every pregnancy, one baby or more.

When I was told that not only was I finally pregnant after a year of struggling with secondary infertility but there were in fact two little people growing inside of me, fear didn’t set in.  At least not until later in my pregnancy when I could barely move without fainting and I knew that I had two older children depending on me.  But the idea of twins joining our family only brought myself and my husband Mike feelings of joy and excitement.  For the first couple weeks I assumed I was in shock and that the fear would come… it never did.

Before knowing I was pregnant I had suffered from a bout of stomach flu.  I thought it had passed and then come back again.  Then the nausea wasn’t lifting.  When the pregnancy test came back positive it explained the nausea.  Only this was very different from my two previous singleton pregnancies (that’s lingo for carrying one baby – you become fluent with these terms when pregnant with multiples).  When pregnant with my older two the nausea would come in waves.  Often triggered by smells; meat, perfume and cigarettes. But this time the nausea was unrelenting.  It was also getting worse every day and contrary to the term “morning sickness” it would go into overdrive starting at 4pm and by the time 9pm rolled around I was having my daily vomit session before bed which would bring just enough relief to get through the night.  I remember calling my mom crying saying this was nothing like my previous pregnancies which I had enjoyed.  We chalked it up to me now being in my thirties this time around.

Twins had never crossed my mind in my previous pregnancies.  Most of my friends had commented about the thought of twins before heading in for an ultrasound, but I never did. But this pregnancy there were a couple of times I commented to Mike in passing, “maybe it’s twins”.  Then we would quickly dismiss that thought because when I had my multiple pregnancy blood tests week 4 there were no unusual levels with my HCG levels (we had started to explore my infertility before getting pregnant hence the extra tests).  Even the morning before my 7 week ultrasound I commented again about the possibility of twins because of my nausea.  Mike nicely said to put that thought out of my head.  But after peeking at my ultrasound after my tight lipped technician left the room and saw what looked like owl eyes (two sacs) staring back at me my heart started to race.  Once taken into a private room and an exceedingly kind nurse explained that I was pregnant with di-di twins (dichorinic/diamniotic which means separate sacs, separate placentas and they don’t share blood vessels, again more twin lingo).  I was reassured that this was the safest type of twins to carry and that most likely they would be fraternal but because they were spontaneous that there was a very small chance that a fertilized egg has split really early creating identical twins… something that we wouldn’t be able to confirm until they were born.

One of the first things I did after finding out we were expecting twins was search the internet for pregnancy belly photos with twins.  I wanted to see what a freak show I would become.  While scouring Pinterest and other websites I came across a variety of belly shapes.  Pointy, wide, low… it truly became an obsession of mine.  I had been through two singleton pregnancies and I thought I was huge then.  I just couldn’t fathom that my body could possibly carry two babies!

collage 7By 15 weeks my nausea finally subsided (It popped up again from 35 weeks on).  I had a brief few weeks of feeling somewhat normal before my next biggest symptom set in: braxton hicks contractions.  Mike and I had the opportunity to head to Las Vegas when I was 18 weeks and my braxton hicks contractions were brutal!  Las Vegas is a walking place.  Even in the Bellagio where we were staying it takes about 10 hours to get from the lobby to where our room was.  The braxton hicks contractions would start up and feel like a vice on my tummy.  I had always read that braxton hicks contractions would only last for a moment but I found that mine would set in as soon as I was on my feet and not relax until I sat down.  I was very careful to rest a lot.


My version of a maternity vegas outfit complete with sparkly bling!

Although we thought I had to wait until my 18 week ultrasound what our babies’ sex were (I was convinced it was one boy and one girl) we got a huge surprise at my 16 week ultrasound… both were girls!!!  twins

Once I got past 20 weeks the weight of my belly was incredible.  This was the point that I was connecting with other twin mamas online and the most common horrible symptom we were all experiencing was excruciating hip pain.  I used a super sexy support belt which helped take the weight off of my hips but near the end of my pregnancy I had to stop using it because it was making my wicked heartburn ten times worse.


My bump would take many shapes. But the biggest difference between carrying twins vs singletons was I always felt “high” and “low” at the same time. I was rocking an egg shape. For the last six weeks of my pregnancy baby A (Mia) was taking up all of the real estate pushing baby B (Everly) up and to the left, past my ribs. Poor thing!IMG_0780

There were days of my pregnancy that I was fighting depression.  Between the crippling nausea in my first trimester to the chronic pain I experienced the rest of my pregnancy there truly were some dark days.  It didn’t help that the first half of my pregnancy I was very isolated inside with bored children trying to survive one of the most brutal winters Canada has seen in years.  I tried to pamper myself as much as possible and emerged myself in TV series after TV series.  Later in my pregnancy I started feeling like my entire day consisted of moving from bed to sofa to bath to bed to bath to sofa and so on.  The two things that got me through those last weeks were getting outside in the sunshine (even if it was just lounging by a pool while eating and watching everyone else have fun) and my weekly ultrasounds and non-stress-tests reminding me that all of this suffering was for a very good reason.IMG_0793

Oh and pedicures… lots and lots of pedicures!IMG_0894

I started to get creative with my parenting.  Although I was getting a lot of help from family when Holden wasn’t at school and Beau wasn’t at nursery school there would still be a few hours a day while Mike was at work that I had to parent on my own.  I would make everyone snacks and the kids beds on the floor while we would enjoy a movie together.  That way I could rest with a pillow between my knees to get a bit of relief.IMG_0455

Walking up the stairs would put my heart into overdrive and I came very close to fainting multiple times a day.  I was experiencing pre-syncope (almost fainting) and feeling like my heart was going to explode brought me into the hospital a few times around 33 weeks and I was subjected to a battery of tests.  In the end it showed that my heart was having runs (racing) at times but the babies were thriving so I had to keep on trucking.  The weight of my belly forced me to stay off my feet almost all the time… even in the shower I had to sit on the floor.  It was very hard!photo-9

 This is my attempt at a selfie facelift

By 35 weeks I had a couple of really scary episodes of pre-syncope while driving complete with tunnel vision.  I decided that I couldn’t drive any more during my pregnancy and relied on my husband, family and friends to drive me to my remainder of ultrasounds and doctor’s appointments.

During my last week of pregnancy we went out for dinner with friends and headed to an upscale restaurant. After moving us twice because my belly wouldn’t fit into their booths we scored free dessert.  But watching those little feet and fists poke out and react when I poked back made it all worth it.

I finally made it full term.  I truly believe that if I hadn’t had all of that pain that forced me to be off my feet almost all of the time I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did.  It was nature’s way of saying SLOW DOWN!  The relief that I had after my girls arrived via scheduled c section at 37 weeks 4 days was incredible!  As soon as the doctor pulled each baby out and held them up we could see that they were so different from each other and we knew that they were fraternal.  Today I am grateful that I suffered so much during my pregnancy because even on the days when our twin baby girls are fussy and don’t want to sleep, it feels easy compared to when I was pregnant with them!


It was so important for me to write this blog post with as much detail as possible.  When I was pregnant with our twins I searched high and low to find a complete twin pregnancy story from a personal perspective instead of snippets here and there.  I hope that this story of my journey with our girls can help other twin mamas to prepare for what’s ahead.  Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have about being pregnant with twins either in the comments section below or via email at and I would be happy to answer as best I can!   I have blogged about the birth of our girls you can find here.  Please don’t forget to subscribe to Nesting Story and follow on Facebook and Instagram!SMP017

I want to dedicate this post to our families.  You were just as dedicated to this challenge as we were and we could not have done it without your help!  Thank you for helping us bring Mia and Everly into this world!

Welcome Mia and Everly

They have arrived!  After an incredibly difficult pregnancy full of hip pains, partial bed rest, heart strain and vision problems Mia and Everly came into the world full term, healthy and 6 pounds each on July 24th via scheduled c-section.  Carrying my girls for almost 9 months was like running a marathon with the sweetest prize waiting at the finish line.  IMG_0822

The bond with my girls was instant, we had skin to skin time for three hours to help stabilize their temperature.  I knew that the hardest part was over and the girls fit into our family (almost) seamlessly.IMG_0956

I guess already having two children prepared me for twins because now two months down the road I have found it busy but never overwhelming.  It helps that they are incredibly happy and predictable babies.  The only time it gets hairy is bedtime.  It seems like everyone wants me at the same time.  It is so nice that they have each other and I can already see a bond forming.  When I lay them down beside each other their breathing slows and it is almost as if they are thinking “oh there you are”.IMG_1131

There is this wonderful sense of peace and excitement knowing that your family is complete.  I am trying to savour every minute of this phase, watching our twins grow and our older two taking on a loving protective role.  At the same time I am making sure that I don’t get lost in the mix, still breathing life into my business and making sure I am being creative whenever possible.  Because I know now that having my own interests and identity makes me a better wife and mother.IMG_1646