January 29, 2015

And then one twin had surgery...

Ugh. That's all I really want to say right now when I think about writing about Juliette's last 3 days. I want to write so badly about it and for so many reasons.  But it's really hard to do. I can already barely remember bits of the days and I want to document them. But as much as I really hate the idea of forgetting the little things I'm struggling with the experience as a whole and kind of want to forget it. Except for some things...

I don't ever want to forget how I cried when I realized this was the first time in her life she had been held for hours and was the true center of our attention and how she was about to be cut open. It made me cherish those last few minutes with her so much more. I didn't let what was about to happen stop me from playing with her and loving her and smiling at her. Afterwards we nursed as often as she could, she was very tired but we fell asleep snuggling in my bed at 3am. We haven't done kangaroo care like that in a while since they're so big now and they don't both fit. I hate to say it, but it was so nice not to have to worry about feeling bad for Vivienne. It was amazing.

It will always break my heart how happy she looked when we passed her off to the sweet anasthesiologist and how she smiled at me as they walked down the hall, in her cute little yellow gown and brand new way-too-big orange socks. She had not a care in the world while Daddy and I cried. Then, hearing her cries when we walked in to recovery and not wanting to believe that could be my baby; it sounded so pained and sad. She also looked so puffy and bigger than herself, I had to do a double take. But I am so glad she had a sweet nurse holding her who gave her right to me and encouraged me to feed her a few minutes later. That was the brightest and darkest time of this whole ordeal - getting to finally see my baby girl even though it broke my heart all over again. But then there was her first smile and laugh after she came down out of the fog and it was so amazing to see. I hope I remember that part.

I don't want to forget when the anesthesia started to wear off and the real pain started she immediately took comfort in my arms and nursed, even if just for a few minutes before she spit it up and needed to try some sugar water for hydration.  I'll also never forget the sounds of the other children in the PACU. Their cries before their mothers were there, coming out of anasthesia and being in pain or confused. Babies crying for their mommas and my heart was breaking while my baby slept in my arms.

I am really trying hard to move past them putting us in the only room that had a monitor despite her not being hooked up to it (and there being other rooms available) only to then have us move out at 130am when another child needed that room. They also came back at 430am and took my husband's bed that had been fine in our original room but against the rules in our new single room (I understand it's for safety reasons but come on, one more hour wouldn't have killed us). It was all just a perfect illustration of the condition of the hospital and the people who work there, especially in comparison to where they were born, St. Peter's. This place was a true representation of everything that is wrong with modern medicine and why I chose a home birth initially before we knew they were twins. It's all about money and disease rather than patient care and wellness. The hallways are beautiful with lots of cushy chairs and coffee shops but the rooms are old and dingy, the staff is overworked, underpaid and a lot of the times rude. I love our surgeon (for now) and we had three nice nurses but everyone else was miserable or just did not care. Rather than putting the millions of dollars they have had donated into actual quality of care by renovating rooms or helping the exhausted faculty and staff they build reflection gardens and add more buildings for more patients. It was exactly what I hate about hospitals - we were just a number from the second we got there. Actually, we were BeJu0730. Funny, bijoux means jewel in french. Get it?

I need to forget the fact that my six month old had over 10 IV pokes in her, two of which were in her head. I need to block out the image of her veins blowing and blood squirting out of her head. Then the IV Team joking about how bad her veins were and explaining that all kids are like that. But I will seriously have nightmares about this catheter and all the bloody piss I have seen in the last three days. I hate blood. I'm weird. I don't mind needles or poop or vomit but the thought of blood makes me sick. Bleeding out is my biggest fear ever. Ugh. Blood. And right now it's everywhere my daughter is. It might actually kill me.

I'm having a very difficult time with an issue we are having with her prescription and trying not to freak out. There was a problem in the communication of the prescription and I almost overdosed her the first night home on an antibiotic because of the directions on the bottle (like, it says take 5 teaspoons daily and it's supposed to be 5 ml). I would have done it too if I didn't trust my instinct and call my mom (a nurse) at 1030 last night. I'm calling the doctor again tomorrow for an explanation but it is tearing me up inside that I could have hurt her if I didn't know any better. I am so thankful that I have learned to trust my gut and my instincts. I just want someone to explain to me what happened and maybe apologize for making me almost hurt my kid.

All in all I need to remember that it was a good thing, if not a great experience. Like most of my life since the day I found out about them (exactly on year ago yesterday actually). Apparently I'm just meant to travel the more difficult path when it comes to them. Twin pregnancy. Leaving work. Their birth. I am so grateful it was a mostly benign problem with an easy fix and that we are so lucky to live in a place where amazing doctors can fix things like this. I'm not so spoiled to believe that it should have been perfect, nothing ever is, but I won't lie, there are many things I wish had gone differently. I'm just happy it's over and we can hopefully move on now.

Someday soon I will go into more detail about the hydronephrosis and pyleoplasty. I am starting to realize that there are many people out there who suffer from kidney health problems, many of them twins. I'm interested in seeing if there's a correlation between the two. Right now I'm going to drink a glass of wine and relax with my family (don't worry, they're getting pumped milk so no alcohol for them!)

Send my girl (and myself) some healing thoughts please!


January 22, 2015

FIAO 7.1: Adventures in Sleep With Twins - What We're Doing

I've talked before about my experience with sleep training children and how I believe "crying it out" should only be used as a last resort, with babies older than 6 months and only with a complete understanding of how to use the method. Well, we're at a crossroads here in the B household. Our twins, those wonderfully sleepy newborns that started sleeping for 6-8 hours a night at 3 months have transformed into nap fighting, up-all-night demons for the last month. Ugh. And for the first time we contemplated letting them cry it out. Double ugh. 

There are a number of things contributing to this change: it started with the 4 month sleep "regression" and now we are dealing with teething and the 6 month growth spurt. We talked about re-evaluating our sleep plan but have decided to forge on after doing some more research. I feel like as new parents we needed to understand what is happening at this time and why so many of us go through it at the same time. Babies don't just all of a sudden suck at sleeping at any given point, it's just life getting in the way. Just like with you and me.

Sleep "regression" is actually a misnomer, no matter what age it happens. Although it seems like it, babies don't just forget how to sleep well at four months (or six, eight or twelve), rather it is caused by a sort of awakening. Right around four months is when the blissful ignorance of newbornness wears off and they become aware of their surroundings and how the world works. This is also the time that the first signs of separation anxiety and parental recognition occur. Babies are becoming more social and there's an awareness of cause and effect. Think about it, this is the time that everyone loves as their baby seeks them in a room of strangers or smiles upon their entry into a room. Peek-a-boo finally makes sense and is fun! But no one loves it when that same baby can't seem to settle down at night without mama's presence (or boob) and yet the two go hand in hand.

Just imagine it, you're all of 120 days old and your parents, who are your whole world, who you rely on for everything all day long, keep disappearing on you for reasons you cannot possibly understand, just as the world is becoming real to you. You are able to feel so much now and for the first time in your little life you can no longer sleep through discomfort, whether it's from being wet or cold or overtired. Your eyes are bright and clear enough to make out scary shadows and your ears are strong enough to hear strange sounds in the night. Your days are full of new sensations and patterns and at night your brain is working overtime to make sense of all of these wonderful new things. Much like how adults find it difficult to settle when they have a lot on their minds, babies run into the same trouble, despite seeming to not have a care in the world. Along with all of this there are the more obvious reasons for sleep disruption - new teeth are slowly making their way through their gums and their bodies are stretching out, growing at the fastest rate they will in their entire lives. It's no wonder babies seem to forget how to sleep around this time, leaving us parents bewildered and exhausted. Compound that with two babies are us twin parents don't stand a chance!
So I decided to prepare early on. I read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins by Marc Weissbluth. Dr. Weissbluth discusses the different sleep training techniques and from this information we have created our own version of "sleep training" that includes respecting the girls' natural ability to sleep. I believe that it's never too early to lay the foundation for good habits so we started as soon as they got home. We use the eat, play, sleep schedule and watch for tired cues which are pretty obvious these days - eye rubbing, zoning out, inability to be pleased with anything. They are usually up for 2 hours max in between sleeps so we also watch the clock. Every time we put them down we follow the same routine whether it's naps or night time: lights out, music on, wrapped in blankets, pacifiers in, rock until they stop crying, then lay them down drowsy but awake. We do use props - music, mobiles and pacifiers but only at the initial bedtime, not after. From there we use controlled comforting. We don't count minutes or let them cry but they sometimes will fuss a bit or babble and we let them. If they cry, we go in, put a hand on them and soothe them. If they don't settle we pick them up and rock until they are calm and then place a hand on their back or belly for a minute to reassure them. When their eyes are closed or they seem close to sleep we leave and let them fall asleep without us there. Unless they are hungry or need something they will go to sleep majority of the time. The aim is to help them learn how and when to fall asleep but without having to cry alone.  As long as they're content we leave them in their cribs for the time that we would like them to be sleeping. So during the day they seem to need 3 45-60 minute naps (eventually I hope we get to two but they're not there yet). If they wake at the 20 or 30 minute mark I check diapers and then lay them in the same crib. Usually they will play or pass back out. At night, and again this is only if they're not upset or need something, they lay until they fall back asleep or it's time to eat. We don't try to keep them on the same schedule they just do it naturally but I am definitely going to keeping them on the same one if try if they do start to waver. We follow a routine and I stick to it as much as I can. The only thing we are training them to do is develop good sleep habits with a semblance of the schedule we'd like them on in the future. They are learning how to self soothe without the stress of crying. Time has yet to tell if it's going to work so I will not draw that conclusion just yet.

This is not to say they never cry or that it's by any means easy for us. Please don't think I'm that blessed. It is exhausting going in and out, sometimes several times until they are finally settled. I do get frustrated but remind myself of the goal - healthy sleep habits. Also, like most things in life you have to remember: it's hard now but it will be easier later.  Sometimes I'll be tending to one and the other will start to wail and she will just have to wait it out which may lead to her falling asleep while crying. That's when I like to remind them, as quietly and sweetly as I can, that they are the ones that decided to split into two eggs, not me. One day Jules was having her first real fit since becoming more aware and I was actually laughing while trying to calm her as she would catch my eye and give me a look like "Why the hell do I feel this way!?" Viv was sleeping peacefully when all of a sudden she let out this whimper that I swear made my soul cry. It was that sad. I had to decide who I was going to help at the moment and Viv won. That cry still gets me every freaking time. She's so good at it now and I swear she does it knowing the reaction it will illicit. Of course it wasn't the first time they cried at the same time but they have actual emotions now and real feelings tied to those cries now. And those feelings float directly into this exhausted mama's heart.  That's what makes crying it out so hard to do for every single mom and dad and it's why I can't do it yet. I can't listen to her cry for two minutes let alone five. That said, I don't believe in judging the families who do it. There are plenty of parents who swear by classic CIO (extinction) and The Ferber Method (graduated extinction) and most see results in just a few days but I've never heard anyone say it was easy for them and I can't begrudge a mom who goes through that pain in order to achieve a semblance of normalcy in her life. That ish is hard and it hurts to have to do it. Plus for some kids if you don't follow it to a T you end up worse off than before. Just because I'm not there yet doesn't mean I don't get it. Like any other mommy war battle the judgment is fierce with this one. Many feel very strongly that CIO is wrong and just as many see no harm in it. I say neither choice is right or wrong, it comes down to what is best for your family. As well as what you can handle!  As a person who has dealt with a lifetime of sleep struggles I believe my girls will let me know when their bodies are ready to sleep for longer stretches and I don't want to decide for them when that will be. I'm home with them so I can be flexible and I don't want to force them to do something their bodies aren't ready for. But I can take the time to show them how to do it and encourage good sleeping habits without sitting outside their room (even for just five minutes) and listening to them cry. Do my babies just have the most gut-wrenching cry? I doubt it but it's pretty sad!

I won't lie, there are nights like last night where If I could, I would even try "Ferberizing" (which involves going in and soothing baby for 15 seconds at increasing intervals) but I can't yet. The idea of them sleeping 7-7 sounds amazing right now! But it's so hard, especially if your baby is one of those that just won't settle. My biggest fears are doing it wrong or not being able to follow through. And a part of me really does wonder if it is doing harm, especially when I have to watch one cry while consoling the other. I see so often how upset they get and the emotion. I don't want to leave them to do that, even just for five minute intervals. So it's not for me, yet. Time will tell though. Jules was up fifteen times in two hours and we just kept settling her and walking out. She finally slept from around 11 to 2. Viv slept from 9 to 4 for the first time after weeks of waking every other hour. Maybe our modified sleep training plan worked for her but again it's too early to tell. I should add that part of my plan includes co-sleeping and side-laying nursing if they won't settle after waking around 3 or 4am.  I trust they will let me know if they're hungry or just need to be near me because there have been nights when they slept straight through with no problem. If it weren't for that I just might have died from sleep deprivation (probably not though)!

So that's the plan and we're sticking to it. For now at least. Maybe I'll feel differently someday but it's already been 6 months of spotty sleep at this point so why stop now?

What has been your experience with sleep training? Did any of the expert methods work or did you let baby decide what worked for him/her/them?


January 19, 2015

My List of Baby Must Haves

When you're pregnant everyone and their mother thinks they know what is best for you and what you NEED to have. Here's my list of what worked for us!

1. Boppy Pillows

Seriously these things were a lifesaver and we used them all day every day until just a few weeks ago now that the girls are more stable and can sit in their chairs. They made bottle feeding possible when alone and gave our tired arms a break during playtime. In the early days the girls would nap in them on the floor after a feeding with a blanket draped over it so they couldn't fall underneath the pillow. It kept them propped at the right angle to help with digestion and they slept so well. I also used them for tummy time as it takes the strain off their bellies and shoulders a bit and they last much longer!

2. Rock and Play Sleeper

Whether you use them for sleep or play all day and all night until the crib transition or just occasionally so you can get a break you are going to want a rock and play or two.  Simply put, they are so conducive to good sleep for both you and baby! It's like sleeping in a hug. The incline helps with reflux and the shape keeps baby so cozy, even the fussiest baby will sleep well when laying in one. You should do your research first - there are people cautioning against frequent and extended use, citing an increase in plagiocephaly and torticollis. There's also the argument that that "hug" like feeling also limits free movement which may hinder development. And then there's the dreaded transition from rock and play to the crib - just google it and discover the battle scars many mamas now hold thanks to this. Still, knowing all I do I am so very grateful that some brilliant mind invented these things for the hours of uninterrupted sleep it afforded us in those early days. Added bonus: they're pretty portable so we still take them everywhere for the girls to sleep in rather than lugging around our bulky twin pack and play.

3. {Twin} Nursing Pillow

For a singleton the boppy works just fine and I use that more often than not when I'm only nursing one but for twins I highly recommend a twin nursing pillow. I use the My Brest Friend which I scored at a second hand sale for $20. There is a definite learning curve in the beginning and it was always very stressful trying to get them both on while I was alone so I used the boppy more often than not but once we hit 3 months and were tandem nursing this pillow became my savior! I take it with me when I visit people and use it for nearly every feeding now. They keep each other entertained so they don't fall asleep on the boob and feedings are down to less than 20 min. I have not yet mastered moving sleeping twins from the pillow to the bed so we try to avoid that as much as possible but that picture was too cute to pass up!

4. Nose Frida 

Seriously, unless you plan on never leaving your house before the babies can blow their noses you have to drop the $15 and get one of these. It is truly a lifesaver when winter and stuffy noses hit. We were spending 15 minutes every morning and night using one of those bulb syringes and still barely making a dent in the amount of ick in their little noses. Yes, the idea of sucking snot out of your child's nose is a little gross but trust me when it's 3am and you're dying for sleep you will do just about whatever it takes. Plus you will not actually get any boogers in your mouth, I promise you. Even if you think you'll be fine with a bulb just buy it and try it. You will be converted. Then come back and thank me!

5. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins by Marc Weissbluth, MD

I am just now diligently using the strategies in this book but we are on day two and are already seeing the light. For the first time in almost a month the girls were only up twice last night and have slept for almost 45 minutes this morning after weeks of 6 20 minute naps a day. This is after we had 4 months of blissful scheduled sleep! They napped together and ate every 3 hours. At 7 weeks we got 7 hours straight and that went on until exactly 4 months adjusted when all of a sudden we were eating every 1.5 hours ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT. I bought this book months ago and I'm so glad we did. One day of the techniques (that's another post entirely) and we're back on track. Buy it.

6. A Hands-Free Pumping System

Whether you're EPing or just pumping to build a stash and whether you have one baby or twinfants you NEED a hands-free system. Buy a sports bra and cut holes in it. Invest in one of those fancy hands-free bras. Or do what I did and get the Simplicity Hands-Free Necklace. Either way, you will want your hands as free as possible and it is worth every penny!

7. An Ipod or music player with playlists of white noise/womb sounds/rain sounds, lullabies, fun kids' music/nursery rhymes and  your favorite tunes

It took us a while at first to find a sound that helped the girls sleep. In the beginning lullabies were too stimulating but white noise didn't quite keep them asleep. Then we discovered the womb sounds and the difference was astounding. It helped put them asleep and keep them that way for nearly 2 hours every time. Eventually they grew out of it and we switched to white noise. Then that stopped working so now we use an instrumental lullaby playlist at night and fun lullabies during the day. During wake up times I put on either fun kids' songs or my favorites so I don't go crazy. Added bonus, they're getting exposed to tons of different types of music. We have a portable Ipod player that we take from room to room with us so we can sing along all day.

8. Wubbanubs 

If you want to your baby to have a pacifier then invest in a wubbanub now. They're adorable and functional and we aboslutely love them. The NICU gave our girls' pacifiers and they never really stopped taking them but it was SO frustrating as they would fall out and wake the girls up. Within a few weeks though they were able to grab the wubbanub's animal and put it back in their mouths on their own. They weight it down so it can't roll away and since buying them we have yet to lose a pacifier under the crib! Added bonus: once people learn who has which wubbanub they're more easily able to tell the babies apart!  Viv has her frog and Jules has her monkey!

9. Lots of Links 

I put these on my registry and received about 100 of these at my shower and was thrilled. CJ was confused. What the hell was I going to do with 100 links? The answer: everything! In the beginning I used them to string toys above the girls on their play mat or over their laps in the bouncy seats or rock and plays. Now, they suck and chew on them, grab them and pull on them, and I use them to attach their favorite toys to so they don't lose them while playing in high chairs, jumpers or on the floor. They are fantastic for working out the pincer grasp and are so versatile.

10. A Mirror

I have had one of those long floor mirrors laying horizontally in front of their play area since day one. It helps with tummy time by giving them something to look at and now that they're more aware they love making faces in it. Babies love to look at themselves and Viv will spend a good 15 minutes just exploring her own face on her belly. She has started rolling from back to belly just to be able to get a good look at herself. It's cheap (I got mine at Wal-Mart for $14) and enhances your play area without any real work!  No it's not really a must have but it was for us!

This is by no means a comprehensive, across the board list, just some of our favorite must haves. I can't think of much else but I'm sure other mamas have their favorites!

What were your must have items for your babies?


January 15, 2015

My List of {Twin} Pregnancy Must Haves

 Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

There are probably a thousand lists out there of things that you must have while pregnant and for when baby comes home. Everyone covers the obvious basics so I want to tell you about the things that are little more personal to me, that made my pregnancy bearable and helped me deal with the more difficult aspects of carrying twins. Everyone is different so what worked for me may not work for you but I hope can help even just one person have a better experience!

1. A Reliable Blender

 I know, this seems like such an odd thing to list first but it was vital for me. I lived on smoothies while pregnant and couldn't have done so without my Ninja Professional Blender. I had to eat constantly and sometimes I just could not eat anymore but needed to stave off the nausea that came if I waited too long. Sometimes I was just too tired to take the time and make something healthy. Once a week I would make a huge batch of smoothies and freeze them in mason jars. I would take one out at night to thaw so I had it for those times when I just couldn't find the energy to make something else. Towards the end the 8 lbs. of baby in me took up so much room it was hard to eat very much at all, despite still having the appetite. These smoothies helped me get as much nutrition as I could without taking up space. They filled me up, were super healthy and of course delicious. I still have them as often as I can even though it's freezing outside. Bonus: there are only about 35 carbs a serving so GD mamas don't need to worry about using up all their allowance. Pair it with scrambled eggs for breakfast or a salad with fresh veggies for a great lunch. Not to mention that blender can do double duty should you decide to make your own baby food purees once little one is here! Try my favorite smoothie recipe:

 Maigen's Big Batch Super Smoothie Recipe

1 cup blueberries
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
1 cup spinach or kale
1 1/2 cups hemp protein powder plus fiber
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 cups almond milk, plus more as needed
Ice as needed

Blend and enjoy as often as you can! Makes 6 cups.

2. A Great Prenatal Vitamin

This is so vital to both the health of you and your babies. I started out with the prescription that my OB gave me but quickly realized it made me nauseous every time I took it. I did some research and discovered Rainbow Light's Prenatal One Food-Based Multivitamin. This was a god-send. I could eat it on an empty stomach or full and feel no nausea. I swear it gave me energy and was one of the reasons I felt really good most of the pregnancy. I set a reminder on my phone to take it every day so I couldn't forget about it and I still take it every day since I'm nursing. It offers peace of mind for those busy days when eating healthily is just not happening. I know my girls are getting the vitamins and nutrients they need in a natural, food based form.

3. A Pregnancy Journal

I used Two Due that my dad gave me along with this blog. You may think you will always remember how you felt the first time you saw two pink lines. You are positive the emotions you felt the moment you found out it was twins or the sex of your little ones will live on in your heart forever. You know there is no way you will ever forget how bad your back hurt or how much weight you gained or your biggest cravings. But you will forget. Maybe not right away, but so much of what happens while pregnant disappears from your memory after baby comes. Your brain just does not have the capacity to hold on to all of this along with all the new memories you're making every day. Get a journal. Write in it every week. Just a few jots about how you're feeling, what your biggest pains and cravings are, how much weight you've gained, how much babies weigh, how the doctor's appointments are going, baby preparations you're making, your dreams, goals and worries for baby, etc. Anything you might want to look back on and say, wow I totally forgot about that! Write it down. Take bump pictures as often or as little as you like but I highly suggest you take one belly shot right before you deliver and pop that into the journal. Someday your babies will want to know what it was like and you can show them just how miserable happy they made you!

4. A Fantastic Pregnancy Pillow

I bought mine when I was about 12 weeks. I wasn't even showing yet but I knew it was only a matter of time before sleepless nights would set in. I bought the Snoogle Total Body Pillow by Leachco for about $50 on Amazon. It's shaped like a C and curves around your back or belly for support while keeping your hips and head supported and aligned. I would not have slept nearly as well as I did without this thing. Most pregnant women experience hip pain and find it difficult to sleep at night because of it. This pillow gave me such relief! Later in pregnancy your giant belly can make it hard to get comfortable when laying down, especially once you can't sleep on your back or belly (my go-to sleep position). The Snoogle tucked under my belly offered just enough support to help me get comfortable without getting in the way. A regular body pillow or a normal pillow can work in a pinch but I highly suggest you invest in something that can support your whole body. You won't regret it!

5. A good sense of humor

Pregnancy is a roller coaster ride for both your body and spirit. As your belly grows so too will your extreme emotions thanks to those lovely hormones flooding your system. Sometimes it's hard to remember that this is only a temporary state of being. Maybe the pain is too great, you feel sick and tired all the time or your fears are getting the better of you. Stay grounded and remind yourself that whatever happens is (mostly) out of your control, you're just along for the ride. When well-meaning strangers tell you, for the thousandth time, that you will have your hands full just smile and say thank you. Embrace your changing relationship with your significant other as they will see a side of you he or she never dreamed of between the uncontrollable tears and gas that seem to come at the most inopportune times. Stop caring about how you come across to others and try to just be comfortable in your own skin. Remember that this too shall pass and altogether too quickly so soak it all in and laugh as often as you can no matter how uncomfortable you are.

6. A Belly Support System 

By the end of month 6 my belly was so huge I was having trouble walking or standing for extended periods of time. My only saving grace was a Maternity Belt similar to this one. You wouldn't think a piece of fabric could make that much of a difference but it made me feel so much better. My only complaint is that it's not exactly the easiest thing to get on, even with instructions and that come mid July it made my back and underbelly super hot and itchy whether I had a shirt under it or not. That said, I wouldn't have made it through a few summer parties and shopping trips without it.

7. A REAL Support System

I am incredibly blessed to have the most amazingly supportive friends and family and I truly would not have coped so well with the pregnancy and the last five months without my incredible hubby, mom, dad, sister and best friend. There were days when it took everything I had just to get out of bed and get to work, CJ would pick up the slack at home. Then as we neared the end my best friend and sister would come over and entertain me while I wallowed in my new-found whale status and back pain or help me with grocery shopping and meal prep. My mom shuttled me to and from appointments when I could no longer drive and helped me acquire many of my maternity clothes. My dad, always the sensible one, made sure CJ was taking care of me and helped me work out the logistics of leaving my job and surviving on one income. After the girls were here everyone became even more amazing, supporting me in any way I needed.

If you don't have friends or family nearby then reach out to the internet and local mom community. I belong to several groups on FB that I could always turn to for support or advice. Through local groups I've met other twin moms who have been an invaluable resource for not only hand-me-downs but BTDT advice (been there, done that) and just someone to talk to when it seems like no one else in the world could possibly understand how you feel. And if all else fails then, PLEASE, contact me. I will be your buddy. I will talk to you and listen and support you in any way I can. I don't care if we're strangers, I will be there for you. I believe it is that important.

I know everyone is unique and what worked for me may not work for you but without these seven things my pregnancy journey would have been a whole different story and I am so grateful for all of them!

What were your pregnancy must haves?  Do you have anything to add to my list?


January 14, 2015

And then they ate like crap...

We used to eat so well. We were conscious of our food choices and where it came from, choosing organic and local as often as we could. As much as I love junk food, we ate fruits and vegetables all the time, especially when I was pregnant. It took us a while to get there what with breaking my habits as a picky eater from childhood and CJ's seeming inability to eat anything but junk food or steak and potatoes. We were that couple that ate out on the weekends and during the week we always ordered pizza or chinese, ran through the drive-thru or heated up a frozen dinner. Even when we started "cooking" it was with boxes and jars, or frozen rather than fresh ingredients. I think back to what we used to eat and actually cringe.I used to live on chicken fingers and french fries and pizza was my lifeblood. Not gonna lie, pizza is still very important to me, I could eat it all day every day but now I'm wise enough to know that once a week, though probably still too often, is much more healthy for us.

When we moved from Syracuse to Albany and were both unemployed for 2 months we had to start getting creative and conservative with our food and limited funds. We quickly learned how to cook and started trying all sorts of new things. We didn't start a new diet or give up much we just branched out. Our typical spaghetti nights (with jarred sauce and frozen meatballs) to new favorites like chicken parm, ravioli and lasagna with our own pasta sauce, whole wheat pasta and homemade meatballs. Taco nights now include homemade whole wheat tortillas for quesadillas or burritos full of veggies rather than packet-seasoned taco beef and cheese on a corn taco shell. We make our own pizza now with real mozzarella and fresh vegetables. I can bake, fry, grill or roast a chicken (but don't ask me to cut up a whole one yet. that shit is hard). CJ has every cooking other meat or protein to perfection covered so we make a great team. We just started experimenting with flavors, herbs and spices and learning what worked well together. I started reading ingredients for things we used to buy and trying to make it on my own. It was more time consuming and sometimes we didn't eat dinner until 10 at night but we were learning and eating really well. I truly believe how healthy I ate while pregnant helped my body and the girls feel good and strong. Put good things in, get good things out. Or whatever.

And then we had the twins. And we ate like crap.

I knew it would be too hard to cook once they arrived and we just did not have the budget at any point to do those frozen make-ahead meals. Instead, the weekend before we delivered we stocked up on some of our old favorites: frozen Bertolli and TV dinner meals, frozen burritos, frozen breakfasts, ready made sides, cereal bars, hot pockets, pasta sauce and frozen meatballs, canned soups and the like. I got WIC in the beginning so along with a select few good staples we also had an abundance of tuna and cereal. Then there was enough lactose-free cow's milk (that I don't drink) to quench the thirst of an army. We had banned almost all of these things from our kitchen for the last few years and it pained us to bring them back but if we didn't have it I was sure we'd starve.

With me pumping I knew I had to keep my calories up and I couldn't have enough caffeine to keep me going. The way I figured it, crap food was better than no food. We go to BK or McDonald's far more than I ever thought we would and the local pizza place now knows us by name. Whatever though, I'm still feeding three people. The only problem that I didn't foresee was how it would make us feel. Here we are, almost 6 months in and although we started cooking again more frequently last month we still eat our fair share of yuck food. And we feel it. We are sluggish and run down and not just because we have two infants. CJ started drinking coffee. He doesn't even like it but for the first time in his life he liked the energy it gave him. I believe the change was so sudden our bodies are going haywire trying to make up for the loss of nutrients. We went from eating whole, healthy foods to processed garbage full of crap. So we feel like crap. It makes me worry for the girls too, this is not how we want them to live. I always believed that taste could be established from in utero but never thought about how it effects a breastfed baby. But of course it does.

After the initial three months of running on autopilot we'd finally had enough. The girls were sleeping enough at night and we both had some energy during the day again. I went "full" grocery shopping and went way overboard. I bought tons of fresh fruits and vegs and I'm sad to say quite a bit of it went to waste. We found that we still didn't have the time or the inclination to cook like we used to. Not to mention I didn't have the time during the day to get any prep work done and this was once the key to our eating well successfully. I used to shop and then spend the afternoon organizing the kitchen, cleaning and preparing ingredients and getting some ideas for meals. I attempted meal planning in the past but found more often than not we would just wing it. That can't happen anymore. If we "wing it" we don't eat well or it takes hours to prepare which is time we don't have anymore. So it's time for a different approach.

My veggie prep station
I went full grocery shopping Monday when CJ had the day off. Before I went I found master lists for the pantry (from pioneer woman), fridge and freezer. I took inventory of what we had and added what we needed to a list of our favorite meal ideas. When I got home he was happy to entertain the babies while I organized everything and started meal planning. I made a list of all the fresh produce, pantry and frozen items (I still bought some easy meals, frozen fruit, vegs and waffles because I'm not tryin' to be super woman here, just trying to survive) and posted it on the cabinet so nothing gets forgotten. The trick, and I'm hoping it works, is that we can't order or buy more food until all the fresh foods are used. Today I took time with the girls and while they were napping to wash, cut up and portion all the fresh stuff I could. I usually do this with the hearty vegs and greens like carrots, peppers, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, green beans.  Now we can grab easy healthy snacks, throw together a salad for lunch and have ingredients ready to go for dinner. I even let them play with and lick a carrot, green pepper and avocado.
Juliette is intrigued, Viv is not impressed

Then I finished with a list of meals that I can easily prepare during the day or that CJ can make quickly when he gets home from these ingredients. Like before we don't really like to assign meals to certain days so when I get up in the morning I will choose a meal, take out any frozen items to thaw and get together the rest of the ingredients. If we need something he can stop on his way home to get it. Our meal choices are not the most healthy (read: we are not paleo, vegetarian, vegan, grain or dairy or whatever free) but they have to satisfy three requirements. They must: 1) Be relatively easy and quick to prepare 2) Make enough for leftovers for lunches and meals on a different night 3) Fill my insatiable appetite. (Nursing moms need at least an extra 500 calories per day).
Refrigerator after prepping

Here's what's on our dinner list for the next few weeks based on what we have on hand:

(HM = Homemade)
HM Thai peanut sauce with chicken and mixed veggie stirfry/lo mein
Venison chili and HM cornbread (cooking right now!)
Spaghetti with HM meatballs and sauce, garlic bread, salad
Ravioli with HM meatballs and sauce, garlic bread, salad
Lasagna with HM sauce, asparagus
Gouda stuffed meatloaf, broccoli, mashed potatoes
Teriyaki salmon with siracha cream sauce, quinoa, green beans
Avocado and shrimp pasta with cream sauce, salad
HM Bean and cheese burritos, mexican rice, salad
Eggplant crisps with marinara sauce and asparagus
Chicken and veggie quesadillas or tacos with HM tortillas
Crock pot chicken soup with rice or noodles
Squash soup and crackers
Chicken parmigiana, salad
Vegetable soup and crackers
Parmesan crusted chicken, mixed veggies, baked potatoes
Grilled italian sausage with peppers and onions, salad
Ham steak, hasselback potatoes, green beans
Venison tenderloin, quinoa and broccoli
Grilled cheese and HM tomato soup, salad
English muffin pizzas with HM sauce, turkey pepperoni and veggies, salad
Pepper, onion, asparagus, cheddar and sausage or bacon quiche

Breakfast options include: oatmeal, cereal, bagels, english muffins, scrambled eggs, toast, fruit, HM breakfast sandwiches, yogurt, HM granola, HM granola bars, fruit bars, etc.

Lunch/Snack options include: salad, lunch meat sandwiches, tuna fish sandwiches, dinner leftovers, wraps, cheese and crackers with fruit, carrots and celery with ranch dip, etc. I usually eat lunch between 9am and 6pm. Seriously never know when I'll get a break these days.

I listed all of these options and taped them to the refrigerator. I'm really hoping this will cut down on the amount of time I spend searching the kitchen for something to eat as well as the inevitable "what the hell are we going to eat" convo that we always used to have when it was just the two of us. With two more people to (eventually) cook for we really need to start making the transition to family meals. We always ate together when I was growing up so it's very important to me and I just don't see our one year olds waiting until 10pm for their dinner like we're accustomed to doing.

I'm hoping by publishing this I will feel some sort of accountability to sticking to it. It's important to me to feel better and I know it's best for the girls. Wish us luck!

What did you eat after you brought baby home? How's it going now?


January 9, 2015

See That? There's Two : An Identical Twin Pregnancy Story

A fellow twin mom friend of mine, Joanna over at Nesting Story wrote a wonderfully detailed post about her experience with twin pregnancy. I myself have started this post quite a few times only to be sidetracked by a baby crying or find myself delving into far too much detail about the more personal aspects of my experience.  I gave a brief retelling of our twin diagnosis here, discussed my management of gestational diabetes here and here and a few weekly updates but not much else. My last entry before they were born was a glimpse into how I really was feeling the whole time. Terrified. Truth be told a lot of the pregnancy is a blur for me. Looking back now I can recall the big things - that first ultrasound, finding out they were girls, failing the glucose test, etc. but I haven't really been able to sit down and just write about the pregnancy as a whole. I don't feel as though I'm fully through processing it yet. I just know that it was truly the scariest time of my life.

I've mentioned a few times that having identical twins changed everything about my expectation of my personal pregnancy and that really did a number on me for a while. I had always pictured myself feeling nothing but joy and nervous excitement over our first child. I'm relatively anxious by nature and tend to worry a lot but nothing prepared me for the amount of times I would feel true panic while pregnant and not just because it was twins. Starting the day I found out I was pregnant I began to worry about anything that could cause me to miscarry. I had to actively push the scary and negative thoughts away just to get through the day without panicking over losing the baby, and later, one or both of them. On top these fears was the reality that I would have to stop working, at least for a little while and we would officially be in poverty. The only reason I wasn't crying or freaking out constantly was that I knew it was probably the worst thing I could do and may even lead to the unthinkable. I did my best to put a smile on, pretending everything was sunshine and rainbows. But it was hard work and some days I barely held it together.

Then, when I was 10 weeks along my best friend in the whole world miscarried at 6 weeks. It was absolutely devastating. We were so happy to be pregnant together and here I was carrying twins and she... it was awful. It's been almost a year and she's healing and we're fine. She loves my girls so much and she is trying again but it struck a fear in me that lingered until the girls were here and made my anxiety so much worse. I tried to be strong for my best friend but every single day I thought about baby Lily Grace, who would have been their first friend and wonder why. I know it's just how life is but it really makes you wonder.

So, in short, I tuned out. I acted like I wasn't pregnant and just tried to live my life like normal. When that was no longer possible I just reminded myself every day that nothing bad had happened yet. It's not pretty and I don't like admitting it. That's probably why I am having a hard time writing this. I regret that I didn't savor every second of carrying my babies but I know myself and that is just not who I am; not in the face of fear.  At one point I remember making myself talk to them because I felt guilty I didn't do it often enough. Then I started crying because all I could think was how it would kill me if something happened. It was easier to act like they weren't there until they were physically here. I knew they were real but they weren't really real yet, not to me. It's kind of like how you don't let your kids name the stray they took in. Once you become attached it's that much harder to let go.

I often wonder if it would have been different had I been pregnant with a singleton. After the first few weeks I allowed myself to believe it was most likely going to be ok. I relaxed about every ache or pain, my fears of ectopic and chemical pregnancy were handled with the first ultrasound at 8 weeks. By then I had made educated decisions about all the big choices there were to make. The easy ones: no coffee, lunch meat, sushi or alcohol, tons of protein and vitamins, some name ideas. Then the more important things: prenatal care, our birth plans (options A, B and C), how to make it work going back to the daycare with a kid and everything else there was.  I was ready to commit to being pregnant and loving it. Even finding out it was twins (that's how she said it, "See that? There's two.") didn't really shake me until we found out they were identical and everything I thought I knew about what our bodies can do went out the window.

My plans for the care I would receive and the birth we would have were changed completely and it felt as though I had relinquish control or suffer the (potential) consequences, of which there were many. All of a sudden I was high risk for everything: late-term miscarriage, Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), gestational diabetes, placenta previa and premature degradation, Twin-Anemia-Polycythemia Syndrome (TAPS), pre-term labor and premature birth. I was told at 10 weeks that 24 weeks was the first "goal" we had to make it to as that's when the risk for TTTS goes down and the fetus officially becomes viable. Yeah, all my progress in chilling out went right out the window after that.

We immediately had to terminate the care of my wonderful midwife and I let the home birth midwives know that was off the table. According to Dr. Margono the risk was just far too great for monochorionic twins given the number of complications that can arise. Sure, you could say that complications can happen in any pregnancy but look at it this way: it happens often enough with identical twins that most midwives will not deliver them alone and almost no one does it at home. Mine wouldn't even entertain the idea and referred me to both Dr. Margono and my actual OB, Dr. Kittle. As for my whole idea of going as long as I could - Dr. Margono told us that if we made it through to "the end" without complications he would induce me at exactly 35 weeks. He knew it was the babies' best chance of being born as developed as possible without risking damage or demise. I looked him up, he knew what he was talking about. When he said that the risk of losing one nearly doubles during week 36 I knew I had to do it. It didn't matter how much I wanted a natural birth, I was ready to do whatever he said. I hated losing control and it made it even harder to love being pregnant. I loved my babies and was excited to have them but dear lord was it going to be a long and terrifying road.

I started having ultrasounds every two weeks always wondering about the risks of too many but never questioning Dr. Margono. The best part was getting 3-D scans every time. The worst part was how I prepared myself every single time for something to be wrong. Often it was fine but it was during these sessions that we found out about choroid plexus cysts for which we had the Harmony genetic test done (the cysts were benign and went away by week 24), Juliette's enlarged kidney and the first big weight discordance right at the end, signifying possible TAPS and placenta degradation. That reaffirmed the best reason for delivering early as the placenta was already calcifying. If I waited too long it could no longer support two babies and my body could have gone into overdrive trying to save the surviving twin and start preterm labor. We set the date for July 30th way back in March. I looked up pictures of how big I could expect to be then, as well as the survival rates and potential issues for babies born at 35 weeks. I knew NICU time would be needed. I just prayed it was short and without issue. I planned our baby "theme" and registry but didn't buy a single thing for them or set up the nursery until the first week of July. With all this fear I spent much of the time so detached from the actual babies and did all I could for my pregnant body, eating as much as I could while managing gestational diabetes and taking it easy as often as I could while trying to stay fit and active. I worked on maintaining a positive attitude although it was very difficult at times.

In the end, they grew to 4 lbs. 2 and 4 lbs. 9 oz. They were healthy and we had no complications. I had a routine scheduled c-section with a wonderful recovery. We were one of the lucky ones.

I know now that I might have been able to actually keep them in for one or two more weeks to grow but the risks were too high for me (and my doctors). The only time I regret this decision is when I think about their NICU stay and when I start to feel anxious over milestones since my girls follow their adjusted age almost entirely. I just keep reminding myself that I need to be grateful that these are the only drawbacks that we experienced. They're here, they're healthy and that's all that matters.

I was blessed to have a very physically easy pregnancy. I did not have morning sickness, just nausea if I didn't eat the instant I felt hungry. My only real symptoms were sore boobs and a missed period. Oh and getting huge
although I only gained 35 lbs., despite trying to gain more and eating pretty much constantly. I had great energy well into the third trimester, only really having to slow down towards the middle of June.  I bought a pregnancy pillow early on and slept really well right up to the end. I tried really hard to take care of my body every day. I drank gallons and gallons of water a day and had to pee every half hour. I never had any scares or complications and almost every appointment was encouraging. The one time we went to labor and delivery was at 20 weeks when I thought I
was having contractions. It turned out the girls were just big enough that I could feel their kicks really well. They were stretching me out and causing braxton hicks contractions but all was fine. My healing afterwards was easy too. I was up and moving around the next day and felt completely like myself before leaving the hospital. No big deal.

The first time I got to hold my babies at the same time.
Every woman I know can't believe how easy it was. They say they're jealous of me. I don't look at it that way at all. No, I didn't suffer very much physically but I more than made up for it with mental anguish and anxiety. And then, to top it all off, after a harrowing pregnancy with more worry than joy my babies were taken from my body (yes by choice but still...) and then rushed to the NICU. I got to smell their heads and see their faces for 2 minutes each but I didn't hold them until they were 8 hours and 2 days old.

Juliette, 4 hours old
Despite everything else those were by far the hardest parts of this whole thing: not holding them, the NICU, and leaving them behind. Even with the benefit of being prepared for it nothing made it easier.  I have a very hard time thinking about that even now and I'm not sure I will ever be able to think about it without my heart hurting. That fear from the pregnancy, that something could go wrong at any moment, only intensified with them in the NICU, despite them being in the safest place possible at the time. It was so scary with the constant monitor beeps, the tube feedings, the oxygen, the isolettes and then the extra monitoring for Jules and her kidney. I couldn't breastfeed because they weren't strong enough yet so I was pumping around the clock. I was there every day from 9-7 but I still felt like I should have been doing more. No, I felt like they should have been home with me. After 14 days they did come home and it's incredible but I will always think about those two weeks.

Vivienne, 1 day old
So, there you have it. My less than glamorous version of my twin pregnancy. I could have lied and made up memories that I don't have, pretended to have enjoyed every second and basked in the glory that was an easy pregnancy (which I AM grateful for). But that's not my reality. My reality is it was terrifying and gut-wrenching at times. The prospect of bringing not one but two unplanned babies into the world is enough to keep anyone up at night, but I had all these things on top of it too. I was so glad when it was over and I don't miss it at all. For me, this is the easy part.

People are already asking when we will have another one. The answer is, almost definitely, never. For one thing, almost everyone I know has two kids and they're fine. Just because mine came at the same time does not mean I need to have another one. But really, I do not ever want to experience that awful, sickening, wake you up in the middle of the night anxiety over something I cannot control ever again. Once in a lifetime was more than enough for me. Maybe I'm crazy and maybe I'll regret it but I don't think so. I can't imagine coping with those emotions while trying to raise my girls, either. I don't think it would be fair to do that to the babies that I already have struggled so much with. They didn't have me, not fully, for so long, and they already have to share me as it is. They deserve to have all of me for the rest of their lives. These girls are truly the best thing in my life and I am happy to have gone through the pains I did to have them but I also hope to never have to do it again.

How was your pregnancy? Can anyone out there relate to me or am I just selfish and kinda crazy?


January 5, 2015

FIAO 2.4 - Diapering the Twins - Adventures in Cloth

We've been using cloth diapers for almost five months now and it's been quite the adventure. I've built a great stash by experimenting with all different kinds and have a great system going for washing and storing. In terms of usage it was spotty in the beginning with the girls not fitting even newborns until they were a few weeks old. As I wrote before, we received a lot of disposable newborn and size 1 diapers and I'm not gonna lie we used those pretty much all the time in the beginning. It is unreal how often two tiny humans need to be changed. They were going upwards of 15 times a day each for a few weeks. Then when you consider how many diapers were peed on before they were even fastened on the bum we were burning through 35+ diapers a day! My newborn stash was pretty small and although every one was used at least once I did not get into the swing of using cloth daily until the girls were about 2 months old and around 8 lbs. This is when I broke out my stash of prefolds and covers.

When I knew it was time I basically forced myself to do it by hiding all the disposables under the crib and laying some prefolds in a big pile on the changing table to guilt myself into choosing them. It wasn't that I didn't want to, I was just afraid of what would happen. What if they leaked? What if I can't fold it fast enough and they just pee on it? And of course, once they're dirty they will have to be washed... was I ready for that?

I will never forget what happened next. After 10 minutes of trying I finally got the perfect basic fold, snappis in place and covers on in just the right position. They looked adorable! We even started with the cutest prints (Thirsties Duo Wraps size 1). I put them both on their playmat and ran to get my camera to take a picture and then I heard it. The rumbling. The knees bent and then the loudest toot I had heard. And then the smell. Oh yeah, that's my girls (actually, it's every baby) taking the most epic poo ever, mere minutes after I put their cutest little cloth diapers on. And so it began.

The good news is I got a chance to test out my brand new wetbag and my wash routine with just one day of cloth diapering under my belt (give or take a few random ones from the first few days). It took some experimenting but I've finally perfected my wash routine and as crazy as it sounds I look forward to doing diaper laundry. I'll post more info about that soon but I want to talk about how it's going now.
Look at my "rainbow"!!! Plus my stellar small nursery organization!

The Ever Growing Stash - 

First off, my stash has transformed quite a bit. Aside from about 10 newborn size AIOs, I started out with 2 snappis, 30 prefolds/flats and 10 covers - the old school/cheapest way. I never used the flats or flour sack towels I had, just haven't mastered the fold well enough. The prefolds worked really well at first but my two issues were husband and family reluctance to use them and they were SUPER bulky on my girls until very recently. Don't be scared, bulk isn't actually a problem, especially if baby doesn't need to wear pants or has a nice stretchy pant wardrobe. I just didn't love the bulk and felt it was weighing them down. It's better now that they're bigger but I still go for my trimmer options first.  Over time I started buying more pockets (BumGenius 4.0) and then some AIOs (Thirsties and Blueberry Simplex). Then the girls' great grandma gave them a ton of CD-only-cash for Christmas and I went a little crazy but I've finally completed my stash. Trying to get a picture today I realized I actually made a rainbow. I am officially that mom! That was never my intention but it's freakin' adorable either way. It will never look like this again as this is every diaper I own, many of which are just not in rotation anymore.

It's been a lot of trial and error and I have learned a ton about modern cloth diapering over these last few months. First off, even though they're trim and by far the easiest I just don't love AIOs. I do love my Blueberry Simplex prints and my Thirsties are actually pretty great but I don't completely trust them yet as I've had one or two leaks with the blueberrys and they take a long time to dry. It turns out the style I originally thought I thought I wouldn't like, pockets, ended up being my favorite and my go to almost all the time! I was afraid that stuffing would be time consuming, especially with twins, but really I don't mind it at all and I love that I can customize absorbancy. They can wear a pocket stuffed with a microfiber insert wrapped in a bamboo prefold (or something) and not leak or be wet all night. Washing isn't bad as you just remove the insert, rinse if necessary (although I'm not there yet as we are EBF) and let the covers hang dry while the inserts only take half an hour in the dryer.  I think they are the cheapest way to the cutest and most functional fluff you can find. I've seen adorable pockets ranging in price from $5 to $30 (sometimes more, see below).

The Cloth Diaper Counter Culture - 

I've also learned that there are a few types of cloth diapering mamas. I, like always, have dabbled in each of these:

The Cult of the HTF - 

stalkers of limited edition releases, buy/sell/trade sites, and usually Cotton Babies for limited edition prints and diapers. Their paypal accounts are always at the ready for the newest release and they always have a few less desirable diapers ready to sell or trade for more funds. Some have been seen paying a hundred dollars or more for one single, albeit cute, diaper (looking at you BumGenius Jules going for $125 on ebay!). I will admit that I have a "unicorn" that is HTF (hard to find and often the one diaper you really want). It's the BumGenius Martin - just because my girls are Leos and it's beautiful. I am currently pissed off at a shop called Green Earth Baby Works as I ordered two of these diapers 3.5 weeks ago and they still haven't shipped. Even though they have my money. It's making me crazy that I may not get them after all but I'll just keep my eyes out for one like a true member of the mob (look up the cotton babies flash diaper mob if you don't know what I'm referring to. be warned, they're tough).

The Collectors - 

These moms seem to have one of every single diaper (specifically prints) and others have every color and print of certain brands, like BumGenius as well as seemingly endless paypal funds and/or really rich husbands. I have seen stashes as large as 200 diapers for one child. They are usually organized by color creating a beautiful rainbow of poop catchers but can sometimes be stacked dozens high in any way. Collectors sometimes fall into the HTF cult as well but some are just aiming to gather every single diaper that they can. I always wonder how they even ever get all those diapers on to baby! I guess I can say that I am officially a collector as I have an entire rainbow of colors and adorable prints but I also think I'm good to go for quite a while and won't be purchasing any more... until I come across something really cute and I have to have it.

The Money Savers -

If you fall into either of the previous categories cloth diapering might not save you much money in the long run. Thankfully those among us looking to get more bang for our buck have options. These families know the cheapest way to use cloth is how I started by using prefolds/flats/flour sack towels and a cover (which can be anywhere from $5 to $20) and they stick to it. It's not always the cutest and it can be more difficult but you can get a full stash for $200 max, sometimes less than $100 if you buy used.

The I Don't Care As Long As My Baby's Bum Is Covered -

This is ultimately what I think most people fall into and where I have found myself. Yes, I have my favorites and yes I do have a lot but it's a mix of all kinds and I will use just about any of them at any time. Many of mine were bought second hand from buy/sell/trade sites and craigslist or they were purchased with money given to us specifically for that purpose. Otherwise we would be bare bones with just a few covers and used prefolds. And while we haven't yet gotten to the point of needing to use an old t-shirt and safety pins, I will do that if I have to.

In Conclusion-

We really are saving SO much money. When considering our out of pocket start up cost (around $200), and the fact that we use disposables at night sometimes, we have still saved well over $300, if not more. You can do the math like this awesome twin Dad did or just take my word for it. Our water bill and electric bills have not gone up and I am spending maybe $10 more a month on Tide detergent and borax. My investment will never be a total loss as I will sell or re-use everything. I'm selling some prefolds and covers tomorrow in fact, getting back half of what I put in since I bought used. We are also helping the environment by not contributing to the problem of what can only be describe as a massive amount of crap going into the landfills every day. Oh and the best thing - I actually really enjoy it! My girls look adorable even without pants on and now I can review all the colors of the rainbow with them while I stuff pockets!

My advice is this:

  • Only trial and error can tell you which diapers are right for you so I'm glad I started small and worked my way up to what I have. You can't know what will fit or work until baby is here no matter what you read.
  • But - Enjoy the research process. Have fun with it! As you learn about a diaper (read reviews, find blogs like this one) pick one from a website or find it locally and buy it if you have the budget for it. Try to get one of each kind in either newborn or one-size (although remember these will be harder to fit on babies less than 8 lbs).
  • Don't freak out about anything until you know what your dealing with. They're expensive but in the end they're just cloth you paid for. Much like your clothes. Learning how to treat them helps with the not freaking out.
  • So - You have to perfect your wash routine and you (hopefully) won't have issues. If you have issues with stain, stink, delamination, elastics, whatever, visit the Fluff Love University and follow their advice. I have had issues and I don't know yet if they're all completely resolved forever but will hopefully let you know soon.
Having followed the CD journeys of almost every momblogger out there I know these are the basics of what we've all learned. I hope I still feel this way in a year!

What is your favorite type of cloth diaper? Any tips for someone just starting out?