Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Use Your Words!

I hesitate to use the word "hate," so I will use the word "dislike," I strongly dislike it when people ask me if my daughters are "good" babies. I'm guilty of popping this question too, but now that I am a parent, the question makes me cringe. Think about what you're asking--you are asking the parent if the baby is either good or bad. Is anyone ever going to say that they have a bad baby? What really constitutes a "bad" baby? Has someone, somewhere set a standard I don't know about?

How about we all use our words, and be more specific? Ask how she does with sleeping, or what sort of a schedule she keeps. If you're asking about whether or not she cries a lot, or for long stretches of time, just ask. On the flip side, when someone says that they have a "good" baby, what does that mean anyway? Are they patient, content, or a good sleeper? It's vague--no one knows exactly what you mean. Maybe that is the point, and I've missed that somehow. Does it parallel the, "How are you?" question, people throw out when they really aren't interested in the response?

When I've been asked that question about our girls, I have let my temper get the better of me and fired back, "So if they cry a lot, does that make them a bad baby?" To which people get flustered, and embarrassed that they would inadvertently suggest such a thing. That, I suppose, is my backhanded way of suggesting that perhaps they should think about the question before they pose it. Not the most tactful way for me to communicate this, I know. Other times I carefully describe their personalities, careful not to use the word "good" or the word "bad" to somehow illustrate that you can describe a baby using a vocabulary larger than that of a toddler.

I realize this is, perhaps, a silly thing to get fired up about, but hopefully if you're reading, you will stop and think the next time you see a mom, and want to strike up a conversation about their baby. There are other ways to ask about her precious little one that do not involve a black and white dichotomy, just use your words.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Baby Gear I Cannot (and Can) Live Without

When I found out we were expecting twins, my husband and I ventured to Babies R Us to look around and begin the registry process. We left that place COMPLETELY overwhelmed! There is so much crap that they make you think you just can't live without. I wanted someone to just tell me what I needed to get. Now, on the other side of that, I have several friends who are expecting their first children, and both of my sister-in-laws are expecting, so as the "seasoned" mom, I've been asked about what baby stuff I might recommend they register for. Being a very new mom, I can only suggest some things, and you could get the complete opposite response from another mom, so I'm sharing both what worked for us, and what gear we did not need to have --take it or leave it.

  1. Swaddles--these are the only way our girls can sleep. We found these swaddles just recently, but they are THE best, because your baby's arms will absolutely not escape from them!! Miracle Blanket--get some (more than one--it will get spit-up or pooped on--you'll want a backup), you won't regret it! Also--I recommend getting some swaddles that you can use in the carseat and stroller. Swaddle your little one in the stroller or carseat, and they go right to sleep! I recommend fleece ones for the winter, and the light-weight cotton ones for warmer months.
  2. Sling--I've mentioned slings before--I highly recommend getting one. My husband and I both have a Baby K'tan, and we LOVE them! You can purchase one here.
  3. Yoga ball--this has been a true lifesaver for us! Our girls love to bounce. So--we sit on the yoga ball and bounce. This is ingenious, because you can kick the ball wherever you want to be, sit down, and start bouncing--completely hands free! I have a friend whose son is 10 months old, and still loves to be bounced. The ball is also a great way to strengthen that core back up, and to do a few crunches when you have a moment to get that pre-pregnancy waistline back! The ball has become a permanent fixture in our living room, and we couldn't live without it!
  4. Changing pad--get one, but I would say skip the changing pad covers. They look nice, BUT they get drooled, spit-up, pooped and peed on. We just leave ours uncovered, so that when these things happen we can simply wipe it off instead of having to change the whole cover. Much easier!
  5. Pacifiers--some books on nursing caution against using pacifiers in the beginning due to nipple confusion. Our girls never had this problem, and the pacifiers certainly lived up to their name, Soothie. Our girls will only take the Newborn Soothies (many hospitals use this brand). Regardless of what kind of pacifier you use, get several. They will inevitably fall on the floor, and you'll want to have backups for just this purpose. When we are on the go we use pacifier wipes. These are a great item to add to your diaper bag!
  6. Lotion, shampoo, diaper cream--the brand that we like the best for all three is Burt's Bees. The lotion smells awesome! The shampoo is tear-free, and works great. The diaper cream works great, and doesn't have that medicine smell.
  7. Gowns--whether you are having a boy or a girl, I highly recommend getting some gowns. When it is 2AM, and you are so sleep deprived that you couldn't even be asked to give directions to your own house, the last thing you need is to figure out a bunch of snaps when changing your little one's diaper. With the gowns, you pull them up, change them, and pull them down, and you're done! A wise investment, trust me.
  8. Breastfeeding pillow--if you are breastfeeding I would highly recommend one! The one I got was for twins, so that I could feed them at the same time. I LOVE it, and if you are having twins, I would highly recommend getting one for yourself. If you are just having one little one, I have heard great things about My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow--from what people say, it promotes a good latch and is more comfortable than a Boppy. Whatever pillow you use, get an extra slipcover for it, so that you can wash them from time to time--mine gets spit-up on often!
  9. Boppy--that being said, I DO love our Boppies (we have two, and I would recommend two for twin moms). The Boppy serves many purposes including a different way to do tummy time, lounging spot for a newborn while Mama has her hands full and it can be used as a nursing pillow for moms of singletons. I highly recommend having an extra slipcover for the Boppy, as it too will get all sorts of bodily fluids on it--I love the organic cotton cover the best, because it is SO soft.
  10. Nursing tank tops--I live in these most days, and highly recommend you get some! Target has a pretty good selection . In the store, they only carry black, white, brown and gray--online they have many more colors. Glamourmom brand nursing tanks are great--I have several of these. What sets these apart from the Target brand is that they have a compartment to hold your nursing pad. This is a great feature, but you pay for it. If you are not on http://www.babysteals.com/, you should sign up to get their emails. Everyday they have one baby or maternity item that is deeply discounted. Probably a few times a month they have Glamourmom nursing tanks for almost the same price as the Target brand--I recommend stocking up when you see this deal! While I'm at it, another great discount website you want to check out is http://www.mamabargains.com/ . Again--great maternity and baby items for great prices! For great deals on baby gear (no maternity stuff that I've seen) you should also check out http://woot.kids.com/ .
  11. Breastfeeding items--Nursing pads are absolutely personal preference. I really liked the organic washable nursing pads they are super comfortable, and I never had an issue with them leaking through. I figured since I was using disposable diapers, I'd do the environment a favor and reuse my nursing pads. Lily Padz--if you are breastfeeding, these are the best nursing pads to have on hand! I use them almost anytime I get dressed up. They don't show through clothing, so you can wear thin shirts, and most importantly they keep your nipples from showing through your shirt. I'm telling you, your nipples grow to gargantuan size when you are nursing--it's amazing that these pads keep them in check! Lansinoh Lanolin--a must for any new nursing mom. You'll only need it for the first month or two, and I began applying this about a month before the girls were born to prepare "the girls" for what was about to happen. I suggest getting two tubes of this--that should be enough to get you through.
  12. Bouncers--get one. If you are having twins, get two. They are a safe place to put your child while you go to the bathroom, or are otherwise unable to hold your child. Your baby may or may not enjoy spending time in there, but they are still good to have for those moments when you have to put your little bundle of joy down. Bouncers have many features--some play music, others vibrate--there are a variety of other little gadgets and gizmos that bouncers can come with, it's up to you as to how noisy, ostentatious you'd like your bouncer to be. Your baby may or may not enjoy these features, but again--it's important to have a safe spot to put down your child sometimes.
  13. Swings, Jumperoo, Exercaucer, Play mat--as with the bouncer, it's a gamble whether or not your baby will enjoy these items. They all do provide some level of entertainment for your child, so that you can have your hands free, so I think they are important, but it's hard to say. Our girls both love the swing. We haven't ventured towards the rest of these items yet, although we are in the market for a play mat and a jumperoo sometime soon--I'll take any suggestions on these items.
  14. Stroller--find a stroller that you love! Since I am a runner, I went with a very good jogging stroller as my stroller for everything--the twins love it, and I seriously use it everyday. I recommend researching this well, read reviews, and find what best fits your lifestyle. You'll use it a lot, so consider everything before making a purchase.
  15. Blankets--don't register for blankets. Trust me when I say, you will have more blankets that you know what to do with! People love to give blankets, they love to make blankets--you will get many blankets. If you register for them, you will just get that many more, and people who do buy you things off your registry will opt for the cute blanket rather than some baby gear that is a necessity.
  16. Wipe warmers--our girls do not mind the cool feel of the wipes on their bottoms. I suggest that you let your baby get used to the cold wipe, because when you're on the go you can't take the wipe warmer with you, so inevitably your baby will experience the cold wipe.
  17. Diaper bag--if you are having twins, I posit that a backpack is the only kind of diaper bag to have, as you will have your hands very full. If you are just having one baby, as with the stroller--get one that you love both for appearance and for functionality. You will be schlepping that thing around for a long time, so you want to love it.
  18. Sheets--crib sheets, bassinet sheets, pack n' play sheets--you'll want to have extra on hand of these and the padding that goes underneath these. When some sort of bodily fluid gets on them, you want to be able to change them right away--especially when this happens in the middle of the night.
  19. Burp cloths--I found that receiving blankets actually make the best burp cloths, because they cover a much larger surface area. I hesitate to tell you to register for these, because we got a lot of them, without registering for any. People love to give blankets--see #16.
  20. Breathable bumpers--while these are not as cute as the plush bumpers are, they are safer, cheaper and do come in a variety of colors to match most nursery themes.
  21. Laundry--you will need some sort of dye-free, hypo-allergenic detergent that won't irritate your baby's skin. There are many options that are just as good, and cheaper than Dreft. Fabric softener can irritate a baby's skin also, so you might consider skipping it, or using an unscented dryer sheet instead. We use Trader Joe's laundry detergent and Method dryer sheets. I saw that Method just came out with a laundry detergent. Method is sold at Babies R Us and Target, so you can register for it at those places if you choose to use that brand. Wash the entire family's clothes in whatever detergent you choose, so that the person holding the baby doesn't cause him/her to breakout in a rash when skin touches clothing. Plus--it's just easier to throw everything in together--trust me!
  22. Bibs--people love to give bibs as gifts as well. I would say that you probably don't need to register for these either. We found that it's very similar to the "blanket effect" (see #16). I will say, though, that one mom I know swears that the best bibs ever are Bumkins Waterproof Bibs, because they can wipe off, can also be laundered, and have a pocket to catch stuff from falling on the floor. I did register for and receive these, and while I haven't needed to use them yet, I think they will get the most use of any of the bibs we own.
  23. Hats--it's important to keep the sun off your little one's head, so you should get some kind of hat. I think these are pretty darn cute--we have one for each of our girls.
  24. First aid kit--someone got us a little first aid kit with just about everything that you can imagine. It has been one of the most useful gifts that we received. Here is what we have found useful, and would recommend keeping in yours and why: saline nose spray (clears up a stuffy nose)--our girls actually enjoy having it squirted up there; nasal aspirator to suck out your baby's nose (the best one we got was from the hospital--I would recommend not registering for one, because you'll get one at the hospital); infant Tylenol (give .4 mL 30 minutes before going to get immunizations--it really helps!); Mylecon gas drops--gassy baby=unhappy baby; gripe water--gets rid of baby's hiccups--it's amazing, get some; baby nail clippers; band aids; sunblock with a high SPF; baby comb and brush; olive oil (or almond oil)--massage it into a baby's scalp with the baby brush to treat cradle cap.
  25. Good breast pump--if you are going to be away from your baby for a feeding at all, and want to make sure that your baby gets breastmilk, you will need to pump. I got the Medela In-Style Advanced pump. Pricy, but worth the money. Medela also makes a Freestyle, which is hands free, and costs more. You can take a sports bra, cut holes in it, and poof, you have a hands free pump--it's not quite the same, but it works.
Okay, I think 25 things is probably a long enough list. I'm sure I've forgotten some things, but hopefully this will help someone out there out. Feel free to leave a comment with you own suggestions.

Going mobile

This past week was pretty exciting for us! The girls slept for seven to eight hours at a time each night, AND--we went mobile! While we appreciate and revel in the extra sleep we are getting, we also recognize that at 11 weeks of age, this is most likely a fleeting event, so we are acknowledging it for the gift that it is for as long as it lasts. This whole mobile thing though--this was an exciting moment in mommyhood for me!

The girls and I have gone on lots of walks, but we had yet to get in the car, and get out in a different location. Earlier in the week I met a friend at a local park across town with great success, so on Friday I decided that it was time to try shopping with the girls. My body literally hummed with excitement as I got myself and the girls ready to go! Friday was a dreary, rainy day, so I checked the hour by hour feature on weather.com, which said I would be clear to go for the next couple of hours. I loaded up the stroller, the reusable shopping bags and the girls and we were off!

We got to the parking lot of the grocery store, and I was careful to park with two open spots on either side of the car, so that I could open the doors all the way, and push the stroller right up to the car. Just as I was loading my second daughter into the stroller, the sky opened up in a torrential downpour--so much for weater.com's accuracy. Our stroller is very much waterproofed, so the girls stay relatively dry, Mama, on the other hand was not so dry.
Shopping was a success! I intentionally chose a noisy grocery store for our first outing, so as to disrupt shoppers as little as possible. The girls only fussed for a moment, then spent the rest of the time looking around at all the bright lights. Hadley even fell asleep. I filled my basket (the days of pushing a cart on my solo shopping trips are over for me awhile), checked out and headed out. People stopped to check out the girls and make comments, but no one touched them--thank goodness!
Getting back out to the car, it was still raining--hard. Leaving the aforementioned spots on either side of the car meant parking a distance away. One of the store employees offered to watch the girls while I went and got the car--really, leave them with a stranger?! Thanks, but no. So--we got wet again. As I lifted Hadley out of her seat a few drops splashed on her face and she flinched jerking violently and making a very funny face. Poor girl--what an awful way to wake up!
So--our first shopping trip was not without hiccups, but we are mobile now, and THAT is a good feeling!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Feel Pretty: Preparations Before Baby

I probably don't need to tell you that having twins has completely rocked my world. Life changed for me the moment those two little girls made their way into the world. What I noticed most of all is the way it changed my beauty routine. While this sounds silly and perhaps a bit shallow, but I'm telling you ladies, if you don't already have kids, there are a few things I have to share with you that you might consider taking care of before they enter the world, because it will just make life just a little easier.

1. Hair--before I had the girls I went to get a haircut. I wanted cute layers, and for my stylist to take some length off, but still leave it somewhat long-ish. If you are breastfeeding like I am this was a complete waste of time. When you're figuring out breastfeeding, you are looking down at your baby(ies), both because he/she/they are new and beautiful and wonderful, and because you want to get the latch correct to avoid all kinds of unpleasantness. As you look down, your hair inevitably follows, falling in your face and on top of the baby(ies). This will eventually exasperate you, and you end up throwing it in a ponytail.

On a walk yesterday with a friend, I was speaking of this, and she said that she's actually asked her stylist to cut her hair above chest level for the purpose of breastfeeding. Isn't my friend smart?! That is an excellent suggestion. I would add that you'll want to make sure that it's still long enough to pull back, and DO go for some cute layers, so that you when you go out on your first postpartum date, you can wear your hair down for a change, and love how it looks!

2. Nails--I got a pedicure with a friend a couple of weeks before I delivered. Now, I know that my OB and all the nurses in the delivery room were not looking at my toes, but I had to look at them then and for the weeks after I delivered (I just finally got my first postpartum pedicure last weekend). I'm glad I got this done, because for the weeks following my delivery, when I was so tired I scarcely remembered deodorant on a daily basis, my toes were pretty, and I liked knowing that at least one part of my body was well groomed and pretty.

3. Make-up--my "beauty" routine was not all that complicated, but before I gave birth I very intentionally came up with a make-up routine that was low-maintenance, and speedy. I wanted to be able to make myself look nice in under five minutes. I'm very glad that I took the time to think this out. It may sound silly, but when you have two babies that require your attention, you learn to do everything fast. My routine, in case you're interested, is concealer and bronzer, which both are SPF 20, mascara, and occasionally eyeliner. Slap on some lip gloss and I can run out the door without looking like I just rolled out of bed. Sometimes I do this even if I'm not running out the door, because I like to feel pretty and put together, even if the only ones around to see it are some of the only people required to love me no matter what I look like, my husband and my daughters.

4. Skin care--I learned very quickly this spring that the sun can get you even when you don't realize it. Get a lotion with sunblock in it. That way if you decide to go for a walk to get your baby to take a nap, you won't end up with a terrible farmer tan that you'll spend the rest of the summer trying to get rid of.
5. Grooming "down there"--I highly recommend a Brazilian wax, or some other form of grooming, before delivery. It gets everything out of the way while you're healing. Enough said.
6. Eye wear--if you wear contacts, make sure that your glasses are the correct prescription. Trust me, the lack of sleep that you are about to experience will make it impossible for you to get those contacts in your eyes sometimes. You'll want to have your glasses handy, and it's probably a good idea for you to be able to see out of them.
7. Foot wear--if you are inclined to wear heels, I strongly recommend that you find some cute flats. You don't want to teeter around on heels while holding your baby, and it will make your feet hurt. I made this mistake on the day the girls got baptized. My feet hurt, because I spent most of the church service standing, and it was raining, so I wasn't nearly as sure-footed as I would have liked to have been while carrying a baby. I also recommend getting a great pair of running/walking shoes, so that you can take your little one for walks in the stroller. This will spur on your postpartum weight loss, and lull your baby to sleep--an excellent combination!
8. Jewelry--I found that dangling earrings follow the same path as my hair does when I'm breastfeeding, so I usually skip them and go for the smaller, non-dangle-y ones. I discovered that they do make a necklace that is designed for a baby to play with while nursing. I don't have one, but I think they are an excellent invention--I'm just not sure how it would go over with the girls since I feed them both at the same time.
These are just a few things to think about if you are not yet a mom. If you have other suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Please feel free to comment. You don't have to have an account to do so.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Starting from scratch

When I was laid off in September of 2008, after getting over my dramatic "devastation" of being out of work, I decided that I no longer had any excuse to be out of shape, not that I ever had a good excuse for that anyway. So, out of work with time to spare, I began working out from scratch. I began this journey at our local YMCA. Faithfully, four days a week I worked up a good sweat to a variety of bootcamp-like classes. In addition, I did the occasional yoga class, bike ride, walked the dogs, went running with a good friend, and eventually began morning bootcamp classes, which said good friend and a partner teach (I will stop here to put in a plug for Forever Fit Bootcamps--if you are in the Edwardsville area, you should check them out--it's a fun workout that is always changing, so you will never get bored, but always burn a ton of calories!).

During that time of working out, I watched my endurance go up, and my jean size go down--it was awesome, and I felt great! I was able to continue bootcamp-type workouts and running until I was 19 weeks pregnant, which made my recovery SO much easier, and the thought of giving birth to more children in the future a happy thought to entertain. Present day, I am 10.5 weeks postpartum and seven pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. While this sounds like a huge accomplishment (down 34 pounds), I really haven't done too much. Breastfeeding twins and taking walks everyday is about the extent of my calorie burn. Truth be told, I miss running. I miss the feeling of sweat dripping off my body for reasons that are exercise induced and not hormonal. I look forward to getting back to those days again!

After being on bedrest for the last two months of my pregnancy, the first time I went for a postpartum walk around our neighborhood (somewhere between 1/2 and 1/4 of a mile), I got shin splints and a side stitch--oh how far I had fallen! After that first walk I have been out with the girls every day the the gracious spring weather has allowed, I've increased my mileage, and can actually go multiple miles without pain in my shins or side. I've begun to run again, but it's hard--the pesky side stitches I said goodbye to during my walks now plague me when I run more than a mile, but I refuse to be discouraged!

Starting from scratch is hard. The guru of one of the yogas I practice says this, "Never too late, never too late, never too bad, never too sick to start from scratch once again" ~Bikram Chouduri. This is my mantra, and may it be yours too if you are starting from scratch on your workouts.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Snug as a Bug

We absolutely love our baby slings. The type we went with, Baby K'tan, are, in my book, geniuses. They allow us to go to church, navigate our way through a store, or to be in any other crowded location with our girls without them being pawed by a bunch of well-meaning, germy people. Most often the twins hunker down and fall into a contented sleep while in their Baby K'tan.

The slings are sized to give us each the most secure hold possible (I'm a small and my husband is a large). If we really want to, one of us can hold both babies at the same time until they each reach 10 pounds (we are working on that whole weight gain thing), which is also a great feature, and one of the few sling makers that offers a double-hold option--brilliant idea for twin parents!

As of late, I have noticed that our sling wearing has given us some looks of wary disapproval. It's not their fault, they just read about the one million slings that have been recalled and assume that 1) we might not have heard the news and 2) that we are putting our children in grave danger. The article has been passed to me about 10 times, so rest assured I've read through it at least once or twice. Don't get me wrong. I totally appreciate that so many people love our girls and are looking out for their well-being.

That being said, let me reassure all you very well-intentioned worriers that Baby K'tan slings were not recalled, and are perfectly safe. They don't cause babies to curl up and possibly suffocate like some other brands. So--when you see me with my baby in the sling, please know that when I smile at you, I do so knowing that my baby is safe, and snug as a bug in her sling.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I love cemeteries. I promise, I'm not a weirdo, just hear me out. When I was in college there was a cemetery in the very small town of Greenville, Illinois that was in close proximity to the dorms. I would go there with friends to do homework or bask in the sun, or by myself to do homework, or to walk around reading off all the names on the tombstones to fill the alone time that my introverted self requires. Cemeteries are quiet, peaceful, and I posit that they are beautiful.

Now that I am a parent, I discovered today that there is another use for the sanctuary of the cemetery. Today I just needed to get out of the house, so I decided to take the girls for a ride in the car. First to Starbuck's for a treat (for me, not the girls), and then out and about exploring neighborhoods that the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon area has to offer. Our girls enjoy riding in the car as long as the car keeps moving, and they prefer bumpy roads. This is a problem in traffic, because there are inevitably stop signs, stoplights, and other cars in our way. As I turned into the gorgeous cemetery in a historical well-established part of town, I had an epiphany--this is perfect. There are no stop signs in cemeteries and the roads are uneven for extra bumpiness! I'm hoping to go back with the stroller at some point to wander up and down the uneven, hilly roads on foot.

On a slight tangent, parents, soon to be parents, or if you are ever going to be responsible for naming a child, or even a pet for that matter--cemeteries are great places to get ideas for names. There is everything from Alyoisious to Zebadiah--if you're stuck, I'm telling you, you might find the "perfect name" for your child, dog, or goldfish. More to my point though, you will most definitely find some peace, and your little ones might rest in the peace of the uneven roads and absence of stop signs.

For those in the Edwardsville, Illinois area, the cemetery of which I speak is just off of St. Louis Street. If you have a sunroof, and are driving through in mid-April with said sunroof open, be prepared for random seed pods and flower petals to fall into your car. A small price to pay for the beauty of spring, and yes, the serenity of the cemetery.