Hi readers! I’ve started a new blog, which will focus on parenting twins and motherhood.
Check it out!
Hi readers! I’ve started a new blog, which will focus on parenting twins and motherhood.
Check it out!
Today is Friday, my favorite day. It’s not my favorite day because it’s the weekend; I’m a mom, what is this weekend you speak of? Long gone are the summer weekends of day drinking, river trips, last minute BBQs, and all-nighters. Sometimes I’m sad that part of my life is over, but then I hear the shrieks and giggles over the baby monitor, and those days are long forgotten. It’s not the “weekend” I’m excited for, it’s two whole days with my babies that I look forward to. Also, it’s the start of the mom guilt cycle.
As a working mom, I look forward to days off spent with my girls. I don’t mind that they wake me up only an hour later than my work day wake up. I love going into their room, to see them sitting up, or standing up, smiling as soon as I walk through the doorway. I’m excited to cook them breakfast, and smile at them as we eat together. I snuggle, and soothe cries. I split them up when one pulls the other’s hair, or thinks that bouncing up and down CPR style on her sister is the best game ever. But by 10am I’m thinking to myself, “isn’t it nap time? Yes. It’s nap time. Mommy has things she needs to do.”
Days off aren’t just for baby time. It’s getting around to that spot on the floor under the coffee table that I’ve been staring at for a week, but haven’t had time to clean. It’s folding the mountain of laundry that I’ve been digging through all week in search of bibs and clean underwear. It’s staring at that overwhelming list of “things to do to get the house ready to sell”, and wondering how we will ever find time to do it all in the next month. So I choose a task, and get at it, hoping that I can finish it before they wake up. I was in the middle of deep cleaning our family room, pulling out all the furniture from the walls, disassembling baby jail so that I could pull everything to the middle of the room. I was sweeping, and mopping, and hollering at the dogs to move out of the way. I anxiously watched the clock, will I get this finished before they wake up? I was a good 20 minutes or so from being finished when I heard baby babble over the monitor. Damn. So close. I guess they can play in their cribs while I finish this up.
Cue mom guilt. I know that I should be spending all the time I can with them, I mean, I’m away from home 45 hours a week, and they need their mom right? But I need to finish cleaning this room, I need to weed the front flower bed, and I need to put dinner in the crock pot. But this is my time with them! I can’t possibly do anything else with my free time, it’s just not fair to them, right? I also would really love to get a pedicure, but that’s time out of the precious little time I get with them each week.
By Sunday evening, as I’m wiping mac and cheese out of ears and noses, running a bath, and picking out bedtime stories, in the back of my mind I’m thinking “I’m glad I go back to work tomorrow.” More mom guilt. I shouldn’t be happy that I’m going back to work, I should be sad that I’ll probably miss another first. Next up will be first words and first steps, milestones I’m sure to miss during my work week. By Monday afternoon I’ll be asking my husband, who has “his days” on Monday and Tuesday, to send me pictures of the girls, and ask him several times how they’re doing. By Thursday night I’ll be in bed, telling my husband, who I don’t get to see much either, that I didn’t get to hold my babies enough today. That three hours between getting home and bed time is never enough. Again, there are things I need to do, but I only have three hours with them! Surely those things can wait until after bedtime. Then at 10:30pm when I’m eating dinner, I’ll be longing for the weekend, when I have more hours to spend with my girls.
It’s a vicious, never ending cycle. I spend all week beating myself up for not being home with my kids; then I get home and beat myself up some more for needing to do more than sit on the floor and show them how to put those stupid misshapen rings on that post thing. I feel guilty for the time I spend away from them, and I feel guilty for not spending every minute of the time I do get with them just enjoying them. I feel guilty that our house is starting to look like it’s one car on the front lawn away from a neglected home. I feel guilty that I’ve resorted to takeout more times in a week than I care to admit. I feel guilty that there’s a stain on the girls’ carpet, what I’m hoping is mud from the dogs, that I’ve looked at about a billion times, but still haven’t cleaned. I feel guilty that after “my” two days with them, I’m ready for the break that work offers. Then it just starts all over again.
When does the mom guilt end? Why can’t we as mothers realize that however we manage to do it, we are KILLING it, and have no reason to feel guilty? Why can’t I see that at this point my babies only notice the times I am there, and not the times I’m not? Why do moms feel like they have to “do it all”? I’m sure I’ll never find the answers to these questions, but I am looking forward to my weekend with the girls, and maybe I’ll get around to weeding the flower bed.
As I’m writing this one baby is in a bouncer, with a propped up bottle. The other, in baby jail, chewing on and throwing around an empty baby wipe package like it’s the best toy ever, completely ignoring the plethora of toys surrounding her. Our TV room floor is covered in blankets, which have spots of baby puke at random intervals. My “sewing room” is nothing more than a catch all for baby crap, surrounded by encroaching dust bunnies; the dust bunnies also have a sub-colony under the TV table. After a morning of rolling and crawling around on the floor, the girls pajamas look like they’ve been rolling around outside in the dirt, even though I swear I just vacuumed yesterday, and didn’t I just wash those blankets for the umpteenth time this week?
Against the end of the small wall that divides the kitchen from the living room, sits an old wooden speaker. At all times there is a broom leaning against this speaker, with a pile of dirt and pet hair behind it. This is because during any random minute I happen to have, I sweep from our room, down the hallway, around the living and dining room, and into this pile that sits in front of the speaker. Once a day, or every other day, the pile gets swept up into a dust pan, and dumped in the trash. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit this is a regular habit, but at the same time, it’s part of how I survive.
Our kitchen, which use to be used to cook absolutely delicious meals, is used much less than in the past. I can’t remember the last time anything was deep cleaned. Our sink is clear of dirty dishes, maybe for a collective four hours a week. Our kitchen counter has been taken over by the Baby Breeza, baby bottles, nipples, baby spoons, and other baby feeding paraphernalia. There are containers of homemade baby food in the freezer, which my babies have pretty much decided are no longer their “thing”. The floor is spot clean by shuffling around with baby wipes under my feet, more than actually being mopped.
I have an amazing, supportive, husband and co-parent. Usually when I hear the term co-parent, I think of divorced couples. That’s not the case with us; when I say co-parent, I mean he is my equal partner in this. He changes diapers, he battles nap times, he washes bottles, he gets puked on, he chases mobile babies around the TV room, and he soothes crying babies, every bit as much as I do. He is my partner, and he is literally the only person on this planet who knows what this crazy journey is like for me. At 7:30 pm when bedtime has finally come, he hands me a glass of wine, puts his arm around me, and we sigh in relief that we’ve made it through another non stop day.
I am powered by caffeine, I don’t work out, and most days just putting on mascara seems like more effort than it’s worth. There are some weeks when my carefully planned out dinner list is mostly neglected, and our trash can is full of take out containers. I have adopted this practice of leaving work at work, yet still having to bring home to work. The corner of our bedroom has a mountain of clean laundry that grows throughout the week, because I only get around to folding it once a week. I can’t remember the last time I ate dinner before 8:30 pm on a weeknight, and honestly it’s usually closer to 10 pm. We formula feed, and solids don’t happen as often as they should. I rely on bottles, and Baby Einstein crib aquariums for nap and bedtime.
We have kept the tiny humans alive for seven months now. They are two of the happiest babies I’ve ever met. They laugh and smile, they babble, they interact with each other, they mostly (almost) sleep through the night. They grow, they gain weight, they develop, they thrive.
Why am I telling you all this? Because this is how we survive, this is what works for our family. Pediatricians may balk at the propped bottles, and lack of solids. The expert moms may tisk at the bottles at nap and bed time. The breast feeding moms may have some suggestion for boosting supply, or a recommendation for a lactation consultant. The singelton moms may raise an eyebrow at the chaos that is our home and routine. None of this matters to me, because this is what works for our family. There are so many ways to parent, and whatever way works for your family, is the right way.
Also, playtime and going down for a nap happened while I wrote this post, which took me two hours to finish. That, is the life of a twin mom.
It was about a month ago, and there are still days that I struggle with the decision I’ve made: I quit pumping breast milk for my twins. I did this quietly; I didn’t discuss it with anyone but my husband. I think this was mostly out of shame.
I had a goal to pump until my girls were six months old, and at the time it seemed like a perfectly attainable goal. I’ve read of mothers, some of them even twin moms, who boast of how they exclusively breast fed, or exclusively pumped, for a year or more. Hats off to you mamas, I just couldn’t do it. To be fair, most of these moms didn’t work outside of the home, and I do. I leave my house every weekday at 7am, and don’t return until 5:30pm, and during that 10.5 hour time frame, I was only able to pump once. Any mother who has breastfed or pumped knows this is a recipe for failure.
It started with me deciding to drop my lunch time pumping session at work. It involved me washing pump parts, packing them up, and hauling them to work with me each day. It required rushed lunches, and awkwardly shoving food in my face, with my breasts out, and tubes all in the way. It meant that the only break I got during my work day, wasn’t a break at all. As I had mentioned before, my supply tanked when I went back to work; so I was only getting 4 oz during my lunch time pump. One day I just decided I would stop. Just like that, my day became a little less stressful.
I told myself that even though I stopped pumping at lunch, I would still pump before and after work. After the third day in a row of hitting the snooze button too many times, I found myself hooked up to my breast pump, in the bathroom, while I put my makeup on before work. I even used the battery pack a few times, so I could walk around packing my lunch, change the girls, and let the dogs out, all while pumping.
Everyone knows that in order for moms to produce breast milk, they must get enough sleep, drink enough water, and eat enough. That last one is what led to me finally quitting altogether. I’m a twin mom, of course I don’t get enough sleep. Eat? You mean cook meals? And eat them? When? My nightly solo routine became coming home, snuggles, trying to pump while also trying to feed the girls and keep them content. Then it was bath time, and bed time. Suddenly it’s 8:30, husband is due home from work soon, and I haven’t even thought about dinner yet. I sent a picture to my husband one night, it was me, with my pump on the counter, and I was cutting up vegetables for dinner. While that might sound slightly bad-ass of me, it was in no way practical.
I was so stressed over “having” to pump, work full time, keep my house livable, feed myself meals, and spend time with my girls. So I just didn’t pump one night. I came home, I giggled and snuggled my girls for an hour, I fed them, I got them bathed and into pajamas, I even read them a bed time story. Then I took a deep breath, and I relaxed, while I decided what we should have for dinner that night; and it was only 7:30pm.
The next morning I pumped, and even after not pumping for 24 hours, I only pumped 5 oz. I put my sad amount of breast milk in the fridge, only enough for one bottle. The next morning I did the same, and then told my sister to give the girls the breast milk in the fridge, that it would probably be the last that they got.
I’ve battled with the guilt I’ve felt over quitting; actually I’m still battling it. Why couldn’t I do what other moms have done? I’m not even solely comparing myself to singleton moms. I’m comparing myself to the extra super twin moms (because really, we’re all super moms) who have managed to breast feed their twins for over a year. I only had a goal of six months, and I quit at four months. I quit, and I’m a better mother and wife because of it. I no longer feel the constant stress of having to work my life around pumping. I no longer feel like I’m trapped by my breast pump. I’ve even nursed my girls a few times since, because even though I stopped pumping a month ago, I still have a small supply of milk.
My girls turned five months old last Saturday. They smile, they baby talk, they reach for things, they try so hard to hold their own bottles, and I’ve almost gotten a laugh or two out of them a few times. They’ve somehow avoided the cold that so many of my mom friends endured with their babies. They’ve nearly tripled their birth weights, and they (mostly) sleep through the night. All this, and they only exclusively got breast milk for a few weeks of their lives.
Even as I write this, I’m still defending my decision, which is silly. I know that I’m a good mom, and that I made a choice that was best for my family, and my sanity.
Married, full time working, mom of 4 month old twin girls seeks mom friends to commiserate and bond with. Numerous positions available. Local to Portland Oregon metro area, but openings available for the right long distance texting/internet mom friend. Must have evening and/or weekend availability for play dates, wine dates, hobby dates, walking dates, food eating dates, etc. Bonus if you have a husband/boyfriend who will get along with my husband. Extra points if you’re a fellow MoM (mom of multiples). Sanctimommies need not apply. If you don’t know what that is, google it. Recovering Sanctimommies welcome. Must love big dogs.
30 years old, first time mom. Loves reading, netflix binges, cooking, eating, talking about working out, and occasionally actually working out. Red wine and Irish Whiskey drinker, excellent cook. Married to a professional chef, so dinner parties are always awesome. Into photography, and by into I mean I have a nice camera, and I’ve taken many awesome pictures over the years, but as of late it’s collecting dust. Into sewing, and by into sewing I mean my sewing room is a disaster, and my sewing machine has a thick layer of dust. But I like to think about all the cool things I could sew, and plan on some day getting around to them. Also into crocheting, same situation. Having a mom friend who is also into these things increases the likelihood that I’ll ever actually start doing these hobbies again.
Shows I DVR and binge watch while folding my mountain of laundry include: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Outlander, Shameless, Game Of Thrones, This is Us, The Walking Dead, and recently Big Little Lies (loved the book). Netflix binges of shows I’ve watched and re-watched include Parks and Rec, The Office, Archer, Lost, and anything else that can keep my attention for more than 10 minutes. Fandoms include Harry Potter, Star Wars, LOTR, Marvel, DC Comics, zombies, etc. Basically, my husband and I speak geek. Owns a N64, and I’m always down to play Mario Kart.
Ambivert. Homebody, but also adventurous. Listens well and relates to rants, and well as goes on rants. Goes on cleaning sprees, but there is definitely a pile of dog hair behind a broom in the corner. Coffee is life. Pinterest dream life addict.
Totally and completely winging this parent thing, looking to form long lasting friendships with moms who are doing the same.
If you didn’t catch on to the humor behind this, we can’t be friends.
By it, I am referring to my breast pump. Have you seen Office Space? You know the scene where they steal the fax machine they all hate so much, and beat the hell out of it with a baseball bat, until it was in a million pieces? I picture my last day of pumping going like that.
Let me start this post by saying I am a firm believer that fed is best. Breast feed, pump and bottle feed, formula feed; if your baby is happy and healthy, high five mama, you’re doing great! I’m not on some self-hating, sanctimommy journey to provide my babies with breast milk. I don’t believe that they’ll have less friends, or won’t get into college if they get a drop of formula. Currently they get about half and half, some days they get more formula than breast milk, if I’m being perfectly honest.
My pumping journey began in the hospital. It was a very strange experience for me, trying to feed my babies in the hospital. See, before your milk comes in, they give you donor milk to feed your baby(ies). The hospital staff wants to promote breast feeding, so they gave me a nipple shield, a syringe with a tube attached to it, a bottle of donated breast milk, and told me to feed my babies. What? So we had to put the milk in the syringe, and then put the nipple shield on my nipple, feed the tube through a hole in the nipple shield, put a baby on my breast, and slowly push the syringe down so that milk collects in the nipple shield and baby can suck it out…you do all of this while also holding a baby, and trying to get them to latch on and stay latched on. It was a complicated, frustrating, and exhausting process; times two, because you know, twins. My husband and I did this for about two days. Yes, it took both of us to do the feedings. Olivia seemed to be getting the hang of breast feeding, and she was getting enough milk through this complicated feeding process. Three months later she still is the only one who will rarely actually nurse. Sophia was not, and she ended up going to the NICU for one night because her blood sugars were just too low. She wouldn’t latch, she wasn’t getting enough milk, and I would be in tears by the time I finished trying to feed her. By day three we took one of the bottles that was in the hospital room, and used it to try to feed Sophia. She sucked it all right down. We were both just so happy and relieved to see her eat. So we decided we would bottle feed Sophia, and continue to fake breast feed Olivia. The fake breast feeding process was just so much work though, and I was so tired. I was recovering from a C-Section, and learning to mom, caring for two babies. So by the end of day three in the hospital, we were just bottle feeding them both.
This whole time I was also instructed to pump for at least 15 minutes, every time the girls ate. We would feed them what little colostrum I produced, and supplement with the donor milk. On the fourth night in the hospital, my milk came in. On the fifth day, after lots of tears and going back and forth from doctor to doctor, we were heading home. The hospital gave us a 10-pack of bottles of premixed formula. We were instructed to first give the girls whatever breast milk I pumped, and then formula to make up the difference; they were eating 30ml a feeding at this point.
So we all went home, and I started the never ending cycle of feed, pump, sleep for two hours, repeat. They were premies, so we had to set alarms to wake us up, so we could wake them up and feed them every three hours. There were many times when they simply didn’t want to eat. They wouldn’t wake up, or they would just spit it back out. It was exhausting and frustrating. We only got to go home because the nurses advocated for us saying we had a solid feeding plan in place, and they were confidant the girls would gain the weight they needed to at home. After each feeding I would need to pump, usually for about 20-30 minutes. By the time they were fed, changed, back in bed, and I had finished pumping, I had two hours until it all had to be done again. We worked in shifts that first week.
There was a point where the girls were getting all breast milk. That period was very short, because growing babies need to eat more and more to keep growing. But still I persisted, I pumped every three hours, no matter how tired I was. We tracked down the premixed formula the hospital told us to use; $45 for 24 8oz cartons. We went through that in about a month. My mom got us a Costco membership, so we packed up the babies and braved Costco just to pick up two containers of formula. First it took us nearly two weeks to finish one container; now some weeks it’s a container and a half each week. This right here, is the main reason I pump; formula is expensive! You think having one baby eats up all your money, try having two. Every time I look at our bank account and plug the number into my way too detailed budget sheet, I cringe. I read something once about having twins, the author said you will never have money again, no really, stop looking, you have no money. That man speaks the truth!
Although time consuming, pumping while I was on maternity leave wasn’t that bad. I was home all day; I lived bra-less in tank tops and leggings. I was getting around 5oz each of the eight times a day I pumped. By the time I went back to work the girls were eating 3oz at a time, and were still getting more breast milk than formula. Going back to work though hit my supply hard. Despite all of the laws in place for breast feeding mothers, a loop hole was found, and I was only permitted to pump on my lunch break. Which means right away I went from pumping 6-8 times a day, to only 3-5 times a day. Cue more formula for the girls.
Which brings me to my current pumping situation, and my growing hatred for it. Every morning I hit my alarm at 5:30am. I fix bottles for the girls, usually formula as there is only enough breast milk for 2-3 bottles left from the day before. Then I gather up all my pumping parts, and my pump, and feel my way in the dark to hook myself up to pump. I feel like a farm animal most days, it’s really not fun. I spend 30 minutes pumping, put my milk in the fridge with the rest of what is left from the day before, wash all my pump parts and pack them up, then rush to get ready for work. On lunch, if I brought food I heat it up and head to the too hot/too cold conference room to pump and eat. If I have to get food, I try to do it as quickly as I can, because I only have an hour, and need to spend half of that pumping. For the last two months I have spent my lunch breaks rushing around, undressing in a conference room with three big windows that I still haven’t figured out if people can see through, and shoving food in my face while hooked up to a breast pump. I cart my breast pump around with me, in it’s discreet black tote bag.
I pack it up every morning, checking to make sure I have all my parts, bottles, power cord, milk bags, and pumping bra. I cart it home with me every night. I get home and have babies to care for, childcare to thank and get home, dinner to cook, laundry to wash and fold…oh and I have to pump…because I haven’t since noon. But the girls also need to be fed, and I need to eat, because if I don’t eat I don’t produce milk….there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Ideally I should pump before bed too, but I’m just too tired most nights. On the weekends I have to plan my day around pumping, will I need to pump during my visit with my parents? Do I have time after grocery shopping, but before we leave for family dinner? Then there are the times when mama just needs a glass of wine…but oh wait, I have to pump first…so that the alcohol is out of my system before the next time I need to pump. I’ve heard some women say that breast feeding mothers shouldn’t drink at all, that it’s such a short time to sacrifice for your child. Um…okay sanctimommy, sit down with your self-righteous preaching. Listen, I work 40 hours a week, and then come home and take care of twins; I’ll have a glass of wine, or even two, if I want to.
My point of this long rambling post is, I’m so tired of pumping. I’ve set a date to quit; I’m going to stop when they are six months old, and start eating solids. My babies have gotten plenty of breast milk, and will continue to get breast milk for another three months or so. My sanity though, I might lose it if I don’t stop at some point. A happy mama is important for happy babies.
So when I am done, I think I might burn my breast pump. Or you know, donate it to an uninsured mama in need… that would be the noble thing to do…or I could just burn it for my own satisfaction.
I’ve thought about what being a mom would be like, many many times. I’m the oldest of four kids, so I’m no stranger to babies. I’ve watched my friends have their first, second, and third babies. I’ve seen all the TV dramas, sitcoms, and movies that revolve around being a parent. I pictured a sweet chubby baby, out for a walk in a stroller, fascinated by a butterfly fluttering by.
As adulthood set it, I started picturing bills, and childcare logistics. I wondered how I could juggle working full time, being a mom, and a wife. I googled “the cost of raising a child”, “average daycare cost in Portland, OR”. I researched maternity leave laws, or lack thereof. I read my health insurance explanation of benefits, and tried to estimate the cost of giving birth in a hospital. Funny enough though, I completely forgot about said child needing their own health insurance. I told my husband I just didn’t see how we could ever afford to have a baby.
My biological clock started ticking louder, and louder, until I couldn’t tune it out anymore. I realized my husband and I work opposite schedules, and we wouldn’t need full time childcare! I asked my youngest sister how she felt about watching our hypothetical child three afternoons a week, for a little extra money. I stopped telling my husband “we can’t do this”, and instead started telling him “actually we probably can….”
Then the ultrasound tech said, “there are two babies!” Well….that didn’t go as planned.
Fast forward nearly 10 months later, and our little girls are three months old. The first three months have been a learning curve. So many people tell me they don’t know how I do it with two babies, I always reply, “well, I don’t know anything different.” It’s true, this crazy parenting adventure would probably be easier with just one baby; but that’s not the life we have. I only know everything in terms of two; two babies, two car seats, two cribs, two bottles to warm up, two baths to give, two diapers to change, two pacifiers to find, two spare outfits to pack, two different cries to sooth, and a stroller roughly the size of a golf cart.
I’ve almost gotten use to the stares, the “oh my, twins!” as I’m trying to do my grocery shopping with two babies on my chest. I’ve almost learned to ignore it, but I feel the eyes of strangers on me everywhere I go, and sometimes I can’t help but awkwardly smile and nod, “yup, twins.” I’ve had strangers tell me how “brave” or “adventurous” I am for daring to leave the house with my babies. That’s the one statement that still leaves me puzzled; brave? What do you mean brave? I need groceries, I need toiletries, I need fresh air!
I’ve gotten creative. I’ve mastered the logistics of getting two babies in car seats, with all the things they could ever possibly need in the two hours we’ll be out, and out the door. Although, my timing is still a bit off. I’ve learned about, and acquired, all the magical products that make my life easier, like bouncers, twin nursing pillows, and a baby hammock that goes in the shopping cart. I keep a stockpile of the only pacifier our girls seem to like, because the dog seems to like them too. I line up clean bottles, ready to go for formula at night. I’ve mastered the art of eating lunch, while pumping in a too hot/too cold conference room, all the while wondering if anyone can see me through the blinds or the cracks in between them. I’ve perfected pumping in the dark, in the middle of the night, dozing off but still waking every five minutes or so to be sure I haven’t spilled any of my precious breast milk.
I quickly realized that play dates and mom groups only exist for stay at home moms; and that all the other working moms must be like me, clinging to their coffee, and trying to dig themselves out of a mountain of laundry on the weekends. My house has gotten messier, because call me crazy, but after 10 hours away from my babies all day, I just want to snuggle them for the few hours I have before they go to sleep. I fight the constant battle between having time to cook meals and eat, and realizing that if I don’t eat there will be no breast milk for the girls. Which brings me to that goddamn breast pump; carting it to and from work, from room to room in my house. I’ll save the tedious task of pumping for another post.
So, motherhood isn’t how I pictured it would be.
It’s so much more than that. It’s seeing those two little faces, and feeling like my heart will explode from all the love I have for them. It’s seeing my husband with two crying babies in his tired arms, pacing around the house while humming to them, and falling in love with him all over again. It’s secretly enjoying bringing whichever baby is fussy in the middle of the night into our bed, even though I swore I would never co-sleep, and enjoying the hour or two of one on one cuddles with one of my girls. It’s no longer being angry that you work your ass off to have nothing left, but instead being grateful for the roof over our heads and the food in our fridge, as well as the formula on top of it. It’s marveling at the simple act of the girls learning to smile, roll over, or hold a pacifier in their mouths. It’s laying down at night with my husband and saying, “Hey, we made those two beautiful girls.”