Sunday, January 1, 2017

Breastfeeding for the Modern Mom

After I had the triplets, I spent a lot of time pumping. Pumping in the car, at the mall, any chance I got. It was important that in addition to nursing them, I pumped on schedule to maintain a supply. This meant lugging my too small, ugly pump bag that was very obviously a pump bag. It screamed "Hello! I am a pump bag!" everywhere I went. But it was unavoidable.

When we added Rhett to our family, several things changed. First, I was heavy into my photography career. Taking too much time off wasn't feasible (I was photographing another newborn when Rhett was just a week and a half old!). I was also beginning a journey with Sufficient Grace Ministries providing photos for families whose baby had passed away. While away, the good 'ole pump bag had to come with me. This posed several problems. I couldn't walk into these hospital rooms with an obvious pump bag, so I often left the pump in the car and skipped.

The more I thought about this, I though, what if I was working in an office setting, every day having this worry? While I am not ashamed of breastfeeding in public, there is something weird about pumping in public for me. And the thought of people knowing That was the whole reason I got the Spectra pump with Rhett...it was quieter and less obvious.

Then I stumbled on the Sarah Wells bag. I had to have one. And when it arrived, I was like a little at Christmas! I have been dying to share with everyone how much I love this bag!



First glance, it's stylish. You can't tell it's a pump bag. I have taken this bag everywhere and no one noticed that my pump was in it! This is so amazing for me with my work, because it can be intimate and my bag just blends in with the rest of my things. It's not screaming in anyone's face.

But what really blew me away, that I hadn't even considered, was how functional and spacey the bag was. There are two openings for two pumps if you want. One is a bit larger to fit a pump like the spectra, and the other is a little smaller which fit my medela pump perfectly. There is a zip pocket on the outside, a zip on the inside, plus two open pockets on the inside. Not to mention to extra space above the pump! I can fit all my parts, extra bottles, bags...plus some snacks.






Maybe to some, your pump bag is trivial. But to others, this is HUGE! As a working, modern mom, this bag is a complete game changer. Put this bag on your registry, or buy for a friend who is expecting. This would be a great baby shower gift, and I am truly sad that I just found this. The girls at Sarah Wells are so kind, and you're supporting small business moms. Win win! I already have two friends who got one because they loved mine.

I sincerely hope that this will help someone out there. Happy Shopping!
Find your bag here: https://sarahwellsbags.com/
Find my bag here: https://sarahwellsbags.com/collections/all/products/lizzy-navy

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Feeding Three- Tips and Tricks and Products you HAVE to try!

Let me preface this post by saying I am not a nurse, a certified lactation consultant, or any kind of titled professional. I am just a mom who has breastfed five children with different journeys and had the opportunity to learn a lot along the way. Now let's get down to business.


I wrote a blog post when we first started nursing, and sometimes I like to look back at that think wow! We have come so far, and learned so much!! I get messages often asking me for advice, and I think the best way to help everyone is with a blog post! I hope to cover some commonly asked questions by telling our story right to weaning. I also have the pleasure of sharing a great product that I think will truly help many women who need a boost.


It all started with our first latch. Yep, that is me, right after delivery. I told the lactation consultant, let's do two! I knew that tandem feeding would be inevitable for my sanity, and I was eager to give it a go! By that point each baby had gotten some one on one nursing time and I felt they had a pretty decent latch. If you have twins, master the tandem nursing. It is essential. And if you have an experience lactation consultant, make her show you how to nurse laying down. It will save your back and your neck and you will thank me for this later.

We nursed every 2-3 hours in the beginning. It took about an hour and a half to nurse all three and change their diapers and get them back to sleep. This gave me an hour or do to do whatever I had to do before it all started again. This made for rough nights. But after a few weeks we had a good system. When one baby would cry, I would wake another and tandem, then nurse the third. When one ate, they all ate. It was on demand but not. I did not have them on a schedule and I did not wake the first baby. Down the road I tried on demand feeding for all three, but it was too much and I was waking up every half hour with someone and getting zero sleep. I couldn't function, and if I kept on like that I would have weaned them immediately. There comes a point where you have to ask yourself, is breastfeeding making them happy? Is it making ME happy? If you can't answer YES to both of those, then you need to stop or try something new. Breastfeeding (once you get the hang of it and over the initial ouch period) should be pleasant for both of you. So, we went back to on demand feeding one and we all got happy again. There were definitely times when I asked myself if it was worth it. I would tell myself....finish today and re-evaluate tomorrow. Maybe today you're just tired and frustrated, so see how you feel about it tomorrow. Usually when tomorrow came I was ready to keep going.


My favorite time nursing was my one on one time with each baby. Tandem nursing is efficient, and sometimes even cute. But there is something so special about that one on one time. And I think that is why I kept going when it got hard. It is hard to take time for each baby, and nursing them forced me to do that.

I am often asked if I ever supplemented. We never supplemented with formula (we tried once while out because I didn't come prepared with bottles, pumped milk, and I was in the middle of doing something and wanted a break. The babies were not happy with me however and spit it out, and so I ended up nursing them anyway). However, we did supplement with donor milk on a few occasions. When the babies were first delivered, it took a bit for my milk to come in. I had steroid shots which I later learned can delay milk from coming in. It also took a bit for my milk to come in, and because the hospital was pressuring me from the babies losing weight and being sleepy, we used donor milk and milk I had saved from my previous daughter to even out the difference until my supply kept up. It did eventually catch up and then some! I was a milk making machine!
Until of course I got mastitis. I had a wonderful friend who unfortunately lost her baby at the end of her pregnancy. She pumped and donated most of her milk to us (as well as a few other families) and I had a lot in storage. Thank Goodness! Mastitis was no joke. It was hard, it hurt, and I lost a lot of my supply. I went from producing 12-14 ounces a feeding to 6-9 ounces! Our donor milk got us through it, and also allowed me the opportunity to bring a bottle if I didn't have milk pumped beforehand. Sometimes bottles were easier (like a car ride where I could pump but needed milk before) and they gave me a break when I felt burnt out. It was important to me though that they still got breast milk and this worked out best for our family! As a matter fact, once we used our donor milk I was able to pump and store some of my own milk, and when the babies were sick recently (very shortly after we weaned, go figure!) I was able to use my expressed milk to get them through their colds!

How did I make enough milk for 3 babies you ask? It wasn't easy. I survived solely on Gatorade (yes not the best, but it helped me supply more than water truth be told!) and I ate a lot. Nursing on demand (even the one baby on demand method) I think played a big part in keeping my supply up, and I always tried to pump after feeds. I wasn't always successful because-life, but I did it as much as I could. Oh, going for a car ride? Pump! Oh, watching a movie and kids are asleep? Pump!

Sometimes, life really does get in the way and pumping and feeding isn't enough. I found this to be especially true once the babies got more mobile and wanted to eat more table food. Nursing became an after thought, and it was easy to be busy and throw a banana at them instead of nursing like I should have done. Naturally when life gets in the way your supply dips. If this doesn't lead to mastitis (yay!) it can and probably will lead to a supply dip. So here are my tips for the most common question i get on a daily basis.

Help! My supply has dipped/isn't there. What do I do?

Step 1- Power Pump!! What is power pumping? It is basically where you mimick a growth spurt with your pump. Put a movie on and get comfy, you'll be there a while. Start by pumping for 20 minutes. Turn off the pump and rest for 10 minutes. Then pump another 10 minutes. Do this for an hour. 20 on/10 off/10 on/10 off/10 on. Sometimes I went crazy and added some extra time, but an hour will do just fine.

Step 2- Increase your fluids! Water, Gatorade, get it in your system! Chug as much as you can, then continue to drink. Give it 48 hours and that should help.

Step 3- Consider a supplement. I was able to try all the different blends from Euphoric Herbals and I have to say, they were fabulous! My suggestions is to try her trio and see what works best for you. I particularly liked Milk Machine and Dairy Fairy, but everyone is different and your body will react differently. I think this would be especially beneficial if you are trying to relactate or if you have on going supply problems. But, if you find you have a dip, keep some on hand because it will help!

You can find the website here: http://shop.euphoricherbals.com/breastfeeding/

While you are there check out her other products. We got to try the baby balm and it is AH-MAZ-ING. Seriously. My oldest daughter suffers from eczema, and Addisyn suffers from keratosis pilaris. This stuff is phenominal for treating these things, as well as a diaper rash. I used to be all about calmoseptine for diaper rashes, but her baby balm knocks it out of the water. Cindy is so nice, and was so fabulous to work with. And her packaging is beautiful! It isn't just thrown in a box, but it's wrapped nicely with some little surprises!

Step 4- Nurse that baby! Don't give baby a pacifier, just nurse as much as you can! No bottles, no formula. Nurse nurse nurse. It will come back. Baby should gain at least half an ounce a day, so if you're worried about weight gain find a local lactation consultant or chat with your pediatrician!

---

Some have asked me about relactating, and what I would suggest. I personally have never relactated, just known mamas who have. I honestly would suggest you see a lactation consultant. I would love to offer more advice but each situation will be so different!

So my hope is that if you've read this far, perhaps your a mama expecting triplets herself. If you're like me, you might be like "AHHH, what do I do?!" I cried for weeks because breastfeeding, and baby wearing, and all that other natural stuff was so important to me. How could I avoid a c-section and breastfeed my babies? It was so overwhelming, and I had a hard time coping giving up these expectations I had of myself. I searched the internet for help on how to do it. Maybe you've done the same and that has brought you here to me.

I want to share the logistics of breastfeeding triplets so you can be successful. Let be up front, you will be more sleep deprived than you even thought was possible. But it's worth it.

So how do you make enough milk for 3 babies? It's all supply and demand. When you demand milk, your body will supply it. When they first arrived I was not a pro at tandem nursing. So I would nurse one baby at a time. The baby who ate last was the one to eat first next round. So, let's use a b c because by now you're used to those letters. Baby A nurses first on the left, Baby B second on the right and Baby C is offered both breasts last, left offered first then right offered second. Next feeding (which should be about 2 hours from the last feed) Baby C should go first on the left, then maybe A goes second on the right because it ate first and Baby B will get bother breasts. This is a perfect world and this will last for about a week.

Then, when you learn to tandem your life gets so much easier! You can nurse two at once and nursing takes a whole half hour less! So then you Feed baby A and B, then Baby C. Second round just make sure Baby C goes first. Then when you get so tired you can't see straight, you will probably just grab whoever is crying and feed them first. If one baby starts to have green poop, there is a foremilk, hind milk imbalance and that baby is getting too much foremilk so you'll need to let that baby eat last to get more hind milk (the good fatty stuff).

So, you're probably wondering how you make enough. Theoretically babies eat 3-4 ounces of breast milk each feeding. Sometimes more sometimes less. The key here is that the first two babies will take the foremilk and the most milk in volume. This has less fat to satisfy thirst. The third baby will get more hindmilk that is full of fat, so baby will need less volume to be satisfied.

Between feeds you maybe get an hour to do whatever you want. Eventually feeds will stretch out and you will feel more human again. If you can find it in you, try to pump for 10-15 minutes after nursing all three.

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Now, let me chat about weaning, because there comes a time when this must be done. Each experience is different.

With my first daughter, weaning was so easy. I didn't even do it. She was 9 months old and was crawling everywhere, getting into everything. I wasn't savvy to pumping then, and she wasn't interested in nursing. She would nurse less and less, and one day I realized that I had no milk! We had to switch her over to formula for a few months to make sure she got her nutrients. I was devastated. How did my milk just dry up. I couldn't tell you if it was her lack of nursing that dried me up or if I dried up and that led to her lack nursing. But, I had given it my best and made it 9 months, so I was proud and after a few weeks once the devastation and feeling like I had failed wore off, I was happy to have my body back.

The baby number 2 came. I was a pumping machine, and when we discovered we were pregnant with the triplets (funny enough, I was nursing her on the exam table!) I knew our journey would need to come to an end. The problem was she was a boob baby. She loved her milk and her nursing time and wasn't giving it up easily. I continued nursing until we got to the point where preterm labor was a serious concern. Then we slowly started cutting back. She was 11 months when we got pregnant, so right around 14 months I started cutting feeds. First, we went down to morning, nap, and night time feeds. Then we went to nap and bed. Then it was just the bed time. I took about a week for each stage. Sometimes I would have hubby do bed time routine or nap time so it wouldn't be a big deal. But once she was okay with a binky instead of nursing, I continued to rock her to sleep until I was physically unable to do so because my belly took over. Then, well, she was okay just going to bed thankfully.

Then came the triplets. Really, weaning them was easy. I quickly began to dry up despite nursing and pumping. So, they would nurse but play mostly, and because they were playing it was easier to hand them a bottle of milk. They were ready, and I had no choice but to be ready. It was an easy transition, and them being ready helped. They still pull at my shirt, and sometimes they will nurse for a minute before realizing nothing is coming out and they smile and smack me. It's comical. They got almond milk for a while, and then we switched to whole milk. And they never stop eating. I was sad that our nursing journey came to an end sooner than I anticipated...I planned to make it to 2 years if they allowed. But, God had other plans and so did they! I think Bentley would've made it, but we made it to 15 months and I am proud of that! It was hard work, and we have new adventures to conquer!





Hopefully this helps answer a lot of questions I receive, and gives you some assistance when you hit a road bump. I get so many messages, that I try to help everyone but sometimes it isn't possible to get to all the messages. I've tried to organize my thoughts (which isn't always the easiest task!) and provide a lot of information and I hope that you aren't overwhelmed. As always, I am always available to help where I can if you have questions that this blog didn't answer. My whole point in sharing my journey was to help and encourage moms, and I hope that I have done that.






Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Important of Yourself

I'm your stereotypical "helicopter parent". My children are always in my sight. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times my children have spent the night elsewhere and I wouldn't even need the whole hand. I am so paranoid to let them go anywhere and be out of my care that I just don't do it unless it's absolutely necessary.

Well, three days ago it became necessary. My husband and I needed to head to Dallas. Okay, we didn't *need* to head to Dallas but me coming along was important. I just didn't even realize how important it was until our trip was coming to a close. 

Finding childcare for five children including triplets was agonizing. My mother in law lives 3 hours away and my kids have never stayed there without me. And most of the people in our lives have other commitments in life they can't just drop to watch our kids, with the exception of my grandmother who needed a break just as much as we did. Needless to say I was stressing out over it. Especially the triplets, because really they require the most work and with them nursing I wasn't wanting to be away from them for days. 

We ended up sending our older two to my mother in laws. They went early and the first two days were rough. All I could think is what if there was an emergency, I was 3 hours away and couldn't get to them right away. When we put my four year old in the car she cried because she wanted me to go with her. My heart broke. I felt helpless. 

Then we sent the triplets to my moms house after she took off work. From her house they would go to a friends house. While trusting both people I just wasn't ready to part with my little infants. 

How do you turn off mommy mode? How do I function as a regular adult when I've not done it for so long. My entire life is dictated by this little army I've created and I don't know anything but my daily scenario anymore. 

And then we boarded the plane. And I was anxious. I was nervous. The first night I tossed and turned and didn't sleep like I wanted to. But that first day, it was fabulous. I was able to wake up when I wanted to. I showered, brushed my teeth, put on makeup and even did my hair...one right after the other and it only took me about an hour! And the longer I was away, the more revitalized I felt. Catching up on sleep was one thing, but just resetting my entire routine was refreshing. I felt like a different person, and it was nice. 

Where am I going with this? Stop being a helicopter parent. I hate when people say "my kid didn't leave my sight until he was three, not even for an hour so I could go to the grocery store". Great! Do you want a trophy? Because all you did was torture yourself. Now...there are some moms who can say that because they had no choice. And kudos to you because it's hard!! Everyone deserves a break. Seriously hire a sitter for an hour and go grocery shopping alone. But for those of us who *choose* to never have our children leave our side. WHY?? 

Having children doesn't mean you lose yourself. And taking a breaking doesn't make you less of a mom or a bad mom. Actually it's the opposite. I needed this break. I needed me time. I cannot go back to my kids more focused and energized and be a better mom to them. 

And quite frankly I deserved a break. And so do you. Take it. 

As I sit on the plane heading back home from Dallas, typing my thoughts on this little phone screen...I realize how important I am. My needs, my wants...my life revolves around my kids. It if I don't take of myself what good am I to them? I know now that I can go home and be better. 

And man do I miss my kids. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I am so excited to go home and hear them scream and cry. Who says that? A mommy who hasn't seen her babies. I hope all you stretched thin mommies heed my advice. You deserve that pedicure. You're doing an amazing job. Reward yourself. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coping with Multiples

The first few weeks of having the triplets home, I was often asked 'How are you doing?'

I am pretty sure everyone expected me to be on the verge of an emotional breakdown, and start crying in front of them and explain how overwhelmed and tired I was.

Was I tired? Yes. Was I overwhelmed? Yes. Was I on the verge of an emotional breakdown? No.

I just smiled, told them we were doing great and I was managing just fine. I had this whole triplet mom thing down.

Deep down, I wanted to tell them that God picked the wrong person to have triplets. I was tired and irritable. Yet despite my shortcomings, I was so convinced I had it all down. In fact, I thought it would be a good idea to open up some mini sessions for my photography. Realistically, I didn't have time in my day to shower or linger in the restroom, let alone tackle something else aside from my 5 children.

But I'm super woman right?

Let me tell you about having three newborn babies. At first, when you bring your preemies home from the hospital, they are sleepy and easy to handle. Yes they wake up to eat a million times, but they sleep well between feeds. And then they hit their due date. That is when all hell breaks loose.

They cry. A lot. And they are needy, and they want help, and they don't want to eat and be set down. They want to eat and then doze off a bit, then wake up and eat some more, and repeat. A lot. By the time you feed and change them all it feels like it is time to do it again...and I had 2 other children. There just flat out were not enough hours in the day. And because you're new at this, you don't have a clue what you're doing or how to do it.

But I wasn't new!! I kept telling myself I was an experienced mom. I had two kids already. Why was I struggling so much? And then it happened.

The way to cope with having multiples is to do your best.

And if you have one child, you have NO idea what it is like to have three. It's a different game entirely. It's like trying to play Life by the rules of Checkers. Doesn't work!  So give it up and accept this is a new learning curve, and you're going to have to adapt and learn.

The big thing most people get frustrated with is crying. It leads to shaken baby and all sorts of other bad things. I can see how this would easily push a mom into PPD or something unthinkable. But as a mom with three newborns, you have to realize that they are going to cry.

I am avidly against crying it out. So crying was a big thing for me. But the difference between crying it out and not is can't and won't. When I am feeding two babies and one is crying next to me because they don't want to wait....it isn't that I *won't* pick up my baby and comforter them. It's that I *can't*. As desperately as I want to, I just can't. It breaks my heart when any of them have to cry. And I certainly do my best to comfort each one. Sometimes that means a baby on my chest while the other two eat. Sometimes that isn't possible because of positioning. All I can do it sit back and feed my two babies and know once they are done, that one crying is going to get some one on one time, and we will both bask in it. I don't stress out, I don't panic. I just try to offer a binky, talk, and feed my babies.

By stressing out I do no good, only harm. I stress myself out, which puts stress hormones into my milk which then goes to my babies.

In the car, sometimes I can't reach a crying baby. So I put on a lullaby and keep driving to get to my destination promptly so I can comfort my baby.

And sometimes, I leave my crying babies to use the restroom. GASP! Because as important as it is to meet their needs, it is also important to meet my needs. How can I be an effective parent to my children if I don't take care of myself? This was a harder lesson to learn than it should have been. But when you go weeks letting yourself go, not eating, etc...it will catch up to you and it will be bad. So do yourself (and your precious babies) a favor and take care of yourself from the beginning,

If eating means having protein bars close by while you feed your babies, do it. Keep water and some snack close for when you need it. If you let your babies cry for a minute to use the restroom, I promise they will be alright.

Lastly, on crying...remember this and remember it well. Your baby is not crying to drive you mad. Your baby is crying because it has a need, and it can not communicate with you in any other way. You will find the need and fulfill it, I assure you. So don't get angry at your baby because it can't go make a cheeseburger when it is hungry, or that it can't change it's own diaper. Take a deep breathe, and say "Okay, you're crying. Are you hungry? Is your diaper wet? Does your belly have gas?" and go down the list. Feed, change, burp, and cuddle your baby. And your babies. 

Now at 9 weeks, we have a pretty good system in place. It takes me roughly an hour to feed and change all three babies. Sometimes more sometimes less. I keep Gatorade by the bed at night, and a protein bar as well. Having my system down helps tremendously. I try to practice by the guide of attachment parenting, and we have adapted what works for us. Many people told me I needed a strict schedule, but that isn't who we are. We are flexible, we do try new ways to do things, and we don't let things stress us out.

I do admit sometimes I want to cry, because I am tired and the babies are crying and all I want to do is sleep. But I don't often let it get the best of me, and that keeps me sane.

Some smaller points...

Accept help when it is offered. If someone offers to bring you a meal, you accept it. If someone offers to watch the kids so you can shower, give them a time and enjoy that shower! Don't be too proud to accept help.

If you can, get out of the house. Accept that help and leave the house for even an hour. Because our trio were born later, we are often out and about and doing things. Sometimes it is irritating the comments and stares that we get, but I know my mental health would quickly deteriorate if I felt trapped at home. It is worth the work to load and unload, even if you just go to Walmart. Just don't let people touch your babies or get in their face and you're good to go.

TRY to remember that your housework isn't going anywhere, and if you don't finish folding the laundry today the world will not end. Yes I have piles of clean laundry on my dresser, but quite frankly at the end of the day I am too tired to return to it. I go on a cleaning tangent once in a while and put it all away so that way I can add more and start all over. ;) It's hard to deal with clutter but if you stress about the housework you'll get absolutely no where. And really, you didn't want to do it anyway.

I could probably go on and on, but I think it is really important for moms to enter this journey not afraid. We all to often see people complain about having multiples. Yes it is hard and daunting at times. But you don't have to be on the verge of a breakdown just because you have multiples. There are ways to cope, and it is all in your mind set. So just remember to take a deep breathe, you have support all around you. You don't have to be perfect, just do the best you can. Hopefully my pointers with how I have coped will help someone else.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

We're Growing so big!



I can't believe the babies are 8 weeks old! I've really been a slacker with updates, but let me tell you, three babies is a lot of work! (No, really? Ha!) I will be brutally honest, they are truly more work than I think I realized. But, I am here to update!

The babies are currently 8 weeks old, or 3 weeks adjusted. This means, they are 3 weeks from their due date had they been born full term and not prematurely. It really doesn't mean a whole lot, especially since ours weren't *that* early, but it means a bit in terms of their development and weight gain. They will likely develop along their adjusted age, but then again all babies develop differently anyway, so it doesn't even matter.

Currently Addisyn weighs 7 pounds, 8 ounces. Impressive for a 4 pounder, eh? Mister Bentley also weighs 7 pounds, 8 ounces. And our little Connor man is 7 pounds 5 ounces. Our little peanut has caught up to the boys and surpassed! She needs to keep up so she doesn't get beat up. ;) They are growing like weeds!! We are averaging about an ounce a day of weight gain for each, which means all that breastmilk is doing them well!


Speaking of breastfeeding, it is going pretty well! They do get the occasional bottle, because realistically I need sleep. So sometimes my grandma will come take them for a few hours and feed them so I can get a nice stretch. It's fabulous! We are so blessed to have her. Thankfully I have been able to pump and have extra, in addition to the wonderful donor milk we were gifted by a fabulous mama.

A lot of people ask me how long it takes to feed all three. Surely I must always be feeding a baby. It certainly seems that way at times, especially since we just passed a growth spurt. (That was ROUGH!) However, it only takes me about an hour to feed and change all three, an hour and a half if I pump afterwards. I am able to tandem feed two and then feed the third. If I was really crafty I would pump one side while the last one eats, but I am not that crafty. Because of this, I do not pump in the middle of the night like I should, because quite frankly my sleep is important to me. And if I can't function, I can't be a good mommy to these little lovies.

They eat every 2-3 hours, so this gives me an hour or two depending to do whateverrrr I want. (Snort) This usually means I am stuffing my face or trying to get a little extra shut eye. Or, sometimes, I can manage a shower. I also use this time to spend some quality time with my older two girls.


My girls are adjusting pretty well. Natalie is hysterical, she tells EVERYONE about her babies. She is 3.5 and is so proud of her three babies. God forbid anyone start asking questions because she will go on rants about her three babies and how they were in mommy's belly but now they aren't, and they cry a lot. But then when they do cry, she asks why we have to have all these babies because "she is so sick of their crying". Uh, what?!  Where does she learn this stuff from? She will stomp around and tell them to shut up, and I try so hard to not laugh when I tell her that is not a nice thing to say.

She is still better than Charlotte though. Charlotte loves the babies, so much she enjoys climbing into their rockers and trying to cuddle with them. And she is constantly giving them kisses which of course wakes them up. Or sometimes she just smacks them and takes their binkies. Which again, wakes them up. I don't think she quite knows what to do with them all. Thankfully, she doesn't seem jealous. She just wants to hold them and kiss them and then she is good.


It is so sweet to see their personalities come alive slowly. Addisyn is definitely a diva. She likes to be held and cries when she isn't. If she isn't the center of your attention she will get your attention! Bentley has the most pitiful cry. He breaks my heart every time he cries, because it just sounds so heartbreaking. He is probably the most cuddly of the three, he just wants to be near you all the time. Or held. He and Addisyn definitely cry the most, but they also are the gassiest. We suspect some milk sensitivity so I have had to really watch what I eat (although I suck at it quite frankly) but we have found white noise and gripe water to be a blessing. Bentley also has a bit of a lip tie, but because he is transferring milk well and gaining great we are leaving it alone. Sometimes I wonder if it aids in his gassiness, but who knows. Connor is the most mellow of the three. He can certainly make himself known, but generally he just hangs out. Sadly, because he is the most mellow, I feel he gets the least of my attention so when the other two finally settle I try to get in extra snuggles with him.

Addisyn always makes the funniest faces, and her tongue is always out!! She probably has the biggest personality right now. Connor often looks grumpy, maybe it's the receding hairline? Ha! And Bentley just looks puzzled, like how in the world did I get out here?! I can't wait to watch them develop moe, and get to know them even better!




As for me, as hard as this experience is...I am so blessed that God entrusted me with three little lives. I am often asked if I am feeling alright, as PPD is common with one baby and more so with three. I am thankfully doing well, even with lack of sleep. I don't feel sad, or anything like that. I was actually expecting some PPD, and quite the opposite has happened. I feel overwhelming happy! Yes, sometimes I get frustrated and want to cry. I have even had a few "I can't do this" breakdowns. But, on a daily basis I am doing great.

It's been a struggle merging my parenting style with what I have to do...and can do. But hat is another post for another day. :) Hopefully everyone enjoyed the beautiful pictures. Actually, I tried doing their pictures. I had some help from friends, but it was too difficult to be mommy and photographer. I think I do one or the other well...not both. So when Melissa from Baby Monster Photography reached out to us, I was so beyond thrilled to have beautiful professional pictures. And Melissa is a doll! You can check out her stuff here: babymonsterphotography.com

Until next time, God Bless!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Marriage and Multiples

When I was pregnant, I remember my husband telling me that another triplet dad said something like 60% of marriages with triplets+ end in divorce. I laughed a little and told him it couldn't be that bad, and that had to be a false percent.

Then we had the babies.

One night while all three cried and screamed while I got bottles ready as quickly as I could, he said to me, "I see why those marriages ended in divorce. The dad probably just wanted a little sleep away from all those kids." Half asleep, I smiled a little but I really just wanted to trip him as he walked away. I'm glad my husband has a sense of humor, and that in my more clear state of mind I can't help but laugh at that comment. We were still in the hospital, and I think looking back that makes it even a little more entertaining because he really could just go home and sleep in our own bed with no crying babies.

The reason our marriage won't end in divorce is because he didn't. Except when he went back to work and I told him he needed to rest and to go home and sleep, the nurses and I could handle it.

My husband doesn't like babies. He just doesn't. Our 3 year old- he does great. He is calm and patient with her, and when I lose my cool he brings me to earth and tells me to calm down. He enjoys doing things for and with her, and her tantrums don't phase him the way they stress me out. When it comes to the babies, he and I switch places.

The other night, two of the babies couldn't be consoled. It didn't matter what we did. Fed them, held them, gave them a pacifier. They just were not having it. I was frustrated with them which I am sure didn't help, and I was frustrated with him. I can only do so much, and he was a mixture of trying to sleep and asking me did I want him to do something.

Mamas, remember that men are NOT programed in the same way women are.

I screamed in my head, "I shouldn't have to ask you to help me!! We have 5 kids, grab a baby and do something! This isn't your first time at the rodeo!" but instead, I sharply said "No, I have it."

Did I have it? No. But I was really too proud to admit that at the time. This was the night I caved and gave them bottles. In the middle of making said bottles, he came down, and told me he would finish those, he couldn't handle the noise upstairs. So I trotted up and let him finish, and we sat and fed the babies (who by the way still weren't very happy). He kept saying, "I don't know how you do this. I don't know how you do this."

I smiled. And it clicked. He was more overwhelmed than I was, because babies are not his thing. So of course he isn't going to do what I want him to do unless I ask him to do it. BUT, want to know the greatest thing about my husband?

When I ask him to do it, he does. He just needs asked.

Which says a lot about our understanding in marriage, and how we cope with the stresses of multiple children. I often feel bad asking for help, even from my husband. But the fact is I can't do it all, all the time. I am human and I am not super-woman. My husband helps where he can, when he can. He loads the babies in the car, does the older girls bedtime routine so I can focus on the babies.

We work well together because his strengths are my weakness and my strengths are his weakness. And the more I realize that I have to understand him, and not just expect him to read my mind, the better we can cope together on this crazy ride. Is our marriage perfect? No, no marriage is perfect. That would be pretty boring. Our marriage is a learning experience, and it doesn't matter how long you've known someone or have been married to them...you will always learn new things about them and how to improve your marriage.

So, I know some of the new moms out there (singles, twins, whatever!) are probably frustrated with their husbands. My advice is to try and remember this is new for them too. People cope and handle things differently. The joy of marriage is learning your spouses coping measures and mesh them with your own. Find ways to compromise, find ways to embrace them. Remember the positives and let go of the negatives.

And always, always remember to say 'I love you".

Friday, September 26, 2014

Adventures in Breastfeeding

**Warning, Blog Contains Breastfeeding Pictures. Proceed at own risk ;)

Pumping suck. There, I said it. I knew I would have to do some pumping, but I didn't think I would be doing this much. It makes me feel bad for cows, really. And not only does pumping suck, but so do bottles, and the mountain of them I seemed to be buried by every single day.


I call this my bag of tricks ;)

So I somehow got stuck in this downward spiral, and while my birth was about as close to perfect as I could have envisioned, our breastfeeding journey has not been. I know it's unrealistic to have this perfect image in your head and it actually happen, but we are getting there... it just didn't happen right away.

I had lovely babies with great latches from the beginning. Yes, sometimes we had to fix a shallow latch, but they were preemies. And for them being early, we were all amazed they wanted to latch and they wanted to breastfeed, despite their sleepiness. 

 Sometimes, you have to cuddle one and feed another.

Most have likely read about our NICU journey, and I want to elaborate on why I was so adamant about not giving the babies bottles. Bottles, especially in the NICU with the way they feed babies, essentially force feed babies. They aim to fill their little bellies and then some. The bottles require little work for a baby and it just kind of drips in their mouth. And they just eat and eat. It is so easy to overfill a baby with a bottle. And bottles kill breastfeeding.

It seems now most lactation consultants and articles agree that babies don't experience nipple confusion, but more nipple preference. When baby is at breast, they have to work for their food. It doesn't just come out. So, would you want to just lay there while food drips in your mouth or would you want to work for it? Exactly. 

So our babies got bottles, because we wanted out of the hospital. And because I was terrified of going back, they continued to get bottles until we could get them older and less sleepy so I could ensure they would thrive and be able to eat. Switching away from bottles is hard, and how to go about it depends on the person. 

At first, I was advised to pick a baby and just nurse that one baby until it was really good at it. So I tried that, and it just didn't work. Too many babies crying and too much hassle. So, I decided to do all three at breast as many times as I could. I ended up giving them a few bottles. But with the help of local consultants I at least knew they were transferring milk from me decently (I went and we weighed them before a feed, then they ate and we weighed them right after to see what they gained and that would indicate what they ate). 

Then I went crazy.

And we got rid of the bottles cold turkey. 

In the 3-4 days of this, the babies have received 2 bottles. That's only because they were inconsolable and putting them at breast wasn't helping. So, because I don't starve my babies I caved and gave them a bottle. And I cried while I did it because I felt like a failure. Then the next time they were hungry, they nursed, and I realized that one bottle didn't make me a failure. It made me a mom who has to remember that I can't do it all, and I can't let my three babies cry. I'm doing the best I can. Although I really do think I can do everything on my own with no help and yet somehow maintain my sanity. 

And yes, I do thank the wonderful doctors at the hospital for giving me this headache and pushing bottles on me. Because had the babies never known the joy of bottles, they wouldn't fight working so hard to breastfeed. Thankfully, they don't fight every feeding. It seems just here and there they don't want to do it. We will get there. 

Mommy's sweet reward, milk dribble and baby in a milk coma


Our life has been full of pumping, shelves full of pumped milk and prepared bottles (that leave no room in the fridge for anything else.), donor milk when I needed to catch up, and sleepless nights trying to feed all three with breast and bottle. It's work to keep up my supply. But I think we are finally getting back to where we need to be, and where we started. Where we should have been all along. 

 Sweet cuddles and waiting our turn

I learned a lot through this experience...

Women don't stop breastfeeding because it hurts too much. They don't stop because it's hard and time consuming, and requires a lot of work from both baby and mom. They don't give up because of low supply, and needing to supplement, or because they can't do it.
Women give up breastfeeding because they don't have support. They don't have a cheer team. They don't have someone to lift them up when it gets hard.


So, here are my suggestions to moms, from my experience this far.

If you have a baby in the NICU or hospital, and they are pushing you to bottle feed...make them give you transfer weights. Make them weigh that baby, let you feed that baby, and weigh them again. That is a HUGE regret I have, not making them do this for me. Because had I know what babies were actually taking it could have provided a lot of insight. And it also would have given me power of knowledge to defend myself and my babies.

Also, if they pull the "sucking at the breast wastes calories" but then shove a pacifier in their mouth, please question their knowledge on anything. Really, because nursing will eventually produce milk while that pacifier isn't going to give anything but it will "waste their calories".

Pump. It sucks. But do it. Don't say, oh it won't hurt to skip a feed. It will. Maybe not if you have just one. But if you have multiples, you will regret not pumping. It's all about supply and demand, and when you have more than one baby, you need to make sure your giving your body that demand. Stay one step ahead of the game, or the babies needs.

Find a lactation consultant and make her your best friend. She will be your biggest cheerleader. I lucked out, and met some wonderful lactation consultants, including one who is the grandma of triplets. She is blunt and honest, but her advice works. And she cheers me on, and reminds me that I am doing what I was told couldn't be done. (Plus, they know a lot and when you need latch help or baby screaming their head off help they are willing to do it. They want you to succeed, go to them.)

Speaking of support, remind your family and friends that it is so important they give it to you. Asking when your going to give your baby formula won't help. And neither will someone telling you to "Just give them a bottle". You need someone who is going to ask you if they can bring you a glass of water while you nurse, or hold a blanket in public while you learn how to latch that baby discreetly. Demand that support, and eliminate anyone who won't offer it. 

Don't be afraid to feed your baby!! If you're out shopping and baby wants to eat, feed your baby. If you're in the middle of vacuuming, stop and feed your baby. The rest of the world can wait, but your baby is only little for a short time and they need you in that moment.

If you got steroid shots, don't be alarmed when your milk doesn't come in right away. Steroid shots can delay milk production, and it is totally normal. They probably didn't tell you that side effect. Ultimately, the shots have their purpose and I don't think not getting them because it could delay milk production is a smart idea. They are a good thing, despite that sucky side effect.

Set goals! Set short term goals and long term goals. I also set minimums. I would breastfeed (or give it my best effort) until at least a year. My long term goal is 2 years. This helps you stayed focused, it helps you see an end, and it also helps keep you motivated!

Drink. Your. Water! Or gatorade. But keep hydrated! And make sure you get enough protein. Seriously. Don't skimp on this. It is so important to take care of you too! And this is how.

Never ever forget you are amazing!! And you know what, if there is an obstacle in your way, and you have to supplement with whatever...do not beat yourself up. I do it, and so I know other mamas do it too. You're doing the best you can, and that is enough.



~~

Multiples is new game, and it is HARD! But, having nursed two singletons I came in at least a little prepared. I don't have all the answers, but someone else has the answer I don't and I am not afraid to ask.



Thankfully, the babies are growing well, and it appears whatever I am doing is working. A whole lot of tears have gone into this, and I am sure many more will come. But, that's how you know the payoff will be great!