But as an introvert myself, I must admit, that having twins suits my personality type just right!
I’m naturally introverted. This does not mean that I am shy or that I don’t like people, as is often assumed. It simply means that I need time alone to recharge. As a career counselor who is certified in the MBTI personality inventory, I have helped hundreds of people discover and understand their personality types. But it wasn’t until I had twins that I started to think about how your personality can impact parenting. Certainly, no one personality type is perfect for parenting multiples, but here are 3 times when having twins is an introvert’s dream.
When you don’t want to go somewhere
Every introvert knows the drill. You are invited to a party, or a playdate, or a work event. And you have to come up with an excuse, as to why you can’t go. But guess what... once you have twins, you don’t have to come up with an excuse. Now you have a reason. Taking your two babies out of your house during that first year is so much work that everyone will give you a pass.
When you don’t want to make small talk
Chit-chat is often disliked by introverts, who prefer more meaningful conversation. When you are out with twins, you don’t have time to talk to anyone. Someone always needs your attention. You may start many conversations, but will inevitability be pulled away by a toddler needing a drink, or help finding their toy. This phenomenon hits epic proportions at the park when upon exiting the confines of their car seats, your multiples will scatter in different directions leading you to spend all of your time scanning the corners of the playground to ensure everyone’s safety.
When you just need to be alone for a few minutes
In most cases, more children mean less alone time for their parents. Unless you are talking about twins. One of the many cool things about parenting twins is their ability to entertain each other. Twins are often satisfied playing with each other, which can give you a pass every once in a while when you just need a moment alone to decompress.
Personality theory says that no one personality type is better than any other. And I whole-heartedly agree. But as an introvert myself, I must admit, that having twins suits my personality type just right!
It's that time of year again... time for buying and receiving of all the things. Do you have a child who loves to dream about their future? If so, then I have a great gift guide for you. I have hand picked 5 items that are perfect for open-ended career-related play.
Pretend Play Clothes- Pretend play is a hallmarks of career exploration. Let your child try out a potential career with some dress-up clothes.
Game of Life Junior- This is a junior version of the classic game for younger kids. A fun way for the whole family to discuss career development.
Magnet Dress Up Play Set- This magnetic play set features endless combinations of career-related clothes to mix and match. It also comes with a carrying case.
Gifts of Experience- Giving a child the gift of an experience is always a good idea. Passes to a museum, tickets to a show, or classes/lessons are an excellent way to support a child's budding interests.
The Career Explorer- Of course, I have to include a book! I think books are the perfect gift and this one explains the career development process in an age-appropriate and engaging way.
You can see my Toddler Twin Gift Guide here.
To wrap up Prematurity Awareness Month, and welcome in the holidays I have a quick and easy project. This literally took me 5 minutes (or less) to make and cost me $1. This would also make a great gift for NICU parents as part of a holiday care package. Here is what you need:
Gather all of your preemie's hospital keepsakes like hats, id bracelets and blood pressure cuffs. Anything that will fit through the mouth of the ornament will work. You will also need a clear ball ornament. The one I used was plastic and I found it at a dollar store. To make, gently remove the top of the ornament. The metal wire can be pushed together and pulled out. Then simply fold or roll the items and put them inside the ornament. Replace the wire top. It's as easy as that!!
Over the last year or so, my kids and I have started a routine of reading a few chapters from a chapter book each night before bed. We read many picture books during the day, but a chapter book without illustrations, has been a wonderful way for them to relax and for me to connect after a long day. An added bonus for me, is getting to re-read many of these classic books from my childhood. So if you would like to add a little additional reading to your bedtime routine, I suggest starting with these...
Mouse and the Motorcycle
Anne of Green Gables
Little House 4 Book Set
James and the Giant Peach
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Hundred Dresses
The One and Only Ivan
My Father's Dragon
A Bear Called Paddington
Some of the links are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you use the link to purchase the item.
September is Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Awareness Month. This month is designed to honor families who have experienced the NICU and celebrate the professionals who care for them. This month is special to me, because I have two miracle babies that spent 55 and 65 days in the NICU. While I feel that every month with my children is a celebration of how amazing the care received from the NICU can be, this month I want to do a little bit more to raise awareness. If you would like to as well, here are 4 ways you can spread the NICU love.
Tell Your NICU Story
If you have a NICU baby in your life, use this month as a reason to tell the story in person, or online. One of the most prevalent feelings reported by NICU parents is that of loneliness. Hearing another’s NICU tale can really help combat these feelings. Sharing can certainly help someone else, and it might just provide a little healing for you too.
Spread the Word
Take to social media to spread the word about NICU Awareness Month and organizations that are making a difference like Project Sweet Peas. Project Sweet Peas is a national non-profit organization coordinated by volunteers, that provides support to families of premature or sick infants and to those who have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss. They established NICU Awareness Month in 2014.
Make a Donation
So many of the organizations that help NICU families are non-profits. A great way to celebrate NICU Awareness Month is by making a financial donation to these organizations. I suggest the Preemie Parent Alliance, a network of organizations offering support to families of premature infants. YOu can make a donation through their website here.
If your baby was in the NICU for 1 day or 100 days, you know how difficult that experience can be. Receiving a small gift or a book to read to your baby while in the NICU can really brighten your day. Consider collecting funds from friends, family, and colleagues, to buy children’s books or personal care products (think dry shampoo, chapstick, snacks, and hand sanitizer) to give to current NICU families.
I hope you will join me in celebrating all NICU babies, their families, and the amazing health professionals that care for them this September.
Regardless of how you ultimately choose to feed your baby, if your baby is born early you will probably be encouraged to start pumping breast milk right away. Preemies need more calories and nutrients to help them grow quickly. In addition to providing nourishment, breast milk can also help reduce the risk of NEC, build immunity, and prevent infection. Few preemies are able to feed from the breast or a bottle right away. Therefore, expressing your breast milk and providing it to the NICU in both it’s fresh and frozen form is an important part of your child’s medical care. But, it is not easy. Pumping is a labor of love and requires a great deal of commitment and time. I am not a medical expert, but I did pump exclusively for my preemie twins for 15 months. Here are a few of my tips and favorite products to help make things easier.
Start pumping as soon as possible after your baby’s birth
When I arrived in my hospital room post c-section, there was a breast pump and a lactation consultant waiting for me. I started pumping right away. It took several days for my milk to come in, but pumping early and often was vital for establishing supply. Every single drop was taken to my babies in the NICU.
Establish and maintain a pumping schedule
In the beginning, you will need to pump at least every 2-3 hours around the clock. It is hard to set an alarm and wake up in the middle of the night to pump, but a schedule that mimics the newborn feeding pattern will help to maintain and grow your supply with your preemie. As your baby grows and needs to eat less frequently, your pumping frequency will change as well.
A lactation consultant and your baby’s medical care team are great resources. They can provide you with any specific guidelines you need to follow when expressing and storing your breast milk. Also, make sure to discuss with them how you intend to feed your baby post hospital, so they can prepare and support you in that decision. Lactation consultants are not only available during a hospital stay, you can contact them at any time. They can also help you to identify the signs and symptoms of plugged milk ducts and mastitis, both of which are quite painful and can hurt your supply.
Accept the difficulty
I have said it before, but it bears repeating. Pumping is hard! It can certainly feel like all you have time to do in a day is eat and pump. And there may be times during this journey when that is true! But if pumping for your baby is what you want or need to do, it can be rewarding and successful.
Hands-free Pumping Bra- If you are going to be spending any amount of time pumping breast milk for your preemie, a hands-free pumping bra is a must. Every Momma can benefit from multitasking while pumping.
Hospital Grade Pump- A powerful breast pump and a lactation consultant will set you on the road to success. And remember, you don’t need to buy a hospital grade pump. You can rent a pump for a monthly fee, which may be covered by health insurance.
Car Adapter- At some point, you will want to leave the house. Being able to pump on the go can provide you with some much-deserved freedom.
Insulated Bag- An insulated cooler bag is necessary for transporting pumped and frozen milk to and from the hospital.
Breastmilk Storage Bags- Most hospitals will provide specific storage containers for breast milk while your baby is admitted. But once home, you will need something to keep milk in until you are ready to use it. Some women prefer a storage bag because they take up less space and are less expensive than storing in a bottle. Remember to label for future reference.
Convenient Pump Cleaning- Keeping your pump parts clean is important especially when you are pumping for a preemie. If you are making trips back and forth to the NICU, you might not always have access to soap and water. Cleaning wipes formulated especially to clean pump parts are great in a pinch. Sterilization bags that go right in the microwave and are quick and easy to use.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you use the link to purchase the item.
*this is not an endorsement of any product, just what worked for me
Summer is finally here, which means long days playing outside. While I love enjoying nature with my family, the sun is always a concern. As someone who lived in Florida for several years, I know about the damage the sun can do. So I take sun protection very seriously. If you are looking for a little respite from the sun, here are my favorite products.
1. Sunday Afternoon Play Hat- My favorite hats for kids, and I have tried many. They stay on, don't make the kids too sweaty, and have a safety release on the strap. They are also adjustable, so they can be worn for many years.
2. Long Sleeve Rash Guard- This is a must for us. Because sunscreen has it's limitations, my kids and I always wear protective clothing. There are many places to find long sleeve rash guards, but for kids, I like a budget option because you only wear them for one season.
3. Pop Up Tent- This is a new addition to my summer must-haves. If you have babies or young children, shade really is essential. There are options that are lighter/ easier to transport, but I like that this is large enough for my whole family and doesn't blow away on the beach.
4. EWG's Sunscreen Guide- The Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the safest and most effective sunscreens each year. It's a great resource.
5. Huaaniue Swim Hat- These hats are perfect for the pool or beach. They are made of quick-drying material and provide extra sun protection with a nice long neck flap.
Some of the links are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you use the link to purchase the item.
"Your babies are not counting the hours and keeping score."
The inability to bond with a baby in the NICU is a common concern that many parents experience. Often your time in the NICU with your baby is limited by work schedules, other children at home to care for, and the time it takes to travel to and from the hospital. And if your already limited time is further divided by multiple babies in the NICU, you may be doubting your ability to form a strong, healthy connection. This was a fear I confronted during my twins’ NICU stay. Over the course of the 2 months they were in the hospital I employed several simple strategies that helped me to split my time without sacrificing our bond.
Stagger the Babies’ Care Schedules
Once your babies are strong enough you should be able to change their diapers, check their body temperature, dress them and eventually feed them. Ask the nurses to stagger each babies’ schedules so you are able to take part in as much care of each twin as possible. Communicate with your nurses when you plan on visiting the NICU, so care activities can be saved for and completed by you.
Keep Babies’ Isolettes Close
As long as it doesn’t compromise their care, most NICUs will try to keep siblings close together. For the majority of my twins’ hospitalization, their isolettes were side by side. This made spending time with both of them simultaneously so much easier. Position a comfy chair in between the beds and both babies can benefit from your presence.
Simultaneous Kangaroo Care
The hallmark of bonding is physical touch. And for NICU babies, this often means snuggling skin-to-skin. Kangaroo care has many health benefits for preemies including stabilizing heart rates, improving oxygen saturation and regulation of body temperature. Whenever possible, I would do kangaroo care with both babies together. They benefited from the cuddles with me as well as each other.
Recruit a Holder
Occasionally, you may need to provide undivided attention to one baby. When this occurs, recruit a family member, partner, or close friend to come and hold the other baby. Being held by someone who loves them, even if it’s not you is beneficial. Each NICU has different policies, but most allow approved guests to visit. Asking for help is part of being a parent of multiples, so you might as well start now!
Use Your Voice
There may be times when your babies are not stable enough to be held. At these times, remember the power of your voice. Babies can recognize their mother’s voice at 22 weeks gestation. Hearing a familiar voice promotes attachment, produces a calming effect, and can counteract all the background noise from alarms and equipment. Talk or sing to your babies. You can even record yourself telling a story to play for your babies when you are gone. They love the sound of your voice, even if you don’t. Position yourself between your babies and chat them up.
Bring several of your favorite children’s books and read to them. Studies show that reading to babies in the NICU reduces stress and aids in brain development. This is another great activity that all your preemies can enjoy together.
With permission from the medical staff, you can put together a playlist of soothing music. This is useful if you are unable to be with them, or are needing to focus on one baby at a time.
An additional bonding tool that doesn’t require your physical presence is scent. Scent can help babies identify and attach to their parents. Many NICUs provide fabric hearts, or a lovey that you can put in your shirt to pick up your unique scent. This is placed in your babies’ beds to cuddle and smell. If your hospital doesn’t provide such a device, ask what you could use that would be safe for your babies.
Feeling like there is not enough of you to go around when you have multiple babies in the NICU is understandable. Balancing life, work, family, and sick children is daunting. But your babies are adaptable. Your babies are not counting the hours and keeping score. Do your best to be present with them, whenever you can, and know that what you give them will be enough.
"When I discovered the need, it became my passion. I began to research and design a line of preemie clothing that would genuinely address their unique requirements and sizing."
~Cressie Baerg, Preemie Store
As I sit and write this article for our guest blog post for Ali the founder of Me Two Books, I am struck with the realization that I have been making preemie clothing longer than some of the mother’s that might be reading this blog post have been alive! Some would feel it is time to retire, but when you are doing something you love, why quit?! The question then is asked, "How did you get started making preemie clothing?" "Did you have a preemie?” No, I didn’t have a preemie. Actually, someone I knew in the church I was attending, had a preemie baby, and nobody was able to find any suitable or affordable clothing for it. I told them, "I can make preemie clothes!" You see, I had sewn all my life, from my own clothes to clothing for my 3 children. When I discovered the need, it became my passion. I began to research and design a line of preemie clothing that would genuinely address their unique requirements and sizing.
Of course, I don't personally sew everything we manufacture today! We've far outgrown what I can produce alone. We have a team of great people that manufacture our preemie clothes right here in the USA. We offer our Perfectly Preemie line in 3 sizes - starting at just 1-2.5 pounds. We make many of our items to be as NICU-Friendly as possible, with open shoulders, quick velcro closures providing easy dressing. We also offer fun dresses and playsuits plus we are hoping to add some great outerwear options this next winter, as well as some more fun ideas.
Last fall we acquired the Preemie Store and now have combined our great Perfectly Preemie line to the over 36+ brands carried on the Preemie Store. We want parents to be able to find anything they might need for their little miracles in one place.
Things have changed in so many ways over the 26+ years we have been working with preemie families. The biggest advance has been the internet and the ability to have an online store that is open to parents 24/7. This has been very nice for preemie parents who spend most of their time in the NICU not allowing them time shop at a physical store from 9-5. Most brick and mortar stores carry very little preemie clothing anyway, because preemies are still a small percentage of all live births.
I also now have the privilege of working alongside my daughter, Melissa who was in elementary school when I started. She takes care of all the order fulfillment, customer service, and so much more. It is a real joy to know the stores are in such good hands with someone who has been with me along this beautiful journey as long as I have. She is planning to take over whenever I am ready to retire, the problem is I have no intent at this time! You see I just love what I do. Along with Melissa, my wonderful husband Kevin helps out with all the bookkeeping, and marketing strategy.
We are a small business with a great big heart for preemie families. The best part is hearing back from parents and families with pictures and stories of how having such cute, and easy to use preemie clothing has made a difficult situation so much better!
Check out all the great things offered at Preemie Store today, www.preemiestore.com.
"Kangaroo Care means holding your baby skin-to-skin on your chest."
Chances are if you have never spent time in a NICU, you have no idea what Kangaroo Care means.
Chances are if you have spent time in a NICU, some of your favorite moments happened during Kangaroo Care.
Kangaroo Care means holding your baby skin-to-skin on your chest. It is the way many NICU parents spend hours of their day. What is so amazing about this special therapy, is it not only promotes bonding, it actually helps regulate the baby’s body temperature and breathing. I found Kangaroo Care so rewarding because it was a way for my body, which had failed to keep my baby safe on the inside, to start to heal my baby on the outside. A true exercise in redemption.
One of my favorite memories of the 65 long days that my preemies spent in the NICU happened during Kangaroo Care. About 2 weeks after my 28 weekers were born, I was finally able to hold them both together. A lovely reunion for two babies that missed snuggling each other. It was no easy feat to get two preemies comfortable on my chest with all of their leads and wires. A team of nurses placed one baby and then the next, situating them just so under a layer of blankets. And then, one twin’s tiny twig of an arm reached out in a healing hug, and they embraced each other. The monitors were quiet as we all snuggled together. We were going to stay that way for a while.