A New Pair of Shoes = Confidence at EVERY Age…(or is that just my excuse?)


Here I go AGAIN! Writing about the excitement I find in SHOES. Call me a GIRL OBSESSED! ARGH. As you who follow me know, I have written about the importance of shoes for babies in, “It’s All in a Girl’s Shoes,” and the fun of shoes for babies and toddlers in, “Bubblegum Scented Toddler Shoes,” and I’m about to share a combo about the importance, fun and my plain LOVE of shoes! Can a new pair of shoes help build confidence???I purchased my sons each crib shoes (shoes for fun to put on while they are babies and can’t crawl or walk that mainly match their outfits). Sounds like a HUGE waste of money, right? That’s what my hubby said. But I purchased them when they were 4 months old and starting to use the walker in the house and when we would go outside (I bought both pair on clearance at 50% off). I think it’s important that they get used to the feeling of wearing shoes. Like my post about my daughter’s shoes – her first fitting for shoes she was just 10 months old THAT DAY and that same evening, she walked for the first time. I think shoes give them balance and extra confidence a bare foot or sock foot with grippers don’t quite give (my opinion of course!) There are so many cute shoes for girls – (I could’ve spent a fortune but I DIDN’T!) But for my twin sons, I decided to go with Robeez which are known for having a snug fit that are more difficult for baby to kick off.

Why Robeez? “Robeez footwear mimics bare feet by flexing and bending with every step. Supporting not constricting growing feet, they promote good balance and unrestricted growth, while protecting little feet from the world. They stay on too, with elasticized ankles to ensure a perfectly snug fit.” From Why Robeez? They also have a downloadable shoe sizing chart (download Robeez Foot Sizing Chart). Love these little shoes with their orange soles for summer!  

This is my little Maxton who took to “walking” immediately in his walker just like his agile big sister. He will also soon be crawling and I am putting his Robeez on to ensure he has enough “GRIP.” So that’s my story on confidence for my boys!

You recall my post about bubblegum scented toddler shoes made by Mini Melissa? I decided against them just a few months ago because I wasn’t 100% sold on a pair of plastic shoes for a toddler (even though I grew up in the original era of “jellies” and had a ton!) The Melissa Brand shoes smell like bubblegum. Yes, bubblegum. They are a sustainable plastic shoe that is infused with a perfume that smells like bubblegum. Made of PVC recycled plastic, these “mini” versions of the adult Melissa line, are seriously “adorbs.” I must say, I was on the fence as to whether or not I wanted Mattelyn sporting a pair of bubblegum scented plastic shoes. But the sales associate assured me this is one of their biggest sellers for toddler sandals in the spring and summer season. WHO KNEW. While shopping recently for a pair of new shoes for myself POST PREGNANCY, we ran to the children’s department at Von Maur so Mattelyn could look at the train they have displayed and to “smell the Melissa’s,” now something Mattelyn likes to do. LOL. 😉 And lo and behold, the very pair of black Mary Janes with brown bows that I fell in love with were on sale 50% OFF. Yep, we bought them.

Mattelyn was thrilled, wore them out of the store, and sat in her car seat knotted like a pretzel with both feet pulled to her nose repeating, “Mmmmm! Smell, mama!” That evening (and every evening since) she runs to put on her new shoes and tells her daddy everyday when he gets home from work, “Look my new shoes.” So cute, I had to share!

And, Mama got a new pair of shoes too. My first pair of shoes for “going out” after my pregnancies. (Read, first pair of HEELS since giving birth). I LIVED in heels in my not so long ago previous life as a career woman. You couldn’t find me without heels on one, because I am 5’2″ tall (or should I say short!?) And two, I worked in a fast-paced downtown advertising agency and my title of Executive ensured I would wear heels the rest of my life! (Which was fine by me!) But even when they came out with tennis shoes with platforms, I was IN because I just couldn’t wear a pair of flat shoes. Needless to say, as with everything else – EVERYTHING CHANGED WITH BABIES. I am sure I will get back to my heels someday – but for now, none of my old heels fit (my feet grew a 1/2 inch with both pregnancies). So I have a GORGEOUS array of beautiful shoes just waiting to be donated. I can’t part with quite yet, but I did get rid of my first “round” with the birth of Mattelyn. Second round is soon! My birthday is today and my anniversary with my husband was yesterday. So this weekend, we are leaving the babes at home with my mother and father-in-law who have offered to drive up to stay the weekend to watch them – – that is two 7 month old twins and a rambunctious 2 year old. I am nervous about leaving them – the thought of not saying goodnight and giving hugs and kisses is REALLY difficult for me. Plus, I am hormonal as all get out…just ending breast feeding. I may have some post partum baby blues! They will be in loving care with their Mimi and Papa and I have no worries that way, it is just the initial leaving them all. *I am positive I will cry all the way downtown. Poor hubby.* I tried on a pair of new shoe boots with a good, sturdy, thicker heel that is only 3″ tall. They are a neutral color and I think will be a perfect complement to my attire for Saturday night’s outing on the Riverwalk along Chicago’s Riverfront that we are planning to do with a couple of close friends of ours who live downtown. I am excited and somehow, in my warped mind, I think having a new pair of shoes will give me the confidence and extra excitement I need to GET ME OUT THE DOOR Saturday night! (I will post a picture of me and my new shoes during our date night Saturday if you are interested at all in seeing them!)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Please share your favorite shoes for baby, toddler or yourself! I always want to know what I’m missing out on!

XO ~ Your Shoe Obsessed Mama

The “ROOT TRIO” Veggie Puree’ – Baby’s First Tastes

This may sound cliche, but I find great joy in making fresh, organic, homemade baby food for my babies! It is SUCH A SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME that they actually eat baby food. They can’t eat solids until 6 months, and they are often ready to move on by 8 months. And yet, during this small timeframe SO MANY GOOD EATING HABITS ARE ESTABLISHED. They learn to “chew” and swallow properly which also assists in their muscles that aid in speech. It’s hard to believe it’s really only two months we need to provide our children with such important “firsts” but it truly makes a difference down the road. Especially when introducing as many new flavors and textures as possible. I don’t like the flavor of baby food you can purchase on the shelf in the store – the preservatives make it storable for up to two years. And it DOES NOT TASTE LIKE BABY FOOD (in my opinion). The preservatives often make everything taste sweeter than normal and create a false expectation that all foods are sweet and they don’t learn an early appreciation for savory flavors which make up the majority of what we eat as adults. Baby food should taste just like what we eat but with less spice, perhaps. Our main objective when training our babies to eat is to eventually get them eating what we eat. If their first foods don’t taste like our food, and if they don’t get introduced to new flavors early on, they won’t be apt to trying different flavors and textures when they are toddlers. Which makes for picky eaters.

My 7 month old twins LOVE this “root trio” veggie puree so I wanted to be sure to pass it along. My daughter loved this too. It’s so important at this stage in their weaning to solid foods to introduce AS MANY new flavors and textures as possible! The more they try at this age, the more open to new flavors they will be when they’re toddlers. Plus, the more likely they will be to establish good eating habits early on. (If you are interested in reading more about stage one weaning and why I believe so much in this, check out my post on my first go around making my daughter’s organic homemade baby food – I read SO MUCH the first time around and I learned a ton that I try to pass along to you, “Homemade Organic Baby Food – My Journey,” and “Part Two: My Journey Making Homemade Organic Baby Food.”)The root trio veggie puree’ is simply carrots, sweet potato and parsnips steamed and then pureed in a blender with the water used while steaming. Root veggies are naturally sweet and puree easily to a smooth consistency. Add a little of baby’s regular milk to make it the consistency they like. Introducing your baby to a new flavor like parsnips or rutabaga might not appear to be your first choice but doing this early on really does open doors to what they will try later on in the toddler years. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene and are richer in nutrients than regular potatoes. One more to note – organic carrots, rutabaga and parsnips are best to use for baby (and yourself) as they are more susceptible to absorbing chemicals in soil than other vegetables. And, the darker the organic carrot, the more mature and more full of flavor and vitamin A and beta-carotene. Parsnips are a root veggie that is a relative of the carrot family. They are often sweeter when cooked than the carrot and make it a perfect pairing for the sweet potato and carrot and a delicious first food puree for baby.

I would love to hear about the best first foods you chose for your babies! As always, I would love it if you followed me here! I live to share new learnings and pass along anything I have found to be helpful to other new parents.

Enjoy your Monday! It’s a new week full of firsts!

XO ~ Stephanie

Sometimes I Wish I Were More Like My Husband…

Four month old twins, Maxton and Carson.

Tonight we put the twins in their own cribs in their own nursery. It’s only down the hall from us and I have a monitor on each of them that scans both their nursery and their sister’s nursery. But they aren’t right here next to me in our room. I already miss them and my heart hurts.  💔😓

This is where they slept in our room next to my side of the bed.

Mattelyn was five months old when we put her in her own crib in her room. These guys are four months old and at their four month wellness check on Friday, our pediatrician said they not only can be in their own room but it would be a perfect time to make the move – they are more than ready. (He said most twins are out of mom and dad’s room by 6 weeks). They will sleep better, will be more comfortable and will likely sleep through the night. Which means longer REM and deep sleep, which encourages brain growth and development (when they have uninterrupted sleep. Not to mention, they no longer have to listen to their dada snore!)

Maxton our oldest twin, 13lbs 9oz

Carson our youngest twin, 14lbs 6oz

Mattelyn slept the first night in her nursery for 9 hours. When I think about how far we have come with them in the past four months, I am thrilled and also so very sad. There is something about this being my last babies I will ever have the privilege to have in my room so close I can touch them that has me an overly emotional wreck. I love them so much and can’t believe they are already at this point. It occurs to me parenthood is filled with this love/hate, happy/sad feeling in everyday situations as they grow (which is daily). We treat them like the babies they are but with the underlying goal of raising amazing adults. They need their independence and desire their own space. But it’s so hard to let them go to the next step. It takes everything inside me to not be selfish right now! Sometimes I just wish I were more like my nonchalant husband. He just accepts the facts and moves on so matter of fact. He always says we have to do what is best for them and he is right. And I on the other hand, worry and stress and overthink. I sit and reminisce about when they were staying in the hospital first born. I recall watching them being wheeled out of my room to the nursery and I sat crying on the side of my bed with my mom.    The first of many of those moments to come. After ten months of them being right next to your heart inside you, it’s difficult to let them leave your side. I can’t help it. I am so proud of them and their stupendous growth. I love them and everything they have overcome from apnea monitors to rolling over on their bellies. They are  our little miracles and beyond amazing.  

As I lay in bed staring at the monitor, waiting for it to switch from Mattelyn, to Maxton, to Carson and then back to Mattelyn, I think about when we brought them home and they slept in the same travel size pack and play in the room I stayed in downstairs:

The nursery was a room we didn’t go into because they weren’t ready and the time I would be putting them to sleep in there seemed to be so far away. But it’s not – it’s here. So here is my prayer tonight for my babes. As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord their souls to keep. Guard and keep them through the night and wake them with your morning light. Amen. 

Potty Training – The Starting Line-Up…

In much the same way I do everything in my life, I began the quest for the best way to potty train by READING and making a PLAN. And I don’t just read books, I read blogs. Lots and lots of real life blogs from moms and dads that are doing all this same stuff right now. And then I talk to my friends and family. Then I read book reviews – lots of reviews for top rated books on a topic. Then I decide on a book, order it and speed read. I like to research my subject so I know it, understand it and from that, make an informed hybrid plan. (It takes time upfront but I usually end up with a better result faster. Plus, I LEARN, sounds annoying, right?? At least that’s what my husband says… 🙂 but in the end, I usually make a semi-intelligent decision about things). I take snippets of things or ideas I like from my research and think will fit my situation, note it, and incorporate it into the master plan. Plan in hand, I then prepare. That’s just what works for me. I approach recipes for my cooking the same way. (And party planning, gardening, selling a car, losing weight…you get the picture…) Then I like to write about it here as partly a journal I can look back on and reference but also in case anyone else wants to gain some insight into all the CRAP I spent time researching and then trying out; the work is done and it’s a quick blog read for you! (read: you’re welcome 🙂 ) So this is my Starting Line-Up, or all of the things I felt would be crucial in assisting Mattelyn to get the most out of her potty training experience so that our plan worked and she was SUCCESSFUL. With the hope, too, that it wouldn’t take a whole lot of time. Some children potty train for a year. I can’t do that – I just don’t have the time.

1. My mom, Mattelyn’s grandma, is staying here with us helping out with the twins in their infancy and helping me greatly during the day with Miss M. She offered to help potty train her so that when I am on my own with the three of them here within the month (God help me), she is at least out of diapers. So I naturally took her up on the offer, (I’d be crazy not to!) That’s not to say I am not 100% involved, because I am. But she is leading the charge and I am on twin duty, clean-up duty, follow-up duty and playing the resident “Chef du jour” while this is occurring. Ha! Mattelyn is 24 months to the day when I determined it was her time, I had the help here and available, I needed to GO FOR IT. I decided to train her using the Three-Day-Semi-Naked-Method. I ordered the book, “Potty Train In A Weekend,” by mom of four, Becky Mansfield. 

I did A QUICK speed read of the book after reading the 50 or so reviews from satisfied readers who also chose this route. This seemed like a no frills, no food, no extra incentives, matter-of-fact way to potty train. (Okay – just what I was in the market for. Or SO I THOUGHT).

2. I purchased a Minnie Mouse potty chair that claps and cheers with a “flush” (I really could’ve just gone with a plain potty but this one I thought was a good idea to get her interested back when she was 18 months old. Now I think it’s not necessary if you’re thinking about a potty chair. Simple and plain is perfect. And the more sturdy they feel, the better). 

3. I bought the chair when she was 18 months old – so it would sit in the bathroom and she could get used to the idea of going potty when we would go. Pulling her pants down and mimicking us. The one good thing I like about this potty chair is we can remove the seat and it SNAPS into place on the big potty so she has a choice of going on the little chair or the big chair. And when the lid is down, she can use it as a step stool to wash her hands. (The snapping into place was a big deal after all as some of the other seats we tried don’t snap into place and she didn’t feel secure), like this Minnie potty chair seat we bought to keep in her bathroom upstairs for use directly after naps and when she wakes first thing in the morning. Instead of another potty chair, this one just sits on top of the toilet seat. It slips and slides though because it doesn’t lock in place. However she likes the handles.

4. My mom ordered her some Baby Leg, leg warmers (super cute idea for boys and girls and a novelty at that; Mattelyn thoroughly enjoyed “dressing up”). These worked well as she would wear them while wearing no pants (and no undies or Pull-Ups, just naked), along with a tight shirt that you can easily see if an accident starts to happen and socks with these cool slippers with grippers that I think are a must-have called Skidders. Mattelyn’s are little pink Mary Jane Skidders and are adorable…This way, if an accident occurs (and they will) shoes don’t get peed on (lesson learned!) 

5. We received a pack of cute playful undies from her older cousin in Florida so we didn’t go shopping for any. But they remained in her room and we talked about them for a good month or two before the day came that we would use them. I read it can be fun to go shopping for big girl or big boy undies – totally your call. Mattelyn didn’t want to have anything to do with them, which made me laugh. Kids are SO SMART.  

6. I ordered a potty book for Mattelyn to read while on the potty that was HIGHLY recommended by over 1,000 reviews on Amazon. “Potty,” by Leslie Patricelli. 

She loved it in a way that I can only explain was love/hate. We let it sit on a stool in the bathroom leading up to potty training. We read it to her and encouraged her to look at it while in the bathroom with us. She has read it probably 100 times by now. She would carry it around with her during the day and would throw it across the room some days. Other days, we would find it “hidden” or stashed away under other books or in the oven of her toy kitchen set, LOL. She resonated with it and with what the little boy/girl was trying to accomplish. Awesome book – can’t recommend enough!

7. My husband bought her a step stool so that her little dangling legs/feet would touch when she is trying to go on the “big potty.” This would provide her with balance and the feeling of being stationary and secure. It really is helpful.

8. He also bought her special Minnie Mouse antibacterial hand soap that was just for Mattelyn to use after trying to use the potty. He’s so good at recognizing things that would make her feel special and would encourage her softly.

9. We got her a water bottle to encourage drinking water ALL.DAY.LONG. A special water bottle with a straw so she would be excited about drinking water. We also gave her Gatorade and watered down apple juice mixed with some prune juice in her regular sippy cups to ensure her stools would be soft – not loose – just soft so it wouldn’t hurt to push the poop out.

Mattelyn’s new water bottle with a straw and her sippy cup, her mermaid doll “Shine” and her other dolly “Lala,” (more to come on these two!!!) rest happily on our rolled up carpet in our family room.

10. I froze grapes as a snack (also would encourage number two to happen) and bought prunes – Mattelyn loves prunes so this wasn’t a big deal for her. They are very sweet and taste like candy.

Mattelyn 24 months old, to the day, eating her frozen grapes with her water and sippy cup filled with watered down mix of prune and apple juice.

11. We decided to use the timer that is built into the iPhone and every 20 minutes for the ENTIRE first day, we took her to the potty each time the timer played the song. And she would run excitedly to the potty when she heard it regardless of what she was in the middle of doing.

12. I watched FAR TOO MANY YouTube videos about going potty. FAR TOO MANY. I have been singing the “Poop Song” for days. But I found this to be a REALLY fabulous encouragement piece. It also reminds them what they’re doing but also relaxes them and makes them feel like everyone is doing it and they should too. I will provide links to a few of the videos Mattelyn really liked and two that worked in my next post. Especially the Potty Dance!

You will notice some things that AREN’T part of the Starting Line-up:

1. Pull-ups. As the author of the book mentioned above states, offering a potty training toddler a Pull-up is like giving a candy bar to a person that is dieting and telling them to eat healthy and sensibly. It sends the wrong message, not to mention a confusing message. We opted to go sans undies and let the pee pee flow…

2. A Potty Watch. I was all about the potty watch. I liked the idea that it makes them feel independent. It has a timer that plays nursery rhymes and reminds them in 30, 60 or 90 minute increments that it’s time to go potty which is critical in potty training. However, more reviews I read than not said much like with everything else in a toddler’s world, they are super cool for the first 1/2 hour and then they are old news. Skip the potty watch and save the $20. 

3. M&Ms, stickers, charts, piggy banks and money. None of these for incentives. The incentives we use are “Good Job!”, “Such a big girl!” Flushing the toilet and washing hands.  A phone call for a quick FaceTime with someone special (their choice) and a picture of her on the potty to send out (via text message) that she designs the background of on smart phone with the pic collage app for first time going potty in the potty chair and for everyone she does number two. 

Wish me luck!!! I would LOVE to hear what was included in your starting line-up! Please share and follow this next journey in parenthood with me. I find it to be a challenge that I think Mattelyn and I are BOTH up for. Stay tuned for guaranteed hardships and funny stories….

XO ~ Stephanie

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To Potty Train or Not To Potty Train…

To potty train or not to potty train (right now), that is the question. When I mention potty training, I am always met with the same response, “Is she ready?? She is only 24 months old.” Let’s put it this way, she comes to me to say, “Mama, I pee pee,” while holding onto herself. She wakes from naps with a dry diaper – not all of the time – but some of the time. She sits on her potty chair whenever ANYONE goes to the bathroom. She is fascinated by “flushing” and “wiping” and knows when she has gone poo poo, “Mama, I go poo poo,” and walks funny to come tell me – she thinks it’s yucky and stinky. She asks to get down from her high chair when she needs to go while she is eating. This girl is ready, from the idea or concept aspect of going potty on the potty, and not in her diaper. She is verbalizing it and it’s becoming a nuisance to her. But is it too soon from a physical and emotional standpoint? My answer: I don’t know for sure. 

My mom said I was potty trained somewhere around 18-19 months, right before the arrival of my baby brother. Her mom, my maternal grandma (God rest her soul), potty trained me in a weekend. My mom doesn’t recall any part of it only to know that she potty trained me and it was one less thing they had to do before my brother came into the picture. I find it interesting because I, too, began thinking of potty training Mattelyn around 18 months, before the arrival of the twins. She was showing signs but I read it’s too much to train a baby with a big change about to occur in their life, for example – a new baby or moving to a new home. 

So we waited. And I ordered a book on potty training and read a hundred blogs about different experiences. Most of which concur that two years is a pretty good age to begin but three years seems to have a better success rate. I also read that the United States, Great Britain and Russia are the only countries that ritually allow potty training to be child-driven or child-led when the child is ready. Other countries begin at 6 months by holding their child over a latrine and making a hissing sound to encourage a natural flow of pee and are potty trained by one year of age. My initial thinking was at 18 months, there are less chances of an argument (because their communication is limited), their ability to reason rationally and maturity level isn’t developed, and I felt they were just more malleable. I thought at that age the use of candy or stickers wouldn’t really matter much to them and it would be a more similar process to Pavlov’s conditioned response training. But the more people I talked to, the more I began to realize maybe all of my rationale didn’t make as much sense as I thought. I am a new mom and the only thing I know for sure is, the coined phrase “The Terrible Twos” was hitting our little girl quickly and she is a force to be reckoned with. 

I have also heard many moms say, “He who coined the phrase ‘the terrible twos’ hadn’t had a three year old yet.” So I am really curious from any of my fellow mommy or daddy followers, what do you think is the perfect age to begin potty training? If you had it to do over again, what age would you start? What are some good pointers or learnings you have to share? My next post discusses my decision to begin and how I went about preparing for it. Geez there’s a lot to think about to prepare her to be successful in this journey – likely one of the first hardest of many we will encounter together. 

XO ~ Stephanie

Capturing Fleeting Moments in a Lifestyle Photo Shoot

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“The days are so long but the years are so short.”

Just ask any mother or father. But especially a mom or dad of multiples! The days are SO LONG but geez, in a blink of the eye, my newborn twin sons are 3 months old. I scheduled a lifestyle photo shoot with one of the most lovely photographers I’ve ever met, Stephanie Kelley of Stephanie Kelley Photography here in Chicago. (Click Here to view our gallery on her blog). I HESITATED because our life is CHAOS right now and inviting someone into your home to not only WITNESS the chaos, but to be part of it for a morning and to CAPTURE it as well, I guess you can say sounds like a terrible idea. But it was one of THE BEST IDEAS I’ve ever followed through with no matter how many I times I felt like calling her and saying, there is just NO WAY I can possibly make this work! But these fleeting moments are just those – gone in the blink of an eye. This time period, the first year, with twin boys and a toddler and live-in grandparents will be here and GONE. And that time won’t ever be mine to have again when I feel like I’m not as tired or can handle it better. No, it’s here and it’s NOW. I knew that I wanted to have a view of this life to look back on because right now, in the midst of it all, things are happening and it is just surreal. Time is flying by and life is happening and I’m just SURVIVING, THRIVING, I’m not LIVING in the moment. I want to see later in my life that I WAS THERE and I was enjoying myself. And everything was just fine and we were making it work. And so, I wanted to share with my followers the BEAUTIFUL, can’t-say-enough wonderful things about, gallery of photos this fabulous photographer gifted us. Her innate ability to connect and pull through the very essence of our lives right now from behind the lens is magnificent. Not only that, but she surprised my husband and I with a lovely (and truly touching) tribute to our session on her photography blog. I can’t wait to receive the photo gallery from her and I would love to tell each of you if you ever are on the fence as to whether you should try a lifestyle shoot and forgo the studio and pay the little extra to have someone come to your house to shoot, take a look at this and you will see exactly why it’s the BEST idea for capturing a moment in time. Especially the tender moments with babies and a toddler. (And maybe with a reluctant husband as well!)

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I also have to share what my dear father said when he looked through the gallery of photos Stephanie Kelley shot,

“Stephanie Kelley unquestionably has an amazing gift in her photography skills. It is a mystery to me how she is able to evoke what would seem to be looks into her subject’s very soul. I could not help but think so many of the photos of the babies beautiful faces seemed to convey a maturity far beyond their youth. Extremely moving and evocative. Absolute genius on both sides of the lens! God bless my beautiful daughter and her precious, precious family! How fortunate I am to have lived to meet your babies!”

I wholeheartedly agree with my dad. Her work is magnificent. Part of why I am in awe of her is her persevering in spite of the challenges she faces with MS. (Read about Multiple Sclerosis here and find ways to support finding a cure like I do). I find it simply astounding that she looks adversity in the eye and fulfills her love of photography (and making people genuinely happy) and provides her clients with these delicious moments in time with so much ambition and attention to detail when it is so hard on her physically to do each shoot she does. She really truly cares about her clients and who they are and helps each of us to capture (and write) our own story – the story that is our life.

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http://www.stephkelleyphotography.com/skp/family-bartlett-family-lifestyle-photographer

(Don’t) Cry Over Spilled Milk…

Bottles - color-coded for different ounces and times of day for different baby.

Bottles – color-coded for different ounces and times of day for different baby.

Breast feeding is FREE. It’s free if you don’t consider mom’s time spent doing it valuable. I spend 30 minutes four to five times in a 24 hour period pumping for milk to nourish my twin boys. That’s well over 2.5 hours just pumping. And that doesn’t include washing bottles and the bottle systems  – two of each, eight times a day – (in fragrance-free, 100% natural, organic, baby-safe dish detergent with tiny, hard-to-keep-track-of, annoying nipple and bottle brushes). And then there is the preparation of the formula for supplementing what I am short that day. It also doesn’t include “getting ready” to breast feed and all of the paraphernalia that goes along with it.
But it’s SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
Bottle Mess

Buy the plastic “drying grass” for bottles and bottle systems – way better than the towel!

I find it fascinating that I can produce the *PERFECT* food for my tiny newborn twin boys. Perfect because it is the easiest food for their “new” digestive systems to digest. It’s known to reduce a baby’s risk of developing allergiesasthmaeczema, ear infections, obesitydiabetes, heart disease, sudden infant death and diminished intelligence, as well as protecting mothers from breast cancer. It actually helps boost intelligence in children later in life. So why wouldn’t I at least give it my best shot to provide at least SOME of this goodness to my twin boys? I breast fed my daughter  for 11 months until she weaned herself. I am not one of those moms that beats myself up over exclusively breastfeeding. I simply DO WHAT I CAN DO. And I am living with that. I can’t produce like a cow. I have to supplement with some amount of formula daily. And I work my butt off to get all that I can get! Some women are blessed with an endless supply of milk and can pump and pump and freeze and store their milk. Some women could feed a litter of babies with such amazing ability to produce milk. And that’s just it – all women are different when it comes to breast feeding. It doesn’t matter the size of your boobs, either. It is much like having an innate talent to play the piano or the drums – some women are talented at producing milk. I don’t believe breast feeding is the “end all, be all” that some doctors and the media, lactation groups and mommy blogs want you to believe it is. “Breast is best” for babies whose mamas believe it to be best. Many women choose not to breast feed for a multitude of reasons and every reason is a perfect reason because it is UP TO EACH MOM INDIVIDUALLY and is NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS. It is the mom’s ultimate decision to breast feed or not and her decision SHOULD BE 100% RESPECTED. It also shouldn’t be something anyone has to defend. It’s your decision and that’s the final word. It doesn’t mean you love your baby any more or less that you do or don’t breast feed.
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Carson is white and Maxton is blue. Color coded helped me and whoever was assisting me with nighttime feedings. They weren’t always the same weight so they would sometimes drink different amounts – 2oz vs. 2.5oz, for example.

I pump around 40 – 70 ounces a day. In the beginning, it was such a daunting task to be faced with – one that I fought to accomplish and STILL after three months have to fight for daily and nightly. Not to mention when I stayed in the hospital for four days after my c-section and the babies needed to eat every two hours all day and all night, I asked that they be brought to me to at least make sure they latched on before EVERY FEEDING. BOTH OF THEM. And then I would pump for a half hour. Even though I would only get less than a tablespoon of colostrum. The reason I did this was two-fold: I wanted to make sure my body knew what it was in for. Producing milk for two couldn’t be taken lightly, I felt. And I really wanted to be able to nurse them tandem at home to save time and for bonding. So to generate milk supply and ensure they would latch.
The Udder Cover nursing cover-up

The Udder Cover nursing cover-up

Their suckling wasn’t strong enough to nourish them before they would get tired because they were only 37 weeks and very tiny. So we gave them formula for the hospital stay until my milk came in. Once they were big enough to nurse, it was too much work on my part to get them to latch again. I spent a week working on nursing with them and I realized I just didn’t have time because I was exhausted from no sleep and a GRUELING feeding schedule and had to spend my time and calories producing the milk; not worrying that they wouldn’t latch on and nurse every single time. So I pumped and bottle fed them and still do to this day. I never accomplish producing exactly what I need for the entire day so I supplement with formula about 25% formula per bottle to 75% breast milk. Somedays it is 50-50. Other days it’s 80% – 20%. But never under 50% breast milk. And they have each received one all formula bottle once since they have been home.
Colostrum in the hospital Day Two

Colostrum in the hospital Day Two

When someone adds into the “benefits of breast feeding” that it is “FREE,” I just cringe. It is the biggest sacrifice. It is a time suck. And it is a pain in the ass. Not to mention, the guilt and constant beating yourself up over it.
Do you know how much water you have to drink to produce 70 ounces of breast milk in a day? If you are like me, I promise you every ounce of anything I drink or eat goes to milk production. So much so that I rarely go to the bathroom; I am constipated and never pee. I have headaches all the time and I feel so incredibly parched, it’s not even jokingly amusing. Drinking water to stave off contractions when I was pregnant with the twins was overwhelming. I got up to 140 ounces a day. I still do that now PLUS everything else I drink (and add in a few more ounces of water on top of that). And my own thirst is never quenched. I am now to the point that I don’t want water anymore, but I have to drink it. And I have always loved water. It gives the babies a tummy ache, terrible gas and fussiness if I have garlic or onion, anything spicy, ice cream, yogurt, milk shakes or a glass of milk. I will plan not to go somewhere because I have to pump. I will forgo going out to dinner because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to pump for the babies’ meal. I limit my caffeine intake. I never get Starbucks and if I do, I don’t get what I really want. The aching of my breasts when I am walking around and full, sucks. Especially when Matt decides to hug me extra hard or a baby cries or Mattelyn decides to kick me while I’m changing her diaper and I haven’t pumped or I need to pump – all reasons my boobs hurt. (Also when two wet spots inconveniently show up on my shirt because my milk let down). I can’t run or jog comfortably – (I’m not supposed to at this point anyway but in another month or so I plan to). EVERYTHING I do affects my milk supply. If I get stressed out (hmmm, that’s way too easy), if I get really upset over something (I’m post-partum and hormonal!), if I miss a meal or a snack, if I fail to pump at the 4 hour mark, if I shower or use a hot pad, if the babies schedule is off at all or if my two-year-old’s schedule is off, if I don’t get a good night sleep (laughable!!), if we have company or if I am out and I fail to pump as often as I should. (The only bathrooms that have mother’s rooms decent enough to sit in for 30 minutes are Nordstrom’s, Von Maur and the BMW dealership. If you’re at Target, Kohls or Macys, or at a restaurant, chances are, you need to just pump in your car. Public restrooms are disgusting and always smell like someone just used the public bathroom to let go of everything they didn’t want to do at home! It is sad to breastfeed your daughter in a hot mess of a bathroom like I have had to do. Pumping is the same. There are no electrical outlets available even if you bring your pump with you. And lets face it – no matter breastfeeding or pumping – you’re going to get funny looks. It’s sad but true). And let’s not forget that I also miss out on the occasional social hour cocktail! And the itchiness and pain of just pumping, in general! And finding the half hour to do it. That half hour AFTER I have fed the babies at midnight and I have to stay up an hour later to pump and then make bottles. Or the half hour I want desperately to go back to bed in the early morning after that feeding but before Mattelyn wakes up – I never can because I have to pump. And I always have to have someone watching Mattelyn and the babies while I pump so one of the babies isn’t hurt while I am held captive, hooked up to the machine. And all the apparatuses that go along with the pump that always need cleaning. And we can’t forget the “udder cover” and the cone-like attachments which make it impossible to just “answer the knock at the front door” appropriately. I also suffer with losing baby weight when I breast feed. I have an extra 15-20 pounds that linger because I want to make milk for my babies. I hear over and over again, “She is breast feeding and the baby weight is just MELTING AWAY…” Not so with me! Sure, I am expending 700 calories A DAY producing milk for two. But I am also eating to do so. It again depends on the woman. Everyone is different. I actually gained weight breastfeeding my daughter. For what ever reason, my body still thinks I am pregnant and holds onto the weight while I breast feed.
The list goes on and on.
Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold

So basically, for the next 6 months at least, I will miss going out to dinner, going shopping, I’ll say no to ice cream and yogurt, skip chips and salsa and my favorite enchiladas, forgo any and all cocktail hours, most social gatherings outside of my house, walk around with an extra 15-20 pounds of baby weight, leak on my shirts, drink 5 gallons of water a day, stay up too late, get up too early, my boobs will ache, I won’t get to run or jog, I’ll look haggard. And at one in the morning after pumping so that I have enough milk produced to not have to supplement with formula that morning, I will spill ALL that I did and sacrificed for on the kitchen counter and on the floor with one tip of the bottle from an overly tired, overwhelmed mom of 93 day old twins. And that won’t happen just once. (So far it’s happened three times).
But in the end, it’s providing my babies with what I know to be the best I can provide. This is temporary, too. My chance to feed my babies from my own breast is such a small amount of time in life and I cherish this gift I’ve been given and the privilege it is to have this option and opportunity. And, it is still fascinating to me that I can nourish my babies with my own body! What a miracle! It makes me feel at one with nature and with the whole “we’re all connected” idea.
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Almost three months old! Carson and Maxton showing their ever growing personalities.

So, go ahead and cry over spilled milk. It’s spilled liquid gold. And if you consider for a moment sopping it up with a paper towel and squeezing it into a bottle, we’ll all know and understand why. And the next time someone says breastfeeding is free, well, it depends on who is doing the pumping or nursing, I would say…
Spilled Liquid Gold.

Spilled Liquid Gold.

XO ~ Stephanie

The Jealous Older Sibling, The Terrible Twos and My Sweet Baby Girl….

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Mattelyn 22 months and Maxton 2 months

Bringing the twin boys home sent my 22 month old daughter’s life into a total tizzy. I wondered and worried like all mamas about bringing a new baby home from the hospital. And then I worried more about bringing two home when we found out at the second ultra sound we would be bringing home TWINS. I actually cried when we found out, worried for my little girl. You see, she was my everything and I was HERS and hers alone. I would rock my baby girl to sleep every night and we would talk about our day and sing songs. We made breakfast together and we planted flowers and went on long walks. We played and swam and colored. We danced and danced and ran outside and danced some more. I am blessed to stay at home with her and I know it! I took this PRIVILEGE to heart and worked my hardest to make sure I was doing the best job at the most important job of my life. And now I was faced with bringing in another baby and sharing my Mattelyn time with him or her and I couldn’t imagine how she was going to react. It scared me and made me feel guilt like I had never experienced. It actually would make me panic and feel like I could be sick. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I would sit and rock her with my huge tummy and major pregnancy hormones raging with tears just streaming down my face as I pictured new babies and my inability to care for them all at once. I would try not to let her see my sadness but it was real.

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Mattelyn and me 19 weeks pregnant with the twins

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My darling Mattelyn. My heart!!!!

I am not telling you anything you don’t already know or haven’t felt but I wanted to share with you what I lost sight of and it almost makes me sick that I didn’t notice.

I was a little insane with worry about my daughter’s well-being before I had the babies. I had my maternity photo shoot with my daughter and made the focus on her and the beauty of our relationship before the boys arrived. I wanted to be sure she knew that she made me the mommy I am today and made it possible for us to bring her brothers into this world for her. I made her a book of our photos that she can look at forever and wrote her a letter telling her exactly how I feel so she would always know how important that time of my life with her was. I want her to know she is my first born and my only little girl. I treasure her little companionship and I will love her to the moon and back for always and forever.

This is my maternity photo shoot with my daughter Mattelyn when she was 17 months old and I was 22 weeks pregnant. I wanted to celebrate the time I had with her one-on-one and the fact that she is who made me a mommy, while also celebrating the twin pregnancy.

This is my maternity photo shoot with my daughter Mattelyn when she was 17 months old and I was 22 weeks pregnant. I wanted to celebrate the time I had with her one-on-one and the fact that she is who made me a mommy, while also celebrating the twin pregnancy.

Lighthouse Beach, Evanston, IL ~  Just outside of Chicago. Liz Franco Photography, Chicago Fine Art Portrait Photographer. Toddler and Maternity dresses by Abby Bella Couture.

Lighthouse Beach, Evanston, IL ~ Just outside of Chicago. Liz Franco Photography, Chicago Fine Art Portrait Photographer. Toddler and Maternity dresses by Abby Bella Couture.

The look is undeniable when your baby recognizes that the new babies are there to stay. It doesn’t matter what anyone says to prepare you and what you imagine it will feel like is not even close to how terrible it really feels. Witnessing her little face when she realized, “This is real; they were ours and they’re not going anywhere,” is forever burned in my mind, heart and soul. They feel replaced. They feel left out. Their little perfect worlds are TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. And now they have to share you. What do you do??? How can you reason with a toddler who can’t even talk to let her know you are giving her a lifetime best friend? That it is extremely important and they will be in each other’s lives longer than any other person?

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Learning how to incorporate morning play in short increments.

I read books and blogs about how she was going to feel and tactics that can help prepare me to help make the transition smoother and what to do in the hospital and in the household upon returning home with the babies. Give her a gift in the hospital from you and your husband, bring a bag of activities that she can play with that are special for the hospital only, give her a gift (to give to the twins) from her, give her baby dolls that will be “her babies” so she can mimic mommy, be lenient with rules, etc. Show her “Big Sister” t-shirts to wear proudly. Read the books written for toddlers that are about bringing a new baby into the home from their perspective. Let her play in “brothers’ nursery” and allow her to lay down in her brothers’ cribs. Don’t make big changes for your toddler when you bring the babies home, such as trying to potty train or ending the use of a bottle or stop being rocked at nap time. We did it all – and MORE. There wasn’t anything we DIDN’T do. For the first two weeks we were home with the babies, both sets of grandparents were here – talk about every child’s dream situation!

And honestly at first, I thought I had dodged a bullet with her. Mattelyn didn’t have a terrible reaction like I was told she would, with the exception of a few mean looks and not wanting to go with me but rather grandma – and when isn’t that all normal behavior anyway? We all held our breath as she walked into the hospital room where I stayed for four days after my c-section. I was warned she would be angry, wouldn’t want to look at me, wouldn’t want to hug or kiss me. And she didn’t do that – she almost ran to me and sat on the bed next to me and looked at her gifts. She sat on my lap and allowed me to hold her. She was just fine. For about four weeks.

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Our household has been complete chaos since bringing home the twins – not one part of the old routine is in place other than eating, but Mattelyn has had plenty of love and family around.

There is always a grandma here taking care of her (lucky girl) and we have had visitors every week and on weekends, grandpas come. She has been the center of everyone’s attention.

The big change I noticed began a couple weeks ago, a month after bringing them home. After she finally realized, “These babies are here to stay,” it was a difficult moment and I saw it in her eyes. Everything “clicked” and she saw RED. Her anger was out of control. She is 22 months old and the “terrible-twos” have definitely kicked in. She throws books, bites, hits, smacks, pulls hair, kicks HARD and has full-blown temper tantrums multiple times daily. She will do ANYTHING for attention now, including jumping off of the staircase landing to the floor and jumping on and climbing on all the furniture. Scariest of all, she tries to open hand smack the babies every chance she gets. They are so tiny and I mean hitting with the force of a seven-year-old boy on a playground pissed that someone just took his toy truck. No kidding. She pulls their pacifiers out of their mouths while they’re sleeping. She pushes their swings extra hard and tries to climb on the swings or tip them over.

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There have been so many close calls, I have to keep such a close eye on her AT ALL TIMES. She cannot be left alone EVER. Open-hand slapping with all her might is just the tip of the iceberg. She’s an ace at book flinging – hard board books fly through the air with the same force as a runner kicking off sweaty tennis shoes. Everything has become a weapon and toys and sippy cups full of apple juice are like grenades. I *wince* when she gets up in the morning and comes running, screaming, with wild, crazy eyes, like a rabid dog, into the living room where I am either pumping and holding the babies or where they are swinging. She also has been kicking and hitting our dog Mikki who is her best friend, (which was one of the early signs for me – she is going to hit the boys). Lately she has come to despise to despise the boys and me. If I walk into the kitchen when she’s in her high chair eating lunch or breakfast carrying a baby, she flings all of her food on the floor. She has begun role playing and has made two of her dolls “her twins.” She pats them like she’s burping them, she pretend feeds them, sings to them, carries them around, pretends to give them medicine, she even lays on the floor and coos and pats their heads and swings them. She lays them down to sleep. She also slaps them, throws them, steps on their heads, pulls their hair, throws them during temper tantrums, whacks their heads against the floor and the wall, pokes their eyes out, shakes them with a rage of fury while giggling hysterically, and gets downright angry with them, babbling baby talk – but real mean.

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She has also become the queen of sweet deception, walking up to me while I am holding a baby, placing her little hand on his arm and looking right at me making sweet faces and takes her other hand and plants one right on his face and runs away LAUGHING. My heart goes into my stomach as I realize I HAVE A REAL PROBLEM. She is PISSED OFF! And, she is really going to end up hurting the boys if I don’t somehow gain control. I feel so sorry for her as she has no other way to tell me she is angry and JEALOUS. She is hurt and slapping a baby gets an immediate reaction from me and everyone surrounding her.I don’t want her upset and going through this everyday. It’s exhausting to me and to her.

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I immediately went back to my books and Websites and blogs to read about how to deal with a biter. I read about toddlers that take out their frustrations on the new babies at home. I learned what to say when she threw books at the babies and what to do when she hurls her sippy cups into their cribs. I read from the “Toddler Whisperer” for sound advice on punishment that is effective and read about how to comfort the hurt feelings of a toddler. I solicited advice from family and friends, blogs and books, Websites and magazines. We began time outs, face-to-face talking at her level, removing her from a situation and flat out yelling (yes, that occurred when we were just afraid she was about to seriously hurt the baby!)

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been SO BUSY and SO CONSUMED by the babies, getting them on a schedule, paying attention to breast feeding and pumping, trying to stay awake, that I realized I was over looking the root of the problem and reacting to the symptoms.

She wants me. She wants her mommy. Not all day long, but as a reminder that she’s still mine and important beyond belief to me.

My sister-in-laws were the first I approached about her behavior and they both said to begin the day with something that we’ve always done that she is used to and will accept as our time. My toddler can’t talk yet to tell me she’s angry at me. She can just REACT and expect attention from us.

Every morning I have been going to get my darling when she awakes and starts babbling in her crib. I greet her first and she still does all the same things typical two year olds do like kicking when I try to dress her or change her pants. But she’s also adorably sweet and kisses her stuffed animals and wonderfully inquisitive about life outside her window and loves to skim her latest favorite book to read. I get a quick kiss and hug in first thing, too. We then go downstairs to say hi to Grandma (and the babies) and then I fix her breakfast. It’s a little more work on my part and on the part of my mom to be able to break away for that amount of time in the morning with pumping, bottle cleaning and making and then feedings. But we plan for it. We work around it (and get less sleep!) because of it.

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The temper tantrums are cut in HALF. The terrible book throwing has STOPPED and the screaming fits and all of the craziness when she is about to get angry has calmed WAY DOWN. She still wants to try to smack the babies but now, when we are tandem feeding, she will sit next to me or Grandma and read books and watch TV without all of the need for negative attention. And she is role playing in the nicer way much more often now. She also wants to touch her brothers and sit with them. She wants to take a picture here and there with them and I am getting smacked, bitten and hair pulled a lot less often. This didn’t change everything but it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD for my daughter. I haven’t needed to punish her or use any of the tactics I read about. Crazy, right? It was all in the approach to the whole problem. Looking at the cause instead of how to deal with her reactions (the symptoms) was so important and key.

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I can’t say I blame my baby girl. Man did it take me the hard way to learn!!! And I just thought if I could share with you, maybe you would recognize it sooner than I did and incorporate something first thing in the morning that is part of their regular routine to make your toddler understand how much you still love them, are always there for them and still remain a huge part of their life even if there are other babies now. Because in the end, it is really quite wonderful to know that she just needed ME. Her mommy. ((Tears))

It’s made all the difference in the world!

XO ~ Stephanie

It’s Survival. Simply, SURVIVAL.

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My sons. My twin sons. It still doesn’t “roll off my tongue.” It seems surreal and just as every single mother of twins told me before they were born, it’s true – we are in survival mode and time is flying by. And I’m not sitting in my rocking chair, watching them quietly nurse while listening to the lullaby channel on Pandora, imagining what they will look like when they’re older and daydreaming where they’ll go to college. I’m not watching them during tummy time with my camera, carefully placing cute toys around them for a picture perfect shot. I don’t gather adorable outfits in the morning to dress and undress them just for fun because they are only tiny newborns ONCE. And I haven’t put them in their cribs to see how tiny they look in such big, masculine wood beds. I don’t get to video during their baths and basque in the wonderful baby lotion moments of cooing and smiles after bath time. Once they’re asleep, I’m not making phone calls to friends and family, doing dishes and laundry or vacuuming the family room or play area. I’m not even playing dress up with my almost two year old toddler. I’m not fixing my daughter lunches and snacks or going to the park to play. I am not showering or sewing or taking online photography courses or freelancing. I’m not fixing healthy dinners for my tired, commuting husband, taking photos of him lovingly holding our babies. I’m not working out or taking long walks with my newborns so they get fresh air like I did every single day for my daughter. Nope. I am pumping, pumping MORE and pumping again, 24 hours a day, making bottles, washing bottles, drinking water, eating anything I have a chance to eat, changing poopy blowout diapers, getting spit-up on, and I mean REALLY spit-up on, rocking a baby, passing him off to my mom, rocking another baby, swaddling, putting into a swing. Falling asleep while overnight feeding, or during Sesame Street in the morning. They cry – all the time, someone is crying. I pick one up, give him gas relief drops, feed him his bottle, change his diaper, get peed on, change his clothes, re-swaddle him, block my toddler daughter’s karate punch to my son’s tiny back, turn to catch her just-hurled baby board book that is headed for the other twin’s face. I tell her sweet, little, overly-concerned and angry face that we shouldn’t throw books or hit babies but let her know I understand how she feels and why she is reacting the way she is and tell her I love her and try to give her a much needed hug. She pulls my hair and open hand smacks my face as hard as she can. She kicks me and runs off to hug my mom instead of me. When it’s time for bed and my husband has bathed my daughter, my mom has rocked and fed a baby, I have pumped and rocked and fed a baby, my daughter goes down for the night and my husband kisses me goodnight and tells me he feels guilty to tell me goodnight when he knows I won’t sleep. It’s dark and I finish making their nighttime bottles and realize I will be up with the coyotes’ howls during the night, with my husband’s alarm clock in the morning and will hear the cries in the middle of the night from my daughter who needs her mommy but I am on the pump or stuck downstairs feeding a baby. Life with twins sure is different. I feel blessed I had my daughter as a singleton first to know what it’s really like to have a newborn. Because this truly is survival right now. And every picture I manage to snap is a reminder of a moment in time I wish I could’ve enjoyed individually with each of them a little longer but couldn’t. I am sure in the blink of an eye they’ll be graduating high school and this blur will be the pictures I have snapped. And I will be happy with that and will look at each picture happily remembering the craziness during this time in our lives.
XO ~ Stephanie

The twins, seven weeks old (gestationally, 4 weeks old), Maxton William and Carson Armin with their 22-month old big sister Mattelyn Lovae.

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We Almost Lost Him…

We Almost Lost Him

Mattelyn and Twins Christmas 201412

Many people make the comment that I’m a good mother. I try to be. I try with all my might to be. I want nothing but the best and the most for my babies. Isn’t that what all parents want for their children? When I started this blog, the main purpose was to pass on information that other new moms like me might be struggling with finding answers to. Not because I had THE answer or the RIGHT answer, but because everything I had searched for, read or come across wasn’t what worked for me, and if I could pass along something that DID work for me, then why not share so someone else may garner the same results? I also enjoy writing and journaling – and this was a way to share my love of babies, children, being creative, photography, gardening, small home repairs, recipes and everyday learnings. I am not an outright advocate of anything particular except for making choices in your life that make you happy and thinking of other people and their happiness and well-being. I also like keeping a record of things and journaling my feelings at a moment in time. Often this is done through my photos but with the onset of social media, with Facebook and Blogging, Instagram, Etsy, Flikr, etc., it appears I’m not the only one that feels this way! I like capturing what my life is like. It may not be of interest to others, but to me, it’s everything. And I like to print my blog and have it so my children can read it when they get older if they so wish. I know I would have LOVED to read about my mom’s life when I was little; to know her wishes and dreams for me. I don’t have but a few hundred followers but of those followers, each have friends and family with pregnant mom-to-be’s. And if this can reach each of my followers and they tell each of their friends, then I will have told at least a few hundred people and maybe, just maybe, this could help save another baby’s life.

Maxton William

Maxton William

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Maxton William 7 Weeks

Maxton William 7 Weeks


I digress but needed to give background t o the TRUE reason for this post today. Not because I’m an expert or because I think I know all. But for the following reasons. I have meant to write this since the day I saved one of the twins life. This was by far, BY FAR, the SCARIEST moment of my life – – and I have had scary moments! I was in a roll over accident where the car flipped three times and friends of mine were thrown from it when I was 16 years old. I have had a panic attack that sent me to the hospital. I climbed the highest church steep in Europe in January with snow and ice covered cobble stone stairs, holding on for dear life to a railing that was loose and looked as old as the church itself, just to witness the Danube from afar. I have stood in front of a large conference and given talks, been on live TV, I have been in pageants in my swimsuit, I have been down a drag strip on the floor board of a genuine race car, run until I passed out because I couldn’t breathe on the side of a road, been so sick I was hospitalized, battled anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia, I’ve been date raped, I’ve been through 14 hours of natural child birth, had two epidurals and given birth via c-section twice and once to twins. None of that may sound scary to you, but to me, those were up there as some of my scariest moments. But NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING compares to the level of SCARED or PARALYZED I felt that night.

Going home from the hospital.

Going home from the hospital.

When the twins were born, they were 37 weeks and one day exactly. They were and are considered FULL-TERM in all medical fields. I thought we were in the clear with beautiful healthy twin boys that delivered with no problems via c-section, with APGAR tests each of 9 and no need for the NIC-U at all. All was well. In the hospital, we were given the basic guidance you’re given for a newborn. Difference was, I had two 5lb newborns – and one was close enough to 4lbs upon leaving that we had to have a car seat test performed with him in it for 90 minutes while his breathing was watched carefully. That’s it. Nothing different.

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The truth is, at 37 weeks, they are considered late-term premature. They have little things that I was unaware of that are referred to as “a manifestation of prematurity,” (boy if I had a hundred dollars for each time I heard that these past few months I’d have a good start to their college funds).

Things like premature tear ducts that get mucus covered and their eyes seal shut. Tiny, smaller than a straw, sized esophagus’s that prematurely spasm and close up on them while eating or coughing or with hiccups. There is a long list that I plan to share eventually as well – things that ANYONE with a premature baby should know but aren’t necessarily told. But at 37 weeks, they aren’t considered premature because they’re twins. Following me here???

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At 7pm on a Saturday evening in December, about a week before Christmas, when the twins were barely three weeks old, my mom and I had just finished feeding the boys and they were laid in their crib, next to each other, on their backs, in a swaddle – all compliant with doctor’s orders and everything you’re told upon having a newborn in 2014. We have a monitor, a Samsung monitor, hung directly above their heads above their crib. Some might think overkill, but we want to be able to see them while they sleep. It had been about 7 minutes since we laid them down and walked to the kitchen. Mind you, the room is only ten feet away, the doors were open, it was me, my parents, my 22-month-old daughter and my husband getting ready to eat dinner. I hadn’t eaten dinner with anyone since I went to the hospital December 4th. I was going to get my plate of food and go back to their room. Upon turning around, I noticed Twin A madly moving his head back and forth. I thought for a moment that I was seeing something that wasn’t there BECAUSE THERE WAS NO SOUND. I told my husband it looked like he was in trouble. He ran back to the room and swept him up and yelled he’s choking. He handed him to me, blue in the face, not even gasping, eyes rolled back in his head, spit up all over his face. He was choking on his own spit up. He had been fighting and couldn’t fight anymore. I flipped him over in my arms, patted his back, I flipped him back over and proceeded to do the baby Heimlich then when that didn’t work I tried to give him mouth-to-mouth. Nothing was working. I was crying, screaming “He is DYING PEOPLE, HELP ME, DO SOMETHING!!!!” My husband was calling 911. My mom grabbed the nose aspirator that they were given in the hospital and my dad tore off the wrapper and I stuck it down his throat after several attempts to put my finger down his throat. I was scared I was hurting him but feared he was dead anyway. I pumped it twice and he coughed. HE COUGHED. I cried even harder and watched him try to breathe. He was beside himself but BREATHING. Then the paramedics arrived.

TERRIBLE STORY. TRUE STORY. I am sitting here typing this, reliving his tiny little body in my hands and I was panicked to do ANYTHING. He was dying and there was nothing I could do. He was blue, eyes rolled back in his head and unresponsive. How was I going to live with myself? How could I have been entrusted with beautiful healthy twin boys by God and allowed him to die in my hands by doing what I was told by putting him on his back?

I want to pass along to everyone:

  1. The Samsung Monitor turns ON from a black screen when there is SOUND or MOTION in the room. Although we couldn’t hear anything, because Maxton was choking, we saw the monitor blink on and I saw him moving his head violently.

    Samsung Video Baby Monitor

    Samsung Video Baby Monitor

  2. A 37-week old twin IS STILL PREMATURE. His esophagus was too small and when he spit up, his esophagus spasmed and when he tried to get a breath, he began choking. A newborn PERIOD needs 24 hour watch and care. A premature newborn needs EXTRA watching in the very beginning. Even being fed too much could have lead to his spit up and ultimately his choking.
  3. Put your baby on his or her back. My biggest question was still, “Why on his back? Look what just happened!!!!” And over and over again we were told on their back is still the safest.
  4. After almost two minutes, he began to breathe. I can’t imagine (because I’ve TORTURED myself with it) what would have happened if we didn’t have that monitor on them, if I had just walked away for FIVE MINUTES and he laid there choking to death, literally, next to his brother and I couldn’t have done anything and all I had done was EVERYTHING I WAS TOLD TO DO, including feeding him the amount I was feeding him – straight from the hospital nurses mouths.
  5. We didn’t put them in a separate room from the living room from that point on. Wherever I was for the rest of the month, they were RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I don’t think I slept with an eye closed from that point on.
  6. They were put on apnea monitors after this episode and another scary episode the day before with Carson in his carseat on the way to a doctor’s appointment. This is a WHOLE DIFFERENT POST I plan to write. I think an apnea monitor no matter how premature the baby is is NECESSARY. Because even if they are breathing just fine on their own, there are MANISFESTATIONS OF PREMATURITY that play into your baby’s life.

    Apnea Monitors

    Apnea Monitors

  7. As a mother or a father, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Do whatever it takes and know you did what you could. In a moment like that, I thought I was freaking out and losing it but I pulled through AND SAVED HIS LIFE. Trust yourself and never, ever doubt your instincts or ability.

I have wanted to get this posted for SO LONG now and tried to find the time to write it at least one hundred times. If this can help save a life, I am forever grateful.

XO ~ Stephanie