Amaro e Dolce

Life, unfiltered


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Dreaming of Wyoming

I’ve gotten into the habit of checking the “On this day” feature on facebook during my 2 am feedings and today’s brought such a smile to my face.

You see, I am pretty sure that we got pregnant with Z&E immediately after this trip. And this trip was life-changing for me. It was a tack-on to a business trip to Idaho, and it was my first time traveling alone. I was in a risk-taking part of my life. I was wound up with stress to the point of breaking. I had just turned in my notice to my job with no other job lined up. I had pretty much given up on the idea of getting pregnant.

I had tried to convince El Hombre to come with me to Wyoming, but he had just started a new job and he didn’t see my vision. So I went alone. After all, I wasn’t going to spend almost 10 hours of travel each way for two days in Idaho.

This day a year ago, I woke up at 5 am (mountain time), put on all my layers, hooked up my music to the car and made my way through Teton National Park as the sun rose to get to Yellowstone. To see the sun rise over Teton pass, with the mist steaming off the lakes is magical. The entire drive was breathtaking, and every waking moment I felt the stress slowly melting off. I entered Yellowstone feeling like I took a step back in to the Jurassic period. The ground was steaming and the world felt ancient.

I drove until I made it to Old Faithful, and I took a ranger tour around the geysers. Old Faithful erupted, as did several others, and watching the earth work its wonders with bison lazily grazing in the background, I realized that everything was going to work out.

I ended up spending the day driving through the park, stopping and walking around. I ended up close to the Montana border at one point and I remember debating if I should just keep going, just to see how far I could get.

I still daydream of those windy roads and the vastly different landscapes. Next time I want to spend several days within the park, exploring with my wonderful little family.


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Z & E turn 3 (months)

These are the things I can’t believe. I can’t believe it’s been 12 weeks. I can’t believe the changes I’ve seen in them and in us. I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last wrote. I can’t believe parents are supposed to hand their babies off to someone else and go back to work at this point. I can’t believe most men don’t get this much time because of social pressures.

Ok, enough with that. What’s up with these babies? 

They have both gained at least 5 pounds, and are almost double their birth weight. They are cooing and “talking” to us and each other. They are back to sleeping in their crib and they snuggle up on each other like puzzle pieces. They are rocking tummy time – especially Zoey. They have lots of smile for me and El Hombre, their turtle toy and their mobile. It’s wild.

Where’s my head at?

I’ve been thinking a lot about personal autonomy. I won’t lie, it’s a struggle. Especially during these times when I’m constantly feeding. My husband is amazing – he forces me to do things for myself… To get out and clear my head. 

This past week I’ve been thinking about what I want to do for myself. I’ve been using the Duolingo app and I’m now obsessed. I know I won’t become bilingual or trilingual without actually using the languages (Spanish & Italian) but it’s a good way to get acclimated to the words and conjugations. 

I also plan to start building strength at home. I don’t have a gym membership and it’s too hot to go outside during the day, but I’m not letting that get in my way anymore.

Ideally I’d like to write more, but I’m also realistic that I can’t bite off more than I can chew.


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2 months

Two months ago, life changed completely. At first I thought, “I’ve got this who parenting and blogging thing”, but Z & E have other plans.

Feedings have increased in frequency. Mental and physical growth spurts have been taking place. They are a lot more alert and more frequently fussy. My latest scent is eau de regurgitated breast milk. Sexy!

At first I thought the girls were sick. They wouldn’t stop crying and clinging! After talking to other moms, I realized it was the aforementioned spurts.

So what does one do?

 Get comfortable – because these babies need a lot more food and snuggles.

 Get a carrier because the way they see the world is changing dramatically, and they want to take it all in while being safely snuggled with mom or dad.

Get engaged because now they start staring, smiling, cooing and reaching for you and their twin (if they have one.) And those moments are worth the epic crying fits.

On a plus, I’m below my pre-prego weight. It’s a combination of breastfeeding, running up and down stairs a million times a day and wearing curious babies.

Now if only their stomachs would hold food for longer.


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On cooking and creativity

I’ve come to realize that as I get older, I’m finding creative outlets in different places. Over the past few years, one of my outlets has become cooking. I’m no professional, but once I understand the basics of a recipe, I will never make it the same way twice. Which is both good and bad because I can’t create attachments. But I can get more creative.

So over the past few weeks, I’ve been wrapping up babies in my moby and picking up my cooking game. With all the calories I’m burning with breastfeeding, my appetite is through the roof, but eating out is both expensive and generally way too salty.

My go-to tends to be soups and stews since I can basically throw everything in my pantry in to a pot and generally have good outcomes. But these last few weeks I’ve been inspired to cook different things because it gives me something to focus on other than babies, diapers, insurance, sad news and politics. Some of these are repeats but overall these have made it in to my “Go To Recipes” folder:

Oatmeal Crumble Bars. I used raspberries instead of blackberries because I love them. Next time I am going to try this with blueberries and add lemon zest.

Oven baked fried chicken? Oh yes. I am going to add different spices to this until the cows come in. Just FYI. And a tip? Roast veggies in the dish afterwards.

Marinara. In the past few years I have switched over entirely to spaghetti squash. Except for this recipe. For this I still use real pasta. Delicious, delicious real pasta.

Cheap chicken curry.

Tacos and more tacos (it’s an added bonus that I could use the pineapple from our garden in this)

Up next? Lots of cool, summer beverages and more baking.


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1 month necessities

It’s been a little more than 5 weeks since Z&E joined us on this side of the world, and woah! How life has changed! There are a thousand blogs out there about how parenthood changes you, and if you are anything like me, none of it really makes sense until you are in the same situation. And I get it, there’s really no words that can describe the emotions that come with parenting. It’s just not possible. Everything I’ve thought up doesn’t come close. But this blog isn’t about those feelings. It’s about answers.

You see, I have several friends who are now pregnant and working on registries. And I remember asking my friends for input, while staring at multiple websites, wondering, “do I really need this?” It was frustrating, because you never know what’s being pushed for affiliate marketing, and what’s a genuine recommendation.  So this is my list of what we have needed/used in the past 5 weeks:

Feeding

For Baby:

Bottles. We breastfeed almost exclusively but we have about 6-7 bottles in rotation for pumped milk or the occasional formula. I prefer the Dr. Browns bottles because it reduces the gas that my girls have. I also have a Phillips Advent bottle that I got as a sample that works, and I had a MAM one, but I threw it out because it didn’t work for us.  If you plan to exclusively pump, or formula feed, I would double this up to 12 bottles for twins.

Bottle Brush/drying rack. My husband has a thing with using the dishwasher, so we hand wash everything. At first I didn’t think I needed these, but our drying rack quickly got filled with parts and the brush is much easier than a sponge. We use this rack because it’s just more manageable for us.

Formula. I know, I know. This is touchy. But trust me, sometimes you need it. Especially if your milk is starting to come in, or on the first day of a growth spurt. I have spent hours and hours on the couch or my chair, feeding. Then I got dehydrated because I couldn’t get up to get water, or I didn’t have hands to get water. This hurts your milk supply and it’s exhausting and frustrating for you and the babies. Ultimately it’s about making sure your babies are fed.

Gripe water and/or Mylicon drops. Hope you never need to use this. My girls didn’t have problems with gas until their first growth spurt. Overall we are lucky that they aren’t very gassy babies, but the cluster feeding seems to bring it on. My husband ran to Target at 11 pm to get this because Z was screaming in pain for so long. It helps. Trust me.

Burp cloths/extra rags. I run through these like you couldn’t believe. If I am out of burp cloths, I use all the receiving blankets that sit by my nursing chair. They have to be good for something!

For You:

Breast pump. I wake up engorged every morning, which is uncomfortable. People will tell you this will create an oversupply. I will tell you that pumping and saving that milk for when you have growth spurts is a life saver. Because if you feel strongly about not using formula, then you have a supply on hand. With Obamacare, your insurance company should cover one for you. Take advantage – it’s worth it.

Extra shirts that you care nothing about. Because spit up happens. As does poop and pee. And so does breast milk leakage. Motherhood is not glamorous. I am using old maternity shirts that I am sure noone wants. And my husband’s beat up undershirts, of which he has many.

Breast pads. See above. There’s nothing more gross than waking up with a wet, clammy shirt. No joke, I’d rather deal with the spit up. I don’t like disposable because of the waste, but the Phillips brand of disposables were good. Target brand is ok. I am using these now and I’m a fan.

Moisturizer. Because your skin gets crazy when you get engorged.

Diapering

Diapers & Wipes. You can never have enough diapers or wipes. But don’t go crazy getting big boxes of newborns or size 1s until your baby is born. Zoey quickly grew out of the preemie diapers, while Emma was in them for an extra week. One box of newborn diapers, plus the packs we got from the hospital tided us over. Get as many wipes as you can. It’s amazing how fast you go through them.

Don’t want to use wipes all the time? My friend Rose uses washcloths and water for wet diapers. She keeps a spray bottle and lots of wash cloths in her changing area.

We skipped on all the “Warmers” but I would say if you get a wipe warmer, keep it. Babies hate the cold, wet wipes on their skin. At least mine do.

Diaper rash cream.

Changing pad/covers. Outside of our nursery we have the fold-out pads so we don’t have to change the girls directly on furniture.

Also, a tip we got from friends is to make sure you have diaper supplies for all of the rooms where you spend time. You more than likely won’t spend all your time in your nursery and you don’t want to run to that room every time you need to make a change.

Sleeping

Pack n Play/Bassinet. Our girls have shared a bassinet in our twins Pack n Play, which we recommend. Once the babies outgrow the bassinets, then we will convert it to the play pen/travel crib.

Swing. These are a godsend. Especially since Emma has spit up issues so she needs to be up for awhile after she eats. We use the Fisher Price swing that folds up. They are really light and store well.

Footie PJs. Because when you live in the blistering heat of South Florida, you crank your AC. We didn’t have enough of these and had to go buy more.

Bathing

Soap

Shampoo. We got this as a gift and it’s awesome.

Baby bathtub. Or anything to prop the babies up when washing them. It makes them (and you) feel more secure. Ours is small and folds up when we aren’t using it.

Washcloths and Towels. 

If your baby’s cord hasn’t fallen out, then you can’t submerge them in water, so you have to stick to sponge baths. These are available to make that easier. We had one and it fit perfectly in our sink.

Health & Baby Care

Nasal aspirator. We use the squeezy ball. The Nose Freida is popular right now, but I’ve learned that when you need to use this, you need to use it fast. The Nose Freida seems like extra steps so we skipped on that.  PS, when babies spit up, it’s not uncommon for spit up to come out of their noses.

Thermometer.

Moisturizer.

Soft Brush. Even if they don’t have hair, this comes in handy for cradle cap.


That’s basically what we have used. Obviously we have used onesies and clothes, as well as our wrap carrier, but in this first month, we haven’t touched toys.

Hope this helps!

 

 

 


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40 weeks

Today marks the 40 week mark from when I got pregnant. It’s crazy to think that had I not been induced, I could technically still be pregnant. I think we can all safely agree that it’s the best for everyone that I didn’t go the full 40 weeks.

It’s been quiet over here at A&D since Zoey and Emma came in to the world. It’s not been quiet on the home front though (the three week growth spurt is no joke)! As tomorrow marks three weeks that they have been on the outside world, I’ve been a bit reflective on how life has changed, my body has changed and what it means for us.

On Body Changes:

I gained a little more than 50 pounds in 37 weeks. My hands, feet, arms and legs all got swollen and uncomfortable. After 17.5 hours of being induced, my feet and legs got even more swollen – which I didn’t think was possible. It was, in a word, uncomfortable.

Flash forward, I’ve lost about 45 pounds in three weeks. The swelling (and resulting carpel tunnel) is gone. I haven’t taken any pain killers (I was only taking Motrin) in two weeks and I feel a lot better. Granted, if I push it too much I will feel it in the incision, but the pressure of all that weight is blissfully gone. I’ll take the sleepless nights. After all, I wasn’t sleeping anyways.

How did I lose all that weight? Breastfeeding. Which leads me to the next topic…

Before and After shot, exactly three weeks apart. About 5 pounds away from pre-pregnancy weight and about 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy goal weight.

Breastfeeding twins

When you tell people you want to breastfeed twins, everyone will tell you it’s not possible. Don’t listen to them. I actually have an over supply so I bottle feed overnight with pumped milk. It makes feedings go faster and my husband can help. The bottles have also come in handy during this growth spurt because sometimes you just need a break from cluster feeding.

I’ve read that you can burn up to 1,000 calories a day exclusively breastfeeding twins. I don’t know how much truth there is in that, but I can tell you that I feel it at the end of the day. I get headachy and tired if I am not eating and hydrating throughout the day. It’s like working out on an empty stomach. That being said, building up a supply and breastfeeding isn’t as easy as sitting on a couch and pulling your boobs out. It’s painful at first, and cluster feeding is stressful. Babies might not latch well (I got very lucky that both of mine do) and after awhile you start to feel a bit like a dairy farm. I can see why people give up in the first week. Fortunately, my husband is just as committed to breastfeeding as I am (extremely important), and I am stubborn. Too many people told me I wouldn’t be able to exclusively breastfeed my girls for me to give up now. I’m stubborn like that.

On relationship changes

Anyone who thinks that your life goes back to “normal” once you give birth is living in a dream world. Your priorities change, your life changes and your relationships change. Some for the better, some for the worse.

I’ve found that my commitment and love for my husband has grown exponentially. I hear a lot of women complain about their husbands after they have kids, and I realize how lucky I am. He’s always there to help me and the babies – from making food and bringing me drinks, supporting breastfeeding, picking up and changing crying babies to making 11 p.m. Target runs for diapers and gripe water, my husband is completely committed to us. There’s no way to put in to words how amazing it is and how love changes and grows.

You’ll also see that your friendships change. Again, I am lucky because most of mine have changed for the better. But you definitely feel a difference with your friends that don’t have kids. Some of these friendships will start to drift farther apart, but not all of them will. Either way, the people who are meant to be in your life will stay, even if you don’t have time to answer calls or return texts until days (or weeks) later.

On your relationship with yourself

This is a big one. One of my goals before the girls came was to stay true to who I am as a person. I wanted (and still want) to be Christina, who happens to be the mother of Zoey and Emma. I want my girls to see that they can have a family and still maintain their own personas. While I am completely dedicated to these girls, and sometimes spend hours on the couch nursing, I still make sure to do things for myself. Whether that’s surfing the web for non-baby sites, reading or writing – it’s important to me that I dedicate time to myself. Especially since my wanderlust is starting to kick in.

During nap sessions I read and cook. I keep my kindle near by for long nursing sessions. We don’t keep the house quiet and we don’t whisper when the babies are sleeping and as such we can have conversations with each other and friends, watch TV or whatever while the girls sleep. And they can sleep through anything.

It’s been a whirlwind, but a good one. Totally worth being behind on writing (both here and elsewhere.)


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4 Tips for traveling alone

I’ve always envied my friends who fearlessly would take off in to the world by themselves. They’ve always seen braver, so sure of themselves.

shadow of myselfThen last year I went to Idaho for work. When I was researching the best airport to fly in to, I realized that I was only going to be a few hours from Yellowstone. Since it takes almost 10-12 hours to get to that part of the country from South Florida, I couldn’t come up with any reason to not spend a few extra days exploring the park. Except… I didn’t have anyone to join me.

Then I said, “why not?” There was no reason for me to not go. I refuse to buy in to the idea that women can’t travel alone. I’ve been way too stressed to not take some time to explore America’s first national park. And you k
now what? It was an amazing experience. I was able to move around when I wanted, where I wanted. I came up with ideas for a longer trip with the hubby, read books and discovered amazing parts of this country.

If I had to give advice on traveling on your own (especially if you are a woman), it would be this:

  1. Be confident. The first question I got was “but what if something happened to you?” Well, anyone who knows anything about self defense knows that the more confident you look, the less of a target you are. Plus it’s easier to meet people if you aren’t afraid to talk to people.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings. Definitely get off the beaten path. I did. But be aware of who and what is around you. Not just in a paranoid, “is something going to get me?” sort of way. But also in a “wow, this place is amazing,” sort of way. Since you aren’t with people, you have no excuse not to look up and around.
  3. Research. There’s no negotiating things to do because you have different interests. So take the time to find out if there are awesome things around that you wouldn’t normally be able to do.
  4. Sit at the bar. It feels awkward to sit at a table by yourself. It’s quick, easy and if you aren’t feeling the people, at least there’s probably something on TV.

And if nothing else, carry bear spray. Especially in the woods.