Baby’s 1st Year Survival Guide

I think every mom tries to be perfect for their first child. You want to buy all the best products, give them only the best food, read all the reviews & books your little heart can stand. That’s pretty normal. I guess most people grow out of that by the toddler years? Or maybe until their next baby comes along. Having twins made me go through this stage at warp speed. Before they were born I literally read every book and article about taking care of a baby you can imagine. I also read millions of reviews about baby products, toys, gadgets, gear, food, EVERYTHING! My brain quite possibly exploded which could be why I went into labor at 31 weeks…but I digress. I have tried to compile here some of the things I learned & the things I really did love and need. Maybe my next post will be all those things I purchased that were a waste.

Diapers
-While I was pregnant we stocked up on Pampers Swaddlers for the twins like you wouldn’t believe. Seriously we had so many diapers we didn’t have to buy any for months! I have nothing bad to say about Swaddlers, we loved them, but they’re super expensive. So I decided to try Luvs one day. -Insert “Ahh Ha” moment here- So glad I made this decision! We love Luvs! They actually work a lot better for us than the Swaddlers did, both babies started staying completely dry all night and the best part, they’re half the price!

Formula
-We all know breastmilk is best for your baby, but if you can’t breastfeed or simply don’t want to, let’s talk formula. The twins came home from the NICU on breastmilk and Enfacare which is a high calorie preemie formula. Since they were on Enfacare already, when we switched to only formula at 6 months I decided on Enfamil. We had great success with it, but its super expensive to buy for twins. One day I was at Sams Club and noticed their brand Members Mark formula looked just like the Enfamil cans. I did some reading and guess what, it’s exactly the same. So then we switched to Sams Club formula also with great success. Then at 10 months the twins started going to daycare. The daycare said they would provide Walmarts brand Parent’s Choice formula. I once again did some reading and guess what, it’s the same as Enfamil & Sam’s Club! Sams Club formula is actually the cheapest option, but since our Sam’s Club is about 45 minutes away and a Walmart is 10 minutes away, we use both interchangeably with no issues!

Solid Food
-I honestly had no idea how I wanted to feed the twins when they started eating solids at 6 months. I really wanted to do baby led weaning so that’s what I went with. Up to about 10 months they at super healthy! I cooked them salmon, chicken breast, fresh veggies, all kinds of good stuff. Then at almost a year we bought a new house, tried to move and remodel at the same time, the twins went to daycare, Andrew and I both started working more, and we totally went into survival mode. They started eating literally everything we ate. If I made frozen toaster waffles for breakfast, they ate it too. Biscuits from a can? Yep. Ravioli? Sure! Guess what? They’re both totally health and seriously the BEST eaters! They will eat everything happily!

Breast Pump
-I exclusively pumped breastmilk for the twins for the first 6 months of their life. They spent a month in the NICU so that’s how I ended up going that route. A good breast pump is a necessity! Even if you don’t pump and choose to nurse, you’re probably still going to want to pump some. I have a Medela Pump In Style Advance. This thing was a little work horse! I actually preferred it over the hospital grade pumps we could use in the NICU. Most insurance companies will provide a breast pump for free to pregnant women so be sure to check into that! I think next time I will try the Spectra S1. I’m in an exclusively pumping moms support group on Facebook (shout out to those ladies because they’re awesome and I learned sooo much from them!) and a lot of them have Spectra pumps and they are highly recommended!

Boppy Pillow
-This is actually a baby item that I wasn’t going to purchase at first. I wasn’t going to be nursing since I pumped and bottle fed so I didn’t really see the necessity in them. I was so wrong. Very last minute I bought us 2 boppy pillows and I’m glad I did! They were such a lifesaver during the newborn stage! The twins were so small (They came home at only 4lbs) so they didn’t really fit in their swings or bouncy seats for a while. I had literally nowhere to set them down at except the boppy and they loved them. The incline of being propped in the boppy kept them from spitting up a lot and they were cozy little pillows for them so rest on. I would also put them both in them next to each other and feed them at the same time. Theres so many ways you can use a boppy!

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Rock N Play
-This was another one of those things that I decided beforehand we didn’t need. After about a month of zero sleep with a baby that projectile vomited every 5 minutes, I asked to borrow the rock n play that my mother in law had at her house leftover from one of her other grandchildren. I’m SO glad I finally broke down and did that! Rhett immediately started sleeping at night and stopped puking all night long! We had tried everything else, including elevating his crib mattress. Nothing helped except the rock n play!

Bouncy Seats
-We have 2 Fisher Price My Little Snuggapuppy bouncy seats. Once the twins were big enough for them we literally used them every single day! The twins loved being bounced in them! It was one of the few things that would instantly calm them down. They also made another really easy way for me to put them side by side and feed them at the same time. The incline is really great for reflux.

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Owlet Monitor
-I’m throwing this in the middle, but PAY ATTENTION! This is hands down my most important absolute must have item on this list! Without a doubt! I ordered these for the twins when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. They had just come out of the beta testing phase and weren’t even in mass production yet. They were so not ready that I had to wait until I was 33 weeks pregnant before they even came in. So worth the wait. These are a little on the pricey side. I’m not sure what they are now, but we paid $250 a piece for them. I think they even offer a multiples discount now though. They are worth every penny! The Owlet is a little sock your baby wears on his foot. This little sock has a sensor in it that works just like a pulse ox monitor at a hospital. It sends your baby’s heart rate and oxygen saturation to the base station. The base station will alert you if either one of these gets out of range. If you have wifi you can see you baby’s vitals in real time on your smart phone app, but you do not need wifi for the Owlet to work. The base station will always alert you even without wifi. I recommend these to every single pregnant woman I know because they are that important! We have had 1 red alert with Lorelei when she was about 3 months old and I have never got out of bed and ran to their room faster in my life. The peace of mind these little socks bring Andrew and I just knowing that they’re monitoring our little angels is absolutely priceless!

Mamaroo
-We originally got 2 Graco swings for the twins, but quickly learned that they did not like them. They wouldn’t sit in them for more than a minute without fussing or crying. A few months later we were so incredibly fortunate that Andrew’s aunt gifted us 2 Mamaroo’s! You read that right, she got us 2!! Thanks Aunt Margaret! My only complaint with the mamaroo is that I wish I had registered for them from the beginning! I didn’t register for them while I was pregnant because they were expensive and I didn’t think they were really that much different than a regular swing. Ha! The Mamaroo is amazing! It’s totally different than a regular swing and the twins love them! Lorelei still naps in her Mamaroo every day!

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Sit Me Up Floor Seat
-The Fisher Price Sit Me Up Floor Seat is amazing. Around 3 months the twins really wanted to see what all was going on in their world. They wanted to look around, but with two of them I just could not hold them all the time. This is where the sit me up comes in handy. It has a really high back support so your baby has a little help holding his head up and they can comfortably sit up and watch everything. It also has little toy hooks on the top. We lovingly call this the “shit me up” though because the twins always pooped as soon as they got comfortably in it. Good news is if you have a blow out in it, the cover comes off easily and can go right into the washing machine!

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Straw Sippy Cups
-At 6 months we started introducing the twins to solid foods and sippy cups. We tried so many sippy cups. They knew exactly what to do with the cups. They would hold them perfectly and put the spout straight to their mouth, but they just could not figure out that you had to tilt your head back and lean the cup up to get any liquid out. We got some Munchkin straw cups and we never looked back! They immediately drank from the straw cups with no problems! Around 9 months they even started weaning from their bottles and only wanted their formula in their sippy cups. The Munchkin straw cups have little caps that fold over the straw for travel and they straws are no spill! Trust me, these get thrown all over our kitchen and they don’t spill!

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Burp Cloths & Bibs
-You can never have too many burp cloths or bibs! It does not matter what they look like! They will get stained and dirty so who cares if you have a girl and they’re blue! The Gerber prefold cloth diapers make awesome burp cloths!

Baby Jail
-When the twins were big enough to sit up unassisted I got the Summer Infant play yard for our living room. Just one is small so I opened it up and used it as a big gate to block off half of our living room for them, but I have seen people who bought multiple ones and connected them to make a giant baby jail pen. Baby jail is essential when they get mobile! It keeps them contained and safe!

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I’m sure I forgot some important things, but my mom brain is fried for the night! If there’s something you couldn’t live without, leave it in the comments!

 

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I Thought Pregnancy Was A Fairy Tale…

Ahh pregnancy…It’s supposed to be a beautiful, wonderful, magical experience in every woman’s life. It is all a fairy tale full of butterflies, rainbows, and baby dust. Right? Maybe I was naive, but this was truly the picture I had in my head of pregnancy. Sure I knew there were the really sucky parts such as being a little sick the first week or so and then towards the end being really big and uncomfortable, but those were all things you could totally deal with no problem. HAHAHAHAHAHA

Let’s start off with that morning sickness thing. Whoever decided to call it morning sickness was a freaking moron. More like starts first thing in the morning and lasts until the next morning sickness. I’m one of the lucky 1-3% of women who suffer from this magical fairy tale thing called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This cool thing call HG is where you literally vomit your life away. I mean tell me how beautiful that is? In all seriousness though HG is a really rough thing. I have never been this sick before in my life. It started at 6 weeks on the dot for me and here I am at 15 weeks and it’s still kicking. My days consist of throwing up non stop and being so nauseated I can’t function in between the vomiting. It gets so bad that you can’t eat or drink anything for days and then you have to go to the hospital and get IV fluids. Even as heavily medicated as I am now, I still find myself dealing with the nausea and occasional vomiting every day. I pray every single day that this ends soon and doesn’t follow me to the end of my pregnancy.

Now, let’s talk about the whole getting big thing. When my husband and I went in for our very first ultrasound we could not wait to see the tiny little thing on the screen. What we actually saw though were 2 tiny little things on the screen! That’s right, we’re having TWINS! Boy were we shocked! One baby we had planned for. Prayed for. Tried to conceive for over a year. We were ecstatic to find out that we were doubly blessed with 2 babies after such an emotional struggle to get just one! So there’s a lot of new stuff that comes along with having twins. Like A LOT. But since I’m only 15 weeks now, I haven’t experienced most of them yet. Except the getting big part. See before I got pregnant I was a really little girl. I’m tall, 5’8, but very thin. I always have been. I only weighed about 120lbs. I expected my pregnancy to not change my body much. Most girls I know who have the same tall and thin body type as me, you just can’t tell they’re pregnant until closer to the end. This is another one of those moments where I want to laugh hysterically at how naive I was. At 13 weeks I had a belly. A huge belly. Okay, not really huge, but pretty big. I could no longer button any of my jeans at 8 weeks. By 12 I was in full on maternity pants. Here I am 15 weeks now and I seriously look like I’m about 20 weeks pregnant. Now I know, I know, I’m pregnant with twins so this is totally normal and to be expected, but it’s a lot different to wrap your head around when it’s actually happening to you. I’m already starting to feel the pain of trying to bend down to pick things up off the floor. It’s not necessarily that I’m too big to bend over yet, but it’s starting to get extremely uncomfortable. Did I mention that I’m only 15 weeks? I’m not even halfway through this pregnancy yet. I absolutely cannot imagine the monstrosity that my body will be at 38 weeks. On that note, we’re planning on going on vacation in August so I’ll be about 22 weeks then. If y’all see the beached whale on the Florida coast, it’s just me, don’t panic.

Lastly, let’s talk about fatigue. The word fatigue just doesn’t do it justice. I’m so tired I don’t think I have enough energy to breathe most days. I used to run a lot and was an extremely hyper person. I can barely walk up a single flight of stairs now without feeling like I’m going to need CPR. Good thing I’m a nurse and work in the hospital because somebody is probably going to find me passed out in the stairwell one of these days. I used to be the best morning person in the history of morning people. I woke up an hour earlier for work every day than I really had to so that I could enjoy my morning coffee and talk in the break room with my coworkers before we started out day. I also used to get up by 6 on the weekends to start my day because mornings are my favorite part of the day. Well that’s just a funny joke now. These days I wake up with enough time to throw up for a while, brush my teeth, and make it to work just in time to clock in. Weekends, you ask? Oh they’re for sleeping. My weekends now consist of wake up at noon, throw up, eat, throw up, sleep until 6pm, throw up, eat, throw up, go to bed for the night at 9pm. Seriously, I can’t even make this bull crap up.

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many magical things about pregnancy. Seeing your babies on an ultrasound is such a crazy wonderful experience. Even the terribleness of watching your belly get SUV size is amazing because there’s two human beings growing in there. And let me tell ya, growing two tiny people is super hard work. I am however still waiting on this wonderful feeling of pregnancy overall and I think the whole having twins thing will prevent me from that. I will probably trade out my terrible sickness for being even more terribly huge.

Side note: My best friend is also pregnant right now. She’s 3 days ahead of me with one baby. Pretty cool, right? She’s having the amazing pregnancy. Her morning sickness lasted the first couple weeks and even though she will tell you she feels huge, she’s still super tiny. I’m insanely jealous of her getting the rainbows and butterflies experience. But I absolutely cannot wait for us to have best friend babies together!!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

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You Will Need:
Cupcakes
-1 cup shortening
-1 3/4 cup sugar
-2 1/4 cup flour
-1 1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 eggs
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1.5 teaspoon white vinegar
-Red food coloring
-1.5 teaspoon cocoa powder

Icing
-1.5 packages of cream cheese
-3/4 cup butter
-1.5 pounds of powdered sugar
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a mixer cream together shortening and sugar.
-In a bowl combine eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, vinegar, and salt
-Add the flour to the shortening in 3 additions alternating with the wet ingredients.
-Add in red food coloring until desired red.
-Mix in cocoa powder until just incorporated.
-Fill lined cupcake tins about 2/3 full
-Bake about 17 minutes.

-In a mixing bowl cream together butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
-Add vanilla and salt.
-Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix until smooth.
-Once cupcakes are COMPLETELY COOL you can ice them.

Peanut Butter Oreo Cupcakes

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You Will Need:

Cupcakes:
-1 cup unsalted butter
-1.5 cups brewed coffee…honestly I just used 1 k-cup size regular cup of coffee
-1 Tablespoon vanilla
-3/4 cup cocoa powder
-2/3 cup sour cream
-2 eggs
-2 cups sugar
-2 cups flour
-1.5 teaspoons baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-20 Peanut Butter Oreo cookies crushed.

Frosting:
-1/5 cups unsalted butter
-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
-4.5 cups powdered sugar
-3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
-pinch of salt
-10 Peanut Butter Oreo cookies crushed

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with paper liners
-Melt butter for cupcakes in a saucepan
-Add coffee, cocoa, and vanilla to the melted butter and set aside.
-In a bowl combine sour cream and eggs.
-Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the sour cream mixture.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
-Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the chocolate mixture into it.
-Slowly mix everything together until no more lumps remain.
-Fold in crushed oreos
-Fill cupcake cups about 2/3 full and bake about 18 minutes.
-Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
-In the bowl of a mixer cream together peanut butter and butter until light and fluffy
-Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until completely combined
-Add salt and heavy whipping cream and whip until the frosting is the desired consistency.
-Fold in crushed oreos.
-Once the cupcakes are completely cooled you may frost them.

Fruity Pebbles Cupcakes

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What You Need:
Cupcakes:
-1 box yellow cake mix
-3 eggs
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1.5 teaspoon vanilla
-1.5 cups fruity pebbles cereal

Frosting:
-8oz cream cheese
-1/2 cup softened butter
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan.
-In a stand mixer combine eggs, oil, sour cream, and vanilla
-Mix in cake mix until completely blended.
-Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full and bake for 18-22 minutes.

-For the frosting beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.
-Add in vanilla
-Mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time
-Mix until frosting is light and fluffy
-Once the cupcakes are completely cooled you can frost them and garnish with fruity pebbles.

Kit Kat Cupcakes

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What You Need:
Cupcakes:
-1 cup & 2 Tablespoons flour-1/2 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup & 2 Tablespoons sugar
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-2/3 cup buttermilk
-6 small kit kat bars
Frosting:
-1 stick softened unsalted butter
-1.5 cups powdered sugar
-Pinch of salt
-6 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
-Kit kat bars cut in half. One for each cupcake

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350.
-In a medium bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt
-In the bowl of a stand mixer mix together vegetable oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla
– Alternating between the flour mix and buttermilk add each to the wet ingredients until all mixed.
-Crush up the kit kat bars and fold into the batter until all mixed.
-Fill lined cupcake tins about 2/3 full
-Bake for about 17 minutes.

-For the frosting beat butter and salt until light and fluffy
-Add in powdered sugar gradually
-Mix in heavy whipping cream one tablespoon at a time until frosting is the consistency you want.
-Do not ice cupcakes until they are completely cooled!
-Cut a kit kat bar in half and garnish each cupcake with a half

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

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I have been wanting to make these cupcakes for a long time, but I didn’t really have a valid reason for these fancy things to hang around my house for just 2 people. A friend asked me to make cupcakes though for a party and that was my excuse to try these out! I’m so glad I did too because they are awesome! This is one of the best cake batters I have ever made. These were a huge success too! I made 60 of them and they were gobbled up in record time! The recipe I’m going to post will only deliver 24 cupcakes, but it was very easy to increase the recipe like I did.

You Will Need:
-1 package of devil’s food cake mix
-1 package (5.9oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
-1 cup sour cream
-1 cup vegetable oil
-4 eggs
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-3 sticks unsalted butter
-pinch of salt
-1 Tablespoon clear vanilla
-4 cups powdered sugar
-6 Tablespoons heavy cream
-1 roll of chocolate chip cookie dough

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350.
-In a stand mixer bowl mix together cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
-Line muffin tins and fill about half full with batter.
-Roll a tiny ball of cookie dough and stick in the center of each cupcake. Cover with a little bit of batter.
-Bake for 20 minutes.
-Allow cupcakes to completely cool before icing.
-In a stand mixer bowl cream butter until fluffy
-Slowly add in powdered sugar until well blended.
-Add salt, vanilla, and heavy cream 1 Tablespoon at a time until frosting is the desired consistency.
-When cupcakes are completely cool, decorate with frosting.
-For the tiny cookie on top I just rolled small balls of cookie dough and baked for about 8 minutes.

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