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I get a lot of comments from complete strangers when I’m out and about. Most of the time its the same old, same old:
- “Wow! Are they twins?” (No, I stole someone else’s baby in the parking lot just for kicks…),
- “Oooh, double trouble!” (Wait till they’re 16 and then we’ll talk…)
- And my personal favorite, “Now don’t you have your hands full..!” (Yeah, this is nothing. Wait till I have the twins, the pre-schooler, and the dog out for a walk by myself. Now that’s something worth boasting about…)
Nursing the twins (3m) in double football/clutch, with cousin Ethan visiting (11m)!
“And you’re nursing … BOTH of them?!?”
Now, I’ve often been tempted to answer with the sassy, “No, I’m only nursing this one, because she’s my favorite. The other one just gets formula.” I wish I could pull that one off. Instead, I try to nod and smile, and tell people, “Yes, I’m nursing both. Isn’t it amazing what our bodies are capable of?” If I’m lucky, sometimes that will spark a nice discussion about their memories of nursing their baby, or some cute anecdote or story about nursing in general. And then, after the first is finished, I switch and nurse the other baby and we go on with our day.
It makes me happy to be an advocate for nursing in public. With my first daughter, we struggled hard to learn how to ‘do it with ease’, and I am proud that I won the battle. We were able to find some great help (after weeks of struggling in vain), so a couple little shout-outs here: to our doula Pam Soltesz (www.freewebs.com/heavens_heartbeat) and Anne-Marie Desjardins in Toronto (416-295-8441), a great private lactation consultant who worked wonders with our first baby, and to our AMAZING Oakville La Leche League group (www.lllc.com), which I only discovered when we had the twins. One of their leaders, Lenore Kilmartin (http://www.gentlebirthdoulaservices.ca) was instrumental in helping us figure out how to double latch, feed and judge how much milk the twins were getting, and coach me through that first tough growth spurt – an amazing volunteer organisation!
Bridget and I nurse our babies (7m) together
- Nursing the twins (5m) while lunching in the backyard
I’ve given up with covering up while nursing in public. After much fussing with the covers to keep other people comfortable, I realized that it was making both me and the babies uncomfortable, so I decided that our comfort won out over perceived stranger issues.
And for me, fast latching and cute nursing tops with peakaboo flaps has made nursing in public pretty discrete. And at home, we still prefer the double football/clutch hold, which means that pretty much everything I have to offer is right out there! Not discrete, but at home, who needs to be, right!
Nursing my twins has been a great experience. Not easy, but rewarding and well worth it. I hope that by nursing my twins while I’m out and about, people will see that nursing in public can be easy, convenient, and discrete – even with multiples!
Mealtime for Kennedy
In my brief time mothering my little family, I have many embarassing mommy confessions…
- The first time B drops the F-bomb, it will definately be my fault (ditto for any other “bombs” you can think of – but I’m working on it!)
- Bathtime is definately an every other day thing in our family – twice weekly when life gets crazy.
- And while my kid thinks that the big yellow “M” stands for Mommy (and not McDonalds), she certainly knows how to order herself a half-sweet half-hot kids hot cocoa, and usually tries to sneak in a gingerbread cookie if she can – heated in the oven, please and thank you.
But the big one for (ahem) this week:
My kids prefer jars.
Yup. There you have it. Given the option between my home-stewed, tree-ripened, hand-peeled organic peaches, and Heinz’s original green label, I lose. Big time.
Its become something of a joke these days considering that I currently have a freezer full of beautifully- coloured cubes of home made baby food, most of them made from perfectly balanced organic recipes learned from naturopath-nutritionist guru Lianne Phillipson-Webb. Her food classes are awesome, and I learned so much from attending them. Bridget was a huge fan of my homemade food (though now I wonder!), and as such I have been making most of our twins’ food since they started solids at 6 months. The time commitment is high, what with the shopping, washing, peeling, chopping, measuring and cooking, especially for two babies this time around… But I figured it was worth it. And they’ll like it better, right?? Right?
OK, lets be honest – I mainly do it because I have bought into the concept that home-cooked is “real” food, and stuff from boxes and cans is the devil. When I was a kid, we ate a lot of prepackaged food. I have fond memories of neon yellow Kraft Dinner, Hamburger Helper, Riceroni, Alphagetti, Chunky Beef soup, and Kraft Butterscotch pudding, and even get occasional cravings for the aforementioned nasties to this day. And of all people, I should know that given the choice between gourmet organic 3-cheese macaroni and the neon yellow crap, 9 out of 10 kids will pick the Kraft. And the 10th kid is likely the one everyone laughs at on the playground because he’s wearing the reindeer jumper his mummy bought him for Christmas. So he doesn’t count.
But until recently, I hadn’t had to face up to this sad fact as my kids hadn’t ever experienced jarred food. If it didn’t come out of our freezer, they hadn’t seen or tasted it before. But when I went out of town for a few days, I was afraid Nanny and Grampa might want something simpler than sifting through 32 ziploc bags in the freezer to find 3 cubes of this and 2 cubes of that, so loaded up on some of the Heinz organic line instead. And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end.
Not only did they like the jarred food, but now they even get excited seeing the jars come out of the cupboard. And while I am still mildly frightened at meat that can sit out at room temperature (even when its canned, that just seems strange), their new favorites are the PC Organics meat & veggie mixes. Now, it hasn’t stopped me from continuing to make yummy new food for them, some of which still trump the jars (pureed beets, and my new fave quinoa and veggie recipe come to mind). But in the end, I’ve had to soften my “no processed foods” line to admit that if the texture and flavour suits them, and it is (embarassing to admit) yummier than mine is, then I’ll just have to add some to the rotation.
But it doesn’t mean I have to like it…
The aftermath for Taylor
My daughter is one of those kids that just knows how to ask for stuff outside of the mainstream. Don’t get me wrong, she’s the “Disney Princesses'” number one fan. She IS “pinkalicious”, and its all Barbie and Polly Pockets, all the time, at our house. But the kid has a knack for getting her heart set on the totally unobtainable – okay, well, the difficult, at least – when it comes to Hallowe’en.
Last year, it was Pablo. She just had to be a Backyardigan. Now, we don’t have cable TV at our house, so her access to TV shows comes from episodes we’ve downloaded or rented for her. And when we discovered The Backyardigans, which is a mini-musical in every episode, we figured it was a “lesser evil” kind of kids show, so downloaded a bunch of episodes for her. And of course, she was hooked.
But the Backyardigans were on their way out, likely were a few years ago when we discovered them (replaced by God only knows what on Nick Jr – Dora, maybe). But they were definately LAST season. Waaaay last season. Now its one thing when your kid wants to be THE costume of that year. Finding one at a store, when everyone’s sold out, can be tough. But a costume for a show that was gone three seasons ago?? Good luck. Not even available online! But as luck would have it, sometimes you don’t need luck, you just need … Nanny.
Nanny (Will’s mom) pulled a wicked awesome costume out of her head, drew out a pattern, sewed and stuffed it, boxed it up, and sent it to our door half-way across the country. Uber-cool. B had no idea how much work went into her costume, but I did, and everyone was happy. So this is Bridget as Pablo last year. Mommy was a pumpkin. The twins went as “twinkles in daddy’s eye”. Okay, that was dumb. Sounded cuter in my head. Whatever. But it was a fun night.
That was last year. This year Ms. B decided she wanted to be Snow White for Hallowe’en. I breathed a sigh of relief. Snow White. Heck, everyone’s got that one, right?? Easy-peasy. In fact, on my next visit to Costco, there sat a whole rack of Disney costumes, including what?? Snow White! And it was a nice one. And it wasn’t exhorbitant! Perfect. Checkmate.
Wrong. In line with her true nature, I had missed the post-script to her request. After returning home with a huge, self-satisfied smile on my face, our conversation went something like this:
“Guess what I found for you today, pumkin? Your Snow White costume!”
“Yea, yea, mommy yea! Did you get ones for the babies too?”
“You want your sisters to go as Snow White also? I was going to dress them in the pumpkin and Minnie Mouse Costumes we had from when you were a baby.”
You’d think I’d kicked the kid in the face. Out pops the bottom lip, which starts to tremble, and a HUGE tear slides down her face. After much incoherent babbling while snot and tears run down her face, I figure out that I have ruined her life. Again. Because I wasn’t going to dress her sisters in the costumes SHE wanted. And what did she have in mind?
“But I wanted the babies to go as my Dwarfs, Mommy!”
Ohhhhh God. Dwarfs. Really?? Could you pick a harder costume to find? Is that even commercially available? Simple answer – nope. Not available anywhere. But I was up to this challenge. What is really involved in a “7 dwarfs” costume anyhow? A loose-fitting blouse-y top, a floppy hat, boots and pants. Hmmm… So I went digging in the clothes bins of out-grown Bridget clothes to find oversized, blouse-y tops. That matched. That had no visible stain in the middle of the chest. That were a solid, non-patterned fabric. With long sleeves. Wow, it was tight. But I found 2 cream tops in size 3T that were long enough to belt in at the waist (ha! like the babies have a waist! What they have looks closer to a Molson muscle…)! Okay, check! Next was matching simple pants, which, thanks to a generous mom who seems to buy everything for her (single) daughter in multiple colours when she catches a good sale and has now given her out-growns to us, I had 2 matching brown pairs! Awesome.
Now came the tough part – hats. I found some blue broadcloth in my crafting bin, and used a crazy cool hat we already had as a rough pattern. Folded fabric in half to cut the hat out, so only had 1 seam to sew. Hauled out the sewing machine. Then discovered that my husband can sew far better than I can. Not that it should suprise me. But it did! Did you know Will got the highest mark in his Home Ec class?? Me niether! So quick as a wink, I had 2 little dwarf hats handed to me, that I ironed velcro patches onto the chin straps so they can’t just haul ’em off right away. So hats – check! Man, I’m just clocking along here. Until I thought of something else. All the dwarfs had beards. Hmmm… So I found some cream fuzzy material and cut out bibs with flames coming off the bottom, and they sorta look beard-like. Again, iron-on velcro helped hold ’em on just like the bib I used as a rough pattern, and schizam! Beards.
So this morning I got everyone dressed to go to the Early Years Centre Halloween party, and the babies just looked… dumb. Like kids in oversized clothes with fuzzy bibs and blue hats. Something was just not working… Until I figured out what we were missing – belts with big buckles!
So out came the felt, and the iron-on velcro (man, that stuff is the best!!), and we finally had an outfit. Slipped on the brown Robeez fuzzy boots and the kids actually looked like dwarfs. Well, more like garden gnomes, but when you see the 3 together, it makes sense, I swear! So Snow White and her 2 dwarfs, Happy and Grumpy (either twin, depending on the day) headed to the EYC for a great party. And I was sooooo overwhelmed trying to manage 3 tiny people in a crowded, chaotic situation that I got – wait for it – NO pictures whatsoever of anyone today.
Anyhow, I will post pics from our actual Hallowe’en trip as soon as I can (when I will have 2 little people stuck in a stroller and another fully functional adult to help wrangle the 3 year old, stroller and dog), but at least I managed to snap one of Emma modelling her Hallowe’en night dwarf outfit. When our neighbors ask which dwarf she is, I figure that’s easy: Dopey!
Emma in the dwarfs hat and beard...
When I was a kid, the classic mom threat was always “wait ’till your father gets home…”. These days, with a daddy who is often softer than I am when it comes to discipline (which really isn’t saying much), that one wouldn’t really hold water. Instead, what I hear myself saying is “Do I need to start counting?”
It’s amazing the power that 3 little numbers can have. What I find even more interesting is the last-minute decision-making that goes on when my 2.5 year old hears that she’s pushed things that little bit too far.
Sometimes, I don’t even have to start. The possibility of punishment is enough for her to back down and change whatever she’s doing. Most commonly, she’s caught deciding how badly she wants what she has, which takes up most of ONE and the early phonics of TWO before she acquiesces.
And while I know the goal is to raise a kid who makes good choices and doesn’t need to be warned about poor behaviour, sometimes I just have to bite back a smile. Because if she let’s me get to THREE (and trust me, I’ve been tempted to give her a two-and-three quarters warning to avoid this), she does it standing her ground, usually pulled up to her full height, hands on hips, with this very teenager-like furrowed brow and stubborn expression on her face. “No mommy, my NOT going to. My go sit on MY step.”
Somedays, ya just gotta feel for the little tykes.
Squeegee mom in action on day one...
As the twins are now six months old, we have just embarked on a new oddessy: solids. From listening to first-time moms at playgroups and drop-in centres, and my (albeit dim) memory of doing this waaay long ago with our (almost) three year old, Bridget, I know that starting solids is generally looked apon as a momentous occasion. Dum duh duh DUUUM! My child now eats real food! No longer am I her sole source of nutrition! And look how grown up and mature she is. Soon, she’ll be holding her own utensils, sitting at the dinner table all by herself eating the same food as mom and dad and having polite dinner conversation and …
Uh huh. Right. You see the slippery slope that one takes you down? When I realized five months was rolling around with the twins and they had hit 15 lbs, a strange feeling of dread hit the pit of my stomach. The twins nursed constantly and yet still begged to eat. They sat in their little highchairs at meal time like two princesses on matching thrones, awaiting service. They watched each and every bite leave our plates and enter our mouths with the solumn fixation of starving orphans from Oliver Twist. Food, glorious food! My husband was psyched!
I, however, was not. Part of it was the increased workload – I mean, let’s be honest! Its not like I’m keeping up with laundry as it is… Most days, there are at least two, possibly three loads waiting to be folded and put away. And now we’ll be adding in 6 bibs, 4 extra outfits (for pureed something ends up down someone’s shirt/pants at least once at every meal, always in the opposite direction the bib is oriented, and (duh!) there are two of them), and at least 16 bazillion washclothes??? But mainly, it was the fact that for the next six to eighteen months (let’s pray for the former!), I will become simply a glorified squeegee kid.
It’s amazing the psychological similarities there are between meal-time moms of infants, and those pubescent street urchins: you approach a relatively uninterested (occasionally downright irate) party with a service they either: a) don’t know they need or are b) pretty sure they don’t want, foist it upon them with fake sincerity and a Bob Moss-ian smile, and then rely on their sense of good-natured obligation for non-violent compliance and (perhaps even a small reward)! And obviously, after two to three carefully choreographed swipes of the chin after each and every spoonful of puree that goes in, the physical similarities are uncanny. Down to the angled swipe down the centre to finish the job. Times two.
Even so, however, seeing their little faces either light up with enjoyment or squeeze shut in ultimate agony after the first taste of something new that I made all by myself, makes all the chopping, pureeing, swiping, wiping, and washing almost worth it….
The girls and me
Hello! This is my first blog entry at Twinside Out, and I wanted it to be an introduction… My name is Kym, and I have been following several blogs written by “moms of multiples” over the last six months of maternity leave. I really enjoyed being a part of their day-to-day trials and triumphs, hearing about cool products and picking up great tips, and I found myself inspired over and over again! So since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I felt it might be a fun journey to start blogging also.
I am the proud Canadian mama of “three under three”: Bridget, our older daughter, is two and a half, and our (spontaneous) fraternal twin girls Kennedy and Taylor are now six months. We live in Oakville, a suburb of Toronto, with our zoo of animals: three tabby cats (Asparagus, Sprocket, and Zachary), a yellow Labrador (Emma) and our little foster bunny John Hopkins, who can’t seem to find a home without a dog… Although both my husband and I grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, we moved to Toronto in 2004 (just after I graduated from Veterinary School and we got married). Will’s job with the bank had transfered him to the banking capital of Canada, and I figured I was up for an adventure, so off we went!
Okay, that’s not really how it happened. I’m pretty sure it went more like this: Will announced we were moving and I’m pretty sure I kicked and cried and told him in no uncertain terms I’d rather DIE than move to Toronto. But doesn’t the first story make me sound much more brave and cosmopolitan?? I though so too.
But move we did, despite my best arguments otherwise, and after 6 years here, I think I can truly say we are happy with our decision. Bridget was born out here after we’d been married for three years, and we were thrilled. We had no trouble conceiving, and she was a textbook baby while in utero – easy pregnancy, no complications, born on time, great birth weight, short labour. We thought we’d won the baby lottery! When we took her home, however, we discovered that while we still had that “textbook” baby, someone had completely re-written the textbook on us! But like every other parent, with a tonne of sleep deprivation, hard work and what felt like a lifetime of shushing and swaying, we thought… “why not! She’s pretty cute. Decent manners. Not a complete Neanderthal… Let’s try again.” And like that, it was on.
Though we always get asked, just to set the record straight, twins DO NOT run in either of our families. We were completely shocked when we saw that first ultrasound picture. Well, my husband was completely shocked… I, on the other had, had a sneaking suspicion that something was different… Now, if we’d realized it was a BOGO weekend, I’m not sure we would have tried our luck at the Conception Lottery that particular cycle. I mean, it only took us three weeks to get lucky. Three weeks. That’s less time than it takes for Canada Post to deliver a freakin’ letter form Vancouver to Toronto. But three weeks later, the telltale nausea and tenderness told me the good times were over: we were knocked up again.
But I never imagined the breathtaking exhaustion that was to come. I remember one particular night I fell asleep at the dinner table. Somewhere in between my two year old throwing a hissy fit over her carrots being cut “wrong” and my hubby’s description of his triumph on the squash court, everything just went blank. And the nausea was much worse than my first pregnancy. But I knew, logically, that every pregnancy could feel different. Maybe this was a boy… But no such luck. My fate was already sealed.
You see, we had just bought a house on “Twin Street”. When we decided to start trying for another baby, I started pushing for the move to a “real” house (as opposed to our little townhouse) in a “real” neighborhood, where neighbors actually knew each other’s names and borrowed cups of sugar and had block parties and such. We jokingly called a real estate agent a friend had used, and found our next house on the first go out the gate. We didn’t even know we were pregnant yet. But it called to me: four bedrooms, quiet street with basketball nets in abundance, nice backyard for the dog, great elementary school just down the block, and neighbors that waved when we drove by. Perfect! Little did we know we had sealed our fate when I helped myself to a glass of water in their kitchen. You see, this one block street had been lovingly called “Twin Street” for years. In fact, the family selling the house had an 11 year old girl, and 9 year old fraternal girl twins. The family across the street had 7 year old identical girl twins. The neighbors had boy:girl fraternal twins. The family on the corner had triplets!
But as I said before, twins don’t run in our family. We weren’t using fertility help. Twins… that’s CRAZY talk! In fact, my husband didn’t believe me when I called him from the ultrasonographer’s office. I had to have a nice lady in the waiting room tell him that indeed, there were TWO babies in the ultrasound photo I was holding. He sounded floored. He must have looked worse: his officemates took an impromptu trip to the local LCBO for an emergency bottle of champagne. But twins it was. And 38.5 weeks later, after a normal, healthy pregnancy with no complications, our twins Taylor and Kennedy arrived at 7lb 13oz and 7lb 4 oz. Yup – that adds up to over 15 lbs of baby in this ol’ body of mine! I measured 51 inches around my belly by the time they were born, and I have the “twin skin” belly full o’ stretch marks to prove it.
But it was worth it. Our twins arrived exactly the way we hoped: normal vaginal delivery, no extra help, no complications. And they were happy, healthy, good sized babies that came straight home. Again, we had won the baby lottery – this time times two. And just like with their older sister, we deserve an Olympic gold medal in the Pairs Sushing-and-Swaying devision. Life is definately crazier now, when twins make it “three under three”. Will had to spend a week working in the UK when the babies were three weeks old and we have no family living on this coast, let alone closeby. Then he got sick and spent two weeks in hospital when they were three months old – I know. How inconsiderate, right?!? Eight days after he was released, he had to travel to the UK again. So its been quite a year. But we’ve made it through, and things are looking up! And we certainly turn heads in the neighborhood when we go for a walk with the double stoller loaded up with two babies, a two-year old holding on beside, the dog threatening to pull the whole works over in her eagerness to walk pull yank us to the park, and (occasionally) a cat or two along for the ride in the basket below, just for good measure…
Everyone we meet says, “It must be something in the water over on “Twin Stree”…” To this day, I feel compelled to ask women to sign a waiver before drinking anything at our house. Consider yourself warned…