The T-W-I-N-S Method for Thriving with Multiples + $100 OFF Package

Because twins are not easy, and YES, two is so much more than one

by Krystle Gard

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My twins are almost four, and I am constantly thinking that I should write something about having twins. But when I stop and think back on those early days, I can barely remember anything. I was so sleep deprived that I ended up with postpartum depression when my twins were eight months old. So, I don't have any flowery words about the wonders of twins. What I do have is practical advice, that I like to call the T-W-I-N-S Method, that will help you thrive during the first year, so you can enjoy all of the many sweet moments amidst the chaos.

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As hard it can be to admit we need help...admit you need help! We often feel we have to do it all ourselves - I certainly did. But we don’t have to. I wish a friend would have recommended a postpartum doula, or a family member who doesn't live close by would have bought me a gift certificate for some postpartum doula hours. It would have been life changing. Partners are wonderful and are priceless. And at some point you both need sleep and support. Imagine for a second… a wonderful, kind woman comes to your door. She sends you off for a nap, engages your older child (if you have one) in something fun while she washes, dries, and folds a load of laundry. She feeds the babies and preps some food for dinner. Then, with her help, you set a new record for getting everyone out of the house in under 36.8 minutes. Every twin mom, whether their twins are their first babies or not, deserves that kind of support.

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Looking back, this could have really changed how that first year went. I decided at some point I was going to follow the advice and “never wake a sleeping baby.” With my babies on opposite waking schedules, this meant I woke every two hours to feed one of the babies for 11 months, which really translates as For. Ever. This is where I lost all my sleep. Take it from me: Dream Feed* the twin that doesn’t wake up. It will save your sanity.

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You are going to hear the same things over and over: “Are they twins?” “Are they identical?” “Wow, you must have your hands full.” Or my favorite: “I don’t know how you do it.” If you get bothered every time you hear one of these comments, you will be stressed all.the.time. Accept that you will hear at least one of these each time you go out - and just let it go.

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To save time and give yourself more freedom, try to feed your twins at the same time. This may seem impossible, but practice makes perfect. There are a couple of great nursing pillow options** and several positions to accomplish this. Hiring a lactation consult is a fantastic way to get the help, support and knowledge you’ll need to feel comfortable nursing both at one time. A postpartum doula can help with bottle feeding, and she’ll come armed with a ton of pro tips and ideas to make it as easy and streamlined as possible. With some practice, you’ll be able to feed like a champ, even in public.

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Sleep deprivation is no joke. We don’t realize how bad it is when we are in it, and it can compromise relationships with our partners, older children, other family members and friends. Getting one or two nights a week of good sleep, or 4-5 consecutive hours of sleep in each 24-hour period, is absolutely necessary. Having a friend or family member come to help with feedings and baby care for an overnight once or twice a week in the early weeks can be a lifesaver. If you don’t have friends or family able or willing to help out some nights, look for outside support -  hiring a postpartum doula will give you the freedom to get a good night’s sleep while trusting your babies are in good hands. Plus a postpartum doula can also do some light housework and meal prep!

Twins are amazing and so adorable. My boys are now starting to call each other their “best friend,” which makes my heart melt into a happy puddle of mama-love. Twins are such a blessing - and when you have the support you need in those first few months, you can create some of the best memories of your life.

*Dream feeding refers to feeding your babies while they are sleeping, such that you can sleep more, too. You can dream feed just before you go to bed, or throughout the night if they wake up on different schedules. Read tips here and here to learn more.

**Krystle’s favorite nursing pillow for twins is the Twin Z Pillow. The My Brest Friend for Twins is also popular.

Krystle Gard is a postpartum doula with Bridgetown Baby in Portland, Oregon. When she isn’t writing or supporting other families during their 4th trimester, she is hopefully outdoors somewhere beautiful with her three young boys (including 3 year-old twins) and husband.

 

This Mother’s Day, Give Yourself the Gift of Support

For those families who need it the most, we are offering our Multiples Package at a $100 discount for the month of May - $1,190 (Regular rate $1,290)

The Multiples Package includes two 9-hour nighttime shift and three 4-hour daytime shift for two or more babies born within six months of each other.

Multiple babies are without a doubt, overwhelming and exhausting. They also give more smiles and snuggles as they grow. It may not always feel like it, but a family is very lucky to have multiple babies. A postpartum doula helps a family feel lucky. First and foremost, she helps the family sleep, which makes everything else better. 

A postpartum doula will do everything she normally does; support the mother’s recovery, provide healthy cooking, laundry and light housekeeping, plus teach valuable skills that will make it easier to feed, bathe and wear two babies. A postpartum doula can teach the parent/s, grandparents, and other caregivers. It’s a Party/It Takes a Village: The Multiples Package is an invaluable gift for every family expecting multiple babies, but especially those without extended family close by.

Ben's Story: Surviving Birth Trauma - A Dad's Perspective

by Brita Johnson

Photo courtesy of Ben B.

Photo courtesy of Ben B.

For Ben and his wife Lauren, the path from their son’s birth in January, 2017 to Father’s Day, 2017 was a rocky road marked by medical trauma, parenting challenges, emotional struggles, and, finally, healing. Ben recalls that first Father’s Day as the time when things started to normalize and they began to enjoy the kind of family moments he’d expected from the start.

Things had felt easy in the beginning. With nothing more serious than the slight nausea and fatigue that you’d expect, Lauren’s had been a textbook pregnancy. When they went into the hospital for an induction a few days past Lauren’s due date, they anticipated a similarly easy labor and delivery. Instead, Ben says, “we walked out forever changed.”

It was while on the operating table for a routine c-section that everything went sideways. Once the baby was delivered, Lauren started bleeding profusely. Ben was rushed out of the operating room while the surgeons scrambled to stanch the bleeding. He spent 15-30 minutes in an adjacent room, not knowing if Lauren would live or die. “It was the most profound loneliness I’ve ever experienced,” Ben says of those moments.

Once the hemorrhage was under control, Ben spent the next three days at Lauren’s side in the intensive care unit, focused wholly on her survival. No part of the story of their first three days as parents is about meeting their son, looking into his eyes, counting fingers and toes, and marveling at his tiny perfection. The baby, who would be named Sully, entered the picture only on day four, when their doctor had to push for an exception to the rules to allow Sully into the ICU to meet his mother.

Ben, Lauren, and Sully headed home from the hospital not long after, to settle into their new life as a family of three. But, “the course of what I thought parenthood was going to be was completely altered,” says Ben. Medical struggles, ongoing physical impacts from Lauren’s hemorrhage, severe colic, and the emotional fallout from their trauma consumed them for the next four months. Lauren experienced a bout of postpartum depression; Ben focused on supporting her through that. As she began to resurface, he took a dive into depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

During those months, Ben lived in a swirl of fear (“Would things ever be normal again? What if this was a mistake and we never reclaim our identity? What if we never get to surf or travel or do the things we love?”) and anger (“why us?”).

“It honestly took 8 months to…I won’t say ‘recover’… but to get back to neutral,” Ben says. What helped? A flood of family and friend support; research into paternal postpartum experience, PTSD, and trauma recovery; an awareness, shared with Lauren, about the need to heal; a subsequent therapy journey. And, support from Bridgetown Baby.

Friends recommended Bridgetown Baby, and soon postpartum doula support became an integral part of Ben’s, Lauren’s, and Sully’s early weeks as a family. “Merriah came into our home when everything was at its worst,” says Ben. Doula support was powerful for Ben and Lauren in ways both simple and profound. “Just to have the energy of someone who’d seen what we’d gone through, and could support us in learning to be parents… In the moments where the four of us could sit down together and talk, Merriah really listened and always gave thoughtful advice.”

Then there was the magical frittata (“I still remember how good it tasted”), and the gift of sleep: “For me, it was having Merriah walk through the door and look at me and say, ‘just go to bed.’ All the riches in the world weren’t as valuable as getting to lie down in the guest room and sleep uninterrupted.”

For Ben, postpartum doula support was something he didn’t know they needed until they needed it. Ben says, “it's unimaginable that we could have gotten through what we did without doula care.”

Looking back, Ben can (almost) chuckle at some of the fears he experienced in those early months. Sully is now a happy, verbal toddler—Ben’s face glows with joy as he describes Sully’s newest abilities and capers. As they approach Father’s Day 2018, Ben marvels at the difference a year makes. “Last year, we were still navigating the crisis, we were in survival mode. Right now, life is chaotic…but life is full, in a good way. We’re able to focus on each other in a different way, and enjoy ourselves as a family.”

With the perspective he’s gained, Ben now feels a drive to share the struggle he went through: if his experience can make it just one or two clicks easier for someone else to find the resources they need, he feels it’s worth telling his story.

For all dads, Ben would like to recognize the tumultuous feelings they might have: “[having a new baby is] a really intense experience, and it’s not easy. And it’s not easy for everybody, not just the mom. The dad’s emotions and reactions are not an outlier—they’re part of the equation. I didn’t think that way walking into it.”

For dads who’ve “gone through something with childbirth, or raising a kid, whether it’s [a crisis of some kind or whether it’s] as simple as you’ve had a completely normal experience but it’s just hard to raise a kid…I hope it can help to know that there’s someone else who’s gone through it and is willing to talk it through.”

His biggest take-home is that it’s okay to feel the feelings you have. ”You owe it to yourself first,” Ben says, “and your family second, to get in there with those feelings, to recognize them, and work through them.”

Find more information on the Bridgetown Baby blog about dads' varying experiences, including tips and resources to make your job as a dad easier and more fun!

Julia's Story: Navigating Anxiety and Postpartum Depression

by Kari Hastings

Photo credit: Leah Biado-Luis Photography

Photo credit: Leah Biado-Luis Photography

Julia T., mom of Emma – born in February 2016, remembers her most vulnerable moment with Bridgetown Baby’s Emily Darley Hill. It was morning, and Emily was dropping in for one of their scheduled visits. Anxiety and postpartum depression had taken hold of Julia in the middle of the night, overwhelming her with feelings of negativity and a pleading question, “How will I ever feel better again?” When Emily arrived, Julia crumpled onto her couch and cried, “I just want to be a good mom.”

Although Julia had a good support system – a mother and sister living within blocks, plus many nearby friends – she says Emily’s support as a postpartum doula pulled her through that dark time and helped her find her footing as a new mom. “Emily normalized what I was going through,” Julia says. “She assured me I was going to be OK, and for me, that was huge.”

Emily connected her with a therapist who specializes in postpartum issues, and a neighborhood moms support group. Julia, who had a planned C-section, bought three Bridgetown Baby packages – a breastfeeding package and two home-visit packages.

Julia says knowing she would have a weekly doula visit was a lifesaver. “Emily would take the baby, wear her around the house in a wrap, clean, do laundry, cook, do food prep for the week, and my husband and I would just relax or sleep,” she says. “She would rub my feet, listen, give me advice, just anything I needed.”

Setting up Bridgetown Baby services in advance of her birth was one of the smartest things she did, Julia says. “I’ve struggled with anxiety in recent years, so I wanted to line up that support ahead of time,” Julia says. “I’m so glad I did. Emily was the sweetest, most calming presence. You can have the best family and friends in the world. The difference with a doula is that it’s their job to help you. There’s no guilt associated with it. They’re professionals.”