Pyjamas

What do you wear when you sleep? … Okay, and now think back to the time before you had children. Is there a difference? No? Wow, I am not sure how you managed that.

See, before I had I my boys, my mood decided what I wore at night. If I wore anything at all. But there was definitely the possibility that I wore something that looked a little sexy. But those sexy negligees have been at the bottom of my wardrobe for some years now. It all changed when I was pregnant. I suddenly realised that I would be in the hospital for a while and might need something that covered everything if I had to roam the hallways. So I bought my first full pyjama since I was a kid: a pair of long soft baggy pants and a vest with buttons, so I would have easy access for breastfeeding.

Once the boys arrived I realised that one of ‘those pyjamas’ was not enough. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person that wants to walk around in pyjamas all day. But when you have to get up at night to tend to your children and you’re wearing only a short negligee, you’ll get cold very quickly. So then you have to put on socks, slippers, a bathrobe and/or pants, depending on the season. All this takes time and effort, and you are seriously sleep deprived. And now imagine doing that six times per night. You have to prepare for the worst every time, as you never know how long it takes to get your child back to sleep. So, very soon I had more soft and cosy but very not sexy pyjama pants in my possession than I had ever had in my life. Because really, the only thing you want when you are woken up in the middle of the night is to be back in your bed as soon as possible, preferably while you and your bed are still warm.

As the weeks and months go by, and you are still doing this 3 to 6 times per night, the negligees end up at the bottom of the pile. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it still has not changed. My children were born more than 3 years ago and I still have to get out of bed at night regularly to comfort them.

I don’t care about negligees anymore. All I care about is sleep.

Finding the right stroller for twins

Somebody recently asked me how I had chosen and bought our twin stroller and it made me rethink all the things that have lead to our decision. Twin strollers come in 3 different types: with seats next to each other, with seats behind each other or with seats ‘on top’ of each other. You can choose them in many price categories, the cheaper ones starts around 100 euro, the most expensive one probably is the bugaboo donkey twin (around 1700 euro).

How to choose the stroller that suits your needs the best? These are the things that we took into account:

  • Size. Will it fit through your door? (some are too wide so measure the smallest door in your house that it needs to go through) Will it fit in the building elevator? (strollers can be too wide and too long!) Will it fit in the boot of your car when folded?
  • Where do you use it? Do you take public transport a lot? Then make sure you pick a model that fits in the tram/bus/metro. You can easily check this with other twin mums in your city to see what they use (social media is a great source for this). Do you travel a lot by car with the kids (on your own)? Then make sure you look at how easily the stroller is folded and if you can actually lift it yourself.
  • Where will you use it most? Now think about where you intend to walk to with your twins. Brussels has a lot of of cobblestones and walking on those with thin swivel wheels is horrible. The same is true for forest walks. The more expensive strollers have strong air tires, which takes away a lot of the ups and downs of bumpy roads.
  • Then of course there is the budget question. Spending more than a 1000 euros on a stroller is not a light decision to make for most people. The only thing I want to add to this is that if you take good care of your stroller you can resell it for quite a bit of money after 3 years. There will always be new twin parents looking for a bargain. This is also something to consider, you can buy yours second hand as well and save money that way.
  • The last thing to think about is what model you actually like. Do you want your children to sit next to each other or not?

I recommend you answer all the questions mentioned above before you visit a shop and then try out different models. Walk with them and especially turn some corners. Or ask other twin moms if you may try their stroller. My opinion changed completely after trying several strollers.

We ended up buying an Easywalker Duo. More than 3 years later I am still very happy with our choice.

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…