Sleeping together -twins

One of the questions that is asked most amongst twin mothers is: do you let your twins sleep together?

For me it was clear even before they were born I wanted our boys to sleep in the same bed for a while. It was not only a romantic idea about twins having a special bond (and looking so beautiful together), but also inspired by practical reasons: I wanted them to be used to each other, especially to each other’s noises and sounds.
When our boys came early and had to stay in the hospital for many weeks, we expressed this wish to the neonatal staff and as soon as it was possible they were put together in the same warming bed. Not only was it a great sight to see them cuddling up together, it also comforted me a lot to know that even when I was not with them in the hospital, they were never alone but always had each other.

When they finally could come home with us we had a beautiful twin crib waiting for them. They slept in that for many months and my theory really worked; the boys were so used to each other’s sounds that they never woke each other up. Now don’t get me wrong here: they did wake up a lot, we did not sleep through the night or anything remotely related to that. But they did not wake each other, so when one had been fed and was sleeping happily and the other one was suddenly crying his heart out, he did not wake his brother.

From the twin crib they moved on to two baby beds. The first year they were put right next to each other, but then we moved them half a meter apart as the boys started partying together and deliberately waking each other.
Soon we will move them to bigger beds, but they will continue to share the same room. I like to think it makes them bond more.

And to this day my theory is still working out, when one of them wakes up in the night for whatever reason (bad dreams, not feeling well, in need of a cuddle, need to do a pipi etc.) the other one is not woken up by his crying.

Today is World Prematurity day!


World Prematurity Day on 17 November is one of the most important days in the year to raise awareness of the challenges and burden of preterm birth globally. World Prematurity Day calls attention to the special issues facing infants born prematurely, celebrates the development and growth of older babies and children who were born prematurely, and is a great day to support members of your community who work with newborns or premature infants, or are parents adjusting with a prematurely born infant.
The day was initiated by EFCNI and partnering European parent organisations in 2008. The international co-founders LittleBigSouls (Africa), March of Dimes (USA) and National Premmie Foundation (Australia) joined the celebrations and made World Prematurity Day an intercontinental movement. Meanwhile, countless individuals and organisations from more than 100 countries join forces with activities, special events and commit to action to help address preterm birth and improve the situation of preterm babies and their families.

What is Prematurity?

A full-term pregnancy lasts between 37 and 42 weeks, and “prematurity” describes when a baby is born earlier than 37 weeks (gestational time). Prematurely born infants face many special issues, which can include breathing difficulties, feeding difficulties, and low birth weight. Prematurely born babies generally have a longer hospital stay than babies born full-term, and many end up spending time in NICU units (neonatal intensive care) or special care nurseries until it can be established that they are stable and healthy enough to be brought home. This can be a very difficult time for many families.

There are some risk factors for having a premature birth, such as the mother’s general health and lifestyle choices, and carrying multiple babies (twins or triplets), but for many mothers who deliver a premature baby, it is unexpected, with no discernible cause or identifiable risk factors- mothers under excellent prenatal care, who do everything “right” can still end up delivering their baby prematurely. If you are pregnant, it is a good idea to learn the warning signs of pre-term labor, which include cramping, regularly times contractions, and backache, and discuss pre-term labor risks and planning with your care provider. If you do believe you are experiencing pre-term labor signs, it is critical to seek medical attention right away, because there are steps that can be taken to manage, delay, or prevent a baby from being born prematurely.
Thanks to advances in modern healthcare, the prognosis for most babies born prematurely has improved dramatically. Statistically, the earlier a baby is born, the more serious his or her health problems are likely to be.

 

A day like this is a great reminder of how grateful I am to live now with the medical advancements of the last century. Our boys arrived very early and had to stay in the hospital for a month. It was a difficult time, but the hospital staff was so supportive. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened, had we lived in different times. 

 

Announcing twins

Keep calm!

We were over the moon when we realised we were expecting twins. Of course it did take a few weeks to get used to the idea of what this meant, so we first took our time together.
But honestly I was also worried about all the things that could go wrong during the pregnancy, as twin pregnancy can be more complicated. So we were quite late in announcing the news.
Our parents were the first who heard and we announced our news by visiting them and just telling them we were pregnant. They were of course very happy and emotional about it. And only when they got used to the idea we added: by the way, its twins!!
The effect of this was quite nice so we stuck to it when we told others. Every time we said it, we thought it was more hilarious. We really had no idea what we were in for, haha!

Anyway, apparently we could have been a lot more original in the way we told everyone. I found this page with 15 great pictures of how you can announce a twin pregnancy. So if you are expecting twins now, take your pick.
I am very curious though and would love to hear your stories: How did you announce your pregnancy to your family and friends?

‘When I don’t sleep, nobody sleeps’

Having twins meant that we had more than two years of bad nights full of interrupted sleep. The first months with new-borns are like that for everyone with a new baby, but when they started sleeping a bit better and did not need night feedings anymore we always had one baby keeping us up or waking us for something. We managed to deal with all problems that came up in this half asleep- half awake state and always fell asleep again as soon as the problem was solved.  We were tired but learned to live with this kind of sleeping, 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep was all that we could hope for. At least our boys slept till 8 in the morning, so we did not have the early mornings some parents have.

When our boys both finally slept through the night, we started getting used to 8 hours of interrupted sleep again. It was heavenly! But it was incredible how much more exhausted we were those first months that they slept well. It seemed our body suddenly realised we had been doing everything by the skin of our teeth.

So now we are used to this rhythm and finally feel a bit more human. This has a great disadvantage though. Because when one of them wakes up at night now, we are in serious trouble. When one of them cries, we hardly manage to get up. Our brain is so fast asleep it does not seem to know what to do anymore. Console him? Feed him? Sing a song? Hug him? Change his nappy? Put him in our bed? The amount of things one can do seem endless now, but in the middle of the night we suddenly are clueless. So by the time we’ve figured it out, we are totally awake and falling asleep is not easy anymore.

Last night we had a great episode of this. A two hour ‘I-don’t-want-to-sleep-and-we-all-have-to-suffer-tantrum’. The only one that slept between 4 and 6 a.m. was our other son, he has mastered ignoring his brother’s cries so well that I am envious. I am not sure how I managed to get the boys to school this morning, but I did. When I came home I accidentally looked in the mirror. It seems I have aged ten years overnight and got some brand new wrinkles. So I think it’s back to bed for me today…

© Carien Touwen 2017

Dreams-2

My weird dreams did not stop once the boys were born. To be honest, they got more intense. At least 3 times a week I would dream there was a baby in our bed, when there wasn’t. I would start to hug or stroke my pillow or blanket, thinking it was a baby. Or I would suddenly think that the pile of clothes on the floor (that I had thrown there before diving in to bed) was a baby that had fallen out of the bed- turning on all the lights to save him… My husband suffered the most, he had many rude awakenings because I would suddenly pull his pillow away from under his head, screaming at him because I thought he was sleeping on top of a baby.

Obviously these dreams never occurred on all the other nights, when we did have one or two boys in bed, in need of consolation or milk. You have to sleep to be able to dream, right? 😉

© Carien Touwen 2017

Dreams

I have always been a vivid dreamer, but when I was pregnant with our twins I had even more interesting dreams. I often dreamed about how it was to give birth. And in my dream I always heard the same thing after number two was out: ‘O, O, we missed one. There is another baby!’

So when the twins were born, I checked with the doctor to be sure there were not three baby’s. I even had an extra name ready,  just in case. And honestly, a tiny part of me was a little disappointed that there were only two 😉

© Carien Touwen 2017

Our changing body

We all know a womans’ body changes a lot during pregnancy. The thing that really amazed me (not to say… freaked me out) is what happens to your organs while the baby grows. We know the baby is pushing on our bladder and that this only becomes worse during the pregnancy. But did you realise what happens to our intestines and stomach when women are pregnant?

This beautiful video shows how amazing the female body is. And this is only with one baby, imagine how much more squished your organs get with more than one…

The hospital bag – some advice

After week 30 of your (twin-)pregnancy it is time to get your hospital bag ready. It may sound a bit early, but trust me, it’s better to have it prepared. You never know when you have to go.
Usually hospitals provide you with a list of things to bring and a lot of these items are very logical. First of all: think of your ID-document, to register you in the hospital.
Of course you need to bring your chosen ‘first’ clothes for your baby’s, but also important, little hats, socks and body’s and warmer clothes to bring them home in. In Belgium, hospitals will provide you with the other firsts, like nappies, cream etc. So no need to pack those.
Then of course you need to pack your own stuff like toiletries, clean underwear, breast feeding bra’s and pyjamas.

My advice; please make sure your pyjamas fit this description:
– loose and wide fit, so it will not hurt anywhere it already hurts
– big enough so it will cover everything if you need to wander the hallways
– buttons at the top for easy breast feeding
– pretty enough so you can wear them receiving the first visitors ( if you care about that stuff)
– pretty enough to be seen with in the first pictures (if you care about that stuff)

These are all the necessities that the hospital will mention, but I urge you to add the following to this list:
FOOOOOD!
I am not joking. Hospital food is crap and a natural delivery can take a long time. The hospital will not feed you in the delivery room, instead they hang the scary thought of emergency C-section over your head and in the meanwhile you have absolutely no energy to do what needs to be done. (making that C-section more likely to happen I think…)
So please bring energy bars, chocolate cookies, bread sticks etc. and anything else that fits in your bag. If you don’t need it during the delivery be grateful and it will still come in handy when you realise, in the days after, that hospital food is never sufficient. I am talking from experience here, I had my partner bring me fast-food every evening I spend in the hospital to silence my ever growling tummy.

 

PS. And for those of you who are pregnant now: please don’t worry about a prolonged hospital stay! If that happens there will be loads of time to get other things you may need there. Your partner can bring it and so can visiting family. So don’t look for troubles that are not there, take it one day at the time and prepare that bag so you don’t have to think about it anymore.

© Carien Touwen 2017

How many nannies?

Having twins is exhausting, especially the first three months when they need to be fed at least 7- 8 times a day and there is only a feeding regime, lots of crying, basically no sleep and 16 nappy-changes a day. This is the time you need help the most. The best help you can get is friends and family bringing food, or having someone cook and clean for you.
I was so grateful to have some maternity care the first 5 months, even if it was only a few hours a week in the end. The lady would always make dinner for a few days for us, and that was how I managed to eat healthy and keep my energy up those months.

A few weeks ago I read about Beyonce, also a proud mother of twins now. Apparently she hired SIX nannies to help her take care of the twins. This is on top of the two nannies she already has walking around for her eldest daughter.

It made me think. If I had that kind of money, would I have wanted six nannies in my house those first months? Six faces that my kids would see more than me? So many strangers walking around my house, minding MY kids, while I was still recovering?
Honestly, I can’t imagine. Yes, I might have wanted a bit more help and would have done so for cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. so I could rest a bit more.  But those first months are so important for bonding, I want to be the one to feed and comfort my twins. So no, six nannies is not what I would have done, even if I could afford it.

What would you do if you had unlimited resources? Would you hire six nannies to take care of your twins?