Advice from a Chicago dad on preparing for twins

I’ll never forget the most important words ever spoken to me. Some random ultrasound technician uttered with glee, “It looks like you’re having twins.”

Of course, having a baby changes things. I already knew this. I figured having a second child was going to change things again. But having a second and a third child at the same time?

While I am by no means an expert on the subject of raising twins, I do feel that after two years of being a dad to multiples, I now am qualified to share with you some tips learned in the trenches.

Chris Thomas

One parent shares everything he’s learned from raising twins that others might not be quick to share.

1 Don’t buy two of everything

When you find out you’ve got two buns in the oven, thefirst thought that goes through your mind is … well, let me skipthe first thought. The second thought, however, usually is that youare going to need double of everything. Not the case.

Yes, you will need double the diapers, wipes, bottles andother necessities, but do you really need two swings and two playmats? Chances are you can have one baby in a swing and one on theplay mat. If you do feel the need to double up on something, lookto your friends and neighbors. It can save you money you’ll need tospend on double the diapers and wipes.

2 Take all the help you canget

You are going to find that people will come out of thewoodwork to offer help. Expect to receive offers for pretty mucheverything, from holding babies, feeding babies, changing babies,cooking dinners and cleaning your house to cutting the lawn. Hereis the one thing you need to know about this help: Accept itall.

If you do want to turn down some help, let them down easy.Thank them for their offer and ask if you can call them when you doneed a meal or a hand. Once you get settled into a routine, friendsand neighbors tend to stop offering as much, so having a few peopleyou can call on later will be a wonderful resource when the twinsare 18 months old, both walking and you’re exhausted.

3 Make timefor yourself

Easier said. How you find the time is the hard part. Someideas include those precious moments after the twins go to bed butbefore you pass out, or possibly when they are napping. Bonus tip:Get them doing everything at the same time.

Don’t forget that time for yourself doesn’t have to meantime away from home. While it is nice to get out of the house,there are a few home activities you can do to “escape.” Netflix ora DVR will allow you to watch favorite films and shows on yourschedule.

4 Make time for eachother

In case finding time for yourself isn’t hard enough, youalso have to worry about finding time to spend with yourpartner. Get a babysitter or a family member to watch thetwins even if just for an hour. Or, if money is tight, put thetwins into a stroller and go for a walk with your partner aroundthe neighborhood.

Or, sleep together. As in go to bed at the same time, justlike you did when you were first married, before your life wasdictated by the feeding, napping and changing schedules of twobabies. Cuddling and passing out together can be a beautifulthing.

5 Prepare to be peppered withdumb questions

Are those twins? I guarantee that when at the grocerystore or mall, you will be asked this question three to five timesbefore you check out. You will get so sick of answering thisquestion you will want to scream. Don’t. Simply smile and sayyes.

Also, don’t be offended if people inquire about yourreproductive health. Everyone will assume you had fertilitytreatments. People will ask intimate questions you may not becomfortable talking about with doctors, let alone a random strangerat the supermarket. Change the subject. Do anything but let it getto you.

6 Color coordinate itall

While you won’t need two of everything, you will need twosets of things such as bottles, pacifiers, bowls and stuffedanimals. Our easy solution: Max was blue, Cole wasgreen.

In the middle of the night when it was time for a bottleand one baby needed formula and medicine and one needed justformula, we just had to look for colors.

More twins are being born

In the “we’re not suprised by this story” story of the day,Michigan State University has released findings showing that therehas been a marked increase the the birth of twins in the last 30years.

The causes, say the MSU researchers, are women having childrenat older ages, and increased use of fertility treatments. In 2009one in every 30 babies born in the United States was a twin. Thisis compared with one in every 53 in 1980.

The findings, presented by Michigan State University’s BarbaraLuke this week at the 14th Congress of the International Society ofTwin Studies in Florence, Italy, have important healthimplications, including greater morbidity and mortality risks andhigher health care costs.

“Prior to 1980, the incidence of U.S. twin births was stable atabout 2 percent of all births, but it has risen dramatically in thepast three decades,” said Luke, noting twin births increased forwomen of all ages, with the largest increases among women aged 30and older. “Older maternal age accounts for about one-third of therise, and two-thirds is due to the increased use of fertilitytreatments.”

Those fertility-enhancing therapies include both assistedreproductive technologies and ovulation stimulation medications.About 12 percent of U.S. women have had fertility therapies.

“With multiple births, though, there are greater health risks,”said Luke a researcher in the College of Human Medicine’sDepartment of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.”Continued research is necessary to improve outcomes.”

Luke, who first reported the numbers in a report with JoyceMartin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, notedbirths for triplets and higher numbers also grew: one in every 651babies in 2009 compared with one in 2,702 in 1980.

In other research presented at the conference, Luke reportedearly embryo loss is associated with the significantly increasedlikelihood of lowered birth weight for the surviving fetuses.

Previous findings have shown mothers using fertility treatmentsexperience more adverse health outcomes than spontaneous-conceptionpregnancies. Luke and her team hypothesized the residual effects offetal loss may impact the subsequent growth and birth weight of thesurviving fetuses.

The 14th Congress of the International Society of Twin Studies is held
April 1-4. The conference brings together experts from across the
world to study multiple pregnancies and better understand the
health impacts, specially neurological and oncological. For more
information, go to

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