Are twins always and forever "harder" than singletons? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My lovely SIL has beautiful 3-month-old twins. I'm absolutely thrilled for her and her DH, and love being an auntie to the sweet babies. In visiting her, I've seen a tiny glimpse into what it's like to have newborn twins, and although SIL is handling it wonderfully, it looks incredibly difficult and I cannot even fully imagine what it must be like.

Okay, so now that I have the background out of the way (SIL and I have a great relationship, I admire and respect the hard work she's doing, I love the babies to pieces, etc.), she's made a few comments that just bug me. For example, we were at her house visiting the other day and my 5yo DS was being a bit of a pill. I talked with him and his behavior improved, and on my way back to the table SIL said, "In hard moments like that, just tell yourself that I'm going to have two of them." She meant it in a light-hearted way, and I love her and know she loves me so I just laughed and we moved on, but I looked over at my 1.5yo DD, who was eyeing the dog dish at the time and needed to be redirected, and thought, "...I have 2, too."

I mean, I get that newborn twins are way way harder than a newborn singleton, but is it always and forever "harder" to have twins than to have 2 singletons? I mean, having a 5yo and a 1.5yo isn't exactly a cakewalk either sometimes. I don't want there to be a contest for who has it harder no matter what -- I think that type of comparison would bug me whether it was twins-related or not -- but I figured I'd just throw this question out here and see what other twin mamas thought.

ETA: Just to clarify, I'm not going to bring this up with her, and I'm positive that she doesn't have any ill intentions or think that I have it perfectly easy. I'm sure I've unthinkingly offended someone with what I thought was an innocent statement too. This post is more just to have a general discussion about the subject -- I'm not seeking advice on what to do or anything.

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#2 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 04:51 PM
 
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I don't have twins but one thing did occur to me as I read your posts (which I saw in New Posts) -- children have different temperaments and personalities. So while one child may get into everything, the other child may not. Just a thought.

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#3 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't have twins but one thing did occur to me as I read your posts (which I saw in New Posts) -- children have different temperaments and personalities. So while one child may get into everything, the other child may not. Just a thought.
Of course you're right. I guess I meant, is it a common feeling among parents of twins that it's harder, all the way throughout childhood, to have twins.

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#4 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:09 PM
 
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Well....my twins are only 15 months old, but YES, they are A MILLION TIMES harder (for me) than my singleton was. I am hoping that once they get older, they can entertain each other and possibly be easier than a singleton, but at this moment, they're HARD.

I have one baby who has some medical problems, and has had 3 surgeries her first 9 months of life. During those times, I've had one twin at home with my older ds (for a week or two at a time) and it is wayyyyyyyyyyyyy easier for me to handle just the 2 kids (they're 3 years apart in age) than it is to handle all 3. I've actually said to myself, "OMG, this is so EASY!!!!!" I am not sure what it is about having 2 the exact same age, but it's amazing how hard it is. i've also had days where my older son is gone for the day, and having the 2 babies is much more difficult than the older and the younger.

However, I do think it's a phase (or rather I'm fervently hoping!) and that parenting has its ups and downs at different stages, and this is the stage where we are. i also think that there are a lot of people who are adapting to having twins WAY better than i've adapted. I still feel like we're in "survival" mode most of the time. If everyone is fed and dry, we're successful. That's the only standard. Clean house, clean babies etc are a bonus.

ETA: I have a friend who has twins and used to laugh when she called them the "Twinadoes". Now I use the phrase myself.

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#5 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:21 PM
 
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I'm sure it depends on the personalities, but for me, my 3 year old twins are SO much harder than my singleton daughter-keeping them out of things, the destructiveness, just the logistics of everything.
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#6 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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My triplets are 2.5 and my brother's twins are 5. I have a 6 year old as well.

I have noticed that once the multiples get older, there are some things that are easier as they play together and don't require so much adult time.

Two kids of different ages is a different kind of challenge than two kids the same age. Scheduling and choice of activities is tough with a big age gap between kids.

From observing my friends with older multiples, there are clearly some multiples-related issues that continue to be issue as multiples age, but the older kids get, the more it seems like the number of kids is more of an issue than whether they are the same age or not. But, I don't see that happening until the kids are school aged.

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#7 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmm, I guess I'm not expressing myself well. In the situation I'm talking about, my SIL has 2 kids and I have 2 kids. Hers are twins, mine are 2 singletons. Just clarifying, since from reading the responses it doesn't seem like that was clear.

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#8 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by hergrace View Post
My triplets are 2.5 and my brother's twins are 5. I have a 6 year old as well.

I have noticed that once the multiples get older, there are some things that are easier as they play together and don't require so much adult time.

Two kids of different ages is a different kind of challenge than two kids the same age. Scheduling and choice of activities is tough with a big age gap between kids.

From observing my friends with older multiples, there are clearly some multiples-related issues that continue to be issue as multiples age, but the older kids get, the more it seems like the number of kids is more of an issue than whether they are the same age or not. But, I don't see that happening until the kids are school aged.
Thank you, this is a helpful answer.

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#9 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:28 PM
 
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I don't have a singleton but I think that it is just different.

I see a lot of my friends having their second about now and I cannot imagine having children at different stages. I mean parenting a 22 month old and a 4 year old is different than having two 22 month olds.

So. . . I think it would be safe to say that twins is harder than having one child. But after a person has more than one child the apples are harder to juggle no matter if it is multiples or singletons.

In your sil's defense, having two newborns was hard (think 2x the bf, 2x the nightwakings, 2x the diaper changes) and let me tell you (refer to a recent thread I started) two toddlers is tricky. Beyond that, I don't know.

(I'm not saying this in a snippy tone, sorry if it comes off that way)

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#10 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't have a singleton but I think that it is just different.

I see a lot of my friends having their second about now and I cannot imagine having children at different stages. I mean dealing w/ a 22 month old and a 4 year old is different than having two 22 month olds.

So. . . I think it would be safe to say that twins is harder than having one child. But after a person has more than one child the apples are harder to juggle no matter if it is multiples or singletons.

In your sil's defense, having two newborns was hard (think 2x the bf, 2x the nightwakings, 2x the diaper changes) and let me tell you (refer to a recent thread I started) two toddlers is tricky. Beyond that, I don't know.

(I'm not saying this in a snippy tone, sorry if it comes off that way)
Thanks for your post -- it makes a lot of sense. In reference to the bolded part, I tried to make it abundantly clear in my OP that parenting twins must be incredibly hard, and I definitely give my SIL her due praise/awe/props about it.

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#11 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by limabean View Post
Hmm, I guess I'm not expressing myself well. In the situation I'm talking about, my SIL has 2 kids and I have 2 kids. Hers are twins, mine are 2 singletons. Just clarifying, since from reading the responses it doesn't seem like that was clear.
Yes, you were very clear, which is why I made the point that when I have just the one twin and my older ds, it's SO MUCH EASIER for me to handle. (even with the stress of hospital stays, etc) I understand that you have two, and in no way downplay how hard it is to parent kids of differing ages, because there are definitely challenges involved there.

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#12 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 05:45 PM
 
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Thanks for your post -- it makes a lot of sense. In reference to the bolded part, I tried to make it abundantly clear in my OP that parenting twins must be incredibly hard, and I definitely give my SIL her due praise/awe/props about it.
And I think it would be hard to mother a 1.5 year old and a 5 yr old. That's a lot of activity in your day! It's just apples and oranges. Both delicious but totally different tastes.

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#13 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 06:39 PM
 
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I think hergrace hit it on the head. My girls are 4-1/2 and play all day long and require very little intervention from me. I still have two 4-year olds who, for instance, think it's cool to climb on things they clearly shouldn't and their little brother then thinks it looks like a great idea. But in terms of playing together at home, it's easier than if I just had one 4-year old and my 22-month old. But there are always going to be unique to multiples issues.

Your SIL probably looked at your 5-year old acting like a 5-year old and was scared at facing two of them. It sound like you're taking it as a competitive statement and my guess is that it was more likely coming from fear. Unless she's that sort of person.

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#14 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by f&p'smama View Post
Your SIL probably looked at your 5-year old acting like a 5-year old and was scared at facing two of them. It sound like you're taking it as a competitive statement and my guess is that it was more likely coming from fear. Unless she's that sort of person.
I'm sure you're right. She's decidedly not that sort of person.
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#15 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 07:00 PM
 
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For me, having infant twins was exhausting and arduous and almost impossible. I haven't found that it continues to be that hard. My twins are 2 1/2 now, and frankly even the both of them rolled into one package is still WAY easier than my DD1 was at that same age. DD1 had nobody but me, but the twins have each other, and they play together and demand much less from me.

That may be a personality thing, though, or a symptom of how my childrearing and discipline styles have evolved since DD1 was small.

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#16 of 28 Old 11-23-2009, 09:23 PM
 
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My twins are six-years-old. I also have a two-year-old.

When DH and I were doing our family planning, we had hoped to have a second child two years after our fist child. Instead, our second was born 2 minutes after our first!

The first year was hard; the second year was a little easier.

But once our twins turned 2, DH and I both agreed that it was easier than our "plan", which would have meant having a two-year-old and a newborn.

I would say that from age 2, I found it easier to have two children the same age, instead of two children of different ages.

Example, when my twins were two, I enrolled them in The Little Gym, and Kindermusik. I loved that both of my children were getting the most out of our outing. Not that it is a bad thing, but moms wearing an infant and chasing their 2-year-old seemed to have it a little harder than me.

Also, once they were 2, they really enjoyed playing with each other. My house was totally baby proofed, with no dangerous toys from an older sibling. They would literally play in a room together for up to two hours.

When my twins were 4, we had a single baby. It was ok when he was an infant, and could nap while I was wearing him. But it got rough when he was a year old, and wanted to nap in his bed. Two naps a day, so it was rough to schedule enough activity for my very active 4 year olds. Also, when he started crawling, I panicked about all of the tiny toys in the house from my older children.

This is when I really started seeing the benefit of having children the same age.

So my short answer: birth to age two, twins are harder. Once the twins are two-years-old, it gets easier. And fun! Nothing like having a built in play mate. DH and I have felt sorry for our single baby; to not have that best friend, his own age, living in the same house.
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#17 of 28 Old 11-24-2009, 07:47 AM
 
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I only have twins, but I have always believed that, as difficult as the first two years were, it was a lot easier to have twins than babies a couple of years (or less) apart. Juggling the very different needs (sleep schedules, feeding schedules, activity levels) of a preschooler and a baby sounds tons harder to me.

We never had to deal with "Why does B get to do that and I don't?" or "Don't hit your brother for taking your toys - he's just a baby". As soon as one of my kids was ready to play Candyland, so was the other; when one was ready to move on to checkers or monopoly, so was the other.

Somewhere between 2 and 3, they REALLY started playing together, and they have been practically inseparable ever since. Someone else made the comment about constant playmate, and it is SO true - at least in our case.

Our boys are 15 years old now, and we have been enjoying the benefits of their relationship for a LOT longer than we dealt with the struggles of two infants or two young toddlers. They have always been in the same school, played on the same soccer team, are in orchestra together - just one trip for us. Kids 4 years apart means a LOT more juggling, because they will hardly ever be in the same activity - or even the same school.

That said - it's hard not to feel competitive when you're the mother of twins.

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#18 of 28 Old 11-24-2009, 08:10 AM
 
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i have children 10, 9, 7, 5 and 1 year old twins.

i vote that until her twins are at least 3/4 her life is going to be infinitely more mind numbingly crazy than you can possibly begin to imagine: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually

particularly if she b'feeds and AP's to the extent the she can with two babies.

i have a variety of gaps between my children 10 months, 22 months, 27 months, 4 years and 4 minutes. the 22 month gap was easiest in *every* respect followed by 4 years, 27 months, 10 months and 4 minutes.

and we have temperaments from HIGHLY spirited to laid back, but the factor that was most significant for me was age spacing.

but i also think 3 children of different ages can be easier than 2 children of different ages, so get where you're at with just 2 of them to juggle

oh, another thing that gets lost once twins are born is the fact that she grew and birthed two babies at once. it quite literally takes reserves away that you didn't know you had anyway and that can be compromising too.

not to mention how you can't take your eyes off them to cook/clean/wash/breathe sometimes because two babies/children of the same/similar age just get up to SO MUCH TROUBLE (and crying in the first year or so ).
I remember my 4 and 5 year old climbing a stairgate erected above their waist level to our weirdly built loft and getting some paracetamol they should have needed a ladder to get to

so, it will change as they get older, but ime it's going to be much harder for a long time barring other varients.

however, multiple mums at least get people looking at them and saying 'wow' once in a while, so it has an ego/celebrity status that suits some people and picks most of us up once in a while

she's lucky to have you for company btw. the first year in particular can be lonely and overwhelming and so full of uncertainty. she'll need lots of reassurance and encouragement that she is up to the job. and company. and someone to juggle a baby when she falls flat.

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#19 of 28 Old 11-24-2009, 08:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post
I only have twins, but I have always believed that, as difficult as the first two years were, it was a lot easier to have twins than babies a couple of years (or less) apart. Juggling the very different needs (sleep schedules, feeding schedules, activity levels) of a preschooler and a baby sounds tons harder to me
aww. you're so sweet to give others this thoughtfulness mama

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#20 of 28 Old 11-24-2009, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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particularly if she b'feeds and AP's to the extent the she can with two babies.

she's lucky to have you for company btw. the first year in particular can be lonely and overwhelming and so full of uncertainty. she'll need lots of reassurance and encouragement that she is up to the job. and company. and someone to juggle a baby when she falls flat.
Thanks for your whole informative and thoughtful post. I wanted to address the two comments above. She is exclusively BFing, which I'm so so happy and proud about, and she's extremely attentive and loving -- her babies are just growing fat and squishy from all her milk, love, and attention. I can't imagine the energy it would take to just produce all that milk, let alone find the time to nurse 2 babies -- I'm thrilled beyond measure that she's taken on this challenge with such confidence and positivity.

And thank you for your kind words. I'm not a MoM, but I remember how isolating and scary the time right after my first baby's birth was, and she's dealing with twins and recovering from a c-section on top of all of that. I organized a schedule (which just ended last week) where she had meals brought to her every other day for the first 3 months, and she has her dad helping out every afternoon and her mom helping out every evening on the nights her DH works. She also has her ILs living 2 doors down, and we visit most weekends and try to do stuff like move laundry along or whatever while we're there. So she probably has the best situation imaginable in terms of a support network, which I'm really thankful for (and I'm sure she is too!). She and her DH endured heartbreak after heartbreak prior to becoming pregnant with these twins, and both families are ecstatic that the two of them finally get to experience this joy, but everyone's very aware that with all the joy comes tons of work and a huge learning curve, so everyone has been pretty amazing in providing their time/energy/help in supporting the new family.

I think I was just having a whiny moment yesterday (see my "squeaky wheel" post in TAO if you want), and was focusing too much on minor perceived slights like this. I'm over it now, thank goodness.

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#21 of 28 Old 11-24-2009, 02:53 PM
 
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My twins haven't arrived yet...but my sister-in-law just told me that her twins were far EASIER than her singleton. They are 22 now so she's been through just about everything (and about to tackle a wedding).

She said that the first year is rough but after that she thought it was easier to parent her twins than it was to parent her singleton. FWIW.

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#22 of 28 Old 11-25-2009, 04:03 PM
 
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I think there will always be things about having twins that *will* be harder than having 2 singletons but otoh, there are also things about it that make it easier. For example, I have 2 singleton dd's and then my twins (3 1/2 now). My dd's are both in school and I often think to myself how nice it is to have twins while the girls are in school vs. singletons b/c they are great playmates (now - it was infinitely harder when they were younger than it would have been to have just one). However, getting them both out of the house on time is twice the battle and is very, very difficult a lot of the time. And as mentioned, personalities play so much into it. My oldest dd (a singleton) is my most difficult child so far. Like, really difficult. The twins are nothing compared to her. So there's always that sort of thing.

Overall, yeah, two singletons do not equal the same type of work involved in twins b/c the singletons are never developmentally at the same spot as each other which IMO is what makes things so tricky with twins. But I can see how her comment was a bit hurtful even though you appreciate all she's doing for her twins. Hope this made sense!

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#23 of 28 Old 11-25-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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My dd is, and has always been, more work than my twins. As of three weeks ago I now have two singletons and, even when my dd is having a really good day, I still think that, for us, two singletons are harder than twins. A lot of it has to do with personality. I actually think I'm more mellow about things now than I was 9 yrs ago when the boys were born, so not sure how that fits into the mix.

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#24 of 28 Old 11-27-2009, 11:54 PM
 
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My FIL, who also has twins (my dw and her fraternal twin sister) told me early on that in his experience, having twins was sometimes like having THREE kids, and other times like having only one.

When our twins are playing well together, they are likely "easier" than a singleton of their age (requiring less attention, motivating each other to do wonderful things, warming our hearts, etc.). But when things are less peachy between our twins (it goes in phases), oh my, they are WAY more difficult than a singleton of their age would be. There are competition issues that are surely more intense than any different-age siblings would encounter, at least for twins like mine who have so many shared interests (yet have different abilities in all areas).

I also have two singletons, one is nearly 4 years younger than the twins, and the other is 6 years younger. Both of my six-year-olds are fabulous when they're one-on-one with their younger siblings. BUT, I tend to think that they wouldn't be quite so great with the little ones if they had been only children before their younger brothers were born. So it's easy for me to imagine that life with only one of my six-year-olds and my three-year-old would be 100 times "easier" than life as things are (though it's terribly depressing for me to imagine that life now), but of course the dynamics would be completely different if my six-year-olds weren't twins.

I do truly believe that having three children is easier than having just two. Two was certainly the hardest for us (and, this may sound totally crazy, but I even find having four to be easier than having three!).

Lex

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#25 of 28 Old 11-28-2009, 01:58 PM
 
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I haven't read the replies, but yeah, at 3.5 I think my twins are harder than one 3.5-year-old, or, say, one 3.5-year-old + a baby, or + a 5-year-old. Having two children at the exact same developmental stage is difficult, because you can't even count on one to be a little more mature than the other, but that's not really all it is. When I interact with them, I don't feel like I am just interacting with two people. I'm interacting with Lilly, and I'm interacting with Kate, but then there's this third entity that arises from the combination of their two personalities and their perpetual intertwining. It's that third entity that makes it hard. All siblings play together and fight together, but the intensity with twins (at least with mine) is just *more.* Maybe it's just my kids, but I sort of doubt they're that unique.

On the other hand, if I was not a twin parent, I would find it annoying if someone constantly went out of her way to remind me that twins are harder. That's just irritating. So, I think your SIL is right but I also think she should shut her mouth about it.

Betsy, mama to beautiful, strong MZ twins Lillian and Kate, born 11 weeks early on January 10, 2006.
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#26 of 28 Old 11-28-2009, 05:44 PM
 
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Betsy, that's a beautiful post

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#27 of 28 Old 11-29-2009, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You MoMs have been so, so informative and generous with your words -- thank you so much!!

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#28 of 28 Old 11-29-2009, 11:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by limabean View Post
I organized a schedule (which just ended last week) where she had meals brought to her every other day for the first 3 months...
That was super amazing of you. In my next life, I want YOU for a SIL!

Mama to twin girls Adele and Nadia, born 5/2008
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