Friday, September 14, 2012

Finding Your Community (Come Join Ours!)

It can be hard to find a community when you don't parent the mainstream way. But try finding like minded friends when you have twins and you are out of luck. And twin mama's who are trying to go against the grain need extra support. I have anyway.

Up until now the options have been

The local Mothers Of Multiples group: Maybe there is someone crunchy there but I am skeptical. I don't want to be labeled as the "hippie mom" and I live in the country so to go is a lot of work. And I don't want to pay for friends (It makes me feel like I am joining a sorority). Maybe I need to go anyway so please tell me if I'm wrong.

The Attachment Parenting Multiples group on Yahoo: Which is nice and I'm glad it's there. It's great for questions and trouble shooting but there is so much more to talk about.

and last but not least there is

The Parenting Multiples forum on Its great for a forum but a little slow at times.

But I have exciting news (drum roll please)

Fellow crunchy twin moms Amanda (of Darling Monsters) and Theresa (of High Heel Wearing, Hippie Mommy) and I have joined forces to bring you a new blog and community. We are also working hard to bring you a nationwide (and hopefully soon worldwide) directory of obgyn's and midwives that fully support natural twin birth. We want all twin mama's to have that option.

So come hang out with us on the Crunchy Twin Moms website and hang out in community over in our Facebook Page. We would love to get to know you and support you on this hard but rewarding journey of raising twins. Please tell your twin mama friends (and of course crunchy singleton moms are welcome too)! The more the merrier.

So if things are a little slow around here for a while you know where to find me. My first post is up on the blog today and I am talking about How To Reduce Your Risk Of Cesarean.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A (Mostly) Stress Free Road Trip With Young Children

If you've been wondering what's happened to me I'm still around! I haven't died from lack of sleep or gotten carpal tunnel from changing 6 poopy diapers before 10 am yet (and yes that does happen). 

A few weeks ago I got a call from my mom that my grandmother (who has stage four breast cancer) wasn't doing very well. So my husband rearranged his work schedule so we could visit while we still had the chance. He worked six, twelve hour days in a row (as did I) so we could go. I packed mine and the kids clothes, loaded the car, baked banana bread to cheer up a friend, and cleaned the whole house the day we left. I drove into town and picked my husband up from work and he was impressed. He wasn't sure I would make it and fully expected to get himself home and leave the next day. I was maybe a little bit proud of myself.

The key to this little road trip's success was planning. It's a twelve hour trip from our house to my mom's house so we decided to stay at a hotel overnight halfway there. My husband gets off work right around their bedtime. I knew they wouldn't be falling asleep until a bit later than normal so I gave them all snacks and when they finished those I sprayed their feet with Rescue Remedy.

Every time we got in the car on this trip it was either bedtime or naptime for my kids. And every time we got into the car I sprayed their feet with Rescue Remedy to promote relaxation and sleep (and to prevent the screaming/ sleep fighting that all parents dread during a road trip). It had about a 95% success rate for us which was pretty great.

We arrived at our hotel around midnight and had another success in transferring all of them into bed. We like to stay at Holiday Inn Express when we travel with our littles. We get the suite with two queen beds and a pull out couch so there is plenty of (affordable) room . All of the ones I have stayed at have been super clean, have comfortable beds, decent breakfast, and a key component to our plan...a pool. (this is my own opinion and not sponsored by Holiday Inn) Be sure to sign up for their reward program if you stay with them.

The next morning we woke up and took our time. We fed the kids breakfast at the hotel and packed up. The plan was to take the littles swimming (to wear them out) and put them into the car right at naptime (which also happened to be check out time). It worked like a charm... they got in the car after swimming, had a snack, got their feet sprayed with Rescue Remedy and were out.

By the time they woke up it was just about time to feed them dinner. This was the first and only meal we stopped for on the way there. Taking five people out to eat can get pretty pricey (especially if your babies are big eaters like mine are).

We look up places where kids eat free and go there. Eat Out With Kids is a great website & app resource for finding a free or very cheap place to feed your kids. And kids always eat free at Sweet Tomatoes / Soup Plantation (kids 2 & under), CiCi's Pizza (3 & under), Snappy Tomato (under 5), Golden Corral (3 & under), and Shoney's (3 & under). Always call before you show up though to make sure they are still honoring these offers.

From dinner on (they fell asleep maybe an hour before our destination) was our longest period of awake time in the car.

While the kids did watch some TV, I try really hard to limit it. My kids are not used to watching movies in the car so they did not expect it. To prevent melt downs over turning it off we would schedule potty breaks at the time the movie would end. That way when we got back into the car we would start something new.

One of the best substitutes for television (and a huge hit with my kids) are audio stories or books on tape. You can rent books on tape from most libraries for free. You can download audio stories from Story Nory for free. You can buy them from The Story Home for about $.99 each (Although they have a free podcast. While I don't appreciate everything that comes out of Focus on the Family they do have an app (iphone and android) with free Adventures in Odyssey audio stories that we do enjoy.  Story Nory & The Story Home also have paid apps for IPhone.

But hey if you use the TV more power to you. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep your kids happy. We are doing this all over again in a few months so I would love to know any of your travel tips for kids. Feel free to leave them in the comments below... and as always no captcha's or hoops to jump through.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Strawberry Freezer Jam (No Sugar!)

We don't really go through jam a lot. I maybe buy one jar a year. But then strawberries were on sale and I made this. I thought the 6, 8oz jars of jam would last us forever. I even gave some away. And then we flew through it and E expressed remorse that we had given any away.

It's a good bit tangier than regular jam which we love. But if  that's not your thing feel free to add some honey or sugar. Taste it before you add the apple juice/ pectin mix because it's not going to get much sweeter from there. Also with store bought jam chunks are not my thing. I love the chunks in this though. You could always throw the strawberries in the food processor or blender before adding the juice/pectin mixture to avoid so many chunks.

3 lbs strawberries
2 tbs no/low sugar pectin
1 & 3/4 cup no sugar added apple juice
6, 8oz freezer jars

Hull and de-stem (is that a word?) your strawberries. Chop them up and throw them in a bowl.

Every time you throw a few hand fulls of strawberries in a bowl mash them with a potato masher.

Once all of your strawberries are mashed to your desired consistency bring the apple juice and pectin to a strong boil. Let it boil for about a minute.

Pour the hot apple juice / pectin mixture into your mashed strawberries and stir like crazy.

Ladle the jam into the freezer jars.

Keeps up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator or a year in the freezer.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Baked Oatmeal may be one of our favorite uses (you can cut the sugar from the original recipe or add a drizzle of molasses to honey or maple syrup to get that "brown sugar flavor"). I have also added it to plain yogurt (perfect for home made yogurt) to flavor it.

Do you have any favorite uses for jam?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

10 Reasons It's Easier To Breastfeed Twins (than formula feed)

Hello Everyone! Happy World Breastfeeding Week! I wrote about breastfeeding twins and how to be successful at that already. But I often hear comments on how breastfeeding twins must be hard (or even crazy) and I wanted to write up a little post addressing that. At the time this was published I have been breastfeeding my twins for 16 months and 2 weeks. I have been breastfeeding a total of 36 months, 2 weeks.
A little disclosure, this post is to motivate and encourage women who want to breastfeed their twins. I know that breastfeeding is not always easy for everyone. I have been through many challenges with it myself including nipple confusion and having to use galactagogues to up my supply. This post is not to make anyone feel guilty or to place moms who formula feed in a negative light. If that is something that you are sensitive to please skip what is written below. 

I want to tell you something that you may not believe. Breastfeeding twins can actually be easier than formula feeding them. In the very beginning you will have a lot of obstacles but once you get past those breastfeeding is going to make your life so much easier.

Breastfeeding is easier because

  1. You don't have to wash bottles all the time!  In the beginning when F had nipple confusion I was pumping a lot. We dirtied a lot of bottles. I hate doing dishes (especially when I could be holding my babies) so I was so thankful when we were done with bottles.
  2.  You don't have to make formula while your babies are crying. The great thing about breast milk is that it's always ready and always the perfect temperature. Unfortunately twins often have to cry more than a singleton baby would. I'm thankful that mine didn't have to wait while I prepared anything.
  3. You don't have so much stuff to carry whenever you go out. When you go out your diaper bag will be so much lighter without bottles and formula. You don't have to worry about the formula staying cold enough in your bag or going bad. You won't have to find anywhere to stop and make the formula. And you won't have to carry dirty bottles home with you. If you are concerned about breastfeeding in public you can carry a cover with you in your purse. Still easier than all the bottles and formula for two.
  4. Studies show that breastfeeding moms get more sleep !!! I know I would have gotten a lot less sleep if I had to get up all night long to fix bottles. You will get the most sleep if you keep your babies in your room and know how to safely share your bed. It can actually be more dangerous to night feed on the couch or in a chair since many moms fall asleep during those feedings. Read more about how breastfeeding moms get more sleep  and about bed sharing can be safe.
  5. Breastfeeding is good for your mental health. Believe me when I tell you that taking care of twins (much less twins and a toddler!) can take a toll emotionally. Breastfeeding can help that. I know I need all the help I can get. Read more about night time breastfeeding & mental health and how breastfeeding fights depression.
  6. Breastfeeding means less worrying about SIDS. My twins were preemies. Preemies have a higher risk for SIDS. Breastfeeding reduces the risk for SIDS 50% (or dare I say, formula feeding increases risk for SIDS by 50%). Reducing your babies risk for SIDS = more sleep and less stress for you. Read about preemies increased risk for SIDS and how breastfeeding reduces risk for SIDS.
  7. Breastfeeding is free! You save a lot of money breastfeeding twins. According to this calculator it costs between $2,277.00 and $2,376.00 a year estimated on the low side. That does not include bottles and accessories. I don't know about you but I'd rather endure a few extra busy months breastfeeding my twins (which is best for them anyway) and then go on a nice vacation!
  8. Breastfeeding will help keep you out of the doctor's office. If you think daily life is hard with twins just wait until they are both sick! Luckily I've gone 16 months without experiencing that (minus one of my twins catching Roseola, but not passing it on to my other twin. thank you antibodies in my breast milk!). Read about how breastfeeding prevents disease.
  9. Breastfeeding can make it easier to get things done. When my babies were little (and my husband worked the night shift...I saw him about 2 hours a day people. It's a miracle I'm still mostly sane!) I was able to nurse them to sleep. I would position myself in the middle of our bed, propped up with pillows. I would put a pillow on either edge of my bed to act as a bumper. On top of the pillow I would place the baby on that side's pasci and blanket. I nursed them (and read books on the kindle app on my iphone) until they both fell asleep. Sometimes they would roll off themselves but when they didn't I used the "Pantley Pull Out" (which is where you remove your nipple from the baby's mouth while swiftly replacing it with a pasci. from "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley). One of my babies was a much more sound sleeper so that baby would stay laying on my bed while I moved the other baby to his montessori floor bed (or co-sleeper). I also made my daughter's third birthday cake while nursing babies in my Ergo.
  10. Breastfeeding makes bonding easier. As a mom who had a singleton first I had a lot of guilt when my twins were little. I felt like I didn't get as much one-on-one time with them as I would have a singleton. Breastfeeding helps this a lot with hormones and skin to skin contact. Read more about breastfeeding and bonding.

I didn't even touch on all of the health benefits to mother and baby that breastfeeding provides. Here are 101 Reasons To Breastfeed.

world breastfeeding week blog round-up

be sure to click the image above to see all the posts in the link up

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Margarita Carrot Sticks

I came across this recipe two years ago that claimed to be as addictive as french fries and had to try it out. It's become my all time favorite carrot recipe. I've tested it out on some pretty picky kids and have gotten nothing but approval.(My boys are still a bit too young for these but their sister and cousins gobble them up.) These carrot sticks are perfect for pool side munching... I like to bring along some sweet grapes too. It's the perfect sweet & salty raw food combo.

You will need:
4-6 carrots
a lime or two
course salt to taste (kosher or sea salt)

Peel and cut carrots into sticks.
Squeeze lime over carrot sticks.
Sprinkle with salt and toss.


This recipe is originally from Home Ec 101
If you have not been to Heather's site it is a must see! Home Ec 101 is chock full of recipes, cleaning tips, budgeting advice, and nutrition. You are truly missing out if you don't head over there ASAP.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Starting Solids With My Twins

My daughter Em's first food was home made rice cereal. (You can find the recipe I used here). Why did I feed her that? Well because that's what you're supposed to feed babies right? At least that was what I thought at the time. It's a cultural thing here in the states. It's what we do because it's what we have always done. That's why doctor's recommend it. Not because they have had a lot of nutritional training, sadly most have not. The good thing about rice cereal is that your baby isn't likely to have an allergy to it. The bad news about rice cereal is that there isn't a lot of nutrition in it at all. Sure there are some chemically processed vitamins that are thrown in there, iron being the one everyone seems to be worried about.

If iron is something that you are concerned about then I highly recommend reading Kelly Mom's "Is Iron Supplementation Necessary". Remember that while breast milk is lower in iron than formula, the iron in breast milk is more easily absorbed (50-70% of iron in breast milk is absorbed compared to 3-12% in regular cow milk formula). If your baby is not yet born please consider delayed cord clamping as it will help protect your baby's iron reserves and prevent anemia (as well as a list of other benefits).

There are studies now that suggest iron supplementation (when not needed) could actually cause more problems than prevent. See Food Renegade's "Should You Feed Your Baby Iron Fortified Foods".

I was really pleased when our pediatrician this time around suggested nutrient rich foods to be the twins first. His suggestions were bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados. I started my boys just like I started my daughter on home made pureed baby foods. I have a little hand grinder that I would just carry around with us and grind up (after she had been introduced to a good variety) whatever we were having. There is really no need to buy jars of baby food. Making your own can be just as convenient not to mention healthier, and money saving.

But after I tried a few purees with my boys I started reading about the Baby Led Weaning style of feeding solids. I am so thankful that I did because it has made feeding them so incredibly easy. Because of baby led weaning I actually have time to eat at meal times and sometimes clean up a bit while they are taking care of themselves. My main fear with this style of feeding was choking but I have found that the boys actually have choked less eating this way than Em did on purees. The worst part of BLW? The mess! But it's worth it and my boys eat so well. Everyone is always so impressed.

If you are a twin mama thinking about starting solids I urge you to read in to Baby Led Weaning. I know for me & my family it has been a huge blessing.

Here is the best article I have read on the baby led weaning style of eating in general. And here is a great blog post by a fellow twin mama on the subject.

The last thing I want to bring up in this post is the importance of delaying solids. One thing that The World Health Organization, UNICEF, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Family Physicians, The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and Health Canada all agree on is that babies should not start solids until 6 months. Not before. I'm putting this in bold because there are a lot of pediatricians still encouraging moms to start earlier.. commonly 4-6. But there is a good reason behind this.

"From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an “open gut.” his means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream.This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby’s bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby’s first 4-6 months, while the gut is still “open,” antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby’s digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also." 
from Kelly Mom

If you haven't started solids yet please take a look at the entire Kelly Mom article entitled "Why Delay Solids?"

Don't forget "Food before one is just for fun!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Giving Up The Pasci

Em was not always very into using a pacifier. She only used them for sleeping, but then the boys were born. She started using it more and more. She did amazingly well with the twins being born and changing everything but I still think she just needed the extra comfort those pascis' gave her.

About a year ago she had her first trip to the Build A Bear store. There is one in the hospital here and her brother was in that hospital at the time. So she made one for him then. While she did great making one for him and not herself, of course she really wanted one. So that's when I started telling her that she could make one when she was ready to give up her pasci. This is something we have been talking about for a year now.

Well last week we were at the hospital for a doctor's appointment and I took her in Build A Bear. She picked out a rabbit but she said she was not ready to give up her pasci yet. I said that was fine and we didn't talk about it anymore. Then yesterday she was watching PBS and there was a commercial for Build A Bear. She told me she was ready to go. She was ready to give up her pasci. Then she brought it up again this morning. So after a pasci- free naptime we went.

As much as this was a big step for our daughter it was for my husband and myself. Our little girl is not so little anymore. It was one of her last little pieces of babyhood that she has left. She's three and a half now. She's not a baby, she's a little girl. And I am so proud of the beautiful, amazing person she is and is becoming.

She had a little trouble going to sleep tonight. Up until this point she was very excited about her new rabbit and being done with pascis'. But then she got tired and cried, and asked me to go to the store and buy more tomorrow. She's asleep now. I dragged the chair into her room, rocked her to sleep like I did when she was bitty, and soaked up the remnants of babyhood that she has left.

Here are some photos from our bittersweet day.

We put five pasci's in her bunny. One in each hand, one in each foot, and one where the heart would be. We were certainly not the first family to come through doing this. The Build A Bear workers were great about it.

After building her new friend "Pearly" she rode the merry go round for the first time, and we went out for dinner complete with frozen yogurt. On the way home she was tired and started to get sad about not having her pasci. That's when we saw a rainbow. To me rainbows are a reminder that God loves us and that everything is going to be all right. The rainbow kept her happy until we got home.

She had a little trouble falling asleep and a little trouble with her nap today but she is doing really well with it over all. She keeps telling me how much she likes her rabbit.

Special Thanks to Pink & Green Mama for the great idea! I'm not sure if she is who thought it up as I've heard of a lot of people doing it, but her blog is where I first read about it.

linking up with loving out children tuesday

Monday, July 2, 2012

Developmental Leaps and Sleep Regressions

I have a friend who has twins about a year younger than mine (and also two young daughters, but this is about her twins). She texted me last week stressed. Her babies had been nursing non-stop and she was exhausted and worried about her milk supply. She asked for my advice.

I suggested sending her daughters to be with family, ordering delivery, ignoring cleaning her house and laundry. I listed glactagauges that she could take to help with her supply. Things like oatmeal, flaxseed, fenugreek, & lactation cookies. I warned against supplementing as it would keep her babies from upping her supply.

And then I realized... maybe they are going through a developmental leap. So I found out their due date and looked it up and sure enough they were.

Then it occurred to me! I wonder how many moms (but especially twin moms because we are already more concerned about supply) stop breastfeeding thinking that their child is unhappy because they are not making enough milk for them, when really that child is going through a developmental leap.
I am also wondering how many well meaning parents have started a Cry-It-Out routine because of night wakings due to developmental leaps (a.k.a. sleep regressions)

So what is a developmental leap and why should you know about them?

There are at least ten developmental leaps. Each of these occur as your babies brain changes the way it perceives information. As this happens babies tend to be much more fussy, clingy, and have more disruptive sleep patterns. They need love and support as their entire world is changing.

It's hard being a mom. It's really hard when your baby is crying and you don't know why. It's easy to go to "Am I not producing enough milk?" or "Are they spoiled and need to learn to sleep through the night". But just like knowing your baby is teething it is much easier to be compassionate and actually help your baby if you know whats going on.

I learned about sleep regressions originally when Em, who had been an awesome sleeper up until this point in time, stopped sleeping well. Trusty old Google brought me Ask Moxie. What a relief to find out that this was normal and I was not the only one.
Start at her " Q&A: what are sleep regressions anyway? " and then read everything she has to say on it, even the comments. especially the comments!


Then buy the book "The Wonder Weeks" by Plooij & Vanderijt
They do have an app out now but all of the information on the app is on the website for free and you are really missing out on a lot of great info (including how to best help your child through each individual leap) if you don't read the book.

You can also sign up on The Wonder Weeks website and they will email you every time your baby is about to go through a leap.  Be sure to enter your baby's due date and not their actual birth date.

The good news is that if your baby is going through a developmental leap, it will not last forever and there are ways you can help them! Remember to be gentle on yourselves during these times too. They are hard. Our most difficult was around 8 or 9 mos. I thought I was going to loose my mind, but we pulled through. We are going through another leap right now and it is not nearly as bad.

Have you found a particular leap to be more difficult than the others?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Making the Most of Your CSA or Co-op

In the last few months we finally joined a co-op. It's been something I've wanted to do for a while but it was difficult to find one that we could pick up on my husband's day off (we only have one car). But anyway it's finally happened. I can not tell you how fabulous it is having a refrigerator full of extremely fresh organic veggies. Every other week when we pick up it's almost a little like Christmas. Our menu is scheduled entirely around what we receive. We've been eating a lot healthier and I've been learning to cook things I otherwise wouldn't have learned.

I thought I would share a few things that I have been doing to make our order go just a bit further. 

I already use vinegar to clean with. In my recycled veggie wash spray bottle, I combine 1 part vinegar to 1 part water with a tiny squirt of dish-washing liquid (which is completely optional). 

Now I fill a jar with all of our citrus peels, cover in white vinegar, and set it in the cabinet until I need to make a new batch. My cleaning solution has a nice citrus smell thanks to our co-op left overs. Last time I made a mixture of grapefruit and orange. But any citrus will work. I only recommend doing this if the fruit you are using is organic. Because who wants to clean with pesticides? Not me. Otherwise I wouldn't bother making this scented in the first place.

Next time we get some citrus in our box I would like to try The SimpleSolution Mom's Homemade Essential Oils.

Another thing I do is make my own veggie broth. I throw all of my well washed scraps and peels into a gallon sized zip lock bag in the freezer. It's so simple really. Just save them up until you have enough to make a batch. Then you can either can or freeze it until you are ready to use.

The recipe is very simple: Throw in a big pot, cover with water, cook for a long time (5-9 hrs), strain, and store. (you can easily freeze broth but since my husband got into canning that is what we've been doing with it.) You can add any seasonings you like.

I also try to remember to make a list of the fresh veggies I have in my cozi app. (Although anywhere will do.) That way I don't forget what's in the fridge ,because if I forget it might rot. I use this list to plan our meals too. I don't always remember to do it but when I do it helps a lot.

You can also regrow some of the veg you get. A few years ago I saw on Food Network that you could regrow green onions and have been doing it off and on since then. Just put a few rocks in the bottom of a glass, water just covering the rocks, and your green onions. Set it in your kitchen window and you will have new green onions in a week or less. If it's cold out your onions may freeze. You will know this because the onions will get a clear gel in the middle. If that happens just chuck them out and start over.

Other veggies that you can regrow are garlic, onions, potatoes, and celery just to name a few.

You can find a CSA or Co-op (and local dairy & eggs) near you at Local Harvest

And you can read about how to store your veg plastic free  here

(picking up our milk...we get our eggs from my mother in law's chickens)

I'm linking up to the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop over at Penniless Parenting this week

Monday, June 11, 2012

Breastfeeding Twins

I have to be honest with you. When I read that this week's Monday Mother's of Multiples topic was "Feeding & Schedules" I was underwhelmed. I don't believe in schedules...routines, yes, but schedules no. As a breastfeeding mom scheduling feeds can really screw up your supply and with twins that may already be a concern. It also ignores growth spurts and developmental leaps. So if you are planning on breastfeeding your twins steer clear of the scheduling booby trap! Trade that mindset out for a more laid back routine .

That being said my twins did spend time in the NICU and the NICU did have them on a schedule. They came home programmed to eat every three hours, which I did stick with for the first few weeks. When we were finally all home from the hospital F had nipple confusion. So with the "feed F with a bottle, nurse D, then pump for F's next bottle" routine I had going on, every three hours even felt like pushing it. Once I was finally able to get F breastfeeding well, and gaining, it was much easier to get off schedule into more of an on demand lifestyle (which is what is best for building & maintaining milk supply).

But let's start at the beginning. Forget schedules, let's talk about breastfeeding twins. It's possible! It may be a lot of work at the beginning but defiitely worth it. I could write an entire blog post about how
"worth it" it is to breastfeed twins  but for today lets just stick to the how....

It all starts before your baby is born. It's a fight you choose to fight. It's not easy and there will be booby-traps. (I didn't make that up...they do call it that...I'm not that cheesy.)

and Part 2

The first thing that I recommend that you do is get a book on breastfeeding and read it cover to cover. I read The La Leche League's Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding . Study up as much as you possibly can...this will give you the best possible chance at a successful breastfeeding relationship. Then find a LLL group near you and go to a meeting... or if you are not that mobile, connect with the leader...either through email or phone, so she knows who you are and can help you if it comes to that.

Be sure to have all of your supplies together and ready to go. I recommend a nursing pillow, nipple cream (mother love makes the best!), some nursing tanks, nursing pads (I never needed these but a lot of women do...better to have a few ready just in case), fenugreek, and mother's milk tea. Also a breastpump can be handy but not always a necessity. If you don't plan on buying one at least have one picked out and set aside some money for it just in case.

The best thing that you can do is to nurse your babies within the first hour that they are born. Unfortunately I was not allowed to nurse or hold my babies until the next day even though there were no real problems. So I pumped like crazy and started taking my fenugreek and drinking my mother's milk tea to get started. I was very lucky that my NICU had donor breastmilk so we used that until my milk came in. (Colostrum is actually the best thing for newborn babies to have but our NICU would not allow just that.)

I actually had a horrible time with our NICU. I ended up bottle feeding them both (pumped breastmilk) just so we could get out of there. I was terrified of nipple confusion from the bottles and it did happen. But I decided that I would rather deal with nipple confusion at home than convincing the nurses that I could breastfeed them both in the NICU. Also my lactation consultant was very unhelpful... so don't go into the hospital thinking that you can rely totally on their LLC's. Some may be great but many are sub par.

As for tandem nursing it took us a while to get to that. F had nipple confusion so he took extra effort to get to nurse. But even when tandem worked for us sometimes I would choose to take turns nursing just because I liked doing it that way better. So just know that you don't have to tandem do what you like best and what is best for you.

The last thing that I am going to touch on is percentiles and pediatricians. All of my babies (even my singleton) have been small and grow more slowly. This worries pediatricians (especially one's using outdated or formula fed percentile charts) and they may pressure you to supplement. Supplementing can be really detrimental so use your best judgement. (Our ped asked us to supplement, I took the samples & left, and never did it. I don't tell our ped everything. Most of them have very little training when it comes to nutrition. When we came back for our next appointment he was pleased with their weights. He probably thought I supplemented.)

Anyway here are some articles to help you through that situation if it ever becomes a problem:

La Leche League Healthy and Petite

I wanted to leave you guys with some good resources to do your breastfeeding research. Supprisingly there are a lot of video's on YouTube that show tandem nursing. Here is one of them but look around because there are more. I wish I had known about this before my boys were born.


Here are some articles on how sleep schedules (especially Baby Wise) are  linked to dehydration, failure to thrive, and premature weaning.

General Breastfeeding Twins Info

and a whole website dedicated to it 

and this fabulous post on breastfeeding in general
Timeline of a Breastfed Baby

Good Luck and please let me know if there is anything I can help you with or questions you would like answered. I have been successfully breastfeeding my twins for almost 15 months now. If I can do it so can you!

I almost forgot! Linking up with the for MOMs by MOMs on feeding & schedules

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bringing Siblings into the Family

I remember when Em was born, and we brought her home. I think bringing your first born home (or if you are lucky, birthing them in your home) is so different from your second, or second and third. You know more what you are doing and what to expect. My biggest concern with the twins being born was how it was going to effect Em and how we were going to make it work. So I made a lot of preparations for blending the twins into our family and that's what I really want to talk about. (Em was 27 mos when the boys were born.)

Throughout my pregnancy Em and I talked a lot. We talked about having brothers, and what babies need, and talked about things that would happen when the babies arrived. I read the books  "Beyond Sibling Rivalry" by Peter Goldenthal and "Siblings Without Rivalry" by Adele Fabler and I feel like they helped me to prepare. I also always referred to them as her brothers. Even still she calls them "her babies".

I also bought a gift for the boys to give her when they were born. It was just a little wooden dollhouse that I found on clearance at Walmart but it was a really big deal to her. It also gave her something new and exciting to do since the boys required so much of my time...time that she was used to getting. She still, 14 months later, thanks her brothers for her doll house. It's really sweet.

When the boys came home from the hospital all they did was pretty much eat and new babies do.

Sleep can be tricky when you have three little ones. When you have a new baby you can nap when baby is napping but with three that's not always the case. The most helpful thing for getting everyone sleeping and napping around the same time has been swaddling. The twins napped off and on throughout the day but at night, and when Em napped I would swaddle them. (I love the miracle blanket) That is what got them used to our little schedule. Of course everyone is individuals and everyone gets tired at different times, or sleeps different amounts of times but this at least gets you set up with everyone sleeping CLOSE to the same times.

Another important tip regarding sleep would be to make a big deal out of when your babies are sleeping and your toddler is not. It's hard at first because toddlers don't always quite understand about not waking babies. They may even want to wake the babies to act out because they are having a hard time learning to share you. This was incredibly frustrating at first. But for a long time whenever I would finally get both boys down I would exclaim "It's Mommy & Em time!" and make sure I did something with me and her. Sometimes that meant we read books or played with her toys together and other times that meant that I would snuggle up with her on the couch, turn on PBS, and drift in and out of consciousnesses. I'm certainly not telling you this because I am proud of it! Just being real.  And I always made sure to tell her that we had to be careful not to wake the babies or we would have to stop whatever fun thing we were doing.

Getting everyone and yourself sleeping is tricky but getting everyone fed is a lot of work too.

When we first came home from the hospital after my twins had a few weeks stay in the NICU, F had a lot of issues with nipple confusion. This meant that I was constantly concerned with feeding. I felt like all I did was give F his bottle, then breastfeed D, then pump for F's next bottle, then start all over again. It took up ALL MY TIME until I was finally able to get F off of bottles around 6 weeks.

If you know me, you know I'm not big on filling my house full of toys. But that being said I highly highly recommend making some busy bags or quiet time bins to be pulled out during nursing to entertain your toddler. Switch them out often so there is always something new and exciting to do. You can also keep a small basket of books in each room so that you can always read to your toddler during nursing sessions too. And then there is my secret weapon & last resort (Barnes and Noble's Online Story Time). Thank you Eric Carle for reading to my toddler when I just cant muster it!

And last but not least if you can, prepare yourself  emotionally. For me the first year has been a time of extreme sacrifice. I think that it can be with just one new baby but with two new babies and a toddler it gets pretty crazy.

I know I've had unique circumstances. My husband was working 12 hour night shifts and then coming home and sleeping (I was only seeing him for 2 hours a day for a large portion of the first year...not including weekends thankfully.) And then we live so far away from my family and friends and his family, although close by can not be much help.

Even with a lot of help I know it has to be hard. So prepare yourself for not a lot of sleep, a messy house, not enough time to really cook, not enough me time, and at the same time an amazing- life changing experience. It goes by crazy fast... the days will creep by sometimes but the months will fly. Things change a lot after that first hard year and it does it easier!

I'm linking up with Mother's of Multiples Mondays

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baby Gear: Simple and Affordable

Sometimes I think we forget that our culture is not the only one in the world. I've been blessed enough to be fairly well traveled but I get a reminder of this in the evenings when E & I sit down to watch the documentary Babies while we wait for Nate to come home from work.

The documentary follows 4 babies for the first year of their lives in Africa, Mongolia, Japan, & the USA. It's a good watch for those of us who worry about small silly things. (It's currently on Netflix Instant.)

Anyway my point is we live in a very materialistic culture. There are probably a million lists on the internet telling you all the things you need for your baby. Most of these things you really do not need. My baby must have list is simple. So simple that it may shock some of you.
Having babies doesn't mean having to break the bank or that your house must look like a daycare center.

Baby Equipment I would skip
   Two Cribs
Yep, I went there. We practice safe co-sleeping   (which you may want one crib or a co-sleeper for if you are having twins) and then we go to a Montessori floor bed when our babies are ready. You can do either or both. I highly recommend at least reading the article on Montessori floor beds...everyone I know that has done a floor bed has been amazed at all the benefits. You will be thanking me when your babies are toddlers and you do not have so much trouble getting them to stay in their beds.

Read more about twin specific co-sleeping at Confessions of a High Heel Wearing Hippie Mommy
more about Montessori floor beds for twins at Montessori On the Double

 Changing table
I find that it's much easier, and saves time, space, and money not to have a changing table. It's makes a lot more sense in my opinion to use a changing pad (or even a towel) on the floor. There is another $70-$200 for your spa/ housekeeper/ kid's college fund.

Two Swings and Two Bouncers
Save yourself some space ,money, and clutter. You do not need two of each for twins. It makes a lot more sense to do rotations. I didn't really use either of these things with my singleton daughter but it's hard to hold two babies as much as they need. As much as they need with twins is more than as much as they need with a singleton because they will not always sleep at the same time or for the same lengths of time. They are two separate people that have two separate sets of needs you know.

Bumbo Seats or BeBe Pods
 The only reason that these seats are helpful is if you need to start feeding your baby solids before they can sit up on their own. That is not usually recommended but it is something that we ended up doing with our twins. We chose to do this because they are petite (our singleton was too) and our pediatrician was slightly concerned about their weight. Otherwise you really don't need these and they are not recommended for extended periods of time.

Jumpers and Exersaucers
 There has been concern over both types of these toys with the negative developmental impact they can cause (neurologically and physically) . It is not recommended to use this kind of toy more than 10-15 minutes a day. So for my family we just skip these. They tend to take up a lot of space anyway.

You can read articles here and here for more info on this.

Baby Equipment I Can't Do Without

Miracle blanket
 We have used miracle blankets to swaddle all three of our children and loved them. I love them too because they helped our babies feel secure and sleep. Our miracle blanket helped with our singleton a lot and other singleton parents that I have recommended it to help their babies sleep longer at night. When D & F came home from the hospital I would wrap them during E's naptime and at night. They learned that when they were wrapped it was time to sleep. This is how I got everyone on the same schedule. Eventually I moved to just wrapped at night and then weaned them off it their blankets. It is an expensive blanket but I have not found any others that work remotely as well. The last ones I bought were at a consignment sale for $4 though so look around and get a good price. They are only used for a few months so you should be able to buy a few used quite easily.

.An Ergo Baby Carrier
If you spend any time with me at all you will hear me tell you how much I love my Ergo. I honestly could not imagine parenting twins without it. When the boys were smaller I would wear them in the front carry to put them to sleep while I accomplished household tasks. I even nursed F in the Ergo while I made my daughter's birthday cake last year. It wouldn't have gotten done if that hadn't been an option. It's great for when one or both of my twins are fussy and they both need me. The Ergo is also great for outings. If I ever leave it at home I regret it. It's incredibly more comfortable than any baby bjorn style carrier out (also known as crotch danglers in the baby wearing world) there and better for your baby (see the links in my teething post for more on that). And I can even carry my three year old in it still. It will last you forever! Ergo baby carriers are also pricey but look for them on craigslist, ebay, and consignment sales. If you have to buy new know this...they are worth every penny.

Not only is baby wearing an essential tool in twin parenting but there are many benefits.

A Nursing Pillow
I bought the My Breast Friend pillow that is made for twins because it was supposedly the best. I HATED IT! It was was like wearing a huge inner-tube and I had a hard time getting the babies close enough to me and positioned correctly in general. I also could not get into a comfortable position for me while wearing it. I really ended up using the Boppy I had much more and thought it was better. But in the begining a nursing pillow was a life saver and the MBF pillow was better than nothing.

Baby Equipment to Consider

A stroller is a great thing if you like to walk or jog a lot. Otherwise I recommend skipping the stroller and investing in a great baby carrier. I think I mentioned one above. 

We do love to take walks. I have a Joovy "Big Caboose stand on triple stroller."
I love that E can choose to sit or stand. It's a little difficult to steer at times but it's pretty perfect for our family situation.

Baby food grinder
This was something that I would have considered an essential before I learned about baby led weaning. It really makes feeding your baby home made purees super simple. If baby led weaning style of eating is not your thing then consider one of these.

Breast Pump
While I didn't use my pump hardly at all for my singleton I used the heck out of it for my twins especially when they were in the NICU.  It's a pricey piece of equipment if you aren't going to use it so you may want to pick out the one you want, set the money for it aside, and have someone else pick it up for you if you really need it.

Nursing cover
 I feel more comfortable nursing in public with a cover. For me it's an essential. Some people prefer not to have one. Do what makes you feel most comfortable and don't worry about anyone else.

Cloth Diapers
There are plenty of reasons to cloth diaper. Personally I am a part-time cloth diaperer because I don't like to add too much extra pressure. It's not that way for some moms but laundry is not my favorite thing and so it can be for me. If you want to get started cloth diapering (or read how I got all of our diapers for free) you can read this post on my old blog.

Cloth diapering is not out of the question for multiples at all. You can read twin and triplet specific cloth diapering posts at
What The Blog?

Baby gear can be helpful but I challenge you to think about how much of it is really necessary. People all around the world make do with much less than we do. What your baby needs most is you.

This week I'm linking up to For MOMs by MOMs: Baby Gear
so stop by and see what other Moms of Multiples suggest when it comes to baby gear.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Birthing Twins Naturally

 If you haven't read it yet, you can read all about my twin pregnancy here.

(I should have known I was about to go into labor. My face was so swollen. Actually I kind of hate this photo. I look so miserable in it. ha!)

I was closing in on end the thirty-fourth week of my pregnancy. I decided I needed a few new nursing bra's before the babies came so we went to the mall. Motherhood Maternity was right inside the entrance but apparently even that was too far. I came home so sore and tired. Being pregnant with twins is intense y'all.

I tried to take a bath. Tried being the key word since my knees and feet were pretty much the only thing that fit into the tub. I remember wishing so badly that we could go down the street to my inlaws hot tub. I was just so sore. I had already lost a little mucus at 31 weeks and that night I lost some more.

I knew the boys would be coming soon but I had hoped on waiting it out a week and a bit longer. At 36 weeks my midwives could deliver them. That evening my husband and I went through the boys things and talked about what we would want to bring along with us to the birthing center.

The next morning I woke up with mild period like cramps. I recognized this feeling from E's birth as the very early labor, but since I did not want to start labor yet we jumped in the car and raced straight to the birthing center to stop it. The birthing center was fourty-five minutes away (which was nothing compared to the two hours I drove for E's birth). We arrived and I was checked and found to be at 5cm. I was shocked. I was about 5cm during E's birth when I bit my husband (something I am sure to never live down). This was much more mild. We did everything we could to stop labor. They had some herbal drops that they were giving me and they even called their homeopathic doctor who had them give me may have been pulsatilla but I was so out of it I didn't notice.

Nothing stopped labor. The boys were coming. My midwives (Molly & Emily) called their back up OBGYN who agreed to meet us at the hospital. I briefly considered jumping into the birthing tub and not consenting to be moved but there was no way for us to know if the boys lungs had fully developed yet. We got into the car to drive the two hours to the hospital where the OB would deliver my twins (with baby A breech) naturally.  Molly rode with us and Emily followed in her car.

Click here for info on breech being just another variation of normal.

I felt a lot of pressure on the drive and communicated what I was feeling as we drove. Molly asked me if I needed her to find a closer hospital but I knew that meant automatic C-section. I told her no that I was going to Dr. Cummings and for my husband to keep driving. I was not that concerned about birthing in the car. I had an excellent midwife and my husband who was EMT certified with me. At one point in time I was so miserable because I had to pee so badly. There was no way I could have stopped and made it in the bathroom so my midwife pulled out a disposable pad to put under me and I peed in the car on that. (I almost didn't admit that, but it is part of my story)

We arrived at the hospital around 2pm. A nurse picked me up at the curb and wheeled me away from my husband and my midwife towards the room. I kept asking her to wait but as you will soon find out she was not a very patient or considerate nurse. This part was all so surreal. This was not where I wanted to be, or felt was safest, or most conducive to a normal, natural birth.

I remember going to the bathroom again and being given a hospital gown to wear. Then I was put in the bed where they strapped a monitor to me. I was also administered an IV. They told me over and over again to lay on my back and I ignored them every time. Not only is it the most uncomfortable position to be in but it is also the worst position you can be in for labor. Meanwhile my impatient nurse, named America, asked me a million questions. She did not care that I was experiencing intense contractions or rushes. She would not wait for me to finish and she would not allow my husband to answer for me. I was so thankful to have my awesome midwives with me. They acted as doulas and helped me manage the rushes by kneading my lower back and gripping my foot. They took great care of me.  I also remembered something that my doula at E's birth had said. During a particularly intense rush she told me "to just follow it all the way through". It was so helpful at the time so I just kept saying it to myself. ( see what a good investment a doula is? they not only help you through the birth that you hire them for but also through the ones after that.)

At some point in time a nurse came in and insisted that I have an x-ray done so they could tell exactly where the babies were. I thought this was absolutely ridiculous and a terrible thing to do to my babies but I really was given an ultimatum. Do this or they would not deliver them. I hate hospitals. I really do. They did the x-ray. Twice actually because the stupid techs screwed it up the first time. The boys were exactly where my midwives told them they were which they found out by palpating.

Finally Dr. Cummings came in. They said it was time and got ready to transport me to the OR since that is where they deliver twins. The nurses would allow me nothing to drink so everytime they left I had Nate hand me my big cup of water. This was yet another stupid hospital policy that I was not about to fall victim to. But I knew that I couldn't sneak anything while in the OR. So I asked Dr. Cummings for something and he told America to get me some ice chips. This was very satisfying because she had just told me that I could have nothing.

America told me in the OR I would have to lay flat on my back. Dr. Cummings is awesome though. I asked if I could lay on my side until my water broke and he allowed me to do that. There are a lot of benefits to keeping your bag of water intact until just before the baby is born and all that vitamin C I took really payed off by making that possible.

At 3:02 (just an hour after we had arrived at the hospital) F, my baby A, was born. He was born frank breech. He came into this world balls first. He had a little trouble breathing at first and was given a bit of oxygen. He never needed assistance breathing but because he gave them a little scare with the breathing they took him straight to the NICU. I didn't even get to see him. I could hear him crying and I was worried about him ,but I didn't have much chance to think about that.

When F was born, D moved down the birth canal. In doing this he had a bit of cord prolapse. His heart rate was still fine (although one nurse picked up my heart rate and flipped until the other nurse showed her the mistake). This was a bit tricky. A lot of OB's probably would have sectioned me right then and there, but not Dr. Cummings. He explained to me that he would break D's bag of waters, reach in and manually move the cord out of the way, and then I would have to push D out as quickly as possible. This was far from pleasant but made a lot of sense to me. I stayed very calm and trusted God, Dr. Cummings, and my body. I know that this was painful but I don't really remember that. I remember feeling a lot of pressure on my bladder and I told him that. He assured me that was normal.

Actually the most horrible part of it all was the nurses who gathered around and screamed at me to push. They were telling me that I was doing it wrong and they were encouraging me to purple push (or to hold my breath while pushing which is not good and can result in broken blood vessels in the mother and tearing of the perinum). Thank God I knew better. I wish that I could have gotten out of my head and screamed at them to shut the hell up. I wanted to so badly but I was too busy working hard to get this baby out. Dr. Cummings knew this was wrong I imagine because he instructed Emily (who had been at my feet) to get closer to my head so I could hear her instructions to me. I remember squeezing Nate's hand and the poor anesthesiologists hand.

At 3:12, nine minutes after F, D was born. Both boys weighed 5lbs 5 oz. They took him and did all of the things they do when babies are born, swaddled him up tight, and let my husband hold him, before they took him to the NICU also. He was taken to the NICU because he had low blood sugar. This is extra annoying because letting baby lay skin to skin on their mother's chest helps regulate blood sugar after birth. Also allowing him to nurse would have been ideal. But they whisked him away and left me to deliver the placentas.

At this point in time the anesthesiologist looked at me and said, "I'm hooking up the pitocin now.".  I was shocked. I just birthed 2 babies naturally without anything. I didn't need pitocin to birth the placentas or to stop any bleeding. I said "no thank you.". I don't know why I was so polite. I'll blame my southern roots. She looked shocked that I had rejected the drugs though. Dr. Cummings okayed my decision and everything was fine.

I remember feeling freezing as I was wheeled out of the OR. I was thankful for the heated blankets. Upon returning to the delivery room I asked America if I could go to the bathroom. I needed to pee so badly.But she told me no, that I didn't actually need to pee. It felt so weird to be without the babies I had just birthed. I asked to go to them but they wouldn't let me.

I was finally taken to my room in the maternity ward and finally allowed to get up to pee when the nurse there couldn't even feel my uterus because my bladder was so full. Around 5:30 I was finally allowed to go to the NICU to see my boys. I was not allowed to hold them as they didn't want to stress them. Which is the biggest bunch of bullshit ,but I digress. They were told that they needed to stay because their blood sugar was low. However they would not let them nurse as they did not know if they would be able to suck, swallow, breathe. Of course how can you know if you don't let them try? They were given a gavage tube and donor breastmilk.

I had a terrible time with the NICU.  I will write about that later because it really is it's own story.

So I fought for my boys to have a natural birth and they did. I was very disappointed by the way everyone treated us in the hospital except for the OBGYN himself. I also knew what birth could should be and I know what hospitals do wrong so that in itself has given me a different outlook on a lot of things. (If you are interested...which really you should be if you plan on birthing in the US...I recommend watching "The Business of Being Born" and reading "Pushed " by Jennifer Block )

You can watch the trailer for TBoBB here and you can watch the whole thing on Netflix Instant watch.

This week I am linking up with  For MOMs by MOMs: Pregnancy With Twins. So be sure to head over there to read more twin pregnancy and birth stories.