Grand Forks mom says raising twins is ‘a unique opportunity’When Talitha Schnaidt of Grand Forks heard she was expecting twins, she said it was “a complete shocker.” She’d heard about Mothers of Multiples, or MOMS. She joined MOMS during her pregnancy which gave her the chance to learn from other mothers with more experience.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
When Talitha Schnaidt of Grand Forks heard she was expecting twins, she said it was “a complete shocker.”
Besides the shock, “I was scared,” she said.
She’d heard about Mothers of Multiples, or MOMS. When she found out there was a local chapter, she went online to find out when and where the group met. She joined MOMS during her pregnancy which gave her the chance to learn from other mothers with more experience.
She had many questions, especially because multiple babies are more likely to be born prematurely and face a greater chance of health problems compared to single newborns.
In addition to monthly meetings, Northern Valley MOMS hosts special activities, Christmas parties, outings and semiannual sales to raise funds for the club.
The chief benefits, members say, are friendship and support.
“It’s nice to be around people who understand what you’re going through,” said the group’s president Kerry Heid of Grand Forks. She and her husband, Brent Heid, are raising fraternal twin girls, Paige and Taylor, 7.
“It’s a great organization, especially for moms with younger children.”
She too was surprised when she found out she was carrying twins during an ultrasound procedure at 20 weeks. The nurse casually said, “You know you’re having twins, don’t you?”
And then, “Let’s see if there are any more.”
“I was afraid I’d have four, if I had any more,” she said with a chuckle. The Heids only have the twins.
Schnaidt, the mother of 9-month-old twins Maci and Isabelle and 3-year-old Blakely, said, “I enjoy going to the meetings mainly for the friendship, extra support and advice from other moms.
“They help with concerns I had about taking care of two babies at the same time. Or, questions like, ‘what do I need two of?’
“I feel supported by the group,” she said.
Schnaidt turns to MOMS to help her with the unique challenges of raising twins.
One of the most important is “finding a balance,” she said, “feeling like you’re treating them the same and fairly.
“For example, if one is cutting teeth, and I need to spend more time with her, I feel guilty about not spending time with the other one.”
She was also struck by “the amount of laundry you have to do,” she said, and the need for good time management.
Her husband, Kelly Schnaidt, said MOMS has been valuable.
“It’s a cool group she can go to. Members were especially helpful right after the twins were born. A lot of them had been raising their multiples for four or five years. They had a lot of tips and tricks.”
Members have “a special connection,” he said, “because no one else really knows what it entails.”
One of the best tips was to try to keep the twins on the same schedule, he said. “If one wakes up to eat, you wake the other one up to eat too.”
For the first four months, his wife was awake every one-and-a-half hours for feedings. She’s not sure how she coped with that schedule.
“You just do because you don’t have a choice,” she said.
Her husband may have thought raising the first, single child was a lot of work, but now, looking back, he said, “Boy, having one kid is easy.”
When people meet her twins, she said, some become overly interested and question whether she took fertility drugs.
“Some get too personal.”
Kristin Spradlin of East Grand Forks also joined MOMS when she was pregnant with Addisyn and Zoey, fraternal twins who are now 3-and-a-half years old.
“It’s good to get a different perspective. You hear from the doctors about the high risk (of multiples). But it’s good to hear from moms. That was really helpful.
“I got tons of information and helpful tips,” she said. “It relieved a lot of anxiety about ‘what am I going to do?’ and all the ‘what ifs’ that you have.”
MOMS is especially important for mothers who juggle work in and out of the home.
“Most of us are working moms,” she said. “It can be quite challenging, working and raising multiples. We share lots of ideas and laughs.”
Because most multiple babies are premature, they “have eating and medical issues,” she said. “We talk about how to keep them on track and healthy.”
She and her husband, Craig Spradlin, try “to make sure each of the kids gets individual time with Mom and Dad,” she said.
Typical of most siblings, “they are (the) best of friends and can be (the) worst of enemies, but they really have an awareness of where the other is, and are nurturing and caring of each other.
“They had an awareness of each other early on,” she said. “They’ll always have a bond and a connection that other (single) siblings won’t have.”
Raising twins “is a whole new experience and outlook on life,” she said. “I got less sleep than if I’d have had singletons. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Parents of multiples recognize the financial stress of having to buy certain items, such as car seats and cribs, in pairs.
“You can reuse things, you can’t pass things on” , Heid said.
While she rarely dresses her daughters the same, she “tends to buy things in themes,” such as the same clothing item but in different colors or patterns.
“Paige hates dressing like Taylor,” she said. “I think she just wants to be her own individual and not be compared or attached to somebody else.”
Schnaidt sometimes dresses her twins the same, usually for special occasions.
“When I don’t, I get a lot of questions.”
Financial concerns limit dressing the twins the same, she said, and they wear clothes passed down from their older sister.
Schnaidt said her girls like to be dressed the same.
“One wants to wear what the other is wearing,” she said, but continuing that practice “will depend on the girls and their personalities. If they want to dress the same, I’ll certainly try to do that.”
Each of her daughters “is her own individual person,” she said. She notices each developing a distinct personality.
“Maci is outgoing, bubbly, silly. Isabelle is more reserved, less social.”
She and Kelly, from another room, can tell their cries apart.
Remembering that each twin is an individual is important to the Heids too.
As parents of twins, Heid said, she and Brent sometimes compare them but try not to.
For example, the twins may perform differently in school, she said, “And you think, ‘gosh, they should be both doing the same thing.’ But they’re two different individuals.”
Being one of a multiple set of babies has its advantages.
Paige and Taylor “have a built-in playmate wherever they go,” Heid said. “They play so well together — whether it’s make-believe or dress-up. I don’t ever hear, ‘we’re bored.’”
Schnaidt said the advantage for her twins is “they’re always going to have a friend.”
Parents of multiples tend to readily approach each other and share anecdotes.
“It’s funny,” she said. “There’s a special connection between parents of twins. They come up to you and ask questions.”
She and her husband do the same.
Raising twins is a unique opportunity, she said.
“It’s a fun, cool, different experience that not every parent gets to have.”
Mothers of Multiples (MOMS) meets:
• 7:30 p.m. Third Tuesday of the month
• Bonzer’s Sandwich Pub – 420 DeMers, Grand Forks
• For more information, call (218) 791-5661
Call Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1107; or send e-mail to email@example.com.