Confessions Of An Imperfect Mom

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Categories Family, Mommy Issues

Rachel is a number cruncher by day, the birth mom in a two-mom household to boy/girl 18 month old twins. You can read more about ‘em at their new website http://www.motherhoodsquared.com/
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Oh, eighteen months. Eighteen months is a generally safe distance from which to evaluate That First Year – far enough from twelve months for That First Year not to slap you upside the head unexpectedly, but close enough for you to say Ha! – We Win!

Just last night, Jennifer and I were talking about how incredibly blessed we are to have two healthy, happy 18 month olds, pleased as punch with their development, and generally patting ourselves on our two-working-parent backs. Something that’s really easy to do during a relaxing dinner with kids sleeping soundly. Something not so easy to do when waiting over an hour for the doctor to enter the room for a well-checkup only for him to call out over his shoulder to his nurse regarding the kid he just saw: “yes, he has the swine flu”.

I’ve seen plenty of commentary across the blogs/magazines/books I read about the fun, cute stuff related to infants and toddlers. And plenty about the crappy things, if it’s also funny. (Or maybe that’s the stuff I’m drawn to?) But here’s the thing, it hasn’t been – for me – only that kind of thing. And even in my parent and neighborhood community boards, it seems people only want to talk about the raw stuff in an anonymous post. But screw that, because the entirety of this experience thusfar has molded me into the person and parent I’m becoming:

I was fascinated by the twins when they were born, but I didn’t want to be alone with them Not because I was afraid of them, or that I would hurt them, or that I was insecure. But because I was afraid the reflux would be bad during feeding times and what if they threw up at the same time and they were still hungry at the same time and what if I couldn’t hold them upright for long enough before throwing up? The thought gave me great anxiety.

Of course, my worst anxiety/fears came to fruition. Feeding after feeding, day after day, week after week. There were evenings when Jennifer would have to work late and I would be on the ground, cross-legged, one baby nestled into my lap/knee and the other baby in the bouncy seat, trying to feed both very hungry (because they had thrown up the meal before) infants at once. And then continuing the feeding for one while burping the other. Then the bottle rolling off or me needing to switch positions and then the burping baby throwing up all over me and the sofa and the seated baby screaming and then throwing up over me and the rug, then all three of us crying while trying to keep the dogs from eating the vomit. And though it seemed an endless period of time, turns it out was about two months.

I straight up requested anti-anxiety/anti-depressants (yay for Lexapro!) at my six week follow-up with my OB/GYN. I wasn’t full-on depressed, but I was within emotional distance of the darkness I felt when I took Clomid (depression can be a side-effect), and I just wanted something to take the edge off, particularly with me returning to work. My physician obliged, and five months later, I weaned off it.

There were weeks that the crying jags were so piercing in the evenings, that I was glad I had gone back to work. And there were days when I could have left work at 5:15ish, but didn’t say “no” when the boss asked if I could work on something before I left. The benefit of this was both that it made me look like I was a go-getter post-babies at work, but also that it narrowed the amount of time between the nanny leaving and chunks four hours of baby sleep coming. Many of those days, I would spend the 30 minute drive home praying for strength to get through the next 5 hours.

I made a very unpopular decision and pushed to have the dogs re-homed. One day, after getting home from work, acid reflux sessions, laundry, bottles, etc, it was near 10pm when we were about to eat dinner and the dogs were underneath us. We had both forgotten to feed them. Again. They had been ignored, neglected, and I was completely overwhelmed with the thought of failing two more dependents. So I made the unforgiveable-to-some decision to find loving homes with people we knew that would give them the time and attention they truly deserved. I did this via an email blast to friends and family which were subsequently forwarded to their friends and family. Several of those people felt the need to tell me that I was doing great harm to the dogs, that I was selfish, and questioned what I would do with my own children once things got overwhelming with them.

We hired a night nanny. Yep, scoffed by other parents both publicly and privately, we submitted to their implications that we could not (or would not) take care of our own children. But to be honest, I would have foregone mortgage payments to keep our night nanny had it come to that. We had someone 1 to 6 nights a week, in decreasing frequency, from when they were 9 days old until they were about 15 weeks old. A benefit to this was that they were sleeping through the night at approximately 11 weeks (10p-5a, then). And early on, those nights that we didn’t have someone there at 10pm, I would go to sleep with great anxiety of what the night might bring. What if I slept too hard and didn’t hear someone through the monitor? What if I didn’t get any sleep? How would I manage? And I was glad that at least I had Lexapro.

And yet, I loved them. Would lay down my life for them.

Looking back, are my kids worse off for not exclusively breastfeeding? Not that I can tell. Are the dogs suffering? Actually, they’re both being spoiled profusely. Did taking anti-depressants make me less of a person? No, it kept me sane. Do the twins feel abandoned because it was someone else feeding them during the night? No, we’re just poorer.

All that to say, for the new parents of multiples, don’t minimize your feelings or your response to a given situation just because it doesn’t seem a big enough deal. Your litmus test is not what other parents of multiples/neighbors/friends/family did or tell you you should do, but only what will ensure a healthy environment for you and yours. As for parents of multiples outside the striking distance of That First Year, any confessions you want to share?

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15 thoughts on “Confessions Of An Imperfect Mom”

  1. Jon and I blasted and sang along to the song “FREEDOM” by George Michael the first day we dropped the boys off at day care. Jon also peeled out of the parking lot so quickly the tires squealed. For reals.

    We are super duper glad we cried it out with our boys because it made the difference between going insane and enjoying life.

    I have many others but being glad to return to work and CIO are the two top things people seem to get stuck in their craw.
    .-= LauraC´s last blog ..If they didn’t get swine flu at the ped office, they most certainly got it at the NC state fair yesterday =-.

  2. Long Comment Warning!
    I have no issue talking about this without going anon. With parenting I feel there is no need for shame. I have a 5 y/o girl and twin 16 month old girls.

    Within a week of the babies being born, I had complications and ended up back in the hospital. Upon leaving the hospital I was never alone with the girls – I had constant help for a solid month. During my maternity leave I had a total of 3 days alone with my girls and I think they were all in the last week. Because of this, I was terrified of being out and about town alone with them (I didn’t have the confidence built up) and I didn’t take all 3 girls out of the house by myself until the little ones were 13 months old. (Not totally true – I did take the babies with me to drop off the oldest at preschool when they were infants. Once. And it was one of those 3 days alone with the girls that I mentioned above). Back to the story…We went to the park on a Saturday morning. It was hectic and tiring, but I DID IT! I am slightly embarrassed about that but I knew my limits and the mental (not to mention physical) stress of carrying and chasing them around was daunting. We had a lot of fun in the house though and on weekends we did family stuff out of the house.

    I, too, admit that being back at work can be a blessing. My husband is at home with the girls during the day and works in the evenings. He’ll call me at work and the screaming and crying and sheer volume of it makes me want to tell him I am too busy to talk and hang up the phone. But I don’t because he needs to talk and I do get to go back to my quiet work.

    We also have a dog and a cat – the dog was a Christmas gift to my oldest from Santa (aka my husband whom I BEGGED not to get a dog) when I was 6 months pregnant with the babies. He was a puppy. He needed lots of training. Once the girls were born there was no longer time for consistency with the dog. He is a very hyper dog that would benefit from very long walks and undivided attention but we don’t have that to give. He is still with us because I don’t have it in me to break my daughter’s heart and I do try to spend time with him in the evenings after the girls are all in bed and the dishes are done and the house cleaned and… I may have the heart soon though because man oh man it’s too much.

    I let the kids watch more TV than is recommended and it isn’t all age appropriate for the babies. With my oldest, the TV was never on. I did work then too but once I got home I spent so much time with her one on one. She was even with me in the kitchen in her highchair when I cooked dinner. With 3 kids that doesn’t happen. There is no undivided attention. I tell people that during the week, my time with the kids is all business – feed them, clean them, play a bit, then bedtime routines. My first talked at 8 months and at a year was speaking full sentences like a 3 y/o. S&D on the other hand at 16 months old say mama, dada, diaper, a few more things that may be words if I want it so and Sponge Bob. Yes, Sponge Bob – and it is said very clearly – I am really so very proud of them. Really. I can’t stand that show but Kayla adores it and so do the little ones and they all laugh together while I get dinner ready. And I don’t think it’ll damage them so it’s ok by me.

  3. Excellent, excellent post.

    My “confession” is like Laura’s… I think CIO was the best thing we ever did. I loved it. I was not deeply pained by listening to them cry (which is not to say I enjoyed it, but I didn’t feel all that bad). And the payoff was so immense, it was worth the three (!) hours Daniel cried on both the first and third nights. Anything so that I’m not like a woman I talked to recently, whose 3-year-olds still need her by their side to go to sleep and wake up in the middle of the night needing her to get them back to sleep.

    People can think I’m mean, but I could care less. We all sleep, and that makes all of us a hell of a lot happier.
    .-= Goddess in Progress´s last blog ..Saturday Snapshot – Halloween Preview =-.

  4. I love this post and I wish there were more like it!

    Early on, maybe when I was still pregnant, a MOM in my twin’s club said “In those early days, someone was always crying”…..and she was including herself in that statement. That’s always made me feel a little better and on some days it was the truth! :-)

    When my husband went back to work and I was home alone with the babies, I remember feeling guilty that I was SO jealous of him for getting to go to work! I would remind him of the “down time” that he got when driving an hour each way to work and getting a lunch break. I REALLY and TRULY felt that way. Of course, it was stressful on him also and I probably shouldn’t have made those comments, but it really felt that way to me in those first few sleep deprived months!

    Also, we also made the decision to find my dog another home. She was showing increased signs of agression with the babies (I even tried hiring a dog therapist!). She had been with me for 9 years, so I wasn’t able to find a friend to take an “older” dog and had to make the decision to take her to the humane society. A month later, I got a call from the new owner who said she was doing great. So it all worked out in the end.

    To top it off, 2 weeks after taking my dog to the humane society, my daughter was bit in the face by a german shepard (small scar, but she’s fine)! That made me realize that the tough decisions mom’s make are often the RIGHT ones!
    .-= Shelley´s last blog ..The Diva =-.

  5. Oh good lord. I won’t make this a book like it COULD be, lol.
    I guess my biggest confession is that when I brought the babies home…well, quite frankly I didn’t want them anymore. I swear we left the hospital and I was like um, ok now what. I didn’t know what to do. My PPD started in the hospital. I remember the nurse just talking to me about something baby related and I started BAWLING. Right there in the middle of the damn nurses station, bawling. I thought at that moment, what on earth is wrong with me?
    I had a rough delivery. I got HELLP. It was terrible. Instantly I just felt super unconnected to them. I was so sick, I didn’t want them. I just wanted to rest. So we get home, the first 24 hours we didn’t sleep. We spent the evening listening to 2 crying babies. We had no one. No help, no one to tell me what to do, or there to help. My motherly instincts hadn’t kicked in. I was a mess. A few weeks later after I realized that the feelings I was feeling were not normal, off to the doctor I went. I also, love Lexapro.
    I was scared to death of them. Scared I would hurt them, scared that doing IVF was the wrong thing to do…I just wanted my life back.
    And now, they are my WHOLE life. Its been a long, but amazing 18 months.
    .-= Christina´s last blog ..Wednesdays for Wyatt =-.

  6. I too decided to rehome our dog. Taking care of the needs of 2 infants plus a dog was way too much for me to handle. It was the best decision for me and for Kimba.

    I think my first blog ever was to comment on the horrible guilty feelings that I was having that first year. I really feel like that first year was all about survival. Going to work helped me “get away” but it was still draining.

  7. I too have terrible guilt that involves our beloved dog. She was an adult when we adopted her years before my husband and I had kids, and he and I adored her, and she adored us (we think!). She tolerated the kids once they were born, but she really just wanted to be near my husband and me. Then when our older son was 3, our younger son was 1, and I was pregnant with the twins, she was diagnosed with kidney failure. Our oldest was not quite reliable with his potty training yet, we were still changing diapers for our 1 year old, and we were dealing with frequent poop/pee/vomit accidents in the house from our dog. And I felt terrible from the twin pregnancy. Our wonderful vet told us it was time to have her put to sleep, so we made appointments repeatedly and then always canceled them because we just couldn’t go through with it. Finally, our vet was getting married and was going to be out of the office for three weeks, and she told us it would be inhumane to put it off any longer. So we had our girl put to sleep, and it broke my heart. I still feel terrible guilt for having her put down and especially for admitting that life is so much easier without her. We were simply overrun with poop/pee/vomit, and having one fewer contributor of bodily fluids helped us regain our sanity. I would love to adopt another dog, but my husband and I agreed we need to wait until the twins are out of diapers. We dog sat for friends recently, and the ten days with this dog reinforced that we are not ready for a dog! Thanks, as usual, for a great post, Rachel.

  8. Oh, that’s so sad about your dogs. Even sadder that people made you feel guilty about it as I’m sure it wasn’t a decision you came to lightly. You do what you have to do for everyone’s happiness – if that’s rehoming dogs, or hiring night nannies, or CIO or TV then who cares! And I bet the dogs are much happier not competing with two babies.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..A Sippy Cup Saga =-.

  9. I didn’t realize CIO was controversial or something to feel guilty about – honestly I’m a little bit “look down my nose” at parents who can’t get their SINGLETON to sleep through the night.

    I am a little ashamed that I didn’t cry – not once – about returning to work and I haven’t cried about missing bedtimes or even when I’ve had to work on the weekend. I just try to enjoy my kids when I’m with them.

    I’m also afraid to take out the kids alone – I haven’t since I’ve been back from maternity leave (almost 8 months)! And I used to pride myself how “capable” I tried to come off doing Isis classes and playdates (that I even baked for). Who was I kidding? What was I trying to prove?
    .-= Mommy, Esq.´s last blog ..Way-Back Wednesday: Halloween, Twin Style =-.

  10. Oh my, what a wonderful and awesome post! First, I am sorry about everyone who has commented on their dogs. I struggled with that topic as well but in the end kept ours, mainly because I had a wonderful friend who would bring her dog by to play with him and wear him out. But I still struggle with if I made the right decision or not.

    For me I carry a lot of guilt about the pregnancy and the first several months. I was on bed rest for the last 3 months and I know my husband resented it. So from the beginning of my little guys being born he had a bad attitude. I had a rough recovery and one of mine was put in the hospital, not the NICU, so I had to stay with him and was separated from the other twin for a total of 3.5 weeks. It was the hardest thing I have ever done to date.

    I just felt like everything was up to me. So, so much weight on my shoulders and felt very alone. My husband’s parents stayed with us a lot the first several weeks and were not helpful and added more stress to our lives (made my husband VERY stressed when they were there). My husband really struggled for several months and I finally had enough and basically told him to suck it up and get it together. He could choose to be happy or mad and he was always choosing to be mad. Needless to say this has driven a huge wedge between us that we are just now recovering from…my boys turn 3 in a few months.

    Heck, my husband still struggles with having twins. And I always feel at such a loss. He travels a lot to begin with so I get frustrated with his attitude when he is here. I just want him to enjoy his children because they so adore him. But I guess that is a whole other topic. He is a good man and a wonderful father but his attitude a lot of the time leaves little to be desired.

    But anyway, I just carry a lot of guilt centered around all of these things. I also feel a sense of grieving I have yet to be able to get over. My pregnancy wasn’t anything like I thought it would be, the delivery wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. Those first days weren’t anything like I thought they would be. The going home from the hospital wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. And several other things. I find myself envious of others when they talk about how wonderful their hospital stay was or going home or all the things they did when they were pregnant. I wasn’t unhappy or anything like that but I feel this huge sense of grief for some strange reason. But I am working through it. I am so blessed and thankful for my little guys and wouldn’t change a minute of it if it meant I had to give either one of them up. It’s just been great finding this blog to hear others out there that have experienced so many of the things I have with multuiples and making me feel so not alone out there. :) Sorry for such a long post!
    .-= Lee Anne´s last blog .. =-.

  11. ditto, ditto, ditto….
    I have a 3year old and b/g twins who just turned 2…. yes – that is 15 months between births… what were we thinking? well, if we had been thinking we should have been slapped…but it was a surprise and a BIG one at that.

    I am a SAHM more from the standpoint that my salary would have gone to daycare for the 3…. and I admit that there are more days than not that I am jealous of moms who “get” to work! :0)

    I love my kids and really until they were 18 months old – it wasn’t too bad… yes, long, long (short) nights…. feeding were always tricky with the refulx and gag issues of little, little babies…. I thought it was horrible….

    UNTIL – we hit 18 months – our girl has been walking since 8 months so she has always been busy but at 18 months they changed from sweet explorers to cunning crafty toddlers….

    And with a 3 year old who is exploring his own independence on a very different level – WOW….

    I love our kids and would not change anything but have to say that if one more person in a store stops me to tell me I have my hands full…. they may be impailed with something that is in my cart….

    Word to the wise….
    Don’t stare at the lady pushing a double stroller and pulling a cart like she is a pity case.
    Don’t state the obvious…. I KNOW my hands are full – but my heart is full too…
    Don’t tell me your neighbor’s sister’s aunt’s daughter has twins – unless they are yours and I can swap stories – I don’t care.
    Don’t ask “Are they identical” becuase I might just answer – “Uh, NO. One has a penis and one has a vagina…. identical would mean SAME.”

    Is it me – or when you have twins do you get a little cynical?!?

    Could be the lack of energy and sleep! :0)

  12. Thank you, everyone, for being so honest. I’m almost at the end of The First Year and have been having a rough time lately; it really helps to read all these comments.

  13. Like Lisa I had a single then 15 months later b/g twins. After reading these posts I’m feeling a little like supermom. Just yesterday I was thinking about how guilty I still feel for yelling at my 15 month old one day for wanting me to come and play with her.

    We kept our two dogs, they were 7 and 8 years old. But we knew ahead of time that they were a breed that would probably adjust well. One passed away when the twins were 4 months, the other is still with us. If our daughter is missing, we can find her laying by his side “to show him I love him” (her words).

    Maybe I don’t remember all the bad stuff, mine are 4, 3, and 3 now. I’m not saying it was easy by any means … I didn’t have any outside help after day 13. I had PPD. Our dog that had fought and won against cancer 6 years before had to be euthanized. I cried … a lot. The dogs did miss meals … but .. so did I. We moved 1/2 way across county with 1 year old twins (both not yet walking) and a 2 year old. I had 3 kids under the age of 2 for 8 plus months.

    I’m not trying to imply that everything was great. But I have no regrets about the decisions I made. I know I gave it the best I had.

    One disclaimer … I have the advantage of being 20 years older than most of you. I have a very different perspective. I’ve been told this enough times in the last couple of years to finally understand that it’s probably true.

    The one thing I feel strongly about is letting everyone make their own decisions about what works for their family.

  14. I wish I had given my dog to my friend who loves him. She went and found a look alike the day after I turned down her offer. Now after my 2 1/2 year-olds go to bed I am still followed around by my needy furry baby. I’ve had him for 9 years, but he still drives me crazy.

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