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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10 thoughts on “The Mommy Wars: It’s Not What You Think

  1. If it helps… My milk dried up the same way yours did, but much earlier. Around 3.5 months. And I also get absolutely nothing done around the house. And I know the guilt of watching my full-time employed husband come home and work. But you’re amazing and your babies are beautiful and sweet and healthy and happy and loved! I so agree that the worst mommy wars are the internal ones. We’re making it, though!

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    1. Thanks Katie! The breast milk thing is a hard one to get over. They (Drs and media) push it so much that I felt like a failure when my supply dropped, as I’m sure you probably did at the beginning too, even though the important thing is that the babes are fed. It really, truly doesn’t matter how. Thank you for your encouragement. All we can do is the best we can!

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  2. Oh hun, there’s a whole lot of mom guilt in here. I’m sure it’s intensified by exhaustion. Do you have a therapist or anyone you could talk to once in a while? It could help. I’m impressed you pumped for 6 months! I hated pumping with a passion so I only did enough for if I had to go away like for my knee surgery or whatever. Several hundred dollars on a good pump and I barely used it. Plus all the extra bottles and accessories that are needed with the pump. Yeah, big waste. Also bought cloth diapers but started them at the size 2 level which was I think around 5 or 6 months old. Did that pretty well for 4 months but then went on vacation for a month to my parents place and since we felt awkward washing soiled diapers at their place, we went to disposables again – were reminded how much less of a pain in the ass they are and we never went back. So… Yeah, close to $1k of cloth diapers and inserts, etc that were barely used (the good part about them though is that the resale value is pretty huge – if you’re done with yours I’m sure you could get a big chunk of your $ back). Anyway… We all do things for a variety of reasons that are very personal, and our experiences are also all very unique and personal. We just have to shake it off. Some decisions we might make differently if we are to have more children, and other decisions were so right that we would without a doubt repeat them. As you get out of that really tough first year, I would imagine you’ll find yourself feeling more rested and more comfortable with the decisions you make. The first year is rough. Hang in there. Xx

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  3. Thank you. Pumping is not fun. But I really didn’t know any different because I never breastfed. I’m just going to keep on trucking. I have a great support system but I’m realizing even with that and even knowing that these choices are probably insignificant in the big scheme of things I’ll still feel guilty lol.

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  4. Kristen, you don’t sound like a quitter, you have shown great ingenuity in trying circumstances. The only thing that prevents you from seeing the creativity of your attempted solutions as well as your timing and decision to try alternatives is practical and intelligent.

    Type ‘A’ extroverts tend to have anxiety regarding perceived imperfections.

    If you were a ‘quitter’ you wouldn’t have even attempted the difficulty of breastfeeding preemies or even bothered re-engineering the diapers! 🙂

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  5. I’m so sorry to know that you’re feeling like this! I’ve been reading since the beginning because we went through our first ivf attempt, two embryo, had preemies, at the exact same time as you. Like you, I had lots of ideas about the kind of mom I wanted to be because I had so long to think about it while I was experiencing infertility. And then, like you, things didn’t turn out the way I hoped — we were never able to breastfeed either and the babies were in the nicu for 3 months. Oh yeah, and I had triplets (one egg split), which you feel like you can’t complain about after infertility but is not exactly a preferred outcome, especially when they’re born at 26 weeks. It’s definitely complicated. What helps me is identifying all the things I do get to do that I always dreamed of — like stay at home with them, go on stroller rides, sit on a blanket in the sun — and some things I never knew would be so nice — taking a bath together, baby wearing, watching them interact with each other. Also, I have had live-in grandma help since the babies came home, so how you’re doing two all alone is beyond my comprehension. I, too, am a quitter, but I say going through IVF and pumping for 6 months makes you the opposite of a quitter.

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    1. Well thank you for sticking with me from the beginning and CONGRATULATIONS on having triplets! I cannot even fathom the amount of work they take but the amount of joy I’m sure out weighs the work. I’m so happy to have the twins But I can’t help feeling guilty over the stupid things that no one will remember anyway. I’m hoping that your three babes are all doing well now. The NICU is no fun but it’s where they needed to be. Sending you encouragement as you continue on this amazing journey!!

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  6. You sound exactly like me. I’m slacking at work so I can do stuff at home. It is hard having two babies and getting anything done. I am a quitter too…always have been. I totally understand. Don’t beat yourself up. Your babies are happy and healthy and loved!

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