I'm a big fan of my niece's handicraft works. A few years ago, she introduced me to plushies after making heaps and giving it away as presents. She's now into crochets. Crochet blankets, crochet beanies, crochet toys and the likes. At 14, she taught herself all these by watching YouTube videos (where else!). Along with my sis who has been crafting for years and the main driver behind gathering the kids together for crafting activities, we started Makers Barn as a family side project, with involvement from the youngest @ 6 years old to 14 years old. Below are a few snapshots of a few work-in-progress items, all beautifully hand sewn.
Never in my life would I have thought that I will have twins. My initial reaction (apart from shock) was a pragmatic one - where do we find space to house TWO babies at the same time in our small duplex apartment? We still grapple with that - today they are still sleeping in the same cot in our room (no space for 2 cots). A bit of a stretch now, given I woke up this morning to see one wriggling on top of the other.
This whole raising twins thing feels a bit like being thrown into the deep end of the pool - you just have to keep swimming to stay afloat. Thoughts on raising twins? Sure have. Here goes:
- Get on a schedule
I swear by this. It might not be the case if I have a single baby at a time, but with 2, having somewhat of a schedule keeps everyone (the babies and us) happy. Babies seem to thrive on routines, and by putting both of them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule, it allows us pockets of time to get back to our other roles apart from that of a parent. There were times when their feeding schedules went haywire, and so did we.
- Be flexible
This applies to everything. Appointments, plans, to-do lists.
- Be open to help, and loads of it
This itself require a whole blog post. We had gone through countless lengthy discussions on live-in help vs live-out help vs infant care vs no help. For now, we settled with a live-in help. I wish I could say I can do it all on my own, but unfortunately I can't. Doing so without any external help, while technically possible, will mean that I will have no energy and time for any other interests/people/activities. With a regular help in place now, it makes us so much more balanced, and a balanced family is a happy family!
- They might look similar, but they are different
It's cute to see two similar babies staring back at you. However, they are clearly two individuals and that's how we would like to treat them. One prefers to learn how to make all sorts of sounds (must be fascinating for them to discover their vocal chords), and the other prefers to learn how to turn, and turn and turn. One almost always naps when out for walks, and the other always has her eyes wide-open scanning the surroundings.
- Learn to wait (the babies, not me!)
When there's just one of us around, and two crying babies, someone's gotta wait. Patience is a virtue. Hopefully they agree.
- Get used to being acquainted with strangers
Especially with the neighbourhood Aunties. I lost count of the number of times we have had to stop and chat with them when out for walks and groceries. They all meant well and it's quite amusing. I would do the same :)
- Having 2 doesn't mean buying more of everything
Clearly for some things, you do - such as diapers, milk bottles. However, I am really really grateful to so many friends who have passed us pre-loved clothing and all sorts of baby items so that we do not have to buy. Babies do grow out of everything so quickly and it'll almost be a waste of money (and effort) to stock up on too much, especially clothing. I'll love to pay it forward, just let me know!
In the picture above, was one of the first few moments when the two of them started verbally communicating with each other with oohs and aahs. It was such a nice moment to watch. I look forward to many more of these moments, and for them to entertain each other (while I get some time off!)
Somebody once told me that the 1st 100 days of having a newborn is the toughest period of adjustment and it'll generally trend upwards from there.
How true that is, at least for now. We are beginning to really enjoy this thing called parenthood, can't say the same when we first returned from the hospital!
Alexis and Sienna have just turned 4 months old. A few weeks ago they cracked their first smiles and it's been unstoppable. For many parents, that must have been one of the nicest milestones to cross. Since then, they seem to acquire new skills every other day / week. They have discovered their fists which must be very fascinating for them (and for us), especially when they focus so hard to place their fists in their mouths, which for infants, involves a lot of coordination skills. They (Sienna more than Alexis) respond with plenty of ooohs and ahhhs when people talk to them. When out for walks, they scan the surroundings with such curiosity - I often wonder how it is to view the world through the eyes of a baby, everything must be so interesting to them. And in the last few days, they seem to recognise and be able to respond to each other, which again has been fascinating to observe. It is such a cliche to say that kids grow up so quickly, but they really do.
Many of you have asked how it has been becoming a new parent and managing twins.
Meeting the twins for the first time 5 weeks ago was like what every parent would say - an incredible experience and feeling. We are very grateful that it was a relatively smooth delivery considered that they arrive prematurely (twins generally arrive prematurely anyway but ours came even prior to their planned date).
I thought I was very ready to take them on, armed with a few books, and Google for any other questions I might have. I only saw the fun side of being a parent - perception partly shaped by cute baby / toddlers photos that friends post on FB. Even diaper changing sounds fun - we could make a game out of it, and see if we can change diapers for twins in record time.
But amidst all the upsides of having a new bundle of joy, there's also a new reality which new parents get thrown into which we very quickly learned.
- It's a shock to the whole system, physically and emotionally. The first few days back at home felt like a train wreck, even with the full-time help of a nanny (to whom we owe our sanity to!). I seriously underestimated the amount of work and help managing twins require.
- Life, at the moment, revolves around 3-hour feeding blocks. Ideally, 1 hour to feed them, and 2 hours for me-time. Reality is far from that, most times it takes 1.5 hours to finish the feed and to burp them (who knew burping infants is such an art?!), and by the time they are at ease, it's time to prepare for the next feed. And by the time I know it, the day's gone.
- It is an emotional rollercoaster, meltdowns and all. Some days are good, I feel things are manageable and in control. Some days are just absolutely draining.
But everyday, I marvel at their growth - just 5 weeks down the road, they have almost doubled their birth weight and now weighs around 4 kg each. They are still fragile little beings to handle, especially those necks and heads but compared to when they were just born, they are much substantial to carry now. They are much more alert, and their eyes wander around a lot more. They are growing some serious cheek muscles and generally fattening up, making up for their early arrival, which is very satisfying to see. Those legs, while small (but long), are extremely strong for their size, and those lungs are put to good use when they cry, at times amusing (only for a short while) especially when they cry at the same time . Occasionally when I hear a loud cry, and I check on them, they lie so still it's as if they are playing a prank on me.
And that's just from the first month. Everyone says how fast babies grow and to cherish their first few months. I certainly do, but at the same time I also can't wait till they can walk, run off in their little scooters or their little bicycles.
34 weeks. That's about 8 months. It's only starting to feel a bit more real now that I'm 2 days away from going on maternity leave, and possibly less than 2 weeks to welcoming them into our world. Here are a few (random) thoughts that I want to share from the past 8 months:
- Document the journey, whichever way you fancy - publicly, privately, digitally or analog-style. I discovered the Moleskin baby journal and it's been a great companion to date, for penning down thoughts, musings and the likes. Makes for a great memento many years down the road.
- Nature has a funny way of preparing you for the sleepless nights ahead ... by ensuring you wake up every 2 hours or so to go to the bathroom, especially during the 3rd trimester.
- Cravings and tastebud changes are not a myth. I never used to like sparkling water that much, but now, ice cold (sparkling) water with plenty of ice cubes is enough to keep me happy throughout the pregnancy!
- Borrow some. Generally you will have friends who are more than happy to pass on some clothes that might fit you during your pregnancy. I've been very lucky to have received a few of those from my girlfriends which lasts me till now, though if you fancy a wide variety and choice of clothes this might not be for you! ASOS Maternity is a great option for finding decent, comfortable and affordable maternity clothes to supplement that.
- Invest in a good pair of shoes/sandals. Sadly by my 6th month, I could no longer fit into my red trusty TOMS shoes. Birkenstocks is a great alternative - fantastic support and super comfortable.
- Stay active. Active is relative for different people, but I found it useful to keep some level of exercise going during this period, and to keep walking for as long as it feels comfortable. Como Shambhala offers excellent pre-natal classes (especially those taught by Sarah) in a very calm, pleasant setting.
- At the same time, slow down when you have to...especially during the 3rd trimester when the physical weight takes a toll on the body. I definitely have a lot more empathy now than before when it comes to pregnant women...
- Despite everything, pregnancy surprisingly IS pretty enjoyable. Especially with the support of a partner, understanding workplace and colleagues, family, and friends. So much so I am strangely dreading my last day of work before going on leave.