A weekend in Kuala Lumpur

We recently spent a lovely weekend in Kuala Lumpur. We’ve been before but that was before we had the twins. I have to admit that our desire to travel has been quite curtailed by having the twins, especially after visiting the UK earlier this year! However, one of Tom’s friends invited us to their wedding in Kuala Lumpur, so of course we couldn’t miss it.

I think the flights were what we were most apprehensive about. While they were nowhere near as long as if we were going to the UK, they were still about 4 hours each, and we knew that our plane would be smaller and wouldn’t have bassinets this time. In an attempt to create a little bit of room for the twins to roam around we booked seats on the front row, but when we got to the airport we were told that we couldn’t sit on the same row because there weren’t enough oxygen masks per row for the babies, so one of us would have to sit on the row behind. We were pretty dismayed by this, but then they said that they would block out a seat next to each of us. I wasn’t sure if this would actually help, but it was great. I sat on the second row with Isobel and she had a whole seat to herself to sit and play with toys on. I put the table down and she seemed in no risk of falling out the chair. It also helped that the lady sat next to us loved her and had 2 beautiful girls sat nearby who also enjoyed playing with her! I think Tom had a similar experience with Jack. Neither of the babies slept much on the flights but we were expecting that.

On the way back, they didn’t book extra seats for us but there were loads of spare seats around us so we had plenty of room to let the twins roam :)

We had booked rooms in the hotel that the wedding was being held in, the Renaissance Hotel. It’s a pretty nice hotel! (although, between you and me, I think the Traders is a little bit better!) We booked two adjoining rooms so that the twins could sleep in one room in the dark and we could have the other one. I don’t know how you’d cope if you were all in the one room. You’d have to sit quietly in the dark every evening! I guess some people take their babies out in the evening and the babies sleep in the stroller, but ours wouldn’t sleep so I don’t think that would work for us. As it was, we ended up having a lot of room service as we couldn’t go out for dinner once the babies were asleep. The hotel offered a babysitting service, so we thought we might go to one of the hotel restaurants one evening, but when we called up they were fully booked :(

Anyway, there were two things I particularly liked about this hotel: (1) the lovely landscaped outdoor pool (we went twice and the babies loved it!), and (2) the amazing buffet breakfast – yum. I do love hotel breakfasts! It was also a great opportunity to try new breakfast things for the babies – they enjoyed eating omelette and trying a few new fruits!

Here are the babies all ready to go to the pool…

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Because we had been to KL before, we didn’t feel the need to go out too much. I think this made the holiday quite laid back because we could easily work round the babies’ naps and just go out when it suited us. We visited the Petronus Towers and the KLCC park (which was very close to the hotel), Chinatown and Central Market.

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One highlight (other than the wedding itself, which was lovely and included a 9 course Chinese banquet) was the lunch we had in Hutong food court in Lot 10 shopping centre next to the Bukit Bintang monorail station. It’s really stylishly decorated and has great food vendors. We went with a large group and just got loads of yummy food to share! Tom bought the biggest BBQ pork bun I’ve ever seen!

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So all in all, it was a great weekend. I think the babies enjoyed themselves too! As I said last time, KL is a fun place to visit but you don’t need to spend too long there to see the highlights.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Tips for looking after newborn twins

Looking after twin babies is certainly a lot of work! There are many challenges that mums (and dads) of twins face, that parents of single babies don’t have. Plus of course, there is double the feeding, changing, crying etc.

I had a few ideas of what I wanted to write here, just some things that I’ve learned after looking after my babies (who now seem to be getting more grown up by the day!). But I thought I’d see if my twin mum friends had any suggestions too, so I got in touch with the Hong Kong Mothers of Multiples (MoMs) and they have supplied some of the tips below!

With that in mind, tip no. 1 is find your local mothers of multiples or twin support group. The Hong Kong MoMs can be found via their website or facebook page. It is inexpensive to become a member and then you get to meet all sorts of other lovely ladies who have been through or are about to go through what you are, and can offer lots of advice and support. I’ve really enjoyed being part of this group, and I think it’s a great aspect of being a twin mum!

Also, on the theme of support, accept all offers of help. This is particularly important in the first month or so. I was lucky enough to have my in-laws visiting for the first two weeks, and then my parents visiting for the next two weeks – I don’t think we could have got through that time without them! After 5 or 6 weeks, the babies were much easier to handle on my own (while Tom was at work) but that beginning time was tough, especially as I was a first time mum so it was a very steep learning curve! Friends also brought round food and one lovely couple cleaned up our flat a bit for us! Be aware that this is an exceptional time and you will want all the help you can get.

Get the babies’ father involved. This is really important, even now I think it would just be such hard work if Tom didn’t share the load. But I’m a lucky lady because he was prepared to do his part from the word ‘go’ and look after one of the babies in the night feeds, change nappies, soothe crying babies etc. In my limited experience, men have much less of an appreciation of what it’s going to be like to have a newborn (or two) around so discussing this before the babies are born and deciding who will do what is a sensible thing to do.

Eat well. I think this is actually pretty hard to do, especially at the beginning. Even now I struggle to find the time to prepare wholesome food for myself. But it’s really important especially if you’re exclusively or majority breastfeeding. You have a LOT of nutrients and calories leaving you several times a day and you need to replenish them! This advice is coming from a place of regret. I am still breastfeeding at 8 months and still trying to improve the quality and quantity of the food I eat.

If at all possible, try and get your twins doing the same thing at similar times e.g. feeding, sleeping. Sleeping is particularly important because if they don’t sleep at the same time then you’ll never get a break! Whether you decide to have a strict schedule (à la Gina Ford) or follow the babies’ cues is obviously totally up to you, but it’s good to have a bit of structure so that you know what’s coming next. I know quite a few twin mums who swear by Gina Ford and it’s really worked for them. I found that I couldn’t personally stick to a schedule like that and much preferred to have a loose daily routine where the timings fluctuated daily according to the babies. Even then, I don’t think we really settled into a routine for the first 2 or 3 months but from the start I made sure that they were at least in sync with each other.

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Feed your babies at the same time – it’s a total lifesaver! While my in laws and parents were around, I was feeding one at a time, which was fine (although very time consuming) because there was generally someone else there to look after the other baby when needed. When they left I quickly found that most feeds were a nightmare – one baby would cry while you feed the other one, and then they’d switch round! Feeding them both at the same time meant that they were both occupied, and also meant less time feeding. If you are breastfeeding, I’d recommend a U-shaped twins feeding cushion. I still use mine now (at 8 months)! I also found this page to be full of useful tips on breastfeeding twins. If you are bottle feeding then you might need to try a few things to see what works best, but I’ve heard of a few people who have sat on the floor with a baby in a bouncy chair on either side of them and held a bottle to each baby. One lady with twins slightly older than mine was showing me a photo the other day of her twins sat down with soft toys piled up on them and the bottles balanced on top!

Keep a log of what you did when and with whom. Here I’m talking about feeding, peeing, pooping etc. This is especially important if you’re not doing the same thing to both twins at the same time! In the fog of new mother-dom it’s very difficult to remember these things. I think we dropped the log after a month or so but in those early days it was very difficult to remember when the last feed for each baby was!

Try and get out with the babies every day. This may not be possible in the first month or two, but after a while it becomes necessary to maintain your sanity, as well as a nice change of scene for the babies. I wrote a blog post here on how I find getting out with the babies in Hong Kong, which puts a bit of a negative slant on it but most days we only pop to the local shops or walk around the area so it’s pretty straightforward. As I mention in the blog post, if I’m going in anywhere or travelling on public transport then I tend to use a single stroller for one baby and a carrier for the other, but if I’m just going for a walk nearby then I pop them in the double stroller. If you have a car, I think you’ll find it much easier to get out and about with twins – just make sure you can fit the double stroller in the boot (or ‘trunk’ for our American readers)!

I read somewhere not to worry if you spend more time on one twin than the other, it usually balances out in the end. When the twins were born, I found that Jack was much more time-intensive than Isobel because she was just more laid back and I worried that she wasn’t getting enough attention. But then a couple of months ago I found I was spending more time with Isobel and now I think it’s switched back again. So the advice was correct for me!

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Also, one of the other twin mums told me that some crying is inevitable, so don’t worry about that either. And she was right – when you are dealing with one (e.g. changing a nappy) and the other one starts getting grumpy for no obvious reason, then you just have to let them cry for a while until you are able to deal with it! If there are two of them and only one of you, you just have to accept that it’s going to happen and the babies will survive a bit of crying.

Treat them as individuals. I don’t know about identical twins, but the mums of non-identical twins who I have spoken to have found this one to be pretty easy because their babies are really different. Mine are no exception. Even despite this, you sometimes find yourself comparing them or lumping them together especially if you spend all your time with both twins together. At the newborn age it doesn’t matter so much as when they are older, but remember to celebrate the differences – and don’t give them matching names!

Have a glass of wine! This was a favourite tip among the Hong Kong MoMs! It’s really important to reward yourself and find a way to relax at the end of a long day, whether it’s a glass of wine, a nice bath or something else you enjoy.

Enjoy your babies. This is far easier said that done, especially in the early days when you are struggling to get by on very little sleep and it all just feels like really hard work. I remember all the cards we got when the babies were born saying ‘double the joy, double the love’ – and all I could think was ‘double the crying, half the sleep’! I think you just have to remember that it will get easier, and they change so quickly that you won’t get to enjoy them like they are now for very long. Celebrate each new skill they master and have lots of cuddles while you still can.

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Looking after newborn twins isn’t easy, but I hope these tips help. If you’re a twin mum with any tips of your own to add, please comment below – I’d love to hear how you found it!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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What I’ve learned about twin pregnancies

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, it was a bit of a surprise (there are no other twins in my family!) and I knew very little about pregnancy, let along twin pregnancies. Along the way I’ve had to find and filter information and come to my own conclusions about what is best for the twins. Therefore, I thought I’d share some of the knowledge that I’ve gained in the hope that it will help other twin mums-to-be.

First of all, a disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert in any way shape or form. These are just my opinions based on my own experiences and my interpretation of the material that I’ve read. Please use your own judgement when reading this and come to your own conclusions.

The most important thing that I’ve come to realise is that twin pregnancies are different to single pregnancies, and you need to treat them as such. They take a much larger toll on your body and carry a whole extra set of risks. I’ve been very lucky with my pregnancy, which has gone very smoothly but I know of other twin mums who have had complications, been put on bed rest or given birth to pretty premature babies. It is really important that you look after yourself throughout your pregnancy to give your babies the best possible start. Now I am over 37 weeks pregnant with healthy-looking full-size babies who are currently showing no signs of wanting to come out!

Please don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing: I was admitted twice to hospital with threatened miscarriage twice very early in the pregnancy. Thankfully both times the babies were fine. I think that problems like this, and exaggerated pregnancy symptoms (such as morning sickness and heartburn) are all part and parcel of twin pregnancies.

Rest

I would recommend that you slow down and rest as much as possible. I’ve been in the fortunate position that for most of my pregnancy I was only working part time and since about 24 weeks I’ve not been working at all (my Etsy shop is now my work but I can do that at my own pace!). I attribute this to a significant part of how well my pregnancy has gone. If I’m tired, I can sleep in in the morning or stop what I’m doing and take a nap. I realise that many others may not have this luxury but you still need to rest as much as possible. At the very least, you will want to stop work earlier than if you were having a single baby.

More significantly, you need to listen to your body. At various points along the pregnancy, I’ve been out doing something and fatigue has totally overcome me either then or the next day which made me realise that I can’t do that anymore! For example, we were showing some friends around Hong Kong and I just got too hot and tired and had to sit down and let them continue without me. I learned from that that I needed to avoid being out in such hot weather for long periods of time. Since then, the amount I can do has gradually got less and less and now at the end of my pregnancy I barely leave the house. My body quickly tells me if I’ve done too much!

Eat well

This was an area that I found very confusing. I read a book called ‘When You’re Expecting Twins’ by Dr Barbara Luke, and she advocates that twin mums-to-be consume 3500 calories a day (a huge amount) and lists the amount of weight that you should have put on every few weeks! I read this book when I was at about 24 weeks and I had only put on about half the prescribed amount! By contrast, the NHS guidelines say that you should not eat any more than normal until the end of your pregnancy, when you should consume an extra 300 calories per baby per day.

After talking to a few people and deliberating this a large amount I opted for a middle ground. I do actually believe that you need to eat more than usual throughout a twin pregnancy, despite what the NHS says. By 24 weeks (during which I had been eating a similar amount to pre-pregnancy) I felt that I had lost a little weight off the rest of my body, although the bump and babies were growing well. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t have enough stores to make breast milk once the babies were born too.

One twin mum told me that her doctor had suggested eating 6 small meals a day, each with some protein in. I felt that this style of eating didn’t quite suit me, but I adjusted my diet to include more protein and added substantial snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon (sometimes more than one!). I now try to eat as much protein and calcium as I can, and lots of fruit and veggies too. Since then I have gained weight much more steadily and I actually feel a bit podgy now! I’m hoping that breastfeeding will help to take away the excess weight!

Here are some examples of the things I’ve been eating:

  • Cheese and ham sandwich
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Pancakes
  • Omelettes
  • Jacket potato with cheese (I don’t like baked beans but these would be a good addition too)
  • Chunky soup
  • Porridge
  • Peanut butter on toast
  • Cereal bars
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Raw carrot and hummus
  • Yogurt

Strengthen your core

About halfway through my pregnancy, I started getting backache. I’ve never been a particularly fit or physically strong person and I guess my body was just complaining about the extra weight on my front. Therefore I’d recommend that early on in a twin pregnancy you should start building up your core, perhaps through pregnancy-specific back exercises, prenatal yoga or prenatal pilates.

However, I have to admit that I didn’t do any of these – perhaps I am just too lazy! Some other twin mums recommended buying a pregnancy support belt and it has been a bit of a lifesaver for me. I wear it every day and whilst my backache isn’t completely gone, it has definitely been alleviated to significant extent.

Another thing that I found is that some of my bras were getting too tight and giving me backache or sore ribs. A bra extender (or two) helps with this (or you could just buy bigger bras…).

Get support

I joined the Hong Kong Mothers of Multiples group, and I’ve really enjoyed meeting with other women who have been through or are going through the same thing as me. It’s good to know that I can turn to them if I have any questions or problems. I’d really recommend other twin mums and mums-to-be find a mothers of multiples group in their area. I think most areas have them.

In the UK, there is an organisation called TAMBA (Twin and Multiple Births Association) who are a great source of information. They also have a hotline that mothers of multiples can call if they have any problems, and they run twin-specific antenatal and parenting classes. If was in the UK I’d definitely have joined!

There are other online sources of information too, although I have to admit I haven’t really used them. Some examples include:

What to buy

I think deciding what you need or want to buy for your babies is a very personal thing but you need to remember that you don’t actually need two of everything! For example, we have only purchased one cot (and no bassinets). While the twins are small, you can put them both in the same cot – and I read somewhere that often twins like to be near each other as it mimics their conditions in the womb. Similarly, you only need one bath, one changing table/mat and one set of toys (they can share). However, you will need twice as many clothes, bedding, nappies (diapers) and feeding bottles!

We have gone fairly extreme in our aims to keep purchasing to a minimum and have only bought a single stroller (pushchair). Double pushchairs aren’t very practical in Hong Kong as they tend to be big and heavy, and most people here use baby carriers instead of pushchairs anyway. Our plan is that if Tom and I are out together we’ll take one baby each in a baby carrier, and if I’m on my own, I’ll carry one and push the other one in the stroller. We’ll see how well that works!

We’ve also bought a lot of things second hand, partly because there is no point in spending a lot of money on things that the babies will grow out of quickly, and also because baby stuff in Hong Kong is very expensive! Here are some great sources of second hand baby goods in Hong Kong:

  • AsiaXpat – this is the most active with something like 100 new listings per day
  • Discovery Bay Flea Market – DB has a LOT of families (and a surprising number of twins) so there are new things going up all the time. I don’t live in DB but I’ve still bought things from here
  • GeoBaby – not as active but still worth a look
  • swap-it-hk – very active but not just baby/children stuff
  • Hong Kong Mothers of Multiples – occasionally people sell things through this facebook group, sometimes very useful twin-specific items

So those are my main learnings from my pregnancy. As I said, this is all based on my own opinions so if you are a twin mum or mum-to-be and you disagree with any of these or have additional things to add, please do write them in the comments below! I’d love to hear your experiences!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

I’m back… with some news

Hi there blog readers, thanks so much for sticking around whilst I’ve been away.

Tom and I had a wonderful time back in the UK, visiting friends and family. We managed to fit in quite a lot of people but not everyone so apologies if we didn’t see you. Being a typical Brit, I have to mention the weather – which was not good! It was really cold in the UK for May, which was a bit of a shame because normally May is a pretty nice month (sometimes nicer than August!). This was quite a contrast to our return to Hong Kong, where the temperature has soared while we were away and is now around 30°C and very humid. I had forgotten how sticky it is here!

Anyway, a couple of highlights from our trip included the wedding that was the main reason for our trip – it was really beautiful day, set in a series of walled gardens. The bride looked absolutely gorgeous, they had a lovely ceremony and a great band for the evening (I’d highly recommend Thrill Collins if you’re looking for a band for an event – they are not a Phil Collins tribute band by the way!).

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the happy couple

Another wonderful thing that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do was that a friend invited me to go flying with him – I loved it! The plane was tiny but it was a surprisingly smooth experience. We were up for an hour and went over Oxford and the Silverstone racetrack. Really good fun, and a very unique experience.

our little plane

view over Oxford

view over Silverstone

Ok, so here is my news – I’m pregnant with twins! Tom and I are very excited (and a little daunted!). My bump is growing rapidly at the moment – it seemed like it doubled in size while we were away! I’m at 18 weeks at the moment and the babies are due in October. So far we know that they are non-identical twins but we don’t know the genders yet, hopefully we’ll find that out next month (can’t wait!). Any advice from anyone with twins would be much appreciated!

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Thanks for reading!

Rachel