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#AskAbby: How are you preparing for the newborns?

Like all expecting moms, I’m not immune to the stress that comes with preparing for a new baby (or two babies in my case!) but one thing that has been useful in managing my stress is a handy to-do  list.

This list is comprised of actions that need to be completed before the babies arrive and is not inclusive of my shopping list for baby items and the nursery (I will be writing a blog post on my favorite baby brands soon but would love any recommendations!)

 

  1. Making sure the house is as organized/clean as possible to come home to after the babies are born. This is a must! The last thing you want to be worried about is cleaning up or clutter when your hands are full with newborns. Thankfully I’m able to get some help in this area, but planning ahead so everything is immaculate for the first day back at home is important.
  2. Getting my general to-do’s out of the way. Whether it’s getting the oil changed on the car or paying bills… any of my general tasks will be done before the due date or hopefully far in advance since these boys may arrive early! This will help make sure my brain is fully in the moment with the babies when they arrive.
  3. Planning meals for the first month or so of the newborns being home. I’m the queen of easy meals but having a plan thats suitable for the whole family is important. Homemade frozen dinners, healthy takeout and/or meals prepared by family and friends is key!!
  4. Planning Willow’s schedule. I definitely want Willow around as much as possible with her new baby brothers but I know there will be moments when it may be best to have her occupied. I’m arranging drop-offs and pick-ups for school and some playdates so she’ll be able to have some fun while mom and dad hopefully get to have a nap.
  5. Clearing phone memory. This may be a ‘huh’ on the list but newborns grow SO QUICKLY and I know I’ll want to capture every moment (x2). I would be devastated if I miss the new cutest thing ever  because my phone ran out of memory.
  6. Arranging the nursery in a realistic way. Though aesthetics are important, I know when two new babies are crying and need a diaper changed… I’ll be less concerned with whether it looks cute! Setting up the changing table where everything is within close reach and being practical in my decor is important!
  7. Packing my hospital bag. Though we still have a couple months left, this is something I’m taking care of early on since I know the babies could arrive unexpectedly. I’ll probably consistently remember things to add to it since I have a slight case of pregnancy brain!
  8. Making our labor playlist. Going into labor is very memorable experience and special moment… I want to make sure the background music is not a stressful decision in the moment. I’m curating an energetic one for when I may need some motivation and a peaceful one for the quieter moments.
  9. Going through Willow’s baby items. From books to blankets, I don’t want to overbuy baby items that I may already have. Plus, it’s pretty nostalgic and fun to go through her old stuff!
  10. Organizing and saving important phone numbers. From our pediatrician to local emergency numbers…. I want to make sure I’m as prepared for every emergency situation with the fastest way to get help.

 

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How To Manage Large Crowds During The Holiday

Many of us are able to handle and prep for the holidays very well but one thing that will always be unavoidable are the large crowds during this busy season. Large crowds freak me out and I try to avoid them as much as possible but that’s not so easy when I have holiday shopping or other family outings to do with a little one in tow. When I do need to go out I try to bring Willow with me, which can become another challenge in itself. I’ve picked up some tips along the way on how to make managing crowds more merry!
Here’s some tips for staying safe in large crowds with kids:
1. Keep Sight Close: I try to make sure to not let Willow out of my sight and I (or AJ) will try to physically hold her hand as much as possible! Shoulder rides count too 😉
2. Bright Colors: My friends have suggested putting bright colored clothes on Willow so she’s easy to spot, definitely something to keep in mind though #1 and not losing sight in the first place is key!
3. Stroller: If you child is still small enough I suggest taking a stroller with you for a sense of containment. I still bring mine with me sometimes even though Willow is starting to grow out of it already.
4. Talk to Your Kids: Willow and I had the stranger talk not too long ago so she is aware not to talk to anyone she doesn’t know. It’s important to stress the importance of stranger danger and what to do if they were to get lost (tell an official in uniform, remember mom/dad’s phone number, meeting spot, etc.)
5. Time Your Trip Well: Before I go out I make sure to have a list of things I need so I manage my time well and don’t spend too much time out which may lead to a cranky child that makes the whole outing more difficult than necessary.
 What other tips do you have for managing crowds with kids? I’d love to know them!
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#AskAbby: How do you get things done with a toddler?

For those of you with a small child, you know how much attention they require! Though we love giving our kids all the attention in the world… sometimes we still need to get things done without them. These are my 5 survival tips for when productivity is needed around the little ones:

 

  1. Teach your toddler to respect when you’re busy. I know, I know, easier said than done!! Repetition is key here… eventually, when they learn that their time will come when Mom or Dad is finished with what they are doing, they’ll begin to learn some patience. This happens over time and is no quick fix but it’s the basis for instilling patience in toddlers early on.
  2. Snacks. Sometimes a little hunger is behind the grab for attention, always having healthy snacks on deck is helpful! Pre-portioned carrots, celery, berries, etc. is a great way to boost your child’s fruit and veggie intake while also giving them a distraction (and hopefully learn to enjoy healthy snacks as well!) Bonus points for snacks they can play with… hand over the celery sticks, a lump of a nut butter, and some raisins with instructions on how to make “ants on a log” and you’ve just bought enough time to pay the bills. 
  3. Vitamin D. We’re lucky enough in California that we pretty much have sunshine all year around which is perfect for the kiddos! Fresh air, space to run around in the yard, and some plants to explore is usually enough for Willow’s imagination to run wild for at least a little while. If you don’t have a backyard, try to bring your own task into the outdoors so you can watch the kids. Doing your own to-do’s in the outdoors might just make them more enjoyable as well!
  4. Inclusion. Since Willow is about to be a big sister, we’re really starting to teach her what responsibility is. I’ve begun to task her with simple tasks… putting toys away, counting things for me, matching socks, bringing in the mail, etc.. She also loves to “help” with some of my tasks… whether it’s working on the blog or decorating rooms in the new house!
  5. Bag of activities. I bring this bag with me everywhere and keep a bunch of little play things in there… coloring books, markers, play dough, figurines, blocks, books, etc.. I like to keep exactly what’s inside a mystery so she’s always guessing what I’m about to pull out!

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#AskAbby: How are you preparing Willow for twin boys?

So many people have been asking how Willow feels about two new babies joining the family! We know this is going to be a HUGE transition for her since she has been by herself for 4 years but we’re determined to making the change as easy and exciting as possible for everyone. Here is how I am helping Willow prepare!

 

  1. My dad bought me a book called Siblings Without Rivalry and it’s given me very valuable insight on what Willow may be thinking now and could feel after the twins arrive. My Dad gave me a great analogy, he said, “compare a new sibling to what it would feel like as a wife for your husband to come home with a younger and better wife that was now joining the family”… certainly not ideal for any wife!!! I can only imagine the jealousy that would arise from a situation like that (however far fetched it would be). But that analogy really put how Willow will be feeling into perspective.

 

  1. Another fun practice I’ve been trying with Willow is giving her twin dolls to play with. We’ve been taking care of the baby dolls together so she learns to take ownership of her role as a big sister. I want her to be happy and eager to help take care of her new baby brothers. We’re hoping having the two dolls around will help her get used to the idea that the family is growing, and that the babies will need some attention.

 

  1. We’re trying to help foster the relationship she’ll have with the boys and to have her involved in as much as we can. When we get ultrasounds we tell her that the twins are waving “Hi” to her and that they are SO excited to meet their big sister. She’s also helping to pick out  things for the nursery and other new baby things we need. She is going to be a baby expert!

 

  1. I reminded Willow that she is going to be the princess of the castle since both babies are going to be boys (they of course will be the princes…haha). In doing this I wanted to remind her that even though new babies are coming she is still our little girl! I plan on being very aware of maintaining mommy and daughter time as well.  I know having the two newborns will be tough, but I want to make sure I continue to make the extra effort to do activities with Willow, like putting her to bed myself, etc.

 

I would would love to hear from you all on what you found to be helpful when introducing a new baby (or babies) to the family! We have a few more ideas that AJ and I are considering implementing like sending Willow gifts from the twins, etc. But we’re stilling learning and researching!

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The Party That Changed My Life!

 

This past weekend was finally the moment we had been waiting for! AJ and I  found out the genders of our twins and BOY were we in for a surprise. 😉

Leading up to the day of my party I wasn’t exactly nervous. I was excited but when the day finally came and I had so many butterflies in my stomach. More than anything I just wanted my babies to be healthy, but of course I was looking forward to knowing what these little bundles of joy would be.

I was so lucky to have such an amazing team of people help me put together my gender reveal party. The weather was perfect, as most days in California are but since it was an outdoor party the cool weather and sunshine made the day that much more pleasant. PRIV did my hair and makeup the morning of, which definitely helped me out as I was trying to relax and let every moment of the day sink in.

Our close friends and family were there to celebrate with us. Thank goodness I had some fellow moms-to-be there so we could exchange stories and sip on delicious “mocktails” made by Health-Ade Kombucha. 

The real adults got to drink Babe Rosé by Swish Beverages that matched out decor perfectly!

One of my favorite decorations of the party was the dessert table, lined with the cutest baby cake pops and beautiful balloon decorations from Brag Designs.

Also, we had The Lobos Food Truck come and serve up mini chicken sliders and fries for everyone. It turned out to be a hit!

Once everyone was well feed and mingled for a bit it was time for the big reveal.

Willow and AJ did the honors of opening the first box while everyone gathered around. We took a bet from the crowd before we opened the box, and most people thought we were having two girls.

The first box slowly opened and blue balloons came flying up! As you can see from my reaction I was definitely surprised but mostly so excited! I wish more people were there to have seen AJ’s reaction…priceless! Willow, and most of the kids at the party, got a little startled by all of the commotion. So we held her when opening the second box.

Then it was time to open the second box and guess what?! It was blue balloons AGAIN!

That’s right, we are having TWIN BOYS!

We could not be happier to bring the Buckley boys into this world very soon!

Willow was really banking on a girl and a boy but we’re sure once they come she’ll be excited and jump right into her role as a big sister.

Now that we know it will be boys, it’s time I start shopping for my little men and relaxing for just a little bit longer until they make their big debut.

Again, I couldn’t have done all of this without the support of you guys, my friends and family and all of the people that made this party possible!

 

Special Thanks To:

PRIV

Shop Pink Blush

Brag Designs balloons

Health-Ade Kombucha

Mi Florita flower arrangements

The Lobos Truck

DrinkswithMJ

Swish Beverages

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#AskAbby: What’s been your experience with pregnancy cravings so far?

For those of you who have been pregnant, you know the struggle is real when it comes to managing food cravings while pregnant! My experience with the twins so far has been a bit different than my pregnancy with Willow. Funny enough though, by this point in my pregnancy with Willow, I had gained DOUBLE the weight than what I’ve gained with the twins so far! I thought it would be the opposite and I’m honestly not sure if it’s attributed to it just being my second pregnancy or that there are two babies to feed.

I have noticed that my appetite is definitely much more constant than when I was pregnant with Willow. If I don’t eat every two hours, I’m STARVING and begin to feel a bit light headed. One of the ways I’ve been combating my constant hunger without completely overeating is by starting off my morning with a very healthy breakfast and by keeping snacks on hand at all times.

In the mornings my go-to breakfast has been a smoothie! I’ve kept the specific ingredients pretty flexible and have been throwing in whatever fruits & veggies are in the fridge with my homemade almond milk and occasionally a scoop of an organic nut butter as well. Pretty easy and stressless! Though a smoothie sounds light, my secret has been making two servings. I’ll have my first serving around 6AM and then my second about an hour to an hour in a half later while I’m in the car driving to work. A well fed mama and a well fed nurse is key! For snacks, my favorite is to keep granola bars on hand but if I feel like I’m eating too much sugar, I’ll switch to almonds and other nuts.

Lastly, I’ve been super aware of my water intake! 4 liters a day! SO many times we confuse dehydration with hunger so keeping a water bottle on me at all times has helped me minimize over indulging with some unmentioned non-healthy snacks 😉 

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#AskAbby: How do you teach Willow the spirit of Thanksgiving?

There’s so much more to Thanksgiving than a fun opportunity to sit around a delicious dinner with friends and family. Now that Willow is older, we’ve begun to teach her to the greater meaning behind the holiday: gratitude and generosity. We recently sat down to go through her toys to pick out a few that we would donate to other children who aren’t fortunate enough to have them. It was quite comical explaining to Willow that there are kids who don’t have toys… she couldn’t believe it! I’m really happy that she is beginning to understand these concepts and how important it is to share her abundance with others. We’re hoping to continue these lessons with more charitable work and donations as she gets older.

 

Another aspect of Thanksgiving we’re hoping to instill in her is how to appreciate doing activities with the entire family. Dinner is a VERY collaborative effort in our family! It’s always a joy watching Willow participate and contribute in making the big dinner!

 

After dinner is prepared and we’re all sitting at the table, everyone in the family takes a turn of sharing with the group what they are especially thankful for that year. Willow is still getting a hang of her public speaking skills but it’s a great habit for her to practice!

 

Our Thanksgivings are always concluded with a big family game of Pictionary! It’s usually boys versus girls and then losers have to do the dishes. Never too early to start teaching her a good sense of family competition and fun!

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Tips For Transitioning A Toddler To A Big Kid Bed

Willow is turning 4 in January and we finally just transitioned her to a “big girl” bed. It was always shocking to other parents, when they found out she was still in her crib at well past the age of 3. The truth is she loved her crib, sleeps 10-12 hours a night still and never tried to climb out! She was finally starting to outgrow the crib, and I knew it was time to find her a bigger, more comfortable bed. Since this is always a hot topic for parents, I thought I would share some ways we helped her prepare for this transition.

  1. Make It Sound Amazing! We talked about her new bed for about a month before it even came! I let her look at pictures and involved her in the process of picking out her new bed. We chose this amazing twin bed frame from Sweet Home From Wood and a nontoxic mattress from Tomorrow Sleep.
  2. Let Them Decorate…Willow picked out all of her sheets and quilts for her bed. I think letting her in on the process also kept her excited about sleeping in a new space. She went with mermaid sheets with a fun double sided quilt (all from Target).
  3. Go Over Ground Rules… Kids thrive off of routine and structure. Getting Willow into her new bed, came with some rules that we went over quite a few times with her. I has some anxiety about her having the freedom to get up and roam around at night now. So we discussed that she may only get out of bed to use the bathroom, or come directly to our room. Thus far she has followed the rules and is loving her new bed!

Shop The Room Below:

 

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#AskAbby: How do I relieve stress as a busy mom?

It seems stress can be the norm in my life sometimes! Thank goodness I’m familiar with the non-stop nature of my life thanks to being a nurse at a hospital for many years… however, my emergencies lately are generally less life threatening and more to do with running late to drop off Willow at school or forgetting to pack myself a snack to ward off my pregnancy fueled hangeryness.

 

Since spa days and vacations have been far and few between, I’ve found some other methods every mama on the go needs to help destress and wind down. Happy mamas are the best mamas and it’s uber important for us to remember that sometimes the best way to take care of our families is to be mindful of ourselves.

 

My “Favorite Five” go-tos to relieve stress:

 

#1: Acupuncture

I turn to my favorite chinese medicine often and I’ve even started making weekly appointments. I initially sought out acupuncture to jump start my fertility when I was having trouble getting pregnant (see next blog post for the full story) but I’ve maintained my commitment to the practice since. Acupuncture can be a little scary for first-timers and those who don’t like needles but I really encourage giving it a try. It might take a session or two to really get comfortable with someone sticking needles into your body but I feel the relief for long after my session is over. Besides relieving stress, it has helped me a lot with my headaches as well.

 

#2: Essential Oils

I love lavender and peppermint oils! My acupuncturist was the first to recommend these oils to me but they are VERY handy when it comes to relieving stress on the go.  Lavender is known for its calming effects but it also, more specifically, can relieve anxiety. I’ll put the oil on my hands throughout the day for this purpose. Peppermint is another powerhouse oil that can help relieve pain alongside a bunch of other benefits like reducing nausea and helping with digestion. I put peppermint on my temples when I have headaches and prefer it over popping a pain reliever medication.

 

#3: Working out

Working out has been a much different experience since being pregnant with the twins, I used to run on the treadmill to clear my head followed by toning arms and legs but I may begin trying out gentler methods of exercise for the duration of my pregnancy. I try to view exercise as less of a chore and more of a luxury and break from other hectic things that may be going on.

 

#4: Alone Time

The holy grail of relieving stress! I know whenever I’m getting in a funk, what I really need is some alone time. It doesn’t matter so much what I’m doing but just having no one around for a bit is very important in maintaining my sanity. I’ll often go get my nails done or go shopping by myself – not errands but a good activity while venturing alone.

 

#5: Manifesting

I’m not great at meditating though I’ve tried a bunch of methods… it just never works for me. One thing I do really enjoy though is actively thinking about gratitude. Being mindful of the things that mean a lot to us can be very calming and grounding – especially on a tough day. I try to make this a daily practice and it breeds a lot more positivity in my mind that reflects in my life.

 

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What to Expect When You’re NOT Expecting: Twins Edition

Our road to getting pregnant for the second time was not an easy one. After getting pregnant with Willow so easily, I genuinely thought I would be pregnant with another baby in no time. After we decided as a couple that I would stop taking birth control, it was an exciting time and we couldn’t wait to see the positive sign on the pregnancy test! Little did we know and frustratingly, it wouldn’t be coming for quite some time.

 

Each month I would track my cycle with serious OCD, romantically text my husband that we had to get busy, and then subconsciously think I was pregnant and psych myself to tell the world I was with child… EVERY… SINGLE… TIME for 7 months straight. I was on an emotional roller coaster of anticipation and disappointment and eventually hit an all time low after my birthday.

 

I finally decided it was time to head to my OB in April. I figured that there was something wrong with me, and it turns out I was right – as most moms usually are. I had the labs of a premenopausal woman so my body was just not looking to get pregnant. Per my MD, my Estradiol was undetectable, my FSH was high and something was suppressing my ovaries. So to sum it up, at the ripe age of 33, I had California Raisins for ovaries and nobody knew why. I was devastated and all my doctor could attribute it to was the rise of environmental pollution which was an answer with little solace.  They told me to come back in another month for a redraw but again, like a bad record, each month my labs would look the same and getting my period was a constant reminder I had failed. This was not the scenario I wanted to be in and the emotional roller coaster continued.

 

To make matters worse, I wasn’t the only one eager to announce a new baby would be joining the family… I was constantly pained by complete strangers asking me when  baby #2 would be arriving. “I don’t know lady, when are you buying your 8th cat” was how I felt like responding.  These conversations continued to rehash my open wounds from the internal pain I felt over my empty womb. I started telling myself I had one amazing, beautiful daughter and that’s all we needed. Though this was the truth, I would hold back tears when Willow would ask me for a little brother or sister and I felt like I was letting her down. I was frustrated, embarrassed, and just plain sad.

 

My infertility consumed me, and I couldn’t see the way off the emotional roller coaster. With my labs heading in the same direction, I was open to trying anything. I even started acupuncture with an amazing woman, named Natalie who happened to specialize in infertility. I would go to weekly sessions with her, discuss my labs, and she started me on a serious regimen of natural supplements and vitamins. Natalie gave me a safe place to speak about my issue, and one day we decided together that I would go see a Reproductive Endocrinologist in which their sole purpose is to get people pregnant.

 

I met with the doctor and to my surprise she was enthusiastically upbeat. She looked at me, my medical history and my shitty labs, she then looked right back at me and said, “We are going to get you pregnant”. It was like a weight shifted off my shoulders, the heavens parted and I had just heard the voice of an angel. I couldn’t be any happier! The doctor explained that during my next period, I would start injecting fertility drugs that would help control my ovulation in preparation for an IUI. I finally had a plan, and was beyond ecstatic.

 

So naturally, I went back to stalking my cycle and patiently awaited Aunt Flo. Except, Aunt Flo never made it. I was one day late, and thought well isn’t that just odd. Just to amuse myself, I decided to take a pregnancy test, completely expecting it to be negative – no pun intended. However, I was greeted with a positive sign instead. I was in shock and didn’t believe it. Surely, this was an ironic mishap of a pregnancy test. I took 6 pregnancy tests that day and I’m not sure any of them would have made me believe it.

We were beyond excited to confirm with a blood test that indeed we were pregnant. How crazy was it that on the heels of deciding to turn to a last ditch effort but before actually starting the treatment I was with child?!

 

The pregnancy itself was such a surprise but we didn’t realize how much of a surprise we were in for until my first ultrasound, this was when we found out just how “pregnant” we were.

 

The visit went something like this:

 

Doctor: “Um, did you take any of the drugs?”.  

 

Me: No!

 

Doctor: Well, this is a surprise, there are two heartbeats.

 

Aj: Yeah, like the baby’s and Abby’s?

 

Doctor: No, as in there are two babies!

 

Me: Shut the F**k up!

 

Aj: What…

 

And then there were two…

Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

Obviously we are elated to be welcoming two new additions to our family this year. If you asked me how we did it without fertility drugs, I don’t have a clue. I do know that once I felt comfortable with a plan from my acupuncturist and doctor that I felt less stressed and happy to be making some kind of progress. I think I stopped over thinking my own body’s downfalls thus far, and actually gave myself a break for once. I spent more time on myself, and focused on other important things in my life that made me happy. As we always said in nursing, your body follows your mind, so get your mind right.

 

A note on infertility: I know our personal struggle with infertility for over a year may not be relevant to your own journey. I share this with you so that you know you are not alone. I also share this with everyone else who doesn’t understand infertility because they never had to go through it. Stop asking when someone may be having a baby or second child. Sometimes what you think are words of encouragement aren’t, and just listening can be helpful. It’s better to give support than advice or suggestions.