Bedtime Will Be Your Favorite Part of the Day: Parenting after Infertility Doesn’t Make You Special

You worked really hard for your children, right? You had to do mountains of adoption paperwork, or hundreds of IVF injections, right? You put in more hours and effort – and, yes, money – than anybody should have to do to bring a child into this world, right? Well, here’s the thing: that doesn’t make you special.

Sure, it makes you special for a little while. But, now that your child (children) is (are) here, you are just like every other parent in the world. And that is just how you want it.

Bedtime will be your favorite part of the day.

You will catch your kid’s vomit in your hands (or, maybe, even in your mouth, like I did recently).

You will have sleep-deprivation so deep that you search the dryer for the frozen pizza and search the freezer for the clean blankie.

You will have to throw away that poopy underwear or cut off that poopy onesie after some horrific accident that isn’t even worth cleaning up properly.

You will sometimes only eat string cheese and animal crackers for dinner, and then you will proudly post a food-porn photo of it on social media to compete with all your non-parenting friends’ fancy dinners.

You will get a letter from the public library threatening to send you to a collections agency for those really really late books that “must be around here somewhere”.

Your kid’s whining will make you want to jump out of your skin – or at least out of your window.

You will one day think, “I would take a bullet for this kid.” And, then, one night when you think you can’t possibly get up one more time, you will realize that you are taking a bullet for this kid.

You aren’t special.

You are just a parent. You are like every other parent throughout all of human history, throughout the entire world, because you love that child. And that is just how it should be.

 

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Would you care to add to my list? What else makes bedtime your favorite part of the day?

 

This article originally appeared on Beyond Infertility, a website about how parenting after infertility is different. I am a regular contributor to their website. You can find the original article here.

 

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One Year Later: In Photos

The Early Days

The Early Days were a blur of sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, pain, painkillers, and a revolving door of grandmas, aunts, and cousins helping for days and nights on end. My husband was perfectly capable of taking care of a newborn or two OR taking care of me – but not both.  Early Days were dark. They were a little sad, a little happy, and very overwhelming. Early Days lasted for the first month.

twins_1st_drtwins holding hands brothers early days all of usearly days with daddy twins cuddling first walk

Survival Mode

After the early days came Survival Mode. Survival Mode came after I was healed. It was after the overnight help went back to their own families, and my husband went back to work. These were the first days that I started to take care of the three children on my own. I was shaky and scared. I cried a lot during Survival Mode Days. Neighbors and friends dropped by often to help me for a couple hours each day to rescue me. The babies were still demanding newborns. I was delirious from lack of sleep. I often only got one or two hours per night and I felt wildly not normal. Survival Mode lasted for perhaps the next three months, until the twins were more like babies and less like newborns. I can honestly say that this period in my life was the most challenging. (It ranks up there with my week in the hospital and my first year of teaching!)

moby wrap first smiler holds twins sitting around the tree snowsuitsfeeding 1

Real Life

After Survival Mode came Real Life. Real Life started after I gained my strength and my confidence. Real Life came after the daytime help sent me on my way. Real Life came after I was sleeping a little bit more. Real Life came after the twins were on a schedule – and could sleep, smile, play, and enjoy life. In Real Life, I started to feel proud of what I was doing and how I was doing it. In Real Life, I had a little bit of time to think. I felt like me again, except that I had three small children tagging along. Dare I say that we even have fun once in a while?

6 months shoot ahugging guitar all 3 on daddypushing the twin daddy is home poolgoing for a walkfamily portrait photobomb

What Happens When You Start Blogging

So, I guess blogging is like having a reality show: you are supposed to pretend the audience and cameras aren’t there, right? Like a Teen Mom who was struggling to repair her crappy car in the first season, but in the second season she has a brand new Jeep?  Except we aren’t supposed to know that she knows that she is famous now.

So I am supposed to pretend that I don’t notice that I have 199 followers now and almost 5000 views in the space of just two weeks? Well, screw that, I noticed. I started this blog for my kids. I have a bad memory, and something about twins and sleep deprivation compounds that problem. (Go figure.) I knew a couple people who were interested in reading what I had to say. Then WordPress hand-picked one of my blog posts to be featured on their Freshly Pressed homepage. They even sent me a non-form email about why they picked me! It was flattering.

The next day, my blog had blown up. Well, I don’t really know what a blog is supposed to do, because mine is the first one that I have read. But it seemed to me that going from 17 views a day to 741 views a day was a big deal.

I feel like a band who had a good first record and now has all this pressure to create an amazing “Sophomore Album”. Talk about writer’s block.

Ok, ok, it’s not writer’s block. I have plenty to say. The problem is that I think a lot harder about what to share about my kids when I have 199 followers and lots of strangers wandering in and out of my virtual life. My oldest son is just three years old. For every single thing I post, I have to ask myself if this will be okay for him at 13 years old, or 23 years old. I want to tell my story about being a mom, without compromising my sons’ stories. Their stories belong to them.

Why, then, would I even blog about my children if this is a problem? I guess I have discovered the reason people blog at all. It’s because knowing that so many people are out there, ready to read whatever drivel pours out of my head when they get an email notification that something poured out of my head, is a serious motivational push to keep writing. Yes, I am writing for my kids to read in the future… but who would ensure that it gets written in this Okayest Mom life? You. You would. If I know you are out there, waiting, and telling me that I have something worthwhile to say and a good style in which to say it, then maybe my thoughts will actually get recorded.

In other words, thanks. Thanks for pushing me to ignore my laundry and my floors and giving me a reason to record some dang family history for my kids before I forget it.

A Survival Guide to Three Kids in Diapers

Let’s all just relax, take a deep breath, and stop competing to be Mom of the Year. Let’s just settle for World’s Okayest Mom sometimes.

I am posting this list because I often hear “How do you do it?” Well, I set the bar low, for starters. I know my kids won’t have a “normal” life right now, and I’m okay with that. I figured that admitting to some of my survival tips would help free other moms from some guilt. Sometimes other moms will “confess” something to me that I don’t think is bad at all. Please,  don’t be so hard on yourselves.

Conversely, unless you have spent 24 hours in my size-tens, don’t judge.

PS, I have come to the conclusion that I would have far more creative energy if I hadn’t spent of all it teaching five years of kindergarten. Those 100+ kids got my best. My kids, eh, not so much.

Here is a list of things I do that make me more sane.

1)      I don’t do chores during afternoon nap. I only allow myself to read, nap, watch TV, or blog. That’s it. Just four choices for me.

2)      I do not really play with the kids much. Seriously, I rarely do.

3)      I only do one big chore per day – and it’s during morning nap. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do when they drop down to one nap per day in a few months.

4)      I only go one place per week – at least right now while we are on a twice/day nap schedule. That means I can take my kids to storytime at the library, or the playground, but not both.

5)      I hire an 11-year old mother’s helper from church for a mere pittance for three hours a week, so I can do some other chores. She entertains the kids while I work. I don’t leave her alone and she doesn’t have to change diapers or anything. She is super happy to be making some money and getting “babysitting” experience. I am super happy to have some extra hands, but not pay an exorbitant rate.

6)      My mother-in-law comes  here for an entire day, once a week. I consider myself extremely fortunate for this one. That day is the day that I take my older son for a date to the pool, or get bigger chores/ shopping trips done.

7)      I let my 3-year-old play outside by himself (but he only goes if the dog comes too- otherwise he says he’s “wone-wee”). However, I do live in a private spot in the woods and I have a huge back deck that serves as a playpen. It’s so big that he can ride his big wheel – and every other wheel –while I watch him through big glass doors. Also, I have a very careful 3-year-old and I understand that not all kids are created equal.

playing on deck alone

8)      I have friends come over to our house for a playdate while the babies are having morning  nap and my older son is awake – rather than going to their house.

9)      I feel really really happy when they go to bed!

10)   I put them in their own rooms from a young age. And I am not the devil for doing it.

11)   We did cry-it-out. And I am not the devil for doing it.

sharing room again

12)   I do not go to them at night unless they’re sick.

13)   I have my husband do the grocery shopping. During a really hard week,  when it is more important to have my husband home than it is to have food right away, I have been known to use a grocery delivery service (which was not as expensive as I feared).

14)   I completely childproofed one room, so that we have somewhere to go in the house where I can completely relax.

15)   Our LDS church service is three hours long, and it’s during naptime. We have a system now that isn’t perfect, but it allows us to get there. We take two cars and go to sacrament meeting as a family. Then, Mr. Okayest takes the babies home for nap, while I stay with the older one. It’s not ideal, but we are doing our best.

16)   As for laundry, I do 1-2 loads of kid laundry every day. Kid laundry doesn’t have to be taken out of the dryer immediately because, well, it’s kid laundry. Who cares about wrinkles? I do the adult laundry, including my husband’s button-downs, on the weekends when we have two adults.

17)   My kids never get bathed enough.

18)   I don’t do chores after they go to bed. My husband goes to bed very early because of his work schedule, so the 1-2 hours between their bedtime and our bedtime is sacred couples’ time. Or sacred TV time. Or whatever floats your boat time.

Now, lest you think I have got it all together, let me assure you that I do not. I have been known to burst into tears as soon as Mr. Okayest walks in the door, for any of the following reasons:

  • Migraine
  • PMS
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stomach viruses
  • The dog
  • My toddler crying for two hours at the playground because “he wants to go home” and then crying all the way home because “he doesn’t want to go home”
  • Seeing a book that I used to read to my oldest when he was a baby and then sobbing because I can’t remember the last time I read a book to my current babies and now they’re going to have low IQ’s
  • Realizing that my 3 ½ year old doesn’t know how to play hide-and-seek and, therefore, has a lot of huge holes in his childhood from my bedrest/ recovery period
  • A mean librarian
  • A kid at the playground making fun of something my kid can’t help
  • There was more than one suspicious fluid to mop up that day
  • My babies aren’t cuddling me anymore because they are simply getting too big to cuddle
  • Not showering that day
  • It was the day of the week that Mr. Okayest went to grad school and was gone from 5AM until 9PM
  • All three crying at the same time (PS, I am now accepting applications for what to name this particular phenomenon.)

I don’t have this mothering thing all figured out at all. I just want mothers to relax and let go of the guilt and do what works for them. World’s Okayest Mom says it’s okay.