Twin Kindergarten Panic: I Feel Everything and Nothing

IMG_20180828_203653.jpgEveryone keeps asking me how I’m doing after sending the twins to kindergarten. The truth is that I don’t know. I’m in shock. As I am obviously a very wordy person, it shocks me that I’m in shock but can’t explain it. How do you feel, everyone wants to know. How do I FEEL? I feel everything and I feel nothing. I can’t explain it and I know I just need time to process. My husband tells me to write it out. As always, he is right. My brain usually feels clean and neat after I write.

I FEEL OVERJOYED TERRIFIED EXCITED GRIEVING CELEBRATORY MAUDLIN FROZEN CONFUSED RELIEVED GUILTY NERVOUS LIKE A BALLOON THAT MIGHT FLOAT AWAY BY ACCIDENT.

Oh, and did I mention terrified and nervous?

And thank you for asking.

I know I’m not reinventing the emotions wheel here, folks. But you have to admit that sending two children away at the same time doubles the feelings that other mothers have. Then we add in the worry about an older child who is switching schools but doesn’t adjust well to change. And don’t forget special needs and mental health stuff stirred into that pot of worry. Three children in a new strange place. It’s a lot. IT’S JUST A LOT OKAY?

When I taught kindergarten, there was one mother who needed an ambulance on the first day of school. She had so much trouble separating from her child that we had to call 911. I guess she thought she was having a heart attack. Was her heart panicking or was it breaking?

At the time, I was not yet a mother. I’ll be honest – I thought she was being ridiculous. I had no patience for crying parents whose tears were contagious to their children. In retrospect, however, I see things through a different lens.* Like my current self, she was an older mother, who had probably struggled to conceive this only child for many years. He was probably a miracle baby. Maybe even a “rainbow baby” born after the storms of miscarriage and loss. Like my current self, she probably had an anxiety disorder that crippled her. She was probably ashamed that she couldn’t control her feelings that day. Like my current self, her son had some special needs. Special needs that probably terrified her when they were in the hands of a stranger. And unlike my current self, she had the additional burden of being a single mother, whose husband had either died or left. I don’t remember, but I do remember that her son was all she had.

I want to deeply, sincerely, profoundly apologize to that mom. And to all the other parents that I didn’t understand. Yes, I was a professional that day. I technically didn’t say or do anything wrong that day we called the ambulance, but I want to apologize for my silent judgement. I know now that she wasn’t being dramatic and she didn’t want pity. She genuinely could not control her pain and worry. Her son has probably graduated college by now. I don’t even remember his name. I actually don’t even remember if he was my student, or belonged in the kindergarten class next door. It doesn’t matter. I was wrong to judge.

Last week, I had a panic attack at my children’s open house at their school.

And, yesterday, on the first day of school, I lingered thirty seconds too long and made Twin B start to cry.

I did both those things. Yes I did.

The first thing, the panic attack, was not under my control – or at least I’m trying to convince myself of that fact. The latter thing, staying too long, was an error and I should have known better. I have no patience for my mistakes here.

That panic attack at open house really hit me like a truck. It blindsided me. My anxiety has been semi-well-controlled lately, but I expected the first day of school would be hard for me. Harder for me than for the kids, anyway. But open house, the week before school starts? Why would I expect that to mess with my mental health? We were just there to hear a speech about school rules, meet their teacher, see their classroom and whatnot. Standard procedure, right? My subconscious didn’t think so.

The principal was speaking, and I had two children to the left of me, one child to the right, a mound of paperwork on my lap, and about two hundred dollars’ worth of school supplies under my feet. Suddenly I felt that familiar cold claw start to clamp down on my heart. My heart felt frozen and squeezed to the point that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart was working too hard and my lungs weren’t working enough. My children were nervous enough, and I desperately didn’t want them to notice my unwarranted panic. I want to protect them from the world – but sometimes I just have to protect them from my own brain. I dug my nails into my sweaty palms until the skin started to tear. I bit the insides of my cheeks until I tasted blood, to distract my eyes from the tears they were trying to spill. I tried to breathe slower and tried to remember all those things you’re supposed to remember but can’t. I couldn’t hear the principal. I could only hear my own blood and adrenaline pumping.

Then I jerked to attention, as the teachers lined up the students to take them to see their classrooms. The parents were to remain seated and continue listening to the principal. Twin sets of bright eyes, so different from each other, looked at me. “Momma, do we go now?” one of them said. Moms are the best actresses in the world. Yes, I said with a normal voice. “Will you still be here?” the other one said. Yes, I promise, I said with a calm voice that sounded alien to me because it didn’t match my brain, which was screaming. Their four eyes were nervous, but they turned and obediently but very slowly walked toward their new teacher and out the door, into their new world without me.

Instantly I was on the operating table, fading in and out of consciousness. One twin was already out of my womb, and I was experiencing being separated from that child for the first time, ever. The second twin was being pulled out and was not breathing. I was experiencing a panic for that child, like I had never felt before. A mother’s fear. A primal thing. I wasn’t in the school gym. I was in a cold operating room and my arms were tied down and I was more helpless than I’d ever been in my life.

I tried to remember what my therapist always said, “If you’re replaying your trauma like a movie in your head, just try to move ten rows back.” She wisely knows that you can’t stop it. You can only try to wait it out – but maybe with a little more space.

My oldest child was still sitting beside me. He would start third grade at this school next week. I had to stay here, stay present, stay quiet, for this sensitive and precious boy. He didn’t ask for this. He doesn’t deserve a mother like this. But guilt won’t help stop panic. I feel like my conscious brain was slapping the face of my subconscious brain. STOP IT. GET IT TOGETHER. THIS CHILD NEEDS YOU NOW. ALL YOUR CHILDREN ARE HEALTHY. YOU DON’T DESERVE TO GRIEVE SOMETHING THAT HAS A HAPPY ENDING. (I didn’t say my conscious brain is always right.)

I never did feel all the way better that day. The anxiety lessened but it didn’t leave. I faked my way through the rest of the open house and the rest of my day. I sobbed at night. I told myself that I would try again tomorrow.

Four days later, I am dropping my twins into their kindergarten classroom for their first day of school. This time, my husband is with me. My third-grader has already insisted on walking to his classroom alone. My husband is a deep well of calmness. He is contentment, not excitement. He is logic, not panic. Despite all that reasonableness, he is also the only person on earth who is feeling what I’m feeling right now. These are our babies. Babies that are a miracle of modern science. Babies that almost didn’t survive.

My husband is my rock. He is my bravery.

We watch the natural chaos in the classroom. There is one boy standing in the middle of the rug alone, sobbing, like a lost kid in a movie. The teachers bustle about, kind and sensitive, but also trying to get business done. We watch Twin A calmly walk to his cubby, hang his backpack up in an orderly fashion, put his nametag around his neck, walk evenly to his assigned desk. He never looks at us. We watch Twin B wander in circles around the room, eyes getting wet, looking lost, pleading with us telepathically. His wandering becomes faster and more ….lost. He has forgotten everything the teacher told him during open house. I already know we have overstayed. He stumbles over to me and actually asks me for a kiss. I kiss his soft cheek and breathe his baby smell that somehow never left and I want to scoop him up in my arms and run away. His teacher tries to pull him off me and says, “We’re fine” as he starts to cry. My conscious brain knows she is right.

I am in the operating room. He is my baby. He isn’t breathing. His tiny body responds when his father whispers in his ear. They intubate him and whisk him off to the NICU. I wake up a couple of days later, in the dark, arms tied down, intubated myself, unable to speak, and I don’t know if he is alive or not. Eventually I will meet him, but it will be three weeks before I can even change his diaper.

My husband gently pulls my hand. I try to snap back into this classroom, into this moment. I try to “move ten rows back”. I try to remind myself that my baby survived. He is strong and healthy! Look at him! I let go of my crying baby. I don’t cry this time. I realize that I’m glad I’m not the teacher. I remember that I’m alive. These feelings, whether good or bad, mean that I’m alive. I intertwine my clammy fingers with my husband’s warm fingers and we walk down the hall and out of the school.

No one calls an ambulance.

How do I feel? I really don’t know.

But thanks for asking.
******

 

*Please forgive any errors in my memory.

Two-Year-Old Quotes, Twin Edition

Brothers

Alas, my dear readers, you have been so patient recently as I have tackled the not-so-funny topics of racism, politics, anxiety, and adoption. I reward your long-suffering with – ta-da! – some overdue twin quotes! You can see their personalities very clearly here. Anyway, two-year-olds were hilarious. And exhausting.  (Note: “E” refers to “Twin A” and “G” refers to “Twin B”. I’m not consistent. And yes, I know they are four years old now, not two. I’m slow. So what?!)

***ONE LINERS***

To his Daddy
E: You has a zipper on your pants?! Wow, that’s scary!

When I put a hat on his head:
E: Ears, where are you, ears?

Holding my camera
G: This Mommy’s cheese!

Asking for Tylenol
E: I need two mess-a-sins.

Running to the dinner table
E: Here I come, Kabobs!

Asking for “fish sticks”
E: Can we have dick dicks for dinner?

The first time I wore a scrunchi in my hair
E [worried]: You has a snake in your hair, Momma?

As G sat on my lap
E, with a look of concern: He squished your penis?

Watching Daddy do pull-ups with no shirt
E: Daddy, whoa you’re tired. Now you go put on some clothes.

As I zipped up his hoodie
G: My tummy’s not here!

To his grandfather
G: I has a poop. You have a poop too?

While peeing on his little potty
E: Oh man! We forgot to show this to [Grandma]!

Waking up
E: today is a new day?

E: Your hands are cold, Mommy. You need a coat on your hands.

E: When I get big, I’m gonna have hair on my cheeks. And my arms.

G: You makin tator tots? Oh, that’s so nice, Mommy!

E: Daddy’s at work. Brother’s at school. Now it’s just me and us.

Daddy: Use BOTH hands to clean up. Look, you just doubled your productivity.

Unknown Twin: I’m a big boy cuz I grew feet now.

Unknown Twin: Sometimes I cry a lot. Sometimes I don’t.

Unknown twin: My doggie will be waiting for me. He will be so happy to love me.

G: Christmas is over? Santa Claus not coming to town?

***G’S MANNERS PROBLEM***

G: More cookie.
Daddy: What do you say?
G: Please?
Daddy: Please what?
G: Please me.

Loudly, during the sacrament at church
G: I WANT ICE CREAM.

G, on a grocery trip
To a teenage boy: Hi, Daddy!
To a fat man with a beard: Hi, Jesus!
To a mom with a cart: DON’T CRASH ME!

At the table
G: I want more milk.
Me: [blank stare while waiting for manners]
G: I want more milk.
Me: [blank stare while waiting for manners]
E, trying to help: You have to say please!
G: CHEESE! [pretends to take picture] I want more milk.

Me: Do you want an Eskimo kiss or a lip kiss?
G: A NOISY lip kiss!
[*kiss*]
G: NO, NOISIER!

***AWWWW***

While hugging me
E: I make you happy!

While looking at a picture of himself
E: Oh, that’s me. So cute.

After taking his big brother to kindergarten for his first day of school
E: Now we miss him.

When he had bad diaper rash
E: Don’t change me harder!

E: Our Daddy is a smart Daddy. He can fix cars and trees and houses.

G, to me: I love you too much.

***THE WORD “CRACKED” BECOMES “CRAPPED” FOR A WEEK***

G: I crapped my shoe. My shoe is crapped.

G: The big crap! The egg crapped!

It’s crapping.

Somebody crapped this.

This crap!

***STRANGE RELIGION***

While driving a car on top of a picture of Jesus
E: I hit Jesus. I drive Jesus. I kiss Jesus.

After church
Me: What did you do in nursery?
G: Ba-yoons [balloons] and Jesus.
Me: Did you have a snack?
G: Yes. Fishies and crayons.

***WEIRD CONVERSATIONS***

Me: I’m just kidding.
E: You not a kitty cat. You a momma, momma!

Older brother: Don’t eat bullets!
E: Only eat dinner!

Me, while changing his diaper: It’s just a little poop.
E: It’s not humongous. Just a little pew.

E: Brother wears underwear?
Me: Yes.
E: Momma wears underwear?
Me: Yes
E [triumphantly]: And Daddy wears a penis!

Me: Can I help you carry that big truck?
G: NO! I help me!

Me: Why didn’t you sleep at nap? That was a bad choice.
G [bored]: I sleeped at night.

Me: Daddy fixed the van. Isn’t he smart?
E: Daddy isn’t fart.

When both twins climbed on my lap simultaneously while naked
E: I won’t poop on you, Momma.
G: I won’t poop on you.

As I got out of the shower
E: That your bottom? Where your poop?
G: [pokes my butt] That your bottom? Where your poop?

While eating a burrito
Me: I hope you’re not making a mess.
E: No. I not making a mess. I just doing a lot of poking it.

Me: You’re my honey!
E: And you’re my toast. I eat you.

Looking at my sweatshirt pocket
E: That your baby comin out?

Me: Don’t eat egg shell. It’s not good for your body.
E: You’re not good for my body.

G: Grammy, you have a bottom?
Grammy: Yes
G: Can I see it?
Grammy: No
G: It’s all yucky?

E: Mommy, he hit me!
G: I didn’t hit you! I pushed you!
E: Mommy, he pushed me!

***LAST BUT NOT LEAST… MY FAVORITE***

G: You has a penis, Mommy?
Me: No.
G: Daddy take it away?

*******

I have a long history with quote-giving. If you liked this one, check out my other ones:

2-Year-Old Kid Quotes

3-Year-Old Kid Quotes

3-Year-Old Kid Quotes, Part 2

Four-Year-Old Kid Quotes

Geez, kids

Verbal Twin Fights, Two-Year-Old Edition

Momma Quotes

*******

Sooo… About Yesterday…. Lord Have Mercy

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This photo was taken a few minutes after one of them fell down those stairs … and the dog tried to eat the underwear. We’re good.

As my southern Grandma used to say under her breath, “Lord have mercy!” (And when we say that, we are not using the Lord’s name in vain, because we only say it when we are SERIOUSLY IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE.)

I’m not sure I even believe all the things that happened yesterday. It was so bad, it should have been funny. But I didn’t have time to laugh.

I did the mom-juggle of getting one kid on the bus while caring for/ ignoring the other two. Once he was on the bus, I focused on the twins… Wait.

You know what? I’m just gonna bullet point this one. No use writing it all out nice and neat, because the day was not nice and neat. It was bullet points of pee, poop, nearly-grave injury, and a long relationship with the Social Services office. Here we go, in chronological order:

  • While trying to get ready for the gym (don’t make fun – I’m repairing the damage the twins did to me with strength training classes), Twin B started bawling because he “just wanted to play” instead of going to the most awesome gym daycare in the whole world. Seriously, it has a three-story climbing maze thing and skylights. Kid, your First World Problem problem is showing.
  • I finally got him calmed down by promising him he could bring two monster trucks in the car. I then sent Twin A into the garage to keep himself busy by trying to buckle his seatbelt with no assistance; I sent Twin B into the bathroom for one last pee before leaving.
  • What is taking him so long? Ah. There it is. Pee had sprayed everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. Toilet, clothes, floor, wall, door. If it was in that bathroom, it was soaked.
  • Tried to clean him up, change him, clean the bathroom, and keep the dog away, all without damaging his already-fragile emotional state. Meanwhile, good ole steady Twin A was still trying to buckle his seatbelt in the garage, while occasionally shouting good-natured updates on his progress.
  • Got everyone in the van, and into the gym, and was extremely late to my strength training class. (First World Problem, I know. Not complaining.) I did humor the instructor by explaining exactly why I was late. The consequence of being that late was that I was the very last one left in class after everyone had completed their circuits. I may or may not have shouted to the last person to leave, “Don’t leave me alone with him!” My trainer had plenty of time to focus on me and what I’m doing wrong and how much harder I need to work. Plus, it was super awk-weird. Thanks, Twin B.
  • When leaving the gym, we needed to “swing by” the county Social Services office. Yeah, so, I learned that you don’t just “swing by” the Social Services office. Especially when you have potty training kids. And, may I just say, the twins were strangely silenced by the angry people shouting into the intercom thing at the caseworkers behind the glass. Good thing, too, because we waited in that line for 40 minutes. A small child terrorized my twins so badly while in line, I shook my finger at him and said “NO!” when he began beating on one of them. The other mothers in line nodded their approval at me. Finally got to the front of the line and got my paperwork.
  • Leaving the Social Services office, feeling grateful for the sunshine and the mostly-well-behaved children trailing behind me, I optimistically announced that they deserved some rare McDonald’s for lunch. But I’m not crazy enough to let them into a restaurant. We definitely went through the drive-though.
  • Got home, ready to relax with my adorable children and some well-deserved french fries, and realized that I needed to call a social services number for a certain question about this paperwork that I should have asked the lady behind the glass. Have you ever called any Social Services number? Yeah, I was stuck on a “menu option” recorded message for six minutes. Then on hold for about 20. Then got through to someone and got a bad answer to my question. Meanwhile, twins finished their food and began to fight. I threw some letter stickers at them.
  • Realized I had to call our caseworker. She called back when the twins were fighting worse. Of course. I hid in the bathroom and try to hear her. She told me that the paper I needed wasn’t at the Social Services office that I just stood in line for 40 minutes with twins to get, but instead is already filled out and in my possession. “Remember when we filled that out together in November?” She’s right. I remembered. My brain sputtered.
  • I send the twins upstairs for “quiet time”, which really means, “beat each other up more quietly so momma doesn’t actually know you’re fighting” time. I needed to focus on finding this paperwork. I am a lifelong pile-maker. I just cannot, cannot, manage my paperwork. I am an otherwise organized and responsible person, though, I swear.
  • I began to tear through my piles – first quickly, superficially, then back through the piles again more slowly and systematically. My hands began to shake as I realized just how irresponsible it was that I had lost this paperwork. I AM NOT THIS PERSON.
  • My mind began to sabotage me by yelling things in my head like, “WHAT KIND OF MOTHER LOSES THIS KIND OF PAPERWORK FOR A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD?” I started to cry. I knelt down in my mess of papers and prayed. I told the Lord that I might not be worthy of his help, but my special needs child was, and please help me find this for my son’s sake.
  • I resumed the search. I tore through paper piles in the kitchen, the master bedroom, and even in the garage. Nothing. Nothing but tears and my own shame.
  • Suddenly, without thinking, I calmly walked into the TV room, pulled a binder off the bookshelf labeled “IEP”, and saw the paperwork. All of it. I really had no memory of deciding to walk into that room, or thinking about any IEP binder. I still have no idea why it was even in there. My body just found it. You can call it muscle memory, or a subconscious memory… or you can call it an answer to a prayer. I know what I call it.
  • I sank to the floor with gratitude. I put my forehead to the laminate and offered a prayer of thanks.
  • “Momma, can you check my underwear for poop?” yelled one twin, while the other twin simultaneously yelled, “I have to go pee-pee!”
  • I raised my head from my laminate. I shouted up the stairs to the poop problem, “Come down here right now!” and then yelled to the pee problem, “Well, go to the potty up there right now!”
  • One twin shuffled down to me, and I put him on the hall bath toilet. The other twin got on the upstairs toilet. I got to work cleaning up the messy underwear and kid, while trying to shoo the huge dog away.
  • THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!
  • A twin had fallen down the stairs. The wooden stairs. All of them. And landed at my feet, right beside the hall bath toilet.
  • I think I was screaming. I’m not sure. My brain was already working the motherhood miracle of simultaneously scanning for injuries, considering the needs of the other twin, plotting a 911 call or a minivan race to the hospital, and also, of course, the dog who wants to eat the poopy underwear on the floor.
  • Within milliseconds, I was holding the fallen twin in my arms, trying to snuggle him while flipping him all over for injuries. He was screaming. Open the mouth, move the hair all around, lift the shirt, squeeze and turn the ankles and wrists, and burrow that poor child into my bony chest. He was okay. How?!
  • And I had poop on my right hand. Why?!
  • And the other twin was off the potty, with a not-yet-clean bottom, desperate to check on his brother.
  • And the dog was nosing at the poopy underwear.
  • We sat like that for a while. I tried to keep my poop hand in the air and snuggle and fix boo-boos with just my clean hand. I told the other twin not to sit down. For heaven’s sake, DON’T SIT DOWN. I yelled at the dog. She’s deaf, though. Oh well.
  • Finally, the fallen twin was able to get up. Through tears and sniffles, he explained to me what happened. He had been standing on the next-to the top stair, backwards, while trying to balance on one foot. HAVE I TAUGHT YOU NOTHING? NOTHING AT ALL?!
  • I resumed cleaning the soiled twin. I got the soiled clothes to the laundry room. (“Laundry room”? Who am I kidding? The laundry closet.)
  • WE HAVE TO GET TO THE GROCERY STORE!!! We are so late! If we didn’t leave then, we wouldn’t be back in time for their brother’s bus. (Mom Math.) The twins had been softened by their recent escapades, and we successfully brought back groceries for six people who eat like grown men. They even helped me unload and put everything in the pantry, including the bacon and milk.
  • The bus arrived. My three boys fought each other for a while outside in the fresh air. They soaked up some Vitamin D while beating an old Christmas wreath to death with large sticks and then running it over with various wheeled vehicles. Then they worked together as a team to hurl it, discus-like, across the yard an impressive distance.
  • My husband got home late. He had had a bad day at work. I listened sympathetically. I love him and for real don’t want him to have bad days. I hugged him tight.
  • He said, “So did you guys do anything today?”

Lord, have mercy.

But he did have mercy. Maybe not on me, but certainly on my twin who fell down the stairs. Much like that time my son fell off the deck while peeing and landed naked on a rock, this child was miraculously fine. I cannot fathom how he could not have been injured. I witnessed the somersaults down the last three of those steps – there is no way he should be okay.

There are angels watching over our little ones. And these children are made of rubber. The Lord did have mercy.

I’m so tired.

In the Two Minutes It Took Me to Order at Chick-Fil-A

Why would I brave Chick-Fil-A with two crazy three-year-old boys? Because they have that play area – the one that is enclosed in GLASS. I can sit in silence while they play. We can be two inches apart, yet separated by a wall of glass. If I hadn’t found a way to silence them that morning, I would have put their foam swords through my ears. (By the way, the wall of glass should be in all minivans –  like in a limousine.)

We never go out to eat. This was a rare treat. The weather had been terrible and we all needed to get some space get some exercise. So, upon arriving at the Chick-Fil-A parking lot, I turned around and (in my most grave voice), gave them a pep talk in the van. Stay close to Momma. Sit on your bottom. Eat food. Leave without crying.

We walked in the door. They walked wide-eyed with me to the cash register. Suddenly I heard a loud car alarm. Sheesh, why won’t someone turn that off? In the time it took me to order two kids’ meals, my kids*:

    • Set off the panic button on my van
    • Waved at a black man and yelled in his face, “HI, DADDY!” (Our dad is white.)
    • Saw a soldier wearing fatigues and yelled in his face, “HI, SOLDIER! You in your jammies?!?”
    • Body-slammed a wheelchair of a very old Grandma. A wheelchair!
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The tiny great-grandmother

***

By “my kids,” I of course mean, “Twin B”.

Four Years to the Day After I Almost Died, I Feel Selfish and Depressed on My Twins’ Birthday

wp-1484074415461.jpgFour years to the day after I almost died, I still don’t like my twins’ birthday. I get feelings of dread that begin a month or so before their birthday. People ask me about their birthday plans, and I sputter.  I don’t understand why I have a dark cloud over me and can’t/won’t think about their presents and party. Finally, a couple of weeks before their birthday, I remember why I feel like a puddle on the floor.

Oh, yes, hello again, old feelings. I remember you. You’re not welcome here. I see you’ve come in anyway. Make yourself at home while I struggle to carry on with daily life.

The depression is heavy. The anxiety is dizzying. I look at my healthy and lighthearted sons and feel so.much.guilt. They are happy and adorable. They are wild and strong. And I am the Girl Who Lived. We lived! They thrived! I have nothing to be sad about. I want to celebrate. I want to celebrate their health and their beautiful little miraculous lives. I want to celebrate the doctors who saved me that day. It’s their BIRTHDAY. What is more joyful than the birthday of a set of four-year-old twins?! Isn’t that reason to celebrate? And it’s my survival day. Shouldn’t my survival day become a holiday, with capital letters? Survival Day.

What is wrong with me? What an ingrate. Look at those gorgeous faces and get yourself together. But I can’t. I’m not sure if the initial feelings, or the guilt about the feelings, are worse.

It’s been four years. They turn four today. Isn’t that enough time to have worked through my feelings about the way I almost lost my uterus, a twin, and even my life? Somewhere between the birth of Twin A and Twin B, I lost consciousness. Twin B wasn’t breathing and was intubated – but I didn’t know that. I came around again and held Twin A to my breast for a miraculous five minutes, but my heart was with my unknown Twin B, whisked away to the NICU, away from my body for the first time since he was in that Petri dish eight months before. It was the very first time I realized that I would never ever be able to fully focus on only one child. The moment they were taken from my body and the three of us were separated, my heart was split forever.

And then I lost my entire blood volume and came back to life two days later in the Intensive Care Unit. I didn’t know the fate of Twin B, or if I even still had my uterus. I didn’t know where Twin A was, or what day it was. It was dark and I was alone. I was intubated and tied down. I couldn’t talk or move my own arms. There were no babies in my belly or on my chest. I was more scared than I had ever been in my entire life.

And yet, my story had a happy ending. I was wheeled out of that hospital a week later with all the babies and body parts with which I had come into it. (Well, technically, I guess I lost two organs. Placentas are organs, right? Disposable organs?) I think of all the people I know and love who have had such tremendous traumas in their lives – like losing children forever – and want to slap myself for being so maudlin about a story with a happy ending.

How could I have held on to this fear for four years? Their birthday should be all about them. No matter how hard I try to celebrate, I have this black cloud hanging over my subconscious. Even when I think I’m fine, even when I think I’m not thinking about it, October brings scary memories. It’s a movie that won’t stop playing in my head. If my birth story is a movie that I can’t stop watching, then I had better move a few more rows back in the theater.

I have a happy ending to my story. I do not pity myself. Seriously. I don’t want pity. I don’t want sadness. I don’t even want understanding. I just want to be happy. But the leaves start to fall, and so does my mood.

Sadly, I am not alone in my grief. My husband witnessed more than I did that day, because, unlike me, he was conscious for all of it. He feels the weight of this day, too.

And what about my oldest son, the one who joined our family through adoption? He was only two when his momma went on bedrest, left for a while, and almost died. He lived with his grandparents for at least a week and visited me every day in the hospital – but wouldn’t touch me or come near me. My in-laws later told me that he threw up in their Cadillac every day on the way to the hospital. He was so scared. And when he finally got to go home, he came home to a sickly momma who couldn’t even walk… and she had brought two new people with her. Two very demanding people.

Adoption – even adoption at birth – is a trauma. And having your little two-year-old life change so drastically is a trauma, too, even if it had a happy ending. It’s possible that these events put our attachment to each other at a disadvantage. My guilt over what that did to him is staggering. I stagger under the weight of it. Even if it is misplaced guilt, it’s still placed there in my head. Yes, I know postpartum hemorrhage is not my fault – but I did make the decision to start IVF when he was so young and so fragile. I did make the decision to implant two eggs and put my life in danger.

In addition, soon after the twins’ birthday, I know my oldest son’s birthday is coming too. Can’t I celebrate at least his birthday with joy? But his birthday – the day of his birth – was the last time he ever saw his birthmother. My heart breaks for her on that day. And my heart breaks for him. It is a day of separation and pain for many children who were adopted. Some adopted children don’t want to celebrate the most defining and painful moment of their lives. Adoption is very complex and it involves walking with your child through his grief. He’s still young, but his conflicted feelings are present. And that’s okay. I need to put my own worries aside and focus on his needs. (Yep, that brings more guilt for taking too much time to worry about myself.)

I feel a depression on these anniversaries that smothers me. It feels like a heavy suit. A suit that is depressing me into the ground. Leaving a depression. I look around at other people and wonder how they are able to do things.

wp-1462743015156.jpgIt’s time to stand up, blow up the balloons, frost the cake, and put a smile on my face. “Forget yourself and go to work,” I keep repeating on a loop inside my head. I schedule a therapy appointment. I write and write and write some more to work through the feelings. I draw my babies close to me and sniff their heads. Focus on the unique scent of each strong boy. I pretend it is fuel and I keep going.

 

 

 

 

****

The order in which I publish my blog posts is not the order in which I write them. I actually wrote this over six months ago. So, before you feel too sorry for me, remember that I more recently wrote that one where I learned how to treat my feelings like visitors. Or a train. Or something. Read it here, so I can prove that I’m not too much of a mess.

Who Pooped on the Deck? And Other Twin Potty Training Nonsense

wp-1485523235578.jpgI’m making dinner and my husband is late. The twins are playing on the deck with their big brother, all within my sight through the sliding door. I look up from chopping onions and realize that both twins are pooping on the deck at the same time. One is pooping on the little potty that is on the deck, and the other twin is actually pooping on the deck itself.

Did I mention that the 100 pound dog is also outside? She eats anything.

I drop my knife and race outside. I somehow simultaneously chase the dog away, clean up the poop on the deck, and praise the child who pooped in the right place. (What’s with the smug look? You mean moms of singletons don’t put potties on the deck? Must be nice.) I make a mental note that we need more trash bags. Lots more. And paper towels. Lots more. And then it’s time to clean two bottoms.

EVERYBODY INSIDE NOW! I MEAN IT!

Dinner will have to boil over. My husband cannot be late again during potty training. It is not sanitary to make dinner and clean up two poops at the same time. I don’t care how many times I wash my hands: IT’S JUST NOT SANITARY.

Need a great diet plan for yourself? Gross yourself out with twin potty training, and you may never want to eat again. Holy crap, there is a lot of crap. I could write a book about this crap. A series of books. This whole thing will be funny someday, right? RIGHT?! I need a reward. A reward that doesn’t involve poop. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel made of poop.

I must be really bad at potty training. This ain’t my first rodeo, though. I did manage to potty train my oldest son, who had some issues, AND do so while I was recovering from dying during childbirth AND taking care of newborn twins. So, yeah, I have done this before.

Yes, we’ve tried bribes, threats, special toys, candies, treats, rewards, punishments, ignoring, zipping my lips, talking about it nonstop, charts, potty watches, potty parties, no pullups, being naked, potty movies, potty seats, potty chairs, travel potties, outdoor peeing, outdoor pooping, flooding them with juice, restricting their liquid, having them clean their own accidents, fun underwear, non-fun underwear. Yes, tried that. A lot. Often. All of it. They don’t care.

I thought that potty training twins might be easier than training a singleton. I mean, they could learn from each other, right? Cheer each other on? At the very least, I could count on getting it all over with at the same time. Right?! WRONG.

I didn’t predict that, yes, more than once, one twin would be pooping upstairs while one twin would be pooping downstairs. I didn’t know I would have to decide, in a millisecond, which twin is more likely to need my help to get the underwear down / sit down properly / make it in time. And if I decided that it is the twin that is on a different house level, then would I even make it there in time? If not, I’ve got two potty problems to deal with instead of one. Better stick to the twin closest to me and just assume an accident is happening elsewhere. I didn’t predict that scenario.

I also didn’t predict that I would get the twins up from “quiet time” two minutes before we had to leave for big brother’s bus stop, only to discover pee and poop in one or both of their beds. Have you ever showered a toddler or two AND gotten them dressed and shoe-d and out the door in two minutes? Didn’t think so. There was a LOT of crying that day. I was basically pushing them around like a grocery cart. A grocery cart in a game show about racing around for groceries. Didn’t see that coming.

I also didn’t see far enough ahead to realize there’s only one toilet on each floor, but there’s two of them. (Twins have been known to share one toilet. I’ve been forewarned. Not gonna describe that though.) I didn’t realize that we would have to resort to the dumb potty chairs – although they do come in handy for playing on the deck. I didn’t predict that we would have two potty chairs on each level of the house. That’s a lot to clean up. I also didn’t know that my twins would apparently be giants, because all but one of the potty chairs would be too small for them. (Not gonna describe that either. But I’m sure you can use your imagination.) I didn’t realize that they would fight over the one potty chair, even though we had four of them. We might as well have trained them on the real toilet anyway. Argh.

The thing is… the twins are TWINS. They have special Jedi mind tricks. Mind control. I don’t know what they’re doing to me or to each other, but it’s on a whole different level than … everything else. If one twin progresses, the other stalls. If one twin suddenly develops a fear of toilets, he will pass that along to the other. No matter which way it goes, it’s not the right way.

The only thing I know about potty training is that it doesn’t progress in a straight line. And, if twins are involved? I don’t even know what that graph would look like.

As the twins splash in the bath, and my dog sits by herself in her crate to think about just what she has done, and my older son enjoys some good old-fashioned PBS, my dinner burns. I sigh. I pick up my phone and text my husband that he better bring home a pizza, a lot of paper towels and trash bags, and maybe some hard drugs. And I warn him never to be late ever, ever, ever again.

 

Twins Did Not Destroy My Body (Hope for Preggo Moms Who Can’t Stop Googling)

Author’s Note: (Hey, that’s me!) I wrote this post two years ago, but never published it. I sat on it for TWO YEARS. I have always pushed it back, deep into the drafts section of my blog. I have worried that it is inappropriate to discuss body image, or that it could sound like whining, or that it could sound like bragging, or, of course, that it could be too personal. I am still struggling. I won’t be able to be 100% open here because this is not a completely anonymous blog. I have decided, however, to post a portion of the truth. The reasons I want to do this are:

1) To help (give hope to!) other women currently pregnant with twins or recovering from twin pregnancy
2) To help (remove blame from) any women who are struggling with post-baby body crap
3) Because someone did this for me and I want to pay it forward.

I am an LDS (Mormon) woman who keeps her body covered from shoulders to knees while in public, unless swimming. My husband and I made this formal commitment during our temple marriage. So I’ll spare you the “before and after” picture nonsense. Anyway, it is extremely important to me that I convey what I have to say in a manner that adheres to the fact that I consider bodies to be sacred. It is also extremely important to me that I say what I have to say in a humble way. I hope I get this right, y’all. Here goes. 

***

Twins did not destroy my body.

Well, yes they did. But not in the ways I expected. My twin boys are two years old now, their little fat bodies asleep in their cribs. It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep from the adrenaline of another day of keeping up with them. My handsome husband, unaffected by child-chasing adrenaline, softly snores beside me. I flip back the covers suddenly and wander into my bathroom. I look at my reflection in our huge mirror. I take off my clothes and I don’t know why.

The house is still, and for the first time in two years, I am still too. I have been in fight-or-flight mode for two years. I feel like I’m seeing my own body for the first time since the hellish pregnancy. I am having flashbacks to the way I needed my husband’s help to undress near the end of the pregnancy, and to the way both of us would gawk at my daily changes before he helped me into the shower. Sometimes my body looked like a freaking miracle in that mirror, and sometimes it reminded me of a vampire pregnancy from a popular young adult novel: grotesque and progressing too quickly. My naked body in the third trimester of a twin pregnancy was a speeding train that I couldn’t stop (despite the fact that it could barely walk or roll over). Even though six years of infertility treatments had answered all my prayers, and my twins were healthy in my huge womb, I was still enough of an ungrateful jerk to worry about stretch marks and permanent weight gain.

I snap back to the present. I focus my eyes on my current body. Two years have passed in a haze of sleep deprivation. My body has not been the focus for so very long. All I have known about my body was that it was always very tired. Now I am focusing my lens right into this mirror, right onto this body. This body that couldn’t get pregnant, and then did, and then carried twins, and then almost died during childbirth, and then came back to life, and then raised two newborns into toddlers. My body is…. fine.

The twins didn’t destroy my body. Well, yes, they did make me gain 80 pounds during the pregnancy. They did almost kill me during the birth. They did leave my belly as floppy as a waterbed. They did do some pretty wonky things to, well, some of my insides (you’re welcome for the generalities). And, we recently found out that the weight of them, both in my belly and on my hips, did give me scoliosis.

However, none of those things were the things I panicked about before they were born.

I did not get stretch marks.

I did not have trouble losing the weight.

I want to share what I have learned: genetics and circumstance are to blame or to praise for these things.  I want women to quit beating themselves up for problems that they have less control over than they think.

I did not get stretch marks because my mother did not get stretch marks. It is as simple as that. There are no secrets, no creams, no magic remedies. It is just genetics. It’s not a woman’s fault if she gets stretch marks, and it’s not to her credit if she doesn’t have stretch marks.

I lost the baby weight because my dad is thin. Yes, I mall-walked and trail-walked and ran on fumes like all mothers do, and I carried babies until my spine bent, but my metabolism is a genetic gift from my father. (Along with migraines.) I have no secrets or magic cures. It’s not a woman’s fault if she can’t lose the last of her baby weight. It’s also not to her credit if she did lose it all.

It’s just the way it is.

My body in this mirror is… fine. It’s sore and it’s tired and it can’t sleep tonight, but it’s fine. I see my mostly flat belly. I see my mostly smooth skin. I see my strong arms from carrying those fat toddlers who are asleep in their cribs right now. It’s time for me to appreciate all of this stuff and get back in my own bed beside my warm husband.

I know there are wide-awake moms, pregnant with twins and a big dose of panic, presently Googling something morbid like “twin pregnancy belly” just because they can’t sleep. Why can’t they sleep? From the discomfort pain of an octopus of limbs in there? From anxiety about wondering how to burp one twin without detaching the other nursing twin? From just now realizing that she has TWO SETS OF GENITALIA inside her right now?!

Well, wide-awake panicked mommas staring into the bathroom mirror and/or their search engine in the middle of the night, I want to tell you something. I know it feels like you are on a careening train that won’t stop and you want to get off it sometimes. I know you think there is no hope and that only a plastic surgeon could fix what multiples have done to you. But listen to me: There’s a chance you will look the same afterwards. I do. I went from 118 pounds to 198 pounds to 117 pounds in the space of two years, and I am mostly the same as I was before.

The internet is flush with momma-pride articles, giving women with stretch marks and permanent baby bellies a voice. I celebrate with them when they take ownership of those “tiger stripes” and eschew any shame. I applaud them and even gain strength from their stories. Women should always stick together and gain strength from each other. Women should never apologize for bodies that have built and birthed human beings. I agree that it is not anyone’s “fault” when we end up with stretch marks and baby weight. It isn’t because you didn’t buy the expensive cream, you know?

But also, it isn’t to your credit if you didn’t earn those tiger stripes. Just as I wouldn’t have been the cause of stretch marks, I am not the cause of my lack of stretch marks. You see what I’m saying? It’s the genetic role of the dice. I hope that by sharing my story, I can actually further the cause of the mommas being proud of their post-baby bodies.

I am not bragging. I am trying to get you to stop Googling and go the eff to sleep.


***

PS, I know there are regular pregnant moms (you know, the singletons ones, the ones with only one penis in there) who also can’t sleep and are also Googling stuff they shouldn’t. To you I want to say: My doctor said that multiple pregnancies are more challenging for the body than a multiples pregnancy. Therefore, since I had three children for the price of one mega-pregnancy (twins + adoption), I might have to eat this essay if I ever miraculously get pregnant again.

I Was Asked to Write a Book Review for “Multiples Illuminated” (!)

Multiples-Illuminate-Nov-cover-revised1Earlier this year, the editors of book in progress about multiples found my blog and contacted me. They asked me to write an honest-to-goodness book review for them. I was so flattered! I quickly agreed to do the review, but to be honest, I was a bit skeptical about agreeing to review a book that I had not yet read. What if I hated it? (In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit snobby selective about books and writing in general – despite the fact that the twins have given me swiss-cheese holes in my brain. Maybe I’m just a jerk!) Well, when I started reading, I breathed a sigh of relief: the book was good. As I continued to read, I realized the book was really good. By the end, I was wishing I had written the book myself. I am honored that I can attach my name to this truly good book. Thank you to the editors for giving me the chance to preview this book and share my opinion. Below is my full review of “Multiples Illuminated”.

 

“Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice from Parents of Twins, Triplets, and More” is exactly the book that all parents of multiples – from pregnancy onward – need in their libraries. A combination of anthologies and advice, this book fills a huge gap in the literary world. Whether you are hugely and painfully pregnant with twins (or more!), or you are completely catatonic from keeping up with the needs of newborn multiples, or you feel like your brain is a ping pong ball with an army of small people in your house, this book is for you!

“Multiples Illuminated” was exactly the book I needed when I was expecting my twins. Unfortunately, the pregnancy books I did manage to find back then usually gave super unhelpful tips like, “Don’t do cocaine.” (Um, yeah, I guess I’m all set.) I’m just an “Okayest Mom” – I didn’t need anything bossy or overly optimistic. I just wanted something real. What I needed was a book like this one – a book that would have told me how ridiculous it would be when I was nursing two babies and one needed to unlatch to burp. (In case you’re wondering, you can turn yourself into a mother cat and lift a baby by the pajamas with your teeth. Just kidding. Kind of.) I needed a book that would have told me the harsh truth: I would indeed feel like “a sedated mental patient” sometimes. Or most of the time.

I am not the only parent of multiples who doesn’t remember much of anything about the first year. I had two-year-old son with special needs and newborn twin sons. I had three children in diapers – and I was running on fumes. I needed “Multiples Illuminated” then, but I actually feel a little lucky that I do have this book now. I’m still in the trenches, but now I know I’m not alone (or crazy!).

Even though my twin boys are now three years old, “Multiples Illuminated” has quickly earned a place in my heart as a personal resource. This book has restored my faith in my own sanity during potty training and other more-than-twice-as-hard tasks. I even choked back tears of relief while reading a few chapters: other parents of multiples have experienced situations and feelings that I thought were unique to me. I felt so much less alone when I read that other parents have been so stressed that they have almost had to leave their body to view the insanity and chaos from above; others have also missed their spouses and felt lonely because one of them always had a baby in their arms; other parents have struggled to read picture books simultaneously to twins; other parents have felt that all-consuming guilt when they can only meet the needs of one twin at a time. Being a parent of multiples can be heart-wrenching, overwhelming, sometimes just okay, and sometimes  so very delicious. Thank you to the contributors and editors of “Multiples Illuminated” for telling the brutal yet beautiful truths about being a parent of multiples.

 

If you want to be better prepared for multiples than I was, you can purchase “Multiples Illuminated” for yourself at Amazon (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook),  iBooks, or Kobo.

That Time I Left My Nursing Twin Babies Too Soon and Sounded Like a Maniac

breasfeeding portraitWhen the twins were six months old, I left them overnight for the first time. I was still nursing, and still only sleeping 1-2 hours a night. Needless to say, it was too soon.

My husband had already left the twins for his business trips, and, of course, every single day when he went to work, and, well, every weeknight too (because I had night duty when he had to get up at 4:30 AM for work every day). He had also almost lost me in childbirth – and had somewhat lost me to the omnipotent needs of three children in diapers – so it was understandable that he was ready to arrange a night away. I was actually somewhat excited, too.

I left the children in the care of my extremely capable, loving, and willing in-laws. Even the best possible in-law care could not overcome my deliriously sleep-deprived, hormonal nursing self. I didn’t expect that handing the babies over would trigger a whole landslide of feelings about the near-death experiences that Twin B and I shared during the birth. Leaving those babies felt like death to my addled brain.

As I tried to force my arms to hand Twin B to my tender and devoted mother-in-law, I began to weep. As we separated, my weeps turned into sobs and I cried out,

“HE LIKES IT WHEN YOU BREATHE ON HIS HEAD!”

He likes it when you breathe on his head? Umm, well… okay.

Hear me out. He’s a twin. He’s used to constant contact, you know? And he is just a wild man who needs a lot of physical input to settle down. To a person without children, that all might sound ridiculous. But, my sweet mother-in-law nodded with understanding. Mother to mother, she knew I wasn’t crazy.

And I knew she would breathe on his head.

He’s three now. Thriving. He still needs a ton of sensory input. He likes back scratches, firm foot squeezes, shoulder rubs, idle strokes, “belly pets”, being thrown in the air, being smooshed, being rolled, going fast, being upside down, a heavy hand on his back in bed, and head-butting. An adult hand on his thigh during dinner even makes him eat more food. Basically, he likes every kind of touch that his brothers don’t.

wp-1456004211966.jpgAnd, yes, he still likes it when I breathe on his head.

During the day, he is so wild, I can’t believe he has not yet experienced grievous bodily harm (other than a black eye every so often). He drives me crazy and gives me heart palpitations. But, but… in the rocking chair in the middle of the night, he nuzzles into my bony shoulders and sighs. I breathe in his baby-fine scent that has never left. I exhale my breath into his hair. My inhales calm me down; my exhales calm him down. We both win.

I’m not a maniac. I’m a mom.

Having Twins is Not the Same as Having Two Children (The Parking Lot Double Tantrum Event of 2015)

A few of my friends have eight or nine kids each. One neighbor, a few houses down, has ten children. Contrary to my expectations, they are the most relaxed mommas I know. My theories are either:

  • those moms were just naturally relaxed people to start, or
  • having that many children forces them to relax and/ or give up.

I want to shadow them for a day. I want to be their apprentice. Be their mother’s helper. I demand that they write a book or a blog so I can get inside their worlds. Do they want to take a sledgehammer to their to-do list at 4:00 PM? Or do they not even have a to-do list?

The word on the street (the SAHM street) is that after four children, it doesn’t get any harder. Apparently, having three to four kids is the most intense, and after that, they begin to take care of themselves and/or each other.

However, twins change the equation entirely (as does having a special needs child). A woman in my circle, who is a mother of eight children, recently cared for a set of three-year-old twins for three days. She had 11 children under her care for a long weekend. Afterward, she said to the twins’ mother, “I don’t know how you do it every day! Twins are completely different.” A mother of EIGHT doesn’t know how WE do it?! Game-changer. It made those twins’ mom (and me, another twin mom) feel completely validated and relieved. Finally, finally, we have some anecdotal evidence that what we do is ridiculously hard and abnormal.

Mom math: Having two three-year olds is not even remotely like having one two-year old and one four-year-old. A mother with two small children that are properly spaced might invite us to a nice adventure. But a twin momma would have a much harder time saying “yes” to the zoo or to the restaurant. The best example I have about how having a twin is different is the Parking Lot Double Tantrum Situation of 2015.

Have you ever seen a twin toddler tantrum in public?

We all have lived through a toddler tantrum in public. We all have had to leave the full cart of groceries behind at some point. But how many of us have lived through a twin toddler tantrum?

See, the thing is, only one twin at a time ever gets mad enough to have a meltdown in public. But that twin causes the other twin to join the meltdown, and thus, the unfairness of motherhood is evident. In the Parking Lot Double Tantrum Situation of 2015, Twin B just decided he didn’t want to ever leave the gym daycare when I came to pick him up. Was he sick? Had something happened? Was he exhausted? Whatever the case was, we had to get out of there.

He screamed on the floor. I tried Nice Mommy, Bribery Mommy, Mean Mommy, and even Batman-Voice Mommy. When all that failed, I heaved his 37 pounds into my skinny arms and dislodged my scoliosis back. He wildly kicked and screamed and writhed in my arms like an angry octopus. And, with my octopus, I run into my (bemused) weight-lifting trainer in the lobby. Now, if you had a singleton, or evenly spaced children, your embarrassment might have ended here. Red-faced, you heave the tantruming child into the minivan and drive away. End of story.

For a twin mom, however, that is not the end of the story. I also had sensitive Twin A trailing along. At first he was mildly concerned, but obediently followed me and his octopus brother into the gym lobby. Twin A’s worry soon turned into whines, and then his whines turned into full-fledged high-decibel wailing. Full-fledged wailing turned into screams with words: “PUT HIM DOWN!!!! STOP HURTING MY BROTHER!!!!!!”

wpid-wp-1438022892485.jpegAs we reached the parking lot, I could no longer manage to contain octopus-limbed Twin B (screaming in my arms), AND drag screaming defensive Twin A by the hand. I had to calculate who was more likely to die by running from me in a parking lot. Mommy math: Twin B was more of a threat. I couldn’t dare put him down. So I let go of Twin A’s hand.

Twin A defiantly crumpled in a heap in the parking lot, all while screaming at the top of his lungs, “STOP HURTING MY BROTHER!!!!” Twin B is still flailing in my arms and screaming.

Forget being embarrassed. At this point, I know I will need a chiropractor visit as a result of this incident.

And yes, they know they are never allowed to do ANY of these things. Usually they are mostly obedient children. However, they are also children. Children who have bad days. Children who get scared for their brother. There is no reasoning with any child in this state. I used my Batman voice to propel Twin A onto his feet and into the van. I heaved Twin B into the van with the last of my back muscles.

Lecture, discipline, more tears, more Mommy Batman Voice, blah blah. Whatever.

What is important here about the Parking Lot Double Tantrum Situation of 2015 is that this was a twin problem. I’m fairly certain that most mothers who have a toddler tantrum in public would have other children who were either older or younger than that toddler. The older child would be able to understand that his brother was having a tantrum and that momma was not hurting him. The child younger than said toddler would be a baby, perhaps too little to worry about what was happening.

Even though I am sincerely in awe of the moms with eight, nine, or ten children, they wouldn’t necessarily have this double tantrum situation to deal with in public.

And, if they do, I really really really need them to write a book or let me be their apprentice. Now.

 

***

 

(Yes, I did go to the chiropractor that night. Twin B owes me a $30 copay.)

I Have Ping Pong Balls in My Head

My heart deflates and swells a hundred times a day.

img_20151107_154642.jpgHave you ever had a moment when you felt like you were going to run out of the house screaming like your head was on fire because you couldn’t take one more second of toddlers? I have twin toddlers. They ask the same question, sequentially. Then I try to answer both of them at the same – because, after all, they just asked the same question – and it never works. Inevitably, only one of them will listen to the answer. Then the other one says, “What you say?” and I have to repeat it again.

Thus, I have the questioning of toddlers, in stereo, at all times. It makes me long for the good old days of mono. (Audiophile joke there.)

I’m tired in my bones.

They have quit napping. Did I mention that? For real this time. I have coerced and forced and reinforced naptime many times over, and I have always won every uprising and insurgence the twins have launched at me. Not this time. It’s been several weeks and all my bribes, threats, tricks, and separations have gone over like a lead zeppelin. (Audiophile joke there.)

I can’t write anymore, so my blog and my brain are suffering. And, oh, the irony: I finally get my oldest child off to kindergarten, and the twins decide that very week that they are done with naptime! There is no rest for a momma.

I have tried quiet time. It worked with my oldest child. Play with some toys and be quiet and let’s do this until kindergarten starts. But these twins turn quiet time into a WWE match. There is almost nothing in their room – no toys, nothing – and yet they manage to put holes in walls and perhaps in their heads as well. Twins always have an audience, and they love it.

I have tried separation. The Hurricane Twin gets the guest room. Then both of them cry. Forever. They don’t know how to live when they are apart.

I have tried separating the twins, but joining with one twin in the guest room. Hey, even though I won’t get my own time, at least I get some cuddle time with no questions in stereo, right? Hmmm. Not really. Heaven forbid I nod off… because I have been hit in the face with pants to wake me up. It is quite a window into the soul of whichever twin I am cuddling, but the other wails for his WWE partner/ audience in the other room.

wpid-wp-1425383125280.jpegMy soul is screaming for relief and I feel like I have ping pong balls in my head and I think I might run out of the house like my head is on fire. And then, out of nowhere, he snuggles into my armpit and says, “Don’t take my sunshine away,” and my heart swells within my chest and I feel like I might burst.

I guess my mental health will have to take a backseat to that kind of love.

The Madness of Toddlers

image

Toddlers are utterly baffling. Multiply the madness by two and I’m mayor of Crazy Town.

In the middle of the night

Twin B: Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY!
Me: What? What do you want?
Twin B: I want to be quiet.

While zipping up his jacket
Any twin: “I want to zip it!!! HELP ME!

At dinner
Me: Do you want another drink of water?
Twin B: No, I want WATER!

While buckling a carseat
Twin A: You buckle it. LET ME BUCKLE IT!

While pulling up pants
Twin A: YOU do it. I DO IT!!!!!

Outside
Me: Do you want to walk to the mailbox with me?
Twin A: NO. [hysterical crying] WAIT FOR ME!!!!!

Basically anytime

Me: Can I help you?
Any twin: NO YOU DO IT!

While washing hands
Twin A: YOU GAVE ME TOO MUCH SOAP!
Me: If you put your hands under the water, then the soap will go away.
Twin A: I DON’T WANT TO. YOU GAVE ME TOO MUCH SOAP!!!!

Me: You’re a complicated little fella.
Twin B: I not a ca ca ca. I am a RABBIT.

Me: Do you want some cheese?
Twin B: No thanks. I want some cheese.

Verbal Twin Fights, Two-Year-Old Edition

image

Ah-choo!
No that’s MY AH-CHOO!

I’m a strip mall!
No! I’m a strip mall!

You’re a tator tot.
Momma, I not a tator tot!!! I not!!!!

You’re a darny darn.
I not a darny darn!!!

I saw a garbage truck.
No you didn’t!

That’s a truck.
No, that’s a BIG truck.
That’s a truck.
No, that’s a BIG TRUCK!

I see the moon.
NO you CAN’T!

I want to go outside.
NO I want to go in DRIVEWAY!

You can’t see my monster truck shirt!
YES I DO SEE!!

I like raspberries.
NO YOU CAN’T I LIKE RASPBERRIES!

You’re a Bobby Bob.
I NOT A BLOBBY BLOB. MOMMA!!!

I pooped.
NO I POOPED!!

You’re a bunk bed!
YOU’RE A MICROWAVE!

Is It Just Me, or Does Every Two-Year-Old Have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

duck blanketGoodnight, baby. I love you.

Goodnight, other baby. I love you.

What’s that? Your blanket is wrong? Let me help me help you. Is that better? Now you’re all cozy and tucked in just right.

Oh, it’s still wrong? What about your feet? Oh, your toe is out. There. I covered your little toesie. All better. I love you!

What? No, your blanket is fine. Ducks? What? Oh, I see. The teddy bear side is facing up, but you want the duck side to face up. Okay. I will turn it over. There. Perfect! Close your little eyes, you sleepy head!

No, your blanket is not wrong. I fixed it. See, the ducks are facing up! How? Oh, you want the blanket to cover your doggy too. Oh, not that doggy. Where is your other doggy? Hold on, I will go find it.

There. There’s your big doggy. Wrong way? Oh, here, let me turn it around. There, his head is by your head and the blanket is covering him. Okay?

What now? Your “tebby bear” fell down? Well, pick him up! I guess if you move your arm that would mess up the duck blanket covering the doggy. Okay, there, the tebby bear is propped in the corner again. No, I promise he won’t fall over. He will sit there in the corner. Yes, he’s sitting. See? Good NIGHT!

Stop crying! What is it now? Your crocodile is right there. He’s fine. Oh, I forgot, he has to wrap around the top of your head like a turban. There. Turban crocodile. GO TO SLEEP.

You HAVE your lovey. It’s under your face. And other lovey too. Yes, it’s under your belly. You HAVE BOTH LOVIES.

I’M NOT COMING BACK IN THERE.

Doze? Hose? Nose? What’s about your nose? What does that mean? Oh, there, I will wipe it with a tissue.

DON’T MAKE ME COME BACK IN THERE.

Who pooped?

Bossy Okayest Baby Gear Advice, By Request

People keep asking me for baby gear advice. Not sure why… maybe my okayest attitude helps people know I would help them sort through the muck. Here’s what I have been telling those moms-to-be who have asked for my bossy opinions:

Everyone tells you how fast they grow, but it’s really hard to believe how true that is until you watch it happen. There is so much that you won’t need. For six months, he’s just a backpack. And then, he will be crawling away from you! With that said, modern life/ modern inventions do indeed make mothering much easier. This is a list of my favorite things and my super-opinionated opinions.

Please know that my first son came to us in a hurry, as we adopted him after only three days’ notice. One cool thing about that was that we were spared a lot of unncessary product comparisons and reading baby gear reviews ad nauseum. I just asked my favorite momma (my cousin’s wife) for a quick list and she didn’t waste any time. She just said which brand of bottles and which brand of this and that, and I loved it. When my twins came along, I had more time to prepare, of course, but I had no time for frivolous baby stuff. We had one mode, and it was survival mode!

My point is that you can take my opinions with a grain of salt, because they are just that: opinions based on my experiences. And my experiences haven’t been normal, because I have never had a normal one-pregnancy-equals-one-baby situation. I’ve had one pregnancy for three babies from two different moms.

Anyway, here’s my bossy advice, in no particular order:  

Feeding pillow: Must have a Boppy! It’s good for arm support for nursing and bottle feeding (or BOTH AT THE SAME TIME if you have twins). I had four when I had the twins (two on each level of the house), but you won’t need that many! I have noticed that my short friends and my extremely bosomy friends don’t need the Boppy as desperately as my tall friends and/or my petite-breasted friends. We just have a lot more area to cover between our laps and our boobs, okay?

Homemade Moby Wrap is good idea; carrying twins this precariously is not.

Homemade Moby Wrap is good idea; carrying twins this precariously is not.

Carriers: I love the Moby Wrap when they are infants (although I made my own from 18 feet of t-shirt fabric); I love the Ergo when they can hold their heads up. Both carriers saved my back more than that stupid Baby Bjorn. Wear the baby in one of those for all your chores, and you will get exercise and baby will be happy. If you decide you like the Moby, practice tying it often before the baby arrives. I usually wore it all day, often without a shirt, and took the baby in and out throughout the day. (I hear there are all sorts of amazing new hybrid carriers out there now, which kind of combine Moby with Ergo… You’re on your own, because my knowledge is already outdated!)

Swing: Must have. Get one that swings side to side AND back and forth. Babies with reflux can’t go back and forth, and you won’t know if your baby is fussy/refluxy until after you buy the swing! Also look for one that plugs in. DO NOT try to save space and get a “travel size” one or folding one or anything- they only swing one direction and none of my kids liked them anyway. I seriously think having a full sized swing (or two for my twins) was what kept me out of the mental hospital. My favorite was the Ingenuity brand, but it ran on hundreds of Costco batteries. My kids all slept in swings until they were 4 months or more. No guilt. No shame!

diapers in bulk

One month’s worth.

Diapers: Whatever brand is cheapest that won’t get poop on your clothes is what you want! I have decided that people have different diaper opinions that are based on their child’s butt shape. And they don’t even seem to know that. But some kids have tall butts, wide butts, whatever. We are generic Target diapers and generic Costco wipes people. Love generic! (However, when they were newborns, we gratefully used anything and everything because people gifted us so many different brands of diapers.) (Also, I will splurge on name-brand for night diapers.) If you compare prices as strictly as I do, be sure to do it PER DIAPER and not per pack. Unit prices, people! We have the Target Red Card, for 5% off, and then I wait for the sale where they offer their bulk packs of diapers at a discount and with a refund gift card. PS, You will know they have outgrown their diaper size when you get peed on.

The forward-facing age recommendations have changed since this picture was taken.

The forward-facing age recommendations have changed since this picture was taken.

Car seats: I got the cheapest and lightest. Not picky in that department! I liked the cheapest version of the Graco brand because they were light and basic. DO NOT get “convertible car seats” unless you have a giant van. I have heard that convertible car seats in the rear-facing position usually will not fit in regular cars. So buy a regular rear-facing seat, and later buy a forward-facing seat, and it will cost the same or less than a convertible seat anyway. (We seriously just have the $25 cheapos for forward-facing too.)

Our first walk

Our first walk

Stroller: I am a big fan of the cheapest and lightest strollers, called umbrella strollers. They are less than $20. However, baby can’t sit in them until he can hold his head up… So that’s where baby-wearing comes in handy. Usually, the more expensive a stroller is, the heavier it will be. I take a double or triple stroller in and out of my van everyday, so trust me when I say weight is a big deal!

Most worth-it splurge: That “Jumperoo” thing is a great splurge even though they only use it for a couple months. Totally not necessary, but I promise you will be able to make dinner if you have that thing.

Seats: My first kid sat in the “Bumbo” for months. I thought it was the greatest invention ever made. My second kid was too fat to fit in it, and my third kid was too wild to sit in it. He was flipping it over. So, if someone gives it to you, great, but save your money in case your kid is a bolt of lightening or super fat. (Again, a whole new generation of seat thingies has been born in the two years since I used baby gear, so I’m outdated already.)

First Aid Must-Haves:
1) forehead thermometer – You can even swipe it on their head while they sleep.
2) Infant Tylenol (generic is always fine) – you will use this A LOT.
3) Children’s Benadryl – Benadryl says it’s for ages six and up, but if your baby has an allergic reaction to something, the doc will tell you the infant dose. We have had to do that. No house should be without emergency Benadryl!
4) anti-gas medicine (simethicone) for infants

High Chair/ Booster Seat: Your kid won’t need a high chair until he can sit up. If you are feeding him baby food in a reclining seat, he is too young to be eating. Therefore, avoid fancy high chairs. My best tip is to avoid any padding or cushion on a high chair. Totally unnecessary, and you will be washing it every single day. Ridiculous. I have been through about three high chairs with padding, so trust me! When I switched to the $20 Ikea cheapo one, I was so.very.happy. You will want something that you can hose off outside if necessary. (Seriously, I have actually done that.) When the twins got older, we switched to the Ikea “Junior Chair”, which is simply a regular chair with taller legs. At $40, it costs the same as some booster seats, but there are no crevices to clean!

Clothing: People will give you all sorts of adorable things, and you will be grateful for every single thing, but take a tip from a twin mom: you will want as many jammies that ZIP as possible! For newborns, those sack nightgowns are great too. You will be so deliriously tired that you will not be able to maneuver snaps and buttons in the middle of the night. You really won’t. Unless your kid is some sort of freak who sleeps six hours a night from birth and you’re super well-rested. Anyway, zippered one-piece footed jammies, and elastic-bottomed nightgowns were my best friends. (Twin moms who are trying to nurse two babies sometimes have to lift/heave a newborn one-handed, and then all the snaps pop open. Zippers, people! Zippers!)

Swaddlers: I am a biiiiig fan of swaddling. All three of my kids were swaddled for every nap and every nighttime for at least a couple of months. One of mine wanted to be swaddled until he was six months old (but I had to leave his legs out when he was bigger so as not to injure his growing body!). Another of mine didn’t need as much swaddling because he was so relaxed already. Their personalities determined how long they needed it! They sleep longer and feel so secure. In the old days, when babies slept on their tummies, they didn’t need swaddling. Now that babies sleep on their backs, their arms flail and wake them up. Swaddle them tightly and they will feel like they are in the womb. Great for reflux too. My favorite was the Halo SleepSack, which is a cotton or fleece swaddler with Velcro. The Miracle Blanket was also pretty amazing.

Reclining Chair: Make sure you have a chair in your house that you can sleep in. Seriously. For my first child, I picked out a cute glider rocking chair situation. It didn’t recline. Guess what? He was super sickly and never slept – and had to sleep upright because of severe reflux. That meant that *I* slept upright in that dang glider for a few months. In retrospect, I now know I should have just begged/borrowed/stealed to get myself a dang recliner. I was too sleep-deprived to know what to do. When I was pregnant with my twins, I found two cheap recliners and made sure I could sleep in them. It turns out, *I* was the one with the reflux and had to sleep upright in those chairs during my twin pregnancy… and my twins turned out to be good sleepers who were satisfied with the swings and cribs and bassinets and whatnot. Oh, irony.

Diaper Bag: NO. Just no. If you have a baby on your hip, why do you want a big bumpy diaper bag bouncing around on your hip too? Most of them are even heavy when they’re empty. It’s ridiculous. I went through about 14 diaper bags, much to the dismay of my husband every time he opens the guest room closet and they all fall out. Trust me: just get a big backpack. Then you have free arms and nothing on your hip except your baby. And if you have twins, you don’t have a choice. Two babies on two hips means a backpack is a must. Plus, once they are a bit bigger, you’re just going to keep all your supplies in your car anyway.

I hope that helps.

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I have received no compensation for any of these recommendations (although that would have been kinda great). These items were really what I use for my own kids. This is not “a crummy commercial”!