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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Let’s Get Real

Overwhelmed

 

I debated whether I should write this post.  First off, let me start by saying that I’m not ‘outwardly’ religious, meaning I won’t preach to you, I won’t try to argue with you, I don’t go to church (though we may want that to change for the babies) and I rarely talk about prayer and things of the like.  Second, we seem to live in a culture that has more depression than ever, yet no one wants to talk about it and especially not in the pregnancy/mommy world.  I have not been diagnosed with depression or anything like that, but after yesterday I feel myself slipping into this place that I don’t recognize.  It’s been a long time since I felt like this – like since middle school (which is a post for another time, maybe even for a different blog).  Yesterday when I was in the hospital, I got teary-eyed once and my husband helped to calm me down.  I think I was mostly in shock at everything that was happening.  Though I will say, when I got up yesterday morning, I just had this aching feeling that we were going to be making a hospital visit.  Anyway, I came home last night, texted our moms and my sister-in-law and wrote a blog post.  The rest of the night went on like it normally does.

This morning I woke up at 4:20 am – anyone who is or has been pregnant can understand this.  I then laid in bed from 4:25 – 9:25 (with one more pee break in between), but not a wink of sleep.  I have so many things racing through my brain.  I was feeling low, really low.  It’s only gotten worse throughout the day.  I keep thinking: have I caused this, is this because I haven’t enjoyed every ounce of my pregnancy so far, were the doctors right to tell us that we should only transfer 1 embryo, is my cervix the issue or is it that there are two babies and not much room, could I have prevented this, is it because I rarely take my vitamins since they make me feel sick, please let them stay put until 36 weeks, if they can’t stay put please, please don’t take them from me.  I shed a few tears this morning and at different points during the day, but tried to hold back because I don’t want to upset my husband or totally fall apart.  Stress isn’t good for the babies, but how the hell do you not stress about this?  After eventually getting up and starting the day, my husband was working on a shelf for the nursery closet.  I snuck in while he was in the garage and just glided away in our glider.  I stared at the book ledges that are already full of books, the cribs that are set up (minus mattresses and sheets and whatnot), the area rug on the ground and the baby books I received in the mail, from a still unknown sender.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  How long would it be before my babies would be using this room?  If born prematurely, how long would they have beds in the NICU vs. beds at home where they belong?  What kind of complications could they face if they came now, or next week, or at 30 weeks or 32?  Could they survive if they came now?  Do I have any control over any of this?  Will I even know if I go into pre-term labor since the symptoms can be a bit different from regular labor and since I’ve never done this before?  All of these things are weighing heavily on me today.

I’ve never prayed as much in my life as I have since right before beginning our IVF cycle.  I try to keep them short, as I know there are people out there with ‘real’ problems who probably need more help than I could ever understand.  And, they’re pretty much always the same prayers.  At this point it’s something like, “Please help these babies to grow big, strong and healthy.  Please let them stay in as long as possible, like to 36+ weeks.  Please keep our family safe.”  Short, sweet, to the point.  I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but that’s what I do.    I truly believe that through this process we have not been alone.  Prayers have already been answered.  IVF being possible, my hormone levels rising and then holding steady so our cycle wasn’t cancelled, getting pregnant, finding out it was two babies and getting us this far.  So this is what I do when I enter a dark place – I pray and I hope that I’m heard and that these babies are going to be okay.

I realize this method doesn’t work for everyone, but what I want this blog post to say is that depression or signs of sadness during pregnancy and mommyhood are a lot more common than people like to admit.  Do what you need to do to pull yourself out of a slump.  Call a doctor, friend or family member.  Don’t struggle alone.  Open up and be truthful about your journey because it isn’t all rainbows and fairytales.  You are not alone.  I am not alone.

I also have to thank a very special group of women, whom I’ve never actually met in person.  The ‘trying-to-conceive’ community (mostly on instagram, but a few have found me through my blog too) has been a huge support.  Everyone is sending their well-wishes, happy thoughts, prayers and their own scary stories that turned out to have happy endings.  I couldn’t do this without all of you.  You know just what I’m going through.  I feel your love, and your support.  So thank you, thank you, thank you!

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New Year’s Resolutions

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Most other blogs covered their New Year’s resolutions already, but it’s still January so I figured what the heck.  When I thought, at the end of last year, what my goals were for 2015 only one word came to mind: survive.  2014 was quite the year.  It was filled with struggle, disappointment, dark days, hope, tears and overwhelming happiness.  As we look ahead, I know this year is going to be the most difficult I’ve experienced yet.  We need to survive the rest of this pregnancy, which has taken a bit of a scary turn, but hopefully my damn cervix stays shut.  We need to survive labor and delivery, in whatever form it comes.  We need to survive new parenthood and twin babies.  We need to survive becoming a one-income family with 6 mouths to feed (counting the pups).  So above all else, we just need to survive.

On top of that, there are definitely a few other things I’d like to accomplish.  I’ve been an obsessive planner my whole life.  Though when looking back, little to none of those ‘life plans’ ever worked out the way I expected.  I want to take a step back from planning and just let life happen.  This is going to be hard for me.  I almost want to plan out how to not plan.  You see?  I’m obsessed.

Another goal is to simplify.  I’ve been trying to declutter my house since before the end of the year.  We have boxes of old papers, old trinkets and a bunch of other junk that we moved into the house with and some we’ve acquired since living here.  I want it all gone.  Zero extra clutter, but it’s fricken impossible!  I’m trying my best and will soon be moving on to our closets, getting a mail/bill system set up, the nursery and organizing the office even more than I already have.  I’ve been decluttering digitally too.  I have been unsubscribing from the majority of emails that come through.  It’s weird to check your email in the morning and see nothing new, but it’s refreshing.

One last resolution is to ‘let it go’.  I realize that song is so last year, but the meaning is something I should’ve figured out a long time ago.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my day – nothing illegal but educationally, financially, career wise, with relationships and friendships.  There’s nothing I can do to change any of that, but it haunts me constantly.  I get really down on myself for not knowing better, or for knowing better and making the mistakes anyway or for not thinking things through.  It’s time I let that all go.  It isn’t helping me to dwell on the past.

This is a lofty list of resolutions for me, especially to take on in the biggest year of my life so far.  I’ve always been one to do everything all at once, so here’s to taking it all on in 2015!

p.s. these photos are from Lauren Fair Photography from our engagement shoot back in 2012 (we were engaged on NYE inside the Tiffany & Co. in Atlantic City so we recreated NYE for our shoot).

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