True Mommy Confessions 8 – Sometimes I Hate Having Twins

In honor of Dr. Suess's birthday, and out of control twins...

Sometimes I hate having twins.  There I said it.  Computer did not explode, nor did I.

Every week, while I’m enjoying my “vacation time” at work, I tell myself, this weekend, I’m going to really commit to spending quality time with my kids, rather than dreaming up ways to avoid them.  The funny thing is, I really WANT to spend quality time with them.  Part of me genuinely longs for them, when I’m away.  So why don’t I rush home Friday night looking forward to spending a weekend in twin-toddler-land?

Let me tell you why…

This weekend, as I often do, I planned an outing with my children.  I do this to avoid the inevitable consequences of staying home; including trying to impress upon them the oven is not a toy, general destruction to my home, repeated tantrums, and finally, me hiding in another part of the house with my laptop, overwhelmed, and convinced I’m a horrible mother.

After careful research, I concluded the best-timed outing this weekend would be to one of the many story-times that were being run for Dr. Suess’s birthday.  After the usual lengthy period of getting ready, including pleading with them to let me get ready so that we can leave, we drive off.  Mind you, by “me getting ready” I mean brushing my dirty hair, putting sneakers on, drinking a cold cup of tea that I’ve microwaved three times, and making sure my pajamas can pass for “sweats”).

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True Mommy Confessions 7 – Pre-School Edition

Last week I brought my children to a playgroup that meets in the basement of a church in my town.  There were many kids there ranging from infants to 5 year-olds.  The folks were friendly and there was a great, almost entirely enclosed space for the kids to play.  The facilitators had a simple craft for the kids to do.  They decorated “flashlights” (paper towel tubes) and then went on a “bear hunt” around the basement area.

As the other children played inside the enclosed area, my little J dedicated himself, in typical form, to escape.  I’m not just talking about escape from that area, but from the building.  We had come down an elevator, and J ran down the hall toward the elevator repeatedly shouting “press-a the button!”  Had I not chased him quickly enough he would have happily rode the elevator up and exited the building.  In the meantime, O pulled every single book off the shelves, and dumped several bags of blocks which she then proceeded to ignore.  She sat on the lap of most of the adults there, much to their confusion.

When the craft began, I tried to interest my kids in it.  Somehow, someway, all the babies and kids managed to participate but mine.  While the other kids colored (some with parents’ help), mine ran around, jumped on furniture, and attempted to escape up the escalator.  When the “bear hunt” began, my kids were nowhere in sight.

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Wanderlust 2 – I Survived… Sort of.

A brief respite from the storm - view from our cruise ship.

Sometimes parenting is like walking into the surf during a hurricane.  You keep getting knocked down, you keep getting back up, and just when think to yourself, “I’ve got this one, I’m still standing,” a bigger wave comes along and knocks you on your ass.  I guess I was expecting my kids to get sick a lot in the first few years.  What I wasn’t expecting was the number of ailments I myself would be afflicted with.  It’s one thing balancing toddler twins and working.  I’m pretty sure that alone would be somewhat manageable.  Add in to the mix that those toddler twins are sick, and the odds start stacking against me.  Those giant waves just keep coming.  Now add in that I somehow manage to repeatedly get even sicker than they are, and just for good measure, sprain my ankle as well.  Now we’re moving into the realm of a tsunami.

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The Parenting Olympics – Toddler Class

I was thinking yesterday about the Olympics, and how I couldn’t possibly be more oblivious.  Then I realized I am participating in my own Olympics.  Yes, that’s right people, I deserve a medal!  In honor of the Summer Olympics in…?  Ah well, here we go:

The Parenting Olympics – Toddler Class

PLAYGROUND CHASE - Helicopter Parenting Event


Clothing – Olympian must cloth toddler as quickly as possible

Judging:  Score based on best time.  Missing limbs off of toddler result in disqualification.

Retrieval of Dangerous Objects – Olympian must retrieve objects from a number of toddlers before they become injured, such as sharp items, plastic bags, and items that are small enough to swallow, hot, and or could remove the eye of another toddler.

Judging:  Score based on bodily integrity of toddlers in one’s group at conclusion of event.

Medicine Administration:  Olympian must administer oral antibiotic to screaming toddler with ear infection.  Sedating toddler is prohibited.

Judging:  Toddler who stops screaming the soonest is assumed to have received the most medicine, thus rendering the corresponding olympian the winner.

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Three days before Christmas a doctor I had just met removed my dead baby from my body.

The procedure was short and painless… too painless.

I had known I was “pregnant” for exactly one month when I was told the baby had no heartbeat and hadn’t grown in almost two weeks.

One month.  Long enough to go from a state of panic, denial, and disbelief, to having re-organized my whole life and my whole heart around being a mother of three.

My baby would have been born in July, 18 months after her twin brother and sister.  I had had the strong feeling that she was a girl.

What had seemed impossible, three children in one bedroom and an au pair in my tiny house, had become routine, along with plans to finish the basement, and gearing up for more sleepless nights.

I found out she had died on a Sunday night from an ER doctor.  My husband was crying, but I felt numb.  I could finally exhale, having an answer about why I was bleeding, but this left me completely empty.

Yes, she was still in there, but the future with her in it had died.

My mind became lost in my first pregnancy – imaging the pain of this happening then lessened the blow.  Without a baby, and believing as I had that I couldn’t conceive, I could only imagine it would have been utter devastation.

But still, I felt lost, afloat, obsessed with determining what to focus my mind on without all that planning to do.  What had I thought about before her?

The next day my little O wouldn’t take her late morning bottle.  I couldn’t figure out why, but then I saw something shiny in her mouth.  My instincts kicked in fast, I swooped my finger in hard and with precision, and removed the object, a jagged, hard piece of plastic.  When I saw the blood on her little mouth I broke down.

The next few days I was full of terror.  The house felt like mine field.  I only felt calm behind the wheel in my parked car with the babes strapped into their car seats.

I had been told I would never have a baby.  What if O and J had been a mistake?  What if some kind of cosmic policing agency had found out that I’d gotten away with something?  Would they too be taken from me?  Paralyzed, all I could do was stare at them and cry at the slightest hint they were in danger.  I hated being alone with them, felt like they were safer with anyone but me.

Saturday came and it was Christmas Eve.  For 48 hours straight I ate until I was sick and in pain.  Guests were a distraction, but underneath was a gnawing sense of dread.

I felt sad, for sure.  Felt like every loss in my life was bearing down on me (as I sometimes did during the holidays anyway).

But I also felt relief, in so many strange forms.  I kept having this flash like I had just barely avoided some kind of accident.  I had the strong feeling that I’d almost lost everything, Seth, the babies, and felt every moment like a giant sigh of relief.

My therapist said I was relieved because I did avoid something potentially damaging to me and my family… the pregnancy.  The truth was we were not prepared financially or psychologically for another baby.  We were still reeling from the transition of having had twins after experiencing infertility and me being on bed rest three months.

But this was a burdensome kind of relief.  If only I could un-know the baby, and go back to life before.

But I did know.  I knew I hadn’t wanted her, and then I had wanted her, and I’d not wanted and wanted her all at the same time.  Now that she was gone I felt I had just barely escaped with what was left of my life, and yet I felt that she had been ripped away so cruelly.

The family picture of four that once felt just right now felt empty.  She will always be missing from that picture, no matter how much better off we might be without her.

So I guess most of all the loss I feel is for the innocence of not knowing…  the July I would have had, full of chaos and joy, my babies at 18 months, my arms not feeling empty without her.

Now whatever joy I feel in the attention and time I have for my babies, whatever time I find for myself, whatever pleasure in mothering two, and only two, will be partially because she never got to be.

Copyright 2012  All Rights Reserved.

Mommy Attention Span

I sometimes still prefer time with non-mommy friends even now that I’m a mom, and “Mommy Attention Span” or M.A.S is one of the reasons.  M.A.S. occurs when one loses all capacity for attention other than toward ones children.

M.A.S is not to be confused with “baby brain” or the way parenting generally slices and dices one’s neurons until there is nothing left but a soupy mess of incoherence.  No engaged parent can think straight!  We are always splitting our attention and it’s hard to concentrate with the responsibility for another being’s entire life on our minds.  BUT the little attention we can muster has to be able to shift.  Mommy Attention Span occurs when we try to squeeze attention to everything and anything else in between reacting to our children’s every move.

I understand when you are trying to talk to another mom, there are going to be interruptions.  Clearly, when someone is in potential danger, hurt, starving, or about to eat a small, non-edible object it requires mom’s attention.  But little ones are going to want attention anytime they can get it.  If I’m trying to talk to a friend about something hard, or even something inane, why does the fact that baby brought you a toy, drooled, or made loud noises, demand a response and break from your attention every time?

Example number two.  Moms are endlessly complaining about how they have lost the freedom to go to the bathroom by themselves.  This loss of freedom results not from the condition of parenting, but from… “Mommy Attention Span.”  Don’t get me wrong, moms (and dads who spend a lot of time at childcare), give up many freedoms, often including the freedom to put one’s own needs first.  But unless your kid is in some kind of peril, shut the door and go to the bathroom!  My kids have yet to set the house on fire or kill each other during the time it takes me to pee by myself.

In part, my feelings on this topic may come from having twins.  When you have twins, the illusion that you will be completely attentive to your baby and meet all her needs is immediately shot to hell on day one.  There’s something about two sets of little hands on each knee and two little mischievous faces looking up at me that says ‘no, this is not acceptable or necessary while I pee, they’re going to wait outside from now on.’  Are they slightly miffed when I shut the bathroom door in their faces?  Sure.  But two seconds later when I come out, they have forgotten all about it.  Who says we don’t have a right to a minute or two of attending to our own bodily functions?

Where did we get the idea that a good mom is endlessly attentive?  And what messages are we sending our children?  I’m sure on one level we believe we are equipping our children to have high self-esteem and feel like they are fascinating just by being them.  And indeed, it is critically important to reflect back to our children who they are in an accepting manner.  But not every minute!!  The truth is, they are not endlessly fascinating, and giving them the idea that they are could harm them.  There are going to be a lot of metaphorical bathroom doors slammed in their faces and they’re going to have to regroup and deal with it.

Children (and adults) need to be self-entertaining.  They need to be able to tolerate times when they are not being enjoyed just for being them.  That’s why our kids desperately need us to let them develop on their own.  They need time to explore their environment, and I’m not talking about a house full of loud, colorful, over-stimulating toys.  Leave your kids alone with a few Tupperware containers and pick up a book.  They will thank you later when they can read a somewhat long paragraph without becoming unfocused and wondering where the flashing lights and pictures are.

I believe for some of us, our relationships with partners and friends are suffering, and our connections to ourselves and the outside world are too.  The combined cultural notion that we should both want to be around our kids all the time, and want to be attentive to them all the time leave us with no way to connect with other adults.  Then, feeling cut-off, uninspired, under-stimulated, and just plain bored, we beat ourselves up for not loving being cut-off, uninspired, under-stimulated, and just plain bored.

Being attentive to children can be delightful, but often it is work… plain and simple.  We do it out of love, the same way we listen to our partners go on and on about aspects of their work we don’t fully grasp, or the way we listen to an elderly parent describe the daily happenings in the hallway at their nursing home.

We don’t expect to derive the ultimate pleasure from these activities, and thus we don’t attempt to do them 24/7.  We intersperse times when we ourselves can be heard and stimulated.  We need those times!!  So moms… if another mom, or a partner, or anyone comes around and your kids are safe and have basic care, give your attention to that adult, and for the love of god, accept theirs, you need it!  Give yourself some precious moments for you.  Be “selfish.”

Your children will thank you when they can sit in a classroom for hours out of the day tolerating not being called on or paid attention to.  They will thank you when they can be that partner who listens to someone talk without turning the topic to themselves.  They will thank you when their boss provides constructive criticism and they’re not thrown off balance because they believe everything they do is fascinating.  Your daughters will thank you when they learn that being a mother means your kids are your top priority, but not that you have to make them a priority every minute.  Moms, you still exist!  Let your daughters see you exist.  Let them see you ignore them now and then so they can learn that no role, even mother, should be powerful enough to erase them.

Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved.

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Baby C

BABY C (from November 2011)

Today I found out I’m pregnant.

In March 2010, I was told by at least six well-regarded fertility specialists that I would never have a biological child.  One said I had a .5 percent chance of conceiving by any method, including IVF.  They rest were just as dire.

So today, in November 2011, as I announce that I’m pregnant, you might wonder… Is it hers?

Back in March 2010, I was indeed handed paperwork to begin the process of finding an egg donor.

And yes, the baby is mine.

So you say, ‘Wow, it’s been 20 months, and you did it, you got pregnant!  Were you trying for 20 months straight?  What did you have to do: IVF, drugs, potions, acupuncture, prayer, voodoo?’

And I say, ’No… I’ve hardly tried at all in those 20 months!’

I got pregnant having had sex once this cycle, with a condom on the whole time.  And Seth pulled out.

I called our family doctor today, frantic, because I had not been intending to get pregnant at all.  In fact, it seemed so unlikely that I was worried a tumor might be raising my HcG level, causing a false positive.

“Can you get pregnant on one try, using a condom correctly, and pulling out?” I asked.

He said, “In theory no, in practice, yes.”  Huh?!

So you ask, ‘Why weren’t you trying to get pregnant?? Had you given up hope after 20 months?’

Not at all.

See, I left out a critical detail of my story….

I have ten month old twins.

Twins One Day Old

That’s right, I didn’t get pregnant 20 months after being told I was completely infertile.  I got pregnant 2 months later!  

The doc who gave me the .5 perfect chance suggested we do an intrauterine insemination (basically a fancy turkey baster) “for closure” before moving on to the egg donor option.

We did, and against the doc’s recommendation, we did it without fertility meds.  I figured I should try something while I continued to try to find a doc who believed I could get pregnant.

We got pregnant with twins on the first try.  I had been told my eggs were “so old” and of such bad quality that if I did manage to get pregnant, I would miscarry or have a child with a genetic disorder.

How can one’s eggs be older than one’s body, I wondered?

Funny thing is my husband was told he was infertile too.  Not utterly and completely, like me, but pretty bad.  Essentially zero percent of his sperm were shaped correctly, and thus none would be capable of penetrating an egg.

My precious babies were born Jan. 6, 2011.  They are hearty and healthy and
perfect in every way.

But ok, perhaps those slow, misshapen sperm needed a boost reaching
my decrepit eggs, and the IUI provided that.  But considering the fact that TWO were fertilized, I had to wonder if the docs were wrong.

AND NOW, I am sitting here holding two pregnancy tests, and functionally didn’t even have sex this month, and I have to wonder why well-respected doctors are getting it so wrong, telling women who can conceive that they can’t.  How many other women out there with “high FSH,” or other problems, for that matter, have been told this?

There will be more to come on infertility, but for now, let me end by saying, if I can get pregnant twice in 20 months with a “.5 percent chance”, either I’m the messiah, or we women need to really, seriously question our docs – ALWAYS!

Around 30 Weeks Pregnant with Twins

Copyright 2011-2012  All Rights Reserved.

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True Mommy Confessions 1

These are the things no one says. 

I am tired of the color of the playroom walls.

Crying makes my organs moan and my brain ache.

I leave my kids in their cribs as long as I can get away with.

I miss leaving the house whenever I want.

I need a nap.

I need a drink.

Sometimes I wear earplugs.

I’m not always that interested in the things my babies do.

I miss laying around in bed for no reason.

Sometimes I wish I could go on dates, or at least go out, get tipsy, and flirt with people.

Breastfeeding is incredibly hard and takes more endurance and will than anything I’ve ever done (and I have a freaking PhD, wrote a dissertation, cared for my mother for 18 months while she died of a brain tumor, and spent 3 months on bed rest).

My favorite times are when I read books or write.

I am stubbornly refusing to give up my identity, Mommy is just one of many names I call myself.

Often friends and relatives are more excited to see my babies than I am.

Often friends and relatives are way more excited to see my babies than me.

Feeding babies solids is boring, not to mention messy.

My kids want to play with me, but I’m writing this blog.

When my daughter crawled for the first time, I was vaguely aggravated.

I bathe my babies as infrequently as I can get away with.

I spend a lot of time surfing the web looking into events I can’t go to.

I am jealous of my single friends.

I am relieved when anyone else is around.

I frequently feel paralyzed by the terrible, blinding fear that something will happen to my babies.

Still… I have no regrets.

Copyright 2011-2012  All Rights Reserved.

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