On Mom Shaming

imageI’ll readily admit, before I had kids I didn’t really buy into the whole “mom shaming” concept. Of course I was, and still am, fully aware of the judgement that exists, both from other moms and myself. However I somehow had it in my mind that I would be immune to the judgment, that somehow it wouldn’t bother me, that perhaps I just “wouldn’t let myself” be exposed to situations which could leave me feeling judged. And don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of judging, I mean, this entire post is me judging others for judging for goodness sake.

But anyway, as I said before, if parenting does one thing for you it will teach you to never say never. It wasn’t until I had my own munchkins that I realized my idyllic sense of no judgement was not only unrealistic but naive. It started before I even gave birth to the twins. “Oh, you’re not scheduling a- c section? Oh, you don’t want that toy/blanket/clothing it will absolutely maim/harm/kill your child. You’re eating what? You’re walking where?!” Still I clung to my foolish belief that it would dissipate after the twins arrived and everyone saw what a capable mother I was (ha ha).

It did not. It increased, exponentially. Strangers feel no shame in approaching me to berate me on my mothering choices. “You’re not sleep training?! You haven’t gotten them on a schedule yet?! You don’t have a set bedtime?!” “Oh…you’re letting them have screen time already?” (Yes, I needed to pee. And it’s really hard to pee when every muscle in my body is tense because my children are screaming like they’re being torn asunder. Don’t worry, I’m only letting them watch The Exorcist so it’s cool). image
And then, “you’re BREASTFEEDING?! TWINS?! YOU HAVEN’T FED THEM SOLIDS YET?! You know you can now right…” (Really I had NO idea, I’ve been a mom for nine months now but have been living under a rock so had no idea of common practices and approaches to raising babies). “Oh wow, they’re not crawling yet? You do know it’s important they crawl right …” Actually I hang them from their ankles at night to prohibit crawling, but thanks for your concern.

Clearly, I have not only lost my marbles but probably had none to begin with. And my poor children, well obviously they’re hopelessly screwed, at least according to the general populace.

Moms are vulnerable, especially new moms. I am no exception to that, and despite my wonderful support team of husband, family and friends I will admit that the judgement has shaken me more than a time or two and caused me to retreat home viciously questioning my own abilities as a parent. Why weren’t they crawling?! Was it tummy time?! Maybe I didn’t do it enough/well/right?! They are stressed today, is it my lack of scheduling?! Why do they hate car rides so much?! It’s easy to have your “mama knows best” resolve shaken when well meaning friends and relatives have no hesitation in criticizing you or sharing their opinion.

What I truly abhor the most is the brag shaming. “My child is Superman, he crawled at 2 months!” “My pediatrician said my baby is basically the next improved version of Einstein, he’s speaking 7 languages at 7 months old!” While I am proud of my children and of course personally think they are the brightest most beautiful creatures to ever grace the planet, I do not make post after post about this. I know how it feels to see that and immediately wonder why your child hasn’t reached that milestone. Every child is different, and while everyone says to celebrate that and that every child learns at their own pace (which IS true) many frequently make that statement and then immediately post as to how advanced their child is compared to every other single child in the universe. And they should see their kiddo as amazing, beautiful, unequaled. They’re the parent. That’s their job. (Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in teaching your children that that they poop gold, sneeze rainbow dust and in general do no wrong, thereby giving them not only a false sense of reality but also turning them into insufferable jerks, but that’s another post for another day).

imageJudging is part of human nature, we can’t help it. But we can shut our mouths about it. So judge away, mamas, I’m right there with you, but let’s keep it to ourselves. We never know when we might be at the  receiving end.

Moving, an odious task

imageI haven’t written a blog post in a loooooong time. Work has been insane, and we’ve decided to move. I really hate moving, and it turns out doing it with 8 month old twins sucks even more. The cats are having a blast, there are boxes everywhere, and spiders that rode in on the boxes. Totally through no fault of their own, the babies do not like to be ignored whilst insane packing goes on, making it a loud and admittedly chaotic process. I accidentally packed the underwear, and seriously how does one collect ten million random pieces of stuff that refuses to be categorized into anything?! (Hold on babies I’m coming back!!!!). We’re not “stuff” people either, and yet I’ll admit to finding a conveniently “pre-packed” box or two from the move last year. My husband is great at looking at a room and quickly conquering and dividing piles into snugly taped boxes, all while patiently calming his ever so slightly (ha) hysterical wife. (Ok five more seconds babies be right there) I’m good at things like clothes, sheets, towels, but the random stuff causes me to want to hide my head and scream silently into a pillow (BABIES MOMMYS COMING TO GET YOU I SWEAR). My sister who has been living with us has been bravely tackling the kitchen while I retreat overwhelmed to nurse the poor screeching babies (ah silence!). Thankfully, we make a good team.

We’ve decided to relocate to my parents house for a while, bless their sweet hearts. This is extremely exciting to me for many reasons, the most important one being I can work more normal hours, i.e., stop working 7 days a week and spend more time with my family/maybe see my husband once in a while. We joke that we’ve never actually just hung out since we met life has been so busy, but sadly there’s a good amount of truth to that statement.

On our (brief, two day!) honeymoon we sort of had to learn to make small talk. I had a moment of panic hoping we wouldn’t discover that neither of us found the other entertaining, thankfully that was a needless worry.

Americans, I truly believe we are the “busiest” culture, and I don’t think it’s a compliment. Being motivated and accomplishing goals is good, but so is just LIVING life sometimes.

So, for the next year, we are going to try this living thing before my husband matriculates for med school. I think we have some learning to do, it’s probably even going to stress us out at first, but good things are worth the process.

And, we’ll be a lively house of six cats, one dog, six adults, two 8 month old twins and a big tank of fish. Follow along with me as I guarantee this will be, at the very least, highly entertaining.

That is, if we survive the move. Stand by!

Let’s Run Errands, or Not

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As a mother of five month old twins I find getting out the door to do errands a sometimes mountain sized challenge. Let’s just say I order everything possible via the internet for a reason. Efficiency is key once at the store, baby nerves wear thin fast when being snatched in and out of car seats and dashed through stores. I am certain their nerves reflect mine as we weave our way through curious fellow shoppers and attempt to more or less politely fend off the never ending barrage of questions from persistent folks. I set out to do my errands the other day, whisked my children away from their toys with which they were playing peacefully and prepared to stuff everyone into car seats.

imageEfficiency being foremost in my mind, I made certain I was set up for success. The car was loaded with reusable bags, car seats loaded with baby toys, diaper bag packed and at the ready. I was clad appropriately in mom shorts and nursing scarf and already wearing my baby carrier to avoid parking lot delays. Babies were fed and diapered with stuffed toys in hand and I began my first attempt at loading us all into the car. This was cut abruptly short as my little boy valiantly filled his diaper. Back to the changing table we went for a fast change. Not to be outdone, my little girl promptly filled her diaper. imageChanges complete, the hungry fussing began and I realized it was either take the time for a quick feeding or listen to screams all the way to the store. Feedings done, one more diaper change, and we were finally in the car and on our way with my poor sister in tow. By this point, the wind was screeching and getting from car to store was a challenge in and of itself. I hastily tucked my wee ones into the carrier and stroller and imagedashed into the grocery store.

In my rush, I dropped my bank card into the unzipped carrier pocket after checking out and then promptly forgot about it. We dashed to our next location, with one frantic stop at a light to give my hysterical little boy our trusty singing giraffe. I leapt back in the car still sporting my baby carrier and realized to my horror I had never taken my bank card out of the still open, and now empty, carrier pocket. I jumped back out of the car and frantically scoured the ground for my card, it was nowhere to be seen.

Back in the car and on our way to our next destination, I began to furiously berate myself that my brand new (very recently replaced due to having lost it twice recently before) shiny card was no doubt in repose at the last parking lot we had just left. I shot off a terse text to my husband, ‘LOST BANK CARD’, and as by now the babies were crying and hungry we all sat in the parking lot while I fed them and alternated singing quietly to the babies and vehemently scourging myself. So much for buying baby toys! I cried hysterically. Now we had to trek ALL the way across town AGAIN! My groceries were going to spoil, not to mention my card was lying around in a parking lot. Back to the grocery store we raced, and miraculously, my card was still there. My sister graciously allowed me to drop her and the groceries at home, and the babies and I were at last able to get the coveted toys. Next time, I’m just ordering them from Amazon.image

Road Trippin’

img_2478Recently my husband and I set out on a little road trip with our then four month old twins. As sometimes even short drives to the store result in backseat wailing, we knew there would be some interesting moments en route to our destination. But, as we were going to visit dear family members, we deemed it absolutely worthwhile to embark on this adventure. Our plan was to leave early in the morning while our little ones were sleepy and make tracks before the wakefulness of the day set upon them. Best laid plans…lets just say getting out the door with twins never fails to offer new and surprising twists and inevitable delays.

But, finally we were on our way and headed mountain-ward, armed with a zillion rattles and a beautiful treat basket my sister had made us. An hour in, treat basket devoured, we had already made several emergent roadside stops in response to vehement shrieks of protest and it seemed our tiny defiant members had figured out if they wanted to eat it would delay their being replaced in the car seats. Wee ones fed, (again), diapered, and abundantly toy’ed, we set out to continue our slow journey towards our destination.image

Things were going pretty smoothly until we entered a long tunnel through a mountain. Now, you can’t pull over inside a tunnel, and you sure as anything cannot stop mid-traffic. It’s dark, loud, and completely without escape. Almost the moment we entered the tunnel, our tiny son abruptly burst into panicked screams. Not the ‘hey I’m kind of upset’ kind, the ‘OH MY GOSH IM GOING TO SCREAM UNTIL I CANT BREATHE’ kind. My husband valiantly tried singing, (his singing is the ONLY thing the babies respond to immediately, it’s amazing), we tried soothing, shhh’ing. The little guy was NOT having it and was escalating at a terrifyingly rapid pace. Over the seat I went, remarking to my husband that of course I’ve always dreamed of going through a mountain tunnel butt first so really this was great. He responded via song, and I began to stroke and soothe and attempt to calm my hysterical child. Thankfully his sister was peacefully looking on in wonder as we madly careened around tunnel corners, me soothing, baby shrieking, husband singing.

imageFinally the tunnel ended and we stopped roadside for the umpteenth time. We did eventually make it to our destination which was indeed beyond worth the trip, (stand by for my next post on that!). We only made one official pit stop/restroom break (when babies are sleeping you hold that pee). My husband had practically lost his voice from singing by the time we had arrived, and I had become a pro at front seat roadside diaper changes in my lap, not to mention we had both achieved a stellar tricep workout from reaching over our heads to jiggle baby seats while driving.image

It did make arriving at our destination that much sweeter, hugs and wine have never felt and tasted better, and it’s definitely been our biggest adventure yet as a family of four. What’s been your craziest experience to date traveling with little ones?

A Place to Put Them, Gadgets and Gizmos

imageMy husband and I are not big on ‘stuff’, however it became evident to me after the babies arrived we were going to need SOME stuff. I took to Craigslist and the first item I found was an exersaucer, it’s still a little big for them and as you can see from his expression, my son thinks the flapping starfish is not to be trusted. My next find was a baby play gym, complete with kick pad piano. The wonderful lady we bought it from threw in a second play gym when she heard we had twins, and bless her heart, have we ever loved it. We ended up buying a few more things from her, namely, a crib mobile, bouncy seat, and auto swing. As she said, sometimes you just need to have somewhere to put the baby and go to the bathroom.

You’ve already heard me talk about our bassinets, wonderful whirring imageand rocking devices that do sometimes soothe and keep a wee one sleeping. When we first started out on our pregnancy journey, researching what type of gizmos and gadgets we wanted was overwhelming, to say the least. You cannot just choose color and style for anything, there are literally dozens of options no matter what type of device you are considering purchasing. Stroller shopping is equal in my opinion to car shopping, not just in stress levels but wow, do those things ever get expensive!

imageYes, it’s true, baby stuff can take over your house, but there are a few things that are so worth it. The play gyms are amazing, while they never lay there too long it gives them just the right amount of stimulation. They don’t get overwhelmed, yet it normally wears them out enough to take a nap. Sometimes my little boy will alternate enthusiastic play with cat naps, all in the same gym. It’s wonderful.

The swing is amazing, you can crank it up and hang things off the top imagefor them to look at in wonder as it goes back and forth over their little heads. And as I’ve mentioned before, the bouncy seats are the only way I ever shower. The crib mobile is mandatory to our nighttime routine, or to diaper changes in general. One baby can lie in the crib and stare in fascination at the swinging jungle creatures that rotate to alternating clips of Debussy, Chopin, and Bach while the other baby enjoys a diaper change. (These days, my babies LOVE diaper changes. Sometimes I’ll change them even when they’re not imagedirty just to break the fussy cycle).

We’ll even put both babies under the mobile to brush our teeth, etc, and most of the time it’s distracting enough to them that they stay happy until it’s time to nurse to sleep. We recently acquired Bumbo seats, (due to having a gift card we purchased ours at Babies R Us, but I recommend Amazon due to slightly better pricing/free shipping).image

My babies are still a little young for the Bumbo, but we’ve been using it in tiny increments, as especially my boy gets super excited he can sit up in it. It’s a wonderful little contraption, small and compact, even the tray stores on the back of the seat. We do have Boppy pillows, I used them like crazy for the first month but have less so as of late, I do use it to prop them up after eating sometimes but don’t use it as much as I thought I would. Perhaps I will use it more a they get older. In the meantime, I do highly imagerecommend glowing rubber duckies.

Devices I am eager to use include the Johnny jump ups my parents got them, as much as my babies like to bounce and pretend to stand I foresee lots of use in those. In short, while you don’t need to turn your house into a display case for Buy Buy Baby, I highly recommend having a few key baby gadgets and gizmos, for as a dear friend said to me, sometimes you just have to have a place to put them.

Baby Belly Woes, to the Chiropractor We Go

imageEver since she was born, my sweet little girl has dealt with some sort of tummy trouble. At first, it was gas and colic. Grammy found a wonderful product called ColicCalm, and it provided some relief. We became masters of the leg pedal and stomach massage, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my little girl has learned to celebrate every toot she emits with a ‘yay!’ and cheers. Once she neared 3 months, the colic began to subside but she was still very fussy more often than not, (translation, never have you seen such mighty Tarzanian yells out of such a tiny body).

We discovered she was dealing with reflux as well, and our pediatrician prescribed ranitidine, explaining that insurance would not cover the better reflux medication until we tried this one. It had zero effect, and so they switched us to Prevacid. I’m not a big fan of giving my teeny little baby much besides breastmilk, but I am also not a big fan of her projectile vomiting multiple times a day. We still weren’t pleased with the results of the Prevacid, so we began to research alternatives. A friend recommended chiropractic treatments, and we decided to give it a try.

This past week was our first treatment, we discovered our little girl has imagea beautiful spine and palate, but an unusually tight neck and irritated diaphragm. She did not mind the majority of the treatment, which was basically like gentle baby massage, however when the doctor went to release her neck muscles she complained at the top of her voice. The doctor explained that while it wasn’t comfortable to release she would probably express relief right afterwards, and she did, with a giant baby sigh. According to the doctor she will only need one more visit. It’s five days after her first adjustment, and the jury is still out. She’s still vomiting, we are both on outfit number two for the day. My husband attempted to greet me with a kiss after work and stuck his hand in a lovely giant vomit spot on my side. To his credit he did not recoil in disgust, but took baby girl so I could change. I will admit I would be just fine not smelling of ode de la Baby Puke so often, (lavender oil only does so much, and while I am fast at dodging, she is faster at puking).

We will go for the last appointment, and perhaps, hopefully,  it will make a huge difference. If not, we will continue to try various natural remedies we find and thankfully she will eventually grow out of it. In the meantime, I will continue to work on mastering the BabyPuke Dodge and Wipe.

Weekend Relaxation, or something like it

img_2276Weekends have always been overly busy for my husband and I, it’s something we’re working on changing now that we are a family of four. Spending time as a family is beyond important, and something we have realized is going to take focused effort. Our weekend started off innocently enough on Saturday, babies slept peacefully until about 9 and woke up happy.img_2267
We had breakfast and coffee (albeit expediently) and I taught a few lessons. To our utter delight some dear friends of ours were giving us their couch that afternoon. Having never had anything to sit on besides old very uncomfortable futons, (one of my students complained one day that the one futon was attacking his rear end and I completely believed him) a real couch is a BIG deal in our house!
img_2278With the arrival of the new couch we decided to rearrange the house a bit, always an interesting task with two fussy babes. (Thankfully my husband isn’t daunted by piles of paperwork). It was an alternating assembly line of feed babies, play with babies, get a little done, bounce babies, but eventually we finished.
We were both a little tired and nerves were getting stretched by this point but we decided to take a walk despite the ominous looking weather. First a hurried diaper change during which I sat and fed one baby while walking my husband through a diaper change with a prefold diaper. (He’s a pro at the pocket kind). Now, I am admittedly spoiled. I hate the prefold diapers. Fold, try to place on wiggling baby. Refold, again attempt to place on wiggling now crying baby. However, in an attempt to be thrifty I was putting off ordering more pocket diapers and using the prefolds someone has graciously given me. But to my delight and immense amusement, halfway through the diaper change my husband vehemently stated, ‘THESE ARE TERRIBLE. ORDER THE OTHER DIAPERS TODAY!’

Diapers changed, mouths fed, we set off on our walk. Not our best decision, shortly put, it was a disaster. The wind was blasting, it was getting colder, babies were screaming and we ended up running home in a whirling mess of flapping blankets and clanking sunshade clips with my husband running a stroller wheel along the grass edge of the sidewalk for extra soothing vibrations in the hopes of reducing the shrieking coming from inside the stroller. We tried carrying them but that was a no go, the wind alone made everything worse.img_2275

We finally made it home, I can only imagine how we looked, but I’m sure we made somebody laugh. Some baby gym playtime and a glass of wine on our lovely new couch later, we retired, full of new resolve in our quest for the peaceful weekend, or something like it.

I Woke Up Like This?

imageMorning has been an adventure in my house this morning. I would love to paint you a blissful picture of me waking up, romantically tousled hair and smelling like the clean linen sheets I arose from. Perhaps I am peacefully having a lovely cup of steaming coffee, one baby nursing while the other plays. But realty is that my hair looks like a nest the birds abandoned, I have milk crusted in unmentionable places, and even my four month old son is afraid of my armpits. The coffee is cold, my daughter vomited on the bathroom floor, my son pooped in his bath, the cats are screaming because I forgot to buy their food yesterday and you don’t even want to know how long it is taking to make this post.

I will (hopefully) eventually shower soon, I’ll skip the mascara because who knows where that went, and I might even get to warm up that coffee.

A little chaotic? Sure, but that’s ok. I woke up like this.

Co-sleeping, How I Survive

imagePeople have co-slept as long as the human race has existed. Babies didn’t have their own separate mud huts, they stayed near mom at all times. Warmth, protection, there were many reasons to not let your infant leave your side. Of course today our circumstances are different. It is highly unlikely a wolf will sneak into your baby’s room and devour it in the night, and we live in comfortably climate controlled homes. Personally, I had resolved to use the crib when my babies arrived. I valiantly declared they would sleep on their own. My own mother, who co-slept all three of her girls, patiently helped me set the crib up beautifully with baby sheets and bumpers, smiling a quiet little smile as I adamantly insisted my babies would only sleep in their bassinets or the crib.

imageWell, my babies finally arrived one day. Not surprisingly, they didn’t like the cold plastic bassinets at the hospital. (Who would when your previous residence had been a warm squishy womb!) We brought them home from the hospital, celebrated our triumphant return as a family of four with a meal my mother had lovingly prepared and got ready for our first night at home. We tucked our tiny new members snugly into their vibrating, rocking bassinets and prepared ourselves to sleep.image

Now, newborns wake up a lot, but that first night our little babies didn’t sleep at all. Not even a five minute stretch. The minute their tiny bodies touched the bassinets they would begin to wail. We were desperate, in a haze we wondered if this up all night routine would be our lives the next few months. I still get PTSD from that first night when I hear the bassinets whirring.

The following night while nursing them I realized as long as they were near us, touching us, they would sleep. Of course they woke up to eat but they would at least sleep a little. After my 24 hour holdout, I brought them into our bed. Of course they didn’t immediately start sleeping for long periods of time, but they slept. And that was all I asked for. We tried a few more times to let them sleep in their bassinets but to no avail. They calmed instantly when near us, and it seemed absurd to insist to these tiny beings they couldn’t be with us for comfort when that was all they asked for.image

Nowadays, they sleep like angels. They wake a few times a night to eat, and since I sleep between them I simply flop back and forth. One latches, we both snooze off. The other one wakes, I flip over, they latch, we snooze off. Sometimes they wake up simply because they want an arm wrapped around them. And since they’re right there, it’s easy to do. My mom never said I told you so, just smiled a quiet smile when I announced the babies were in our bed to stay.

imageAnd I don’t regret it a moment. Given a choice of trucking across the house multiple times a night for feedings or waking periodically for cuddles, let me tell you, cuddles win every time. With my twins eating the way they do, I would spend less time in my bed than I would walking back and forth though the house. Cuddles aside, I credit my sanity to our decision to co-sleep. No, it hasn’t ruined my marriage. My husband and I are even excited for the day we add more wee ones to our brood and our bed becomes even more full. And yes, my children will one day sleep in their own beds. I hope that day takes a while to get here, I don’t know what I’ll do without their soft cheeks, midnight hugs and sweet hair to smell.

Nap Strikes

imageI’m quite certain everyone with a child has experienced it, the infamous nap strike. Occasionally my little ones will resolve to avoid sleep at all costs. Eyes become bleary, voices raise, arms and legs flail and tempers stretch thin. Normally a walk in the stroller or carrier will resolve the nap strike, but yesterday they put up an exceptional fight. Five hours in, and my little girl was stubbornly still wide awake. Now, five hours is a VERY long time to be awake when you are about four months old. As seen in the set of her tiny furrowed brow, she wasn’t pleased with the way things were going at all.image

When my little ones go on a nap strike, they won’t eat, they won’t soothe, and they definitely won’t sleep. It’s not an ideal state for any of us. Yesterday I was especially motivated to get them to sleep as Auntie Hayley was coming into town and I was very hopeful she could see her darling niece and nephew in their normal, more pleasant state, not the whirling dervishes that were currently inhabiting my stroller.

Auntie Hayley arrived, adorable baby clothing goodies and protein snacks in hand, and while my son had thankfully dozed off, my daughter was still in adamant Sleep Refusal. Her joy at seeing Aunt Hayley overtook her bad mood, and while she still wouldn’t sleep, as long as she was being carried by her aunt she was happy.

imageWe took off for another walk to the store, and by the time we returned my poor little girl was at the end of her sleepless rope. I sent my husband a terse text, “SHE WONT SLEEP”. Valiant daddy that he is, he immediately left his studies and somehow got her to sleep in a matter of moments.

The rest of the afternoon went quite smoothly, playtime was had and my tiny son performed one more small attempt to continue the nap strike, complete with heart breaking lip quiver and tears, but succumbed once again to the soothing vibrations of the stroller. Aunt Hayley returned home to everyone’s disappointment, and bedtime was remarkably uneventful, to everyone’s relief.