The Birth Story of Harry and Arabella-Part Two

 

 

img_0549In preface to this post, I want to reiterate my firm belief that every mama and baby are different. What I chose for mine may be radically different than what you chose. Not only is that ok, I think it’s tremendously important. I will never judge you for your choices just as I expect to not be judged for mine. Or, as I’ve said before, human nature is to judge. I may judge in my heart but I’m keeping it to myself as should we all. Unless a child is in danger, what mamas need from each other is SUPPORT. To be able to share our learned wisdom and mutually benefit. I have chosen this path for my family because I strongly believe it to be the best one, as I am certain that is how you have chosen yours. I pray to be able to share perspectives among one another without shaming, I know I have drastically changed decisions in the past thanks to other mamas sharing their knowledge with me. I am an opinionated, naturally minded mama. And proud of it. Be proud of yourselves mamas, and I hope you enjoy part two of our birth story. The tale of a stubborn naturally minded mama who managed to infuriate nearly everyone on the pediatric floor of the hospital we birthed at. This is Day Two in the lives of Harry and Arabella.

img_0486The rest of November 8th is a fuzzy blend of blank spots and poignant memories, a sea of haziness with bright stars shining through. I don’t remember what I ate, I remember being voraciously thirsty and not being allowed to just guzzle liquid, instead I was spoon fed crushed ice and given small sips of orange juice (nothing has ever tasted better!). Immediately after the twins were born the barrage of unwanted requests for procedures on the twins began. No, we don’t want the eye ointment, no we are not circumcising him. (Not circumcising was a surprise decision we made late in the game, if you’re interested as to why we chose no circumcision for our son I’d be more then happy to share, comment below or send me an email).

fullsizerenderIt continued to be a battle. No you cannot give them that/no you cannot take them to the nursery we want them in the room with us. That one made me hugely popular, (not), especially when I followed my babies to the nursery for the car seat test, which we acquiesced to as they wouldn’t let us leave without it. I was up until 2:00am the day of my babies birth due to my refusal to be apart from my newborns. I regret nothing. My husband and I did have a beautiful morning together the following day, while it was periodically interrupted we had a few moments to just sit there alone, the two of us with our new family, soaking in the moments and trying to realize what had just happened. (Which is something I struggled with for a while, if you haven’t read it yet I shared my heart in my battle with PPD in a previous post, click here to read it).

img_0487My husband was my brave knight in shining armor, standing up for me and our babies against the surprisingly aggressive nurses on the pediatric floor. I missed my labor and delivery nurses soooooo much once they transfered us. Having never been hospitalized I had this naive notion that I would be able to relax for a day or two, snuggle my babies and just eat. Ha. Reality was that I wasn’t fed, no one brought me even liquid, they kept coming in every 15-20 minutes to wake and poke my babies and yell at me (literally!) for not writing down every breastfeeding session. Had I not been holding my babies and letting them nurse almost constantly I would have understood their concern. But as my babies were nursing nearly non-stop and frankly I was starving and foggy and stunned, I decided writing down “still nursing” every thirty minutes was not worth it. Eventually I got so irritated with their attitudes I admit I refused to out of spite. img_0485Yes, you can safely assume I was not their favorite patient. I wouldn’t do the tests, I wanted to change my own babies diapers (why is that weird?!) and I just wanted to go home. So I did. I demanded an early release and the minute we informed the staff we wanted to go home that day, wouldn’t you know everyone suddenly disappeared.img_0482

No one answered our help button, and our room went from resembling a chaotic train station to a vacant ghost town. My poor husband had to track down what felt like hundreds of people to sign and deal with the voluminous amount of paperwork required to effect our release. It literally took all day, we didn’t leave the hospital until after 9 that night. I have never felt so judged and shamed as I did with the looks and comments we received as we headed home with our wee ones in their giant car seats. I did get to avoid the usually mandatory wheelchair ride out of the hospital as the nurses were so angry at me they were busy fuming and messing with the babies. We also had to agree to a mandatory weight check appointment with our pediatrician the img_0488following day, (an appointment that nearly destroyed my breastfeeding journey, watch my video on my feelings on the breastfeeding support that new moms receive by clicking here).

But eventually, we were headed home and yes, we must have checked that our babies were still breathing every thirty seconds. My family had gone home a little bit before us and never have I ever walked into anything as welcome as the paradise they made. img_0544My mother had prepared an Italian feast, wine awaited us, candles were lit everywhere and it was warm and peaceful. A radical change from the hospital environment we had just left and desperately needed comfort for this exhausted and struggling mama. I sank into the soft warm blankets and snuggled with my cuddly (and to my relief, happily accepting of the babies) cats, stared at these beautiful tiny new faces that had just come out of my BODY, and breathed deeply.img_0548

I still wasn’t prepared and had no idea how to deal with the influx of attention that happens when you have a baby. Everyone, EVERYONE wants to see you, well not you, the baby/babies. In hindsight, I plan on a lockdown next time I have a baby. I don’t believe birth is a medical crises but I DO believe it is something which absolutely requires, and deserves, time to adjust and heal from. But I’ll write more on that later.

In conclusion, I want to encourage you mamas to not be afraid to stand up for and demand what you feel is best for you and your baby. I know it was the right thing to come home early, it wasn’t easy, but we made it happen. Maybe it would be different next time, and such is birth. And had my babies had medical needs that required attention, obviously I would have stayed. But they didn’t. What they needed was me to be able to give them my all, and I knew in order to do that I had to get home where I would be cared for and feel safe. To get where I could bond with them and they with me and my husband.

Best laid plans inevitably change. Especially where children are involved. And that is ok. But never be afraid to stand by your decisions. Mamas almost always know best, and unless you plan on bunking in a snowbank with your newborn, I’d say you should have faith in yourself. You did make that human. Roll up your sleeves, mama bears, these are our cubs, and being with mama is really the main thing they need and truly all they want.

Click each link below for posts on:

postpartum recovery

the fourth trimester

breastfeeding support

breastfeeding in public

wine and boobs

and…

my opinions on coping with the “Everyone Comes out of the Woodwork Invasion Phenomenon” when you have a baby.img_0545

Don’t Take My Babies

imageEver since time began, in many cultures, babies have simply just been with their mamas, whether that meant going to work or staying home. Wrapped on their mamas backs with cloth, or perhaps strapped on in a basket, depending on where they were from, it wasn’t considered weird or out of place that if you had a baby, they would be with you, wherever you went. Our current culture not only doesn’t support that line of thinking, but in my experience downright discourages it. There is immense pressure on women to return to work as soon as possible postpartum, and it’s practically unheard of that your child would be anywhere near you after you resume working.

imageAs I have mentioned before, due to financial reasons I went back to teaching when my twins were three weeks old. And I kept them with me while I taught. Did they cause disruptions? Of course they did at times, they are BABIES. But they learned to adapt, I wore them or had them nearby and we found our groove. As I taught long hours, I was ever so blessed to have my wonderful amazing parents to help, (mamas need their villages!) and sometimes they would stroll them or just play with them in another room to give them a break, but they were never apart from me for more than an hour. The majority of my student parents were understanding, but some were not. I received all manner of interesting feedback, ranging from “how do you focus” to “but really when will you put them in daycare? Don’t you want a break?” A break? I was working anyway. And I waited all my life for these kids. Why would I want to send them away? I want to raise my babies, I want to soothe their cries, see their smiles, watch their first steps. I’m going to blink and they will be off to college, and then they won’t be my babies anymore. imageAnd I need to work. I need to help provide for my family. I find it extremely frustrating that our society makes it difficult, and most of the time impossible, to merge the two.

I’m blessed to work for myself, it made it possible for me to make the decision that I would “bring” my babies to work. Not all women are so fortunate. Imagine bringing your baby to the average desk job, you’d be fired faster than a blink. Why is that?! I understand high risk jobs, places that are unsafe to have a child, but why can’t we as a society make it possible for parents to both support their families and raise their children themselves? Personally, I think it’s sad. You can’t even be in the same room as your child if you work at most day cares. What is that even about?! My husband and I recently moved back home to live with my parents for a while so we could cut our workweek down and have weekends off as a family (this subject merits two other posts, a hilarious one on living in a tiny house with six adults two babies and a cat/dog zoo, and an angry post on how ridiculous it is to make a living these days, standby for future postings). Being a piano teacher I am working on rebuilding my studio after our move, which takes time. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing odd jobs, one of which has been sign shaking on the street for my Aunt’s women’s gym. Definitely not a job I’d choose as a career path, but it’s been helping pay our bills for now. imageAnd I have my babies with me, in my wonderful TwinGo carrier. (If you have two small children, you need this carrier, just trust me). But back to the sign shaking. It’s exhausting waving a sign and carrying around 40 pounds of babies. For this admittedly out of shape mama, it’s meant sore muscles and aching back. But my point in discussing this is the reaction I’ve gotten from people.

Yes, I’ve been called a hero, applauded, sympathized with and encouraged. But I’ve also been the ever so fortuitous recipient of shocked looks, incredulity, and even harsh judgment. One lady went so far as to lean out of her car and scream horrible unkind words. “What kind of mother has her children out on the street?!” she shrieked, didn’t I know they were in the sun?! What I wished I had said was that I was doing whatever it took to put food on the table for my family, that my children were scrupulously sunscreened and at least they were at the one place in the world they wanted to be, with their mommy. Sadly I am never good in the moment and instead of answering her back I retreated hastily behind a tree to hide my tears. Yes, it’s hot out there. I’m careful to give them breaks and they’re not getting heat stroke. How many thousands of children in this world have survived strapped on their mamas back while working in the fields?! But having your children at work? Socially unacceptable, frowned upon, and shamed. Recently I’ve been applying for nanny positions in the effort of providing for my family while my studio rebuilds. And I have been TURNED DOWN for childcare positions because, wait for it…I would HAVE MY OWN CHILDREN WITH ME. I literally have had people fail to understand why I don’t have my children in childcare while I provide childcare to others. Y’all, that is weird. It just is.

And lately I’ve taken my own humble pill. I fully admit to my hatred of being invited to selling parties. No I don’t want to buy your candles/leggings/nail polish. But I have realized lately that most of these invitations are coming from mamas who are trying desperately to make an income without leaving their children. My mom and I started selling children’s books and in the next month will also be doing essential oils. Both are topics I am passionate on, and I have been frustrated by how many doors have been slammed in our faces. It’s meant for a “come to Jesus” moment for me. No longer will I fume at your party invites, I get it. I get how hard it is to be able to both work and be with your children.image

Imagine a world where not only did mamas get adequate maternity leave, but once they resumed work their children simply came with. What would that change? For pumping mamas, you could continue typing that email while sticking a baby on your boob. It could mean no longer choosing between taking a family weekend or paying for childcare that week. Would there be more interruptions in workflow? Of course. Would it mean an all over higher level of happiness for mom and baby and thus better life quality and work output overall? Could it positively affect the drastic rise in women experiencing postpartum depression? (Oh PPD, yet another topic on which I am passionate and will write about…)

What would it change for you mamas? Share your stories, maybe, just maybe, one day we can even make being a mama mainstream (again).

 

On the Nursing of Babes in Public

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imageWhen the twins were first born, I didn’t give much thought to the whole nursing in public thing. I did have to adjust quickly to feeding them in front of people as I went back to teaching three weeks postpartum (not out of preference) and at three weeks babies eat constantly. (Mine still seem to be doing that…but I digress). I used a cover while teaching and just sort of took it as it came. While aware of the #normalizebreastfeeding movement I didn’t give it much thought until later when I realized if I was to ever leave the house my exclusively breastfed babies were going to end up eating in front of a lot more people than just my students.

imageSo I invested in a second cover, this wonderful infinity scarf thing, and went on my merry way. It worked great, for a while, then my sweet nurslings started protesting the cover. They’d latch, get all comfy and the milk rolling, and then suddenly flail in panic like a crazed monkey with nine arms and there I was wet, vulnerable, exposed and squirting milk anywhere but my baby’s mouth while trying desperately to grab the cover that had somehow wrapped its way around my baby’s butt and my head. Not cool. I quickly realized it was time for Plan B. I tried the two shirt method. Instantly I had glorious results. While they would still pop off at the worst of times and I usually had a sliver of imageboob exposed (my daughter especially loves to hold the top shirt in the air and stare while she eats) I could quickly slide my top shirt down protecting my especially sensitive parts. Success.

While I did get a little psyched out reading the many horror stories shared on social media of nursing mamas getting shamed, having twins forced me to quickly change my mindset. Within a very short period of time, my boobs went from me perceiving them as a sacred and protected private part of my anatomy to a handy useful tool to be shoved in babies mouths at a moments notice no matter where I was or who was present. In short, I no longer gave a rats patoot.

imageYes I still use a cover when teaching and in situations where it’s not about me and might cause an issue (church, some weddings, etc) but now I nurse wherever, whenever, and I really do not care. Motherhood will force you to prioritize and let me tell you, my priority is my screaming baby not the general populace and their ever present opinion. And being a mommy, well it’s helped me take myself a LOT less seriously these days. I have fed these babies while walking through airports, festivals, in coffee shops, grocery shopping, on boats, in cars, while hiking, swimming and in pretty much every position and situation except standing on my head (which I have seen people do, but I am not that talented). imageThat much repetition of anything will get you over your nerves quickly. My boobs are for my babies, and my children matter more to me than anyone’s opinion.

And I’ve had a very positive experience for the most part. Just yesterday a woman approached me in Costco while I was feeding my daughter and told me I was a super hero. Of course I’ve received some negative looks and even some negative feedback from people I know, but for the most part it’s been smooth sailing. There will always be a naysayer, that’s life. No, I don’t go around flopping my boobs about freely and unrestrained, but once again, motherhood came through for me and shattered my previous idyllic and unrealistic mindset. The babies must eat, and short of me becoming a hermit, they’re going to eat in a vast majority of different places and in front of many different people.

imageAnd until we’re done nursing that means I’ll be feeding them in a zillion different situations. And really, what are we worried about? In a world of issues, how is nursing babies something that is worth picking on! If someone deems it worthy of their time to look down on me for nursing my baby I feel badly for them. Clearly they haven’t had a kiddo to rearrange their priorities enough. If my sitting on a park bench nursing my baby bothers you, go to the other side of the park. There are more benches. You can probably find someone else to stare at and condemn.

So go forth and feed those babies without fear, mamas. Your journey is about you and your baby, not anyone else. And really, if anyone is judging you for nourishing your child, clearly you’re not their problem.
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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?

It’s a walk in the park! Or not

Yesterday, my sweet twins and I joined up with our dear friend, The Mama Pad and her darling Baby N for a walk in the park. We’ve had unseasonably beautiful weather, and I was eager to see Mama Pad and her son and get the twins and I out for some vitamin D. The babies were all decked out in their newly acquired scarves and we headed out the door.image image

 The drive to the park was uneventful, even peaceful, albeit we were running late as usual. Since both twins were sleeping I elected to take the double stroller and pack my TwinGo. Mama Pad was patiently awaiting our arrival, we grabbed coffee and headed to walk.

Now, pushing a double stroller isn’t the most graceful event, especially while trying to carry an overly full coffee. Less than a minute into our stroll I had somehow managed to spill coffee all the way up and down my left side, leading me to wonder why in the world I chose a white shirt. Uneasy sounds were starting to emit from the stroller and before I could stop thanks to a well placed kick our precious musical giraffe from Grammy had flown out of the stroller and I had run over its neck. I stopped in horror, that giraffe gets us through car rides, walks and baths. To my immense relief it was still blissfully singing Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring, I put it back in the stroller and we continued on. The sounds of displeasure from the stroller were increasing in volume and we determined a nursing stop was required.

We found a lovely bench by the lake to park our strollers, and I proceeded to try and feed my little ones. Having checked the weather before I left the house and seen a forecast of 70 degrees, I foolishly chose to not bring the babies jackets. It was windy, it was bright, my babies were not pleased. Thankfully, Mama Pad and Baby N are wonderfully calm, peaceful friends, and remained a source of serene support as I tried to bop, bounce and nurse my screechlings. Eventually everyone calmed down enough for us to resume our strolling, and we got a beautiful few minutes before I remarked on the peace and quiet, and of course my baby boy woke up then, cranky and hungry.

However, to my delight Mama Pad taught me the art of carrier feeding, and I managed to stroll along with my tiny son eating away hidden from the world. Thankfully he went to sleep after eating, as my little girl woke up in a state of great displeasure. Poor little thing, it hasn’t been her week. Diaper changes, attempted feeding, nothing was calming her down. We eventually made it back to the car, where patient Mama Pad held her own equally patient Baby N and my poor shrieking babe while I frantically threw everything into my car. Thank heavens my baby boy was still sleeping, I transferred him to his car seat and then attempted to sing and soothe my very wrought little daughter until she finally calmed down enough to eat. She kept falling asleep and I attempted to gingerly place her in her car seat, but she wasn’t having it. Every time her tiny bum touched the seat blood curdling screams would ensue and I would snatch her back out and start the soothing/feeding process again. I considered calling my husband and telling him we were going to live at the park now as I literally couldn’t get home, but she finally was able to stay asleep and we blasted home in a cloud of dust and Ode de la Baby Puke.

imageMy dear husband presented me with tea with an encouragement sticker when I returned home. I changed and fed the babies and determined to take another walk to do groceries with the hubs in the hope that the babies would finally sleep peacefully, which they did. We returned home with mama sunburned but everyone in a much better mood.

Next was bath time, something my daughter lives for and my son tolerates. I do love our latest bath toy, and we now no longer have tears (at least while in the tub).

Bath times always brings about a blissful nap, and I determined a little wine was required to go with our nachos. I felt it to be quite indicative of the day when I failed to get the wine into my mouth and it joined the coffee I had previously splashed most decorously on myself. Eventually dinner was done, my precious babies were wrapped and sleeping peacefully, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I was no longer covered in coffee, wine and baby spit and the only crying I would hear for the next few hours would be in my head.