Braving The Outside World

After I gave birth to Henry & Emily, I didn’t leave my hospital room for 3 days. It wasn’t out of fear or orders from my doctor, but because that one little room had everything I needed to nurture both my recovery and my daunting new mother-of-two tasks. I didn’t even miss the outside world!

Then…we came home.

As my strength grew back day by day, so did my desperate need to rejoin civilization. At that point I just wanted to feel human again. When you’re roughing those first few weeks and months of sleep deprivation, you crave even the slightest ounce of normalcy. I’ll never forget when I ventured into town on my first solo-outing since having the babies. Sean watched the twins for a couple of hours while I went out for a heavenly blended iced coffee and to get groceries. That was a magnificent couple of hours!

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Sadly though, getting out of the house regularly and on your own takes some serious coordination (and financial planning for a sitter/nanny without family nearby), so these past 5 months have taught me lots of great lessons on getting out of the house WITH the twins when Sean’s at work.

Whether you have 1, 2, or 6 little ones (like my mom hero, Danielle Busby, mom of quints and a 5 year old!) you’ve got to get out of the house with those little ones for your sanity. Here are 6 things that I’ve found helpful when braving the outside world. Hope they help many of you out there whether you’re on maternity leave or a stay-at-home mom/dad:

Walk every day.

First and foremost – wait to go for walks until your doctor/midwife gives you the “okay” to do so. Much of the first few months postpartum was my mind saying “Let’s goooo!” but my body saying “Let’s not!!!” Listen to your body. Take it nice and slow. Exercise routines will come, but baby steps for now.

That said – when you ARE ready, walks are like gold. You’ll breathe in and out some much needed fresh air, you see other people going about their day, and if you’re lucky…your baby/babies will fall asleep in the stroller. Walks have instantly settled the fussiest of hours for my twins, so we’ve made it an afternoon staple to walk at least around the block a few times. Meanwhile, you get to enjoy fresh air and a workout all in one! WIN! If your neighborhood isn’t necessarily walking-friendly, research nearby parks and running paths.

To my fellow Owasso-area mamas: here are my favorite go-to stroller friendly paths when I need a change of pace from my neighborhood loop!

Centennial Park – it’s a beautiful park in between a few neighborhoods. My hubby often joins us on weekends and plays frisbee golf with our lab while the twins and I do laps!

Skiatook’s Osage Trail – smoothest and straightest path I’ve found yet. It’s my favorite place to jog with the stroller. The only draw back is that it’s a 20+ minute drive out there. Worth it on a beautiful day though!

River Walk – if you’re down for the half hour drive, the Route 66 River Walk is excellent and has recently been renovated. I love how some parts of the path branch off for cyclists vs walkers. Makes me less paranoid about bicycle-stroller fiascos!

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One stop shop.

If you have a long list of things to get that can’t all be found in a grocery store, try aiming your focus on a one-stop-shop type of place instead. I’m all about Target these days. I can get groceries, clothes for the whole family, dog treats for our lab, and stock up on the long list of baby things (diapers, formula, wipes, etc.) that we constantly need. Also…Targets have a Starbucks…..it’s practically heaven.

Or, find a good outdoor mall that has a grocery store along with other shops you’ll need next door. The less car-stroller-car-stroller dances you can to do, the better.

If you have just one baby, you can usually put the car seat into the shopping cart without any problem. If you have multiples…haah…different story! I’ve found that attaching big carabiners to either side of your stroller works wonders! I simply hook on the hand-held baskets on either side so that I can load up small sized groceries in one, and other items in the other. I might look ridiculous with a double stroller AND two side baskets…but I’m used to being a spectacle when I go out with twins! Just try not to make too much eye contact with people and keep on strollin’ ;). When I get to the checkout counter, all I have to do is unhook the baskets, then re-hook the bagged items once I’m all checked out. Works like a charm.

Ask for & accept help.

When I meander around Target or the grocery store with my double stroller, I pretty much give up on toting around big, heavy items. If I know in advance what large items I’ll need, I’ll find a store clerk and ask sweetly if they wouldn’t mind taking those big items to guest services and reserving it under my name for my check out. This way I don’t have to use my babies’ stroller as an awkward shopping cart! Winnn!

Most stores, if they’re considerate, will notice my purchases at the checkout AND my two babies and ask if I need help getting these things to the car.

“You’re so sweet to ask! YES! I would LOVE your help!”, I joyfully reply. I get the help I need, they feel good for helping…everyone wins!

If they don’t offer…ask. You’re a paying customer; the least they could do is have someone waiting for you at the store’s front door and help load it into your trunk.

Timing is everything.

“When’s the next feeding?” is a constant question I ask myself. If I plan to leave the house that day, I’ve gotta be on my game when it comes to timing. As soon as those sweet babies are fed, burped, and changed into dry diapers, I’m all “OK! GO! GO! GOOOOOO!” I’ve got roughly 3 hours until the next feeding, so I’d like to be back home before then.

I let the babies play in their walkers as I make sure the stroller is packed in the car. I double check the diaper bag for diapers, wipes, 2 clean bottles, and pre-measured formula for mixing. I usually keep all of this in the diaper bag and only break it out if I have to, especially if the outing won’t get me home by the next feeding.

I strap each baby into their car seats, waddle them both to the car (so heavy these days!), do one last mental checklist (cell phone? purse? how much time to I have before the next feeding?) and off we go!

I’m not gonna lie, knowing how much time you have left is kind of a buzz kill when you’re joyfully strolling along, soaking in the outside world, but it’s so important for happy smiling babies when you’re out and about.

Timing is also important when it comes to where you’re going. I usually try to go anywhere public at a time when stores are the quietest. Otherwise you’re asking for trouble. Most people love babies, but babies don’t always love people. Makes sense to keep the public appearances to a minimum if you can to avoid strangers peaking their head into the stroller. It’s happened to me far too many times. I’m all for talking to people, but sometimes you’re on a schedule and you really don’t want to change the mood of a happy baby if you don’t have to.

When Sean and I have taken Henry & Emily with us to a restaurant, we go at weird times to eat…like 3, or 4pm. Don’t always rely on nap times to work when you’re taking them out to a restaurant. The new sights and sounds could just be enough to wind them up so it’s better to be sure that they’re fed, burped, and changed.

Think ahead.

If the twins are playing peacefully in their pack-and-play or walker, I start packing up before the next feeding. It makes the car pack up/home departure go SO much faster!

Once they’re in their stroller, I make sure they have two things: something to hold, and a pacifier on stand-by. Those two things are instant fussiness settlers if you get to that point! 😉

If you bottle feed, be sure to have your bottles ready to go in your fridge for your return home. Far too many times I’ve tried to do “just one more thing!” while I’m out and it’s gone past their feeding time a bit. Woah nelly…they were NOT happy. Far too many meltdowns have reminded me to think ahead before leaving!

Have a little faith.

If at first your outing feels like an epic fail…try try again, my dear! Have a little faith in yourself that your confidence will grow. Also have faith in your baby/babies that they’ll get used to going on more adventures.

I’ve learned that getting out of the house as a stay at home mom of twins doesn’t have to be daunting. I just have to be prepared. If there are meltdowns (and there will be) you’ve got this! Just stay calm, and remember that you’ll never have to see those strangers looking at your screaming baby ever again ;).

Big hugs!

Katherine

New Mama Life

Well helloooo! Sean and I have made it through the first 8 weeks of parenthood…with a twist. If you’re just “tuning in,” we have newborn fraternal twins! You can check out my blog announcement from the day they were born: Henry & Emily, or read all about what my twin pregnancy was like: Pregnancy.

So…twins. Oh my goodness, where to begin…

We’re over the moon that this little boy & little girl are ours. We’ve fallen head over heels for them! I’ve got a post coming soon, once they reach 2 months, on how they’re growing and what’s new with their development. But for now, I want to share what it’s really like for us these first few months, how I’m doing, and how my day to day life has changed.

Honestly, much of those first few weeks are a TOTAL blur. I’ve never been that sleep deprived in my life yet as all of our friends who are parents told us – you somehow just do it. You have to! You manage to stay painfully awake, snuggle with them through the tears (yes, both yours and theirs!), drink coffee, chug water, and sleep whenever/if you can. It ALL gets better. Trust me. There are good mornings and bad ones, easy afternoons and stressful ones, short nights and never-ending ones. Coming off those first few weeks I felt like Will Ferrell at the end of this scene in Old School where he finishes a killer response then says “What happened…I blacked out.” 

Yup. I totally felt like that midway through our first month. What just happened? Did these 2 little people really grow in my belly for nearly 9 months? Did I really just give birth to them!? Did we actually survive those first weeks as new parents with newborn twins!? WHAT! We really can do this.

In order to keep my sanity (so far) I’ve been reminding myself of three important things:

1) Make it a priority to take care of myself.

2) Embrace all of this as my “new normal.”

3) Remember to stay grateful.

Together, those things have made all the difference in my attitude through the sleepless nights, the projectile spit up in my hair, the 4320483294 diaper changes, those first few weeks of crazy postpartum hormoooones!, the breastfeeding vs. formula feeding dilemmas, the attempts to get both babies on the same feeding and sleeping routine, the ear-piercing cries at bath-time, or the isolation of staying at home every day.

At first, I found myself fighting the reality of exhaustion in attempts to sneak in a baking session, a blog post, a cleaning spree, or other projects that I had time for in my pre-mama life. So many of those attempts continued to fail and I ended up exhausting myself even more. I finally listened to my gut (and prior advice) by rewarding those rare pockets of time when the twins are sleeping with my basic needs (sleep/rest & mental health).

As far as gratefulness goes – I’ve prayed for these little ones (so many of you have!) for years, and now they’re finally here! That alone is enough to give me the kick in the butt that I needed to stay positive and remain grateful. Honestly though, it’s really not that hard to be grateful and to stay positive when you’re so in love with your babies and you have the love and support from friends and family! Sean and I feel so very lucky.

My “me-time” is different now. It’s no longer sitting at a coffee shop to blog about recipes, or to go for a long run followed by a long shower and then taking my sweet time to get ready for a night out, or sipping wine with some tunes in the background all while cooking…uninterrupted, or hoping in the car with hubby for a day trip somewhere in Oklahoma. I can still do those things, technically, but it takes some serious strategic planning and back up care to make it happen.

My “me-time” is now in a million different little things. And sometimes, what’s even better than “me-time” are those small victories throughout the day that remind me how I’m doing just fine. Here are some examples. Shout out to all you fellow mamas & papas out there who can relate:

  • Getting the twins to nap during the day at the same time. Hallelujah!!! It means I can nap too, or shower, or tidy up, or eat…ya know…those luxuries 😉 . They sleep during the night every 2.5 – 3 hours, but during the day one baby will often be sleepy while the other is wide awake, then they often flip flop. Simultaneous day-sleep means this mama gets a break!
  • Leaving the house with them in under 30 minutes. If that actually happens – it’s a dream come true. It’ll buy me time for a drive-through trip to Starbucks!!! This is usually what goes through my mind before leaving the house with them:

Is the diaper bag ready? How many back up diapers are in there? Burp cloths? Extra onesies? I should bring two extra bottles. Holy heat index…I need to start my car early and get the AC running. Now to make sure they’re fed, changed, and burped before I even think about putting them in their car seats. Is the “snap & go” stroller in the trunk? Omg I’m starving…have I eaten? There’s spit up on my shirt….awesome…do I really need to change? Whatever. What time is it.

  • Post bath preciousnessWhen it’s bath time and neither twin screams. That’s one for the win! At first Henry & Emily HATED bath time. Now – they’re starting to really like it! Then once they’re dried off, clothed and swaddled, there’s that sweet baby-after-bath smell! Ohhhhh my heart! It’s the definition of precious! They both are two tightly swaddled, beautifully smelling, precious little ones!
  • Waking up from a 1 or 2 hour nap while Sean, or a family member Blended Iced Coffee Heavenvisiting, has been looking after them. When you’re so tired that your body literally hurts, a nap like that is EVERYTHING for your sanity. You might as well have just won the lottery.
  • Getting that much needed first sip of coffee in the morning as the sweetest reward for another long night of feedings, diaper changes, burps, swaddles, and lullabies.
  • Getting out for a solo drive to run errands for a couple of hours on the weekend while hubby takes over. Watch out, world! Happy mama on the loose! Blended iced coffee bliss. Grocery shopping fun. TARGET. Windows down, country music blaring, singing along, driving slow. Win win win!Family movie time
  • Watching a movie at home with hubby, wine, popcorn, and only needing to pause the movie once to feed/change/snuggle with the twins before they go back to sleep.
  • Date night. MAJOR WIN! Our family has blessed us with a couple of date nights out as they came to visit and we couldn’t be more grateful! I feel like getting out for multiple date nights in those first 2-3 months is almost unheard of, especially for parents of multiples. We are so lucky to have such support! Sean even watched the twins one night and gave me & my sister a night out in Tulsa!
  • Walk + Run with my girl!Going for a run/walk on my own. This is huge. My first song of choice? “Can’t stop the feeling” by JT. When no one’s looking…errr…when I think no one’s looking…I bust out some dance moves mid-walk. It’s the best feeling in the world!
  • Walking the twins AND Stella on my own. If you ever want instant cool-points from strangers – walk two babies and a Dog + Twins + Walk = Windog at once. I usually end the walk feeling like I’ve just climbed Everest after I’ve managed to keep Stella (our lab) mildly tame on the leash while also steering the twins in the stroller.

Date nights, exercise, getting ready, leaving the house, etc. are things that were apart of my normal life pre-motherhood that I totally took for granted. Now, I treasure them. There are so many more small victories that I could describe; moments that make me light up with joy and feel re-charged again. For now though, hopefully those are some that give you a glimpse into what it’s like so far.

I couldn’t ask for a better “new normal.” Though it may seem like a stressful time, it’s also the happiest I’ve ever been. Sean too. We are more in love with these two little love bugs than we ever could have dreamed of. I’m getting teary just writing this part! Seriously y’all…these two are such a gift to us! Their new smiles, heartfelt snuggles, “coo’s,” beautiful faces, and wide-eyed astonishment at the world are things that overtake exhaustion any day.

To parents out there (especially parents of multiples): I get it now 🙂

Love,

New Mama Kath 🙂

Henry & Emily

They’re here!!!! The little loves of our lives are HERE! Thank you all for your prayers, positive thoughts, texts & emails checking in. It truly meant the world to us and reminds us of the love that surrounds these two little miracles…who started their lives TODAY!

Both Henry & Emily were delivered naturally with thanks to a heavenly epidural, my amazing hubby cheering me on, our incredible doctor, and the most supportive team of nurses that parents-to-be could ask for!!! I needed to deliver in the O.R. simply because with twins, there is always a risk of having to do an emergency c-section. I was SO grateful that I could stick to my plan & goal of a vaginal birth. Welcoming these two munchkins into this world was the most incredible day of our lives.

Henry Wilson Mason

Born: June 6, 2016 @ 2:00 p.m.

Weight: 7 Lbs 3 oz

Length: 20 in.

Emily Carolyn Mason

Born: June 6, 2016 @ 2:07 p.m.

Weight: 5 Lbs 11 oz

Length: 19 in.

Here are a few photos from today. Of course there will be a million more updates to come, but for now – time to catch just a wee bit of sleep if we can!

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