Information Sources: Pre-Pregnancy to Introducing Solids

July 30, 2012

Here’s a list of the resources I found most helpful from pre-pregnancy to introducing solids.  It’s broken down into the “waves” of reading I did/am doing.  I read lots of other books, but these are the ones that were key for me.  Also, some of them are good resources or skimable.  You don’t actually have to read them cover to cover with a highlighter in hand.

Do I actually want to be pregnant/give birth or will we adopt?

See this previous post.

I’m pregnant.  What is happening?

I found out I was having twins pretty early on, so I read the books below to learn about twin pregnancy, but if you didn’t do research ahead of time to make sure you wanted to be pregnant and give birth, see books referenced above.

Yikes.  We’re having twins!

  1. When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein– #1 tip, gain as much weight as possible as soon as you can and drink at least 100 oz of water a day.
  2. Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada – See below.

The following are non-essential, but quick, skimable reads with helpful tidbits:

  1. Twins!: Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Life by Connie Agnew, Alan Klein, Jill Alison Ganon
  2. Double Duty: The Parents’ Guide to Raising Twins, from Pregnancy Through the School Years by Christina Baglivi Tinglof
  3. It’s Twins: Parent to Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence by Susan M. Heim
  4. Twins 101: 50 Must-Have Tips for Pregnancy Through Early Childhood from Doctor M.O.M. by Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin
  5. Twin Sense: A Sanity-Saving Guide to Raising Twins — From Pregnancy Through the First Year by Dagmara Scalise

If nursing is natural and best for my baby, why is it so hard?

  1. The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins – This is a good resource when you’re nursing and are trying to problem solve or self diagnose
  2. Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada – I recommend every mom of multiples put a copy of this in her hospital bag just in case her babies are born early, she has a c-section, or experiences any complication that impacts milk production.  I didn’t have it and wish I had.

What about the other “fun” stuff?

  1. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth – You don’t actually need to read this book other than the two or three pages on which he describes how to do sleep training.  The graduated extinction method described here is what worked for us, but I think sleep training is an area where you have to pick the method, including no sleep training, that suits your family.
  2. Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods – and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett – We haven’t started feeding our babies solids yet, but we plan to use this method and I know a handful of parents who do this and love it.  The book is a quick read and handy resource.  Who knows if it will help my babies avoid the we-will-only-eat-french-fries stage, but for ease of introducing foods and maximum cuteness, it can’t be beat and makes a lot of sense.

I’m not a tiger mom, but I want my child to be a well adjusted genius.  What do I need to know?

  1. The Wonder Weeks: How to stimulate your baby’s mental development and help him turn his 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward by Hetty van de Rijt – An easy to read, very straightforward summary of what to expect during growth spurts.  You can skip all the quotes from other parents.
  2. Your Baby’s First Year by the American Academy of Pediatrics – Another very straightforward summary of what to expect during your baby’s first year.  My pediatrician recommended this and it’s been a useful resource.
  3. Gymboree – The Parent’s Guide to Play by Wendy S. Masi and Roni Cohen Leiderman (or any gymboree book)
  4. Rockabye Baby Lullaby CDs – These are so much more bearable than many lullaby CDs out there.

A note on moms’ groups

I attended a moms of multiples support group that I loved for three reasons: 1) it forced me to leave my house, which is not so easy with two babies, 2) I could get advice specific to twins, and 3) I met cool, new people I can imagine being friends with for a long time.  So, if joining a moms’ group will do these things for you, join one!  That said, I think if I just had one baby, I’d probably just hang out with my friends who have babies.

I also feel very fortunate that I have twins because my local moms of multiples club listserv is invaluable.  Since there are parents on the listserv who have twins of all different ages, you can better prepare for things that will arise in the future and also get advice from people who are months or years ahead of you.  So, for example, if you have questions about sleep training, you hear the details of how to do it from people who just did it recently and also hear from people who did it a couple years ago and can reflect on how it’s impacted their kids’ later sleep habits and what they wish they had known or done differently.  If you don’t have twins, I think online forums are a good option, but they feel more impersonal since you’re communicating with people you’ll never meet.

Happy reading!

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Cloth Diapering – Not as Scary as it Seems

July 7, 2012

I did lots and lots and lots of research, including constantly pestering my friend who uses cloth diapers, on cloth diapers while I was pregnant and in the first couple months of mommydom, but I still found it utterly confusing and daunting when it came down to choosing what kinds we’d use.  In fact, I was so confused, that I kept delaying purchasing cloth diapers.  I also was starting to get cold feet, wondering if maybe it was just too hard to do it with twins.  When it came down to it, though, the cost of disposable diapers was starting to kill me, so I bravely went for it and it’s been great.  Here are some responses to common questions from the skeptical, including almost everyone in my immediate and extended family that heard we were going to use cloth diapers:

  1. Ewwww, isn’t it gross to wash dirty diapers in your washing machine?  Well, yes, it is.  It’s also gross that your baby has poop explosions in his clothes, spits up on them, pees on them, etc.  If you threw away every piece of clothing, blanket, stuffed animal that had pee, poop, or spit up on it, it would get pretty expensive.  So, given that you’re not going to do that, washing some cloth diapers is no more gross than doing your regular laundry.
  2. I have so many other things to deal with.  Isn’t it so much easier to use disposables?  I agree that using disposables for the first couple months was very convenient since these were our first babies.  I was already doing a lot of laundry since the boys were spitting up a lot, but by 2 months, that wasn’t as much of an issue.  Also, by then, we had more or less figured out parenting basics (changing diapers, bathing, getting a onesie over a baby’s head without traumatizing him), so adding some diaper laundry wasn’t that big a deal.  Now that we’re in the swing of things, using cloth diapers isn’t any harder than disposables.
  3. Yikes!  Cloth diapers are so expensive.  At about $20 each, cloth diapers do seem expensive, but if you think about all the disposables you’d buy over 2 or 3 years, it’s actually way cheaper.  It’s just a big expense up front.  We spent about $400 for cloth diapers for two babies that will last from now until they are ready to be potty trained.  We had been spending almost $100 a month for disposables.

Some other perks to cloth diapers:

  1. There are SUPER adorable prints.  I know this is a ridiculous reason to use cloth diapers, but it’s a lovely perk – cute little baby bums.
  2. Cloth diapered babies have less diaper rash (we definitely noticed this) and are usually potty trained earlier (I’ll let you know if this turns out to be true).
  3. We have had no poop explosions in cloth diapers!  This is a P-E-R-K perk!  Seriously, we have had some very, very big poops that were completely contained in a cloth diaper.
  4. People think you’re cool.  Where we live, it’s not that uncommon to use cloth diapers, but even so, when people see/hear we’re using cloth diapers, they’re often impressed.  It’s kind of like having twins!

So, there it is.  It’s not so scary to start cloth diapering.  You can do it too!

Stay tuned for cloth diaper reviews.


Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Mom of Multiples

November 16, 2011

I was going to make a list of things I’m already tired of hearing as a twin mom-to-be, but I think this youtube video says it all 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT-lgB_HGEE

Genius!


Selected List of My Feel Good Pregnancy Milestones

November 16, 2011
  1. When a doctor told me my cervix was “awesome”.
  2. When I learned to recognize the gleam in strangers’ eyes when their hands are headed for my uterus.
  3. When I developed a preemptive slight turn to avoid strangers touching my uterus, while maintaining an innocent look “Oh sorry, did you randomly want to stroke my body part?  I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
  4. That my dog has not eaten a single baby toy even though they resemble her own toys.
  5. The one day that I ate 100 grams of protein.
  6. When someone gave me a pregnancy pillow that takes up 3/4 of our bed and my partner embraced it like a new family member.
  7. Every time I meet twin parents, especially ones that appear well-rested and cheerful.
  8. When I met a mom of triplets and was reminded that our budget spreadsheet could have a lot more red on it!
  9. Every time I get ultrasounds and see our crazy little boys having a dance party in my uterus.
  10. When I think about the crazy fun dance parties we’re going to have when our little boys are born.

Double Trouble (and all those other cliches)

November 3, 2011

Clearly I’ve been neglecting this blog, but there’s a good reason – I’m pregnant … (wait for it) … with twins!  We were pretty shocked when we found out we were going to have two, but now I can’t imagine only having one!  I think there must be some kind of karmic balance at play here because I am confident that I was among the best prepared moms-to-be with one baby, but as soon as we found out we were having two, I had to start my research (and budget spreadsheet!) all over.  There are SO many different things to learn about twin pregnancies.  Here’s a quick list of things I found really interesting about twins.  Sorry, I’m too tired to properly cite my stats!

  1. Only 1% of births are spontaneous twins (no fertility treatments used).  The rate of twin births has gone up considerably in recent decades because of the increasing use of fertility treatments, so 3% of births are twins nowadays.
  2. The rate of twin pregnancies, both spontaneous and as a result of fertility treatment, is actually higher than twin births because some women never know they were pregnant with twins because one vanishes before their first ultrasound.  An estimated 25-31% of pregnant women suffer from vanishing twin syndrome and 2/3 of twins that vanish do so before 9 weeks.  Some researchers hypothesize that the majority of twins that vanish had serious genetic defects.
  3. 1/3 of twins are identical (monozygotic) and 2/3 are fraternal (dizygotic).
  4. Identical twins can be boy/girl, but if that happens, the girl has a genetic disorder called Turner’s Syndrome.
  5. There are some very unusual subtypes of twins (most are subtypes of monozygotic twins) like conjoined twins, twins conceived at different times (superfetation), including by different fathers (heteropaternal superfecundation), half identical twins (the egg splits, but then each half is fertilized by a different sperm), mirror image twins, parasitic twins.  Who knew?
  6. Identical twins are not genetic, but fraternal twins are.  So, if twins run in your family on the mom’s side and you have twins, they’ll probably be fraternal.
  7. Fraternal twins almost always have separate placenta and amniotic sacs (dichorionic/diamniotic).  That is the safest situation.  75% of identical twins share placenta (monochorionic).  Whether or not identical twins share depends on how far after fertilization they split.  About 15% of monochorionic twins develop twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) and no one knows how to prevent this.
  8. If your babies share placenta, you have to cut the umbilical cord as soon as the first one is born because there is a risk that the 2nd baby won’t get enough blood if you don’t.  If not, you can allow the first one to stop pulsing even as the other twin is being born.  Either way, you can wait before cutting the 2nd baby’s cord.
  9. Twin pregnancies, by virtue of there being two babies, are considered high risk.  Pregnancy complications (gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature birth) are more common for moms carrying identical twins and less common for spontaneous twins.
  10. The only thing correlated with reducing the chance of preterm birth with twins is gaining more weight.  I was told to gain 45 pounds!!!
  11. You can deliver twins vaginally, but it depends greatly on their positioning.  In 75% of cases, the first baby is head down and most doctors will attempt a vaginal delivery in that situation.

I know some of this sounds scary, but I actually found it really empowering to learn about what could happen even if there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.  I feel like I’m ready to tackle whatever arises (although last time I felt that way, I ended up with one more baby than I planned for!) and also justifies my early gathering of baby gear!  Having twins is like being in a special club.  In fact, there are special clubs for twin families!  More to come about our crazy adventures as twin parents-to-be.