Baby Steps (pun intended)

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#MOMGOALS series with guest blogger Ashley Jones

Now, to the taking action part…

Getting healthy doesn’t have to be all or nothing, or a complete overhaul of your entire life at once. I often encourage my clients to take a “stepwise” approach, especially if they are just starting out on their journey.

Ways to take small steps that will get you big changes over time:

1. Eliminate one unhealthy meal/snack/beverage a day and replace it with something healthy. Do this for one week. Then in week 2, eliminate another unhealthy meal/snack/beverage etc. Continue doing this each week, until everything you are eating/drinking is healthy(ish).

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2. After you have built up some good healthy eating habits and are aware of how your body feels, start to move! If you are just starting out, you might want to chose 2 days to get 30 minutes of exercise in for the first week, then 3 days the next week and 4 days on week 3 and repeat until you are being active (sweating, can’t talk comfortably while exercising) for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week.

3. Now that you are eating healthy and being active, it’s time to step your game up. By now you have probably noticed some difference in how you feel and how your clothes fit you. Your friends and family might even be noticing a difference in how you look 😉 To make sure that you keep seeing change and getting healthier, you’ve got to push yourself. So up the weight you are lifting, push for an extra rep or improve your PR if you are a runner.

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4. Last, and most importantly DON’T stop!

Yes, it’s ok to rest and listen to your body, but don’t fall for your own old excuses anymore. You’ve come too far to back track.

Stay tuned for a little tough love next week 💜

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Ashley Jones is a Wife, Mama, Physician Assistant, and Health & Lifestyle Coach. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook.Instagram: @the_good_doctors_wifeFacebook: Www.facebook.com/nursingtankfitness

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#itsalifestylenotadiet

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#MOMGOALS series with guest blogger Ashley Jones

Want to know my secret…..

I don’t diet.

Now before you roll your eyes and curse me out 🤣 bare with me!

 

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See in the past whenever I wanted to lose weight, I would cut calories in an unhealthy way and I would exercise in an unhealthy way. By that I mean, I would literally eat scrambled egg whites, baked potatoes and broccoli in some way shape and form, for every meal. I would count every single calorie and then I would go to the gym and spend 2 hours burning everything off.

2 words: Not 👏Sustainable 👏

Then I would “yo-yo,” back up to the weight where I started or even a bit heavier because my body was starving.

It wasn’t until I had my little girl and wanted to shed the pregnancy weight that I learned how to do it the healthy way.

21 days of rewiring my brain. Learning what healthy portions from every food group looked like and how they made my body feel. Teaching my body that just 30-45 minutes of exercise could change the way I felt, the way I thought and the way I looked.

One thing that I want to be sure to focus on is that just because my program was 21 days doesn’t mean I stopped after one cycle. One of the issues I have with diets are that most of them have an end date. 3 day cleanse, 14 day detox etc. and that they make you cut out a food group to get results. This leads you to a false thinking of “Oh, I can just do this for X amount of days and be fit.” When in reality you are setting yourself up for failure. What I mean, more directly, is that if you want to be -HEALTHY- and lose weight you need to make a lifestyle change that is sustainable and you need to consistently and intentionally take action to reach your goals everyday.

Next week, we will talk about some baby steps we can make toward being healthy!

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Ashley Jones is a Wife, Mama, Physician Assistant, and Health & Lifestyle Coach. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook.Instagram: @the_good_doctors_wifeFacebook: Www.facebook.com/nursingtankfitness

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#momgoals – Guest blogger series w/Ashley Jones

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It’s early January and we are all running rampant on our 2018 New Year’s resolutions, am I right? Like clockwork, every January 1 I make a couple of personal goals for myself (most include losing weight, eating healthy, cutting back on the wine….) but by March 1, they are usually out the window. Even earlier now that I am a mom.

As moms, we are super busy, like ALL OF THE TIME. In my experience, my personal goals are usually what take the backburner. Well not this year! Like I already emphasized, 2018 is the year of ME, and I am going to find the time to focus on ME and MY goals.

That’s where my good friend Ashley Jones comes in. She has been by my side with advice, motivation, jokes and, now that she is a physician’s assistant, the answers to all of my health anxiety qualms (lucky her!). She is the sister I never had, and then some.

Ash has an 18-month-old daughter, works part-time at a Pittsburgh Urgent Care Center, is a health and lifestyle coach and still finds the time to work out, cook a fabulous meal and unwind with a glass of wine (or tea) at the end of a long day.

How does she do it?! I ask myself this on a daily basis! Fear not my friends; she is here to share some of her secrets and tips to reaching some of those goals you have set for yourself this year in a three-part series I have dubbed “#MOMGOALS”.

For the next three Thursdays, Ashley will be taking over my blog and covering topics like:

  • #itsalifestylenotadiet (why diets can suck)
  • Baby Steps (small changes that make a BIG difference)
  • Tough Love (motivation vs. discipline)

To make sure you don’t miss out on any of her great advice, follow my blog now! I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us!

Side note: In between these guest posts I plan to share with you some of the most important things I have learned while TTC.


Ashley_HeadshotAshley Jones is a Wife, Mama, Physician Assistant, and Health & Lifestyle Coach. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook.

Instagram: @the_good_doctors_wife

Facebook: Www.facebook.com/nursingtankfitness


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Ovulation: An EGGsact Science

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Pinpointing ovulation is one of the most difficult, but most important aspects of trying to conceive. Your entire cycle evolves around and is categorize based on the one day.

Your follicular phase is the days leading up to ovulation – but you won’t know how long it is until ovulation is confirmed! Your luteal phase it the time between ovulation and the first day of you period. Again, you need to know when you ovulated to calculate it.

In order to become pregnant, you must have sex (or insemination) on or around the day that you ovulated. This is your fertile window… ovulation day and the five days leading up to it. You might even be able to consider the day after ovulation a part of this window, because the egg has a lifespan of about 24 hours after being released in which it can be fertilized. If it is not, POOF!, egg disintegrates.

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The five days prior to ovulation are considered fertile days because it is possible, given the right conditions (fertile cervical fluid), for sperm to live inside the female body for up to five days. So sperm that entered the uterus/fallopian tubes on the first day of your fertile window might just still be hanging around on O day. But your best chances of fertilization are the day of and the day prior to ovulation.

So, now that you understand how important ovulation is, how the heck do you know when it happens! On average, based on a 28-day cycle, ovulation would occur on CD (cycle day) 14. However, a good chunk of those TTC don’t have a perfect 28-day cycle. Some of us have short, 24 day cycles, others have 30, 35, or 40 + days (I average between 35-40). It can be estimated that you ovulate approximately 14 days prior to your period, because the average luteal phase is about 14 days long. If you have a 25 day cycle, you likely ovulate right around day 11. If you have a 35 day cycle, O is probably on day 21.

But what good does that do us after the fact? Especially for those of us who have irregular, fluctuating cycles?? Not much that’s for sure. That is why there are a variety of different ways to estimate/pinpoint ovulation that all TTCers should be aware of.

Below are some of the most common methods. Some are pretty accurate, others are just estimates. My recommendation is a combination!

1. Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Your Basal Body Temperature is your body’s temperature in a state of rest, and is your lowest temperature of the day. It is taken first thing in the morning, upon waking, before you even get out of bad, take a sip of water, or even utter a word. You will need to get a special thermometer for tracking your BBT, one that calculates to two decimal places, because changes in temperature can be that small.

To track your BBT I suggest using a fertility app like Fertility Friend or Glow. You can track by hand and print of charts from the internet, but I think it is way easier to enter the temps into the app. Tack your temperature every morning, at the same time (you can take it orally or vaginally or rectally, just be consistent…I prefer orally) and enter it into the app chart. At the beginning of your cycle, your temperatures are on the lower end, and at the end of your cycle they should be noticeably higher.

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Ovulation occurs when there is a noticeable shift of at least .4 degrees Farenheit after ovulation, which helps separate your chart into two phases – follicular (lower temps) and luteal (higher temps after ovulation). A lot of women have a temperature drop right before the increase on the day they ovulate. A couple days of higher temps will confirm ovulation, and most apps will generate what is called a “cover line”. Temperatures usually remain above the cover line during the luteal phase, and will drop back down when your period starts. Temps that stay above the cover line through a missed period are often promising. But it is not an exact science.

BBT charting is the best way to confirm ovulation, short of a vaginal ultrasound. Chart for several months and look for patterns.

The bad thing about BBT charting? It cannot PREDICT ovulation, only confirm it. So it is important to chart your BBT along with other ovulation prediction methods like ovulation tests, checking cervical mucous and position, etc.

2. Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPKs)

These are pee sticks that detect the luteinizing hormone (LH). They work similar to pregnancy tests in HOW you take them, but differ in how you read them. For OPKs with lines, the test line must be as dark OR darker than the control line in order to be positive. Many women have LH in their systems throughout their cycle and may always have a faint line show up on these tests. When you receive a positive test, you can be expected to ovulate within 24 hours.

There are also digital ovulation tests, like Clear Blue, that give you no-nonsence results like smiley-faces and shaking smileys that help you detect your two or four (depending on the product) most fertile days.

Clear Blue Digital Ovulation Tests

Clear Blue Advanced Digital Ovulation Tests

Make sure to do the deed on the high fertility days, and then one day after.

I usually use the cheap test strips from Amazon because I like to take them every day and I am not a millionaire. Also, with the cheap sticks I like to tape them to a piece of notebook paper and include the date, time and CD (cycled day) they were taken so I can track progress and compare from month-to-month.

3. Cervical Mucous (CM)

Cervical Mucous (CM), AKA vaginal discharge (both are equally gross words to say aloud), is another way to predict ovulation. Your CM changes often throughout your cycle, and can help indicate when you are and are not fertile. When your cervical mucous resembles egg whites (EWCM!) you are most fertile, ovulation is impending and you should get down!

The best way to test your CM is around the same time each day with CLEAN fingers. Insert into  your V and then move the results around between your fingers. Yes, you will probably feel awkward at first, but eventually it will become habit. If you are like me you will check it every time you go to the bathroom.

The various types of CM (different sites/books will have slightly different names and descriptions) are:

Dry/nonexistent – this is infertile CM. Usually found right after your period. This is not a healthy environment for sperm

Sticky – After dry usually comes sticky. Again, this is infertile. It is almost like dry rubber cement! This is usually white in color.

Creamy – Similar to lotion in color and texture. This can be infertile or slightly fertile CM. This change is in response to the increasing estrogen levels in your body. It does not stretch or move much between your fingers.

Watery – Fertile CM!! Woohoo! This is likely to be clear or a little cloudy, and feel slippery between your period. This means ovulation is coming soon!

Eggwhite – The Holy Grail of CM! Eggwhite cervical mucous (aka EWCM) is the most fertile of all. It is clear and STRETCHY. When you pull your fingers apart it will likely stretch and inch or so. And it really looks like raw egg whites. This means ovulation is right around the corner, or occurring now. Some women never get EWCM but still ovulate. Which is why I will again emphasize that all of these methods should be used in tandem.

4. Cervical Position/Texture

The position of your cervix is another way to predict ovulation. Your cervix may be high, medium, or low. Become a cervical position expert and check it often so you know what is “normal” for you. Below are the stages of cervical position:

Low, hard, slightly open – during your period (infertile)

Low, hard, closed – directly after your period (infertile)

Medium, medium texture, slightly open (slightly fertile)

High (you should barely be able to find it!), soft and open (most fertile)

Medium, medium texture, closed – after ovulation (infertile)

High, soft, closed – this is what the cervix apparently feels like when you are pregnant, but everyone is different and I can’t even remember what mine felt like. And it could take a while to get to this position, even well after a positive test.

Hard texture can be compared to the tip of your nose, while soft texture can be compared to your lips (hopefully that helps). I am not very good at explaining the difference between open and closed.

5. Other symptoms

While there is no rhyme or reason to this method, many women experience that same symptoms aroundn ovulation from month-to-month. Some of those symptoms might be:

  • Cramping or twinges
  • Tender breasts
  • Increased sense of smell
  • Increased sex drive

Using all of these methods combined can help you to identify your fertile window and ovulation, which can greatly increase your chances of pregnancy. But even if you track everything, and time sex perfectly, there is still a big chance you won’t fall pregnant. SO MANY THINGS have to fall exactly into place at the right time in order for fertilization and pregnancy to occur.

I know trying for months and years can be discouraging. I have been there and I know how painful it is. So if you are under 35 and have been trying for a year, or are 35+ and have been trying for 6 months, it is recommended that you see your doctor (OB or fertility specialist). But that is no rule of thumb. You need to be your OWN advocate. If you think something is wrong, make an appointment. That is what I did after 7 months of perfectly timed intercourse. And I ended up needing two rounds of IVF! Don’t be ashamed, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Infertility affects roughly 1 in 8 couples, and is worth talking about.

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2018: The year of ME

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The holiday season is over! While I am sad to see it go (I am a nut for Christmas), this mama needs a break! Between the decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, etc., I am pooped. Not to mention that both girls were sick for 80% of my “vacation” (ear infections all around, multiple bouts of vomit, crusty noses and eyes, high grade fevers…need I go on?) so I didn’t even get a chance to catch up on sleep! Needless to say, I am ready for a break. But mom’s don’t get breaks!!

Well, this year that is going to change (I hope).

While I still plan to focus on my usual goals, such as – being a better person, being a good mother, helping others, etc., this year I also plan to focus a little bit more on myself. You heard that right, I am going to be SELFISH. As a full-time, working mom of two, I don’t get a whole lot of time to myself. So this year my goal is to carve out a little chunk of time out each month/each week/each day (whatever I can manage) to just focus on me. That could include something as simple as finding some time to practice my breathing/mindfulness; or taking a bath, getting a massage or going to the gym.

I am obviously going to need my husband’s help on this one, but he is an awesome dad and partner so I have no doubt I can make this one of the first resolutions I actually keep.

Here are some of my ideas for ME TIME:

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Enjoy a nice bath with my new bath caddy (yes, I got one!)
  • Read a chapter or two in a good book
  • Take a 20 minute nap
  • Go to Target BY MYSELF (can you say goals??)
  • Get a massage
  • Spend some time at the gym
  • Lock the door to the bathroom and bring my phone with me for some uninterrupted pinning time
  • Girls night out!!
  • Get a pedicure
  • Try a new recipe
  • Get crafty – there are so many DIY pins I am dying to try
  • Binge watch a TV show
  • Blog

 

Speaking of blogging, I have some exciting things in store for my followers this month, and this year, so stay tuned.

Please comment with any additional “me time” ideas you might have!

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The not-so-new twin mom’s Christmas list

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Last week I posted a well thought out, product-centric list of all the baby products that every new twin mom, or twin-mom-to-be, should not be without during their first year with twins. This week, I am shifting gears and posting my wish list as a twin mom (and mom, in general) who has been around the block (albeit, only once). With 15 months of mummying under my belt, my list of needs has evolved into an aspirational list of wants. This list is a bit more selfish and difficult to fulfill, but extremely relatable. Some items are products, some are services and some are just dreams. You may not find it very useful, but I hope you will at the very least find it honest and humorous!

NEW BRAS

Most of the time, I still wear my nursing bras, because frankly they are the most comfortable bras I have ever owned. But after twelve months of nursing and pumping, they aren’t in great shape. And my boobs are an entirely different shape and size than they were pre-pregnancy. No longer perky, but very saggy and squishy. I joke with my friends that I could get a mammogram and not even flinch! Thus, I need some new bras for the new ladies. But I’m not even sure where to begin. Santa shops at VS, right?

INSTANT POT

We just purchased one of these a couple months ago, so this one is for you, my loyal readers. Get an Instant Pot. You will not regret it, I promise. I can make a gourmet meal in less than 20 minutes and only dirty one pot! This is a twin mother’s dream come true! I recently made a sausage penne pasta that would put Giada to shame. Check out the recipe here.

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HIGH WAISTED PANTS

Jeans, work pants, PJ pants, you name it, they need to rest above my belly button. Why? Because I have this extra pouch of flab that hangs over the waistband and looks extremely unattractive in “hip huggers”. Not to mention my C-section scar that gets super itchy and irritated if my pants make contact with it. Call them mom jeans if you must, but they are a necessity in camouflaging my “twin skin”. I like the GAP for these.

BACK PACK LEASHES

Growing up I was always judgmental of parents who leashed their kids. But now I can relate. Especially in a busy, crowded setting. I am THIS CLOSE to purchasing some of these for the girls. I get nervous taking them anywhere alone, especially now that they are mobile

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CLEANING SERVICE

When you have twin toddlers, you have to face the music that your house will be a tornado of toys, crumbs and chaos. My once beautiful hardwood floors are scratched up and spotted with milk drops. My couch cracks house a half a box of Cheerios. The clean laundry is scattered around the family room while the dirty laundry piles up in the laundry chute. I don’t even want to think of all the bodily fluids that are hanging out throughout my home. Basically, it is a disaster. And when I somehow find the time to straighten up, it only lasts through nap time! An in-home cleaning service would be a God send, am I right?

ROOMBA

While I have never seen one of these in real life, I have to believe they are as amazing as they seem. Our floor is a constant mess of Cheerios, goldfish crackers, dirt, leaves, etc. I would give my right arm (my vacuuming arm) for a Roomba to continuously suck up that mess, wouldn’t you?

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ONE PIECE SWIMSUITS

If you wanna rock your mom bod in a bikini, more power to you! I for one am not quite ready for bikini and beach season, and am much more comfortable in a cute one piece. I found quite a few at Bellelilly.com. I am so grateful these are trendy again!

PERSONAL CHEF/PERSONAL TRAINER

Who doesn’t want someone to cook for them and whip them into shape?? The time I would save not having to cook could be spent doing crunches and squats. And then I could eat a meal that doesn’t consist entirely of carbs or leftovers. Heck, while I am hiring all of this help, why don’t we throw in a personal shopper for groceries and clothes? While ClickList and Amazon Prime are life savers, I still have to find the time to shop online. And that is more precious time I could be devoting to getting rid of my FUPA.

AMAZON ECHO/DOT (or comparable device)

I am REALLY hoping Santa brings us one of these. We currently use our FireStick to stream Bruno Mars on YouTube. But we keep getting this notice that as of Jan. 1, 2018, YouTube will no longer be available. That alone is enough to send me into panic mode. With an Echo we could still stream music (even though the girls like the music videos) and could even prompt it to play Bruno hands-free. Not to mention all the other hands-free things I could do with this (order pizza, comes to mind).

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SIPPY CUPS THAT REALLY DON’T SPILL

If you have found this holy grail of cups, please share! We have tried at least a half dozen different brands (360, Nuk, Nuby, straw sippies, etc.) and no matter what, they leak. Drives me nuts!!!

WINE

Wine gets me through tantrums. Wine gets me through teething. Wine gets me through life. I wish Santa would bring me a year supply of wine. Red or white. I’m not picky!!!

 

LIFETIME SUPPLY OF BATTERIES

Everything needs batteries these days. And we are always running out at the worst possible time. I would like a lifetime supply of batteries for Christmas. AA, AAA, D, C, 9V. GIVE ME ALL OF THE BATTERIES! That way we never have to deal with the pink elephant toy dying ever again. That was not fun.

BATHTUB CADDY

Bath time is my ME time. And my me time is few and far between. So when I do get a chance to run a bath, I want to enjoy some wine (preferably from my never-ending supply) and a good book at the same time. I have seen these cool trays on Etsy, and am hoping one will pop up under my tree this year.

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CHILD LOCK FOR IPHONE/IPAD

I don’t mean a lock to keep the kids off of my phone. I know all about pass codes and finger print entry. I want a lock that will keep my kids from turning off the song or video I play for them. The minute their little fingers touch the screen that entertainment is donezo. Why is this not a thing already? If it is, share the knowledge. All I know is I spend countless minutes re-finding Moana.

YETI CUP

These are amazing for moms & dads. Keeps your drink cold for 24 hours or your drink hot for 12 hours. Basically, it keeps your drink at the right temp for hours. So if you pour your coffee at 6am but don’t get to take your first sip until 8am, you’re good. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and if you look on Etsy you can get them personalized!

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VACATION

I don’t even care where. Just send me somewhere I can unwind and reconnect with my hubby. Kid free (what is that?).

 

That concludes my Christmas list this year. Santa, Nick….no pressure!

I’d love to hear what all of you are wishing for this holiday season!

The new twin mom’s Christmas list

With my favorite holiday right around the corner, I thought I would compile a list (a “Christmas list”, of sorts) of the things I could not have survived without during my first year as a new twin mom. I REALLY wish someone would have shared this with me when I was pregnant or right after the birth of my girls. Some of the items on this list I received as baby shower gifts, others I purchased during the girls’ first year, and a couple I do not personally own but were recommended by other twin mommies. I have included links so you can purchase them yourself, or throw them on your own registry.

**The majority of these products would work for moms of singletons, too!**

  1. TWIN Z NURSING PILLOW (or any other comparable double nursing pillow, like the My Breast Friend)

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This pillow was an absolute LIFE SAVER. Definitely worth the hefty price tag (I actually purchased mine from a fellow twin mom, and then sold it to another twin mom!). It is great for tandem nursing, single nursing, holding babies, propping up babies with bottles, tummy time and more! You can even get various covers for it (I recommend water proof, a lot of milk drippage and puke will end up on it)!

 

  1. LARGE DIAPER BAG

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I went with a cute, large, JuJuBe diaper bag and I absolutely love it. It fits everything I need, and it isn’t horrendously ugly. Another $$$ purchase but worth the splurge. One thing I might have changed, or purchased in addition to, would have been a backpack diaper bag. But this one had a long enough strap that I could wear cross-body and still be hands free to carry my girls. 15 months later I still use it almost every day and am pretty sure it will last me through a potential baby #3, as well.

 

  1. HANDS-FREE PUMPING BRA

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DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THIS. Truth. Anywhere my pump went, so did this bad boy. I only purchased one, and I will admit it looks pretty gross now, but it was so convenient. While pumping at home I could enjoy my coffee, while pumping in my office I could work, while pumping in my car I could drive….you get the picture. If you don’t want to buy one, or are in a pinch, you can cut small holes in and old sports bra and it works just about the same!

 

  1. SLEEP SACKS/SWADDLES (lots)

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Every baby is different, but my girls loved their sleep sacks and swaddles. Now you can be one of those moms that swaddles by hand with a blanket, but who really has time for that, times 2? Also, my husband was a better swaddler than me so having these helped keep him from continuously rubbing it in my face. Link above is to my favorite ones (SwaddleMe Pods) that actually fit my preemie size newborns.

 

  1. ROCK ‘N PLAYS (2)

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These are essential for naps or master bedroom babies. Or babies with reflux. I’ll warn you, they aren’t made specifically for nighttime sleeping, and I have heeded the advice of others telling me they may not be perfectly safe for nighttime sleeping, but they worked well for us! We kept one on each side of our bed, so that Nick and I could be in charge of “one baby” each night. Having these within reach was great for night time feeds and fuss, and for popping binkies back in their mouths every 5 minutes. The slight incline helped the girls with their reflux as well.

 

  1. BOTTLE LEASHES (2)

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I only wish I had discovered these sooner. These are for the baby that can now hold their own bottle (works with sippy cups, too). I discovered my need for these after countless car rides and walks in which one or both girls would constantly toss their bottles. No one likes a bottle that has been rolling in the dirt, or one that rolls under the seat of your van and is out of reach to you or dad. These genius products strap around the cup on one end and can then be secured to seat belts, strollers, etc. When your kid gets a little older, they can even “reel” their cup back in!

 

  1. BINKY CLIPS (several)

Once your babies become mobile, binkies are dropped and lost all day, every day. And there is nothing worse than a screaming baby and a lost binky. With these clips, you can fasten them to your little one’s clothes. Yes, you will still lose them, but not nearly as often. And you can get super cute ones and make them a fashion statement. Win win.

 

  1. NURSING TANK TOPS (several)

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These serve as both a bra, and a tank top (at least for me). Easy access for the little ones always grabbing at your boobs. Tip: Make sure you wear nursing pads if you are going to put on nipple balm. That stuff stains big time.

 

  1. BABY SWINGS (2)

I registered for two different swings, and was lucky enough to receive them. Much to my surprise, they were also different in that they moved in different directions (one side-to-side, one forward-to-backward). This allowed me to have both babies in swings at the same time, and I was able to switch up the sways to add variety. The link above and this link are the ones we have.

 

  1. BABY MOON PILLOWS (2)

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I know, I know, pillows for babies are a big no-no. But these pillows are not really for sleeping, but more for monitored naps, swing time, car seat time, etc. They are made to help avoid flat heads (or to remedy less severe ones). I will never forget the day I took a side profile photo of Lennon and realized the back of her head was super flat. I quickly researched helmets and noted how expensive they would be if insurance didn’t cover them(one, let alone two…Rowe’s head was slightly flat as well), and how uncomfortable they looked. So I Googled some more and found these pillows. I am telling you, after less than two weeks of use, I noticed a huge difference. And at the girls next doctor appointment my pediatrician assured me that they would not need helmets. We obviously would have gotten them the helmets and therapy should it have been necessary (babies are so cute in those fun helmets) but it was nice to not have to worry about it. Again, all babies are different, and this may not be a fix for yours, but I say it is worth a shot!

 

  1. BABY SHUSHER

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My photographer introduced me to this little gem. It makes white noise, on a timer, similar to what your newborn would hear in the womb. And it is small enough to fit in your diaper bag. I would toss this in one of the girls’ car seats during fussy drives and often (not always) it would calm them down! Just another tool to keep in my tool belt.

 

  1. DOUBLE JOGGING STROLLER

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A definite necessity. We started off with the Graco double stroller that our car seats could click into, which worked great when traveling. But it was a you-know-what to lug around, the girls were too small to fit safely when not in the car seats, and it was not convenient for quick walks around the neighborhood. So we got this jogging stroller and the rest is history. We use this 80% of the time and we love it. And, get this, it is one of the CHEAPER jogging strollers and works great, IMO.

 

  1. NAME BRACELETS (2)

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I purchased these for the girls to help us tell them apart when they were first born, and also as a super cute accessory. Our Rowe developed a birthmark on her face at around 5 weeks old, which made it a lot easier to tell them apart, so they didn’t wear these often. But I think these are great for identical twin girls!!

 

  1. BABY BREZZA

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This is an item I have never used, personally, but comes highly recommended from other twin mamas. It preps baby’s formula for you! It is like a Keurig for formula – how convenient! I hear it is a real game changer.

 

  1. CRIB AQUARIUMS

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These crib toys help us get a few extra minutes of sleep. The girls have learned how to turn them on and will sit in their cribs and quietly watch (a lot of the time). Side note: my aunt also has one of these for herself. They are that amazing.

 

  1. BABY BULLET

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If you are a mom who wants to do it all, like me, then you are probably thinking about making your own baby food. It really isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and is made 10 times easier with this contraption. It pulverizes veggies, fruit, meat, table food, etc. into perfect purees for your little ones. It also comes with utensils, a freezer tray and little jars to keep thawed food in (I bought extra trays and jars since, you know, two babies). It also has a recipe book!

 

  1. EZPZ PLATES

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There is a fun story behind this one. My grandfather’s friend’s daughter (or is it daughter-in-law?) owns this company! His friend actually sent us four of the EZPZ plates as a gift when the twins were first born. We use them all of the time. We take them all over the place, especially restaurants, so we don’t have to put their food on sticky, dirty tables. Score!!

 

  1. SILICONE BIBS – W/BUTTONS! (several)

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Right around the time R&L started feeding themselves, they also started ripping their bibs off. So I fired up the trusty Google in search of bibs with buttons, instead of the usual Velcro. I came across these bibs, and they work like a charm. The easy cleanup silicone and food catching pouch are an added bonus.

 

Feel free to send this list to Santa; I promise you won’t regret it. In my next post, I’ll tell you what I am wishing for THIS year.

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The birth story you’ve all been waiting for!

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Rowe & Lennon 9-12-16

You heard that right….I have finally posted my birth story! 15 months to the day after Rowe & Lennon were born. I was trying to add an element of suspense. I think that was a success!

Anyway, I added my birth to the top-nav of my blog, but you can jump right too it here.

It was a little rushed, and I have a hard time remembering some of the details, but you’ll get the picture.

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Back in the saddle again

You heard that right; I am back after nearly a year and a half hiatus! Back in the writing saddle, and back in the TTC saddle (say what?!).

As you can probably guess, I had the twins and now they are now approaching 15 months old. It really is crazy how time flies. I apologize to my followers for not posting since the girls’ birth, but as you can guess, having twin infants takes up a lot of time! In addition, if I am being completely honest, once I was no longer pregnant and I had the girls, I wasn’t sure if what I had to say would be relevant or have the same impact as TTC did. After all, I wasn’t really struggling anymore or trying to conceive, and I basically had the picture perfect life!

However, here I am a year and a half later writing my feelings once again. I can’t really pinpoint what motivated me to come back to the blogosphere…it may have been that we are approaching the two-year mark from our successful in vitro procedure that brought us the twins; or maybe it’s because I finally have some time on my hands! I’m no longer nursing, the girls are a bit more independent and our new house that we moved into six months ago is finally coming together. But I think what it really comes down to is the fact that we are trying to conceive one more little miracle baby. And blogging is my therapy (and I hope it will keep me from going crazy on my husband). Whatever the reason, I am back (for at least a little while) and ready to fill you all in.

In the coming weeks and months I hope to update you all on the past 15 months of my life and give you the inside scoop on it’s like raising twins, being a new mom, nursing, working full-time and all that fun stuff. And I’ll obviously update you on our journey to have one more baby. I can’t promise I will post regularly, or even that what I post will be as well thought out as it was in the past. Odds are one of the twins will be banging on my keyboard as I type or grabbing my attention mid-thought. Or I will be writing the same way I wrote this post; talking into my cell phone on my half hour drive into work, and throwing in some punctuation at the end! What I can promise you is that what I post will be honest, emotional (happy, sad, fun, scary, etc.) and real. I look forward to being back in the writing game!

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Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS)

Twin to twin transfusion syndrome, or TTTS, is a serious condition that can occur in babies that share a placenta in the womb (identical twins or higher order multiples). TTTS occurs when the shared placenta contains abnormal blood vessels that connect the umbilical cords and circulation of the fetuses. The placenta may also be shared unequally (for example, one twin has access to ¾ of the placenta and the other only ¼) and one twin may not receive the necessary nutrients to grow normally.

When the blood vessels become abnormally connected, one baby (the recipient) may receive too much blood flow, while the other (the donor twin) does not receive enough. The donor twin may experience slower than normal growth, have poor urinary output and little to know amniotic fluid. Too much blood flow to the recipient can put strain on the heart, potentially causing heart failure. The recipient might have a more active bladder causing greater amounts of amniotic fluid.

TTTS can occur at any time during pregnancy, but is considered more serious between 12-26 weeks gestation because the babies are too young to be delivered safely. However, thanks to advances in science there are some treatments available to help twins with TTTS.

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First of all, mothers of twins with a shared placenta should be monitored heavily by a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) clinic. Ultrasounds should be performed biweekly to check on things such as amniotic fluid levels, blood flow in the placenta, visible bladders, size differences, etc. All of these can be indicators of TTTS.

If TTTS is detected, there are now treatment options (before, TTTS usually claimed the lives of both babies).

  1. Delivery of the babies – this will obviously need to be later in gestation, at a date when the babies are viable and their lungs have matured enough.
  2. Amniocentesis to drain excess amniotic fluid. This can improve the blood flow in the placenta and reduce the risk of preterm labor.
  3. Laser surgery to seal off the connection between the blood vessels. Laser surgery is often preferred to amniocentesis because it only needs to be done once. Amniocentesis may need to be done repeatedly to maintain proper blood flow. Laser surgery has an 80-65% survival rate of at least one twin, 65-70% overall twin survival, and 5% or less significant handicap rates in survivors.

Below is a video to help you better understand TTTS.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/doctor-explains-ttts-twin-to-twin-transfusion-syndrome-581592643543