A Bad Cow

Breast feeding for me was super important, as it is for many moms. I had read the studies, watched the videos, talked to enough people, to decide that breastfeeding was what I was going to do when I gave birth.

When I found out I was having twins, I joined twin mom groups and met a few moms who were EBF(exclusively breast feeding) and had no issues, in fact I met a mom who had multiple sets of multiples and was still breast feeding, not only her most recent set, but the set before them. To me, this seemed like a no brainier. Simply latch them every time they made even the smallest sign they were hungry. Easy right?

Sure… Or so I thought

My mom who was a drug addict and not a very good mom, could breast feed. Women with multiple kids could breast feed, and a few of them at once. This seemed like something I could do easily. After all, I was a female and I was made to do this right!?

Right.

When my twins were born, things didn’t really go how I had imagined… No NICU time, but still, they were my first children, so my expectations weren’t really realistic or sensitive and understanding to the fact that my expectations might not happen.

I expected them to pop out and latch instantly like so many photos I’ve seen. But that wasn’t really the case. My nipples and areolas are on the larger size, and pregnancy hormones didn’t help at all. They were big and round and both my boys at first, had a very hard time getting latched on. With some struggle and determination and a few hours with the lactation specialist, we got them on, but found that grew tired fast. Regardless, this was something I could deal with. At least I thought.

However, one baby seemed to hate breastfeeding. He wanted nothing to do with it. I’d get him latched and then he’d get mad, I think at how strong my letdown was. I’d be desperately trying to re-latch him while he was screaming and being sprayed by an uncontrollable stream of milk. All while trying to keep his brother focused and latched. Still we pushed forward.

I expected cluster feedings, I had heard they were a thing, and while sometimes time consuming, was something doable. Multiply cluster feeding one baby by two, and now make those babies huge consumers, and things can really start to wear you down. I was producing enough to make one baby happy but not two. It was heart breaking, I was nursing for about half an hour to an hour, then pumping for about half an hour to an hour. Then I’d basically get up to pee and eat, do some things and back down I’d go to nurse and pump. My entire life was nursing and pumping.

By the time they were three months, I was so tired and miserable. I had a baby stuck to me at all times, and still after every feeding they were obviously still hungry. All the classic signs were there and if I would latch them on they would eat again, and again, and again, and again… So I finally gave in and started pumping exclusively and bottle feeding. This was great, but I soon realized the issue.

My boys were consuming ten ounces every two-three hours. After we started bottle feedings, they would sleep basically through the night, what was great, but they were literally out eating me. They were eating about 120 ounces a day between the two of them. Their doctor said that was fine, but everyone including myself, thought it was ridiculous. Still we kept going, until we were up to about 200 ounces a day, which I couldn’t produce. I was attached all day long for the most part, pumping.

It became miserable, I was so focused on pumping. I was constantly strapped in, my breasts hurt deep inside, I had scabs, there was some bleeding and what I liked to call, ‘strawberry milk’. I was spending so much time pumping and watching to see how much I was producing, that I wasn’t focusing on my boys as much. I started missing them do things because I was adjusting a pump, dumping bottles into bags, cleaning parts, eating to produce more.

It took meeting another twin mom to make me realize that what I was doing was having such a huge and negative impact on me. My postpartum depression was so affects by my obsession with breastfeeding. My partner would scoop me into his arms every time I broke into sobs, hitting my boobs, and cursing my body. She told me that it’s ok to not EBF, hell, that it was ok to exclusively formula feed. That fed babies are best.

Why miss out on time with my boys, enjoying them, and watching them grow, just to attempt to EBF? Why drive myself into depression and misery just to EBF? It wasn’t worth it at all. She made me realize that I was mom shaming myself so hard and that was ridiculous. Why, when we get enough shame from others, should I be shaming myself!? I shouldn’t! I should be proud that I carried my babies to term, producing 14lbs of twin, twins that needed no NICU time. Twins that are healthy and happy.

That night, I went home and I packed up my pump, and I pulled out the frozen milk and tubs of formula and it was like the world lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe again. I spent so much less time feeding the boys and so much more time playing with them and loving them. Feedings became regular and we started getting ten hours of solid sleep through the night and a set scheduled where naps aren’t an issue (until recently when teething happened).

For me life has been better in every way since I stopped breastfeeding and I’m ok with that. Sure, for awhile I still kinda felt some guilt, but then I’d get a solid two hours of time with my boys and it would be all about them and I realized this was so much better than struggling to enjoy them while struggling to feed them. 7 months into this motherhood adventure though, I know I made the best choice for myself and my boys and I am not afraid to tell others.

When new moms in my twin mom groups post heartbreaking posts about their breastfeeding journeys begging for someone to tell them the magical secret that will make their boobs produce and make their mommy guilt go away, I always come in, first with advice that I found helpful on my journey, but I follow with the truth. That it is OK to not EBF or breastfeed at all. That it is ok to formula feed, and that a fed baby is in fact the best. I relay a shorter version of my story, highlighting the endless stream of tears and the emotional destress that came with endless time spent attempting to EBF my children. I remind them that they are not failures or bad moms by not EBF.

I try to be honest and say, while I know we all know the benefits of breastfeed, there are no benefits to a child when a mother is exhausted, emotionally drained, and depressed. I also try to be honest with the fact that, while some women do breastfeed without issue, producing enough to donate large quantities even after feeding their own, that comparing your body to them isn’t fair to your own. You are your own individual and you cannot shame yourself because you can’t do everything someone else can.

I always remind them to look at themselves and how hard they are trying. They have so much love for their children, there is no way that not EBF could make them bad mothers when they have in fact put themselves through so much already for the sake of their little ones.

So to anyone out there struggling to feed their twins, heck, even their singletons. Do not beat yourself up, be kind to yourself. Pick up your babies and love them while they are little before they grow much faster than you expect, right before your eyes. Do not beat yourself up, you just created life, respect yourself and how amazing you are. Enjoy your time with your babies. Do what you need to do, but know. It is OK to not exclusively breastfeed. It is ok to not breast feed at all. But, whatever you choose to do, STOP mom shaming yourself. Breathe. It will be ok.

Some Days I Don’t Get Things Done

Some days I don’t get things done.

Before, before and during my pregnancy, my house was was cleaned regularly. I steamed the carpets weekly. Dinner was usually always ready and the dishes were done right after. Laundry was where it was supposed to be, cleaned and put away, and in a timely matter.

Now, some days I don’t get things done. My house at times gets dirty and cluttered. The carpets at times go weeks. Dinner isn’t always ready, in fact usually it’s delivery. When I do cook, the dishes often stack next to the growing pile of bottles until I decide to do them, usually because I need more bottles. Laundry can sit where it is for days at a time, in the washer, dryer, basket, or piled somewhere.

This isn’t because I’m overwhelmed. Some days it’s because I’m tired. But ultimately some days I don’t get things done because I’d rather spend it with my boys.

If there is one thing I know for sure as a mom it’s that the time I have with them will go by faster than I expect it and ultimately, faster than I want it to. I knew it before I gave birth and in the almost 11 weeks I’ve had them it’s only become more true. In 11 weeks so much has happened already, they look like completely different babies than the ones I brought home, and I know as the days go by, only more and more will happen, and more and more will change.

So, while I’m sitting at home not getting things done, I can promise I am actually doing a lot. To start I’m raising my boys. I am feeding them and changing them, doing tummy time, and trying to ensure they are getting enough stimulation. I am also holding them and comforting them while they cry, and they cry a decent amount, especially with two of them.

But ultimately I am loving them and cherishing the time I have with them. I am watching them grow and change, from the tiny little wrinkled old men looking babies I brought home into the beautiful men they will one day become. I am watching them develop personalities and discover the world around them as they become aware of the world around them. I am watching as they figure out what they are capable of as they slowly figure out the world they are becoming aware of and how exactly they fit into it. I am cherishing every smile, every cuddle, and every moment I have with them.

So yes, many days my home is not as together as it was, but for now that is ok. I would rather have a messy home and all the time and memories with my boys than a clean house, only to find once they are grown, that I lack those memories of the time they were young.

Sure as they grow older things will surely go back to normal and I will get things done again, especially when they are in school, but for now some days things just won’t get done. And while my house might not be totally together, the memories I’ll have of them once they are grown and busy will be there. Some days I don’t get things done, but I always create memories to cherish.

Dad Time

So I was feeling not so good. Normally I would just suck it up and sleep through it, but I have babies now. So I sucked it up and went to the doctor to get tested for the flu. Luckily I didn’t have the flu, but since I was so nauseous, he gave me a shot to try and help.

Let’s just say, when he told me it might make me drowsy, the Doc wasn’t joking. I got home and I passed out for about 16 hours. And when I say passed out, I mean that not even my man shaking me and asking questions about the boys woke me up. I haven’t slept this much since the boys were born and their father hasn’t spent this much time alone with them ever.

See, my partner goes to school during the week and usually works 6 days and sometimes 7 at night, and so he is hardly here. Thankfully when he works 6 days a week, he does let me sleep in a little, about four hours, and this is about as much time alone with the boys he has during the week. He always jokes that if I wanna switch him, he’ll stay home with the boys and I can go work full time like him. While I truly believe he means this jokingly, there was always a part of me that was hurt by this. Part of me that felt he was in a way, down playing how difficult what I did everyday was, but I didn’t think it was something I was holding onto.

So, me passing out for 16 hours was basically a nightmare for him. Having to deal with two babies for that long when you aren’t used to it can take quite the toll apparently. See, since birth, caring for my boys is all I’ve done besides keeping the house, and ensuring my partner is fed. He’s never had to get up at night to help, he’s never had to deal with endless crying spells, or hungry babies that don’t like bottles and therefore fight feedings when Mom isn’t there with her udders.

So those 16 hours were quite eye opening for him. And honestly, I’m totally ok with that. When I finally woke up and he was up with them and exhausted looking and I asked him what was wrong, his response was very honest. He was tired, and dealing with them for so long had worn him down both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Sure he had never said outright that what I did was easy, but it’s been implied a few times and honestly those few times made me quite upset. So to hear him admit that what I do was difficult made me feel strong. I finally felt he understood what I deal with on a daily basis. I finally felt respected and appreciated for what I specifically do for our children.

Me getting sick was honestly probably a great thing, because that little bit of resentment I had, that I honestly wasn’t aware of is gone. Since then, he’s helped more on his days off, and on his off time when normally he’d be relaxing and playing video games, he’s started helping out. He brings me breakfast in bed and holds our boys more. I know he’s exhausted, I know what he does is extremely difficult, and I know when he planned on going to school, he didn’t plan on having a family to care for and so I truly appreciate how hard he works. But I’ve always respected him for his efforts and now, finally, I think he respects and understands mine.

Breast Milk Let Down revisit

The boys are ten weeks tomorrow.

Two days ago I started having severe nausea and couldn’t keep anything down so for over 24 hours I ate nothing. I barely drank water.

I went to the doctor to find out if I had the flu and luckily I didn’t, and they gave me a shot to help with my nausea. However it made me extremely drowsy and I slept for 16 hours. This led to severe engorgement I was dealing with the whole day when I finally woke up.

That day I ate maybe 2000 calories while fighting my engorgement and still dealing with slight nausea.

Well, engorgement in my right breast had already basically greatly reduced it’s supply. Now my left breast has been greatly decreased and my right breast is basically done.

I’m heartbroken. I don’t know what to do. And I feel like the biggest failure. This is something my body should be able to do. It’s natural. I should be able to feed my boys. Yet here I am. Failing.

This for me is one of the hardest things I’ve experienced yet. Sure I don’t get a lot of sleep. Sure I’m alone most of the time. Sure I’m constantly juggling two new babies. But for the most part, nothing has been upset as this. Sure I was never an over producer, but to start with being able to pump 8-10 ounces every two hours plus feeding the boys every two hours to basically not being able to feed them and pump maybe an once every two hours if I’m lucky has been devastating.

Of course, maybe it’s genetics, my grandmother and mom both said they didn’t have an easy time and had low supplies… But still it hits me hard.

Nothing I try from Google searches work… I just need a miracle.

It’s Ok to be a ‘Bad’ mom sometimes.

I’m going through my first sickness since the boys have been born. They have colds and I have what feels like the flu, even though I tested negative for the flu. I live over 2000 miles from any of my family and friends and my partner is only home during the week for about 5 hours a day, most of which is spent sleeping. For the most part I’m going through this basically alone.

My daily routine has gone out the door, my house is a mess, there is diapers piled high where I change the boys, and sometimes when I just can’t take their screams anymore I put them in their cribs, close the door, get in the shower, and I cry.

I’m here to tell all the moms out there desperately trying to meet the standards set for Moms today, that it is ok. It’s ok to not know what you are doing. It’s ok to let the housework fall behind. It’s ok if your scheduled activities and daily routine that includes tons of interactive activities for your baby doesn’t happen every single day. It’s ok to be a ‘bad’ mom sometimes. You don’t even have to be sick to make being a ‘bad’ mom ok.

Today, with social media, I feel like the pressure to be a perfect mom has become so intense and looming. However, we have to remember even the mom who seems perfect on Instagram is only posting the best parts of her day. There is this idea though that your child should never cry, you should always have a clean house, you should be finding all the new programs, toys, and apps that help with your child’s development and using them religiously, healthy, organic, non gmo food is all your kids should be eating, and so on and so forth.

Well I’m here today to tell you, it’s ok to not be perfect. Your child will cry and if ever there is a day you are at your wit’s end, it’s ok to put them down and walk away. Them crying once in awhile won’t hurt them, you snapping might. Your house doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, piles of diapers, dishes, or laundry is fine. It happens, sometimes keeping up with caring for them, yourself, and maybe even your partner can be overwhelming at times. If tummy time doesn’t happen every single day, or you don’t use that new whatever that’s supposed to make them smarter than other babies their age as consistently as it says you should, you aren’t a bad mom and it’s not going to hurt your child. Heck whenever I feel bad for missing a day of tummy time or developmental music, I remember that my mom never did that with me and I’m working on a doctorate and did ballet for years, my muscles and brain ended up fine. I also never ate organic, non gmo, local, foods with no preservatives, and I’m a pretty healthy person.

It’s ok to not be perfect. It’s ok to put yourself first some days. It’s ok to be a ‘bad mom’.

The Adventures of Recreating Personal Space – part 1

Last night was the first night we moved the boys out of the room. We didn’t put them all the way upstairs in the nursery, but instead kept them in the bassinets in the living room right next to our room. It wasn’t so bad because my partner was home and so he cuddled me and consistently reassured me that they and I would be fine. I could also still hear them fairly well.

However, tonight he is back at work and so here I am all alone in the room again and every part of me wants to bring the boys back in. I want to watch them as I fall asleep. I want to hear them breathe. I want to smell their freshly washed little baby selves.

Every part of me is screaming at me to bring them back and I’m fighting it so hard. Realizing at this point this is more me breaking a habit then them. It’s so rough.

Crying it Out

So, I know this is basically a super hot button topic and that my ideas probably don’t align with many, but it’s something I’m wanting to write about.

Crying it out is basically to allow your little one to weep until they are soothed or exhausted and fall asleep.

There are plenty of blog posts about it, mostly about how bad it is. However, I haven’t found many actual scientific or research based papers published that say the same thing, in fact most say it’s fine in moderation.

The most popular idea seems to be that it causes your baby unnecessary stress that will inconceivably damage them in some way. That you are essentially breaking your babies mental state and honestly the way some moms talk about it, like you are setting them up to be possible maniacs or bad seeds.

So before I state how I feel about the cry it out method, let me be clear about something, I am absolutely 100% positive, that leaving your baby to cry for hours on end without comforting or caring for them in any way is absolutely cruel and unkind and yes will probably lead to some stressed out babies. It should also honestly lead to you having your children taken away.

However when I and I feel most people talk about crying it out, that’s not what we are talking about. Crying it out, at least to me, simply means that after I’ve ensured that my boys are clean, fed, burped, and have been given tons of love, and its in fact time for a nap because I can see how hard their tiny bodies are fighting it (or not because let’s be honest, this new world around them is exciting and sometimes they don’t even realize they are exhausted), it’s time to lay them down to sleep. But if they don’t want to sleep right away, that they will lay there for a short while to see if they can self soothe themselves to sleep or at the very least to see if their tiny, over exhausted, little bodies have exhausted themselves to the point that they can’t do anything but fall asleep. This will involve checking on them every so often if they aren’t going down, to reassure them and ensure they don’t need anything.

I have two boys less than 8 weeks old right now, so I can’t say for sure how this goes for older babies, but I can say for sure how I know it goes for my boys.

Sure, in a perfect world I could just cuddle them all day long and life would be perfect, but that’s not the case. In the real world, I am a stay at home mom with two newborn twin boys, who has just moved over 2000 miles away from any friends or family and who’s partner not only works but goes to school. Since my partner is out of the house most days from 1230pm-630pm and again from 1030pm-930am, that means the 7 hours he is home is basically spent trying to eat or sleep and therefore the only interaction he has with our boys is basically to quickly cuddle them.

So in my world, and my boys world, I am the sole caregiver of them and the house. I don’t have family or friends to help and that is just how it is. The day after I got home from the hospital I was caring for them, cleaning, cooking, and going about my regular pre birth life, of course a bit more slowly. So for me, and a lot of moms who stay at home and/or work, cuddling all day long and constantly focusing on baby (or babies) is not an option.

I cannot sit with both of them and constantly reassure them until they fall asleep attempting to ensure neither of them sheds a tear. Most moms in the world regardless of how many kids they have cannot do this. And eventually your child is going to need to be able to go to sleep without you constantly pacing your home as you cradle their little bodies, singing their favorite song, while ignoring your need to pee and your overall state of exhaustion.

So, for nap time or bed time (of course for me, with the boys being so young, essentially every time is nap time), I go through their routines, lay them down, and walk away. Sometimes one cries, sometimes both cry, and sometimes no one cries (these times are of course the best times). However if crying does happen, this is ok, I’ll go about doing the other things I need to do, maybe pee, or feed myself, if not cleaning or cooking dinner. However if about 15-20 minutes go by (30 max if maybe I’m trying to get dishes done or shower) and someone is still crying I’ll go back and check on them. Are they clean still, did they maybe not get enough boob time before and decided they need more to be full, is there a hidden burp? If all is fine, they get some love, some reassuring words, and it’s back to bed. I keep this routine up until both are asleep or at least are calmed and no longer crying.

If it isn’t nap time yet, or the boys just got up and we are inconsolably fussy I also employ this method. If my loving you and cuddling you isn’t stopping the crying, and you aren’t wet, hungry, have any obvious injuries, or gassy, I’ll hold out for as long as I can cuddling and trying to console. However with two little guys, after a few hours of tandem crying that isn’t soothed by anything, it definitely starts to wear on you, so down the boys go since the only options are either a) simply they are unhappy and want to fuss or b) they are tired and in need of sleep. They get put down, I walk away, attempt to get other things done, and check on them like any other nap time.

Now let’s be clear, I’ve managed to stay relatively stress free, and have yet to get truly overwhelmed with my boys, but I also know at 7 weeks, I haven’t gone through some of the hardest experiences yet. I’m still waiting on sleep regressions, teething, and other wonderful moments in life with them that I imagine I’ll want to possibly rip my hair out for, and more luckily on my behalf, I haven’t yet experienced any real ppd. So I know that I have a lot more to experience, but up until now, being a solo mom in a new place with minimal help or adult interaction is going shockingly well. I truly believe this is because I don’t go crazy trying to ensure that my children don’t cry or stop crying if they are.

It’s ok for Mommy to take a break. It’s ok to walk away, get a drink, get a snack, take a shower, sit in the cabinet eating pop tarts and the cookies you have hidden away. It’s ok to cry for a little too. It’s ok to not be there for them 100% of the time physically. You letting your child cry it out (again as long as you aren’t simply ignoring them for hours on end) probably isn’t going to turn your child into an evil, mean, anxious, and/or an ill adjusted adult. They won’t call you twenty years from now cursing you for it. They won’t ever recall the twenty three minutes you let them cry for on August 8th 2015. In fact letting them cry it out is going to be harder on you than it is on them.

For me I think the hardest thing is hearing my babies cry, but I also understand that I need to take care of myself from time to time and torturing myself trying to figure out why my overly tired baby isn’t going to sleep while being on a sensory level, stimulated by me trying to console them for multiple hours isn’t helpful for anyone. I’ve found that if I just let them go through it, because they are frustrated, that I end up with very pleasant, happy, and smiley rested babies and I also feel better because I took the time to focus on something else for a little.

Remember Moms, we are still our own individuals first and foremost and no one in our home can properly or peacefully function or live if we ourselves are exhausted, cranky, anxious, or unhappy. Remember to take time for you and to walk away when you need to. Our children will still love us and they will probably be happier after too.

Happy Mom, happy home, happy family.