Coming Soon!

How Becoming a Mom of Three Has Changed Me

1

I have become a daily coffee drinker. I know… I am sure you are wondering, What took you so long? But, it took having three kids. Now, I MUST have a cup of coffee to get through the day.

2

I have learned that being “stress paralyzed” is in fact a real thing. When you have three children with a need at the same time, but you don’t have three arms—I freeze and wonder, How will I get this done? It is impossible. But—this is key—I have also learned, it ALWAYS comes together in the end.

3

I hate the acne! I can’t believe how much your skin and body changes—even my foot size changed. My wardrobe, even if it’s the right size, doesn’t look or fit right anymore. At least this one gives me an excuse to do some shopping!

4

I can do some really cool things: I can paint my toe nails in the car… after looking down and realizing these toes cannot go out in public…

5

I have learned how to multi-task—and I mean really multi-task. I can make dinner, make a grocery list, change a diaper, sing a song to my toddler, clean the kitchen, make a bottle, sanitize said bottles, and entertain the baby all at the same time. This is true talent!

6

I have had to accept that nothing will ever be done on time, and that this is OK! I bought supplies to make “Big Bro” and “Big Sis” shirts for the hospital. Yup, they are still sitting in the bag. I’ll blame it on the baby coming three weeks early…

7

I’ve learned third child problems aren’t really big problems. My third child stays in her onsies and sleepers most days. I was excited when I had a girl and I could get more use out of my first child’s dresses…nope. I think she has maybe worn three. We are already moving into twelve months size! I’m pretty sure my first daughter lived in dresses. And, tummy time— What’s that? Our third child has reflux. When she goes on her tummy, she spits up like crazy, but also, finding time for tummy time when constantly running after two other children is hard! So far, she has had no issues with her development even so. I have learned doing the best I can IS enough.

8

I’m becoming more and more like MacGyver, learning to improvise to make my kids happy in any given situation. And, a great problem solver too! One time when going out with the baby in tow I ended up in the bathroom covered in spit up. They had the air-blades hand dryer which you push your hands in. I stuck my dress in there to dry. Someone walking in at that moment may have questioned my sanity, but I was proud of myself!

9

I have learned the importance of having a chore chart, because I cannot do it all and every little bit helps.

10

I have learned I have to remind myself to lock—or even to close—the bathroom door when I am using it with guests over… because I am so used to no privacy.

11

I now accept that I can, AND WILL, make mistakes. It is impossible not to make mistakes when you have so much going on at once, but this doesn’t make me a bad parent… not even on my worst days.

12

But the most important one… They say the heart doesn’t divide as you have more children, that it just grows with each one. I think this is quite true. My heart didn’t divvy up its love between my three children. It grew so that each child has an equal HUGE amount of love. When I had three, I found the amount of love you can feel in your heart at one time is life changing. It’s a feeling one can never forget. And I will take all these changes again and again to feel it.

To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: Baby Elizabeth’s Birth Story

Photo credit: Lindsey Martin Photography

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Baby Elizabeth’s Birth Story

Everything is Going Wrong… or is everything going right?! It is all in the way you look at life.

In honor of nine months in and, as of today, Elizabeth’s nine months out, I thought I would share her birth story, or really the story of the first couple of months of her life. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. And this wasn’t just because we now had three children to take care of at once. That was a challenge in and of itself, but on top of this transition, we seemed to face issue after issue. I will tell you about our struggles, but I also learned a very importance lesson through them all. Life is all about perspective. Struggles can either tear a person down or build a person up. I chose to look for the good, and in the end, it only made me stronger.

In the afternoon, my blood pressure was up in the 100’s over 170’s. This was nothing new as the same thing had happened with each of my pregnancies. I was about three weeks early, but I just knew she would be coming in the next day. I called the doctor to tell her about my blood pressure. She told me to come in. Sure enough, soon I was headed over to labor and delivery. I had pre-clampsia again and they would need to induce. It was a long and grueling, 29-hour labor. It was 29 hours of small snacks, water, and little sleep. It got to a point where I thought I was too tired to actually go on, but somehow as always, we get a big moment of strength and Elizabeth entered this world.

Then, all the pain and tiredness went away and was replaced by a moment of pure joy and love. Our amazing doctor allowed my husband to pull Elizabeth out himself. She asked him, “Do you want to deliver her? Take off your watch and glove up!” He did and this made the moment even more special. She was born perfect. No issues to be seen at all. A beautiful baby girl!

The next morning, the hospital pediatrician entered our room. I was in the bathroom, but overheard my husband say, “What is wrong?” I ran out of the bathroom and asked the same question. She said, I am not liking what I see. She has swelling on both sides of her head. I am going to call the pediatric neurologist to take a look.

Let me tell you, this is NOT what you want to hear when you have a newborn baby. We had to wait hours for the pediatric neurologist to come. It was hours of worry and tears. Hours of trying to nurse, but every time I touched her head she would cry because it was swollen and it hurt.

Finally, the neurologist checked her out and told us the swelling did not seem to be coming from a brain bleed. It seemed to be two huge hematomas (basically big bruises), one on each side of her head. He said we would have to watch it to be sure. At one point, there were five doctors and nurses in the room including the OB all wondering how this happened. It wasn’t a forceps birth, and usually these things present right away, not the following morning. They determined that it must be because, although it was a long labor, the baby came out of the birth canal extremely fast. The pelvic bones must have caused the bruises on her way out. I continued to worry over these huge bumps for weeks.

Five days later, the hematomas caused jaundice, so Elizabeth and I went back to the hospital for two nights.

Five days after that, another two nights in the hospital for me due to severely high blood pressure. Turns out I had post-clampsia and was in danger of having a stroke or seizure. I had to be put on a magnesium drip and have a CT scan and MRI to rule out a stroke. I missed my baby so much. It felt so wrong to be without her.

Immediately upon my return home, my son was jumping on the couch. My husband told him to stop and not two seconds later, he fell. He hit his head on the bottom of the coffee table and busted his head open. He needed three staples.

Likely from the children’s urgent care, my son then caught RSV. Five days later, baby Elizabeth caught RSV from her brother. We went back to the hospital for three nights. Here, they did an MRI (her hematoma was still prominent on one side) to ensure there was skull underneath.

After this, I had to go to the hospital two more times due to severely high blood pressure and a possible TIA.

Next, my oldest daughter had her first asthma attack in the middle of the night and had to go to the hospital herself.

These weeks were hard. I cried so many tears. I was scared. I felt guilt being away from my baby. We were exhausted trying to transition to having three children. But somehow, I kept it together. In the midst of the craziness and even in what felt like disaster after disaster, I chose joy. I chose to look for the positive in every situation. I had been through low lows before. I talk about my lowest low in my book coming soon. I think these lows can destroy us, but they can also teach us resilience. They can teach us that even in a difficult situation, there is good. There is hope.

There are two ways of looking at every situation. I could look at it as we had seven hospital visits in less than two months. I could look at it as: Why did my baby have to have jaundice?Why did she have to catch RSV? Why did my son have to split his head open? Why did I have to have post-clampsia? Why did my oldest have an asthma attack?

Or, I can look at it like this:

My baby did NOT have a brain bleed. She was a perfectly healthy baby girl. She had hematomas, but they healed and caused no issues.

My baby had jaundice, but her levels went down immediately with treatment and we knew the cause. She was healthy.

Because of post-clampsia, I had to spend a lot of time in the hospital. But, I was safe. The doctor caught it. The MRI showed no signs of stroke. I was alive.

My baby caught RSV, but we were told she may need oxygen, she may need to be put on a ventilator. If she got a fever, she would need to have a spinal tap. My son had a fever of over 102 with his RSV, so I was terrified. But, she didn’t need any of these things. Yes, we dealt with congestion for a few weeks, but she did not need a ventilator. She did not need a spinal tap. She did not even need oxygen. She was safe. The doctor did an MRI and her skull was completely normal. A few days later, miraculously her hematoma was completely gone.

My oldest had an asthma attack, but we caught it. She was okay. She was safe.

We found humor even in these times of challenge. My daughter told me the day she had her asthma attack that a friend at school told her to eat a flower. She said, “I didn’t eat it, but I did lick it Mama. It was a dandelion.”

I replied, “Lili, you should never eat flowers and you should not always do what your friends tell you to do.”

“But mom, flour is in cake!”

“You are about half right there…”

You see, I saw the blessing in each and every situation. We were not the most unlucky family on Earth. We were in fact the luckiest, because in every situation, we had the best outcome. Our family was healthy. Our family was safe. We had a beautiful new baby girl and my husband actually got to deliver her. I will NEVER forget the look of joy on his face in this moment. It brings me to tears… happy ones.

Times like these help make me stronger because through it all I was okay. I was able to find the good and what to be thankful for. I’ve noticed from every difficult situation I experience I build resilience. This only makes me better able to handle what comes next. I know there will be many difficult times to come, but I will continue to always choose joy!

 

To learn more about me and my blog check out: About Lauren.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy: Or What?

 

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Or What?

I’m putting the baby to sleep and she’s finally down. I go to put her in the crib and I awkwardly try to figure out how to lay her down—how to slide my arm out without waking her. I think, Maybe if I just slide it out ever so carefully, she will stay asleep and it will be okay? Have you guys been here before?

This maneuver makes me think of parenting in general. How often are we doing something ever so carefully to prevent something “big” or “bad” from happening?

Maybe if I just cajole her in this gentle way she won’t cry or start a tantrum? Maybe if I avoid? Maybe if I just give in? Maybe if I just skip the play date so we can stay on schedule?… and so on.

I have a big question. Or what? Or what…. even in the worst case, we and our kids are likely going to be okay. We CAN do this. I have learned I need to try not to worry so much about what I may be doing right or wrong, about what “they say” is right, or about what may happen. Instead, I need to just do what I feel is best and let it go—use my mommy intuition.

So in these cases, choose something and go with it. We can take the anxiety out of the situation a bit by taking the pressure off of ourselves from time to time as we just do what works… and by realizing a perfect result isn’t a requirement. I’ve found accepting that we aren’t perfect and that we don’t need to be can go a long way.

There are going to be a lot of moments as parents where we feel we have dodged the bullet. Whew… I moved my arm and she’s still asleep! Thank goodness! But there will also be times where it doesn’t work. Ohhh, he woke up! Or, Oh dear! She had a tantrum in the middle of the store… and you know what? That is okay too! So, hang in there mom, dad, parents! You are doing a great job… no matter the outcome!

 

To learn more about my blog, check out: About Lauren

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy: Moments

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The Love Will Come Through

There are days when I get so frustrated. The baby only wants to be held, but even when held she won’t calm down. She pulls my hair and claws at my face and neck. It hurts. I try and try, but nothing works. I start to get so frustrated. I lose my patience… and then she falls asleep.

She sleeps so calmly in my arms. I look down at her and I feel so bad for the anger and frustration I felt. As I look at her, I feel so guilty that I take the moments I have with her for granted. I am reminded how fast she is growing, how before I blink she will no longer be a baby. And here I am getting angry and frustrated instead of enjoying these fleeting moments. I am so scared that I will look back and feel like I didn’t enjoy this stage enough… that I was too busy. Then I cry.

Has anyone else felt this way? I feel like we all do at times. But I realized, the more time I spend crying or feeling guilty over it, the more good moments I am missing. So, I will pick myself back up, remind myself that it is okay to feel this way at times, that no one is perfect. Then I will try to enjoy the next moment that comes along instead of beating myself up.

The reality of it is, all this guilt, frustration, and worry stems from love. We wouldn’t be feeling these things if we didn’t care, if we didn’t love these babies more than we even loved ourselves. We have to trust that that love will come through. And I believe, love is the single most important thing we can give our children. So don’t feel bad. Don’t feel guilt. I think even in these hard moments, we are winning.

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My Heart Goes Off to Kindergarten

“They say” having a child means you are forever deciding to have your heart walk outside of your body.

This is one quote which most parents have heard and which most can truly identify with.

My daughter, my first baby, is going to kindergarten in a few weeks. I can imagine it. My heart is playing on the playground and falls and gets hurt. I won’t be there to comfort her. My heart may be made fun of by another child. She may not be included in a game with friends or not invited to a sleepover. She may be picked last in gym class. She may have an asthma attack and I may not be there to protect her. She may not enjoy school. She may miss being home with me.

Having my heart on the outside, I feel so exposed.

These are the big things I worry about, but even the small things cause me to panic. My sister-in-law was shopping with me one day and we came across the backpacks for back to school. She asked me if she could buy my daughter’s first backpack for school. To be honest, I froze for a minute. I panicked a bit and I wasn’t sure what to say. I had heard so much talk about getting the right backpack for school on social media that I was conflicted.

Should I get her first backpack? Should she be the one to pick it out? Should I get the super nice backpack from Pottery Barn Kids which is going to last? If I don’t get her the super nice backpack, will her backpack be good enough?

Then I realized, here I am focusing on what “they say” again. Sometimes we allow what “they say” make us feel like we aren’t enough, or that our decisions for our children aren’t good enough. It is hard not to when we are bombarded by social media, the internet and so on. There are so many opinions hitting us right in the face that we feel bad when our opinion differs.

I think about my daughter being in school. I wouldn’t want her to do something just because her peers are doing it. I would want her to make her own choices. If she likes something different than her peers, I don’t want her to feel bad. I don’t want her to fear standing out just because she makes a decision different than most of those around her. I want her to be herself… to be who she wants to be.

So that is what I did. After my long pause—I am sure my sister-in-law wondered why on earth this was such a hard question to answer—I told her, “Yes, you can buy her the basic backpack.” Because you know what, who cares what other people say or do. It doesn’t matter.

To those of you moms out there who bought your kids the best, longest-lasting backpack there is, congratulations! You are a wonderful mom! Your child will have a backpack which may last them through the elementary years. To those of you moms who bought your child the Walmart character backpack, or the plain backpack which I always had as a child, congratulations! You are a wonderful mom! You bought your child a backpack which will work for them! And for those of you who gave your child the hand-me-down backpack, Congratulations! You are a wonderful mom! Your child has what they need for school. And if something happens to the backpack we provide, the good news is, we can always buy a new one.

So, right now, instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing to prepare their children for kindergarten, I am going to focus on soaking up every single last snuggle that I can before my heart goes off to school without me. Then, I am going to trust that I have given her what she needs to succeed, both physically and emotionally, and I will be right there for her if she ever needs more.

To learn a little more about my page head on over here: About Me

You may also enjoy: What Does It Mean to Be a Parent?

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How to Survive a Beach Trip with Kids

For those of you still soaking up every last minute of summer and going to the beach, here are some tips. Even though the pumpkins are already out in stores, I refuse to let summer be over!

“They say” going on vacation is relaxing. “They” must not be talking about vacationing with small children. Going to the beach now is not at all what it used to be. I would always bring along a book to read while soaking up the sun. Now, I am lucky if I have room in my arms to even carry a book to the beach. Reading a book, forget about it! Now, it’s chasing and entertaining toddlers, making sure they stay close, safe, and covered in sunscreen. I used to feel re-charged when we got home. Now, with three children in tow, I need a vacation after the vacation.

We recently had our first beach trip as a family of five. I tried so hard to pack in advance. Setting out underwear and bathing suits was as far as I had made it. We ended up with a scheduled GI doctor appointment for our new baby the day before we were supposed to leave. Yes, this was a bad decision, but it was all they had available.

At this appointment, we were told our infant would need to immediately switch to a new formula—the super expensive and super thin kind—a formula for severe food allergies and sensitivities. So, there we were… headed to the beach the following day with an infant on a brand-new formula.

The first time we tried it, she immediately began choking. It was too thin. Not only that, she was spitting it out because she hated the taste. At this point, I was full of anxiety knowing we needed to leave for the beach in the morning and were not the slightest bit ready. I called the doctor’s office in tears and pleaded, “How do I get her to take this formula? We are leaving for the beach tomorrow!” They told me how to mix it with her old formula while slowly transitioning over. Their plan worked, which was great news.

In the end, I must have told myself and my husband 100 different times, “We aren’t going!” Instead, we stayed up all night packing and left on two hours of sleep. Needless to say, I needed this vacation just to recover from the vacation prep.

It was stressful and we hadn’t even made it there yet.

Here are some tips which made the trip a little easier. Hopefully, they can help make your next trip a little more relaxing. Every little bit helps, right?

Timing

On our very first family beach trip with our daughter, we decided to leave late at night, hoping she would sleep in the car and be easily transferred to her crib upon arrival. Nope. She was wide awake the second we pulled in to the resort. We have now learned, for long trips, leaving before the sun comes up works best for our family. The kids are so groggy, they fall right back asleep in the car and by the time they wake up, we are well on our way. Consider your childrens’ sleep styles, and choose a departure time which makes sense.

Packing

Preparing for the beach is a huge undertaking. Gone are the days of quickly and easily packing last minute, and heading straight out the door. I found it helps to pack what you can in the car the night before so it is one less thing to worry about in the morning.

I have learned packing light saves both space and time. When packing, think layers. For example, for girls, think skirts or dresses with leggings, or short sleeve shirts with a light jacket. This way, you can avoid packing both a daily outfit for warm weather and an entire extra outfit in case it is cold. The light-weight jacket can be re-worn.

Think about which items will already be provided at your destination so you don’t waste time packing those things for no reason. Also consider which items you can quickly purchase upon arrival, for example, food for the room.

On a long road trip, it can be difficult to get all of the formula and feeding supplies together for an infant. Here is a photo of how I put everything together for the road.

Packing formula

I love this formula dispenser from Avent. It can hold up to three bottles worth of formula and can even convert to a snack cup for later. Just remove the insert. Check it out here.

Another helpful hint I have learned: Have a portable potty in the car for toddlers, along with some toilet paper just in case. You never know when they will have to go…right now! It will probably be when you are on a long road of nothingness.

Carrying Loads to the Beach

After you have already spent so much time packing, then you have to take all of your beach supplies to and from the beach… and, when you have kids, there is A LOT of stuff. My husband ends up muscling all of our gear to and from the room while I wrangle the kids. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a service like UBER that would take your stuff to and from the beach by just using an app? It’s genius! You heard it here first.

As far as realistic suggestions… I love to save up and rent the umbrellas and chairs already on the beach. It saves me having to carry those large items with me. If that is not in the budget, I have heard wonderful things about beach carts. For quick and easy shade, I love this toddler beach tent which easily folds up flat in a small carry case. We used this both at the beach and by the pool.

Baby beach tent

We laid our infant here for most of the time we were outside. This would also be great for toddlers, as there is an area which can drop into a pre-dug hole in the sand which can be filled with water for a tiny, shaded pool. See this link for more photos.

More helpful products

Baby powder. You can rub this on hands and it completely removes the sand. Now, you and the kids can eat without sand in your picnic lunch!
Stroller fan. We love how this little fan can provide an extra breeze and keep our baby cool while in the heat.

Stroller Fan

Hooded towels. These are a lifesaver. You don’t have to keep re-wrapping the kids every-single-time they fall to the ground. Here is one we love.
Sunscreen. My favorite for my kids with sensitive skin is Babyganics.
Don’t forget the floatation devices. We love puddle jumpers. It is always good for the kids to wear these near the water as an extra line of defense. Check out our favorite type here.
An old, large sheet. We love to place a large sheet down so that we can put all of the bags, the towels, and cooler on top. This helps keep things a little less sandy.
Beach Toys. We like to carry beach toys in a mesh bag, so that the sand can fall out on the way up to the room. We like this one which you can carry easily over your arm.
Pack ‘n Play. This is a great place for crib-sleepers to sleep safely after a long day of fun. We love how easy these are to put up and take down. This is our favorite.

Even at the beach it’s a balance. You can have fun together as a family, but we also try to take turns with the kids. For instance, one parent can take the kids while the other rests or one adult takes the older kids while one handles the baby. This way, you can enjoy your family while still getting in some rest time.

Lastly, even in the craziness, try to enjoy the good moments. Sometimes I think seeing the beach through our kids’ eyes can be more rewarding than the relaxation we miss out on. What do you think?

Baby at the beach

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You may also enjoy: You Know You’re the Parent of a Toddler When…

To learn a little more about me check out: About Lauren

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You Know You’re the Parent of a Toddler When…

“They say” being a parent is the most rewarding job of all.
It is…until it’s not.

You know you’re the parent of a toddler when…

You watch your TV shows or movies in 15-minute intervals, having to rewind multiple times. To sit down and watch a show or movie without interruption may be a dream of yours.

You realize it’s Thursday and you are still wearing Tuesday’s yoga pants. To top it all off, you haven’t showered.

On average when leaving the house, you look like a hot mess, but at least your kids look cute.

Your vocabulary seems to have evolved to only include the words, “No,” “Stop,” “1-2-3,” and “That’s Enough!”

You can multi-task like Martha Stewart on steroids.

You can remember a time when you have driven somewhere and upon arrival you have no clue how you got there. After all, you are always distracted.

You are sicker than you have ever been in your life. How do they seem to catch everything and then share it with us?!

You would do almost anything—maybe even gladly give away your first-born child—for a moment of peace and quiet. This may include locking yourself in a closet…

You know what it is like to literally drop to the floor from the pain of stepping on a small toy.

You have started bargaining with God, If you just [stop this tantrum, make my child go back to sleep…], then I will…

You use the word “poop” multiple times a day: Is that poop? Do you need to poop? Why did you poop in your pants? Why won’t you poop on the potty?

You are driving in the car alone—for once—and realize you have been listening to children’s music for 20 minutes.

You are starting to resemble a magician. You can pull things out of your purse to assist you in handling the children, things that aren’t typically found in a purse—a small toy, a Band-Aid, a snack, a diaper—the list could go on and on.

You wonder at least once a day if you are clinically insane.

And finally, at the end of the day when your child is all snuggled up in bed, you look at that innocent, sweet face and think, Wow, I am so lucky you are mine.

To learn a little more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: Moms Have Tantrums Too or How to Survive a Beach Trip with Kids

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What Does It Mean to Be a Parent?

Sometimes I find myself wondering…

Here are some answers I come up with. It means…

We are strong, but not too strong. We show our kids we all go through difficult times and that we can get through them. At the same time, that doesn’t mean we cannot show emotion as we get there.

We are brave, but not too brave. We show our kids we can face the world and its challenges with bravery, but also show them that it’s okay to waver sometimes. We show them that wavering doesn’t make us weak.

We teach them patience. We show them we can bite our tongues when we are furious—in the big things and the small (like when tying a shoe for the 100th time). But, we show them we can learn from the times we aren’t patient too.

We are disciplinarians. We discipline our children, but find a way to show love at the same time.

All in all, I think being a parent means balance. Being a parent doesn’t mean perfection. It means being the best role models we can be, but when we aren’t we find ways to teach. I think these lessons will be what stick with our children the longest.

So, we are a balance. To me, it seems like something in the middle is great—and I like that! So, let’s stop giving ourselves a hard time thinking we aren’t good or perfect enough. Let’s be mediocre and be okay with it!

“They say” being a parent is the hardest job in the world. I agree. So I will try not to add perfection as a requirement.

 

To learn a little more about me and my blog check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: You Know You’re the Parent of a Toddler When…

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