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

Twin Tip Tuesday: Cut Them Nails

Enter disclaimer text (Thanks, BabyComfyNail!)

Welcome to Twin Tip Tuesdaya brand new feature to help all you twin (+) parents with raising happy & healthy twins! Have a must-have for twin parenting? Let me know!

Isla, our youngest twin, was born with crazy long nails. Our pediatrician suggested not to cut the twins’ nails when they were newborns because cutting the nails actually cuts tender baby skin. Ouch!

The time has come to start cutting them, though. Ava has a fascination with her sister’s hands. Isla has a fascination with her sister’s face and mommy’s chest. The scratches Ava and I endure day in and day out had to stop. BabyComfyNail actually came my way at just the right time to put an end to our misery!

babycomfynailA single-blade makes cutting baby’s nails fast and easy. There’s a plastic part that pushes back that tender baby skin and just one blade to clip baby’s nail. I tested it out on my nails first, and got a little worried. My nails are kind of thick, so it didn’t clip as nicely as I hoped. The only thing left to do was to try it on my baby and see if it lived up to my expectations, so of course, I did the motherly thing and “attacked” when she was sleepy. 20150807_192658

I got the eyeballs, but I didn’t get the tears because BabyComfyNail did the job! Isla now has safe nails…and Mama has a line of defense against her big brother’s nails, too!

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Isla’s nails BEFORE BabyComfyNail!

This baby product is definitely a must for parents of twins because it simplifies the nail cutting process with ergonomic design and efficiency. This equals more time to cut BOTH babies’ nails!

You can find BabyComfyNail at BabyComfyCare.com for $14.99.

The Twins’ First Foods

Now that the twins are four months old, it was time to give them food. For the twins’ first foods, we went with samples received at Blogger Bash NYC from Ella’s Kitchen. They came I’m fun squeeze pouches and are straight up purees of fruits, nothing else.

While I really want to venture in making our own baby food, I’m just not ready to dive in yet. The day will come. For now, we will use pouches to supplement the mama milk!

For Ava, the food of choice was Mangoes, Mangoes, Mangoes. Admittedly, she did the best at eating the pouch. Ava seemed to enjoy the whole process, too.

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I can’t blame her. Like any good mom, I tried a bite. Delicious!

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Total food coma followed.

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Isn’t her belly sweet?

But for Isla, the process made her angry. Just like her first nursing sessions, she didn’t really want to put in the work. Not sure why, Bananas, Bananas, Bananas is also delicious.

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She does, however, love her Bumbo. We have to get a second new model!

But when Bubby helped? The world was a hundred times better.

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Here’s to enjoying more and more firsts!

I received samples at a blogging event and was not obligated to share. All opinions are 100% my own.

You can find out more about these baby foods at EllasKitchen.com.

Stop! Bottle Time!

Last evening, Greg was running errands with the ‘lil girls in tow.

There was a point when both needed to eat right then and without another set of hands or our feeding pillow, he just parked the car and figured it out.

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Some may think, “oh wow, what an awesome dad for doing mom a favor and giving her a break” or “oh my gosh, a dad actually feeding his kids”. But I am here to tell you that this Dad finds all this normal and he’s actually just doing what he does best, being an awesome Daddy.

Even though Greg cares for the babies on the regular, I fell deeper in love with him when I saw this selfie. Right?

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.

Two Month Check-Up

The twins had their two month check-up this week. It’d be marvelous to say that things went well and all the weight stress is behind us, but it’s not.

9 weeks (late post) #twins Who told them to grow up?!?!

One of these girls weighs less than the other. Can you guess who?

If you guessed Ava, you are wrong. She’s 8 pounds 3.4 oz while Isla is slightly behind at 8 pounds 2.2 oz. She’s also half an inch shorter than Ava, but has a 1 cm larger head.

Sure, it’s great that they have gained weight since their last appointment, but they are still gaining slowly and sitting under the 5th percentile (someone’s gotta do it). The doctor believes that they are eating enough and are happy enough (smiling, cooing, meeting milestones). The thing is, they are tiny. I was never this small. But their Daddy was. 

Oh, girls.

So, it’s back again in a month to prove out that genetics are at play. We’ll be busy getting as much milk in them as we can until then.

Oh, and the shots? They were given after we’d spent over an hour in a very hot room. Needless to say, this got the girls mad. Ok, not mad. Pissed. There’s no pretty way to put it. But as soon as they were back in my arms, the world was right.

At least for Isla. She went right to bed and slept from 10 PM to 5:30 AM.

Ava was more stubborn, crying until almost midnight then waking Isla up at 5:30 AM. She was absolutely pitiful. Shaky lip and all. It was not a fun evening with our girl.

But the next day, personalities seemed back to normal and things calmed down. Just like they should. We survived.

The Twins: Two Months

Ava and Isla.

Stop.

You are growing way too fast. So fast, in fact, that you are wearing your 0-3 clothes and will likely soon move up to 3-6.

Both of you have distinct personalities that are growing right with your ‘lil bodies. Ava is still the DIVA and Isla the laid back talker. Who knows which of you will talk first, though, because your eyes show that you have a lot to say.

Sleep has been better lately. You are each hitting strides and letting us get into a pattern. Isla, you like to stay up until Daddy comes home and hang out with him. Ava is our morning girl, sneaking into bed with us in the wee hours of the day to sleep on Daddy’s chest.

You are both really good eaters, but during the day it is every two hours, making it hard for Mama to keep fueled for you.

Tuesday will be your next weigh in and immunizations. You got this, girls. Everyone is rooting for you.

You’ve both brought loads of laundry love and happiness to our family. Hugs and kisses!

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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

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.

5 Ways Training For a Half Marathon Prepped Me For Twin Mommyhood

half marathon training

People who have visited us since the twins were born have commented that both Greg and I seem relaxed and have this parenthood thing down. These people don’t see me zombie my way to the nursery for middle of the night feedings or cry when my incision is being dressed, but they are right. And my theory as to why? In 2011, I set out on a journey to better health. I lost 130 pounds and gained a lot more self love than I had before (and I had a lot even at my heaviest because I couldn’t see my weight issue and thought I was just fine). This journey led me to running, eventually training for and running the 2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I believe this lifestyle change attributed to my healthy pregnancy and being ready to welcome twins. In turn, I can easily compare training for the Half to being a mom to newborn twins.

1. I sleep few hours (less than 6) but am fueled for my day. Sure, little sleep is rough on the body, but training and motherhood while balancing all the other things are time consuming. Sleep is necessary, but it happens when it can…do read number 2.

2. When I sleep, it is amazing. I sleep very deeply whether I’m training or being a mom to newborns. Running puts me in a good place and even short amounts of sleep are quality (Greg used to worry I wouldn’t hear a smoke detector). Being a new mom has raised my love for life, too. When the girls and big kids let me sleep, I sleep hard. Out cold. Sleeping while training or as a mom just is very easy for me.

3. Protein, protein, protein. My body is so thankful to training for this one. As someone who used to live life fueled on carbs and chocolate, I had a learning curve to conquer when it came to eating protein at every meal and snack. Now, I have tons of favorite options that I would not have had if I hadn’t been in training. Speaking of…I need to bake up some egg whites for quick and easy breakfasts (since that’s always been my easiest to miss meal). I even had a box of protein bars and packs of nuts on hand for snacks while feeding the girls. And while training…I ate all things protein (and often, see #4). Shakes, bars, ground turkey, turkey jerky, egg whites, almonds…always something protein to keep me going.

4. Eat often. I was ravenous while training, but was doing so much activity that it didn’t pack on pounds. Likewise, I am pretty much eating all day long post twins. They eat, I eat. And the weight? That’s truthfully a different post (I have thoughts on all the recent social media body movements and want to share them), but I have never lost weight faster in my life…even when I had lots to lose. I eat often, but try to make it good. We just finished up the welcome home cake and are almost through my birthday cookies and then it’s pretty much healthy from here out. (This was not the case in Half training with the exception of my 30th birthday cake.)

5. I am motivated by my kids. When you run, you don’t just run to run or because you have to. Deep inside, there is something that moves you, that motivates you to push past steep hills, shin splints, and forward to the finish line. When I look at my little girls and big kids, I am motivated to push past the hurdles of running and life because they are (and I AM) worth it.

And probably the most crazy thing? I’d do either one all over again because of what they’ve done for me and my spirit…but the Half Marathon is way more likely now that I am a new mom of four kids and have college and weddings to look toward paying for some day – that’s nothing compared to the price of a race bib!