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Thursday, July 24, 2014

seeing double -TWINS! - Allyson Stark

I am very excited to share this new series on the blog this summer, SEEING DOUBLE - TWINS! I'm fascinated by twins and multiples, doing the baby thing times 2, 3, etc. is just amazing from what I see. I know all moms are super, but these mamas of multiples have something special to care for two infants at once. Hope you enjoy this series!

Thanks to Allyson Stark for being the first to share her experience having two BEAUTIFUL little girls. They are absolutely adorable. She has such real, honest answers about how to get through the ups and downs of raising twins. It sounds to me like she laughs a lot with these two silly girls around! 

Enjoy seeing double :) Two times the cuteness here!

1. How did you find out you were having twins? 
I took a pregnancy test at 4 weeks, and had an ultrasound scheduled at 6 weeks. I had symptoms to indicate I was further along, so I believe that's why they scheduled an ultrasound so early.

2. What was your original reaction to finding out you're having twins? 

Nervous laughter!! The technician pointed to a spot on the screen and said 

"that's your baby"...then she giggled and said "now see that other spot? That's your OTHER baby!" I seriously just laughed the rest of the appointment. 

My husband looked like a deer in headlights, then eventually teared up. I think his mind went straight to 'how the hell are we going to afford two babies at once?'

All photos from Allyson Stark

3. How old were your other children at the time you found out about twins coming? 

Our twins were our first!

4. What were you most nervous, scared, worried, etc. about with having twins? What thoughts ran through your mind initially? 

With the twins being my first children, I had every normal question and concern a first time mom of a singleton would have. I think that's what heightened my anxiety about doing it x2. I honestly had never been a 'baby person'...I was clueless as to how much they eat, sleep, etc. I was most nervous about bringing them home and not having a nurse/dr around to ask questions!

5. What helped you to prepare for twins? How specifically did you prepare for twins? 

I think most moms of multiples would agree when I say that you're never truly prepared for twins! 

We prepared with the basics, like two cribs, two mamaroo's, two boppy pillows, etc. We have a large, great family who really stocked us up on everything else. We also decided it would make the most sense for our family, if I left my job to stay home full time with the girls. It was a super hard thing for me to adjust to. I loved working and never thought of myself as SAHM material. It's been a tough transition and I still struggle with not 'working' but I am so fortunate to be home with my kiddos during these early years.

6. Any good books, Web sites, etc. for those having twins? 

I took a few books out at the library about parenting twins, but none that really 'made a difference' for me. I found that Googling twin blogs and web sites was fun while laying in bed at night!

7. What were some lifesavers to you, things that helped you when the babies were born - baby must haves? 

I loved having a double snap-n-go stroller. It was so nice to be able to click in both car seats and go. We also had a pack-n-play set up in the living room 24/7...we found it helpful to have a place to lay one baby if you needed to tend to the other in a pinch. 

The most important thing I could suggest though would be to stock up on diapers! When the girls first came home, we were averaging around 120 diapers a week!

8. How did feeding twins go for you, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, what worked, what was challenging? 
Our girls were born at 26 weeks, so breastfeeding wasn't an option right off the bat. They spent almost 3 months in the NICU and I pumped like a mad woman for 2.5 months of that time. They received my breast milk through a little tube in their nose that went to their stomach. I swear it's what helped keep my babies so strong through such a trying time. After a while I just wasn't producing enough to keep up with both growing girls, and we started to wean to formula. 

Once the girls finally came home, we made sure to keep them on the same feeding/sleeping schedules. It didn't take long at all, and they are still on the same schedules now at 18 months. It's a huge time/life saver!

9. What is the best part about having twins? 

Watching them interact with each other. It's the most amazing thing in the world. What's cuter that one baby making another baby laugh?! :)

10. What are some challenges overall with having twins? 

Lately I'm noticing that if Zoe cries or whines, Gwen will look at her and do the same...even if she's totally fine. 

Also, when they first started crawling and exploring (always in opposite directions of course)  my challenge was assessing who was going to need me first- the one who found a way into the bathroom and is unrolling the TP, or the one who ventured back to the kitchen to lick the front of the dishwasher. 

You learn to pick your battles very quickly with twins.

11. How do you manage two at the same age at the same time, meeting their needs, etc.? What helps you? 
Keeping the twins on the same schedule for everything works great for us. My husband and I have developed a great team dynamic over time and I think that's key to keeping your sanity. I do my most of my errands and grocery shopping with my girls, and I think it is a great way for new moms to ease that fear of venturing out with twins. Do something enough, and it becomes second nature!

12. What is unique or special about having twins? 

Watching them develop their own personalities. It's amazing that they can be so alike in some ways, but yet night/day in others. I feel so blessed to be able to watch such a special sibling relationship form over time.

13. What is your advice to a new mom with twins? 

Cut yourself some slack. I was way too hard on myself in the beginning. Learn to accept that nothing will really ever go 'according to plan' once the babes arrive. Just do what works best for you and enjoy the chaotic ride! Everything will fall into place before you know it.

14. What do you wish someone had told you about having multiples? 

Not to get too hung up on milestones. Even if one doesn't roll over as soon as the other, they will still both be walking and talking by Kindergarten!

15. Can you share a typical day in the life with twins or a great story of the two of them? 
Wake up, change one, change the other, feed both breakfast. Play time while I clean up breakfast, give them their toothbrushes to brush their teeth, which they fight over until someone usually ends up crying while the other has two in her mouth. Maybe a morning nap after. More play time, prep lunch while they play with the Tupperware drawer, clean up lunch/run errands or go out, nap time,then play time before dinner. One of us will feed them, while the other preps a bath and gets pajamas ready. Then one will bathe the girls while the other cleans up dinner and winds the house down for bed time. Then dada dresses them and brushes their hair before bed.

16. What are three things you know for sure about twins? 

Right when you start to think "I've got this whole twin thing down" one of them will throw you a curve ball and leave you feeling clueless again. That's the only thing I'm currently sure of! I'll keep you posted :)

17. Anything else you want to add? 

Enjoy the chaos, even though it seems tough sometimes. Just remember that you're only given as much as you can handle!:)

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