Monday, August 29, 2011

Camping...

Every year we take a camping trip to Ft. Stevens for about 5 days over Labor Day weekend. Jon's immediate and extended family make the trip towards the beach and we have a wonderful time riding bikes and hanging out with family around the campfire.

This year will be the first year with the babies, and their first time camping. This totally changes the way we prepare for our trip. It seems like there are so many more "important" things we have to make fit in the car. Fortunately, we will be borrowing my moms' Honda Odyssey and not be cramming everything, and everyone, into my little Civic (not that it would even be humanly possible).

We leave on Wednesday (just two days away), and we have no idea how this trip will turn out (we plan to come home Sunday). There are just so many unknowns since we have never gone camping with the girls. How do we keep them warm at night? How will we bathe them? Where can we put them down so that they can play and not be held 24/7? These are just a few of the questions we have pondered and attempted to problem solve.

So, if you've camped with a 6 month old (or two), and have some advice, we would love to hear it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Multnomah Days Parade

Last Saturday, August 22nd, we were asked to walk in the Multnomah Days parade to support my friend Whitney and her photography studio...Bliss Studio (www.blissstudio.net). We have been fortunate enough to have Whitney taking pictures of the girls since they were just hours old (actually, before they were born with my maternity photos) and we are so looking forward to the incredible album she will create to document their first year.

Since the girls are obviously not old enough to walk in the parade, they were carried by mommy and daddy. We also pulled wagons with giant photos of the girls to show off their photos.

Unfortunately, this happened to be the hottest day so far this summer. It was only a mere 92 degrees, but it felt so hot compared to the rest of the mild summer we have had this year. The parade was supposed to start at 10 am, with us lining up at 9:30 am. The girls usually wake from their morning nap at about 9:45 or 10 am and then eat. This made our morning a little tricky. They ended up taking a shorter nap on the car ride there and eating while standing in line, waiting for the parade to begin.



Even though the parade was in the morning, it was still quite warm. And holding little girls wearing tutus did not help! On top of that, I don't think we started walking until 10:40 am. Ugh! It was warm!

Once we got walking it wasn't too bad. There were lots of people there watching us as we walked by. It was fun seeing all the expressions from people when they saw babies! Of course, there were several that realized we had twins too (we even had separate pictures for each girl so I was surprised some picked up on that). That always draws extra attention.


Once the parade was over, we were all exhausted and ready to head home. Esme even fell asleep on my shoulder while walking back to the car. They both did really well though. Esme, especially, loved all the people watching her. She was "talking" and smiling almost the whole time.

Here are some more pictures with our wagons and Bliss Studio images...



We came home, took a little break and then headed off to my in-laws for some swimming in the pool! It was a nice was to spend a hot afternoon!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast

Am I crazy to be already thinking that I want more kids (down the road, that is)? Lately, I've been finding myself missing all those early moments with my girls. Ok, not the sleep deprived moments...but the snugly little bumps on my shoulder moments. My girls are so wiggly now!

My girls are spending their first night in their nursery tonight. They've been taking their naps in there for some time, but this is the first night they will not be sleeping in our bedroom. This is a great milestone, but one that makes me sad when I realize that my girls are growing up and it's time for them to move on to bigger things.

I am excited for them to do new things, like sit up and crawl, but other things...I'm just in no rush. For example, it seems that so many parents are anxious to feed their babies solids. I, for one, can wait...and we have. I'm not looking forward to the diaper changes once the girls start eating solids. We will likely be introducing them within the next few weeks (they are ready), but I've had no problem waiting.

The girls passed up their 5 month mark last week (I need to post on that too) and are growing up fast. I can't believe how fast (and slow at the same time) these 5 months have gone.

Before I know it, they'll be heading off to kindergarten!

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Time to Eat...Again!

This past week was World Breastfeeding Week. So, in honor of this past week, I thought I'd share with you some of my "feeding babies" experiences.

First off, I in no way shed any judgement towards any mom for how they choose to feed their baby (babies)...or with what. I believe it is a personal decision and only you know what is best for you, your baby and your family.

With that said, here is my story...

Before my girls were born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I may have had high expectations for myself (at least that is what I was told by many, and I told myself), but I was determined I would succeed. I've known others with twins that struggled, and others that have succeeded. I've had several friends that struggled to feed just one baby, but for some reason, these stories just made me more determined to breastfeed my twins. Maybe having no other children prior made me a bit naive to the whole experience...perhaps a good thing!

First off, I know that breast milk is best, but I also know that it is a whole lot cheaper than formula. And with twins, we can use all the financial help we can get.

When my girls were born, I began tandem nursing them right away. I knew I didn't want to nurse one after the other because that would mean I would just be feeding babies all the time. I was able to tandem feed them thanks to my handy dandy My Brest Friend Twins Plus nursing pillow...a big thanks to my mother-in-law for this gift!

At first, things were going well. They girls latched on okay, and were eating every 2 1/2 hours or so. After a couple of days (we were still in the hospital), I started feeling concerned that my girls were not getting enough (my milk hadn't come in yet), and were still hungry. The nurses (despite their surprise that I wanted to breastfeed twins), encouraged me and told me the girls were fine.

Two and a half days after the girls were born, they became jaundiced and we discovered that their weight had dropped more than normal. At this point, they told me that I would have to begin giving the girls formula. I was devastated and upset. I didn't want to give them bottles yet...and definitely not formula! I wasn't going to give up though, so I nursed the girls first, then gave them their bottles of formula provided by the hospital.

Here is a picture of Esme with her biliblanket for her jaundice...

And sweet little Ellerie...

Here is a picture of my feeding log in the hospital...

It took me asking every day to meet with lactation to finally get a good consultant that got me on a plan...aiming for 100% breast milk fed babies. When I came home from the hospital, this is what our schedule looked like...

Every 2 1/2-3 hours (around the clock...
1)Breastfeed babies for 25-30 minutes.
2)Feed babies 2oz of formula (or pumped breast milk) from bottles
3)Pump 15-20 minutes.

This routine took about 1 hour 15 minutes. We became more efficient as time went on, and I think we got it down to an hour. This didn't give us much down time between feedings, and it sure didn't give us much time to sleep. I would often just lay awake at night, staring at the clock until the next feeding (unless, of course, Ellerie was in one of her screaming colic rages).

Looking back, I'm not sure how I/we survived! At my lactation visits (I went at least a couple times a month at first), the consultants were surprised I was still nursing. "Determination" was what I told them. All the extra calories and water I consume makes a world of difference too!

Fortunately, we only had to supplement the girls with formula for 1 week. After that, their bottle supplement was all breast milk. I'm just grateful that I am someone who was able to produce enough milk. In fact, within a month, I was making an over abundance...probably enough to feed triplets. And because of that, we have a nice freezer stash for a time when I may not be able to keep up with their growing needs. I was also able to stop supplementing with bottles after every feeding at that time.

The girls are now 5 months old and they both nurse well (most days)...and take a bottle well (grateful for that too). My original goal was 6 months, but now that I am almost there, I can't imagine stopping. It's just getting easier! I'm just barely making enough milk now, but we haven't had to dig into that freezer stash quite yet. Soon the girls will be getting solids too!

At this point, I'm just going to nurse as long as I can...as long as I'm still maintaining my sanity! It's been an incredibly challenging experience and one I am proud of myself for overcoming and accomplishing! There were many times I screamed, "I want to quit!" Also, in the beginning, I didn't experience the "bonding" that everyone always talks about with nursing. I found that I bonded more in other ways...that didn't result in pain and frustration! It took awhile, but I enjoy it now and often see it as my exclusive bonding time with the girls...most of the time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cloth vs Disposables

When we discovered we would be having twins, one of the first thoughts (after the shock) was, "How are we going to afford everything needed for two babies?" There are many things that can be shared between two babies (like a swing, clothes, books and toys), but there are several things that you are going to need x2. Some of those items are the most expensive items...such as cribs and car seats. Then there is the infamous double stroller hunt...a good one costs $600+. Fortunately, many baby stores offer a small 10% discount to those purchasing these larger items for twins. It may not seem like much, but it really can help.

Another big baby expense is diapers. There is just no way around the fact that babies need diapers and they need a lot of them. We sat down one day and looked at the cost of disposable diapers and found that it would cost us about $5/day to diaper our babies. It could be less if we bought cheaper diapers or got a great deal, or it could be more if we had to run out quick to get diapers at full price when we didn't realize we were out.

I have changed a lot of diapers in my time, but my only experience had been with disposables. I knew there had to be a way to save some money, so I decided to look further into the cloth diaper options out there. I did a TON of research. I read a TON of reviews. Through my internet searches and visits with friends, I realized that cloth diapering is NOTHING like what it used to be. There is an abundance of cloth diapering options out there, and they really make diapering your baby easy.

After extensive research, I decided that I would cloth diaper my girls. We visited a cloth diaper store (now one of our frequent visits and favorite baby needs stores) and I talked with some employees (and other customers) about what I would need. We decided that our main cloth diaper stash would include Bumgenious 4.0's. The neat thing about these diapers is that they are completely adjustable and will fit your child until they are potty trained. There is also no messing with folding prefolds. They have a pocket in which you "stuff" in your absorbancy (more at night time). We were told, however, that the BG 4.0's often don't fit newborns so we purchased a small stash of Bummis and Thirsties brand covers and prefolds that the girls wore for the first few months (we still use them on occasion, but they are becoming quite snug).


One question we are frequently asked is, "Do you wash your own diapers or use a diaper service?" The answer is, "We wash them ourselves!" Right now it is really easy since the girls are only fed breastmilk which is water soluble. We just throw the diapers in the washer (about every other day), give them a pre-rinse, wash and extra rinse. We hang the covers to dry and throw everything else in the dryer. When the girls begin solid foods we may have an extra step at times. Fortunately, there is they wonderful gadget...a diaper sprayer. It attaches to the base of the toilet (connected to water) and you use it to spray your diaper clean into the toilet. No more swishing the diapers in the toilet...you keep your hands away from the yuckies!

With cloth diapers comes a big up front cost. We didn't purchase all of ours at the same time. We made several trips, and bought a few each time, until our stash was "complete." We did calculate all of our costs (diapers, special detergent for washing, and a little extra for energy costs), and we figure we'll break even, compared to cost of disposables, when the girls are 6 months old. We only have about a month to go and then we are just saving money.

I could really go into a lot of details about cloth diapers and how wonderful I think they are (for so many reasons), but I'm not going to go into all of that. If you are interested, I would love to chat. So far, I am SO glad we chose to go this route. It saves us a lot of money, we have almost become addicted to the cute diaper patterns out there and, as an added bonus, we're helping the landfills out.

Oh...and I'll post some pictures soon...