This Is A Post

I hate it when I get out of the habit of blogging regularly. It seems like then it becomes a Big Deal to post something, like it has to be Important enough to break the radio silence, so to speak.

I’ve got a couple posts percolating (some in my mind, some finally here in WP) so I figured if I break the ice with a stupid non-post post, that will be easier to post something else.

Also here’s a crappy picture of my pretty tulips. I’m really proud of them, actually. Planting these was the very first time I’d ever planted flower bulbs, and I assumed that I’d probably done it wrong and they wouldn’t come up. So the fact that they’ve come up, even at different heights and at different paces, feels like a huge win for me. For a couple years I’ve had the vision of this walkway being lined with flowers, because it’s so perfect for that. And now it’s a reality! Hurray!

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And here’s a nicer picture of whatever fluffy trees are now blooming around Portland. I always think that all spring-flowering trees are cherry trees…but the cherries are long done flowering already (as well as peach–did you know they are pink blossoms too? I didn’t.). Apples and pears are apparently currently blooming, so maybe these are one of those? Who knows. I just know that I like flowering trees.

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Motherhood: I’m doing it ALL WRONG

Last fall, I came across this article (10 Things Your Mom Never Told You) on Facebook, and it really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s that treacly stereotypical garbage that obviously means I’m an absolutely terrible mother. In fact, I’m such a bad, lazy mom that it’s taken me four months to actually get around to sharing my response.

1. You made her cry… a lot. She cried when she found out she was pregnant. She cried as she gave birth to you. She cried when she first held you. She cried with happiness. She cried with fear. She cried with worry. She cried because she feels so deeply for you. She felt your pain and your happiness and she shared it with you, whether you realized it or not.

Okay, yes, totally. Completely. There have been a lot of tears on my end. Anxious ones, happy ones, inexplicable ones. Even now, if I look long enough at them, they’re so sweet that I tear up.

2. She wanted that last piece of pie. But when she saw you look at it with those big eyes and lick your mouth with that tiny tongue, she couldn’t eat it. She knew it would make her much happier to see your little tummy be filled than hers.

What?! No way, man. I’ll give you a bite, sure, but that pie is mine!

3. It hurt. When you pulled her hair, it hurt; when you grabbed her with those sharp fingernails that were impossible to cut, it hurt; when you bit her while drinking milk, that hurt, too. You bruised her ribs when you kicked her from her belly; you stretched her stomach out for nine months; you made her body contract in agonizing pain as you entered this world.

Obviously. (Though I had a c-section [bad mother!], so that last pain was from the major surgery, not labor, in my case.)

4. She was always afraid. From the moment you were conceived, she did all in her power to protect you. She became your mama bear. She was that lady who wanted to say no when the little girl next door asked to hold you, and who cringed when she did, because in her mind no one could keep you as safe as she herself could. Her heart skipped two beats with your first steps. She stayed up late to make sure you got home safe, and woke up early to see you off to school. With every stubbed toe and little stumble, she was close by; she was ready to snatch you up with every bad dream or late night fever. She was there to make sure you were OK.

Oh, yes, I’ve had fears in the back of my mind since we found out about them. So many, too many sometimes, and they’re not even in school yet.

5. She knows she’s not perfect. She is her own worst critic. She knows all her flaws and sometimes hates herself for them. She is hardest on herself when it comes to you, though. She wanted to be the perfect mom, to do nothing wrong — but because she is human, she made mistakes. She is probably still trying to forgive herself for them. She wishes with her whole heart that she could go back in time and do things differently, but she can’t, so be kind to her, and know she did the best she knew how to do.

Eh. We have two babies. We’re doing it all wrong, probably. Ain’t nobody with two babies got time to worry about being perfect.

6. She watched you as you slept. There were nights when she was up ’til 3:00 a.m. praying that you would finally fall asleep. She could hardly keep her eyes open as she sang to you, and she would beg you to “please, please fall asleep.” Then, when you finally fell asleep, she would lay you down and all her tiredness would disappear for a short second as she sat by your bedside looking down at your perfect cherub face, experiencing more love than she knew was possible, despite her worn-out arms and aching eyes.

DUDE. I am not spending even more time NOT SLEEPING than I need to. I will hold and comfort and soothe (and I still check to make sure they’re breathing, more than two years in), but then I go BACK TO BED. Like a normal human person.

7. She carried you a lot longer than nine months. You needed her to. So she did. She would learn to hold you while she cleaned; she would learn to hold you while she ate; she would even hold you while she slept, because it was the only way she could sometimes. Her arms would get tired, her back would hurt, but she held you still because you wanted to be close to her. She snuggled you, loved you, kissed you and played with you. You felt safe in her arms; you were happy in her arms; you knew you were loved in her arms, so she held you, as often and as long as you needed.

Maybe this is a twin thing, because once they’re older than a few weeks, it’s nearly impossible to hold two babies at the same time. And now, when there are two thirty-pound toddlers demanding to be held (“up! UP! UP!!”), there is no physical way for me to do that. I have to put one down, or sit on the floor/couch, or put one in an Ergo. And I can’t carry even one for very long anymore, either. I guess I haven’t earned my mama stripes if I am unable to carry a baby more than a certain amount of time. Am I not allowed to be a mother if I give in to an aching back?

8. It broke her heart every time you cried. There was no sound as sad as your cries, or sight as horrible as the tears streaming down your perfect face. She did all in her power to stop you from crying, and when she couldn’t stop your tears, her heart would shatter into a million little pieces.

Every time? Every time? Really? You sure about that? When one of them falls and bumps his head–absolutely! Poor sweet baby, come here and let me make it all better. But when it’s 4.30am and it’s the fourth wake-up of the night and you just want to sleep, for the love of all that is holy? Nope, nothing shattering over here. Let me give you a hug and then PLEASE GO TO SLEEP.

9. She put you first. She went without food, without showers and without sleep. She always put your needs before her own. She would spend all day meeting your needs, and by the end of the day, she would have no energy left for herself. But the next day, she would wake up and do it all over again, because you meant that much to her.

I hate this idea that mothers are “supposed to” sacrifice everything for their babies, and love it. That mothers’ lives aren’t meaningful on their own, that somehow being hungry is a badge of honor of maternal pride and accomplishment. I *do* shower, and sleep, and eat. I don’t think that should be special or unique, either. (I also wear pajamas most of the day. Nothing wrong with that!) All mothers need and deserve to do basic biological things like eat, for god’s sake. I’ve said before–and I think it’s RIDICULOUS that it even needs to be mentioned–mamas are people too, and mama, YOU MATTER. Go wash your hair, go take a nap, go finish that pie–you deserve it!!

10. She would do it all again. Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do, and it will take you to your very limits sometimes. You cry, you hurt, you try, you fail, you work and you learn. But, you also experience more joy that you thought was possible and feel more love than your heart can contain. Despite all the pain, grief, late nights and early mornings you put your mom through, she would do it all again for you because you are worth it to her. So, next time you see her, tell your mom thank you; let her know that you love her. She can never hear it too many times.

My little toddlers run grinning into my arms when I pick them up from daycare, and they have also just recently started to say, “I lub you, mama,” and dammit, there goes my heart shattering every time.

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So maybe I’m doing something right after all?

The Mama Matters

I’m in a lot of online groups, and many of them revolve around parenting or babies/kids. Often there are posts from moms who are exhausted and frazzled and emotional. I never have much actual advice, but I like to chime in and say something like, “Your mental health and sanity is really important. You matter too, mama!”

A few weeks ago, it hit me like a brick: I’ve been talking to myself.

*I* matter. My subconscious has been hard at work trying to convince me, all this time.

The first few weeks (months? I have no idea) of life with twins, I cried about many things (though I did my best to do it quietly or out of the way. It wasn’t all the time or anything. I don’t think?). I felt frustrated at many things, and I was trying really hard to do All The Things. I kept trying to make my husband take it easier, or not do as much–like go take a nap, or watch some extra tv or something. And he never listened to me. Which I found (and still do find) extremely, extremely frustrating. He would say something about me taking a nap or taking some time ‘away’ or whatever, and I would say, “No, I don’t matter.”

And then I would tear up or actually cry. Because at the same time, I felt two conflicting emotions: that I and my needs truly did not matter, and that it made me fucking sad that I thought I didn’t matter.

Now, my husband was and is pretty much the best partner in this baby thing as anyone could dream of. It’s never been a question that he does the babycare/parenting work. He’s not a babysitter or an “involved dad”; he’s just a parent. No question. So even though we have twins, which is fucking hard, our twins have been good babies, and I’ve had it really pretty good. We got a nanny two days a week when the babies were 2 months old, mostly so that I could do things like take a nap and go outside by myself. Seriously, I have nothing to complain about.

But those first few brutal weeks, I still felt like I didn’t matter. That I was not important, unworthy. The least important person in the house. I stopped saying it, because it made my husband upset (rightfully so!), but I continued to feel it.

Once a new baby arrives, all the attention is directed there. When new twins arrive, there is lots and lots of attention! Not just out at the grocery store, but at home. And not just between the nuclear family, but also the extended family. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, everyone’s so excited and thrilled about the adorable squishy baby! And well they should be–babies *are* exciting! (Well, more in theory than in practice; generally they just sit there.) But the parents–especially the mother, I think–get lost in the baby shuffle. Nobody  pays attention to the new mom.

Plus there is or was some remnant in my head of the idea that anything the dad did, was extra, bonus, not to be expected. So I felt guilty, and extra grateful, and extra dependent, and extra beholden. And I was beholden–I physically needed him to do a lot of work those first days, as my body recovered from the c-section.  But I also didn’t want to put him out too much. I didn’t want to be helpless.

Listen to me: I didn’t want to put him out too much? Like I would have to tiptoe and hope and beg for such a favor as to please change diapers today because my torso was sliced open a few days ago and my drugs aren’t doing enough?

There’s a lot of culture at play here–I would have sworn I was immune to this patriarchal nonsense. But look at these words coming out of me without even realizing it! It’s a real thing that women, especially mothers, do and want to and should (????!!!) put themselves last. Because they don’t matter. Or because what their kids or spouses want is more important, and the mom has to make sure to accommodate all of that and mitigate all of that, because her own needs have to take a backseat.

It’s hard to really see and escape this kind of thinking that’s embedded in our society. Sorry, I didn’t mean to get political, but it’s kind of really the core of the issue here.

I didn’t think I mattered.

If that’s not something to make you/me tear up, I don’t know what is. It’s heartbreaking! But apparently it’s taken me this long, and the impartiality of a social network screen, to learn the lesson that I matter. That I was and am an important person, not just for the sake of my children, but for my own sake, as a fully functioning human person. I’m not a vessel or a robot. I’m allowed to have space, time and opinions of my own. (How very 20th century of me!)

So, listen. No matter what: YOU MATTER, MAMA. Always. Along with your partner, you are one of the two most important people in your new baby/ies’ life. Of course your baby needs a lot of attention, and grueling, tedious attention it is for the first few endless weeks. (But you’ll also get to snuggle with your sweet new baby!) Parental needs get pushed to the back burner for awhile.

But, please please remember: You are a person too. You are not just a feeding/diapering machine. You have wants and needs, and you are allowed to have them. And! you are allowed to get them. Sleep is a biological need, not a selfish want. So naps aren’t indulgent, they’re necessary! You deserve to be at your struggling best–you probably need some rest, time and space away for a few minutes. Away from everything and everyone, blessed quiet for your frazzled new-mama mind. It doesn’t have to be a day at the spa (though you certainly deserve a massage at the least!). Just a few minutes to breathe. A few minutes to take a shower, walk through the grocery store aisles, feel the sun on your face–all without a tiny person all up on you, demanding all of your attention and energy. A few minutes to be YOU.

Maybe that means your partner hangs out with the baby/babies solo for awhile. Maybe it means that your free time is only in the evening. But go find that time. Ask for it, demand it. Figure out a way for each of you to get some naps, some alone time, to get some you time, to get that space and that silence. It is so, so important.

You’ll feel better, and you’ll be a better parent for your sweet new baby. Your baby deserves healthy, rested parents

YOU MATTER.

Things I still think about, six months later

I wrote this over a year ago, when my babies were only a few months old. I never published it at the time partly because I wasn’t sure how it would be received–I never read  about these kinds of opinions and experiences. And partly because after I wrote this, I realized that I felt a lot better. Getting it all out on virtual paper proved to be truly cathartic, and a year later, yes, I’m still annoyed, but nowhere near as upset and emotional. I decided to publish it now in order to get it out there for anyone else who might be able to relate. I have edited a few details and fleshed out the links at the end, but kept it mostly how I wrote it. Sorry that it’s a little disjointed.

If you talk about or read about birth, chances are you’ll hear about a woman who is devastated about her birth plan going awry and having to endure interventions that she didn’t want. That the birth went completely opposite of how she wanted a beautiful, natural experience. You might also hear about someone who was ‘forced’ or coerced into using formula, or who wasn’t encouraged or supported in breastfeeding.

I had the opposite experience.

I’m still irritated, angry, sad, about breastfeeding. It wasn’t my attempt, it wasn’t something I wanted to happen. For two solid days someone was poking and prodding at me, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want it. I didn’t know why it was happening.

I think during the intake questions before the c-section, the nurse asked if I wanted to breastfeed. I think I said, sure, I’ll probably try it. I guess I thought they were asking just for informational purposes or something? But that was it. Nobody laid out what would happen or what that would actually, logistically mean for me and these two new babies.  Nobody asked me anything about it after the babies were actually born. Certainly nobody told me that whatever I had said would result in such a frenzy of unwanted activity.

It literally only occurred to me like 5 months post-partum that I could have said STOP. I had just had two people cut out of my abdomen, and my system was full of various drugs. I felt completely helpless and I was completely out of it, physically and emotionally.  Half the time I wasn’t sure if I was awake or asleep. I had no idea what was happening but this stupid breastfeeding thing CLEARLY wasn’t going to work with no milk. Duh. What the ever-loving fuck did they think was going to happen?!

It never even occurred to me to say no, any more than it would have occurred to me to start tap dancing on the ceiling. I was in the hospital and nurses were taking care of me. They knew what was going on. I didn’t know what I was doing; I had never done any of this before!

I think back to that recovery room. My first minutes with these brand new babies, but I didn’t get to enjoy them–I mostly remember that dumb frazzled nurse trying unsuccessfully to latch two 36-week-old babies to my very dry boobs. Seriously, what did she think would happen? Even I knew it wouldn’t work! Why couldn’t they have just left me alone? Why couldn’t they have ASKED me what I wanted to do? If someone had asked me if I wanted to breastfeed–as in, right then, not as in a hypothetical, sure I’ll try it–I would have said no.

She (and the other nurse she brought in because she couldn’t handle two babies) must have eventually backed off or given up. I so wish that I had a better memory and know why and how. Did I tell them to give it a rest? (No. I so wish I had.) Did they just get tired of trying to force something that wasn’t going to work? What made them finally go away?

It makes me kind of mad, and kind of sad. It’s such a frustrating thing to remember and I really wish I could go back in time and slap that nurse’s hands away from me.

But again, it literally didn’t seem like it was my decision. It’s like my body wasn’t mine.

And I feel like I’m the only one who feels this way about breastfeeding.

The hospital was a great hospital, and I loved the rest of the nurses during my stay there. I felt cared for and cared about. This hospital–and many hospitals–boasts of being ‘baby-friendly.’ The more I learn about what that actually means, I’ve come to think of it as ‘mama unfriendly.’ There’s no nursery to give you a break. One nurse sort of broke a rule and took the babies for two hours one night. And those two hours of blessed silence made a huge difference for us. If we had had that first night to sleep and rest and, I don’t know, start to RECOVER FROM THE MAJOR SURGERY I’d just had, I would have felt so much better and more with-it. I understand that rooming in with your baby gives time to bond and a better chance at breastfeeding. But why didn’t we have an option? A choice? Why weren’t my boobs allowed to be in peace? Why on earth are the baby and the boobs more important than the mama who owns the boobs and who just birthed that baby?

I think that’s a key factor–all these well-meaning lactivist folks are thinking about the baby. I guarantee you that the baby has no idea what’s going on. The mama is the one you need to worry about. There need to be guidelines, sure. But why can’t there be very clear questions, options, or statements given before and after the birth happens?

They need to re-name “baby-friendly” to “breastfeeding friendly” because, really, that’s all they’re trying to do.  Apparently that’s all that matters–not what mamas may actually want or need. All the things they do are done solely to encourage breastfeeding. (That’s not hyperbole, either–go look at the policies.) If the goal were to encourage bonding, they would give mothers the OPTION to get some goddamned rest. Our hospital apparently no longer had a regular baby nursery, so we were forced to be woken up every ten minutes by our two newborns. I can tell you that both my husband and I would have been exponentially more sane had we had at least one night of good, solid sleep in the hospital. And I promise, our bonding with our new babies would not have suffered one bit. It might have even been better, if we hadn’t been so desperately exhausted.

Here are two semi-relevant articles that really spoke to me:

America’s Post-Partum Practices

We were in the hospital for four nights, and I would have happily stayed a lot longer (well, if they would have stopped waking me up every two hours, that is). It was a relief and a blessing to have knowledgeable people coming in to help and advise us all day long. To not feel alone.

“The problem is that no one recognizes the new mother as a recuperating person, and she does not see herself as one.” I actually did–but didn’t always have the luxury of acting like it, with two babies to care for.

“Perhaps if we started talking about the time and energy it actually takes to recuperate from childbirth, women wouldn’t feel the need to return as quickly as possible to “normal.””

And a Jezebel piece about that same article: Stop Acting like Bouncing Back from Labor is Even Possible

THIS: “What’s really cool is that, on top of all this you’re-on-your-own-sucker bullshit, the conversations a new mom will likely encounter are along the lines of: “Do you love it?! Is it everything you dreamed?!””

I have no doubt that many women have a blissful, zen-like post-partum experience. I was not one of them.

Good and bad

So the babies learned a new skill! They can point to/grab body parts–hair, ears, feet, belly, nose. It’s pretty neat and pretty cute. They will also grab our ears, nose, etc–and geez, do they have a strong grip. And sharp baby nails–ouch.

The bad news is that I had to be told about this new skill. My husband told me this morning, after our nanny prompted the babies to do it for him.

Well. This made me feel like the worst mama ever.

First, that *I* haven’t taught them this. Haven’t even been thinking about trying to focus on helping them with something like that. What am I even doing?

Second, that I didn’t even notice they’d learned it. Don’t even know when it happened.

Jeez. I fail, fail, fail.

It’s so dumb, but I really feel disappointed in myself. And that our nanny is a better mother than I am.

 

December Darkness

Hallelujah, we’ve made it to January–past the solstice! I am so relieved.

For months, I was dreading this December. Hoping it wouldn’t be anything like last December.

I should share that I have a mental image of the calendar year, as basically a single column of all the months (like this), so December is at the ‘bottom’ of the year. Kind of squished and desperate, trying to stay tacked on and relevant to the rest of the months. The dreary dregs. (The transition from December to January feels especially strange to me, as we suddenly move from the very bottom to the very top of a new year–it doesn’t feel very connected at all.) So when I think of ‘when’ we are, I also think of ‘where’ we are in the year column. My weird brain pictures are probably a factor in why Decembers in general can be odd for me, but last December specifically was really hard.

First, it took three weeks after my c-section to be pain-free, which was half of the entire month. (The babies were born on Nov 21.) Being unable to move freely, being physically unable to do much of the baby care, just being in pain was difficult. I didn’t like being so useless and helpless. I wanted to rest and to sleep, desperately, but I also hated the idea of being a burden, so I pushed myself a little and I shouldn’t have. I wanted to be stoic, and I did not want to be weak. But my body gave me no choice–the weakness was there whether I accepted it or not.

Second, I was definitely a little on edge and emotional. When I cried at my two-week OB appointment about why does everything still hurt (TWO WEEKS AFTER MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY HELLO WHAT WAS I THINKING) she kindly said, manage your pain and take those painkillers. Once the pain was gone, it did help to have one less thing bothering my physical self. My emotional self was still not totally stable though. I didn’t and don’t have any words or description for it either–I don’t think it was “blues” really, though there were certainly a lot of hidden tears. I didn’t feel ‘down’ or ‘depressed’ though, just emotional and overwhelmed. And frustrated at my body.

Third, I spent literally 20 hours a day on the couch. For several weeks it was because again, physically, I was unable to move much otherwise. But also, I was pumping every three hours, and we were feeding babies every three hours. Usually that schedule didn’t overlap. And I did try to hold the babies sometimes, and of course they would fall asleep, so then I would be stuck on the couch some more. Many times I had to decide–should I hold babies, or eat, or sleep, or go to the bathroom?

Fourth, because I was on the couch all the time, I couldn’t go anywhere (duh) which meant I didn’t have a support system. The internet was there, and I read every word of it that month, for something to do and for companionship. I didn’t know any other new parents, I didn’t have any friends, it was just the four of us and the freaking couch. Our house was an island of exhaustion and the world could have ended outside our door and we wouldn’t have known. (Well, unless someone else posted about it on Facebook.) What’s terrible is that even if I did have someone to talk to, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t actually know what to say or have anything at all to say. Which sounds kind of ridiculous, but really, are there appropriate words for the complete upheaval of your life that newborn twins brings?

And almost worse than the isolation, it was really dark. It felt like it was always night time. Part of that is that with two newborns in the house, there was no separation of ‘daytime’ and ‘nighttime’ – really, there weren’t even ‘days’, just cycles of three-hour feeding blocks. But of course most of it was just the December days being so short. Both things we had to just wait out and get through.

Obviously we went on a few outings that month–a couple trips to the pediatrician, I went to my OB once, we got a Christmas tree. So I did go outside a few times. But in general, my memories of the first weeks of life with our babies are of darkness, of overwhelmed and numb exhaustion.

And then, finally, it was January. We’d emerged from the first six-week scramble into new parenthood and I didn’t quite feel so overwhelmed anymore. Plus, our nanny started working with us. My biggest distinct memory of the month is going out for my first walk–in the sunshine. Moving my body, pain-free, just me, free, in the daylight. It felt so good to be out of the darkness. It really felt like a re-awakening. What a relief.

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Fortunately, this new January is not nearly such a new me–life is better, calmer, no longer so exhausting and strange. I am so glad that we all made it through the dark December days intact and ready for another year together.

Happy New Year, Happy Solstice, Happy New Beginnings, Happy Re-Awakening to you. 🙂

10 Surprising Things I’ve Learned This Year

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(two weeks old, E on left, M on right)
One of the scariest things about being pregnant was not knowing how it would be to actually have a baby, and not knowing how I would deal with the various challenges. Being new at this, I was pretty worried that everything would terrible and horrible and super crazy hard. And some of it *was* terrible and difficult. But some of it hasn’t been so bad–in fact, there has definitely been some good stuff. And I have learned a lot–some practical, and some philosophical.
1. Turns out I love babies.

I never hated babies, but I was never a baby-fever kind of girl. Some people dream for years of being a mom–that wasn’t me. But now that I do have babies of my own–babies are awesome! I can never get enough of them. They’re so tiny and cuddly and sweet! That’s why I am so excited when I find out someone is pregnant–they get a sweet little baby to snuggle! There is NOTHING better than cuddling a tiny baby.

[I now know that there are “baby people” and “non-baby people”, which makes me even more nervous for the toddler/older kid stages, if the baby stage was my favorite.]

2. I can be a lot more patient than I thought.

In general, I’m not a terribly patient person–I hate slow walkers and slow drivers, and other things that seem to take too long. But as it happens, I’m a lot more patient with babies (most of the time). I think it’s because the babies don’t know any better and they can’t help it. They can only cry, and they have zero tolerance for frustration, because they’re like proto-people still. (I am worried about how I’ll be with bigger kids who DO know better.)

Juggling one or two babies is hard. Especially when it’s the middle of the night, again. Or when both babies are crying at the same time. Talking it out loud helps me get out some of the energy and I always hope that something is reaching the babies–at least my voice if not my arms at that moment. Also, when they were smaller, this is when the baby swing or the sling were lifesavers. (Why can’t they make stationary swings for toddlers??)

When I do get overwhelmed, sometimes my husband is around to help or take over if I need a break. And when he’s not, I just try to take a deep breath and try to get through it, remembering that at some point it will be over. Sometimes I panic and feel really annoyed and frustrated–I’m no saint! Sometimes, honestly, I have to just laugh because it’s so ridiculous and there’s nothing to do. I took a video once, when I was home alone with babies, I was pumping and they were on the couch on either side of me, screaming. And we were all just kind of stuck. I couldn’t do much but roll my eyes and shake my head. And then record it for posterity. 🙂

3. Baby farts and burps are funny.

I’m not one of the tomboy girls who thinks it’s funny when grown-ass dudes burp and fart all over the place. However–that same fart ripped from baby butt is somehow hilarious. I guess that means I’m not as grown-up as I thought. 🙂

4. Babies are noisy in general.

I knew that babies cried, and that they most likely would cry a lot, all the time, for no reason. I didn’t know that when they weren’t crying, they still make a lot of noises. Especially while sleeping, our babies made all kinds of sounds–it was like a barnyard! We heard pigs, horses, hyenas, and sometimes an old movie villain.  There were also squeaks and peeps and snorts and grunts. At night, these sounds would startle us awake to go check on the babies–who were often still asleep! It also made it hard for me to nap while they napped nearby–too noisy!

5. I can indeed survive on less sleep.

This was honestly one of the things that scared and intimidated me the most about having babies. I love to sleep in (which was never as often as I wanted) and I also love to stay up late, which meant that I rarely got enough sleep. The prospect of being awake all night every night for months on end was a little (a lot) terrifying. The reality wasn’t much better. You’re thrown in to a new situation–a time when you really need as much as rest as you can possibly get. And then you get hardly any. The first couple weeks, we would ‘go to sleep’ after a feeding at like 2am and set an alarm for 4am and good god, it’s like torture. Inhuman.

Things did get a lot better, eventually! (Partly because my husband and I built ourselves a better schedule.) But god, it’s really hard sometimes. (There’s another sleep regression coming soon….help me!) A lot of times, there’s nothing to be done, you just have to get through it. And that *sucks*.  If an opportunity for you to nap comes up, TAKE IT, FOR GOD’S SAKE, TAKE THAT NAP.

As an aside, I tend to believe that sleep is necessary for sanity, so I would encourage parents to do whatever they need to do to get more/some rest.

6. New babies are boring.

I mentioned this months ago–but I didn’t realize that since newborns just sleep and eat…they don’t do anything else. Which means that, in many cases, you can’t do anything else. [C-section recovery plus the logistics of lugging two babies and their stuff meant I didn’t do anything or go anywhere at all for at least four weeks. An easier birth/recovery and a single baby means that you can use a carrier to get out and about easier and faster.]

I always figured that since new babies are so overwhelming, it would mean that you’d be busy. And you are, for some parts of the day. But if the baby is sleeping 16-20 hours a day (which is what newborns do, especially pre-term babies, I think), then you have a lot of time to just sit around. In small chunks. However, you’re way too braindead to *do* anything with that time, since you’re not getting any sleep (naps often made me feel more tired and groggy, so I didn’t try to sleep every time the babies slept). This is why you want a Netflix subscription.

7. I do not have those classic attachment issues.

Some people don’t sleep well in the first few months even when they’re able, because they worry about the baby, or they want to constantly check on the baby. I have never had that problem. If I had the chance to sleep, I slept, and I slept hard, thank you very much. Yes of course, I checked my babies’ breathing every night before I went to bed. But once it was bedtime, goodnight ma’am, I’m out. If there was a trusted visitor here for a chunk of time, see ya, I’m taking a nap. (Again, sleep is precious!)

That’s another thing–some people are anxious about other people caring for their babies. I am not one of those people. As long as it was a trusted family member or friend (or a qualified childcare provider), I knew things would be fine. I wanted to sleep, or to go outside by myself for a bit for some air. Possibly it makes me a bad or selfish mama, but I have not had any issues with putting some of my own priorities at the forefront for a few hours and leaving someone else in charge.

8. I am not quick to accept change.

I like to think I’m adaptable and can easily go-with-the-flow. In some ways I can be, but in a lot of ways, I hate change and new things (especially if they aren’t my idea). I tend to gripe and groan, and I definitely tend to hold on to the past. None of this is actually a surprise, just one of my bad qualities that has played a part in this baby-having adventure.

There are plenty of good changes that we’ve had (sleeping more! adapting schedule!), but the sheer amount of change has been startling. *Everything* is always changing! I’m not ready to give up my little babies yet! Not fair!

Ahem. I’m working on taking in the details every day and enjoying things as they are right now. It’s tough sometimes. 🙂

9. There is no such thing as too many photos.

Okay, anyone who knows me knows that I love taking pictures. And that I take too many pictures. In the last thirteen months, I have taken thousands of pictures of my babies. And I still want more.

Most importantly, I desperately want more quality photos of the early days of *me* and my babies. I have a number of dark, crappy iphone selfies and only a handful of photos from my real camera (with the speedlight flash, because it was December and practically always nighttime). Since I’m the photographer in the family, I had to set up the camera and then ask my husband to take a picture. Who wants to do that every other day?

I also really, really wish I had more photos of me interacting with the babies. Most of the ones I do have together are the posed on the couch type, where I’m smiling at the camera. Over the months, I have captured a lot of adorable moments of my husband and a baby or two playing together, just casual snapshots that captures them having fun and loving one another. I have hardly any of me having fun with the babies, because again, since it’s my camera, I have to set up the thing and ask for it to be captured. My husband is always willing to do it, but there’s something about expending the mental energy to ask, and of course losing the spontaneity of the moment. And really, it’s hard when I can visualize the photo I want, but I can’t magically import that vision into someone else’s mind to take it the way I’m thinking, so there goes more time and effort and shots and babies are done now.

However–see point number 8. I need to remind myself that I *do* have some precious photos of me with my babies this past year. And that I can resolve to do better in the future.

But please, learn from me. Take pictures, and then take more pictures. And videos of noises and movements are so especially priceless! Make sure you AND your partner look to capture fun and beautiful moments of both of you and your new snuggly babies. 🙂 (And then print them out. But that’s another post!)

10. Did I mention how awesome baby snuggles are??

 

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Did you learn anything surprising about yourself or about babies in your first year of parenting? I’d love to hear it! And/or–what interesting things have you parents of toddlers learned about the second year of parenting? I know there is SO MUCH still to learn and experience! [But don’t scare me more than I already am! :D]