Here’s a really helpful infographic I found on Lifehack.org that talks about challenging and coping with negative thoughts. I notice myself running alot of negative thoughts that involve jealousy, resentment, and judgement through my head on occasion so this infographic instantly struck me as a valuable read and something to save for later.
It’s been over 6 months since I gave birth to my boys and I still have alot of bottled up resentment and sadness about my experience. Since writing has helped me get through things in the past, I’ve decided to lay it all out here to finally allow the healing process to take over.
Most newly pregnant women and first time moms in this country are bombarded with this idea of the perfect pregnancy, the ideal birthing plan and process, and a result that is a perfect little baby that loves you unconditionally. I knew from the moment I found out I was having twins that I would be forced to give up many of the idealistic characteristics of this picture painted by society (which most women find out after taking their baby home from the hospital is nothing but a false fairy tale). When I found out I was having twins, my expectations were immediately lowered because twin moms are required to give birth in an operating room (even if it is a natural birth) and must be continuously monitored and thus laying on their back for most of the birthing process thus having alot less freedom to move around to help naturally progress the birthing process. Because of the operating room requirement, only 1 family member or friend is allowed to attend the birth which means that a woman must choose between a doula and her partner or her partner and her mother or best friend. In addition, the experience is much less intimate and personal because you are surrounded by 15 to 20 doctors, nurses, and medical professionals since each baby requires their own team (the day after giving birth, I had nurses coming up to me in the NICU whom I’d never seen before telling me what a good job I did). I also knew that mothers of twins are much more likely to give birth prematurely (which I did) and more likely to have more uncomfortable pregnancies (I basically skipped the 2nd trimester and went from feeling sick all day to feeling uncomfortable all day and night – maybe I had 4 weeks of that great second trimester they describe). Your pregnancy is also riddled with high-risk doctors appointments and constant monitoring that many mothers of singletons do not have to endure. Sometimes I felt like I was being poked and prodded constantly and laying on my back for 2 hours every other week for ultrasounds while the weight of my ever-increasing uterus trapped oxygen making its way back to my brain was torture. Lastly, a mother of twins is more likely to have to supplement with formula since the demand for milk is much higher with two babies.
Here are the hopes I had for my pregnancy in my first trimester before I knew I was having twins (these hopes were all influenced greatly by the books, websites, and forums I read as well as the mommy-culture that engulfs you when becoming pregnant):
- I wanted to exclusively breast feed for as long as possible (ideally 6 months to a year) with NO FORMULA
- I wanted a completely natural birth without an epidural or any kind of pain medications
- I wanted the baby to go directly on my chest after birth and stay in the hospital room with me until it was time to go home
- I wanted the midwife I’d been seeing for 7 years to deliver my baby
- I wanted to finish the “perfect” nursery and have my house in “perfect” order for when the baby came home – I wanted to nest
- I wanted to be the “perfect” mommy for this “perfect” baby that was going to love me unconditionally always and forever
- I wanted a risk-free happy pregnancy complete with minimal weight gain and nesting galore
Can you tell I’m a perfectionist?
Here’s what really happened:
- I don’t make alot of milk. My mom didn’t make alot of milk and it’s just part of my genetic makeup. Plus my body doesn’t respond to a breast pump and my babies were born early and could only eat through a feeding tube that went directly into their stomach for the first month so the only milk they could get from me was pumped milk. I was pressured by the NICU staff to give my babies formula when my milk didn’t appear to be coming in and I was scared for my babies. I didn’t want them to be losing weight when they were already so small. I did everything I was supposed to…pumped 9 to 10 times a day every 2 to 3 hours, talked to 4 different lactation consultants, I sought out the La Leche League for their advice, used a hospital grade pump, pumped at the babies’ bedsides, watched videos and looked at pictures of them while pumping, drank half a liter of water a day, ate lactation cookies, and took supplements that are intended to increase milk supply and I still pumped less than 2 ounces a day. Every time I entered the NICU pumping room and saw a mother leaving with 2 large full bottles of milk, my heart sank. I tirelessly washed and sanitized pump parts over and over again and woke myself up in the middle of the night to pump rather than resting up for the boys’ homecoming. I ended up having to give them mostly formula with what little milk I pumped split between the two of them. And to add insult to injury, every day at rounds, the doctors and nurses would discuss my low milk supply. Every time there was a new nurse taking care of the boys, she’d add her suggestions on how to improve milk supply, suggestions I’d already tried without any success. Finally one day, a nurse practitioner who had twins told me what she wished someone had told her. She said she wished she’d quit pumping and worrying about milk supply when her babies were small so she could better enjoy them. She told me I most likely would not produce more milk than I was already producing and that I’d never be able to exclusively breastfeed my babies. I was devastated. I felt like less of a woman. I didn’t know why God would give me two babies and not give me the means and ability to feed them both.
- I could have tried for a natural birth. Many twin moms have done it drug-free, but I’d heard too many horror stories about the second baby being breech or stuck and an emergency c-section having to be performed and the mother having to be put to sleep because there wasn’t time for an epidural. I wasn’t taking any chances. I did not want to be put under and not be awake to see my babies come into this world or know whether they were OK or not. I got the epidural and it did relieve the pain, but now I have constant back pain at my injection site 6 months later so there was a trade-off. I was happy that I was able to birth them naturally without a c-section despite Morgan being breech. He was delivered feet first with 3 doctors pulling on him while I looked around asking the surrounding doctors and nurses whether I should be pushing with no response given. Ben said he thought he was dead when he was born. I’m glad I wasn’t aware that he was in distress at the time.
- My babies didn’t go directly on my chest. They went directly from the 8th floor to the 7th floor to spend the next month in the NICU. They didn’t stay in my room and when I wanted to see them or hold them, I had to take an elevator ride, sign papers, and scrub my hands every time. And even then, I wasn’t always allowed or encouraged to hold them as they needed to keep their temperatures up in the incubators so they could use as much of their nutrition as possible for gaining weight rather than keeping warm. I didn’t even get to hold Morgan until almost 12 hours after birth. They were born on May 3rd and didn’t come home until June 3rd.
- 7 years ago, I intentionally started seeing the only licensed midwife with admitting rights at a hospital in Charlottesville because I wanted a midwife to help deliver my babies one day. In my mind, a midwife is like a doula and doctor all in one, the best of both worlds, medical and natural. My midwife was awesome. I loved her bedside manner and her personality and she has only a 3% epidural rate! But guess what, she doesn’t deliver twins! When my ultrasound revealed we were having twins, I was instantly transferred to the doctor she works with without even getting to talk to her. He is a great doctor and highly sought-after in Charlottesville but he wasn’t who I picked and I didn’t even know him. And to top it off, he didn’t even deliver my boys because they were born early and the hospital at which he has admitting rights does not allow delivery of babies born before 34 weeks gestation because they are not equipped with a true NICU. So I don’t even know the names of the 2 resident and 1 attending doctors who delivered my boys.
- My nursery still isn’t finished. I was too uncomfortable too early to get everything done and then I was placed on bed-rest at 32 weeks so I wasn’t allowed to clean or nest or make sure my nursery or my house was in “perfect” order. I didn’t have 2 weeks worth of frozen home-cooked meals waiting in my freezer. I didn’t even have clean sheets to come home to. For the organized, type-A person that I am, this situation was less than ideal! And sure I had time to clean my house and finish the nursery while the boys were in the NICU, but I didn’t want to spend any time away from them. My home-away-from-home was at the NICU while they were there.
- There’s no such thing as a perfect mommy and there’s no such thing as a perfect baby that loves you unconditionally, I know that now. Babies can’t love you because they don’t know how. That’s your job as a parent, to teach them how to love. Being a mom those first couple of months was very lonely and discouraging. The boys didn’t smile for 3 months and they didn’t react much to me. They ate, slept, pooped, and cried, and since my boys were born early and were delayed, I watched as friends’ babies who were born after my boys started to smile and develop a personality while my boys just laid there. At times, it felt like they’d never do anything else. I also felt alot of frustration and mommy guilt which I know now is normal but no one told me that I’d feel these things or that it was OK to feel these things when I was pregnant. I still get frustrated and I still feel guilty about every little thing. If one of them starts crying while I’m in the bathroom, I feel guilty for having to leave them to go to the bathroom. And when they won’t let me sleep at night, I get mad and then I feel guilty for feeling mad because they are just babies and they don’t know any better. That whole fairy tale idea that babies come out knowing that you’re their mom and loving you is just that, a fairy tale. I’m sure they recognized my voice and smell but beyond that they needed to bond with me and develop more before knowing that they have some sort of connection to me. And they probably won’t even know what love is or how to love for years.
- My pregnancy wasn’t risk-free or easy. I went to the obstetrician, maternal fetal medicine doctor (who does the ultrasounds), or the endocrinologist (because of my Hypothyroidism) almost every week and was constantly leaving work early. Sure I got to see my babies on the ultrasound more often, but these appointments weren’t as fun as you’d think they were. I was constantly having to have vaginal ultrasounds which are no fun and abdominal ultrasounds which required me to lay on my back. Laying on my back made me sick and would cause me to almost pass out most times because my uterus was so heavy. Those doctors appointments all came with extra co-pays as well. At 28 weeks, when most pregnant women can start to let go of some of the worry that their baby is going to make it to full term, I was told my cervix was shortening early and given a $60 supply of two-a-day progesterone suppositories to attempt to slow down my body’s attempt to prepare for labor early. I was super proud of myself at the 13 week mark of my pregnancy when I hadn’t gained any weight. You couldn’t even tell I was pregnant. Then I found out I was having twins and all of the reading materials on twin pregnancies said you should be gaining weight and eating so many calories a day. I wish I had known so I could have had an early start! There was no way I was going to make it to the recommended 20 pounds by 20 weeks. Some people might think, awesome, you truly can eat whatever you want. But it was impossible to get enough calories and protein in when my stomach was being squished and had limited space and I still had many food aversions and occasional nausea. As a matter of fact, my biggest weight gain came from swelling! In the end, I gained 41 pounds and that was much more than I wanted to gain when I thought I was having one baby but not enough when I knew I was having twins. I also didn’t get to nest. I didn’t have the energy to clean or organize and I spent almost a month getting what little sleep I could manage on the couch. I was too big to do anything…I couldn’t drive the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy and my in-laws had to take me to my doctors appointments. I ended up with only 2 skirts and 1 pair of pajama pants that fit me and just rotated through those. I didn’t get to finish my child birthing classes (and no I didn’t get a partial refund). Then I got put on bed-rest and was in full-on panic mode about being prepared as well as about them coming early.
The positive things I SHOULD try to focus on:
- Every little bit of breastfeeding counts and I still have not given up. We’ve been through premature birth, learning to coordinate the suck, swallow, breathe reflex, using nipple shields, low milk supply, lack of response to pumping, reflux, colic, colds for all 3 of us at the same time, and a bout of crippling mastitis but we have made it this far and that is AMAZING! They have been getting my antibodies all this time and we are lucky that we can afford formula and have access to it. And there is nothing wrong with formula. “Breast may be best” but in the 1950s, women were discouraged from breastfeeding and formula feeding was all the rage. My mom was formula fed as well as countless others and they’ve all turned out to be just as smart, happy, and healthy as any breastfed baby. The upside to breastfeeding and bottle feeding has also been that I get to bond with my babies and feed them but other loved-ones like Daddy and grandparents can bond with them by feeding them as well while allowing me to get some rest at the same time. And when most people ask me if I am breastfeeding, they are NOT judging me.
- I delivered my boys naturally and only had minimal tears. I didn’t have to have the c-section that I was scared out of my mind about and I didn’t give into having one despite my fear and my doctor’s statement that it was the safer option. I’m proud of what my body can do. That being said, there is nothing wrong with having a c-section and if it had been necessary for the health and survival of my babies, there would have been no question about it. I also remind myself that many times, having a c-section is the only option and beyond a woman’s control. I have mad props for all those women out there who go through a c-section and then have to heal while they simultaneously take care of a needy newborn.
- My babies had the best care possible in the NICU. Ben and I were taught how to take care of a baby by experts. They were pros at swaddling, bathing, changing diapers, and taking temperatures. We were lucky to have such great teachers. We also had the benefit of getting a month’s rest before bringing home twins. Most parents don’t get to rest and recover while someone else takes care of their baby. We were also lucky to have their very expensive hospital stays mostly covered by insurance. And when they came home, they were already on a great schedule that the NICU had set for them so that eased the extra work of having two when we brought them home.
- The boys were born healthy and were breathing on their own…that’s more than a mother of premature twins can ask for. Since they were born at a teaching hospital, at least their birth helped to increase the experience and knowledge of resident doctors who will hopefully go on to deliver many more healthy babies and save lives of mommies and babies in the future. My midwife is retiring now anyway so she wouldn’t have been my midwife for much longer so at least I got grandfathered in as a patient of the doctor who she works with who is extremely difficult to start seeing as a new patient.
- I’m happy and my boys seem happy and we are living life together as a family. There is no true definition of perfect but something can feel perfect and my little family feels like perfection to me.
- I skipped the last two months of pregnancy so really I gained alot less weight than most moms of twins and I was only 10 pounds up when I left the hospital. 6 months later, I’ve lost all of my baby weight and I feel great! As for having the house clean and the nursery finished and all of the other nesting that goes on, that stuff doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Besides, I have two boys and they are going to tear that shit up over the next few years anyway so I might as well get used to things not being clean and tidy now.
- Having twins is hard! Having one baby is hard! I may have had to go through alot more than a singleton mommy and I do sometimes feel like my ideal pregnancy and birth experience were stolen from me, but you know what? I have TWO sweet babies. Most mommies only get 1 but I get 2 sets of smiles, 2 happy faces looking up at me in the morning, and 2 boys who will entertain each other in a few months!
As Ben said, what does any of it matter when we ended up with two healthy, beautiful baby boys. Many women have had worse experiences than I did and have had tragic endings to their stories. I met many parents in the NICU who’s babies were much worse off than our boys and would have life-time health complications because of their premature births. My purpose in writing this long post is not to whine (and hopefully nothing comes off as judgmental because there are few things in this world I dislike more than a judgmental mommy) but to finally allow myself to mourn the loss of everything I wanted and planned for and could not achieve and move on so that my full focus can be on raising happy, healthy children. Giving birth and adjusting to becoming a parent is a traumatic experience and it is even more traumatic when you have to worry about your babies surviving in a hospital and leave them there in the care of others when there is nothing you can do for them despite feeling that you are the one person ultimately responsible for their survival. I’ve spoken with other mothers of premature babies and we all feel a resentment toward and jealousy of friends and loved ones who have “normal” birth experiences and get to bring their babies home a day or two after they are born. It’s still hard for me to see this and I still want to cry when I think about the day that I had to leave my two angels at the hospital and go home without them. But I have to remember what my smart and insightful husband said, none of that matters because they are with us now and they are healthy. There is no perfect pregnancy, no perfect birth, no perfect baby, no perfect mommy, and nothing should be a competition. When I remind myself of that, I can put all of my focus toward my boys.
Thankful Monday was a bust but how about Thankful Tuesday!
I’m thankful for the following this lovely autumn day:
- I’m thankful for our double jogging stroller that I bought used for $50 when I was pregnant. If it weren’t for this awesome invention, I’d pretty much be getting no exercise or vitamin D via outdoor time. Last weekend, Ben and I took the boys for a walk in the stroller on the Saunders-Monticello Trail and they seemed to enjoy a nice change in scenery from our regular neighborhood walks.
- I’m thankful for our new Honda Odyssey that has given us much more room to travel together as a family and allows us to take the above-mentioned stroller to other locations besides our house! I can’t wait to drive it to Texas!
- I’m thankful for my husband and his willingness to buy the typical mommy vehicle instead of buying something that the young, cool guy in him wanted. Ben has NEVER had a new car and I’m sure when his got totaled he was thinking, this is my chance to buy something new and fun. But I convinced him that we needed a bigger vehicle and now he is driving the 3-year old Subaru Forester while I drive the fancy new van.
- I’m thankful for my part-time schedule and an employer that allows it. I work 30 hours a week – 24 hours at work on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and the other 6 hours from home when the boys are sleeping during nap time or at night. Because of this, I am still able to spend the majority of my time with my buddies which is the most important thing to me!
- I’m thankful for coffee! It really does make it easier to get up at 5 AM with only 4 hours of sleep behind me!
Happy day friends!
It’s been a while since I last wrote and life has been super busy but it’s a good day for some gratitude so here’s what I’m thankful for:
- I’m thankful for my beautiful and healthy niece, Cora, who arrived 3 weeks ago today. I’m also thankful that my sister, Sarah, had a complication-free labor and delivery!
- I’m thankful to work for such a great company who allowed me to come back to work part-time after a 6 month maternity leave!
- I’m thankful for my little boys who are happy and healthy and turn 6 months old today!
- I’m thankful for a great family who made celebrating the boys’ first Halloween a blast!
- I’m grateful for my mother-in-law who provides free childcare for us! We are so lucky to be able to save money and have our boys spend time with their grandma instead of at a daycare!
Have a great day!
I should start calling this post “Thankful Nap Time” since the only time I have to write it is when both of my boys are napping! Here’s what I’m thankful for today:
- I’m thankful my dad is coming to visit this week to meet his grandchildren for the first time! I’m so excited to see him and for the boys to meet him!
- I’m thankful for working for a company that has been so amazing to me throughout my journey to motherhood. They have given me an unheard-of 6 months off to be with my boys who were born early and had to spend their first month of life in the hospital. I’ll be forever grateful the their generosity!
- I’m grateful for opportunities I get to leave the house, spend time with friends and family, and show my boys the world. Leaving the house with them is pretty difficult on my own so I’m so thankful for all the help I have when I do take them somewhere or when I want to go somewhere on my own.
- I’m thankful for my sister and brother-in-law, Sarah and Ian, letting us use their 3rd car until we can buy a new one since we currently only have the Forester.
- I’m grateful for early bedtimes and the evenings when the boys do go to bed early and sleep through the night. Though they may be few and far between, I am no less happy for them.
Have a great day!
Nap time is almost over so here’s what I’m thankful for today:
- I’m thankful for nap time, especially when both babies nap at the same time, because I can actually get things done like laundry, eating lunch, checking email, or writing this post!
- I’m thankful for my new little family. I love being a parent despite the rough times that come with it!
- I’m thankful for our Tula Baby Carriers and grateful to my sister, Sarah, and Aunt Mary for giving them to us. They allowed us to take the babies to the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello this past weekend!
- I’m thankful for a great place to work that has allowed me to take such a long maternity leave so that I can be with my babies until they are developmentally 3 months old and not just chronologically 3 months old.
- I’m thankful for baby smiles, coos, and babbles that make all of the hard stuff like crying, fussing, and screaming worthwhile!
Better grab something to eat before my monkeys wake up!
Ok, so I know it’s not Monday, but it feels like a Monday because yesterday was a holiday and both babies are happy and quiet at the moment so here’s a quick list of what I’m currently thankful for:
- I’m thankful for my two little guys who bring me joy every day with their smiles! I always knew I wanted to be a mother and though parenthood is filled with alot of uncomfortable and undesirable things, it is still amazing!
- I’m thankful for an amazing Mother-In-Law who comes over almost every day to help me with my babies. Not only is it helpful for me but it gives my boys more individual attention which I am always worried they are lacking since they are twins and there is only so much of me to go around while Ben is at work.
- I’m thankful for technology. This weekend, the boys got to Skype with Grandma, Uncle Pete, Uncle Mike, Aunt Linda, Aunt Connie, Cousin Marc, Aunt Cat, and Aunt Debbie! I’m so glad they can be close to their family even when we live far away! Oh and I’m also thankful for my awesome new Samsung Galaxy S5 that takes amazing photos! I’m going to run out of space soon with all of the pictures I’ve been taking!
- I’m thankful for my health! After my pregnancy, my thyroid is doing great and I’m down 7.5 pounds (37 pounds since giving birth) and only have 5 pounds to lose until I hit my pre-pregnancy weight.
- I’m thankful for family! Not only did we get to Skype with my family this weekend, we also got to spend plenty of time with my mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law and soon-to-be-born niece, brother-in-law, and 2 nieces. Plus this coming weekend, we get to see even more family who will be in town for Sarah’s baby shower!
Have a great and grateful day!
I haven’t written my weekly Thankful Monday post in a while and those of you who know me well know that it’s because I had my twin boys unexpectedly early on Saturday, May 3rd. We had a month in the NICU and then it’s been almost two months of taking care of newborns around the clock. I’ve been trying to get the chance to write down what I’m thankful for over the past couple of weeks but this is the first Monday where the boys are both napping at the same time and I have the opportunity. So here it goes:
This week, I’m thankful for the following:
- I’m thankful for two beautiful, healthy, amazing little boys! Carter Mitchel “Tex” Davidson and Morgan Fox ‘Virg” Davidson were born at 32 weeks and 4 days at 3:50 AM and 3:54 AM on Saturday, May 3, 2o14. Despite being almost 2 month early, they were both breathing room air on their own and were perfectly healthy. They only needed to stay in the hospital to learn to regulate their temperatues on their own and learn to eat by mouth. Especially after meeting so many parents in the NICU who’s babies were sick or came much earlier than ours and were facing a lifetime of health issues and much longer NICU stays, I thank God for our blessings!
- I’m thankful for the amazing doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and all staff at both Martha Jefferson Hospital and the University of Virginia Medical Center as well as the great EMTs who transported me from one place to another. We were all very well taken care of!
- I’m grateful for a fairly easy birth experience and recovery. I was lucky to avoid a C-section despite many people thinking that twins are born that way. In addition, my active labor and delivery only lasted about 6 hours and I pushed for less than an hour so I’m very thankful for the short period of pain, especially compared to many other first time mothers who they say tend to labor for a longer period of time.
- I’m thankful that we have formula available to us and enough money to afford it. Unfortunately I don’t make enough milk for my babies so I am grateful we can supplement without having to worry about it affecting our finances too much.
- I’m thankful for my husband and the father of my babies. He was amazing throughout my short but extremely uncomfortable pregnancy, the surprise announcement that we were having twins, and the long NICU stay. He took me to the hospital every morning on his way to work, then brought me lunch and visited the boys every afternoon, and then came back to visit and take me home after work every day. He is a wonderful husband, father, and friend and I couldn’t have gotten through the past 10 months without him.
Hopefully this post will become weekly again as it is very helpful with my happiness and mental health and I will try my hardest but it will all depend on my sweet baby boys! Happy Monday and don’t forget to be thankful!
Good morning and happy Thankful Monday.
Today, I am thankful for the following:
- I’m thankful I’ve made it to 32 weeks today and hopeful that I can make it to 36 weeks. I’m also thankful that our babies looked safe and healthy in our ultrasound last week, and I’m hoping for the same diagnosis at our ultrasound today.
- I’m grateful for my in-laws who drove me to the doctor last Monday and are driving me to the doctor again today since it has gotten very difficult for me to drive. I’m also so thankful that they live so close to me in case I need anything or there is an emergency while I am working from home in these last few weeks of pregnancy.
- I’m thankful for my sister-in-law Sarah who came over and helped me get the nursery somewhat organized this weekend and cheer me up since I’ve been a bit house-bound lately.
- I’m thankful for Ben who has put up with my mood swings and been great at supporting me through the rough parts of my pregnancy. I’m also so grateful for his help in fixing all of the furniture for the nursery. He’s working so hard when I know he’d rather be doing other things.
- I’m thankful for all of the support, well wishes, and sympathetic ears from people over the past couple of really difficult weeks, especially my mom.
Hopefully these babies will still be cooking this time next week. Have a great day!