So here we are. You have made it through a pregnancy that you thought was never going to end. You are home from the hospital and feeling on top of the world…. Maybe exhausted, sore, and drained, but on top. Those sweet little bundles of joy have made every tough moment worth it and you are prepared with a capital P! The unknown is always a little nerve-racking however…. You have read every parenting book, you have taken advice from every mother figure in your family, and then some, you have matching outfits ready to go for every day of the week, and you plan to shower daily.
Quickly your first day home from the hospital turns into 5 months down the road. Those months were a blur to say the least. A reoccurring question that still to this day…. (And I say that like I am some pro, mind you I am only 4 years into this “raising twins journey”) the question remains… How do you do it? Many times I giggle and say the first thing that comes to mind, and other days I want to agree and say… I have no idea how I do it. Yet I manage to keep them happy, constantly fed- and I mean constantly, and keep their bright innocent spirit alive.
It rings true that twins are a double blessing, yet with quadruple stress. Each stage presents its own struggles from infant, to mobile babies, to toddler years. Oh those toddler years, I could write an entire blog about the 3rd year alone. Year 3 felt like I was in the front seat of a roller coaster. You know how your hair looks once the ride stops after sitting in the front seat of the ride? Eyes watering, no words, catching your breath, looking next to you to see if the person sitting next to you felt the same way and hoping you still look like a human… yeah that’s year three. Oh I could go on and on… BUT, I’ll save that for another day.
While the rewards of raising twins outweigh the challenges, it is a tough navigation of the right things to do to make sure you don’t screw them up as a human being…. And I promise- you aren’t! Instinct, quick thinking, deep breathing, and a little wine. This is how I wrangle two at a time. 🙂
You do what you gotta do.
Remember all of those books you read, all the advice you took from all of those strong women you look up to, and all those cute magazine covers with perfect family pictures? All of these are great, and also great in theory. Some days you could have written those parenting books and other days, you are happy that they are just alive and breathing. I would love to take the time to explain why we don’t write on the walls, why we don’t pee outside from the back door, or why smacking your brother with a fly swatter is not a friendly thing to do. Yes, most times I do try to explain this quickly, and yes these are all true moments of learning in my house, but unfortunately there is a lot of monkey-see monkey-do and trouble happens quickly. So don’t feel bad when you didn’t have matching outfits today – or outfits at all, breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all the same meals… (cereal in my case), and watching Daniel Tiger on loop because hey- Daniel Tiger really does teach great skills, and also because I am tired.
Oh the schedule. I seriously could not have survived without my schedule. From infant stages of having a dry erase board with a different color marker for each kid, who was breast fed last, who had formula, to napping schedules. From the first minute home they were on strict eating and napping schedules. Yes, this meant that I would tell friends, “No, I cant do that”, because they were napping. I was THAT mom- but I also knew once we got the schedule down pat, we would be able to go out and do these fun things because they AND I were rested. With twins, you have to have that strict schedule and same schedule or you will be up 24 hours a day. And to this day at 4 years old- they have the exact same sleep schedule and wake schedule- within a minute of each other. That my friends is what I call success! 🙂
Unfortunately there is just no way around it. With twins you aren’t able to give 100% of your time and effort to one little body which means you have to let one or the other cry sometimes. You do learn different cries very quickly, and learn to prioritize each cry. This is what I call superwoman power! (Bet your singleton friends cant do that!) It also taught me that it is okay for your baby to cry a little and it is not the end of the world.
We Ask For Help
This was the toughest for me to accept as a new mom. How could I ask for help? I was going to be the one everyone talked about how extraordinary I was as a mom. How I held it together and looked presentable every outing. I wouldn’t need to ask for help. The truth is, I got to a point that I essentially said, yes to anyone who offered help. I will take all the help I can get. There is no truer saying than it takes a village to raise a child, let alone two! You offered to come to the pediatrician with me- you better believe I wouldn’t let you finish that sentence and I will scream from the hilltops YES! Because well… have you ever taken twins to the doctors by yourself? Yikes.
No means No
I will admit, nothing is harder than listening to your sweet angel whine about the snack they want, or the millionth glass of milk, knowing darn well they will pee the bed, and wanting to give in. But sticking to your guns is the best survival tactic there is. Compare it to a machete in a dense jungle. That is your only weapon you have and you use it for all of the important things needed to survive in a jungle. Just like those jungle predators, a toddler can smell weakness a mile away. Now imagine two. Sniffing out your weakness and as one loses energy to keep fighting with you, they high five and tag team the other one fresh and ready to rumble. The best tool in this situation – “asked and answered” it took some time BUT this phrase is something used almost as much as “ I have to go potty” in my house.
No Bond is Better
As much as I gripe about the hard truths of raising twins, I hope that someone reads this, and says…. This is me. This is my life. And brings emotions of both happy and sad tears. Because the cold hard truth is- raising twins is the hardest thing I have done thus far in my life, but at the same time, no amount of money, time, or heartache beats a hug from both of them, at the same time. Nothing beats the unparalleled feeling, as they say in unison “I love you so much momma.” Nothing.
Yo Mama is soooooo…
You fill in the blank with your favorite ‘yo mama’ joke.
When my son came home spouting several of these jokes, quite tickled at them I might add, I immediately corrected him. I went on and on about how they are disrespectful and inappropriate for him to be hearing or telling. Then I saw his face. He was crushed. My little boy, who loves to laugh and to make people laugh, was sincerely disappointed that I didn’t find his jokes funny. But guess, what?
I DON’T CARE.
Yep, really. Why should yo mama be so ugly, so fat, and so stupid? Let me explain, dear son, what YO MAMA and YO FRIENDS’ MAMAS REALLY ARE:
We are givers of life. We carried you, some of us threw up for 9 months (I’m not bitter) with you, and we got stitches in places the sun doesn’t shine…and we still took you home with us!
We are short order cooks. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner…now? Right now? Simply because you are so hungry that you’re going to make everyone around you miserable if your belly isn’t full all day long? Ok, fine. We love you, we’ll feed you. We might even feed you well…just don’t forget it. Oh, and learn to cook before you have a spouse – it’ll go a long way.
We are talented. Need a bedtime song… or five? No problem. A silly dance to brighten your day? Sure thing chicken wing! Need help with your school project? Arts and crafts R us!
We are taxis. We love to drive you all over Kingdom Come each and every day so that you can be all your little selves can be in hopes of learning something that will keep you from being a hindrance to society and maybe, just maybe, be THE thing that carries you through your life.
We are nurses and doctors. Another scrape? Here’s a band-aid. That stuff behind your ear? Who knows, but don’t worry, we’ll handle it. A splinter? A sprain? We have just the thing.
We are therapists. Please tell us, over and over, how bad things are and how unfair things are. We are truly here to listen. No, seriously, we are. We love you so much we won’t roll our eyes because we love you and what is important to you is important to us. Most of the time 🙂
We are teachers. Do you know your birthday? Your address? Your phone number? Do you know what to do in an emergency? Do you know how to wipe a toilet seat (boys!!!!) or do your laundry? Oh, you will, don’t worry. Need us to check your homework or to help you study? Yes, we can do that, too. Calculus? Algebra? We might find other teachers, but whatever, the point is still the same.
We are cheerleaders. Let me add, we are your biggest fans. We want to see you do well. We will come to every game, play, performance and sit in the stands and scream our bloody heads off for every little (and big!) thing you do. We are FOR you!
We are disciplinarians. It’s not me, it’s you. Yeah, it really is. It’s you… you’re smaller than us, have lived fewer years, you don’t know a whole lot even when you think you do. We get that. We discipline because we love you, and, well, see number 4.
We are love! We want so much more for you… including happiness, joy, and love. We want you to live life, carefully and fully, and love your neighbor as yourself. Love rules!
So there you have it, dear son. You now know what Yo Mama is, like it or not. You will continue to be corrected when you tell those jokes, even though we know you are only being silly. Why? It’s simple – it’s because I am YO MAMA.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to highlight two VERY important ladies in our lives… OUR MOMS! Luanne Johnson and Sherri Callison — they have been pivotal in shaping us into the women we are today; we have been so blessed by their guidance and are honored to share their love and experiences with you as our May Moms-of-the-Month!
Meet Amber’s Mom: Luanne, aka LuLu, or Nanny LuLu to the kiddos. As a nurse manager of a high-risk Labor and Delivery unit, she is an advocate for all things women’s health, but has a special focus in supporting women during prenatal and postpartum care. (It’s no wonder Amber found her life’s passion in supporting women during this stage of life!) LuLu is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen, and will make you the strongest cocktail and/or cup of coffee this side of the Mississippi! She is an animal lover and hopes to someday have a farm with baby goats… obviously, we’re pulling for this, too! She lives with her husband, Papa Mark, and their three dogs in Mansfield, Ohio.
Meet Kimmie’s mom, Sherri. As a high school secretary, she is a huge supporter of public education and has spent her career working in schools in different capacities to support children, teachers, and families. Sherri loves spending free time with her girlfriends or cheering on the grandkids at their various sporting events. She never turns down a good chocolate martini or generous pour of riesling! Her 9 grandchildren have given her several different nicknames, Sheesh, Ishee, Shish, the list goes on, but her favorite is just plain ol’ Grandma. She lives with her husband, Rick aka “Bubba”, and two foster grand-dogs in Columbus, Ohio.
Of all the pride you’ve felt throughout your motherhood journey, is there one memory that stands out as your proudest mom-moment?
Luanne: I’m sorry I’m unable to scale that down to only one….there are so many and each is a favorite! But, I would like to say that now is a very proud Mom moment, as I see my kids and the people they have chosen as spouses, and the wonderful parenting they are all doing. Seeing my children parent with compassion is a very proud moment.
Sherri: Wow, you have asked me to condense 47 years of being a mom into one special moment? I don’t think I can pick just one. My whole life has been one incredible mom-moment. But, if I had to choose, it would have to come down to 4 special moments…..each moment that I first laid eyes on each of my 4 children. Seeing each of my babies for the very first time, looking into their precious, beautiful faces, all goopy, sticky, and sloppy eyed…..nothing was ever more beautiful or has ever made me feel the proudest as becoming a new mommy. I never knew I could love a “being” as much as I did from the very first second of each of their lives. Instant love, instant passion, from that very first moment together, I was filled to my core with the deepest sense of love and pride I had ever known.
If your family had an anthem or a theme song, what would it be?
Luanne: Carry On, By CSNY. That one always gets us going!
Sherri: Tough one…..as I tried to pick just one song that represents our family, I couldn’t do it. These turned out to be the songs with messages that came to mind: “Humble & Kind” by Tim McGraw; “Find Your Wings” by Mark Harris; “Never Alone” by Lady Antebellum; “Celebration” by Kook & the Gang; and “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. These songs represent to me our family and how we have lived our lives as individuals and as a family. We’ve tried to live our lives with humility, love, laughter & kindness shown to each other & to everyone we know. We have hoped for successes as we encouraged each other to spread your wings in life (sometimes with tears in our eyes), but always letting you know that we were there for you, during good and bad times, no matter the outcome, your family was there to lift you up or catch you if you fell. We celebrate each other, no matter what happens, because we are FAMILY; we are always there for each other and we stick together through thick and thin. We share our love, pride, family values, and devotion for each other…….. to the moon and back. This is our family…..my greatest gift of life.
How does being a mom compare to being a grandma?
Luanne: Well, first of all you make all of the mistakes as a Mom, and then as a Grandmother you are given an opportunity to atone for them. So a Grandchild is like a second chance at getting it right. And then you can also help your adult children be parents and give them some time away too, which is great to be able to do for them. I want to help as much as I can because I remember how difficult life with small kids can be, day in and day out. And I am so thankful my kids still like me after living through being my children when I didn’t know my “you know what” from a hole in the ground!…at least I think they still like me… 😉
Sherri: This is a great question and the answer may surprise even myself. As a new mom, my whole entire life centered around doing everything I possibly could to love, comfort, care for, enlighten, teach and protect my baby. I was fearful of “not doing it right”, or “making a mistake”, or “not feeling adequate in my knowledge about babies”. I was so young and nervous at times, unsure of myself, afraid I would “damage” my baby. Those are feelings I think all new moms deal with. It was a marvelous, beautiful time in my life, one I would not trade for anything. But now that I’m a Grandma, the stress and fears have vanished but the love, pride, joy and excitement of being with my grandchildren has completely filled my heart and soul. I’ve noticed that I can enjoy each child, for the individual each one is. I marvel at how beautiful, how smart, how funny, how talented each one is. I don’t “worry” about everything being perfect with them because in my eyes, they are just that, perfect. I have been so very very blessed with these adorable, loving grandchildren. Being a Grandmother is like nothing else I have ever experienced in my life.
We know you have a million secrets and tricks to share, but pick just one – give us your best “mom-hack”!
Luanne: Placing the thought in their head so it would become an expectation for the future. I hung a large map of the world on a wall in our house with the message, “The World Is Your Oyster”, so the kids would know life was about going out there beyond Mansfield, Ohio.
Sherri: Oh, there have been many over the years. But the one that came to mind first was one our family has used for years. It starts later in life when two of your children start to argue over “which one gets the bigger half” of something. They both want the “big” one. Well, our family has squelched that problem. We say, “One divides, the other decides.” So if they are sharing a doughnut, a cookie, a dish of this or that, you can count on the fact that the one that “divides” the treat will make it as even as possible so the one that “decides” doesn’t get to pick the bigger portion. It’s amazing how this little phrase has ended many a moment of tears. It’s called cooperation.
If you had one piece of advice for a new mom, what would it be?
Luanne: Don’t buy in to the competition other people create for you. Don’t be surprised when others don’t want you to succeed in the Mom arena, it is very competitive. Find your own comfort zone, embrace and protect it. Let your children thrive within that zone, let them be exactly who they are and just respond with wonder. Make it strong, and peaceful, and safe.
Sherri: Oh, there is so much I could suggest, but the best piece of advice I could give any new mom is, cherish and savor each moment you have with your baby, take time for yourself, and “don’t sweat the small stuff”. (I guess that’s 3 things, but each is such an integral part of being a new mom.) Time with baby……take time to enjoy your baby. It’s okay to cuddle and rock your baby if you want to; it’s your special time with that bundle of joy. It’s okay to just cuddle and stare into the precious face of the gift you have been given. It’s okay! Time for yourself…..take time to treat yourself to the little pleasures of life, like a shower, a nap, a quiet time to read a book or listen to music. You may be healing from the delivery, so be good to yourself. This is when you call upon Daddy, Grandma or a friend or neighbor to help care for your baby so you take care of you too. It’s mandatory and it’s okay! And finally, “don’t sweat the small stuff”……the dishes can sit in the sink, the baby can wear that slightly soiled sleeper, the “dust bunnies” can roll around in the corner. It’s okay! Again, call on Grandma for help. Believe me, she will love love love it! (I know!) She wants to be there for you! TIME….it is fleeting, so savor it. It is one of the most incredible times in your life. I’m so happy for you, New Momma!
Thank you, Moms. We love you to the moon and back!
Amber & Kimmie
Women are hard to buy for. We’re tired of perfume and flowers. (Don’t get us wrong, we’ll still take those things.) But, we want something a little more …thoughtful… from you.
We ran a poll, and 8 in 10 moms said they wanted the gift of TIME this Mother’s Day. (The others said: 1) a Yeti Tumbler, and 2) SLEEP! Which, I suppose, could also be lumped into the time category.
We know what mama really wants, and it’s time. Time with you, time alone, time with girlfriends, time with the family. It might sound crazy to take the kids away from mom to celebrate Mother’s Day in 3 of the 4 options here, but hear us out! We have some failsafe ideas for you to help you really wow the special lady in your life this Mother’s Day.
(Disclaimer: these plans are best executed around Mother’s Day, say the Saturday before, not actually on Mother’s Day Sunday. On Mother’s Day, she’ll want to sleep in before being showered with snuggles, kisses from her kiddos, and breakfast in bed. Followed by more snuggles, and best case scenario, a nap.)
The bottom line and underlying factor in each of these options is simple — she doesn’t want to plan a thing. Not one single moment of it. So, make the reservation, take the kids or book the sitter, and send her OUT on her way!
Time with You
If there’s one resounding theme between couples with young kids, it’s rarely: “I spend so much time with you I’m just SICK of it!” Take her out for a day of fun all about her. Start with lunch, take her shopping, go see a movie, maybe even dip your toes in a pedi bowl with her. (Don’t worry, we won’t take your man card.) Feeling really saucy? Take her to a concert or a comedy club. So many of our conversations are centered around work, “how was your day”, schedules, family drama, baby poop talk — take a break from all that just get out and dance together. Or laugh together. Or both! On a budget? Pack a picnic with her favorite food and a yummy, refreshing beverage. For most women, the gesture doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it does have to be intentional.
Drawing a bubble bath and a glass of wine isn’t a bad option. However, in most homes, you can still hear the kids quarreling from the tub. If you really want to wow her, send her OUT for a day of pampering. Plan a spa day: find a full service spa, book the appointments, surprise her with a day off, her feet up, and her face masked. If you call any spa and tell them you are looking for help with a Mother’s Day package, they will take good care of your thoughtful self. Guaranteed.
Time with her Girlfriends
Get in touch with her bestie and arrange a playdate, sans kids. Make a reservation at her favorite restaurant or one she’s been dying to try, buy tickets to a show she’s been dying to see, book a bottle-and-brush (BYOB paint studio), or a wine tasting. Enlist the help of her girlfriend to plan a day that will really knock her socks off. Make it a complete surprise for extra brownie points.
Time with the Family
You probably get plenty of family together time, right? But how much of that is QUALITY family together time? Pack up the family and plan a day of adventures. Spend the morning at the zoo, or if your kiddos are a little older, hit a pottery painting class so she can take home some Mother’s Day masterpieces created by her mini-Picassos.
Whatever route you decide to go, please, for the love, just make sure the Mama in your life knows how much you appreciate and adore her. Celebrate her for everything she is, the gifts she brings to your life, and everything she does for you and your family.
Your Milk Shoppe
We are thrilled to have Aimi Palmer, Certified Sleep Consultant and owner of My Little Sleeper, on the blog today! Aimi began My Little Sleeper after her own experiences as a first time mom, and realizing the challenges that come with having a sleep-fighting baby. After many sleepless nights, she and her husband decided to hire a sleep consultant and the unbelievable results sparked an interest in the subject. She researched sleep training for the next year and after implementing the new practices with her second baby, Voila! She had two sleeping tykes… which also means two happy, rested parents. She knew she needed to share this wonderful gift of sleep with other parents struggling in this phase, so My Little Sleeper was born. Aimi lives with her husband and two daughters in Chicago, IL.
We are so thankful she’s stopped by our blog today to share these tips with us. Thanks so much, Aimi!
Your Milk Shoppe
Most parents are looking for solutions to their baby’s sleep troubles to get their baby sleeping soundly through the night. Follow these “best practices” and you will be on the road to a better night’s sleep.
Make sure your baby’s room is primed for the best night’s sleep possible. Consider buying a white noise machine to help lull them to sleep (and to block out any outside noise). Ensure there is no light coming into the room. Many studies suggest that even the smallest amount of light can inhibit melatonin production, making it harder for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. Get rid of the night-light and install blackout shades. Also, check the temperature is not too hot, cold, humid or dry and adjust accordingly.
Feed before bed
Most babies do not need to eat at night (this doesn’t include newborns). Speak to your doctor about whether your baby can go through the night without food, and then make sure your baby is full before you put them down. Once your baby goes a night or two without food, they will have less incentive to wake up and will start to consume those extra calories during the day.
Put into crib drowsy, but awake
If you let your baby put themselves to sleep, they will be much more likely to stay asleep through the night. Most babies and adults wake multiple times at night. If they independently fall asleep at bed time, they are less likely to need you for them to fall back asleep during the night. Don’t put them down already half asleep; rather, make sure they are calm and awake. This is one of the biggest culprits of night wakings.
A consistent bedtime routine is a good way to wind down from the day and to let your baby know that it is time for bed. Your bedtime routine should last 20-30 minutes and should be calm and consistent.
Don’t encourage bad habits
In the end, sleep training is just a behavioral adjustment. You shouldn’t sleep train a baby before 4 months but you can set them on the path to a restful sleep from new born by following these sleep tips. A well-rested baby means a happier family.
If you’d like to learn more about Aimi or My Little Sleeper, please visit their website: https://www.mylittlesleeper.com/
In a few words, who is Maternal Child Connections?
Maternal Child Connections is a small collection of women lead by Lisa Zimmermann providing holistic family-centered care to new parents in Chicago. The Company is owned by Lisa Zimmermann she is the primary provider of services with contractors providing services and business support.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I worked in a position I loved in public health working as a pediatric nurse in a substance abuse treatment center. Part of my tasks were writing grants to support my position, preforming the work, recording the data, and reporting the data. It was during this time I realized I had the skills to run a business and that what I how I was helping these new moms professionally could be done for any new parent. I called my business Maternal Child Connections because I am a maternal child nurse with a focus on maternal mental health and maternal/infant bonding– the connections.
Can you explain the benefits of setting up a lactation consultant and/or postpartum doula BEFORE birth?
If you contract for services while pregnant, that can take some of the anxiety away that typically comes the last weeks of pregnancy. Placenta encapsulation can provide you with the boost of energy you may need to take care of your baby. The lactation consulting can provide individualized education prenatally and then one-on-one assistance in your home postpartum. This not only helps you to breastfeed, but closely watches your baby to make sure that he is safe and eating enough. The postpartum doula services are a way to continue the self-care that comes naturally when pregnant, but seems to fall to the wayside after the baby arrives. A postpartum doula can help you to get out of the house, organize your home, prepare meals, hold your baby so you can sleep, and provide companionship so you are not alone working through your transition into motherhood.
If you had one piece advice for new moms taking home their first little one, what would it be?
Stay off of the internet! If I look up any symptom I am having, I will be told I have cancer. It is the same way when you look into information on parenting, you will be overwhelmed and most likely it won’t leave you feeling more confident. Instead, ask family or friends, read a book, or hire a professional to help you!
To learn more about Lisa and Maternal Child Connections, please visit her website: www.maternalchildconnect.com
We are so excited to bring you another edition of Doula Diaries this week! Welcome back to one of our favorite doulas, Karla Costner. Karla is a wife and mama of six, childbirth educator, and co-owner and founder of Well Nested Childbirth Services in Greenville, SC.
Recently, a video of a woman bravely giving birth, to a 10lb baby in her car, went viral. This video received over 54 million views, over 100 thousand likes, 11 thousand dislikes, and 14 thousand comments. As I scrolled through the comments, I noticed that the word “PAIN” was repeated over and over. Fear of pain in childbirth is common, but it is not the only concern women have.
Fear of the Unknown
Knowledge kicks fear in the butt! Take a Childbirth class. Look for a class that is evidence based, up-to-date, and nationally recognized. Locally, we have many options such as Lamaze, Bradley Method, Hypnobabies, and Evidence Based Birth, just to name a few. The benefit of nationally recognized childbirth classes is that they require certified educators, ensuring that you receive a robust and quality education. A good class should teach you what to expect, how to choose a care-provider, relaxation and comfort techniques, anatomy, options and alternatives, as well as informed decision making. Classes should also provide practical knowledge, such as how to push, what to pack in your bag, partner support, and postpartum care.
Fear of Physical Trauma
Prep that perineum ladies! Perineal massage during pregnancy is all the rage and your special someone can help! Prior to birth, gentle stretching of the “down-under,” can be very beneficial and promote muscle memory and elasticity of perineal area and pelvic floor. However, massage during birth can be very uncomfortable for the birthing mom and of course, informed consent is required.
Position is another way to protect the pelvic floor. Studies show that a hands and knees position during crowning reduces risk of tearing. Lying on your back actually increases your risk of tearing!
Of course, many women choose the warmth and comfort of the water. Water births aren’t just trendy, they also help the perineum to stretch. The warmth of the water opens the blood vessels allowing the skin to stretch more readily. Mothers have more privacy in the water, aiding in comfort and confidence.
Fear of Poop
Privacy is the key to overcoming the poo fear! Let’s face it, no one wants to do their duty in front of an audience. Just as women prefer to poo in private, they require privacy during the birthing time. When a woman feels that her space is guarded and she is safe, inhibitions are set aside and she can let go (literally) of the poop fear.
Fear of Complications
Reduce interventions that are not medically necessary. Ask for alternatives that are known to have positive outcomes. Did you know that the large majority of births go swimmingly and do not require medical intervention. In low-risk mothers, only 10% of births actually need medical assistance. This is so encouraging! However, many mothers chose interventions, thus increasing the risk of complication.
It is very true that birth comes with distinct challenges and variations of normal. However, I often remind students that parenting does as well! How one prepares for birth and perceives the birth process, directly effects how they handle the fear surrounding birth. Women are encouraged to be fearless warriors in sports, work, and life in general, but I am encouraging you to be fearless in the birthing room! Knowledge is power…educate yourself and kick fear in the butt!
If you’d like to view the video Karla referenced at the very beginning, of the woman birthing the 10 pound baby in her car, here is the link: Birth Video
Other resources mentioned:
There is something about being a mother of four boys that really changes you. Maybe it’s the mothering of four boys in very different stages of life that does it. I am the mother to Micah (12), Rowan (6), and two 6-month-old identical twins, Isaiah and Malachi. If you held your breath reading that, don’t worry. I didn’t breathe when I wrote it. A pre-teen 6th grader, a kindergartner, and twin babies all live under one roof, and for the first time, I’m a stay-at-home mother.
Being at home is amazing, challenging, and if I’m being honest, isolating. I am naturally fairly extroverted and extraordinarily Type-A. I spent 14 years working in various forms of communication, even running my own public relations business from my home for five years. With my first son, I commuted 45 minutes to and from work daily and thought about him every second of every minute of every day I spent away from him. I felt guilty for being so far away, but could not afford the daycare prices of a larger city. With my second son, I lived in a smaller town, was running the public relations business, and could better craft my day around baby-sitters, church-oriented “mothers’ morning out” hours, and eventually a day school. When my kids went to bed, I went back to work. It was the only way to give full time effort and hours to a very full time job with many clients. It’s just the way things were. I didn’t realize until I was able to finally stay at home, how drastically different life would become.
I have always been a multi-tasker. This meant I maintained our home, our finances, and our children’s extracurricular activities while working full time. I was exhausted, but I was driven to feel accomplished, to check everything off my list and feel like I did something (ok, many things) well. My husband has always had a commute, so he easily tacks on two hours of drive time daily. This means he’s gone at LEAST 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Everything fell on me, but I seemed to thrive on the challenges of getting through the day. I love people and I get a ton of energy from being around them, so going 100 miles an hour and 100 places in a day was second nature.
Then came the twins. I found out I was pregnant with them six months after losing my father to lung cancer and four months before losing my mother to COPD and Multiple Sclerosis. I stopped working on all that I described above when I found out my father was sick. I tried to go back to work, to continue handling it all, but I couldn’t. My heart and my mind weighed a million pounds and he was all I could think about. Everything that mattered to me became clear in an instant. With an ache in my chest and a still, small voice leading me, I knew I was leaving the world of communications the moment I heard the word cancer. In May of 2014 I took on a different job- as my parents’ caretaker. Their stories are lengthy and important, and I plan to document them in the future. For purposes of this blog, I’ll just say it was the hardest work. It was excruciating caring for the people who raised you and loved you, who were larger than life and colored your world. It became even harder as I carried the twins. That journey ended April 15, 2016. From that point on, I became a STAY-AT-HOME MOM.
I expected challenges, especially with two. I expected postpartum depression. It happened with my other sons, and it can rock your world. It did rock my world – so I knew to take action the moment the big, black NOTHING seemed to seek me out. Some days are better than others, but for the most part, I’m doing all right. I expected to feel anxiety about being left at home all day without an agenda other than, gulp, feeding, changing, and caring for infants. I’m not great without a schedule, so having infants – too young for scheduling – made the unknown more than difficult for me. It’s not as if there’s not a million things to do, but it was simply so different. Then there was the reflux. Then there was everyone else’s advice about how to treat reflux. Then there was the crying, the possibility of colic (my first two had it), the dietary eliminations. Enter self -doubt – so much so that I felt I lost who I was.
About eight weeks in, my babies refused to take a bottle of breast milk. I thought I had planned it just right – to introduce a bottle as soon as possible so that eventually I would not be responsible for every feeding 24/7 and so that I could venture out and not try to juggle nursing twins publicly (I have no issues with public breastfeeding, but I personally don’t like to expose both breasts at the same time!) That plan went horribly awry and the constant skin-to-skin nursing left me feeling touched out. This continues to be a challenge, even though six months in, we are all pros and I think I could probably nurse two anywhere, anytime simultaneously. I try not to do it at my kids’ soccer games, because it is tough to be discreet, but truthfully if it is what I have to do, then I’ve learned to do just that. Go boobs!
My older boys were so loving and understanding through my pregnancy and through the early days after the twins came home. It was hard on them. ALL OF IT. I could see their struggle to comprehend a new mama. A mama who no longer got up and dressed for work, but who had babies in her arms ALL. THE. TIME. , and who asked them to be patient and wait for just about everything. I could never put them to bed because, well…the twins needed me. My husband had to take on a lot more than he’s ever had to before, and he did it well. I’m certain my family never heard me complain about housework as much as I do now. I’m sure they wonder why their dirty laundry and lost socks send me over the edge like never before. I’ve wondered myself why I tend to lose my cool so easily when I’ve always maintained our home, when the underwear has always been under the bed and the socks always lost. I’m certain I’ve blurted out “I didn’t go to college to become your maid!” more than once…sigh.
It’s possible I’ve never let myself stop and just be present. It’s possible that my mind has always sought out a lengthy to-do list just so I could remind myself what I am capable of when it’s all checked off. It was my way of validating who I was and what I was all about. It’s possible I didn’t value myself until I received acknowledgement from clients, bosses, and colleagues for juggling so much and still meeting deadlines. It’s possible I didn’t understand what life was all about until I watched two lives end.
It’s spring. Life is everywhere. Growth is everywhere. I’m learning to breathe again, to pray through my heartache and dark memories and to be present in them so that I can move on from them. I’m learning to stop and smell every baby smell, hear every baby coo, and see every baby first – with fresh eyes. I am learning to be alone. I’m learning that my home and my children are enough “work” to keep me fulfilled and challenged. Three stages of boy life to nurture and manage is not an easy job, but I’m ready. I’m ready to be who they need me to be, who God created me to be, and to live this life in a new way. I am sure I will fumble and I know I will make mistakes, but who doesn’t?
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 rings true in my life. There is truly a time for everything, and for some of us, a first time for everything.
Are you familiar with our Baby Planning services? If you think about it, we often use trusted professionals when it comes to some of the bigger decisions in life. Planning a wedding? Hire an event coordinator. Buying a home? You work with a realtor. Planning to make some investments? You hire a financial advisor. But bringing home your first baby? You completely stress and spend every prenatal waking moment scouring websites, reading product reviews, and researching best practices, while weighing the options of every female in your life… because trust, they have an opinion, and you’ll hear it! It so doesn’t have to be that way. You can confidently transition into parenthood informed, empowered, and NOT totally exhausted before the little bambino even arrives. Here is the low down on one of our favorite services, and why we find it to be so beneficial for new and expectant families.
What is a Maternity Consultant?
A maternity consultant (or baby planner), provides information, education and resources to assist expectant parents in making informed decisions while transitioning into parenthood.
Why hire a maternity consultant?
Many people hire baby planners to save time, money and energy! A baby planner can help expectant parents sort through the over-abundance of information and resources to help determine what is necessary, relevant, and helpful to you. At Your Milk Shoppe, we work with parents to develop a customized plan to meet your specific needs.
Your Milk Shoppe’s services include:
- Baby and nursery planning
- Child prep education
- Bed rest support
- Maternity concierge services (including but not limited to): errand running, child care placement, registry preparation and delivery
- Green proofing (educating about eco-friendly pregnancy, birth and home environment options)
- Post-partum and return to work plans
- Education regarding stages of pregnancy, birth options information and referrals to childbirth education classes
- Baby wearing education, safety awareness, and child proofing education
- We offer services to benefit mamas in ALL stages (just check out the Services tab for more info!)
Who benefits from maternity consulting services?
- Parents during all stages of expectancy…whether you are trying to conceive, already pregnant, just about to give birth, and even post-partum!
- Parents-to-be seek out assistance for many reasons, including:
- Feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the preparation process, and uncertain when or how to begin;
- Just seeking some extra information and resources and a little guidance on the process and timing of preparation;
- Living far from family or on bed rest, and in need of a little extra support to help prepare;
- Simply too busy to figure out all of the baby-related information and options available in today’s world and seeking a single source to summarize and expedite the process;
- Preparing to conceive and interested in taking steps to improve your health and fertility; or
- Struggling with infertility and seeking information and resources to help on your journey.
How does baby planning work?
First, call or email us for a free initial consultation to allow us a chance to learn about you and your family so that we can better recommend a customized baby planning package best suited for your needs! The goal is to assist you with your baby registry, research the most practical and safe baby gear for your baby and stock your nursery with everything that you will need for baby from 0-12 months.
Hey y’all! My name is Ginny Lawler and I am THRILLED to announce that I’m officially Your Milk Shoppe’s newest Maternity Consultant. My husband and I live in Roswell, GA (just North of the big city of Atlanta), and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited we are, that I get to bring Your Milk Shoppe to the Atlanta Area. I still can’t believe that this dream of mine is now a reality, and I get to share this wonderful reality with all of you!
So, a little bit about me, I love to plan. I love to organize. I also really love to-do lists (somebody has to, right?). I also have never met a mom whom I didn’t want to talk to and learn more about. If we are being honest, I am definitely a people person who will talk to anyone, but especially moms. It’s just who I am. Since I was a little girl, I always seem to find the mom or the baby in the room (thankfully my husband has gotten used to this). I think that’s one reason I have always loved nannying. As if being around the beautiful babies and being able to witness so many of their firsts wasn’t enough, I have always found myself forming a special bond with the moms. Whether it was as an ear to listen, a hug on a rough day, or help when they feel like they are struggling, they always seem to know that I understand, and I am there for them. Throughout my life, no matter where I was working, I have always been the one that offered to watch my coworkers’ kids, because I have always loved helping families and being an extra support system for them. This is what drew me to becoming a Maternity Consultant.
Moms are superheroes and should be celebrated every day. Pregnant moms, new moms, moms with adult children, you are all superheroes. I grew up in a big family and I honestly still don’t know how my mom did it all. I was immediately attracted to Your Milk Shoppe the first time I read one of their social media posts. The mission of this company is the mission I see for my own life. Empowering moms, supporting moms, celebrating moms. Let’s be real guys..I still can’t believe this kind of company and mission finally exists and I get to be a part of it. After one meeting with Amber, I came home and told me husband “This is it. I found what I am meant to do and who I am meant to do it with.” Your Milk Shoppe gives me the ability to do what is in my heart and soul.
Mamas, I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait to be the person who can take some of the weight off your shoulders and make you feel good about where you are in your journey. I also firmly believe that a little ice cream is good for the soul, so if that’s what you need, I am there too!
If you’d like to connect with Ginny, she would LOVE to hear from you! Please feel free to drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.