As a Mom of Twins, Are You Feeling Personally Fulfilled?

If you ask any mom today, especially a mom of twins or more, if she is feeling personally fulfilled with her daily life, and she may say “absolutely”! Another may answer that she is not. Ask another mom this question the morning following a sleepless night up with sick kids, and she may tell you … to bite her. When my first set of twins were six months old, my husband Bruce and I moved away from Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington DC, where we had lived and built our careers for nine years. We relocated, for reasons that included getting out of the crazy traffic of the Capital Beltway, as well as the desire to be closer to both of our families, and found ourselves in Gainesville, Florida. This particular city became our new home because Bruce received the best employment offer from a growing architectural firm there out of the several companies where he’d sent resumes in the various areas we’d considered relocating to. Though we were now closer to our families, we were not, however, in the same towns. In fact, we were still two hours by car from my parents, and ten hours from Bruce’s family. When the boxes were unpacked and we were finally settled into our two bedroom apartment, a particular realization of loneliness, isolation and culture shock descended upon me. My former life as a wife and professional no longer existed, and not only did we leave our home, city, jobs, friends and everything else familiar to us for the previous nine years of our lives, but I was now a full-time mom of two babies, and  …. well, that now summed up my life. Keeping constantly connected to friends on a daily basis wasn’t as easy as it is today. In 1995, the internet was just developing, and Mark Zuckerberg was only 11 years old. I kept in touch with my long-distance friends and family by phone, and was grateful when Bruce came home from work in the evenings. I loved my baby girls very much, and they kept me very busy. I took them up to our apartment pool, and for stroller walks around our complex, to the grocery store, the mall, and to a nearby park where a beautiful lake surrounded by a paved strolling/jogging path was it’s center focal point. I still, however, felt separated. Although I loved my life as a mom, especially after wanting to become a mom for so long, I missed my job … my old life. I missed enjoying my lunch hour with coworkers and friends, being challenged by projects at work, and needless to say, sleeping uninterrupted each night (but that’s another topic)! I took the advice of friends who were also moms and decided to contact the local twins club there in Gainesville so I could connect with other moms of twins. I also joined the Parents of Preschoolers group at our new church. Interacting with other women who were experiencing similar circumstances, or who were just wanting to form friendships, was the key for me to no longer feel alone and isolated. One area was still lacking for me, however. By the time my girls were about 18 months old and no longer breastfeeding, I contacted the creative department head who had been my boss in the corporation I worked for up in DC. We had discussed my freelancing for her before we had moved away, and I was now ready to work again. Granted, it would only be very part-time because my hands were very full with my toddlers, but I was ready to work, if only on a very part-time basis. Once I began to propose layouts and designs again, and receive rewarding feedback, I felt my self-confidence sky rocket. I had regained my ability to contribute my skills, talents and experience back into the career that I loved and had worked hard to build. I was an exhausted, fulfilled, busy but very happy mom! The paycheck that arrived every two weeks only added to the benefits of self esteem and growing self-worth. I was, of course, needed by my husband and my children, but knowing I was also needed in a professional capacity was enormously rewarding and fulfilling.  

My advice to mom of twins who desire personal fulfillment:

1) Realize that now as a mom, your life has now forever changed … but it can be better and more fulfilling than you ever imagined! 2) Count your blessings each day (your beautiful, healthy children, your supportive husband, the baby weight slowly ncoming off) because “a thankful heart is a happy heart” (yeah, I got that from a Veggie Tales song!) 3) Become involved in activities, organizations, clubs, church, and any other enjoyable activity where friendly human interaction is central to your involvement. 5) Take good care of yourself … don’t neglect your own needs such as exercise, wellness check-ups, quiet alone time, and regular salon/spa visits. 4) Hire a babysitter on a regular basis so you and your husband can go out and place “being parents” on temporary hold, and feel like “a couple” for a few hours. 5) Re-connect with your former career, or find a new one! My best advice is to find a way to work from home so that placing your children in day care or preschool too early isn’t an added expense for you, or time away from your children. (REMEMBER: they grow up SOOOOO fast!) And so to this day, two more sets of twins later, I’ve continued to enjoy my fulfilling life as a mom of now six children in addition to being a stay-at-home, work-from-home mother. I’ve also continued my involvement in my local twin club, church-related mothers organizations and ministries … all of which have kept me busy, productive, happy and, I believe, a strong role model for my children, especially my three daughters. If you’re like me, being able to stay involved with enjoyable activities, being available and flexible to plan my days around my children’s busy schedules, AND still being able to work from home to maintain and continue to develop my professional skills (and bring in needed income) could prove to give you a very rewarding life!

Twin Mothers Supporting and Empowering Each Other

Each day, I visit several facebook group pages and blogs because not only do I sincerely enjoy connecting to, relating to, and sharing with virtually thousands of wonderful women with whom I have the common experience of motherhood, but also because it strengthens my convictions to pay forward the wisdom and knowledge I have been given through my own personal experiences. As women first and mothers second, we relate to each others pain, frustration, fear, hope, fatigue, and excitement, and we share our many occasions for celebration.

Although tangibly connected by the internet, there are emotional bonding moments that occur when the act of understanding form deep connections. We reach out to one another to help calm fears, to encourage, and to assure while sharing and celebrating in the joys, and while mourning in the times of loss and sorrow. We share the common bond and experiences together as mothers of multiples. Some of us are moms of multiple multiples!

When a woman posts a question or concern, say for instance, about her high-risk pregnancy or upcoming delivery, I witness tremendous, generous support and assurance in the warm and sometimes humorous comments that are posted beneath the question. Some of the conversations go on for days, and include 40-50 comments. When the inquiring mom or mom-to-be thanks all of her advice-givers and cheerleaders, I know she means it. I know she’s just received some solid advice and information that she can trust because her supporters have BEEN THERE. They have walked 100 miles in her shoes, and she knows it. The inquiring woman is affirmed and empowered knowing that she can trust and act upon (most of) the advice of these trusted sources.

As for the many commentatorsthose women who encourage and support with their tips, ideas and suggestions —they are also on a receiving end. Knowing that she’s been able to contribute some nugget of wisdom that she’s acquired from their own experiences, and has personally contributed to the peace of mind and support of another, she feels affirmed and blessed.

We all know the saying: ’Tis better to give than to receive. It’s so true.

In giving, we receive a boost of self-worth because the advice or suggestion we have to contribute is received as valuable and will be put to use by the woman who needed to hear (or read) those particular words of wisdom we shared. As women, we have a strong desire and capability to nurture not only our families, but others who we may sense need nurturing. When we receive the nurturing and support, we are strengthened and comforted by knowing we are understood and we are going to be okay.

Assisting, calming or encouraging just one woman as she goes through the overwhelming experience of having and mothering her twins, blesses me tremendously, and is a very empowering experience.

Women helping women … it’s been going on for centuries.

Long before babies were born in hospitals, women were the only attendees and assistants present during childbirth. For centuries, women worked to prepare meals while passing on their skills to their younger female generations. Women naturally love to talk, to share, to commiserate, to vent, to laugh, and to confide.

Does sharing your wisdom and experiences give you a sense of self-worth, of confidence, of empowerment?

What experiences, knowledge or aspects of your life that have given you peace of mind or resolution could you share with another woman or mother who may be experiencing difficulty? Has a female friend or relative in your life reached out to you in a subliminal way, conveying a need, a desire, or the hope that difficulties won’t last forever … that a solution will present itself some how?

We’re here to support and help one another. It’s just what women do.

I think of the devotion between Ruth and Naomi in the Bible. For those who are not familiar, Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law who had lost her husband (Naomi’s son). Through all the trials and travels the two women experienced, Ruth remained loyal and devoted to the service of Naomi, stating in Ruth 1:16: “… Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

Blessings ~

MOMS: Show Your Children What GIVING Means

Thanksgiving is this Thursday, so it’s official: The holiday season, with all of its hustle, bustle, shopping, cooking, baking and preparing to travel or receive house guests, has arrived once again!

We all know it’s a time to stop, count and celebrate our blessings, BUT so many of us get caught up for weeks trying buy the right gifts, decorate our houses inside and out, and attend or host parties, only to collapse each night exhausted from the often self-imposed extra work and stress.

Instead of getting so wrapped up on our tasks that we forget to focus enough on the important things, why don’t we make a committed effort to slow down our pace and instead of giving physical gifts, let’s focus on really giving of ourselves, you know, the kind of giving that enters another person’s heart and soul, the kind of giving that can change and improve a person’s day or even their life!

 

Be a GIVING role model for your children:

  Spontaneously offer to pick up some groceries for a busy neighbor while you’re the grocery store.

  Instead of putting gift cards or money in your Christmas cards, take 5 minutes to thoughtfully note the character traits you most admire and value about that friend or family member, then tell him/her how important he or she is in your life. If the card is addressed to a couple or an entire family, write down a favorite memory you all shared and tell them how much it meant to you and your family.

  Spend one whole day or an entire afternoon with each of your children. Individually (separate those twins), go to lunch and have a conversation centered around that child’s world … his interests; a boy she likes; his hopes to make the soccer team; her dreams to become a veterinarian! Make the day about your child. In a few years, he will remember that day and your focus on him more than the new video game he got from you this Christmas.

  Ask your close friends if there is ANYTHING that you could possibly do for them during this busy time. Could you take their kids for the day so they could do some Christmas shopping or go to the post office without their kids in tow? Could you drop off a fresh-from-the-market rotisserie chicken and some deli potato salad at a busy friend’s home while they are cleaning and preparing for a house-full of guests arriving the next day?

  Place a Christmas card or a thank you note in your mailbox to let your mail carrier know that you appreciate their hard work during this extra busy workload time for them.

Can we really make a difference?

Are there any people in your life that you know are struggling? Are they facing personal relationship or financial challenges? Are they strained and worried with the additional stress that the holidays can place on them?

Take a moment to list a few people who really could use some encouraging words, some uplifting, some understanding and the assurance that you are there for them no matter what. We all have been, or will be at some point in our lives, in need of some help that we didn’t want to ask for. For now, be that person who acts without having to be asked.

If you’re in a position to help someone … the act of giving of your time, resources, advice or just a listening ear could be what it takes to provide the spring board needed to launch this person’s world out of struggle and into hope.

… and in doing so, your giving-of-yourself will be the best gift you can give yourself, and be very aware that your children are watching.

Blessings ~

Being a Mom Makes You A Natural Problem Solver!

WE ALL DO IT …

As soon as our heads hit the pillow after we turn off the lights, we take a deep cleansing breath and close our eyes. While we recount the day’s events with snapshot images pulsing in and out of our mind’s eye, we inwardly laugh about a clever comment one of children made, or we wonder how a friend that’s struggling with personal problem is doing, and we wish we hadn’t eaten those four Oreo cookies after the dinner dishes were done.

We also begin to think about the bigger things that revisit our minds each night, such as: “I’ve got to succeed at finally potty-training my youngest son”, or “it’s time to bring the car back in for maintenance work and it needs new tires before winter arrives”, and “we’ve got to start saving more for college tuition because high school is right around the corner!”

As our minds attempt to visualize the end result of our goals, we consciously and subconsciously formulate plans, create strategies, and make commitments to achieve those important objectives for ourselves and our families. Sometimes expressing these wishes to someone else, or physically write them down on paper, make them all the more real and official.

As a woman, wife, and mother, what are some of the goals you’d like to achieve now or in the near future?

What elements in your life are keeping you from achieving your goals?

What specific obstacles are preventing you from living the life or lifestyle you want today, or are limiting your dreams for the future?

• Are you frustrated while trying to lose substantial weight?

Has the extra weight you’ve been carrying around been plaguing you with thoughts like, “I just gotta figure out how to lose it”, or “I’ll start that diet plan tomorrow”, or “Did my last attempt not work because of my lack of  full commitment?”

• Are you worried about one or more of your children?

Do you worry about a slow weight-gaining baby?

Are you having difficulties with breastfeeding (low milk production, plugged milk ducts, or latching problems)?

Do you have a child who is doing poorly in school or is demonstrating a behavioral problem? Are you trying to find the source of his or her challenges?

Does your heart break as you watch your child struggle wishing you could snap your fingers and solve whatever the problem is?

• Are you experiencing financial worry?

Are you struggling to pay your mortgage or rent each month?

Are you putting off home repairs or renovations because there are more urgent issues eating up your household funds?

Are you considering placing your children in day care or after school care so you can go back to working full-time outside of the house to help pay bills?

Are your credit card balances and other debts getting out of control?

• Are you experiencing difficulties in your marriage?

Are the stresses of parenthood with its physical, mental, emotional and financial demands putting stress and strains on the relationship with your spouse?

Are you both so depleted and exhausted by the end of the day that there is no longer time, energy or desire to personally connect?

Are moments of intimacy very few and far between?

• Are you experiencing difficulties in your marriage?

You alone know your deepest worries and hopes for finding solutions.

 

Everyone at one point will experience one or more of the above scenarios as parents in today’s fast-paced, demanding world. As women, and specifically as mothers, we begin solving problems simply by virtue of our nurturing nature. We instinctively comfort, protect and sincerely desire the happiness of those that we love. As mothers first calm and soothe a fussy newborn, it is ingrained in us to find the cause of sadness, discomfort or pain, and make it “all better”.

So, if we instinctively know if and when our child needs our help with a problem, we also instinctively know when it’s time to help ourselves. We know that the time has arrived for action on our part to better a situation that is becoming increasingly worse.

How do we do it? Our natural abilities to SOLVE, to FIND an ANSWER, to BETTER our situation kick in when we come to the point where we cannot endure the present challenging situation, as it stands, any longer.

It is amazing how true the saying is: WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY.

If you are struggling with a problem, or more than one problem, get up and find a solution. Dig down into your very heart and soul, commit to finding a solution …

AND MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Believe it or not, the answer is within your reach.

Success in any endeavor is yours for the taking.

You have the power to tap into the powers of your own mind, will power, sense of commitment and resolve.

As Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich” writes: Whatever the Mind can CONCEIVE, and BELIEVE, it can ACHIEVE.

Blessings ~

 

 

Breast Feeding Twins: Developing a Healthy Milk Supply

Congratulations on your Decision to Breast Feed your Twins!

You’ve made a wise decision because there is no better, complete nutrition than your own breast milk, custom-created by your body, specifically and tailor-made just for your babies.   Of course, there are reasons that exist that may cause you to choose formula-feeding over breastfeeding. There may be medical, health or medication factors; long-term, unplanned separation from your babies; or simply that you prefer to formula-feed. It’s completely your choice! However, if your decision to formula-feed is based on a fear that you won’t be able to successfully breastfeed two babies, or because you’re concerned that you will not be able to develop and maintain enough of a milk supply to adequately nourish your babies for healthy growth and development, then please read on for some valuable, reassuring information and tips that may ensure your success!   On occasion, there are women whose bodies simply don’t produce an adequate milk supply (even for one baby), regardless of consistent and varied efforts. The reasons for this condition are varied, but it is fairly rare for a woman to give birth and not be able to produce (and grow) a milk supply sufficient for her baby(ies).   Sometimes, a baby may be unable to breastfeed due to, for example, prematurity; a birth defect of the mouth (such as a cleft palette); a lack of a strong suck reflex, etc., and no matter how much effort is made to encourage breastfeeding, baby simply must be fed via bottle or even tube-fed in order to ensure proper nutrition. If the inability to nurse is due to a baby-related issue, some moms choose to pump their breast milk and bottle feed for anywhere from a couple of weeks to over a year in order to ensure that their baby still is fed their milk.   In most mother/baby situations, however, the vast majority of women will naturally begin to lactate (produce milk) as the next natural step in their child-bearing process, the baby will quickly learn the correct method for latching and feeding, and with enough guidance, support, and patience, combined with healthy doses of desire, commitment, and perseverance, they will together become very successful and happy breastfeeding couples (or, with twins: trios!).   If you desire to successfully breastfeed your twins, your success is more than possible … it’s quite probable!   If, however, you’ve tried, met with challenges, and simply decided to bottle-feed with formula (or to pump and bottle feed with breast milk), know that all options are fine because you’re successfully caring for your baby(ies) just the same.  

When and Why the Lactation Process Begins

Lactation (breast milk production) is caused and controlled by the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin stimulates milk production and oxytocin controls the milk ejection reflex, also referred to as the “let down” from the mammary glands of the breast. Breastfeeding immediately after birth causes oxytocin to stimulate the uterus to contract down to its smaller, pre-pregnant size, and is believed to help reduce delivery blood loss. This process is extremely important and emphasizes how breastfeeding is a necessary function for mothers.   Prolactin increases during pregnancy but the high levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone prevent any milk production. After birth, the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, allowing the prolactin to begin milk production. Prolactin also decreases after childbirth, but is released with each breastfeeding as the nipple stimulation signals the brain. In the brain, the hypothalamus triggers the pituitary gland to release more prolactin as the mother continues feeding. If a mother ceases to feed or never puts her baby to the breast for more than a few days, her prolactin will drop so low that she is unable to produce milk.   Newborns have a strong, instinctive impulse to feed at the breast as well. The baby is born with a sucking and rooting (the act of searching for the breast with his mouth) reflex and the ability to smell his mother. The baby is drawn to the mother and her nipples by its strong sense of smell, and can distinguish his mother from any other mother.   Keep this in mind, too: Breastfeeding is a natural function but is not necessarily a natural instinct for mothers. As opposed to the deer that give birth in the forest, we humans need to be taught and encouraged.

Your first milk

Immediately after birth, and up until 24-36 hours, your breasts will secrete colostrum, also called “first milk”. Because your babies have been fed continuously in utero, they will not be “hungry” in the way we perceive hunger. Because babies are born with an enormously strong need to suck (in fact, the jaw and mouth muscles are the strongest in the body at this time), she will immediately root for the breast as soon as he or she is placed in your arms. With the initial and consistent nipple stimulation, your colostrum will let down. Colostrum is yellow-orange in color, is thick in consistency, and is loaded with antibodies to fortify baby’s immune system, protein, nutrients and calories (but low in fat so as easy to digest). Colostrum is created in small, concentrated amounts for the baby’s first few days.

When your milk comes in …

By approximately the third day following birth, your milk will come in, and you may experience breast fullness and/or a level of engorgement. When milk begins to be produced, the mammary glands will fill and may cause some breast tissue swelling. Your breasts may become larger and swell. They may feel extra warm, heavy and hard. The best method for relieving breast engorgement is to breastfeed and allow the baby to drain each breast completely, as often as needed. If the swelling and hardness persist between feedings, cold compresses (such as ziplock bags of crushed ice or bags of small cut or cubed frozen vegetables) work well to wrap around the breast and reduce swelling.   Following swelling reduction, some further breast pumping may be necessary. Prior to pumping or breastfeeding, apply hot compresses (as hot as you can tolerate) to encourage milk flow and complete drainage. Gel packs made especially for breastfeeding moms can be either stored in the freezer and also heated in the microwave (for about 30 seconds on HIGH). Hold the hot compresses over your breast as baby nurses, and the combination of heat and sucking will pull the milk out, and allow the swelling to subside. Engorgement may occur once or twice when your milk first comes in.  

Building and Maintaining your Precious Milk Supply

Always remember that when building up your milk supply, it’s best to consider the simple law of supply and demand. The more you breastfeed or pump (and in the process completely drain each breast), the more milk you will produce. You and your baby will truly develop a mutually-benefiting, mutually-needing relationship. You’ll need your baby to nurse as much as your baby will need to nurse!   It is very, very important to DRINK a LOT of water (or other fluids such as tea, juice, etc.), a minimum of 10 oz, once per hour, around the clock … and the more, the better! Also, get as much rest as possible to conserve calories. Moms will often notice fuller breasts upon waking than if engaging in an activity between feedings. Too much physical activity (jogging, working out, etc.) while breastfeeding may adversely effect your milk supply. Also, taking antihistamines which can “dry up” your runny nose or sinuses, can also decrease your milk supply.   The most recommended amount of time span between feedings, especially when you’re just beginning, is between 2-1/2 to 3 hours. This amount of time starts from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next, and continues around the clock. Eventually, as baby grows, gains strength and longer feeding endurance, a longer interval (for instance, a 4-5 hour interval once during the night) may become routine. Some moms prefer to nurse on demand and not watch the clock, while others prefer to establish a routine.  

Nourish Yourself: Remember what YOU eat is what YOUR BABIES will eat

Choosing what you eat and what you don't eat is so important, before pregnancy, during pregnancy and after pregnancy. You must be mindful of the foods you put in your body. There may have been a time when eating left over pepperoni pizza for breakfast, drinking diet cola or other high-caffeine sodas all day long, and greasy cheeseburgers for dinner worked for you (or so you thought) at one time, but now that you're a mom, EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT. You're completely responsible for the health, wellness and future growth and development of your babies! I'm not saying that an occasional slice of cheese cake or a lean burger now and then isn't just fine, but NOW IS THE TIME that you learn the importance of proper, complete nutrition, because it's just about you anymore.  

A typical feeding

When a breastfeeding begins, the first let down brings watery, thirst-quenching milk so to satisfy babies initial thirst. He will nurse and pull this milk from each breast. With twins, tandem nursing will allow both babies to become fed together. After a few minutes, a thicker milk will be let down. The “let down” reflex may or may not be felt. If felt, the sensation is described as a tightness which begins on the upper parts of each breast, and when the tightness releases, a tingling sensation flows down the breasts to the nipples and milk begins to flow. The last let down during a breastfeeding, which may last approximately 15 minutes per breast, or 20-30 minutes tandem feeding two babies, contains the rich, creamy hind milk, loaded with calories, protein and nutrients … which causes the baby to feel satisfied.   Although every three hours is the most common feeding schedule, some moms prefer closer feeding intervals depending on cues from her baby, but generally, nursing too often can lead to insufficient rich, hind milk production.   Always make sure to interrupt each feeding with a burp break. Burping will allow any swallowed air to come up, allow more milk into the tummy, and is also an effective break when baby becomes sleepy at the breast before finishing a complete feeding.  

“But my baby still seems hungry!”

Some moms worry that following feedings their babies are “still hungry”. Nothing can cause more anxiety for a breastfeeding mother than if she believes that she’s not producing enough food for her baby(ies). It causes feelings of failure, inadequacy, doubt, frustration and fear that she is starving her child. Please know this: babies who seem to “act hungry” may also be simply exhibiting symptoms of gas, fullness, sleepiness, or any other discomfort. Remember, also, that newborns will always express through their mouth … appearing to exhibit hunger. A mother’s first reaction is to doubt herself, and because there is no visual gauge by which to measure how much milk her baby has received (i.e., seeing the formula amount decrease in the bottle), she begins to worry that she is not producing enough milk to adequately feed her baby(ies). Her next reaction is to find an alternate feeding source: a bottle of infant formula.   The best way to know if your baby is getting enough milk is to check for 5-6 wet (weighty-wet) diapers per day, with one or two dirty diapers. If you are still concerned or convinced that your baby is not receiving enough breast milk, the following are the practices and resources that have been proven effective:   1) Contact an IBCLC (an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) in your local area. She may come to your home, or you may be required to bring your baby to her office. She will evaluate your baby’s overall health, and look for any signs of malnourishment or dehydration. She will assess your breastfeeding methods, and weigh the baby both before and after your feeding to gauge weight increase. She also will provide you with moral support (very valuable), and encouragement to continue … to not give up!   2) In addition to drinking as much water as possible, take two natural herbs called Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle (found in capsule or tea forms at local health food stores), taken in substantial doses (3 capsules of each before meals, 3 times per day) for approximately 3 days. Many mothers (including me) have had very positive results, experiencing a substantial increase in milk production.   3) While pumping when you’re away from your baby(ies): Look at pictures of your baby, and breathe in the baby aroma by smelling their jammies or little hats … these sensory cues and connections allow your milk to let down.       4) Other moms have lots of great advice as to what they specifically found effective. A nation-wide Facebook group of twin moms, while helping to support a brand new mom of twins named Bee who was struggling to keep up her milk supply, gave the following expert advice (and what better expert than a successful breastfeeding mother of twins):   Lynnette: “… the more liquid intake the more milk you will produce. Keep pumping after each feeding even if a little comes out. You want to drain the breast every time. Sometimes though some people just don’t produce enough.”   Tara: “Mine are 12 weeks, and I have to say it took me until they were 8 weeks for my supply to be enough. I had to supplement with 4-8 ounces at night for my own sanity. I think what did the trick is, I drink a ton of water, eat about a cup of oatmeal a day, pumped often and started to increase my protein intake through protein bars.”   Ariane: “There is a tea called Momma’s milk and there are also cookies out there that supposedly help produce. But I’d start with just pumping to stimulate them when babies aren’t on, even if nothing is produced, you’re encouraging milk production.”   Hillary: “Pumping is hard work, especially if you aren’t seeing results! But hang in there … it works!”   Brandi: “The lactation consultant told me the same thing everyone here is saying: pump after nursing even if you’re not getting much from it, you’re stimulating more production. Also she recommended the herbal supplements, I think they were called ‘More Mothers Milk’ or something like that. I am sooooo glad that I stuck it out … nursing is now easy and my babies are flourishing! I guess my best advice is don’t give up and try not to stress it too much, it will come in time. Also, I supplemented, just a little, with formula. Just like one bottle at bed time so that I know that they are going to bed full.”   Stefani: “Fenugreek worked wonders for me. Also eat lots of oatmeal, drink lots of water, and LOTS of nursing and pumping”   Karen: “Fenugreek and Mother’s milk tea at the health food store. LOTS of water. Oh, and when you thought you’d had enough water, have some more.”   Anna: “If your babies seems hungry – just put them back on. Stimulation is important to establishing demand. Hang in there – it’s tough and time consuming in the beginning but it will pay off!”   Meghan: “Hops! Odoul’s non-alcoholic beer is fairly hops-rich but the darker the better. If I had one dark “hoppy” beer after I fed them, and put them down for the night, I felt my milk increasing.”     My advice, as a mom who has breast fed three sets of twins (six completely different children), and who experienced the most enjoyable along with the most challenging aspects of breastfeeding: it’s not easy in the beginning and you may hit hurdles along the way, but with enough desire, strong commitment, support and perseverance, you will succeed at providing the most loving, giving, bonding method of nourishing your baby.   This gift that you give yourself and your baby will last a lifetime!

Traveling with Twins!

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go!

If you’re concerned whether traveling with your infants or toddlers will be a delight or a disaster, I can help with some suggestions after traveling with lots of kids of all ages for quite a few years now.

Now, although I can’t guarantee that your travels with tots will be necessarily delightful, I can give you some tips that will definitely have you prepared so you’re not ambushed by the unexpected, or have miserable experiences as you travel to and return from your vacation destinations.

 Tips for Traveling with Twins

When I traveled (as a solo-parent) with four young children by air from Florida to California (with a connection in Atlanta), I found that the following system worked beautifully:

Allow each child over 3 years of age to pack up his or her own special backpack. Pack it with coloring books and crayons, hand-held video games (with volume control), magna-doodles, special toys including a “lovey”, a small travel pillow, and favorite snacks (specially chosen by each specific child) so that these feel comfortable, are kept busy, and happily occupied!

If any of your children have ever displayed even the slightest tendency toward motion-sickness, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you give him/her/them a chewable, 12-hour-lasting motion sickness medication such as Children’s Bonine or the less-drowsy formula of Children’s Dramamine approximately 30-minutes before starting to travel. I am not recommending that you “drug” your children, but to avoid motion sickness and all the joy and drama that goes along with it, I always made sure to give my “easily-queezy” little ones that dose of prevention!

If traveling by air, you’ll need to bring the double stroller for all of the walking you’ll do through the airports, etc. Your stroller (along with other passengers’ strollers) will be loaded onto the plane after you board, and will be available for you as you exit the plane. You’ll need to baggage-check their car seats or stroll your babies in the rolling carts for car seats that are popular today, because you’ll need your car seats with you for traveling locally when you arrive at your destination. If you prefer to strap your babies into car seats in individual airplane seats, you may have to buy a separate ticket for them, which is why most decide to travel with their babies in their arms/laps. When on the plane, allow the older children a bit of independence by encouraging them to get up (when permitted), stretch their legs, and use the restroom by themselves. It may sound like much of an adventure from an adult’s perspective, but my children thought it was a blast!

•  On a road trip, try to leave as early as possible after getting as much sleep as possible. I also recommend packing up easy meals so that you don’t have to rely on finding fast food (or paying out of the nose for it). The night before traveling, I make a sandwich for each person (who eats table food) for two meals, pack the ice chest with the sandwiches, fruit, crackers, chips, juice boxes, yogurt, etc. I’m always careful to pack plastic spoons or forks as needed, and plenty of paper plates and paper towels. Stop every few hours for a chance to get out, go to the restroom, have a picnic lunch, run around and release some energy. Plan stops where you can find a park, or even just a rest-stop with some open space (but watch for land minds left by traveling doggies!).

 Tips for What to Bring on Road Trips

On road trips (which is our most-used method of travel now that there are eight of us … nine if you count our new pooch Simon, and not counting our cat Shannon, since she stays home and is cared for by a neighboring, trusted teenager), I pack us as efficiently as possible, and allow easy reach within the vehicle the following important items:

  The pack-n-play sleepers for my toddlers for their sleeping accommodations in hotels and at Grandma’s house;

•  snap-on-table high/booster chairs for restaurants (so you’re not using the establishment’s “icky” ones);

  LOTS of hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, baby wipes, paper towels and plastic (left-over grocery bags) for garbage, food wrappers, and in the event that the Dramamine failed or wasn’t given to someone who probably needed it. For babies/toddlers, pack that diaper bag with at least one full change of clothing for each baby and enough diapers to last a whole day.

  One full day’s worth of baby foods (with bibs and spoons) and/or formula for non-breastfeeding moms.

  Medications and first aid supplies such as pain reliever, bandages, antibiotic ointment, decongestant, cough suppressant, antacids, lip balm, moisturizing skin lotion (as traveling tends to dry out our skin), and any medications specifically needed by each person.

  Plenty of water for each person.

(Be aware that if traveling via air, you will not be able to carry on any bottled liquids larger than 3 ounces, but this excludes pre-filled baby bottles, nursery water, baby-specific medications such as Mylicon (for gas relief, but this is usually in 1/2-oz. bottles). Water and other beverages will be provided by the flight crew once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude. I’ve always found flight crews to be very accommodating to us with our family’s needs.

Travel tips for breastfeeding moms

Whether you’re traveling by ground or air, you know you’ll need to feed your babies every three hours or on demand, regardless of where you happen to be when feeding time arrives, so make sure you carry along with you:

  your nursing pillow(s)/boppie pillow;

  a portable, battery-operated or manual breast pump/bottles with nipples and caps (and cold pack, insulated carrying case);

  privacy blankets and burp cloths;

  nursing pads, and extra bra and shirt/blouse for you in the event the babies’ feedings are delayed here and there.

Obviously, you cannot breastfeed in a moving car because the babies need to remain safely buckled into their car seats, and you need to stay buckled up as well, so make the most of your rest stop nursing time by doing double-up (tandem) feedings. If you have older children, have Daddy take them off for a bit of leg-stretching and energy-releasing exercise so you can have some quiet time with the babies.

I found that sitting in a back seat of the vehicle with my support pillow(s) across my lap gave great support. Taking this twenty minute quiet time away from the continuous motion and noise of the vehicle to allow the babies (and yourself) a good feeding will be very relaxing and you’ll find it to be a very-needed break. You’ll all become relaxed and ready for the next 3 hours of travel before the next feeding.

Nursing on an airplane is a bit more challenging, especially as you try to keep the crying babies quiet. We may say that we don’t care about the glaring, irritated looks from the other passengers, but we do care. Settling your babies down by comforting them at the breast is the perfect solution to ease their fears, calm their anxieties, and warm their tummies. To tandem feed, lift up the armrest between two seats and sit between the two, providing room for you to comfortably feed both babies. If the aircraft is completely full, as it probably is during the holidays, you may have limited space and will to get creative with a cross-over feeding position for both babies, or feed them separately (feeding the fussier one first!)

 

Whether you plan to travel by air or ground, being completely prepared and ready for anything (because those what-if’s are bound to happen) will alleviate stress and anxiety for the whole family, and allow your whole vacation to be remembered with fond memories.

If you find these tips helpful for you, please share this article on to other families with multiples, or just a few kids or more!

SAFE TRAVELS!

 

A Mother’s Day Salute to Moms of Twins and ALL Moms!

As a tribute to all moms, including moms of multiples, I wanted to do a little background research on the celebration of Mother’s Day and share it with you. What I didn’t realize was what a long, involved history Mother’s Day in fact has! Enjoy the following history lesson … because there will be a test. 😉

Rooted in religion and peace-restoration

Going back to the 17th century, the early Christians in England celebrated a day devoted to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and eventually expanded to include all mothers calling it “Mothering Day”, honoring the mothers of England. As Christianity spread throughout Europe, the occasion changed to celebrate and honor “Mother Church”, who provided spiritual protection and was the source of spiritual birth. As time went on, all mothers were honored on Mothering Day as well, celebrated just before the holy feast of Easter.

Julia Ward Howe

When the American colonies were being settled, the English settlers all but forgot Mothering Day due to lack of time and attention. During the Civil War, a British American woman and social activist named Julia Ward Howe (who composed the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic) was horrified by the death and destruction of war and began a campaign to instill the British tradition of Mothering Day into American culture. She began a crusade against war, and put out an appeal to all women and mothers for peace. In 1872, she went to London to promote an international Women’s Peace Congress. She began promoting the idea of a “Mother’s Day for Peace” to be celebrated on June 2, honoring peace, motherhood and womanhood. Howe failed in her attempt to get the formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace, but it became the precursor to our modern day Mother’s Day.

Ann Jarvis, The Mother of Mother’s Day

Influenced by Howe’s efforts to build awareness of the mothers’ role as peace and wellness provider in the family, an Appalachian homemaker named Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis began to spread the awareness of better home cleanliness and sanitation, having been influenced by her physician brother. In what she called Mother’s Friendship Day, she worked and led other women to help heal the nation in the years following the Civil War. As Jarvis’ health began to deteriorate, she was cared for her two daughters, Anna and her sister Elsinore. The two sisters devoted their lives to caring for their mother and continuing their mother’s cause following her death. In 1907, the two women helped to establish Mother’s Day as a nationally-recognized day to remember, celebrate and honor all mothers, living and dead.

Officially named “Mother’s Day”

On May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, where Jarvis and her daughters had lived, and where today stands the International Mother’s Day Shrine. The Mother’s Day International Association came into being on December 12, 1912, to promote and encourage meaningful observances of the event, and some states then began to officially declare Mother’s Day a holiday to fall on the second Sunday of May. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made the first official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

Though the original spirit of honoring mothers remained the same, what began as a religious service expanded quickly into a more secular observance leading to giving of flowers, cards, and gifts. Although Ann Jarvis was pleased with the growing popularity of Mother’s Day before her death, she was very dismayed about the growing commercial focus of the occasion … including banners and flags to announce the upcoming day.

Mother’s Day is now celebrated not so much with flags as with gifts, cards, hugs, thank you’s and other symbols of affection. The restaurant industry reports that Mother’s Day proves the most popular day for families to eat out! It is celebrated all over the world as a day to acknowledge all mothers and the contributions they made and continue to make in the lives of her children.

It’s all about being thankful

As a mom, and as a daughter, and granddaughter of a some very outstanding women, I look forward to Mother’s Day (in addition to most other days) in order to remind my mother, my mother-in-law and all the moms in my life how special, unique, loved and respected each one of them is. There was a time when I thought I’d never be a mother, so when this day comes around, I’m not only thankful for my mother, but also very thankful to be a mother.

How will you and your family celebrate Mother’s Day? Will you travel to spend the day with your own mother? Since we don’t live close to either my or my husband’s mom, we’ll be calling (or attempting to call) this coming Sunday to talk and send our love and best wishes. Have you noticed that phone service (whether land-lines or cell networks) are jammed up on Mother’s Day more than any other day?

My family spoils me on Mother’s Day, not usually with eating out (since all the restaurants are just too crowded), but usually with homemade cards created out of construction paper and crayons, some potted flowers that we can plant in one of our flower beds, and a barbeque with all the fixings! I can’t wait!

I truly admire all of you moms today because, as we all know, we wear so many hats, and are demanded in ways that women in past decades couldn’t even imagine. I wish all of you, especially all of my moms of twins friends, a beautiful Mother’s day full of relaxation, fun, laughter, hugs, kisses and the spoiling you deserve! Be thankful to your mother for the life and lessons she gave and continues to give you, … and be thankful that those precious children of yours will allow you to be the honorable recipient of love this Sunday!

For the complete Mother’s Day History story, please visit: http://www.theholidayspot.com/mothersday/history.htm

Happy, Blessed Mother’s Day!