Saving Lives by Walking Away from Your Babies

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Categories Twinfant Tuesday

Twins Playing

My husband, Scott, came home from work and found me on the couch staring out the window and our four month old twins on a blanket on the floor of another room screaming.

“Michelle, the babies are crying!”

“I know,” I started to cry, “I just couldn’t take it any longer trying to soothe two of them at once so I had to leave them and walk away.”

Sleep deprived. Overwhelmed. Hungry. At my limit. Alone. Inadequate. Unshowered. I was feeling all of those things in the 5 minutes or so before I had left the babies in the room.

“They won’t die from crying.”

I just remember hearing that advice somewhere from the pre-pregnancy days when you take all advice with a grain of salt and the attitude of, “Well, that won’t happen to me!” But it does happen, especially if you are alone all day caring for two or more infants and your husband or partner is working long hours.

And, this wouldn’t be the last time I would do something to keep my babies safe while I gained some emotional and physical separation. While I reached a point where I could be the nurturing mom, I needed to step away… breathe… take a break.

One time, and I truly can’t believe I did this (but my husband was working crazy hours at corporate headquarters and we had no family within a 1500 mile radius), I took one of the babies to our next door neighbor and handed the little guy to him. The story gets better. The neighbor, a young father of twins himself, was studying for the bar exam.

At this point I had had the second set of twins so I had two newborns and two under two and while I had help during the day, the witching hour between when the nanny left and when Scott came home was long and tortuous. Everyone was hungry or collicky and there was just no physical way I could do it—but I did. This particular evening, though, must have been doubly worse.

I knocked on Rueben’s door holding one of the newborns. “Here. I need you to take this baby until Scott comes home.” And, amazingly he scooped the baby from me and went inside his house. No questions. No admonitions.

I won’t say that Rueben saved that baby’s life. But, I will say that I am still grateful that he opened the door, saw desperation and reached out—with both hands.

I’ve also handed one or both newborns over the chain linked fence that separated me from our neighbors behind our house. “Please, can you just feed them their bottles while I feed the other two and get them ready for bed?” These dear neighbors would feed them and rock them on the back porch swing and I was able to feel human again.

No matter how good of a mother you are and how much you love your babies, there is a point where all of us reach a tipping point. When you are at yours, walk away. Or take them to a neighbor. Even though you think you look like the weakest person they’ve ever seen… you are actually at your strongest and most protective.

It's okay to ask for help. Parents have limits too.

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11 thoughts on “Saving Lives by Walking Away from Your Babies”

  1. If I were in your situation, I would have done the same thing. Reaching out for help is one of the hardest things to do and good work momma on knowing when you need it! There’s no shame in doing what is best for your babies.

    1. Thanks. It is really only in hindsight that I can now somewhat laugh about it. . .at the time I felt pretty inadequate. But, I would give this advice to any new parent–walk away for a moment. . .hand over the reins. . .allow yourself to need time alone. (And, I think Rueben still passed the bar!)

  2. I reached my breaking point and had to walk away more than once with just one set of twins. I can’t imagine two sets. Good on you for knowing your limits, and for your honesty in this post.

    1. Even as an “experienced” mom, with my singleton (who is now three) I still found that I had a limit that I HAD to honor. I also realized that it had nothing to do with the number of children (although all those needs at once was/is overwhelming). No one can work at anything for an unlimited time without the ability to walk away, get some air. . .feel even for a moment like our former selves.

    1. We need to nurture ourselves and learn to identify and validate our limits–even if it means alone time in the bathroom!

  3. Thank you for your honesty….I remember leaving my crying two in their cribs one day when I couldn’t take it anymore to have a shower….because it was the only place in the house where I couldn’t hear their crying – even if it was just for five minutes…okay it was ten….

    1. I think the shower, just the water hitting our bodies, is so soothing! It works for over-taxed adults as well as babies!

  4. Our girls are 11 months old and have had ear infections and viruses galore since starting daycare. We haven’t been sleeping well and I’m usually the first to jump at getting up with the girls in the middle of the night. Finally, I reached my breaking point of no sleep and desperation of not being able to have babies feel well and sleep through the night. I had a panic attack and had to ask my husband to do all the getting up. He has been great the past two nights stepping up while I try to listen to my body and relax. I feel a little less crazy reading stories of other Moms also in times of despair… And living through it!

    1. Victoria–sleep is sooooo important. Kuddos to you for speaking up and giving your husband the opportunity to help! I’m pretty sure so many husbands and partners want to help but they just need to be asked–and told specifically what will make a difference.

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