We’re the Last Generation…

Since having my twins there are a few phrases I hear over and over and over again. Namely, “Wow, twins?”, and “Oh my, there’s two of them”, and most often I hear, “You’ve certainly got your hands full”. But, even with that awe struck observation that, yes, I have two babies and yes, my hands are full, do you know that only two people have actually helped me in all three months of my boy’s life? Both saints were senior citizens. I shared that fact with the sixty some-odd year old man yesterday who unloaded my groceries and helped load my stroller in thtr trunk. He said something that stuck with me, “We’re the last generation to think of people outside of ourselves”. 

Yikes! How do we change this?

Is he right? I wondered if I should be offended. I started thinking about myself and the people I know. I think I’ve surrounded myself with good people who go out of their way to help others. I was raised to hold the door for moms with strollers, handicap, children, and the elderly. I volunteered at inner city church camps and summer school to help kids less fortunate and I chose a helping profession. I’d like to think I was raised right, although I’m sure I could do more, but what if the seniors aren’t the last generation. What if we are the last generation?

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So then I started wondering how I can be sure my boys are raised to show empathy and compassion. I’ve prayed for their hearts since before they were born, but as a parent, it’s also up to us to lead by example and provide our children with opportunities to serve. Hmmm, what can I do? What would I tell a parent in my office to do?

  1. Think out loud

This is one of the best ways to influence our children positively. Share your thoughts out loud. For example, “Oh, I notice that sweet lady is struggling to get through the door with her stroller. I’m going to go help her”. Or, “Your teacher has been working so hard tutoring you all and keeping up with her lesson plans too. I’m trying to decide what I can do to show we’re thankful and help her out”. Sharing your positive thoughts will hopefully transfer and will become the way your children think as well.

2. Write notes and make phone calls

From a very early age kids need to know how to show gratitude and compassion. Even a two year old can put a handprint on a hand written note to thank grandma for coming to visit or say thank you to the church nursery helper for teaching them a new song. And, in the digital age where texts and facebook messages will become the norm, why not be counter-cultural and show our children how much more personal a phone call is when someone needs a friend.

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3. Recognize problems, solve them together and take action

Sharing your thoughts aloud helps here too. Talk to your kids about issues in the community, get their thoughts on what can be done and then involve them in the efforts. Last Memorial Day Austin had tragic, fatality causing floods. If my boys were a few years older I wouldv’e brought this to their attention and shared the list of supplies that were needed. My husband and I rummaged around the house gathering things to help and then went to the store for what we didn’t have on hand. I would love to involve my children in things like this.

4. Chores

Studies show that children who have chores do better in school because they’re not living like an honored guest in their own home. They’re contributing to the family every day and showing respect for others by keping their rooms clean, unloading groceries, helping with dishes, and assisting parents with cooking. They grow up knowing what it takes to be a part of a family, a community, and learn to do their part and behave unselfishly.

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5. Shop for others

Your neighbor had a baby and you’re bringing them a casserole? Take your children to the store with you to shop for ingredients. You’re going to Target to shop for a birthday party your child is attending? Have them make a list of things their friend might enjoy and go together. You’re playing Blue Santa at Christmas time? Let the kids choose an angel from the tree at the mall and shop with you. And no, they don’t get to choose something for themselves, too. That defeats the point. It’s about teaching them there’s something, someone, outside our selves that matters.

I don’t want them to grow up with attitude of “that’s a problem, they should do something about it”. Who’s this alledged “they” anyway? I want to teach them to think, “that’s a problem, I can fix it”, or at least make an effort to. I don’t want the seniors to be the last generation of people who care about others. In fact, I don’t want my kids to be the last generation. I want caring for others to be the norm again circa 1955. Can we make this happen?

Stay gold, 

That Girl

Postpartum Body Funk

I’ve always been a healthy person. I’m the kid that would get up early on a school day and rollerblade the neighborhood before it was time to get ready. I did Buns of Steel (it was the nineties) and lifted canned goods (we didn’t own weights) and loved watching Jazzercise videos on TV. Physical fitness and health have always been important to me. And, during pregnancy my health became that much more important.

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I worked out at my normal pace, 4-5 days a week, until about 30 weeks pregnant. Then, I slowed down and started walking most days and did zumba when I could muster up the energy until about 35 weeks. I ate mostly organic, except the first trimester where I lived on bean & cheese tacos and I ate butter like it was my job, and I snacked on fruits, protein, and veggies. I drank a gallon of water a day and even gorged on healthy fats towards the end to aid my babies’ brain development. I gained the minimum weight for twins (around 40lbs) and felt like I’d bounce back to my former glory; strong, flexible, and healthy in a few short months.

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When I woke up from an emergency c-section, after a brutal labor that nearly took my life, and I saw my disfigurement, I was distraught. My legs were swollen from the surgery, and my failing filtration systems, so they were unrecognizeable to me. My skin was stretched across them and looked pale and marbled. My stomach was hugely swollen still, resembling someone 6 months pregnant and my abdominal muscles split down the middle verically and horizontally so the skin that once stretched across both eight pound babies was now able to fall into the hole between my stomach muscles. The area above my incision was fat, raw, and red and the steristrips lined vertically across it resembled those on Frankenstein’s neck. I was humiliated by my appearance. So humiliated that I wouldn’t even let my husband see me walk to the bathroom without a robe on. It was depressing.

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Within the next few weeks the swelling went down and I lost all my pregnancy weight, but not the pregnancy shape. The steristrips came off and the incision was less noticeable by about 4 weeks although there was still a red reminder that my body had been cut open against my will. My arms, legs, and face finally look like the originals, but my stomach muscles are still in terrible shape and my skin is still struggling to find where it goes. My belly button is nonexistent and the linea negra and chloasma (dark skin spots) are still visible.

I want so desperately to be able to get to a gym, but my gym doesn’t offer childcare until babies are six months old. I tried to workout at home, but I caused a hematoma (blood collection) on my incision site and I already have a blood clot I’m dissolving with blood thinners. It’s very frustrating to not feel in control of your own body.

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The worst part? Nobody seems to understand. I keep hearing, “focus on your babies”, or “but look what you have as a result”, or “aren’t you grateful for your sweet boys?” And, someone I love dearly even asked me shamelessly one time if I hated my boys because of what they did to my body. Are you kidding me?

One has NOTHING to do with the other. I love feeling strong, flexible, capable. I love the rush I get from cardio and the adrenaline from dancing through a high impact exercise class. I love pounding the pavement in the sun on a Saturday morning and sweating buckets during a hot yoga session. Why the assumption that being unhappy with my postpartum body means I don’t love my babies or that I’m ungrateful? Because I have babies now I can stop caring about my health or my appearance? Now that I’m a mom I can stop wanting to feel attractive and sexy for my husband? Am I a bad mom because I want to go to the gym? Or, am I less loving because I have the need to do something for myself?

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I love my boys more than I’ve ever loved anything else in the world. I feed them from my body every few hours twenty-four hours a day. I change their diapers 8-10 times a day (each) and their clothes 2-3 times a day. We sing songs, read stories, take walks, dance, and enjoy baths together.  The only time I have to myself is…well, does their laundry count during naps as alone time? What about when I’m shoveling food in my face so I can keep up my milk supply? No? Okay, then how about when I’m watching a netflix show or blogging? I’m usually pumping breastmilk while I do that so I guess that doesn’t count. My life and focus is on caring for them 24/7, but that is hardly a healthy way to live. Working out is the one thing I plan to do for me and I’m sure many other mothers feel the same. We shouldn’t be shamed for wanting to work out or wanting to relocate our former selves.

I want to feel like me again. A strong, energetic, and independent being. This does not make me a bad person and certainly not a bad mom.

Stay gold, 

That Girl

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“Here’s What You Have to Look Forward To”

Ever since my preggo bump started showing (at about 9 weeks, lol), people have been using the phrase, “here’s what you have to look forward to”. I hear this from friends, family, and complete strangers. I hear it even more now that I’m a new mom, especially when my babies are sleeping blissfully in the stroller.

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The person who says this is almost always referring to something super stressful.

Sitting at The Cheesecake Factory with my husband, my bump nearly touching the table, and there’s a family next to us with their two toddlers. One is refusing to eat his meal and the other is screaming uncontrollable because the wind blows. Both parents look exhausted and ready to kill themselves and their children. They look over at us and laugh, “Here’s what you have to look forward to”.

A young boy at Target doesn’t want to put the toy away at his mother’s request. She insists and he bucks back at her. He throws down the toy and screams at the top of his lungs, “you’re the meanest mommy ever!” She rolls her eyes and says, “Here’s what you have to look forward to”.

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At Whole Foods, I’m wheeling my sleeping babies through the salad line and I see a six year old loading buckets of cheese onto his salad before his mom notices. She gasps and catches my eye, “Ugh! Here’s what you have to look forward to”.

My sister texts me a photo of my nephew after he paints himself with his food pouch in the car and is beyond pleased with his artwork. The comment? “Here’s what you have to look forward to”.

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Seriously? As if I got pregnant completely unaware of the fact that there will be tough times. My husband and I have co-parented his sixteen year old son for the past twelve years and more days than not he’s a total butthead. We didn’t decide to be parents in the vain hope that our child would sleep straight through the night, eat gourmet foods, have the manners of a royal heir, and never throw tantrums. We knew what we were getting into.

I know what I have to look forward to!

I now can look forward to smiles in the middle of the night. I can look forward to seeing them take their first steps. I can look forward to laughing at the face they make when they first try a lemon. I can look forward to their first day of kindergarten. What about that phone call from a teacher that my child helped the new kid in class? I can hardly wait to lay next to them all night rubbing their back when they’re sick. Oh, and what about Saturday mornings piled into bed with doughnuts watching cartoons? Or the day they run in and tell me they were chosen as the STAR helper for next week. Graduation! Making a soccer goal! Talent show! Spelling bee! Wedding day! The list goes on and on and on. I knew what I was missing before I became a parent and trust. I know what I have to look forward to.

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Road Trippin with Newborn Twins

A trip from Austin to Dallas could hardly qualify as a “road trip” pre-babies. Anything under 5 hours could just be “quite the drive” in my book; however, with newborn twins anything past an hour qualifies as a road trip. Since making this drive with my babies I’ve been facebook messaged, called, texted, and even instagrammed from new moms and twin moms wondering how the eff I pulled it off. Let me tell you, nothing I do with my babies is by the seat of my pants. Everything is methodically planned out. 

So here’s what’s up. 

Step 1: Think of all possible scenarios and squash all obstacles in advance.

I don’t think it’s right to let babies cry for very long at this age. They’re in a socio-emotional developmental stage called “trust vs mistrust” (according to Erik Erikson), which means they’re learning whether or not they can trust their caregivers and the world around them. Whether they become secure and confident or fearful and dependent depend on their caregiver’s ability to meet their needs adequately during this crucial stage.

When should we leave?

If we left midday, they could sleep too long and not sleep at night. 

But, if we drive at bedtime then I’m missing my best stretch of sleep.

If we left here at 7 when they wake up we’d sit in traffic leaving town so they’d scream mercilessly unless we’re driving a constant speed. 

So, we left at 5 am. I nursed them at 4am when they woke up. Packed a few things I couldn’t get to the night before. Then nursed them again right before we put them in the car. We pulled out at exactly 5:04am which allowed us to beat Austin traffic getting out and miss Dallas traffic getting in.

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Step 2: Keep them well fed, but plan to empty your breasts too.

Pumping while my babies are awake is damn near impossible so I knew I wouldn’t be able to pump on the road. Four plus hours is far too long to go without nursing, but nursing two babies at the same time from the car is too challenging due to space constraints. If I feed one at a time there’s a chance the other will be screaming so…

I packed:

  • My Twin Z pillow (twin boppy)
  • 6oz of pumped milk
  • Wore a nursing tank under a black long baggy tank

At 7am upon arriving in Waco I pulled through the drive through at Chick-fil-A knowing I had mere moments before the boys woke up. I ate my breakfast sandwich super fat and ordered a 1/4 cup full of hot water. I heated the breastmilk for less than a minute in the hot water while pulling suitcases out of the trunk so I could place the Twin Z in there. Then, I placed the babies on the pillow and fed 1 baby 3oz of milk with my left hand while I leaned over the other baby with my right breast. The nursing tank covered my belly while the long tank over it covered the baby’s head and my breast. Passersby had no clue what I was doing. Then, I switched. This way each baby got a full 3-5 oz between breast and bottle and I didn’t have to pump. Then, I loaded the boys in their stroller after burping, changed their diapers in the handicap stall of the restroom and then nursed each a few minutes more (so they’d be full) while I played spa music for the other in the stroller. Yes, I sat on the toilet to nurse LOL.

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Step 3: Plan for your own comforts the night before

I prepared my coffee before I went to bed and set the timer so it would be brewed when I woke up. I cooked my steel cut oats and had them stored in the fridge so all I needed to do was reheat for 30 seconds before leaving. I put headphones in the car so I could listen to music on my phone without disturbing the babies and I filled a tumbler with cold water and had it in my front seat. I also had as much as I could packed and in the car the night before so I didn’t have to stress in the morning, including their blankets so I could just put them in the corsets, tuck the blankets around them and drive off.

It worked beautifully! We arrived at my sister’s house in Dallas at exactly 9:15 just in time for me to quickly unpack the car before they woke up and feed them from her bedroom at 9:30.

Twin mom advice: don’t be scared to do what you would normally do. Live your life as you did before just follow my motto, “plan ahead and keep them fed”!

Stay gold, 

That Girl

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The Tranquilizing Tranquilo Mat

I won’t lie. I’ve totally been guilty of jiggling a stroller, or bouncy chair, to calm a baby with one hand while quickly trying to jam half a sandwich in my mouth with the other hand. I’m the mom running  around HEB wearing a baby and bouncing while pushing the other in the stroller, refusing to stop as I grab groceries and toss them into my cart. I probably look like I’m auditioning for Supermarket Sweep circa 1993. And, my phone battery is almost always drained since I toss it into the carseat next to my babies with a white noise app on. Whatever works, right? Wrong.

I’m desperate for a Tranquilo Mat!

I first spotted this unicorn at the baby gear expo I attend every year in Vegas and everyone was buzzing about it. In fact, after returning from the expo and contacting the designer, I learned they were so hot they couldn’t keep up with production at that time. But now (FINALLY), they’re available to desperate mamas like you and me who get lady boners for products that calm fussy babies quickly.

Here’s why the Tranquilo Mat is my jam!

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  1. Vibration

Most parents find themselves gently jiggling babies instinctively to keep them calm, but did you ever wonder why that works? When babies are inutero, being toted around day and night, they’re being gently jostled and vibrated when mom walks, climbs stairs, drinks water, eats, breathes, etc. The Tranquilo Mat gently vibrates to mimic the feeling of the womb, which sends baby instantly into a hypnotic state, triggering the calming reflex.

2. White Noise

I’m a bit of a white noise nut! I have THE Cadillac of white noise machines in my bedroom (curtesy of my best friend who knows me well), a white noise machine in the nursery, white noise apps on my phone and I’ll be damned if I’m caught traveling without a machine as well. I’ve always slept better when background noises are drowned out and babies are no different. Ever notice how they can sleep in a noisy restaurant with no problem, but a dog barking or car horn can wake them up instantly? White noise tends to drown out those startling, sudden sounds, but also mimics the womb, which is super comforting for the first three months of life especially.

3. Flexible & Portable

A mat like this is worthless if it can only be used one way because, let’s be honest, babies are unpredictable and moms need multipurpose devices cause our diaper bags be overflowin’ as it is. If it’s goin’ in my bag, it better play many roles. The Tranquilo Mat is super duper thin, folds up easy and can be thrown into a diaper bag or purse without taking up coveted space. It’s flexible too so you could wrap it around your babies lap in a carseat or stroller, or wrap it around baby’s back while they’re in a carrier or sling. Does your baby need tummy time, but fuss constantly throughout? Try sliding the Tranquilo Mat underneath the activity mat or blanket you’re using and watch baby calm with the push of a button.

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4. Machine Washable

The cover on the outside can be tossed into your washer/dryer for convenient cleaning and sanitizing and the inner cover is water resistant and wipeable so your baby’s spit up or accidents won’t leak through!

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Use the Tranquilo Mat for:

  • car rides
  • strollers
  • tummy time
  • bouncers/rockers
  • reading
  • sleep/naps
  • babywearing
  • visits to the doctor
  • colic/gas
  • fussiness for who the hell knows why

Get your Tranquilo Mat here and tell us why you love it.

Stay gold, 

That Girl