Two Bottomless Pits

I’m totally referring to my children, by the way. Two almost-two toddlers with stomachs that seem to have no end. I have friends ask me almost daily, “How do you get your girls to eat?”

Most of the people close to me know this, but if you’re new here or just visiting, I have a serious passion for cooking. I love it. It is the most sincerest form of love, and it’s the most expressive form of art to me. I haven’t cooked nearly as much as I did prior to having the girls, but people who truly “hate cooking” baffle me- it’s almost the equivalent to a dog not liking you- there’s just something not right about it. If you can look me in my face and tell me that you would much rather go pay for a fast food meal than make spaghetti, I will raise my eyebrows and my eyes will get really big, and I’ll just shake my head. Saying “it’s easier” is completely false because you have to load up the car, use gas to drive to the restaurant, and then pay around if not over $20 to feed your family one meal that isn’t nutritious at all, and because of that, isn’t fueling your body so you’ll be hungry within a couple of hours. With that twenty dollars you know what you could’ve purchased? Tortillas, a rotisserie chicken, and stuff to make spaghetti, including an onion that you can split between those two meals. That’s dinner, leftovers, and lunch the next day my friend.

I do have a few tips to encourage you and your kids to eat nutritious food, and these tips are things that I personally do that have proven successful for my family.

Buy good food: As a child I remember not really caring for a good majority of my meals, and now that I am an adult and in charge of what I eat, I know why. It’s not that my mom wasn’t a good cook, it’s she didn’t cook good food. Hamburger helper, spaghetti-o’s, boxed mashed potatoes, velveeta cheese, canned ravioli, canned anything really… cream of mushroom, pasta sauce in the glass jars- none of that sounds good to me as I write it out, and looking back on it, that’s exactly why I didn’t like any of it! That stuff is disgusting, and it’s not very hard to make any those things from scratch. Raviolis I’ll give you, it’s easier to buy those pre-made, especially if you’re a busy parent, but there are way better pre-made choices out on the market, and in today’s society, clean or organic food is much more affordable. We are on a budget, and we get SNAP. Guess what? SNAP pays for organic food.

Season your food: A lot of people advise against using seasoning when cooking for children and I agree to a certain extent. If I made pea puree for Violet and Olivia when they were six months, I wouldn’t add anything to it because they’re being introduced to the vegetables and their natural flavors, and I wouldn’t want to compromise them. If I give the girls peas at their age now, a year and a half after they first started eating them- yeah, I’m gonna spruce them up with some fresh garlic, some salt, and a smidge of butter. We don’t like food that’s bland, neither do our human children with human taste buds.

Empower your kids: find a plate or a set of utensils that excite your kids. If they are excited about their dinnerware they’re more inclined to be excited about the food that’s on it. For example, Violet and Olivia will NOT eat without a fork or a spoon. Even if their food doesn’t require utensils, like a PB&J sandwich, I don’t argue with them, I just let them stab at their sandwiches and pull them apart until they’re completely eaten.

Another way I empower my children is by letting them eat where they want. My aunt tried to tell me that my children “run” me, but they’re not even two yet. They’re curious. They see Erik and me eating on the couch or while standing up and watching TV, so they want to do it, too. They’re not at the age yet where I can explain the whole, “I’m the parent you’re the child” rule, but they are at the age where they get easily upset if they don’t understand why I’m frustrated or telling them not to do something, so I just let them eat where they’re happy as long as it isn’t too messy. Anything messy calls for the high chairs. (Soups, sauces, etc.)

Here is a list of things that are not only affordable, but tasty, and easy to prepare:
Applesauce pouches (yes, there are stories floating around about mold, just use your judgement. We LOVE Tree Top or HEB brand)
Bagged apples or oranges, sometimes you can find variety fruit bags
Bananas
Potatoes/sweet potatoes, peeled and boiled or peeled and baked until tender
Zucchini, cut into “fries” and baked
Broccoli, roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper
Corn on the cob, coated in Kerrygold butter, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and chile powder, wrapped and roasted in foil for 30 mins. Eat right off the cob.
Canned beans rinsed, alone in snack cup or mixed into cheese quesadilla on corn tortilla
Rotisserie chicken, shredded, alone or also added to quesadilla
Steamable bags of veggies, unseasoned. Kroger has a TON to choose from that are all around $1 a bag. I like adding a can of beans to these veggies in their snack cups and letting them snack throughout the day on them. Good source of iron and protein.
Roasted carrots with garlic or raw carrots with greek yogurt + ranch seasoning
Annie’s brand of Mac & Cheese or finger snacks
Cheerios/Honey Nut cheerios

My point: We get by on tons of fruits and veggies. Pooping is NOT an issue in my household.

**fruits and veggies have water soluble sugar, this sugar is not the same as the refined sugar found in processed foods, so please don’t think there’s a similarity between the two**

I hope you found some inspiration, and just know that it takes patience to get picky kids to eat. Ask your children why they don’t like certain things and what you can do to help them acquire the taste for the foods they lack. Usually it’s just a matter of preparation and that can easily be resolved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey Onward, my Friends.

Almost one year ago I was really internally struggling with who I was. I had two babies and I hadn’t completed college, and to this day I still have absolutely zero desire to do so… I loved the idea of becoming an IBCLC because I am really passionate about breastfeeding, but I’ve had way too many friends and relatives admit to me that breastfeeding “was just too hard” and I don’t want to blatantly roll my eyes in a struggling mom’s face while thinking, “dude, this is a fucking commitment here. You’re either in or you’re out” because those emotions would definitely be plastered on my face and not everybody (especially a hormonal mama) can handle that bluntness. I started this blog in hopes of landing some kind of gig or writing career but shortly after I launched this site, I was introduced to the earth-shattering reality that we are poisoning ourselves, our loved ones, and our pets every single day when we use most of the affordable household products we have been using all of our lives- and most of the blogs I follow promote that shit for income. I get it, but that’s just not me. I don’t like the idea of promoting something just for a paycheck. I also felt like I had way more ideas than I’ve actually written out, and that’s because who the heck am I to give advice? We are all just mamas trying to make it out here, you feel me?

I went to my first book signing ever out in the River Oaks area last Tuesday. I was tagged in a post on Facebook where the Oola Guys had announced they were coming to Houston, and I was determined to go. I have been trying to get into oola, find my oola… and I know, you’re like, “Brittany, what the hell is oola?” And I am SO glad you asked, because until the book signing, I wasn’t really sure. I had no idea how to answer that question one week ago. I knew it involved being balanced, and that’s definitely something I lack, and I knew it involved setting goals and dreaming big, but I didn’t really understand what exactly “oola” meant, so I pre-ordered the Oola for Women book and it was delivered the day it released to the public and made sure I was at that book signing to hear about it first hand.

At Barnes & Noble, I not only met the Oola Guys, Dr. Troy Amdahl and Dr. Dave Braun, but I heard their stories and I learned exactly what their mission was: helping everybody find AND get to a state of bliss. Everything is going right for you, nothing is wrong in your world… and if you set small goals that equate to big dreams over time, you can easily get to your state of bliss and enjoy your life to the fullest capacity.

The other evening my cousin called me and she said to me, “I just wanted to call you and tell you that you’re beautiful. You’re so positive and uplifting and inspiring, and I just think you should know that,” all I could do was smile. I was successfully shaping into the person I am trying to become and that phone call proved it.

This journey I have been on this last year has really shown me who I truly am, and at this moment in my life I can fully embrace the fact that I think you’re dumb if you have the mentality, “why change it up now?” You know why? Because there’s always something better out there, and you’re totally capable of finding it, whether that be a job that fulfills your soul [holla!], a house that doesn’t require a HOA payment, or a circle of friends who inspire and uplift you rather than drag you down with their negativity and toxic bullshit. You’re totally in control of your exposure to life and the level of enjoyment you receive from it. Stop complaining and figure out what’s holding you back.

Click here to buy Oola for Women (not a sponsored link)
Click here to buy Oola: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World (not a sponsored link)

 

The choice is YOURS

If I asked you what “personal autonomy” was, would you know? If you don’t know what it means, look it up. Because that’s what this post is about: doing your own research so you can make informed decisions for yourself, your family, and your overall health and wellness, despite what moral or society tells you. When I say research, I do not mean using solely the internet. I mean picking up books, reading biographies, journals, recorded scientific data, court documents, etc., and using those resources to guide you to the choice that best suits your needs, no matter the circumstance.

For those of you who don’t know, Violet and Olivia were born six weeks early. I went to the hospital because I had some blood loss and ended up finding out that I was already 4cm dilated and my blood pressure was through the fucking roof. So high, the nurses were shocked that I hadn’t had a seizure yet, which scared me because I didn’t know that was a thing. When my doctor asked me if I wanted to attempt to have them vaginally, I said no, because 1. I didn’t want to raise my blood pressure MORE due to the stress of the whole entire situation and end up having a cesarean delivery anyway, and 2. I didn’t want to be induced. I have never been a fan of inductions. I think they are very unnecessary because women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, and all pregnancies, whether animal,  mammal, insect, fish, or any LIVING THING, have a biologically set timer. The Pitocin that is administered during these inductions mimics oxytocin, which is the hormone released during birth and also during breastfeeding, which promotes feelings of happiness and serenity, and if you have a synthetic compound in your body mimicking that, the natural process is hindered. Did you know that you are more likely to develop post partum depression if you had an induced labor? It’s true.

Same with birth control. I have a LOT of people ask me if I’m on birth control, and when I tell them no, they always seem shocked. What is so shocking? Because I have twins? What are the reasons you take it? I’ve been told many of these reasons from various friends:

  • acne management
  • hormone balance
  • loose/gain weight
  • avoid pregnancy (the most obvious)

I got the Depo shot my senior year of high school. You know what happened? I went from a size 4 to 00. I had no appetite. I looked sick and unhealthy. I also didn’t get a period for five consecutive months. The worst part? It was an injection that I had to wait for my body to completely rid of. It took MONTHS for my body to get back to normal. When I had the girls, I thought, “there is no way in HELL I’m having another set of twins,” so I got on the mini pill at my 2 week postpartum check up. Immediately I could tell that my hormones were disarray. If I can feel that, literally, can you imagine what it’s actually doing to our brains and bodies? I stopped taking it, because I am uncomfortable with the idea of pumping my body with synthetic hormones that are known to cause various types of cancer in women like breast, cervical, and ovarian, especially if they’re not even 100% effective. Guess what? Trojan Bareskin condoms are solid. Go get you some.

When the girls were born, I was so adamant about breastfeeding because of the information I had gathered from two different books, “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” by Kathleen Huggins and “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League, so I was pumping around the clock while they were in the NICU. Breastmilk was like superfood for them. The colostrum coats their digestive tract which gives their immune system an insane boost from the get go, and the chemical composition of breastmilk changes based on your baby’s saliva to suit their needs. Your baby’s saliva literally tells your boobs whether they need more fat, more protein, more water, etc., if they’re healthy, if they’re sick… It’s incredible. I finally got to hold the girls a couple of days after I had them, and they both immediately started rooting. The nurses saw that, and told me not to let them latch. I thought, “this feels very unnatural.” You know why? Because it was.

At their two month check up with their first pediatrician, she told me that they were both underweight and that I needed to stop and unlatch after fifteen minutes and supplement with formula. She told me breastmilk only had 20 calories and formula had 22, so ideally formula was the better choice. She also said that they were burning calories while nursing. That went against everything I had come to understand. From my knowledge, breastmilk had the same caloric value and like I previously mentioned, milk changes to suit baby’s needs. Also, to establish good milk supply, you nurse as long and as often as baby wants. That’s THE most effective way to sustain a healthy milk supply- all the supplements and cookies in the world won’t help if you aren’t bonding physically with baby. It’s a biological process.

At their four month check up, she said the same thing. The girls were underweight, not on the growth charts, which by the way are AVERAGE GUIDELINES, and this time she threw in, “you’re going to give them brain failure if they don’t get their weight up.” Do you know what THAT tactic is called? Fear mongering. I left the office with Erik and as soon as we got in the car, I lost it. I felt like I was failing my babies, even though subconsciously I knew I wasn’t. We saw her one more time for their sixth month appointment, and when she told me to start them on solids, even though they were six weeks premature which equated to only being 4.5 months old, I was done. This lady was so misinformed it wasn’t funny, and my babies were NOT going to be a product of her lack of knowledge. I sent her an email suggesting she read those two books and do some more research, because moms younger than me or women simply uninformed would absolutely take her advice, which was incorrect.

I started looking around for a new pediatrician for the girls to see for their nine month check up, and used words like “breastfeeding friendly” in my searches. I spoke to a few nurses at various clinics before I came across a doctor who not only was educated on breastfeeding and premature babies, but understanding of the entire situation. The visit with her went really well, but she noted that Violet’s hemoglobin levels were 10.8 and they needed to be 11.0 to be considered not anemic. She wrote a prescription for Polyvisol to help raise her iron levels. When we left I told Erik, “we are not giving her that supplement. We can up her iron intake naturally by giving her more chicken and veggies.”  Guess whose iron levels were in the normal range at her one year check up? Mhm.

I know that our bodies are designed to naturally ward off infections and viral illnesses we contract, and I know that real food is real medicine. If you take something every single time you get sick, you don’t allow yourself to heal properly, and you also put yourself at risk to develop resistances to the meds, which can be troublesome later resulting in needing higher doses or stronger meds. If the girls are teething, I don’t administer Tylenol. I’ve also gotten flack for that, but it is what it is. I have never freaked out over a fever and rushed them to the doctor, I watch it and I monitor them, I change clothes accordingly. I nurse them. I’ve done tepid baths, and I also feed them real food. If you’re constantly eating fast food or ready-make meals full of preservatives and processed shit, you can bet your bottom dollar your family is going to fall below that wellness line because that stuff does absolutely no good for you.

And while we are talking about food, because this also correlates to this post, guess what? I was on the phone with a very good friend of mine a few days ago, and I was telling her how I felt like shit any time I ate bread or had dairy and her literal response was, “Brittany, you aren’t lactose intolerant and you don’t have celiac disease.” She laughed as I sat there staring at my computer with a page about The Complete Master Cleanse I had pulled up, stunned. I started to tell her that I had effectively eliminated dairy from my diet for a week and immediately noticed a difference in how I felt overall, but I stopped because I realized it didn’t matter. I didn’t need to remind her we are literally the only species that drinks ANOTHER specie’s milk past infancy. Unless she had heard it straight from the doctor’s mouth, what I said was untrue. This rule seems to apply in other aspects of her life because a lot of our conversations result in me suggesting a more natural approach to something and she retorts with, “Well my (insert specialist here) said this.” Hmm… that’s fine, but I would be shopping around for a second and third opinion.

I’m not sharing these thoughts with you to show you how anti western medicine I am, because I am not, but I do know that doctors follow a protocol that typically results in a written prescription, which only alleviates a symptom rather than fixing the root cause. A lot of the chemicals in those prescriptions have adverse side effects, and food is something we need to live. Why not give your body nutrients it needs to heal itself rather than doing it the modernized way?

Do you know how much shit I’ve gotten for cloth diapering because IT IS SO HARD? Their words, not mine. I don’t find it all that hard, just establishing a good wash routine. Why do y’all care how I diaper my children?! Guess what? Diapers take hundreds of years to decompose, and they just SIT in landfills. The material inside of diapers to soak up the moisture and keep it away from the skin is the SAME SHIT used to clean up oil spills in oceans. Oh, the worst part? THEY’RE EXPENSIVE AS ALL GET OUT and if you have two babies in DIFFERENT sizes, you have to double the expense because you can’t stuff them in the same size. So unless you’re buying the diapers, take a seat, and watch me as I plop toddler turds into the toilet just like adults do before I wash them.

Personal autonomy to me means making decisions for YOUR family like breastfeeding or not, eating organic or not, cloth diapering or not, baby wearing or not, homeschooling or not (I’m considering it, guys… what is this common core math bullshit?!), vaccinating or not, home water birth or not, etc., that best suit the needs of your loved ones, regardless what we believe the “norm” is.

I’m done, y’all. Educate yourselves. THAT is always an option.

 

 

 

Can Somebody Build me a Time Machine?

When I look at Violet and Olivia, I no longer see babies. I see two dramatic girls standing up on their own, fighting over who stands in front at the baby gate blocking them from the hallway while they wait for their bath water to fill up, and signing “more” when they want more of whatever they’re being fed, or “milk” when they want to nurse. Olivia knows where her belly button is and Violet points to the bananas hanging in the kitchen when I ask if she wants more banana. Where has the time gone? They’re turning into toddlers.

cms_1012(photo credit: Courtney Contreras; outfit credit: Frayed Knot Lakeland, LLC)

It’s hard to believe they were premature. I considered doing a post on how prematurity has affected my parenting, but aside from holding off on giving them baby food until eight months, I don’t feel like their prematurity has affected them, therefore it cannot affect me. I have had tons of people tell me, “they’re so tiny,” but I don’t dwell on their stature because I am petite, and their pediatrician is totally okay with their measurements because they have always followed a growth curve. Their teeth took a little while to come in, but once the first tooth broke through their gums, they’ve steadily been coming. Violet army crawled up until a year, but she was pulling to stand by ten months and has been shimmying down the couches, tables, and walking with her push toys everywhere since then, too. Olivia has always been slightly ahead, but never so far ahead that we were concerned with Violet’s development.

Here we are at fourteen months and they’re standing on their own, eating tons of “table food,” drinking apple juice (and whole milk… yuck!) out of straw sippy cups, and babbling away in their own language. They both put remotes up to their ears like they’re talking on the phone, and sometimes they’ll nod their head up and down like they’re saying “uh huh” to somebody or they’ll shake their head side to side in pretend disagreement with the person on the other line. Violet has three teeth with one cutting the gum now. Olivia has one prominent tooth and three cutting her gums. Their hair seems to grow much like Harry Potter’s, and they get a kick of out shaking their head “no” before doing something they aren’t supposed to. Violet loves to share, it doesn’t matter what it is, she’ll offer it to you. Oh, and Olivia can throw one hell of a tantrum. She cries and somehow manages to roll her tongue while doing it. The noise is like nails on a chalkboard for Erik. I don’t like it either, but I really dislike when they throw themselves backward. Olivia doesn’t care if she’s on a hard floor or not, she will throw herself back so fast… and Violet does it when I pick her up in mid-air. Talk about an adrenaline rush. *insert eye roll*

img_8266(Thank God I had the Tula on!)

We are still breastfeeding with no signs of stopping. Violet has been nursing more frequently than in the previous months, and I think it has something to do with her teeth coming in. Their separation anxiety is out of this world, and it is becoming more evident when they need to sleep. They get CRAAANKY. They love playing with (and fighting over) toys, especially ones that light up and play music. THEY LOVE MUSIC. I wish you could see them dance to Beyoncé’s Formation. It’s seriously their favorite song. They also love 60s music and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

img_8625(gorgeous weather calls for enjoyment!)

(in the toy box their Papaw Roger built for them; Erik providing entertainment)

At times it is definitely challenging, and on certain days it’s a lot harder to keep our cool than others, but we are so blessed to be their parents and we are so happy God chose us to raise these angels. They are daring, they are emotional, but most importantly, they are thriving.

 

Chemical-free Carpet Powder

If I was a part of the crew who helped build my house back in 1982, I would have suggested putting hardwood floors throughout. Carpet is such a hassle to keep clean, especially if you have dogs… or kids. We have one room with carpet in our house. Unfortunately, that one room with carpet is the living room, our busiest room with the most foot traffic.

Erik and I are loyal carpet powder users. It just adds an extra something. They smell great and they are a fantastic way to make sure you’re really vacuuming the entire space because you can see where you’ve missed. Did you know, though, that extra something is actually a TON of toxic chemicals being sprinkled into your carpet? Can you imagine your children crawling around after you’ve vacuumed with those commercial powders? Residue getting on their hands, their hands going in their mouths and eyes… I’ll stop there and let you visualize what I just described.

With only a few ingredients, you can make your own all natural carpet freshening powder that cleans better than the ones at the stores.


You Will Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Young Living Thieves essential oil blend (smells like fall and is a great multipurpose oil used for cleaning and naturally killing germs), Lemon essential oil (also smells great and used as a disinfectant), and Tea Tree essential oil (used to penetrate any microscopic creepy crawlies our dogs may bring in in their fur)
  • Mason jar with sprinkle top lid, or an old glass jar with holes poked in the lid.(I used an old jelly jar and a nail and hammer to make my holes)

How To:

  • pour baking soda into bowl – I use about 2 cups at a time
  • 10 drops each oil into baking soda
  • using a fork, combine the oil into the baking soda by mashing the powder like you would mash potatoes. You’ll notice the consistency of the baking soda changes and becomes more flour-like
  • pour into glass jar and enjoy at your leisure


This stuff is not only extremely easy to make, it’s also really affordable! The baking soda was $2.13 after tax and Thieves + Lemon essential oils come in the premium starter kit. If you don’t have tea tree, peppermint is a great alternative, as is lavender, and both of those come in the starter kit as well.

If you have these ingredients on hand, I highly recommend you making this for your household. It smells great and puts my mind at ease knowing that there are ZERO CHEMICALS in my carpet powder.

 

 

 

 

Why We Love Maxi Cosi + Carseat Safety Tips

I mentioned in a previous post that pregnancy and Pinterest go hand-in-hand, and for good reason. You’re pregnant, you’re tired, if you’re not doing something you’re obligated to do, you’re probably laid up somewhere, eating something, surfing the web on your phone or tablet. Did I hit the nail on the head?

I was constantly searching ideas for twins; how to successfully breastfeed two babies, how to decorate their nursery, what baby gear was necessary, what stroller + car seat system was best; that was honestly something that gave me anxiety. Some real life thoughts I had during this search include: “How do car seats connect to the stroller? Oh my God you have to buy attachment bars to secure the seats to the stroller?! Are the car seats I want even compatible for this stroller? Why is it SO MUCH?! Those wheels aren’t even good for jogging, and I like to run. Holy shit, do we need TWO stollers?” Answer: yes, unless you want to shell out somewhere between $600+ for a system that grows with your kids, which is something we just couldn’t swing.

I came across this post about registry ideas, and was immediately drawn to the infant car seats in the photo. The author described them as “lightweight,” which was something I was interested in.  (click photo for link)

mastertwinregistry

Infant Seats:

I read about Maxi Cosi seats many times on the Multiples & Twins forum on the What to Expect app I mentioned in my last post, and when I researched the brand for myself, I found a lot of great reasons to consider spending the extra money:

  • lightest car seat on the market (only 8 lb. most infant seats are between 10-12 lb.) which is great if you go places alone!
  • safely fits babies as small as 4 lb. (most seats only hold babies 6 lb.+)
  • anti-rebound bar for safer rides, and have air protect
  • LATCH equipped bases for easy ins-and-outs of the car
  • self-wicking fabric, and easy to remove and wash if needed

My mother and Granny were kind enough to gift us the purple seats before the baby shower, and we were so appreciative of that when the girls were discharged from the NICU. They were ready to come home at 5 lb., and if we had gotten other seats, we would have had to buy something to either add to the seats to make them safe enough for the girls to ride in them, or we would’ve had to exchange them for something else before bringing them home. Thankfully, we had proper equipment, and the nurses even commented on how safe they looked when we took them to the hospital so they could do their car seat tests.

img_7461
Violet and Olivia are at that age where they’re really curious and don’t like being restrained in their seats if we are in public, so we went ahead and upgraded to convertible car seats around ten months even though they can still fit comfortably in their infant seats now at thirteen months. We traded out our Snap & Go double frame stroller for our Baby Trend jogger stroller, and if we aren’t somewhere stroller compatible, like the grocery store, I wear one of them in the Tula and put the other in the front of the cart. (Can someone PLEASE tell Target to make carts with TWO seats? Kroger? Where you at? You, too! HEB, Sams, and Costco are the only places so far to do that. GET WITH IT!)

Convertible Seats:

I already knew I wanted Maxi Cosi seats the second time around, and since we didn’t purchase the infant seats, I thought it would be a justified purchase. Erik asked me if we could at least go to Target to look at the seats they had in-store, so I humored him and did so. He wasn’t impressed. “These look so uncomfortable compared to the other seats.” He told me as we walked down the aisle. I had shown him the Pria 70 model I wanted to upgrade to last time we were in Babies R Us. “I know, and they’re about the same price.” I answered. We went home and ordered them.

maxicosipria
Not only is it a gorgeous seat, but it is super comfortable compared to the infant seats, and extremely safe. I also like how it tilts back when it’s rear-facing. In the infant seats, if the girls fell asleep, their heads would drop and make me nervous that they were blocking their wind pipes. When they fall asleep in these, they just turn their head to either side because they’re reclined. It’s also really easy to install into our cars, which are both mid-size sedans. I drive a Mercury Milan and Erik drives a Toyota Corolla. We have zero issues fitting in either car with these seats.

  • rear facing up to 40 lb
  • forward facing up to 70 lb. or 52 in. tall
  • Flex-tech multidirectional crash energy management
  • Air Protect for advanced side impact protection
  • Easy to clean

Read full specs here.

Just for safety purposes, I have included a link that shows how to properly install a car seat, because statistics show that 3/4 seats are improperly installed. I also suggest taking an infant CPR class like Erik and I did, because they spent a good portion of the class demonstrating how to install a seat and how to properly restrain your baby. The two things that resonated with me were only being able to stick 1 finger under the shoulder strap, and making sure the chest clip was at ARMPIT level on your baby.

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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.