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Multiples Illuminated: Book Review

I really enjoyed this book and categorize it as a must-have on the bookshelf for parents expecting multiples.  Laid out into the natural flow categories of conception, pregnancy, labor and delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the first years, submissions by parents of twins, triplets and more honestly explore their journeys with insight, hints, tips, fears, expectations, realities, humour and ultimately, the joy of having two, three or more babies at a time.  Each author has managed to include the reader on their unique journey in a most delightful and personal way.

Multiples Illuminated, by Megan Woolsey and Alison Lee

Window measurements copyIn addition, the editors offer concrete ideas throughout for handling trying times, e.g. coping with infertility issues, and include a “must-have” list of accessories for having multiples and thoughtfully provide places to journal your own thoughts and feelings about your particular journey.

This book would be the perfect gift for anyone you know who is expecting multiples!

Anyone with an interest in multiples needs to pour her/himself a coffee, find a quiet moment to sit back and savor the experiences of families who have already begun a unique, exciting, challenging and rewarding parent experience.

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Sam and Finn: Book Review

When Kate’s twin son, Sam, brother to Finn, died unexpectedly 12 hours after their births, she wanted to give Sam a voice and this book is Sam’s voice. Sam and Finn is a gentle exploration of twins who began life together in the womb and while life and a future awaited one little boy, the journey for his twin would very different.

Sam and Finn, Kate Polley, illustrations by Alex Latimer, The Oodlebooks Publishing Company Ltd.

Sam and Finn explores death and leaving as well as nearness and support for those left behind.  The illustrations are simple and will be appealing to parent and child, while leaving plenty of room for discussion as the young reader may wish to explore.

sam and finnAny child from 2 to 10 would appreciate this book and rather than feeling afraid, would feel comforted and no doubt wish to look for the sibling in all sorts of places around them.

Sam and Finn will be a great introduction for parents looking for a way to gently break the news to their child that they had begun life as a multiple.

Sam and Finn can be ordered at: http://www.oodlebooks.com/sam-and-finn-kate-polley/

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The Same But Different: Book Review

Joan Friedman uncovers the deeper discourse of twins in what is a uniquely frank discussion of what twins often feel when dealing with each other and the world. It is true that others, including parents, can idealize the twin reality and this can impart unrealistic expectations. To be sure, being a twin can represent a hidden struggle in which the ideal of a soul mate does not always allow for twins to be their own person, carve out their particular destiny and even in certain situations leave the other twin behind. Ultimately, all individuals, twins included, must become their own person.

The Same But Different by Joan A. Friedman, Los Angeles, Rocky Pines Press.

7-23-2013_The_Same_but_DifferentThe author writes from several perspectives. She has a twin sister although it is not clear whether they are mono- or dizygotic twins (I suspect Monozygotic though). In this regard, she felt that she participated in a false closeness with her sister to mask their actual individuality. The author also writes from a social work and psychoanalytic perspective from her practice in which she has specialized in twin issues. This provides the book with a rich and unique depth.

My concern with many of the issues that Dr. Friedman describes in detail, however, is that she describes them in overly broad terms. For instance, it is true that twins can feel disloyal and hateful if they want to be different but there are many that manage their lives without these pulls and underlying tensions between togetherness and autonomy. I wonder whether she takes her cue from a psychotherapeutic context, which is shaped by the population she is seeing. In this regard, Dr. Friedman articulates that most of her twin clients call her because they are having difficulty with their twin relationship. Hence, it is a biased group.

Perhaps society in some way considers twins to be special, idealized or romanticized. This did not stop the government of Canada, however, from turning down an application from the parent of twins to double the parental leave to handle the demands two babies simultaneously were causing. In other words, although multiple births, especially in the higher range, are cause for special attention, this idealization might not be such a general conclusion. Thus, I do not agree that the mystique regarding twins is as pervasive as the author describes, especially as more are born now that during any previous time in history due to fertility treatments.

It is not surprising perhaps that the author sees the “sameness” in twins as a special burden. On the other hand, I noted that when she spoke about the Winklevoss twins who sued Mark Zuckenberg that she quotes one of them as saying that they focus on what differentiates them not how they are alike. Yes, the media emphasized their sameness but the twins themselves did not follow suit. Her general point though is that the obligation of symmetry, especially in identical twins, could well create a conflict that interferes with identity. This is certainly a risk and makes sense from what she aptly describes.

I found myself often debating with the cultural norms Dr. Friedman describes until I thought that perhaps she is really describing parental expectations and not society in general. For example, certain parents might consciously or unconsciously expect their twins to walk through life in lockstep in a way that exceeds expectations placed on singleton siblings. This might not be the case, however, across the board. This “ultraclose” relationship would of course be stifling and might well lead to a request for therapy. Hence, she sees a parallel between certain twin relationships and a co-dependent married couple in a dysfunctional relationship. This might be true in some cases but to consider it a widespread phenomenon might pathologize the twin situation too much.

Hence, the book has many applications for therapists seeing twin problems in psychotherapy. The book offers a wealth of clinical examples that help explain just how complicated and difficult the twin experience can be. Implicitly, she underscores how important it is for parents of multiples to dig deep in their own self reflection and make sure that they uncover attitudes and expectations that will only burden their children and leave them less likely to develop into healthy individuals.

Dr. Freidman’s observation that caretaking siblings might be filling in for gaps created by parents is extrapolated to the twin situation. Obviously this has personal and professional relevance for the author. She makes the point that caretaking is different from caring, which is an important distinction. Loving another does not have to mean taking responsibility for their lives.

The Same But different is an important addition to the literature on multiple births and the psychological problems and challenges twins can face. The premise of the book is that twins must work through the myths of being a twin in order to facilitate individuality Succumbing to unconscious expectations and conflicts regarding being a twin can complicate their lives. My own impression is that boy-girl twins are less likely to fall into some of the traps the author portrays. How this pertains to triplet and quad situations would also be interesting to explore.

I would recommend this book not only for twins who are suffering in ways the author describes, but also for parents of twins. In addition, professionals who work with this population will be well served by reading this book. My only concern is that the book generalizes from the specific situations Dr. Friedman has faced personally or with her client sample to the general situation. The role of parents’ expectations is an often implicit or hidden factor that runs through the book. Whatever its few limits, however, the book is fascinating, moving and at times disturbing. Dr. Friedman has shared her wealth of experience, which is a real contribution to the multiple birth literature.

Lynda P. Haddon

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The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Book Review

Elizabeth Pantley has, thankfully, added another book to her “No-Cry” series. This latest one offers discipline solutions for toddlers and children, aged 2 to 8 years. All types of potentially difficult situations are covered such as bedtimes, tantrums, not brushing teeth, hitting, bitting, meal times, inappropriate language use and more. She covers not only what the child might be feeling but also the parent’s feelings. A very helpful section looks at anger, what it means, possible triggers and how our own anger can affect the situation and sometimes make things worse. Pantley offers useful suggestions on keeping one’s own emotions in check, turning the situation around with distracting methods (make a song out of what you want done, use humour) and offers appropriate consequences when or if necessary.

The No-Cry Discipline Solution, Elizabeth Pantley, 2007, McGraw Hill, softcover, 235 pages

My favorite section has to be Part 4: Specific Solutions for Everyday Problems.

When my girls were small (twins and a singleton 22 months their elder), I just didn’t have time to read psychologically-based, drawn-out solutions for situations which generally had one child, one adult and the general message “follow this advice and all will be well.” Yeah right! Not in my house where the parents were outnumbered by little ones feeding off of each other’s behaviour.

I needed quick, helpful, supportive feedback with several possible suggestions to consider in turning things around. Flying by the seat of your pants and/or “learning as you go” doesn’t always equal good parenting skills.

Pantley clearly and concisely states a situation, for example Sibling Fights. Each begins with a story from a frustrated parent. Pantley asks us to Think About It (in this case Sibling Fights) and addresses what such fights can mean for the child. She then offers step by step ideas on What to Do and, perhaps more importantly,What Not to Do.

Pantley cross-references to other areas of the book for additional suggestions. In this case, Biting Other Children; Bossiness, Hitting, Kicking and Hair Pulling; Playtime Behaviour. Most topics are covered in two pages, making it quick and simple to grab the book (topics are alphabetically listed), peruse the appropriate area, absorb some techniques and get back to the home situation, all in a timely fashion. That’s my kinda guide!

If you have kids aged 2-8 years, this book is a must have. I hope that Pantley will soon add a “No-Cry Discipline” focused on preteens and teens.

Lynda P. Haddon

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Raising Multiple Birth Children

Although the rate of multiple births has skyrocketed in recent years, many parents of twins and triplets find that they are struggling to cope with the emotional, psychological, and financial pressures of parenting more than one baby. This book by William and Sheila Laut is a survival guide for the parents of multiples. It contains a compendium of tips and techniques collected from parents of multiple births across the country.

Raising Multiple Birth Children By William and Sheila Laut, 1999.

The chapters include:

Raising Multiple Birth Children1) “Congratulations, and Fasten Your Seat Belt!” focusing on pregnancy
2) “‘Time To Feather Your Nest’–A Guide to What You Will Need”
3) “‘Will They Ever Sleep through the Night?’–The First Six Months,” addressing sleeping, feeding, colic, and finding help
4) “‘Life Will Never Be the Same!’–Your New Lifestyle,” concerning parent adjustment
5) “‘Are They Natural?’,” on responding to personal questions
6) “‘Bringing Home the Bacon’–Financial Issues”
7) “‘Who Are All These Little People?’–The Second and Third Years,” focusing on teaching social skills, discipline, and toilet training
8) “‘The Instant Family Doesn’t Come with Instructions’–Making It Work and Building Quality Relationships”
9) “‘Can We Come Too?’–Around Town or Around the World–Traveling with Multiples”
10) “‘Another Year Already?’–Birthdays and Holidays”
11) “‘Quick, Give Me an Idea, FAST!’,” including tips regarding shopping and cleaning up
12) “‘It’s Gonna Take More Than Sit-Ups’–Tummy Tucks,” concerning plastic surgery
13) “‘I Miss the Kids Already and They’re Only Sleeping’,” containing parents’ reflections on their children’s growth
14)”Where To Turn for Information and Support.”

I haven’t yet read this book on raising multiple birth children by the parents of triplets, but it has come highly recommended to me. With the birth of triplets, William and Sheila Laut went from DINK (double income, no kids) to SINK (single income, numerous kids) desperate for advice, but finding little. Their book on how to raise multiple children is packed with practical tips for parents raising twins, triplets, quadruplets, and more. They also include suggestions for getting organized, baby gear you will need, coping with sleep deprivation (I like it already!), gift ideas, funny stories, (we can always use those) and more!

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Mothering Multiples: Book Review

Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding Twins, Triplets or More covers every possible breastfeeding topic. A mother of multiple babies will likely have an assortment of questions. Can she produce enough milk? How will she coordinate feedings? Is breastfeeding even an option? The simple answer: Yes!

Kerkhoff Gromada offers valuable information with an emphasis on breastfeeding and attachment-style parenting. All aspects of caring for multiple babies are addressed. These include possible complications of pregnancy, preparing for a multiple birth, coping with newborns who might need to spend time in a NICU, establishing a milk supply for multiple babies, adjusting as a couple, and caring for toddler multiples.

Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding Twins, Triplets or More, Karen Kerkhoff Gromada from La Leche League

mothering multiplesMothering Multiples provides valuable information with an emphasis on breastfeeding and attachment-style parenting. It features various aspects of caring for multiple babies, including possible complications of pregnancy, and preparing for a multiple birth.

An encouraging and essential read for breastfeeding, Mothering Multiples also contains excellent photos and topics of interest.

About the author: Karen Kerkoff Gromada has worked with thousands of mothers of multiples as a La Leche League Leader for more than 30 years and is a registered nurse and lactation consultant. A popular speaker on the topic of multiples, she has been published in the Journal of Human Lactation and various nursing journals. She co-authored Keys to Parenting Multiples for Barrons Educational Series and was a pioneer columnist for TWINS magazine.

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A Doctor’s Guide to a Healthy and Happy Multiple Pregnancy

Expecting two or more? Dr. Franklin has a light-hearted, easy to understand writing style, generously laced with humour. Her book takes you through each stage of the pregnancy. She includes chapters on learning the news that you’re having multiples, “…and What To Do About It”, she addresses issues you might expect to face in each trimester of your pregnancy, focusing on nutrition, exercise, and preparing for the babies.

Expecting Twins, Triplets, and More: A Doctor’s Guide to a Healthy and Happy Multiple Pregnancy, Rachel Franklin, M.D., M.O.M.* (*Mother of Multiples), 2005, St. Martin’s Griffin, N.Y., 221 pages

Expecting Twins, Triplets, and More is like having a friend, who also happens to be a doctor, share her experience and expertise to help you best take care of yourself and your babies at this very special time. Dr. Rachel Franklin’s practical wisdom helps you understand the unique circumstances of multiple pregnancy and birth. Throughout and after your pregnancy,  Expecting Twins, Triplets, and More will act as an invaluable resource on what to expect, how to cope, and how to enjoy the journey.

Here are some of the topics Dr. Franklin covers in her book:

  • Telling family, friends, and coworkers the news
  • Choosing a doctor
  • Exercising and eating well
  • Coping strategies trimester by trimester
  • Preparing for labor and delivery
  • Understanding potential complications and their solutions
  • Navigating the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)
  • Celebrating the births and bringing home the babies
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Your Premature Baby: The First Five Years (Book Review)

An excellent Canadian book offering detailed information regarding your premature baby. Why does premature birth happen? What can you do? How a premature baby may behave (looking at the body language of a premature baby), how the hospital can help, bringing them home, and feeding a premature baby are some of the topics covered in detail.

The photographs of these special babies are simply fabulous. This book would be a great resource for those with a premature baby.

Your Premature Baby: The First Five Years by Nikki Bradford, 2003, Firefly Books, 208 pages

premature babyYour Premature Baby is the definitive guide to every aspect of nurturing a child who is born too soon. Reassuring and frank, it is the only book that informs and guides parents right from their baby’s too-early birth into the growing years.

Features of this book:

  • Exactly how prematurity affects a baby
  • Explains hospital terms, procedures, treatments, and equipment
  • What to expect as your baby progresses through treatment and procedures
  • Gives advice for coping practically and emotionally
  • Help and ideas for parents from when their baby comes home up to age 5
  • Discusses the latest research into the causes of prematurity and its preventions
  • Offers a wide variety of resources for further information and support
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The no-cry potty training solution: Book Review

Here are two goals which can bring joy to a parent’s heart: “sleeping through the night” and “toilet trained.” For the latter, Elizbeth Pantley has scored again with her newest book on potty training. It isn’t unheard of for parents to find themselves in unpleasant, close enocunters of the potty-training kind when trying to train their toddlers. It doesn’t have to be so and Pantley gives us suggestions, not the least of which is to recognize the signs of each child’s readiness to be trained. If they are not physically ready and able, training can quickly move to a battle of wills, with no winners insight.

Gentle ways to help your child say good-bye to diapers, Elizabeth Pantley, McGraw Hill, 2007, 174 pages, softcover

Right at the beginning, Pantley sets out a Readiness Quiz so that we know what signs of readiness to look for in our children. She addresses topics such as keeping it natural, making it a game, getting to the bathroom quickly (kids tend to leave it to the last second and when they say they “need to go,” time is of the essence), bathroom safety, how to teach your child to wipe properly and wash their hands afterwards.

There is a chapter on bed-wetting which is extremely helpful. Bed-wetting is more common with boys and during the night, the kidneys may not be sending appropriate messages to the brain to signal the need to go and/or the bladder is not fully developed enough to go through the night. Bed-wetting can sporadically last for years, or not. She provides constructive ways to handle bed-wetting and to help keep your child dry, without them losing their self-esteem in the process. Pantley even includes some suggestions for toilet training children with special needs.

While her book focuses on training singleton toddlers, there reference about training twins and more. She gives us notice that our children may not be ready to train at the same time – and haven’t we heard that before in other contexts! – and reminds us not to compare them regarding successes and failures – yet another common theme for parents with multiples. Each child having their own potty ensures that when the time is right, there will be no waiting in line for a turn and perhaps subsequent accidents.

While toilet training is long-past with my own children, I really appreciated Pantley’s easy writing style, identifying the challenges and offering suggestions, and positive approach to a topic which can be a challenge for parents as well as toddlers. She takes the pain out of it all for everyone and if your children are nearly ready to toilet train, this is one book you don’t want to miss reading.

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Blender Baby Food

For parents wishing to make their own baby foods or wishing to have some fun choices to offer toddlers, this book on blender baby food is a must have! The sections of this book are broken down into chronological sections, from when babies need to begin solid foods through 12 months and older, and includes suggested meal plans for each age. There are 125 delicious baby food recipes included for beginning solids, with hints and tips in the margins on how to “upgrade” each recipe for older children.

Blender Baby Food, Nicole Young and Nadine Day, 2005, Robert Rose Inc., 189 Pages

baby foodThe authors begin with steps on how to recognize when your babies are ready to begin solids, address food consistency at each age and stage, answer safety with food issues (such as with eggs), choking hazards, storing, freezing and thawing prepared foods and offer a list of the equipment you can expect to use when preparing your own baby food. There is even a section covering salt, sugars and The Picky Eater. It couldn’t be easier.

Blender Baby Food guides readers through the process of making their own baby food. The blender is an easy, no fuss way to offer new flavours in a baby-friendly texture. Even after a child begins to eat table food, there is always an occasion for a fruit smoothie or a nutritious blended dip.

Young and Day include three reasons for parents to make their own baby food:

    • 1) The ingredients are all hand selected, assuring healthy and wholesome meals
    • 2) Parents can easily tailor the texture to their baby’s preferences
    • 3) It will help shape a baby’s tastes so he or she can appreciate fresh foods

The book also includes meal plans, helpful tips and techniques and even advice on storing and freezing baby food. Using this comprehensive cookbook, parents will quickly discover that giving their baby the best nutritional advantage is its own reward.

Another great point – it’s a Canadian book!