Thursday, December 29, 2011

7 Months Old!

Happy 7 Months girls! This month's picture was tough to capture because neither of the girls wanted to sit still. This is pretty typical of their day to day life now!

  • The girls just had a great first Christmas with both sets of grandparents, their uncles and tons of great aunts and uncles and their great-grandmother. They received plenty of toys and clothes, as well as gift certificates and money towards their new (and very expensive!) car seats. 
  • They have tried several real foods and love them! Teagan's favourites have been apples and broccoli. Quinn loves everything but I would guess that her favourites have been butternut squash and apples as well. They always want to feed themselves, which is why I try to do finger foods whenever possible. 
  • Both girls have started holding her bedtime bottle. I hold it in front of Teagan and she reaches to grab it!
  • They are both rolling like crazy. The Christmas tree has been especially entertaining for them. Quinny rolled herself under the tree and spent ages staring at it! They love rolling on the hardwood floor because they can move much faster. 
  • As I mentioned in my previous post, the girls are teething. Their sleep has been disrupted which means that Mom and Mommy aren't sleeping very well also. 
  • They are so close to being able to sit up on their own. While they can sit for up to a minute sometimes, we're still reluctant to not have a Boppy around them. 
  • They love their brothers, Riley and Finn. The dogs will usually get huge smiles out of them just from walking by. Thankfully, they are extremely good-natured dogs because T&Q have taken to grabbing and pulling their hair, ears and whiskers. 
  • Teagan has turned into a toy thief! If Quinn has anything in her hands, Teagan will roll or shimmy herself over and grab it. 
  • In early December, they graduated from their Starfish swimming class. They both love kicking around in the water and even dunked their heads a few times.
  • They are both great at playing independently. At least once per day, I will put them on their mat and sit nearby but not entertain or talk to them. They will happily play with a toy, the tag of a toy, their hands or whatever else is in reach.
  • They both love to pull their socks off and put them in their mouths. They have also, on occasion, put their feet in their mouths. 

Holy Teething, Batman!

Teething has hit our house with a vengeance. Our previously amazing sleepers have become nightmares at night! It seems as though they're too busy during the day to notice any teething pain. While we're not 100% sure it's teething, they have all of the signs and are at the right age. Many parents joke that teething gets blamed for the majority of a baby's fussiness or sleeping troubles during the first 3 years. 

Teagan used to go down at 7:30, soothe herself to sleep and sleep straight through until 7am. She was a dream. For about 10 days now, she has had a few brutal nights. While she'll go down fairly easily, there have been a few times where she'll wake a few hours later crying in a way that we've never heard.  Last week, Jenn had to go and pick up infant Tylenol because even nursing wouldn't soothe her. The strange thing is that she will have a brutal night and then she'll have a night where she's back to her normal self sleeping 12 hours straight. Fortunately, she has slept for her usual 12 hours for the last 3 nights.

A few months ago, I reviewed Boiron's Cory.zalia. It's a children's homeopathic remedy for colds. Boiron also makes a remedy for teething, called Camilia. I have been giving this to the girls regularly before bed. Not only does it help ease the pain of teething, it also relaxes them. Apart from a couple of times, Camilia has worked wonders. We've also tried freezing wet wash cloths to let them suck on it. While this is a very temporary solution, Teagan, especially, seems to really like this.

We have yet to see a tooth from all of this. Hopefully one will pop through soon and they'll be back to their normal selves! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Babies First Christmas

The girls had a great first Christmas. Jenn's parents arrived on the 23rd to spend Christmas with us. On Christmas Eve, my family has a tradition of going to see a Broadway show (but in Toronto). This year we all saw Mary Poppins. On Christmas morning, after presents were opened, we headed over to my parents place for brunch with my family. We then hung out for the day before a big Christmas dinner with all of my extended family. A few pictures from the last few days!

Christmas morning with our twin elves
Happy Teagan
Jumping Quinny
Jenn's parents with T & Q
Grandpa lets Teagan try the good stuff 
The pre-dinner entertainment
Personalized ornaments from my Dad

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Adventures in Baby Food (Take II)

The girls have been experimenting with real food for a few weeks now so I thought that it was about time for an update!

I've decided to give each new food 4 days. This gives the girls time to adjust to the new food, texture, flavour etc. It also gives us enough time to make sure that they do not have an allergic reaction to the food. So far they've tried butternut squash, avocado, banana, peas, pears and broccoli. 

Quinn: She seems to love everything that goes in her mouth. We can't feed her fast enough. She gets extremely impatient and whines at us to give her more. 

Teagan: While she eats everything, she isn't too thrilled about it. She will open her mouth willingly but usually has a grossed out look on her face. This isn't surprising though. She was born to nurse. 

I've been trying to vary the texture of the foods. I pureed the butternut squash and peas. With the avocado and banana, I mashed it up with a fork, so it was still a bit chunky. With the pears, I blended them slightly. They started on broccoli today. I steamed it and then gave them each a stem to gnaw on.

I like the idea of baby-led weaning as well. The gist is that you let your baby feed themselves from the get-go. They can chose what they'd like to eat and the amount. That was the idea with today's broccoli experiment. While I like this idea, I do worry about the girls choking on pieces of food, hence the giant pieces of broccoli. Babies should always be supervised when doing BLW.

For the first year of life, breast milk or formula provides babies with most of their nutrients. My plan is to give them one real food "meal" per day for a few more weeks and then move onto two meals. At around 8-9 months, I'll move them onto three meals. 

I'm going to stick with fruits and veggies for a little while longer. As I mentioned in my previous food post, fruits and veggies are really easy to digest. 

If your baby(ies) is on solids, what do they like/dislike? What did you decide to start with?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rolling and Randoms

If you know Quinn, you'll know that this is a classic Quinn
Riley and Finn's Christmas presents from their daycare
Quinn learned how to roll a few months ago, but would rarely do it, up until four days ago. Now, she's a rolling machine. She goes back and forth. I think she's making up for lost time and keeping up with her sister (who has been a rolling machine for some time now)!

Monday, December 19, 2011

{this moment} Baby's First Christmas

A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mommy Brain With A Twin Twist

The other morning I experienced "Mommy Brain" at its best. I was meeting a friend and her almost 6-month old at a swanky, upscale outdoor mall to do a bit of Christmas shopping. It was nearing the girls nap time so I was rushing to get out the door so that they would nap in the car. By 9:15, I was in the car with two sleeping babies. Success! Not for long...

I arrived at the mall, unloaded the brood and found a nice cafe. The cafe was packed, but there was one 4-person table right by the door. I got a lot of stares walking in, partly because of the twin factor and partly because babies were entering their quiet cafe. It was full of well-dressed "ladies who lunch" and men in expensive suits. Even the retired folk were dressed well and looked like they had a purpose. My friend and I were planning on feeding our babies at 10 while we had coffee. Since I have a breastfeeding cover, I don't care where I feed the girls. I got myself set up at the table shortly before 10 and was about to order something when I realized that I had forgotten my wallet. No worries, I'll wait for my friend and borrow a few bucks. I'll start feeding the girls, I thought, and she'll be here soon enough. Reaching into the diaper bag, I realize that I've hit strike nursing cover. She texts me moments later. Her baby was having a marathon nap so she'd be late. Realizing that I couldn't take up a table in a packed cafe without buying something and not wanting to be the front door entertainment by feeding the girls with no cover, I got up as quickly as I had sat down. I can't do anything quietly with my double stroller, so all eyes were on me, wondering what I was doing. 

Since it was after 10 by this point, my scheduled babies started getting bit fussy. With no money at a mall that was not the most baby-friendly, my only option was the car. I placed Teagan on the front passenger seat in her car seat facing me, while I fed Quinn. Quinn was far crankier and wouldn't have lasted for another 10-15 minutes. While feeding Q, I entertained T with smiles, songs and random babble. After both girls were fed, I packed the girls up and headed home to grab my wallet and nursing cover. 

When we finally returned to the mall, my friend had arrived and had grabbed us a seat in the cafe. I went up to the counter to order my much-needed coffee and proceeded to try and pay with 10 cents of Canadian Tire money (store "money" or coupons issued by a Canadian chain - kind of like a combo of Home Depot and Target/Walmart...sort of).

It's never a dull moment as a mom of twins!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Post: Random Reflections

My friend, Kate, recently wrote a fabulous post on Facebook. I had to share it because I couldn't have said it better myself. She has a daughter who is a few weeks younger than Teagan and Quinn. We met when the twins were about 6 weeks old.

So far parenting has been simultaneously the most difficult and most rewarding and enriching experience of my life. Here are just a few thoughts on the first 6 months. I’d love to hear yours!

1. No matter how many labour stories you hear, yours will be different
When I was pregnant, it seemed like every woman I talked to who had previously given birth wanted to share her labour story upon seeing my bulging belly. At first this was fascinating, and after a while it was a bit overwhelming. Visions of episiotomies and C-sections danced through my already borderline neurotic brain (more on that later), and I feared I wouldn’t even know what a true labour pain felt like when it did occur. I ended up being induced at the recommendation of my doctor at almost 42 weeks, and experienced some procedures I had never even heard of – cervical catheter, anyone (as an aside, I’ve come to realize after preparing for IUI and giving birth that any procedure involving the word cervical is not going to be fun)? It is, however, true what they say: in the end, whether you give birth, adopt, have a child via surrogate, etc., a healthy baby is all that matters.

2. Breast-feeding is the hardest ‘natural’ thing I’ve ever done
Even though I read books and took classes to learn how to breastfeed, I had no idea the complexity involved in such a seemingly natural process. It didn’t help that my milk didn’t come in until about day 6, and even then it was with more of a whimper then a bang. I won’t detail my struggles here, but will say that a loving partner and a good lactation consultant – one who listens and doesn’t vilify you for supplementing with formula for the sake of feeding your baby – were the keys to my getting through the tough times. I do believe ‘breast is best’ but groups like La Leche League have to be supportive of all women and realistic about the demands new moms are facing (ie. It is not feasible or good for your mental health to have your baby at your breast literally 24 hours a day!) regardless of their feeding choices. I made peace with ‘combination feeding’ Hannah and I think a lot more women would do the same vs. giving up breast feeding (or pumping) altogether if the message from most public health nurses and support groups were more inclusive.

3. The ‘other mother’/dad has a tough job, too
Yes, birth moms go through a lot physically and emotionally to bring a child into this world, and of course that should be highly commended, but the other parent carries a burden before, during, and after the baby’s birth as well. While people congratulated Andrea and her team at work threw her a lovely shower, I don’t think she experienced quite the same level of attention when we were expecting Hannah as I received when pregnant. During labour and delivery she was on her feet for most of the 21 hours, incapable of easing my physical pain, and she had to field calls, emails, and in person visitors throughout. Despite changing countless dirty diapers, giving bottles, comforting, and rocking our baby to sleep, when Hannah first started to smile and focus on faces it was often me she’d look at because she is with me all day while Andrea goes off to work to provide for our family. All of these things start to change, and I’m already noticing that mama’s return from work in the evening is an exciting event, but I think most non-birth parents deal with the emotions this must invoke in silence (likely because they are mostly men and are taught to keep there emotions hidden and ‘be strong’). Nothing warms my heart more than seeing Andrea (mama) and Hannah sharing ‘a moment’ and I am so glad Andrea will have 2 months of parental leave to enjoy with our baby girl.

4. If you think the worrying ends when you hear your baby’s first cry, think again
To quote another mom from a parenting magazine, “if you could get paid for worrying, I’d be a multi-millionaire”. Boy, does pregnancy and parenthood give you a lot to worry about! During my pregnancy Andrea basically banned me from the Internet. She’d hear me clicking away on the computer, ask what I was doing, and I’d say something like, ‘just surfing porn, dear!” but she knew darn well I was googling things like ‘incompetent cervix’ and ‘echogenic bowel’. Then Hannah was born as healthy as could be, so naturally I stopped worrying, right? Hells no! It was on to my fixation with SIDS, of course. It dawned on me the other day that I’ll be watching Hannah on stage at high school giving her valedictorian address and I’ll still be worrying about what might happen to her out in the world. Oh, did I mention I have potentially unreasonable expectations, too?

5. You really don’t understand the love you feel for a child until you have one.
My friend Rob Sawyer put it best (I’m going to paraphrase here): “I am a teacher and work with a lot of women. When I had my first child I realized that when I had congratulated them on the birth of their babies, I really had no idea what it meant, so I went back and congratulated them again now that I truly know how amazing it is to have your own child”. Before you have kids, parents tell you that you would lay down on the tracks for your child and you understand it as a concept, but not a reality, until your own little one comes in to your life. And God help anyone who tries to hurt our babies…

6. You get to see the world through your baby’s eyes
I think we focus a lot on the fact that we are going to be responsible for showing and teaching our children all about the world, but we don’t realize they’ll give us a new perspective on things as well. Hannah’s wonder at the tiniest things, like the fish swimming by in our aquarium or the actions to a song, make me remember how wonderful the little things in life are. This has been one of the most pleasant surprises so far.

7. You’ve entered a new world you may not have known existed and you will do things that used to leave you baffled
Before your baby is born, people love to tell you that you will never again get a full night’s sleep or see a movie without interruption. What they may not tell you is that once you have a child you suddenly belong to a ‘club’ inhabited only by other parents. You will undoubtedly have a moment (or several moments) when you realize you have joined said club, such as when I was at the Baby Show next to people dressed as My Little Ponies singing about being vegetarians while I watched stroller-pushing moms form long line ups for free samples. I said to my friend, “This is our new world” and thought to myself, ‘I used to think these people were crazy. Now I am one of these people’. You will also lift your baby and smell its bum to see if he/she needs a change, and you will literally do anything, no matter how ridiculous, to make your baby laugh. You will tell yourself that you’ll never do these things (just like you’ll tell yourself you’ll never by a mini-van), but you will.

8. Watching a baby develop is freakin’ cool
We all know that people develop from completely needy creatures to self-sustaining, highly capable beings, but seeing it happen before your very eyes is fascinating! One minute you are carrying around a lump who can only see about 20cm in front of her/his face, and the next minute they are focusing on items, then grabbing for them, rolling for them, and even pulling their bodies along the ground to get to them. All they can do at first is cry, then one day they coo and, best of all, laugh, and before you know it they start to make noises like “ma-ma-ma-ma”. I know with crawling, standing, walking, talking, etc. still to come this real-time development stuff is only just beginning for me!

But, who's 'Dada'?

The girls have become chatty Cathys in the last month or two. It started out random babble. This is pretty typical. Around the 4-5 month mark, babies start experimenting with their mouths, tongues and lips. They like the way things sound or feel so they do it over and over. Teagan started blowing raspberries.

In the last few weeks though, both girls have started saying, "dadadadadada." It's pretty amusing since there is no Dada in this house. Upon further reading, I discovered that that is the first "word" that most babies (ie. 99%) say. In homes with a Mom and a Dad, Mom usually gets quite upset over this since she is the primary caregiver. I read about one Mom who preemptively named the bottle "mama" and said it at every single feed. Since her daughter was hearing 'mama' over 5x per day and it was tied to food, she started saying 'mama' before anything else. Clever.

Anyways, it's quite entertaining now that the girls are so vocal. They will 'chat' away to us while grabbing at our face, hair, necklace etc. I think we're in for an exciting few months!

What was your baby's first sound/word?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

{this moment} Mini-Bun

A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Jenn calls me 'Bun' (short for Bunny) and therefore refers to the girls as her 'Mini-Buns.' My brother took this adorable picture of Teagan, with her 'bunny ears,' today while we were Christmas shopping.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Product Review: JJ Cole Bundleme

We recently pulled out the scrapbook that my Mom made when I was a baby. There is this awesome picture of a 6-ish month old me in an enormous snowsuit. I look like a miniature Michelin man.

My twins hate to be confined and therefore often fuss when they're put in their car seats. I cannot imagine if I had to bundle them up in snowsuits prior to putting them into their seats. Not only would this take a lot of extra time, it would also drive them crazy! Fortunately, I discovered the JJ Cole Bundleme. These sleeping bag-like sacks are a great snowsuit replacement. They easily attach to car seats and strollers and come in a baby (0-12mo) or toddler (1-3 yrs) size. There are a few different options depending on the warmth level that you're looking for. I opted for the Urban Bundleme (see below). It has a nylon outer layer that protects against wind and rain. The inner layer in the Urban bundleme is a Thermaplush™ material. 

Packing up twins to get out the door is quite the undertaking, but not having to put another layer on them definitely speeds things up. The bundleme is super warm so the girls are cozy and comfortable in their everyday clothes and a hat.

A big fear of most new parents is overheating, so one of the features that sold me on the bundlemes are the zippers on either side for temperature control. This allows me to quickly unzip the top layer when we go into stores or in the car.

There have been some safety concerns regarding the Bundleme. I was comfortable reading JJ Cole's explanation:

"In line with JJ Cole's commitment to child safety, the Bundle Me has been tested to FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) 213 requirements. All tests passed on the child restraint system, indicating that the Bundle Me product appeared to have little to no effect on the performance of the child restraint system."

The bundleme is a great option for keeping your baby warm and comfortable through the cooler months by eliminating the need for jackets and blankets.

Disclaimer: This blog receives no payment or other compensation for reviews of products or services. Unless explicitly stated, I have no affiliation or relationship with the supplier of a product being reviewed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

6 Month Stats and Santa!

The girls had their 6-month doctor's check-up recently. Thankfully, both girls have a clean bill of health! By 6 months, babies should double their weight. Both girls have more than doubled, which is awesome. Teagan is weighing in at 16lbs 4oz (birth: 6lbs 4oz) and is in the 50th percentile for weight and the 75th for height. Apparently, she's a tall baby! Miss Quinn is weighing in at 13lbs 6oz (birth: 5lbs 6oz). She's in the 10th percentile for weight and the 25th for height. While she's small, she's on her growth curve, so there's no need for concern. As we always say, she's mini but mighty!

My Dad and I took the girls to see Santa. Even Santa couldn't get a smile out of Quinn! She's a tough one :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baby Scientists

The girls are officially baby scientists! They participated in a university psychology study this morning. The study looked at 6-month old babies and whether they were able to recognize a person despite changes in their facial expressions. The babies sit in front of a computer screen for about 5 minutes and are shown many photos of the same person posing different facial expressions. Once the baby got bored (ie. started looking away), the test phase began. The baby was then shown two photographs side by side. One photo was of a face that they'd seen before and the other was an unfamiliar face. They wanted to see if the baby would recognize the face that they had seen previously. The girls' faces were videotaped so that they could measure how long the baby looked at each photo. Since emotional facial expressions are the first way that babies communicate with their caregivers, they are looking to figure out whether this ability actually develops in infancy.

I was with the girls for the entire time. They sat on my lap for the duration of the test. I could not see their faces during the test unfortunately. Apparently most babies smile when they're shown a happy face, but Teagan smiled and/or laughed when she was shown EVERY face! This included faces exhibiting fear, sadness, happiness etc. The testers thought that this was hilarious. She's such a ham!

Anyways, it was quite interesting so I was happy to let the girls participate to help out the students. They received 'baby scientist' awards for their participation!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

First Food!

And the firsts continue! The girls tried butternut squash this morning and it was a success! Teagan was a little unsure at first, as you can see from the picture. She seemed somewhat indifferent, which isn't surprising, given how much she loves nursing. Quinn, on the other hand, LOVED it! She picked it up quickly and was leaning into the spoon before we knew it.

Why did I pick butternut squash? It is very nutrient-rich, low on the allergen scale, slightly sweet and easy to digest. Contrary to popular belief, starting your baby on a slightly sweet veggie or fruit will not cause them to develop a sweet tooth. Breastmilk and formula are very sweet themselves and so the sweeter item can help a baby adjust to real foods more easily. We opted to skip rice cereal entirely. In my opinion, rice cereal isn't necessary. It is a processed food and I would prefer to give the girls whole, real foods from the beginning. But, my pediatrician says that my baby needs rice cereal for the iron? Yes, a baby's iron stores are almost depleted by their 6-month birthday, but there are plenty of other ways for them to get iron. I am still breastfeeding and do not have an iron deficiency. Therefore, the girls will be getting iron through my milk, which is highly absorbable. If you're formula feeding, most formulas are fortified with iron. There are also plenty of iron-rich foods out there.

I'm not going to write too much about foods right now, but fear not, there will be plenty of food-related posts in the near future!

Here are a few pictures of this morning's meal:

Teagan's first bites of real food
Quinn's first bites of real food!
She loved her butternut squash!
Teagan was a little bit unsure
Mom gives feeding a whirl

Thursday, December 1, 2011

{this moment} Winter Swimming

A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Apparently, 1 degree weather (34 degrees for you American folk) is perfect for swimming, according to Riley and Finn. See bottom left on picture below. It's amazing that this was taken in the middle of the city. I love Toronto.