Tag Archives: birth

A Peek Inside Life as a Mama of Three

A great friend of mine, Julianne Schneider, recently became a mother for the third time, and since I’m about to join that club I thought it apropos to do a little Q and A to focus my binoculars on that field a yonder that I’m traveling toward.  Julie, alongside her husband Jeff, is the proud mama of Brayden, 4, Luke, 2, and Samuel, two months.  She recently moved back to her home state of Wisconsin after living in Seattle for seven glorious years, and is experiencing the unique culture shock of one transplanted home again.  She’s a board-certified teacher by trade but is spending this year as a stay-at-home-mom. This exchange took place when Sam was only four weeks old.

Thank you, Jules, for sharing with us! IMG_5310 WBO:  First things first: are you keeping your head above water?
Julie:   We are doing as well as could be expected. We keep waiting for the floor to fall out, but that hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps, once we all get sick, then it will collapse. We are tired, but we are managing. I am very thankful that Brayden is at 4k in the morning, so I don’t feel guilty not playing with him and giving him the attention he wants (but doesn’t always need).

WBO:  What’s the hardest part about having three?
Julie:  The hardest thing about having all three is their needs are all so different! Brayden wants to play with Legos, Luke wants to destroy Lego creations (or eat them), and Samuel wants to be held. Harmony is impossible at these moments. For this reason, I am very thankful for PBSkids which keeps Luke entertained (and away from Brayden’s intricate Lego creations) while I am feeding Samuel, showering, or heaven forbid, feeding myself. Yes, TV is a great babysitter, and thankfully safe and teaches him a few things. I used to feel guilty about this with Brayden; now we are more in survival mode, so what the heck…I watched Sesame Street and I still went to college.

WBO:  Is there anything that surprised you because it wasn’t as hard as you expected?
Julie:  I think the transition wasn’t hard because we are already in kid mode. We don’t go out to dinner or fancy ski trips to the Alps. We don’t feel like we are missing anything anymore, which may be what makes having kids hard to begin with. The kids provide our daily adventure. Going from one to two made things harder, and pulled us both into the parenting, with less breaks. Now we are both in, and when Jeff is home, he knows what to do — no directions. I feel like we are a well-oiled machine. We just keep moving. No down time until all the kids are sleeping and we have dark chocolate and Netflix as a reward.

WBO:  What have people’s reactions been to you having three boys?
Julie:  Their reaction to three boys is very predictably, “Oh, you will have you hands full!” or “Will you try for a girl?” The cool thing about having three boys I learned is that once you have a third boy you enter this secret society of other moms with 3+ boys. During my delivery (we didn’t know what we were having), the OB who delivered Samuel and my actual OB were hoping I would have a third boy, as they both do.  After Samuel was born, they stuck around to share their joys of having three boys and welcomed me to the “club.” We seemed to share a common bond of living in the shear craziness of boyhood. We commiserated over not having calm tea parties or arts and craft sessions. Rather, they shared how exciting and loud their homes were.  My personal reaction to having three boys is of gratitude. As I reflect on the adventures I have already had with these guys, I recognize that God has equipped me to be a mother of boys. I truly believe it was all part of His plan. I don’t get super excited about the wrestling matches or bug catching. But I love building Legos, playing chase, and I already have the basketball hoop picked out to play basketball with them. I am also thrilled that I will probably never ever have to kill a spider again. Brayden has already taken over that role when Jeff is not around. If we never have a daughter, a curiosity may exist for what she would have been like, but never a disappointment. IMG_5508 WBO:  Is it hard coordinating different schedules?  Like feeding Sam so often but the others just three meals (plus snacks)?  Or managing different nap schedules?
Julie:  Brayden and Luke essentially have the same schedule. To bed at 7 and up between 6-6:30. Brayden doesn’t nap anymore, but from 12:30-3 is quiet time at our house. Brayden either reads books, plays Legos, watches a show, plays iPad games, or him and I do “learning time.” Feeding them all isn’t really that big of an issue, I mostly just get tired of doing dishes. I am thankful that Samuel doesn’t require any dishes.

WBO:  What adjustments did you have to make in terms of gear? A new car? A different stroller?  Sharing rooms? Julie:  We have a big car (Honda Pilot), but had to put Brayden in the third row to avoid all three in the same row. There would be way too much poking going on, and separation is good. Brayden and Luke both have their own rooms, and the baby is living in my closet. Our master is on the first floor, so I don’t think Samuel will be moving upstairs until he is mostly sleeping through the night.

WBO:  Are there other kids in your new neighborhood that your kids can get together with?
Julie:  We are thankful for new neighbors who organize playdates, and this entertains the older boys, especially when it is wicked cold out! The pent up energy needs to get released somewhere, and I am only up for so many games of hide-n-go-seek or chase before I need a break.

WBO:  Tell us what it’s been like moving back to Wisconsin as a family, since you left as an engaged couple.
Julie: Even though we grew up in the area, we feel like transplants, since it has been almost 15 years since we lived in this area. Sometimes I tell a small lie when I meet people, and just tell them we are from Seattle, so they don’t assume I know more about the area than I do.  We are experiencing some culture shock, good and bad. People are super friendly, but sometimes close-minded, or maybe it’s just more that they don’t know what they don’t know since they haven’t left the ten mile radius where they grew up.

WBO:  As a parent, what are some of the more obvious differences between Seattle and Wisconsin?
Julie:  I find the playdates to always be interesting…I was surprised at my first playdate and the type of foods that were served. Really, Cheetos? For 4-year-olds. The moms in Seattle would have a heart attack. I am not sure if I appreciate less pressure now that I am not expected to make kale-carrot smoothies, homemade granola, etc., or more pressure to do more to counteract the influx of junk food. Brayden is currently obsessed with Cheetos since kids on this bus bring them for snack everyday. I am standing my ground on this one though — no Cheetos. To show my resolve, I got him sushi at Trader Joe’s yesterday and reminded him that this was his favorite food in Washington, and not Cheetos. We talked about how the carrots in the California Roll were natural orange, and Cheetos were fake orange, like eating a Crayon.

WBO:  Does babyhood seem to go faster with each child?
Julie:  Yes! But I think isn’t that true of the time of life in general? I feel like each year keeps going by faster and faster. I really can’t believe I am 32 or that I will have a 5 year old this spring. The newborn phase with all three boys was a blur, and it is so short, just mere weeks before they start smiling, maintaining eye contact, filling out, and holding up their heads. I am not sure it feels faster. I think the biggest difference is you don’t hyperanalyze every change, as you know the next day it will be something different. The old adage of “the days are long, but the years are short” becomes more and more true.

WBO:  How do you manage to keep your spirits up when it’s just.so.much.work?
Julie:  Despite the loss of down time, there is so much laughing (and crying and screaming and whining) in our house. The noise is incessant, but amazing. Our home feels alive, and there is always something going on. It’s exciting to see them grow, and seeing how quickly they go from a baby to a boy, so we try not to wish this time away. Seeing how they are starting to develop relationships between each other is so exciting. Luke adores Brayden, and can’t wait for him to get home. Both big boys adore Sam, and Brayden is the master at holding him and getting him to stop crying. So in short: it’s tiring, but awesome. The highs definitely outweigh the lows.


Thank you so much for sharing with us, Julie!  You are one amazing mama (and I will be calling you once I cross this threshold).

1 Comment

Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

The Body Issue

I think we can all agree that pregnancy is, primarily, all about the baby it produces.  However, once the baby has arrived and the dust settles, you come face to face with the little spaceship your baby arrived in, otherwise known as your body.

All of my adult life, and even some of my teenage years, I’ve feared what shape pregnancy would leave me in.  Not in an obsessive way, but when I felt like I was in good shape, I’d have this reactive thought: “Well that’s easy for you now; wait until you’ve had a baby and then we’ll talk about how hard it is to get in shape.”  I’m not sure where this fear came from; no one I know has transformed into a beast postpartum, not my mother or grandmothers, no close friends.  I suppose it’s just a natural anxiety most women have; pretty-young-thing before, overweight-Mama-Bear-from-the-Celestial-Seasonings-box after.

So when I became pregnant, I thought about what would happen afterward — but not nearly as much as I expected I would, because a twin pregnancy was as far ahead as I could focus.  I hoped that I’d be small-ish again someday, but I didn’t want to psych myself out about it in case the resulting body was completely unrecognizable.  I’d say, “You carried two people!” to let myself off the hook if I didn’t snap back in a socially acceptable time frame.

Luckily, the Lord made our bodies to be elastic.  It’s actually shocking to think that I was this size, and now I’m not.

38 Weeks 4

That was four days before I was induced.  Thirty-eight weeks pregnant.  Waddling.  Swelling.  Ready not to be pregnant anymore.

The day after the twins were born, my stomach shrunk considerably.  I was still enormous, but so much smaller than before.  I completely avoided touching my belly because it felt strange and separate from my body — squishy, empty, loose.  It was an eerie sensation so I pretended it wasn’t there.  This worked well until the nurses came around every day to push my belly in to ensure my uterus was shrinking back to its original size.  File under: Things No One Tells You.

Three days after giving birth, my feet were still giant canoes attached to my swollen legs.  The doctor came in and did an assessment on my recovery, and I was like yeah, yeah what about my FEET and ANKLES?  I tried to sound professional.  I might have said, “Doctor, my feet and ankles are still quite swollen…when should I expect them to return to normal?  Tomorrow?”  He interrupted me, “Yeah, those are cankles.  It’s gonna take about a week.”

1.  My doctor said “cankles.”

2.  A WEEK?

Other than that, I didn’t give my figure another thought, and how could I?  I was recovering from surgery, bonding with my babies, learning to breastfeed and pump, seeing visitors, and trying to sleep whenever possible.  The idea of worrying about losing weight was absurd.

The day after Henry was released from the NICU (babies were 18 days old), Mike and I visited the Juanita waterfront for our first stroll with the bambinos.  We walked around and laughed about how I looked like a woman pushing newborn twins while seven months pregnant.

2013-08-12 17.29.37

The following day, my sister Erin and I returned to the park for a concert for babies.  This sounds ridiculous for two-week-old newborns to attend, but it was irresistible to me; sunshine, water, my first “mommy” activity, and the bliss of taking the babies out of the house.

2013-08-13 11.17.37

It’s strange that my stomach looks smaller in just one day, but that’s how it was — virtually every day it shrank smaller and smaller.  Elastic, I tell you.

By the six-week mark I looked less pregnant and more generally out of shape, like a passerby might think, do a few sit-ups, why don’t you?

2013-09-11 15.06.32

This was shortly before I got the all-clear to start exercising, but even since then I haven’t burst into action.  The insane calorie-burn of breastfeeding has done all the work, leaving me with ten pounds to work off on my own.  (I’m not going to lose those for a while, however, because things need to stay a little heavier with two babies counting on me as their food source.)

My exercise now consists of stroller walks and the Tracy Anderson Post-Pregnancy DVD.  This involves about three thousand crunches, and half as many leg-lifts.  I exaggerate, but only slightly.  I’m doing it as often as I can during nap-time, and already I feel more held together.  I also seriously considered buying that corset-like band, but never got around to it and figured it wouldn’t help that much anyway.

Here’s the thing: I wish I was very mother-earth, all zen, walking around saying, “it’s just a body! I got to participate in the miracle of life!  Who cares?”  But the truth is I’ve never met a woman who didn’t want to return to her pre-baby body.  For some people, things fall right back into place, but for most of us we’re left with various parts that aren’t exactly how we’d like them.

Here I am about three weeks ago, fourteen weeks after giving birth.


I am not delusional — I realize I basically look like I did before I had the twins.  But let’s be real: I’m wearing leggings that cinch me in and a hoodie that zips me all together.  It’s DIY Spanx.  Things are not as they were…my body hasn’t sunk like the Titanic, but it’s also not sailing into New York as good as new either.  Would you like an example of good as new?

Ridiculous, no?  Awesome, yes?

She gave birth four days before me.  There I go perpetuating the pressure on women to snap back…hardly.  Kate is not women’s standard; she’s our dream, and there’s a difference.

I don’t think my body will ever be the same, and that’s okay.  I have stretch marks, a scar, and — this is what I remind myself — two healthy babies.  If that’s what I lay at the altar of my vanity, so be it.  Rather than striving for the body I had, I’m moving toward the body that’s awaiting me: new, different, a little flawed, but beautiful.

After all, on days when I’m not feeling quite Kate Middleton-esque, I’ve figured out a way to hide that tummy, and it beats the hell out of Spanx.



Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

A Silver Rattle (or two) from Tiffany, Obviously

For royal watchers like me, Christmas came early this year.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant!  Oh, and Wills is the dad.  But I’ve yet to see his name in a headline concerning his firstborn future monarch, so let’s continue.

Considering they waited over a month to share the news of their engagement, it seems surprising that they are sharing this news when she’s not yet twelve weeks along, the international standard for admitting you are knocked up.

Of course, the palace rightly assumed they couldn’t exactly check the most famous woman in the world into a London hospital without word getting out.  And why was she in a hospital?  Because apparently she has the worst case of morning sickness, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum.  As in, she’s probably throwing up so much she needs an IV to stay hydrated.  Lord have mercy.

Turns out becoming royal didn’t spare her unending nausea.  I’m sure round-the-clock care helps.  I’m not sure world-wide attention does, however.

Having never heard of this affliction myself, I turned to the medical expert to be consulted in all situations: Wikipedia.  And wouldn’t you know?  Apparently, the biggest scoop won’t be revealed by a random blogger, gossip website, or major news outlet.  Let Wikipedia get the credit for diagnosing our princess: she’s having TWINS!

“The cause of HG is unknown. The leading theories state that it is an adverse reaction to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. In particular, hyperemesis gravidarum may be due to raised levels of beta HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) as it is more common in multiple pregnancies.”  Wikipedia, “Hyperemesis Gravidarum”

At least, that’s my hope.  And that of my mother.  We both Wiki’d today and are drawing the same conclusions.   I also think her first question is fair:

“Which one would get the throne??”

Excellent question, and one that will inevitably lead to years of bitterness or relief, depending on who gets what.  I’d expect that whomever the doctor lifts out first (C-sections are almost a certainty with twins) would be next in line, but I’m not the final authority on the matter.

The most pressing concern is, of course, how she will influence maternity wear for generations to come.   The ripples of jealously of her lithe preggo figure among the masses  should be tampered by the guidance she provides on how to carry oneself while with child.

For comparison’s sake, please consider our previous royal baby bumps (courtesy People.com):

The Queen: crisp, no-nonsense, no frills

QUEEN ELIZABETH II   photo | Queen Elizabeth II

Princess Diana: all nonsense, far, far too many frills, bows and polka dots

PRINCESS DIANA   photo | Princess Diana

Fergie:  yikes

SARAH FERGUSON   photo | Sarah Ferguson

Kate won’t have to do much legwork here, considering her most immediate predecessors were pregnant in the unforgiving eighties.

Here she is just days ago:

Granted, this is her most eighties dress to date, but we’ll let that pass.

For now, let’s wish our favorite royal couple a healthy, puke-free pregnancy going forward, and two little heirs to greet the masses in June!


Filed under One WORD (Current Events)