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

Quick Post! Such a Sweet Surprise!!  

  
I decided to leave the twins at home with grandma and run to the store with my daughter this morning. We have company coming this weekend and I need to get some things. My mom leaves me after 6 months with these three by myself next week! 😔 I am nervous about what this is going to be like. Trying to pick up, feed, put down for naps – all three of them. Not only am I worried, I am scared! It isn’t often I feel like I am going to have difficulty or be overwhelmed but this is one of those moments. I went out to the mini van (yes, it has come to that with three in car seats!!) and inside, my mom had placed the Twins’ car seats with newly handmade Car Seat Canopies – my exact style I had picked out, colors and all, and completely embroidered and sewn just like I had imagined.  

 I have been so busy trying to get everything done that I have had to completely take down my Etsy site where I sell these cutie designs! I was feeling so terrible like I was letting my babies down by not making them their own. I used mine like crazy with Mattelyn for an entire year (read about it here when I began making them for everyone I knew and decided to start selling them)! My mom is incredible. What can I say? I had THE WORST DAY YESTERDAY since the twins were really little newborns and I felt like the world was falling down. I felt like I just couldn’t do this. But this small gesture was exactly what I needed. Somehow mom’s know exactly what you need! I just hope to always do this for my babies too! Thanks again mom – I LOVE THEM!!! I LOVE YOU to the moon and back. You are my biggest inspiration!! Kisses!! 😘❤️

Have you had that day lately too? Have you had help with a newborn (or two, or three!) and can relate?? Would love to hear about it. 

XO ~ Stephanie

Quick Post! How To Get Your Toddler to Devour Veggies… 

QUICK POST! (Is there such a thing in the world of blogging?? I’m positive there is. And there is probably some cutesy term for it I’m not yet aware of). I don’t have a lot of time lately to blog about everything I want to, but this is something I think of sharing daily and never have time to. So here it is, quick and simple (which is difficult for me)!

I LOVE FRESH, STEAMED VEGGIES.

More than my love of fresh vegetables, I love watching my toddler devour a serving of vegetables! I also love FRESH FROZEN vegetables. Sounds like a dichotomy, right? How can you have fresh frozen veggies?? (Okay, okay – I have to say it up front – I am not commissioned to say this nor have I been asked – I just can’t express enough HOW MUCH I LOVE SCHWAN’S DELICIOUS FOOD and want to share! I really get behind products, services and establishments that I love and I have to rave about it to everyone I know! When I learn something really helpful or cool, I have to pass it on to all of my friends and family). I also love their amazing delivery service. And the CONVENIENCE. It’s actually more than their delicious food. It’s the QUALITY of their vegetables and the way they are packaged that I simply ADORE as a mommy cooking small amounts of veggies at a time, multiple times daily.

  They immediately FLASH FREEZE FRESH vegetables (and fruits) and it is apparent!

Never freezer burned or over cooked from the start. Your toddler will get the honest bold, fresh, wonderful flavor that fresh veggies have to offer. This is brilliant if you ask me. Serving veggies that actually TASTE GOOD provides them with a lifetime love of yummy veggies. Serving sub-par or overcooked frozen vegetables can be the worst. Soggy, over cooked (fill in the blank) is just GROSS and can actually turn a baby off for a long time. Broccoli florets, sweet corn, peas, green beans (best ever!), ears of corn, edamame, asparagus spears, carrots, brussel sprouts are all in economy sized bags (2lb bags!) frozen with a re-closeable top for around $5.50!

The zipper makes it incredibly easy to get out just the right portion per meal and the bag remains fresh for months.
And, I appreciate a delicious, fresh tasting veggie and so does my two year old. The convenience is amazing, the flavor is spot on, it always tastes super fresh and never frozen. The Schwans delivery service is superb and just what I need. The same dependable friendly driver EVERY WEEK. He knows me, my dog, knows my kids, knows my mom, knows to knock quietly and is always patient. (I can even text and tell him to come a little later). I pre-order online the night before or week before (and earn rewards points) and he arrives at my set delivery time every two weeks with my delivery. I can pre-pay and just sign when he gets there. It seriously can’t be beat as a stay at home mom.

The next can’t live without piece of the formula for delicious fresh veggies your toddler will love to devour?? A mini steamer made by Infantino, called the “Steam and Smush” – I LOVE THIS and use it three or four times daily! This little guy cooks frozen or fresh, one to three servings, by steaming perfectly every time. I just love it. LOVE IT. This is actually something I purchased to make my daughter fresh baby food with and I have continued using it (without the musher).

STEAM YOUR VEGETABLES!

The Infantino

Infantino “Steam and Smush”

Steamed vegetables are the best for getting nutrients directly when consumed. Steaming preserves all of the fresh taste and vitamins. Vitamins B and C are water soluble and lost during boiling. (60% of nutrients are lost to boiling while only 7% are lost when steaming, read more here about steaming veggies for making organic baby food in my blog). Have you ever tried to cook just a small amount of fresh or frozen veggies in the microwave? They burn almost instantly and taste terrible. This cooks the portion perfectly every time in my experience.

When I was a little one, my mom had an in-home child care center – not just drop kids off and let them watch TV while she did laundry and talked on the phone – no, my mom was a bonafide, certified child care provider, member of the home day care center network, the Food Program, Nutrition for Children, taught early learning and development, took babies and children on educational field trips and was just an all around amazing provider. She was my first introduction to proper nutrition, eating right, GOOD FOOD (she’s the best cook) and guess what? She always ordered vegetables from “The Schwans Man!” I recall delivery day VIVIDLY. I love every vegetable in the book. With the exception of olives. (Are they a vegetable really anyway or a nut???) I appreciate everything my mom has given me and taught me. This is one example of the thousands she set that I continue to follow!

So that’s my quick post. I haven’t written one before and I have many more to follow! I am interested in what YOU thought! How do you get your toddlers to eat veggies? How do you encourage a love of healthy foods with your babies? I want to share!

XO ~ Stephanie

FOLLOW, SHARE, LOVE!!!!

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

Twins.one.month-3

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.

IMG_6096

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

We go through 196 – 245 diapers a week just for the twins…

one.month.Twins.Mattelyn

I slept an hour and a half last night!

And I feel AMAZING! In literally 36 days, I haven’t slept a consecutive hour and a half during the night. Neither has my mom who has stayed with me since their C-section birth, (where she stayed with me in the hospital for four days while I INSISTED on breast feeding EVERY SINGLE FEEDING of the day AND night to be sure I established latching for both babies, every two hours). And last night, after a month now, I feel like we MAY have crossed a much needed goal line. Because after that hour and a half, I woke up, in complete disbelief, fed a baby, burped him, rocked him back to sleep, washed all of the dirty bottles and nipples and my breast pump attachments from the night feedings, cleaned the dishes left in the sink from the night before, folded laundry from their room left on the chair in the living room and kissed my husband good bye by 5am. All before passing my mom in the hall who had another baby ready for his bottle. Why? Because I felt like a ROCK STAR. And my mom agreed, she did too. Then we went on to have the discussion that maybe, JUST MAYBE, we might each get to have an additional hour if we staggered the next two feedings BEFORE my 22 month old daughter Mattelyn wakes up. MAYBE…

one.month.Twins.Mattelyn (3)

Mattelyn 22 month old big sister

This past month has been CRAZY. I intended to write about a TYPICAL night in the first two weeks of having twins. I AM going to do it because it is so important for others to read! If you can garner ANYTHING from what I have learned, finding the time/making the time to write this is ALL WORTH IT (as I sit at 3:30am pumping and typing)!! I have had so many surprises and I have learned SO MUCH that I didn’t know. And for all of you that know me personally and for those of you who’ve gotten to know me better through my blog, you know I am a planner and I like to know what to expect and be PREPARED. No such luck at all.

Maxton.Closeup.BabyAcne Carson.Closeup.Before.babyacne

There wasn’t enough preparing for the twins. There was just so much that no one told me, that couldn’t be planned for, that the doctors didn’t tell me, that I didn’t read about – and I read 8 books…not counting Websites and blogs…

I can’t believe it’s been ONE FULL MONTH since they arrived. I am still in disbelief daily that they are mine. And Christmas?? New Year’s 2015?? When did all of that happen? I know I didn’t sleep through it and yet it’s all over. I think I have gotten maybe 20 hours of sleep in 36 days. I sleep about an hour a night (maybe? intermittently with one eye open the whole time).

Twins.Newborn.Christmas.Tassle.Hats

Newborn photo shoot 8 days old. Tracy Joy Photography, NW Chicago Suburban Newborn Photographer.

Santa.Twins.Stockings.12.15.14 (1)

I love this pic I snapped of them in their Christmas stockings!

But first and foremost, THEY ARE HEALTHY AND THRIVING BABY BOYS – thank the Lord and we are so very blessed to be able to say this.

They were born at 37 weeks (full-term for Twins) on December 4th, 2014. They passed their APGAR tests both with all 9’s. Perfectly healthy and no one had to go to the NICU. BLESSED.

Maxton William – Twin A – born 5lbs. 9oz. NOW weighs 7lbs. 9oz.

Maxton William

Maxton William

Carson Armin – Twin B – born 5lbs. 4oz. NOW weighs 6lbs. 15oz.

Carson Armin

Carson Armin

They are officially off their Apnea monitors (monitoring their breathing and heart rates) and have passed all of their first month growth goals (and surpassed them with weight gain!) Their pediatrician has been thrilled with their weight gain and with the fact that they are breast fed. One baby has been diagnosed with colic and one baby has been diagnosed with acid reflux – if you know anything about either, both SUCK! Mattelyn didn’t have either so I wasn’t aware of what to do about either circumstance. Add that to premature manisfestations, and you’ve got yourself a handful.

Apnea monitors

Apnea monitors

Instead of writing about everything in detail that I WANT to write about, I thought I would share what I DIDN’T know or learn from books or friends or family or doctors PRIOR to having the twins. Things that I DEFINITELY know now and want to share and pass along to others! Each of these things have a STORY that eventually I would like to blog about to bring awareness. In the meantime, here are my thoughts and learnings.

Got Twins??

Things I didn’t know, things I couldn’t live without and products that were life savers in this first crazy month of their lives…

  • We go through 196 – 245 diapers a week just for the twins – not including our toddler that isn’t two or potty trained yet. At least 12 diaper changes a day not counting extras that are peed on and pooped on as soon as you change them. Times two! That’s 28-35 per day not including tummy aches.
  • Onesies – these newborns need to have an additional layer under their sleepers to cover their core because they can’t regulate their own body temperature yet. These are essential for newborn winter babies especially.
  • Preemie flow nipples – bottle feeding pumped breast milk in the beginning because the boys were too small and/or weak to nurse – they had to work too hard and would fall asleep before getting full. We needed them to gain that weight in the first two weeks.
  • Swaddle me sleep pods – SO IMPORTANT! These made their sleeping increase by at least an hour. I will write a post SOON about the two we used in this first month so far already. They are expensive so understanding the size was key for me. My boys were little and the sizes are way different than the packaging indicated. Before you spend $50.00 on two, read my recommendation.

    LilPeanuts

    SwaddleMe Sleep Sacs

  • Palmolive baby bottle, toy and dish soap and Babyganics foaming dish and bottle soap. We wash bottles and nipples times two, 12 times a day. Make someone a designated bottle cleaner if you can.
    Twins.one.month-31

    The Bottle “Grass”

    Twins.one.month-29

    A full-time job

  • Really good lotion for washed, dry, cracked hands
  • Room darkening blinds or curtains for longer naptimes
  • About 5 sleepers and onesies a day per baby. And changing pad covers and burp rags and bibs and sleep swaddles and receiving blankets…Tons of laundry boys pee on everything.
  • Different weight receiving blankets and different sizes – make a big difference for swaddling and covering
  • Car seat covers – so important!
  • Nursing cover for guests/visitors

    The Udder Cover nursing cover-up

    The Udder Cover nursing cover-up

  • Large display clocks for all rooms that you and your help are between at night and during the day – WRITE EVERY FEEDING DOWN ASAP. If you do nothing else, do this!!!
  • Simethicone drops (gas relief for babies)

    Simethicone Drops

    Simethicone Drops

  • Samsung baby monitor – this literally saved Maxton’s life in the first week
  • Especially for winter babies, diaper wipe warmer
  • American Red Cross baby scale for weighing daily in the beginning, then weekly for growth goals and then for breastfeeding counting ounces producing and eating
  • Pack and play sleeper crib for sleep – Twin Sleeper? Pros and cons

    IMG_6207

    Co-sleeping

  • Pack and play crib for changing
  • TwinZ pillow for napping and feeding

    TwinZ Pillow for breastfeeding and more!

    TwinZ Pillow for breastfeeding and more!

  • Sound machine
  • Large dry erase board to keep track of their day/night feeding schedule so everyone involved knows where you’re at with feedings
  • one.month.Twins.Mattelyn1

    Dry erase board

  • Double stroller that fits car seats for dr appointments especially with their apnea monitors that they are in the winterIMG_6203
  • Soothies pacifiers – the ones you get in the hospital are perfect because you can insert your finger into the front of the pacifier and let them clamp down on your finger massaging their gums and helping to soothe them. I love these pacifiers and have gotten a lot of use.
  • Diaper genie – two – one for each room changing occurs in. They fill SO QUICKLY and I even put soiled diapers in the garage.
  • A smart phone has been key for me. The same way I used it at work for scheduling, planning, note taking, photos, email and texting, I use it now.
  • “Notes” on iPhone or the “Evernote app” for jotting down notes you need throughout the day – which you will all day long. Also for store lists, weight reminders, on-going questions for your next dr. visit, last breast pump, etc.
  • Make sure your significant other or helper knows to take notes while at dr appointments and also puts next appointment in phone because you will be taking care of babies and you will look at each other a week later and say, “Now, when was their next appointment??”

IMPORTANT things to bookmark in newborn books and Websites:

  • Read up on how to perform CPR on a newborn and what to do when a newborn is choking
  • Nursing/breastfeeding/pumping
  • Fevers
  • Premature baby manifestations – including small esophagus, esophagus spasms, premature tear ducts, clogging and eyes matted shut, shallow breathing, apnea monitors, baby acne, etc.
  • Car seat testing in hospital for babies born under 6lbs – it takes 90 minutes and HAS TO BE DONE before you can leave the hospital
  • Colic and a colicky baby
  • Acid reflux symptoms and what to look for
  • 37 weeks is full-term for twins, but still premature babies – for twins that don’t end up in the NICU – what they don’t tell you (I never found this information)
  • Baby acne in the first month due to mom’s hormones after birth
  • How to increase milk supply
  • The mathematical formula for figuring out how much milk is needed per feeding based on babies weight – this is INSANELY USEFUL and I used it with Mattelyn and have now used it over and over again for the babies – Take the baby’s weight, multiply by 2.5 and divide by the number of feedings in the day. For instance, if they are 5lbs, multiply by 2.5 =12.5 divided by number of feedings (either 8 or 12 depending on every 3 hours or every 2 hours). So for a 5lb baby eating every 2 hours or 12 times a day, they would take 1oz (1.0416).
  • Cluster feeding
  • Communication with your help

32 Weeks Pregnant with Twins

32 Weeks Pregnant with Twins

32 Weeks Pregnant with Twins

I journal about my pregnancy experiences mainly through photos and updates via photostreams with my mom. Each time I have an appointment, I take “notes” in my Evernote App on my phone and I send my mom and my mother-in-law a brief update. There are a lot of things I always update: heartbeats, weight, developmental milestones, any new information the doctor has made us aware of and next appointment dates. Also I take note of my blood pressure and heart rate along with any tests I have coming up.

Naturally, I always learn new things at each appointment. And, leading up to my appointments, I become a big bundle of nerves (along with clumsy, irritated, nauseous and anxious) and my dreams get really odd!! When I get home from each appointment, I collapse in a chair and try not to fall asleep as Mattelyn climbs all over me, happy to be home and no longer at the doctor’s office. I am completely drained from the emotional and physical roller coaster each one is. You would think after being pregnant with Mattelyn and having carried her to full-term, (exactly one day prior to her due date), this pregnancy would be very similar and a piece of cake. But it has been so very different.

Why do I get this way before each appointment?? 

1. I am considered “high-risk” with this pregnancy because I am AMA (advanced maternal age, (sexy, right?? Anyone over the age of 33 and pregnant is considered AMA). So we are at a higher risk for miscarriage, premature labor, birth defects, etc. Although we have had all of the genetic testing done and everything is fine, it remains in the back of mind.

2. I am carrying twins and rarely do twin pregnancies make it to full-term (or 38 weeks) before they arrive. My due date is December 24, 2014. Each time I go to the doctor, they tell me a new “expected” due date. My goal is to make it to 38 weeks. But let’s be perfectly HONEST – I am 5 feet 2 inches tall and have a small frame. The pressure is building carrying around these blessings and once the pressure becomes too much, like a turkey, my timer will pop. This is a life-size illustration of a 32 week fetus in the womb…I have two…

10.30.14 32 Weeks Twin Pregnancy Pic in Book

32 Week Fetus in Womb – actual size from the book “The Pregnant Body.”

As of yesterday, Twin A (the “presenting twin” or the one closest to my cervix) is 4lbs 3oz and Twin B is 3lbs15 oz. I am measuring 41 weeks pregnant. (They are within 7% in size of each other which is really good for twins). This means I am basically carrying a full-term, 8lbs-sized newborn with all of the fluids that accompany and I have (hopefully) 6 weeks left. If they continue growing at this rate, we will have healthy 6lbs babies in 6 weeks. They are positioned the way they will remain now. Twin A is Vertex, head and face down and Twin B is Breech. They are fraternal twins and have their own “condos” – they each have their own amniotic sac). And I still have plenty of amniotic fluid for both of them. And my cervix is still closed tight, surprisingly to the ultra sound technician. They do not want any sign of premature labor or to find out I am dilating at all.

Twin B is Breech and Twin A is Vertex just like this Illustration.

Twin B is Breech and Twin A is Vertex just like this Illustration.

3. Everyone I have talked to that has been pregnant with twins or knows someone pregnant with twins has told me their birth story – there are entire Websites dedicated to these stories. They RARELY ever say, “I carried until my scheduled c-section.” Actually, they ALL have said they went into labor naturally before their scheduled C-section. The most common comment has been, “Congratulations! You have made it to the # of weeks I was when I went into labor – good for you!” This makes me nervous for several reasons. One, I have been told going into labor with twins is a whole different ballpark – there is no question you are in labor and it’s immediately intense – Braxton Hicks contractions are constant and can be confused with premature labor. However, with twins, the Braxton Hicks have been so much more prevalent and early on that I am used to them daily. Apparently, there is no question when you are in labor with twins! Second, I do not have help at home during the day with Mattelyn and since we moved, we are about a 45 minute drive away from the hospital. I know I will be fine and I can handle the pressure, I am positive. HOWEVER, it still is lurking in the back of my mind and adds to my stress!

4. I have SO MUCH LEFT TO DO! I know, these are NORMAL feelings and I am working on my big to do list list that I shared with you all a couple weeks ago, slowly but surely! We did purchase the two car seats and the stroller. Now we just need to get them installed in the car. We really liked Mattelyn’s City Mini by Baby Jogger. This is their City Select stroller, the only stroller that is a double that fits two car seats at the same time. Most of the strollers that have double seating only allow for one car seat at a time as an attachment. This is one of the most versatile strollers on the market today. Plus, it is about HALF the cost of the others we had been looking at. We also purchased the boogie-board ride along for Mattelyn as she will be 21 months old when the twins are born. She is rambunctious and can listen well, but is independent and often chooses not to!

Halloween 2014 Mattelyn Butterfly 1

We finally made a decision on the car seats and stroller.

Halloween 2014 Mattelyn Butterfly 2

This is the stroller we chose. We also purchased a ride-along boogie board for Mattelyn as she will only be 21 months old when they arrive.

5. We are VERY BLESSED because they are doing really well!! And thankfully, so am I. I need to gain more weight (17 lbs so far and the doctor wants 40lbs total by 38 weeks – she said I will likely hit 25lbs). I am working on that. I am supposed to eat over 100g of protein a day. I find 40g normally difficult! And now that my stomach is non-existent, digesting is IMPOSSIBLE. But I am drinking Ensure nutrition shakes now to supplement, (doctor’s recommendation). Because I have gestational diabetes, I am watching my sugars which is challenging to try to gain weight without eating crappy. Ha! My issue with blood sugar is only over night – I do not have to use insulin throughout the day to regulate my blood sugar. It is only when my body is fasting.

6. I am working on the nursery and hope to have a nursery inspiration board to share with you all soon!! That is the FUN part of this and keeps my mind daydreaming about our new bundles of joy between the worrying. I am looking into room darkening blinds right now, there are three windows to cover. I think about how far the room has come just since moving in the first of July this year – a new entryway door installed, new carpeting, closet doors repainted, the room walls and ceiling repainted, new screens for the windows, all new window blinds. We have done A LOT, but now the fun part begins. We have the furniture which was a BIG DECISION that we finally made and it was delivered a week ago. This is a picture of the room we decided to make the nursery before we worked on it:

The nursery when we moved in the first week in July.

The nursery when we moved in the first week in July.

And this is the nursery now:

Halloween Princess Mattelyn 2014 2

The nursery with walls repaired and painted, ceiling, closets, closet doors and trim repainted, new carpeting, new screens and new window blinds.

Halloween Princess Mattelyn 2014 3

These are three windows that I want to get room darkening blinds for.

All-in-all, this has been a challenging pregnancy with our big move from our old house when I was almost 4 months pregnant in July, morning sickness all day long, every day until 24 weeks, the worry about birth defects, miscarrying, premature labor…you name it, I have been praying every single day for the 200+ days I have been pregnant that they are doing okay and that I will make it to 38 weeks. We are in the final weeks and I have to say, I am feeling nervous but also THRILLED that I have made it to this point! AND SO VERY BLESSED!!!!

This is Mattelyn dressed up a little bit for our appointments yesterday, the day before Halloween – we see so many nurses and doctors and ultra sound techs, etc., and they all know and love her, at the hospital which I am also thankful for. She’s been SUCH a trooper through all of this. And my husband has been working from home to help me with Mattelyn during these appointments because we don’t have anyone here watching her.

Mattelyn 19 months

Mattelyn 19 months

And this is our little family of three the end of September about to become a family of five! Still hard to believe in 6 weeks!

 Fall Family Pic 2014

Fall Family Pic End of September 2014

Thanks for reading and following my blog!! I love hearing your feedback, your experiences and knowing if you can relate. This is such an exciting yet scary time in my life and I am happy to have this beautiful outlet to share!

~ XO Stephanie

How Do You Clear Your Mind When You’re Overwhelmed???

I can think of MANY ways to clear my mind when I’m NOT pregnant! But when you are pregnant, pregnancy brain and the pending arrival of your little one is all consuming. And you can’t have some drinks or let loose and get wild with your friends or exercise until you break a fantastic sweat – especially in your third trimester. This will likely seem laughable to many, but I decided I needed to write down what is keeping me up at night when I am trying to fall asleep (to Matt’s snoring), when I wake in the middle of the night (to Matt’s snoring) and when I wake to cramps and contractions. Does anyone else get up and do this?? It clears my mind and removes the jumbled chaos that causes me to lose focus, become really forgetful and agitated and makes my mind RACE, especially at night. mybrownbaercub.com

Ironically, as I begin jotting things down, I realize this is a classic “Stephanie To Do List.” I create long “to do” lists and then categorize my annoying list and give myself deadlines. For example, I will write everything down that I am thinking about and will begin to notice buckets of issues that I need to tend to such as: baby & pregnancy – house & chores – photography – Mattelyn – holiday & gifts – personal – business – seriously, about as Type-A as you can get and should ACTUALLY be categorized as: “Controllable” and “Non-Controllable” – “Doable” and “Wishful Thinking” – “In Your Dreams” and “Just Isn’t Going to Happen Before Your Due Date.” I am sharing because although it seems overwhelming, overbearing and just simply ridiculous, I have made these types of lists as a result of what keeps me up at night since I was very young – my dad has always encouraged us to WRITE THINGS DOWN. They are actually therapeutic in a way because I get it all out of my brain and I can actually then concentrate on the really important items that do need to be done. It’s like a stream of consciousness or brain storming, if you will, that ends up resulting in pretty effective prioritizing.

“I almost always identify that which is really bothering me and my mind ends up finding time for what makes me happy.”

I made these lists throughout college when dedicating time to term papers or heavy studying for a big exam, my career when learning a new client or writing a strategic plan or presentation, when we were preparing to sell our house, buy a new house and the big move, and now with parenthood – where everything is a new learning and there are no real ways to study or prepare for what’s ahead – it’s all trial and error! I save these lists in my Evernote app on my iPhone and often add to them and start new ones as needed. They are also interesting to look back on as time goes on. I also cross-compare my to do list with my Pinterest page (follow me here) which is more of an eclectic collection of hobby wishes, but I usually have recipes I want to try and things I want to remember for Mattelyn or gifts for people or new ideas for organizing the house or great parenting tips. I would love to hear what others do!

At 30 weeks pregnant with twins, this is my “To Do List” – (not a bad one to share or to keep in mind if you can take anything away from it…)

  1. Keep these babies inside for AT LEAST 6 more weeks!!! (YIKES!)
  2. Figure out names for the twins (Ya’ think????)
  3. Pack my hospital bag for C-section 4-day hospital stay – coming home outfit, pajamas for in the hospital, two coming home outfits for twins
  4. Purchase twins coming home outfits – pajamas from Ralph Lauren’s Baby Layette collection  view collection here polo_us_041012_baby_newborn_promo
  5. Pack both of the cold-weather car seat covers
  6. Pack Mattelyn’s hospital bag / diaper bag – include snacks and activities
  7. Pack small square canvases for footprints at birth
  8. Drink 140+ ounces of water a day or 4 liters of water to stave off contractions
  9. Check blood sugar 6 times daily, record, fax weekly to endocrinologist, administer nightly insulin shots
  10. Record timed daily kicks for both babies – bring with to dr’s appointments
  11. Print calendar with all OB appointments, non-stress tests, Ultra Sounds – weekly now
  12. Get flu vaccine and whooping cough vaccine
  13. Let pediatrician and let the office know about potential due date and make sure we call when admitted for scheduled C-section
  14. Map my quickest route to the hospital with least traffic or potential traffic issues – now 45 minutes away with our new move
  15. Add hospital address and Emergency Room phone number in my phone and Matt’s phone
  16. Make sure I have above diaper bag with toys and a blanket/night-night and extra clothes for Mattelyn already in it – put in car now
  17. Find comfortable PJs that I can wear postpartum in the hospital and slippers I like. Needs to fit after a C-section (no elastic) and be tandem breast feeding accessible (no “booby” pj’s) – long button up flannel night shirts from Victoria’s Secret V321679_47P
  18. Purchase comfortable nursing bra (try to predict size postpartum – yeah right)
  19. Purchase twin nursing pillow from doubleblessings.com – still haven’t done yet!butter_twin-340x340
  20. Purchase a book on potty training for my 19 month old daughter – buy her a book, toy to play with on potty chair, special soap for hand washing and pull-ups41qZS9v2YAL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_
  21. Purchase a book about tandem breast feeding twins and co-sleeping twins – sleeping and feeding schedules – Amazondownload
  22. Read books I purchase when I can’t sleep
  23. Re-read the best book ever on sleep and feeding schedules – “On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep,” by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam download (1)
  24. Prepare double recipe casseroles, crock pot meals and freeze for when twins arrive and I have no time to cook meals – label and print recipes with thawing and baking/cooking instructions
  25. Make room in freezer for breast milk and frozen meals
  26. Download my next assignment for my photography class (assignment already late)
  27. Figure out Mattelyn’s Halloween costume
  28. Vacuum twins nursery and wait for the replacement damaged crib to be delivered
  29. Organize twin’s nursery – both closets, put away clothes and gifts from people
  30. Go through tubs of Mattelyn’s newborn things and pull out anything that might work for a boy – put tubs back into storage properly labeled to figure out selling, keeping and giving away to pregnant friends or family
  31. Buy burp rags, swaddling blankets and more diapers (150 diapers a week with twins – I am pretty sure the four boxes we have haphazardly purchased will get us through a week once they’re a month old – still have no newborn diapers)
  32. Purchase and hang room darkening curtains for twins nursery – (Pottery Barn – Dupioni Silk black out drapes in dark henna)
  33. Purchase bottles and nipples system
  34. Set up nursing station downstairs – pump, nipple guards, nipple cream, bottle inserts for freezing, iPhone Sony play station with the Pandora lullaby station – download breast feeding app I plan to use and set it up on phone download
  35. Complete guest bedrooms and organize the rest of the boxes in the extra bedroom in case of additional guests – blow up beds, guest bath towels, etc.
  36. Set up downstairs bedroom for twins arrival – bed for my stay after C-section, diaper changing station, twins pack-n-play for sleeping
  37. Bring down (to living room) the Land of Nod breast feeding swivel rocker “The Dylan” from Mattelyn’s room – this is the best seller for breast feeding moms of multiples because it has a ton of room for a dual nursing pillowUph_Dylan_Glider_Microvelvet_SLA_5011026
  38. Stage diaper storage area downstairs – purchase diaper wipes, wipe warmer, pampers and diaper rash cream
  39. Purchase for nursery:

    *PureGuardian Ultrasonic Warm/Cool mist 100-hour humidifier after three other humidifiers, we decided to go with this ultrasonic humidifier for our daughter’s room and it was a huge improvement. Read about our experience with others here.h1510

    *Munchkin Nursery sound machine and projector best one because there is no timer or limit and will run all through the night  pTRU1-11791681v150

    *Changing pad and changing pad covers

    *Diaper Genie and refills

    *Sealy Waterproof Mattress Pad Covers – set of 2 17500618288575p

    *Bookcase from Land of Nodcubic-tall-bookcase-java-12-cube

  40. Encourage Matt to work on basement “living area” where guests and Mattelyn will be running off steam and playing and watching TV and being loud while twins are sleeping and I’m trying to figure out tandem breast feeding while healing from a C-section
  41. Complete decision on how to decorate the twin’s nursery – purchase the wall hangings / photos
  42. Find newborn socks – (newborn socks – not 0-3 month socks) – we had this problem with Mattelyn because she was long and skinny and jammies with feet didn’t work very long with her and we needed pjs without feet but had to have socks to keep her warm and couldn’t find any that were small enough and stay on during her naps and nighttime
  43. Purchase the sleep sacs we plan to use with the twins
  44. Put new humidifier when purchased for nursery in spare room we will be staying in and they will be napping in during the first month
  45. Organize my MacBook Pro  and download all photos off desktop to Seagate 4 terabyte external hard drive
  46. Purchase an additional photo memory card for my camera
  47. Begin list of Christmas Presents for all of Mattelyn’s cousins and both sets of grandparents
  48. Finalize twin’s newborn photo shoot
  49. Update Christmas card address list
  50. Purchase stamps for Christmas cards – pre-print labels for Christmas cards now
  51. Purchase storm door for front door to house before Halloween
  52. Plan Christmas outdoor decoration – Urn fillers and wreaths for door – cordless with timers
  53. Purchase stroller and car seats
  54. Get hair highlighted – base hair on guesstimated due date now – week of December 3rd
  55. Need manicure and pedicure
  56. Have 5 nursing/C-section outfits picked out and in drawer in spare room down stairs for after home from hospital including pajamas and robe
  57. Organize Mattelyn’s outfits (pants and shirts with socks) in her drawers so they are easier for Matt to access to dress her on his own
  58. Use Groupon purchases before expiration dates
  59. Prepare menu for Mattelyn’s breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner and nighttime routine for grandma and grandpa
  60. Prepare list for store for Mattelyn’s food while in hospital recovering and especially during first two weeks – stock essentials, snacks and milk
  61. Research preschool for Mattelyn and potential start dates
  62. Swim lessons and dance class for Mattelyn – beginning in March after her two year birthday
  63. Write down on calendar / notebook family birthdays, Mattelyn’s doctor appointments and twins follow up doctor appointments now – October, November, December
  64. Buy Mattelyn’s winter coat NorthFace, gloves, hat and scarf (grandma purchased snow boots) toddler-girls-8217-thermoball-8482-full-zip-jacket-A8H0_18D_hero
  65. Finish writing thank you cards/notes
  66. Naptime cots for basement
  67. Finish Etsy projects and fulfill orders for www.etsy.com/shop/mybrownbaercub. I make carseat canopies and matching waterproof changing pads.

    il_570xN.560642532_34hq

    Handmade Carseat Canopies with matching waterproof changing pads in a variety of trendy colors and patterns. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyBrownBaerCub

  68. Christmas stockings – order once we have names! Plan new fireplace mantel for the holidays img84j
  69. Discuss family holidays for this year and plans for visitors once babies are here
  70. Read nightly to Mattelyn about having new babies in the house and her role
  71. Finish writing my letter to Mattelyn about how she is my first born and finish creating my book to her with maternity photo shoot
  72. Keep working on the twin’s baby book – use twin app and finish creating book about pregnancy
  73. Keep a list of things friends and family have purchased for us, given to us, passed down to us, made for us for thank yous
  74. Purchase Mattelyn’s Holiday outfits and photo shoot outfit
  75. Purchase twins newborn wraps for photo shoot
  76. Just a final note: These babies will be born heading into the dead of winter – three full months of Chicago winter cold

I know I will have much more to add to this list. Again, perhaps listing out your thoughts and creating a to do list might help you prioritize and organize and not feel so overwhelmed when faced with daunting tasks or experiences in life – it sure has me. Try it and see what you think! Sometimes knowing someone else has these types of lists is comforting! I also included links to things I am planning on purchasing or have purchased because they are tried and true and I use them every single day with my 19 month old daughter. Cheers and feel free to let me know any other important things I am forgetting that I should be aware of!!! Thank you and hopefully now, I can get to sleep!! Zzzzzz……

Too Much Time on my Back Friday Night…

I wake up this Saturday Morning and my sciatic nerve is killing me. KILLING ME – too much time on my back! I don’t even know how I end up on my back while sleeping anymore because I am surrounded by pillows. As I turn over to put my wedge pillow under my big belly, I stretch a little too much and it sparks a deep, lower abdominal Braxton hicks contraction – partially because of the stretch and partially because I have to pee. Gotta’ lay here and can’t move. At least the contraction overtakes the sciatic nerve pain. After a night of sleeping and peeing every hour and waking for an hour to rock my 18-month-old daughter back to sleep when she woke with a nightmare at 4am, I actually feel pretty good.

28 weeks pregnant

28 weeks pregnant

My husband, realizing I’m awake, (given my groans I’m sure), says, “Want to get breakfast this morning?” Such a wonderful question to hear and one I have loved for so long and look forward to. The only family time we have is when he’s home on the weekends and I relish in and cherish that time. On a lot of these weekends, we quickly get ready as soon as we wake up, grab our daughter and we all enjoy the hour or so time we have just the three of us at breakfast on Saturday morning. No phones, no TV, no cooking and no work – only our conversation and each other – it really is magical because we’re taken away from life’s issues and it’s only US. We laugh and comment on our daughter’s beauty and how funny she is, noticing how everyone that sees her gets a big smile on their face. Mattelyn is a different baby when her daddy is home and we’re all together.

Today is so different for me though. It’s been 90 degrees HOT all summer and suddenly this 39-degree Chicago morning in early, early October proves fall is HERE and jolts me from within as I realize how much closer we are to these babies arriving. Only 28 weeks pregnant with twins and I am bigger than I was when I gave birth to my daughter.

Determined to have this Saturday morning time at breakfast with my family, I roll my huge belly to the side of the bed and slide out. Standing gently on the floor so as to not wake the babies, I pad to the bathroom and *whence* passing my closet door realizing nothing fits from my last pregnancy and I haven’t shopped at all for winter maternity clothes. None of my maternity jeans fit. I have no shoes now that fit other than my worn out and stretched out summer Clarks sandals that took me through my second trimester and my Nikes. I have one long sleeve maternity shirt that looks presentable for a breakfast out that my cousin passed down to me that I will have to wear with my black ¾ length stretch pants and a pair of fluorescent orange tennis shoes. Ugh. What a sight. None of my hoodies fit and my sweaters that I wore over all of my clothes before are laughable this time around. When I look in the mirror, all I see is the fact that I desperately need my dark roots to be highlighted and I try brushing my hair to the side so my roots don’t show as much and clip the sides up. As I do every morning, I lift my shirt with one eye closed and the other eye squinting, scared to witness a stretch mark or my belly button to have “popped.” Neither has happened yet thankfully. I rub my tight big belly with belly butter and wonder how I can possibly get any bigger?

The babies are only 2.5 pounds each and I am entering the third trimester now and this is their big growth period, and I already weigh 170 lbs on my 5’2” petite frame. After I brush my teeth and wash my face, I go into my daughter’s room to change her clothes and get her ready. She is on an antibiotic right now and has a diaper rash. After changing her pants, applying her medication, and fighting through the usual morning temper tantrum of not wanting to lay down to have her pants changed, or to get dressed because she is a rambunctious toddler, I manage to get her ready except for her shoes. I stand up with cramping and short of breath and it’s back to my room to put on the necessary belly band that I have to wear now because of my contractions. This belly band is three glorious pieces that are all velcroed together – wrapping around my big belly, under my belly and up and over my belly, resting right under my bra. My bra is now an interesting fit because I grow almost weekly, so a make-shift nursing bra with not nearly enough support is this month’s winner.

The infamous belly band

The infamous belly band

This creates the most unsightly “back fat” roll under my bra and above my belly band. Any shirt I wear, exasperates this wonderful look. This whole contraption makes me itch like crazy.

Belly Band (2)

This glorious contraption looks amazing under everything – not.

After I get that on, and bend over to once again pick up my brush I have dropped at least five times already this morning, I have to pee, again, and forgo fixing my hair. This is fun too because now when I go to the bathroom, it is actually physically difficult to “wipe” without stretching too much and causing a contraction. I know this is too much information, but it is part of the twin pregnancy truth! As I make my way downstairs, both babies are kicking full-force – one in my ribs and the other on my bladder – as they are HUNGRY. I am really in need of a drink of water to curb these contractions. I am up to 80-100 ounces of water daily and that doesn’t include what I drink when I wake during the night. It’s the only thing that makes the cramping and contractions go away. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes last week (I also had it during my last pregnancy) and this morning is my first day to begin testing my blood sugar, 6 times a day. So I prick my finger and get my fasting blood sugar level and record it in my phone. I take my absolutely necessary Prevacid antacid medication because my stomach is as flat as a pancake now smooshed between intestine and babies and eating ANYTHING including half a banana causes heartburn and a feeling of needing to throw up. I get Mattelyn a sippy cup with ice water and prepare her antibiotic. After another round of coaxing and sweet-talking, then her obligatory temper tantrum and finally strapping her into her high chair, she takes the full teaspoon of cherry-flavored medicine and is happy as can be. I gather her diaper bag. Then I have to pee again.

My husband who asked if I wanted to go to breakfast over 20 minutes ago, is sitting on the couch mesmerized by his app-ridden iPhone. He’s got on a great pair of dark washed jeans I bought him. He’s leaned back on the chocolate leather couch with his leg propped up and looks like he’s all of 20 years old. His black hair is wet and fresh with gel, he’s got a great long sleeve jersey on, crisp and new, and really new white Nikes. He looks so easily put together – maybe took 5 minutes? He smells good, too. And why shouldn’t he look good? He slept a full 9 snoring hours and never woke up once. He looks at Mattelyn and me with a smile and says, “Do you need me to help you with anything?” I let him know that we are finally ready and I just need to pee again, as usual. Noticing my out-of-breath response, he reassuringly comments to me, “Don’t forget babe, women do this everyday (as if to imply I’m not going through anything unusual that I shouldn’t be able to handle) and you only have three months left.” Thanks for the reminder. (Grit teeth and try really hard not to describe what I just went through to get ready to simply GO TO BREAKFAST. He would tune me out anyway and I would only ruin my own day).

Ahhh, the unfairness that is pregnancy.

As part of a quick caption of one morning in my world at this moment in time, I decided to write this in my blog for anyone else who’s felt this way during their pregnancy or maybe feels this way right now. Not so that anyone feels sorry for me or as a plea for help or to say that this is something I can’t handle. But perhaps to read when I am older and child-bearing is behind me. When this moment in time will seem more relevant and have significance beyond what I can possibly understand right now. I can re-read and recall what it was like to assist God in a true miracle, the miracle of giving life to another human being. Or two human beings, as is my case. My husband has no idea what this is really like and he realizes he is extremely lucky not to have to go through this. His body isn’t completely taken over, he’s not sick all the time, his wardrobe remains in tact, he can eat and drink what he wants, he can exercise daily and maintain a routine, he knows what’s coming next, he didn’t have to quit his 9-to-5 for a 24-7, he doesn’t have to carry around an extra 70 lbs daily, loathing stairs, he doesn’t have to be concerned with people who stare and ask rude questions every single day – when he isn’t with me, no one knows he’s “expecting twins any day now,” he doesn’t have to think about every single thing he’s putting into his body, he isn’t constipated daily, he doesn’t get Charlie horses in his legs, he doesn’t experience the quick change in center of gravity that throws your balance off, he doesn’t have cramping and contractions, he doesn’t have pregnancy brain, his inner thighs don’t hurt all the time because all of his ligaments are loosening preparing for child birth, he won’t be cut open and have his stomach laying on his chest while two bodies are removed from his abdomen, he won’t suffer through the pain of pooping after giving birth, he won’t experience a c-section scar healing, he doesn’t experience not being able to sleep, as a matter-of-fact, he snores constantly all night long, he’s not out of breath all the time, he doesn’t have constant peeing or feel tired all the time and his hormones aren’t tweaking out. But I am the luckiest and most blessed person right now to be experiencing those very things. I have never felt better or more proud to be a woman, a mother and a mother-to-be. Because there isn’t anything more in life that I can do or accomplish that holds a CANDLE to bearing a child, giving life, and then raising another human being. I can’t believe what my body is capable of and am in complete AWE daily. To realize two hearts are beating inside me right now and I am single-handedly protecting them and providing them with their first experiences in life, is breathtaking. Our hearts are beating together as one right now and will forever be in a rhythm that only a mother and child’s hearts can. That is such an undeniable love and bond that can never, ever be broken. And until the end, I will forever be grateful for this experience. And, forever humbled. 

11 Weeks Twins "Special Delivery" Announcement

11 Weeks Twins “Special Delivery” Announcement

Cool Moisture, Warm Mist or Ultrasonic?

When you register for your baby shower, let’s be honest, you and your partner are the blind leading the blind. My husband and I had NO CLUE what we were doing. Our debates would have been (and probably were to those nearby) laughable to say the least.

One major purchase (major because you will use it EVERY DAY and EVERY NIGHT but NOT major due to cost) is a humidifier for your baby’s nursery. There are so many things that come into play when you think about this purchase. One, we weren’t aware that they should have one on while they are sleeping. We thought it was only for when they were sick (and when she got sick for the first time, I didn’t know to get it out of the box. Luckily, a mommy friend of mine was over at our house and asked me if I had her humidifier on in her nursery when she took a nap as well as while she was sleeping. Uh, no, we haven’t gotten it out of the box, was my reply). I am sure all of you mom and dads out there are shaking your heads, but it is TRUE.

During a recent discussion with a close mommy friend of mine and my husband, I did some research to determine what we SHOULD have known BEFORE we made the purchase, (two humidifiers later, that is).

Two of our issues are, mold and mineral dust in the air. No matter how much we clean this humidifier (cool mist) we have a moldy scent and there is always a build up in the chambers. It’s bothersome! We clean it all the time. The main reason for mold is standing water, which we never have because I empty it every morning. We also have a “white dust” that is deposited into the air onto all of her furniture. This is a result of the breakdown of minerals in our water and (thankfully) isn’t harmful to baby.

These are two issues that can both be eliminated by using a warm mist humidifier or an ultrasonic humidifier. Again, WHO KNEW!?

I am not making a recommendation as to which humidifier to purchase or not to purchase. Rather, I am providing this wonderful link to a clear explanation of all three out there (warm mist, cool moisture and ultrasonic), their benefits and their drawbacks, and why you should feel comfortable figuring out what you need before you make a decision to buy (or when you have to buy again). It definitely helped me out so I had to share. The website is iAllergy and you can click here to be directed to the page I felt so helpful.

Share your comments and thoughts! Would love to hear from you.

XO ~ Stephanie

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed This…

Beckett.Carseat.Cover.Pad2As a new mommy, (WAIT! Don’t stop reading because you don’t think you can relate. Maybe I should say, most of you know someone that is pregnant or just had a baby and would benefit from knowing about this… Or, this is a little more about one of my newest endeavors so give it a quick read…)

Anyway, as a new mommy, I struggled with carrying my newborn in her carseat while keeping her covered. You wouldn’t think this would be an issue, right? Shielding her from the sun, the wind, the rain, the snow – you name it, daily it is something. When you carry a carseat for the first year, and never have before, you suddenly recognize that the baby has to be covered from all angles for all different reasons and this poses problems all the time.

So you put the “retractable roof” or sun shade up and it covers the front or the back. But then you have either the front or the back left to cover. You aren’t thinking immediately about which direction you need to take them out of the car and carry them based on the way the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. And if you have ever been around a newborn, you recognize all too quickly that just a whisper of air in their faces takes their little breath away. And let’s be honest, really all you’re worried about is not waking them up (God forbid) when you’re trying your hardest to get into the restaurant. Or the blanket you’re trying to use blows off or gets caught in the car door. And not to mention, during the summer, you don’t have an extra blanket to cover the car seat because it’s hot outside. And in the winter, you don’t think to bring an extra blanket and if you’re suddenly trying to shield them from the rain or snow, you grab their blanket that’s covering them to put over the car seat and when you get inside, they only have a wet, cold blanket to cover up with. ANNOYING. My list goes on but you get my point!

That is how I ended up with my first car seat canopy or car seat cover. We were at Buy Buy Baby and Matt walks over to the cart and puts a car seat cover in the basket. I thought it was pretty expensive but I was impressed none-the-less because I thought, “Wow, we have needed this since she was born and I haven’t ever heard of one.” And Matt agreed. In the car, I immediately put it on (she was four months old), curious and skeptical. I couldn’t freaking believe how handy it was. It was SUCH A BRILLIANT IDEA. I was stunned that out of all of the people I know that have or have had babies, I had never heard of this. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t on every list of MUST HAVES for new parents (and there are hundreds of those lists) and it wasn’t in any of the baby registry books. I guess I was very surprised that this was a “newer” product in Buy Buy Baby, displayed only on an end-cap.

Can I just tell you? It made such a difference when we would go to restaurants – she would sleep longer while shopping, while we were eating at a restaurant, in the car, on walks when it was windy – you name it, the difference was noticeable and worth every penny times a hundred. I RAVED about this thing to EVERYONE I knew. I just couldn’t imagine that everyone didn’t have one. Not only did I think it was cool, when I would be out places, I would be asked where I got mine. I did notice other new parents that were “in-the-know” with their car seat canopies. I decided that everyone I knew that was having a baby NEEDED TO HAVE ONE too. So I learned how to make them and asked my mom if she would embroider them for me to give as gifts. After making about fifteen of them, and countless questions about where they were from, I began to figure out the cost for me to make them to sell.

For those of you that know me, this seems so far left-field but I was determined and it felt right. And I come from a long lineage of beautiful seamstresses and I’ve watched (with adoration) my mom sew my entire life (including my wedding dress). So it wasn’t too far fetched after all that this was something that would come naturally to me. And I got so much pleasure from making them for my friends and family. My type-A personality forces me to be a perfectionist when I sew them and it’s also why I decided I needed to sell them so that everyone can have what I was missing out on. (Well, me and about 50 other vendors out there on Etsy! But I have to say, I like mine the best. Totally biased). Anyway, I am introducing My Brown Baer Cub on Etsy and these are some of my first car sear canopies I have made and are now for sale.

And now you know why and how I came about doing this. One of my newest endeavors. Please stop by and visit, and like my shop or work if you will. And certainly consider one for someone you know that would be missing out if they didn’t have one.

XO ~ Stephanie

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Beckett.carseat.back

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Beckett gift wrapPackaging7

From My Etsy Site – (www.etsy.com/shop/mybrownbaercub)

Carry your sweet little baby in style with my Monogrammed Car Seat Canopy! And keep them shielded from the elements. This cover will protect them from the sun, cold, rain, wind, and from airborne germs and as an added-benefit, keep them nice and dark for nap time! Especially while out at a restaurant or shopping during nap time – increase the amount of time you can be out and about. This cover attaches to your carseat with velcro straps at the top of the carrying arm (see photos). The straps keep it from blowing off – no more trying to keep a blanket over the carseat while also trying to keep baby covered and shielded from the sun. No more guessing what direction the sun is when you take carseat out of the car. When baby wakes from his nap, you can simply flip the patterned side of the carseat canopy up and over the sun shade. The reverse is embroidered so that when it is flipped over, the name shows up the correct direction. This is accomplished before sewing it together.

This can also be used as a play mat while you are out or as an additional barrier between the ground and baby if germs are a concern. With the custom appliqué embroidery, it also doubles for a very cute blanket to take pictures of baby on. You can also use the carseat canopy cover as a stroller cover for the back of your stroller. When you have the baby reclined and the back mesh allows air in and it is too breezy, simply attach the cover to the handle on the stroller and allow it to hang down in front of your legs. This is a wind barrier for baby during particularly breezy days.

As a new mommy, I was always struggling with blankets to cover my newborn especially from the sun and wind in the very beginning. Their little breath gets taken away in an instant and makes it difficult to take walks of any length if baby isn’t properly covered. And my husband especially appreciated this when trying to protect baby from the bright glaring sunshine while taking her in and out of the car. I hope this serves you well too! I make each one with love thinking about your little one and imagining how I would feel to have it proudly displayed on my baby’s carseat. Careful to details, you will appreciate the love that goes into everything I make.

If you especially like this idea, consider it as a gift with a Matching, Oversized, Water-resistant, Changing Pad/Lap Cover. The set is also a perfect, unique, thoughtful, stylish, personalized gift for a baby shower! I never knew how much I would use this until I got one. Then I decided everyone I knew (and didn’t know yet!) needed to have both a car seat canopy and an oversized changing pad and began making them as gifts. Have you ever been in a public restroom trying to lay down the tiny, narrow changing pad that came with your diaper bag while holding onto your darling baby, managing the stroller and somehow the bags with your purchases? Only to find out, you can’t recall which side you laid down on the changing table last time and thinking to yourself, would it matter anyway??

That is how I (along with all my mommy friends) always feel. My solution is one of these stylish, water-resistant, yet absorbent, oversized changing pads. It is 17″ x 17″ square and makes for a PERFECT pad to lay down on the changing table where your baby’s head and back will be once you have laid down the small one your diaper bag came with. It is small and convenient enough to carry along (not to mention the cutest matching addition to your car seat canopy!) And you always know which side to lay down because the embroidered applique’ cloud should always face up!

This would also be perfect for a lap pad for a baby that spits up a lot, useful for when baby is being passed around when very little, or as a girlfriend and cousin of mine do, lay it in the nursery over the changing pad on the table and it’s an adorable addition to the room!

It can be washed and is just perfect for any occasion.

I use designer materials that are in style. It’s all about you being stylish and the baby being comfortable. I can use material that you don’t see on my site if you let me know color and style you want. I use all cotton, breathable material for the cover and the pad itself is polyester and cotton.

The embroidery and applique’ cloud is crafted by my mother (she is an embroidery professional) and I sew everything. I gift wrap with twine and brown mailing paper along with a tag that says handmade with love from My Brown Baer Cub (see photo). It is a deal to purchase them together at a combined price of $70 plus shipping (that’s $5 off the price if individually purchased). If you want the changing pad cover only, it costs $25. The carseat alone is $50. Please inquire via email for the cost without embroidery.

I would love to add you to my client list and welcome you to My Brown Baer Cub. You can also read more about me, my shop, my new daughter and all of my endeavors at mybrownbaercub.com.

XO ~ Stephanie