Thanksgiving with Multiples

Our thanksgivings have always been a bit unconventional; since I am an orphan and my husband’s family is out of town, most years have found us sharing our table with various immigrants and refugees we were volunteering with, or enjoying a meal with our “surrogate” family, friends from church or elsewhere.  Once our twins were born, things grew increasingly complicated: Both boys suffered from reflux, so the first year was an event filled with such screaming and pain that subsequent years were approached with caution; we had few friends willing to spend their holiday surrounded by two screaming babies/toddlers.  On our third Thanksgiving, we were invited by fellow struggling parents to a local restaurant’s Thanksgiving Buffet.  This worked somewhat well… yet over the following few years, our Thanksgiving traditions became inconsistent at best.

Now our boys are six, and they don’t scream so much anymore.  J  And we have surrounded ourselves with other multiples families who are more tolerant of our “busy” family life.

This year, we decided to invite ourselves over to a family with 8-year-old twins and 4-year-old triplets – all boys!  We ordered a pre-cooked thanksgiving meal from Supperworks, and took the whole to-do over to Kofi and Vida’s, where we four parents hung out in the kitchen re-heating the food, while the SEVEN boys played in the playground outside their little front yard.  When the feast was marginally warm, we threw it unceremoniously on the table, and everyone helped themselves and the nearest triplet to some food.  No one went hungry, everyone enjoyed the company of his neighbor, and after dinner, the older boys entertained each other and two of the triplets, while I sat on the sofa snuggling a third triplet, their mother sharing photos from years gone by, and her pre-multiples figure.

On the ride home, I marveled at the simplicity of our dinner, compared to the lavishly prepared events of years past… perhaps most surprisingly of all is the contentment I feel, even without cloth napkins, fine china and matching centerpiece candles.

The thankfulness comes from the peace of being surrounded by genuine people and decent food.  As many parents of multiples soon discover, the authenticity, rather than the presentation, is what really counts!

Happy Thanksgiving, to all, especially those sharing their turkey with multiple turkeys this year!

The Toothfairy Cometh…

Ah, the drama in our home when a tooth is lost.  First, there is excitement, then a little bit of jealousy by the co-multiple who did NOT lose a tooth over all the attention the other one is getting… but the REAL drama comes the next morning, after the tooth fairy has left her treasure.  Until last night, the tooth fairy usually left two quarters and whichever boy lost the tooth had the good sense to see that clearly the tooth fairy knows he’s a twin, and left two so he could share with his brother.

Ah, but the age of innocence ends all too early.

As the boys grow older (they are 6 now, and going into grade one!), they discover the ways of the world.  Both Simon and Alex are now well aware that a coin is more than a shiny souvenir.  They know that some coins can be put into machines and a gumball or other treasure gotten out. They know that street musicians play for coins.

But most of all, they know that several coins often garner great new riches when traded for goods at a yard sale.  So, when Twin B woke up this morning, and found two loonies under his pillow, he chose NOT to share his personal gain with his brother.

Twin A was understandably upset, and you can imagine the drama which ensued.  Even with much cajoling and reasoning (“surely the tooth fairy left two coins, meaning for you to share.  Maybe if you don’t share, she won’t come back next time you lose a tooth”, etc., etc.) Twin B could not be convinced to part with a coin.  Twin A’s howls grew louder and more extreme as he sang the song of his injustice.

In the end, the boys cooperatively selected a toy from the yard sale we visited later in the morning, and the wealthy twin paid.

But oh, the misery of the morning… how many more will we endure?!

Twins Day in Ohio

With the recent twins days behind us in Twinsburg, Ohio, National Geographic decided to promote an online photo essay celebrating twins!  Check out these great photos, and if you are an expectant POM, see what lies ahead… http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/09/twins/twins-text

Healthy Teeth and Gums… Healthy Twins, Triplets and More?

We are proud to share this guest blog, co-authored with Erika King, Dental Hygienist. Enjoy!

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A sometimes overlooked health factor when pregnant is… Dental Health!

Carrying  multiples in particular impacts the health of your gums and teeth; both can be affected by your pregnancy, and in turn your pregnancy can be affected by how well you take care of your mouth.

Some women find their gums become puffy or swollen and bleed more when they are pregnant.  This is due to the increased production of estrogen (normal during pregnancy and particularly increased for moms pregnant with twins, triplets or more), and is called pregnancy gingivitis.  For some women the increased estrogen causes their gums to become extra sensitive to plaque (bacteria) that accumulates on their teeth.  Women who experience this need to be extra diligent in their oral care at home, and it is usually recommended they also see their dental hygienist during this time for additional cleaning and/or guidance.

One of the early signs of multiples pregnancies is more extreme than normal morning sickness.  Women who experience morning sickness also need to pay special attention to their dental health. Frequent vomiting or regurgitation can lead to acid erosion of the teeth. When stomach acid frequently comes into contact with teeth, the outer enamel covering can wear down, weakening the tooth and increasing sensitivity.  After an incident of vomiting, the best thing to do is to rinse out your mouth with water or mouth wash, and avoid brushing your teeth for at least 45 minutes.   Brushing your teeth right after vomiting actually increases the rate of erosion as you are scrubbing the acid into your teeth.

Many pregnant women, particularly those pregnant with more than one, also experience nausea or an increased gag reflex, making it difficult to take proper care of her teeth/gums.  Using non-foaming toothpaste often helps (i.e. no sodium laurel sulphate– these toothpastes may be hard to find, try looking in health or naturopathic stores, or online.  Some examples of brands are: Tom’s of Maine, Therabreath, the Natural Dentist, Nature’s Gate, CloSYS, Squigle, Sapphire Toothpaste ), as well as leaning over the sink while brushing your teeth, allowing the toothpaste to drain out of your mouth instead of building up.  (Yes, this becomes a bit tricky towards the end of the second and into the third trimester, when your belly is full of big babies!)  Other women may find it helpful to take a deep breath and then hold it while brushing the teeth at the back of the mouth. Using a smaller toothbrush, as well as using floss holders may also help.

So why is gum health so important during pregnancy? Scientific studies have found women with severe gum disease are seven times more likely to have pre-term, low birth-weight babies. This is due to the labour-inducing hormone called progesterone, which is present in oral bacteria.  When your gums are unhealthy, the bacteria in your mouth can enter your blood stream, increasing the circulating progesterone. This becomes especially significant for women pregnant with multiples, as they are often already at risk for pre-term labour.

Seeing your dental hygienist for regular dental cleanings can help you have a healthy pregnancy. She will give you advice and guidance for your specific situation. She will also teach you important preventative tips for your growing family.

Erica King, RDH

www.ericasmobilesmiles.ca

In Search of Mary Poppins

We have our first guest blogger! This one comes from Janet MacDonald, president of Optimum Childcare and Nannies. Hope you enjoy!

Many parents become overwhelmed when recruiting and screening nannies. Often this leads them to rely on a stereotypical idea of what makes the perfect nanny. But even though Mary Poppins may seem to have a lot to offer, parents require more that a spoon full of sugar and a song to meet their expectations. Read the rest of this entry »

The Twins/Triplets Come to Visit

PEI Place!

PEI Place!

We recently sold our Toronto house, and moved into a 900 square foot apartment on the lake.  The space is, well, “cozy”, but the sunrises over the lakeview from our balcony are breathtaking.  And the boys don’t seem to mind the compacted space — Alex and Simon really enjoy their bunkbeds.

twins and triplets familyThe other day, our friends with twins and triplets (all boys!) came to visit…

It was the first time they had been to see our new place.  As they spilled out of their van, I realised there was no way they were all going to fit into our humble abode!  After a quick look see, we herded the masses down to the park next door and played for hours in the sunshine.

As the adults sat around talking, I realised two things:

1. The reduced financial stress of apartment living (vs a giant Toronto mortgage) really frees you up to just enjoy a sunny afternoon with the kids

2. Our boys were all big enough to play semi-supervised… the day we thought would never come when we were in the throes of bottles and diapers has finally arrived!

What a pleasure it was to watch all 7 boys play together.

How Do You Tell Twins Apart?

twins video gamesTheir voices, personalities and other small nuances make mono-zygotic twins Alex and Simon unidentical to us.  But then, we’re their parents.  And yes, we did rely on nail polish and positioning (see Class Three) for the first several months!  Now that the boys are six years old, we are trying to help others distinguish them as well.  A few months back, Alex and I went for a hair cut.  Simon decided to stay late at daycare and play with his friends.  We’ve kept the heady difference, and Simon’s hair is now quite long, making him clearly… NOT ALEX!  🙂

twins boys readingThey both appreciate their unique looks and the individual recognition it fosters amongst family and friends alike.

Celine Dion is Expecting Twins!

Celine Dion’s family is about to get a bit bigger, now that she and her husband/manager, René Angélil, are expecting twins.

In the past, they have been very public about the birth of their first child, as well as their their fertility struggles. Their first child, René-Charles Angélil, was the result of in-vitro fertilization, or IVF. (For more information about IVF, which started in the 1980’s, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_vitro_fertilisation)

Some families with an older singleton who find out they are expecting twins or triplets believe they do not need prenatal classes, but a good prenatal course that caters specifically to multiple births issues can help support families expecting more than one, even if they already have older children. Some classes even offer tips and suggestions for singleton siblings of multiples, whose lives are dramatically impacted by the arrival of two or more little brothers and/or sisters!

We at Babies In Belly are wishing Celine Dion and her family a very successful pregnancy, and will be looking forward to hearing more updates.

To read more, visit: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2010/05/30/2010-05-30_celine_dion_pregnant_with_twins__nine_years_after_giving_birth_to_her_son.html

Volunteer Work

I remember when our twin sons were born… my husband and I had been doing volunteer work with refugees and immigrants at Toronto’s Detention Ctre.  It all had to stop once we became parents, as they didn’t allow babies/children in the Centre.  As our babies grew into toddlers, we began searching for volunteer endeavors to do as a family; we really wanted to set the tone in our family about the value of giving back, and we wanted our children to learn about this while they were still young.  Alas, it seemed that any opportunity that might be open to having kids tag along somehow didn’t fit into our nap or bedtime schedule!  (Yes, we were still ruled  by the need to sleep at 3 years old!)

The boys are 6 now, and I recently decided to revisit the volunteering dilemma.  Typically my work in this area had involved interacting with people, but in an attempt to try something new, I did a little research on volunteer opportunities elsewhere in the city.  It wasn’t long until I discovered that one of our local greenspaces, the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat, accepted volunteers every Wed evening from 6-8 p.m.  On the agenda: weeding, planting and just general outdoor labour.  The timing was ideal, just after dinner and before bedtime (well, we’d have to leave at 7:20 or so, but I figured if I brought extra labour, I shouldn’t feel bad about cutting out early!)

Twin B and I went to check it out last week.  Six year old Simon was perfect for the job of pulling mustard garlic from under some important shrubs that were being choked out.  Small and nimble, he easily crawled into tight places to pull the highly invasive weed!  He also enjoyed being outdoors and learning more about plants — his constant stream of chatter and questions were most entertaining to everyone there, and showed me a side of my son I don’t usually see in public.  Not sure if I would bring both boys next time, but in any case, it was a great opportunity for each boy to have some special time apart with one parent.

If you’re gazing in sleep-deprived stupour at your multiple newborns wondering how long the traumatic stage will last, and if you’ll ever get back to your “real life”, I can promise you this: As your babies grow from toddlers to children, these little people will make your real life richer than you can ever imagine!  If you really want to bond as they get older, consider doing some volunteer work with one or more of your multiples.  It’s a great way to expose them to something new, while teaching them strong community values and just getting to know them in a whole new way.

March Break with the Twins

IMG_2927There comes a time in the realm of twins parenting when a parent might finally feel brave enough to embark on an overnight adventure alone with his or her multiples.  For me, this moment was March Break 2010.

Although I have taken several overnight trips alone with each individual boy, this is the first time I have been brave enough to attempt such an adventure with both Alex and Simon.  Read the rest of this entry »