You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2012.

Don’t call me Super Mom.  When my children were 3 weeks old, I bundled them up, and my husband drove us all to a breastfeeding support group meeting.  He carried their car seats into the meeting, as I wasn’t medically cleared to lug two occupied car seats, and our stroller wasn’t up and running yet.  The leader, a lactation consultant, commended my very presence as a new mom to twins. I sat there, holding back my questions, just basking in the sisterhood of motherhood.  A few weeks later, after a rough night spent questioning our very decision to become parents, I went back to the group – this time by myself – to give myself a positive parenting experience.  Seeing my own children napping quietly, other babies playing and cooing, let me fall in love with them all over again. 

But I am no Super Mom for hauling my family out on a chilly January morning to seek the company of other new moms.  I am no Super Mom for dragging my children to the post office to pick up a certified letter I had missed the delivery of the previous day because I was nursing my children.  I am no Super Mom because I am exclusively breastfeeding my twins and have been home with them by myself since my husband went back to work 5 weeks ago. 

I break down.  I need help.  I need my father-in-law to come by for an hour in the evening while my husband goes to teach a student.  I need a neighborhood girl to play with the babies for an hour and a half after school, so I can shower, or nap, or make a dinner that didn’t start with a pot of boiling water or a can opener.  I need my own mother to come for occasional visits and bring emotional and physical baggage, so that I don’t feel so isolated and alone during the days.

When I go out in the car with the babies, I take the Double Snap n’ Go stroller, a contraption that is more a frame than a stroller.  The car seats rest atop the frame, one behind the other, and I resemble a stretch pram.  It’s quite a bit more conspicuous than the regular double stroller I push around the neighborhood.  It’s impossible to pretend you just have two young children when you’re at the tail end of the car seat brigade.  It’s twins.  It’s painfully, awkwardly, obviously twins.  Twins, who are somehow cuter, more approachable, more irresistible than any two babies not sharing a stroller.  I read the lips, “There are two of them!”  “Look!  Twins!” I respond to the inane questions, “Are they twins?”  “Are they identical?” “Two boys or two girls?”  And, most recently, “Can I…touch them?”

I wish I’d had the temerity to say no. 

More annoying, though, than the ogling and the stupid questions, are the people who applaud my bravery, who marvel at my decision/ability to leave my home with my offspring in tow.  As if I’m supposed to be confined to my home – hair unwashed, still in pajamas at 2:30pm – until they’re 3 years old.  I may not get to wash my hair every day, and I cannot promise that my clothing (not pajamas, mind you) is spit-up-free, but I go out for my own good, and the babies’. 

I often say I go out “for practice”.  Practice doing what? They ask.  Practice going out, I reply, cyclically.  Maintaining my sanity requires that I get dressed every morning, choose cute outfits for my children every day, try to wash my hair every other day, and try to get out of the house (if weather permits) in the stroller or in the car a few times a week.  Getting to go to the post office, the breastfeeding support group, or Saxby’s, is a liberating feeling.  I can go out if I choose.  I am not chained to my house, and my children do not shackle me to the Pack n’ Play.  The mild winter has made outings possible, and I have taken advantage of almost every temperate day. 

I did not choose to become the mother of twins.  They chose me.  There’s no use praising me as I know no other way.  I don’t know what it’s like to only have one child to hold, comfort, soothe, feed, dress, bathe, or smile at.   It’s like praising someone born with a disability with how well they cope; they’ve never known anything else.  Don’t offer me up empty praise or admiration.  Don’t tell me how brave I am for waking up every morning.  Having children is tough for anyone, whether they have one or seventeen.  The middle of the night is no less disorienting for the parents of one child; a breastfeeding difficulty is no less frustrating.  It may take me longer to get ready to leave the house, longer to dress, or bathe my children, longer to feed them, and change them.  My husband and I may do more laundry than parents of a single child, but we are no less tired if woken up at 2am, no less worried about their meeting developmental milestones, no less insecure about our parenting decisions. 

Maintaining my sanity, exposing my children to life beyond these four walls (they get bored, too), and perhaps knocking off a miniscule errand – striving towards these goals does not make me Super Mom.  Just “Mom” will suffice.

Advertisements

Mr. Apron took the kids for their first carwash so I could take a nap without one ear tuned to their whimpers.  I think we’re doing pretty well as parents these days.  I’m still on maternity leave as they turn 3 months old, but I’ll be heading back to work soon.  We’ve somehow managed to reach this magical age where they take regular naps, which allows me to do regular people things, like shower, do laundry, and consume a meal using both of my hands.

I’m pretty proud of how far we’ve come, from our first clueless days where we didn’t know which way was up and the babies didn’t know day from night, to the magical, sanity-saving evening/nighttime routine we’ve hammered out.  We are the parents of twins.

Whenever I venture out into public, I know that it won’t only be the babies who get attention. I’ll be approached, lauded, and cooed over, merely for showing our faces.  Before they were born, I was uncompromisingly critical of my sister-in-law, who used any child-related excuse possible to cancel plans, or to dump her son at her parents’ house for free childcare.  “Babies are portable,” I lamented, as my nephew spent yet another night at his grandparents’ house so his parents could cavort to a wedding, a night out, or an entire week in Jamaica.

I’m still kind of critical, as her child is/was eminently more portable than ours.  Ours, born in the coldest days of an admittedly mild winter, require twice as much gear and bundling.  Ours require their mother to be near them every 2-3 hours to feed, while hers required only a bottle full of formula attached to an anonymous arm.  After he was born, he never needed her.

But my babies need me.  Breastfeeding is a complex choice, borne from the best intentions, but wrought with narcissism and inconvenience and controversy, all of which surprised me.  I hadn’t given it a second thought, intending only to provide my children with the best nutrition available.  However, it literally chains them to me.  In the beginning, when I was feeding them separately, I was attached to one or the other (and my couch) for a full 8 hours a day.  Now it’s down to about 4 hours, as I can feed them together.  At best, I gaze down longingly at their little faces, mouths agape, lips pursed as I provide manna for them.  They suckle eagerly, as they were born to do.  Now that we’re past the technical difficulties that plagued us in the first few weeks, it’s natural.  It’s a time when I have to stop racing around and devote myself to them.  Sure, sometimes I’ll watch TV, talk on the phone, or play games on my iPad while they nurse, but at best, it truly is a bonding experience.

At worst, I feel like a sow.  Now that my children are such expert eaters, I feel like I could just lie on the barnyard floor and let others bring them to me to snack at the milk fountains.  Plug them in for a recharge.

And as portable as the babies are, and as portable as their food is, their feeding is less so.  Books that promote breastfeeding may laud the ever-ready meal that’s always at the right temperature, always the right amount, never requires mixing, preparing, or washing-up of bottles.  There are laws in my state permitting me to feed my children anywhere I’m allowed to be.  Easy, right?  Just pack some diapers and go.  Yet it’s one thing to fight for laws allowing me to nurse; it’s another thing entirely to feel comfortable enough in Target, the convention center, my doctor’s office, or a public park to whip out my breasts and nourish my children.

With one kid, you whip out a breast, you curl up in an out-of-the-way corner, and you nurse on demand, when your kid wants it.  With two kids, I am showing enough flesh to earn my share of Mardi Gras beads.  If I’m at home, I can nurse them together, using a special pillow I’ve termed “The Lunch Counter” or the “Double Wide” nursing pillow.  In public, I haven’t mastered the art of tandem nursing, discretely or not.  So I have to feed one then the other, whether we want it or not.  I have to keep them on the same schedule, or I’m back to nursing 8 hours a day.  So a leisurely trip to the mall may result in my being parked on a bench in the food court for an entire hour feeding my children.  One may be screaming to eat for a half-hour while I try to give the first child as much as she wants.

Formula feeding may have its disadvantages, but you never worry about lifting up your shirt.  I know it’s PC to nurse, but it sure can be inconvenient with twins.  Three months down, nine to go.