I’m having a very difficult time being grateful today. I’m running on 2 hours of sleep due to sleep training, still trying to get over this cough, and started my morning off by spilling coffee on myself. However, I need to remember that this isn’t forever, it’s just today. So here’s my best shot at being grateful on an ungrateful-feeling day:
- I’m thankful for the meditation session at work today. It was nice just to have some quiet time even if my sleep deprivation was causing me to nod off.
- I’m thankful my babies are feeling better and are over their colds.
- I’m thankful for Ben who has been alternating sleep training duty with me so that we each at least get some sleep every other night.
- I’m grateful for the opportunity to run. It gives me time to think and clear my head.
- I’m thankful for new friends and old friends. This past weekend I got the opportunity to make a new friend as well as hang out with some amazing old friends.
A few things to be thankful for today:
- I’m thankful that my boys are feeling better after their first bad cold.
- I’m thankful that I’m feeling better after catching their cold.
- I’m thankful I didn’t wreck my car or anyone else’s and that no one was injured after skidding on ice/snow yesterday on my way to work.
- I’m thankful for a fun Skype date with my cousin Megan last weekend.
- I’m thankful for baby naps and sleep that give me much needed breaks to get things done.
Wishing happiness to everyone!
I know it’s Wednesday and I’m way behind, but I’m totally overwhelmed lately and exhausted. My boys are sick, I’m sick, Christmas decorations are still up, the house is a mess, and I’m behind in everything that it’s possible to be behind in. But I know there are worse problems in this world so I need some gratefulness in my life today to put things in perspective.
Today, I’m grateful for:
- I’m thankful for the opportunity to go on a date with my husband on Friday, an event that rarely happens these days and that we certainly took for granted before our boys were born. We had lunch at Pasture Q and then saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
- I’m also grateful for a fun girl’s day and family night on Sunday. Sarah and I were supposed to get pedicures but that fell through so we had coffee and talked instead which is something we haven’t had a chance to do in a long time. Then we met Lindsey to see Into the Woods. It was really nice to just get a break from being a mommy. Then we came home to our husbands taking care of our babies and our in-laws making us pizzas for dinner. I loved getting some family time as well as getting dinner made for us!
- I’m grateful that my brother, sister, and mom came to spend Christmas with us this year and that they all got to stay for such a long time and bond with the boys. I’m also thankful for all the help they gave us with the boys allowing me to get a few extra naps and relaxation in. I know how expensive it can be to fly, especially around the holidays, and I know that traveling takes precious vacation time from work so I hope they know how much it meant to me that they came for Christmas.
- I’m thankful for my husband who puts up with my moping and crying every time my family leaves to go home. I’m sure it must seem to him that I’d rather be with them than with him, but as I’ve told him many times, the fact that I am willing to live far from them shows how much I love him and want to be with him.
- Lastly, I’m thankful for sleep. I may not get alot of it, but I probably get a helluva lot more than some twin moms so I’ll just be thankful for the 4 or 5 interrupted hours I average on a nightly basis.
Have a happy and healthy day! One day I’ll be able to post more often!
I’m really having a hard time being grateful right now as I’m exhausted from lack of sleep, overwhelmed with work, household duties, mothering responsibilities, and Christmas shopping, and just unmotivated with everything piling on. But when is the best time to be grateful? When you find it hardest to be grateful! Of course that is supposedly when it should be the most helpful, so here it goes:
- I’m thankful that we got to take our boys to see Santa and get a Christmas tree on Sunday. And we did it all while supporting two great causes. We donated to the East Rivanna Volunteer Fire Company which hosted the Santa Clause pictures and we bought our Christmas tree from the boy scouts.
- I’m thankful for my husband for taking time off of work on Friday and Monday to help me take the boys to doctors appointments. It’s getting more and more difficult for me to take them places on my own and I’m so thankful Ben has a great employer that allows him to be flexible.
- I’m thankful for fun times this past weekend, stir-fry night with the Rejonis’, a baby shower for my friend Jamie, Christmas cookie decorating, Christmas shopping, and spending time with family and friends.
- I’m grateful for the internet that is making Christmas shopping with 2 seven month old babies much less stressful than it has to be!
- I’m thankful for the sweet smiles and laughs of my boys that make me forget all my troubles!
Happy day friends!
I’m thankful for a free moment to write this post!
I’m a busy woman but not too busy for gratitude! Here are some of my thankful things today:
- I’m thankful my boys are 7 months old today! They started out as tiny premature babies, but they are now big and healthy little guys!
- I’m thankful for a fun and relaxing week last week and the opportunity for my boys to enjoy their first Thanksgiving! We spent the day Skyping with my family in Texas, visiting their grandparents, spending time with their aunt, uncle, and cousin, eating a new kind of squash that their grandma grew, and trying their first meat, turkey.
- I’m thankful for technology, Skype in particular, for allowing me to spend time with my family over the holidays even though we live far apart. I’m also thankful my boys are getting to know their Texas family via Skype!
- I’m thankful for good friends and good times! My friend Lindsey came over to bake pies Wednesday night and it was so nice to get to visit with her. Then on Monday, Sarah and I took all the babies on an almost 2 hour long walk and enjoyed the unusually warm weather! I don’t get to spend as much time with friends as I used to so I’m even more thankful for those opportunities now.
- Lastly, I’m thankful for the fun date night Ben and I had Saturday and also thankful to my mother-in-law for watching the boys. Ben and I went to South Street Brewery where we had our first date a few years ago. It was recently bought out by another local brewery so they had a renovated space, new menu, and lots of new beers to try. So of course we went all out by ordering an appetizer with our meals and trying a flight of all the beers. Then we saw Interstellar which was an awesome movie! I miss these date nights but it’s nice that we still get the opportunity to have them occasionally as I know there are many parents out there who do not have that option.
Happy day friends!
Monday was busy but I think I can squeeze in a quick post today.
Today, I’m thankful for the following:
- I’m thankful for my boys’ progress. We have physical therapy sessions every other week for both boys to address delays in their motor skills and preferences for their right sides cause flattening on the right sides of their heads, and yesterday, the Physical Therapist was so impressed with their progress that she thinks they only need a couple more sessions until they no longer need her assistance. My boys are growing fast!
- I’m thankful for my husband who is covering the night shift with the babies this week since he has the whole week off of work and I don’t.
- I’m thankful for family, and Thanksgiving, and days off of work!
- I’m thankful for technology. Since I can’t be with my Texas family for Thanksgiving, we’ll enjoy each others’ company via Skype!
- I’m thankful for my little family. I don’t feel like we are complete yet, but having children during the holidays really reinforces what they are all about and I’m so grateful I have healthy and happy little ones to share the holidays with and start making memories and continuing traditions.
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!