Bundle Organics

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I was recently traveling for work and like many other moms before me, the line “put on your own mask before you help others” struck a chord with me. We moms all too often give and give and give and then find ourselves forgetting to care for ourselves. While a juice can’t completely solve that for us, Bundle Organics has a tasty option to making sure pregnant and nursing moms get the nutrients we need.

bundle organics

This line of juices contains vitamins like omega-3 and iron to help keep our bodies caring for us so we can then care for our babies. And there’s more:

  • USDA Organic. Our juices contain only the best and brightest organic fruits and veggies. Flavorless produce need not apply.

  • Safe to Sip. You have enough to think about. That’s why our juices are 100% worry-free. “Raw” and “fresh-pressed” juices might contain harmful bacteria. So we pasteurize our juices for maximum nutrition, flavor, and pow!

  • An Extra Bump. Our juices supplement prenatal vitamins with an extra bump of key vitamins and minerals for healthy development. Folic acid (200mcg). Check! Calcium (100mg). Check! Vitamin D (60IU). Check! Omega-3 (500mg). Check!

  • Hydration, Please. Expecting moms should drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluid a day (that can seem like enough to fill a baby pool!). Luckily, our juices are a delicious alternative to plain ole water, leaving you feeling hydrated and oh-so-healthy.

  • OB-GYN Approved. The first batch of Bundle Organics was made right in our kitchen, but we didn’t trust our taste buds alone. So we consulted with experts from OB-GYNs to leading nutritionists to make sure our juices were packed with all the right stuff – the nutrients and supplements that both mom and baby need. Check out our “About Us” page to find out more about the super smart all-stars behind our brand!

(Information from Bundle Organics)

Now, it’s not as simple as drinking a juice to solve all your “mask moments”, but it’s a start. For me, I haven’t been eating the healthiest, but knowing I have options like this to get in my daily fruits and veggies is a win. Weirdly, I wasn’t loving fruits and veggies as much when I was pregnant with the twins – my post “getting healthy” pregnancy! I wish I’d found out about these juices earlier, but I do like them for supporting my nursing nutritional needs.

Bonus for expecting moms? The green and orange blends include ginger – great for those morning sick days when nothing else seems to sit well. (I even go to this juice now because I don’t always feel great in the mornings after not eating all night then nursing for up to 45 minutes before showering and heading to work – where I eat my breakfast.) Sounds pretty impressive for a prenatal juice, right?

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Although I recommend these juices for their convenience and taste, I am not a certified medical professional.  If you are pregnant or nursing, consider working with your doctor and/or dietitian if you have questions or concerns about drinking juices (such as Bundle Organics) during this life stage.

More information on Bundle Organics can be found at their website: bundleorganics.com

Of Course It Worked

Last week I shared with you my struggle to provide enough nutrition via breastmilk for the twins.

In my post, 20 weeks of liquid gold, I confessed my sadness with having to supplement with formula. I wrote words several of you wish you had to speak or think because you’ve been there on your journey to raise happy and healthy families.

And in 7 days, the twins gained four ounces each putting them right on track for over a pound a month before their next visit. Of course it worked.

It won’t be easy to get over this, but I will. In time.

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21 Weeks

20 Weeks of Liquid Gold

Well, we aren’t done but it was finally time to give in. The twins and I proudly made it to 20 weeks of liquid gold. They were exclusively breastfed for 20 beautiful weeks. Yesterday morning, that had to change per the pediatrician’s advice.

I know there are many of you who wish you were able to say you had the chance to do what I did and that I should be thankful. I get that. Trust me. I know several people who desperately want kids and can’t and yet here I am complaining about “having to give formula” to my third and fourth kids at 20 weeks. Or maybe you really wanted to bond with your babies like I have but didn’t have the supply or ability to do so. I get that hearing complaints like that hurt. I get that I am “lucky”.

Catching up...the #lilburghers #twins are 20 weeks. #milestones

But here’s the thing. I am also very passionate about my kids. All four of them. I want to be able to give them the best, and in turn, I’ve sacrificed quite a few things to make that happen. Like my body and my schedule. I focused and have dedicated so much in the past 12 months to giving my all, 110%, to making sure the twins had every single thing they needed. So forgive me if I say some things that sting — because I’m hurting right now, too.

I cried the whole time Ava sucked down that first tiny bottle of formula yesterday morning. The tears were hot, but deep down I knew I was doing the right thing for my sweetie. She’s not gaining weight like she needs to because I am not giving her fatty milk.

This is what is for the best, I have to convince myself of that every single minute of the day. I haven’t failed, but it doesn’t take away my sadness. The thing is, when you make something your all, it really hurts when you don’t make your goals or are told you’re not doing enough. But I have to move past that and not let this get the best of me.

If you are of the praying kind, I could use a few. This week, I also stopped claiming my post-partum anxiety, so that means I am trying hard to naturally calm my nerves through breathing, prayer, and rest instead of medication.

And guess what? Even though I am anxious about the next 20+ weeks of our journey, it’s still going to be a breastfeeding journey. We’ll still have our morning, late afternoon, evening, and night sessions, just with a little extra mama milk or formula. My girlies need to grow. Just because I had to give the girls supplemental formula for the first time (20 weeks + 1 day) does not mean that I failed. It’s just (as Michelle told me) another way to buy the peaches.

Bonus? I realized that Evan nursed for 6.5 months before I had to give him formula. I was able to feed two babies for 20 weeks (40 weeks total if you x it by 2), so that’s a huge win. Mama’s got this, right?

What is something you have struggled with lately? How are you looking to overcome the fear and anxiety of failure and turn it around? 

Breastfeeding: It’s What We Do

It’s no secret that I am committed to breastfeeding my daughters. It’s what we do.

It happens pretty much wherever we are, because when a baby is hungry, it’s what we do.

Like waiting for the T in downtown Pittsburgh.

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Or at the park.

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Or at a rest stop.

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Or at a wedding.

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Or at our favorite restaurant.

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Or at the store.

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Or (shocker?) in private, at home.

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It’s what we do.

But just because it’s what we do, doesn’t mean it’s what works for all other moms. I get that. And I support that. This is what my family, all six of us, have signed up for during this phase of the twins’ life. This is what works for us right now.

It’s what we do.

5 Breastfeeding Tips for Road Trips

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own.

This being the third time I am breastfeeding my babies, there is little that intimidates me when it comes to this natural act. At the same time, I totally recognize that not everyone sees the way my daughters get their food as “normal”. There are many roadblocks and vacations can be one of them. Hopefully, these 5 breastfeeding tips for road trips will give some sage advice on how to handle it.

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1. Be flexible, both physically and mentally. I found that being able to walk around or sit criss-cross while nursing adds to the things I can do on a road trip. Be ready to nurse wherever you can…that might be a picnic bench, a fast food play place, the front seat (while parked), or while walking your older kids around to burn off energy. Be ready for the stares, questions, and kudos. Just remember you are doing what works for you and baby.

2. Bring a pump if you have any doubt. This gives you the flexibility to pump on the road (if you are the passenger) and feed with bottles during rest stops. It makes for a speedier drive if you are worried about time.

Check out our favorite bottles that worked with the Medela pump here. Make sure you have a pumping bra, too!

3. Bring blankets and build yourself a “tent” if you aren’t comfortable nursing at rest stops. I did this in the front seat of our SUV after pulling up beside a few semi’s at a truck stop and getting some creepy looks. It worked beautifully and I was able to recreate that other times to shield from the sun.

We are HUGE fans of Aden and Anais swaddle blankets (get a 4-pack here)!

4. Enjoy yourself, but don’t forget that baby needs to eat. You’ll end up engorged and they’ll be hungry and miserable if you get too off “schedule”. On a trip (or any time), this spells disaster. I hope your journeys don’t mean you have to nurse in a bathroom and can just feed where you are…but at the same time, I know it’s not always acceptable or ideal. Try not to miss out…and if you think someone may be offended, ask first and then you’ll know when, where, and who you can nurse in front of. Bottom line, just don’t forget to feed the baby.

5. Feed yourself. I pack tons of protein bars, almonds, and dried fruit for road trips. (My favorite bars are Rx Bars.) Bring a gallon of water (and a great cup to keep track of your drinking). Keep fueled and hydrated.

Bonus tip for pumping mamas: Bring a spare electric cord and a power inverter (available on Amazon) for your vehicle. Trust me. Last road trip, my cord melted at our hotel due to faulty electric. It was not a good spot to be in…girls just fed with bottles for speed and I was so full with no way to save that milk. Watching it go down the shower drain was worse than accidentally spilling it.

(And maybe you will be like me and pump more on road trips because you aren’t using your energy doing stairs / chasing older kids / cleaning up / making meals. Good luck!)

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What would you add to this list?

Every Drop

Today I am breathing a sigh of relief. Every drop of liquid that the twins have had in their lives so far has been Mama’s Liquid Gold. Two months of Mommy’s Yummies. I feel like every breastfeeding milestone is worth celebrating, don’t you?

When we first started out on our breastfeeding journey, I’ll admit, I was scared. Frankly, breastfeeding was the thing that scared me most about getting pregnant with twins. How on earth was I going to do it? I really had no idea, so I did my research (thank you, Google) and joined some tandem breastfeeding groups on Facebook. But I was still scared.

It didn’t help when I faced walls early on in our journey. Between being told that we needed to use formula (by nurses at the women’s hospital where I delivered) to hearing the girls were slow growers, I thought I’d lose it. I literally put my heart and soul in making sure my girls were going to get every drop of milk I had for them, and nothing else (unless their health was at risk, which was never the case).

But then after the pain of the c-section wore off (and I got used to my healing process from the incision re-opening) and we were told the doctor was happy with their growth…we hit a stride. I felt like I was flying. Super Mama, feeding her girls exactly what they needed, when they needed it. And often, that’s been in the middle of the night // every 45 minutes during cluster feeds // when I just get out of the shower and swear I have nothing in me to give. But every time, every drop has helped my girls grow. That feels pretty damn awesome, thank you. 

When I look back at my breastfeeding journeys with the other kids, neither compare. I had very little support when it came to Arianna (because most of my family was in PA) and she had her milk intolerance issues. Evan was a champ in his own right, but let me be honest that he was a greedy feeder and it often hurt more than I’d like to admit.

But with the girls? Being natural ‘lil eaters since the beginning has formed a bond I cannot find words to explain. When I get ready to feed them, I honestly get butterflies because what we are experiencing together is so special and unique.

Sure, it’s been hard. Rightfully so. When you share your body with not just one but two other humans, it gets a little stressful. Add to it, needing to heal and care for two big kids, too. But that still doesn’t take away from the fact that every drop of their nutrition has been from me. Their good provider.

Two months in, and I hope at least ten more to go. Until they have cake. ::wink::

A #brelfie I captured during a cluster feed session last week
A #brelfie I captured during a cluster feed session last week

LatchPal

Are you following me over on Instagram? Let me tell you, this is the place to be when it comes to my current social media obsession. Thanks to IG, I was lucky enough to connect with Melissa of LatchPal and bring you today’s post! 

As you know, I’m a proud breastfeeding Mama of twins. Our favorite public method on these hot spring days has been to wear a nursing tank and a t-shirt then just adjust appropriately in order to discreetly nurse without having to cover the baby (Ava hates being covered up). Thank goodness I found out about LatchPal, a clip to help aid breastfeeding and pumping – with this handy accessory, I can nurse this way even easier.

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Basically, the clip pulls mom’s shirt up and and out of the way so that baby is free to nurse away. It is simple enough to use one-handed, and pretty enough to wear with a variety of shirts. I actually put mine on the wrong way  the first time I tried. This is what we looked like:

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So, it worked, but I did things the complicated way (go figure). I clipped the loop to the clip. All the clip has to do is clip on the shirt. There’s a magnet inside that the loop just “sticks” to when you loop it over the top of the clip – just like it is on the packaging shown above. Oops. Even the complicated way, I love this product because it is simple and convenient. A great addition to every nursing mama’s life.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here is how LatchPal’s founder, Melissa, describes this breastfeeding product:

LatchPal is a nursing clip that secures a mother’s shirt during breastfeeding. Like you, I found it inconvenient and annoying to continually re-position my shirt. LatchPal not only eliminates this issue by preventing your shirt from slipping, but also frees your hands so you can hold your child more securely. It can also be used while pumping and to eliminate that embarrassing fumbling, when nursing in public!

LatchPal was created by a mom, like you, who knows what you’re going through! Our product was inspired by our little boy and we’ve named our company after him; Happy Fig LLC. LatchPal is a parent-tested, mother-approved, and made in the USA; we hope you like it!

There are four colors (Sparkly silver, Pink stripe, Gray Chevron, & Dots) and each LatchPal is $14.95. You can purchase them online. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @latchpal.

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Minbie: Nuturing Baby’s Instincts

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Provided things go well with my healing, I’ll be headed back to work in a few weeks (gulp). This means the girls have been getting used to bottles. We’ve tried three different kinds of bottles in the last 6 weeks, including one sent to me to test out, the Minbie. According to US Family Guide, Minbie is “the result of 10 years R&D by and Australian Mom, who was frustrated with the inadequacies of the functionality of generic bottle teat on the market when she had children, with the bottles taking over breastfeeding rather then supporting a baby’s ability to breastfeed well”.

Here’s what the Minbie nipple looks like. TMI alert, this is not the shape that my babies are used to.

Minbie Nipple
Source: US Family Guide

How is Minbie different than other teats?

Our research has found that generic and orthodontic bottle-teats can quickly teach newborns a different latch and feeding-action to the newborn’s natural instinctive breastfeeding technique. This may be sufficient for bottle feeding, but it can cause feeding confusion and problems such as a ‘weak latch’ and ‘lazy feeding’ when the baby is breastfeeding.

How did Minbie work for the twins?

When I was asked to participate in the review, they suggested only using the Minbie. Any issues with using it could indicate that baby’s instinctive feeding technique had been damaged. Unfortunately, before the product arrived, we had to introduce bottles (in the hospital, not really our choice, but it kept the girls out of the NICU). Both Ava and Isla took from the Minbie without any problem; however, at this stage in their feeding game, it’s not their favorite. That’s not to say it didn’t work. Look at Isla’s latch.

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She was able to latch really well with the Minbie. This is what is happening inside the baby’s mouth when they drink from this bottle:

Source: US Family Guide

 

The only downside I have to report (what makes it not our top go-to bottle) is that the flow is very slow. My milk must come out pretty quick for the girls, so they do not do well with any bottle with a slower nipple. What’s happening with our Minbie bottles? We will likely use them more around the 4-month mark, when they are a little more advanced and eating slower. (The bottles are for babies ages 0-6 months.)

Information on Minbie, from US Family Guide: 

We passionately believe that you should be able to breastfeed and bottle-feed your baby.

To help you, we have created Minbie, which is a teat designed to support your newborn’s instinctive breastfeeding technique. This means that when newborns feed from Minbie, they practice the instinctive latch and feeding-action for nurturing breastfeeding. This is a significant breakthrough in matching breast and bottle-feeding techniques and preventing feeding-confusion*.

For newborns who can not be breastfed, we created Minbie to allow them to bottle-feed with the instinctive breastfeeding technique that they are born with because why shouldn’t they be able to feed intuitively with the technique that is developmentally right for them and that helps release digestive enzymes for proper digestion of the milk.

You can find out more about Minbie (and purchase it) on their website, minbie.com. Because they are an Australian company, they subsidize shipping to the US only charging $6.20 USD.

Monika’s Lactation Cookies

It is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, in case you haven’t heard.

Since I gave been sick, my celebration will be appropriately limited to some chocolate chip lactation cookies, specifically from a Pittsburgh company, Monika’s Lactation Cookies.

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I found Monika through the Mom Con last fall and couldn’t stop thinking about how awesome her cookies were. When I was given two more weeks to bring the twins’ weight up, I knew I needed to find her again. Of course, in true me style, I couldn’t find the info I needed, so I used my network and got her email (which led to finding her Facebook page).

Why did I need them? Well, these cookies contain ingredients to help increase milk production. The girls have a weight check later this morning that requires them to drink more, so I wanted all the help I could get my hands on.

Beyond that, these cookies are delicious. The texture is thick and the chips hold their “crunch”. If you won’t eat the whole bag by day 5 (1-2 in morning then again in evening per day), put it in the freezer. From frozen, 5 seconds in the microwave makes them taste like they just came from the oven…a sweet touch.

UPDATE! After posting, my friend asked me the more important question. Did they work? I believe so. Since I am trying to nurse and pump as much as I can, it’s hard to completely tell; however, the babies both gained plenty of weight to make the doctor happy today!

You can get your own via  https://www.facebook.com/monikaslactationcookies Prices start at $15 for 20, and she ships around the country (not just here in Pittsburgh). Shipping is speedy, but I didn’t love that my post office delivered them to our porch while we were away from the house on a hot day. Luckily we needed to go home for something and saved them from melting…not sure if they would have, but keep that in mind when you know they are shipping.

All opinions are my own…I bought a set of the cookies then Monika added some samples, too. Enjoy!

Liquid Gold

I am one of those moms who is probably going to embarrass her kids until they graduate college. The fact that I am an advocate of breastfeeding just might be one of those ways. This post, Liquid Gold, is just one of my ways I am attempting to make breastfeeding normal and not something society finds embarassing. My kids? They have a right to find any post on this blog as TMI from their early days…not just the ones about breastfeeding. Since not all of society supports the most natural thing a mom can do second to giving birth, I will try to warn you ahead with disclaimers like this…but because it’s normal…I make no guarantee.

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The twins and I have done “it”. We’ve hit a breastfeeding milestone, 1 month (+ a few days) of exclusively* breastfeeding. Exclusively drinking mom’s liquid gold despite odds of success.

In the past 30-ish days, my milk has been liquid gold because we have done the following to make this happen:

* Latched on from the minute I was allowed to hold them in the recovery room. Ava was the pro at this. Isla preferred sleep to anything in the first 24 hours, yet she did latch well ON HER TERMS AND TIME (capital necessary because that girl had ‘tude about being woken up).

* Learned how to nurse two babies at a time. I thought nursing one felt bad on a c section healing / to the back in the middle of the night. Try holding two squirmy divas and providing for them. (Spoiler, it is totally possible.)

* Been told they lost too much weight  (8.5% and 9.5%) and that I had 6 hours to keep them under 10% or off to the NICU they were headed. This was after 18 hours had passed / Magee’s nurses and the pediatric doctor they sent my way that wasn’t from the practice I had begged for since ours doesn’t come to Magee told me repeatedly they were fine and in the 7% lost range. A lactation consultant had to deliver me this news and we asked my nurse to get me a pump immediately. I got it 7 hours later after they came to tell me my 6 hours straight of nursing wasn’t enough and the girls went to 10.3% and 10.5% lost and they say a completely different side of Mama. I put my foot down. The NICU doctor came to tell me I had no choice. I told them they failed me and were being unfair, told them they would NOT be taking my daughters anywhere. I got another 11 hours to bring them up and with NO sleep and totally showing my butt at the hospital, did it. It took all those hours to nurse and pump, rinse and repeat. We were all three discharged on the day we were supposed to be.

* Started a stash of extra milk in the freezer in prep for my return to work. There is over 30 ounces in there, but for reference, that is only 10 “light” feedings and there are two babies…so that’s five spare bottles per babe if they wouldn’t demand more than 3 ounces (but we are closer to needing 4 at a time). Each pumping session takes me about 40 minutes and then I am either feeding them bottles before or after or grabbing a few minutes’ sleep before the next round starts again. Sometimes I admit, I feel like a milk factory and it really sucks even though I know it is so worth it.

* Tried a few different methods of feeding and schedules. The girls are gaining, but not fast enough. Ava is 3 ounces above birth weight, Isla is 2 ounces below. They are both less than 5% and our pediatrician is concerned. I am sticking to my gut and heart on this one. They have their dad’s metabolism and my body is holding all the fat for them (usually a breastfeeding mom loses a lot of weight at the beginning…i hit a hard core plateau as my body does when I am trying to feed other humans). They are healthy and on a routine schedule. They are happy, oh so happy. And yes, they spit-up and Isla has some gross blow out movements, but neither exhibit sure signs of an allergy. Evan nursed like a champ and rarely gets sick. Ari had formula (due to her milk allergy and my lack of knowledge), she has weird allergies and gets sick easy. Sorry, I blame the formula.

* We have saved our family loads of money by my zombie nature and their willingness to nurse. This is glorious news when the primary income takes a decent cut.

* We have bonded nicely…almost too nicely. The girls definitely love mama time, and mama sometimes struggles to put them down / let them cry. I keep saying they won’t be like this for long…but then hours later wish I had the time back to sleep more / eat more / enjoy the big kids in a different way…but in the end, the bond means so much to me as a working mom who will trade documenting milestones for work meltdowns all too soon.

Princesses, Mama is super proud to have given you this liquid gold.

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* Exclusively Breastfeeding (EBF) in my definition / based on my experience, means the girls have only had my milk. As you can see, I have pumped and they’ve drank from a bottle. They have used pacifiers. In some minds, this is not EBF, but simply having only my milk is how I define it.