Monday, May 31, 2010

Wordless (almost) Weekend

Some bloggers go for wordless Wednesdays. I'll shoot for the occasional wordless weekend. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wearing Both My Babies

Being new at this whole blogging thing, I've been checking out lots of other blogs just to see what kinds of things people write about. My searching has wielded lots of interest in new baby products out there, namely baby carriers. The more I read about baby wearing and attachment parenting, the more of a fan I am, and try to incorporate those philosophies into our parenting.

In the past I've spoken about our infant carriers that we use all the time. We love to wear our babies, and they enjoy it too. It promotes an attachment and closeness to our daughters that I can't really even describe--it has to be experienced. Most of my baby wearing happens in the evening when my husband is home--he wears one and I wear the other. I would really like to be able to wear both girls at the same time throughout the day when he is away. The Baby K'tans that we have does allow you to carry a baby on your back, but this requires the presence of a second person to help you place them safely in the carrier. This is not helpful! I need to be able to wear both of my babies unassisted. I did find a carrier that would let me put one of the twins on my back all by myself--the Ergo Baby Carrier. So, I could wear one baby on the front in my Baby K'tan, and one baby on my back in my Ergo Baby Carrier--I feel freer just knowing that this is a solution to being able to sling both babies at the same time!

This leads me back to the opening of this post about bloggers. This mom, Laura Etherton, has a blog where she reviews and gives away baby products--she has hundreds of followers eagerly awaiting her giveaways. Doesn't that sound like fun?! She's got a pretty sweet gig. Currently she has a contest to win an Ergo Baby Carrier. I think it would be very cool to win--I think my twins would love for me to wear them both at the same time, and I would love it too.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Epic Fail

I've got to say--I don't know how mamas can work outside the home away from their babies all day long--I tip my hat to all the working mamas out there! Today was my first taste of this, and it was one of the harder things I've ever had to do, and definitely the hardest thing I've done since our girls have been born. The connection I have with my daughters is physical. I don't know if it's because my body bore them and now feeds them, or if it's because I spend more time with them than anyone else and can comfort them best. I've heard it said that having children is like your heart walking around outside of your body. I certainly believe this. There is vulnerability in having something I love so much in the care of someone other than myself. I ache to hear them crying on the phone (other than just the uncomfortable feeling of my milk letting down).

I had so much anxiety leading up to my actual departure--I let worry just consume me, to the point that it was physical. My stomach hurt and literally my heart ached! I cried, I fretted--again with the whole "not being in control thing" (an apparent theme in my life)--it was overwhelming to me. I had a small job to do that didn't take long--I left at 5:45 AM, well before the girls start their day, and was home by 10:30. No big deal, but I let fear, panic and doubt wash over me in huge waves for a good 24 hours.

The reason this first time away from the girls was such a "failure" was because I failed to trust anyone or anything except my feelings, which were completely going haywire. I failed to trust my husband to oversee caring for his own children, my mother-in-law who raised three children and most importantly I didn't trust God, who cares even for the sparrows to take care of and protect my daughters in my relatively short absence. Each day my prayers is that I would have that "...peace from God that transcends all understanding...." I need it, because I am a wreck of anxiety on my own. Today I most certainly did not have that peace, because I didn't go any further. "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--I should think of those things (Philippians 4:6-8).

If I had the day to do over, I would probably still be anxious, but I'd like to think that I could also maintain some perspective that got away from me, and if nothing else, maybe not have quite such an achy belly. A friend shared this verse with me yesterday, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed , for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23. Thank goodness for his love and compassions, and for another day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weirded Out

On facebook the other day my dear friend had this as her status, "The way God provides weirds me out sometimes, in a good way!" I had one of those "weird out" moments this morning, and it has totally made my day! I've said before that I struggle to feel like I'm able to spend good one on one time with each of my girls. In order to keep our sanity, my husband and I have worked very hard to get and keep them on the same schedule. They eat together, sleep together, play together, get their diapers changed together, etc.--you get the idea. I often pray that God would show me ways that I can interact with each of them one on one. This morning this prayer was answered.

Currently our girls are sleeping through the night (knock on wood). They go down around 9:30 and wake up between 4:30 and 6, and go back down again. My first born, Hadley, will often wake back up around 7. When I go in to get her, I am greeted by a huge grin, then I take her back to my bed where she snuggles with me and falls back asleep until 10 or so. I love our snuggle time, it is a precious time, and I know it is fleeting. Once she drifts off to sleep, I get up to have some quiet time before both girls are awake for the day. Our youngest, Brynne, usually stays in her crib until around 10, waking up with her sister. This morning was a very special, and different day.

Brynne woke up around 9:30, while Hadley remained soundly asleep. I decided to take advantage of this one on one time with Brynne by reading her some books. We've already established some of our favorites: Pat the Bunny, Guess How Much I Love You, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, just to name a few. This morning as I was reading Pat the Bunny, we got to the part where Judy reads her book, which says, "How big is bunny? So-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o big!" and my little Brynne threw her arms up in the air--it was awesome! We've been saying that to her (changing "bunny" to "Brynn-ie) since the day she was born, because as soon as we unswaddle her she reaches her arms way up. Today she made that connection--what a cool "mama" moment! And at three months old--she just might be a genius! :) So, today I praise God for one of those "weird out"--I got special alone time with both my daughters!

Friday, May 21, 2010

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

Babies attract attention. As a parent of a new baby, you will inevitably run into several different types of people. The first kind are the people that will "Ooh and ah" over your little one without directly speaking to you. The second kind are those who will directly speak to you about how beautiful your child is, and how great it is to be a parent, maybe even comment on how blessed you are (while this is true, when you've had next to no sleep for the past five nights in a row, this is not a particularly helpful thing to hear). Next are the parents who have some sort of comment to make, as if they know exactly what it is like to parent your child saying things like, "I bet you're not getting much sleep" (these people make me want to divulge that our girls are sleeping through the night, the only reason I don't is because it is none of their business, nor is it helpful, just as their initial statement is not helpful). These people really aren't looking for a response, they just want to let you know that they know more about being a parent to your child than you do. Worst of all, you'll have those especially brazen individuals who feel like they should talk to you and bestow to you, a perfect stranger, parenting advice. The last kind are the ones that I have to especially bite my tongue. I realize those people really think they have it all figured out, but really, most people don't launch into parenthood anymore without reading a few dozen books on the way it's done--we've all heard the titles that start with word phrases like What to expect..., healthy sleep..., happiest baby...--I mean, with words like that in the title, you'd be foolish not to at least skim the book before becoming a parent. Suffice to say, I think we've done our homework.

I have quickly learned that twins attract attention times two. Perhaps you've even caught yourself gawking at a family that has twins. This phenomenon has been something to get used to as we've bravely ventured out into public on a more regular basis. I've found it both amusing and annoying to answer, "yes," when asked, "Are they twins?" One of these days I'm liable to smart off something about being able to gestate at a breakneck pace, or admit to stealing the second baby from the hospital. Perhaps this is another one of those moments when people should contemplate their words before they speak. When there are two babies close in age being cared for by the same parent--chances are good that they are twins, it's okay to go ahead and assume this. So, we field this, often in addition to the regular "baby attention."

After a venting session to my dear friend while on a walk at Creve Coeur Lake, we decided it would be entertaining to count the number of people who made comments, or otherwise gave our family attention. Grand total--14. Yup, on a short, call it a three mile walk, we encountered 14 people who had something to say about or to the mama with the two little babies. One woman even started veering over towards us as she was running. Perhaps in addition to being a sight to behold, twins carry some sort of magnetic force field that physically draws curious spectators towards us. Who knows?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I have many mantras that I recite to myself through out the day. Some days I need them more than others, but they are always there for me to fall back on when times are tough.

Mantra #1: Sometimes babies cry. I know--duh, right? But sometimes the girls have been fed, changed, burped, have just woken up from a nap, and are being held and they still cry. I think I read somewhere that babies cry a total of three hours every day. That sounds like an awful lot to me, and some days I'd believe that our girls just might meet that quota, other days I'm pretty sure they fall under the three hour mark--maybe I should give myself a star on those days. For the rest of the days where the three hour mark is achieved and surpassed, I remind myself that, sometimes, babies are just going to cry, and that's okay.

Mantra #2: You can only do what you can do. A dear old friend of mine says this all the time. I love her for giving me this mantra (and lots of other reasons too, Jessica). I often stress about how I care for the girls. Some days I feel like I can't give either one of them what they need, because I can't devote my attention to them one at a time during the day. So--I worry and stress that they aren't reaching developmental milestones, getting enough learning opportunities, or that they are lacking healthy bonding and attachment, because of my limitations--limitations being that there are not more than one of me. It is during times like this that I remind myself that I can only do what I can do, because I am only one person, and I am doing the best that I can. And really--people have been having twins since the beginning of time, and most of them turn out well, even better for it, so it's probably going to be okay. I just try to think of all the lessons in patience and sharing that my daughters are learning, just by being a twin.

Mantra #3: I am not in control. Giving birth to my daughters has shaken my faith to the core (in a good way). I spend more time now in conversation with God than I ever have before in my entire life! Of course, I don't have control of my life, but I like to feel like I do. Enter, my daughters. Now there is even more that I don't have control over, and the world is one scary, unpredictable place. I pray constantly for God to take care of my daughters, and to equip me to be the best mother I can be to them, because that is all I can do. Being a parent is hands down the most important thing that I will ever do, and I want to do it well.

Mantra #4: God doesn't give me more than I can handle. So, I figure since he decided to give me twins, he must think I can handle a whole heck of a lot. So--when I get to feeling particularly overwhelmed, I just tell myself that he isn't going to give me more than I can handle, and promptly pray that he'll show me what I need to do.

I'm sure there are more that I'm not remembering, but these are the biggies. They help me through my days, and maybe they can help you too.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Easy street

I hope all you moms out there had a fantastic Mother's Day yesterday. I love being a mom. It fills me with great joy when I think of my daughters. Just one smile or coo from them sends me to my knees, thanking God for each day he gives me with them. At the same time, I don't think I even need to say it; being a parent is hard. Being the parent of twins is hard. There have definitely been days when I've counted down the minutes until my husband walked in the door, and I've probably cried more tears than my daughters have when I can't seem to figure out why they are so unhappy. There are a few things that have happened recently that have made our parenting journey a little easier. I'm not saying it's easy--far from it, but things might be getting just a little easier, and, yes, I'm going to rejoice in that!

  1. Napping. Our girls really struggle to take naps. Occasionally they will both go to sleep and take a long nap, usually in the late afternoon. Most of the time one will nap while the other one stays awake, or they both stay awake. Recently I received some great advice about napping, which this individual got from the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. The book is all about doing what works to get your child to fall asleep, and to do it consistently. Probably the most important thing the book talks about is putting your baby to sleep after being awake for no more than two hours. This small piece of information has been SO helpful. I was keeping our girls up for much too long, they were getting over-stimulated and were having a hard time winding down. Since learning this, I've been giving the girls more quiet time, which they do often use to fall asleep.
  2. Baby wearing. I've mentioned before how much we love our slings, so this will just reiterate this. Recently we've been able to use new holds with the sling as the girls have gained stronger neck muscles. By "wearing" the girls, we are able to get much accomplished, while facilitating bonding and attachment to our daughters. The girls are so comfortable in their slings--they both love to look around, and when one has had enough stimulation, she puts her head on my chest and goes to sleep. This weekend my husband and I were able to clean, cook, bake and do yard work--all thanks to our Baby K'tan slings. A bonus about the slings is that it allows me to hold both girls when I'm by myself--a big help when they both need to be soothed.
  3. Play mat. My friend graciously let us borrow her son's  play mat. This thing is amazing! My girls love to be held, and love attention, as all infants do. There are days when putting them down, even for a moment causes and eruption of tears. Further, I often feel overwhelmed with the task of  engaging the girls in the necessary play to help them developmentally. This play mat works wonders. There are so many things to look at on this thing that it has kept the girls' attention for up to 45 minutes. This gives me time to get a few small chores done around the house, and I can sit there with them engaging them in all the developmental play that the play mat has to offer. We even read a couple of books today!!
  4. Mobility. As I mentioned in a previous post, being able to get out and about with the girls has been very freeing for me. We have been able to meet friends for walks, and small visits, all while trying to balance napping and down time. These outings make the days fly by, and can sometimes provide me with an extra hand for a few moments when I need it. 
  5. Sleep. For the past two weeks the girls have slept through the night for stretches ranging from six to eight hours at a time. This has been amazing! I realize this is most likely fleeting, and a growth spurt or teething will thwart this pattern, so we treat each night of good sleep as a gift. Being less tired makes the days seem brighter, and for this I give thanks!
Parenting certainly is an exciting journey. I love the ride, and am ecstatic that, for the moment, it's a little less bumpy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

I am ever in search of ways to make my life easier. Each day I attempt to eat oatmeal in order to build up my milk supply. In a previous post I mentioned that I'd made some Lactation Cookies to help build up my milk supply, which are made largely with oatmeal, a food known to increase the milk supply of a lactating mom. This got me thinking about other ways that I could ingest oatmeal. With two babies to look after it's not always easy for me to prepare and eat oatmeal the traditional way. I have nightmares about hot foods and/or beverages falling on the girls and burning them, so I generally steer clear of all that stuff when I'm holding them, which is most of the time.

When the girls were new, a friend brought over these great muffins--full of nutritious goodness, including oatmeal. They are the perfect breakfast or snack for me, and I can grab and eat them while the girls eat. That cookie recipe got me thinking, and I decided that I would modify her muffin recipe just a bit, so that they could be lactation muffins, full of even more lactogenic (yes, that is a word) ingredients. Here's the recipe, and an explanation of each ingredient's benefits to the lactating mom.

4 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil****
2 tsp vanilla
1 medium carrot peeled and grated*
1 large apple or pear peeled and grated
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1/2 cup oats**
3 T brewer's yeast***
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal****
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger*****
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Fill muffin trays to the top. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

*Carrots contain beta-carotene needed in extra amounts during lactation. They also contain phytoestrogens, which support breastfeeding

**Oats increase milk production

***Brewer's yeast has been known to boost milk supply, contains phytoestrogens, and is a good source of protein.

****Healthy fats such as those found in flaxseed meal and olive oil help to keep a good composition of fat in the breastmilk.

*****Ginger helps with letdown and milk flow.

Milk n' Cookies

For those of you who know me, you know that I'm breastfeeding my girls. This has not been an easy task for me. Some women are blessed with an abundance of milk--I am not one of those people. I've had to work very hard to build up a supply that will adequately nourish both girls. I'm finally at the point where my body is doing a pretty good job keeping up with their demand, but there is always room for improvement.

I read all the time searching for different things I can do to build up my milk supply. I take two different kinds of herbs multiple times a day, my doctor has written me prescriptions, I eat oatmeal constantly, I drink copious amounts of Mother's Milk tea and have even resorted to sprinkling brewer's yeast on my cereal (I don't recommend this)--all for the sake of producing more milk.

Yesterday I saw something on a message board I belong to about Lactation Cookies. I thought this sounded like a very pleasant way to potentially boost my milk supply, so I decided to give them a whirl. My verdict--they taste pretty darn good (I couldn't even taste the brewer's yeast in them)! The only downside, is that for best results they recommend eating four cookies per day. That is a lot of extra calories for those of us who are trying to return to our pre-pregnancy bodies. I have several friends who have had/are having babies, and I figure I can take some over to each of these ladies. Note* My husband has sampled my baking, as of yet he has not started to lactate, so I think it's safe for non-milk producing people to enjoy them as well.

Here's the recipe for those of you who would like to try to make them yourselves:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 T water
2 T flaxseed meal
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cup thick cut oats
1 cup chocolate chips (you can sub. M&Ms)--I always add extra
2 T brewer's yeast

375 degrees drop on baking sheet covered in parchment paper for 8-10 minutes