Twins 101

posted on: 7.25.2012

This post has been a long time coming. I really am terribly sorry if you've emailed me for advice on twins, and I've yet to respond. I think one giant post will be the easiest, so here we go!
I've covered finding out, preparing, letting go, managing it all, depression & anxiety, gear, and everything in between.
Let me preface this by saying a few things: I am no baby/twin expert. This is only what has worked for me, and I'm still figuring this thing out. It's also just a lot about my feelings. I'm going to be very honest about my experience, good and bad. Not to scare you, neither to boast, only to help & hopefully encourage.

If you just found out you're expecting twins I'm sure you've fried your brain thinking- How will this work? Will I be able to afford them? Will I really love both? Will they be healthy? How can I grow a third arm? And, probably also a lot of this- Will I ever have a date night again? Will I ever be able to cook dinner again? Will I ever be able to shower & get ready? Will I ever feel rested? Will I ever be able to find someone willing to babysit?
My answer to all of this is- it's okay. Everything you're thinking, feeling, worrying about is okay. Let yourself feel it all. And know, with time, you'll find the answers.

On Finding Out:
Scared, Sad, Stressed, Excited, Nervous, Thankful (that one took time), is how I felt when my doctor told me there were two sacs. I wasn't on any medication like Clomed, twins don't run in our family, and I didn't have IVF. The thought of twins being a possibility honestly had never, ever crossed my mind. Naive for sure. I found out alone, Wyatt was in fact still living in Dominica. After being told bymy doctor I needed a good 15 minutes alone in the room before I could leave and drive a car. Shocked was pretty much an understatement. At first I called everyone to tell them the "happy" news! I actually didn't feel too happy about it though. We waited a long time between Tate and our second (s), and for good reason. Our life had been one huge adventure/hurdle after another and we were looking forward to some calm predictability. Our third world country experience was over, and I was finally ready to settle down with two kids. Naive for sure. I called Wyatt, and had to tell him over Skype. He was actually in class at the time, listening to me through his head phones, so unable to respond right away His face said it all. It totally stressed him out. He walked out of class and his first words to me about it were, "This is terrible!". As reality started to sink in I started to feel happier and thankful for these two babies inside me, but also increased anxiety about how to make it all work. I worried about everything. How could I take care of them at the same time, how do I also be there for Tate. How long will I be on bed rest? How are we going to pay for them? How are we going to pay for anything now? Are they going to be healthy & both live? Am I going to be super fat and covered in stretch marks? The feelings ranged from the most shallow thoughts to my darkest and most real fears I've ever had.

I think it's absolutely okay to let yourself feel how you feel. In my mind, every emotion was felt. I openly admitted to people that I had never wanted twins, but was up for the challenge (as if I had a choice:), and I think they thought I was an awful beast. It wasn't that I didn't think I could love two babies, and it wasn't that I didn't understand how lucky I was to be given children in the first place, it was just I didn't feel ready to have three children, let alone two at the exact same time. I thrive on a calm, consistent way of life, and I knew I'd have to get over that, quickly.
On Preparing:
They were due the summer we were moving across country (there & back again), supposedly selling our Utah home, and Wyatt was prepping to take the biggest test of medical school. The only thing I could control was to be as prepared as I could. I read this book on twins, talked with friends who had been there, poured over the internet, and then got to work. Those diaper drawers were going to be filled three months prior to their arrival! I took bits and pieces from what I read, heard, and made a plan in my head of how I was going to make this work.
Nothing can really make you ready to have twins, but being more prepared will help you feel more in control. Start now making lists of what you think you'll need (I'll be discussing gear later), it's never too early to start buying. There's a very good chance you'll end up on bed rest at some point, so being ready early is smart. I was on modified bed rest, but needed to do one more last run to Ikea. I spent a couple hours there, more than I should have, and later that week I went into labor. I can't help but feel guilty that I caused them to come early. If I had been better prepared, I would have been a much better couch potato.
Twins are expensive so try to find a friend/relative who's had multiples and might let you borrow things, or hit up Craigslist for some good deals. Some stores, like Babies R Us, and Babinski's in Utah, offer a twin discount- don't hesitate to ask.
But the most important way to prepare is to talk with your spouse, or any family members who will be helping out, about what your expectations/fear/needs are, so they know how to best help out. You will need the help, and as hard as it is to accept, it will save you. I talked with Wyatt (probably ad nauseum) about my fears, insecurities, and expectations. I felt like I had a "team" of people on my side, which I'm still so grateful for. Wyatt is already a very involved parent- he's never had a problem changing diapers, doing the middle of the night or early morning feeds, giving me a night out, or having all three at once. He's wonderful, natural, and confident with children. When people ask me "how do you do it?", I answer, Wyatt. If your husband is a little more nervous with kids, start helping him prepare NOW. Having twins HAS TO BE a two-parent job. Both parents need to be equally willing and able to help out with everything, all day and all night.
If you have other children think about ways to keep them busy, and have fun while you're too tired/busy to do that for them. For me, it was my little sister. We "hired" her for the summer to take Tate on outings each day and I think she had one of her best summers, despite the fact that I could barely even remember to get her dressed in the morning. Sad but true. I was so glad, for all our sake, that she had her own things to look forward to. It was money well spent, and helped ease Tate into her new life with twin siblings.
What you can't control:
I know if I've learned anything so far, it's to not expect anything, and expect anything. From the time I found out, to now, it's still not how I pictured it would be. I never expected to have boys (always thought we'd have a house full of girls), I never expected I would have twins, I never expected they would be in the hospital for so long, I never expected to feel true, dark postpartum depression (more on that later), I never expected I would have a child with special needs, and I never ever expected the amount of gratitude and deepened love I would feel toward Wyatt, my family, my friends, and my neighbors for their endless and ongoing support.
Have a plan in mind, but keep an open mind. It's quite possible, even highly likely, that you'll have to change something or everything in that plan. You have to just go with the flow.
Your body, also uncontrollable. I don't believe you have to eat for two (or three in our case) when you're pregnant. On the other hand you are growing TWO kids in your belly. You will be huge, just expect that. To ward off stretch marks, try using this. It worked for me with Tate, and with the twins... until the final two weeks (damn those two weeks!), but still, I think it helped. Mine are low and sparse, not too bad considering. If anything, use it for pampering:) It just feels good.


On Feeding:
The thing that scared me more than anything was the idea of feeding two babies at the same time. It's what most moms of twins debate about the most I'd say. Those damn boobs are both a blessing and a curse at the same time. Why couldn't Wyatt have one boob too so we could split the duty? I think it's smart to have a plan for how you are hoping to handle the feedings with twins. But be open to the idea that things might not work out exactly as planned. Keep an open mind. I decided, and felt confident, that pumping and using bottles was the route for me. I wanted them to have breast milk, and I knew for me, double feeding them both on the boobs wouldn't work. That way Wyatt, or anyone else who would help me, could. In the end, I'm very happy with that decision. I truly admire the mothers who successfully did double breast feed! What rockstars. Since they spent the first few months in the hospital (and separate hospitals at that), the decision was already sort of made for me (this is where keeping an open mind helps) because they weren't strong enough at the beginning to nurse anyhow. Did I get some weird looks from nurses when they were strong enough to nurse and I declined, and kept pumping? Yes. Some of them really pushed me to try, and I was asked about it non-stop. But I was confident with my choice, and it was my choice to make. Just smile and decline:) It was working out very well for us, and in the end it was the perfect choice. I was incredibly physically and emotionally drained from having them in separate hospitals for so long, and I needed all the outside help I could get. I was so glad family and friends were able to help feed them when they came over. What I would say about the bonding aspect: I carried them, birthed them, and now spent almost every waking minute going back and forth from each hopsital- holding them, feeding them, praying for them, worrying about them. I felt pretty bonded. 
This is not to say that pumping then feeding after is not time consuming. You spend 15 minutes pumping, then about 30+ minutes feeding. It's something to think about. For me, it still seemed easier, because I had that help in the middle of the night, and throughout the day. The NICU runs a tight ship, so the boys ate every three hours, pretty much on the dot. I also pumped every three hours, usually right before they would eat. If you decide to pump, or need to pump frequently, I would recommend (actually insist!) you get a medical grade pump. Those things will suck you dry (in the good way), and your babies and boobies will be grateful. I used the Medela Pump in Style that I already had from Tate and it still works like a charm. If your child needs to be in the NICU, or has a medical condition preventing them from nursing, check with your insurance FIRST. Ours paid for the breast pump in full & our hospital set it all up for us. The hospital is a great resource for things like that- they were the ones who suggested we check with our insurance, something I never would have thought to do first.
I was amazed at the ability of my body when I started pumping. Just as I had read, your body knows you are going to need to feed two babies and prepares for that. Just resign to the fact that you will look like a porn star (with a mesh diaper on). At first, I was producing so much more than my boys could eat (because they weren't strong enough/couldn't eat at first), and it was such a blessing because I was able to stop pumping well before I wanted to stop giving them breast milk. I set a goal to pump for 6 months, and at 4 months I had enough milk to last 3 more months. Do you want to hear something amazing? I was pumping a whopping 90 ounces of milk a day! Yes, 90. I had breastmilk spread out over the whole Salt Lake valley. My parents, my in laws, my grandma's, my neighbor, and my friend Laura's extra freezers were all full of my milk. I labeled them meticulously, and stored them by date, so the twins were eating the oldest milk first, to prevent any from going bad.
But as life goes, a month after I stopped pumping I realized most of my stored milk had gone rotten!!! It still makes me SICK to think about. All that time and energy wasted, and now I was all dried up and couldn't do a thing about it. This is where I have no good advice. I was meticulous about storing it properly, using specific containers designed to hold frozen milk. Who knows why it went bad, it's still a mystery. I moved on though, they moved to formula, and they lived.
On Sleeping:
Oh boy. Where to start. Never, ever stop trying to have them on the same schedule. I studied read the popular book Baby Wise and yes, am another super fan. I feel like a weight watchers spokesperson, but really, if it worked for me (babies in separate hospitals, sharing a bedroom, moving across the country) it can work for you! Of course, if that's your preference. If you prefer co-sleeping than this isn't the book for you. Working in my favor was the fact that the NICU keeps the babies on a strict 3 hour schedule, so when they come home, they were already on a pretty solid routine. The trouble I had was that I wanted them on the same schedule, and since they were at separate hospitals their eating times were different. When both babies were finally home, I followed the book as best I could- I think it's okay to make small changes to better fit your needs- and within a month of having them both home they were sleeping through the night (10pm-7am), they were about 4 1/2 months. Getting your twins on the same feeding/sleeping schedule will be the hardest, but best thing for your whole family. I'm not a believer that kids are either good sleepers or bad sleepers (in most cases). It bothers me when people tell me I'm so lucky to have good sleepers. Like it was just luck. We actually worked very hard to get them to sleep well. Just like anything, you have to teach your child how to put themselves to sleep and sleep well, if that's what you want. You guide them, not the other way around. 
Regarding cribs, we bought two right from the start. Had they been able to come right home with us, we would have wanted them to share a crib for a while, to better bond. That wasn't the case, so they've always had separate beds in the same room. And yes, they sometimes wake each other up. It's just the nature of the beast. Less now that they're older though, they are so used to each other's noises by now. 
On day to day life:
Keeping in mind that it really does get easier, day to day life with multiples is incredibly draining, on a good day. I spent a week with my older sister at my parents over Christmas last year and she told me she was tired just watching me, "their needs just never end, you never sit down" she said. It's very true, especially in the beginning. Because by the time you pump, or feed, or pump and feed both babies (one at a time maybe even), change both diapers, try your best to keep both babies awake for a bit (you know, to keep them on that sleeping schedule:), soothe them both to lay them both down for naps, pick up the mess you just created, it's time to pump again, and wash bottles, defrost breast milk or whatever, and then poof!, they're awake again screaming for more of your milk and it starts all over again. Because if you don't wash all 24 (!) bottles the night before, and re-stock the diaper bag, and take out the diaper pail, and throw in a load of laundry, and fold another, and set out milk to be thawed before you go to bed all will go to hell in the morning and you'll be struggling to play "catch up" all day. If you stop, you'll fall behind. Falling behind meant stress for me, and stress meant tears, and tears meant headaches, and headaches meant I couldn't do my job, and it's all a vicious cycle. One that is unavoidable some days, it just is. Being "ready" for the next day, in a pretty anal way, was actually the only way I could even get myself to sleep at night. Funny how that worked out actually. You'd think I'd be so tired I'd fall asleep the second they did. But the to-do list in my mind, just to be ready for the next day, was so daunting it would keep me up for hours. Even some nights when it was all done, the anxiety and enormity of it all would keep me up. I thrived on being prepared. I liked all 24 bottles washed, and already poured/measured the night before. I liked the diaper bag stocked and had a list of what that entailed on the fridge, so I could double check it. I had the exact pumping parts I would need in the middle of night laying out on the counter, ready. I had the double feeding chairs propped up on the couch, how I liked them, for the middle of the night. I would shower and dry my hair before bed, so that I didn't have to in the morning. Anal, like I said. It was necessary for me though, and a huge change. I'm actually not that type-a. In the color theory test I'm mostly yellow!! I know, right? But it was just necessary. 
You will be busy, that's clear. I think if I can give you any bit of advice to help prepare you it would just be to adjust your expectations. Make peace with the fact that your life will speed up 1000x and also slow way down. For a while (we're still not back there) your date nights and time with girlfriends will be almost non existent. Getting to the children's museum, the park, the pool with your other children will be extremely challenging. ForGET about shopping for the time being. Getting out of the house at all, for a while, will feel like a huge feat! I would often think, in the beginning, "all I did today was keep my kids alive". I accomplished nothing else. I fed them, wiped their butt, put them to sleep, and.it.took.me.all.day! Adjust your expectations. Know that your "social life" will take a back seat..... way back. Like in the back of a huge bus. But also know that it's not always going to be that way. Promise. For the time being, get creative. Making a late dinner once a week for just me Wy to enjoy, after the kids were asleep, worked for us. I even got Wyatt into TV. We now have three shows we always watch together:)
On yourself:
Your body, mind, and heart are going through a massive change, and even more so when those babies come. Be easy on yourself. I have a great friend, and sister in law with twins who I looked to for advice and as examples. Both are wonderful mothers, and both have more kids than I do. It was reassuring for me to see them conquer it so well and I was sure it would be easier on me because I have less children. That might be true, but the point is I shouldn't have tried to compare myself to them. Each person is different, each set of twins are different, each situation with their own triumphs and trials. Don't set expectations, or deadlines, or rules for yourself. At least ones that can't not be broken. 

On Postpartum depression:
Not only relative to twins, but for me, it only happened after my twins were born and not with Tate. Like I said, the anxiety and enormity of it all would keep me up at night. Having both my babies at separate hospitals for 3 months took it's toll. I sobbed every night for a month each time I would leave Tuck at the hospital to go home to Finn, who was healthier, home, and tucked into his own bed. I'd never cried so much in my life. I felt so angry, so sad, so guilty, and so unsure. Why was this happening? Why was Tuck born with so many more challenges than Finn? Why had our life been one huge hurdle after another. I just wanted it all to go away. I wanted life back with just Tate. Life was so easy back then. Then I felt immense guilt for feeling that. I felt guilt for going to Ikea, for not staying at the hospitals all day with each boy, for enjoying Finn and knowing him better first. When they finally both came home, as perfect as that was, something else was keeping me up at night. And I'm feeling vulnerable putting this out there, so go easy on me. The fear of their cries would keep me up. I knew their cries meant they were ready for the day to begin, and for a good while, I was never ready for the day to begin. I could have lay in bed all day. I wanted to lay in bed all day. I had waited so long to have them both home, and now it was too hard. I didn't want to do it, and worse, I felt like I couldn't do it. I got better at sleeping at night, but still woke up with complete dread, instead of zest, for the day. I dreaded my own life, which was completely foreign to me. I am naturally a very happy cheerful person. I have always really loved my life.
Once we moved to Michigan from Utah, having visitors kept me going. I am good at faking it for the most part. I don't want to make people feel weird or bad around me, and I thought they would if I was a debbie downer all the time. Who wants to be around those people? I like being positive. But as brave as I may have looked on the outside, I let it all out in the shower. No one can hear me crying in the shower, so when I need to, that's where I do it. Last fall, while my little sister was visiting, I had a particularly hard day. I got in the shower, and sobbed my eyes out. I thought about awful things, and felt awful things about my life. I spent a good while in there, and made some changes in my mind. You know the phrase "pick you up by your bootstraps"? Well, I literally had to pick myself up out of the shower,  force myself to get out, and carry on with my day. I haven't had a day as dark as that one, and only feel happier, more content, more in control, more confident, and more thankful as the days go on. And it's all okay.

On what helped me, a lot (besides Lexapro):
A set in stone grocery night.  Each Sunday night I would pick out the recipes I wanted to make for that week. I would check the ingredients needed against what I already had, and make my list. I went through each cupboard, and the fridge thoroughly to see what we were also out of/low on too. Because, pre-twins, it was no biggie to run quickly into the store with Tate to get more milk or eggs. With twin babies + one more, a simple 10 minute errand took no less than 30 minutes. There are also the logistics of the grocery store. Where do you put the babies? Two infant seats don't fit in a shopping cart. Even if you balance one on top, and one in the bucket, where do you put all your food? Especially in the first few months, your time will be completely filled with just "keeping them alive", finding a spare hour to go to the store during the day won't happen. I figured if I got it ALL done on Monday nights, after the kids were down, when Wyatt could be home with them, I would be completely prepared for an entire week. Wyatt knew every Monday night I would be gone, and it took me about 2 1/2 hours. A quick Costco run for diapers and toiletries, then on to Trader Joes for the food, and I finised up at Kroger because they're open until midnight. I dread it every week, but I still do it, because I really think it's the only way I'm able to feed my family well.

On life after the first year:
A mom with twins that I ran into while pregnant, at Babies r us, told me "the clouds will part" at about one year, and you'll enjoy life again. I think it happens at a different point for everyone, but I would say for me, I felt more in control/capable at 6 months, and dramatically better about things at one year. Most moms of twins tell me they also felt better at the year mark.
My days look very closely to this now-
7am- boys wake up, I feed them breakfast & they have a bottle
8am-9am- they play, I get breakfast for myself and tate, check my email/blog/ect.
9am-11am- morning nap for the boys, I shower and get ready/pack for the day
11am-12pm- get boys dressed, play, run errands
12-1pm- lunch for all three kids, bottles again for the boys
1pm-3pm- some kind of fun outing, or errands (this is really the only time we're out of the house)
3pm- 5pm- afternoon nap (this is when I clean up for the day, do something just with tate, and get ready for dinner)
5:30pm- boys eat dinner
6-7pm- Wyatt usually gets home, he takes over playing with them while I make/finish our dinner.
6:30pm- we eat dinner, boys play/watch a show
7pm- last bottle for the boys, Bedtime.
 7pm- 8pm- alone time with tate, we usually play a game or jump on the tramp.
8pm- I lay tate down for bed, and Wyatt cleans up dinner/does the dishes

And the best time of day- 8pm-12pm. All the kids are asleep, Wyatt and I do what ever the heck we want:)

It's still a busy day, but it's organized, predictable, and manageable... finally. As I mentioned earlier, in the beginning it feels impossible to get out of the house to do something fun for your older children. That does get easier, and will happen. I feel okay now taking Tate to a museum, bounce house, the zoo, and even the pool with the boys in tow. Heck, today we all went to the beach! I no longer have to shower the night before, and feel okay throwing things into the diaper bag last minute, and am just overall more relaxed. It WILL happen, promise.

On Gear (the basics):
Yes, you're going to need two of most everything. I'll tell you what I tried and loved, what I didn't, and what you actually don't need to double up on.

Cribs- Ours are Ikea and I love them. They are small too, and don't take up much space. We were on a tight budget, and I love a good quality anything as much as the next person, and I'm still happy with our cribs.

Carseat- nothing else matters other than it being the lightest weight one you can find. Mine are bright orange, enough said. A car seat weighs anywhere from 18- 25 pounds. You'll be carrying two of those around, with dead weight inside. *(Funny side-note, just today I switched my boys over from their infant seat into a regular car seat. It feels sooo nice not to be lugging around 90 pounds!)

Stroller- I can't recommend the Baby Trend Double snap-n-go stroller more highly. It's always a debate with twins- are more features, more gadgets, more options going to make it easier or harder? After I spent a good two hours testing out all the higher end strollers I decided it seemed much harder. The amount of bulk you have to carry with twins is already enough. I didn't want to worry about a stroller that had 72 pieces and could switch between 18 positions. Not to mention, the car space. Now, the snap-n-go only works with infant seats, so at some point you'll have to get another stroller (but don't we all?). It's only $100, and we used ours for the entire first year. You just click the seats in the frame, there is no seat, it's just a frame.
Now we have the Baby Jogger City Mini Double,  and if you hurry the 2011 is on sale! I also love this stroller. Really don't have any complaints. My favorite feature is how simple it is to fold up, and how small it is for a double. If you are planning on jogging with your twins though, I'd get a the double Bob.
If you're debating between a front and back, or side by side, I like the side by side personally. The Baby Trend was front & back, and the City Mini side by side. No question the side by side is easier to control and steer. It's made to fit through all standard doors too. So far I have only not fit through one door.

Vibrating seats- We STILL use ours every day, and did buy two. We have these. I would say these are a must if you're planning on bottle feeding. I sit in the middle of my couch, with them tucked into the cushions on either side of me and hold each baby's bottle in to feed them. I've heard other moms who just use boppy's for this, but once your babies start to become a little mobile this might get hard.

Highchairs- Absolutely, hands down, the best is this one. It's $25 bucks, you can wipe it clean after- no seams or pads for crumbs to get stuck in, and they are super lightweight and small. Small & lightweight will be a theme with twin gear, you'll see.

Toys- we don't have two of each toy, and I don't think it's necessary at all. We only have one bouncer/play center thingy, one johnny jump up, one walker, ect. I figure it's good for them to share:)

Clothes- Completely personal, but I didn't want to dress my twins alike. I felt like it was so wasteful to buy the exact same outfit twice, and also just not my style. With the exception of maybe 2 things, they don't have identical clothes. I do coordinate though. The same striped shirt in two colorways, the same romper in different prints ect. You will need a lot of clothes though. Even though they share, if you were to split one kids wardrobe between two you're going to be doing laundry all day. Have enough that you don't feel like you're always having to do the wash.

You don't need two rockers in the nursery or two changing tables. Unless you're Celine Dion, and have  two live-in nannies, one for each baby.

I also don't have two nose suckers, two thermometers, two nail clippers- that kind of stuff. You're never going to be doing that at the same time, so what's the point?

Diapers/Wipes/Burp rags- Do double, triple, quadruple up on these!

Laundry- I heard horror stories of having a FULL load of wash every day for your babies. This just wasn't true for me. Unless you only have a day's worth of clothes, burp cloths ect. (tell your husband this is where having a lot of clothes really helps:)

On the COOL things:
It took me a while to be able to enjoy having twins, and don't take that the wrong way. I adore and love my kids to death, but having two newborns to take care of at the exact same time wasn't fun for me. (I'm actually much more a toddler lover!) Now though, there are so many things I love about it!
1- You are now a member of an elite, loving, unsolicited advice giving club. The Twin Club. Everywhere you go you'll be stopped by someone who has twins, has twin grandkids, babysits twins ect. They will make you feel awesome and give you great tips! It's a great secret support group.
(*Then there will be the ones who stop you because they "basically" had twins, since their kids were 12 months apart, and you can just quietly laugh in your head at the obnoxiousness of that comment. Because, no, they didn't have twins).

2- You will feel like a celebrity (I can, like, totally relate to stars running from the paparazzi now:). Be prepared to be stopped by every old grandma, grandpa, kid, mother, father, worker, dog, tree. Everyone wants to see twins, tickle them, touch them, ask about them, and marvel (or pity!) you. Don't ever think you can just run quickly into a store with your twins in tow. You are now a full blown walking circus, for good reasons and bad (que three crying kids). It's actually really funny though. More fun than annoying usually. Get used to talking to strangers.

3- Something that kept me going, kept me trying my best, kept me smiling & positive was the idea and knowledge that I was given these babies for a reason. It could be a number of different reasons, most of which I'm sure I don't even know yet. But it must also be because God thinks I can do it. It gave me a great sense of purpose, and I felt a duty to make Him proud of me. Even when I felt so weak, and so incapable, I would think about this. If He has so much faith in me as a parent, I must be able to do it. It's been an amazing feeling!
4- Seeing the sweet bond between twins is nothing short of amazing. It will make the world seem perfect. I've seen this so much in my boys. Mostly in the way of Finn being the wonderful, protective older twin. When we first brought Tuck home (to Finn who had already been home for a month) he was really fussy. He would scream and cry in his crib at night, and we were in there frequently rocking him back to sleep. Finn would always wake up and peer over his crib to make sure Tuck was okay. He never cried to be rocked too, he just peers up to make sure we're going to help Tuck, and then as soon as Tuck is calm Finn lays back down and falls back asleep. If we needed to take Tuck out of the room for a breathing treatment in the middle of the night, Finn would cry and cry. Wyatt finally realized it was because he didn't know where Tuck was. As soon as we brought Finn out to see that Tuck was okay and just getting his medicine he would calm right down. It was so amazing. They are constantly kissing each other and babbling to each other. I wonder if they have their own language?

5- Friendship and service will take on a whole new meaning. This part is hard to even write, because I can't find the words. I've never ever felt service and real love from people like this. If I needed the help, I got it! Friends and neighbors came out of the woodworks to call, help, offer up anything they could and it humbled me so much. It made me think about the kind of friend I am, and how much work I still need to do. But, how thankful, incredibly thankful I am to them for showing me that. I really can't wait until I'm able to pay it forward.

And that, my friends, is twins in a very long nutshell. XOXO

*Let's open up the dialogue- if you have any other specific questions that I didn't answer, or if you have twin advice yourself chime in! Leave a comment, and I'll reply also.

49 comments:

  1. you are so amazing and these words are so eloquently written. what great "real" advice you have given. i want to write so much and say how much i loved this post. i loved it so much and i dont even have twins. but being a twin, my mom said it was the hardest and most precious gift. t & f are so lucky to have you as a mommy! just love you and so grateful to know you and wy. xoxo

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    1. Thanks Melissa, so much! I love you too, and you're one of those dear, rare friends that I am so thankful for. xoxo

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  2. i don't even know what to say. just sitting here crying. happy tears, because this was so sweet of you to get this written up right now, when you knew i needed it & nervous tears, too. thanks for being so honest and realistic and listing the good, the bad and everything in between. it already helps so much to have a friend i know i can turn to when i need advice. love you, chels.

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    1. Oh Jess, I do hope most of those tears are happy;) It's okay though if they aren't, really. I got advice from a friend who had twins before me, and honestly it kind of pissed me off because it was so negative. I'm really glad for it now though, it was what I needed to hear. I hope mine wasn't as bad though:) You are going to be just fine. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.... take each day, each hour, at a time.

      Of course, along the way, you know you can email me/call me if you need anything! If you find that you're having two boys, I'd love to pass along my stuff to you! We need to talk about what you might need/want and a way to get it to you. Really. Love you! xoxo

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  3. Interesting view points. Very personal. A lot of that is just having three (or more) kids though, not necessarily because they are twins, don't you think? Grocery stores, scheduling nap times, getting out of the house, etc.? Celebrity status and unsolicited advice comes whenever you have a cute baby with you (1 or 2). Kudos to you for feeling better and getting back to that good place in your life. Children are a blessing.

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    1. @anonymous- I actually don't think it's the same as having three kids (or more). Not harder or easier necessarily, but very different. The logistics of it all just present different problems. I don't doubt though, that having a new baby, an older baby, and another child is hard though:) But NO DOUBT I get stopped 10x more now that I have twins as opposed to when I just had Tate. You're right about the blessing part, the greatest blessing!

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    2. Lets keep the thinly veiled criticism to ourselves. Your comments aren't completely invalid, but pretty misplaced, no? This is a personal blog where the writer has taken time to very openly and candidly express her feelings about a very personal matter. It's not an op-ed column. That's not to say that opinions and viewpoints can't contribute to the conversation, but they may be better received without all the condescension. I guess that's easier to do as an anonymous poster though.

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    3. I'm sorry for the comment. I don't know you, and it's only my opinion. Perhaps what I was implying didn't come across well. I was merely trying to point out the commonalities of experiences between you with your twins and others with their children. I - a parent, but not of twins, have had similar experiences as you have with your twins. That's all. Obviously I can't relate to a lot of your trials and triumphs that pertain only to having multiples, and I shouldn't have presumed to. You are a good mother, that is clear, and I am sorry if I had offended you at all in my previous comment or this one.

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    4. Thank you for your apology. You're right, your comment, and what you were implying did not come off well (and not to just me, obviously). And it's OKAY that you can relate to me, I hope you do. It would have been nice to hear that without the condescension though. But I do appreciate you clearing it up, so thank you.

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  4. good grief, i could never imagine having twins. and you do it so well. i think parenting in general is a learning experience, and i think your advice will certainly help people, twins or not. very cute pictures too, as always. hope you're enjoying michigan!

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    1. I know right, parenting is a ride that's for sure:) Thanks Jessie! (or Paul, if this is you:) You too, hope Atlanta is treating you well. Almost done, right, almost done.

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  5. Chelsea-

    I wish I had your way with words... this post tugged at so many heartstrings for me- and I admire you even more now (as if that were possible). I don't even know you well and yet I feel like we're twin momma soul sisters because I've watched, read and admired how you've juggled these cute boys since day one, and done so with such grace! It's always helpful to have another twin mom out there to look up to, and although our situations are completely different... I think all twin moms (or multiples in general)share a common thread and can relate like no one else can.

    One thing that I didn't anticipate (as they get older) is how hard it is to teach and discipline two completely different babies w/ polor opposite personalities. The first few months my mantra was "how can I just get through today in one piece?" And now, it's a bit more technical ;). I now worry and hope that I'm present enough with them, that I'm teaching them while still paying attention to their individual needs. You know?

    Anyways, thank you thank you. Hopefully I'll have the time and courage to write my thoughts down soon- if nothing more than my own record.

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  6. Chelsea, you're so talented and beautiful and honest and I really love the person you show you are. And it turns out, even though our lives are so, so different, my last year (suddenly single parenting) can relate to so many things you've written. I always leave here impressed and wanting to be great friends. "Hooray" for you!

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    1. Ditto Kelly, on the great friends part! Pretty sure that's gonna happen, at some point or another. At least I hope! Thank you so much for your kind words. It always seems posts like these bring women together, right? No matter your situation, you can relate to some degree, especially on the emotional aspect of things. And Hooray for you too, impressive doesn't begin to describe the grace with which you handle things. xo

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  7. chelsea, you can be sure i'm going to go easy on you AS SHOULD EVERYONE WHO READS THIS. you poured your heart into this post and it's a good one. i am bookmarking it for future use if (ahh!) i ever should find out i am expecting twins.

    i had no idea you were feeling any of this. i mean, a blog shows like 1% of real life, right? i think it's so good to put this out there and twins or no twins, you're helping moms all over the place.

    i've thought you seem like a pretty stellar mom and i'm even more convinced after reading this.

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    1. Bridget, if you have twins we are FOR SURE figuring out a way to get you on Oprah! (or one of her channels:). That would just be too crazy.

      You know, I wanted for a long time to talk about real life with twins, but I try hard to keep my blog positive, I just like to focus on the good, funny, and happy for the blog (and keep the real/ hard times private for the most part). I'm glad I did it though. It was therapeutic to write and think about, and mostly I really did it for a dear friend who just found out she's expecting two, and has real fears about it, just like I did. I wanted to let her know as happy as I usually am, I ALSO had/have those fears too. You're SO right about a blog showing 1% of life. I like to show the good, but there's plenty of "realness" going on too:)

      I don't know about stellar mom, but really, that is so nice of you. Thank you so much, really Bridget. xo

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  8. and the milk going bad?! soooo angry. i can't even imagine.

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  9. Chels, you truely nailed it. I could not have said it better myself. I could relate on so many levels. You are an inspiration to us all. I think of the most (if not the most important things you did) was what you did for little Tate! If I could go back and redo something I wish I could have spent more time with my older kids. I love how your sister was there for her and gave her the attention you could not. I personally love holding babies and I felt like I knew what my twins needed more than anybody else "Mother knows best" but at the same time they are not going to remember who held them or fed them all the time. I wish I could of given my older 3 a little more of my undivided attention, patients and love.

    Love you Chels and think this post was terrific!

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    1. Lars- I'm sure your older kids were jut fine. Let's be honest here- you're really kind of a super mom. I really STILL don't know how you do it. Thank you so much, as always, for your tips, advice, and endless help. Love you so much!!

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  10. Oh Chels- you are a beautiful soul. What a wonderful post! It kind of makes me wish I had documented my own story this way...maybe I'll have to do just that. I agree whole-heartedly with everything you said. I especially love the part about the sudden celebrity status. Isn't it crazy how much attention you get?? Most people are so sweet/kind. Others are downright inappropriate. Um no, I don't think I want to discuss my sexual history with you, thank you very much.

    Now to address the comment left by Anonymous... I don't think your post was offensive at all. And your response to her was so kind. I was a little more angry for you (and I was glad to see that Wy was too). I have experienced the same sort of thing in my life. I think just being a mother of multiples, by its very nature, somehow leads some singleton mothers to feeling like you are trying to one-up them in some way. I have learned that I can't talk too much about it, or vent my frustrations very often, because for some reason it leads to insecurity in others. And my point is never to say that my life is harder than anyone else's. I know that ALL moms are busy regardless of how many kids they have and what ages they are. Being a mother of multiples is simply a different experience. Not better, not worse, just different. Many parenting strategies overlap, but many do NOT. People are so kind in their comments, like "I don't know how you do it" and "You're amazing." But the truth is, I'm not amazing. I don't have any special sort of parenting wisdom. I struggle to try to figure it out day in and day out just like everyone else. And I'm pretty sure that if the people making those comments were given my same situation they could do it even better than I do. In fact, I've often said that multiples are really hard for the first few years, but probably easier once they get to preschool age. Who knows? It's comparing apples to oranges because it's just a different experience. And yes, it's a "club" because it IS so different and we need each other to swap hints and strategies. Just like 'having adopted kids' is a club or 'having a child with a terminal illness' is a club or 'being a single parent' is a club. Nothing is harder or easier than the other. Just different. (Okay maybe the 'child with a terminal illness' is harder...I'll give them that.) We all have our own challenges/triumphs and you were just trying to share yours from your perspective, which you did most eloquently.

    You're awesome Chels! So glad you are part of the "club" and willing to share your insights with us!

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    1. Erin, you nailed it. Everything! You are so eloquent. I never could quite put my finger on it, but I think you're right on about the singleton mothers/ multiple mothers and the one-uping. That IS why it bothers me so much when people say "oh, I basically had twins too because mine are so close". Because, why can't people just acknowledge that it is very different. Not better, worse, harder, easier, - just different. And SPOT on too about the club thing, it's just another club, among many.

      I love it all, and love you! Thank you for so proudly validating me, and ALWAYS helping me along the way. You're the first mom of twins I knew, and I saw it done so well! xoxo, see you soon!

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  11. I just found this via pinterest. I'm so glad you wrote it. I sat here reading it all while nodding my head in agreement. You are so right on with everything! I'm surprised how many things I did/do that are the same as you! Great post and I look forward to following your blog :)

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    1. Hi! Thanks for commenting:) See the twin club is in action here too:) I love it! How old are your twins? Any other tips I've missed that are a MUST for new moms?

      xo

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    2. I have boy/girl twins that just turned 1. I have to say, I'm still sort of waiting for the clouds to part. They are soo hard right now. They are going through a super clingy phase right now and a lot of times they don't want anyone but me, not grandma or even dad sometimes! If a stranger talks to them (which happens all the time because of the adorable twin thing) forget about it...they both break down crying and cling to me. So that means no one can babysit for us and it's tough! I really hope this is a phase!
      I think you covered everything I could possibly think of and even more! It looks like so many are already benefitting from this post :)

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  12. I feel very strong the anonymous person clearly does not have twins or multiples. There for it is merely impossible for them to relate. I think your perspective and cute wording of being a celebrity was spot on! Sure you get comments with just one child but the novelty of twins is still so exciting to people who can relate or just want to say something kind. I forgot to mention your advice has completely helped my little sister whom is pregnant with triplets. Thanks again for sharing!

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  13. I love love LOVED this post! I have a four year old daughter and 20 month old twin girls, and your thoughts about all things twins were spot on. Like your other comments, I was nodding my head the whole time. Thank you! It's lovely to know there's more of us out there!

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    1. Janelle I just clicked over to your blog and your kids are just adorable! It's so good for me to hear, too, that you felt the same things. I'm NOT the only one who went crazy:) Good luck to you and yours, and thanks so much for your words.

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  14. Wow Chelsea, thank you so much for sharing all of that with us! I love that you were real and didn't sugar coat it. I'm always so interested in how moms do it, and I loved learning about how you did it with the twins and tate. You are so amazing! Twins are in my family and I have always feared having them, so reading this was great! I love keeping up with your blog!!

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    1. Watch out for those twins Shannon! :) Just kidding. Thank you for being so kind!

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  15. I really loved this post. Although I don't have twins I felt like I could relate to some of your emotions. What I love is how real this post is. So many times when I read blogs I think that the blogger must have the perfect life and don't see their real side. I love that you shared all real feelings and emotions. Helps me to remember you never know exactly what someone is feeling or facing behind doors at home and to be kind.

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    1. Exactly. I am one of those bloggers, I think, that has a hard time talking about the "real life" side of things. I really like to just post about happy/funny/or neat memories. But this one HAD to be done, and I'm so glad I did share it:) Thanks Mel!

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  16. Love you. Maybe I should stop praying for twins now...I'm not sure I could handle it.

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    1. Love you too:) You could handle it, but I still think you're crazy for praying for them:) xoxo

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  17. It was interesting for me to read the experiences of another twin mother. I had identical twin boys about 18 months ago. I was literally out cutting down trees and working 10 hour days up until the day I went into labor . . . ten weeks early. It took a lot to get over the massive, massive guilt I felt over having an emergency C-section at 30 weeks. Why didn't I just listen to people about taking it easy? Why did I ignore how tired I always felt from working so much? So I can relate to your feelings about the NICU, going to Ikea that day, etc., because it doesn't matter what anyone tells you -- you have to wonder if anything that you did is what caused them to come early. Especially if there are resulting problems (and one of mine did, a Grade III brain bleed).

    My kids were in the NICU for 2 months. I did the same thing you did with pumping and having other people help me bottle feed them. I didn't get anywhere near as much milk as you did, and we became fast friends with that yellow can of premium, super expensive neo-natal formula and the hand blender. I'd be so mad for doing all that pumping you did and then losing it. RAGE!! You were probably so tired at the time but you pumped it anyway and for nothing. DOUBLE RAGE!!!

    And yeah, unless you actually have twins, you can't say it's the same thing as having two kids. It's two same-age babies who both need your undivided attention and it's always a cost-benefit analysis of who gets what this time and who has to wait. Every time you bathe one baby, you're not finished. You've got to do the other. Change one, then go change the other one. Put one in the car, then go put the other in the car. Strap two in the stroller, take two car seats everywhere the stroller can't go, and on, and on, and ON! Don't even get me started on when they both start walking.

    Thanks for writing this. You are so not alone. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Tuck's situation. I have come to a resolution on my guilt issues and sure, I'd like a do-over if I could have one. Life just doesn't work that way and you just focus on being grateful that things weren't worse.

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    1. Oh the guilt, it's so awful. I'm so glad you have made peace with it. For the most part, I have too, but a do-over would be nice:). I'll always wonder, but there is nothing I can do now but love them to pieces and try my best. I was naive. Most my friends/families babies have always been perfectly healthy, and I guess i just didn't think that I could do anything to harm them. I don't smoke or do drugs, never have, and I am a healthy eater. I was naive at just HOW fragile they are when they're growing. Tuck had a grade II brain bleed, and has since been monitored for hydrocephalus. I think he's okay there though. He has a whole slew of other problems though, most of which we're working out, but some that he'll most likely have his whole life (like physical therapy).

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, I really appreciated hearing about it! xo

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  18. I stumbled across your blog some time ago and have been reading here and there and I CANNOT thank you enough for this. Your timing is perfect. I found out 2 days ago-at my 19 week ultrasound-that I am expecting boy/girl twins. We also have no family history and were not on any drugs. My son is barely two and I am so scared and overwhelmed I hardly know what to do. Reading this was eye opening and helpful and I really appreciate your honesty. It helps to know that you felt the same way I did when finding out.

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    1. Oh Katie, what a sweet reader you are. Congratulations (because really, I promise it is something to be congratulated for!) !!! Finding out at 19 weeks- that's insane!!! Why did it take that long, do you know? I'm sure you are incredibly overwhelmed, and for good reason. If I can help in any other way, or if you have any other specific questions don't hesitate to ask- if I can answer them for you I'd be happy to. Good Luck & I hope you keep in touch along the way...
      xo
      Chelsea

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  19. I don't personally know you, but feel like we could be friends after reading this great post! I had my twin boys when my first baby boy was only 21 months old. I went into labor on my third wedding anniversary! To say we made babies fast was an understatement! I felt so many of the same things you did on finding out and preparing for them. Luckily I didn't have to go on bedrest and the nicu stay was less than a week but boy howdy do I relate to your postpartum feelings!!! So so so relate! I just wish I had been on my med from the beginning instead of when the twins were 6 months old. They are two now and life is so much easier! Thanks for this post. Twins really do teach you a lot- mostly humility for me! But what a great blessing they are! I couldn't imagine having them in our life now!

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    1. Wow, that is fast! But very cool too:) It's actually really good to hear you say it's easier now that they're two. Mine are 14 months now, and just the last week or so, have become twice as hard. I can't figure out what's going on (maybe I'm pms-ing:), but I hope this isn't what our future will look like! ha.

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  20. Thank you so so much for this! It made me giggle and cry! I'm 35 weeks with twin girls, and that first paragraph about your initial feelings is EXACTLY how I felt/still feel. It never crossed my mind that i'd ever have twins, and now that I am so many people tell me they've always wanted twins... So I wonder what is wrong with me!? I feel so bad not being completely thrilled and excited (really, ive only felt excited a handful of.times) This was the PERFECT POST. I feel lile i'm so much that same way with needing a routine and.a way to be totally organized. I really like your way of pumping and bottle feeding them.your milk. The whole nursing two babies has probably been my biggest worry.

    Anyway, thanks so much for your honesty and I can tell you are an amazing mother!!
    Much love,
    Shawna Wilson

    Ps... I know your cute sister in laws -dru and eve!

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    1. Oh my gosh- What is wrong with me, is exactly how I felt too!! I didn't view twice the babies as twice the luck, or blessing, or what ever (at the time). And 35 weeks- THAT'S AWESOME!!! I wish you all the best, and of course, feel free to email me if you have any specific questions:)

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  21. Hi there, remember when we were newly weds and I was your visiting teacher...seems like ages ago. Anyways I have always read your blog and love it. I completely admire you. You are such a great mom! We just had our first, Scarlett, 3 1/2 months, and my world has been turned upside down. Even though I don't have twins, it's so nice to read that all moms are going through this! She was in the NICU also and I love that you listened to your mom instinct. I had to also. They wanted me to breastfeed her and she just wouldn't between her oxygen and everything else she went through. Even when we were close to coming home I was firm and she loved her bottle. Moms know best. And I got over being overwhelmed with pumping, I thought when we got her home she would nurse but oh well. I didn't need her to nurse to bond...and I love that Phil can feed her. Isn't it amazing that we have these wonderful husbands who take care of babies! This is turning into a novel, but I just wanted to say hi. Hope you guys are well. I secretly wish that Brooke will marry my brother! Love, Mandy
    PS i LOVE your house, all you do with decorating!

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  22. The link to the book you said you read isn't working, can you tell us what it was? Do you think it is helpful?

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    1. I just noticed that too, sorry about that! I wouldn't rave about it necessarily, but I did like it and found it to be helpful. I was clueless when it came to the ins and outs of twins, so anything helped. I just went to Barnes and Noble and picked what looked like the best one.

      I'll fix the link, but here it is for you:)

      http://www.amazon.com/Twins-Pregnancy-Birth-Second-Edition/dp/0060742194

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  23. hey chels,
    I just wanted to say thanks so much for taking the time to write out this beautiful, thought out post. I really resonated with the part that you talked about dreading hearing their cries. i went through that with my first, (Owen) and I remember that actual word...dread. I dreaded the mornings, because i knew that i was going to have to start all over again- one endless, mindless, thankless day of absolutely nothing that i wanted to do. it was a time filled with guilt and difficulty. i seriously can NOT imagine having that multiplied times two, + 1! As you know though, the cloud does lift, and i really appreciate you letting us look into your life. from the outside, it's hard to imagine that it's not always perfect at your house. it is so nice to know that moms are not alone, and we can share war stories and uplift each other. You are so beautiful, and i know you were given twins for a reason. such a special thought to help keep you going!!! xx

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    1. Hello Dear! Long time, long time since I've seen/heard from you. I've missed hearing about you:) I was so nervous to put this out there for a few reasons and you (and others) have made me feel so much better about it. I wanted to help out other moms who might be having the same feelings, but it's also helped me SO much in hearing how not-alone I am in my thoughts. I never had these feelings with Tate, so I felt even worse that I had them with the boys.
      The other reason that made me nervous (and this one is always hard to articulate) is that I'm always "the happy one". You know how people are given titles. Some girls are the skinny ones, and they fear gaining weight, some are the pretty ones, and they fear aging, some girls are the successful ones, and they fear failing. Well, I'm the happy one, and I was scared to let people know that I wasn't "happy". I felt like I had to keep it all in, and keep on the happy face. Of course, I put this on myself, it was no one else. But it feels great to be open.
      I still like being the happy/fun girl, and I like showing that side of our life on the blog because it's those memories I like to look back on/remember, which is why I have my blog in the first place. So even though I highlight the best on my blog, it's certainly not because it's all rainbows and butterflies around here:)

      Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. I really would love to meet you someday! xo
      Chels

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  24. Hi, Chelsea! I'm a little late to this post, but I'm due with twins in April. I have a question about the snap-and-go for you. Can you snap in any carseat? I haven't been to the store to register yet, so I'm sure someone could help me there, but thought I'd ask you! Thanks for taking the time to write all of that out and being so honest. I have to admit, it makes me more nervous to hear how all you did was keep your babies alive somedays, but I think I already knew that deep down :) I'm glad to read everything you wrote. Hope you're doing well! --Emily

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  25. I found your blog through a Pinterest post and THANK YOU! I am 9 weeks pregnant with twins and have a very rambunctious 19 month old who will be a little over two years old when these beautiful babies make their way into the world...if all goes according to plan! Can I just say your post is the most amazing thing I've read since finding out we are having twins! You are so honest and heart warming about your life and your experiences! You make it ok to feel scared and overwhelmed and 100% freaked out and all I can say is thank you! It is so comforting to know that there are other woman out there that feel the same way and to know those feelings are ok! I needed this today so again from the bottom of my heart thank you!! ;)

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