If Youth is Wasted on the Young…

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A dear friend who lives far away just had a baby. She’s been sending me pictures and I can’t help but feel nostalgic! What a curled-up, mewling, soft and sweet little dumpling! And somewhere, deep inside, I feel the irrational stirrings of baby-fever, like rattling an unopened present. You may look at me and tell me I’m crazy. After all, my babies are ONLY 7 MONTHS OLD! Just a few weeks ago I was telling myself not to look forward more than fifteen minutes in order to avoid an all-consuming panic attack! I haven’t slept in eight months!

So, you’d probably be right. But it’s not like I want a baby now. Maybe in a few years–I just can’t imagine never having another one.

But then I think about what it would actually be like. The twins would be running around and would need supervision. I wouldn’t be able to lounge around like I did with my first pregnancy. “Bedtime” with a newborn and twin toddlers? An oxymoron, surely! Sometimes I think the only reason I’m getting by now is because the twins are my number one and only priority–everything else gets thrown out the window and I’m moving too fast to look back. This wouldn’t be possible if I were to add another baby into the mix.

As hard as those first few months were (and they were, very!), I can’t help but wonder if they were actually easier than another pregnancy, another birth, another baby would be. And so, like they say youth is wasted on the young, my first pregnancy and newborn experience was wasted on my childless-self. I’ll never get another chance to rest leisurely with my feet up and complain about my swollen ankles while watching every episode of Breaking Bad and Teen Mom on Netflix as I wait for the baby. I’ll never be able to drop everything I’m doing to feed my newborn and have nothing more important to do, because I will have two other children who need me, too. Not to mention a husband!

I think being confronted with another newborn, the questions of a new mom, the pictures of the happy family–all the details, good and bad, that go into the “fourth trimester” have just been making me, like I said earlier, nostalgic. I try to think back on the day the babies were born and to my horror, I can’t seem to remember much. The whole first three months are a big blur. What a stereotypical thing for a new mom to say, but it’s true.

Project Procrastinot Twins
They grow up so fast! *sniff*

Whether I blame the grogginess on my medicated recovery from the C-section, the sleep deprivation, or yet another surgery and recovery at 6 weeks postpartum, it doesn’t really matter. I feel incredibly guilty for not remembering every single detail of the first months of my twins’ lives. Maybe the romance of a new baby (at least the idea of one) is my way of making up for the memories I’ve fumbled around. Maybe what I really want is not another baby, but just time with my babies back. I love where they are right now–laughing a lot, interacting more and more, but there’s something to be said for those precious new baby moments!

If you had twins first, how did your next pregnancy compare?

Mercedes is a SAHM to her 7 month old b/g twins in Aberdeen, Scotland.  While she daydreams about adding another baby to the family one day, her husband fears another unexpected “handful”! For more stories and pictures of an expat life with twins, visit her blog Project Procrastinot. 
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Balancing Work, Home, and Mommy Guilt

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Working fulltime with two little ones at home is proving more difficult than expected. It’s been 8 months now since returning to work after extended leave, and I thought we had it all figured out. One thing we didn’t factor in was how busy and challenging my job had become in two years.

We’re doing everything right, or so it seems. Mr. Mama and I take turns cooking and we have someone coming in to clean the house twice a month. Mr. Mama does most of the daycare pickups and dropoffs while I help him get the kids out of the house. We tag team during mealtimes, bathtime and bedtime. We even have extra help from the Grandparents once a week and on the weekends.

Our morning routine is consistent. I usually wake up first to get ready for work and make breakfast. Then I get Little Mister and Little Missy, chang them and start on breakfast while Mr. Mama gets ready. In the evenings, I’m home 10 minutes before the twins which is enough time to warm up dinner. Then follows bathtime and an early bed.

Other things I do to save time and energy: pack my lunch 2 days ahead, write down daily priorities at work, write up weekly “To Do” list at home, set out the twins clothes for the week and set out my clothes for the week. Despite all that, we never see the neighbours, let alone our friends, and barely have time to catch up on the rest of the life.

As another twin mom put it, every day is organized chaos. I know this is for a short time only because the kids are so young. But that’s the sad part! Every day they seem to grow an inch and learn things at an exponential rate. And I’m too tired right now to enjoy it. That, my friends, is mommy-guilt. How do you manage yours?

Ambereen, mom to 2 year old B/G twins, is constantly striving to find some form of balance between all the aspects of their busy lives. Read more on her personal blog.

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I’m a choir geek. I started singing when I was 5, and managed to find a choir to sing in from then on. When I was pregnant with my twins, though, I just didn’t have the energy to make it through evening rehearsals, so I stopped singing. For the first few years of their lives, I was too busy to even think about singing anything other than nursery rhymes.

Tonight, I attended my first choir rehearsal in 6 years. A college friend told me about auditions, and I figured I’d give it a shot. The chorale will be performing Carmina Burana with the Las Cruces Orchestra this season. Singing again was amazing. There’s something about a group of people creating art simultaneously that is transcendent. Still, I couldn’t help feeling guilty about not being home to tuck M and J into bed. I’m sure they loved having Daddy to themselves and didn’t even think to miss me. It’s hard, though, not to feel selfish pursuing an interest that has nothing at all to do with my family.

Do you pursue any activities without your kids? Do you feel guilty too? Does the guilt pass?

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Multiples, Speech Delays and Mommy Guilt

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I’ve heard that multiples are more likely to have speech delays from various sources: books, web resources, paediatricians, and other parents of multiples. There doesn’t seem to be a definite explanation for these delays, but there seem to be two main theories: (1) multiples develop their own ways of communicating with each other so they don’t need to learn to talk, or (2) multiples don’t get as much one-on-one time with parents/caregivers. Here’s our real-life experience to add to what I’ve learned from others.

Our girls seem to have some speech delays. They were tested when they were 19 months old. S was measured at 14 months for expressive language and 16 months for receptive language. (R wouldn’t cooperate with the testing, but she’s probably pretty close to her sister). They are both usually able to make it clear to us what they want through sounds, pointing, and signs, but they use very few recognizable spoken words. The next step here is for the parent(s) to go to a workshop with a speech pathologist who shows us techniques to support our children’s speech development. Our babysitting plans didn’t work out, so I ended up going alone. There were about 15-20 parents at the workshop, and it sounded like their children had a variety of speech delays. I’m quite sure I was the only parent with twins at the meeting, and I didn’t have my husband along to provide an alternate perspective on the experience.

I responded to the workshop on two levels. From one perspective, it made sense to take this approach. Parents are (usually) the people who spend the most time with their children and they know them best. They are best suited to integrate activities to work on speech in to their family’s daily activities. And, it made sense to work with parents alone because it is much easier to share information and answer questions without toddlers. My rational mind was able to take in the information provided and consider how I could use it to help my daughters. I felt more confident that this would be a short-term concern and that there steps we could take to support them over the next few months.

However, from another perspective, the recurring message of the workshop seemed to be that parents need to spend time one-on-one with their children. As a result, I left the workshop feeling very guilty and discouraged. My mind quickly made the connection that if the solution to the problem is more individual attention than the cause must be lack of individual attention. I felt that I had let my children down by not focusing enough on each of them and not making time to talk with each of them to support their language development. I compounded my guilt by worrying that choosing a childcare provider who does not have English as a first language contributed to my daughters’ delays. Though I specifically asked about applying these techniques with multiples, the speech pathologist didn’t have any concrete suggestions. I was left trying to figure out how I could fit 15 to 30 minutes/child/day of more focused individual attention.

We’ve only had a few days to consider what to do next, but we are looking at changing our bedtime routine so we can each spend time with one daughter. We are also trying to include more one-on-one time on the weekends. I’m also implementing the techniques I learned with both girls when we play together. This is the best I can do during the day when I have two toddlers and their older brother to take care for. I remind myself that I provide them with a safe, stimulating and fun place to play and learn. They are clearly happy little girls, which helps to dissipate the mommy guilt.

I’m sure everyone has experience mommy guilt. How do you deal with it? (If you have advice on dealing with speech delays, I’d love to hear them too.)

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I'm Still Here, You Know

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After recovering from the initial shock of hearing I was having two babies instead of one, my next thoughts were of my older child. She was our princess, our angel. For 22 months we had essentially been at her beck and call. Spoiled? No. But definitely used to a certain amount of attention. How would she cope with the colossal change in her little world?

Things started to change for her when I was put on bed rest. It is hard for a 2-year old to comprehend why suddenly Mommy won’t get up anymore. But, she was a trooper during most of that time. And a little really went a long way towards reassuring her. The best investment we ever made was in two breakfast trays from Bed Bath & Beyond. We would enjoy meals together (albeit in the living room or in my bedroom),  color or play with play-do. We also did a lot of reading together, although now she had to sit next to me as my lap had all but vanished!

Finally the babies were born and we were all home together as a family. Unfortunately, most of the time Mommy’s two hands were occupied by … two babies. And, even though the babies ate at the same time, their nap schedules didn’t always jive. So, usually there was one baby awake needing … something. That didn’t leave a lot of time for one-on-one time with the Big Sister.

So, what’s a MoM to do? Obviously I’m meeting all of their physical needs, but am I doing enough emotionally for each? How do I make sure everyone is getting enough “Mommy Time”? And how do I keep myself from being consumed with guilt when my Big Kid seems to feel left out? Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

First, accept that you can’t be everywhere at once. It is physically impossible to meet the demands of three (or more) crying or whining children at the same time. The sooner you accept this, the better. In our house we take a triage approach. It’s not necessarily who is crying the loudest that we tend to first, it’s who has a greater need. For example, a poopy diaper wins over “I need a snack NOW”. And getting a potty-training toddler onto the toilet wins out over a baby who just happens to be done in the exersaucer NOW.

Second, stick to routine. We kept our daughter in daycare throughout my bed rest and for the first six weeks after the boys were born. That way, she knew what a good portion of her days would entail. Now routines help us to manage her expectations of we can do for/with her in the course of the day. For example, the boys’ bedtime routine ends about an hour before her bedtime. So, while she may lack the attention she desires in the evening while we bathe/dress/feed them, she knows the end result is undivided attention from Mommy and Daddy before she goes to bed.

Third, recognize the cries for attention and try to make up for it where you can at a later time. A toddler or preschooler may not have the words to say “I really need you to pay attention to me because I miss you.” But even the best-behaved children will try to relay this information through their actions. Here are some things we’ve seen in our house:

  • Potty regression (if I have an accident, they’ll have to stop what they’re doing and deal with me)
  • Refusal to eat meals when served (Dinner is important to Mommy. If I say I don’t want it, she’ll put her attention into getting me to eat)
  • Tantrums (self-explanatory!)
  • Bedtime troubles (they want me to sleep and will do all in their power to get me to do so)

While we try our hardest not to give in while a tantrum is taking place, we do try to give her a little extra one-on-one time in the following days because we know the behavior was her way of trying to tell us something.

Fourth, invest in a baby carrier. As previously stated here, a carrier is a must for any MoM. So, get one baby down for a nap, strap the other one on and then use your TWO free hands to play with your big kid(s). It is amazing how much more you can do if you have one of these!

Fifth, communicate with your child. Saying things like “I can’t right now” may actually sound like “I don’t want to” to a 2 or 3 year old. Try being more specific, like “I’d love to read that book to you. Let me just finish changing this dirty diaper and settle your brother down. We’ll both enjoy the book more if he’s quiet.”

Sure, there are days when you’re going to feel pulled in a million different directions trying to be there for all of your children (oh yeah, and your husband may want some attention too!) But if you really try to accept that you’re doing the best you can with the time you have, you’ll feel a lot better.

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