Finding your baby’s schedule vs. forcing it

During my pregnancy, I was heavily involved on the Multiples & Twins board on the What to Expect app. I read damn near every thread and comment, sometimes chiming in on some of the subjects myself. It was a great outlet because I didn’t know anybody who shared my experience that I felt comfortable talking to. I could bitch all day about how nauseous I was to a friend or family member who had already been pregnant, but unless you have had hyperemesis gravidarum, you have absolutely no clue what I felt like. There were ladies on the board due around the same time as me, some pregnant with triplets, a couple of women pregnant with quadruplets, but mostly twin moms, and I seemed to fall right in the middle of everyone’s due dates based on what I had been reading. One thing I saw regularly, was women who had already had their babies mentioning this “Moms on Call” system. They swore by it.

I shelled out the $16 for the ibook and app combination for my phone and started reading into it on my own. Basically, Moms on Call is a schedule you follow that gets your babies in a set routine, changing every couple of months to adapt to the developmental leaps they are bound to experience. The ultimate “goal” with this system is getting your babies to sleep through the night by around the three-month mark. It’s co-written by two pediatric nurses, so you would think that everything in there is advice you should listen to, right? If you’re going to exclusively pump and you know your supply can withstand the ever-increasing demand of your babies, or if you know out the gate you’re formula feeding, maybe. You could definitely benefit from it. However, if you are determined to be successful with breastfeeding, I will confidently advise you to steer clear of the entire thing, because this is rigorously structured, and breastfeeding is not. 

(I included the photos for reference)

The only reason I say to steer clear is because your baby might want to nurse longer than 30 minutes, especially if they’re going through a growth spurt, and if you’re strictly breastfeeding, this could affect your supply in the long run. Boobs are completely supply and demand. If you’re cutting your baby off before they’re done nursing, you’re telling your body, “I don’t need anymore milk at this time.” They’ll adjust to the schedule, but not your baby’s needs, which are continuously changing. Shortly after you’re finished feeding, which in the book they’re pretty adamant about, you either lie your baby down for a nap or play with them. They follow certain ferberizing techniques which isn’t where my biggest problem was with this system, because I genuinely do think they helped the girls become good sleepers, but more so how they urged you to stop feeding and then do rounds of CIO (cry it out) to get your baby to sleep.

Erik and I followed the Moms on Call system until sometime in late October. I was in a Moms on Call group on facebook that was formed by a couple of the moms in the Multiples & Twins board on the What to Expect app. There was a new mom following the schedule I posted above, so her baby was somewhere between a month and two months old. She had said that the night before, her baby had woken up crying and she couldn’t console him. It was before 2:00 a.m., so she did the rounds of CIO, but it only got worse. She didn’t consider feeding him because she was so focused on what the schedule was telling her. She said she gave her baby a bottle around 4:00 a.m. after a few moms said that her baby had obviously been hungry. All I pictured was a helpless little baby crying because he was hungry, and a mother so hypnotized by this system that she forgot that babies are vulnurable beings, completely dependent on us to meet their needs and aren’t meant to follow stict schedules at such a young age. I immediately unfollowed the facebook group, stopped focusing on the system, and started following Violet’s and Olivia’s cues. They have them, trust me. You just have to pay attention. 

There were a few things I took with me from the system, though, and implemented into our more organic routine. I truly do think these have helped the girls get into their own schedule, because they certainly have one:

  • sound machine (every time they go to sleep)
  • swaddles (every time they go to sleep, until they’re breaking out of them regularly)
  • cribs (every time they go to sleep)
  • bedtime routine consisting of baths, bottles, bed, in that order around the same time every night

The Moms on Call book suggested a white noise machine, but I use this little $25 MyBaby sound machine by Homedics on the “ocean” setting because white noise gives me the creeps. We turn it on no matter if the girls are going down for a nap or for the night. It’s loud enough to block out noises in their room, but not so loud that we can’t hear them if they wake up. It’s also about $15 less expensive.

Swaddles are important because your new baby will have a startle reflex that they can’t control until they get more control over their muscles. If the girls were not swaddled, they would wake up every time their little bodies jerked in their sleep. I love the SwaddleMe brand from Target because they’re inexpensive compared to their competition, and super stretchy. The tighter the swaddle, the better. 

CRIBS! CRIBS! CRIBS! Not pack and plays, not rock and plays, CRIBS. I’ll admit, when we first brought them home, they slept in the double bassinet on top of their playpen for the first few weeks. Olivia’s monitor in the NICU said “apnea” too many times for my liking during her stay there and I wanted her to be close to me in case something happened. Once they started rolling around in them though, we went straight to their cribs. We dealt with reflux and we dealt with gas. I only mention that because I think a lot of people use rock and plays to help with reflux. You know what though? You’re going to have a hard time transitioning your baby into their crib if they get used to sleeping elevated like that. (They can also get plagiocephaly, but babies can get that from favoring one side of their head over the other even if they are in cribs. Violet and Olivia both favored their right side. We had physical therapists come do an at-home evaluation on them to determine if they needed helmets per their pediatrician’s request.) We put a pack (not a box) of diapers under one side of their mattress and put them on their backs during that stage. It worked. All I have ever had in their cribs is a fitted sheet and their little giraffe nightlight stuffed animals my friend, Ashley, bought them. I don’t use bumpers, pillows, blankets, or anything like that because the AAP advises against those things, and I wanted to take any measures I could to prevent SIDS, especially since they were premature.

bathtime

Bedtime Routine: Every night between 7:00-8:00 p.m. depending on their nap schedule that day and their level of fussiness, I start their bath. They know as soon as the water turns on, it’s time to get in there. They stop whatever they’re doing and crawl right to the tub.  They LOVE it. I wash them every other night, but on the nights I don’t wash them, we do a bubble bath. They have some toys in there, so I let them play for about ten minutes, and then I get them out. I diaper them, get them dressed, and make their bottles, which have two to three ounces more than their daytime bottles do. (We are down to 3 bottles a day with lots of snacking on baby food, yogurt, beans, cut up fruits + veggies) While they’re drinking their bottles, I turn off the light in the living room (where they eat), make sure the light in their room is off, and turn the sound machine on so the mood is set when I go to put them down. Usually, they go right down with minimal fussing.

 

With everything being said, Olivia didn’t start sleeping through the night until sometime in her eleventh month. Every. single. night. she would wake up sometime between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. to nurse, and we have had plenty of days that started at 5:00 a.m. because there was no way she was going back down without putting up a fight, and that would wake Violet up because they share a room. (never have they shared a crib) Just about a month ago, Olivia was waking up between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. and staying up until damn near 3:00 a.m. every time she did. You just have to roll with it, because babies go through countless growth spurts and developmental leaps during their first year of life, and our job as parents is to adhere to their needs to the best of our abilities.

I’m not trying to knock the Moms on Call system at all, but I do think that in a sense, it’s pretty selfish to expect a baby to sleep through the night at such a young age. We are lucky that Violet has been doing so for as long as she has, but like I said, Olivia had plans of her own the entire year. If you’re low on sleep, I do suggest implementing the same steps at nap time and bedtime so it signals to your baby, “ok, it’s time to try to sleep.” I think that whole aspect of the system is psychological, and it seemed to work. If your baby has days and nights confused, or has a hard time going to sleep for the night, try throwing in a warm bath and dimming the lights and ‘setting the mood’ for a good night’s rest, and see if that helps. If it doesn’t, don’t get frustrated, just listen to your baby.

 

 

[NICU Awareness:] Our Birth Story pt. 2

I woke up sometime later in our room in labor & delivery to find Erik resting on the couch next to my bed.

eriksleeping

“How are the girls?” I asked him. He assured me everything was fine. “When can I see them?” I asked the nurse. She told me I couldn’t see Violet or Olivia until my magnesium drip had run out, so probably not for another day or so. When she told me that I got pretty down, but I knew that they were going to be hungry soon, so I turned my attention to pumping. I had read how important colostrum was for babies, especially premature babies, so I was determined to get what I could, if anything, out of my boobs and into their mouths. I asked the nurse for a pump, and shortly after, a lactation consultant named Karen, wheeled in a Medela Symphony pump with all of the bells and whistles. (Bells and whistles being the membranes, tubes, flanges, shields, etc.) I didn’t know if anything would come out because they were born so early, but our bodies are amazing, y’all. Within seconds, yellow liquid started squirting out, just like The Nursing Mother’s Companion, said it would. “Holy shit this is weird!” I told Erik in amazement. I only got about 20 mL out, but the lactation consultant assured me that was all they needed since their bellies were so small. She brought me some syringes to put the milk in since they were being fed through tubes at the moment, a few sheets of labels for the NICU nurses, and told me to keep trying. She told me I needed to pump frequently to meet their needs while they’re in the NICU, showed me how everything worked, and showed Erik how to properly wash the parts between pumping sessions. “Your milk will come in, trust me.” She said on her way out.

colostrum

Luckily, the hospital the girls were born at is only about ten minutes from our house, so Erik was able to leave and let the dogs out, shower, etc. there. While he was gone, I pumped again and asked the nurse if she would take the colostrum to the NICU for me since I was still unable to get up and walk around. She did, and when she came back, she showed me seperate photos of Violet and Olivia that she had taken so I could see them. They were so beautiful. “I can’t believe we made them.” I thought to myself as I started to cry. The next twelve hours were spent waking up to either talk to the one of thirty people that would filter in and out of the room, or to pump. Fortunately, by about 1:00 p.m. Friday, my milk had fully come in. I was nervous about that whole process because 1. the girls were six weeks early, and 2. I had gotten a c-section. I said it once and I’ll say it again, our bodies are amazing. I was pumping out a solid two ounces each time I pumped by Friday evening. Every meal the girls had so far had been breastmilk, and that was so empowering.

(pictures from nurse’s phone)

Friday evening, my magnesium drip ran out. The nurse in my room asked me to stand, made me take a few steps, and then asked me to sit back down. “Are you dizzy at all?” She asked. I said no, so she wheeled me down to the NICU while Erik went to let the dogs out so I could finally see the girls for the first time. I couldn’t hold them until I wasn’t considered a “fall risk” anymore (my spinal block wore off only a few hours before), so I just stared at them in their incubators. My babies were even more beautiful in person. They were so small, and they looked so soft. I couldn’t wait until I was able to hold them. Shortly after we made it back to the room, I was transferred from labor and delivery to the postpartum ward. Erik got back to the hospital a little after that, and I asked him to take me back to the NICU so we could see them together. We hadn’t gotten that opportunity quite yet.

 

(photo credit: Erik)

Saturday, I held them for the first time: (and my epidural ran out…)

… and Sunday was spent “resting” with frequent walks to the NICU every 3 hours to feed the girls. Monday was our day to go home. Although we were more than eager to leave the hospital, Violet and Olivia wouldn’t be coming with us. Deep down I had known that all along, but a microscopic part of me had hoped they would beat the odds and come home with us, anyway. We packed up all of our stuff and headed to the car. Halfway down the hallway, I doubled over and started crying. I tried to be strong because like I said, I knew they were going to be in the NICU, (and have you ever cried after having your guts sliced open? Sneezed? Coughed? It all hurts. LAUGHING hurts.) but the reality of them staying in the hospital while Erik and I got discharged to go home broke my heart. I didn’t want to leave them there. 

Erik had proposed the idea of us staying at his parents’ house for about a week so I could recover from the surgery without the dogs jumping on me and bothering me/my incision. I agreed, but after a few days, I had had enough. I needed to be at my house. Not having my kids come home with me was one thing, but me not being in the comfort of my own home without my kids was a completely different story. I begged Erik to take me home. I didn’t care if Roman’s eighty-eight pound ass took me out, that was a risk I was willing to take. After some good convincing, Erik drove us to the house. We spent about a week cleaning the house, washing the clothes we got from the babyshower, and putting our finishing touches on the nursery, including assembling the chair and a half that was delivered on the same day as the girls. We had daily visits to the NICU to see Violet and Olivia, and I always took pumped milk to feed them. We changed them, took their temperatures, talked to the nurses and doctors about their progress. We dealt with a bout of jaundice during the first week…

…and leaving them every day was the hardest thing to do, but knowing they were receiving treatment and care we couldn’t provide was what kept us going.

Every day I asked when I could attempt to latch them on to the breast, and on their fourteenth day, I finally got the permission to do so. The same lactation consultant who had brought me the pump was the one who helped us during our first (and successful) nursing session. On the fifteenth day, they were out of incubators and in open cradles, and we were told to bring their carseats the next time we came to the hospital so they could do their carseat tests. That meant they were getting discharged soon!

ourfirstlatch

(our first latch, photo credit: Erik)

August 30, 2015, only seventeen days after giving birth, the nurse working the morning shift told us that Violet and Olivia would be discharged that afternoon. “They passed their hearing tests, so go enjoy your last afternoon alone. We will call you when their papers are ready to go.” We did just that. We had lunch at a little bistro we frequented during the pregnancy before going to walmart and getting preemie diapers. While we were in the checkout line, the hospital called us and told us the girls were ready to come home.

Upon our arrival, the nurses gave us a folder for each of the girls with all of their information in there. They both weighed about 5 lb a piece after losing a pound each after birth. They gave us eight packs of preemie diapers, thermometers, blankets, hats, and all of the preemie onesies I had taken up there over the course of their stay. Walking out of the hospital was quite a show- we even had a random lady follow us out to our car and watch us strap them in because she was so fascinated with the concept of someone having two babies at the same time. I was so ecstatic that our babies were finally coming home, I didn’t even get annoyed that her head was practically in our car while Erik and I each strapped in a child. We clicked their infant seats into the bases and let the nurses check the carseats to make sure they were good to go. “Everything looks good,” they said to us. “This is it.” I thought as we pulled out of the parking lot.

 

 

[NICU awareness:] Our Birth Story pt. 1

In honor of  September being Neonatal Intensive Care awareness month, I thought it would be fun to sit down and record the things we encountered before and after giving birth to the girls. We (luckily) had a comparatively short NICU stay to most, but those seventeen days were the longest days of our lives.

Thursday, August 13, 2015, roughly around noon.

I woke up and stared at the ceiling in my new room. We had only been living in our house for a few weeks, but it felt right. I loved everything about it. All we were missing was the chair and a half for the nursery. It was scheduled for delivery that afternoon. As I continued staring at the ceiling fan, I thought about how uncomfortable everything had gotten because my belly was so big. There was so much weight pressing on my cervix, that it was a challenge to have sex, and with a big mountain on your body, it’s pretty fucking hard to find a comfortable sleeping position. I thought about how soon, sex would be impossible either from me getting even bigger, or from going in to labor, so I asked Erik if he wanted to join me in some morning festivities before I got up to make breakfast.

Once we were done, I got up and made pancakes. I only used eggs, bananas, and protein powder because I was trying to fatten the girls up; the week prior I had an anatomy scan and the girls were weighing in at a predicted 4 lb. 11 oz. and 4 lb. 9 oz. I was a day away from being 34 weeks and I was positive I could get them to a solid 6 pounds a piece by their due date, September 25, or at least a little bigger if I didn’t make it that long. (Secretly, I had been praying they came early on their own- I was so over being pregnant.) I got up to go to the restroom, but when I wiped, there was a big, bloody blob on the sheet of toilet paper. I got a knot in my stomach and called my OB’s office. “Doctor Maximos said you need to go to the hospital and get checked out by labor and delivery.” The nurse said over the phone. I had a gut feeling once I went to the hospital I wasn’t going to come home for a few days, so I got in the shower, shaved my legs, and put on some sweat pants before going back out to break the news to Erik.

I walked out in the living room to find him pulling the pieces of the chair and a half out of the box it had been delivered in. “We need to go to the hospital.” I told Erik. He turned around and looked at me, but before he could say anything I blurted out, “I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure I lost my mucus plug, so the doctor said I need to go to labor and delivery to get checked out.”

2:30 something p.m.

We arrived at the hospital and found our way to the labor and delivery triage on the second floor. We had to come here at around 26 weeks because I felt very “off” and nauseous for a few days, so it wasn’t as hard to find this time around. I was assigned a “room” behind a curtain and got undressed. Once they had the stress monitors around my belly, the nurse took my blood pressure asked me how the results were during my last cervical check. “Doctor Maximos said he was going to start doing them weekly at 34 weeks, so this upcoming Tuesday was supposed to be my first one,” I said. She had my lie down, and she performed a cervical check. “You’re about 4 cm dilated, your blood pressure is very high… and your legs look really swollen. I’m going to talk to your doctor and see what he wants to do, because you definitely are experiencing preeclampsia.” I knew it… I FUCKING KNEW IT! That’s all I could say. Over the last two months my swelling had gotten out of control in my opinion. I couldn’t wear any of my shoes other than my house shoes, my swelling was pitting, and it took a lot longer for things to “go down” even though my new normal was about three times plumper than I normally was. Every doctor’s appointment, though, there was never protein in my urine so they never considered preeclampsia. If they did, they did a really good job of not alarming me, because I always asked about it.

About twenty minutes later, Doctor Maximos came through the double doors to the triage. “You ready to have those babies today?” He asked with a smile. (You remember how I told you I had been secretly praying they would come early? I instantly regretted those prayers. I wasn’t ready. I wanted them to wait in utero until at least 36 weeks.) “Do we have a choice?” I asked, jokingly. I looked at Erik and started crying. I wasn’t ready. “Do you want to go ahead and get the C-section or do you want to try to push? I think you can do it. I really do.” He assured me. As bad as I wanted to, my blood pressure was too high for me to risk it. I’m glad he was optimistic, but I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I wanted the girls to be as safe as possible, and selfishly, I didn’t want to recover from two births. I knew there was a possibility baby A would come out and then baby B would need to be extracted, so I just said, “No, I’m going to do the C-section.” The nurse walked with Erik and me to labor and delivery on the third floor and told the nurses at the counter to admit me.

Erik and I talked about how scared we were while the nurse in our room entered my chart into the computer. He kept telling me it would be okay. I was going through a cycle of emotions: fear, anxiety, happiness, sadness. Finally a nurse came in and hooked me up to an IV. “We are going to give you a magnesium drip to stabilize the girls’ lungs since your blood pressure is so high. You might feel like you’re going through hot flashes, but that’s normal.” I was brought two stacks of paperwork to fill out soon after. Halfway through the first stack, I started getting dizzy and my skin started burning. “Is this a hot flash?” I thought. I didn’t feel the “flash” but more like a constant state of “hot.” I felt like I was on fire and got really nauseous. I had a nurse talking to me about only God knows what- I couldn’t focus on her. All I could focus on was how hard it was to hold my pen upright. “Get through this, Brittany.” I thought. I started scribbling through the rest of the paperwork. Whose genius idea was it to give me all this fucking paperwork after the magnesium drip?! The nurse was still talking and I still have no idea what she said. I “met with” the anesthesiologist and his partner in my room prior to going to the OR, both of whom I barely remember talking with. Erik changed in to his scrubs, and the nurse that was in my room when I arrived wheeled a chair in for me. “Are you ready?” She asked with a smile. I said, “No, not really,” but wobbled down off my bed into the chair.

Sometime around 5:50 p.m.

We walked down a couple of hallways and arrived at a set of double doors that opened up into the operating room. The doors had a dry erase board that read, “Maximos Twins” with a heart drawn right by it hanging on a hook. Erik was taken to a room down the hallway and I was wheeled in. The nurse helped me on to the table and the anesthesiologist that had been in my room before came up and shook my hand. He told me exactly what he was going to do, and as he performed the epidural and spinal block, he told me exactly how I was going to feel. The nurse had me put my hands on her shoulders and look down at the floor. I tried so hard not to cry because I didn’t want the numbing process to be interrupted, but I couldn’t help it. The nurse started whispering that I would be okay, and she helped me lie down on the table when he was done. Erik came in the room and sat by my head. A curtain was put up and Dr. Maximos started talking to me. I got extremely nauseous and had a hard time saying anything, but I was able to sputter it out, so they had a Zofran drip put into my IV.

I don’t remember where, but somewhere I read that there is a moment of calm before the surgery, so I tried to recognize that moment and started praying, “Dear Lord, please let these girls be alive and healthy, please let them survive this moment, please let me hear their cries-” “You’re going to feel some pressure…” “-wait a minute, am I already being cut open?!” I thought to myself. “Baby girl A: 6:19 p.m.” Dr. Maximos said as he held Violet up over the curtain. She was crying. He passed her to a nurse and pulled Olivia out. “Baby girl B: 6:20 p.m.” He held her up so I could see. She was crying, too. He passed Olivia to another nurse and both of the girls were weighed and prepped to go to the NICU. (I was never given the chance to hold them, and I don’t really know why. I can only assume it’s because of the circumstances of their prematurity, but that is something that bothers me even to this day.)

Their incubators were wheeled next to my head so I could look at them before they were taken to the NICU. I couldn’t focus on either of them, though, because I had started heaving like I was going to throw up. The girls were taken out of the room, and Erik followed behind while I was stitched up. I was instructed to fold my arms across my chest like I was preparing to go down a water slide, and the nurses rolled me onto a new hospital bed. “Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to hear their cries,” I thought as I was wheeled back to my room in labor and delivery.

 

 

 

DIY Salon Manicure

The other day at work, my friend noticed my nail polish and asked me if I got my nails done. I simply said, “nope, I did this earlier today.” “OH MY GOSH THEY LOOK LIKE SHELLAC!” She told me I should write a post on how I did my nails, so here we are. Thanks, Lindsey!

manicuretools1

You will need:

-base coat
-top coat
-bowl of warm, soapy water
-cuticle clippers
-oil of choice, I use vitamin E
-pure acetone polish remover
-nail buffer
-nail file
-nail clippers
-cotton pads or balls
-nail polish of choice

  1. Take off any existing nail polish you have on and soak your fingers for a few minutes in the soapy water. Take them out, dry them off, and clip your cuticles.
  2. Depending on your nail shape, you may or may not need to cut your nails. Do that at your discretion. I have wider nails and they tend to grow out kind of rigid, so I like to cut the very tips off of my nails to square them off. From there, file your nails making sure that the corners are rounded so you don’t get hang nails, get your nails caught on your clothing, scratch yourself, etc. Instead of filing the nail back and forth, try to file going in one direction. I read that tip in a magazine a long time ago. It’s supposed to reduce nail splitting and breakage.
  3. Once your nails are shaped the way you want them, rub your nails with your oil, and be sure to really focus on the cuticles. Good cuticles are key to longer lasting manicures.
  4. Let the oil set in for a couple of minutes, then buff your nails to smooth out lines and ridges. Polish always looks smoother when your nails are smooth. (Obviously) Go wash your hands to get the dead nail dust and any excess oil off of your nails.
  5. Take another cotton pad and go over all ten of your nails with polish remover again. THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST CRUCIAL STEP. If there is any oil residue on your fingers, forget applying polish because it will be chipping by the end of the day. When you take remover to the nails before painting them, you are prepping the nails and the polish will adhere to them better. That tip was in my May 2016 issue of InStyle.
  6. Going from pinky to pinky, paint each nail with one coat of base coat. Going pinky to pinky allows plenty of drying time between coats, and that is where a lot of us mess up when painting our nails. I used to apply the coats back to back and then my polish would look splotchy and would be thick and peely. Not a good look.
  7. Using the same technique, apply two coats of your nail polish color. PINKY TO PINKY each coat.
  8. Again, P2P, apply your top coat. Let everything dry.
  9. Nope. Not dry yet. Sit there for 10 minutes at least. For darker colors, I would sit there for 20.

Now, if you are a sloppy painter and you tend to get polish all over your cuticles and nail beds, I recommend going around the perimeter of your nails with a q tip coated in Vaseline. If you don’t want to do that, the next time you shower, right before you get out, peel the polish off of the cuticles and around the nails with your nails. The water helps it peel off.

The day after you paint your nails, massage your nails with the oil again, and two days after, go over your nails with another coat of top coat. This will really help your manicure (or pedicure, this goes for the toes, too!) last longer than your typical 2-3 days. The last four times I have painted my nails, I have gotten 5-7 days of wear out of my polish. I’m not even kidding. I took a picture for proof:

The photo on the right was taken 4 days after painting my nails. Check out the chipping. Hardly any.

 

 

making time for mental health

Imagine yourself holding a camera in front of you with your arms extended fully out. If you look at the screen, you see whatever you’re taking a photo of, but if you look beyond the screen, you see the WHOLE scenario. Daily, we see pictures of people living what we think is a picture perfect life, but pictures are only a tiny glimpse into their lives. Hardly do we see what is going on behind the scenes.

Two weeks ago, I admitted to Erik that I thought I had postpartum depression one morning before he left for work. I said, “I don’t think it’s very serious, I think I am just really exhausted, but I think I might be wading in the baby pool of postpartum depression.” He could see it in my face that I was in deep thought about something when he came in the living room after getting ready to leave. I was over it. I was tired of getting up in the middle of the night to nurse Olivia. I was tired of rocking Violet and Olivia to sleep every night. I was over pumping. I didn’t want to do laundry. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t even want to make a sandwich. I was 100% mentally clocked out, and every time either of the girls cried, I cried. I was so exhausted, and I felt like if it wasn’t the girls crying, it was Roman getting into it with our next door neighbor’s dog and me having to stop whatever I was doing to go outside and corral him back in, or Rose barking at the back door to come in two minutes after begging to go outside while jumping up and down like a kangaroo until I got up to let her in. Everything was annoying me. I felt like I was one of those sticky, stretchy toys you get out of the 25 cent machine that had been played with too much. I lost my stick and stretch.

When Erik got home from work later that day, I went in our room to try to take a nap. While I was ‘napping,’ I was weighing the idea of making a doctor’s appointment to talk about this against the fact that I knew in the back of my mind that the symptoms I was recognizing within myself were grounds to prescribe me some kind of medicine and I didn’t want to become dependent on a medication that would change the chemical composition of my brain. What could I change to avoid being given medication at all?

My milk levels had severely plummeted because I had gone three nights in a row without pumping before going to bed, and I read that your milk production improves when you are well rested, and I also know from talking with the IBCLC that we hired to come take a look at Violet that your milk levels increase when you drink a lot of water and eat a healthier diet. The more I thought about how little sleep I was getting, the more I realized how deprived I was of other important nutrients, like water, wholesome food, and even sunshine. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went outside. I couldn’t even remember the last time I drank the recommended 8 glasses of water because my water consumption had been replaced with coffee, and my meals had been replaced with ready-to-eat food straight from the boxes in the pantry. How could I properly take care of Violet and Olivia when I wasn’t properly taking care of my own self? I told Erik the epiphany I had when I woke up. He agreed with me, and said he had been feeling like he could’ve been taking better care of himself, too.

I’ll be the first to admit that with two mobile babies, it is very challenging to get meals prepped and cooked, and sometimes it is a really tough choice between starting another episode of Frasier or going to bed at 9:00 p.m., but you have to make it work. I spend time during morning naps prepping food, and if the nap doesn’t go as planned, I put them in the kitchen with me in their activity seats and prep the food anyway, and I usually cook dinner right after they go to bed. It has only been upwards of a couple of weeks, but with these slight changes, I definitely feel an improvement in my mood and overall attitude in general, and my milk has increased as well.

Mom to mom, if you are at the point where you just want a few hours (or a whole weekend) to yourself, don’t feel guilty because of that. It is so important to make time for yourself because if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we can’t properly care for others. There needs to be balance, and that’s something that has taken me way too long to comprehend. If you think you are dealing with PPD, or if you are experiencing any feelings that concern you, I suggest making an appointment to speak with your doctor. I personally did not feel like I was mentally at the point where I was ready to seek medical help, but if things change, I will absolutely speak with my OB.

 

 

 

Cloth Diapering 101 | On a budget

I’ve been interested in cloth diapering since my pregnancy. I spent what seemed to be hours on my phone, researching what materials I needed, how much, and how extensive the washing process was. Let me tell you this right now: I don’t have half the shit they say you need to be successful at it, and I am doing it with two babies. Here is how I made it work for our family on our service industry income.

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Excuse my poorly lit photo, but all I need is what you see on my paint-stained kitchen table. To wash, I use Tide original powder, wooden clothes pins to dry them, and a diaper-safe diaper rash balm. Coconut oil works just as well, which is why I included it in the photo. I used that before I got the diaper balm. Traditional zinc-based creams cause your diapers to lose absorbency by coating the natural fibers in the cotton. They essentially become water-repellent. I have a stack of 3 different types of diapers that I am going to go through in detail for you, and underneath the stack is a cotton prefold and Snappi. The rectangular things to the right are called inserts. They typically go inside pocket diapers, but can sit inside a cover. You’ll see what I mean when I get to the green diaper.

My FAVORITE Way to diaper: Prefolds + Covers

This is a cover with a snap closure.

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This is an unbleached organic cotton prefold. I have been using dandelion cotton brand since the girls were newborns. This is the second size I have purchased from them and I love how absorbent they are, and how affordable they are. The mint green rubber thing with teeth is called a Snappi, and that’s used to secure the diaper once you fold it to fit your baby. It’s much easier than pins.

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I’ll have a tutorial photo on how to fold this bad boy down at the bottom of the post, but this is how a prefold looks once folded and secured, just imagine a baby in it. It’s a literal cloth diaper.

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The cover goes on top of the prefold…

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And then you snap it to fit your baby. I really love this particular brand of covers because of the super adjustable waistline. Look on the left tab. The extra snaps make it easy to cloth diaper a newborn because it will fit their tiny body. This particular brand’s covers run about $10 on cloth diapering sites like kellyscloset.com and Nicki’s Diapers. I included the link to KC because I personally prefer to go through that website.

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Another feature I really like about this particular brand is the double gusseted legs. It’s like the wing of a pad. I have never had a blowout with a double gusseted cover.

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Close up of the brand name for you curious cats. img_6542

Another kind of cover is a Hook and Loop, or Aplix closure.

It’s a velcro closure at the waist, which in reality is a fool-proof fit, right? I didn’t mention this when I was talking about the chevron cover, but the hole-looking things on the botton of the diaper are called snap rises, and they adjust the size of your diaper rather than the waist. You can put this over a prefold just the same, or you can put an insert in the flaps at the top and bottom of the diaper like I did in the photo, and just put it on your baby like you would a disposable diaper. This way is definitely quicker than folding prefolds, but prefolds are cheaper. This is just another option for you. These run about $11 on KC. I forgot to take a picture of the logo. It’s the brand Wolbybug.

The last option is what seems to be everyone’s favorite way to diaper, but also the most expensive: Pocket Diapers + inserts.

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Imagine Baby diapers run about $13 a piece.

It snaps closed like the other diapers, but this diaper is lined with fleece and has an actual pocket to stick an insert in. I have an insert that came with the diaper sticking out so you can get an idea of how it goes in the diaper. It’s pretty self explanatory.

If you refer back to the first photo, there were 3 rectangular inserts. Let’s get a close up:

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The top insert is a microfiber insert. Any time you buy a pocket diaper, it’ll usually come with a microfiber insert to stuff it with. They’re the bulkiest out of the 3 and the least absorbent. In the middle is a bamboo/cotton blend insert. Slightly more absorbent, and at a decent price point. The least bulky of the 3. The bottom is my favorite: a hemp/cotton blend. Hemp inserts are the most absorbent and the most expensive. If you stick around to read the rest of this, I’ll tell you how I got the things in my stash for a discounted price. Never ever put a microfiber insert directly ON your baby’s skin. Stuff the pocket with it ONLY. Bamboo and hemp can touch your baby’s skin directly with no harm.

Washing:

This is how I wash my diapers. It took me about two weeks to get a solid washing routine down and working efficiently.

  1. Make sure all of your snaps are undone and all of your inserts are pulled out of the pockets so everything gets washed properly. Throw everything- inserts, covers, pockets, even the pail liner (I haven’t mentioned it yet, don’t worry. You haven’t missed anything.) in the wash. DO NOT ADD DETERGENT. Do a COOL rinse cycle.
  2. Once the rinse cycle is completed, add your detergent. Like I mentioned before, I use original Tide powder. It’s the leading preference of detergents by cloth diapering parents everywhere. Don’t try to get fancy and use DIY detergent because you don’t want all of the ‘harsh chemicals.’ Would you rather your diapers be clean, or would you rather them be free of harsh chemicals and full of germs and stink? Yeah, didn’t think so. Do a HOT heavy duty wash.
  3. Most people said to just do another cool rinse cycle and the diapers would be fine, but I found that wasn’t enough to get the detergent out of my prefolds because Violet kept getting rashes on her tush. I do a regular wash cycle with cool water. It works just fine for me.
  4. When your washing is done, take your pocket diapers and your covers out and set them aside. Do not dry them in the dryer. (You can, I did in the beginning, but keep in mind that with every dryer cycle, your elastics are losing their bounce and are wearing down faster than if you air-dried them.) That’s what the clothes pins are for. You need to have a place to hang your diapers to dry. I ran a piece of twine from one side of my laundry room to the other and dry them in there, but if you have a clothes line, that’s all you need. *if you have staining, you can hang them outside and let the sun bleach them out when you pull them out of the washing machine*
  5. Put your inserts and prefolds in the dryer. Don’t use the highest heat setting, use a medium heat setting. Sometimes for them to get completely dry, I have to run my dryer twice.

My girls are eating baby food now, so their poops have done a complete 180 and are smelly and disgusting. Tons of people say to invest in a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet. You know what I do? I spray mine with the water hose outside in my backyard. It works wonderfully and guess what? I didn’t spend $45 on the sprayer, so I can take that money and buy stuff to add to my diaper stash. 

Where do you put the diapers in between washes? Tons of people suggest a diaper pail specifically, but I personally keep a wicker hamper that closes lined with a planet wise pail liner and toss them in there. The smell is contained just fine. Just make sure you spray the poop out of the diapers before putting them in the pail or else it will literally smell like shit.

How many diapers do you need? That depends on what system you are going with. Are you doing prefolds and covers or pocket diapers? Covers can be worn over multiple prefolds in one day unless your baby gets poop on it, or you have a leak and it gets soaked. I can get away with using 4-6 diapers per cover. A good prefold to cover ratio is 2:1. Pocket diapers are essentially one time use diapers, so track how many times you change your baby’s diaper and add 3-4 more just in case. If you change your baby’s diaper 8 times a day and are washing every day, you can probably get away with 12 diapers. If you want to go two days without washing, you need about 20 diapers or so.

Don’t go more than 3 days without washing because by then your pee diapers start to smell like ammonia and it’s hard to get that smell out, and don’t wait until you’re on your last diaper to start washing them.

 

My Personal Stash:

*I got 20 inserts and 17 pockets from a lady on craigslist for $40. I soaked the diapers and inserts in a bleach + water mixture that I looked up online to disinfect them, washed them 3 times, dried the pockets in the sun to solar bleach them and remove further staining, then washed another 3 times until the bleach smell was gone. Don’t be a snooty Trudy and snub your nose at buying used diapers. If you don’t have money and want to get started, this is a good way to go. Think about it. What kind of people cloth diaper? Generally the ones that care about their babies and the environment and whether or not their kitchen and bathroom cleaner is all natural or not. You’re not going to get a disease from buying used diapers.

I linked KC earlier and I really suggest going through that site to buy your covers and diapers. If you buy 6 or more (I think it’s 6) diapers, you get them at a discounted price. You get reward dollars for shopping through them, and you get free gifts when you spend x amount of money. When I got my first order, they were advertising a free pocket diaper when you spent $119 which isn’t a lot at all considering a box of diapers ranges $25-$40 depending on where you go. Boxes of diapers lasted us about 5-6 days so you can only imagine the money we are saving.

Kelly’s closet sells inserts and prefolds as well, but I personally prefer going through amazon for that. The links I used are to the exact products I use for diapering and love them!

Absolutely none of this is sponsored, all of this is what I do and what works for me. Do your own research to make sure you’re comfortable with your choices, but hopefully this was enough to get your started.

BONUS: How to fold a prefold

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Have the top of the prefold lined up with your baby’s belly button. Fold each of the sides in toward the middle, then again once more. Bring it up between the legs, making sure that it’s snug around the inside of the thighs. Bring the left corner behind your baby over the middle, then do the same with the right like you would a disposable. Holding it in place and using a snappi, snag the teeth on the left tab to the prefold and then stretch it over and snag the teeth on the right tab, then bring the middle tab down and snag it. You can roll the cotton around the thighs inward to make it a little tighter if you need to. Adjust the rises on the cover to fit your baby’s height, then snap the tabs in the middle to fit snugly around the waist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to you, ladies!

If being a mom has taught me anything, it’s that playing the mother role is hard work. Not physically hard, but mentally. You’re constantly on demand (especially if you’re breastfeeding), you’re constantly being watched, you’re constantly being asked to share your food, you can’t take a shit or shower in peace… do I need to continue? Because I can. 

I wanted to do something a little different on my blog for mother’s day because well, sometimes you just need to hear how amazing you are, and all of you definitely are amazing women and mothers. At least these people in your life seem to think so:

“We met when we were only children, and through all sorts of adversities, we now have a child of our own. While managing to keep our marriage strong, you have helped him blossom into a kind and wicked smart young man. I know there are days when your energy is low and Parker doesn’t want to listen, or I am acting selfish, you feel like you are’t as appreciated as you should be. Katie, you are the glue that holds our house together and keeps it running smoothly. You are amazing and I hope you always know how thankful we are to have you as our queen.” -James

“Sarah, I’ve never met a person whose heart is so open to a child that isn’t theirs. You’ve stayed awake long hours of the night with her while she was sick, you’ve taught her things that have blown her mind, and you’ve truly loved her no matter what. Bella is the luckiest child in the world to have a woman as amazing as you.” -Justin

“Lindsey is a great mother in a lot of ways. Not only is she hardworking and dependable, but she is a great teacher to our daughter. What I love most about her role as a mother is that I always know our daughter is taken care of when I’m not around. She always puts her first and has great motherly instincts. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother to our child.” -Notice

“As a mother, Terrin is someone who brings warmth and comfort to our family, she adds value to both our son, and to her significant other. She can be tending to our child, while cooking for the family. She has maternal intuition, and the knowledge of an encyclopedia. She has the endurance of a marathon runner. She has an unconditional love for our son. I am the luckiest guy in the world and it doesn’t take a psychic to know that she means the world to our son.” -Esteban

“Chelly has exceeded my expectations as a Mother to Zayden. Her love and patience for Zayden is beyond words. She not only has shown her growth and strength as a great mother by living every moment of her life for her precious son but her faith in God has given her so much perseverance to be the best Mother and person that she can be.” – Carolina

Being a mother to a toddler can be trying, filling in as a motherly figure is completely at your discretion, taking on so many responsibilities can be overwhelming, and being a new mom is like riding all of the rides at Six Flags at the same time.

I wasn’t able to get in contact with someone to write something for the women below, but I wanted to include them in this post for my own reasons because they are admirable, too.

Martina, I have told you time and time again, but Karsyn is so lucky to have such a strong woman as a mother. God could not have given her a better role model to look up to and aspire to be. You make it look so effortless because you never let your stress outshine your personality. I am so proud of you and so are all of your friends.

Heather, KUDOS for how well you’re doing with your breastfeeding. You told me that you hoped you were as successful as I was… Pssh! GIRL! You are kicking ass! I admire how dedicated you are to it. You seem to really enjoy being motherhood and it fits you quite well. Enjoy your first mother’s day, beautiful!

Amber, your instagram photos tell me a story of what it’s really like to be a parent. Your pictures of Norah in tears, you taking a selfie because your hair looked good for what seemed to be the first time in ages, and capturing the first date you got to go on this weekend after giving birth to her. As another breastfeeding mama, I applaud you for keeping your sanity because EBF babies are SO demanding and I know it. You’re doing a great job. (PS- if Wes ever finds the message I sent asking for him to write something about you, it was for this post.)

As a child, my mom was the most important part of me, and now twentysomething years later, I am a mother myself and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. From the scary first moments after the pregnancy test confirmed I was pregnant, to housing the girls in my uterus for 33 weeks, to finally bringing them home after two and a half weeks in the NICU and watching them thrive is beyond description. I could never express how special Violet and Olivia are to me. I hope each of you know how lucky your kids are to call you their mother.

Happy Mother’s Day, and for three of you, Happy FIRST Mother’s Day!