Looking for some advice…encouragement…something. I have never felt so inadequate as a mother and like I’m failing on a regular basis.
I had identical twin girls in May. Short version is that they were mono/mono twins, came earlier than I wanted despite my desperate attempts to go as long as possible past recommendations, and we spent over a month in the NICU. They’ve been home for a little over a month now – but because the NICU we were in really focuses only on bottling rather than taking the time to let mothers establish strong breastfeeding, they are still struggling with nursing. So, my days are often spent alternating nursing sessions with one while bottling the other (or bottling both, or periodically tandem nursing but we aren’t very coordinated at that yet) … and then pumping, washing parts, and everything else that needs to be done.
I have two older kids, 4 and 2. And every single day I feel like our world is completely upside down. Is it normal to feel beyond overwhelmed and secretly wish you had just one newborn?? To top it off, they demand physical contact almost constantly. So, once feeding is finished and I need to pump, pee, assist other children, the babies are screaming to be held until they’re picked up and immediately settle/sleep. Or if one is content, the other one is freaking out.
There never seems to be enough time. With just feeding and pumping alone, I barely have time to get my other kids anything they need. I feel like I’m constantly telling them to “wait a minute … be patient until I’m finished feeding the babies …” etc, as they are starving for breakfast/lunch/snacks, wanting a toy on a top shelf, what have you. Meanwhile, I’m somehow supposed to get in all the fluid and food required to keep producing the milk in the first place! HOW DO YOU DO IT?!?!
It seems like everything would be so much simpler if they could master nursing. It would give me more sleep at night and free up more time in the day to eliminate making bottles/pumping/washing parts. But just the logistics of having twins is kind of kicking my @$$! I feel so guilty not being able to do things with my older kids. I’m a huge AP advocate – and right now I feel like I’m barely getting by.
The general population doesn’t really understand the challenges of four children, let alone twin newborns. People either say “Twins! That’s so fun!” (yes, loads at this point) or constantly ask “do you have help?” Am I the only mom that doesn’t? I mean, realistically, do women have lots of people that can just hang out at their house all day long? I don’t have retired parents. All of my friends have their own children and/or jobs. So, really, who does that leave? I can’t afford to pay someone to help me, and I’m not one to enjoy strangers in my home – so, it seems like this scenario needs to be mastered by me and me alone.
Every day I’m left wondering … “how am I going to do this?” Mamas, seriously, how did/do you do this??? I realize that I’m incredibly blessed to have two healthy babies – but I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit that I regularly ask “why, why, WHY ME!?!?”
I'm totally forum-crashing because I'm not a mama of multiples, but I saw your post on the front page and I couldn't pass it by without sending a hug your way.
The one piece of advice I can offer that might help (and please disregard if it's not helpful...as I said, I haven't been through the same challenges you're experiencing, so I'm no expert) is about the pumping. I had to exclusively pump due to my daughter's medical issues and at first I felt like I was always pumping, washing parts, or feeding. One thing that made a difference for me was that I purchased several sets of pump parts and bottles, so that I could have a clean set through the day and evening and then I threw them all in the dishwasher overnight. I'll be totally honest that I felt silly buying so many sets, but it made such a difference in my day and in my feelings that it was worth every penny. If you have a dishwasher, you may want to consider this.
I'll be thinking of you and sending good thoughts and I hope some BTDT mamas of multiples can offer you some other suggestions.
PS If you have any questions about pumping, feel free to PM. I'd be happy to try to help. :-)
Here are a few things that helped me cope
I BF in the cross cradle hold. So much easier!!! In hospital they wanted me to use the football hold which was so uncomfortable and awkward!
I bought 2 fisher price swings to help get thevtwins to sleep sometimesthey were absolute life savers. Need a battery charger as they chew through the batteries.
I gave up pumping. their just wasn't time. Once I got the hang of it I tandem fed when possible.
I gave them a bottle during the witching hour which took the pressure off me I bit as I feared not having enough milk by the end of the day.
I only stayed up for half an hour after the kids were in bed. Everything is worse when you are sleep deprived! I reminded myself that this stage does not last forever and I would eventually be able to stay up later.
During my half an hour I knitted. This served 2 purposes. It helped me stay awake while i watched tv and I was doing someting just for me. I was a novice so i learnt from videos on the Internet. This has become a nurturing activity for me.
I ate cereal and birch am muesli during the middle of the night. So hungry from feeding!
I had a few things to nurture me on particularly challenging nights. They may sound weird but it works. I had socks and tops to wear to bed that were kind of graded. Some were for ok nights, some for extra support and my emergency ones were for particularly bad nights. I also had little bottles of lemonade in the fridge for those tough nights. A particular nurse used to bring me lemonade in the middle of the night when I was up BF. So it reminds me of all the wonderful support I received and connects me back to it when I wish I could be back there!
I went to my local mother's group. These women are now my treasured best friends.
I set my standards expectations for the day really low ( not in the care of my children) that way if I did manage to have a shower or get out of the house it felt like it had been a good day.
I Listened to books on tape when driving.
I said yes to offers of help. As not only was the practical assistant helpful, it also made me feel nurtured and not so alone. Something I was in need of after giving 24/7. Plus people like to help, I know I do. I miss it and look forward to being able to be of more help to my friends and community when the kids are bigger. It aids in creating a sense of community. Most of my friends have kids too so they would occasionally bring me a meal. I usually cried when they did as I appreciated it deeply and was so touched.
Eventually I asked for assistance from the Red Cross. I wish i had done this sooner. A lady came once a week. Yes she was a stranger. Now she is my friend!
A sense of humour! My friends made a joke of calling me super Mum. So I often imagined myself with a cape rippling in the breeze arms on hips and it would make me smile.
One of my friends said the difficult moments are how we earn our stripes. So I also
imagined myself covered in stripes. Another image that made me smile.
I hope that sharing my strategies may inspire you. Sending hugs your way.
I'm sorry that things are so hard for you right now. Is there any way you can go to the leader of your church and ask for help? Some communities have a group of grandmothers on call for just this situation. I wish I would have asked for help sooner. What about a local youth group that could send over a volunteer to take the older two to the park or just be around for a couple of hours a couple of times a week? In terms of pumping/feeding, my twins were my first and they were early so we had some latch issues. I was feeding and hour later pumping and an hour later nursing again. I managed to get a LLC to come to me and help me with the feedings. That was a really big help and made all the difference. I managed to nurse them for 18 months, so it can be done. Hugs.
: wife to James, MoM to R and D (Aug 2007) and E (Nov 2009) and Y (April 2012)
First - you are awesome! You are doing such an amazing thing for your babies and just reading how dedicated you are by pumping for them and taking such great care of them really does make you amazing. Twins are freaking hard.
The thing I heard that helped me the most was when my LLL leader said "you can't parent two babies the same way you can parent one" - I don't know why but it really struck a chord in me when I was feeling so overwhelmed and frustrated and TIRED and just incapable of getting through the day and most of all doubting myself as a mother...it just helped to have someone point out that you just physically can't do for two babies what you would for one, even if you really really want to.
I was lucky to have help - I think twins mamas really need it. One thing that helped me was going to a local LLL meeting for twin moms. At least everyone there really gets it!
Hang in there! Your kids are so lucky to have you :) And it really does get easier.
Married to my love since 08/12/10, mama to E 04/06/01 and twin girls M and Z 01/08/11
We are a family! Expecting #4 and #5 in September - what a surprise!
if you were my friend, i would want you to call me up and say, "i'm exhausted and having a hard time. can you help me?" i have a kid and a job, and it would be totally doable for me to bring you a batch of nutritious muffins, a lasagna for the freezer, and take your kids to the park for an hour. i really wish i could come over and do that for you!
i hope you get some help and support soon! the babies nursing is only going to get easier by the day though.
Oh mama, I feel you on this one. I have two older kids and twin one year olds, and it was not easy! One thing I can say is that it has gotten much easier. The beginning was so hard. I echo the "accept all offered help" and "look for help whereever you can find it" advice. I have a dear sweet woman from church who comes over for two hours once a week to help out and boy do I look forward to that. At the beginning I needed so much help and I was so unused to needing any help at all, it took almost a personality overhaul for me to survive (I fancy myself self-sufficient usually, hahahahaha) I never thought of the Red Cross before, but I did feel disaster relief was necessary at times. Church, LLL, new mom's club at the hospital, look up postpartum support in your area ( we have a local group that is something like "helping families" I can't remember the exact name) There are people who want nothing more than to rock a fussy baby. I know because I was once a woman who wanted a baby so bad and wished so hard for a while to no avail.
Also, anyone who can be enlisted to bring joy to the older ones? If they can be pampered a bit, it might take an edge off the neediness.
As far as nursing is concerned, have you got an EZ2 nurse twin pillow? I bought one online and it was expensive, then the next week one showed up on craigslist nearby for cheap, brand new from someone who never used it because she only bottle fed. I used them both, I still do, and they were essential. I already spent most of my time nursing, if I hadn't been able to nurse two at a time I wouldn't have ever done anything else.
Packets of energy bars/protein bars and lots of fruit and drinks nearby. Even getting your partner or someone else to stock a cooler with water, other drinks and snacks in the morning would be nice. Oh I got so thirsty.
The beginning of nursing was hard, but I remember looking up one day at somewhere between 3 and 5 months and realizing that my baby who had trouble latching on was an expert, and nursing had become easy. I encourage you to nurse as much as you can and, if possible, decrease the pumping. Pumping is more sore work for less milk, and nursing gives you those feel good hormones. A LLL leader told me that nursing twins gives you double the happy hormones...and you need it!
I wish I had read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" before I had my babies, but I didn't get it until later. It has helped me to no end in getting my babies into good sleep habits, even though we attachment parent and don't "cry it out." He talks about the worst fussy time being in the second and thrid month, particularly the sixth week, so I hope you are on the upswing.
My heart goes out to you, if I could rock a baby for you I would. My little guys are walking around and too bus to cuddle almost all the time now. Time is already erasing the difficulty of those early weeks and I am thinking of the sweetness of a little baby. I hope you can find a moment here or there to enjoy your babies before they grow. Hang in there mama.
Please post again and ask any more questions and/or tell us how you are doing.
Blessings and love
I crack a lot and have a lot of guilt about the lack of cuddling time the twins are getting :( It's frickin' hard. I have bad tendinitis in my wrist aggravated (and originally caused) by BFing, so while I CAN tandem them, it makes my wrist worse. A sore wrist makes it harder to do anything involving holding/lifting them. So then I choose between letting one cry next to me while I nurse the other or nurse them both at once but then have trouble holding them more. Basically my wrist is NOT healing despite lots of PT.
Oh, and my 5 year old is watching a lot of TV.
Don't even get me started on sleep issues. I don't know about you, but cosleeping with twins does NOT work for us at this age. I get one sleeping and then the other wakes to nurse and I have to roll over or rearrange. It's just a disaster.
Anyway, all that I can say is that the first few months are a total blur. At 4 months I started to feel like I had my head above water. Things are slightly better at 5.5 months (except my wrist, which is worse, but they BF faster and are more patient)
The good news is, that despite having to compromise a lot on what I'd LIKE to do, all 3 kids are thriving, happy and secure.
Oh, and I'll take help from ANYbody, though sometimes it gets us off of our routine enough that it's not worth it.
Expecting twins after 2+ years of IF, failed IVF and FET ~2/2010
Oh, and for the pumping, are you sticking your pump parts in a bag in the fridge between sessions? That cuts down on some washing. We also have a rule that since I do all the pumping and BFing, my DH can at least do all the bottle/pump part washing
Expecting twins after 2+ years of IF, failed IVF and FET ~2/2010
I have to add, I felt the same way about help as you did at the beginning, and it took a while for me to find help. My friends are busy and have kids and jobs, and my parents have jobs too. My neighbors are not close by, and my husband works more than full time and odd hours. It seemed impossible! It was desperation that led me to find help. Some of the help I need, honestly, is just a grownup to talk to a little bit. There is someone out there. The group I mentioned is called Families First Moms Helping Moms.
THANK YOU to all of you that took the time to reply! I appreciate all of your advice and kindness so much! I have meant to log on to write how grateful I am, and what do you know? Poof! A few weeks have disappeared and every time I thought I had a moment to do it - something happened and that instance vanished about as quickly as it manifested!
To update everyone: my girls are officially exclusively breastfeeding. After many tears, phone calls to supportive friends, and pep talks with myself - the three of us are making this work! I must tell you, relinquishing the bottling has been the biggest relief. So much of my stress disappeared once we finally conquered that challenge. Not to sound like a geek, but I truly feel that milestone is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life!! I had tandem nursed a newborn and toddler - but it is completely different with two newborns! I almost always nurse both at the same time now which has also helped exponentially. The combination of those two seems to have freed some time. And I can tell a difference at night now that I don't need to allot an hour or more for feedings. Getting more rest helps so much!
@HappyHappyMommy - I commend and respect you so much for exclusively pumping because of reasons out of your control. You are AMAZING. It takes tremendous work to pump around the clock. What dedication and passion you have for your child. People have no idea how weary you can grow doing that day in and day out. You're a rock star!
@Jay9 - thank you for all of the tips. One comment that especially helped and rung true was about setting your expectations low. I have found that to really be fitting. On the days that I can actually get a decent amount of stuff accomplished (and by decent, I mean, two loads of laundry and the house picked up - nothing crazy!), I feel as though I'm supermom. But if there are days that I'm barely able to feed my older kids, that's okay too. Also, we have two swings. I would agree wholeheartedly that they are lifesavers. Now if only I could convince them to sleep in them for longer than 20 minutes....
@Shuli - thank you so much. i'm so happy that we are solely bf-ing finally. pat on the back to you for 18 months! Right on!!
@mamalovex3 - your comment did for me what it did for you. I have had quite a bit of guilt and sadness not being able to cuddle, bond and just in general do things as you would with one baby. It changed my mindset to read your reply. How true. No matter how I would like it to be, it just isn't possible to do it because of the logistics. It still doesn't make it easier at times, but knowing that I can't do anything but make the best of it and do what I can seems to relieve some of the pressure. My babies take quite a few naps attached to my chest next to each other, and for now, I am able to take walks while carrying them both in my wrap when my older kids need to get out of the house - not a replacement for one-on-one time, but it's better than nothing! Thank you so much for providing your insight to me.
@SilverFish - I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that your reply literally brought tears to my eyes. How sweet of you. And it reminded me that it's okay to admit that having newborn twins can be overwhelming and my friends want to do what they can. I'm not one to admit any vulnerability, so this entire experience has been a difficult road for me! Thank you so much. What a kind heart you have!
@matumama - With a situation similar to my own, you have given me so much inspiration. It really does help knowing that times won't always be this rough and eventually I will look back at the times of tears, frustration and bewilderment with reflection as a distant memory. It put our experience into perspective. Yes, these moments are challenging, but we've already come so far from having to live in the NICU, try to breastfeed, etc. With a little time, most everything gets easier.And I started smiling when I read the personality overhaul reference. True for me too! I still haven't really asked for much assistance, but I know that I have gotten much closer to asking/accepting than before. Baby steps. lol Great tip about the pillow too! I've looked into getting one! Thanks again!!
@LittleOsMom - My heart goes out to you too. Twins ARE frickin' hard!! I think that every time someone says "I always wanted twins" ... ooooookay. haha A blur is the perfect way to sum up the last few months. I can barely keep track of my days! I felt a little bit of relief reading that your older child has been watching TV. Only for the fact that we are pretty anti-television in our house. But with my absence for over a month while the babies were in the NICU and everything that has been required after bring the babies home - there were definite times of watching movies to keep my older kids quiet and entertained. I've slowly been able curb it again - but I reserve the right to utilize it if needed! We are only human!!! Thank you for your thoughts! I will be thinking of you as well as you are a bit ahead of me in your twin journey.
thanks again everyone!! I know that I will be taking advantage of this forum many times over the upcoming months/years! Moms of multiples are extraordinary!!
my twins are nearly 3 now (and still have occasional b'milk after a 4 week start in SCBU ) and I think back - in my mind I ask for help - but I know if I was back there again I'd probably be in the same boat as you are now all over again. It's so bittersweet, but you're doing it and you might even get to a point where having a singleton next time feels like being sold short
the crazy chaos outweighs the easy times for a long while, but the joyful moments all along are sooooooooooo BIG that it's worth it
spread a lot of love