05 December 2016

SodaStream : Shame or Glory

Christmas is fast approaching and although I don't have that many end of year celebrations to attend, I have probably relaxed a little with my eating and am already getting a little prematurely festive in the eating and drinking department. This not only means extra calories but also extra expense, particularly at a time where you don't need to be spending unnecessarily.

So when a SodaStream arrived on my doorstep I decided to research cocktails and mocktails that I can make at home using fresh and in season ingredients rather than loading up on sugar-laden store-bought mixers. That not only means I'm being somewhat responsible with my calorie intake but also environmentally concious by not purchasing products that ultimately end up in landfill.

On my list of cocktails and mocktails to try {using fresh ingredients and omitting/reducing the sugar where possible} are

I also know that 'fizzy water' is a complete novelty for kids so as the temperature rises it will be easier to keep the little go hydrated.

SodaStream have partnered with GOT star Thor Bjornsson {the Mountain} to help spread the word about plastic waste also aiming to encourage people to choose reusable items where possible.

I have three SodaStream units to giveaway to three lucky readers just in time for Christmas. Enter over on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/trainee.mama
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28 October 2016

Walk in Wardrobe Makeover with Elfa and Howards Storage World

Many people rate the kitchen as the most important room in the home. While I agree, there is at least one additional room in the home that will sell me a house.

The walk in robe.

Practically no one would have walked into our now home and thought that it was 'the one' ... it was smelly, dirty and quite frankly, disgusting, and made you feel like you needed to visit the doctor for a tetanus shot after every visit and inspection.

But we saw potential and location, location, location.

And so #thebourkebuild began.

The robe was practically an empty shell so I took that as an opportunity to seek out shelving options and contacted Howards Storage World to investigate what solutions they had available.

Once the carpet was stripped, existing shelving was removed and the floor was laid and the room was painted the room was ready.

I was connected with Kellie from the Maroochydore store {also a mother of twins} who visited the house, reviewed the space and took some measurements. We had a chat about the different shelving units/systems available and with Kellie's recommendation, we started to design the space using the Elfa products.

{from the HSW website}
Elfa is a durable, customisable shelving system that is flexible enough to be used in any room in the home or office. elfa products are designed and built in Sweden and are supported with a ten year warranty.
I chose a combination of mesh and wire baskets, some long and short hanging and some shelving to create a space where multiple items could be stored.

My dad and husband completed the installation and at times it was a little tricky but within a few hours my wardrobe was ready and waiting to be filled.

 I really love the space and find it really easy to keep tidy and organised. The only thing I would change is to use the mesh baskets for both sets of drawers as it looks smarter and less exposed. I've got to admit I was less than impressed with the size of the room when we bought the house after selling a house that had a very generous walk in robe but with Kellie's knowledge and design, I've got more than enough room to store my stuff and navigate the space. The Elfa solution is also future proof as the shelving and baskets can be moved around if my requirements change.

Check out Howard's Organisation Station site for heaps of ideas, makeovers and storage tips.

{I was offered a discount to purchase these products but was not paid for this blog post}

06 August 2016

Fed is Best

The day after giving birth to Ned a midwife questioned my ability to breastfeed given I 'didn't have a lot of breast tissue' and asked if I had considered mixed feeding. I don't think I'd ever even changed a nappy so the term mixed feeding was foreign to me. She explained that I may need to consider formula top ups as it was unlikely I would be able to exclusively breastfeed.

I was kind of puzzled. Yes, my boobs hadn't really grown {major disappointment} but surely if my identical twin sister was able to breastfeed exclusively then given our DNA, shouldn't I?

The midwives were amazingly supportive once we'd come home and practically sent dad off to the shops with bottle and formula recommendations. I was also provided with a list of things that may help boost my supply. I tried the medication, the herbs. the cookies, water, pumping ... all of it. And to me, it didn't seem to really make much of a difference. I think the thing that really frustrated me was that the technique was never an issue and I was happy to breastfeed whenever and wherever I had to. The fact that I could only give Ned what felt like an 'entree' feed was disheartening. I remember one day where mum and I had gone shopping at Noosa and I had breastfeed him there. He basically screamed the whole back back to Maroochydore {around 40 minutes}. We pulled into the shopping centre and I could have qualified for a game of Supermarket Sweep {anyone remember that show?} with the speed I located and purchased a tin of formula, a bottle of water and a bottle. When you exhaust all avenues what really can you do? You have two options ... persist feeling constantly deflated or switch to formula full time.

I continued mixed feeding until Ned was around five months and then phased out the breast feeds pretty quickly. I was actually proud I lasted that long.

Prior to birthing the twins I didn't have any clear goals when it came to breastfeeding. I thought I would give it a crack and see how we went. My boobs again barely grew so I pretty much knew that I'd have issues with supply again and with two babies to feed this time, my expectations were low.

I'd say from the get-go I sabotaged our feeding relationship. My prior experience taught me that no matter what I did I would never be able to support two babies, and from chatting to other twin mums, would I even want to?

The staff in the special care nursery {where we were the entire time} were very supportive and realistic around discussing my wishes and intentions for feeding the girls. Without much of a thought, and now knowing what mixed feeding was, I explained to them that for now, that was my choice. For the four nights we stayed at the hospital I breast fed one or both babies and then followed that feed with a formula bottle. This happened three hourly, round the clock and it was tough. I don't know how many times a different midwife or nurse or lactation consultant questioned whether I had troubleshooted my poor supply issues with Ned. I really should have just recorded a message and whipped out the iPhone every time I was asked about my decision. I know they all meant well and all of them recognised that breastfeeding twins is difficult even when you have no supply dramas but still, I felt a little judged that I wasn't keen on exploring options again this time.

One lactation consultant however did try and discover the root cause of my supply issues. The doctor who had prescribed me ovulation drugs to help with falling pregnant {that's a whole other blog post} did mention the words polycystic ovaries. And then it clicked. That was more than likely the reason why I couldn't and wasn't producing much milk, even with all of the medical and natural supposed remedies. Finding this out however didn't stop aforementioned lactation consultant from grabbing my entire A- cup boob and shoving it abruptly in one of the twin's mouths. I felt a little violated to be honest.

When we returned home from hospital I felt positive about continuing the mixed feeding. I even sourced a breast pump to try and produce more milk. Again though, pumping for twenty minutes and producing ten or twenty millilitres of milk isn't encouraging especially when you see pics of other mums on social media filling a 150ml bottle from one side!

It didn't take long for my positivity and enthusiasm to decline. The reality of having two newborn babies desperate for your attention often at the same time had me questioning whether breastfeeding was even worth it - not necessarily for them {because you know, we all know breast is best ;)} but for my sanity and health.

When people asked if I was feeding {as in breast feeding} them, my answer was 'kind of'. I was still attempting to let each baby have their 'entree' for one or two feeds a day. Which is seriously next to nothing. The less you feed, the less milk you'll produce and so I was totally self-sabotaging. You see 'kind of' feeding can be likened to that ex boyfriend who you've never quite got over. He is always somewhere in your thoughts and you get tingles whenever you think about him or see his name pop up on social media.

It's been maybe a week since I've breast fed and those tingles are a constant reminder of perhaps what I should be doing. A reminder of the body's ability to feed your baby. And that your body doesn't quit on you as early as you might quit on it.

But you know what? Sometimes it just doesn't work the way that nature intended. And that is totally okay.

The real-life mum queen herself, Constance Hall gave a shout out to formula feeding mums in a week where breastfeeding mums are officially being celebrated. Respect to these words:

Formula feeding mums.I started full time formula feeding the twins at around 5 months and guess what? It's no joy ride either.
In fact, in some ways it's harder then breast feeding. Making milk, cleaning bottles. That's not fun.

Formula feeding certainly isn't the easy way out at all.
It's expensive.
It's tiring.
It's an option that can lead to judgement.

Oh god, now reading this I wonder whether I should reconsider my choice.

There's that mum guilt for you.

In the end, #fedisbest.

28 July 2016

The Twins Birth Story - Part 3

Continued on from Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Once my waters broke, things really started to kick off.

My original plan was to order the epidural immediately upon arrival at the hospital but the thought of the epidural extending my labour encouraged me to labour naturally for as long as I could handle it. 
Seemingly out of nowhere {within about thirty minutes} around 3 contractions were coming in each 10 minute window and growing increasingly stronger. It wasn't too long before I was shouting from the rooftops 'get the epidural NOW!'

Roberto my saviour anaesthetist arrived pretty quickly and was very good at his job - not only because he arrived quickly and ensured the epidural was precise {he wasn't entirely happy with his first effort so went back for round two} but mostly because he mentioned that I was 'skinny and fit' ... Pretty powerful and encouraging words when you're not feeling your most glamourous. 

Epidural was working its magic before too long but at my next check I'd only progressed to 4cm so on advice from the team I was put on the syntocin drip to help with progression. 

Around 11pm the lovely team organised a fold out bed for Pat and within minutes he was asleep. Once the drip had started I was also encouraged to get some rest and was advised they would check dilation around 5am. 

It's seriously hard to sleep, let alone rest with machines and cords hanging from you {with one attached to twin 1's head} and constant monitoring from the midwives. The doctor popped in multiple times as well and there was a lot of discussion and study of the CTG output.

Unknowns to me {thank you epidural}, I was getting up to 6 contractions in 10 minutes and twin II's heart rate was sitting dangerously high around 180-190bpm and she was moving around like crazy. Naive me thought more contractions meant quicker progress and that I'd get to meet my babies sooner. Once the midwives explained that that an ideal number is around 3 or 4 contractions every 10 minutes and anything higher means the baby doesn't have time to rest, I really did start to get anxious. 

I was running through scenarios of what was going to happen and it wasn't helping with the panic I could feel creeping in rapidly.

Would I have to have a caesarean for one baby?
For both babies?
Is Twin II in danger? 
All of this ensued while Pat was still asleep.

The resident doctor Jess who was lovely ensured me that everything was okay and was trying to problem solve before calling in the consultant who generally only makes an appearance for the birth. She wasn't overly keen on waking him without really trying to determine herself what was making twin II so distressed. By this stage the syntocin had been turned off and completely flushed out.

For what felt like hours the CTG was studied until ... light bulb moment!

Jess said let's see if you've magically dilated to 10cm - literally hours before they expected me to. 


We've all ignored or forgotten about the simple solution first in a range of situations so I wasn't bothered that I wasn't checked earlier - just relieved that we had an answer. 

It seemed my body just needed a little hit of the drug to really get things going and by little, really little. I later found out initially the drip was set to release 1ml then 2ml and then back down to 1, completely turned off and then flushed out. The maximum that it can be turned up to is 32!

Pat woke to the news of 'it's time to push' and basically avoided all the drama. The midwives were so supportive throughout that I didn't feel the need to wake him earlier and stress both of us out. 

Now I felt scared. Pushing meant that we were going to have not one, but two babies soon. But it also meant I had to push and given my two hour pushing experience with Ned, I wasn't excited about it at all. 

My pushing was good and progress was being made quickly but the team asked permission to use a vacuum to expedite delivery for twin I so we could get twin II out as quickly as possible. Six minutes of pushing and twin I was out at 3:21am weighing 2.285kgs.

A quick examination and ultrasound confirmed that twin II was in a breech position and we had a 10-15 minute window to get her out. Once it gets past that time period an emergency c-section may be required so I pushed as hard as I could. Twin II was out safely at 3:34am after 13 minutes of pushing and entered the world bum first complete with her first poo on the outside world. She weighed 3.205kgs.

She was quickly whisked away to the team of doctors and the birth report details she was resuscitated due to severe asphyxia/respiratory distress. I was kind of oblivious to the drama and then didn't really even get to see her for hours afterwards as she was moved to the special care nursery attached to the CPAP machine. I felt comforted knowing she was in safe hands and still had to birth the placenta/s.

I only birthed one placenta even though I was expecting to birth two so we assume the two placentas fused together in the womb or pregnancy scans were interpreted incorrectly and there really only was one. We may get DNA testing in the future but we are pretty certain they are not identical.  

Twin 1 who we named Frankie stayed with me for some time for skin to skin and feeding and then joined her sister Evie in the special care nursery.

We spent four nights in the special care nursery {Evie was on CPAP and antibiotics for two days} and both girls were admitted due to their size. The nurses were wonderfully supportive and the stay was made that little bit better because I had my own room back on the ward. 

The girls were born on Tuesday and we got to go home on Saturday.

Then the fun started...