momhood mayhem, the big move and six months with twins

The girls are napping, laundry is done, I just submitted an article and I FINALLY have a few minutes to update this blog I wanted to update much more often than I’ve been able to:

Whew! I often do not use exclamation points, but the last couple months have forced me to use that punctuation mark. Why, you may ask? Becuase the following has happened BABIES roomjust in the last few weeks:

  • The girls celebrated their Half Birthday (Lu and Lo are six months old… when did this happen?)
  • We officially became homeowners, painted some rooms and already learned that when there are house issues – it is now up to us to deal with them (we now are real-life adults)
  • The girls started eating baby food.
  • We moved out of the cluttered, cardboard boxed up apartment
  • This mom FINALLY found some continuous freelance writing gigs 

A lot has been going on which has led to nonstop chaos – as if we didn’t already have enough of that. Though all of these changes are positive and exciting, they also have shown to be overwhelming and stress-inducing.

FREELANCIN’ THROUGH THOSE FINANCIAL BLUES 

Houses and children mean money and I have been struggling financially for a year since being put on disability during my pregnancy. Though I have been able to get the occasional freelance assignment and I started teaching a couple classes at Up! Aerial Fitness, I am someone who needs to be on a continuous schedule. Not having ongoing, regular income has been incredibly defeating. Mike and our families have been incredibly supportive when it comes to helping out if I need I need this kind of support, but I absolutely hate taking help from others when it comes to money.

I want to make my own money – plain and simple.

After graduating college, I lived a very independent life – my own apartment, my own job, my own dog, my own lifestyle. I proved to myself I could financially support myself while still finding time to go out and enjoy the life I was living (whether that be through taking aerial classes, writing at local coffee shops, performing dance routines or going out with friends). Even though I love the current life I lead and couldn’t imagine it any other way, it has just been hard not having continuous income. 

Luckily, I recently landed an ongoing gig with Moms.com through the Valnet Media Group (on top of the bimonthly blogs I do for Mommee Coffee and random assignments I prepare for Daily Media Studio and In Good Health Newspaper). The thing with Moms.com is that I must submit three to four articles a week. This is what I’ve been looking to do for about a year now – a regular, ongoing writing gig. Being these articles are related to motherhood (even though they are more laid-back than professional kinds of pieces), I am able to use personal experience when prepping them – as well as experiences I have witnessed. They are definitely timely and somewhat research-based, but getting some kind of regular income will be ridiculously nice.

SIX MONTHS WITH COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, UNIQUE TWIN GIRLS

These two little girls have taught me so, so much over the last six months. They have taught me so much about my patience, endurance and how much I am able to do on my own.

Which is more than I ever imagined I could do.

Since Mike works during the day and often continues to stay busy after work (or take some well-deserved time for himself), I am constantly caring for the girls. I am constantly feeding them, adjusting them, bringing them to appointments, doing their laundry, doing their diapers, giving them baths, entertaining them (if they are not entertaining each other), soothing them and putting them down for their naps. Mike is a great, helpful dad and loves them dearly, but he also deserves time for himself since he is the major breadwinner of our family.

Being they started napping for two to three hours in the afternoon, I have been taking that time to get freelance articles started (as well as laundry, unpacking, cleaning and maybe the occasional nap for myself). Even though they often let me run around and get things done when they are up and playing, I am learning that the best time for me to get things done is during their naptime and after they are put to bed (I am NOT a morning person – that has not changed). Again, I am ridiculously lucky that they typically go down to sleep between 8:30-9:00 PM and don’t wake up until between 7:00-7:30 AM – then after they’re feeding, they usually nap until about 9:30 AM, allowing me to do the same.

All you moms reading this who are swearing and yelling at the screen, I know I am in for it when the girls become toddlers and teens – we have been lucky and remarkably, the schedules we’ve created for them have been working well.

They both just started eating baby food out of the jar and haven’t been really giving us a hard time (except for they aren’t huge fans of bananas, which makes Mike and I sad because we go through bananas like water). They also didn’t have any issues with rice cereal – even after many people expressed how we shouldn’t go that route due to issues they had experienced with their own little ones.

BABIES food .jpg

They both are rolling around like crazy and love to grab for everything and put it in their mouths. They also are hitting very different milestones – Lucy is babbling clearly and saying ‘Mama’ (even though she definitely doesn’t know who Mama is) and Elora is very close to sitting up on her own and close to holding her bottle full-time. Lucy will nap, but prefers to nap on her own terms while Elora is a great scheduled napper.

ATTENTION MAMAS WHO HAVE A BABY WITH A TONGUE TIE: If you are going to get rid of the tie, get that thing clipped or lasered off before the baby hits six months of age. For those who don’t know what a tongue tie is, it is a small piece of tissue connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. Many babies have these and it sometimes can lead to speech issues if not lasered or snipped. I would suggest (and I am absolutely NOT a professional and never will be when it comes to parenthood) not waiting for it to ‘stretch out over time.’ Since Elora was born, we were told she had a very teeny-tiny tongue tie that would probably stretch out. Welp, it hasn’t and now she needs surgery on it because she is over the age of six months.

I am not happy and hate thinking about her going through any kind of procedure – especially one that could have easily been avoided.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED OVER THE LAST SIX MONTHS

  • Twins are not the same human beings – they are completely different, unique little individuals in absolutely every way (and I love it).
  • Having my girls on a schedule has been a godsend.
  • I am absolutely in LOVE with the hand-knit toys my girls have from Cuddle + Kind.
  • Getting packed and ready to travel (whether that means going to the store or going to Syracuse) does not get any easier. There is always way too much to bring.
  • On top of that, packing and unpacking that darn double stroller in-and-out of the trunk doesn’t get any easier either.
  • Using Instacart may mean spending an extra $5, but it is SO much easier than pushing a double stroller and shopping cart through Wegmans. Call me lazy, but it has been so useful.
  • I always thought I’d be a Pampers mom, but I have become quite the Huggies mama. I have also learned that even if you have a preference, if there is going to be a blowout, it’s going to happen – no matter what kind of diaper you use.
  • There is such a thing as a Mom Haircut. I never thought I’d give in, but I got that urge to chop off my hair… and I did. It has felt so nice and I have been trying out Ouidad products and so far, so GREAT!

breaking point blues and parenting styles

HITTING THAT BREAKING POINT

I have been one miserable mama lately. I have been overwhelmed and exhausted and just plain grumpy. One of my girls has been the fussiest of fussy eaters while the other had a pretty bad booty rash for a little bit. Cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, getting articles done and caring for the girls on my own during the day definitely gets tough. The apartment is cluttered with cardboard boxes for our upcoming move and I have been stressing about all of the chaos that comes with moving into a house. On top of all this, I’m still not working a full-time job and I hate not contributing financially the way I want to. I’m lucky to at least be able to teach aerial and grab the occasional freelance article – but I need to do more.

To say the least – I have been incredibly stressed.

However, I know whining and crying will not get me anywhere. I also know my misery rubs off on the girls (and Mike) and that is not fair to them. I also know that I am not alone. So many new parents feel this kind of anxiety and it is just part of the transition into parenthood. If you are a parent who smiles, jumps out of bed and frolics to your screaming newborn’s crib every single time they wake you up at night – please give us the magic pills you have been taking. 

I have always wanted to be a mom and I absolutely love being one. I knew motherhood would be difficult, but you truly have no idea how difficult it is going to be until the baby (or babies) arrive. You can relate to friends and family members who are parents, but no one will ever truly know what it is like to be in your shoes. You know yourself better than anyone else. It is up to you to decide how you want to handle that stress when you come face-to-face with it. 

We all handle the stress of parenthood differently… which leads to my next venting point.

ALL PARENTS PARENT DIFFERENTLY – AND THAT IS OKAY

I have many friends, family members and acquaintances who are parents. Since social media is such a strong force these days, we get a peek into the lives of families and the beliefs linked to those lives. It can be incredibly refreshing to see posts and photographs people put up because, most of the time, parents can relate.  It is nice to see the struggles, successes, and suggestions other parents post about because a lot can BLOG meme doingbe learned.

 

However, I have also found social media to be incredibly frustrating because not all parents see eye-to-eye.

It is terrific that parents have different parenting styles. That is what makes each family unique. Unless the child is being neglected or abused, you are free to parent your child in the way that works best for you and your family.

If you choose not to breastfeed (or are unable to) and you use formula – that’s fine.
If you choose to have a c-section instead of a vaginal delivery – that’s fine.
If you co-sleep with your child or sleep with them in the same room – that’s fine.
If you choose to spank your child – that’s fine.
If you swaddle your child or give them a binky to help them fall asleep – that’s fine.
If you use a safety harness to keep them within a safe distance to you – that’s fine.

IF YOUR CHILDREN ARE HEALTHY AND HAPPY (AND YOU ARE HEALTHY AND HAPPY) – THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS.  *There are pros and cons to every choice and style of parenting*

I am in no way a professional when it comes to parenting. I truly believe it is impossible for anyone to be a professional when it comes to parenting because of all the different styles and beliefs that are out there. All I know is from my personal experience and what I have witnessed and heard through social media, friends, and family.

With so many people becoming offended and annoyed with the beliefs of others these days, can’t parenting communities be accepting and understanding of one another at least? There is no such thing as the perfect parent. The most we can do is understand one another, learn from one another and grow.

thoughts at 3 months: this is the world my girls must grow up in

Just like the most of humanity, I am officially terrified of the world we live in. I know we have all been overloaded with details, pictures, and videos from the Florida shooting, but it still has me shaken. After watching it live on TV while the shooter was still at large – I cannot help but fear for the world my girls are going to grow up in. It scares me to think about how people will be when they get to school. Will there be security guards at every door? Will they have to walk through metal detectors? Will teachers have to be armed in classrooms? Will my girls be afraid to leave the house with the possibility that their school is next?

Unfortunately, I don’t see anything getting any better – and that scares the shit out of me.

RUMI QUOTE

I hate fighting. I hate violence. But what I hate more is that I don’t think anything will really make the change we all want to see, as depressing as that sounds. We can take a stand and make our voices heard. We can make more mental health services available. We can speak up when we feel something may lead to another shooting or death. But if someone wants to get their hands on a gun and they want to kill people – they will.

I have always been very hippie’esque (yes, I made up a word) when it comes to difficult topics that cause angry debate. I have always stayed away from political discussions because I really don’t think just because you believe something different than someone else it should make-or-break your friendship or relationship. We are all unique human beings and we all have our own set of beliefs. This is something I hope Elora and Lucy will embrace and understand when it comes to themselves and those around them. But the one thing that bothers me most is when situations like the Florida shooting happen, everyone continues to debate and debate and what happens? Nothing. It all happens again.

It is a sick cycle and if people continue to focus on their differences and not listen to one another and find a solution, the cycle will continue. The cycle will continue and our children will be the ones at the next school with some mentally unstable child running the halls with a gun… or a knife or hammer or, hell, a blowtorch. I am not a fan of guns, but I know it is the person behind the weapon that makes the final decision to kill. We need to get to those people before they make these decisions. But will we get to them before they murder others if we continue to disagree and debate?

No.

KIDS QUOTE brookeREALIZATIONS AT 3 MONTHS

Now that I have ended my venting session, I am lucky my girls have two very supportive parents that are absolutely in love with them – though we may not always see eye-to-eye politically. Again, you can have some different beliefs and still have a loving, successful relationship – it is absolutely possible. Love, balance, and patience are critical when it comes to parenting and relationships – this I have discovered over these crazy, crazy months. If you keep those three factors in mind, everything will be okay.

These girls, however, sure have made us think these past few months. One day they are downing each bottle at every feeding and the next day they barely finish half of their bottle at feedings. One night they sleep soundly in the same spot and the next night they are halfway down their crib and horizontal. They definitely keep us on our toes and, yes, burnout is real. That is why it is important to find time for yourself; find time to workout or grab coffee or be creative. Never forget to focus on your own happiness.

  • No one talks about the slowdown when it comes to nursing/breastfeeding/pumping. After three months of pumping, I decided to stop. Since we started increasing the amount during feedings, I found I was having a very hard time physically keeping up. I knew it would not be an easy process, but I did not know how painful and frustrating it would be. People always talk oh-so positively about breastfeeding and nursing, but they don’t talk about what it is like to slow-down the process. Luckily I knew people who could share how they had slowly stopped pumping, but I find it frustrating that it isn’t something nurses, lactation consultants and OBGYN’s discuss at follow-up appointments. The slowdown has caused me to have low-grade fevers, body aches, headaches, nausea and horrible pain (all of this is supposedly normal). This needs to be something brought up at appointments so others can be more knowledgeable of how to go about doing it.
  • Two babies are more than enough. Mike and I are absolutely fine with just having these two little girls. We are absolutely fine not ‘trying for a boy’ or ‘trying for baby #3 in the future.’ I also find it funny that people automatically assume we may want a bigger family. After my hellish pregnancy, I truly do not want to ever experience that again. Though it was fun feeling them move around inside, the pain and stress were horrid. Also, we both agree that we are perfectly content with it being just us and our little girls – and Theodore, of course.
  • We have two social, small humans on our hands. The girls are beginning to babble and talk and focus much more than they have been in months prior. It is truly so fascinating to watch them as they look at pictures in books and listen to our voices when we talk to them. They are becoming their own little people with their own personalities. One has blue eyes, one has dark eyes. One has thicker hair, one has thinner hair. They both have completely different noses, cries, and body shapes. It keeps becoming more and more obvious how completely different they both are and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mama Venting Session: Tears, Emotions and Holding Onto Hope

I was put on this planet to be a good woman and to raise good women.” – Drew Barrymore on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (Feb. 9th, 2018)

All parents understand the rush of emotions that comes with meeting your baby (or babies) for the first time. Those emotions stay pretty strong as days move forward and your hormones, well, they stick around for the transition. This transition into parenthood was an emotional one, but really, the entire pregnancy was a ball of ridiculous emotions.

A GOOD MOM pic quote

I felt anger because of unexpected family issues. I felt sadness when Mike left for Texas for three months. I felt pain when my back issues made me go on disability from work. I felt comfort when living with my mom. I felt frustration moving from Rochester to Syracuse to Buffalo in a matter of three months. I felt true love when meeting Elora and Lucy for the first time.

The thing is – those emotions don’t end, they just change a little bit.

Over the last few months, I have transitioned into parenthood with full force because, well, there wasn’t any other way. I was in a new city without family nearby or any close friends to lean on. I had to figure out how to feed both babies at once when Mike was at work for two days in a row. I had to figure out how to carry both babies in their car seats into doctor’s appointments when on my own. I had to manage their feedings and my pumping so we had a working schedule.

I have gotten into a somewhat comfortable routine, but the other night I had my first, tearful breakdown when alone with the girls. When I am feeding both of them, I typically put them both in their boppies, sit between them or kneel in front of them and feed them their bottles. Of course, they sometimes cry before the feeding because, well, if it’s just me I can only move so fast. I am used to the pre-bottle screams and tears, but during this feeding, they both decided to be absolutely miserable. They were screaming. I tried adjusting them, talking to them and burping them and nothing helped. So I cried.

I felt so, so horrible because I had absolutely no idea what to do. They had never cried this hard before and being I was alone, I broke down and joined in on their Cry Fest. After some time, they tired themselves out and fell asleep – waking up with smiles as if nothing had happened. I realized this was normal, but for a moment I felt more overwhelmed than I had since the very beginning of it all when I could barely move without pain from the c-section. However, their little smiles helped change my negative mindset into a more positive one – even though lately my mindset has been a tad scattered.

I haven’t worked since being put on disability in June and just recently has it started really getting to me. Now that my disability has ended, I have no solid, continuous income coming in and I am not one to rely on Mike or my family to financially support me. While it’s great I will start teaching aerial yoga soon and that I get the occasional freelance writing assignment sent my way, I need a job that pays regularly. I have come to the realization that working a full-time job right now is absolutely out of the picture – the girls going to daycare would eat up every penny. It has also been tough finding a job that would work around Mike’s odd work hours.

PARENTHOOD quote pic

I am hopeful that a solid, long-term freelance writing position will finally work out so I can stay at home and do just that. I will keep searching for opportunities and also keep sending out to literary agents, hoping Twentysomething can get picked up. I am planning to really change the overall outline of the story and once I find time to do that (if it isn’t picked up before I make changes – and if it was, I would be ecstatic), I can get back to some conferences and start sending out queries. I will never give up on publication – I will find an agent.

I am just trying to figure out this new life I was thrown into and for being completely thrown into it, I think I’ve done a damn good job handling the stress that comes with it. Being someone who was worried about facing postpartum depression, I honestly feel so much better now that these girls are on the outside with us. Pregnancy depression and anxiety were real though – that I cannot deny.

Now, I must focus on the following and do it with everything I got:

  • Keep searching for a solid part-time job. Whether it be more freelance writing, teaching more aerial/working more parties or working evenings at a coffee shop – I need to make money. I have applied to many, MANY freelance positions and only have a couple worked out thus far. However, they are not regular and continuous – which is what I need. I need to make more calls, send more emails and really get creative when it comes to finding work.
  • Make a daily schedule for myself and the girls. Being I am home most days with the girls while Mike works, I need to start making a real schedule for myself. I typically nap when they have their morning nap, do laundry/dishes after and search for jobs in the afternoon while watching crappy daytime talk shows – Ellen is still the only daytime talk show really worth watching. I need a more detailed routine that includes time for my own personal writing and time for home-exercise (other than when I get to escape to aerial). I need to focus on myself a little more in that aspect.
  • Work on my patience. While I have discovered that I have more patience than I thought when it comes to all this parenting stuff, I need to still work on it. Doesn’t every parent? I love these girls with all my heart and they can sense if I am happy or upset or on edge. I want them to grow up knowing I did everything I could to make them happy all while keeping myself and their father happy as well.

Two months with twins: What I’ve learned

And just like that – two months have flown by. In the big scheme of things, it seems like these little ladies haven’t changed all that much. The sleep, they eat, they poop. However, after spending every day with them, it’s obvious they have already grown so much.

The girls are reacting to our smiles and voices so much more and smiling and mimicking our expressions (sticking their little tongues out when we stick out ours). They don’t want to be in one place for as long and they also are very slowly beginning to sleep longer at night. We have been lucky to have two girls who will go about four hours between BABIES flower shirtsfeedings during the day and, sometimes, five-ish hours at night between feedings. I am trying to fully embrace this time between feedings at night because when they begin teething, I am sure that span will change drastically.

There have been moments of overwhelming chaos and moments of pure joy. I think having a mix of those two emotions is pretty much the definition of parenthood. Every day I am learning something new about these little girls, something new about my patience and something new about Mike’s amazing ability to be a father.

What I’ve learned:

Taking time for yourself is crucialBeing I am not working full-time (and with daycare prices, am unsure if full-time work is in my near future at all), I am home with the girls most of the time. Though I love them dearly, Cabin Fever does set in. Luckily, I’ve had support from family, friends, and Mike and am able to escape to take time for myself when I need it. I am also able to freelance write occasionally when an assignment comes my way. You must take time for yourself at least once a week if you want to maintain sanity. I have been able to slowly get back into Aerial Arts and when we can, Mike and I escape to grab coffee. Even if it’s just walking the dog for ten minutes or taking a bath (with wine… always with wine), if you don’t take care of yourself – you can’t take care of your baby/babies. This is something I strongly believe in. This also means I MUST get out of this ‘Writer’s Block Rut’ and get those creative juices flowing again. Naptime now means ‘Writing Time’ – I have ideas, now it’s time to get writing.

The Binky: A Blessing and A Curse. Both of my girls have their Wubbanubs – Elora has her giraffe and Lucy has her hippo. When they are upset, yes, the binky soothes them and often allows them to calm down. However, the amount of times they scream because that damn binky has fallen out of their mouth is absolutely insane. Sometimes we wish we had never introduced it, but other times we are so glad we did. We have grown to have such a love-hate relationship with those damn binkies. Be wise when binkying, all. Be wise.

No parenting style is the same. This kind of comes as a no-brainer, but the more I talk with other parents, the more I realize how different everyone’s views on certain things are when it comes to parenting. While my girls go four hours between feedings and get about four ounces per feeding (for right now), some people feed their baby/babies every hour and give them only one ounce or so. To make it so our girls don’t roll around in their cribs, we push two, small, very tightly rolled blankets at their sides while some people will not put anything inside a crib except for the baby. We swaddle, some people are against swaddling.  Some people don’t think their babies should sleep in their crib right away while our girls have slept in their cribs from day one. I pump and formula feed, some people strictly breastfeed. Many people say, “Never wake a sleeping baby,” while we say, “Screw that – we have twins and they have to be on the same schedule” (luckily, they’ve stayed on the same schedule and are great sleep-eaters at night). It truly amazes me how many different parenting styles there are and it really depends on the baby/babies and the parents. There is no right or wrong parenting style as long as the baby is safe. It’s as simple as that.

Traveling with twins is hell. I am sure when you travel with a singleton, it is stressful. Getting the baby bundled up in the car seat, getting the diaper bag packed and pre-warming up the car (if you live where the air hurts your face), is overwhelming in itself. However, with twins, it’s doubly as stressful and just over the last month did I realize the stress that comes with traveling. The babies are growing, so they are harder to carry at once when you are traveling alone or getting them ready on your own. Also, with one car seat in each hand – it’s not easy on your back, which sometimes means numerous trips 221ed12465830a2b574c53e0a7630abeout to the car. However, once you get to where you want to go – it’s worth it. Always keep the final destination in mind. That may help push through the pain of carrying two car seats at once or forgetting the diaper bag at home or when the binkies come out and they are screaming in the backseat. And always have coffee in the car. Coffee.

Small realizations:

  • I’ve started getting used to my postpartum body. Even though my belly pooch is frustrating and I’d love for it to go away, I understand it will take time.
  • Start checking out parenting/pregnancy blogs or websites such as
  • www.cafemom.com, www.scarymommy.com and www.twinmom.com. It’s great to read about the experiences of other parents.
  • Cabin Fever is real. I cannot say enough how important it is to get out of the house and take even ten minutes for yourself.
  • The girls have started their own wonderful routine of being wide awake around 6:00 AM and only being happy on their swings while listening to John Mayer Pandora (yes, they chose that station all on their own…). While it’s lovely they’re both on the same schedule, I’d prefer they want to listen to music contently from their cribs so I can sleep.
  • Sleep. It doesn’t happen. Coffee does.
  • I feel bad for my poor Theodore. He’s stuck inside with these two tiny humans all day and a mom who can’t leave as often to walk him or bring him to the dog park. Throwing the ball down the hallway and spooning when I sleep isn’t enough. I feel bad for the poor schnauzer… but damn, I love him so much and he’s been so good with the babies.
  • Pumping is still the most obnoxious thing in the world. Worth it, but obnoxious.
  • Getting back into the swing of working out (especially Aerial Arts) is not easy. I’ve only been back in the studio a few times and I already pulled a muscle, am incredibly sore and am not used to this new body I have to work with. Again, I know it will take time, but it’s hard to be patient when I want to do what I used to be able to so easily do.
  • Patience. Always patience.