Jul 30, 2013

I Bought All The Things: Transportation Edition

Throughout my pregnancy, I did a decent job of posting my thought process and research on the baby things we purchased. Now it's time to analyze what we have.

Before having the boys, I spent A LOT of time thinking about what stroller and carseats we would need. I diligently researched carseats, read crash test reports, went and looked at seats in person, read reviews, and tried installing them on the test seat at a local store. When it comes to my children's safety, I feel like it is time well spent.
I narrowed the choice to the Chicco KeyFit 30 and the Cybex Aton. Both have great safety ratings, easy install with latch, are weight rated down to 4lbs (important with twins and the possibility of preemies). The Cybex was easier to install, weighed less, and used the same snap system as the Mico Cosi so had many strollers it could connect to. The Chicco basically only snapped in to the Chicco stroller and otherwise balanced (safely they say) on a frame. (*Edit: The Chicco WILL snap in to other strollers, including the Baby Jogger City Select.)
We ultimately chose the Cybex Atons and could not be happier with our choice! I have no frame of references because we haven't used any other car seat, but I love what we have. It is stylish (I like the sleek lines now that we are using them, despite my hesitancy during the decision process), safe, lightweight, and compatible with our stroller. Everything I need in a carseat.
Aso important, it is well designed for premature babies. In fact, the NICU nurses said it is their favorite preemie car seat because the infant insert puts babies on the proper angle to not require and blankets or additional tools for propping. The car seat fit my little guys perfectly!

The only drawback: the canopies are incredibly small and don't provide adequate shade. Our easy solution: Brica Canopy for errands and walks. As an added bonus this little pod keeps strangers from peeking in at my sleeping a babies and spreading their germs (a huge concern when my guys were still tiny preemies).
I was given a BabyTrend Snap-N-Go by a fellow twin mom and fully intended to use it the first few months because it seemed so convenient. I tried using the Snap-N-Go because I figured it had to be awesome or it wouldn't be so popular.

I hated it.

The way the carseats rested in the frame made me incredibly uncomfortable. I know it is safe and many many people use this stroller frame without an issue, but I was uncomfortable pushing it around my neighborhood over sidewalk curbs and up my front steps. Even big bumps in the sidewalk made me nervous! The Snap-N-Go was not for me.

The stroller we ultimately chose is the Baby Jogger City Select which is a tandem double stroller. It is relatively lightweight, easy to fold into the car, has a great big under basket, and pushes really well. It also has adapters to fit two infant carriers which is so convenient. Anytime we are out, it is easiest to leave the boys in the carseats and snap them onto the stroller. For walks in the neighborhood we use the stroller seats and the boys seem comfortable. They recline well, have great canopies, and can be configured to face different ways. The stroller is a breeze to fold and stow in the trunk, fits well in aisles at stores, and overall is great.
You knew their was a but right?
Twin Roo holding Cybex Atons. Sadly, they aren't secure.
Something about the simplicity of a Snap-N-Go really appeals to me. So when I got the opportunity to review the Joovy Twin Roo I couldn't pass it up! Sadly, our car seats are not compatible with the stroller (and believe me, I tried to finagle something because this stroller rocks!). So, I borrowed two Chicco Keyfits from friends and tried this baby out.

The Joovy Twin Roo pretty much rocks.
The Joovy Twin Roo is a front/back (tandem) set up, meaning it is the same width as a single stroller so it fits in aisles but the car seats sit sideways so it is shorter than your average double. This gives it an easy pushability and maneuverability. (Yes. I did just make up the word pushability. But it describes this stroller perfectly!) The storage basket underneath is huge, which any twin mama knows is a requirement in a stroller because you will be carrying ALL THE THINGS. Especially if you decide to cloth diaper. (Seriously, consider it. Cloth diapers for the win.) Also, this stroller has four cup holders. This is a huge improvement over my City Select that has zero (unless you buy the add on cup holder (one maximum) or the parent console). So you can fit bottles for the babies, and drinks for you and your spouse. And, your drink can be a hot cup of tea or coffee because the cup holders are down low where the drink cant spill on the baby! Last, this stroller weighs pretty much nothing so a post c-section recovering twin mama can get it in and out of the car.
You know what else rocks?
My loss is your gain. Despite my crazy love for this stroller, my car seats don't fit in the frame. So, I'm giving it away! Sadly, it's a big huge stroller so I can't ship it. Which means the winner needs to pick it up in Dallas. (Sorry non-Texan readers. But I still love you?) I'll draw for the winner after we get back from Florida.
I'm crazy trying to pack for two adults and two infants to fly to the beach so instead of setting up a rafflecopter like I should, I am going old school. Enter by leaving a comment!

Jul 29, 2013

A Dairy Free Life

I love milk.
I love cheese.
I typically drank 2-3 gallons of milk a week, by myself.
And now I have been dairy free since April.
Because this face is worth it.
3.5 months ago I was told by my sons Pediatric Gastroenterologist (GI) that I needed to cut all dairy and major sources of soy if I wanted to continue breastfeeding Davy. I was also told that since he is a preemie, he is better on breastmilk than on the hypoallergenic, dairy- and soy- free formula due to caloric needs. The formula he could have is a very expensive, prescription-only formula that is just amino acids. And not high enough in calories for a preemie.
So the pediatrician told me that it was healthiest for Davy to get breastmilk and advised that changing my diet was the best thing for him *if* I could really stick to it.
Basically, Davy needs breastmilk and the breastmilk he gets can't be dairy tainted.
If I ingest dairy, Davy gets blood in his stool. The milk protein causes his intestines to bleed. It causes mucus to build up in his body, which comes out in his diapers and gives him a horrible cough that breaks my heart. He also gets red hives around his mouth and a very angry bottom. The elimination of diary from my diet ended his colic, helped his reflux, and resulted in a cheerful happy baby who sleeps through the night (versus sleeping in 90 minute chunks). His whole personality changed with the elimination of dairy. We finally met this little guy at the end of April when he was 3.5 months old.
At his initial diagnosis in April, Davy was diagnosed with a dairy intolerance which has similar symptoms to an allergy but no possibility of being dangerous or fatal because it is purely a gastroenterological response. At a later visit his diagnosis was changed to an allergy as his symptoms expanded to include a skin reaction and the mucus issues became more apparent and severe.
The difference between an allergy and an intolerance is small but important. Davy has an allergy not an "allergy" or an intolerance. I am shocked by the number of people who casually throw the word allergy around to refer to a mild upset stomach or an eczema reaction. Those are intolerances, not allergies. If you or your child can still eat the food it probably isn't an allergy. If avoidance is a choice it isn't an allergy. The word allergy seems to be used in a vague and all-encompassing way to refer to any sort of discomfort after eating. This really complicates explaining the severity of Davy's reaction.
True food allergies are serious and, in rare cases, can even be fatal. Intolerances are much more common and usually less serious than allergies. Food intolerances may produce symptoms similar to food allergies, like abdominal cramping and even bloody diapers, but while people with true food allergies must avoid the foods altogether, people with food intolerance can eat small amounts of the intolerated food without experiencing symptoms and without any threat to their life or risk of an emergency room visit.
So I eat no dairy.
Since eliminating dairy, I have been faced with many various reactions. The most common response I have gotten is shock that I would sacrifice so much to breastfeed. Many of my friends and even some family don't understand why I have not switched to formula. But the hydrolysate formulas would run hundreds of dollars a week (one person told me they spend $50 for a 14oz can) and it isn't as healthy for my sensitive little guy. Sacrificing my own diet has made breastfeeding harder. It has made eating harder. It has made everything harder. But, it is worth it. Because I know that Davy is getting the best possible nourishment designed specifically for him to meet his changing needs at each life stage. I know what is in it. I know that it is safe.
This means I have cut many processed foods like bread, crackers, cookies, cakes, prepared meats, soups, gravies, butters, and even some products that say "non-dairy". I spend much of my time in the grocery store reading labels. We have found suitable breads. I make my own brownies. I found a (yes, just one) casserole we like that doesn't use cheese. Or "cream of" something. We eat a lot of tacos. And brisket. And the last 3.5 months have been okay. I know that I am giving Davy and Tripp the best source of nourishment available to them, regardless of the sacrifice I have to make.
Davy will no longer have all of his foods filtered through my body. His reaction will no longer be tempered by me. And we have been warned extensively of the possibility that his reaction to milk protein when he ingests it could be serious. For this reason, the GI recommended I make my own baby food (risk of cross contamination and even minute amounts can be dangerous) and we introduce foods slowly and methodically.
We have all the hope in the world Davy will outgrow this (80% of children do) and plan to have him tested and retested if necessary. But until then, we are being exceedingly cautious about every little thing that enters his body. So when you think we are overreacting or being overprotective, we aren't. We are being just the right amount of protective.
Because Davy has an allergy. In the true potentially life threatening sense of the word.

Solid Foods

Last Sunday, the boys started solid foods! We started them with an avocado puree as well as a chunk of avocado to explore with.  And they did great!  Both boys liked eating, tolerated the texture, and by the end of their first meal they were both opening their mouth wide trying to get the spoon in!

Over the course of the last week, we have added two additional foods, carrots and peas.  Carrots were popular and both boys were happy.  They both tried to gnaw on their chunks of carrot and Davy even tried to hold the spoon and feed them to himself.  Peas were not a hit and Tripp used his tongue to push them as far out of his mouth as he could.

Jul 26, 2013

I Bought All The Things: Newborn Entertainment Edition

Throughout my pregnancy, I did a decent job of posting my thought process and research on the baby things we purchased. Now it's time to analyze what we have.
Our living room looked like this for a long time. Covered in things!
Can you spot two babies?
The sheer amount of baby stuff available, and even the amount we have, is overwhelming. Some of these things are amazing while others are big busts. Now it's time to evaluate our heroes and our duds.

Our number one best buy for baby entertainment is:

BabyBjorn BabySitter Balance: The boys both adore this chair and love that they can bounce themselves and control their own environment. We use them for everything! Sitting to get nails cut, sleeping at night, napping in the day, putting babies down for a moment, a place to play while I make dinner, a place to take a bottle. Or a first straw sippy cup.

This is one of the few things we have two of. Our first chair was borrowed (pictured above center) and once we saw how much both boys loved it we went and bought a second one. When we had to return the borrowed chair, we bought another one. Because we NEED two of these. We also have a Fisher Price SnugaMonkey bouncer. It's super cute. But, neither boy cares for it.
Seriously. This Chair is Amazing. If you buy nothing else for your child, buy this chair. If only because it's adorable when they learn to rock themselves!

Other Entertainment Gear (0-6 months):

Swings: We own A LOT of swings. We started with the fancy MamaRoo from 4Moms. This is the Cadillac of swings (pictured back left of photo - under the butterfly photo). The boys didn't start to like this swing at all until about 4 months. For the first few months they screamed every time they were put in it and I called this product a big bust. Now at 6 months it is a great place for an afternoon snooze when crib naps just won't happen. Since we only owned the MamaRoo we thought our infants just didn't like swings, so imagine our surprise when Davy giggled and laughed himself to sleep in the old swing at my mom's house! We bought two old style swings at consignment sales (green swing top right and blue swing top center) and both were well liked. The blue swing has been handy because it folds down small to travel. The green swing stopped working after we owned it a week so we picked up another big old style swing (not picture) at another consignment sale. That swing and the green swing (which Casey fixed) now live in the office so the boys can rest and relax while Daddy works and Mommy rests on the weekends. Since we bought all three swings inexpensively at consignment sales we are hoping to recoup most of our money when we sell them.
Playmats: Again, we have multiples. We have a cheap Infantino Twist and Fold, a nice Skip Hop playmat, and a consignment store plastic version that makes a lot of noise. My recommendation: go cheap. The only difference between the cheap Infantino one and the more expensive Skip Hop one is the aesthetics and since the living room is covered in baby anyway the more adult patterned Skip Hop playmat doesn't make a difference. The loud consignment plastic play space (red arch to right of blue swing) is really handy and I wish things like it were still made. Since the arch isn't attached to anything you can move it over the baby rather than having to slide the baby under. Sounds like a small thing, but when you have two babies in your arms its so nice! Also, every time the boys pull on the center toy the puppy bobs its head and sings a song. They quickly learned the cause and effect and now love to lay under it. This has entertained from 3 months until now and hasn't lost any of it's allure for the boys. Because the puppy that makes noise is so loved, we strapped a carrier toy bar (similar to linked but we have an older version) to one of the playmats so both boys could have noise and songs while they played.

Standing Toys: Both boys love to stand and we have four standing toys. The Johnny Jump Up hooks to a door frame to let the baby jump. Both boys like hanging out there, with direct sight lines to the kitchen and living room, but neither has figured out it is a place to jump. We have an old exersaucer, make and model unknown, that really gets the job done and keeps the boys happy. We also have the Baby Einstein Jumperoo (which was recalled this week because babies can hit themselves in the face. And an adult chipped a tooth in a springy toy) which the boys love. Our fourth standing toy is a NeuroSmith Cube, which is a large block they can stand next to and explore zippers, buttons, and shapes while it plays different music. We just got this out of the closet this week and they are still a bit young to enjoy it.

Small Toys: I'm actually not going to write anything on small toys because everything I know and love about small toys, we learned from Nancy Holtzman at Isis Parenting and she has an awesome blog post on teething and mouthing toys by age and stage. If you are on twitter you really should be following @NancyHoltzman and if you are a new mom not on twitter, you should create a twitter account so you can follow @NancyHoltzman. For serious. She's that awesome. Our favorite toys: oball rattles, Sophie the giraffe, Sassy floor mirror, winkel, wubbanubs (have become toys as they've gotten older!), and JellyCat soft books (I'm not linking so you will use the links on Nancy's page to support Isis Parenting!). The boys also really love the Fisher Price Musical Dinosaur and will sit and watch the balls pop and listen to the little tune.

My last must have item for Mommy entertaining:

I am CONSTANTLY down on the ground with the babies. I nurse sitting on the ground (so it is easier to pick up and put down if they nurse for different amounts of time). I play on the ground. I entertain during tummy time. I sing songs. I play games. I am down with the boys on their level. And it's not comfortable. And our sofa isn't against a wall so I can't lean on it without it moving. So I bought a Stadium Chair to put on the floor. It's amazing. Casey made fun of the purchase, but now I catch him sitting in it!

Jul 25, 2013

Twindom: Five Months

My darling boys,

Five months of Tripp and Davy! You boys are getting so so big.  This month you both rolled over!  You used to accidentally roll when you were little bitty things, but now you can do in intentionally. We had been singing and practicing for a few weeks and on Sunday June 2, Tripp rolled for the first time.  I got so excited and pulled out the camera for you to do it again and managed to get Davy's first roll too! 


Watching you grow and explore the world around you brings me more joy than you can imagine.  Your fasciation with absolutely everything is enchanting.  Hands!!! Toes!!! Doggy!!! Ceiling fan!! Lights!! Everything is new and exciting and wonderful. 

This month has been joyfully uneventful.  Until now, your world has been limited to family for the most part.  Now you are big and strong and we can start letting you meet more people!   We went to a BBQ and you got to meet some of Mommy and Daddy's friends from college which was really special.  We also went to a BBQ with family and you wore your cool shades for the first time.  We went to the Isis Parenting Grand Opening Event and you were stars!  You played in the play area and all of the big wigs got to see the new center in action.  We continued our frequent walking and still enjoy walks around Northpark so you can see all of the people.
Cool guys with Nano

Fancy guys hanging out at Nordstrom's
Tummy time at the Isis Parenting Grand Opening Event


You are still my social little baby, but you are developing physically too!  In fact, you decided you needed to cement your big brother status and roll first!  It was only by a few minutes, but you're only a minute older so I guess that makes sense.  I love you little man!



Your big brother surpassed you in weight this month, but you are still longer than him.  You boys are so very different: personality, size, proportions, likes.  You didn't roll first, but you did do the first full roll.  The night after you rolled for the first time, I watched you on the video monitor as you rolled back and forth across the crib in both directions.  You worked in your crib for almost an hour on mastering your new skill.  The next day you started barrel rolling to chase the dog around the room!

My boys,
You are my little men.  Your Daddy and I are so blessed that you joined our family and we can't imagine a life without your smiles and joy. 

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
as long as I'm living
my babies you'll be.
Loving you forever,

Five Month Stats


Weight: 13lbs 5oz
Height: 24.5in
Diaper Size: Best Bottom Cloth on the second rise with one button showing in the center
Clothing Size: 0-3 months; 3-6 months


Weight: 13lbs 1oz
Diaper Size: Best Bottom Cloth on the second rise with one button showing in the center
Clothing Size: 0-3 months; 3-6 months

Five Month Milestones

Rolling over: June 2