Twinfant Tuesday: To separate, or not to separate?

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Categories Going out, Guilt, Independence, Parenting, Routines, Time Management, Twinfant Tuesday1 Comment

Looking back on our early days with our now two-year-old twins, there aren’t too many things I’d do differently.  (Well, maybe hire a night nurse!)  But one thing that stands out in my mind that I would have changed if I could, is taking one baby out for an outing more often.

I recall having friends ask how often my husband and I would split up with our kids.  At the time, I filed these comments into “you don’t understand because you don’t have twins” category.  On days when my husband and I were both around, we pretty much operated as a family of four.  We did all activities together, or were cooped up in our house together.  It felt essential to have both sets of hands on deck for both kids at all possible times.  For those necessary tasks like running to the grocery store, which, sadly became our “me” time for the first year, one parent would grin and bear it for an hour, while the other blissfully strolled the aisles solo.  This made perfect sense to us: it’s not “easy” to bring just one of the babies on errands, so why wouldn’t we leave both kids at home if we had the option?

However, now that our kids are older, we split up much more often.  We’ll take one on an errand alone, or on a special outing, and the kids light up at that grocery store, like we took them to Disneyland.  (They do often end up shouting the other twin’s name, and/or the absent parent’s name, on the outing, looking for them.  But, it still is so precious to see how excited they get to have their own trip with mom or dad.)

It makes me feel sad that I didn’t realize earlier how special that solo time would feel to them.  Arguably, maybe they were too young to have the awareness of this separation before we started doing it.  But, still, I think there may have been value in us splitting up with them before they did recognize it.  So much of the first 18 months or so of parenting twins was filled with anxiety for me.  Looking back, I think if I had ventured out on my own with one baby more often, it would have built some confidence in me that would eventually have led to adventures with both babies.  I think it also would have led to less mommy guilt: ie, since an hour at the store was my “me” time, I wasn’t “allowed” other time alone.  If we’d divided up with baby, maybe I’d have done more sans baby for mommy.  :)  Lastly, I think it may have been healthier to split them up more than we did, allowing them to be their own person, even if just for an hour.

Katie is a working mom of 2-year-old twins, who makes too many trips to the grocery store, with or without kids!

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Mommy Judgment and Me Time

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Categories Diversity, Guilt, Mommy Issues, Multiple Solutions, Other people, PerspectiveLeave a comment

Generally speaking, parents are supportive of one another. We share parenting tips, recommend kid-friendly restaurants, and set up playdates. However, we can also be brutally judgmental of each other.

“Me time” is an area where otherwise accepting and supportive people dive headfirst into the mommy wars.

Just the other day, Sadia found herself nodding along in disbelieving and disapproving agreement when a summer camp counselor mentioned that another parent had arrived half an hour late to pick up her child because she’d fallen asleep. “How dare she,” Sadia thought, “make use of summer camp time to take a nap!” The fact is, we don’t know this other mother’s circumstances. Perhaps she works nights. Perhaps she’s unwell. Perhaps she fell asleep at work at her desk. Perhaps she has a newborn. Perhaps she fell asleep at her desk while suffering from mastitis.

SaraBeth receives a lot of “it must be nice” comments on getting a sitter and doing so regularly. It used to annoy her, but that time together as a couple is more important to her than big vacations or fancy name brand clothes. It’s her choice, and her husband’s, to make that time a priority.

Elizabeth, a single mom, is frequently told that she shouldn’t be running errands when her girls are with their dad. Instead, she is told  she should be doing more stuff for herself, such as getting coffee with friends or setting a massage/hair/nails appointment. She has her “me time” set up just how she likes it, and it isn’t when the girls are with their dad. She stays as busy as possible during that time running errands and getting things done that are harder to do with 2 preschoolers in tow.

Sadia is also a single mom. Lots of people (most recently her dentist) tell her that she should be grateful to have several weeks child-free during the summer when her ex-husband exercises his visitation rights. She doesn’t see it that way. She only has 9 years left before her twins leave home to build their adult lives. She wants to make the most of their time together while they still enjoy her company. The teen years and parental rejection that will come with that aren’t far off. Call her boring, but she doesn’t spend her nights drinking and clubbing when the girls are away. Instead, she ends up spending more hours at work and the gym. She’d much rather be adventuring with her daughters.

As a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), SaraC finds a lot of people asking her, “What do you do with all that time?”. Three of her 4 children are still in diapers, so we MoMs know exactly what she’s doing: primarily feeding and cleaning four people, keeping them safe, and letting them know that they are loved.

MandyE received negative feedback for a blog post she wrote one time about “me time”.  The commenter challenged her that “’me time’ begets ‘me time’” and if she continued to “indulge”, she would grow to resent her children.  She admits the harsh words threw her for a loop and caused her to question herself.

Amy is her own worst critic. She criticizes herself for having help with childcare and housekeeping even though she’s a stay at home mom of four (two sets of twins). If she didn’t have help, she would never get “me time”. She deserves to go to the store by herself too!

Jen Wood gets judged for not taking “me time” at all. During the time she was a SAHM, she couldn’t justify paying someone to watch her kids unless she was making money to offset it. She had a high school girl, an assistant at the boys’ preschool, watch the boys ONCE. After paying her $30 for 2.5 hours out, Jen just could not do it again. It felt far too indulgent for a mother making zero dollars an hour. She doesn’t have family nearby, so free care is off the table. Most of Jen’s “me” time is at home with the kids, doing something in another room while they destroy the one they are in.

People ask SaraC, when she’ll go back to work, judging her for being a SAHM. Her answer is that she’ll return when it’s right for her family. She also meets working moms who feel they need to explain themselves to her! SaraC responds by letting these moms know that she worked when she just only 2 kids, so she completely understands the working mom’s lifestyle. She also fully recognizes that each family is different. She has no time or desire to judge a working mom and would appreciate them withholding judgment too!

During Sadia’s early Army wife days, she was informed by other military spouses that she was an abhorrent mother for working outside the home. She was told that a good mother would stay home with her babies. Her response then was that she was a better mother when she didn’t look to her children to fulfill her intellectually and socially. The outlet of work allowed Sadia to focus on being for the babies what they needed. Her response now is that her job provided stability, both financial and psychological. Her divorce three years ago would have been much more traumatic to the children if they weren’t already accustomed to Sadia working full time. If she didn’t have an established career to fall back on, with a salary to match, they would have noticed a rapid decline in their quality of life, one from which Sadia was able to shield them. 

Michelle finds other mothers expecting her to have far more free time now that her children are older. There is a hope (maybe a fallacy) that “me time” increases with our children’s age. That hasn’t been true at all for Michelle. The children don’t nap and they stay up later. Their demands are just as insistent. There’s as much, if not more, to stay on top of. Michelle’s husband has asked her to consider quitting her job, but with the cost of extracurricular activities, the family relies on her paycheck to help defray the cost of five kids in five different activities.

We’ve all been judged for how we spend our time. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve probably judged other mothers. We hope that our perspectives have shown how different “me time” can be and there is no single approach that works for every family.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Mommy Goes to School, Too!

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Last fall, when my kids were only 13 months old, I won the lottery by learning my work was going to support me in becoming a certified yoga teacher. I work as a therapist at an adolescent and family therapy program, and we wanted to begin incorporating yoga into our programming. (Think, “Yoga for anxiety,” and the like.)

On the one hand, I was completely thrilled. I’d practiced yoga regularly for over a decade and always played with the idea of becoming a certified yoga teacher. Now my work was in support of it. But, on the other hand, I felt stretched so thin already, as a working mother of 13 month old twins. How would I balance this, too? Yoga classes have long been my place for a little “me time,” a place to feel strong and connected to my body.  Would it still feel like sacred time once it was incorporated into my work?

Mommy guilt is ubiquitous, but especially present when we spend time on things other than our children.I quickly learned that this four month long training was no joke! Requirements included quite a bit of reading, two classes at our studio each week, a half hour of daily meditation, an hour of practice at home, and a full day at the studio each week. Right off the bat, I felt conflicted. I already had some mommy guilt over the time I spent away from my kids at work each week. But, this was a significant amount of additional time away from them… not to mention the added responsibilities this put onto my husband.

I found myself wishing this opportunity came a little later, when my kids were older, and I could focus on it a bit more. I was so incredibly jealous of those for whom this training was their sole focus: no kids to take care of, no job to juggle, and all the time in the world (it seemed to me on the outside) to devote to their yoga practice. In fact, I still feel a bit this way. Thankfully, I was provided the space to process these feelings with the other people in my training. The experience made me think a lot about mommy guilt: something I never really understood pre-kids. I would never give a friend grief about taking this time away from her kids, so why was I giving myself such a hard time?

When I think of other moms taking “me time”, I think, “Good for them!  They’re setting a great example for their kids. They’re showing their kids they’re more than just ‘Mom.’” Of course, my kids were too young to really understand why mommy was going to yoga school, or for me to set an example for them about taking care of myself.

Even though I still wish I could have gone through my training when I was stretched a little less thin, I know that there probably is not a time like this in the foreseeable future.

The yoga teacher training gave me one very incredible gift: it enriched my time at work.  Now that I am able to incorporate something that I love into my job (which I also love), it does make my time away from my kids feel more like “me time” and a little less like making a living. And when I do have the time to sneak away to a yoga class or practice at home when my kids are napping, my practice is also much deeper, leaving me a more relaxed mommy when they wake up.  Everyone wins.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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How I Get My Me Time

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When I first thought about writing this post, I was steeped in that all too familiar Mama guilt. I know you know what I’m talking about. This particular day, the guilt caught me off guard as I noticed my son, nearly three years old, singing to himself.

“Let it go,” he sang.

My heart sank a little. I know I am not the only one on the planet who doesn’t love the movie Frozen. (Mayim Bialik has a good piece on her issues with it.) But I was genuinely surprised to hear him singing this, because I’ve never shown my twins the movie. I’ve never even seen it myself, but have had enough exposure to know that song when I hear it.

To be clear, my problem is not with the movie itself, or with any movie, really. It’s the fact that I am slowly losing “control” over my twins and their experience of the world. They are growing up, and I have started to reclaim the elusive ‘me time.’

To get this me time, I have had to make some compromises. I joined a gym with childcare. Most of the time, the TV is on (hence the Frozen homage). I wrestled with this–we are a very limited screen time family. But I knew this was the only way I would be able to do something for myself. Heck, I would even take grocery shopping by myself, but the gym has the childcare and so that’s how I take my me time.

Crying Yoga
Somehow, exercise at home is just not as fun…

I started off with kickboxing and Zumba. Over the summer, my husband was traveling in and out of state for work, I transitioned the twins from cribs to toddler beds, and they abruptly dropped nap time. Kickboxing was a blessing during this time!

Out of curiosity, I dropped in on a yoga class one day. I didn’t expect much from it–I’d tried yoga at other times in my life and had never really ‘gotten’ it. But this time was different. This time, yoga was for me. Little by little, I left the kickboxing and booty-shaking behind and started a daily yoga practice. I have seen so many positive changes in my body and in my outlook on life (although, this may be partly contributed to the fact that my kids have started napping again!)

I can’t imagine now what my life would be like without this little treat for myself. Looking back on it now, I can see how much the positives outweigh the negatives of leaving my children in the gym daycare for a mere hour a day. I feel restored and the ‘attitude of gratitude’ cultivated through regular yoga practice helps me be a better mom and person. I guess you could say I have taken a page from the book of my omnipresent animated friends; I “let it go.”

MJ Yoga Collage


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Making Room for More

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Categories Guilt, Independence, Infants, Older Children, Parenting, Relationships, Siblings, Singletons, Twinfant Tuesday38 Comments

Every mother worries how her first-born will adapt to life with a new baby. How can we quantify and plan for the way our hearts expand to supply enough love for more babies? When preparing for twins, I wondered how bad it would be to bring twins into a family that already housed a three-year-old.

It turned out not to be a matter measured as, “how bad,” but more “how different.” From the beginning, we were keenly aware of how important it would be, during those first few weeks, to give her a role to play as big sister, and to keep up on our promise to love her. Love comes in cuddles, extra helpings of dessert, shared bubble baths, movie nights and special walks together, at least when one is three years old.

The First Days at Home

My husband and I kept a close eye on how our oldest handled the transition. It was important to involve her in as many of the new changes as possible, so we did: She bottle-fed, sang to them, changed diapers, and drew pictures to decorate their nursery. Anytime a visitor came with a gift for the babies, we made sure to express our gratitude, but not evoke much fanfare if there wasn’t also a gift for the new big sister. This was the beginning of our learning the lesson of being even-Steven with everything in a family with multiple children.

bigsister1

One-on-One Time

We chose to do a combination of direct breastfeeding and bottle-feeding pumped milk and formula, which gave my husband and I some free time to spend one-on-one with our oldest girl. This. Was. KEY. Honestly, having a energetic three-year-old was often more work than having twinfants. She did not care if we were sleep-deprived, and she had more needs to be met than ever before. Initially, this intimidated me, and fed my worry about how I would ever have enough time and energy to satisfy each daughter.

Each day, I took a moment or two to capitalize on time together. If she woke before the twins, we would enjoy a quiet breakfast together, just us two. If the twins happened to nap at the same time, I would take her for a walk, or a quick trip into town. If all were awake, I would pile everyone onto my lap and read books, letting my oldest have a chance to ‘read’ to her sisters.

bigsister3

Let Their Bond Grow Organically

I watched my oldest with our twins and recognized there was a new dynamic in the family that required very little from me. New sister relationships were forming, and I moved out of the way. Sometimes, she was too rough with them, and they would cry or whimper in response. Rather than scold her, I watched her face process the twins’ reaction, and she learned how to better handle them. Giving her the space to learn how to be a big sister to twins on her own has given her the confidence to forge ahead, to the beat of her own drum.

She has learned when to shut them out (kindly), because she needs to be alone and doesn’t want to be a big sister sometimes. That’s her prerogative, and rightly so. In turn, the twins have learned to idolize their big sister, and today at age three themselves, they are elated when they are invited to play with her.

We also let her paint on their faces; It was non-toxic and washable!

bigsister4

When Our Hands Were Full

There were, of course, times I was busy feeding the twins, or rocking them to sleep, and I couldn’t physically respond to our oldest’s requests. I would do my best to explain I could help her with my words, but not my hands. I would sing songs if she had a tantrum, I would play word games if she was amenable. I even took to setting up a pile of stuffed animals beside me as I nursed, so I could throw them at her if she was getting into something she wasn’t supposed to!

Telling her, “I’m sorry, mama’s busy feeding” was heartbreaking and, I’ll be honest, is a guilt that doesn’t go away, although it changes as they grow older. I never feel like I am giving each of my (now four) girls everything they need at all times. How can I possibly? I cannot raise four girls with 24/7 individual attention from their parents, but I am happily raising four girls who have established a true sisterhood. They have learned from infancy the values of cooperating with others, empathy, shared joy, and patience.

Sarah is the mother to four girls, two of whom are identical twins Hailey and Robin. They were born in the Yukon in a very small hospital at 35 weeks, and though they were small, they were mighty. She now lives in Ontario, where her high school sweetheart husband works very hard, and she stays home with the girls, freelance reporting on the side. In her past life, she was a journalist who covered everything from fast-paced federal politics to cats stuck in trees. Her writing has appeared in local newspapers and magazines, and in national publications like the Globe and Mail and ParentsCanada Magazine. She is a yogi, a mediocre cook, an awesome Beyonce dance move imitator, and an avid blogger at Cure for Boredom.

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Full-Term Envy Finally Ending

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Categories Emotion, Guilt, Parenting, Pregnancy, PrematurityTags , 3 Comments

Being a Mother of Premature Infants

I’m a preemie mom. I have healthy, happy, smart, opinionated, confident, amazing 8-year-old daughters. They’ve overcome any challenges thrown their way because of their premature birth. They were incredibly healthy for their gestational age, and they were far from micro-preemies, being born at 33 weeks. And yet, I am and always will be a preemie mom.

Preemies shortly after birth compared to age 7 from hdydi.com

I have this enormous guilt at not having carried my daughters longer in my womb. I can’t help wondering if I could have given them just a few more days if I were taller or had gained more weight. Perhaps I could have gone on leave from work earlier and rested to prolong the pregnancy. My one job was give them a safe place to grow for 38-42 weeks, and I failed.

It’s not rational. I know that my daughters are above average in pretty much every area other than height. I know that 50% of twins are born prematurely, and I certainly wouldn’t give up having the both of them! More time in the womb might not have changed a thing. As my very wise 8-year-old M told me last week, “I am who I am because of everything in my life, including how I was born.” And I admit, I really like who she is.

Still, I suffer from what I call full-term envy.

Full-Term Envy

Every time I hear a pregnant woman wishing that the baby would come already because she’s uncomfortable, I want to tell her, “Do you know what I would have given to be that uncomfortable, just to give my babies a better start in life? Do you know how badly my neighbour, the micro-preemie mom, could have used 16 more weeks?” When I hear about the C-section scheduled around business priorities, I want to ask, “What if Baby just wants a little more time snuggled in there? What’s the rush?”

There’s a little stab in my chest when I hear about women reaching 34, 35, 36 weeks and farther in their pregnancies. I used to occasionally cry on hearing birth weights in the 6, 7 and 8 lb range. My daughters were only 3 lb 6 oz and 3 lb 9 oz at birth. And yet they’re here and healthy, and I know how fortunate I am.

Whole-Hearted Joy

Last week, something extraordinary happened. A dear friend asked me if I had any ideas on how to convince her son to make his way into the world… and full-term envy didn’t raise its ugly head. I felt compassion for her discomfort and shared her readiness to meet her son. I didn’t resent her full-term pregnancy. When I heard his 8 lb 1 oz birth weight a few days ago, I felt nothing but joy and a hunger to meet him and snuggle him and congratulate my friends.

I’m not sure why this baby is different. Perhaps it’s because I felt the loss of the miscarriage that came before him. Perhaps it’s because I found out that he would be joining us minutes after his mom learned that she was pregnant. Perhaps it’s because he feels like a brother to my daughters, who already love him as their own. Perhaps it’s because I was there every step of the way, seeing all the ways in which he took over Mommy’s body as he grew. Perhaps it was just knowing that his mom and her husband see my daughters as part of their family. They know M & J’s story, know the odds that they’ve beaten. My friend also knows the micro-preemie down the street, too, the 10-year-old bolt of energy who was born at 24 weeks and whose only long-term impact was on her eyesight.

I suspect that in experiencing the full breadth of my friend’s pregnancy as a witness, I healed the wounds from my own pregnancy being cut short. Maybe this little baby has vanquished my full-term envy.

What aspect of parenting to you feel envy about?

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A Compromise

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Categories Attitude, Balance, Difference, Emotion, Fear, Feeling Overwhelmed, Finances and Saving, Guilt, Joy, Lifestyle, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Perspective, SAHM, Working15 Comments

A few days ago marked the close of another school year, the first one I taught after my twins were born. Having only worked 6 weeks the year prior before taking my maternity leave, it was a difficult adjustment. The first several weeks seemed like just an exhausted blur, and the weeks following did not get much better. The month of March (the “long March”) was the worst. I was feeling depressed, rundown, burnt out, just plain tired and uninspired.

The crawling babies began to walk, then run, then climb, and by the end of the school year their naps were hit-and-miss because they were ready to transition to only one. So I had cranky babies and a preschooler to pick up from school, then feed and bathe all three after a full day of work. And I constantly worried about my aging mom, who I counted on every single day in order for me to go to work. I started to rethink this decision made a year ago

Clearly, I knew my husband’s position. We’ve had this discussion many times before; I’ve been wanting to be a SAHM ever since our first was born. But the decision we made came mostly from his arguments, all of which are valid: We have family nearby, they’re willing to help, these are our prime working years, I should be building my career and our family’s financial wealth. But he doesn’t understand the guilt that comes from having nothing left to give to the kids crying and tugging at you for your attention at the end of each day. He doesn’t understand that I blissfully enjoyed almost an entire year at home with my firstborn (starting 10 weeks before her siblings were born so she had me completely to herself), and the sadness I feel that the twins will NEVER get to experience that, just by the fact there are two of them plus an older sister.

One morning in early May, after a night of tormented sleep, I sought out my administrators to ask if there were any options for me to relieve some of this distress. Other than resign and lose my job security and all the years of service credit I’ve built with the district, the only other option was to work part-time. I never considered this an option because… well, because it is rarely done. I’ve only known two colleagues who have ever done it, and currently there is only one other teacher working part-time in the entire district. But, surprisingly, after almost collapsing into tears while telling my principal of the difficulties of trying to be the best mom I could while also being the best teacher I could, she was completely supportive. And, it turns out, so was my assistant principal working on the master schedule (the schedule of all courses during all class periods for every teacher at the school)– he was able to give me two morning classes a day.

My husband and I then had this discussion once again, but this time I was offering an alternative. What if I could keep my job security, keep my vested years and retirement, but also spend more quality time with the kids? I had the numbers to present to him, and my mom had already signed off on the idea. We could take the financial hit temporarily; my mom would only have to watch them for less than 3 hours a day instead of 8. I could feel fulfilled, as I am keeping my career, but also not be completely worn out before I even pick up my kids. Surprising me yet again, my husband agreed.

Life changes after having kids. This is the way we’ve decided to compromise. My new contract was signed last Friday. I’m not absolutely sure yet that this is the best way to go for our family, but I am trying something that I think might work. We will see.

lunchldyd is currently on summer vacation from her job as a high school teacher. Her husband has deferred his hopes of moving into a bigger house soon because of her part-time working decision. 

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Twinfant Tuesday: Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave (Part I)

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Categories Guilt, Parenting, Perspective, Twinfant Tuesday, Working5 Comments

I returned to work when my babies were 11 weeks old. Going back to work after maternity leave was incredibly hard, physically and emotionally, but I don’t regret doing it. In the long term, my daughters and I are better off for my having maintained my career through motherhood.

The end of maternity leave is hard, but returning to work can be well worth it. The younger the child, the easier it may be.

The photo above was the last one I took before returning to work. The babies were so little… only 4 weeks past their due date and still the size of newborns (around 7 lbs). I had to restrain myself from picking J up and holding her in an attempt to get enough baby snuggles to get through the day without crying. I didn’t quite make it through that first workday without a few tears, especially while I was pumping.

Why 11 Weeks Old?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives many US employees 12 weeks off work for the birth of a child. This time is unpaid, but our employers have to hold our jobs for us and can’t give away our positions. To mothers in other countries, unpaid maternity leave is unthinkable, 12 weeks impossibly short, and the need to share this 12 week leave between both parents (if they work for the same employer) an abomination. Still, the law is what it is, for now at least, and I’m grateful that my employer is large enough to be required to honour it.

Many American mothers, too, see 12 weeks as an impossibly short period of time to spend with their newborns and therefore choose to leave their careers for a longer period of time. Some employers will agree to hold a new mother’s job longer than the minimum 12 weeks required by law. Others will expect a new mother to hand in her resignation if she intends to stay home longer than that.

One complication I didn’t anticipate was that bed rest-related absence from work also counted into the 12 weeks I was allowed off associated with the pregnancy. Fortunately, I work at a job to which I can telecommute and my boss was herself a mother whose second son was 4 months older than my girls. She was very understanding and did all she could to help me have the healthiest pregnancy possible. When my obstetrician told me 31 weeks into my pregnancy that I needed to stop working the following week, I went into a panicked tailspin. My boss was the one to suggest that I consider working half time from the couch, to keep myself busy and my income flowing even while I tried to reduce my symptoms of pre-term labour.

My half time work schedule only lasted 2 weeks before my babies made their dramatic arrival at 33 weeks. Over those 2 weeks, I’d used up 1 of the 12 weeks allowed by FMLA.

In the first hours after my babies were born, we were told to expect them home no sooner than their due date, still 7 weeks away. The idea of taking 7 weeks off work while the babies were in hospital, only to have 4 weeks left to bond with them at home, made me sick to my stomach. I started playing with calendars, trying to figure out whether I could return to work as soon as I was enough recovered from my C-section to do so, just to maximize my time home with M and J.

A kind nurse, Michelle, took me aside when they were a couple of weeks old and advised that I not take the route of bopping in and out of FMLA leave. All indications were that both girls would be released home well before their due date, likely right around the time I would be healed enough from the C-section to go back to work. As it turns out, the girls came home at 16 and 22 days old, before I was cleared by my doctor to drive. How working mothers with longer NICU stays manage it all, I really don’t know. I did notice that many of the other NICU babies who’d been in the hospital for several months no longer got daily visits from their parents, thanks to the demands of work. My heart breaks for these families.

During maternity leave.
This is one of a handful of photos of me during maternity leave.

I had actually hoped to return to work part-time at first, when the girls were 9 weeks old, spreading out my FLMA leave and giving myself a more gradual switch from primarily breastfeeding to primarily pumping. However, my mother decided to visit just about the time I planned to go back to the office, and she required me to serve as a full-time chauffeur. We had initially hoped that she’d be able to watch the babies, but she was overwhelmed by the idea of juggling both of them. After all, it had been 26 years since she’d had to care for an infant by herself; with my baby sister, we’d had servants to do the heavy lifting.

So, 11 weeks of maternity leave it was, and I returned to a full day. My babies were at daycare from 6:30 am until nearly 6:00 pm, thanks to my lengthy commute.

How long did you/do you plan on taking maternity leave?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Baby-Maker’s Guilt: Spontaneous Conception in an Infertile World

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Categories Guilt, Infertility, Infertility Theme Week1 Comment

(By Sadia.)

I was new to motherhood when I realized that being a twin mother made me a tourist in the Land of Infertility. I remember the exact moment that it happened.

I was at a meeting of my Mothers of Multiples group. Our featured speaker was done speaking and our questions had been answered. We were all gathering up our things to head out to dinner together when my friend said casually, “Hey, who else is going to the fertility clinic reunion?” A couple of the other moms responded, just as casually, that they’d see her there.

I fiddled with my purse, avoiding eye contact, overcome with the realization that for these moms, the “Are they natural?” question wasn’t just an opportunity to shake their heads at strangers’ ignorance. It was a cut to their hearts, a reminder of a long and hard journey to become parents. I thought back on everything I’d said that evening. Had I inadvertently offended anyone with my question about breastfeeding and birth control?

I was aware of the statistics. I knew that fertility treatments had resulted in a 76% increase in twin births between 1980 and 2009. I just hadn’t paired those statistics with my friends’ life experiences. With so many infertile women around, the guilt of being able to conceive easily is very real. The guilt that settled in at that moment has never quite left me. Conception was so easy for me.

We scheduled it just so. I finished up psychotherapy to make sure that I’d vanquished the demons of my childhood so I wouldn’t introduce them into my kids’ lives. We’d starting building our first home. I’d learned to drive, found a solid job, and bought a car. I spent a year on both prenatal vitamins and birth control to prepare my body. We were ready. We decided to schedule my pregnancy for while my husband would be in Iraq. The baby, we thought, would never know that Daddy was away.

We gave ourselves a 4-month window for conception and achieved success in the first month. Seven months later, I had two beautiful little girls. My husband hadn’t even had time to deploy before our twins were home with us. We used the second pregnancy test in the two-pack we’d bought only because I’d taken the first test way too early to detect anything.

It was so easy for me. How was that fair? I would have perfectly satisfied with adoption instead of pregnancy, but my husband wanted one biological child before adopting. And here were these mothers, these wonderful, inspiring mothers, who’d had to spend thousands of dollars, to endure disappointments and losses, to get there.

When women approach me and my children in public to ask whether they were conceived with fertility assistance, on occasion I see a hopeful light in their eyes. I feel awful, telling them that no, my daughters were conceived spontaneously.

Why do I feel guilty for the fertility that allowed me to be a mother? Motherhood is guilt-infused enough as it is! The guilt can be gift, though, just a reminder of what a miracle it is that I get to experience every day. Every conception is a miracle. Twins, even more so. And my identical twins, these brilliant, funny, energy-saturated, amazing little girls calling me Mommy every day? They’re the greatest miracle of all.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Infertility: It Still Affects Me

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(This post was submitted anonymously.)

I’ve run the race, and I have not one, but TWO t-shirts to prove it.

I traveled the path of infertility. It was long. It was hard. But I have my twin girls to show for it. I am so very, very lucky.

My girls color my world with love and joy, the depths of which I never could have imagined.

Infertility should be a thing of my past then, right? A chapter I closed, to focus on the happily ever after.

It’s not, though.

Infertility isn't easy to leave behind, even as motherhood takes precedence.

I always said I wanted two children, and that’s precisely what I got…two brilliantly amazing children, whom I love more than life. I could not be happier.

Why, then, do I wince a little when I see a glowing mother-to-be?

Why do I switch to the other side of the mall, to avoid walking past the maternity store?

Why does it sting to hear about the “oopsie” babies…the declarations of “we want a big family”?

Why can’t I bring myself to read the “how do you know if you’re ‘done’” posts?

Infertility still affects me.

I know it will always be a part of who I am, and I hope it at least makes me a more compassionate person. But the pangs of wanting I feel? They are isolating, and they come with a lot of guilt.

Why can’t I just be happy with what I have, content with the gifts I was {finally} given?

I am. I am so very happy. And I can’t imagine feeling more content than I do, walking hand in hand with my girls down the street, or snuggling with them on either side of me, reading books.

Had I been able to have my two children by conventional means, would I still feel this way? I don’t know.

I don’t know the answers. I just know how it feels. I hope I can one day move past the rawness of the emotions.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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