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Monday, July 28, 2014

seeing double - TWINS! - Laurie Harmon

Thank you so much to Laurie Harmon for sharing her awesome story of her twins - a boy and a girl, best of both worlds! They are now 12 years old, so she has survived those early baby, infant and toddler stages where you need more than two hands to help along active twins. She's lived to tell about it, and says her household is like an average home now with children. That's great news to those of you just starting out!

Thanks again, Laurie, these two are so adorable! 

All photos from Laurie Harmon

1. How did you find out you were having twins? 
I found out I was pregnant with a positive test on Thanksgiving morning 2001. In January of that year I had bleeding and went to the ER thinking I had a miscarriage, the ultrasound tech showed me the screen and said I was still pregnant with TWO babies with strong heart beats.

In our mid 30's Robert and I found out one thanksgiving morning we were going to have a child due on my birthday.. a few months later thinking we'd miscarried we found out we were having TWO later found out it was One boy One girl, The best of both worlds. Born early but healthy and knowing the struggles and health issues some of my moms of multiples friends went through with their babies I KNOW I am blessed.

2. What was your original reaction to finding out you're having twins? 
Excited. secretly hoping that there was one boy and one girl.

3. How old were your other children at the time you found out about twins coming?
The youngest child was 11, the oldest was 18 with a 14 and 16 year old in between.

4. What were you most nervous, scared, worried, etc. about with having twins? What thoughts ran through your mind initially? 
The health of the babies, I was over 35

5. What helped you to prepare for twins? How specifically did you prepare for twins? 
We made the mistake of thinking we needed two of EVERYthing. We over prepared with baby equipment. 

An important preparation is getting meals frozen ahead in the freezer, planning in any way to save time. 

6. Any good books, Web sites, etc. for those having twins? 
I read several books, I was on bedrest for awhile and all I did was read. There was also an online support program for moms who were on bedrest, I don't remember the name of it at the moment.

7. What were some lifesavers to you, things that helped you when the babies were born - baby must haves?  
Extra hands! Having other people around to tend to a baby if both babies were crying at the same time, so that one baby didn't have to go without while the other one was being tended.

8. How did feeding twins go for you, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, what worked, what was challenging?
Breastfeeding both was challenging, one baby continued to nurse longer than the other. I had to rent a hospital grade pump to help keep my supply up when nursing both and one of them never seemed satisfied after nursing and ended up being supplemented with formula and eventually switching over to fully bottle fed. Yes we cheated and propped a bottle if only one person was home but someone was sitting there with the baby, tending the other one so baby was not left alone with propped bottle.

9. What is the best part about having twins?
Two babies at the same time means they always have a playmate. 

10. What are some challenges overall with having twins?
When home alone with them and both babies cried at the same time. 

11. How do you manage two at the same age at the same time, meeting their needs, etc.? What helps you? 
It is very hard at the infant stage but is doable, it just takes time to find solutions to make things work smoother. 

When older and both want to talk to me at the same time, I feel like the one being told to wait always feels shorted or not as important as the other.

12. What is unique or special about having twins? 
One baby is special, two babies is a bonus blessing. 
13. What is your advice to a new mom with twins? 
Definitely search for some support groups/ social networks that you can connect with some multiples moms. I have a long term friendship with several moms online who I connected with on a parenting multiples website when the twins were toddlers. Some days those mothers' advice and tips or humorous moms of twins stories are what kept me sane. 

14. What do you wish someone had told you about having multiples? 
That we didn't need two of everything.

15. Can you share a typical day in the life with twins or a great story of the two of them? 
The twins are 12 now, A day in the life is very different from the days when they were little. A typical day now is like the life of any household with tweenagers. 

16. What are three things you know for sure about twins? 
They share a special bond with each other, they are more work but also even more joy.

a letter to my premature babies - Meghan Szylvian

This story will undoubtedly move you to tears and jump for joy at seeing these sweet babies' faces. This is one strong momma, that I know for sure. Thank you to Meghan Szylvian for sharing her Seeing Double - TWINS! story with us. 

She thankfully just recently brought her little bundles home from the hospital, after months of waiting by their side in the hospital. This is a sad story, a scary one for those who may be pregnant with twins right now, worried that they, too, may deliver premature babies. Yet it's one of hope and inspiration, these little guys are fighters, that's something I've learned to be so true of twins. So, too, is their momma. 

Thanks again, Meghan, for sharing such a heartfelt letter and a big part of your life with us. I'm amazed at how two teeny tiny little ones can bring so much greatness into the world, never giving up. 


All photos from Meghan Syzlvian 
Above: the weekend the twins were born

A letter to my premature babies:

Today was supposed to be your due date.  Instead, it is your three-month birthday.

You were born on April 24th, after just twenty-seven weeks of pregnancy.  You spent the first eighty-four days of your life inside the sterile walls of a NICU, and I spent the first eighty-four nights of your life without you.  I did a lot of praying in that time.  Mostly I prayed, even begged, that you would not remember.  I prayed that you would forget every injection; every procedure; every tube, lead, and wire; and every minute spent alone in a warm plastic box. 

As I watched you grow, I began to realize that there are a few things about this nightmare that I don’t want you to forget – a few things about yourself that I want you to know.   

1.  You are strong.

I have watched you fight for breath.  This is not a dramatized way of saying that you went through a lot.  What I mean is that I watched you set your beautiful eyes in determined concentration as you coordinated your tiny muscles to push your diaphragm down and draw in air.  I saw the relief in your face and your body as the air flooded in, and I saw the exhaustion as you let it out.  Then, I saw you do it again, and again, over and over until your body learned its own life-sustaining rhythm.    

There may come a time in your life when you feel weak or inadequate.  Please remember what you were able to accomplish entirely of your own will and your own fortitude.  You are strong.   

2.  You were ready. 

You endured so much in your days in the NICU.  One day, I watched you have blood drawn from your heel, then watched a dressing change on the central line that traveled from your wrist to your heart, then watched as your second of five echocardiograms was performed.  This all happened in a flurry of a few hours, and the chaos faded from the room as quickly as it came.  I was left standing beside you, with my hands extended through the two portholes in your isolette.  I placed my hands on your head and belly, I held you as close as I was allowed, and I apologized. I told you how sorry I was that all of this was happening to you, how sorry I was that I didn’t hold onto you longer, how sorry I was that you weren’t still snuggled safely with your brother, protected from the world in the way I was supposed to protect you.  Although I thought we were alone, I think your nurse for the day overheard my apology.  Later that day, he told me, “In all my years as a NICU nurse, one thing I am sure of is that babies are very good at telling us when they need to come out.”  He is right.  We have gone through hell together to get to this day, but, my sweet babies, you are perfect.  You are strong and healthy and exactly where you are supposed to be.  Only God can know what would have happened if I had carried you to term. 

There may come a time in your life when you feel like you are not ready for what is being asked of you.  You may feel scared, overwhelmed, or otherwise ill-prepared.  Please know that your instincts about timing have always been correct.  You are ready. 

3.  You are privileged. 

You missed an entire trimester of pregnancy.  There are a number of reasons that, as I write this today, you are all right.  You are all right because you were born in a country with the resources and technology to sustain your fragile bodies.  You are all right because we happen to live in a community with access to exceptional healthcare – just ten minutes from a Level IV NICU.  You are all right because we had the benefit of comprehensive health insurance coverage.  You are all right because a network of professional colleagues stepped in to donate their hard-earned vacation time to me, allowing me to be by your side every day while you healed. 

There may come a time in your life when you encounter those who do not share your many advantages in life.   Never feel guilty about those advantages, but always feel grateful for them.  You are privileged. 

4.  You are never alone.

I don’t know anything about what it is like to have an identical twin.  I never will.  What I do know is that whenever I held one of you alone, you were often restless, disregulated, or otherwise showing signs of all that you had been enduring, and that whenever I held both of you together, you settled into a calm heaviness as you drifted into deep sleep.  I know that your heart rates slowed until they beat in synchronicity, and you matched each other breath for breath.  I have watched as you opened your eyes to study each other with quiet focus.  I have watched as you reached out to find each other’s touch.  

I know that whatever it means to be an identical twin, it means that even as you fight through the most difficult days of your lives, someone fights beside you.   

There may come a time in your life when you feel adrift or unsure of where to turn for help.  Turn to each other.  You are never alone.   

5.  You are loved. 

Because visitation was restricted in the NICU, most of your family had to send their love and support in very creative ways those first months.  Your Aunt would often leave us dinner or healthy snacks on our doorstep.  One grandmother knit you beautiful sweaters and toys while the other grandmother mailed greeting cards to our house – timed so that I would get one every few days.  A friend I had not spoken with in ten years bought both of your carseats.  Strangers offered masses for you. 

There may come a time in your life when you feel that you are not enough.  Please know that you have been wrapped in love from the moment you drew first breath.  You were loved before you said anything, before you did anything, before you knew anything, before you were anything. 

For the lonely days, for the difficult days, my sweet boys you are loved.   

(the day the twins came home from the hospital, 3 months old!)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

seeing double - TWINS! - Jennifer Smith

Thanks to Jennifer Smith for sharing her very sweet family with us in this next part of our new series Seeing Double - TWINS! She found out at 20 weeks pregnant that she was carrying twins- yikes! And a zillion laughs and ups and downs later, she's here to share her ideas for what works - labeling all cups and bottles, what a great idea! 

Thanks, Jennifer, you have an adorable family!

All photos from Jennifer Smith

1. How did you find out you were having twins?
Well, that was a huge surprise!  

My "mommy intuition" told me I was having another little girl, so I mentally prepared for another little girl. I had gone to my usual OB check ups and everything was normal. I was due for my 1st ultrasound and that fell on my 20th week. My parents were watching my 1st child (Maddie) at my house while my husband and I headed to my appointment.  

The minute the ultrasound Tech placed the Doppler on my belly I knew something was off. She paused, took the Doppler off and asked if this had been my 1st ultrasound this pregnancy (she couldn' t believe I was finding out this late). I said "yes, why?" trying not to panic!  

She then told me there were 2 babies! My immediate reaction was "no way" and she said " I wouldn't lie about that"  

I started to ball like a baby, my husband went from shocked to dancing around the roomy fairly quickly. I just couldn't wrap my mind around the thought of 2 babies, at the same time!! Then she really threw me off, Boys! I had previously worked for an OB/GYN office and my mind had gone to all the possible complications that could occur! Anyway, my normal 1 hour ultrasound turned into 2 and a half hours. My parents were worried, but there was no way I could call and share THAT info over the phone!
2. What was your original reaction to finding out you're having twins? I was absolutely shocked and worried. We had a 2 bedroom house and a car that could not fit a family of 5.
3. How old were your other children at the time you found out about twins coming? My daughter Madelyn was 2. I remember feeling guilty when I found out I was pregnant because she was pretty used to being the only child that was getting lots of attention. How was I going to prepare her for 2 babies and all the attention they were going to need?

4. What were you most nervous, scared, worried, etc. about with having twins? What thoughts ran through your mind initially? My first thought was the possible complications and of course the financial part. I knew I could go early and the babies could possibly spend time in the NICU.

5. What helped you to prepare for twins? How specifically did you prepare for twins? After the news finally sank in and I realized, this was really going to happen, I started to nest immediately. I joined moms with multiples groups and read their advice and then started searching for 2 of everything, mostly used.  

I bought books, that helped a little but it mostly scared me. I didn't want to know too much as far as schedules for feeding and napping, it was too much pressure. If I couldn't get them on a perfect schedule then so be it, I didn't want to feel like a failure before I even started!  
6. Any good books, Web sites, etc. for those having twins?  
I love Dr. William Sears, I purchased a book called "The Breastfeeding Book" by him and his wife. I needed some advice about feeding. I also liked " The Everything Twins, Triplets, and more book" by Pamela Fierro, it was almost like the Dummies books.
7. What were some lifesavers to you, things that helped you when the babies were born - baby must haves? Lifesavers were, Boppys, I would place the boys in there for everything. Anything that could be labeled, I bought bands with their names on them for bottles and sippies. I luckily had lots of help and It made it easier to have everything labeled!
8. How did feeding twins go for you, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, what worked, what was challenging? That was hard! Probably the hardest! I breastfed both babies until day 4 of being home. It hurt, one would fall asleep while feeding and the other is next to me crying and waiting his turn. I tried tandem and it just didn't work:( I also was so sleep deprived that I could barely function, I needed help! So I decided to pump and had a strict schedule of every 2 hours and if I didn't, I wouldn't have enough to feed them both! It was such a terrible feeling to not "have enough". I barely left the house but when I did, my pump always came! I pumped for 14 months :)

9. What is the best part about having twins? I love that they always have each other to play with. They are best friends and have great imaginations together. I used to think wow this is so hard, how am I going to handle this? Now, I've realized how truly lucky I am and how blessed I am!
10. What are some challenges overall with having twins? Challenges have always been making everything fair. Right down to hugs and kisses, toys, spoons, cups, clothes and anything you can think of. They want things to be fair, not always the same but even.
11. How do you manage two at the same age at the same time, meeting their needs, etc.? What helps you? Sharing my time is tough. It's hard to not get one-on-one time with them very often. I try to make time for that but it's hard, It's usually to the doctors and the grocery store. Even that to them is amazing though!

12. What is unique or special about having twins? I love that they have this great bond between them. They argue and bicker but they love each other and enjoy doing boy things together.
13. What is your advice to a new mom with twins? Don't put pressure on yourself. Things are not going to go as planned or perfectly, so learn to laugh because if you don't, you'll cry.
14. What do you wish someone had told you about having multiples? I wished someone had told me how hard and exhausting the 1st 3 months were. My husband and I joke now that we literally were walking zombies. Oh and always accept help!

15. Can you share a typical day in the life with twins or a great story of the two of them? A day in the life, they wake up around 8 and get right to playing. They can keep each other amused all day with Legos and inventing things. It's adorable to listen to their conversations too. They also love the outdoors, they love playing ninjas. Boys are definitely born to play differently than girls. I spend most of my day keeping them safe and out of trouble.
16. What are three things you know for sure about twins? They are challenging They are fun They have very different personalities

seeing double - TWINS! - Debbie Bonti

Such adorably handsome little guys, Debbie Bonti has here with her twins! A fantastic story about a surprise twin pregnancy that has resulted in so much laughter and joy for this wonderfully devoted momma! Thanks, Debbie, for sharing your boys with us! 

All photos from Debbie Bonti

1. How did you find out you were having twins? 
When I found out I was pregnant, it was shock enough. Took a test and there it was in black and white. My husband at the time and myself had been trying for almost 10 years before having my first son Shawn, who is now 9 and going into 4th grade. See, during that 10 year time frame, I had a variety of lost pregnancies and babies from miscarriages to a full-term still birth, so we considered Shawn our ''miracle baby" of sorts. We never thought we would have anymore and we were content with that. 

Once the positive test came, I made that appointment. The finding out part wasn't right away. I was 8 weeks along when I went into the appointment. I was having the normal check up and was being asked....are you positive about your last period...I kind of laughed. I remember my age, let's hope I can remember when my last period was. Still, I didn't understand where he was going with this. His answer...something just doesn't seem right. Normal people would ask...what does that for me...I anticipated the worst being all I had been thru over the years. He set up an appointment for an ultrasound for the following day and sent me for some blood work. I was so positive that something was ''wrong'' I went into work, talked to my boss about what was happening and the possibility for maybe needing a few days off that week because the assumption was that I would be having a D&C because something was not right. Called my mother and sister and filled them in and waited.....
2. What was your original reaction to finding out you're having twins? 
Ultrasound time....As the previous paragraph, you could only imagine the shock. Laying down there, getting all prepared, holding onto my emotions...

and all of a reaction....oh sh*t. There are two. 

The ultrasound woman....Oh sh*t is right as she was laughing. I told her, I didn't see that coming.....The famous line that I will never forget when I asked her...How can there be two..there are no twins on either side of our families...her is because of your age.
3. How old were your other children at the time you found out about twins coming? 
When we found out we were having twins, my son Shawn had just turned 2. My then husband had a daughter (my step daughter) was around15/16.
4. What were you most nervous, scared, worried, etc. about with having twins? What thoughts ran through your mind initially?
My mind was mush most of the time at the beginning, well, that was when I wasn't in panic mode. There was a lot of we need to find a larger place to live, a bigger car, how are we going to afford this, what if I get pulled out of work too early. At first the financial part made me a complete wreck. Then the emotional panic set in. After you have to deliver a child knowing that they have already passed, and here you are now having to worry about anything and everything that could happen to these babies. 

Every moment of excitement turns into the what if. The nervous, scared, worried, fits it all exactly.

5. What helped you to prepare for twins? How specifically did you prepare for twins?

Preparation...I basically went with the expect the worst and hope for the best scenario. I was going to wing it and hope that it goes my way. 

When I first moved to Maine I worked as a store manager for Motherhood Maternity for 3 years and then part-time after Shawn was born. I loved helping pregnant women. I had learned a lot from other people's experiences and tried to relate to what they were going thru. It was almost like I was a pro without even having them yet. Yikes was I wrong. Either way, I think it gave me confidence along with indirectly having a support group of woman who I could relate to and they could relate to me on a daily basis.

6. Any good books, Web sites, etc. for those having twins? 
You would not find someone more anti-books than me when it came to finding a resource. Books made me nervous and crazy all at the same time. I would read a page in a book and analyze what was going on with me and how come it wasn't following my text book version. 

I was in love with my nurses, both from my obgyn office and the hospital that I visited regularly for non stress tests, that they were my sounding board. They were the ones that I trusted for the answers, even if they were giving me the answers that I didn't want to hear. My mother was in RI, so they took the place and believe me, even in my 30s,I still needed a mother figure by my side when my actual mother wasn't available to make the ride up north to Maine.

7. What were some lifesavers to you, things that helped you when the babies were born - baby must haves? 

Emotional lifesavers were when your girlfriends would answer the phone at 3am because even if the babies were sleeping you still had their full attention just to cry your eyes out because you were peed on because you were too tired to grab the washcloth to cover your little mans penis, or that you realized that your husband mixed up the twins and put them in the wrong crib.  

Other lifesavers..premade meals brought over by friends and family members. Now these people understood. We never went hungry.  

Organization...yes, it is possible to be organized without being organized. Make sure you have bottles premade, know where the extra diapers were stored, extra face cloths,or even having a bra handy when someone decides to stop by without calling and you are only in your nightgown.  

Other than that...learning how to swaddle the baby before leaving the hospital. My guys loved that. A bassinet that the side folds down so you can sneak a peak while the babies are sleeping and you don't have to lift your head off of the pillow.  

Bouncy seats. Once they can hold their heads up, it will give them tons of entertainment and your hands are free. The baby bjorn, even if you have the baby in there and you don't leave the's that dinner time witching hour where someone is going to be fussy.  

As crazy as it sounds, those Johnson and Johnson wash cloths that you just need to add water to for quick sponge baths. Back up binkies..keep them in every room and glove box. You know someone is going to throw one somewhere and when you need one available, you need it right then and now.  

Oh baby Einstein videos...they may have been proven not to make your children more intelligent, but in my mind...I was still a huge fan.

8. How did feeding twins go for you, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, what worked, what was challenging? 
We decided to bottle feed and not breast feed. I developed an infection after having the boys and was hospitalized and on IV antibiotics for days, so, in reality I would not have been able to, even if it was the best choice for me. 

I always enjoyed feeding time. I was lucky. The boys always were cooperative. I loved the rocking and the snuggling. When one would get hungry, I would feed and spend the time and then wake the other guy up and do the same. I tried to keep them on some sort of schedule. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. I found myself very selfish when it came to feeding. It took me a while to share the responsibility. Had to be in control. Didn't think anyone could do it as well as I could. It was a small fortune, but I always had healthy and smart little boys, sometimes too smart
9. What is the best or most unique part about having twins?
Well, before having the boys it was a different kind of attention. Everyone wanted to make sure everything was okay. Everyone wanted to know everything. Even after having the twins, there is a fascination about them. Are they fraternal, are they identical, how long did you carry them, what did they weigh etc.  

You watch these guys and for some crazy reason they can do some things entirely the same, and then blow your mind and do the same thing but totally different. You get to see two little babies grow at the same time, minute for minute and they just fascinate you.  

One is a kisser, while the other is a snuggler. They can both show so much love and emotions, yet they do it in different ways.  

They have a bond that you can watch and either cry or smile or both. They are two different boys. An example, they were in the same Kindergarten class this year, yet had different friends, sat at different tables, like different colors, but at the end of the day they meet up with each other. It is crazy to see their transformation.

10. What are some challenges overall with having twins?
There are always going to be challenges in your day to day life, but I think the biggest one is trying to keep them as individuals as much as possible. Many times it is this one does this, but the other one does it this way. How come one likes math, while the other likes a teacher once said? I know the difference because one always wears bright vibrant clothes, while the other is in neutral.
11. How do you manage two at the same age at the same time, meeting their needs, etc.? What helps you?

It's funny, some days I will have to say that I have no idea how I do it if you want the honest truth. It goes back to just winging it. A lot of it I think has to do with patience and in other cases, auto pilot.  

There are times when I have schedules for my schedules, and yet I may still forget something. I think a lot of it has to do with routines. Strangely they least for the most part.  

What helps?? I am not sure if there is any tool out there, but I do think that the best thing I can say is not to stress the small stuff. They are healthy and they are safe and those are the important things. If I forget to put their homework in their backpack, or even if I put the wrong homework in the wrong backpack, it is okay, they will survive. They may tell me "mom do you know what they did today?? Or hey you messed up.....again," but you take it in stride because you know there is something else. You do your best.

12. What is your advice to a new mom with twins? 
Do not hesitate to take any type of help when it is offered. Even more, if you need help ask for it. I used to feel a little strange if my mother-in law was washing my laundry and folding my underwear. Then you realize...hey, at least it is clean and you don't have to worry about it. People are there to help, let them help, at the same time, realize that it is okay to stand up for yourself and let them know that you need some time for just you and your new family together and not feel bad about it.  

Your life will not be the same. You will be exhausted, you may leave the house with two different shoes or a stain on the front of your shirt that you have no idea where it came from, but know that no matter what, you are doing an amazing job. Never question that. You make mistakes, and it is okay, you are allowed. Do not let it get you down.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

mom to 3 - Karen Wood

Thanks to Karen Wood for sharing her story as part of our summer series, Mom to 3 about having more than two babies around. Such a sweet looking family, with a hard working, organized and totally real (letting things go sometimes!) mama. Thanks, Karen!

All photos from Karen Wood

1. How many children do you have, and what are the age span between them? Sharing their names is optional.
I have three children. Isla is almost 3.5, Magnolia (Maggie) just turned 2 and Nolan is 4 weeks. The girls are 16 months apart and Nolan and Maggie are almost exactly 2 years apart. 

2. When did you know you wanted a larger family?
My mom is the oldest of 9, so having a big family was a given. I love big families and big gatherings. Seems strange when we only have like 15 people at a party!

3. Why did you want to have the number of kids you have?
I would have more than 3 if my husband was on board. I think four is a good number, however, with his job taking him away most of the week, it doesn't seem possible for me to do it alone.

4. What are the best parts about having this number of children?
Three kids is nice, especially having them close together in age.  The girls are already becoming great playmates and it will only be a matter of time before their little brother joins in.  I have two siblings and I loved always having someone around to play with when the other one was gone.  Right now it seems like a lot of work, but it will pay off in the end.

5. What are some challenges you face having this number of kids?
I am finding the afternoon/evening to be quite challenging. Running the show by myself and trying to do dinner, baths, and bedtime is really hard. I also really try to give the girls some "mama" time at bedtime as they are accustomed to with stories and snuggles, but attending to Nolan makes that hard and I feel as though I am short changing them sometimes.  

I also find leaving the house to be somewhere on time impossible. It takes us like 45 min to get all packed up and in the car. It seems like I have to remember a ton of stuff (water, snacks, bottles, sunscreen, baby carrier, etc!). Someone is usually crying or whining too which makes it extra fun!

6. Would you have anymore? Why or why not?
I don't think we would have more unless my husband got a new job or babies came out being 1 year old already! I don't know if I could do the newborn thing again (although I would probably change my mind once I am not so sleep deprived!)

7. What was it like going from 1 to 2, 2 to 3? Give us examples of what was harder or easier than the previous transition. Give us a 1-3 words to describe each addition of a child. 
0-1 Turned my world upside down! 1-2 Why did we have them so close?! 2-3 This isn't so bad!

8. How did you know you wanted a third one? When did you know the timing was right? 
Three has always been my number...maybe b/c I am one of three. It took some convincing on my husband's part but he came around.

9. What do you think most people don't understand or perhaps even judge about the size of your family?
Most people think it is too much work and that once you go for three or more you are outnumbered. Yes it is a lot of work, but once those early years are over and everyone is getting more sleep I don't think it is as hard as they think..  

I find it so funny when people comment on how "big" my family is. When did 3 kids become a large family?

10. What do you wish you could say to those people who seem to not understand your family?
My grandma came up with a good comeback when people would ask her if she "knew what caused having kids" or would comment "you have your hand really full!"  

She told me to tell them "better hands full then hands empty." She is happy now to have so many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren b/c they make her life so full.  

Those same people who used to criticize her choice for having nine kids are the ones telling her now how lucky she is to be surrounded by such a loving family.  

11. What is a typical day like for your family?
We always try to get out of the house after breakfast. We either go to the park, or play with friends, or swim. After lunch, everyone takes a nap (myself included!). After naps we have snack and play around the house or go for walk. We have a nice backyard so we try to be outside as much as possible. Once dinner is done, we do baths,, the girls get some ipad time so I can attend to the baby and then it's stories and bed. I am sure this routine will change as everyone gets a little older but it's what we do now.

12. How do you keep your family and life in order, organized? How do you keep track of everyone's needs, play dates, doctors visits, etc.? Or does all of that go out the window with a bigger family?
I am just extremely organized by nature. I am a clean freak and totally type A when it comes to a lot of things. It isn't uncommon for me to vacuum the house once everyone is down for the night. I do a lot of multi-tasking. I have had to let some things go, but I am a list maker and I feel so accomplished when I can clear things off that list. I put a lot of things on my phone too which helps.

13. Do you work at home as a mom, or outside the home in another job? How does this make it harder or easier to care for the number of kids you have?
I worked as a high school math teacher through the first two pregnancies. It became pretty clear though that I wasn't going to be able to get the kids out of the house by myself and make it to school by 7:15. I am on year number 3 of 3 from my job. After next year I either have to go back or resign. I probably won't go back. Thankfully I can make money private math tutoring. I tutor a lot online and work one day a week at a private high school while my inlaws watch the kids. I love being a stay at home mom but I also love working one day a week. It keeps my brain sharp and gives me a break from the kids. 

14. Have you changed as a mom from having the first to the second, third, etc. children? In which ways, positive or negative?

I think I am a bit more relaxed now. I was a nervous wreck with my first. Now I realize that I can't make everyone happy all the time, so I just try my best without putting to much pressure on myself. 
15. What are your go-to : a) meals-anything from Trader Joes! b) bath routines-every night. Girls take bath together and Nolan is in his little sink tub c) bed time routine-stories for each girl. Right now baby goes in the swing while I try to put girls to bed. Often he sits with my oldest and me in her bed and I nurse him and do stories at the same time. d) rules in the house-no screaming, be kind to your sister, and don't take food without asking! lol. e) method for getting them in the car-baby goes in first and then girls. They like going in the car so it's pretty easy. f) suggestions for outings with the kids-bring help whenever possible. We have a high school girl down the street and if she is around I don't mind paying her to come someplace with us so I can have some extra hands.

16. How has having this many children impacted your relationship with your partner? Does it make you stronger in some ways?
I certainly appreciate him a lot more when he comes home at the end of the week and pretty much tries to take over all the household chores and childcare for a while. Our relationship is great but it has been from the start. Kids just make it more interesting and funny. They are always cracking us up.
17. What is your advice to a mom considering having her third, fourth, fifth, etc. child? 

Once you get past 2,having, more just adds to the fun. It is a lot of work but consider when the kids are grown. It will be so wonderful to be surrounded by a lot of family. The hard work in the early years will totally be worth it!