Let me start off by saying I am very blessed. I have two healthy, beautiful, and thriving little girls. They embody all of the goodness that exists in this world. They are truly special and unique little specimens that amaze me with their ability everyday. They won't, however, go on the potty. I write this as the very thought of changing another dirty diaper or soiled pull-up consumes me. Before you ask, yes, I've tried everything. First, it was raisins. It may seem strange, but my little ones love dried fruit and they seldom get to consume it. Plus, honestly, what better a way to reward them for a job well-done than something relatively healthy that feels like a treat? I am well aware that the "authorities" tell you that you're not supposed to use food as a reward. But, I can say with confidence that 99% of the people I've spoken with (including my own mother,) used M&M's as a potty training bribe. With that in mind, I was not about to feel guilty about offering some natural sugar to two, very active toddlers. The biggest problem I anticipated was having one who deserved a reward, and one who didn't. Based on their maturity levels and their proclivity for tantrums, I decided that we would celebrate each success together with rewards for everyone. Despite not being a huge fan of the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality, I really felt there was no other option. In this house, if someone goes potty, everyone is getting raisins.   [AdSense-A]   The raisins would have been the perfect solution if my children at ALL responded to food as a reward. Turns out, they couldn't care less. This is especially strange because my daughters positively worship food. If you spent a day with us, I have no doubt in my mind that, at some point, you would incredulously say, "wow, they're eating AGAIN?" But alas, my tiny foodies quickly decided that they would forgo raisins for all eternity if it meant not spending another second sitting on the potty. Naturally, my next thought was to up the ante. Enter the gluten free cookie aisle. Have you ever seriously looked at this section of the store? All I can say is, I'm impressed. Whatever you crave is available gluten free, dairy free, nightshade free, grain free, and nut free - free of everything, basically. Well, except the mommy guilt I felt when I carefully selected a box of GF ginger snaps that seemed enticing enough to encourage elimination. Plus, 32 cookies per box? At that quantity/cost ratio, I'd buy multiple boxes per week if that guaranteed potty success. In fact, I bought two boxes right away. So, I bribed. And, I bribed again. Turns out, my little mostly paleo, cave-kids love cookies! Who knew? If left alone for a second with the 2 boxes I purchased, I'd bet confidently that both would be rapidly consumed and licked clean of crumbs. So why, I ask, do the cookies DO NOTHING to motivate them to go potty? I asked the pediatrician about why my kids are (seemingly) the exception to the rule. Why wasn't food working? She simply explained that some kids do not respond well to the "reward" mentality. Ok, then. Now what was I supposed to do? I had to try something else. So, we moved on to bigger and better crutches of modern-day bribery. The included my old iPad equipped with unlimited amounts of Daniel Tiger themed potty training vignettes. Despite memorizing the words to every brain-washing lyric + getting a cookie when they coincidentally happened to potty, we were still as unmotivated as ever. In fact, one twin decided she was just going to get a free ticket to the show by just sitting next to the potty with no pants on. Great. I put a smile on my face and tried again. This time portable desks with coloring books. That has got to excite a 2-year old, right? Markers, crayons, the world has never seen so many art supplies! It captured their interest for a day. A day that I spent approximately 55% of sitting on the floor next to two potties while my twins happily made pictures, and seldom relieved themselves. I was desperate. Next onto the store, where I purchased stickers and tag board. Yes, a sticker chart, at last. Turns out, not only are they not super excited about stickers, but they're also not really mature enough to understand earning a sticker and then not getting to have it on their person. Instead, they spend the majority of their time trying to peel the stickers off of the chart. Epic fail. Currently, the most common response to suggesting they go potty is, "I don't like the potty..." As if that's a choice you get to make in life. I wish I could explain to them the joy that is getting to the use the restroom alone once you are an adult who successfully procreated, but I digress.   [AdSense-A]   We wear pull-ups instead of diapers now, although I have no idea why. I do far more changing than rewarding. The gluten-free cookies are going stale next to the bathroom sink, and I've been giving stickers out for no apparent reason. I've tried real underwear, but I fear they are just not ready yet. I finally realized, after all of the interventions that I imposed upon my sweet girls, that they are very stubborn little creatures. In fact, they are just as stubborn as their mommy (and let's be honest: daddy, too.) Their adamant minds and bold personalities have started an anti-potty campaign that is far too well-managed. I'm actually impressed. Plus, we all know two is better than one. My efforts have been outnumbered from the start. So what's the plan? I'm not sure. Lately we've been running to the potty urgently only to find out that "potty" has already happened. We still "don't like" the potty. The truth is, I don't need more time - but they do. I read a statistic somewhere that in the first year with twins you change 4,000+ diapers. After 2+ years of that and approximately 8,000 diapers, I am more than ready for a little change of lifestyle. But they lack maturity, and maturity takes time to develop. I need to dig deep, channel Michelle Duggar, and find my long-lost patience. I have such a "type A" personality that it is difficult to not impose a deadline on a milestone likes this. But this accomplishment is not mine, it's theirs. It is not my job to force them to potty; it's my job to guide them as they navigate through toddlerhood and learn to understand their bodies. Until then, I'll put the cookies in an airtight container, and we'll buy ourselves some more time to learn to potty.

I so wish this wasn't true. But, for every photo taken with their beautifully smiling faces, there are at least 10 moments of tears and tantrums that went uncaptured. I often hear from friends and family - "they're so happy!" "all they do is smile!" People don't believe me that my twins cry - A LOT I've tried to get some candid shots, but I just don't know why anyone would want pictures of my two screaming children in their photostreams. IMG_1481 Since the moment Baby A arrived, she's been LOUD. Baby B had to be gently coaxed by the nurses to take her first breath, though she's not far behind her sister in the decibel department. None of us could believe that two, teeny tiny, 5 pound babies could scream that way! I had visions of sweet, cuddly newborns circling in my head during my pregnancy - only to find that my babies shunned cuddling in favor of crying, sleeping in favor of waking, and contentment in favor of drama. We struggled with feeding issues and fussiness that I'm sure was some type of colic. We even bought them special baby hammocks to help soothe them at night. (They worked magic - for a little while at least!) Thankfully, they've turned into great sleepers at night - it's the daytime crying that takes it's toll. My twins have been incessantly drooling and teething every moment of every day since they were three months old. And no, the amber necklaces did NOT work. Sigh. [caption id="attachment_502" align="aligncenter" width="479"]If only they were always this peaceful! If only they were always this peaceful![/caption]  My twins cry for me. When they're being watched by others, they are perfect angels 99% of the time. When they were cast in a movie, people always remarked about their good-natured dispositions. I could quickly hand them off to their stage-mommy, and they'd smile at her happily until the scene was over. They are the babies that wave to passersby in Target, smile enthusiastically, and say "hi." When they're home with me, they go crazy. In the newborn stage, that just meant lots of crying for them while I tearfully breastfed on the couch and watched Hallmark movie marathons. As toddlers, it's tantrums, jealousy, and misery - often for no reason. They are the kind of kids that "scary cry," and I sometimes have to remind them to breathe! I wrote in to a multiples group on Facebook to see if anyone else experienced this. The verdict? Most moms do. Apparently, it's a thing. One mom suggested that I am their safe haven. I am the person they have come to rely on again and again, therefore, they let loose around me. They are unafraid to show their true feelings to me, both good and bad. They also probably feel that there isn't room enough for two in their "safe haven." This definitely makes sense to me. It's like the kids who are terrible at home, but lovely at school for their teachers, but toddler-style. Their little brains can't handle controlling their emotions all the time. Learning to maintain behavioral restraint is just too complex. Something or someone has got to give - and it's usually got to be mommy. IMG_1636 I don't really have any advice. I consider myself "in the trenches" of the crying mornings and tearful afternoons, with no solution in sight. What does ease my mind, is knowing that this might not last forever, (or maybe we'll take at least take a brief hiatus until the teen years!) I just try my best to please them both within my limits of sanity. I'm learning that these tiny humans are individuals. They are not just a copy & paste of one another. One is more sensitive, while the other is more sassy. One is more clingy, the other is more independent. One steals toys, the other steals food. They've been forced to share everything since day one of conception - I can't expect them to share emotions and needs too. IMG_1011

The beauty of the situation is this: getting to know their true personalities will help me tailor my approach to each child differently as time goes on. It's not going to be easy, but multitasking is the name of the game in Motherhood. Just know, that if your baby or babies are criers,  and you think there is no one else who understands.... you are not alone!

twin mom                                                                    (source) I'm here to talk, if you can manage to hear yourself think over the resounding tantrums.

(Just wanted to throw this out there, every situation is different and I am hoping to encourage, not disparage any moms. This post speaks to my experience and general information only. Please treat yourself with love and care.) I can recall a midwife appointment during my pregnancy, around 26 weeks. It began like any other visit - I was weighed, measured, and two heartbeats were heard. AeKYZRhIa032mVZJZKtmCLN2F+9w Before I knew it, it was time for my questions. Did I have any? I had an entire notebook of questions that I’d been filling out whenever any inkling of worry came over me. (In case you didn’t know – pregnancy fries your memory. Notebooks were a necessity and worry flowed from my pen constantly.) I didn’t even know if my insurance would cover the time it would take to get tackle those pages of queries. The conversation went like this: Me: “I’m having a lot of anxiety lately.” Midwife: “It’s normal to experience this before giving birth, I promise…” Me: “No, I’m not anxious about birth. I’m incredibly scared that I won’t be able to breastfeed.” Midwife: “Do you have any reason to believe that you can’t breastfeed?” Me: “No… I just don’t know I could ever make enough milk for two babies. It seems impossible.” Thankfully, I had an amazing provider who sat and addressed my concerns for as long as I needed. She was incredulous that I was so sure I wasn’t going to make enough milk. I could easily look back on my mindset then and blame it on my hormones. However, hormones were not the culprit, this time. Society, people, the internet, even well meaning family members, can cast doubt on your ability to breastfeed your twins. You need to tune them out. Do not give up before you even start! [caption id="attachment_84" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_1486 - Version 2 Just minutes old![/caption] This is not a debate about formula feeding vs. breastfeeding – this is for moms who know they have made the decision to breastfeed their twins and want to be armed with as much knowledge as possible. I want you to know that it is possible. My midwife was incredulous for a reason. There really is no biological explanation for why you couldn't provide nutrition for the two babies that your body is creating. Don’t quit before you begin, and don’t make any big decisions on a bad day. By quitting before you begin, I mean saying things like “I’m going to TRY to nurse my twins.” In what other context do we use that exact phrase? Things like, “I’m going to try to get there on time,” “I’ll try to eat healthy this week.” Usually, when we say these things, we end up not following through. We are 15 minutes late for something even though we said we would “try,” or we are back to having a “cheat meal” after a few days of “trying” to eat healthier. “Trying” is the mentality of accepting that it may not happen. Breastfeeding is something that you need to commit to. Committing to it does not guarantee success, but hearing yourself say, “I am going to breastfeed until x amount of time” breaks down the mental barriers. It’s assertive, straightforward, and present a real, tangible goal for yourself. IMG_1151There will be days that even the most committed mothers want to quit. Breastfeeding two babies has a huge learning curve and is very stressful. There were even times when it was going well and I didn't think I could make it one more day. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to wait until tomorrow. Just get through one more day. If I still felt like I wanted to quit tomorrow, then I should seriously consider it. But, if tomorrow is better, even marginally better – wouldn’t I have wished I hadn’t acted so brash before? Months down the road, you may regret stopping because you had a bad day, or even a bad week. Pick a time when you’re feeling better to make these tough decisions. Even if your choice is to stop, you’ll know that you were informed and not controlled by too much negative emotion, therefore minimizing future regrets. IMG_1515 IMG_2091 I’m currently at almost 16 months of exclusively breastfeeding my twins. I’m proud to say they’ve never had any milk besides mine. I’m not trying to brag, but it has been hard work and we should have permission to pat ourselves on the back. I’ve seen expectant twin moms on Facebook ask the same questions that I asked my midwife. I want them to know their worries are normal and so are their bodies. Listen to your bodies, your babies, and find a community that will support you and your goals. I haven’t decided on a stop date, and I still take it one day at a time. I commit and recommit to breastfeeding each and every single day that I choose to continue. When the time is right, I’ll decide our nursing relationship is over - on a good day.     Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments! Like what you read? Check out part 2 here: You CAN Breastfeed Your Twins - Part 2