Ten Newborn Stage Survival Necessities

You did it. You just survived 9+ months of pregnancy and possibly days of labor and now it’s time to bring your little one (or ones, if you’re a mom of multiples like me) home.

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Quite honestly, I had no clue what to expect when we got home with the twins. I felt like the nurses at the hospital were my guardian angels—my safety blanket, so to speak—and now the responsibility of keeping my newborns alive solely rested on my shoulders (and my husband’s, but he’ll be the first to tell you that I carried the majority of it because he had to get back to running our family collision repair business almost immediately.)

We arrived home, I had zero experience (which led to zero expectations) and over the course of the following days, weeks, and months, I was able to adapt quickly; I really feel like I knocked it out of the park in the first huge stage of this whole motherhood-gig. I strongly believe a lot of the baby gear and essentials that I had made my experience MUCH more manageable and allowed me to successfully navigate the fourth trimester as a mostly-solo parent to twins.

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Note: I will refer to “solo parenting” a lot; there is a distinction between solo parents and single parents. Single parents are those who do not have a spouse or significant other to share the responsibilities (physical and financial) of parenting. Solo parents carry the majority of the parenting responsibilities on their shoulders because their spouse is absent for extend periods of time, daily or over the course of weeks and months. (e.g. gone 6AM-7PM with commute to work, they have short-term contracts in other locations for days-weeks at a time, they have a travel-based career, they work the night shift, they are a member of the military on deployment, are a emergency response provider, etc.

I have compiled a list of the ten MUST HAVE essentials that I believe any mom—especially a first-time mom OR mom of multiples—should have at home to improve and simplify their experience during the newborn stage (birth to three months.) While there are numerous items that I used and loved, I think that these ten are the most important.. (If you’re interested in a longer list of essentials and must-haves, click here to access my ‘Baby Essentials for Newborn - 12 Months’ checklist.)

Without any more interruptions (I hate having to scroll through all the backstory to get to the content, personally) here it is: my ten MUST HAVES (and also PERFECT baby shower gifts, in my #BadassTwinMom opinion) to survive the newborn stage.


1. Boppy Pillow

Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, this pillow is perfect. It also can be used as a lounger/napper, support for tummy time, assistance for sitting up, and the cover is machine washable (a MUST for anything that has to do with newborns.) I still use my Boppy pillows to this day for bottle feeds for my twins and they are just shy of 11 months old.




2. Philips Avent Anti-colic Bottles

I prefer the Philips bottles over the Dr. Brown’s brand because they have less components, therefore less pieces to wash (and sterilize, if you choose to do so.) They are durable, as mine have lasted from birth until now (with new vents and nipples, of course.) You upgrade the nipples as your baby grows so they can get more milk during their feeds as they develop their abilities.



3. Dr. Brown’s Formula Pitcher

This is especially a must for any formula-feeding mom of multiples. In the beginning, I was preparing every bottle individually (imagine 10 to 12 bottle preps a day—TIMES TWO!) and it was getting to me. Cue this pitcher and my life changed. I was able to batch prepare the twins’ bottles and cut it down to 1-2 prepping sessions per day and I simply pulled the bottles out of the fridge and put them in the warmer for 15-30 minutes before I anticipated they were ready to eat.



4. Wipe Warmer

Seriously, I can’t stress enough how important this is for nighttime diaper changes. In the beginning, you should change their diaper with every feed and that includes throughout the night. A cold wipe on a sleepy, warm baby butt is setting yourself up for failure in respect to keeping night feeds peaceful and calm to encourage drifting back to sleep. I stopped using the warmer at about 7-8 months when I ran out of all my replacement pillow packs (see below.)


*Wipe Warmer EverFresh replacement pillows

You soak this pillow in water (rinse and re-soak once a week) and place in the bottom of your warmer to keep the wipes moist and it has anti-bacterial properties. Replace every three months.



5. Snuza Breathing Monitors

I did extensive research for breathing monitors and I felt that these were the best option. The only other contenders I considered were mat monitors that are placed on a solid surface, under the crib mattress. I didn’t use those because they started out in the bassinets (that did not have a solid surface underneath) and I simply did not want two separate handsets (in addition to my video monitor handset) next to my bed at night once I moved the twins to their cribs (just before three months old.) The Owlet sock was my first thought (good marketing, Owlet) however research studies have indicated that Owlet monitors emit more radiation than a cell phone in use. And they expect you to strap that to your child’s foot for 8+ hours a night?! No thanks. The Snuza emits negligible EMF radiation and the alarm can easily be heard in the same room OR over a monitor to alert you that no movement has been detected for 20 seconds.

6. Portable Bouncer/Napper

I did not use this specific bouncer, as I had two Auto Rock n’ Plays (that have now been recalled due to infant deaths.) I researched alternatives and this looks like the best price and features. I believe this item MUST BE PORTABLE to be most beneficial. I moved the twins’ rockers EVERYWHERE throughout my house during the newborn stage: in the bathroom while I showered, upstairs, downstairs, in my room, friend’s houses, to the hotel during vacation, visiting grandparents, etc. Newborns sleep a lot (I didn’t appreciate it as much while I was in the thick of it, lemme tell ya) and these are so helpful. I also used mine to hold one twin while I bathed the other and also sometimes to be with me in the kitchen when I did prepare some type of meal (that scenario was not very often, if I’m being honest.

7. Vava Night Light

I am obsessed with my VAVA night lights and still use them every night. They are easy-on/off with a double-tap and can be dimmed or brightened with an extended touch. Squeezing the base will turn the light from cool to warm, and they have a rubber base that is anti-slip and can easily be set down anywhere. At bedtime and during night feeds, I wanted to encourage sleep with darkness but I had to be able to see what I was doing while changing diapers and feeding. These lights were perfect and to this day, my babies know it’s bedtime when the lights of the room are out and these night lights come on. I can’t stress it enough how much these helped them develop a healthy day/night schedule and I didn’t disrupt their sleep during night feeds (anymore than it already is.)

8. Nosefride and Saline Spray kit

I remember my twins’ one week-old appointment and asking the pediatrician what to do about Camille’s raspy nose (caused by spitting up milk through her mouth and nose all the time. She was the spit-up queen.) She said saline spray would do the trick and also help keep it moist and cut down on irritation from fluids coming back out. I had no idea babies needed saline spray, so if you don’t know—now you know. Also, the NoseFrida is the only successful way to suck out boogers and mucus. The nasal aspirators they provide from the hospital work for traumatic spit-up episodes that you need to clear stuff out of their nose quick but they didn’t do anything for boogers and mucus. Honestly, my twins STILL hate it when I use the NoseFrida but it’s the only thing that clears their noses when congested.

9. Burp/Spit-up Rags

I know, it seems simple and like a no-brainer but I didn’t realize HOW MUCH babies spit-up. I thought it was every once in awhile, but most babies spit up ALOT. It happens during feeds, immediately after, hours later, at night, etc. These rags were the only ones that handled the spit-up well, have lasted through DAILY washes since birth, and can be over your shoulder or placed across your babies’ front while burping while sitting on your lap.


10. Cloud Island Footie Pajamas With Mitten

These can only be purchased at Target (as far as I know) but they are my absolute FAVORITE footie pajamas and a staple baby shower gift from me. They come in 3-packs, are inexpensive ($12.99 - $14.99,) have a zipper (FUCK button-up pajamas….sorry,) have built-in mittens to prevent scratching in that first 1-2 months, and the zipper zips down, so you only have to zip up from their foot to change their diaper and not expose their entire body to air during night changes. I can’t stress it enough how much I loved these pajamas and how devastated I was when I found out they only make them up to 6-9 months size. They are perfect for day wear as well, with the same benefits overnight and keeping your newborn’s skin protected and cozy.


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That’s it folks! I strongly feel that these items will help every mama navigate the newborn stage much easier and allow them to appreciate the sweet moments more—like when their baby(ies) will nap anywhere and everywhere, as seen above ;)

If you have ANY questions or would like my input on any items you are thinking about purchasing, please don’t hesitate to reach out—I’m always here to help my fellow mamas (and papas!) get through their parenting experience smoother and help them feel more empowered every step of the way.


All of the links above (with the exception of the Target one) are affiliate links; by clicking and purchasing any items on this list not only do you equip yourself with baby gear that will actually help you during the newborn stage, you help support this #badasstwinmom on a mission. Thank you!

A Badass Approach to Motherhood

Okay, I’m going to come right out and say it: I have a bone to pick with traditional mommy blogs.

*gasp*

Not personally, of course! I believe in mothers supporting each other and not adding to the “mom guilt” that rears its ugly head on its own. I just can’t hop on the bandwagon that motherhood should be one giant train wreck that we can never master or escape from and that it will be that way until our kids are grown and gone.

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SERIOUSLY?! Talk about depressing and off-putting— especially for women who are motivated, ambitious, high-earners, goal-setters, and let’s just call it like it is: winners.

“Oh no she didn’t...”
Oh yes, I did.

When I fell pregnant with twins, I wanted to read about the journey I was about to begin from other mothers who had “been there, done that,” so to speak. What I came across in almost every post I read, however, only discouraged me and made me anxious of what was to come when I officially became a mother.

To save you some time, let me break down my months of skimming countless mommy blogs into a few key points:

It’s hard— harder than the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Period. Nothing else noteworthy will be accomplished while tackling motherhood (read: 18+ years of perpetual failures and discouragement.)

It will change you. Unfortunately, not for the better. It will change your body, your sleep habits, your grooming habits, your marriage, your work schedule, etc. IT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING and you have to learn to accept that.

You will cry. A lot. Probably a couple times a week (at least in the beginning.) You will cry happy tears and sad tears. Triumphant tears and failure tears. You will cry tears from feeling numb and tears from feeling crazy. Clearly— lots of opportunities for crying.

You will never have a clean house (or car, for that matter) ever again. Laundry? Never-ending nor finished. Dishes? Stacking up.. Clutter? Everywhere. Toys? Trip hazards as far as the eye can see.

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 Do I think these statements apply to motherhood? Yes— but, only to a small, limited extent. I do not believe we have to permanently live in the struggle that naturally comes with becoming a parent, especially for the first time; we do not have to feel like we are stuck in this never-ending loop of chaos and that there isn’t an alternate path to take in this motherhood journey.

While there will be moments that we feel defeated and not in control, there are things we can choose to do to stay on course, regain control, and bring ourselves back to a mindset of gratitude and happiness. Is motherhood hard? HELL YEAH! But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we have to let it break us down into a shell of person that we barely recognize.

Why can’t we approach motherhood with a winner’s mentality and badass attitude? I mean— MOMS ARE BADASSES! Who else can juggle managing a household, taking care of babies, working (full or part time,) attending PTA meetings, chauffeuring kids to practices and recitals, homeschooling, and the countless other roles we fill each and every day?

I am sick and tired of every mommy blog telling me that I can’t be productive and feel accomplished at the end of the day while being a mother.

When raising kids knocks us down hard we should be able to pick ourselves back up and move forward stronger, better, and more confident. We shouldn’t have to suffer in the struggle or feel like that is the only way we can fit in and be a part of the sisterhood that is motherhood.

I can’t tell you how many times I have felt the need to share my daily struggles and hide my triumphs in order to feel like I could relate to fellow moms.

Reality check: being a “hot mess” mom is old news.  Being the mom that has her shit together and is killing it, THAT is the type of mom that we should all strive to be— that is the type of mom we are all capable of being.

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 No matter who you are, what your background or upbringing is, what parenting views you have, etc. you can be a badass mother. Period. Now trust me, I’m not trying to promote competition between mothers (see earlier comment on moms encouraging each other and being the ultimate 'hype squad') but I am encouraging healthy competition with yourself.

I encourage you to be a better mother.
I encourage you to be a better wife.
I encourage you to be a better business owner.
I encourage you to be a better employee.
I encourage you to be a better SAHM.
I encourage you to be a better “mom friend.”
I encourage you to be better, period.

“Well that sounds like you’re telling me that I’m not ‘good enough’ as I am...”
No, not at all.

Am I trying to encourage moms to be "perfect?" HELL NO. Perfection isn’t real. There are days that we will struggle and won’t accomplish everything we set out to do but the goal is to learn, grow from our #momfails, and move on.

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 My whole point is that we are capable of far more than we think. We need to start giving ourselves more credit for everything we accomplish and start owning our 'badass badge of motherhood.' I am done reading all the other mommy blogs that tell me that it’s okay to let everything go, including myself, once I enter parenthood. I think motherhood is the perfect opportunity to open our eyes, rise to the occasion, and prove to ourselves just how awesome we are.

I am only five months into this gig of being a first-time mom to twins but I’ve already learned that living up to and owning my role as a ‘badass twin mama’ is far more enjoyable than living life below my potential— not only as a mother, but as a wife, a friend, and business owner.

“Wait..doesn’t that make this another mommy blog that you were just saying you have a problem with?”
Eh, I guess you could say that.

I have a much different focus, however: encouraging women to rise above the chaos that fills motherhood and THRIVE.

I am here to share my journey about being a mom while juggling all the other challenges life throws my way. Working part-time managing our family business, getting back into shape and eating right, growing this blog, raising my babies to be strong, independent people and the list goes on…

I grew up playing competitive softball and earning straight A’s through grade school and college; I am no stranger to pushing through when times get tough, knowing the “sweet spot” is on the other side of the hill if I just keep going.

 I have unintentionally carried this mindset into my parenting style, giving me the boost needed to end most days feeling like I knocked it out of the park. I know I’m not the only mama capable of killing it (no matter how many children you have!) and I want to encourage other moms to stop holding themselves back and start living up to their title of “badass—” because that’s exactly what we are as mothers.

If you’re tired of living in the chaos that surrounds you, I encourage you subscribe to this blog and join me in taking the steps toward a motherhood experience filled with more happiness, gratitude, well-deserved wine, and accomplishment. We are capable of so much more and I want to see all of us, including myself, do better.

XOXO

Erica, one badass twin mama

 

P.S. This blog isn't for you if you aren't a fan of curse words or reality because, let's be honest: shit is about to get real (about motherhood) and I'm not going to hold anything back.

Not All Mothers Are Created Equal

Some women are naturally better at being a mother.

It’s well known that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Regularly evaluating our abilities—through discussion and self-reflection—creates the opportunity for us to learn, grow, and improve.

Unfortunately, it’s become taboo to evaluate one group of people’s skills and abilities: mothers. It’s as if constructive criticism and encouraging personal development are not allowed in the same conversation as anything related to being a mom. Without this key growth tool, most women never take advantage of opportunity to reflect on their maternal performance and make changes that will help them improve.

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The truth of the matter is, not many women want to honestly discuss how they are handling motherhood because it’s a sensitive subject for those who are struggling more than they’d like to admit.

I mean, look around: The vast majority of ‘mommy blogs’ on the internet celebrate all of the missteps and fails that a lot of moms typically go through and place these issues on a pedestal. Instead of using them as lessons and opportunities to grow, they focus on convincing others that it is the way that it is and to embrace it.

You’re trying to tell me that perpetually struggling the entire time I’m raising my kids is inevitable? This mama ain't buying into that bullshit and I urge you to do the same. That’s why I’m flipping the script on motherhood—encouraging other moms to self-reflect in order to grow, rise above, and do better.

Don’t get me wrong; there is no shame in struggling. There IS shame, however, in knowing that you are, and not doing a damn thing about it.

Mommin’ is a collection of skills and abilities that you use every day to fulfill your role as a mother. This role requires you to multi-task, manage, supervise, console, clean, budget, cook, schedule, coach, counsel, listen, delegate, discipline, nurture, lift, teach, chauffeur, plan, motivate, love, work, and the list continues. Some women naturally fall into their responsibilities as a mom, while others “struggle with the juggle,” so to speak.

Does that make one mother more valuable than the next? Absolutely not. No person is inherently more valuable than another, regardless of their strengths. It simply makes every mother different, traveling a different journey that is all her own.

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 If you feel like you’re drowning and can’t keep your head above water tackling all of the responsibilities of being a mom, I want you to take a step back and think about the reasons why. I may not know you, but I do know this:

It’s not because you’re incapable.
It’s not because you’re a bad person.
It’s not because you’re not good enough.

It’s likely because these skills don’t come as easy to you and you don’t have the right mindset. There is good news though! Even if you haven’t fulfilled your position thus far as you would’ve liked to—whether you have a 5-month old or a 5-year old + more—you can start working towards a happier, empowered motherhood experience today because it all starts with you.

The first step is to cut the crap and acknowledge that you are struggling; I’m not talking about in a light-hearted joke during coffee or an Instagram post about your 5-foot-high pile of laundry with the hashtag #momlife.

Stop making excuses why you keep fighting with your partner;
Why the household chores never get done,
Why your children suffer from a lack of discipline,
And why your body is in the worst condition its ever been.

After finally being honest with yourself, you need to write down all of your strengths and weaknesses on a piece of paper. Better yet, you need to get a journal and use this list as the first page of a new perspective and fresh plan. Make no mistake, you cannot compare your list to anyone else’s. Every single woman will do a great job at some things as a mother, and not-so-great at others—remember, not all mothers are created equal.

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 After you’ve made your list, it’s time to hold yourself accountable. Talk to your partner and get together with fellow moms; lay it all out on the table everything you are having a difficult time with. Openly admitting your weaknesses, instead of hiding them and pretending they don’t bother you, is the only way you will no longer be held back by them. You must also give permission to your loved ones and close friends to tell you like it is when they see that you’re struggling with something. Just as you need involvement from your loved ones to be held accountable, it’s just as important for you to be a positive supporter of other mamas’ journeys as well. Together, great things happen; the same principle applies to personal growth and development, especially as a mom.

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 If you don’t feel like you have anyone you can openly trust and depend on (I certainly hope you can trust your partner, but that’s for a different blog, different day) to help you climb out of your current position, I want you to reach out to me. Yes, me. I want to hear your stories, your obstacles, your struggles, and your wins. I want you to know that no matter what, you have at least one person here that will encourage you on your journey to be better—even when society is trying to tempt you to be satisfied with less.

It’s about damn time we change the conversation from celebrating our “never-ending problems,” accepting that they are normal, to acknowledging that the struggle does not have to be inevitable. We can be so much more, do so much more, and suffer so much less—we just need to get out of our way and let those who are close to us offer constructive criticism and encouragement when we need it.

Hiding behind humorous posts on social media ends now.
Saying passive-aggressive comments to our partners ends now.
Pretending that we are happy with how everything is going ends now.

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You may not be the same mama as the next but your family deserves your best. You may not be as much of a natural as some other women, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a badass mom. While it may be your initial reaction, don’t be envious of others doing better than you (right now.) Befriend them. Go out for coffee—or even better, wine—and ask for their guidance and support. I can assure you that they will ask for the same in return in the areas they struggle with. No matter how much a badass mom is killing it, she will always have room for growth and improvement.

The journey to our “best self” is hard, but it never ends; if it did, we might as well be dead.