Twin Registry Must-Haves: My Faves So Far

Confession: as a first-time mom registering for baby stuff, I was completely clueless. I had no idea what many of the items even were, let alone which ones would be necessary for everyday life with two babies. But after lurking around a bunch of message boards, obsessively reading Amazon and BuyBuyBaby reviews, and getting by with a little help from some mommy friends, I managed to cobble together a pretty awesome registry.

Now that I've been in the thick of it for four months, I thought I'd share my favorite finds so far. (No sponsored or biased posts here...just a roundup of things that have been extra-helpful on this trail with two.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 9.29.41 PMThe Twin-Z Pillow: I saw this on "Shark Tank" back when I was still going through infertility and mentally filed it away for the future. (Throughout our journey, I was always hopeful we'd have twins if and when I ever got pregnant!) Now that I'm lucky enough to actually need it, I'm happy to say that it doesn't disappoint. The best thing about the pillow is its versatility -- it can be used for tandem bottlefeeding, breastfeeding, tummy time and as a sitting prop. My husband and I use it mostly for tandem bottlefeeding, and it's been great!

A few notes: this thing is big. It probably won't fit on a rocking chair or glider—we repurposed an old loveseat which has the perfect amount of space for the Twin-Z. Also, maybe I just haven't mastered the art of it yet, but I find it hard to tandem nurse with this pillow. It doesn't seem to be high enough and I find myself leaning over way too much, which hurts my back. But as someone who almost exclusively pumps (and supplements with formula), this pillow is absolutely perfect for our purposes.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 9.11.34 PMBaby Diego Bathinette: The cheeky name is just one of the many things to love about this bath/changing table. Our apartment doesn't really have anywhere to perch a small baby bathtub (our kitchen sink is really old and gets dirty easily, and our kitchen table is just a small round dinette). I knew that I wouldn't want to have bend over during my C-section recovery, so I set out looking for something raised. I found it in the Bathinette! Not only does it sit at waist level, but it also has a caddy where you can put washcloths, soap and other items. The only caveat? Don't bother using the hose to drain the tub—or your bathroom will be a watery, slippery mess like ours was the first time we tried it. Just dump the water's easy-peasy.

We're still in the phase where my husband and I bathe Piglet and Rockstar one at a time (one of us holds the baby, while the other lathers him/her up), but I'm pretty sure they would both fit in there if we were able to wrangle them one-on-one.

Fisher Price Rock-n-Play: When I was going through my research phase, this item got a lot of mileage on the ol' Google engine. All my mom friends said they swore by it, but I was a bit gunshy, thanks to lots of posts about its inclined sleeping position and the resulting SIDS risk (not to mention a tendency to cause flat head). My husband and I decided we would use it, but only for supervised, short naps—not for overnight sleeping. So far, that strategy has worked great, and Piglet loves to get her daytime Z's in this cozy napping nest. (Truth be told, I did break down and use it one night right after Rockstar came home from the NICU...he was crying non-stop in the middle of the night, and I thought maybe sleeping upright would help his reflux.

Baby Jogger City Select: Despite a hard sell on the UppaBaby Vista, I knew I couldn't bring myself to spend upwards of $1,000 on a stroller. Instead, I decided to go for this double stroller, which is about half the price, and as far as I can tell, just as amazing. One of my favorite selling points is that it has a ton of under-seat storage, which is great for toting around your diaper bag and other on-the-go items. It also works well with our Britax B-Safe carseats, though we did have to buy an adapter for the right fit.

Supposedly, this stroller has 16 different configurations, but so far, I've only used one of them (with both infant carseats facing me). Joe and I endlessly debated whether to get an inline stroller or a side-by-side, and I'm so glad we ultimately decided on Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 9.25.08 PMan inline stroller. It feels much more compact and manageable, and it's easy to maneuver. Two thumbs up!

Keekaroo Peanut Changer: Who knew you could get so excited about a changing pad? I love this item because you can just wipe it down rather than having to deal with washing a changing pad cover over and over again. (Projectile pee? No problem.) Yes, it's on the pricy side, but over time, it cuts down on laundry and saves time—both big selling points as a twin mom.

Summer Infant SwaddlePods: One of the "benefits" of having our twins in the NICU was learning lots of parenting skills from the nurses, such as swaddling. But once we got the twinnies home, we found that they'd Houdini their way out of the blankets no matter how expertly we swaddled them. Enter the SwaddlePod, which is basically an idiot-proof swaddle for newborns. You basically just zip it up, and voila! Cozy cuties ready for bed.

What would you add to the list? Would love to hear your must-haves! 

Let the (Grand) Mommy Wars Begin

If the first time you get mom shamed in public is a rite of passage, I guess I’ve earned another badge as a new mom. (Yay?) Recently, I took our little Rockstar for a not-so-fun medical procedure. After it was over, Rockstar was inconsolable—he was screaming like an adorable little banshee, and even the bottle of breastmilk I had at the ready wasn’t going to soothe him. I tried everything I could think of to calm him down (offering his pacifier, snuggling him, giving the bottle), but nothing would work.

Another woman and her baby were sitting across from us in the waiting room, along with an older woman who appeared to be the baby’s grandma (let's call her Ethel). As I frantically tried to soothe the Rockstar, Ethel was staring at me with a mix of curiosity and disapproval. Finally, she spoke up.

“Don’t you breastfeed?” she asked. “If you nursed him, he wouldn’t be screaming.”

Me in the moment. 

It was the last thing I wanted to hear at that moment—I was already stressed out trying to help my little babe, and breastfeeding is a really sore subject for me. It’s been really tough to produce enough milk for two babies, and the twinnies have had trouble latching on ever since their (mostly) bottle-fed time in the NICU. So I practice “inclusive feeding” by pumping, offering formula, and nursing (or trying to, anyway). But #thestruggleisreal!

Even though I didn’t owe her a response, I offered one anyway. “I do breastfeed,” I replied, as politely as I could. “And this is pumped breast milk. Oh, and also, that’s a really personal question.”

Before she could respond, one of the nurses walked over to try to help. “Here, let me take him,” she offered, cradling him and talking softly. After a few minutes, the Rockstar was like putty in her arms. By this point, I felt like a total failure. Not only was I not traditionally breastfeeding, but I couldn’t even soothe my own son. While the nurse worked her baby whisperer magic, Ethel kept going on and on about the wonders of breastfeeding. I just sat there, gritting my teeth.

But here’s the best part: Ethel's daughter then pulled out a bottle of formula and started giving it to her son!

I had to do a double-take. Was this lady for real? I wanted to say something so badly, but I didn’t want to make her daughter feel bad. It wasn’t her fault that her mom has a serious lack of tact. But it took everything I had not to point out the hypocrisy.

In retrospect, I realize that Ethel might have been trying to send a passive-aggressive message to her formula-feeding daughter. And I also realize that many people believe that “breast is best.” But why do so many people feel justified in questioning others’ approaches? Every time I meet someone new, their first question is how old the babies are, and the second one is usually, “Are you breastfeeding?” If it wasn’t so challenging for me to breastfeed, maybe I wouldn’t feel so defensive, but I always feel like I have to explain myself, how hard it is to produce milk for two babies, how inclusive feeding is what works for us right now.

Maybe that's all the artillery we have in the proverbial mommy wars (or grandmommy, in my case)—what works for us individually. Got a healthy, happy baby? Good! Me, too. Two of 'em, in fact. You do you, and I'll do the same.

The Scoop on Multipli-Cities

One look at my twins’ nursery leaves little doubt as to my serious case of wanderlust. Our Etsy-sourced mobile features maps in the shape of planes and clouds, and the walls bear retro travel prints of places like Palm Springs, Morro Bay and Temecula (all special places for me and my husband that I hope to share with our kids someday…soon). There’s also a globe, signed by friends and relatives with sayings like “The world is your oyster!” And above the changing table is a canvas with a hot air balloon that states: “You are my greatest adventure.”

As a journalist specializing in lifestyle and travel content, I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over California, Mexico and other amazing places as part of my job, but I’m hopeful that my greatest adventures still await—with my husband and twins in tow. Trails with Two is my way of delving into new destinations and fun things to do—all through a family-focused lens. With “Multipli-cities,” I’ll share stories, photos and tips from our travels, as well as insights and must-dos from other moms around the globe. Bon voyage!

Paving the Way to Pregnancy: The Trail to Two Begins....

Jen Big Bear
Joe and I in Big Bear, in happier times!

I’m not one of those people who obsessively plans her life. (The “Where do you want to be in five years?” question has always stumped me in interviews.) But after Joe and I got married in 2011, our plan seemed clear. Enjoy our first year of marriage, then start trying for a baby at the one-year mark. We’d have our baby before our two-year anniversary and enjoy almost two years of fancy-free alone time! First comes travel, fun, and romance, then comes baby! Perfect, right?

Spoiler alert: Things didn’t turn out *exactly* as expected. I still remember the weekend we started trying. We were on a trip to Big Bear to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday. It was August 2012, just a month shy of our one-year anniversary. The sky was full of shooting stars, and I felt certain that my “wish” would come true in no time. After all, my periods had always been like clockwork, and my doctor had always said that was the mark of a healthy reproductive system. 

So at first, I didn’t give it a second thought when the months started ticking by with no positive pregnancy test. I was loosely tracking my ovulation, but I hadn’t introduced any outside help into the mix just yet. When summer rolled around, I decided to see my gynecologist, just to make sure everything was on the up and up. After doing a battery of tests (FSH, estradiol, and progesterone), she happily proclaimed that all systems were a go and all my levels “looked great!” That was a relief—especially since I was about to turn 37.

Joe and I resumed our efforts with renewed enthusiasm, this time adding OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) into the mix. I also tried some random tips I’d read online, like using Softcups, lying upside down in a “candle” position, etc. Still, no BFP.

When we hit 2014 and were *still* on the TTC track, I decided to get a little more serious. I returned to my OB-GYN and asked if we could try an IUI (intra-uterine insemination…aka the entry-level fertility treatment). She seemed reluctant (even though we’d been trying a year and a half at that point), but said she’d move forward if that’s what I wanted. I inquired about the possibility of doing a cycle with Clomid, but she drew a line in the sand, saying, “We know you ovulate regularly, so there’s no reason to use Clomid. It could actually be harmful to you and cause ovarian hyperstimulation.”

But when I went in for the first ultrasound, my ovaries were anything but overstimulated. The doctor looked perplexed as she moved the wand around inside of me. “I don’t see any follicles,” she said. Translation: I had no eggs to work with. The IUI wasn’t going to happen…not this time, at least. “I would have let you try Clomid had I known,” she said apologetically.

I have way too much in common with this photo.

For the first time since we’d started trying, I felt really scared and defeated. I barely made it out to the car before the hot tears started pouring down my face. I dialed my girlfriend Elana and started sobbing into the phone, unable to speak. “Did you have a miscarriage?” she asked. “I can’t even get that far,” I told her. “I have no eggs!” 

I knew it was time to say sayonara to my OB-GYN and see a fertility doctor. And, in hindsight, I should have done so a lot sooner—experts say that women over 35 should consult a specialist after six unsuccessful months of trying to conceive. We'd already been trying for 18 months at that point. And, as I'd later learn, the road was going to be a whole lot longer than that!

Did you have trouble trying to conceive? When did you first realize there was an issue and what did you do about it? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments!

A (Kinda Sorta) Relaxing Day at The Spa, Post-Pregnancy

For the last seven years, I've been lucky enough to serve as a volunteer talent escort for the Golden Globes. It's always one of the highlights of my year—from party crashing afterward to snagging a gift bag to the rare chance to dress up in formalwear. But this year, it was harder to muster my typical enthusiasm for the event. After all, since giving birth to twins in October, the most primping I've done is attempting to wear something other than a hoodie and leggings and putting on the occasional eyeliner when leaving the house. The idea of finding a flattering gown and spending a 12-hour day in heels felt, well, exhausting. (Not to mention that lugging my breast pump around the Beverly Hilton—and trying to find a place to pump—seemed like a tall task. "Oh, hi, Gisele, don't mind me hogging the bathroom stall for the next 20 minutes!") And, most importantly, it wouldn't be very cool of me to leave my husband alone all day and night with our 10-week-old twinnies.

So I decided that I'd treat myself to a spa day instead. (Hey, if I can't hang with the stars, might as well pamper myself like one, right?) I booked a massage at Burke Williams and eagerly looked forward to my mini-retreat. But from the minute I walked into the spa, it became clear that a Calgon moment wasn't necessarily in the cards. The woman who gave me the mini-tour when I walked in was friendly yet frazzled, and the locker room was extremely crowded...far from Zen. I should have known—after all, it's a Saturday during awards season in West Hollywood.

Still, I figured nothing could come between me and solitude once I reached the peace of the massage room. Turns out my own "Globes" had different plans! As I laid on my front, my breasts became engorged with milk and all I could focus on was my discomfort (as well as the interview questions I wanted to ask our potential babysitter). About halfway through, I confided in the masseuse, who promptly had me turn over and completed the massage that way. That made a huge difference, and I was able to successfully veg out as hoped.

But my aching boobs wouldn't let up, so afterward, instead of hanging in the steam room or hitting up the whirlpool, I found myself pumping in the primping area. I felt somewhat self-conscious, but managed to relieve my rock-hard boobs pretty quickly. I then shacked up in the quiet room with a copy of Cosmo and some cucumber water, but I found myself checking the clock every few minutes to make sure I'd get home in time for the next feeding.

And then it hit me—as a mom, maybe you never really "escape." I was consumed with thoughts of Piglet and Turtle the whole time I was at the spa, and even if they weren't on my mind, my body wasn't going to let me forget. But trying to find a healthy juxtaposition between self-care and satisfying the twins' needs is a new challenge that I welcome...and can't wait to see what comes next.