Dear Mums, you’ve got this!

The other day I was escaping the Brisbane heat at the local shops with the boys. We stopped by the indoor playground and I sat and watched Jesse play while feeding Jasper and then he eagerly crawled off to join his brother.

At that moment I was struck with a memory of being at this same playground when pregnant with Jasper and I remember wondering how I was going to cope with two children in moments like this. How could I tend to nursing a baby while keeping a watchful eye on a toddler? It seemed incredibly daunting, impossible even.

I then thought back to a particularly difficult night with Jesse. He just wanted to be held. My back was aching but I held him close anyway. His bottom propped up by my pregnant belly and his long legs draping down either side. I sobbed quietly as I wondered how I was going to cope on nights like this with two babies. How could I possibly give them both the comfort they need if they need me at the same time?

I smiled.

I can do it. I am doing it. What seemed so impossible is now normal.

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Soon after, I struck up a conversation with a fellow Mum watching her children play. Two little boys. And she was nursing a 3 week old baby boy. Three boys under three. I was in awe.

I could tell she was exhausted. But the smile she wore as we chatted told me she would not have it any other way. I asked her how she was doing. We talked about the challenges of breastfeeding and the joys of raising boys. I was struck by the rawness of our conversation. Two complete strangers but we just understood each other.

It’s a crazy thing this being parents thing. Being a mother. It stretches us to our limits and so often passes them. It breaks us down and builds us up at the same time. It makes us want to do better, be better. Having children is like constantly looking into a mirror that exposes everything about us. All of our flaws and imperfections. All of our funny little quirks. And suddenly we realised how much like our own parents we’ve become.

I guess all I’m trying to say is mums and dads, you are amazing! You’ve totally got this. And on days when you don’t, tell someone. Even if it’s a stranger at the shops. She’ll get it.

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Setting goals for a BIG 2018

Happy New Year!

It is now 2018. The start of a fresh year. A ‘reset’ of sorts. Well, at least that’s what most people do when you start the new year.

And I feel like I (and we) have taken the same approach. I (we) have hit the reset button. I (we) have started fresh. I (we) have taken a new approach to 2018.

And one of the first things I did to make sure 2018 would be different, was write down my goals for the year. That’s right, I put pen to paper (remember the days when all you had to write with was a pen and paper… and yes I’m old enough to remember those days) and wrote down a list of goals that I want to achieve in 2018. A list of short term goals, long term goals and open goals that include making changes to my health and wellbeing, my family, and surroundings.

Goal Setting

A lot of people don’t set goals, or often make the mistake of not putting pen to paper and recording them down. As Mark Victor Hansen said:

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.”

If that doesn’t resonate with you, Fitzhugh Dodson said:

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

I have no idea who Mark Victor Hansen or Fitzhugh Dodson are. But they, along with many others throughout the years, have spoken of the importance of setting, writing down, and making plans to achieve goals.

Looking back through our blog posts, there is a couple of things that I noticed. Firstly, there has been a lack of posts, and secondly, there has been a lack of quality in the posts that I have written. In fact, the last post that I published was on 13 November 2017… almost 2 months ago. Call it writers block. Call it laziness. Call it what you will. I know that I’ve been lacking the motivation to write for NSSLOU.

So one of the goals I have set for myself for 2018 is to write posts more frequently, and to write about the things that I am passionate about. By setting this as a goal, I feel like I have reinvigorated my passion for writing for NSSLOU, and that this will show through the posts that I publish in the future, all for your reading pleasure.

So stick with me (stick with us), because I think that in 2018 you will see a reinvigorated NSSLOU full of fresh content that is interesting, fun and maybe a little cheeky.

And more importantly than that, if you haven’t done so already, I challenge you to take 15 minutes to sit down and write out your own goals for 2018. You never know, you may end up achieving more than you think!

Why we do it…

Last night the Barton family gathered for dinner at Kaine’s parents as we often do whether for someone’s birthday or just because. In this case the parentals have recently arrived home from a month overseas and we were all catching up while they regailed us with holiday tales. 

These family events are fairly chaotic nowadays with four boys under five to contend with. But after dinner we were all gathered in the lounge room and my mother in law played us some home movies. Recorded in the mid 70’s on reel to reel, they contained images of both of her parents. Kaine’s grandmother whom he never had the pleasure of meeting as she passed away when his mum was a teenager, and his grandfather whom we lost almost exactly a year ago. 

With no sound and a grainy picture we all watched on knowing just how special these keepsakes are to her. 

I turned to Kaine who was standing up behind me with a sleeping Jasper in his arms and I said quietly “this is why we do what we do”. He knodded knowingly. 

You see, some day we’ll be gone but I see our family gathered together in a room just as we were last night watching back on the legacy we’ve created. I see them laughing at the fashion and hair do’s, smiling fondly as they see mum and dad in their prime and themselves as children and maybe even quietly tearing up as the images come to life. 

I guess you could say we started documenting our life in video in 2006 when we got married. We invested in a JVC video camera which, by then, had shrunk from the ones you had to prop up on your shoulder like a tv news reporter to something you could hold in the palm of your hand. We filmed our wedding day and made video diaries on our honeymoon and then we edited together an epic saga and burned it to a DVD.

We did this again in 2009 and 2011 when we went overseas and then by 2014 when we went to Europe, we had started a YouTube channel and moved to daily vlogs to document our travels. We had also taken to vlogging other fun stuff in our lives (and some boring stuff too) as well as sharing our stories in writing and of course photos.

We never set out to become YouTube famous or make a name for ourselves in the blogging world. It’s always been to leave a legacy for our family and simply because we absolutely enjoy doing it. 

Occasionally we have been mocked or made fun of. Comments like “you’ve always got a camera in your hand” or the sarcastic surprise when we show up to something without the camera. But we’ve also had lots of people embrace it and love being involved too. 

I think somewhere along the way the art of the home movie got lost. Whether it’s because the technology was too expensive or now when it’s quite the opposite. We have a camera in our hands for so much of the day now that it’s become so mundane to send a snapchat of the kids doing something cute or posting a holiday snap on Instagram… but it’s just not the same. 

So while some may not get it. I ask you to find an old photograph, or better yet, a video of a loved one who’s passed or even of you from your own childhood. That warm fuzzy feeling you get is the reason we do what we do. 

And while our musings are a little scarce right now with the bustle of young family life we will continue to write, record and photograph our lives so that some day, when we no longer can, they might bring some comfort and joy to those we’ve left behind.

The real side of parenting…

People are often criticised for only sharing the happy parts of life on social media.

Whether it’s happy go lucky posts on Facebook, or an Instagram feed that is carefully curated to make the rest of us jealous of a seemingly perfect life, there is a constant wave of people shouting for everyone to be more real!

Well, for us, it doesn’t get much realer than this!

Me… sitting in the hallway at 11pm, eyes closed with a bottle in my hand while Jesse kicks and screams his way through yet another night terror behind the wall just to my right. Sitting in that exact spot because if I move even an inch closer or further away from him, the screaming only gets louder!

Sitting there… a combination of tired, defeated, angry, sad, worried and helpless as Jesse fights his way through his terror.

Sitting there, knowing there is nothing I can do but wait, and pray that he comes over, takes his bottle and climbs back into bed.

Sitting there, feeling like a failure…


We certainly haven’t been shy when it comes to writing about our negative experiences as we stumble our way through parenthood… But I also know that I am also guilty of trying to keep things as positive as I can. And one look of my Instagram feed will confirm that.

So when Renee shot off a quick photo to capture this moment… this “real” moment… no fancy clothes, no fancy lighting, no fancy editing… as I sat there trying not to feel defeated as a parent, I knew I had to share it!

This, is what is real for us! Not every night. Not always this bad. But it’s our reality and it’s one that we’ve had to learn to embrace.

However, while we are certainly happy to share this reality with you, I don’t necessarily think those who like to keep positive Facebook pages or colourful and happy Instagram feeds aren’t being real!

You don’t have to be controversial, swear, belittle your kids and/or partner or share inappropriate photos to be real!

You just have to be you…

And when you too are up late at night, trying to calm or soothe your crying child, just remember, that you are not alone! You aren’t a failure! And you will get through this!

And at the end of the day, when they wake up the next morning, happy and playful, you will know that you’ve done your job!

Learning the art of patience!

If there is one thing that I have come to realise of late, it’s that perhaps I need to learn (or is it that I need to re-learn) the art of patience and understanding.

And no-one probably understands this more than Renee.

How is it that I’ve come to this conclusion?

Well, it would seem that in our household, both Renee and I have different ways of dealing with stressful situation when Jesse is involved. And this has become increasingly more evident throughout the past few weeks while Jesse fights his way through what appears to be the last of his teething.

And throughout these past few weeks, at the times when the teething was so bad that Jesse was at worst practically inconsolable, was when I truly began to feel that if I’m going to have any sort of success as a dad, that I need to exercise more patience and understanding. Because it would appear that as of right now, Renee is far better at coping than I am.

I hate seeing Jesse when he is inconsolably crying and screaming, pushing us away and fighting us with everything we try to do to make him feel better. I know it tears us both up inside not knowing what is wrong or what he needs to feel better. But unfortunately, when Jesse is in such a state and I can’t do anything to help, I fail to remain calm. I not only feel upset and helpless that I am failing to help my son while he is in pain, but I start getting angry. I start losing patience. And I start losing understanding.

I don’t blame Jesse. He can’t help it. And I know that if he could communicate what was wrong, he would.

But in that moment, I forget all about the fact that Jesse can’t communicate. I start to get upset. I start to get angry (not at Renee or Jesse, but at the situation). And at that point I become useless and ultimately fail as a dad.

Inevitably, I usually end up leaving the room, or I will start pacing back and forth until either Renee has managed to settle Jesse down, or he has settled himself down. But by then it’s too late. I have failed by not being able to deal with the pressures of parenting.


So this might be one of the hardest posts I’ve written to date, but also one of the most important. Because as you would know by now, we have baby number two due in less than two months’ time. And when baby number two arrives, Renee is going to need all the help she can get. And what I’m seriously now starting to realise, is if I continue to lack patience and understanding when it comes to the needs of Jesse and baby number two, then Renee may find it very hard to cope.

I don’t know if there are any other dads, or even mums out there who can relate to this. But please know, that if you do find it hard to handle the pressure during those tough situations as a parent, you’re not the only one! You’re not alone! Don’t feel ashamed, recognise it, and try to improve on yourself to become a better, more patient, more understanding parent.

Renee is such a great mum and is a gun when it comes to handling the pressure in those tough situations. And while I still consider myself to be a great dad, there are definitely areas I can improve on.

So taking that first step in recognising that this is something I need to work on, is a step in the right direction. Especially because I no longer want to feel like a failure as a dad the next time Jesse or baby number two is in pain.

It’s time to change!

Who’s Ready for 2017?

As the final month of 2016 sets in many of us begin to reflect on the year that was and start planning and setting goals for the new year ahead. In amongst all the parties, family do’s and too much food and drink that is!

The dawning of a new year always tends to conjure up a sense of hope and a fresh start. Which I totally love. But recently I have had several people comment to me that this year has been terrible and they can’t wait for it to be over and the new year to start.

I get it. We too have had our share of challenges and crappy things happen lately. But I can’t help but feel unsettled and a bit sad when I hear people say things like this.

I don’t know if it’s the wishing away of our precious time or the false sense that somehow all the hard stuff will just magically be better come January 1st.

I mean, how many of us have started a year with all these grand plans to make this one our year only to get to Christmas and be in the exact same place we were the year before? I know I have.

I’m in no way intending to belittle someone’s struggles. We too have lost a loved one, supported a sick relative and, at times, had our plate feel fuller than we could handle. But I don’t want to wish my time away nor do I think I need to wait for a new year to make a fresh start.

We can do this any time we chose to.

So as my own reflection and goal setting starts I won’t pray for less struggles as I know I’ll never be given a load heavier than I can carry. Instead, I’ll pray for a stronger back.

And I won’t hope for less challenges because it’s those difficult times that make the victories so sweet. Instead I’ll hope to learn and grow from those shit bits.

I’ll try to focus my attention on others because if we help enough people achieve their dreams, we will eventually achieve ours.

If you’ve had a shitty 2016, I’m truly sorry. But 2017 will only be better if you decide it will be.

Take some time to relax and recharge this festive season. Spend time with family, smile at a stranger and drink too much wine… I would if I could!

And may we all be reminded that even on the darkest of days, there is always something to be grateful for.

xx

Guest Blogger: Sam Goodwin with ’12 Months with Twins’

Back in March of this year, we had the absolute pleasure to host a guest blogger right here on NSSLOU. That guest blogger was Sam Goodwin.

Sam told us her inspirational story of the birth of, and the first 6 months with, premature twins. You can read Sam’s blog post, ‘6 months in, 6 months out’ here.

Well, just in case you haven’t figured it out, this month her twins turn the big ONE! And we are delighted to have Sam back on our blog today, giving us an update on how things have been since her last guest blog, and what life is like now with one year old twins.

So again, please show Sam some love for the bravery to share her story publicly, and maybe we might be able to have more guest bloggers here on NSSLOU in the future.

You can find Sam on Facebook here and on Instagram here.

’12 Months with Twins’ by Sam Goodwin

Today my 24 weekers turn one!

This whole year has been a roller coaster ride that’s for sure.

After 104 days in hospital, we finally made it home. But we still had many issues we had to address in order to stay home.

Feeding issues and weight gain were our main struggles at first. Kalani and Keanu were tube fed breast milk in hospital until later in our stay where they were transitioned to bottle feeds. And let me tell you, it was no walk in the park!

Despite trying everything it was almost impossible to wake them for feeds. Plus, with Kalani having major jaundice, it was even harder to feed him.

It took us at least 1.5 months to actually feed properly! I thought for sure they had upper lip ties, reflux, colic…something that would explain it. But after many, many doctor visits they all said the same thing, “YOUR BABIES ARE FINE!”

Of course that didn’t sit well with me because I knew something was wrong. It’s just a motherly instinct. You never overlook it!

Though it wasn’t diagnosed my gut feeling was that my babies had colic, so I did get off the shelf medicines appropriate for their age to see if it made a difference. It was touch and go as I found these medicines did and didn’t work.

I spent hundreds of dollars trying different formulas and different types of milk only to find that nothing worked and reverted back to our original formula.

Soooooo, now we come to their sleeping habits… You know those mamas that have a baby who sleeps through from 6 weeks? Yeah, not my sons! We’ve had a heck of a ride when it came to our sleep… Oh let me just tell you!

We had an in home sleep consultant come out to our house and write up a plan that suited our family and lifestyle when they were 4 months corrected age. It worked for probably… hmm… 4 days!

I was so disappointed because I had such high hopes and I was extremely sleep deprived. I still am! So I really hoped we had a solution. I didn’t want to give up because let’s be real… A well rested mama is a great, great, great, great mama! And I wanted to be that mama!

So we tried desperately to get into sleep school at the Ellen Barron Family Centre. And then we finally got accepted when the boys were 6 months old.

Unfortunately, even that didn’t work for us.

The nurses at Ellen Barron called Keanu ‘El Toro the Bull’. He was absolutely horrid. OH BELIEVE ME, I KNOW! Still to this day he is an absolute bugger to put to sleep.

I spent countless hours patting, rocking, shooshing, rocking in the pram, driving around and around and cuddling my babies trying to get them to sleep. COUNTLESS hours! I’m blessed with the amount of hair I still have on my head as a result.

I had also tried…
Darkening their room, introducing soft music, swaddles, sleeping bags, co-sleeping, offering more milk, offering more food, adjusting their sleep times, adjusting their awake times, reading sleep books… Everything you can name, I did!

In the end, I just threw my hands up and said whatever, I’ll just deal with it. So hello, from a proud, tired, sleepless mama of twin boys who are terrible, terrible sleepers. Anyone else? Wanna join my club! There’s coffee! Lot’s of coffee!

So onto the health side of things…
As you know, Kalani and Keanu were born 24+5 weeks gestation. Because of this, we have had continuous check ups at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for both boys with the surgeon who performed their bowel surgeries.

They had noticed both boys testicles were too high and if by 12 months they haven’t dropped they would need further surgery.

Thankfully Keanu’s did drop into place, but Kalani isn’t as lucky as his little brother and we will be going back for surgery within the next 90 days.

HOPEFULLY… That will be the end of all the surgeries for my little guys. Because with this new surgery, that will make it number four for Kalani. It’s no biggy though! We’ve had worse! I just hope it works the first time. Hospitals make me uneasy and I don’t like being there any longer than I have to.

Babies get sick. And when your baby is sick everyone is sick, tired and miserable. Because the boys were so premature, they are prone to get everything and anything. Every week they’ve had a cold or the flu! High temps, ear infections. You name it. NO EXAGGERATION.

We had the worst of the worst a few months ago where Kalani came down with Norovirus and Salmonella food poisoning. Both… At the same time! It was such a horrible and exhausting 5 days in hospital. My little man couldn’t catch a break. And the worst part for me about that hospital stay was trying to tear myself into two again between my twins, with one in hospital and one at home.

BUT… With all the bad aside, we’ve also had some great times too.

The boys have developed their own unique personalities. Kalani is a soft, sensitive, curious cuddle bug, who roars and growls like a tiger. HE IS SUCH A MUMMIES BOY.

Keanu is a loud, outgoing dare devil with a twinkle in his eye who demands all the attention in the world. Just ask all the grandmas at Woolworths!

They are slowly but surely reaching their milestones too, with a little help from physiotherapy.

Keanu is now sitting to crawling, trying to pull himself onto furniture, saying dada and mama and can twinkle his fingers to twinkle, twinkle little star. And Kalani can too! (It’s their favourite song).

Kalani is sitting and commando crawling and saying dada. We find Kalani is about 2 weeks behind Keanu but we don’t mind because he’s still our little baby and he will catch up at his own pace.

Both boys love their food. They also LOVE painting, LOVE water play and absolutely LOVE other children and being out and about being social butterflies. But I guess you have to be social if you’re a twin right?

Everywhere we go people stop me 100 times. Twins are fascinating, I get it! But OMG, could you imagine having quadruplets?

– Are they twins?
– Are they identical?
– Are they both boys?
– Were they premature?
– Were they naturally conceived?
– Will you have anymore?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, NO! (Joking)

– You must have your hands full?
– Double trouble!
– Twice the love!
– You are so blessed!

I have heard it all!

I say this however, being a first time mum has really tested me. I suffered severe PND (post natal depression) for the first 6 months of motherhood, that I have now managed to overcome.

I would cry at the drop of a hat and it was very tough on me to try and be the best mother to two little humans who had feeding, sleeping and medical issues. As well as dealing with whatever life wanted to throw at me too. Thankfully I had my mum, my sisters and my best friend to keep me grounded through my most darkest days, and give a helping hand.

I now really enjoy being a first time mama to twins. But sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to have a singleton for a day or two! I’ve adjusted quite well and I am more confident within myself and my babies, even if they don’t sleep and have no routine whatsoever. We just go with the flow.

People now ask me how I do it. I don’t know if I can answer that. I just do.

And because of this, it now just comes naturally.

Happy first birthday, Kalani and Keanu.

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Thanks Sam. We wish the boys a wonderful first birthday. And well done Mama, you made it!

*If you or someone you know is suffering from Post Natal Depression you can get information and help at www.panda.org.au