Gift Guide: Baby Girl 9-12 Months Old

So Christmas is next week, apparently.  Did you realize, because I just looked at the calendar, and HOW!?  I had ‘finished’ shopping for the twins a month or so ago, but then, you know, I saw some things and had to have them.  I always said I wasn’t going to go overboard on Christmas.  Just chalk that up to another one of those things you say you’re never going to do when you’re a parent.  Because I dove head first.  Well, I guess not really.  It could be worse, right?

Below are the very special gifts for Winter.  I tried to do a decent amount of small business shopping in addition to snatching up all the sales at my favorite major retailers.  I didn’t want to buy so many flashy, in your face, plastic toys – though you will see a baby smartphone on the list because she’s obsessed!  I doubt it will fool her into thinking it’s as cool as my phone, but I figured it was worth a shot.  Take a look and let me know what you think.  With expedited shipping you can probably still get your hands on some of my must-haves.

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Here are the details:

Clothing:  Zara pinafore | pink sweater, pink leg warmers, white and black peplum top from Old Navy | shorts on clearance from Target

Toys:  B. Toys smartphone in purple scored in-store at Target, found online for you at B&N | Hape bunny push & pull toy from Diapers.com | GUND mouse toy from Zulily | Jellycat bunny soother from Saks Fifth Avenue | Reindeer book from BabiesRUS

Small Business Finds:  Little Unicorn quilt and fox socks from Hatch in Ambler, PA | heart onesie and mustard stripe headband from First & Marley based in Philadelphia | Hello Moccs ‘The Chloe’ white and hot pink leather moccasins | headbands from CollectiveCreationsC on Etsy

Happy Christmas to Winter.  Not pictured are a bunch of other baby clothes, because I have a problem.  I blame Target and Old Navy.

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You are Enough

9Months

Motherhood is messy.  Things are covered in spit up.  You may not have showered today, or yesterday.  Your babies might be covered in food.  Your house hasn’t been ‘clean’ since before there were babies.  And it’s okay.  Try to imagine yourself at 75, looking back on your life.  Do you think you’ll remember that day that the dishes did not get done and that you hadn’t dusted in weeks?  (Did you know people clean their baseboards?! Or take the vents out of the floor and off the walls and wash those?!)  What you’ll remember is the time you spent with your children.  It won’t matter that your hair and makeup weren’t done or that everything wasn’t in it’s place.  It won’t matter that some stranger on some social media site that probably won’t still exist seemed to be handling things better than you were.

My current struggles are seeing other people’s 9 month old babies eating pancakes and other actual solid foods.  My babies still just eat purees, because when I give them anything thicker or more solid (avocado, anyone?) they gag.  Gagging is normal until they learn what to do with it, but it scares the bajeezus out of me so they might just be on a puree diet forever.  I mean, juicing and smoothie drinking is a thing, right?  My babies don’t hold their own bottles.  Our Early Intervention Physical Therapist seemed concerned about that at their last appointment.  What I didn’t tell her was that I have TWO babies – I’m pretty sure she knows that part – but that I don’t have a ton of time to sit around and help them learn how to hold their bottles.  Feeding would take an hour or more then.  So I hold their bottles for them, because it’s easier.  It’s quicker.  But I guarantee that at some point, probably before they’re 5, they’ll learn how to hold a cup by themselves.  When was the last time you saw a kid who couldn’t drink out of a cup on their own?  Please tell me that’s not a thing.  I mean, they can put their own spoon in their mouths so I’m pretty sure they can figure out a cup at some point.  We have two different kinds of sippy cups, they can hold them and sometimes get them to their mouths, but we don’t use them often.  I’m working on it though since she seemed to think it was super-duper important.

I’ve come to accept that my house will never look as clean or as put together or styled as other people on social media, because A) They’re showing one piece of a room in a picture, so I’m hoping the rest of their house is a shit hole B) I have twins and dogs and carpet and too much stuff in a too little house and C) I just do not have the energy or give enough shits to care about it.  I have threatened to break out the sledgehammer to remove my breakfast bar because it.collects.everything!  My husband says I can’t remove it, and I wouldn’t have the motivation anyway, so it will continue to collect mail and paperwork and toys and cleaning supplies and sometimes dirty diapers (usually only pee-filled ones, ha!).

My Christmas tree is still undecorated, though my husband put the lights on it the other night.  Our stockings are hung, but that’s about it.  My Christmas cards are not yet mailed.  I haven’t made any cookies, or salt dough ornaments, or fresh greenery wreaths, or fancy faux-calligraphy leaves to use as name tags on all of my gifts, or wrapped most of my gifts, or made an advent calendar.  All of these things I totally meant to do.  I had a really great idea to use my artifact uprising prints to make an advent calendar to hang on the wall in the shape of a giant Christmas tree.  I wanted to post gift guides showing the coolest things I Santa got for the babies.  None of that got done, yet.  Martha Stewart, I am not.

What I’m doing instead is changing babies, holding baby bottles, feeding babies, trying to get babies to stop crying, trying to get babies happy.  Trying to get babies all set up to play with their toys.  Oh, you don’t like that toy today?  How about this one?  No?  This?  No?  Here’s the wipes container, play with that.  Sitting on the chaise lounge to catch my breath.  Trying to get babies to stop crying again.  Are you hungry? Tired?  Do your teeth hurt?  Are you bored? Are you getting sick?  Why haven’t you learned how to talk already to tell me what you want?  Just tell me what you want!  Repeat, all day long.

And then the babies smile or laugh or say something or make kissy sounds or blow bubbles and I realize that nothing else matters.  I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  And so are you.  So forget about comparing yourself to others.  Let go of the idea in your head that you can be everything to everyone and just be a mom to your kids and let that be enough.  It is enough.  You are enough.

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The Mommy Wars: It’s Not What You Think

If I’m being honest, I haven’t experienced much in the way of the mommy wars.  Sure, people voice their opinions but I typically let it roll off my back.  My parenting philosophy is: feed, clothe, shelter and love your babies.  However you get there is the ‘right’ way.  My other parenting philosophy is ‘survive’.  Easy, peasy, right?  Wrong.

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The mommy wars I’m talking about today are internal.  This has been weighing on me for a while.  I’m a quitter – always have been, probably always will be.  I worry about how to teach my children not to be quitters when I’m a quitter myself.  Before we had the twins I was researching ways to save money.  Things like breastfeeding, making my own baby foods and cloth diapering were easy ways to cut costs, or so I thought.

Breastfeeding never happened for me.  Not because it couldn’t, but because when my early babes had troubles just learning to drink from a bottle, I didn’t want to selfishly add in learning to drink from my body to their plates.  Maybe that was selfish because part of me thought it would get them home sooner if they only had to master one task, maybe it was unselfish of me because they only had to master one task.  See?  My internal struggle is already showing.  I pumped diligently at the beginning, knowing that any breastmilk I could give them would help.  I hated pumping.  I hated being tied down for at least 30 minutes, but I did it.  I remember going to the NICU to visit the babes and I would pump as I would bottle feed one of them, or just hold both of them.  Pumping empty handed was a luxury.  Once the babes came home, it was much more difficult to pump every 3 hours for 30 minutes because twins y’all.  My supply started to dwindle.  I tried teas and fenugreek, a beer a day, trying to drink more water.  Nothing helped.  The babies started drinking higher volumes, I started making less breastmilk and after 6 months, I called it quits.  It was to the point where I’d pump enough to give one of them a full bottle of breastmilk a day.  I was ready to stop, but I felt and still feel guilty.  That one bottle every other day for each baby could still be helpful, right?  Did I give up too easily?

My most recent failure is cloth diapers.  I did some research, but admittedly not enough.  I decided on BumGenius 4.0 diapers.  They’re a pocket diaper with a microfleece insert.  They have snaps to make the diapers smaller or bigger, tighter or looser.   They worked fairly well for 8 months.  We did buy the BumGenius newborn diapers as well and used those for the first few months.  All of the sudden though, I’d put the diapers on the babies and the first time they peed, the diapers would leak around the leg hole area.  I tried tightening the diapers, loosening the diapers, making them smaller, making them bigger.  I tried adding an extra insert, taking the extra insert away and using a hemp doubler to help with absorbency.  I tried stripping the diapers and drying them in the dryer.  They were still leaking.  Perhaps it’s the microfleece, perhaps it’s the amount of use they’re getting with double the babies to diaper.  Whatever the cause, it was making me C.R.A.Z.Y.  It may sound a little silly but I was getting so angry, blood-boiling angry at these damn diapers.  So I quit.  I bought two bulk size cases of Target brand diapers online and got a $20 gift card and two packs of Target overnight diapers.  Then I went to Target and to my surprise they had the bulk boxes so I bought two boxes of the next size up to get another $20 gift card.  So I now have 444 size 3 diapers that will arrive this week, 444 (minus what we’ve used over the last 3 days) of size 4 diapers, which are really big on the babes but are doing the trick for now.  Plus 172 overnight diapers.  But I’m feeling guilty, really guilty.  We made an $1100 investment in cloth, plus $30 in hemp doublers and I’m just putting those to the side and spending money that we shouldn’t need to spend on disposables.  Did I give up too quickly?

I recently had a doctor’s appointment to get my flu shot at a new doctor’s office.  I told her I was feeling overwhelmed because I can’t seem to get anything done around the house other than taking care of the babies.  She told me things I already know, like ‘you have two babies’ and ‘you need to reduce your stress and get better sleep’.  But I know there are mommies out their with multiple children who get other things done around the house.  Why can’t I do that?  I feel guilty. I feel like a bad wife because my husband works all day, comes home and washes dishes, makes dinner or both.  He hasn’t complained.  This is all self-imposed guilt.

So you see, my internal mommy wars are causing me more heartache than I imagined.  I’m loosing sleep, I’m feeling guilty, I’m beating myself up.  All because I’m not living up the vision I had in my head of what kind of mom I’d be before actually having kids.  I’m quitting things because they were causing me stress, but quitting has caused it’s own stress.

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Let’s Get Real

Overwhelmed

 

I debated whether I should write this post.  First off, let me start by saying that I’m not ‘outwardly’ religious, meaning I won’t preach to you, I won’t try to argue with you, I don’t go to church (though we may want that to change for the babies) and I rarely talk about prayer and things of the like.  Second, we seem to live in a culture that has more depression than ever, yet no one wants to talk about it and especially not in the pregnancy/mommy world.  I have not been diagnosed with depression or anything like that, but after yesterday I feel myself slipping into this place that I don’t recognize.  It’s been a long time since I felt like this – like since middle school (which is a post for another time, maybe even for a different blog).  Yesterday when I was in the hospital, I got teary-eyed once and my husband helped to calm me down.  I think I was mostly in shock at everything that was happening.  Though I will say, when I got up yesterday morning, I just had this aching feeling that we were going to be making a hospital visit.  Anyway, I came home last night, texted our moms and my sister-in-law and wrote a blog post.  The rest of the night went on like it normally does.

This morning I woke up at 4:20 am – anyone who is or has been pregnant can understand this.  I then laid in bed from 4:25 – 9:25 (with one more pee break in between), but not a wink of sleep.  I have so many things racing through my brain.  I was feeling low, really low.  It’s only gotten worse throughout the day.  I keep thinking: have I caused this, is this because I haven’t enjoyed every ounce of my pregnancy so far, were the doctors right to tell us that we should only transfer 1 embryo, is my cervix the issue or is it that there are two babies and not much room, could I have prevented this, is it because I rarely take my vitamins since they make me feel sick, please let them stay put until 36 weeks, if they can’t stay put please, please don’t take them from me.  I shed a few tears this morning and at different points during the day, but tried to hold back because I don’t want to upset my husband or totally fall apart.  Stress isn’t good for the babies, but how the hell do you not stress about this?  After eventually getting up and starting the day, my husband was working on a shelf for the nursery closet.  I snuck in while he was in the garage and just glided away in our glider.  I stared at the book ledges that are already full of books, the cribs that are set up (minus mattresses and sheets and whatnot), the area rug on the ground and the baby books I received in the mail, from a still unknown sender.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  How long would it be before my babies would be using this room?  If born prematurely, how long would they have beds in the NICU vs. beds at home where they belong?  What kind of complications could they face if they came now, or next week, or at 30 weeks or 32?  Could they survive if they came now?  Do I have any control over any of this?  Will I even know if I go into pre-term labor since the symptoms can be a bit different from regular labor and since I’ve never done this before?  All of these things are weighing heavily on me today.

I’ve never prayed as much in my life as I have since right before beginning our IVF cycle.  I try to keep them short, as I know there are people out there with ‘real’ problems who probably need more help than I could ever understand.  And, they’re pretty much always the same prayers.  At this point it’s something like, “Please help these babies to grow big, strong and healthy.  Please let them stay in as long as possible, like to 36+ weeks.  Please keep our family safe.”  Short, sweet, to the point.  I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but that’s what I do.    I truly believe that through this process we have not been alone.  Prayers have already been answered.  IVF being possible, my hormone levels rising and then holding steady so our cycle wasn’t cancelled, getting pregnant, finding out it was two babies and getting us this far.  So this is what I do when I enter a dark place – I pray and I hope that I’m heard and that these babies are going to be okay.

I realize this method doesn’t work for everyone, but what I want this blog post to say is that depression or signs of sadness during pregnancy and mommyhood are a lot more common than people like to admit.  Do what you need to do to pull yourself out of a slump.  Call a doctor, friend or family member.  Don’t struggle alone.  Open up and be truthful about your journey because it isn’t all rainbows and fairytales.  You are not alone.  I am not alone.

I also have to thank a very special group of women, whom I’ve never actually met in person.  The ‘trying-to-conceive’ community (mostly on instagram, but a few have found me through my blog too) has been a huge support.  Everyone is sending their well-wishes, happy thoughts, prayers and their own scary stories that turned out to have happy endings.  I couldn’t do this without all of you.  You know just what I’m going through.  I feel your love, and your support.  So thank you, thank you, thank you!

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My Registry Must Haves

Twin Registry Must Haves

 

Expecting twins can be a little overwhelming.  On top of that, they’re my first babies and so I’m totally clueless.  After talking with my sister-in-law who has an 18-month-old and doing research via other blogs, I knew there were some items I ‘had to have’ and some items that were just wants and some that are a total shot in the dark.

Knowing that my family is throwing me a shower and that everyone is so excited for us, I knew everyone would want to help out.  I tried to find safe, stylish items that were also affordable.  With some things – I’m talking to you stroller and car seat manufacturer’s – there is no ‘inexpensive’ option.  And obviously, you wouldn’t want to skimp on either of those items since they need to be super safe for babies.

Here is what I came up with for my twin registry must haves.

1.  Cloth Diapers – while I know this isn’t a good option for everyone, I will be a stay at home mom and it’ll be easier for me to throw in a load of laundry than to pack up two babies and drive to the store every time I run out. After much research, I’ve chosen Bumgenius 4.0 all-in-one diapers (both newborn and one-size diapers). I want the newborn diapers since our babies will likely be smaller at birth and stay small a little bit longer than singleton babies.

2.  Bumbos – I’ve heard mixed reviews on the bumbo seats from other moms.  Some love them and depend on them and others haven’t found much use for them.  I plan to use them so that I can take a shower (and just put the babies in their seats on the floor outside my glass shower), while the babies are taking baths but not quite stable enough to sit up on their own the entire time, and when mommy just needs to have her hands free.

3.  My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow – this particular nursing pillow can be used when tandem feeding twins, which is what I plan to do more often than not.  The quicker I can get them both fed and back to sleep, the more sleep I can get!  (or at least that’s what I’m hoping for)

4.  Baby Jogger City Mini Double – this stroller is a side-by-side, which some people don’t like, but I do.  It’s the ‘mini’ version so it fits through a standard size door.  It also folds really easily.  After test driving strollers when we were like 3 days pregnant, or something like that, we knew we needed something compact, lightweight and easy to maneuver since I’ll likely be using it a lot on my own.  And as far as strollers go, while I had sticker shock, it’s one of the most affordable, highly-rated, double strollers around.  The other thing to consider is that because this stroller is compact, it cannot accommodate two car seats at the same time.  They do sell compact prams for infants to lay flat in the stroller.

5.  Changing Pad – this changing pad is a little on the pricey side, however, it doesn’t need a cover and easily cleans.  It’s been used in hospitals and doctors offices and gets really great reviews.  Being a slight germaphobe, knowing I can just lysol off any poop blow-outs instead of having to wash a cover and worry that the poop germs already made their home inside my foam changing pad, will help me sleep at night.

6.  Bottles – I chose this bottle option, even though I’m planning to do a lot of breast feeding, it’ll be helpful to have someone else be able to feed them every now and then.  This bottle is designed to imitate the ‘real deal’ and it’s sold at Target, so it’s for me!

7.  Crib – cribs can get so expensive.  Do I love the look of a really pricey Restoration Hardware crib?  Sure I do, but I just simply cannot justify it.  Then after doing research on multiple blogs, I kept seeing this super simple, wooden crib and found that it’s from Ikea!  It’s very affordable, can be adjusted to two levels, one side comes off to turn into a toddler bed and fits regular crib sized mattresses.  These were generously gifted to me from my mom, and because she’s concerned our babies won’t know what colors are – because I LOVE neutrals – we are working on a little project to add color to the crib rungs/spindles to get this sort of look only without this kind of price tag.

8.  Rock n’ Play – this is an item that my sister-in-law received at her shower.  It wasn’t something she registered for and initially we thought it would be something she wouldn’t use, and then my littlest nephew was born.  He slept in this at the beginning as he wasn’t quite ready for the big, wide world of his crib just yet and he slept in this when he travelled.  She told me it was one of the items I ‘must’ get.

9.  Baby Book – for all our memories and keepsakes.   I stumbled upon this one at Anthropologie and thought it was really cute.

10.  Teething necklace – I’m not real comfortable with the idea of teething necklaces for my babies to wear.  I just fear it breaking and them choking on the little pieces, but that doesn’t mean that mommy can’t wear a necklace that the babies can play with and chew on.

11.  Baby Monitor – when it comes to a baby monitor, at first, I wasn’t going to get anything fancy.  Their room is right across the hall from ours.  After watching my nephew a few times, I found myself just staring at the little screen watching him sleep, checking to make sure he was still breathing and just taking in all of the cuteness.  Then we found this monitor, which can zoom and pan the room.  It comes with a second camera (and you can add up to four) for if/when the babies move into separate rooms.  It is pricey, but not a whole lot more than some of the single camera monitors.

12.  Noise Machine – I chose the Baby Shusher because it’s gotten really great reviews.  It can sit on a dresser top, next to a crib, can be thrown in a stroller or next to the car seat.

13.  Car Seats – this can be one of the most overwhelming items to do research on. There are so many brands and options, newborn car seats, convertible car seats, the list goes on.  For me, I wanted a convertible car seat that could fit tiny babies (this one goes as low as 4lbs) and will convert all the way up into a booster seat when the kids are older.  So I will only need one car seat per child, forever, period, that’s it.  Also, Maxi Cosi is said to have lightweight car seats compared to some others that can get really, really heavy.  Since I’ll have two, this is important.

14.  4 Moms Rockaroo Baby Swing – There are a ton of baby swings out there, but this one is all the rage.  It gets really great reviews, and even though this is the lower model, I think it will help me out just fine.

15.  Play Mat – there are a million play mats out there for babies as well.  I wanted one that wasn’t extra loud or bright and that I could add toys to and fit both babies underneath (at least at the beginning).  Ikea won again!

16.  Diaper Bag – this is another place where options are vast, ranging from designer to affordable, stylish to basic, leather to canvas, bright to neutral, tote vs. cross body vs. backpack and so many more.  Of course I was really attracted to a leather version that converted from a tote, to a cross body bag and to a backpack but spending $200+ seemed kind of ridiculous.  I found this one, at Target, and I love the color of the bag and love the color of the inside and changing pad.  I don’t need designer, I just need it to hold diapers, a change of clothes and some bottles and toys.

Those are my must haves, but trust me when I say I have so much more on my registry.  There are so many little things that are needed that you forget about until you have to put a registry together.  One more note about my registry is that I decided to have it through BabyList and not register at any actual stores.  So far, I haven’t heard any complaints about this and it allows me to add things from any website making it easier on me to not have to settle.  It also shows where the item is the lowest price so that anyone being so generous as to buy us something can get the very best deal!

Sorry that this post is so long!  After the babies are born I’ll be sure to do an update to let you know about which items I actually use most often and if there’s any I would forgo if I could do it all over.

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New Year’s Resolutions

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Most other blogs covered their New Year’s resolutions already, but it’s still January so I figured what the heck.  When I thought, at the end of last year, what my goals were for 2015 only one word came to mind: survive.  2014 was quite the year.  It was filled with struggle, disappointment, dark days, hope, tears and overwhelming happiness.  As we look ahead, I know this year is going to be the most difficult I’ve experienced yet.  We need to survive the rest of this pregnancy, which has taken a bit of a scary turn, but hopefully my damn cervix stays shut.  We need to survive labor and delivery, in whatever form it comes.  We need to survive new parenthood and twin babies.  We need to survive becoming a one-income family with 6 mouths to feed (counting the pups).  So above all else, we just need to survive.

On top of that, there are definitely a few other things I’d like to accomplish.  I’ve been an obsessive planner my whole life.  Though when looking back, little to none of those ‘life plans’ ever worked out the way I expected.  I want to take a step back from planning and just let life happen.  This is going to be hard for me.  I almost want to plan out how to not plan.  You see?  I’m obsessed.

Another goal is to simplify.  I’ve been trying to declutter my house since before the end of the year.  We have boxes of old papers, old trinkets and a bunch of other junk that we moved into the house with and some we’ve acquired since living here.  I want it all gone.  Zero extra clutter, but it’s fricken impossible!  I’m trying my best and will soon be moving on to our closets, getting a mail/bill system set up, the nursery and organizing the office even more than I already have.  I’ve been decluttering digitally too.  I have been unsubscribing from the majority of emails that come through.  It’s weird to check your email in the morning and see nothing new, but it’s refreshing.

One last resolution is to ‘let it go’.  I realize that song is so last year, but the meaning is something I should’ve figured out a long time ago.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my day – nothing illegal but educationally, financially, career wise, with relationships and friendships.  There’s nothing I can do to change any of that, but it haunts me constantly.  I get really down on myself for not knowing better, or for knowing better and making the mistakes anyway or for not thinking things through.  It’s time I let that all go.  It isn’t helping me to dwell on the past.

This is a lofty list of resolutions for me, especially to take on in the biggest year of my life so far.  I’ve always been one to do everything all at once, so here’s to taking it all on in 2015!

p.s. these photos are from Lauren Fair Photography from our engagement shoot back in 2012 (we were engaged on NYE inside the Tiffany & Co. in Atlantic City so we recreated NYE for our shoot).

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A Mother is Born

At what point does one become a mother?  Is it conception, when the heart starts beating, when the baby begins to move, when the baby is viable if delivered or at birth?  Is it something that we always are, even before our children arrive?  Today felt like a pretty significant day and I had no idea it was going to feel like that.  We’ll be 12 weeks along tomorrow and today I had an ultrasound to check for birth defects.  The ultrasound lasted a really long time because they had to take all kinds of measurements on two babies.

I got to spend a lot of time just soaking them in.  Baby A was posing so nicely for all of the measurements and then started to move towards the end.  Baby B was moving pretty wildly the entire time.  Bringing a hand from belly to mouth, belly to mouth and back again.  It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.  These babies are only 12 weeks along and they look like real babies and they move and they’re hanging out bunk bed style.  Baby B is up on top with their head on the left and Baby A is on bottom with their head on the right.

12 Weeks 244              12 Weeks 245

 

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