Bossy Okayest Baby Gear Advice, By Request

People keep asking me for baby gear advice. Not sure why… maybe my okayest attitude helps people know I would help them sort through the muck. Here’s what I have been telling those moms-to-be who have asked for my bossy opinions:

Everyone tells you how fast they grow, but it’s really hard to believe how true that is until you watch it happen. There is so much that you won’t need. For six months, he’s just a backpack. And then, he will be crawling away from you! With that said, modern life/ modern inventions do indeed make mothering much easier. This is a list of my favorite things and my super-opinionated opinions.

Please know that my first son came to us in a hurry, as we adopted him after only three days’ notice. One cool thing about that was that we were spared a lot of unncessary product comparisons and reading baby gear reviews ad nauseum. I just asked my favorite momma (my cousin’s wife) for a quick list and she didn’t waste any time. She just said which brand of bottles and which brand of this and that, and I loved it. When my twins came along, I had more time to prepare, of course, but I had no time for frivolous baby stuff. We had one mode, and it was survival mode!

My point is that you can take my opinions with a grain of salt, because they are just that: opinions based on my experiences. And my experiences haven’t been normal, because I have never had a normal one-pregnancy-equals-one-baby situation. I’ve had one pregnancy for three babies from two different moms.

Anyway, here’s my bossy advice, in no particular order:  

Feeding pillow: Must have a Boppy! It’s good for arm support for nursing and bottle feeding (or BOTH AT THE SAME TIME if you have twins). I had four when I had the twins (two on each level of the house), but you won’t need that many! I have noticed that my short friends and my extremely bosomy friends don’t need the Boppy as desperately as my tall friends and/or my petite-breasted friends. We just have a lot more area to cover between our laps and our boobs, okay?

Homemade Moby Wrap is good idea; carrying twins this precariously is not.

Homemade Moby Wrap is good idea; carrying twins this precariously is not.

Carriers: I love the Moby Wrap when they are infants (although I made my own from 18 feet of t-shirt fabric); I love the Ergo when they can hold their heads up. Both carriers saved my back more than that stupid Baby Bjorn. Wear the baby in one of those for all your chores, and you will get exercise and baby will be happy. If you decide you like the Moby, practice tying it often before the baby arrives. I usually wore it all day, often without a shirt, and took the baby in and out throughout the day. (I hear there are all sorts of amazing new hybrid carriers out there now, which kind of combine Moby with Ergo… You’re on your own, because my knowledge is already outdated!)

Swing: Must have. Get one that swings side to side AND back and forth. Babies with reflux can’t go back and forth, and you won’t know if your baby is fussy/refluxy until after you buy the swing! Also look for one that plugs in. DO NOT try to save space and get a “travel size” one or folding one or anything- they only swing one direction and none of my kids liked them anyway. I seriously think having a full sized swing (or two for my twins) was what kept me out of the mental hospital. My favorite was the Ingenuity brand, but it ran on hundreds of Costco batteries. My kids all slept in swings until they were 4 months or more. No guilt. No shame!

diapers in bulk

One month’s worth.

Diapers: Whatever brand is cheapest that won’t get poop on your clothes is what you want! I have decided that people have different diaper opinions that are based on their child’s butt shape. And they don’t even seem to know that. But some kids have tall butts, wide butts, whatever. We are generic Target diapers and generic Costco wipes people. Love generic! (However, when they were newborns, we gratefully used anything and everything because people gifted us so many different brands of diapers.) (Also, I will splurge on name-brand for night diapers.) If you compare prices as strictly as I do, be sure to do it PER DIAPER and not per pack. Unit prices, people! We have the Target Red Card, for 5% off, and then I wait for the sale where they offer their bulk packs of diapers at a discount and with a refund gift card. PS, You will know they have outgrown their diaper size when you get peed on.

The forward-facing age recommendations have changed since this picture was taken.

The forward-facing age recommendations have changed since this picture was taken.

Car seats: I got the cheapest and lightest. Not picky in that department! I liked the cheapest version of the Graco brand because they were light and basic. DO NOT get “convertible car seats” unless you have a giant van. I have heard that convertible car seats in the rear-facing position usually will not fit in regular cars. So buy a regular rear-facing seat, and later buy a forward-facing seat, and it will cost the same or less than a convertible seat anyway. (We seriously just have the $25 cheapos for forward-facing too.)

Our first walk

Our first walk

Stroller: I am a big fan of the cheapest and lightest strollers, called umbrella strollers. They are less than $20. However, baby can’t sit in them until he can hold his head up… So that’s where baby-wearing comes in handy. Usually, the more expensive a stroller is, the heavier it will be. I take a double or triple stroller in and out of my van everyday, so trust me when I say weight is a big deal!

Most worth-it splurge: That “Jumperoo” thing is a great splurge even though they only use it for a couple months. Totally not necessary, but I promise you will be able to make dinner if you have that thing.

Seats: My first kid sat in the “Bumbo” for months. I thought it was the greatest invention ever made. My second kid was too fat to fit in it, and my third kid was too wild to sit in it. He was flipping it over. So, if someone gives it to you, great, but save your money in case your kid is a bolt of lightening or super fat. (Again, a whole new generation of seat thingies has been born in the two years since I used baby gear, so I’m outdated already.)

First Aid Must-Haves:
1) forehead thermometer – You can even swipe it on their head while they sleep.
2) Infant Tylenol (generic is always fine) – you will use this A LOT.
3) Children’s Benadryl – Benadryl says it’s for ages six and up, but if your baby has an allergic reaction to something, the doc will tell you the infant dose. We have had to do that. No house should be without emergency Benadryl!
4) anti-gas medicine (simethicone) for infants

High Chair/ Booster Seat: Your kid won’t need a high chair until he can sit up. If you are feeding him baby food in a reclining seat, he is too young to be eating. Therefore, avoid fancy high chairs. My best tip is to avoid any padding or cushion on a high chair. Totally unnecessary, and you will be washing it every single day. Ridiculous. I have been through about three high chairs with padding, so trust me! When I switched to the $20 Ikea cheapo one, I was so.very.happy. You will want something that you can hose off outside if necessary. (Seriously, I have actually done that.) When the twins got older, we switched to the Ikea “Junior Chair”, which is simply a regular chair with taller legs. At $40, it costs the same as some booster seats, but there are no crevices to clean!

Clothing: People will give you all sorts of adorable things, and you will be grateful for every single thing, but take a tip from a twin mom: you will want as many jammies that ZIP as possible! For newborns, those sack nightgowns are great too. You will be so deliriously tired that you will not be able to maneuver snaps and buttons in the middle of the night. You really won’t. Unless your kid is some sort of freak who sleeps six hours a night from birth and you’re super well-rested. Anyway, zippered one-piece footed jammies, and elastic-bottomed nightgowns were my best friends. (Twin moms who are trying to nurse two babies sometimes have to lift/heave a newborn one-handed, and then all the snaps pop open. Zippers, people! Zippers!)

Swaddlers: I am a biiiiig fan of swaddling. All three of my kids were swaddled for every nap and every nighttime for at least a couple of months. One of mine wanted to be swaddled until he was six months old (but I had to leave his legs out when he was bigger so as not to injure his growing body!). Another of mine didn’t need as much swaddling because he was so relaxed already. Their personalities determined how long they needed it! They sleep longer and feel so secure. In the old days, when babies slept on their tummies, they didn’t need swaddling. Now that babies sleep on their backs, their arms flail and wake them up. Swaddle them tightly and they will feel like they are in the womb. Great for reflux too. My favorite was the Halo SleepSack, which is a cotton or fleece swaddler with Velcro. The Miracle Blanket was also pretty amazing.

Reclining Chair: Make sure you have a chair in your house that you can sleep in. Seriously. For my first child, I picked out a cute glider rocking chair situation. It didn’t recline. Guess what? He was super sickly and never slept – and had to sleep upright because of severe reflux. That meant that *I* slept upright in that dang glider for a few months. In retrospect, I now know I should have just begged/borrowed/stealed to get myself a dang recliner. I was too sleep-deprived to know what to do. When I was pregnant with my twins, I found two cheap recliners and made sure I could sleep in them. It turns out, *I* was the one with the reflux and had to sleep upright in those chairs during my twin pregnancy… and my twins turned out to be good sleepers who were satisfied with the swings and cribs and bassinets and whatnot. Oh, irony.

Diaper Bag: NO. Just no. If you have a baby on your hip, why do you want a big bumpy diaper bag bouncing around on your hip too? Most of them are even heavy when they’re empty. It’s ridiculous. I went through about 14 diaper bags, much to the dismay of my husband every time he opens the guest room closet and they all fall out. Trust me: just get a big backpack. Then you have free arms and nothing on your hip except your baby. And if you have twins, you don’t have a choice. Two babies on two hips means a backpack is a must. Plus, once they are a bit bigger, you’re just going to keep all your supplies in your car anyway.

I hope that helps.


I have received no compensation for any of these recommendations (although that would have been kinda great). These items were really what I use for my own kids. This is not “a crummy commercial”!


It Must Be Weird to Be a Twin When…

wpid-wp-1437338656094.jpegYour brother kicks you in the scrotum in utero, and the ultrasound tech sees it and laughs

Your brother gets birthed and you’re just hanging out alone in the womb for the first time, just for two minutes

Your twin learns to poke your eyes, roll over onto you, or crawl away from you for the first time, and you can only lay there and kick your legs like an upside-down bug

You forget you’re not actually the same person, and accidentally open your mouth when the spoon is going in your brother’s mouth

You are minding your own business and your mom yells at you because she got your names mixed up

Your mom tries to change your poop even though she just changed your poop five minutes ago and can’t remember which one of you she changed

Your brother bites you for the first time

You wake up in the morning with a squeal BECAUSE YOU CANNOT BELIEVE HE’S STILL THERE and you have a built-in playmate

You start crying because you’re hurt, but then realize it’s actually your twin who was hurt (you got confused and had major sympathy pain)

Your mom takes you to the doctor alone for the first time, while your twin stays home healthy… and you look around at his empty car seat and freak out

You get called the wrong name, again

Your mom takes you to the church nursery alone for the first time, while your twin stays home sick… and you freak out

We try to put you in Daddy’s Volkswagen for the first time, with only one carseat, and you act like a cat trying to be squished into a crate, because you didn’t know there was such a thing as a car that only held one of you

Your brother is melting down about his “wrong” pants/ blanket/ shoes / cup, and you think he’s acting like a fool, because your pants/ blankets/ shoes/ cup are just fine

He convinces you for the first time to undo that child lock or jump off that bookshelf and your mom disciplines you instead of him

Your brother steals your identity and all you can say is “hey!”

You have both grown so much that you jostle for space on your mom’s chest so much that you end up fighting like alley cats, on her chest, because you don’t know why you don’t fit there together anymore, and you assume it’s his fault

You learn to hug, but your twins rejects you because he assumes you’re trying to fight him again

You wake up and he’s not there

You end up going in verbal argument loops, such as this one:
“No, that’s MY ah-choo!!!!”

It Took Over Two Years to Unpack My Toiletry Bag


I just found and unpacked my hospital bag. My twins are two and a half years old. Yep. I’m just gonna let that sink in for a minute.

Rather than being surprised that it took me two and a half years to unpack my toiletry bag, I merely thought, “So that’s where my good tweezers* have been.” I didn’t even chuckle or say “huh.”

It wasn’t until I was lying in bed a week later that I realized that most twin-less people would think two and a half years to unpack a toiletry bag was excessive.

If you are one of the many people who have said to me, “I’ve always wanted twins,” I would like you to ask yourself if you could wait two and a half years to unpack your toiletry bag.

That is all.


(*Also, why did I think I needed to bring tweezers to hospital for the birth of twins? I am pretty sure my mom brushed my hair on the fifth or sixth day of hospitalization, and my husband brushed my teeth after I made it out of the ICU… But shame on them for not doing my eyebrows? Being overprepared shows just how underprepared I was.)

Fireball of Change: Twins Breach Cribs

Four weeks and three days ago, my twins showed each other how to bite their binkies in half.

Result: Storing the nipple in their cheeks for hours; near-death experiences

Four weeks and two days ago, I broke my twins of their binkies.

Result: Crying for only one hour; sleeping through the night; asking casually for binkies once in a while.

Four weeks and one day ago, my twins breached their cribs.

Result: Massive hysteria; pummeling brother; WWF moves of leaping brother’s crib and trapping and maiming brother

Four weeks exactly ago, we turned their cribs into toddler beds.

Result: No more trapping of weaker twin; mass hysteria; hyena-like antics of spinning in circles; shrieking while literally bouncing off the walls; beating each other over the head with toys and shelves; crazy twin keeping sleepy twin awake at all costs; momma sleeping with both eyes open; no more napping

Oh my gosh.

Life as I knew it ended a month ago. As a “triplet” mom, I have a stranglehold on my kids’ schedules. Like most every mom, I only survive the day because I know I have nap time to recharge – mentally and physically. However, my job is a little more physically demanding than moms of singletons. As a result, I usually collapse in a heap as soon as I throw everyone in their bed/cribs and am too tired to even lift the remote. How would I fare if my twins quit napping?!

With the twins’ trick of turning the binky into a perfectly-esophagus-shaped choking nightmare, a fireball of change was unleashed on my head.

Only now, after our resolution, can I even begin to write about this ridiculous endeavor. For four weeks and three days, I was held hostage by this fireball of change. I was sleep-deprived and sanity-deprived. (Oh, yeah, so were the kids, but let’s be honest: I am talking about myself today.) I didn’t sleep at night and I didn’t recharge at naptime.

Pool noodle = no more thumps in the night

Pool noodle = no more thumps in the night

After sleeping with my eyes open for a while, the twins finally started sleeping through the night again. It took a lot of sleep re-training, a lot of pitch-blackness, and also a couple of pool noodles. Yep.

We removed all night lights. I think the darkness scares them enough to keep them in their beds at night. Remember that, folks: night lights are NOT your friends. Living in the dark dark woods without street lights, or even any moonlight, is your friend. (Also, don’t try this in June.)

And as for the pool noodles? Well, if you can’t afford the bed rails to keep your twins from falling out of bed at night, learn from the Master: take a saw to a one dollar pool noodle, and shove them under the sheets. (Just don’t let your kids see you changing the sheets, lest they think bedtime equates with beach fun.) They haven’t rolled out since.

Once they mastered sleeping at night, momma wasn’t quite so sleep-deprived, but I was still majorly sanity-deprived. They just could not calm down enough to sleep at nap. The freedom was too intoxicating. Who cares if they don’t sleep at naptime, you might ask? Can’t they just have “quiet time”? Well, let me explain a few things:

  • They were happily sleeping a solid 2.5 hours each until the day they bit their binkies apart, so it was obvious that they still need nap. My oldest son quit napping long before he turned two and he was just fine, but I kept putting him in his room for quiet time. This ain’t my first rodeo.
  • My Hurricane Boy, Twin B, does not know the meaning of “quiet time”. Even after our major childproofing, he broke the blinds, he removed wooden shelves from the wall-anchored bookcase and used them as weapons, and he broke a childproofing lock on his dresser drawer and then broke the drawer off the hinges. He is my tiniest boy, the one from the NICU, and he acts like the Hulk (only without the anger).
  • My twins were taking turns torturing each other. The wails of pain kept me running up the stairs constantly. I would find a new bite mark, a book (or wooden shelf) to the forehead, or a sad boy sobbing, “Brother no hit! Night night all done!!!” It was horrible, and it never got better.
  • My twins were keeping each other awake, but would sleep well* if separated.

*By “sleeping well”, I mean that both twins would nap just fine for anyone but me – including Daddy, mother-in-law, and even my friend Chrysta from church. (Bless that woman: she came over a few times just to pat the Hulk on the back and lie down on the carpet next to him, so I could have a break.)

Never, and I mean never, would the Hulk sleep for me in his own bed.

How do you think this makes a momma feel?

I used everything I had. I stepped back and dug deep into my poor swiss-cheese-holed brain to access my education training, my developmental psychology training, and even my church teachings. I prayed. I sobbed. I felt like a failure. I greeted my poor husband at the door with Crazy Eyes and Crazy Hair. Nothing worked on that Twin B.

It was like newborn days all over again. I had no control, chaos reigned, and I had no.idea.what.I.was.doing.

Kids were cranky and sleep-deprived. But momma was more cranky and sleep-deprived. I couldn’t write or blog, because naptime was gone and my early mornings were NOT spent getting up with my husband at 4:30 AM. My brain became an anxiety-ridden tangled web, where nothing went in or came out. My ideas got log-jammed. My wires got crossed. Writing helps me organize my thoughts. Without it, I was a wreck.

This weekend, we decided enough was enough. It is clear that I can’t fix this problem. I can’t make Twin B sleep without his crib, even though everyone else can. My mailman probably can. My dog probably can. I just can’t. He feeds off my anxiety that seeps out of my pores like fuel. My husband has the magic touch for both me and Twin B. Bless my husband: he never blamed me or shamed me about my inability to handle that kid. (He teased me a little bit…) We figured four weeks was enough time to know that Twin B was not going to adapt to this level of freedom – at least not in a way that I needed.

Twin B got Plan B.

He got exiled.


We completely emptied out the guest room (which was formerly the nursery). We made a couple trips to Lowe’s and Babies R’ Us. We didn’t childproof that room: we Twin-B-proofed that room. We simply took everything out, locked it down, and left a mattress on the floor. Mr. Okayest helped him get used to his new nap room, and that’s that. The twins are separated for nap. They still sleep together at night.

This is totally a first-world problem. Woe is me! I have an extra room on hand in which to put my kid! I have noise machines to drown out the other kids! I have each child in his own room! I live in the woods, where it’s so dark! I am relaxing with a blog! I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous to any mother from any other country, or any other socio-economic status, or any other time period in history. Shut up, Okayest Mom, and be glad you’re not all sharing one little mat on the floor in one little room. I know.

And yet…

Now I can breathe. I can rest. I can relax. I can write. The world is back to normal…. At least until the next fireball of change comes.




PS, Yes, I am totally aware that if I had abided by the Montessori method of putting my newborns on a mattress on the floor from the start, instead of in crib jail, that this whole fireball of change would have been prevented. I made my bed, and then I had to lie in it. Only I didn’t get to lie or lay or anything… oh, you know what I mean….


One-Year-Old Twins Turn Everything into Situationally-Appropriate Bad Words

Every one-year-old manages to turn innocent words into curses, but it’s more hilarious in stereo… and in context… and in a non-cursing home. Hmm, let’s see, how does a Mormon momma convey this R-rated babble coming from her babes’ mouths without cursing herself….?

smoothie sharingKey:

Shirt = sh!t

Fork = f*ck

Cough = c*ck

Scenario 1, at the table:

Twin A: Fork!

Twin B: Oh, Fork!

Scenario 2, in the bathtub:

[One twin has pooped in the tub. All three children are evicted from the tub, and, while Daddy cleans it up, the naked twins throw their piles of discarded clothes in the air and shout exuberantly.]

Twin A: Shirt!

Twin B: Oh, Shirt!

Daddy: Why, yes, I am cleaning the “shirt” out of the tub.

Scenario 3, at the changing table:

[I am changing one twin’s poopy diaper. The other twin opens up the drawer and hands me some clothes.]

Twin B: Bubby shirt.

Me: Yes. Yes he did.

Scenario 4, at the dinner table:

[Daddy has bronchitis. He gets terrible coughing fits.]

Twin A: Daddy cough.

Me: [trying not to make eye contact with Daddy] Yes, yes, Daddy does have a “cough”.

Scenario 5, in the car:

[The twins have recently learned how to verbally argue together.]

Twin B [grabbing his shirt]: Shirt!

Twin A: No shirt!

Twin B: Shirt!

Twin A: No shirt!


More bleeping fun! One week later:

Scenario 6, on the changing table, while Twin B stuffs his shirt into his mouth:

Me: Don’t eat your shirt. Yuck.

Twin B: No eat shirt.

Scenario 7, at the dinner table, while Daddy STILL has bronchitis:

Twin A: Daddy cough.

Me: [ahem] Yes, Daddy does have a “cough”.

Twin A: Mommy cough?

Me: [Eyes watering with repressed hysterics]: No, Mommy doesn’t have a “cough”.

“My Twins Sucked at Breastfeeding” was posted on the Scary Mommy Blog…

…and I have a few things to say about that.

I wrote a post for Scary Mommy about breastfeeding multiples, and they posted it last week on their home page. It has over 11,000 shares on facebook right now. I think I might have had my fifteen minutes of fame. But it’s over now. (I have been tracking my stats. Thousands of views and shares does NOT actually produce more followers or likes. The internet has a short attention span.)

I originally titled it, “My Twins Sucked at Breastfeeding”, which I thought was way more clever and accurate than the title they gave: “The Truth about Breastfeeding Twins”. I was criticized in the comments for generalizing and discouraging other twin moms, but I was simply trying to tell MY story. I think the title change is a little to blame – I was not telling anyone else’s “truth” about breastfeeding. I was only telling MY truth, hence the “my” in “My Twins Sucked at Breastfeeding.”

Most of the comments were extremely kind and loving. However, a handful said that breastfeeding twins was “easy”, and I want to kick them in the head. Annnnnd there was one woman who said, “Lots and lots and lots of women experience complications pre, during and post pregnancy. You aren’t a martyr. You aren’t the first woman to have twins. Get over yourself.” Hmmm. I think if she read my blog, she would know that I have already said the exact same thing myself. Many times. Also, I would like to challenge her to say that to my face. Ah, the internet.

To Scary Mommy, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to write for you, but chastise you for your typos. Come on, Scary Mommy, you have over half a million followers. I think you could be a little more careful (less scary?) with your editing.

To any of the new twin moms that I scared, I apologize.

Here’s my original text:

My Twins Sucked at Breastfeeding

Was it me or was it the twins who did the sucking at breastfeeding? Maybe both. After surviving one adoption, several miscarriages, fifteen rounds of fertility treatment, hellish high-risk twin pregnancy, bedrest with a toddler, and almost dying from postpartum hemorrhage, I certainly knew better than to expect breastfeeding would go smoothly. It sucked, both literally and figuratively.

I read every book I was supposed to read on the topic of breastfeeding twins. I underlined so many sections of my La Leche League multiples book that my husband asked me if perhaps I should consider underlining only things I didn’t want to remember. I tried to be prepared simply by adding post-it notes of information in my brain, but I knew I would have to wing it when the twins arrived.

I couldn’t have been more right. Who would win when this twin momma faced off against all the books she read?


The books say: Breastfeed immediately after birth, or within 60 minutes after a C-section. That should be enough time to get you all stitched up and ready to go.

Twin mom says: Breastfeeding is impossible in the ICU while you’re knocked out.

Winner: Nobody.


The books say: Frequent breastfeeding will teach your body to double or triple the amount of milk you need for multiples.

Twin mom says: Almost dying and getting blood transfusions messes with the body’s ability to produce milk.

Winner: Nobody.


The books say: Feed each twin separately at first, to teach proper latching techniques. Tandem nursing can wait.

Twin mom says: No problem. Tandem nursing can definitely wait.

Winner: Books.


The books say: Avoid bottles and pacifiers during the hospital stay to establish proper nursing.

Twin mom says: You don’t have a say when you’re knocked out in the ICU.

Winner: Nobody.


The books say: When you begin to tandem feed, the double-football hold will work the best.

Twin mom says: WHATEVER. You totally need substantial boobage to pull off the double-football hold, because you’ve got to have boobs that actually flop around. Not all of us are so endowed, even with the milk! Why didn’t any book talk about THAT?!

Winner: Nobody. Certainly not my boobs.


The books say: Your milk will come in within three to four days after birth.

Twin mom says: Be a rebel! Mine didn’t come in until the eleventh day after birth, which was the latest my lactation consultant had ever seen.

Winner: Twin Mom!


The books say: The best way to help a baby learn to nurse is skin-to-skin contact.

Twin mom says: It’s hard to do when I was so bruised, battered, and patched up from all the ways they saved my life. I wanted nothing more than to put my babies inside my hospital gown, but I was too mutilated from all the procedures they performed on me. I came home from the hospital with a walker, a lot of bandages and bruises, and a physical therapist.

Winner: Nobody. Certainly not my babies.


The books say: Within the first two weeks after birthing twins, be sure to pump and/or feed every 2-3 hours to teach your body to establish and double the milk supply.

Twin mom says: No problem. I will never sleep again anyway. I will never not be holding a baby again anyway.

Winner: The books.


The books say: Rent a hospital grade pump for multiples. You need a pro to suck out enough milk for twins.

Twin mom says: NOBODY TOLD ME HOW MUCH PUMPING SUCKS (literally and figuratively)! I had no idea how bad it would feel and how much I would hate it. I had no idea how long it would take. I had no idea how much my toddler would misbehave when he knew I was attached to those tubes and completely immobilized.

Winner: My toddler.


The books say: Tandem breastfeeding is harder with fraternal twins than identical twins, because they only share 50% of their DNA. They will have different hunger cues, feeding patterns, and body clocks.

Twin mom says: Ain’t that the truth. My fraternal twins were opposites in the womb, and they were opposites while breastfeeding. One was a pro; the other had feeding difficulties – including allergies, reflux, and nipple confusion.

Winner: The books. Or maybe the one twin who was good at nursing.


The books say: Tandem breastfeeding is the best choice for twins.

Twin mom says: Um, nobody told me how MUCH I WOULD HATE TANDEM NURSING. It was almost impossible to position the babies even with another adult present. How do I get the second baby latched on after I already had one attached to my boob? (When I was alone, I would try to position the second baby on the couch beside me, and hoist him up by his jammies with my one free arm. If he was wearing snap jammies, he would fall out of them. I quickly switched to zip-up jammies.) Nursing two at once felt overwhelming and, I hate to say, a little creepy. They finished eating at different times, so what was I supposed to do when one baby had to burp and one was still attached? And how do I care for a needy two-year-old while I am completely immobilized by two nursing babies? What do I do when the toddler gets into the knife drawer? Do I pull the babies off or do I try to stand up with two of them attached? I guarantee I would either fall down or lose the latch. What about my (adopted) son’s jealousy while I was nursing both babies? I had to deal with some major adoptive momma guilt there. I did not have the answers to these questions. I gave up and nursed them separately.

Winner: Nobody.


The books say: Alternating bottle-feeding and breast-feeding is not recommended. It creates more work, and less milk production.

Twin mom says: Too bad. I never made enough milk, despite every effort. We finally established a system where I would breastfeed one twin, supported by a Boppy and one of my arms, while, with my other arm, I bottle-fed the other twin, supported beside me on the couch with a Boppy. This also enabled me to leap off the couch, if needed, to help my toddler not die.

Winner: Twin mom! And my toddler.


The books say: Breastfeed for at least a year.

Twin mom says: My goal was one day at a time. I made it to just under seven months. I figured that counted as a year in my Twin World! By that time, I was about to crack from having 1-2 hours of sleep from my non-synchronized, non-tandem night feedings. Also, my poor-at-nursing-twin was completely off the breast and only drinking pumped milk anyway. It was time to sleep-train them. I couldn’t let them “cry it out” while nursing. We dried it up, cried it out, and started sleeping. (PS, The last time I breastfed my last twin, I was listening to “The Last Time” by The Rolling Stones: “Well this could be the last time, This could be the last time, Maybe the last time, I don’t know, oh no, oh no.”)

Winner: Twin Mom! I did what was best for MY FAMILY! (“My family”, of course, refers to me not cracking.)


The books say: Any amount of breastmilk is good for the babies.

Twin mom says: Ain’t that the truth. I never made enough milk for twins, despite visiting several lactation consultants, pumping with a hospital grade pump, reading every book, and trying every home remedy. I had to supplement with formula from the very beginning. I was happy to give them immunities, even if I couldn’t make them full.

Winner: Everybody.


The moral of this story is that books are great, but twin mommas are better!



The Twins Destroyed My Body (No, Not Like That)

My ever-present wrist brace helps me hold this heavy flower (the first flower my kid ever gave me!)

My ever-present wrist brace helps me hold this heavy flower (the first flower my kid ever gave me!)

Everyone talks about the pain of childbirth, but what about the pain of child-rearing?

You think I’m going to talk about stretch marks? Wrong. The twins destroyed my body in a whole different way than I expected: they are breaking me. At just over a year and a half old, they weigh 32 and 34 pounds each, and apparently that’s too much.

I don’t really carry them anymore. I taught them to go up and down stairs on their own as soon as possible. I don’t even pick them up when they’re crying- I just sit down on the floor and let them come to me. (That’s a trick I learned during bedrest with a toddler!) But, when you have two fat children under the age of two, there is still a lot of lifting and hauling. Every day, there is hauling in and out high chairs (2 twins x 2 times per meal x 3 meals = like a thousand times), hauling in and out of cribs for naps and wake-ups and bedtimes, heaving them into carseats if we go anywhere (I long ago calculated that one trip to anywhere means four buckle/unbuckles per child: in at home, out at destination, in to go home, out to come inside), and heaving them off their brothers during tantrums over the empty Tylenol bottle.

Oh, and let’s not forget the heaving them onto the changing table for every diaper. Yes, yes, I know that I could change them on the floor or the couch. Yes, yes, I know that most of you don’t use changing tables. I don’t want to hear it. I have changed approximately three trillion diapers by now, and I know what works for me, and it’s the changing table. I am just not good enough to keep a poopy diaper away from the dog or the other twin if I change someone on the floor, okay? Also, I’m tall, and I don’t want to bend over more than I have to. Also, maybe I just suck at changing poops, because I can make a mess and I prefer to keep that e.coli contained to one area that I can disinfect. OKAY?

Anyway, as you see, the children are heavy and ridiculously large for their age and still need to be lifted many times per day. Also, as you can see from any of my photos, I am not large for my age. I have zero muscle tone. Well, not zero, but I think it would take some major steroids to make me even look like I have any muscle definition. With my first son, everyone said, “Don’t worry; you’ll get stronger.” Ha! Now I reply, “I don’t get stronger; I just get sorer.”

I hurt everywhere, all the time.

Do you other moms hurt this much? If so, how can anyone look at a young mother with her arms full of a baby or a toddler and not rub her neck? This kid thing HURTS. Everyone talks about the pain of childbirth, but what about the pain of child-rearing?

My neck hurts. My back hurts. My wrist hurts. My head hurts. My hips hurt. Let’s just say that everything from my hips to my skull hurts all the time. Tell me I’m not alone in this, or else I’m going to have to see a doctor.

I primarily lift babies on my left side, so my left shoulder and back are all bulked up – at least compared to my right side. I probably look like I have a disorder. My left shoulder sits so much higher than my right, and I spend all of yoga class trying to get it down again (that is, when I’m not staring at the dude in front of me who is wearing my same skin-tight women’s workout capris, but with his shirt tucked into them).

My left wrist started to give out when the babies were about three months old, so I received cortisone injections several times. Now the doctor won’t let me do any more, so my choices are surgery or hold on until we can turn the cribs into toddler beds and the high chairs into regular chairs.

Even my muscles in my throat hurt! I feel like I’ve been looking down for 4 1/2 years straight, and now I have foreshortened the muscles in front of my throat. I am always stretching my head backward to help. Is that weird? Has anyone else experienced this? Almost five years of gazing into their eyes while nursing and bottle-feeding, and then looking down at their short little toddler bodies from my great height …. seems to have put me in a permanent downward-facing position.

My neck is all kinked up. I have had migraines my entire life, but they are worse lately with all the muscle strain. I do yoga and I stretch out on a foam roller every night and I try to take care of myself, but there is really nothing more to do until I get these kids more independent.

What the heck, kids? My husband said I feed you too much, because you just poop too much and weigh too much, at least compared to the pooping frequency and weight percentiles of your little friends at the playgroup. I guess it’s my fault you’re so heavy. It has nothing to do with the fact that your father weighed almost ten pounds at birth, right? (My twins were seven and a half pounds each at birth, at 38 weeks gestation. I shudder to think how big they would have been at 40 weeks as a singleton. However, bedrest and tator tots helped them get to be that big. On purpose.)

I’m lucky: my husband has magic hands. He can find every knot and every tender spot. He can just touch my neck with his fingertips and I might start to cry with relief. He takes over most evenings and most weekends, doing all the heavy lifting to let me recover before the next round.

From now on, the only gift I will give a new mother will be a massage therapist to visit her house every day for three years, or for as long as her child needs to be lifted, whichever comes first. Just kidding. That’s what I’m giving myself. When I win the lottery.



I understand that there are other ways to maneuver children. I worked at a Montessori school for a while, so I know that an ideal situation would be to have everything at the child’s level. No lifting/hauling/heaving would be needed. In the Montessori method, crib mattresses are on the floor from birth and children’s tables and chairs take the place of high chairs. Their feet should be on the floor when eating and they shouldn’t be restrained behind buckles or bars. I saw this method in action, and I can attest that it works in a Montessori environment. I can also attest that my house is not a Montessori house, and that one of my twins is a hurricane. I chose the buckles and bars and all of that as a way to keep my sanity in the short term, so I have myopically chosen to sacrifice my body for my sanity.


Toddler Twin Survival Tips

  1. No snaps.
  2. No buttons.
  3. No ties.
  4. Jammies that zip.
  5. Crocs.
  6. Generic Target diapers, in bulk, on sale, with a 5% off RedCard, with a $10 gift card (they offer this promotion about once a month, and I get it every time. It brings the cost of diapers down to less than 14 cents per size 5 diaper)

    diapers in bulk

    This many diapers lasts a little over a month. I’m not complaining- at least I don’t have three in diapers anymore!

  7. Crying it out and sleeping through the night (but only after nursing is finished)
  8. A large deck that serves as a playpen
  9. Bike trailers from Craigslist

    Mr. Okayest is more than okay.

    Mr. Okayest is more than okay.

  10. Fenced-in playgrounds only (YOU try deciding if you save the twin who is falling off the slide or the twin who is running into the parking lot!)

    I made this meal planner while I was nesting during pregnancy.

    I made this meal planner while I was nesting during pregnancy.

  11. Hardcore meal planning
  12. Waking up before the kids (I know, I know, it sucks. I had to catch up on sleep for about a year before I implemented this.)
  13. Movie room in the basement for the adults – best date night ever, because it requires no babysitters
  14. No shopping– all shopping is done after they go to bed or by my husband. You just can’t fit three kids in a cart. Not even in a Costco cart, unless you’re only buying one thing. But then why would you be going to Costco?
  15. Going only one place per day – I know my limits. And, with three kids to buckle and lift, I can choose the playground or the library, but not both.
  16. Strict bedtimes. If they don’t go to bed on time, I never see my husband.
  17. Strict mealtimes/ meal rules. If they don’t like what is served, they are pretty hungry. But that never happens.
  18. This mantra: “Leave the living room by 9:30AM”. They have to have a change of scenery – it doesn’t matter if it’s the playground, the deck, or the basement, BUT IT CAN’T BE THE LIVING ROOM! The living room is where the fighting and the boredom happen, no matter how many toys are in there.
  19. Setting up playdates in the church gym.
  20. Locking them in a neighborhood tennis court and letting them run free in a fenced area. twin fight
  21. NOT buying two of anything. They will fight over whatever their twin has in his grubby little hands, so a second identical item won’t matter. They had a knock-down fight over a couch pillow today.
  22. Not doing chores during nap. (My only choices are blogging, tv watching, napping, or reading.)
  23. Not worrying about vegetables.
  24. BABY GATES! You can read more about my 180-degree turn on childproofing.
  25. Ikea high chairs. They are $20 each and you can hose ‘em off or put them in the shower. Seriously.




Some people might think I am too structured. But, they probably didn’t have three kids in diapers simultaneously! They would change their minds if they did what I do all day.

This list is a semi-continuation of my Infant Twin Survival Tips list from a while back.

Childproofing is Stupid and Overrated… for Moms of Singletons. Twin Moms Need Hot Lava Moats.

I got desperate while cooking one day. PS, This did not work.

I got desperate while cooking one day. PS, This did not work.

Childproofing is stupid and overrated for moms of singletons. Childproofing is necessary and underrated for moms of twins (or triplets in my case, as my niece lives here too). Some children need it; some children don’t. Twin moms, however, are in another category altogether.

We have considered hot lava and sharp rocks to keep my twins (triplets) in line.

My oldest son barely needed childproofing. We might have added a few outlet covers here and there, but, whatever. In order to be approved for adoption, we had to put child locks on our cabinets and prove that we had childproofed the house to our social worker. Do you realize that this means that we childproofed our home BEFORE he arrived? Eighteen months before he arrived! What is this, New York City? We are not the kind of family that childproofs before a baby starts crawling – much less before a baby arrives – much less 18 months before he arrives. The irony of the adoption home study is somewhat cruel and ridiculous.

Needless to say, as soon as we were approved, those cabinet locks came down. After placement, we figured that we would re-childproof when he started to crawl. We soon realized that, while our son was a whole lot of work, he was just not a climber, or a sneak, or a runner, or a hider. He was never far from my hip, either. He was content to play with the pots and pans while I cooked, and didn’t need to take dinner prep a step further by pulling a chair over to climb on the counter to reach the knives. He was content to read his own books, and didn’t need to take story time a step further by scaling the bookshelf and tearing my novel pages from bindings. He was content to play with his toy tools, and didn’t need to take home repair a step further by sticking real screwdrivers into outlets. He had his challenges, but he was obedient. I knew I was lucky.

Children should be free to explore their environment! Children should be a part of their own homes! Children will never learn safety skills if they live in a bubble! Children should not be gated off like dogs!

Enter twins. Other twin moms warned me: twins will work together to undo child locks. Twins will always have an audience to impress, and will do naughty things from a very young age to make the other giggle. They were right. At the age of 16 months, one of my twins is the ringleader of all three of my children, and I knew that would be his role when he was still in the womb.

Enter triplets. When my niece, who is not much older than the twins, moved in with us, I suddenly felt like I had triplets.

I cannot look three (four) directions at once. I cannot move three (four) directions at once. Not all the children are old enough to understand or obey. Childproofing became an absolute necessity.

We started out normal enough. Outlet covers, cabinet locks, and we’re good to go, right? Wrong. Anything that is plugged in will be yanked out, and then overturned for the sheer testosterone-y pleasure of it. We had to get those covers that cover the entire outlet and whatever is plugged into it. Later, we just had to get rid of anything that plugs into the wall. The cabinet locks can be undone by the most vigorous twin, and now he can open drawers too. He can pull cutting boards off the countertop onto his head. He comes running for splattering oil and the open door of a 450 degree oven. We gave up and just gated off the whole kitchen. Sadly, that involved drilling into our cabinets. Sigh. No worries, though, because now I will cook long, luxurious meals just so I can have an excuse to stand in there alone.


A gated-off kitchen makes a happy momma, and that makes happy kids.

We have a brick fireplace hearth that spans the length of the entire living room, and the right angle of the brick is just at the right height to cause brain damage to whatever neck would land on it wonkily. So we got that “edge-proofing” cushion stuff, which is held on by double-sided tape. That tape was not enough to stop my kids. It came off immediately. Then we tried taping on pool noodles cut in half, and, when that didn’t work, we bought some sort of adhesive pipe cushion for plumbers. No use. Then we just let them hit their heads for a while, until wintertime came and we needed to turn on the fireplace. Now the whole thing is gated off by a long fence. Same story with the TV/music room: we tried to make it work, gave up, fenced it off. My square footage is shrinking.

Please note the use of plywood, bungee cords, a heavy ottoman, and a changing table to keep that fence in place.

Please note the use of plywood, bungee cords, a heavy ottoman, and a changing table to keep that fence in place.

The kids started climbing on the kitchen table, so we decided to stop using it. Now we eat in the formal dining room that has been gated off… but first we took the rug out. We can’t have four kids under four eating on a rug three times a day. Now we can actually set the table and clear the table without my El Diablo twin pulling a bowl of hot Iranian green chilies onto his face.

The dog crate that fits a 100 pound dog… end tables… record album collection… diaper pails…vent covers: there is no end to the things they try to conquer. (I’ve already retrieved bread, duplos, blocks, and sippy cups from inside the vents.)

Maybe because they are boys, they just want to mount, climb, stand on, or smash every single part of this house. (And, yes, they have plenty of toys, but they prefer the house itself as a toy.) They are like goats who are always trying to stand on the highest tree stump.

endtable probsFor example, when they started to climb on top of the end table, we took the glass top off so they wouldn’t shatter it. Then they just started to stand inside the open top of the table. Then they started to stand inside it together and practically fist-fight inside the end table. Then we just removed the whole table. Who am I to think I can have “triplets” AND end tables? Silly me!

We are constantly removing furniture and adding baby gates and fences. Subtract, add, subtract, add: that’s what childproofing is all about. We have a guest room full of end tables.

We had to lock the toy closet, too, because they would dump the bins. I worked at a Montessori school, so I know that bins are bad – they are just an excuse to dump. Ideally, we wouldn’t have bins of toys. But this isn’t a Montessori school, dang it! My oldest was wonderfully trained to pick one toy, use it, clean it up, put it away, and pick a second. Somehow that is not translating to the “triplets”. What is worse is that now my oldest has even lost his ability to play with one toy at a time, because he is caught up in the chaos! Now we have child-locked even the toy closet, and we adults choose one or two bins to take out for them to play with that day.

I hate hurdling over baby gates to get to the fridge. I hate opening the plastic fence when I want to watch TV at night. But, no matter how much I hate this stuff, I feel the worst for my oldest son. He never did anything to deserve this level of lockdown (not even as a baby!). Before all this childproofing nonsense, I had taught him how to get his own (pre-poured) milk from the fridge, get his own snack from the pantry, make his own sandwich (kind of), get his own books, and get his own underwear and clothes if he needed a change. Now, the kitchen is gated. The upstairs – and, thus, his bedroom – is gated. Even his books with “paper pages” (i.e., not board books) are behind the dang baby fence! And he can only see half the TV when he watches it, because all the media is behind a big fence too. He has lost a lot of his hard-won independence, but he doesn’t complain. Well, if by “complain”, I mean “tantrums”, then yes, he does complain sometimes.

We have considered alternatives. Instead of gating off most of the house, why aren’t we gating them IN? Why don’t we put the baby fence in a circle and trap them inside? Well, that would be a good solution if we wanted to hear even more loud screaming. Also, with twins, one pushed the whole playpen around, while dragging the other twin down behind him inside the fence.

Other alternatives  we’ve considered include hot lava moats, electric fences, and sharp rocks on top of the couch, like anti-pigeon spikes.

My ponytail looks like this at the end of the day. I usually say something to my husband like, "Honey, I will try not to look so crazy tomorrow."

My ponytail looks like this at the end of the day. I usually say something to my husband like, “Honey, I will try not to look so crazy tomorrow.”

One Year Later: In Photos

The Early Days

The Early Days were a blur of sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, pain, painkillers, and a revolving door of grandmas, aunts, and cousins helping for days and nights on end. My husband was perfectly capable of taking care of a newborn or two OR taking care of me – but not both.  Early Days were dark. They were a little sad, a little happy, and very overwhelming. Early Days lasted for the first month.

twins_1st_drtwins holding hands brothers early days all of usearly days with daddy twins cuddling first walk

Survival Mode

After the early days came Survival Mode. Survival Mode came after I was healed. It was after the overnight help went back to their own families, and my husband went back to work. These were the first days that I started to take care of the three children on my own. I was shaky and scared. I cried a lot during Survival Mode Days. Neighbors and friends dropped by often to help me for a couple hours each day to rescue me. The babies were still demanding newborns. I was delirious from lack of sleep. I often only got one or two hours per night and I felt wildly not normal. Survival Mode lasted for perhaps the next three months, until the twins were more like babies and less like newborns. I can honestly say that this period in my life was the most challenging. (It ranks up there with my week in the hospital and my first year of teaching!)

moby wrap first smiler holds twins sitting around the tree snowsuitsfeeding 1

Real Life

After Survival Mode came Real Life. Real Life started after I gained my strength and my confidence. Real Life came after the daytime help sent me on my way. Real Life came after I was sleeping a little bit more. Real Life came after the twins were on a schedule – and could sleep, smile, play, and enjoy life. In Real Life, I started to feel proud of what I was doing and how I was doing it. In Real Life, I had a little bit of time to think. I felt like me again, except that I had three small children tagging along. Dare I say that we even have fun once in a while?

6 months shoot ahugging guitar all 3 on daddypushing the twin daddy is home poolgoing for a walkfamily portrait photobomb

One Year Later: In Words

First Birthday Twins

My babies had their first birthday this week. I am so proud of them, and me, and my husband, and my oldest son. We did it! Happy 1st birthday to two of my boys! I guess I can’t call them “my babies” anymore, but I don’t like saying “my twins” when they are so different from each other.

Also, happy “Survival Day” to me! While I don’t really want to think about what was happening a year ago, I do want to celebrate surviving that day and surviving the first year. I want to celebrate my boys. I want to celebrate the doctors who saved us. And most of all, I want to celebrate all the friends and family who gave us so much of themselves during the bedrest and the first year. We could not have done this without them. (Seriously, the doctor said so!) We are overcome with love for them all.

Seeing the leaves fall all around our wooded property makes me feel the way I did a year ago. I went into the hospital when it was summer. I came out of the hospital when it was fall. It was only a week, but it was the longest and scariest and bravest and happiest week of my life. Mr. Okayest and I just stood in the kitchen last night and hugged, as three children clung to our legs and cried for attention. We just needed each other for just one moment. He had looked at me and said, “A year ago today we were still in the hospital.” We don’t need to say much more than that. He was by my side for everything.

We both still have a lot of pain to process from that time. What strikes me about that fact is worrying and wondering about all the people who have had far worse stories than mine. I mean, we survived! We had a happy ending! We birthed two children, and even though one wasn’t breathing and had to be intubated and sent to the NICU, we still brought both of them home with us! How is it possible that we still have so much pain and emotion from this one week in our life that actually ended so well?

What about all those who have not had happy endings to their hospital stories? I think about friends of mine who have lost both newborn twins. I think about close family members who had a micro-preemie who spent over three months in the NICU and almost didn’t survive. I think about a family member who has died from cancer. I think about a family member who had to face the decision of whether to terminate a baby who was fatally ill. What kind of grief and pain and loss faces them each morning? How do they process it all? How do they feel when they look at a hospital bed on TV? What kind of hugs do they give their loved ones in the kitchen?

One year later, we are so grateful for everything. We know we could have lost everything that day. No matter how much I complain, I am even grateful for little things, like being able to vacuum or unload the dishwasher, or even change a diaper. There was a long period of time where I couldn’t do any of those things for my family. I have conquered so much, with the help of a small army. I still have a long way to go.

What I’ve conquered:

What I am still dealing with:

Healing physically – After bedrest and three procedures after the birth, then recovering at home with some physical therapy, I am 100% healed, albeit scarred. Healing emotionally- Both my husband and I, as well as my 3-year-old, are still wrestling with some of the emotional scars we bear from that time.
Weight loss- I’ve lost about 75 of my 8o pounds. I have no secrets. Yes, I breastfed, and I mall-walked all winter (and trail-walked all spring) while pushing two kids and carrying another. However, I think anyone who brags about postpartum weight loss should be kicked in the face, because I think my Dad’s genes are probably to thank for the weight loss. I have many friends who have worked a lot harder than me, but still struggle with the weight.  I am just not sure we have as much control as we think we do. Muscle Mass- My body feel soft and wobbly. My belly is still a waterbed. Most of all, I just do not have the muscle I need to carry and lift these tanks I have created. My back and neck hurt all the time. I carry them primarily on one side, so I am all bulked up on one shoulder and not the other. It’s gross and it’s painful. I have no core strength and no arm strength. Mr. Okayest says my arms are like little q-tips, with cotton ball hands. Ha! I usually say, “I didn’t get stronger. I just got sorer.”
Keeping them alive for one year  Making sure they get enough attention and love
Sleeping- I have taught the babies to sleep through the night and nap on a rigorous schedule. We cried it out and it was an excellent decision. All 3 of my kids sleep from 7:30PM to 7AM. Having too much adrenaline – I cannot seem to relax at any point during the day. I am constantly in fight-or-flight mode and I don’t know how to stop.
Starting potty-training my oldest Finishing potty-training my oldest
Learning how to put all 3 to bed by myself- This is possible simply because they are older now. They have learned how to wait. As newborns, they were incapable of that! Really supporting my husband through grad school- Putting the kids to bed myself on school nights is still torture. (I usually have help from my wonderful in-laws, though!)
Childproofing horizontally Childproofing vertically – Umm, my oldest was not a climber. I’m getting schooled by one of my twins.
Learning to plan and execute healthy meals while three kids cry during the witching hour (a.k.a., “the arsenic hour”) Learning to plan and execute healthy meals while three kids cry during the witching hour WITHOUT LOSING MY COOL.
Having a family via adoption and biological means Understanding how to raise each of them to be okay with that

First Haircut

This photo captures the passage of time to me. The leaves are changing again. My babies survived, and grew big enough to need haircuts! Here is E’s hair on the ground, with the attachment to the clippers and some proof of autumn. Last year at this time, there were only the leaves.

Twins vs. Dishwasher


(Getting creative here. Why trap them inside a cage when I can trap myself instead?)

The most important chore in my morning is to unload the dishwasher. It has bottles in it, see? Also, it seems to be that thing that determines how smoothly the rest of the day goes. Forget to unload it and watch the chaos ensue. I dare you.

My twins are almost one year old, and, like any babies, they love to crawl to the dishwasher. What’s the problem with that? Well, if the dishes are dirty, then you’ve got a baby with a sharp knife in one hand and a cutting board with chicken guts on it in the other. If the dishes are clean, you’ve got silverware in their mouth and dog-haired hands grabbing your plates.

I have to unload it while they are in the high chair. That’s my only choice. Unloading it at nap would mean waking the babies with loud noises. Also, I’ve got to get those bottles outta there and drying NOW!

First thing in the morning, I put the babies in their high chairs for their breakfast. They have a tray full of bananas, wheat bread, and some Cheerios. Things are quiet. Things are good. Today, I’m going to have this whole thing under control. I start to unload the dishwasher. I pull out the top rack. G is screaming because E stole his banana. I go retrieve it, yanking it from E’s tight grip, and then I have smooshed banana on my hands. I wash my hands.

I take two cups out and get them in the cabinet. E is choking. I run to him but then realize that the fact that I heard him choking means that he is cough-choking, which is fine. I watch him resume eating,  and start to go back to my dishwasher, when I remember that real choking is silent. If I’m unloading dishes, then my back is to them, and then I won’t know that they are silent-choking, and then they will die. I decide to sit and watch them eat. The dishwasher can wait.

I watch them eat while sitting beside them. Ugh, they’re fine. This is stupid. I’m going back to the dishwasher.

I unload a couple more glasses. I move on to the sippy cups. They are all wet. I have to dry them before I can put them back together. Wait, that dish towel is disgusting. Let me go get a clean one. Hmmm, can I leave the babies in their chairs while I run downstairs to the mountain of clean stuff in the laundry room (i.e., laundry closet)? Yes, yes I can.

I come back up to find the 100-pound dog eating bread right out of G’s hand. I scold her and chase her into her crate. I come back to the babies, thinking I should wash G’s hand, when I realize he’s already stuffing more food into his mouth with that hand covered in dog hair and dog slobber. Oh well, what does it matter anyway? He practically licks her coat all day.

I head back to the dishwasher. I can’t remember where I left that clean dish towel. Oh, well, the sippy cups can just sit in the sink to dry. I start to unload the bottles from the dishwasher, when I realize I have dog on my hands. I wash them again.

The babies scream. They are bored of Cheerios. I debate what else to give them. I should make them some scrambled eggs. They need protein. I abandon the dishwasher for the stove.  I put the pan on the stove and turn on the heat. I crack some eggs. As the eggs goober up my hands, R yells, “I have to go pee-pee!” while peeing on the floor. I do some quick calculations about ounces of milk versus the amount of time since the last potty trip, and want to shoot myself.

I pick him up, sit him on the potty, and yell at him to stay there. As I run for the paper towels and vinegar spray, the babies start to cry and give me the sign language for “drink” (i.e., wild hand gestures that might mean something). The dog whines in her crate. I run over to those still-wet sippy cups and start to fill them with water, when I realize I have “pee hands”. I wash them again.

R cries out, “I need you, Momma!” I abandon the sippy cups. As I race back to the bathroom, I pass the pan that is smoking on the stove, the eggs sitting on the counter, the babies crying for water, and the dog whining in the crate. This kid needs a bath. There is pee on his legs and feet. I do some quick prioritizing in my head, and decide that he gets sprayed with vinegar spray. He cries because it’s cold. Oh, well, it’s what we have to work with here. I can’t exactly throw him in the bathtub that is on another level of the house while babies sit in high chairs.

However, I do have to run upstairs to get new clothes for R. Can I leave the babies alone in their high chairs while I do that? Umm, well, they threw all their food on the floor already, so I guess there is nothing for them to choke on while I’m gone. I get the clothes, but R hates to be naked, so he’s screaming, “I don’t like that! I need underwears! I don’t like naked!” while I race back down the stairs.

I make R help me clean up the pee with paper towels. I mentally thank myself for having put the dog in the crate ahead of time, even though she was in there for some other reason. What was that reason again? Oh, yeah, the babies… and their food.

The babies are still crying in their high chairs. They are probably  lonely, or hungry, or thirsty, or something… Oh, right, I see the abandoned sippy cups and the smoking pan and the eggs on the counter. Right. Okay.

I look at the clock. Maybe they’re tired, because it’s almost time for morning nap. Forget the eggs. I turn the stove off. I wipe their hands with wipes. I get the babies down. What a mess! I handle the cleaning of the high chairs, and then I let the dog out of her crate to handle the cleaning of the floor.

What’s the noise? Oh, dang, I left the full dishwasher open. One baby is sitting in the dishwasher, drooling on (licking?) my clean dishes. The other baby is pulling out a sharp knife. I take the knife away, carry that baby far away from the dishwasher so he will have to crawl for a long time before he can get back there, but by then, the other baby has discovered that knife.  I take that away from him and carry him far away from the dishwasher so that he too will have to crawl for a really long time to reach it again. By this time, the first baby has reached the dishwasher again. I yell. I roar. I slam the dishwasher closed.

I have not unloaded the dishwasher.

Maybe Mr. Okayest will do it tonight when he comes home from work.

When Twins Are Both the Problem and the Solution

Some things are actually easier with twins.

IMG_6674(Well, making dinner isn’t. Mercy. And don’t look at my counters.)

When I found out I was carrying twins, mostly I only felt grief and fear. I grieved for some lost things. It might sound crazy to grieve about twin pregnancy after doing fertility treatments for six years, but I wasn’t alone. I found entire chapters devoted to grief in my twin pregnancy books. Parents of multiples actually go through the stages of grief, often in order. We have to deal with letting go of all of the preconceived notions we had. In my case, I grieved about:

1) Future adopted children that I can’t have: We would never be able to adopt again through our church agency because LDS Family Services only approves couples who have no more than two children.

2) My oldest son: While I can’t predict how he will feel, I never intended for him to be the only adopted child in our family. I didn’t want him to be the only one who didn’t biologically resemble us.

3) The ideal pregnancy I wouldn’t have: Having two babies in there at once is almost less…. intimate. At first, I couldn’t tell who was who; I couldn’t bond one-on-one. I couldn’t really even explain it to myself, but I felt kind of outnumbered. It made it harder to bond, feel cozy together, and to imagine the future. In addition, my pregnancy was a living hell that I would not wish on anyone. I won’t go into too many details here, but I can throw out a few hellish keywords: morning sickness until 17 weeks; contractions starting at 18 weeks; choking and almost fainting while lying down by 20 weeks; being unable to walk up stairs without crying by 24 weeks; outgrowing maternity clothes and going on bedrest by six months; heart enlargement, anemia, narcotics, and an inability to sleep, shower, or care for my bodily needs in the last month. Maybe I should write a blog post about that. Let me get on that.

4) The ideal birth that I wouldn’t have: I had to give up my ideas about birth, because I knew it just wouldn’t go the way I wanted or expected. I couldn’t choose which hospital, or which birthplan, or any of that stuff. But maybe that’s a relief. I saved a lot of time not doing any research!

Ten years ago, I was so much more of a know-it-all, or a “breastfeeding Nazi”, or a no-gray-area kind of person. I think having an adopted child really loosened me up. I couldn’t breastfeed, so obviously I had to let that go. (See Tina Fey’s thoughts on silencing the “Teat Nazis” with “Adoptive Mommies” *) We didn’t have time to choose the most perfectly-rated carseat or decorate a cute nursery. We just picked the lightest-weight carseat and threw our kid in the guest room.

And, then, with the twins, I felt a similar feeling. We may have had the luxury of time this time around, but it was not a normal pregnancy. The normal rules didn’t apply. I couldn’t exercise, I had to gain more weight, my body contracted and acted like it was two months ahead of where it was, and I had to give up any ideas about choice that other moms have about their pregnancy or birth. In a way, it was kind of relaxing. It actually didn’t make me sad or upset- it made me let go and quit worrying. Too many choices make us crazy. That’s why people like Costco. (When I ask my husband to bring home laundry detergent, there are a couple to choose from, so he always gets it right. I call this my Costco Theory. )

Besides the grief upon finding out I was carrying twins, I had so many fears. I guess I had “Infertility Aftermath”. People who have been through miscarriage or IVF go through a kind of PTSD, even if they do get pregnant. We worry more and can’t enjoy the pregnancy like other people. I had so much anxiety and fear from my last miscarriage that I felt cheated out of enjoying my pregnancy.

Basically, I was scared to lose them and scared to keep them.

Other fears that kept me awake at night included:

1) Taking care of the twins + a toddler alone at night and during the day after Mr. Okayest would go back to work
2) Having to birth one twin vaginally and one through c-section (yes, it happens!)
3) Failing at breastfeeding
4) Succeeding at breastfeeding
5) Not using migraine medication during breastfeeding too
6) Having 3 kids under 3 (shudder)
7) Having 3 kids in diapers – who does that? Honestly? People have a kid, he grows, they potty train him, then they have another. It’s the natural order of things. What the heck did we do?
8) Never being able to go to the store again. At least until R is old enough to walk beside the cart.
9) Buckling 3 kids into carseats
10) That Mr. Okayest and I might be mean to (or at least snippy with) each other for the next two years
11) My body! What lovely things were awaiting me? Saggy boobs, stretch marks, exhaustion, no libido, jelly belly, blah blah blah… ? And the guilt I felt about worrying about those things when Heavenly Father has affirmatively answered my prayers- oh my!
12) You know that moment when your kid is in bed and the toys are picked up and the dishes are done and the husband’s lunch is made, and you can flop down on the couch and watch whatever mind-numbing drivel you want to? Or even read a book? Would that ever happen again? It was my favorite part of the day, no matter how much I love my kids or how long I waited for them.
13) Having the house to myself while my toddler “naps”. I doubted I would ever get three kids to nap at the same time and ever get the house to myself again.
14) Dealing with migraines with three kids under three
15) Hmmm, what euphemism to use for “marital intimacy”….?
16) Bedrest! What if I needed bedrest? It was quite possible with twins! Who would take care of my toddler?
17) Mr. Okayest’s grad school. He planned to keep going, no breaks, even when they were born. How would I handle that? I worried not only about the looooong days when he would be gone from 5AM- 9PM, but also about all the homework and papers that would require me to care for the kids on my own.
18) Cleaning. How would I keep up with keeping the house? I was already struggling at keeping up with 4000 square feet and a toddler. How would I ever find time or energy with 3 kids? (Well, it’s pretty dirty now- who am I kidding?)

Those fears came true. Well, not #2. But most of the others came true. But you know what? Now that the babies are almost one year old, I am realizing that a lot of those fears came true, but only for a short time. It was temporary, and we survived. Actually, I would say we thrived. Yes, I didn’t sleep for months on end, and I wanted to die, but the babies learned to sleep through the night by six months. Yes, I had not a single moment to myself for months, but I eventually trained all three to nap at the same time in the afternoon by seven months. Yes, Mr. Okayest still goes to grad school, and it sucks, but we also have help from my mother-in-law and from a mother’s helper. Yes, I can’t grocery shop with three little ones who need to sit in the cart, but Mr. Okayest has learned how to grocery shop (and even use coupons!). Yes, Mr. Okayest and I snapped at each other more than we ever had, but we knew it was temporary and were welded together by what had happened to us. Yes, my house is filthy, but I clean it a little bit, once in a while.

Now that they are almost one year old, I am pondering all the positive blessings that twins bring. These bonus things were not on my mind during the terrifying months of bedrest and recovery and sleepless nights. But I see them now. Some of them are trivial and some of them are amazing.

1) I never had to refer to my in-utero offspring as “it” before I knew the sex. The pronoun “they” is so much better.
2) We picked one name before the birth (to appease curious family and friends) and announced the other name at the birth (to surprise family and friends).
3) They keep each other company. They are never alone; they are never friendless or bored.
4) They don’t cry at naptime or bedtime, unless one twin is late getting into his crib. They look for each other, sigh, and just go to sleep.
5) They can entertain each other for an hour in their cribs in the morning before I have to get them up. They wake each other up with a Pterodactyl Scream of Joy.
6) They teach each other things. Watching a mirror image of himself learning to eat, sit up, crawl, and stand must really change a baby’s brain chemistry. (The downside of that is the mischief that comes on quicker!) I really hope this will be helpful during potty training.
7) They don’t mind riding in the car. Our oldest son was miserable in the car, but maybe he would have been happier if he always had brothers to look at next to him in the backseat.
8) I never waste baby food, formula, or an avocado. As soon as I open something up or serve it, I am sure it will somehow get finished by someone. (Today, my three babies ate six eggs in one sitting.)
9) I can always buy diapers and wipes in bulk to “save” money.
10) People take pity on us and donate far more clothing, toys, and gear because we have so many little ones (I think).

Forgive me for so much list-making, but I am usually typing while someone cries. I can’t always organize my thoughts.

Anyway, Okayest Mom has learned a thing or two since the terrifying moment when the doctor said, “What would you say if I told you it was twins?” I was sad; I was scared. The books told me to do it one way, but I forged my own path and became an atypical twin mom. I try to focus on the joyful moments, even if I don’t feel giddy all day long. And I am realizing that having a toddler and babies at the same time might be divinely inspired: a toddler wants nothing more than someone to watch him do weird repetitive things all day long, while babies want nothing more than for someone to do weird repetitive things in front of them all day long. I win.


*“Teat Nazis” , from Tina Fey’s Bossypants

These are the women who not only brag endlessly about how much their five year old still loves breast milk, but they also grill you about your choices. You can recognize the TNs by their hand-carved daggers:

“Are you breast-feeding? Isn’t it amazing? I really think it’s how I lost the weight so easily. Did you have a vaginal birth? I went natural and I didn’t even tear. Are you back at work already? Do you feel weird about going back to work? I just love my baby so much I can’t imagine going back to work yet. You’re not nursing? She’s only fifteen months; you should try again!”

Now, let me be clear; millions of women around the world nurse their children beautifully for years without giving anybody else a hard time about it. Teat Nazis are a solely western upper-middle-class phenomenon occurring when highly ambitious women experience deprivation from outside modes of achievement. Their highest infestation pockets are in Brooklyn and Hollywood.

If you are confronted by a TN, you have two options. One, when they ask if you’re breast-feeding, you can smile and say, “Yes. It’s amazing.” (You owe it to your baby to lie.) Or you can go for the kill. The only people who can shame the Teat Nazis are the Adoptive Mommies. If you have a friend who has an adopted child, especially one from another country, bring him or her around, because they make the Teat Nazis’ brains short-circuit: “How can I… feel superior… you… bigger sacrifice… can’t judge…” and…they crumple to the ground and disappear.