Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mommies don't get sick days

And it has finally happened. After being so healthy and germ free for 9+ months, I have a lovely sinus infection. One word, YUCK. And to pair it with a root canal is just proof, that mommies in fact do not get sick days.

Thankfully the boys have been so happy, as they normally are, the past week and a half. I'm hoping I can get into the doctors on Monday for a quick appointment so I don't lose too much time at work, and that once I am on antibiotics it will clear right up. The weird part about all of this is, it is only on one side of my sinuses, which just happens to be the same side where I had my root canal. Can I just say, this blows? I'm really hoping to be over this mess soon, I don't have time for it - I don't think any mom does. I really think I need to have a heart to heart with God and tell him, "I was pregnant, had babies, take care of them - I really think any mom should be exempted from being sick!" Kidding, of course.

I think this whole 'getting sick' fiasco has in some way told me to slow down, and chill out some. More importantly, to not be so hard on myself. Anyone who knows me, and I mean really knows me, knows that I am extremely hard on myself and my expectations of myself. My house is pretty, pretty clean most of the time - because I constantly clean it. I work as much and as hard as I can, I try to do the very very best of everything - especially for the boys. And I rarely ever take time for me. Including, my 'me' trips to Target which is normally picking up anything we need for the house/groceries/Erik/boys. So I am trying very hard to change that! Its been a challenge, but it's getting better and I'm not feeling so stressed out any longer. I do what I can, when I can and that's all anyone can do or ask from someone.

Fingers crossed I'm back to my old self soon and to making changes!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Twin Recommendations

I have been asked lately, what products I would recommend for a MOM (mom of multiples). I know I personally scoured the internet trying to meticulously pick out every single product that we purchased just so I would avoid the return, exchange, resale of items. I've also been asked what I've done that has worked for us and made life easy. So - here is my list/review/suggestions for other MOM's and especially FTM MOM (first time moms of multiples).
  • My very, very first suggestion is of course to make sure that your OB and your MFM are two people you trust completely and respect 120%. If you have any hesitation, please please be your advocate and find someone who you can trust with your prenatal care.
(newborn/coming home - 3 months)
  • Two boppies (Found here) Even if you don't breastfeed they are a multitude of uses for these. Mr. H loves it as a neck rest - but joking aside. I feed the boys in these. My post partum doula (later post on that) showed me how to feed the boys in these. I sit in between them and place a boppy on either side of me and put each baby in it and pop the bottle in. This trick literally cut my feeding time in half.
  • Skip the bath tub and go for two bath sponges (Found here). I had the whale tub by fisher price (here) and while it was pretty awesome. I enjoy the sponges more, as do the boys. I can bath them both side by side in the big tub and they can be with one another. It also has come in handy now that they are older and are pulling up and sitting because it gives a little cushioning for the falls and plops down.
  • I personally found the Tommee Tippee Sensitive bottles to be amazing (found here) we originally had the regular ones but the boys were still really gassy even with burping every 10 minutes so we switched and it made a big difference.
  • I previously posted this recommendation, but I really love my high chairs. I have the Fisher Price Deluxe Booster Chairs (here). It has made a HUGE difference in feeding them and is super BLW friendly since there is no fabric to wash.
  • If you plan on BLW I highly suggest the book Baby-Led Weaning (found here). After reading it I felt much more comfortable in my choices. Another great book suggestion is Bringing Up Bebe (here) I haven't finished it yet, but she makes a lot of wonderful points and I'm finding out that I'm naturally a French mother. LOL!
  • Swaddle sacks were a huge hit in this house - I suggest having 6, so you only have to laundry every 3 days if for some reason they each go through 1 a night due to a leaky diaper or spit up. Those can be found here.  We used them until the boys could roll onto their tummies.
  • I absolutely recommend the two biggest hits the Nosefrida and the famous Sophie. The Nosefrida looks gross, but I promise you it gets snot out so much better than any bulb aspirator (which is still fantastic for mouth suctioning). Sophie is also worth every penny. She is made from natural rubber and food based paint is used so it isn't bad if your baby chews and chews and chews and the paint starts to come off. She was also designed to be used for every type of chewing/teething stage.
  • I recommend this article for toys during the first year. It's fantastic and simple and we have every single one and they are all hits. It's basically 15 toys for the first year.
  • We used this mobile/noise machine and the projector has been a huge hit for naps in this house. ( found here) We only got one of these and I cant imagine needing more than one. They shared their crib until they were rolling onto each other and then we took them off completely. Now the projector is attached to the changing table and the projector video takes up half of the ceiling, so it's plenty of light/entertainment for two babies to view, their room is about 10'x11' (ish) and it takes up about half of the ceiling, which are 9 foot ceilings and can be seen perfectly from the floor up - yes I do know from own personal experience.
  • This was the swing that we used, I didn't think we would need two - but we did, thankfully we were loaned one (by of course our amazing post partum doula) and didn't have to buy a second one. I loved the plug in function on this (found here) and it was very well made and thought out. We didn't use it for too long because I didn't realize you could use it from coming home on but the timeframe we did use it, it was amazing and a life saver.
  • We also used the Rock N Plays for a good long while, they were super helpful in the early days (found here). The boys slept best in their cribs, but they were super handy to have around.
  • These are the activity mats that we have and have really enjoyed it and have had a great run with them. The boys are 9 months old and are still really enjoying them and they aren't even showing any wear or tear. I highly suggest having at least three mats, they tend to get tired of one and then I pull out the other and alternate the toys on them and so forth. We have this one, this one, and this one.
  • Johnny Jump Ups have been a HUGE help in this house. Because of them we shower daily now. We hang on in the bathroom enterance door directly in front of the shower and one in the closer door directly next to the shower and it works out perfect.
  • These boys LOVE to jump. We have two different Jumperoo's - The Baby Einstein Jumperoo Activity Center (recently recalled due to the Sun toy rebound - ours was not affected but I can't supply the link because of this) and we have the Fisher Price one (found here). You definitely need two. I suggest two different Fisher Price Jumperoo's - they put the Baby Einstein to shame. Hands down. I also suggest two different ones of any activity thing you buy - like activity gyms, jumperoo's etc that way when they are tired of one you still have another one to switch it up.
  • There are some toys that are worth buying two or three of them. This doesn't solve every screamfest but - it helps.
  • In the early teething stage when they couldn't really grasp large toys - these and now they love these, their Sophie's and these. Motrin is also a good go to.
  • This is the best diaper rash cream EVER.
  • Skip the bumbo and opt for this
  • These were our carseat choices and I highly recommend both. Infant seat and convertible seat
  • And if you need to baby proof a sliding glass door - a pool noodle works PERFECTLY!
  • Edited to Add: My Stroller! I can not believe I have forgotten to recommend my stroller! Oh my goodness gracious. We decided not to go the double snap and go route after purchasing it and not liking how the Britax B Safe carseats fit in it. So - after a lot of reviews we purchased the Combi Twin Sport Side by Side. We got an awesome deal on it - I used it for our first appointment that I had to attend alone and HATED it. So after a TON of more research, reviews, and testing them out at Buy Buy Baby I purchased the Baby Jogger City Mini Double GT (found here) and LOVE IT! This stroller has been amazing! We are able to go shopping with it, its been useful for every doctors appointment. We haven't had an issue with it not fitting through doors and the boys like it. We've been able to use it from the time we got it in, they were home for about 3 weeks so they were 2 months old on. This stroller is amazing and worth every single penny.
I highly suggest having freezer meals ready for nights that you don't have time to cook, and I highly, highly suggest a post partum doula. Kathy was a lifesaver for my family. We don't have family around to help, and she really helped us in so many, many ways. She gave me the confidence in being H&L's mom, and helped me feel comfortable in my new skin and new roles. She brought food and helped with the boys.
I highly suggest a routine, we have a night time routine that we perform every night and it has really, really helped. Find what works best for you and don't back down from it. What works best for you won't work best for someone else sometimes, but as long as it helps you that's all that matters. Our nighttime routine is this - feed, play, naked time (we undress and undiaper and let them play on a towel on the floor) and then bath time, massage, and pj's. Then we do story time, prayers, and bed time. Sometimes its play time, feed, play time etc and sometimes its play, feed, naked time. But for the most part its the same thing every night. It's helped them, and it really helped my PPD and knowing that we have one part of the day, that we all know whats going on.

This is what I have compiled together so far, I'm sure I am forgetting a lot but this is what I have done so far and what has worked for us. If you have any questions on anything specific - feel free to ask! I'm an open book :)

What I've learned

It amazes me what I have learned and things I have picked up over the past 9 months. Little tricks that literally save me hours in the long run and make me feel happier. What have I learned you ask?

Lets see, most importantly Caffeine is my very, very best friend! I've learned that the saying that you will lose friends once you have kids, is insanely true. I literally have one person who I would still consider my good friend now a days, at least that is here in the area. A lot of people don't really understand, and if they do, they just don't get that I can't plop them in the car in a moments notice and head off to do X, Y, or Z. We have a schedule. Yes, I said a schedule - side eye me if you must, but until you have twins (or triplets) than I don't really want to hear what your thoughts are - and no, 'Irish Twins' do not count. The boys have thrived on our schedule and frankly it brings me peace of mind. They eat at (roughly, give/take 30 minutes) 6:30am, 10:30am, 2:30pm, and 6:30pm. So - if its near those times I try to stay home, especially with Hayden - he is a distracted eater, well non-eater. The one friend who really has stuck by my side understands that and doesn't mind doing things around it, nor does she mind coming over to my house to hang out or my insane love for Target. I can't just plop them somewhere, they are oh so very mobile now a days, and germs are a huge fear for me, so I'd rather keep them safe and healthy. I haven't seen many people since maybe two months or so after the boys came home and were still sleeping pretty frequently. And, I do understand it - but it's rather hurtful - just because I have babies doesn't mean my life is over. I do still have a brain - somewhat.

On that note, mom brain is very, very real. If I don't write something down, set a reminder, leave a note - I will NOT remember it. I won't remember to text someone back, email someone, go to an appointment, get x, y, z, from the store etc etc. Heck, I'm lucky if I remember to go to the bathroom when I realize I have to go, let alone brush my teeth. Gross, I know but it's the truth.

I've learned to do what I can, when I can. Which means - if they are content and playing on their mats/toy basket/jumperoo's - then I can use that time to wash bottles, make dinner, vacuum, go potty etc. I score a shower every morning for the most part (unless I plan on working out at night - yep I said working out!) with them in their Johnny Jump Ups next to me. I just make it work, they LOVE jumping so that helps out greatly. They're really independent babies for the most part and don't want to be held constantly, if they are happy, so it helps me get things done that I need to do. I'm so glad I really didn't hold them much during awake time, they adore being all over the place and just don't have the personality to sit around and snuggle. Sometimes I wish they would, but then I realize things would be drastically different. I've also learned - that there are times where one baby just has to cry because the other one needs me. It sucks, and it sucks BAD but I can only do so much. Especially now that it's almost impossible to comfort them both at one time - they're just too big now.

I've learned to go with the flow, and do what is best for them. We didn't start solids until 7.5 months actual age (5.5 adjusted). They weren't ready and didn't become ready until just past 7 months. We originally started with purees, the normal baby food. I steamed and pureed everything myself. One because its cheaper and two because it was something I really wanted to do. At first it was fun. Then I started dreading it. They boys flipped out after being in their high chairs longer than 10 minutes, they wanted to feed themselves which in turn made a huge mess. My high chairs were HUGE and I didn't like pulling/leaving them out. They weren't looking forward to it, nor was I. So we took a break and I bought new chairs (Fisher Price Booster Chairs - AMAZING! ) and switched to BLW. BLW is baby led weaning. Basically - I give them what I eat and most importantly, we eat together. This turned solids around for us. It made me eat healthier, and I was actually eating rather than quick snacks when I realized I was hungry - and the boys love food. They're happier, so much happier. It's amazing what a difference it has made. We eat breakfast and most days a snack and lunch/dinner. They really enjoy food now, and it's fun. Sure - it's still messy - especially yogurt. But they are actually eating and it's not stressful. It's a lot of fun to see how they figure out the taste and texture of different foods and watch to see what I'm doing too.

I've found that I'm very judgmental on other parents choices. I totally side eye the parents who have their young children out and about at 9, 10, 11 at night. Where it isn't a 'run' to the store for Tylenol, milk or bread - but just a luxury trip to shop around. Yeah - your kid should of been asleep a few hours ago. I also side eye parents who have also had babies early, and they have them out and about a few days after discharge. That scares me, it is SO easy for them to get sick - their lungs aren't as developed as a full term baby. Reckless parenting, so reckless. People always say that you'll pay for the "my children/I would never do that" comments. But to me there is more to parenting than giving birth - a whole lot of consideration and common sense.

While a lot of things may not of gone the way I wanted them to, I do have two healthy babies who have thankfully slept 12 hours a night since 4 months old, and put themselves to sleep for the night. They are so independent, and so determined. It's amazing to watch the progress they've made, and amazing to see just how much they know and can do. I never thought my 9 month olds would know where the toy basket is and pull up on it, to lean over and pull out whatever toy they want. They astonish me daily, in a good way of course. I am so impressed by how well they have overcome so many things. I think its a true testament of the strength God gives us and a testament on how amazing the human body is and what someone, despite being so small, can endure and prevail. Babies are so much stronger than we give them credit for.

I've also learned that those faces that are lite up with smiles at 6am can instantly make me go from being groggy to insanely happy within seconds. I can see how much they love me in the mornings, and seeing them so happy and smiling is worth every breathe I take. I've learned that I will fall in love with them, over and over and over again daily. That there will be moments that they have me speechless and teary eyed. That there will also be moments where I will want to pull my hair out - quite possibly within minutes of each other.

Being a mom isn't easy, being a mom of twins is exhausting, but it's the most amazing 'job' that I have ever had, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Update - Finally!

Wow, has it been a while since I have had the time to sit down and think without having a million and one things to do, or four little hands wanting my attention. So, for those who are still around - here is an update and where I am at now. Fingers crossed - there will be more posts, more frequently. If not for anything else, for me to get things out in the open.

Motherhood is so much harder than I have ever imagined it would be. There is so much that not one person told me about, no one told me to expect these things or that things could happen.

Firstly, I never expected a NICU stay - nor did I ever expect to spend the first 4 months home, under lock down. Only to venture out with a gallon of hand sanitizer to church and to get something from Target when Erik couldn't. I was too afraid of getting the boys sick, too afraid of risking a readmittance stay in the PICU unit. No ma'am - not my boys. And thankfully we survived RSV season.
Secondly, if anyone had asked me how I intended to feed my kid, it was without a blink of an eye, breastfeeding. Heck - I hadn't even planned on buying bottles. I ripped my breastfeeding pillow open and threw away the plastic cover. These babies would feed from my boob. Boy was I wrong. Some things don't work out that way. I pumped, and pumped, and pumped. Any waking minute at the NICU was skin to skin time. I took fenugreek, the max dose of course, I took Reglan to get some milk. I drank that nasty Mothers Milk Tea, I drank Red Raspberry leaf tea, I drank water and more water. Power Pumps, pumping every 2 hours, warm compresses, crying videos, blankets. I did EVERYTHING. And - drum roll - produced maybe, MAYBE 8 oz a day. Fail. Epic FAIL. I cried. Daily. I felt terrible. I felt like I had failed as a mom, heck I couldn't even carry them to term. I had to ask someone if I could hold MY baby - and I couldn't even make milk. What kind of mother was I? Eventually the boys were discharged, and I continued pumping - with my hospital grade pump mind you - and I stopped, 2 weeks after Hayden was discharged. Caring for twins, and pumping, and doing it when Mr. H worked nights (paternity leave was donezo in November). It was too much. So - they are formula feed. I used to be so, so very ashamed when I had to feed them in the waiting room. I would give a person a novel if they had asked why I was formula feeding. I received death glares - who feeds formula in a baby friendly hospital, right? Eventually, I got over my defeat. I proudly will feed them formula, my babies won't live and thrive off of determination alone. It wasn't until I found a site called, Fearless Formula Feeder that I became 'Okay' with our choice, heck our only option.
Third - PPD. NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT. Never do you hear anyone tell you the realities of Post Partum Depression. And quite frankly - it's BULLSHIT. This stuff is real. It's hard. It's a complete bitch. I felt terrible. My babies were home, I was okay, and all I wanted to do was to RUN away as fast as I could. I didn't enjoy them. I cried, I cringed every time I heard a peep. And then I cried even more for feeling that way. I finally got help, and am doing so much better now. So much better. But it's still hard, and its still a battle. And I still have bad days. But I promise you this, if any one ever asks about motherhood/having babies - this will be something that needs to be discussed. Stop hiding it. Being honest and knowing you aren't alone is so helpful. Knowing it doesn't make you any less of a mother is what I needed to hear the most.

I also never imagined making such close friends as I have with other moms from my January 2013 Moms group. Those women have been such phenomenal friends and have been better than most (with the exception of one) of my real friends.
We were blessed beyond belief to have a church friend send another church friend who was in the process of becoming a Post-Partum Doula our way. Kathy was our angel, our life line, my sanity. There is no amount of words that could describe how she helped me and us. I wouldn't be half of the mother I am today, without her help. She taught us how to feed them both in the boppies - which my friends turned an hour and a half feeding session to a whole new 45 minutes. She taught me the beauty in multi-tasking, the glory in a routine and most importantly to listen to my gut. Only the Mr and I knew what was best for the boys. While everyone else might have good intentions, we are their parents and we know what is ultimately best. She gave me confidence.

So, what type of mom have I become you ask? Ehh.. some days I don't even know. Some days I am wishing for bed time so I can engulf my self in wine, other days I am not wanting our fun to end. H&L have made me so very happy. They have filled my heart with every emotion imaginable. I can't imagine life without them. Nor could I imagine having one and not the other. Sure - some days are crazy but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I never posted pictures before but here are some now of the boys:

 Hayden Erik; birth
 Liam Robert; birth
 Hayden - 1 week old
 Liam - 1 week old
H (dark brown) and L (light brown) - 'newborn' pictures (3 months old)
H and L at 5 months old

Liam after Easter Mass

Hayden after Easter Mass

Hayden and Liam's baptism - April 20, 2013
Sacred Heart Catholic Church - with Fr Donal

Cuddle time with mommy; a rare moment!

Hayden - 9 months old!

Hayden (left) and Liam (right) enjoying watermelon and pancakes for breakfast.
We chose to do BLW - by far one of our best choices ever!

 Helping me with laundry!
Liam - 9 months old!
So, there you have it - I'm still alive! I hope to be posting again soon!