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 in Kindergarten – Same Class or Different Classes?

I never expected to be a mother to twins. Twin boys even less so. Yes, they run in my family. But after two singleton pregnancies, it had fallen off of my radar.

Finding out we were expecting twins after two singleton pregnancies

Twins seemed to amplify everything – pregnancy became high risk, followed by a scary hospital stay and preterm delivery. Caring for premature twins – the first year we were followed so closely by a medical team, everything was much more medicalized and full of questions and protocol. It wasn’t until their 4th birthday, when we were officially discharged, that we started to feel like we “got through it”, the hardest part was over.

Except that it isn’t really over. Old challenges appear to be continually replaced by new ones. And one of those new ones came in the form of Kindergarten Registration.

kindergarten registration decision for twins, same class or different class?

Like most parents, I had done my research. I spent time researching area-schools, even reaching out and asking questions. At the end of it all, they had one question for me – “same class or different classes?” that left me thinking.

If you happen to be trying to make a similar decision, here are 4 things that dictated our decision-making…

1. Independent or Dependent?

That unique connection shared by twins can create an extra level of support in the classroom enviable by most. But, if this sibling support prevents our kids from being able to navigate their day at school independently or prevents our kids from establishing peer relationships with children other than their sibling, we may want to rethink it.

2. Sibling Rivalry

In this age of parenting we are slowly reintroducing the idea of “friendly competition”. We know that our kids have their own unique set of strengths – but it’s oh so easy to keep comparing our twins. Even more, how do we navigate this as they begin to notice disparities between themselves? Do they raise each other up or fight for the top? If one twin seems to always be struggling to keep up with the other, it may be worth looking into separating them.

3. For Your Convenience

Think about your family dynamic for a second. It’s not hard to find families with two working parents, siblings to think about, meals to plan and extracurriculars to attend. Making ourselves available to have the relationship with our kids school that we want to have – sometimes the convenience of having one teacher, with one newsletter and one set of field trip dates to keep track of, is enough of a win to keep your twins together.

4. Extraneous Circumstances

Sometimes it’s not about what is happening inside the classroom at all. If they are going through any kind of transition – like moving to a new home, navigating divorce, experiencing grief/loss – then it may be worth thinking about whether or not having them undergo the stress of being separated as a necessary one.

We’ve ultimately decided to keep our twins together for their kindergarten year. But this decision, but that’s just what will work best for our family this year. We’ve transitioned to a new city, and as our boys attended the same preschool class, it was clear that their interests couldn’t be more different, resulting in different peer groups for the two.

Still not sure? The way our kids act at home isn’t necessarily how they are going to act at school. Do they attend daycare or preschool? Speak to someone who has supervised them in an unparented capacity, they will have some good insights into how they will behave in a classroom setting.

Keep an open mind and speak up, having open and ongoing communication with your school and kindergarten classroom teacher will ultimately be the best approach. Know that your decision doesn’t have to be the ultimate one. Decisions CAN change and so will your kids – what works this year may not work for next year.

A pro/con list will always be my favourite pathway towards a decision. Sit down with your thoughts and maybe take a deep breath or two, as the next challenge waits for us just around the corner.

Twin boys on their first day of kindergarten

Lindsay Fricker is a mom of four – two plus twins. Kindergarten teacher by day, Lindsay enjoys helping others find ways to navigate the ugly parts of parenting, while keeping their sanity and positively supporting their children. You can read more from Lindsay here or follow her on Instagram @serendipity.six.

Can you ever prepare for a Twin birth?

Okay, so where we left off I was lamenting about the surprise news that I was expecting twins. I freaked out, panicked and then finally came around to the idea, (not that I had a choice in the matter ). So as much as the pregnancy was a lot to mentally process and physically handle, the birth was a whole new ballgame. While pregnant I read as many books as possible, scoured the internet for twin birth stories (thank you Nesting Story for sharing yours) and talked to several twin moms. What I came to realize is that everyone had different experiences, but a common thread was that multiples usually came before 38 weeks, a twin birth likely takes place in the operating room, with a team of people are present at the birth, and that I should expect the babies to spend some time in the nursery and potentially the NICU. This was a lot to process considering I had my first child two years prior in what I like to think of as a peaceful setting, still in the hospital, but with only my midwives present as the sun came up in the early morning hours.

First moments of skin to skin with my first born
First moments of skin to skin with my first born

Due to low water levels in one of the baby’s sac’s I was told that I would be induced at 36 weeks. The boys were measuring well, they were both head down and there seemed to be no other complications. I was extremely happy to have been given a date as I was physically tapped out. I was scheduled to be induced on a Sunday in January and thankfully we had arranged family members to come stay with our daughter. I also was very lucky as I was able to be followed by midwives, one of whom had been a part of my first pregnancy, and a doctor to do the actual delivery. So the idea of having a date and a plan gave me some relief.   

Can you ever prepare for a twin birth? - Fallon Melander for Nesting Story
35 weeks pregnant with the twins and ready to pop

That morning we went into the hospital very anxious and excited. I was planning on a vaginal delivery with both twins as they were in the perfect position. However, I knew that there was a chance that I would need a C-section if any complications arose. Luckily I had the full support of my midwives and doctor to try this route for a twin birth instead of just scheduling a C-section. After settling in I was hooked up to the monitors we were told that they were going to begin the inducement by administering oxytocin. Needless to say I was ready to evict these twins out of my broken body. About an hour later I was informed that the one anestheologist on duty was in a surgery and would not be able to give me an epidural until he was finished, which happened to take a couple hours.

Things progressed very slowly all day. I was only receiving a small amount of oxytocin as the delivery doctor and the anestheologist were both called into another emergency surgery. Being bed bound I began to get bored and frustrated. I could hear women in the rooms next to me bringing new life into the world, I was on my second shift of nurses, and the Women’s network movies were beginning to repeat themselves. After 12 hours of being bed bound I was just plain pissed. In my fit of anger I began to feel some discomfort down below – burning pain that I thought maybe was my catheter. After a few nurses came and left my husband turned to me and said are you ok? I started to say yes while spontaneously crying from searing pain. He ran to get the nurses and I struggled to keep myself from breaking the guard rail off of the bed.

I was rushed to the operating room and transferred to the cold table while also feeling every inch of pain – which is when I realized that the epidural was not working from my hips down. When everyone was in place, about 13 of us in total, I was told to push and after a few pushes Baby A was out and whisked away immediately to the warming table and a team of nurses to be inspected. I was worried about Baby A, but I also remembered that I had to still give birth to another baby. At this point all I could think was “I have to do that all over again!” This is when I really cursed the fact that the epidural was not working.

The next thing I knew an ultrasound machine was on my stomach to locate Baby B. Turns out he had flipped sideways when his brother left the womb and was no longer head down. Of course I did not know this at the time and with my mind still on Baby A and preparing myself for another birth. It felt like mere seconds had passed when the doctor told me to push gently (is there such a thing?) and the next thing I knew Baby B was out and also whisked away to the adjacent warmer. At this point I looked over to my husband who looked in shock and the doctor who still had not said a word but was covered in blood. My husband then told me that Baby B had come out feet first and our ever stoic doctor looked like he had been in a scene of the Walking Dead.

This is when I started to panic about the health of both babies, especially Baby B who had made his appearance into the world at 9:31pm, 9 minutes after his brother in an unforgettable way. Thankfully my midwives were there are kept us informed and told us that both babies were having difficulty breathing and needed to be taken to the NICU. All of a sudden we heard a long deep beeping noise and I looked at my husband wild eyed. It sounded like the unthinkable but my midwife ran over to me and told me that it was just the battery on one of the warmers that had been unplugged that was making the noise.

The boys were rushed out to the NICU and a very nice Resident doctor wearing a clear face shield (straight out of a SWAT movie) did the rest of the delivery – the placenta. I don’t know if she put it on as a precaution after she saw the doctor pull Baby B out and the aftermath that covered the doctor, or if that is standard practice. The whole time however my mind was on the babies and I had no idea what was happening to them. It was quite a whirlwind and once I was back in the delivery room my husband went with the nurse to see the babies. Meanwhile we had been getting updates from my midwife and she told us that they were stable but needed help breathing. I was being monitored and after I was cleared a few hours later I was able to go see the babies, who were still known as Baby A and B at this point.

Baby A was a vaginal twin birth
Baby A

Both babies were hooked up to the CPAP machine and other than difficulty breathing everything else seemed to be okay. One of the biggest surprises to me was how big they were, measuring at 6.4lbs and 6.1lbs. I couldn’t believe that I had been carrying over 12lbs of baby! To be honest at this point I was utterly exhausted and still was not processing everything that had happened – a faulty epidural, a breach baby birth, two babies on respiratory support, and a twin birth that did not require stitches! My midwife told me that I was a freaking unicorn, but I felt like I was in a foggy dream.

Baby B was a breach baby birth
Baby B

We still had a journey to overcome in the following days of our NICU stay and bringing home the twins but I think I will end the story here for now. Needless to say I am thankful that I have two healthy, strong twin toddlers who despite a rocky start are doing amazing.

Melander twins taking a sink bath at 1 year old

I hope this has helped some of you who may be expecting multiples to put your mind at ease and to know that there are some things you cannot control. I have talked to many twin moms about their pregnancy and birth journey and I have learned how unique each one is, and also how strong both babies and mothers truly are. This may seem like the ultimate test, but it’s the beginning of your story and what I hope is an amazing journey.

A Day In The Life with Four Kids

It’s been a while since I shared a “day in the life” video with you, but I am so glad I took the time to film one this week. I began creating these types of videos way back when I first started dabbling in YouTube as a way to give you a fly-on-the-wall look into our busy life and how I do things with four kids, including twins.

Although our twins aren’t crawling around and in diapers like when I first began creating these day in the life videos, today with all four kids in school I face new challenges. So grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up, or… let’s be real, pop your AirPods in and watch while you do the dishes, or put it on for your kids too. Regardless of how you watch it, I hope you enjoy!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Nesting Story’s YouTube channel. I put new videos out every Monday and Wednesday!

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.