Air Travel w/twins and infants

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Spring/Easter break is right around the corner, which means a lot of us are getting ready to go on a much needed vacation. As you are preparing for that week of rest and relaxation (oh wait, you have little kids, that’s NOT going to happen), you are probably stressing about the “getting there”. I know I would be!

As someone who has traveled with infant twins on multiple occasions, I would like to share with you how to prepare for flying with lap children (twins in specific, because we know that’s my jam). I know the idea is daunting, and you can never be completely prepared (who can predict when Baby A will have a meltdown or when Baby B will have a blowout?), but my list below should help ease the anxiety a bit. I promise!

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR FLYING WITH TWINS (OR LAP CHILDREN IN GENERAL)

  • Lap children are FREE when under the age of two (on the majority of airlines). This means one lap child per adult over the age of 18. So if traveling with twins, you need two adults. Otherwise, you will have to purchase an extra seat.
  • Call ahead to let the airline know you are traveling with lap children. When you do this, also see if you can pre-select your seats. Every airline we have flown only allows one lap child per row of seats (row meaning on either side of the aisle, the cluster of seats) because there is only one extra oxygen mask. We call ahead and ask for aisle seats in the SAME row, so we are as close as possible.
  • Aisle seats are where it is AT. Having the freedom to get up, walk up and down the aisle and go to the restroom anytime, without disturbing your neighbors, is so much easier.
  • You can check car seats and strollers for FREE (again, this is with most airlines I have seen). I suggest checking your car seats at the curb/ticketing, and then checking the stroller at the gate.
  • If you are flying with an infant, I suggest baby wearing during the flight. This allows you to be hands-free and is helpful with turbulence. They also feel snug and safe!

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  • If each parent/adult will be sitting with a lap child, prepare TWO diaper bags. Fill each with the following:
    • Diapers
    • Wipes
    • Extra set of clothes
    • Milk/formula
    • Sippies
    • Binkies
    • Lots of snacks
    • Small toys
    • Books
    • Blanket
    • Infant Tylenol/Motrin
    • Bag for dirty clothes
    • Sanitizing wipes to wipe down the seat and tray
  • To help with ear discomfort, I also recommend feeding the child during takeoff and landing. Or offering up a binky!
  • Night time/extra absorbent diapers. Hopefully you can make it through the entire flight without any leaks!
  • Pack enough in your carryon bag for an overnight stay – you never know when that flight may be delayed!
  • Pack double the amount of diapers you think you will need. Airport diapers are not cheap.
  • Use car seat/stroller bags. We bought these great car seat travel bags, I highly recommend them! And get this – they don’t weigh the car seats, so we stuffed our bases, and extra luggage into the bags with the seats so we didn’t have to worry about overweight luggage fees. SCORE!

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https://www.amazon.com/J-L-Childress-Standard-Double-Strollers/dp/B003554H9M/ref=sr_1_25_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1520444570&sr=8-25&keywords=car+seat+travel+bag

  • If you are a nursing mom, pack a nursing cover! I understand breastfeeding needs to be normalized, but your seatmates will thank you. They are already dreading the flight with a baby in their row, you can at least spare them a nip slip!
  • Binky clips – airplane floors are definitely not the cleanest
  • Bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate (just in case)
  • If bringing formula, buy a bottle of water in the airport, prior to boarding.
  • If bringing breastmilk, be sure to check out these guidelines!
  • Check in online! You will not want to be in the airport any longer than you have too.
  • A lot of parents I have talked to recommend boarding the plane early. I, on the other hand, recommend boarding late. From experience, the less time you are cooped up in a small space, the better.

I know this seems like A LOT to prepare and remember, but I promise you this will make your flight so much easier. Also, we have all heard those horror stories about babies on flights and passengers being rude. From my own personal experience, everyone has always been very kind and understanding toward us when traveling with the twins. In fact, I would be sad to travel without them based on the VIP treatment we have often received.

Good luck on your next flight, you can do it!!

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A Festivus Miracle!

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We are pregnant. Naturally. Even writing it down I still can’t believe it. Even after multiple pregnancy tests, blood draws, and ultrasounds; I still find myself doubting that it is true. I just never thought a natural pregnancy (or even another pregnancy at that matter) was in the cards for us. But here, as I live and breathe and type, I am pregnant.

When we first visited our fertility doctor, we were given about a one percent chance of conceiving naturally. It may have even been less, I don’t fully recall. All I know is that that one tiny percent…I threw it out the window. I cast it away as a never. A not possible. And we dove straight into fertility treatments. And as you all know, they worked. Not right away, but those treatments, all of that money spent, all the tears all the heartache, they brought us our sweet, beautiful miracle baby girls. All my dreams had come true. And it was enough.

However, growing up I had always imagined having three kids. I grew up in a family with three children, and it just seemed like the perfect amount. So when the girls turned one, Nick and I had a discussion and agreed to try for one more baby. We were going to TRY to expand our family. We knew it was a long shot, and I promised that if in the end, we were still a family of four, that I would be OK. Because they were ENOUGH.

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But I knew a part of me would always wonder, “what if”, if we never tried. I figured we would try naturally for about a year, and then try some fertility treatments. But IVF wasn’t really an option, at least not for the foreseeable future. After all, we spent a LOT of money the first time around, and had just bought a new house and a new car. We didn’t have $12-15k+ to spend on IVF again. And that would be assuming it worked the first time around. So, while I was very excited to try, I had VERY low expectations.

I had my first post-partum period exactly 29 days after I stopped nursing the girls on their first birthday. For me, that was amazing! My cycles had always been 34+ days, so 29 days was astonishing. We “tried” between my stopping nursing and that first cycle, I was REALLY hoping that if we could catch that first egg it would be perfect. No such luck there.

The first cycle after 22 months without a period is NO JOKE. Holy cramps, holy murder scene, holy hormones. It was a rager (I know, TMI, but pretty much everything about TTC is TMI, right?). I stocked up on OPKs, pregnancy tests and began to track my cycle again. Except, I couldn’t temp accurately because I was up at least once a night due to the twins’ sleep regression. So I put all my TTC eggs in the OPK basket. It looked like I ovulated around day 23. Pretty typical for me.

Once I reached day 40 with no period, I allowed myself to get kind of excited. I was “late”. Maybe this was it?? When trying for the girls, I was almost never late. Maybe one day once or twice. But there I sat, staring at my stark white pregnancy test. And all of the emotions and heartache and disappointment came flooding back. It was like they never left. And If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think they ever did. Once infertile, always infertile. It is a time in your life that you never quite get past.

So, because I am always one who needs to try something “new” each cycle. I did a bit of research on some vitamins I could add to my diet, and came across Vitex (more on this in a future post). From what I had read, it could help to shorten and regulate women with long, irregular cycles. Sounded perfect for me. Reviews said it would take about 3 months to make any real difference, but with a small price tag what did I have to lose?

It was that cycle, that I got pregnant. The SECOND real cycle postpartum. I bet you are as shocked as I was! I ovulated 3-4 days earlier than usual, and took a pregnancy test the day before Christmas eve. At that point, I was a couple days “late” but didn’t think anything of it. I took the test because I knew I would be drinking wine and mimosas galore over the Christmas holiday.

Nick ran out to pick up breakfast for me and the girls, and while he was gone I mustered up the courage to take a test. I watched the control line change to pink but the rest of the test remained white. I cursed, I cried, and asked God why he was getting my hopes up (like it was His fault?). I washed my hands and came back to the test to throw it away, and that is when I saw it. A second, pink line. HOLY CRAP. Was I imagining things? Was this really happening to me? No way!! But there it was, as real as could be. I dug through my bathroom cupboards and found an old digital pregnancy test that was expired, but I took it any way. And that was positive too!!

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I quickly thought of a way to surprise Nick before he got home. The twins’ Advent calendar! It was a Santa Claus that hangs on the wall, with a little velvet sack filled with magnetic cotton balls. Each morning they would take turns pulling out a beard ball and sticking it on Santa’s beard. I stuck the test in the bag, and when Nick returned home I told Nick we had to do the Advent calendar before we forgot. Rosie (or was it Leni, haha) pulled the test out and handed it to a confused Nick. It took a minute before he realized what it was (that’s why I took a digital, because two lines on a pee stick would have meant nothing to him) but when he did, boy was he shocked! And excited. And terrified.

We spent the next couple of days surprising our family. This was how I had always imagined pregnancy would be. Surprising family members. Not waiting for scheduled beta tests, when everyone already knew the date we would “find out”. It was so exciting.

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Fast forward to today and our announcement. It has not been any easy several weeks, but so far, the pregnancy is progressing perfectly, and the baby is healthy. Which is all we could hope for.

I still question why we are so blessed, when there are so many others out there still trying to have their first child. We are good people, but by no means are we saints. Do we really deserve this miracle? Are we worthy? I am excited, but so saddened and heartbroken for others.

We promise to never take our children, natural or IVF, for granted. And we vow to be the best parents possible, and to love them unconditionally. For we are blessed beyond measure, and for that we will be forever grateful. From 1% chance to 100% miracle.

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Baby C #3 is due August 26, 2018.

More to come.

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The not-so-new twin mom’s Christmas list

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Last week I posted a well thought out, product-centric list of all the baby products that every new twin mom, or twin-mom-to-be, should not be without during their first year with twins. This week, I am shifting gears and posting my wish list as a twin mom (and mom, in general) who has been around the block (albeit, only once). With 15 months of mummying under my belt, my list of needs has evolved into an aspirational list of wants. This list is a bit more selfish and difficult to fulfill, but extremely relatable. Some items are products, some are services and some are just dreams. You may not find it very useful, but I hope you will at the very least find it honest and humorous!

NEW BRAS

Most of the time, I still wear my nursing bras, because frankly they are the most comfortable bras I have ever owned. But after twelve months of nursing and pumping, they aren’t in great shape. And my boobs are an entirely different shape and size than they were pre-pregnancy. No longer perky, but very saggy and squishy. I joke with my friends that I could get a mammogram and not even flinch! Thus, I need some new bras for the new ladies. But I’m not even sure where to begin. Santa shops at VS, right?

INSTANT POT

We just purchased one of these a couple months ago, so this one is for you, my loyal readers. Get an Instant Pot. You will not regret it, I promise. I can make a gourmet meal in less than 20 minutes and only dirty one pot! This is a twin mother’s dream come true! I recently made a sausage penne pasta that would put Giada to shame. Check out the recipe here.

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HIGH WAISTED PANTS

Jeans, work pants, PJ pants, you name it, they need to rest above my belly button. Why? Because I have this extra pouch of flab that hangs over the waistband and looks extremely unattractive in “hip huggers”. Not to mention my C-section scar that gets super itchy and irritated if my pants make contact with it. Call them mom jeans if you must, but they are a necessity in camouflaging my “twin skin”. I like the GAP for these.

BACK PACK LEASHES

Growing up I was always judgmental of parents who leashed their kids. But now I can relate. Especially in a busy, crowded setting. I am THIS CLOSE to purchasing some of these for the girls. I get nervous taking them anywhere alone, especially now that they are mobile

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CLEANING SERVICE

When you have twin toddlers, you have to face the music that your house will be a tornado of toys, crumbs and chaos. My once beautiful hardwood floors are scratched up and spotted with milk drops. My couch cracks house a half a box of Cheerios. The clean laundry is scattered around the family room while the dirty laundry piles up in the laundry chute. I don’t even want to think of all the bodily fluids that are hanging out throughout my home. Basically, it is a disaster. And when I somehow find the time to straighten up, it only lasts through nap time! An in-home cleaning service would be a God send, am I right?

ROOMBA

While I have never seen one of these in real life, I have to believe they are as amazing as they seem. Our floor is a constant mess of Cheerios, goldfish crackers, dirt, leaves, etc. I would give my right arm (my vacuuming arm) for a Roomba to continuously suck up that mess, wouldn’t you?

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ONE PIECE SWIMSUITS

If you wanna rock your mom bod in a bikini, more power to you! I for one am not quite ready for bikini and beach season, and am much more comfortable in a cute one piece. I found quite a few at Bellelilly.com. I am so grateful these are trendy again!

PERSONAL CHEF/PERSONAL TRAINER

Who doesn’t want someone to cook for them and whip them into shape?? The time I would save not having to cook could be spent doing crunches and squats. And then I could eat a meal that doesn’t consist entirely of carbs or leftovers. Heck, while I am hiring all of this help, why don’t we throw in a personal shopper for groceries and clothes? While ClickList and Amazon Prime are life savers, I still have to find the time to shop online. And that is more precious time I could be devoting to getting rid of my FUPA.

AMAZON ECHO/DOT (or comparable device)

I am REALLY hoping Santa brings us one of these. We currently use our FireStick to stream Bruno Mars on YouTube. But we keep getting this notice that as of Jan. 1, 2018, YouTube will no longer be available. That alone is enough to send me into panic mode. With an Echo we could still stream music (even though the girls like the music videos) and could even prompt it to play Bruno hands-free. Not to mention all the other hands-free things I could do with this (order pizza, comes to mind).

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SIPPY CUPS THAT REALLY DON’T SPILL

If you have found this holy grail of cups, please share! We have tried at least a half dozen different brands (360, Nuk, Nuby, straw sippies, etc.) and no matter what, they leak. Drives me nuts!!!

WINE

Wine gets me through tantrums. Wine gets me through teething. Wine gets me through life. I wish Santa would bring me a year supply of wine. Red or white. I’m not picky!!!

 

LIFETIME SUPPLY OF BATTERIES

Everything needs batteries these days. And we are always running out at the worst possible time. I would like a lifetime supply of batteries for Christmas. AA, AAA, D, C, 9V. GIVE ME ALL OF THE BATTERIES! That way we never have to deal with the pink elephant toy dying ever again. That was not fun.

BATHTUB CADDY

Bath time is my ME time. And my me time is few and far between. So when I do get a chance to run a bath, I want to enjoy some wine (preferably from my never-ending supply) and a good book at the same time. I have seen these cool trays on Etsy, and am hoping one will pop up under my tree this year.

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CHILD LOCK FOR IPHONE/IPAD

I don’t mean a lock to keep the kids off of my phone. I know all about pass codes and finger print entry. I want a lock that will keep my kids from turning off the song or video I play for them. The minute their little fingers touch the screen that entertainment is donezo. Why is this not a thing already? If it is, share the knowledge. All I know is I spend countless minutes re-finding Moana.

YETI CUP

These are amazing for moms & dads. Keeps your drink cold for 24 hours or your drink hot for 12 hours. Basically, it keeps your drink at the right temp for hours. So if you pour your coffee at 6am but don’t get to take your first sip until 8am, you’re good. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and if you look on Etsy you can get them personalized!

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VACATION

I don’t even care where. Just send me somewhere I can unwind and reconnect with my hubby. Kid free (what is that?).

 

That concludes my Christmas list this year. Santa, Nick….no pressure!

I’d love to hear what all of you are wishing for this holiday season!

The new twin mom’s Christmas list

With my favorite holiday right around the corner, I thought I would compile a list (a “Christmas list”, of sorts) of the things I could not have survived without during my first year as a new twin mom. I REALLY wish someone would have shared this with me when I was pregnant or right after the birth of my girls. Some of the items on this list I received as baby shower gifts, others I purchased during the girls’ first year, and a couple I do not personally own but were recommended by other twin mommies. I have included links so you can purchase them yourself, or throw them on your own registry.

**The majority of these products would work for moms of singletons, too!**

  1. TWIN Z NURSING PILLOW (or any other comparable double nursing pillow, like the My Breast Friend)

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This pillow was an absolute LIFE SAVER. Definitely worth the hefty price tag (I actually purchased mine from a fellow twin mom, and then sold it to another twin mom!). It is great for tandem nursing, single nursing, holding babies, propping up babies with bottles, tummy time and more! You can even get various covers for it (I recommend water proof, a lot of milk drippage and puke will end up on it)!

 

  1. LARGE DIAPER BAG

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I went with a cute, large, JuJuBe diaper bag and I absolutely love it. It fits everything I need, and it isn’t horrendously ugly. Another $$$ purchase but worth the splurge. One thing I might have changed, or purchased in addition to, would have been a backpack diaper bag. But this one had a long enough strap that I could wear cross-body and still be hands free to carry my girls. 15 months later I still use it almost every day and am pretty sure it will last me through a potential baby #3, as well.

 

  1. HANDS-FREE PUMPING BRA

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DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THIS. Truth. Anywhere my pump went, so did this bad boy. I only purchased one, and I will admit it looks pretty gross now, but it was so convenient. While pumping at home I could enjoy my coffee, while pumping in my office I could work, while pumping in my car I could drive….you get the picture. If you don’t want to buy one, or are in a pinch, you can cut small holes in and old sports bra and it works just about the same!

 

  1. SLEEP SACKS/SWADDLES (lots)

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Every baby is different, but my girls loved their sleep sacks and swaddles. Now you can be one of those moms that swaddles by hand with a blanket, but who really has time for that, times 2? Also, my husband was a better swaddler than me so having these helped keep him from continuously rubbing it in my face. Link above is to my favorite ones (SwaddleMe Pods) that actually fit my preemie size newborns.

 

  1. ROCK ‘N PLAYS (2)

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These are essential for naps or master bedroom babies. Or babies with reflux. I’ll warn you, they aren’t made specifically for nighttime sleeping, and I have heeded the advice of others telling me they may not be perfectly safe for nighttime sleeping, but they worked well for us! We kept one on each side of our bed, so that Nick and I could be in charge of “one baby” each night. Having these within reach was great for night time feeds and fuss, and for popping binkies back in their mouths every 5 minutes. The slight incline helped the girls with their reflux as well.

 

  1. BOTTLE LEASHES (2)

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I only wish I had discovered these sooner. These are for the baby that can now hold their own bottle (works with sippy cups, too). I discovered my need for these after countless car rides and walks in which one or both girls would constantly toss their bottles. No one likes a bottle that has been rolling in the dirt, or one that rolls under the seat of your van and is out of reach to you or dad. These genius products strap around the cup on one end and can then be secured to seat belts, strollers, etc. When your kid gets a little older, they can even “reel” their cup back in!

 

  1. BINKY CLIPS (several)

Once your babies become mobile, binkies are dropped and lost all day, every day. And there is nothing worse than a screaming baby and a lost binky. With these clips, you can fasten them to your little one’s clothes. Yes, you will still lose them, but not nearly as often. And you can get super cute ones and make them a fashion statement. Win win.

 

  1. NURSING TANK TOPS (several)

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These serve as both a bra, and a tank top (at least for me). Easy access for the little ones always grabbing at your boobs. Tip: Make sure you wear nursing pads if you are going to put on nipple balm. That stuff stains big time.

 

  1. BABY SWINGS (2)

I registered for two different swings, and was lucky enough to receive them. Much to my surprise, they were also different in that they moved in different directions (one side-to-side, one forward-to-backward). This allowed me to have both babies in swings at the same time, and I was able to switch up the sways to add variety. The link above and this link are the ones we have.

 

  1. BABY MOON PILLOWS (2)

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I know, I know, pillows for babies are a big no-no. But these pillows are not really for sleeping, but more for monitored naps, swing time, car seat time, etc. They are made to help avoid flat heads (or to remedy less severe ones). I will never forget the day I took a side profile photo of Lennon and realized the back of her head was super flat. I quickly researched helmets and noted how expensive they would be if insurance didn’t cover them(one, let alone two…Rowe’s head was slightly flat as well), and how uncomfortable they looked. So I Googled some more and found these pillows. I am telling you, after less than two weeks of use, I noticed a huge difference. And at the girls next doctor appointment my pediatrician assured me that they would not need helmets. We obviously would have gotten them the helmets and therapy should it have been necessary (babies are so cute in those fun helmets) but it was nice to not have to worry about it. Again, all babies are different, and this may not be a fix for yours, but I say it is worth a shot!

 

  1. BABY SHUSHER

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My photographer introduced me to this little gem. It makes white noise, on a timer, similar to what your newborn would hear in the womb. And it is small enough to fit in your diaper bag. I would toss this in one of the girls’ car seats during fussy drives and often (not always) it would calm them down! Just another tool to keep in my tool belt.

 

  1. DOUBLE JOGGING STROLLER

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A definite necessity. We started off with the Graco double stroller that our car seats could click into, which worked great when traveling. But it was a you-know-what to lug around, the girls were too small to fit safely when not in the car seats, and it was not convenient for quick walks around the neighborhood. So we got this jogging stroller and the rest is history. We use this 80% of the time and we love it. And, get this, it is one of the CHEAPER jogging strollers and works great, IMO.

 

  1. NAME BRACELETS (2)

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I purchased these for the girls to help us tell them apart when they were first born, and also as a super cute accessory. Our Rowe developed a birthmark on her face at around 5 weeks old, which made it a lot easier to tell them apart, so they didn’t wear these often. But I think these are great for identical twin girls!!

 

  1. BABY BREZZA

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This is an item I have never used, personally, but comes highly recommended from other twin mamas. It preps baby’s formula for you! It is like a Keurig for formula – how convenient! I hear it is a real game changer.

 

  1. CRIB AQUARIUMS

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These crib toys help us get a few extra minutes of sleep. The girls have learned how to turn them on and will sit in their cribs and quietly watch (a lot of the time). Side note: my aunt also has one of these for herself. They are that amazing.

 

  1. BABY BULLET

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If you are a mom who wants to do it all, like me, then you are probably thinking about making your own baby food. It really isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and is made 10 times easier with this contraption. It pulverizes veggies, fruit, meat, table food, etc. into perfect purees for your little ones. It also comes with utensils, a freezer tray and little jars to keep thawed food in (I bought extra trays and jars since, you know, two babies). It also has a recipe book!

 

  1. EZPZ PLATES

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There is a fun story behind this one. My grandfather’s friend’s daughter (or is it daughter-in-law?) owns this company! His friend actually sent us four of the EZPZ plates as a gift when the twins were first born. We use them all of the time. We take them all over the place, especially restaurants, so we don’t have to put their food on sticky, dirty tables. Score!!

 

  1. SILICONE BIBS – W/BUTTONS! (several)

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Right around the time R&L started feeding themselves, they also started ripping their bibs off. So I fired up the trusty Google in search of bibs with buttons, instead of the usual Velcro. I came across these bibs, and they work like a charm. The easy cleanup silicone and food catching pouch are an added bonus.

 

Feel free to send this list to Santa; I promise you won’t regret it. In my next post, I’ll tell you what I am wishing for THIS year.

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Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS)

Twin to twin transfusion syndrome, or TTTS, is a serious condition that can occur in babies that share a placenta in the womb (identical twins or higher order multiples). TTTS occurs when the shared placenta contains abnormal blood vessels that connect the umbilical cords and circulation of the fetuses. The placenta may also be shared unequally (for example, one twin has access to ¾ of the placenta and the other only ¼) and one twin may not receive the necessary nutrients to grow normally.

When the blood vessels become abnormally connected, one baby (the recipient) may receive too much blood flow, while the other (the donor twin) does not receive enough. The donor twin may experience slower than normal growth, have poor urinary output and little to know amniotic fluid. Too much blood flow to the recipient can put strain on the heart, potentially causing heart failure. The recipient might have a more active bladder causing greater amounts of amniotic fluid.

TTTS can occur at any time during pregnancy, but is considered more serious between 12-26 weeks gestation because the babies are too young to be delivered safely. However, thanks to advances in science there are some treatments available to help twins with TTTS.

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First of all, mothers of twins with a shared placenta should be monitored heavily by a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) clinic. Ultrasounds should be performed biweekly to check on things such as amniotic fluid levels, blood flow in the placenta, visible bladders, size differences, etc. All of these can be indicators of TTTS.

If TTTS is detected, there are now treatment options (before, TTTS usually claimed the lives of both babies).

  1. Delivery of the babies – this will obviously need to be later in gestation, at a date when the babies are viable and their lungs have matured enough.
  2. Amniocentesis to drain excess amniotic fluid. This can improve the blood flow in the placenta and reduce the risk of preterm labor.
  3. Laser surgery to seal off the connection between the blood vessels. Laser surgery is often preferred to amniocentesis because it only needs to be done once. Amniocentesis may need to be done repeatedly to maintain proper blood flow. Laser surgery has an 80-65% survival rate of at least one twin, 65-70% overall twin survival, and 5% or less significant handicap rates in survivors.

Below is a video to help you better understand TTTS.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/doctor-explains-ttts-twin-to-twin-transfusion-syndrome-581592643543

 

What type of twins are you having?

This is a question I get a lot lately from those familiar with carrying multiples. Had you asked me this question 4 months ago, I would have assumed the only answer was fraternal vs. identical twins. While those are the two major classifications for twins, there are actually various “types of twins” dependent upon if the pregnancy is a result of two embryos implanting, or one embryo splitting and implanting. Bear in mind, I am by no means an expert in this area and most of this information I have collected through my MFM visits and twins forums/boards.

Identical vs. Fraternal Twins

Identical vs. fraternal twins refers to zygosity, or one egg/one sperm vs. two eggs/two sperm.

Identical twins come from a single egg that has been fertilized by one sperm, and then splits into two separate embryos early in development. Both of those embryos implant and develop into a positive pregnancy test. They will have the same DNA, and look exactly alike, because they came from ONE embryo. Identical twins will always be the same sex – either boy/boy or girl/girl.

Fraternal twins develop when two eggs are fertilized by two separate sperms, and both implant. Fraternal twins can look a lot alike, but will often be easier to tell apart than identical twins. Their DNA is different. There can be boy/boy, girl/girl, or boy/girl sets.

 

Di/di, mo/di, mo/mo, & conjoined twins

Zygosity  (identical vs. fraternal twins), really has little impact on the treatment and prognosis of the twin pregnancy. What needs to be considered is chorionicity and amnionicity, or the number of placentas and the number of amniotic sacs that are present.

Chorionic = Placenta

Amniotic = Amniotic Sac

The image below can be helpful along with the following explanations of “types” of twins.

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Dichorionic/Diamniotic (di/di) Twins

Two separate placentas and two separate amniotic sacs (one for each baby). These are the most common type of twins and have the lowest associated risk. Fraternal twins are di/di. Some identical twins can be di/di if the embryo splits VERY early.

 

Monochorionic/Diamniotic (mo/di) Twins – what we are having!

Mo/di twins are identical and share a placenta but each baby has their own amniotic sac. These twins are more risky than di/di because of the shared placenta. A shared placenta is just that – shared. Sharing does not translate to equal. Mo/di twins are at risk for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS).This occurs when the blood vessels in the shared placenta are connected. This can result in one baby receiving more blood flow (the recipient) and the other receives too little blood (the donor). In the past, TTTS often had devastating results, but with proper monitoring and medical intervention, twins with TTTS now have a better chance of survival. TTTS occurs in approximately 15% of identical twins. More about TTTS will be covered in my next blog!

 

Monochorionic/Monoamniotic (mo/mo) Twins)

The least common and most risky, mo/mo twins share a placenta AND an amniotic sac. They are always identical. Mo/mo twins are at risk for TTTS and are also at risk for issues resulting from sharing the same amniotic sac. Because both babies are in the same sac, there is a chance their umbilical cords may become entangles or compressed, which can lead to one or both babies not receiving enough nutrients. Moms of mo/mo twins often end up in the hospital during the later second half of their pregnancy for bed rest and inpatient monitoring (multiple ultrasounds a week) to ensure the cords are not becoming tangled. At our first ultrasound we thought we were having mo/mo twins, but it was later confirmed that there was a thin membrane separating the amniotic sac into two.

 

Conjoined Twins

Conjoined twins are also identical, and occur when the egg does not completely separate into two embryos in the womb. They can share organs, tissue and/or limbs. Conjoined twins also share a placenta and an amniotic sac. I am not sure what their risks are for TTTS or cord entanglement.

 

I am currently carrying, identical, mo/di twin girls. Because of the risks associated with mo/di twins, I see a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist for regular ultrasounds, along with my OB. Having twins is scary, and having mo/di twins is even scarier. We are trying to take things one day at a time and continue to pray for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

The first trimester in a nut shell (egg shell?)

Weeks 1-2

These are the weeks leading up to ovulation. Most women spend this time taking ovulation tests and having lots and lots of baby-making sex. For us IVFers, it’s a little less hot and heavy. This period is usually filled with stimulation drugs (if having a fresh transfer) or other drugs like Lupron, Lovenox, etc., if having a frozen transfer. Several ultrasounds to confirm your ovaries and womb are ready, and anticipation for Transfer Day! We had our transfer on CD 19, and that was the day I received the bad news about our remaining embryos. I spent the remainder of Week 2 resting and feeling sorry for myself.

Week 3

This is the week we slowly start symptom watching. And eating pineapple core and Brazil nuts. Implantation usually happens during this week, so if you are like me, you were wearing light colored underwear and hoping to catch some “implantation bleeding”. I had none of that, and thus, convinced myself I was out. Toward the end of week three, you start questioning if everything is a symptom. You forgot to turn off the bedroom light – must be pregnancy brain. You peed an extra time between 3pm and 6pm, you’re pregnant. Extra gassy? Pregnant! Headache? Pregnant! The sun is shining? PREGNANT! It is pure torture.

Week 4

Pregnancy test week! We received our positive and I was ecstatic. I had virtually no symptoms. Are they sure they got it right? Is this real? Where were my sore boobs, nausea, and all of that other fun pregnancy stuff? This is the week you will tell your partner, call to make your first OB appointment, and probably pee on any pregnancy test you can get your hands on.

Week 5

I call this opposite week. All of those things you convinced yourself WERE symptoms about a week ago, now you are convincing yourself they are not. I was sure it was way too early to be feeling as exhausted as I was, or as hungry as I was. I was obviously making it all up in my head. So I kept peeing on sticks for reassurance. I even convinced myself I had the flu this week because it was way too early for nausea, body aches, and food aversions!

Week 6

Ultrasound week! One of the few perks of being an infertility clinic patient – the early and frequent ultrasounds. We got to see our (surprise!) two beautiful babies this week. Leading up to this ultrasound I was a nervous wreck, afterward I was excited, nervous, and so many other emotions. But the pregnancy felt a bit more real. They were REALLY in there. And that’s when the nausea really kicked in….

Week 7

The nausea was picking up, but every time I looked at the ultrasound on the fridge, I welcomed it. To me, it meant my little beans were growing. My appetite had increased, but the thought of most foods made me want to vomit. I had some mild spotting this week that freaked me out. It was brown, and only in the morning, but scary nonetheless. The nurses told me it was pretty normal, to take it easy and to push the fluids. As long as it stayed brown and wasn’t heavy or accompanied by cramps, everything should be fine. But still, it was scary.

Week 8

Vomiting. Food aversions. Nausea. The Three Musketeers. They were with me all day, every day. I managed to keep food down, thankfully. But I felt pretty miserable. To top it all off, the night I was 8 weeks 4 days pregnant, I woke up at 1am to pee and found dark red blood when I wiped. I immediately thought the worst. It wasn’t brown anymore. I woke Nick up and we went straight to the emergency room. I was seen by a doctor who gave me a pelvic and cervical exam, and found no blood. He also gave me an abdominal ultrasound. He told me not to get my hopes up about hearing the heartbeats on this type of machine, since it was so early. We were able to see both babies, and heard one heartbeat for sure. I was discharged feeling much better and was able to get in for an ultrasound with my specialist the next day. We confirmed that Baby A and Baby B were both doing well. My doctor told me to discontinue my Lovenox injections and baby aspirin and from that moment on, I have not had any more spotting (knock on wood).

Weeks 9-11

My hermit stage. I did not want to leave the house. I was living on plain waffles, pretzels and noodles. Most nights I fell asleep by 8:30 and it was all I could do to get myself out of bed in the morning and to work. My pants started to feel tighter but no bump in sight. I began wearing belly bands and the moment I got home from work it was straight into pajamas and to the couch. The nausea continued full force. I don’t know why they call it morning sickness when it lasts all day. Stupid name. I was vomiting a couple days a week. Week 10 I even threw up in my car WHILE driving in a construction zone on the highway. Thank God I had a plastic grocery bag and was only a couple miles from home. That was the day I hit symptom rock bottom. So gross.

This week I also saw the high risk doctors at Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) for the first time. They told me everything looked good so far, and the doctor discussed with me all of the possible complications that could arise in a mo/di (monochorionic, diamniotic) pregnancy like mine. Preeclampsia, anemia, preterm labor, TTTS, gestational diabetes, etc. Talk about a freak out. But they assured me they would do everything in their power to make things go smoothly, and I would be monitored often. I set up my next appointment for week 16. This would be the first of many TTTS monitoring appointments. From that appointment forward I would have ultrasounds every other week to monitor growth, fluid, placenta, and other signs of TTTS.

Week 12

For those of you who are unaware, week 12 is a milestone week. By now the placenta has taken over and symptoms should begin to subside. It is at this week that risk of miscarriage drops considerably. I was given the all clear from my specialist to discontinue my progesterone injections and estrogen pills and patches. I was also released from the RE and turned over to my OB. Nick and I announced our pregnancy on social media this week and the response was amazing. We were so overwhelmed by all of the love and support we received. Our family, friends and community are truly amazing.

 

Week 13

The last week of the first trimester!! Hallelujah! This week my nausea improved drastically. I was able to reintroduce some healthy food into my diet. And I actually had a little bit more energy. I saw my OB for the first time this week and babies looked good. I wouldn’t have another ultrasound for 3 weeks though, and this really freaked me out. But for now, we had two healthy babies on the way and couldn’t be happier!

Are you sure there aren’t two?

The moment I asked the ultrasound tech that question has lingered in my mind for the past several weeks, “Are you sure there aren’t two?”

Two weeks after our second beta, which sky-rocketed up from 697 to 2003, we had our first ultrasound. Let me tell you, the days leading up to the appointment were some of the longest of my life. I didn’t quite FEEL pregnant yet, and I certainly didn’t look pregnant, so how could I really BE pregnant? Maybe the tests were wrong, or my third beta wouldn’t have doubled? Shouldn’t they be doing betas every other day until that first appointment??

Week 4-5 was a piece of cake in the symptoms department. I felt normal, no sore boobs, no nausea, just a little extra tired. Shouldn’t I be feeling something by now? By the end of week 5, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I was exhausted, nauseated, my legs were sore and I had a headache. But that couldn’t be the pregnancy, right? I was sure that I had caught something from a coworker who had been out of the office for most of the week. Dang him for bringing me his sickness! I felt much better after a few days.

We went in for our first ultrasound when I was 6 weeks and 4 days along. Nick took a half day off from work so that he could come with me. I picked him up from our house and we rode together to the doctor’s office. On the way, we heard a commercial about a woman hearing two heartbeats at her ultrasound and she found out she was having twins. Nick looked at me and said something along the lines of “that could be us, maybe it’s a sign”. I laughed it off and said, yea right! We only transferred one embryo, it was a miracle in itself that that had stuck!

To say I was nervous and anxious in the waiting room would be an understatement. I knew how early it was, and how quickly things could go south in a pregnancy. I said numerous prayers, just hoping that my little nugget was OK and that we would see all the things we needed to (according to Dr. Google, a yolk sack and something about a fetal pole were vital). They called me back, drew my blood, and then it was go time.

My doctor was out of the office that week so I was seeing one of the ultrasound techs. As soon as she stuck in that magic want I immediately saw two little white blobs. But then she started moving it around and they were gone just as fast. The first thing she said was “there it is”, and I finally let my breath out (I think I had been holding it since the blood draw). She took its measurements, and showed us the little flicker of the heartbeat. I was grinning from ear to ear. They warned me that we might not be able to hear the heartbeat this early, but we could try. I held my breath again and all of a sudden heard the most beautiful sound, the thump-thump-thump of my baby’s heart. Queue the tears.

After that, I’m not sure what came over me, but that is when I blurted out the “are you sure there aren’t two in there?” She said, “Well hold on let me check, I am going to do a scan of the uterus.” I watched the screen change and then she stopped on another blob and said “Yep, there’s another.” Well HOLY CRAP. TWINS!!! Disbelief, shock, joy, fear, excitement – I felt all of these emotions in that single moment. We were able to hear the heartbeat of baby 2 as well!

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It looks like we are having identical twins. This automatically makes my case high risk, and with identical twins there is a risk of Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), where basically one twin would take over the majority of the nutrients and doesn’t get enough (more about that in the future), but that is a risk we are willing to deal with should it arise. All we knew is that in our time of need, and pain, and doubt, God had blessed us with two beautiful heartbeats.

We made one wish, and two came true.

There can be miracles, when you believe…

It is with great joy, but also with a heavy heart, that we announced to the world that we are pregnant with not one, but two miracle babies!

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Joy because it is finally our turn to have a family. Joy because we have seen two lines, heard our baby’s heartbeats and allowed ourselves to look to the future. It is with a heavy heart because I know there are so many well deserving people out there still being crushed by the weight of infertility and a dream lost. For every tear of joy, there has been a tear of sorrow. For every moment I have not quite believed, there is another living with the reality of infertility. And as much as my heart has broken, it has also been repaired.

We cannot begin to explain how incredibly blessed we feel. In our wildest dreams we did not imagine that this would be our story. We are so thankful for this journey we have been through. For all of the wonderful people we have met, for all the lessons it has taught us, and for the gift that we have been given. It is true that God works in mysterious ways, and that He has a plan.

I look forward to transitioning this blog from one of infertility, to one of pregnancy, and (God-willing) eventually to one with a focus on family. But I promise to never forget where I came from. To never discount someone’s journey or struggle because my own took a turn for the best. I will never forget the pain that came with each month, the fear of the unknown, or the feeling of being broken. I understand if it is too difficult for some of my followers to continue this journey with me, and I wish you all the best of luck. A family is waiting for you all, one way or another. I just know it.

Baby A & Baby B are due to arrive on October 8, 2016. However, because we are having twins, my doctor said that I would deliver at 36 weeks, which puts us at around September 10th. We found out the wonderful news on February 1, 2016. I have since posted a couple of blogs, but none have revealed our news. I have continued to write about our journey, and I plan to post my entries from the first trimester in the coming days/weeks. These will include pregnancy test day, the day of our first ultrasound, and a reflection on the first weeks being pregnant.

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We hope that you will continue this wild ride with us and we cannot wait to see what the future has in store!