My Twin Pregnancy Diet

This week I'll be doing a series of posts on my pregnancy; and first on the list is my twin pregnancy diet. In retrospect, I now see that my diet was really good and I wish I could have continued with it. This is a list of the components of my twin pregnancy diet toolbox
  1. When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads
    This book is a must read for anyone pregnant with twins. I used it as a foundation for planning my diet. Sometimes the tone came off as alarmist, but honestly it's got one of the best advice out there on nutrition while pregnant with twins. I couldn't follow the recommendation for calorie consumption or weight gain, but I still applied the concepts I learnt from reading it.
  2. Warm fluids- For my first trimester, I ditched the ice and sodas and stuck with hot caffeine-free tea (african rooibus). I got this tip from a friend who was more familiar with alternative medicine and it made sense to me to keep the uterus area nice and warm for the developing baby
  3. One thing that the book in #1 and a lot of experts recommended was eating an additional 300 calories per baby and minimum 20g of protein daily. I was able to track my consumption using the Calorie Counter app on my phone
  4. Water, water, water. With this pregnancy, I learnt that water is an elixir
  5. KFC chicken. I know fast food usually has a bad rap, but not in the case of a twin pregnancy. A 2-piece meal was one of the easiest ways for me to get a boost of my daily protein ration and calories.
  6. Almonds. For fiber, calcium and iron. This was a super snack to have around
  7. Calcium-added drinks. In the second semester especially, additional calcium for babies' growing bones was important. I tried to get my required daily calcium by buying foods that had added calcium like Simply Orange Juice. Additionally, the tums I used for heartburn helped bring up the calcium consumption
  8. Greek yoghurt. Why? Because it has double the protein content of normal yoghurt and in the second trimester with twin pregnancy, protein is king. PS: Skip the YoPlait brand. My favorite was fage and I would recommend most of the organic brands
  9. Instant breakfast drink. I had a combination of losing my appetite and shrinking stomach space. A breakfast drink was a good way to get a bunch of nutrients and calories in a glass. Nestle Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials was my favorite. I bought the sachets and just carried it around for breakfast on the go.
  10. Water. Yes I can't say that enough and can't say it too much. On the nightstand, in the car, in my handbag; I always had a bottle of water.
That's my list. Short but sweet. Tomorrow, I'm going to post about one of my favorite activities during my twin pregnancy - preparing the nursery while on  bedrest. In the meantime, I submitted this list to Amanda's top ten Tuesday. Pay her a visit for some more lists of ten. Every week I visit her posts, I find a new blogger to follow.

Happy Tuesday peeps

Feeding Twins Together

With babies, feeding is a sizeable portion of their awake time. Caregivers easily spend a total of between 80 - 200 mins daily feeding babies in their first six months. It easy to envisage doubling this number when there are two babies involved unless the caregiver learns the tricks of feeding twins together.

I used to think I'd want to feed the twins one at a time so that I could have one-on-one cuddle time with them. I do that with their early morning (5am) feed, but with the daytime feedings, I just have to feed them together. Babies eat every 2-4 hours and will spend an average of 15 mins on a meal; so do the maths. To ensure I didn't spend every waking moment on baby food related activities, here's what worked for me in feeding the twins together

Breastfeeding Twins Together
Yes, I was actually able to do this a few times. I felt so gangsta about it, I would have patted myself on the back if I didn't have a baby in each hand. Anyways, here's what I found most useful for doing this:
The book Mothering Multiples by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada. This is a La Leche League book and is focused on breastfeeding. It's most useful for the chapter on positioning the babies for feeding together. Not useful  to me was the EZ 2 Nurse pillow. I found it too unwieldy and ended up using normal sleeping pillows or the boppy pillow

Bottle Feeding Twins Together
I didn't have to do this until the girls were over 3 months old. The main trick is to find a way of positioning the babies at an incline for feeding. I use their bouncers for this. The babies are on the bouncer and I sit on the floor between them with my back resting against the sofa. The back rest is a big one

Solids Feeding Twins Together 
Two highchairs or bumbos for babies and a sectioned bowl. I feed both babies out of the same bowl. I started using the divided bowl so I can monitor how much each baby was eating.

Next stop, self-feeding and mommy moves out of the picture

Names for Twins

Names for twins from my neck o the woods
The top names for twins in 2010 have just been released by the Social Security Administration. It's interesting to note that the number 3 names for girl-girl twins is one of the names that my girls got at their naming ceremony.

See in my culture, we have a naming ceremony when babies are a week old. Family members and close friends get to give them names and pray over them and their names. It's a very symbolic occasion as we believe that a person's name is a blessing and part of their life story. We also believe that some babies bring their names with them from heaven based on the circumstances of their birth. Twin babies fall under that category and we have some automatic twin names as do a lot of other cultures.

So, I did some googling and here's what I found. It's my very own list of names for twins
  1. Taiwo and Kehinde - Yorubas of Nigeria - Unisex
  2. Odion and Obokhian - Benins of Nigeria - Unisex
  3. Hassan(a) and Hussein(a) - Hausa-Fulanis of Nigeria. The "a" behind is for the feminine version
  4. Ata Panin and Ata Kumaa - Akan of Ghana / West Africa
  5. Adongo and Apio - Ateso of Uganda / Kenya
Another bit of the randomness I indulge in.

It's all in the jeans

Three things happened to me over the weekend that I have to tell you about
  • Friday: I was in Babies R Us and noticed that they now had a jeans version of their in-house brand of diapers. I thought "wow, guess they want to cash in on the trend"
  • Saturday: I was watching TV and on comes this adorable, yummy little boy in (size 5) jeans diapers. He was cool and he had swagger because he poos in blue. That's right!
  • Sunday: I run to Target to pick up some veggies in hopes of improving my eating habits. As I'm prone to do, I took the long route to the cashier via the baby aisle; and what did I spy with my peripheral vision? Baby wipes in jeans packaging!!
I'm writing this post because I cannot wrap my mind around it. I'm stumped. I don't even know where to start the thought process. What's the deal with poop and jeans and who's buying this stuff?

Just asking. Any answers? It's really keeping me up at night. Honestly!

9 Things to do With Kids' Old Clothes

As babies grow older, parents ask themselves what to do with old baby clothes. With twins, it's definitely double the kids, double the clothes. I started off by storing my kids' old clothes in plastic bins but the pile grew very high very fast and it was time for a plan B. I've tried different things with varying levels of success and here's a list of options - some worked for me a lot better than others

Selling to online consignment stores. There are websites that run like an online consignment store. You send them your old kids' clothes that are still in good condition and they pay you for the clothes. They then proceed to sell the "previously loved" clothes on their websites. The two I'm familiar with are Thredup (US only) and Flipsize (US and Canada).  

I've sold to Flipsize Canada in the past and I was very happy with the prices they paid for my items. Expect to get paid $0.50-$3.0 per item of clothing




Donate to a Local Women's Shelter: If you can find one, they'll certainly appreciate the donation. It's a good idea to check their donation requirements for baby clothes first though. The one closest to me will only take new clothes - and yes, we do have clothes we never got to wear. For shame!

Thrift stores: North America does not have a shortage of thrift stores that accept donations of clothing and toys and share a portion of their proceeds with charity. Donation centers can easily be found by doing a little googling. The more popular stores are Goodwill, Salvation Army and Value Village in Canada

Sell to a Consignment store: If you're not a cheapo mama like me and you have some high-end designer items, then you may want to sell them with a local consignment store. Contact them and find out what they'll accept before making the trip down. I've had success with the Once Upon A Child franchises in Calgary. Expect to get paid $0.50-$3.0 per item of clothing

Sell on Craigslist or Kijiji. I'm not a fan of this option. It seems everytime I list something on Craigslist, I get ten responses but only one is serious. However, this is a good option in that you can set your prices

Sell on Ebay. If you're desperate to free up some floor space and don't mind getting a real low price for the clothes, sell them as a lot on Ebay. Be sure to account for shipping costs or you may find yourself paying someone to take your baby clothes off you (that's the voice of experience talking)

Store them. If your home is still in the stork's address book, you may want to keep the clothes until you're done having kids. Buy those huge transparent storage boxes and store according to size and remember to label. I use the Sterilite brand of tote boxes as some of the others I bought have broken with time

Parents of multiples sale. If you join the local parents of multiples club, you can sell or trade during their semi-annual sale. The rules are different from club to club and there's usually a requirement to volunteer some time. I've participated in 3 sales with my parents of multiples club and made upwards of $400 from selling kids clothes and baby items. This option is however time-intensive for me because figuring the time to tag the items and volunteer requirements, it's upwards of 30 hours invested.
Seasonal clothes soon to be outgrown

Turn them into a memory quilt. There are a few talented artisans on Etsy who make quilts out of old clothes. This option will cost anything from $400 to $1000+. It's not the cheapest option but if you have a sentimental attachment to the clothes, it's an option that you can't put a monetary value on. 

There're plenty of options here for any parent or caregiver to consider. In the end, I've developed a habit of sorting my kids' clothes twice a year on a seasonal basis to ensure my basement and garage are not over-run with old baby clothes

This is one of my many posts on kids and clothes. If you enjoyed reading this post, do check out my review of the quality of different clothing brands for babies as well as 10 tips for buying kids' clothes cheaply off season


Best First Food and Cereal for Babies

Like many things in the new millenium, feeding babies with cereal is no longer just a case of going into the store and grabbing the closest can of cerelac. Now there's different shades and brands of baby cereal competing for  mommy's attention.

I've been feeding my twins cereal for over a month now and as usual, I've explored a lot of options. So here's my take on the world of baby cereal

Rice Cereal
This is supposed to be the first and easiest on baby's digestive system. My babies were not too fond and neither was I. It tasted really blah. Couple tastelessness with constipation issues that accompany rice cereal and it's filed under "been there, done that, will not do this again". I definitely prefer the brown rice versions to the white rice ones
Brands: Gerber, Beechnut, Earth's Best, Plum Organics, Happy Baby are the brands I've seen in store

Oatmeal Cereal
We actually tried this before the rice cereal and I'm quite pleased with that decision. The thing to watch out for with oatmeal is that the different brands have different textures and your baby may prefer one over the other. I've enjoyed the Beechnut and Earth's Best brands. Gerber also has this in organic and original. Other brands are Plum Organics and Happy baby - both brands wear the premium organic label and pricetag

Barley Cereal
This is not as popular across the board as oatmeal and rice but I like it. That's what we're currently trying in the mornings and the girls seem to be wolfing down their food a bit more. I don't know if that's due to their age, the added mangoes or the taste of the barley cereal. Barley baby cereal is quite hard to find in stores and the only brand I've seen is Gerber at Walmart

Wheat Cereal
With the proliferation of gluten allergies out there, this is not one I intend to try. Gerber brand is also the only one I've seen in stores

Multigrain Cereal
This is where I intend to end the baby cereal journey. Since we've been introduced to rice, oatmeal and barley, it's the natural next step. Once I decide on the brand(s) to go with, we'll just transition from this to adult morning cereals in 20xx.
The thing with multigrain cereal though is that there are variations across the brands.

Gerber = rice + oats + wheat
Earth's best = oats + barley + spelt (a close relative of wheat that some claim is not as allergenic as wheat)
Beechnut = rice + oats + wheat
Plum Organics = rice + oats + quinoa
Happy Baby(Bellies) = oats + amaranth + quinoa


Above is a table of the nutritional compositions of the different grains that could be found in a box or pouch of baby cereal.  If you are unable to find these cereal in store, they can be bought on Amazon.com. Click here to see what other parents are saying and to buy baby cereal online.

After pregnancy Weight Issues

HELP! I am regaining my pregnancy weight. Yes I mean regaining. This is really throwing me for a loop. I didn't think it would be like this because I actually dropped back to my pre-pregnancy weight by the time the twins were two months old. I didn't think I would find myself with weight issues six months later.

But well... in the last one month, I've steadily gained a good bit of weight and I'm currently at my end-of-first-trimester weight. Here's why:
  1. Apparently my appetite did not get the memo that we're no longer eating for 3.
  2. Darn Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls (shakes fist in the air furiously while clutching a sweet roll in other fist)
  3. I now eat like a Texan man. Have you seen the portion sizes in this state? When I first moved here, I thought they were huge and always needed a to-go box; but now they look so small on the plate that I end up ordering soup and/or dessert just to top up. Is it them or is it me?
  4. Carrying two 15+lb babies up the stairs doesn't not count as power training
  5. Sisters-in-law that gift family packs of maltesers, twix and kitkat are not helping
  6. Neither are the twins, giving mommy a box of chocolates for mother's day
  7. One word - Ranchero kolaches - wait, that's one word with a side order of another word!
I swear I am surrounded by saboteurs and top of that list is me.

Designing Baby's Menu - 6 months

I've consulted a lot of sources trying to figure out this whole babies plus solid food business. I mean really, once they've been introduced to the single first foods, what comes next? What formula works best for mixing the foods. In spite of my relentless research on Dr Google, the answer finally came from reading the ingredient list of Earth's Best Breakfast and Dinner food jars.


My impression is every meal should have portions of: grain / cereal carbs + fruit and/or vegetable + protein.


So here's the proposed long-term plan. 


Breakfast: oatmeal or multigrain cereal + fruit + yoghurt or egg yolk
Lunch: Vegetable carb (potatoes, beans, plantains, squash) + meat or fish + fruit juice or fruit
Dinner: Grain carb food (rice, barley, wheat) + meat or fish + green vegetable


Lunch won't be introduced for another couple of months but still, I like to know what I'm working towards. What do you think?

Six Months Old

Six months old! How time flies! Half a year has gone by. 182 days that I wouldn't change for the world. Here are our six month stats:


SpIce aka Twin A
Weight             16lbs 8oz 
Dress size        6 - 9 months
Diaper size       Size 3 

 
Sugar aka Twin B

Weight             15lbs 6oz
Dress size        6 - 9 months
Diaper size       Size 3


Schedule
Feeding schedule is still 4 bottles of 6-8oz daily at 5am, 1130am, 3pm and 630pm. Night time feedings have been done away with for the most part. Apart from the daily formula ration of 30oz, the girls also have breakfast of solids at 815am and the occassional cereal or vegetable dinner after the 630pm bottle. First foods tried already are oatmeal cereal, sweet potato, squash, apples, pears, bananas and rice cereal in that order.

Top Gear - My fave 5 

Playtex nurser bottles and drop-ins - I am so glad that washing bottles is one less thing I have to do



Baby carrier - for when I need to carry the two babies up and down the stairs. Also, for getting from car to daycare room and vice-versa

Graco nasal aspirator - My skill with this has improved dramatically.; which is good as the number of runny noses has increased equally dramatically



Daddy - Get's the girls ready in the morning, making things less harried for me

Daycare - They've been really good and provided a safe, loving environment for my girls and immense support for me

Development
Six months old milestones are somewhat subtle and not as obvious as the previous months. Both babies are refining their motor and verbal skills. Next stop, seven months and the possible onset of separation anxiety, crawling, first word and it better be mama

10 Ways Having Twins Changed My Life

  1. I know the location and inventory of the children's department in every Macys within a 20 mile radius
  2. I de-stress by shopping for baby food flavours and brands
  3. No matter my reason for going to the grocery store, Walmart or Target, I always stop by the baby aisle just in case
  4. My best friend used to refer to me as the only adult she knew who took afternoon and evening naps. Not any more. My beloved early evening naps are now a very distant memory
  5. I can't sleep past 730am on weekends. Spice is having none of that
  6. I speak up more and let things slide less. I used to be very laissez-faire and anti-confrontational, but as a mother, I can't allow issues to slide.
  7. Ditto my appearance. I now carry the weight of being a style role model on my frequently unstylish shoulders
  8. Off the top of my head, I know a good price for Enfamil formula is 96c per oz and a good deal on brand name diapers is 14c per diaper or less (and wipes are good at anything less than 2c per wipe. Just sayin')
  9. I'm no longer tired leaving work. Instead I'm excited to go pick up my babies from the daycare
  10. I have a new and breath-taking understanding of God's love and the depth of His promise in Isaiah 49:15 and 16 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me"

Becoming A Hair Role Model

Who's your hair role model? My hair role model is my mother. In a hundred pictures of her, you won't see her with the same hairstyle twice. She inspired me to be daring with my hair almost 20 years ago and I haven't looked back since.

I've had long hair and short hair, been straight and curly, been redhead and blonde (sometimes at the same time). Most recently, I had (dread) locs. Somewhere along the line, I decided that I wanted to have locs when my first child was born. You could say it was on my bucket list. Check! Done! Kids' born and I've taken down my locs. On to the next best hair thing; except this time it's different. This time I have two beautiful african american little girls who will be looking at me as their hair role model (at least until they start watching nickelodon or MTv).

I'm tempted to get a relaxer perm, but I don't want my daughters looking at me and wondering why their kinky hair is different from everybody else's straight tresses including their mom. I'm strongly tempted to go back to my locs, but I don't want them wanting to have locs like mommy until they're old enough to handle the social reparcussions. I could also leave my hair in its current natural state, but it lacks a neat, finished look and I don't want them to think it's ok to sport untidy looking hair.

So what to do? I don't know All I know is that my hair issues are no longer about me. I am now a hair role model and that's a hat I've never worn before - pun intended.

Sugar & Spice Chronicles: Of bellows and whimpers

bellow/ˈbelō/
Verb: (of a person or animal) Emit a deep loud roar, typically in pain or anger "
There's a little girl that lives in my house. When she was born, her daddy took one look at her and called her "The Government". On this website, she goes by the moniker Spice. She's sometimes cinnamon and sometimes cayenne pepper and yes, she bellows. She did not get the memo that said "You're not the sheriff in this here apartment baby!". In our feeble parent minds we think "she shouldn't have her way all the time. Maybe we should let her cry it out a little" Then she bellows. And we scurry like mice to do her bidding. Not so much because she scares us but because her bellow is powerful. Think Aretha Franklin in a 16 lb angry package.

whimper/ˈ(h)wimpər/
Verb: (of a person or animal) Make a series of low, feeble sounds expressive of fear, pain, or discontent.
That's what eight puppies in a cardboard box do when they're trying to get you to take them home. That's also what the little girl currently ruling this roost with an iron fist does. She whimpers pitifully. Day and night. If she wants the bigger people in the room to do her will, she whimpers. It is the whimper that moves mountain. It even gets her daycare room teachers to play the role of pacifier holder until her highness sucks herself to sleep. Sugar dear Sugar! One whimper at a time, you have successfully wrapped everyone around your teeny little finger
Two girls, so much in common and yet so different but in the end, they both get what they want.


The Sharpie and I

The lowly sharpie! I never thought you would come to mean so much to me, but now you do. I have you in all the important nooks and crannies because what's a twin mama without her sharpie
  1. Label the nose sucker bulbs so we don't get any cross-contamination
  2. Label the medicine bottles
  3. Put last use date on open boxes of cereal (they need to be consumed within 30 days)
  4. Label daycare bowls when the sticker washes out
  5. Plan weekly breakfast menu - we still on first foods so I do plan ahead which one gets tried when.
  6. Label toothbrushes (we don't have teeth, but that's really just a technicality. We have toothbrushes and are not afraid to use 'em)
If it shouldn't be shared, I label it. I use to think twins could share everything, but now I think we should try and keep the cold viruses separate.

Honestly Mr and Mrs Sharpie, I think our relationship is permanent and should you choose to dry out with time, I have a replacement plan in place

This post was submitted to works for me Wednesday

Baby Food Test - Applesauce


Everybody, and I mean everybody and their mama that makes baby food, makes some form of jarred applesauce. I tried to save the fruits for later, and here's our impression of the jarred applesauce brands that we tried last week
nurturme Apples
Ingredients: apples
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 9g
Taste test: after my experience with the sweet potatoes of this brand, I was not in the least bit curious to taste their interpretation of powdered apples; so I didn't

Gerber Organic Apples
Ingredients: Organic apples, ascorbic acid
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 8g
Taste test: I thought this would be sickly sweet but it was just mildly sweet. Mama like it. Gerber out of the penalty box? Not sure

Beechnut ApplesauceIngredients: Apples, water, ascorbic acid
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 8g
Taste test: Surprisingly bland. I don't know if this is a good thing or not?!

Earth's Best Organic ApplesIngredients: Organic apples, ascorbic acid
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 6g
Taste test: More tart than sweet. As with all EB baby foods, not a loser

Sprout Roasted Organic ApplesIngredients: Roasted organic apples
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 6g
Taste test: Tasted tart to me. Nothing special enough to justify the premium price.


Plum Organics ApplesIngredients: Roasted organic apples
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 6g
Taste test: the most apple-taste like of the lot. I enjoyed it. I eat only gala apples and this tasted just like that. Only thing is it's not pocket friendly

I fed the congregation their apples with a tablespoon of cereal mixed in and feedback from the daycare is that they loved it. I guess apple is always a winner and in this case, brand did not really matter.

When Preparing for Twins Goes Wrong

Yes it happens. You can be too type A, too much of a planner even for a twin parent. I should know. I approached this whole being a mom to twins the same way I approached my school tests and exams. I planned and plotted and had 39 weeks to do so.

I determined how many bottles and what sizes I need for twins and then strategically got them plus their accessories at BRU for discounts and coupons. Ignorant lass that I was did not realise that
  1. Twins are hard work
  2. This mama is too undomesticated to enjoy the whole bottle washing business.
  3. BRU has this horrible 90 day return policy
Anyhos, I bought Avent bottles in July for babies I didn't meet till November. Well, after less than a week of bottle washing, I caved and bought Playtex drop-ins - a decision I still don't regret.

Now where did that leave the 18 bottles and accessories I thought I would use? Taking up precious floor space in an already small baby room.



Yes you can over plan is the answer to the question I'm sure you didn't ask.

Best Sweet Potato Baby Food

After a week of oat cereal, sweet potatoes were the first veggies I added to my twin babies' diet. In honor of all the companies kind enough to send me coupons, I bought a few different brands and tested them to see which of the baby food brands makes the best jarred sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are afterall the most popular veggie baby food out there. Here's how that worked out

Gerber Organic Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients: Organic sweet potatoes, water, tuna oil, gelatin, choline, ascorbic acid, alpha tocopheryl acetate
Packaging: BPA free plastic
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 6g
Taste test: To be honest, after reading the ingredient list, I was loath to taste this

Earth's Best Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients: Organic sweet potatoes, ascorbic acid
Packaging: Glass jars

Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 5g
Taste test: Tasted just like sweet potatoes. Mama had a second taste ;) and babies liked it to

Beechnut Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients: Organic sweet potatoes,  ascorbic acid
Packaging: Glass jars

Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 7g
Taste test: I opened the jar and there was a layer of sweet potato that had changed color. I opened another jar and it was the same thing. I returned the other jars to the grocery store

Sprout Baked Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients: Organic sweet potatoes

Packaging: Resealable pouches
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 6.5g
Taste test: Very creamy and tastes nice.

nurtur me Sweet Potatoes (powdered)
Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, maltodextrin, corn starch, sunflower lecithin

Packaging: Single use pouch
Sugars per 2.5oz serving: 1g
Taste test: Turned out lumpy after mixing and it tastes exactly how I expected a reconstituted powder meal to taste.  This is not about to become a regular here.

This was a close tie between Sprout and Earth's Best jarred sweet potatoes. In the end, I have to give the blue ribbon to Earth's Best based on it being the cheaper of the two.
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