3 vs. 1

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Overwhelmed.  Exhausted.  Pulled in different directions.

My life dramatically changed when MJ arrived and changed the daily dynamic of 2 v. 1 to 3 v. 1.  I've heard it MILLIONS of times: "I don't know how you do it/ did it with twins."  And my thoughts are always the same.  That was "easy" compared to this outnumbered feeling.

Alex and I always planned on having a big family.  We still want more (if you can believe it) and we *somewhat* thrive in the madness.  It's busy, its fast paced, there are many tears shed (from kids and adults) but our lives would be so bare without these crazy little babies that invaded our home faster than fruit flies.

I decided to write this post, not to scare people but to offer my sage advice on self care for the mama. And to include my personal journey of coming very close to just loosing my mind with the lack of control I felt in my life.

The beginning was the hardest.  When Maggie was a newborn and feeding all the time, my biggest struggle was finding the time to entertain and busy 2 active toddlers while staying very close to home and caring for a brand new baby.  When I had the twins and they were newborns, things felt in control, quiet, clean and structured.  This has felt very much the opposite.  I'm in no way saying that having one baby is perfect, you just have time for things that you just WILL NOT have time for when the household shifts and toddlers are involved.  We also started potty training when Maggie was like 10 weeks old... not her... the twins... and that was insane.  But we survived.  And you will too.  But again, many tears shed.

As MJ got older, things got better because she was feeding less often and the twins were more experienced with potty training.  I also felt like we could leave the house and try the park and library more since I felt better about them telling me when they needed to use the toilet and Maggie took great carseat naps.

Recently, the most helpless I've felt has been when I was at a park, breastfeeding Maggie and Emmy gave me her "I have to poop but we are too far from the bathroom so I'm going to hold it in" face and I saw her across the playground.  There was nothing I could do.  Helpless.  So, after she held it in and I got through not my proudest moment of motherhood (telling her to hold it in) we made it up to the bathroom and she tried again.  My thoughts on this?  It happens.  Shit happens.  Things happen and will my kids remember how flustered I was in that moment?  Probably not.  Will they remember that we were at their favorite park after a long week of inside play?  Hopefully yes.

Parenting is one of the hardest and emotionally exhausting things I've ever done.  Mothering *3 under 3* day in and day out can be mundane and I often feel like I'm in another version of Groundhog Day. But I am CONSTANTLY reminding myself: stay in this time period.  Don't wish it away.  Take pictures when you can.  Love the mess you are living in because it can all be taken away so fast and you'll wish for it back with all your might.

I'll share a few of the things that help me take care of myself during my states of overwhelm.

Self Care for an Overwhelmed Mama

1. Yoga/ Exercise

When I can get this in, its my favorite form of release.  I have tried to schedule it during the afternoon naps (where hopefully all 3 are asleep) and I have to force myself to skip all chores.  It's so tempting to finish those dishes that have been there since the morning, or start that laundry, put toys away, etc... basically things I can't do with all 3 babes awake.  I push the 36 toys on my living room floor away and I start a workout.  Here are some of my go-to at home workouts.
  • Any Jillian Micheals DVD's.  Her workouts are typically 20, 30 or 45 minute workouts and she WORKS YOU.  I always feel satisfied after.
  • Yoga With Adrienne.  She is such a calming presence.  This was the main way I took control of my workouts after the twins were born.  It was a way to slowly rebuild my muscle, gain strength, practice breathing and calming techniques during my moments of overwhelm, etc.  I highly recommend her.  Start with her 30 days of Yoga.  She will take you from beginner with no experience to feeling comfortable to attend regular yoga classes.
  • Rebecca Louise.  She is amazing.  Her accent is beautiful and her energy is addicting.  I love how quick her workouts are and how real they are to accomplish.  Sometimes I'll choose 3 of her 10 minute videos (abs, butt and arms) and my 30 min workout flies by.
  • Insanity.  This one is rare for me.  But I have it in my back pocket for days I need my butt kicked.  Even if I do 40% of the total workout, I feel better.
2.  Lists of Goals
  • I just recently bought this planner.  It's life changing for me.  I can look at my week ahead, plan my to-do lists, grocery, meals, and feel like I'm accomplishing things.  It helps to sort things out in my mind and makes the weeks seem more structured.
  • Just write it down.  Whenever I feel scrambled and overwhelmed, it really helps me to just start writing the things I would like to do.  I don't let that list get too long because that's not attainable.  Just 3 things a day and it can be as simple as, unload the dishwasher, write a thank you note and check my work email.  Once I've accomplished those 3 things anything else I add onto my day is *extra*.
3.  Masking/ Nails
  • Invest in some nice face masques to do in the evenings after the babies go to sleep.  I've been loving the ones from Eminence.  I use their cleansers too, so when I tried their masques I found my new favorite weekly unwind.  Some of my favorites are the Bright Skin, Coconut Cream and the Eight Greens Phyto.
  • Do your nails or get them done.  This always makes me feel better and more put together.  I can't explain why, but a pretty fall color on your nails will cure all states of stress and overwhelm.
4.  Food
  • Eat well.  And I don't necessarily mean eat healthy 24/7.  Ya'll deserve an oreo (or 7) after taking care of tiny humans all day.  There are some days that I'll hit 12:30 and realize I haven't eaten a single thing.  DON'T DO THIS.  Force yourself to eat something... anything and eat it well.  Even if it means packing the kids up and running through Starbucks to get yourself a Bacon and Gouda sandwich (do it, it's worth it).  Go to Trader Joes, buy that expensive greek yogurt you like.  Get yourself nourishment.  You need it to feel you and to take care of babies.  I know this is dumb, but like I said, I don't always eat and I think that can add to me feeling unwell and inadequate as a mama.
5.  Blogging
  • This outlet hasn't been used as much as it was when I had the twins, but it's still in my lineup of go-to's.  I love blogging.  I love having an idea and running with it.  I love being able to write and express myself and hopefully hit on something YOU could use in your life.  Even if it's just a laugh.
Hope this helps!  Hope you can find ways to spoil yourselves and please remember... if a mom ever tells you they aren't overwhelmed.... they are more than likely lying.  It will happen and has happened to all of us.

Thanks for reading, thanks for loving us and thank for allowing along in our crazy life.

Be back soon.

Lauren
My guac making/ guac eating helpers
First day of Pre-Pre school!


Making new friends and eating at our favorite place in the entire world: Chik-Fil-A
Trip to the Eye Doctor for Mom's "sick eyes" ///   Took all 3 babes.  And we survived.
Minnesota for my cousins wedding!  Took a boat ride and we found out Emmy has some sea sick issues.  She was very happy to be back on land. 

Buddy was living his best life though.

4 month old MJ!
Sass to the 5th Degree 



Park Day!
We are READY for FALL!




Milk Drunk

Tuesday, August 7, 2018



Breastfeeding

Maggie is 3 months old this weekend and I've kept her alive and growing from my body and my body alone.  It's awesome to be able to say that but this journey has been anything but easy.

Milk Drunk


From the beginning, I never put the pressure on myself to breastfeed.  If I could, then I would.  If I couldn't, then formula was great too.  Formula was excellent for the twins and I knew it was a huge possibility that I would need it again.  But I powered through the first 6 weeks.  Everyone tells you it gets easier after the first 6 weeks.  But hearing that as a new mom, while my nipples were bleeding and throbbing in pain, was not reassuring.

Those first 6-10 weeks were brutal.  I'll be honest here.  Having never really gone through with it with the twins, it was a shock to my system and definitely something that took practice.  I had SO much pain early on.  Cringing and crying as each latch burned and sent electric shocks through my body was a pain unlike what I anticipated.  After an appointment with a lactation consultant, I found out that MJ had/has a pretty recessed chin and my latch was creating more of a problem.  With a few tips and some magical nipple serum from the Holistic Pharmacy in town, things began to get better with each feed.

Looking back, it all went by fast but in the moment, those long nights seemed to drag on and last forever.  Since then, breastfeeding has been great.  Exhausting at times, but so great.  I've had moments of bonding with Maggie that I didn't feel/ get with the twins.  My body has regulated and knows when MJ is ready to eat.  The human body is INSANE.  Amiright?

I started my call shift back to work in the middle of July.  I've been able to get a great supply going in the freezer for the nights I am called in.  Again, something I never had with the twins.  She doesn't seem to take a bottle very well, but being the nice 'plump' size she is, my pediatrician said she's not worried if she skips a meal and might skip one because of not liking the bottle.  Again, one of those things we will have to practice.  Luckily, I have a very patient husband who is the one that bottle feeds her so I don't have to worry about it.

Breastfeeding in public is a pretty hot topic on social media.  I haven't ever felt uncomfortable about it and am still pretty awkward at it.  The biggest struggle for me was ( and still is)  finding clothing that worked.  I was at my in-laws and needed to feed MJ in a dress that was totally NOT nursing friendly.  Thankfully I was in a comfortable place I could have privacy and it wasn't an issue that I was sitting with my dress around my neck but lord help me if I was out and about.  It's like wearing a romper out, you know eventually you will be butt naked in the bathroom.  I know some women are comfortable flaunting the boob, and I really think that is awesome... more power to you and I salute you.  I feel more comfortable with a cover and I've been using the ones from Bebe au Lait.  I found its light weight, easy to see MJ and really covers well.




I won't leave you with any advice really, if you are a mama-to-be.  It's hard to give advice strongly one way or the other because every BODY and PREGNANCY are different.  I have my experiences from both sides and that's all I can speak to.  But with that, I'll give my (unsponsored) opinion on my favorite nursing friendly bra.  It's from HATCH and it's seriously changed my life.  So comfortable AND supportive, which was hard for me to find.  It's a little pricey but so so worth it friends.  And I will definitely wear it far after I'm done breastfeeding.

I will say, this babe is VERY flexible when it comes to feeding time.  She has been schlepped around the house, chasing potty training toddlers, still attached to my boob.  This meme has never been more real to me:


IT'S SO TRUE.  I can't.  But she's a trooper.  But in the quiet moments I feed her at night when the twins go down, it's so calming and peaceful.  I just love it, and soak it up best I can.

I've given myself goals with breastfeeding and my first one was 3 months.  Having almost made it there, I'm damn proud.  The next one is 6 months.  But again, not putting pressure on myself.  That's why they are goals and not hard stops.  From the stories I've heard, some babies decide when they are done.

To the mama's who have had this journey and seen it end or are having it currently, I am totally inspired by you.  Thank you for being an inspiration and for the time spent feeding a tiny human from your body.  To the mama's who tried and felt like a failure when they couldn't, DON'T.  You grew a human.  You kept that human alive the best way you knew how.  You made sure that human had a mama that was strong, healthy and sound of mind, body and soul.  I am also inspired by you.

I'm working on another blog post about feeling outnumbered (3 vs 1).  My life has felt that way lately.  Look for that in the next month :)

Until then,
Lauren


Potty Training

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Let's jump into the number one reason blogging has been hard for me lately: potty training twins (with a 10 week old).  I never thought I would talk about poop this much but c'est la vie.

Yes, we have begun the journey to ditching the size 5 diapers and while the thought of only 1/3 kids being in diapers is VERY appealing, it's been a process that's required more patience than I have had to have in my life.  Guys.  This blog is not meant to scare people away, but to show the true reality of our life with three under 3.  So here we go.

We decided to start out with the naked method: strip your kids down, let them roam naked and when they feel the urge to go, show them their potty.  We bought these from Amazon.  We moved the little toilets we got for them to the living room, a very central location.  They began to seek out the toilet.  We rewarded each pee and poop in the potty with a dum-dum sucker.  We had fewer accidents than I expected and soon they were peeing in their little potty's!  I began to realize they were having like 5 suckers an hour... sometimes earning another one before they had finished their first one.  I've heard M&M's work well, suckers did it for us.


 So we moved the potty's upstairs to the hall way (getting closer to the bathroom) and made a sticker chart to reduce the amount of suckers they had.  For each pee or poop, they got one sticker.  Once they got 4 stickers, they got a sucker.  After doing this 4 or 5 times, they got a present.  See chart pictures below.  I bought them each a packet of 100 stickers from Target.  So they were already excited about those.  Each time they go on the big potty they get 2 stickers and 1 sticker for their little potty.  Even more incentive to go on the big potty.  Right now, they have to get 30 stickers for a present.   They are on their second charts.


Not exactly thrilled I'm documenting this.



This may sound like we had a great plan going in, but here's our secret: we made this up as we went.  Yup.  Looking back, I think we would have been more successful sooner if we had the plan with the stickers going in.  My kids are CRAZY about stickers so this worked for us.

We were pretty much shut into our house for like 3 days, trying to solidify the training.  I will admit, there were times I was totally irrational and thought, "this is how life will be forever.  We will never leave our house again, and my kids will forever be naked."  Looking back, I know that is so so crazy, but in the moment you can't see past it.

We are entering our 3rd week training this week.  I've read so many accounts of people training their kids in like 3 days and I have a hard time believing that sometimes.  It's a long process from beginning to end.  Maybe it's because I have twins, maybe it's because I have an almost 11 week old too.  Who knows.  I've accepted that it takes time and learning will be continual.  I've accepted that today.  After changing 6 wet underwear and it's not even 3 pm.

We introduced pull up's too.  The only problem I've had with those is their false sense of security for my kids.  They seemed too much like a diaper and they just went in them.  So we moved pretty straight on to underwear so they could really feel it when they got wet.  Note to others: buy a TON of undies.  I've gone through like 4 pair in an hour with Emmy.  As it stands now, we use pull-ups at night, or in the car.  Underwear at home.  And wine to reward this tired mama at night.

Right now, we are still on the sticker chart.  We've taken the sucker incentive out of it and if they fill up a chart full, they will get a present.  Something they really want: Dorothy shoes for Emmy and "Tin Man" shoes for Bennett.  I'm not even entirely sure Bennett knows what those are or if they exist but he wants them.

A side challenge emerged from all this too.  As if the training wasn't enough.  Emmy has struggled with holding in her poops.  This started from a time when she had a very painful, hard poop and since then, her relationship with her bowel movements has been scarred.  She does really well with going pee and will eventually go poop after a day of holding it in.  We've tried Miralax per our pediatrician and that seems to help soften her poops.  I've been hard on her.  I will say we've both cried together and been frustrated.  I'm thankful for a husband who stays very patient and reminds me that trying to force it, won't help.  We have to make her comfortable to go again and reassure her that it's okay, everyone poops, going poop is good and rewarding her for going.  Again, this is so much easier to type than to live by.  I did reward her with getting to wear my shoes when she went once.  She was overjoyed.

 I have to admit, I've had many breakdowns with this process.  Parenting is hard and this just seems like a slap in the face to already tired parents.  But it's something everyone goes through.  And no one goes to college in diapers.  For the most part.  For now, I'm taking life hour by hour and constantly reminding myself, they will get it.

Top 5 Tips for Toddler Parents About to Start Potty Training (from my point of view anyways):

1.  Expect nothing.  Reading about it and doing it were two totally and completely different things for me.  I think creating something that works specifically for your kids is best.  For example, my kids love stickers and suckers... so that's what we used.

2.  Your house will be a mess.  Everything is washable.  Just breathe.  It will be clean eventually.

3.  Put hand sanitizer everywhere.  I was washing my hands sometimes what seemed like every minute of the day.  Sanitizer is quick and works.  My fave "on the go" sanitizer is the Honest Brand spray.  I've linked it there.  It's so nice and quick drying for toddlers.  And they have tons of really good scents, not like the normal sanitizer smell.

4.  Buy tons of underwear when you are ready for that phase.  Amazon is our go to.  They are pretty inexpensive and your laundry will thank you.

5.  Take breaks.  When it seems like you can't catch a break, or there are way too many accidents, throw on pull-ups (them, not you) and take a breather.

Our summer has been awesome though.  We made the trip up to Minnesota for my Grandma's 82nd birthday.  I was soooooo glad the trip happened.  And that she got to meet Maggie!  We got to spend time with our family, which was much needed.  And the first road trip as a family of 5 went pretty well!  Minus the fact that we discovered we will most likely need a bigger vehicle in the near future.  RIP Pathfinder... your days are numbered.

Pit stop in Iowa!



4 Generations!




Update on MJ

This smiley, almost 11 week old girl is a trooper in our family of 5.  She holds her head up, sleeps soundly amid the loud, craziness of our house and has a smile that will make you melt.  We moved her to her own room and crib last week and she's been doing SO WELL.  In my mind, the twins were in our room for the first 3 months. Turns out, we had moved them to their own room when they were 8 weeks old!  AND we had started sleep training them!  I was behind the buck with Miss Maggie.

After knowing that, I knew she would be just fine.  She still wakes to feed once or twice a night.  I'm going to wait until she is 12 weeks old to try and wean a night feeding.  The girl is GOOD as far as size is concerned and she has no trouble eating.  At her 2 month appointment she weighed 14.1 lbs!

The major difference with sleep training her versus the twins is that she doesn't take a pacifier.  At all.  She has started to use her hand and has found her thumb a few times but not consistently to soothe her to sleep at night.  I've also always nursed her to have her fall asleep... not sure how to change that too.  I'll let you know when I figure it out.









This summer has also FLOWN and we are winding out our last week before Alex returns to school with pre-year meetings etc...  Here's some of the fun things that happened:

Lake Trip with Alex's family to the Ozarks

Loving Auntie Olivia's pool
Family Pics taken by Rachel Moore at RPM Photography in KC.
MJ was baptized! Cried through the whole thing.... Pic by Nicole Watkins
Buddy got his first haircut! 

Such a handsome man!
Visiting our friends and sharing popsicles! 
Making pizzas! 
Hanging out at the splash pad!


That's a pretty good recap of our summer!  I'm still working on a post regarding breast-feeding... Wanted to get the potty training one out when I had the chance.  If you never thought you would read about someone else's kids potty habits, well I'm happy I helped make that a reality for you!

See ya'll soon!

Lauren
 
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