Amaro e Dolce

Life, unfiltered


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On raising girls

Yesterday our friend was over with his 7 year old daughter, and as they were leaving, she made a funny (not as in “ha ha”) about being afraid of being a tom boy. My gut response was, “what’s wrong with being a tom boy?” (She didn’t answer).

Her dad immediately jumped into the conversation and told her that it’s good to practice sports now because it’s good for her. And that lots of girls end up going to the gym when they are in their 20s and it’s totally normal.

Our friend is an amazing dad. His daughter is bright and funny and active. She’s spunky and personable. He supports her 100% in her passions – which include dance, skateboarding and cats. It’s clear that he eschews the gender stereotypes of what girls “should” do.

And that got me thinking about raising my own girls.

It’s not uncommon for me to have to explain that my daughters are girls in the supermarket, and I’ve had to defend my choice to not pierce their ears, or dress them in pink every single day. I mean, I like pink but there are other colors on the spectrum that are also awesome.

When a friend gave my daughters a red toy car, someone asked if I was going to exchange it for a “girls toy”. Ummm, no. Why would I make that sort of effort? (Side note, they love that car and it’s good for them, developmentally.)

When I grew up, I had dolls. But my favorite toys were legos and brio and lincoln logs. They weren’t “girls colors” and we all played with them – including my brother. That’s when we were playing inside. Most days we were running around outside with our friends. Whether on bikes or running through the woods around our houses. We got dirty, we scraped our knees and that was ok. My brother, sister and I all played sports – whether we liked it or not. Sure, I took ballet and gymnastics, but not for more than a few months.

My dad also took us outside to play basketball, baseball and soccer. As a family we went hiking and biking very frequently. I doubt it ever crossed my parents’ mind that they should hold my sister and I back from any of these things, just because we were girls.

Now as an adult, I’ve sat in meetings where I’m the only woman and held my own. I’ve spoken in front of large groups of people – including executives and held my own. I’ll never forget one of my colleagues walked past a meeting room and stared – only to ask how it felt to be in a room “with all those men.” My reply, “I didn’t even think about it.”

Yes, I have definitely experienced more than my fair share of gender inequality and it sucks. It happens more often than not, and it’s infuriating. But as I’ve really started analyzing my experiences with this, I’ve realized that I never assume that I’m going to be relegated to a corner because of my gender – not until it actually happens.

So why is this? As I listen to the advice I’m given on how to raise my daughters, I realize this may be part of the problem. When we continue to push a social construct that says that it’s not appropriate for girls to play with the same toys, or play the same sports, or listen to the same music, we ingrain the belief that girls should live by more restrictions because they are inferior, or weaker. That girls should be pretty and soft. That you can’t be both feminine and strong. Well, I disagree.

If my girls love princesses and dresses and frilly things, cool. If they love being outside and sports, awesome. If they love art and drawing or math and science, or maybe all of these things or just some of these things – then I’m all for it.

I want my girls to grow up and be excited for all the adventure that the world has to offer. And if that ruffles feathers, that’s ok.


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My food philosphy

Yesterday I cooked up a storm for the babies, and as my husband popped a BBQ turkey meatloaf-style meatball in his mouth, he asked what we would serve it with. I explained I would break it up and serve it with veggies. His response, “this is for the babies? I thought this was for us.”

My baby food philosophy

You see, I know that I was a picky eater when I was a kid. My husband is still a picky eater. I realize you can’t escape this, but my philosophy is that the more I introduce now the more we broaden our daughters’ palates – both in terms of flavors and texture. So they now are happily eating fish, meat, chicken, pork along with rice, pasta, risotto, quinoa and barley. They love veggies and fruits – we are lucky here.

Store-bought vs. home-made baby food

Many people don’t enjoy cooking, or they are too exhausted at the end of the day to fire up the stove. Since I work from home, I take advantage of down time to food prep and cook. I prefer the cook food for all of us because it’s more affordable in the long run, I know what goes in to the food and I enjoy cooking. This last point is important. If you don’t like cooking or you are intimidated by trying, making your own baby food is probably not a good idea.

When I make food for the girls, I divvy up my recipes in to things that I am exclusively serving them and things that the whole family can eat. As they grow older, I am moving away from exclusive food for them and towards family meals. When I look back, I don’t remember my mother ever making individual meals for us on the daily. And as much as I enjoy cooking, this is our home and not a restaurant. I don’t want to build an expectation that we have menus available.

Finger foods & babies feeding themselves

Z & E are becoming increasingly more independent. Crawling, walking and wanting to feed themselves. They are all about their sippy cups (and tossing them to the floor 752,000,000 times in one meal). This independence is fun, but also frustrating.

You see, I believe that they should have the autonomy to feed themselves, but at the same time I don’t want them to associate their meals with play. Perhaps it’s my European upbringing, but I believe that food should be respected and not played with. What I’ve started doing is prepping food that they can eat on their own, and we alternate hand feeding with spoon feeding. For example, today’s breakfast included scrambled eggs, waffles and ricotta mixed with homemade strawberry jam. So I put a piece of small waffle on their tray for them to pick up and eat. Once they were done, I spoon-fed the eggs. Then we finished with the ricotta/jam mix. This makes meal time cleaner and easier for all of us.

breakfast for babies

Z & E’s (and my) breakfast this morning

On toys at the table (or high chair)

When we first started feeding in the highchair, we put toys on the girls’ trays. Perhaps this is surprising, given my above statements about meal time and play, but hear me out. With our girls, we quickly realized that training them to sit in a high chair was actually more challenging than introducing them to foods. They don’t like feeling confined and they are naturally squirmy. So as we were feeding them, we needed a distraction so that they would get used to swallowing their food without being in our laps.

As they got used to the high chairs, we started taking the toys away. We did this slowly – experimenting with removing the toys towards the end of their meal, then halfway, then after the first few bites. Now we don’t use toys during meal times (this will probably change when they are toddlers, but whatever), but we talk (and sing on fussy days) throughout feedings. The theory here is that we get used to sitting and talking as a family over meals, instead of individually focusing on toys, phones, etc.

I realize that I probably sound old-school in my parenting philosophy when it comes to food, and that’s fine. I believe that one of the most important times you have with your family is around the table and it’s important to me to start now with enforcing these eating habits with my girls. I remember always sitting down as a family to dinner (whether we wanted to or not.) Now that I look back, I remember sitting with my family, chatting over dinner and I believe this was one of the things that makes my family so tight-knit.


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Things I never thought I’d say

After 5 months of Z & E, I’ve found myself uttering phrases I never thought I’d say. For those of you who wonder what it’s like to have multiples, here are some of those things:

Please don’t vomit on my face.

Don’t chew on your sister’s head. No, don’t chew on her elbow. OK fine, chew on her arm. 

Why are you chewing on my face?

Please don’t vomit on your sister’s face.

Please don’t punch each other in the face.

Thank you for blowing spit bubbles in my eyes. Yes I know it’s funny. Thank you

Seriously though, these girls are funny. They are very interactive with each other and they love to make each other laugh. Zoey loves making funny faces (that she learned from us) at Emma, and they love to hold hands and talk to each other. It’s interesting to watch this bond grow.

Most importantly, now they take naps. Which means I get quiet time!

 

 


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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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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.)