Twinfant Tuesday: What Do You Prioritize During Infancy?

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I thought I could do it all.

Even though so many books, articles and blogs for new parents told me to prioritize, I really thought that didn’t apply to me. For one, I have never cared about having a spotless home—something that has been an issue for my husband! For me, “doing it all” didn’t mean having a clean home, clean laundry, and dinner ready for the husband, all on top of having healthy and happy kids. That’s not what I strived for.

In my mind, I was already prioritizing.

I wanted to breastfeed my twins, play with them, bond with them, tend to their elimination needs. Yes, we tried Elimination Communication for several months. Of course, I wanted to eat every now and then. Before having babies (and again now that they are toddlers), I enjoyed cooking, but gourmet meals were beyond my grasp for the first year. And certainly, I wanted to sleep. But attachment parenting—breastfeeding on demand and co-sleeping—were higher on my priority list.

And I thought I could do it all. I even blogged about it for a while.

But now that my twins are nearly three, I realize how close I was to crashing and burning. In reality, it was more like I was flying a plane with a severe, smoking malfunction that led to an abrupt landing with screeching, slow-burning wheels.

My question to my new parent self is: What took me so long to see that?

Would it have been such a blow to my pride if I had hired a babysitter once a week while I took a nap or even just a shower?

Yes, we call the first couple of years with multiples “survival mode”. If you are in the thick of it right now, you know it is aptly named. But now when I think of surviving, I think of getting through some difficult challenges. I don’t think it means you get out of it barely alive.

If I could do it over again, I would ask for help. I would prioritize… by putting myself up a little higher on the list.

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Twinkly Tuesday – July 21, 2015

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Skip to Tuesday Twinklers | Skip to rules | Skip to participant badge | Skip to this week’s links

Welcome to this week’s Twinkly Tuesday, the link party hosted by Sadia here at HDYDI, Caro of The Twinkle Diaries. Lisa at Mummascribbles is usually on board too, but she’s off this week.

I simply cannot get farther in this post without acknowledging a great loss to our wonderful community. Julia, who blogs at Rainbeaubelle, has been part of our tight knit group for some time now. Many of you, like me, have followed her blog as she and her husband Roger gracefully walk the road of his terminal cancer, trying to make the most of the time they have. They have created for their children memories that will raise them up during the tragedy around the corner and the years that follow. They did their best to find some normalcy in a situation in which “normal” is a stranger.

Sadly, that tragedy is no longer around the corner. It is here, right now. Roger took his last breath on Friday. He leaves behind his loving wife, Julia, and two children, Sam and Flo, aged 6 and 2.

Rainbeaubelle's author, Julia, was widowed on July 17, 2015. Roger left behind a son, daughter, and a life full of laughter.

Here at Twinkly Tuesday, you can meet new people, share your posts, and read blogs you might never come across elsewhere. Twinkly Tuesday participants are generous commenters and talented writers. And sometimes their words and stories, like Julia’s, grab you by the heart and won’t let go.

Each week Lisa, Caro, and I choose a favourite post. If you have been featured, be sure to claim your fame by adding the Twinkly Tuesday Twinkler badge to your blog.

My Tuesday Twinkler for the week is from Hectic Dad. Jeff is further down the road of parenthood than I am, and I look to his example for how to be a great parent to pre-teens, adult children and, eventually, a wonderful grandparent. His post about his adult daughter’s sudden and debilitating medical issues left me in an ocean of tears. He dropped everything to go to his 23-year-old, only to realize that he could no longer “Kiss it and make it better.” As of his last update, Hectic Dad’s daughter has been in pain for a week, with no explanation or relief in sight.

Hectic Dad rushes to his adult daughter's side, only to discover that he can't kiss it and make it better. The helplessness a parent feels doesn't lessen with time.

Lisa’s Tuesday Twinkler this week is from Motherhood: The Real Deal. Talya’s topic: “*NEWSFLASH* Why having a baby WON’T save your marriage.” This hit home especially hard for me; I was the baby intended to save my parents’ marriage, and my mother has never failed to remind me that I never fulfilled her purpose in conceiving me. Talya’s point is one that all of us who already have one or more children know: having a child puts enormous stress on a relationship. You want a strong relationship into which to bring a child. A new baby won’t rescue a relationship on the rocks. In fact, it may simply speed its demise.

Having a baby won't save your relationship.

Caro’s Tuesday Twinkler is from Parenting Highs and Lows. In her post “A Balancing Act“, Rachel talks about her relationship with her phone and how it is part of the delicate balance of her career and family. For her, a freelance writer, untethering from the online world means missing out on jobs, jobs that support her family. Much as the idea of not using her phone around the kids is a nice one, it doesn’t fit into her family’s balance. The flexibility her phone affords her to explore further afield of an office allows her to be more present for her children, even if it is with phone in hand.

Putting your phone aside around your children is a great way to keep your focus on your family for some. For others, the phone allows a neater balance of work and family.

Take a moment to visit these posts, if you can. We would love it if you paid a visit to the other host links, and any others that look interesting. And please, however little time you have, take a moment to hold your loved ones closer, to say “I love you” an extra time or two, in honour of Roger and Julia.

This week’s link-up

Link one post, old or new, that you think deserve more readers!

Twitter: Be sure to mention me — @hdydi or Caro — @twinklediaries, on Twitter and please use the hashtag #TwinklyTuesday. We’ll be sure to retweet every tweet tagged!

We’ll also visit everyone’s posts and leave comments between us.

Pinterest:  Lisa and I pin every post with an image to the primary Twinkly Tuesday Pinterest board and I repin the top pins on the HDYDI Twinkly Tuesday board. Send an email to mummascribbles@hotmail.com or tweet Lisa your email address and she’ll add you to the primary board. No more than 2 posts per week please!

Follow Katelyn Fagan of What’s up Fagans?’s board How do you do it? & the *Twinkly Tuesday* Linkup on Pinterest.

Each week, all three of us pick our favourite posts which will be featured on the following week’s Twinkly Tuesday page.

There are a few easy rules to follow, to ensure that everyone’s posts get the attention they deserve. Please do make the effort to abide by the rules, in fairness to the vast majority who do. We have been forced to block participation for repeat offenders who haven’t responded to multiple reminders.

  • Link one post per week — old or new.
  • Please be kind enough to add our badge to the bottom of your post/s. (Scroll down for the code.) If you haven’t (yet) been featured, please make sure you’re using this badge and not the featured one.
  • Please comment on at least two other posts including the one directly before yours. Visit and comment on as many others as you can. Of course, checking out the hosts’ posts would make us feel very loved.
  • Please use #TwinklyTuesday in your comments so people know where you found them!
  • By linking up, you give us permission to use images from your blog if featured. You also allow us to add you to a mailing list to receive a weekly announcement when Twinkly Tuesday opens.
  • The linky will close at 23.55 GMT today.

We look forward to reading all of your fantastic blog posts and seeing you again next week! Remember to grab our button!

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Make-It Monday: Fun & Easy Crafts for Multiples

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Being a parent to a pair of twins, triplets or to children of different ages can make your life a busy one. Multiples can be quite a handful, each with their own quirks and interests. They can also be that much more fun. So how does one go about keeping them engaged in arts & crafts and educational activities?

With a few little tweaks to craft activities and science experiments, you can personalize them for your kids. When children relate to them on a personal level, they are more likely to want to participate and learn. These projects can become joint activities that teach kids to collaborate, bring out their own personality, and celebrate being a part of a unique identity as twins or triplets.

Find ways to allow each of your multiples to make a craft or project her own.
The Twin Chain

Twins can discover more about being twins with this activity. First, discuss different types of twins and how each one is different. In addition to distinguishing between fraternal and identical twins, you can dig deeper into conjoined and mirror image identical twins. Take drawing paper and fold it into half. Draw the outline of a doll with full arms and cut along the outline with a pair of scissors. Avoid cutting through the paper fold line. This will give you two dolls holding hands. Make around seven sets of it. Ask your children to write the type of twin on one side and their characteristics on the other side.

Paper chains offer a fun opportunity to discuss different types of twins with your multiples.

Symmetry in Nature

Children can discover the symmetry in nature with a simple activity. Symmetry is defined as, “The correspondence of the form and arrangement of elements or parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or plane or about a center or an axis.” On a trip to the park or hike along a nature trail, collect natural objects like flowers, rocks, and leaves.

Later, you can lay them out and ask your kids to distinguish between symmetric and non-symmetric objects. Take it further by snipping the leaf along its line of symmetry. Give half to each of your kids. Ask them to place it on a piece of plain paper and draw its symmetric opposite. That is, the missing side should be a mirror image of the leaf.

Think Tweedledum and Tweedledee could grasp the concept of symmetry?

The Brave Bears

For triplets, here’s something fun. Remember Harris, Hubert and Hamish from the movie Brave, who turn into bear cubs?

Ask each child to pick out their favorite from these triplets, and make a felt bear puppet each. For this, you need: bear pattern, dark and light grey felt, Googly eyes, glue, sewing thread and needle, black button, and scissors.

Take a printout of one of the bear cubs and trace an outline on paper. Cut out the outline and lay this pattern on dark grey felt that is folded in half. Cut out the felt along the outline so that you will have two bear outlines. Now, fold the light grey felt in half and draw a round shape, and cut. Also cut out an oval for the nose. Take one of the dark grey felt bear outlines and sew the two round light grey felt in place of the eyes, and the oval light grey felt in the nose area. Sew both the bear outlines together along the edges, leaving the bottom area open. Finish by gluing the Googly eyes and sticking the button for the nose.

Got triplets? Why not help them each make hand puppets of one of the Brave bears.Three-Step Art

Here’s an exercise in collaboration for triplets or for twins and singleton sibling. Divide tasks between each of them. Ask the first child to gather old crayons, strip them of the paper covering, and crush them with the back of a ladle. The second child has to lay out an old hand towel, keep a wax paper on it, pile a small amount of the crushed crayons on this paper, and cover it with another sheet of wax paper. You can step in and use a slightly warm iron over the wax paper. The third child can peel off the crayon design after it has cooled, punch a hole at the top, and thread a ribbon through it.

Which is your favorite activity to engage multiples?

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Dimensions of Intelligence

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Categories Education, Parenting, Perspective, School-Age, Talking to Kids, Unique needsTags , 3 Comments

My children are smarter than me.

Allow me to define “smart” for my purposes. I am certainly more knowledgeable and experienced than my 9-year-olds. I am better read than they are and more able to find practical solutions to problems, whether academic or everyday. I am far better at explaining complex concepts to people than Misses Giggles and Distractable. My ability to critically examine an argument is currently, at age 36, quite a bit better than J and M’s at age 9.

M and J, however, have always been better at absorbing new concepts than I was at the same age. Their minds work faster and burrow deeper. They see connections and parallels that would have never occurred to me. I have no reason to believe that this general trend won’t continue. As far as I can predict, when they are 36 years old, their brains will process ideas more effectively and deeply than mine does today.

The only milestone I beat them to was reading. According to my mother, I read at age 2. J and M were 3 before they were reading independently.

The fact that my daughters are smarter than me makes me proud. Perhaps if I had fewer academic successes under my belt, I would feel diminished by being outshone by my children. Perhaps if I were less egotistical, I wouldn’t be confident that I am just as smart as I need to be. I’m not in competition with my children. My task is give them the tools, skills, and support to be the best M and the best J they can be. I certainly aim to be the best Sadia I can be.

I am not a trained teacher, but I’m a proud nerd and I love getting others excited about knowledge. When my daughters learn a new concept at school, I often expand on it with them at home. It was while doing this that I confessed to them, for the first time, that they’re both smarter than me.

The children were studying 3D shapes in their regular 3rd grade math class. They told me all they knew about rectangular prisms, pyramids and cylinders. I asked if they knew why they were called 3D shapes.

They didn’t.

A mom explains the third and fourth dimensions to her kids, and is at peace knowing that they learn more easily than she did at their age.

The “D”, I told them, stood for “dimensional”. They could think of a dimension as a direction that exists in a shape.

  • A dot has no dimensions because you can’t move around inside it.
  • A line has one dimension because there’s no room to turn around.
  • A plane, I told them using a piece of paper to illustrate, has two dimensions. You can go back and forward or side to side. By combining those two motions, you can get anywhere on the sheet of paper.
  • If you jump off the sheet of paper, you’re in three dimensions. That’s the world we inhabit. Back and forward. Side to side. Up and down. Ocean creatures experience the three dimensions more fully than we do, being able to move vertically with ease.
  • The fourth dimension, I told my girls, was time. That took a little more convincing.

I still had the 2D piece of paper in hand, so I rolled it up to illustrate.

Sadia uses a rolled up sheet of paper to explain to her daughters why time is the fourth dimension.

Imagine, I told them, that there was an ant walking around on my sheet of paper. His world is two-dimensional. He’s not aware of what’s off the paper. Whether the sheet is flat or curved until opposite edges touch, he’s moving around in two dimensions. Even if I wave the paper through the air, the ant probably doesn’t know that it’s being moved. His entire universe is that 2D sheet of paper.

We are similarly unaware of moving through time. Right now, we’re in the dining room, playing with paper. Count to three, and we’re in the same place in the three dimensions we can navigate, but in a new second in the fourth dimension of time.

How to visualize time as the fourth dimension.

J and M said that made sense. “I’m in a new time now!” exclaimed M. “And now… and now. And I hardly wiggled!”

J took the next logical step. “Is there a fifth dimension, mommy?”

“Yes,” I told her. “I’ve read about theories of physics that argue that there must be a fifth dimension.”

“Show me, mommy!” J demanded. “Explain me the fifth dimension.”

“Little J, I recognize the concept, but I can’t see it in my mind. Without a picture, I have to use words. My best explanation is to say it’s the next logical step in the ant analogy.”

“So the fifth dimension is of the parallel universes, mom!” J realized. “Why didn’t you just say that?”

“I didn’t say it because I didn’t understand it. I can’t see it clearly the way you can right now. I’ll do my best to create a metaphor and picture in my mind, but it’s going to take me some time.”

“Mom! It’s obvious,” J told me, more than slightly irritated.

“Sweetheart, you’re going to run into a lot of people who have a harder time understanding ideas than you. Please be patient.”

“But mom,” J pointed out, “you’re mom.”

“I know sweet girl, but as you get older, you’re going to know and understand more and more things that you’ll have to explain to me instead of the other way around. There’s a lot I don’t know, and a lot it’ll take hard work for me to understand. Some of those things will come really easily to you, and that makes me happy.”

I hope that this confession, made with confidence and without apology, showed J and M that it’s okay to be smart without being smartEST. That was a lesson that I struggled with. It was quite the blow to my ego to realize that I wasn’t the top undergrad at my college. I was “only” in the top 10% based on the very narrow measure of GPA. I’ve since learned that being seen as the smartest person in the room is no measure of success.

Doing my best — that’s how I now measure success, even if that fifth dimension escapes me. And for the moment, I’m doing my best to raise two little girls who are officially smarter than me.

The Dad Network
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Don’t Suffer in Silence. Ask for Help.

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Categories Community, Mommy Issues, Other people, Perspective, Relationships2 Comments

I vividly remember attending a birthday party with my toddlers and leaving angry.

It was once of those first birthday parties that was very adult-focused. It was a celebration of having survived that first difficult year, rather than a multi-kid playdate. That makes a lot of sense. A 12-month-old likes routine. Having a bunch of people all over his house and yard is not his idea of fun at all.

While I spent the entire time chasing my twin daughters, swinging them on my hips, soothing owies, and serving them food, the hosts smoothly worked the crowd. The father, mother, and grandmother took turns tending to the birthday baby.

At the end of two hours, I was exhausted and I knew my daughters would fall asleep on the drive home. The only thing I’d eaten was a slobbery carrot shoved into my mouth by sticky little hands.

Chasing twin toddlers is not for the faint of heart!

My friend hugged me goodbye, saying, “I hardly got to talk to you!”

My eyes smarted with tears. How dare she? How dare she complain about my lack of good guest graces, not having lifted a finger to help me corral my two children? My husband was deployed. Other family was thousands of miles away. I’d shown up with a ratio of 1 adult to 2 kids. Hers was 3 adults to 1 kid.

sadia2toddlercarry

Perhaps if she’d held a child for two minutes, I could have used my newly available hand to shove hors d’œuvres in my mouth. Perhaps if she’d carried her baby over to where my little ones were exploring leaf piles, we could have had a conversation.

Now, with the clarity of retrospection, I realize that the failure was mine. I failed to ask for help. I’m sure my friend was intimidated by the competence with which I wrangled my rowdy pair. I’m sure that if I had just asked her to hold one of my girls so I could eat, she would have done so in a heartbeat.

Don’t suffer in silence. It’s not that people don’t understand. We just don’t know how to offer help.

Ask for help when you need it.

Your friends will appreciate the opportunity to help you out. I know this now from the other side. Nothing makes me happier than being able to help out a friend with young kids. My girls are now big kids, leaving me with two free hands. They love to help too. We bring 6 extra hands to the party.

Do you find it easy to ask for help?

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How the 1-2-3 Magic Approach Supports Parental Consistency

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Categories Books, Discipline, Parenting, Preschoolers, School-Age, Toddlers44 Comments

I’m a huge believer in parental consistency. When the parent is consistent, it gives each child a feeling of security. In a world in which they have little power and even less context, they can trust that their parents will always follow through on what they say and can be relied on implicitly. By demonstrating self control, we teach them lessons that will last their whole lives. Yes, I know. It doesn’t much seem like they’re learning any self control at all at ages 2 and 3, but they are.

The challenge is that consistency is hard. Being sleep-deprived and pulled in eleven directions at once as a new parent makes it even harder. 1-2-3 Magic is a book by Thomas W. Phelan that provides parents with a practical approach to achieving consistency.

An overview of the 1-2-3 Magic approach to disciplining your kids. Actually, it's more about disciplining yourself to be predictable, which results in better behavior from the kids.

MandyE wrote a review of 1-2-3 Magic that is a good counterpoint to the summary I provide below.

I have to confess that I came to the book late, when my kids were at the tail end of the Terrible Awful Horrible Threes.  What I discovered was that I’d been practicing its tenets already. I had a leg up, though. My baby sister is 10.5 years my junior so got some parental practice as a pre-teen and teen. I also spent a lot of time in therapy before getting pregnant talking through exactly how I wanted to parent, in my attempt to break harmful family patterns. As my former husband put it, 1-2-3 Magic is just a matter of common sense, but it’s common sense spelled out with practical steps for application.

Premise

The basic premise of 1-2-3 Magic is that structure can help parents achieve consistency.

Phelan’s approach also assumes something that child psychologists know well: the ultimate reward any child seeks is attention. If a kiddo gets attention from her parent for bad behaviour, then she’ll continue it. If you withdraw attention for bad and give attention for good, you’ll quickly retrain his expectations.

That’s where time out comes in. Time out is simply the withdrawal of parental attention. It doesn’t have to have special chair, unless that’s what works for you. It certainly doesn’t involve talking or eye contact.

Goal

So, what is consistency? It boils down to two things:

  1. Parents do what we say.
  2. Parents are predictable.

Technique

The 1-2-3 Magic approach is a combination of counting and time out.

First, you set expectations. Tell your children that you are going to count 1, 2, 3 if they’re naughty. At 3, they’ll go to time out. Don’t worry if they don’t understand. They’ll pick it up.

When they do something against the rules, say 1. The next time they do something inappropriate, or if they don’t stop the original behaviour, say 2. At the next infraction, you say 3 and put them in time out.

If they come out of time out, don’t make eye contact. Don’t try to reason with them. Just gently pick them up and place them back in time out. The total time for time out should be one minute per year of age for neurotypical children.

When the time out is over, don’t try to reason with them or tell them what they did wrong. You can go over basic rules at a point when they’re not already upset. Don’t go back over examples of early indiscretions. They’ve already paid for the rule they broke, and listening to a lecture is a second punishment that accomplishes very little.

I’d recommend waiting a few hours, maybe until the next day.

My personal approach — I can’t remember if this is in the book — is to talk about rules when we’re happy and having a good time together. I don’t even bother trying to reason with the kids when they’re upset. I just say to my 9-year-olds is, “I love you, but we can’t have a discussion like this. When you feel calm, we can talk if you want to.” What cracks me up is that my girls now use that on each other!

If you stick with the 1-2-3 Magic approach, your kids will know that you’re serious. Don’t let them get away with someone one day and punish them the next (except the day you start implementing 1-2-3 Magic). It gives them a feeling of safety to know what the rules are, and this is far more effective than talking it through. Yes, there’ll be a lot of screaming at first, but they’ll figure out you’re serious.

Personal Example

An overview of the 1-2-3 Magic approach to disciplining your kids. Actually, it's more about disciplining yourself to be predictable, which results in better behavior from the kids.

I haven’t had to count past 1 with my girls in at least 3 years. Seriously. I don’t think they have any idea what would happen if I got to 3. I don’t even know what would happen. My daughters are 9 and are generally reasonable human beings. But when they hear me say, “One,” in an I-am-not-messing-around tone, they straighten right up.

An even better example of effective use of the 1-2-3 Magic philosophy occurred with my nephew. By the time he was two years old, he hadn’t had consistent nutrition, much less consistent discipline. I had to go to London to take care of him for a week while his custody was being determined.

It took 6 hours for him to figure out the system. Six hours.

Sure, I had to pick him up and place him on the chair I designated for timeout 26 times the first time, but he got it. I just picked him up and placed him in a chair, saying the word “time out”. I avoided eye contact. Every time he slipped out of the chair, I gently picked him up and placed back on it. When the fifth time out came around, he didn’t try to escape. He sat there, crying, for 120 seconds. When the time was up, I picked up him up, hugged him, and told him that I loved him. We returned to playing with cars.

At the end of the week, when he saw his mom, he begged to stay with me (which broke my heart, because I couldn’t bring him to the US to live with me because of immigration laws). He didn’t see me as Mean Auntie. He knew that I was predictable, and that predictability made him feel safe.

If you want a much more well written explanation of the whole thing, buy the book. It’s a very quick read.

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Increase Your Breastmilk Supply: Tips from a MoM

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Categories Breastfeeding, How Do The Moms Do It, Twinfant Tuesday6 Comments

Having Twins Isn’t a One Way Ticket to Formula

People are sometimes surprised to realize that it’s even possible for a woman to produce enough milk to breastfeed twins. They just assume that every MoM has to supplement their newborns’ diets with formula.

Twins and more can be exclusively breastfed. I’m living proof.

My babies are 24 days old and were born at 31 weeks, 6 days. I’m currently up to pumping 16 oz each time I pump and sometimes even get 24 oz in one pump session from both breasts. As early as 4 hrs after delivery I hand expressed drops into the little bottles given to me at the hospital and continued to hand express before each pump session. Hand expressing is more stimulating than a pump so I feel these two combinations alone have gotten me to this abundant supply!

I didn’t know we had so much frozen until I pulled it out of the freezer.

Raquel's twins are in the NICU and her ability to produce milk is second to none. She shares her tips for successfully increasing her milk supply.
This is my supply at about 15 days. Of course, it doesn’t include what my babies have been consuming fresh.

NICU staff is in shock at my supply. One nurse said, “It’s like a dairy farm over here.” I will probably donate anything I produce that can’t fit in my freezer. Clearly, I’m in the minority in my ability to produce. It’s a combination of good fortune, hard work, and informed technique. I’m here to share my techniques with you. Maybe you won’t end up filling a cart with your excess supply, but maybe my tips can help you get a few more ounces.

Get Informed

I encourage you to educate yourself about how much milk your babies actually need. “Low Milk Supply 101” by Emma Picket IBCLC is one of the best articles I’ve read about breastfeeding.

It hasn’t been all easy for me, and it may not be for you. I was getting clogged up on the left side and had to massage the engorged breast in order to prevent mastitis. It hurt but we got through it!

My Tips

To all the mommas wanting to breastfeed or pump to be able to provide for their babies, I just want to say: Pump. Hand express. Empty, empty, empty those breasts!

Breastmilk supply tips from a mom who is making more than enough milk for TWINS!

Brush

A coworker’s sister in Denver was encouraged by hospital staff to “brush” her breasts to stimulate milk production. Yes. Grab a comb or brush and brush your breasts as if you’re brushing your hair. I remembered this advice, also a Salvadoran folk remedy, and had my significant other brush lightly as I hand expressed. We did that during the first 4 pump/hand express sessions.

Maximize Skin-to-Skin Contact

Kangaroo care is the gold standard for preemies. Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just good for babies, though. The biological response to your baby’s skin against your own can trigger can be increased milk production. Whether your baby is sick or healthy, premature or full-term, spend some time holding him or her directly against your body, inside your clothes if necessary. After I hold my babies for a couple of hours, I start leaking!

Hand Express

The nurse who originally brought me my hospital grade pump told me that studies have shown that a combination of  hand expression and pumping helps you produce more milk. Just massage your breast to squeeze the milk out of your nipple. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the lactation consultant at your hospital to show you how to do it! I hand express before and after every pumping session.

Get the Right Pump

The Medela Symphony, a hospital grade pump provided by the hospital, has contributed to my incredible supply. I used the insurance provided pump with my other two children and I never expressed this much milk. Between both breasts I think the most I would get after a feeding was about 4 oz from each side and when they were first born.

The hospital told me I could use this pump until babies came home. I am seriously looking to buying one now even if it’s been used. It’s worth the investment.

Don’t Pump for Too Long

I initially let the pump go on its own until it stopped. I started having issues with my swollen left nipple a day or two later. The lactation consultant told me I was pumping for too long. The pump ran for 30 minutes, not the recommended 10-15 minutes.

I was told my milk would level off after about week two. I was exhausted and  unable to wake very often during the night to pump. I slept for about 5 hours straight, then pumped and started getting the 8 oz from each breast.

Keep At It

The first week, I pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock. The second week, I reduced that to about every 3 to 4 hours. The third week is just about same as week two. I’m currently waiting about 4 hrs in between. I’m not getting as engorged as I was in the begining but I really think I was having trouble emptying my breasts enough to catch a break

Empty Your Breasts

If you are still somewhat solid in the breasts after you’ve pumped and think you’ve “emptied”, you could very well have a good amount in there. Since it’s not coming out like it should, your breasts won’t think they have to make more. Once empty, breasts should keep working at production.

I got less out of my left breast when I was pumping for the whole 30 minutes. It still felt hard. I knew that was off and that there might be milk there but just not able to get it out. I had to massage the painful breast. It was excruciating!

I’m not going to lie. There have been moments I wanted to just stop it all. To top it off, my left nipple (which still hurts) swelled up to the size of a smoked sausage while I pumped. It refused to go back down to its normal size! The lactation consultant told me it might be the size of the pumping shield/flange, but I’ve tried different sizes and have better luck with the smaller one. It just seems to expand with the little tunnel and burns towards the end of pumping.

Eat and Drink on Behalf of Your Babies

I drink water like no other. I drink 1-2 gallons of water a day. That’s no exaggeration! I haven’t had to push myself because I find myself more thirsty this time around compared to with my older singletons.

I never skip out on meals and I snack in between. I pack almonds and cheese and ham sandwiches, or peanut butter and PB&J for my daily NICU visits. Did you know that you actually need more calories while breastfeeding than you do during pregnancy? Your babies have to work a lot harder outside your womb than inside.

I had noticed that skipping meals with my firstborn drastically reduced my supply. Stay hydrated and do not run on an empty stomach. I still take my prenatal vitamins and the NICU doctor overseeing the babies told me to take 3 fish oil pills a day and one vitamin D tablet too.

Be Kind to Yourself

I was able to give birth naturally, without an epidural. Your personal medical situation and many other things you cannot control will impact your ability to produce milk. Childbirth is a traumatic experience for your body. A C-section is major surgery. If you can make breastfeeding work, that’s great. If you can’t, that doesn’t make you any less of a mother.

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Twinkly Tuesday – July 14, 2015

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Skip to Tuesday Twinklers | Skip to rules | Skip to participant badge | Skip to this week’s links

Welcome to this week’s Twinkly Tuesday, the link party hosted by Sadia here at HDYDI, Caro of The Twinkle Diaries, and Lisa at Mummascribbles.

Meet new people, share your posts, and read blogs you might never come across elsewhere. Twinkly Tuesday participants are generous commenters and talented writers.

Each week Lisa, Caro, and I choose a favourite post. If you have been featured, be sure to claim your fame by adding the Twinkly Tuesday Twinkler badge to your blog.

My Tuesday Twinkler for the week is from Love from Clueless Mum. In her post “Mummy vs Control Freak“, Clueless Mum wrote about the lack of control inherent to both motherhood and military life, which is especially challenging to people like her (and me) who like to plan, organize, and regiment. I suspect that you’ll relate.

Clueless Mom's post on surrendering control as a result of motherhood.

Lisa’s Tuesday Twinkler this week is Chirpy Chatterbox. You have to check out Alison’s absolutely perfect parody of the ubiquitous song “Let It Go” about the impossibility of maintaining a neat house when you have kids. Her family were wonderful actors and Alison has a lovely voice! When she goes viral, you can say you saw her here first! (Please do click over to her blog at drop her a note, even though I am including her video here for your convenience.) Her post points out what powerful tools music and humour are.

Caro’s Tuesday Twinkler is from Currently, Kelsie. In her post on unexpected lessons from the garage, as in all her writing, Kelsie’s thoughtfulness, positivity, and love shine through. She discusses a sudden realization that completely changed how she approaches her husband Aaron’s time doing Aaron-y things. Instead of using that time to get her own stuff done elsewhere, she has begun to spend it in the garage with her husband, in quiet companionship.

Kelsie's realization of the value of time spent together with her spouse is absolutely beautiful. It's a lesson to anyone in a loving relationship.

Take a moment to visit these posts, if you can. We would love it if you paid a visit to the other host links, and any others that look interesting.

On with this week’s link-up!

Link up ONE posts, old or new, that you think deserve more readers!

Twitter: Be sure to mention me — @hdydi, Caro — @twinklediaries, or Lisa — @mummascribbles, on Twitter and please use the hashtag #TwinklyTuesday. We’ll be sure to retweet every tweet tagged!

We’ll also visit everyone’s posts and leave comments between us.

Pinterest:  Lisa and I pin every post with an image to the primary Twinkly Tuesday Pinterest board and I repin the top pins on the HDYDI Twinkly Tuesday board. Send an email to mummascribbles@hotmail.com or tweet Lisa your email address and she’ll add you to the primary board. No more than ONE post per week please!

Each week, all three of us pick our favourite posts which will be featured on the following week’s Twinkly Tuesday page.

There are a few easy rules to follow, to ensure that everyone’s posts get the attention they deserve. Please do make the effort to abide by the rules, in fairness to the vast majority who do. We have been forced to block participation for repeat offenders who haven’t responded to multiple reminders.

  • Link one post per week — old or new.
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  • By linking up, you give us permission to use images from your blog if featured. You also allow us to add you to a mailing list to receive a weekly announcement when Twinkly Tuesday opens.
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We look forward to reading all of your fantastic blog posts and seeing you again next week! Remember to grab our button!

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Cleft Awareness

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Categories Congenital Anomaly, Medical, Parenting, Special Needs38 Comments

July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month! Find more #cleftawareness photos and stories on Facebook!

Sweet Pea’s Story

On a beautiful Colorado day in June of 2012, my heart was racing with anticipation and excitement. Our long awaited second child was about to make his entry into the world! When he was born, he made no sound because his cord was wrapped around his neck…twice. They removed it and within moments, he was screaming his head off. It was like music to my ears! Moments later, the doctor informed me that our son, our Sweet Pea, was born with a cleft palate. While we knew that this was a possibility as I was born with one as well, it was still a blow. I had walked this road, and I knew of the struggles that he would face.

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He was admitted to the NICU for observation due to his difficult delivery, but ended up staying for 3 days because he needed oxygen. He went home with oxygen, and remained on it for 13 weeks. During that time, feeding became a major issue. Our son was born without any of his soft palate, and was missing some of his hard palate as well. When people hear that we had cleft palates, they often say, “wow, you look so great!” While I appreciate the compliment, I realize that there is a lack of knowledge about clefts and choose to take these occurrences as a gift…an opportunity to raise awareness about clefts. For Sweet Pea and I, we do not have complete clefts, meaning our lips were not impacted by our cleft (see the bottom left picture in the chart below). While cosmetics were not an issue, feeding, breathing, speaking and orthodontics are.

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Because his cleft eliminated his entire soft palate, he was never able to latch to breastfeed. This was a huge blow to me and contributed to my post-partum depression. At only 6 weeks old, Sweet Pea was diagnosed with failure to thrive. We tried several methods of feeding him before we found the Haberman feeder. It is now called the Medela Special Needs Feeder and just one costs about $30. Obviously, the ability to feed our son was priceless, but it was very challenging. If it weren’t for this awesome bottle, our little man would have gotten a peg tube to feed him.

haberman

Many children have their cleft palates closed around 6 months of age…unless they have a craniofacial anomaly that impacts their airway. Our son also has Crouzon Syndrome, which makes his midface small, therefore making his airway small. Because of this, we had to wait until he was 12 months old before closing his palate. It was a long, difficult road, but well worth it!

A cleft palate repair typically takes about 3 hours…P’s took 5.  It was the longest day of my life.  When the craniofacial surgeon came out, he told us it was the most difficult repair he has ever done, but he believed it was successful. Two years later, I can attest to that claim. So far, P has had three surgeries, and the only surgery on the horizon is replacing his ear tubes. Today his biggest challenge is speech, but he has an amazing speech therapist and he is a resilient guy. We will continue to have him monitored by his Cleft/Craniofacial Team on a yearly basis. While we cannot predict his future, we do have a good idea of what to expect from my own experiences.

My hope is that this post will raise awareness about clefts and craniofacial differences, and that it will encourage parents who are on this road too. As someone who was born with Crouzon Syndrome, Craniosynostosis, Chiari Malformation, and a cleft palate, I can say that I am thriving today. My son has taught me a lot about myself, how I deal with our birth defects and how I view myself and him as we walk this path.  He has taught me that I am his voice, his advocate and his cheerleader. Maybe he can teach others too?

Here are some links for further research and support:

Risk of Oral Clefts in Twins

CCA Guide to Understanding Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft Palate Foundation

CCA Kids

Do you, or someone you love, have a cleft?

Would you like further information about cleft or craniofacial support and encouragement?

Comment below or send a message!

Sara is a mama of four children, two of them being surprise identical twin girls. She is happily married to the love of her life, stays home with her children and is currently homeschooling her oldest child. Most of her writing is centered around raising awareness about Crouzon Syndrome and cleft palates, advocating for your child, homeschooling and raising multiples. Find her blog at Confessions of an Outnumbered Mom.

The Dad Network
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Everything I Need to Know About Toddlers I Learned From Story Time

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Categories Activities, Parenting, Toddler Thursday4 Comments

I first went to story time at the library when my oldest were almost 2. I thought it would be a one time activity, but Ms Jen was so compelling we ended up there every week. That was 5 years ago. My little girls are 2.5 and although other activities tend to get in the way, we still make it a priority to go see Ms Jen on Thursdays at 10:30. They always start the half hour session with “Bubblegum” and end it with “Alligator”.  The favorite activity was always petting the stuffed alligator puppet. I ended up buying the song and searching the internet for 2 stuffed alligators just like it. Recently my kids wanted to give away those beloved puppets but I wouldn’t let them.

Ms Jen always started her story times with some guidelines that I found were pretty helpful for the rest of the toddler day too.  I’m going to share them with you, but you might want to sit on a rug with alphabet letters on it to fully absorb this information!

PARTICIPATE

I don’t mean the toddlers. We all know they participate plenty. We all know our kids grow up too quickly. They don’t need to be reminded.

Maybe need to be more connected. When your little one puts on a funny hat and says, “Look at me!”, don’t just look. Put one on too! It takes 2 seconds and you’ve managed to catch their eyes light up just a little bit more.

Now, I understand that you can’t participate in everything everytime. Even the toddlers sit and watch sometimes. But make sure your sit and watch time is active too. I remember waking up for 3am feedings and timing it so I could watch a 45 minute Ellen episode. It was just enough time for me to feed, change, and swaddle 2 babies back to sleep. They got what they needed and so did I. That feeding was for me. The rest of them were saved for the babies.

MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS

This is a tough one cause I know we’re all on our phones a lot. Multi tasking always!

Wouldn’t it help us get through a tantrum if we also didn’t have to get the cookies out of the oven. I know, we don’t have time to make cookies. I mean make a doctor’s appointment.

When you’re on “mother time,” be on mother time. Save the phone call for when you’ve locked yourself in the bathroom. I like what one mom said to me. She mentioned that she doesn’t ask her toddlers to do something until she is physically able to help them. If you say, “Go get your shoes,” don’t be surprised if they need help. Be ready yourself so you can provide that help. Tantrum avoided!

If we were texting during a job interview I doubt we would get that job. Let’s give our children the same respect.

BE PREPARED FOR BAD DAYS

And we all have them.  We have bad minutes and hours too. Guess what? It’s okay!

If you’re prepared, then not much can faze you. If you know your toddlers hate to get in their carseats, just know you’re going to have to add 45 minutes to your errand. Get a cooler for your car so your milk doesn’t spoil while you pry them in.

If you know they are going to climb out of cribs every bedtime, grab yourself a snack, pull up a rug with your device of choice and get caught up on Netflix. You can’t be prepared for every situation, but you can be prepared for enough of them to avoid problems.

Today I brought 3 towels to the pool instead of 4. I now know that was the biggest mistake ever and I will never do that again.

RELAX

You don’t have to take yoga in order to relax. (It helps, though.) It’s true that kids follow your mood and your flow. So if you’re relaxed, they will be too.

I could tell my toddler was about to get frustrated, so I got there first and stamped my foot and screamed, “I can’t do it!” She was so surprised I knew what she was going to do that we had a big giggle fest instead and the moment was diffused.

Ihave hardly had to yell lately because of this principle. I just calmly give them choices that they can live with. “We are going to change your diaper. Do you want to do it the sad way or the happy way?” This principle doesn’t mean you have to be floating on a cloud all of the time. It just means that the cliche is true: “This too shall pass.”

ASK FOR HELP

Yes! All the time, for anything.

It doesn’t always mean we will get the help we need, but if we don’t ask, we don’t get. It seems natural to ask for help when we have newborns, but they don’t go away once they start sleeping through the night. They become toddlers and then teenagers!

  • Get help from the internet: Your hubby needs razors? Amazon Prime.
  • Get help from neighbors: Have a sleeping baby and need to do a school pickup? Bring the baby monitor next door.
  • Get help from friends: Have a lunch date at a playplace. You get adult conversation and kids burn energy.
  • Get help from family. Yes, we may have in-law problems, but if they do your dishes while you nap then you don’t have to talk to them.
  • Get help from your spouse: Let them load the dishwasher their own way; I promise it’s ok.
  • Get help from anyone: Hire a cleaning service!!
  • Most importantly, get help from God/church. True story: I prayed for 10 more minutes of sleep and sure enough my babies went back to sleep and then on the dot of 10 minutes started fussing. Didn’t need an alarm clock that day!

How will you implement your own “Story Time Rules” in order to deal with your sweet* toddlers!

 

*I highly recommend a book called Toddlers are A**holes! It helps with the relaxing part!

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