My First Year as a Twin Mom

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Categories Infants, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Perspective, SAHM, Sleep, Twinfant TuesdayTags , 9 Comments

I haven’t posted much lately. I start writing and then read it over and it just sounds so… negative. Complain-y. I don’t want to read posts like that, so I never hit “publish.”

How Do You Do It? mom RebeccaD reflects on her first year of twin motherhood.The thing is, being a new parent, a stay-at-home parent, of infant twins, is hard. I want to be real about the difficult side of it – without diminishing how much I love my family and my life, how blessed I feel to be so bathed in abundance. It can feel like too much, but that’s a problem I love.

M and R will be one in September. My mom-self will be one too. It seems like a fresh start, a new chapter. All the planning and studying and dreaming that went into preparing for my babies was focused on brand new infants. Now I see toddlers peeking back at me, walking, teeth, opinions, self-efficacy. It’s hitting me that I didn’t just have babies. I had kids. I get to keep them, God willing, forever. I’m excited and nervous and so so happy for the future with these amazing little people that I know and like and love.

The most unexpected lessons I’ve learned this year are:

  1. The sleep thing is tough, and there is no right answer. What would you do if your children could only eat if you starved? That’s what sleep deprivation is like. You have to tend to their needs, but it sort of kills you. Our boys never liked the swing, and honestly, I never felt comfortable placing them in a mechanical thing. I felt that they belonged in my arms. We were making some progress with sleeping on their own until the 3 month sleep regression hit hard, and forced us into co-sleeping (my husband with M and me with R). After a month of torture, we were desperate. We did pure extinction cry it out. It was the hardest thing I’ve done, and I still don’t know if it was the right thing. Now, we’ve settled into a gentler pattern of response using pick up/put down. My 11-month-olds are up 1-4 times per night, and I believe they will sleep through the night when they’re ready.
  2. There’s the parent you want to be, and then there’s the parent you can be. My mom shakes her head at all my research and agonizing, saying she just followed her instincts. That’s fine and good, but with twins, you simply can’t follow all your instincts unless you can also expand yourself into two mothers. I wanted to breastfeed on demand and hold each baby on my chest afterward. Impossible (for me. I tried). I wanted to be the one to respond to my newborns rather than ask for help. It was logistically impossible. I had to accept that I have limits and that ideals must make way for messy, beautiful reality.
  3. When you think you have no more, there is more. I found a wellspring of patience, courage, strength, humility, and gentleness that I didn’t know I had. I was so afraid of not being enough to these two tiny people that needed so much, but like watching my body expand and expand as they grew, I felt my inner core grow to meet them where they were at, everyday. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being present.
  4. You will get mad at your babies, and that’s when it’s time to take a break. That’s what it means to be a family – you go through the whole range of experiences together. It’s normal. Sometimes it’s a 3am feeding that morphs into a poopy diaper change that turns into a whole outfit change when he pees everywhere and when you finally get him all bundled up again, he spits up everywhere. And this is the third time it’s all happened since midnight. And then the other one wakes up. No better time to start modeling self-care and proper anger management. Make sure the babies are safe, even if screaming, and leave the room for a couple deep breaths. Then get back in there, mama.
  5. It ends. It changes. It doesn’t last. The worst things disappear overnight, or melt slowly over time until you can barely remember them. The best things rise out of the chaos and endure in your memory forever. M would do this hilarious thing we called stretchy-stretch. When we opened his swaddle, his arms would pop up as if by springs and his fists would shake. We’d unnecessarily undo his swaddle at a night feeding just to find some hint of joy in the Groundhog Day that was (who are we kidding, still is) our lives. My husband and I were laughing about it the other day, and saying how much we miss stretchy-stretch.
  6. At the end, it’s just the beginning. You’re never done – and that’s an awful, drudgey sort of thing when it comes to dishes and cleaning and feeding and all those tasks. But it’s a wonderful gift when you see your little ones laughing at each other in the pillow fort after dinner and you realize you get to hear them laugh for years. You get to know them through everything. You’re going forward together. You’re a family.

RebeccaD is a SAHM of 11 month old fraternal twin boys, M and R. She wears the first year like a badge of honor and can’t wait for what the future holds!

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Twinfant Tuesday: Why Not? (And Earplugs)

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Categories Adoption, Balance, Emotion, Feeling Overwhelmed, Frustration, Guilt, Infants, SAHM, Special Needs, Toddlers, Twinfant TuesdayTags , 8 Comments
zoe girl-1466
Yeah, that look on Isaiah’s face? We all had that look in that first year after she came home..often!LOL!

Famous last words! “Why not?” Those were the words that kicked off my first year as a mom of functional multiples!

It was two pm on Friday, November 18, 2011. I was standing in my living-room-turned-nursery, bouncing my four-month old (then) foster son when the phone rang. They had a little bitty girl, a little bitty girl they had thought about calling us for placement ten days earlier when she was first born, but there was a family who “had waited longer for placement of a little girl.” So, they tried placement there first.Thing is, it didn’t work out for that family. I laugh looking back at it now; I didn’t even ask why! I just said “Sure, why not?”

After all, all of our paperwork as foster to adopt parents said “female 0-2 years of age”. Everything. This was the moment we had waited for and dreaming about for years! I had suffered a pregnancy loss of a daughter midterm over 17 years ago. The desire for a little girl of my own never went away.

Of course, we hadn’t planned on two babies. There was nothing in our paperwork that said “boy”. I have four boys by birth! But when they called us for him four months earlier, we just knew that this was our boy. So, there I stood. Nodding, twinkling, smiling at my husband who was shaking his head in wonder, and boom! It began. Our first year of life with two teeny little people!

First quarter. Year one.

Zoe was a screamer. Yes, really. She was sweet. She was beautiful. AND she was a screamer! I already had some experience with having two. We had another little girl for a month, off and on, as a respite baby. Seriously, I thought we had experience! So, yeah–small detail–that other little girl was not a screamer.

We didn’t even make it back home before we knew why it “just wasn’t working out” for the other family. That foster mom was a single mother and had to work full-time. Dealing with that shriek all night every night was just not in the realm of possibility for her. Heck, it pushed the limits for me!

Yes, really! This is survival man!

So, while the other MoMs here have touched on organization, asking for help, and keeping a positive perspective, (all absolutely critical to surviving the first year. I guess that last one could be a part of my strategy as well.) I, on the other hand, will address ear plugs. That’s right. You heard me. Don’t have any, do ya? Ear plugs!

I don’t know about you, but crying babies have always created a great sense of alarm in me. I am really sensitive to sound anyway. On the flip side of this issue, I am very musical. I can get lost in a melody for hours. I can hear a song one time and sing it back to you note for note, verbatim. It’s of like a photographic memory, but in my case audiological memory, for lack of a better word. Unfortunately, this was no melody!

The incredible urgency to fix.it.right.now.whatever.it.takes has always been an issue for me. And that was before I heard Zoe cry. Zoe’s cry could make the hair stand up on the neck of any parent. We finally dubbed her “Sonic” because we were pretty sure that even after she stopped shrieking 24/7, some of the sounds she emitted were dolphin-speak and could only be heard on dry land by canines! Really.

Once in a phone conversation my sister asked me, “Is that a car alarm?” My reply? “Um, no. That is my daughter.” It made me want to pull my hair out. Honey cried all of the time. The first three months were just torture for all of us. There were moments when I had to just go lay her down in her crib, walk away, and cry myself for a few minutes before trying again.

Epiphany

The earplugs entered the game the first time I was alone on a road trip with both babies. I was delivering one of my older boys to college. Holy-Screaming-Banshees-Batman. They both started in. It was dark. Exhaustion loomed. I had already been crying. Dealing with empty nest feelings while raising two toddlers is an interesting experience, but I digress. As the decibel level began to climb, I simply could not imagine enduring the remaining two hours ahead of me!

It was then that I remembered that I had read about a mom of twins who used ear plugs in the car, among other places. I laughed when I first read her story, but suddenly it made sense! And in my fervor for better preparation, I actually had some in my bag.

At first, I felt foolish pulling off the freeway to dig for earplugs. Then I felt guilty.

After a few miles of relief from the most intense of my physical responses to their crying, I was able to think clearly. I realized that there really was nothing more I could do. I had already stopped and fed everyone; Zoe had cried through most of the meal anyway. They had clean diapers. What they needed now was sleep, and to get home. There were over two hours of road between us and home.

The earplugs remained in use. After a few miles of my being calmer and not fussing about them fussing, there was silence. I have never been a CIO mom. I just can’t do it. I wear my babies. But, I had to learn to separate myself a bit from the crying when there was nothing more I could do to help them. And drive. That was a big epiphany for me.

Today

Earplugs are now a very important part of my life in parenting multiples. I have two-year olds, and Sonic Girl is alive and well! Add to that the fact that there are mornings when my son is obviously going to have more sensory issues than on the typical day–or maybe I am just not really awake yet–and you can see where these could come in handy!

They allow me to ignore two-year old tantrums. They enable me to stay calm when caring for a child who has suddenly gone all “exorcist” on me. Have you ever dealt with a tantrum from a child with seriously high muscle tone? They sort of levitate! And it is usually during a diaper change. Earplugs allow me to step back, think calmly, and make good decisions. And they keep me from adding to the stress/tension/chaos.

Please note, the earplugs do *not* make it so I cannot hear them at all. They just take the painful edge off of the screaming/crying/hysteria.

Of course…it didn’t hurt that they were so darn cute!

So, there ya go. My big tip from the first , and now second, year of life with two little screaming babies: earplugs and deep breathing. It saved my sanity more than once! Try it. It just might save yours!

 

Do you have any unorthodox approaches to handling tantrums? How do you stay calm and ignore two-year old behavior?

 

Jeanene

Jeanene (and her husband Kelly) are raising a “second set” of kids together. They have six children by birth between them, ages 17 to nearly 30 (his two daughters, her four sons) and are now parenting boy/girl “functional” twins, Isaiah and Zoe. Isaiah was 4 months old when Zoe was born. She blogs about foster parenting, adoption, and life with two toddlers at www.amiraculousmess.com.

 

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What a Nightmare

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Categories Attitude, Balance, Childcare, Feeling Overwhelmed, Frustration, Mommy Issues, Perspective, Routines, SAHM, School, Sleep, Working5 Comments

Just a heads up. This is a post in which I vent.

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I am miserable. Everything I’ve been stressing about for the past several months is now starting to come to a head. I start work next week, with the official first day of school on the following Monday. With this deadline in mind, I feel like I’m fighting on too many fronts.

On Weaning

I’ve done the whole pump at work thing. Not fun. Not part of my return to work plan. But I’ve hit a slight snag trying to wean. 2.5 years ago with my first it wasn’t hard at all. I wanted badly to stop pumping, so I used the week off during Thanksgiving to step it down, and then Christmas break to finally end it. It was blissful to be finally done. But the point is that I was highly motivated and I had the time to make it a very gradual process. With the twins… I’m actually enjoying my pumping ritual. Pumping for two is not easy, and I am proud of having done it for this long. It just feels wrong to be letting it go. With that said, I still refuse to go back to pumping at work. So, starting about a month ago, I began lengthening the time between pumpings to 3 or 4 hours. I got a clogged duct. Well, the solution to a clogged duct is to pump MORE. So, in pain and running a fever, I went back to every 2 hours and finally it stopped hurting. Then I started over and to 3 hours, then 5, now 6… and guess what? I feel another clog coming on. I’ve never once experienced a clogged duct pumping for Toddler; this time is the 4th painful clog. Oy vey!

On Twins’ Sleep

For the last few days, we’ve been experiencing a sleep upheaval around here. The babies are not sleeping their normal times and durations, it’s affecting their feeding schedule, and they’ve been crying inconsolably much like they used to 4 or 5 months ago. I can only guess that they are transitioning to 2 naps now. It’s wreaking havoc on my nerves. This transition is probably never easy (I remember some headaches when Toddler went through them), but with twins it really is difficult x2. Maybe one is ready for a new schedule and the other isn’t? Maybe they both are but they need me to do something differently? I haven’t figured it out yet. I want to have them firmly set in the new routine before shipping them off to my mom’s, but right now it’s just survival.

On Twins’ Childcare Arrangement

So my mom decided she’d rather have me bring the babies to her house where she’s more comfortable instead of coming over to mine. I’m not altogether sure this is the best way to go, but it’s what she chose so we’ll have to work it out. Husband, his brother, and I spent quite a bit of time last weekend over there (while she was at our house watching the kids) clearing out, cleaning, assembling a second crib (Toddler’s will now be babies’), and installing a baby gate in the babies’ room. We are nowhere near done. The carpet needs to be cleaned, toys sanitized and organized, and all the baby paraphernalia x2 need to make their way over there. Did I mention this room is upstairs?

On Toddler’s Childcare Arrangement

Yesterday I registered Toddler for full day preschool nearby. It isn’t the most ideal place (Husband would say that I don’t think anywhere is good enough for her), but it will have to do. Mandarin is spoken, it’s close to home, the price isn’t too exorbitant, and the teachers seem caring enough. I paid for the month of August and gave a $250 deposit. Like all preschools, no discount for holidays (teachers get lots!) and 6 months’ attendance is required before the deposit can be refunded. No turning back now. She better like it there. I’m so scared what will happen when I have to leave her, or worse, at nap time. If she cries, I think I will cry too.

On Start of School Anxiety

After so long of being a SAHM, I truly dread going back to the frantic life of a working mom.  Not that life isn’t frantic staying at home with 3 young children, but in a different way I guess. I don’t look forward to waking up at the crack of dawn, getting myself ready as well as Toddler (before I didn’t really care how she looked to go to grandma’s house– she went in pajamas and unbrushed hair), remembering to get the day’s stuff ready for 2 babies, and rushing out the door to make it to school at 7am so I could get things done since I can’t stay after school. I also don’t have any appropriate clothes. Seriously, I haven’t worn real clothes or shoes for over a year. My wardrobe since the twins were born consists of camis and stretch pants. Before that I was wearing maternity clothes. And I literally have been only wearing a single pair of flip flops since the beginning of last summer. My shoes probably don’t even fit anymore. There is certainly some shopping to be done, which I don’t have time to do with 3 kids around.

On Other BS Stuff

Of course when one (several) bad things are happening, life has a way of throwing a bunch at us at the same time right? Our washing machine has been on the fritz for weeks. Buy a new one or attempt to repair it? No clue how to answer that question, but wondering every time I put in a load of laundry whether it will spin is not a way to live. I haven’t seen the dentist in at least 4 years. It’s probably time to go, but time and money and my fear of the dentist are all prominent factors here. Do baby clothes ever manage themselves? I find that I am frequently taking piles of outgrown clothes, some still with tags, and throwing them in huge storage bins. Here is another instance where two babies is definitely worse than one. I have had intermittent back pain ever since the twins were born. Keeping up with two mobile babies really does a number on me. Add in some stress and physical exertion and I start to feel like I’m breaking in half at the waist. You know what else? Our cleaning lady is vacationing for the month of August.

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Ok, I’m done. Whew! That feels a little bit better (not really). If anyone has any advice how to get through this, I could use it.

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Functional Multiples

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Categories Adoption, Different Gender, Frustration, Functional Multiples, Loneliness, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Perspective, Relationships, SAHM4 Comments

Zoe and IsaiahThe first thing I noticed when I arrived here at HDYDI is that the focus is on “moms of multiples”, and not specifically “moms of twins and triplets.” Because of that, and the invitation to share my perspective, I knew I had found a place to belong!

In a recent conversation, I mentioned that most folks have referred to my kidlets’ particular situation as being “virtual” or “pseudo” twins.  However, I think it is more accurate to call them “Functional Multiples.” The next question was “what thoughts lead you to that conclusion?”

I had to think about that. Until that moment, I just knew it “felt right.” I am a word person way down deep in my soul. The meaning of a word matters to me. By definition…a “twin” is  one of two children produced in the same pregnancy. Period. I am all about validating the experiences of those around me. We all have a story to share. I don’t need to claim elements of your experience to confirm my own! I am not the mother of twins. I am most definitely a mom of multiples!

I can relate to many of the first year experiences of mothers with twins. I remember the 2 am feedings. I remember holding my breath, hoping the other baby would not wake. Of course, that was before I learned to go ahead and wake the other baby and feed them so that I wouldn’t need to get up again in less than an hour!  I also remember the first real road trip that I took alone with both babies screaming in the backseat. I thought I would lose my mind. It’s amazing how quickly you learn that screaming will not kill them, and is sometimes unavoidable! *Secret confession #1…I have since developed the habit of using ear plugs when the screaming is unavoidable and going to push me over the edge!

That is why I am here! I want to share in the common experiences. Having two little ones at the same time is incredibly isolating!  I have always been a “run for the hills” outdoors kind of person. Any chance I get I am *outside*. I am a landscape photographer by passion and profession! But, in that first year, I often wondered when I would be able to get out of my house on a blue sky day again! In fact, there were days when my response was more about sleep deprivation and less about logic where I wondered if I would EVER get out of the house again!? As far as I could tell spontaneity just exited my world, stage left!

Early on I searched for support. I researched the subject of “pseudo twins” and looked in vain for online groups of moms who are like me. There is a ton of “research” and opinion on the subject, most of which is very discouraging to a vulnerable mama with two growing babies in her care. Loads of criticism and debate are available at the click of a mouse, but little to no support for those of us already walking out this dynamic. The only advice I found that was of any comfort came from moms of multiples by birth. I can relate to the mom piece of this in so many ways!

I hope that by calling my babies “functional multiples” I can communicate my respect for the difference between what my children are experiencing and that of multiples by birth. At the same time, I hope to draw in other MoMs who may not fit into the typical scenario.

Thank you so much for inviting me to pull up a chair!

What do you think when you hear the phrase “Functional Multiples”? Does it make sense to you?

 

 

JeaneneJeanene (and her husband Kelly) are raising a “second set” of kids together. They have six children by birth between them, ages 17 to nearly 30 (his two daughters, her four sons) and are now parenting boy/girl “functional multiples”, Isaiah and Zoe. Isaiah was 4 months old when Zoe was born. Both kids came home as newborns in 2011, adopted from foster care on National Adoption Day, November 17, 2012! She shares the perspective of raising multiples through adoption. She also speaks from the position of raising kids as “older parents,” something that Jeanene and her hubby have found is becoming a more and more common experience. Jeanene is a passionate landscape, wedding, and portrait photographer, but has put the business side of photography on hold to focus on the special needs of her kiddos as a SAHM. Her days are now spent in a mixture of play, occupational therapy, and everyday life with two-year olds running around. Think messy! When she has time, she enjoys casual photography, hiking, fly fishing, hunting, reading, writing and working researching the best ways to meet the needs of her sensory challenged kiddos! She blogs about foster parenting, adoption, and life with two toddlers at www.amiraculousmess.com.

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Saying Goodbye to the Breastpump

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Categories Breastfeeding, Emotion, Grief, Infants, Mommy Issues, SAHM, Working5 Comments

The time has come. School starts in about 5 weeks, and I go back to work in less than 4. I can’t believe it’s already upon me. I had thought back when the twins were 8 weeks old that I had quite a lot of time to decide how I would handle the breastfeeding thing. Making it to 8 months was always the ideal goal, the one that would happen in the best of possible worlds. More realistically I thought I’d stop when Husband went back to work, or at most 6 months perhaps. But somehow, I’ve been able to keep up with pumping every two hours while I’m awake for over 7 months now.

Of course at times this has been incredibly challenging, like taking the pump with me while on outings longer than 3 hours and pumping in the car/bathroom/other weird location, or pumping while one or two or all three kids need my attention. I’ve woken up in a pool of leaked milk, stayed up late to wash pump parts that I forgot about, and threatened to take a hammer to the darned contraption when I was done (might still do this).

But mostly, it’s just become a part of my life. I have learned to live it in 2-3 hour increments. After that amount of time, I get to take a “break” to go pump, and allow myself 10 minutes of me time. Sometimes Toddler comes along and plays on my bed next to me for a quiet chat– time to spend alone with her. It’s a chance for me to get caught up on the news, read some blogs, check in on Facebook– I’ve recently even started reading Game of Thrones.

Now that this routine is about to change, I feel a bit lost. I weaned the pump when Toddler was 8 months old. Working and pumping definitely took a much bigger toll, and I couldn’t wait to be done. But this time I feel different. I’m sort of mourning the loss of something that has become such a big part of my life. I read somewhere that the pump is like your third child, and in a way it is, and that child is kind of hard to let go. I know I should be excited that I will no longer need to wash all those pump parts, my family can get all that time back, and pumping will not be one of our schedule constraints any longer, but I’m actually more… sad.

Or maybe I’m projecting my emotions about returning to work onto pumping. I think I would happily trade continuing to pump if it meant I could continue to stay home.

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An Unlikely Pair: Living with Functional Multiples (And, Hi, Nice to Meet You!)

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Categories Addiction, Adoption, Attitude, Different Gender, Diversity, Family, Functional Multiples, Parenting, Perspective, SAHM, Special NeedsTags , , , , 8 Comments

Summer 2013 -8423We are blazing a trail here, my hubby and I! Our family does not really fit into any established category.

Yes, I am most definitely the mother of multiples. But, am I the mother of twins? Mmmmm… No, not really.

The days look really similar to life with twins, but they are not. My children are not twins in the traditional (or even biological) sense. They did not share my womb. They were not born on the same day, although I have heard of the Irish mom who gave birth to twins, her first daughter at 23 weeks and the second daughter eighty-seven days later! So, maybe what day they were born isn’t as much of an issue here. Of course, the fact that they are not even biologically related is the real kicker!

We know they are not twins, yet we are parents of multiples, just the same. Our situation, although not unique, sits in a different category altogether. There are those that would argue that we don’t even belong here on a blog about multiples. I don’t suppose it really matters in the end. I can tell you it was tough! I see my life in many of your stories.

A bit of our story

We have six older kids, and when we realized they were all flying the coop at once, we decided we needed some new life in the home. We looked into foster care.

At the same time, I was studying to become a Chemical Dependency Professional, and the plight of drug-exposed newborns was near and dear to my heart. I studied the physiological effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain in adults. Let me tell you, watching an infant struggle with the pain and misery is a whole other ball game!

We sought training via an intensive care nursery in our state that specializes in caring for and teaching others about the effective handling of drug exposed and drug addicted newborns. In June of 2011, we got word we were fully licensed and ready to go!

Isaiah

On July 11, 2011, our son (then foster son) came home at 24 hours old. It was appalling to realize that the nurses at our local hospital had zero experience or understanding of how to care for drug exposed newborns. They told us that he was having issues with feeding, but they weren’t quite sure what to do to help him. They had a “good luck with that!” attitude. Thank goodness we had been trained!

Our journey had begun.

For the first four months, Isaiah was the only little one in our home. I spent the first two of those months helping him gain weight in spite of the drugs passing out of his system. I had to help him cope with the sensory overload that was his constant state. The tremors were incessant. He often whimpered as if he were in pain.

I cared for him in our basement bedroom, with the lights low and a soft sound machine for background noise. I needed to wake him to eat every one and a half to two hours for the first two months of his life. That sounds easy enough, but part of his response to sensory overload was to shut down and sleep. He slept eight straight hours after his first supervised visit with his first mom. He was only 3 days old and already struggling with failure to thrive. We simply could not wake him! Still, we tried, every hour until we succeeded in getting him to eat.

In spite of that regimen, Isaiah lost over a pound in his first week home, and only gained slowly and painfully for the first two months. If they had not placed him on the higher calorie formula intended for premature infants, I am sure that it would have been even longer.

Infants who are meth exposed are notoriously plagued with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and often have, shall we say “explosive,” diapers. They also commonly have trouble coordinating the muscles in their mouth to suckle and swallow effectively. So he lost far more than we could get into him at first. Such is the life of many foster moms!

And then things got really interesting!

When four months had passed, Isaiah had recovered from the withdrawal phase.  Life was settling into something that looked a lot like “normal”.

What do you know? The phone rang! Enter Zoe.

Zoe was also drug exposed, although primarily to an intense nicotine addiction. There was secondary exposure to methamphetamine. She screamed twenty out of twenty-four hours a day. The first three months of her life were a constant struggle to keep her calm and comfortable.

At the same time, we had our Isaiah evaluated by the local Birth to Three program and began his Occupational Therapy for dyspraxia.

Zoe was three months old before we had made a discovery that resolved many of her early issues. The introduction of a probiotic to her diet stopped the screaming like flipping a switch.

New normal

We settled into the therapy and care routines that carried us through many months. Today our lives look a lot like the typical life of parents with two-year old twin toddlers.

Functionally speaking, Isaiah and Zoe behave much like twins. They are very close. They have started to build their own language and pretty much drive each other nuts 24/7!

Occasionally they have other issues tied to their sensory integration difficulties. Zoe struggles with “gravitational insecurity” and Isaiah has multiple sensory issues including feeding/textures, certain sounds, strong smells. We are preparing to go through an 8 week-long session of the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol in hopes that we will help his nervous system to develop the capacity to filter some of these things out. Therapy keeps us busy.

In the midst of all of that we have the joy of watching these two phenomenal little people grow and develop into who they were meant to be, just like any other parents of multiples. While the kids don’t share that biological connection, in all things functional, I am most definitely living the very busy life of a mom of multiples! I have the same joy. The same intensity. A different perspective.

I’m looking forward to connecting with other mamas out there who are in the same boat!

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Decision Made

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Categories Balance, Childcare, Mommy Issues, SAHM, Working2 Comments

Well, it’s been decided. Not in a definitive moment of inspired epiphany kind of way, instead a slow but sure realization that there wasn’t ever any other option. Who was I kidding? (Myself.) There is no long-term way that we would be happy living on one income in Los Angeles, especially now with three children who are only going to get more expensive as they require activities and demand stuff. And by no means do we spoil our kids, but we don’t want them wanting for anything if we are able to provide it.

So there it is. Decision made. I will go back to work for the next school year, continue my career, strive to impact the lives of young people, and hopefully sock away money for the enough-bedrooms-for-everyone next house.

To be really honest though, I’m not sure I was ready for the uncertainty of taking a few years’ break from my career. As a teacher, my job is comparatively secure. There have been layoffs in my profession in recent years, but it’s not nearly as bad as in others. However, I currently have 10 years in my district, which represents a pretty solid seniority ranking– one I would lose if I left and started working in a different district in the future, not to mention a loss in pay as well for basically starting over. And even if we are able to afford me staying at home full time in the future, am I really ready to completely let go of my career? What will I do when my children all go to school?

I do even look forward to time away from my kids. Not that I don’t love being at home with them, but I do need some time to myself, time that isn’t precariously contingent upon nap schedules and baby mood swings. I can get up in the morning, shower, get dressed, and go on my way like a normal person. I can interact with people who are over the age of 3. I can have an intelligent conversation with someone who isn’t my husband or a mommy friend. And then I can run home and enjoy my more-precious children at the 3pm bell.

But that’s not to say this isn’t a heart wrenching decision that comes with its own dilemmas. I will need to not only part with my 3 year old every morning, but also two more kids who will by then be in the throes of separation anxiety. Their lives will drastically change after almost 9 months of Mommy-all-the-time. What the heck, my life will drastically change and I will suffer baby withdrawals. No more mid-morning trip to the park, afternoon visit to the library, or classes with Toddler. And it will be the end of naps for Mama. No more break while the kids are all taking their midday nap. I will be gone for the relatively easy naps/feeds/happy children during the day but retain the craziness of getting out the door in the morning and dinner/bedtime/cranky children in the evening. All while putting in a full day of work. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

And I haven’t exactly locked down where Toddler will be going to school come fall. We’ve decided she is definitely ready for more structured socialization, but the preschool hunt has turned up nothing spectacular. My requirement of Chinese instruction is what really holds us back, but that is also the one thing I cannot compromise.

Nor have I really figured out what to do with the twins. My mom has been coming to take over one feeding with the babies two mornings a week while I spend time alone with Toddler. She does great with them, and I always come home to well-fed and back-asleep babies. But she’s only here 3 hours, and they’re napping for almost half of that time. She’s an aging grandma with her own ailments, and I think caring for crawling-in-different-directions twins might break her. Ideally we’d have the exact same setup as with Toddler: Drop them off at her house in the morning, drive 5 minutes to work, and pick them up 10 minutes after the last class. But schlepping two around this time, with stuff for two, up and down stairs with two, two additional cribs, highchairs, two everything… and picking up Toddler somewhere along the way, that’s just daunting. So maybe she will need to come to my house? Maybe I will need to hire an additional helper? Maybe I need a nanny instead?

I am very anxious that this isn’t all worked out by now.

So, it is ultimately with a heavy heart that I will be going to be back to my classroom in a matter of weeks, unpacking boxes from cabinets, putting up bulletin boards, and preparing to meet the 120+ teenagers who it will be my job to mold this year. Maybe I can reassess next spring…

lunchldyd is a high school teacher and mom to 3 kids 3 and under.

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Summer Vacation? What Summer Vacation?

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Categories Activities, Childcare, Frustration, How Do The Moms Do It, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Perspective, Routines, SAHM, School-Age, WorkingTags , , , 1 Comment

I have a variety of mommy–or rather parent–friends. I’m a single working mom of twins, but the families my daughters and I spend time with run the gamut from large home-schooling ones to two-income families with one child.

When we moved back to Central Texas last August after a year living in El Paso, we reconnected with old friends and also made a number of new ones in our new neighbourhood and at J and M’s school. The majority of these new mommy friends are either stay-at-home moms or teachers. Another friend with whom we try to spend as much time as possible is going to college. All their routines change drastically during the summer. No school, no work.

As the kids’ school year drew to a close, people’s excitement was palpable. Mom after mom talked about the plans they had in place to entertain and educate their kids during the summer. They proposed fun and exciting events and activities. One mom is even going to host Spanish language activities for five kids, including my daughters, so that they don’t lose the huge leaps in Spanish fluency they’ve made this year in dual language first grade.

Although I work at a university, my work schedule is not impacted by the academic calendar. I need full-day childcare for my daughters when they’re not in school. When they were littler and in daycare, our summer routine was no different than the rest of the year’s. Now that they’re in school, I replace after-school care with summer camps.

A letter from J describing her first day of Girl Scout camp

Our old friends quickly learned that our social calendar was limited to weekend activities. After all, I went back to work when M and J were 11 weeks old. Our new friends are learning this now. Just yesterday, I had to turn down two invitations for midweek play dates. I’ll still be at work at the times my friends proposed. A couple of times, we’ve been invited to weeknight events; my daughters’ friends can sleep in the next day, but my girls have to be dropped off early so I can be at work on time.

A complication in our attempts to schedule play dates is that my daughters have a number of friends who, like them, have divorced parents. Birds of a feather, you know. M and J’s dad lives in North Carolina, and we’re in Texas. He sees them when he can. Many of the girls’ friends spend alternate weekends with their dads, and I’m friends with the moms. On the Daddy weekends, none of the girls’ “divorced” friends are open for play dates.

My daughters’ routine gets switched up during summer vacation, but mine remains the same.

Does summer bring a marked change to your family’s routine? Do your kids’ social calendars put yours to shame?

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Valuing Motherhood

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Categories Mommy Issues, Parenting Twins, Perspective, SAHMTags , , , 1 Comment

Thanks to various things, I am valuing my role as a mother more.  I am beginning to understand just how important I am in the lives of my young children.  I (along with their dad) am their everything.  They look to me to know how to react to things, how to learn, how to speak to others, how to love.  A mother is the temperature gauge of her home.  So, if I’m mad, everyone will be in a foul mood.  And if I’m happy, chances are, everyone will be happier.

The sacrifice I make every day to stay home with my children instead of pursuing my own desires will be short-lived and worth every moment if I make it so.  Because, although parenting young children is extremely taxing and challenging emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it is such a short amount of time.  Before I know it, my children will be in kindergarten and then college.  All research shows that these first few years of a child’s life are paramount (even though they won’t remember much of it!).  It sets them up for the rest of their lives!  So though I am not currently helping our family’s financial situation much, or furthering my education, or developing new talents, I am helping our family in many, many ways.  Motherhood is extremely important.  Raising great kids is extremely important.  So I’m choosing to make the best out of my awesome appointment of being a mother of young children.

Doing so means I view my children as gifts, as precious, as pure, as wonderful.  I see their potentials.  I love them fully.  I devote my attention (note I didn’t just say time) to them.  I make them my top priority, not my home, not my grooming, not blogging, not Facebook, not some book, movie, or game – THEM!  I still feel like I am coming into this new frame of mind, of this new understanding of the true value of motherhood, but I am determined to live differently.

And that is what has made me happy again.  I’ve changed my outlook.  I’m stopped comparing (and am slowly stopping the complaining).  I’m prioritizing my life.  And it all feels pretty great.  I’m not worried about keeping up with someone else.  I’m not worried about how others perceive me. And I’m not going to downplay myself, because I know I’m a likeable person, that I’m pretty, talented, and smart.  And I know I am a good mom.

I’m not perfect (in fact I’m very flawed), but I’m content.  I’m at a good point in my life.  I am seeing my purpose differently.

How have you come to view your role as a mother?  How has it evolved over time?

*This is an excerpt from a post on my blog.  Read the entire post HERE.

ldskatelyn is a mother to one set of g/g twins and one newborn son and feels so absolutely blessed to be a mom!  She wants to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all of her fellow MOMs!  She blogs more on her personal blog.

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Seriously…How Do You Do It?

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Categories Attitude, Co-parenting, Family, How Do The Moms Do It, Infants, Parenting Twins, Pregnancy, SAHM, Sleep6 Comments

The name of this blog is just so appropriate.  I meet people all the time who say “I don’t know how you do it!”  My own mother can encourage me (or commiserate!) when she says “I don’t know how you do it!”  But it was under a year ago that I found out I was having twins, and after the initial shock and happiness wore off, I was left with the question “How will I do it?”

I think lots of MoMs to be, particularly if this is their first pregnancy, must ask themselves this question on a daily basis.  From carrying and birthing two babies, to breastfeeding, to soothing in the middle of the night, we just don’t know how we’ll cope.

And it’s not just the newborn phase or even the babies themselves—it’s the stroller, the high chairs, the clothes, the stuff—everywhere we turn we are confronted by another overwhelming child-rearing dilemma.

Project Procrastinot newborn twins
We had no idea what we were in for!

Nearly six months in, my “how will I do it” moments are quite different than they were when my twins were born.  Currently, I am wondering if I will ever sleep again and what introducing solid foods will be like.  For every transition we face, there is a brief moment of panic when I try to figure things out (okay, sometimes it’s not so brief).

When I was pregnant and asked every mother of twins that I could find “How do you do it?!” The vague and ubiquitous answer was “you just do” or “whatever it takes.”  And now that my twins are almost HALF A YEAR OLD (how did that happen!?), I can say that this is the same wisdom I wlll pass down to other MoMs to be.

But what does that mean?  For our family, it means not overthinking things.  I get more stressed out when I try to analyze every detail or plan every nuance.  The babies have a way of teaching you what works best.  So go with the flow, specifically, their flow.  You will find a way that works for you.  And don’t panic if it’s not the same way that Suzy Q does it, or if the first way you try doesn’t work out.  At this moment I have two cribs next to each other IN MY BEDROOM.  Certainly not something I planned, and not the arrangement I hope to live with forever.  But for right now? It’s what we gotta do and it works.

Mercedes and her husband live in Aberdeen, Scotland, where they spend restless nights with their b/g twins born in September 2012. 

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