The Mommy Wars: It’s Not What You Think

If I’m being honest, I haven’t experienced much in the way of the mommy wars.  Sure, people voice their opinions but I typically let it roll off my back.  My parenting philosophy is: feed, clothe, shelter and love your babies.  However you get there is the ‘right’ way.  My other parenting philosophy is ‘survive’.  Easy, peasy, right?  Wrong.

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The mommy wars I’m talking about today are internal.  This has been weighing on me for a while.  I’m a quitter – always have been, probably always will be.  I worry about how to teach my children not to be quitters when I’m a quitter myself.  Before we had the twins I was researching ways to save money.  Things like breastfeeding, making my own baby foods and cloth diapering were easy ways to cut costs, or so I thought.

Breastfeeding never happened for me.  Not because it couldn’t, but because when my early babes had troubles just learning to drink from a bottle, I didn’t want to selfishly add in learning to drink from my body to their plates.  Maybe that was selfish because part of me thought it would get them home sooner if they only had to master one task, maybe it was unselfish of me because they only had to master one task.  See?  My internal struggle is already showing.  I pumped diligently at the beginning, knowing that any breastmilk I could give them would help.  I hated pumping.  I hated being tied down for at least 30 minutes, but I did it.  I remember going to the NICU to visit the babes and I would pump as I would bottle feed one of them, or just hold both of them.  Pumping empty handed was a luxury.  Once the babes came home, it was much more difficult to pump every 3 hours for 30 minutes because twins y’all.  My supply started to dwindle.  I tried teas and fenugreek, a beer a day, trying to drink more water.  Nothing helped.  The babies started drinking higher volumes, I started making less breastmilk and after 6 months, I called it quits.  It was to the point where I’d pump enough to give one of them a full bottle of breastmilk a day.  I was ready to stop, but I felt and still feel guilty.  That one bottle every other day for each baby could still be helpful, right?  Did I give up too easily?

My most recent failure is cloth diapers.  I did some research, but admittedly not enough.  I decided on BumGenius 4.0 diapers.  They’re a pocket diaper with a microfleece insert.  They have snaps to make the diapers smaller or bigger, tighter or looser.   They worked fairly well for 8 months.  We did buy the BumGenius newborn diapers as well and used those for the first few months.  All of the sudden though, I’d put the diapers on the babies and the first time they peed, the diapers would leak around the leg hole area.  I tried tightening the diapers, loosening the diapers, making them smaller, making them bigger.  I tried adding an extra insert, taking the extra insert away and using a hemp doubler to help with absorbency.  I tried stripping the diapers and drying them in the dryer.  They were still leaking.  Perhaps it’s the microfleece, perhaps it’s the amount of use they’re getting with double the babies to diaper.  Whatever the cause, it was making me C.R.A.Z.Y.  It may sound a little silly but I was getting so angry, blood-boiling angry at these damn diapers.  So I quit.  I bought two bulk size cases of Target brand diapers online and got a $20 gift card and two packs of Target overnight diapers.  Then I went to Target and to my surprise they had the bulk boxes so I bought two boxes of the next size up to get another $20 gift card.  So I now have 444 size 3 diapers that will arrive this week, 444 (minus what we’ve used over the last 3 days) of size 4 diapers, which are really big on the babes but are doing the trick for now.  Plus 172 overnight diapers.  But I’m feeling guilty, really guilty.  We made an $1100 investment in cloth, plus $30 in hemp doublers and I’m just putting those to the side and spending money that we shouldn’t need to spend on disposables.  Did I give up too quickly?

I recently had a doctor’s appointment to get my flu shot at a new doctor’s office.  I told her I was feeling overwhelmed because I can’t seem to get anything done around the house other than taking care of the babies.  She told me things I already know, like ‘you have two babies’ and ‘you need to reduce your stress and get better sleep’.  But I know there are mommies out their with multiple children who get other things done around the house.  Why can’t I do that?  I feel guilty. I feel like a bad wife because my husband works all day, comes home and washes dishes, makes dinner or both.  He hasn’t complained.  This is all self-imposed guilt.

So you see, my internal mommy wars are causing me more heartache than I imagined.  I’m loosing sleep, I’m feeling guilty, I’m beating myself up.  All because I’m not living up the vision I had in my head of what kind of mom I’d be before actually having kids.  I’m quitting things because they were causing me stress, but quitting has caused it’s own stress.

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Dear Babies

A letter to my babes for Prematurity Awareness Month…

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Dearest Babies,

November is prematurity awareness month.  For moms of preemies, it’s a month full of articles, blog posts and social media stories reminding us of the painful start to our children’s lives.  The March of Dimes wants to bring awareness to prematurity to help prevent it in the future, but let me tell you something: not all premature births can be prevented.  Sure, some moms did drugs or other things detrimental to their babies.  I sometimes go back over every little thing I did or didn’t do during my pregnancy to try to find an answer for why Porter stopped growing in utero.  I didn’t eat lunchmeat, caffeine, caesar dressing (even though most of it is probably fine).  I didn’t drink except a sip of champagne on NYE and one sip of a Woodchuck.  I didn’t use products with parabens and tried to use as many natural products as possible, even if the smell of them made me sick.  I indulged in ice cream.  Is that what did it?  Is ice cream to blame?

What I really want you to know is that being born prematurely is not your fault, and likely not mine.  It’s not what will define you in life.  It pains me to know that for the first two years, at least, you will be measured by your adjusted age (which makes you 7 weeks younger than you actually are).  You can do everything that full term babies can do, on your own time.  Which, by the way, is also how full term babies do things – on their own schedule, at their own pace.  You’re not ‘behind’, you’re not ‘delayed’.  In fact, you’re stronger than most.  You have a fight inside you that most babies never have to discover.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I was given 7 extra weeks to love you.  You made me a mother and I’ll be your mama bear when I need to be.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.

All my love,

Mom

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