January 17, 2016

Twinning!

By Crissa
Introduced by Amy

Friends! Long time, no blog. I have definitely been forced to choose priorities for the past 9 months, cause, thanks to a busy three-year-old and one-year-old, as well as a case of pregnancy-induced hypothyroidism, I have been EXHAUSTED. So, I've only focused on accomplishing three things: keep my boys from killing each other, cooking more dinners, and slowly working on decorating our new house. But, my baby will be here soon, soon, soon (I'm so excited!...And terrified!) so in the spirit of pregnancy, babies, and being overwhelmed (haha) I'm sharing a post written by my friend, Crissa, who is a momma of 4 kids, including twins. Crissa's older brother was one of my best guy friends in high school. (One of a few guys I was actually comfortable with...I had some pretty bad anxiety about guys and dating!) I spent a lot of time hanging out at their house, watching random movies (Monty Python stands out...what a glorious classic!) and eating M&Ms. They had a big, fun family, with kids close together in age...therefore, my buddy's sisters, Crissa and DaNae also become good friends.

I'm in awe of Crissa's experience carrying, delivering, and raising twins, while caring for two other kiddios. (Kinda puts my own third trimester misery into perspective!) I'm excited she was willing to share a peek into her life with us! :)
-Amy
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Hi! I’m Crissa Butler. 

I got my bachelors degree at BYU-Idaho in Art with a photography emphasis. I once thought I wanted to run a “photo” daycare (daycare that also focuses on capturing the moments of the kids, and making some sort of photo book or something to send home with the parents), but I now know that a daycare business would not be my cup of tea, or hot chocolate... I LOVE hot chocolate, way more than tea. ;) I have been married to my best friend and forever love, James, for a little over 7 years, and love this fun adventure we are sharing together.

Two years ago, we received some of the craziest, but also some of the most wonderful news that would change our lives forever: we would be having twins. We now have 4 little people ranging from 6 years down to 20 months that we are so grateful to be able call ours. This is our story.

When I was 6 weeks along, my husband and I ran in the Grand Teton Relay. I was pretty sure I would be pregnant when I committed to it, but wanted to do a relay like that so bad, and really wanted to get into shape. Over the span of less than 24 hours, I ran (if I remember right) around 14.1 miles (only throwing up 2 or 3 times!). I was never big into running before, but sometimes I wonder if it’s because I was in such great shape that we ended up with twins… It wasn’t really a statistical thing that I would end up with twins: I’m a small, possibly underweight, not-really-in-my-genes gal.

When we did the GT Relay, I was somewhat showing… mostly just the “I look a bit fatter/bigger than normal.” But I was ONLY 6 weeks. I didn’t usually show very early, and I got big much faster this time. James and I discussed the, “What if it’s twins?!” early on, but I pushed that aside after having the first ultrasound at 12 weeks. Not long after, my dad asked me how far along I was. I asked him (obviously unfairly) how far along he thought I was. His response was much higher than I actually was… possibly even halfway! WHAAA? We may or may not have discussed the possibility of twins at that time, but the memory has faded somewhat for some reason.

On November 25, at just over 20 weeks, and three days before Thanksgiving, our little family went in for the gender ultrasound. I was told to drink a BUNCH of water beforehand so that my bladder was nice and full for the ultrasound. We waited for what seemed like FOREVER in the waiting room. When we finally got back, I was prepped for the ultrasound, and my Dr. came in and said, “I hear you’re quite uncomfortable right now…” I’m like, “Yeah… I might pee all over this table!” He got the ultrasound monitor going, and we were all looking at the screen, and he stopped for a second and said, “Have we done an ultrasound on you yet?” I was like, “Yes, I was about 12 weeks…” James and I both knew something must be up… He said, “Well… how do you feel about two babies?” We both said something like, “Are you serious?!” With another response soon afterwards from me, “We’re gonna have to get a new car!” On the monitor that day, all we saw were two little baby heads, along with my VERY full bladder! The doctor left the room, and allowed me to relieve myself before we went in his office to ask any questions we had.

After we received the news, we both had smiles of shock and excitement. So many feelings and thoughts ran through our heads, and we were mostly quiet… unsure of how to express what we were feeling. The OB sent us to a specialist who we hoped we could see that week, but I ended going myself to see 8 days later to find out we would be having 2 boys, and they were both healthy. Even now we sometimes look at our boys and say, “Do we seriously have twins?! Are you really twins?”


It’s kind of hard to explain the hardest things and the best things. There was SO much hard for the first year—especially the first 6 months. When my boys were newborn and little, it was hard to balance between taking care of my two girls and giving them enough attention, and all the demands that TWO newborns bring. My girls were really young when the boys were born, so they weren’t able to help as much as if I had had at least one of them a little bit older to help out more. I was grateful that my girls loved playing together, because they are so good at entertaining themselves, that it helped (and sometimes still helps) me to not feel so guilty when I couldn’t give them as much attention when I needed to take care of the boys. We are at a pretty good stage right now. The hardest part is probably how busy all of our kids are—the boys are into everything! Going out feels pretty crazy. However, the boys are starting to talk more and more, and all of our kids play together. I absolutely love watching the boys interact because they are so different from girls, and they are also best friends and worst enemies. There is always some craziness to each day, but I love that our kids will always be good friends because of their closeness in age.

A lot of people say that their transition from 2-3 was the hardest, and I had a few people tell me that their transition from 3-4 was the very hardest. When we found out it was twins, I was like, “Well, great! We get all of that!” I know that might sound super pessimistic, but I was just SO nervous for when they’d actually come. I know that other moms have talked about being nervous for a new baby to come, and since we found out over halfway through my pregnancy that we were actually having twins instead of just one baby, I wasn’t sure if I would have handled it better if we had known earlier… I think it was more of a blessing to not know (for sure) before that. James and I say it was probably one of the most difficult transitions from 2 straight to 4 with our oldest being 4.5 years old. None of our kids were old enough to do a ton to help out, although Kiely did help out probably more than most 4.5 year olds would.

When the boys were born, Charlotte had a cold, had been replaced as “baby” by the boys, and we didn’t let her to get very close to, or to hold the babies for probably a couple of weeks! That was so hard. She and Kiely were (and still are) like best friends, so that eased the burden there a little bit. For the first 6 months, my days were filled with diaper changing, feeding babies, pumping to feed babies, washing bottles, rocking babies, and an occasional story or watching a movie with my girls. I am grateful for my girls being willing to help out in the ways that they could, and being patient with me.

I am especially grateful for my husband, who after a long day, would come home and help with cleaning, making dinner, or taking the girls on walks/to the park. I know I couldn’t make it without him!

Probably the most difficult thing for me was feeling stuck. Going out was (still is somewhat, but not NEAR as much) a chore. Occasionally, people would invite us to the park, or to different things, but most of the time, it felt like it would be more stressful than it would relieve any stress. Every once in a while, my in-laws would call on a Sunday afternoon, or my mother-in-law on a random day would call, and they would come down and watch the kids while James and I went to the park to go for a walk for maybe an hour, and sometimes, on those evenings during the week, we’d stop on our way back home and get an ice cream cone. Looking back, those mini-dates were so needed for both of us, but especially me. It was so refreshing to get out, get a little exercise, and have some adult-conversation with my sweetheart on topics other than kids and babies.

To quote from one of my journal entries from April of this year, “This past year (plus a little) has been one of—if not THE hardest of my life. It’s also something that not many understand. Doubling your kids from 2 to 4 is NOT easy! That has probably been one of my biggest battles. Having one baby after you have another child is tough to figure out—figuring out how to take care of both, giving them both the attention they need—but then doubling that by adding two more babies is a whole different ball park! I still have people say all the time to me, “I don’t know how you do it!” or “I don’t know how you get anything else done!” to which I say, “I don’t know either!” We have definitely gotten out more this year as a family and it has been so NICE to not feel stuck in our little apartment. When we are at home, things are kind of crazy, but we find little moments that we just savor, and those are what help get us through the rest.

As for labor and delivery, I don’t think I progressed a whole lot before the boys were born. I honestly don’t remember what stage I was at at my last appointment… But I definitely was sore! I felt ready to be done being pregnant when I was around 30 or so weeks. I was sore everywhere, especially my lower back and of course my belly… My belly sat on the chair with me when I was sitting, and I still had baby in my ribs. When I did walk, I waddled horribly. I’m pretty sure my pelvic bone got cracked, which is not cool. One of the craziest things about having twins for me, was that twins automatically define your pregnancy as “high-risk.” By the end of my pregnancy, I had 2-3 doctor appointments a week in Idaho Falls, and we live in Blackfoot (half an hour away). It was winter, and those drives weren’t my favorite sometimes… and honestly, by the end, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch/in my chair, and relax. I was never put on heavy bed rest, but was told to “take it easy.” I couldn’t sweep, mop, vacuum, or unload the dishwasher. I really couldn’t even wash the table very easily by the end. It felt crazy, but I relied a lot on my 4.5 year old for help. It was when we found out that we were having twins that we realized why Kiely came first. She is a GREAT big sister and helper.

Throughout my pregnancy, one thing that caused a little bit of stress for me was deciding what was best for me and the babies—should I try to have a “natural” pregnancy, or should I just have a C-section. I did NOT want to have both! I prayed so much to try to figure out what to do. The questions were over around 36 weeks and 5 or 6 days—I got a call from my OB, and he told me that after talking with the specialist, they decided I would for sure be having a C-section, and asked if I wanted to go in on Friday or Tuesday. At first, I said Friday! I was ready to be done in so many ways, and just wanted to have our babies here! After speaking with my husband and thinking about it, I called the nurse and told her to change it to Tuesday… We decided it might be a good idea to have a little more than 36 hours to really prepare to have them.

Hyrum James and Isaac Bryce were born at 37 weeks and 4 days. Both boys were healthy, and neither had to spend time in the NICU. After the boys were born, my OB told us that he was really glad we took the route that we did. Otherwise, we may have had a “scary situation.” When twins are born, there is always double staff (two doctors, two nurses, etc.) So after they delivered the first baby, the second doctor had to climb on the table, and may have even sat on me to pull the second baby out! I’m not exactly sure what was going on inside, but maybe that little guy just wanted to stay nice and warm inside of me still, or something. That day was a crazy day. Trying to figure out how to take care of two babies while drugged up with some serious pain meds wasn’t exactly fun. I fell asleep so easily, which made visits from family interesting. People would talk to me, and I’d go to respond, and fall asleep mid-sentence.


Recovery from the C-section was way different than a vaginal birth. In some ways, because I had so much baby in me, I felt like I was recovering from both… we are so grateful that we received so much help during that time.

I can honestly say, I can’t exactly describe what the first few days at home were like, except extremely hard and crazy! My husband took a few days off from work, and we also had our mothers, as well as women from our ward (congregation) at church come and help me during the day after James went back to work for 2-3 weeks. We also had meals brought from women in our ward for 3 weeks! That was so amazing, and I don’t know if I can adequately share how grateful we were for that. I had studied a lot about twins during my down time during pregnancy, and also spoke with some other moms of twins… since I couldn’t clean the house or anything during the day. I had read and also told that it was good to have come people help, but when they come to help, have them clean your house, make freezer meals/dinner for the night, play with the other kids, etc. But my main focus was to be on the twins. I tried my best to do that, but my failure was probably partially in delivery of the message of what I wanted help with. Some women wanted to come just to help with/hold the babies. I was grateful for all the help I received, though, and grateful for the small naps that I got during those days.

The hardest part of the first few days was figuring out what was best for my boys and me as far as feeding, so that we could get the sleeping thing down. I knew they needed to be on a schedule, but also figuring out how to feed them was rough-- I tried nursing them at the same time (which only sort of worked for me), nursing one at a time (which I realized wasn’t an option if I wanted to do anything else for the next year), bottle feeding one while breast-feeding the other, and then ultimately, I chose to pump and bottle-feed both while supplementing with formula when needed. I got a great routine down, and my husband would get up a couple times at night with me to feed the boys for most of the first 6 weeks. After that, he was getting so worn-down, and was tired at work, so we both decided that I was getting the hang of things, so he didn’t need to get up any more, unless I really needed his help.

I fed the boys every 3 hours at first, and then adjusted their schedule as time went on. Yes. I even set an alarm at night. I’m not sure if many people would understand that, but I had to keep them on schedule, even at night, or it would mess up the schedule for the next day or two. Schedules (especially the first year) with twins—and at this point, I would say babies in general—are really important. Having a schedule helped them sleep better, and I got a routine down, where I could pump and bottle feed them at the same time, so I was only up with them for half an hour, and I could get 2.5 hours of sleep in-between each feeding. Eventually, they slept like champions, and were my best sleepers the earliest. Unfortunately, they have fallen out of that habit, and most nights, at least one of them wakes up… I’m working on trying to fix that! ;)

My schedule during the day is often dependent on how my boys slept the night before, for which I’m somewhat grateful that I can be flexible. My husband got a new job within the past few months, and I get up at 5am with him every day to get his lunch ready, give him breakfast (even if it may be cold cereal most days…), and then I either go back to bed for an hour or two, or I get some personal time to get ready and get things done that I want/need to without any of my kids awake. When the kids wake up (which doesn’t seem to be a regular schedule, which I suppose I’m mostly ok with), I feed them breakfast, shower if I hadn’t gotten to that yet (if I slept in), get my kids ready for the day, play with them, read to them, help Kiely with homework, then make lunch and send Kiely off to school. After Kiely leaves, I finish feeding the boys if they didn’t eat all their food yet, and then put them down for a nap. After that, it’s usually “Charlotte and mom time.” We clean, read, play, make cookies, watch movies, etc.! I love this time with her, because before this, she rarely, if ever, got one-on-one time with me. (Sometimes I have other things to do, so I find things to keep her busy by herself—painting, watching a show, etc.)





The boys will nap for 1.5-3 hours, depending on the day. When they wake up, depending on what time it is, Charlotte will either go play with them while I get a few other things done around the house, or I get them up so that we can pick up Kiely from the bus stop. When we get home, I give the boys (and sometimes the girls) a snack to stave them off until dinner, while I make dinner. Maybe someday I’ll be good at slow-cooker meals… I seem to always forget to defrost things, or to put them in on time. I try to have dinner ready between 5-5:30, but sometimes it’s not ready until 6. James gets home from work at 5:20 everyday, and it’s so nice when we can just sit down and eat as soon as he gets home. I have been trying to get my kids on an earlier bedtime. It used to be 8:30, but because of James’ work schedule, I’ve been trying to get them to bed between 7:30 and 8 so that we can have some alone time and get to bed ideally by 9 or 9:30.



My advice to any momma who is expecting twins:

-Rest as much as you can while you’re pregnant—those first few weeks (or months…) are difficult… I don’t think it will make up for the sleep you’ll lose, but you’ll just be glad you did it when you did!

-Decide how you will feed your babies now—it might make the first few days a bit easier. (*I know that some women can’t breast feed for one reason or another, or simply choose not to. Some may not know if they can or not, because this might be their first pregnancy. Pumping with supplementing helped me SO much, because I knew what my babies were getting, and I knew they were getting enough.

-If you’re going to breastfeed: have a GOOD double electric pump (Most insurances will cover this, so check with your insurance to see if they will. Ours didn’t, but luckily my sister had one that she let us borrow. Here’s a similar one: Medela Advanced Breast Pump.

-Have a schedule! I know some moms who were okay with on-the-fly naps/feedings, and I was totally more like that with my first two, but I had 2 other kids besides my twins, and having a schedule helped me and them stay sane. It also allows you, if you’re brave enough, to know that you can leave the house with your babies for X amount of time without needing to feed your babies.

-What you do for one, you do for the other at the same time(ish): change diapers, (whether the other one’s diaper is dirty or not—I did this early on, but not always), rock, burp, feed, etc. This was advice that I got from a stellar twin mom who did an amazing job with her twins (she also had her twins as #3 and #4 in the same amount of time as me).

-Be willing to lean on others. Accept their help when it’s offered. I’m not the best at this, but I almost ALWAYS regret it when I don’t. Not necessarily because when I didn’t, the task I was performing was more difficult, but because I love giving others the chance to serve, and why decline that from them, and not allow them the blessings that come from serving.

-If you have other children: take a moment with them when you can, especially while your babies are little. Once you get out of the really tough stage, your other kid(s) will be bigger, and things won’t be the same, so cherish the moments you have with each child.

-Do what everyone else says to do: make a bunch of freezer meals! I did NOT, and regretted it sometimes. They would have made it much easier on many occasions.

My advice on how others can support a new mother of twins?

-In connection with breastfeeding, if you did/do have an “ample supply” and never had multiples, don’t brag about it. That was something hard for me to hear sometimes, because I DIDN’T have that huge supply. When others would say what a large supply they had (often depending on how they said it, such as, “I had enough milk to feed a herd of cows!” Me in my head: “Well, good for you… thanks for lowering me, because I really can’t even supply the full amount for my two infant children!”). It really doesn’t matter if a mother feeds her baby breast or bottle… we all know the saying, “breast is best,” but really, that’s not always the best option, or even a possible option.

-Don’t doubt her abilities, but also offer help. After finding out we were having twins, ALL THE TIME, I heard, “How are you going to do it?!” How was I supposed to know?! I just knew that God sent us two babies, and because of that, I’d be able to do it. (*Please don’t think that I think that if you don’t have twins that you would be unable to carry or care for them, but that that was just something I held in my heart that was a strength to me…) I also got lots of help in different ways. Sometimes friends or family would take my girls to let them play while I took the boys to appointments, or just stayed home and rested with them. People would stop to see how I was doing, help out at church, etc.

-Think before you say. Many moms get weird comments, but moms of multiples get lots of weird things said to them. I know people get excited to talk to them about their babies, but just think about what you ask/say before you say it… I’ll just leave it at that.

-If you are going to a baby shower/throwing a shower for a mom of twins/multiples: Diapers/wipes are great gifts! Twins/multiples go through TONS! (The first couple months: 18-20+ A DAY—that’s roughly 600 or more a month.)




There is so much more I could say, but I know this is already long. Twins are tough, but they are definitely more of a blessing. If you are a mom to twins or expecting twins, the greatest advice I’ve gotten, and have to tell myself frequently, is to enjoy each happy moment. There is SO much hard, but try to just envelop yourself in the small, happy moments.

Lastly, twins, just like kids, don’t necessarily just all of a sudden get “easier.” Things may get easier in one area, but are difficult in other areas. So enjoy each stage as you can. Everyone will give you his or her opinions, as I have shared some of mine, but do what works for you. Find the groove for you and your family, and roll with it, adjusting as necessary!

-Crissa

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Um, wow. Being a momma is always hard work, but all that goes into caring for twins just kinda blew my mind. You are amazing, Crissa!

I hope you enjoyed Crissa's post! Once again, I'm amazed by another normal momma doing everyday things to make an incredible impact on the lives of her family. It takes courage, a pile of patience, plenty of prayer, and a lot of support for each other.

So, other mommas of multiples, what did you totally relate to? Anything to add? And everyone else, as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts! :) Do any of you wish you could have twins? I know a good friend who dealt with infertility for years, so when she found out after going through IVF that she was pregnant with twins, she was ecstatic! :)

Have a fab week, friends. Next time I talk to you, I'll be a momma of three. YIKES! Haha...Love to you all! :)








3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing Crissa. Not only is it touching but because it is realistic, it will be so helpful to others. Love you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing Crissa. Not only is it touching but because it is realistic, it will be so helpful to others. Love you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love it! I'm glad to read this just to know my sister, Crissa, a little more.

    Thanks for writing this, Crissa, and thanks for posting, Amy.

    ReplyDelete

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