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?

Having Toddlers

I’ve read and heard lots of parents say, “Oh wow, this age is so much fun!” About a variety of ages. I thought they were those crazy parents who loved everything all the time and who only saw things through rose-colored glasses. In short, I thought they were full of shit.

But it’s true! This age *is* fun! The twins are 19 months old and generally, we’re having a good time.

I realized that in the last few months, I haven’t been thinking about the early days of teensy tiny little newborns (I sort of mourned this stage for a long time, because I felt like I kind of didn’t pay enough attention).  I realized that I’m really enjoying who they are right now, and GASP, I also think they’re way cuter now than when they were tiny!

These little personalities have really started to develop and show, while their physical skills have taken off. They’re steady walkers, they can understand almost everything, they’re really becoming people!

They do silly things, they laugh, they crash into my arms for hugs, they crawl under me like I’m a bridge, they make up little games.

They still adore reading books (when they turn around and plop down into my lap–that is my second favorite thing after big hugs from them) and playing with blocks.  They can do chores and fetch! 🙂 They’re figuring out so many new things all the time.

They’re taller and can reach practically everything, and they give us this look when they’re doing something they’re not supposed to. They try to pry off the oven dial protectors. I caught one of them putting a pot and lid into the trash can. They also like to run off in different directions/at different speeds when we’re out and about, so we can only go out when there are two adults to chase after them.

They’re only just starting to say ‘no’ and get tantrum-y. They often want to be picked up and left alone–simultaneously. Neither is really ‘talking’, so they can’t communicate very much or very well, but they understand everything and have definite opinions about many things.

It still surprises me how little they are. I mean, mostly I am in awe about how huge they are, compared to the 5 pound teeny babies we brought home. Now they’re big, strapping toddlers. But when I’m away from them for a little bit, it’s amazing and fucking ADORABLE how small they still are, compared to big people. Those little legs, running everywhere. Those little feet, with jagged toenails they won’t let us clip. Their little hands wrapped around our arm, or reaching to hold our hand when taking a big step up or down.

Things aren’t always easy, but these little dudes are so wonderfully weird and delightful!

I swear I’m not full of shit, either. (However, we do have full-time child care, so I’m not with them 24/7. That makes it easier for me to be positive. :)) I’ve been terrified of the toddler stage since they were born, and I know that we haven’t hit the hardest age yet, so I’m trying hard to stay focused on the fun/good stuff and be patient through the hard stuff.

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I mean, just look at those faces!

Also, I’m laughing/crying at this. I know it will be our future all too soon…

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]

Book Review and Giveaway!

I bought several pregnancy books (including What to Expect When You’re Expecting) so I could keep up with my babies in utero. To prepare for outside babies, I got several more books, each with a specific focus (twins; sleep; medical stuff; soothing techniques; developmental leaps). I wondered if there was some kind of all-encompassing book that would tell me everything in one place. However, I didn’t even attempt to find out if there were such a book, because it just seemed too overwhelming. And once they were born, I certainly didn’t have time or energy to pore over crowded shelves at a bookstore.

So when I was contacted recently by What To Expect and asked if I would be willing to do a review and/or giveaway of their book series, I was pretty psyched to learn that there IS an all-encompassing book! What to Expect the First Year talks about everything new parents want to and need to know about their new and growing babies.

The bulk of What to Expect the First Year is organized by month (the first month, the second month, etc), so it’s easy to pick up and find the information relevant to your current baby needs. Included in the month chapters are mini information sections about things you need to know and things that you might be concerned about. Within the Fifth Month chapter, for example, there’s a section on feeding. [That organization is actually my least favorite thing about these books (I noticed it in the pregnancy one too)–a lot of information is kind of scattered all around the book. I suppose I just need to remember to scan the Table of Contents in case there’s something of use in a different section than wherever I’m reading.]

The book is very even-keeled and non-judgmental, which is much appreciated. It rationally and objectively discusses both sides of hotbutton issues like formula vs breastfeeding, cloth vs disposable diapering, circumcision, and immunizations. It’s clear that this book is not a parenting philosophy book, it’s a book about helping you do your best with your baby. It’s also prone to silly extended metaphors.

There are some sections at the beginning that talk about foundations like baby gear, doctors, feeding, and babycare basics. If you’ve ever read *anything* about babies, you’ve likely already read plenty about some of those topics–but again, I definitely appreciate having everything in one place.

There are also several appendices: One is a collection of baby food recipes, which, as a non-cook, I definitely appreciate. Another is a list of childhood illnesses. It’s all too easy to wonder and worry and obsess and worry about baby health, so I will probably be skipping that section, personally. However, there’s also a collection of easy-to-understand ‘home remedies’ as well as a medicine dosage chart. Knock on wood, my babies haven’t been sick yet, but when it happens (and it surely will, over and over again), I will be glad to have a resource to refer to.

So far, I’ve read a few full chapters and skimmed other bits and pieces. The parts I read had information that I had probably already seen in various other places, but again, I like having everything all in one place and in print (as opposed to online, where it’s so easy to go down a rabbithole of links). And every source has slightly different information, so it’s still good to read ‘again.’

So overall, I think a book like What to Expect the First Year is a great addition to the new parent’s bookshelf, as a starting reference guide at the least. I’m sure I’ll be picking it up each month to scan for development expectations, milestones, and assorted tips.

Now on to the giveaway–my very first one! Exciting!

The books available are:

What to Expect Before You’re Expecting

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting

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What to Expect the First Year

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To enter, leave a comment with the title you’d like to win (make sure you include your email when you ‘sign’ your comment, so I can contact you).  Open to residents of US and Canada.

The deadline is Friday, June 14, 2013 at 1159pm Pacific time. Two winners will be chosen at random.  I will update this post with the names of the winners by Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Winners are Rabi and Glogirl! Congratulations and thank you all for playing!!

For more, visit the What to Expect website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

I received the books for review, but was not compensated. All opinions are my own.

Acknowledgements and Apologies

I wanted to take a moment away from all-cute-babies-all-the-time to address a few points.

First and foremost, I hope I haven’t offended or irritated or annoyed anyone by being preachy or braggy or something terrible like that. (If it’s my personality that’s annoyed you, well, you might be out of luck. :/)

This having-twins thing is kind of crazy, and it can be difficult. There are a lot of ways that logistically it’s more difficult than having one baby, and I have been guilty of thinking and saying, “Oh man, one baby would be so easy!”

I came across a link to this blog post–Your hard is hard–and felt humbled, and guilty. I want to apologize–whether to you specifically, or to the ether in general. This baby business is not a competition.  I must remind myself constantly not to compare my experience or thoughts with others’. I hate to think I may have offended someone. I am so sorry–I would never do that on purpose.

My uncharitable thoughts or thoughtless remarks are really unfair. A new baby is a huge change and adjustment and lifestyle shock to anyone. We happened to have a slightly different kind of lifestyle adjustment than do people who have singleton babies. But that doesn’t take away the difficulty and the shock and exhaustion that all those singleton-baby parents experience. It’s different, but it’s not better or worse. It’s all difficult because it’s all new, and because each baby is different.

In so many ways, I have been so lucky in my experience, and please, I want to make it clear that when I say that, I’m acknowledging that a) it has nothing to do with me or anything I’ve done; b) I have had a lot of support; c) I am grateful and surprised; and d) a lot of mamas have a much harder time than I do.

There are so many people out there whose babies have colic, or sleeping issues, or allergies/sensitivities, or other difficulties. That is so tough! I would have a really hard time dealing with those issues, and I acknowledge and applaud that so many mamas are dealing with them so gracefully–or at least surviving! (Which is really all we can do sometimes, right?)

Multiple babies seem to elicit responses from people like, “Wow, you must have your hands full!” and “I don’t know how you do it!” When in reality, any baby is going to keep his parents’ hands full in one way or another. It seems like all babies have their ups and downs, good and bad aspects, and each of us has to deal with and work through what our own babies present. We don’t know any better and we certainly don’t have a choice.

So, fellow mamas, I applaud you simply for being mamas. For doing your best for your baby or babies, for getting through every day, good or bad. It’s really hard sometimes, isn’t it?

When I post about things we do or have, or systems that we use, it’s just to share or perhaps inspire ideas. It’s not to preach our way as the end-all be-all. I don’t subscribe to any one theory or philosophy of parenting, and even if I did, I would never ever want to preach/force it on anyone else. All I know–all any of us knows–is our own babies and what works best for them and for us. Sharing ideas in a friendly, helpful manner is one of my favorite things about knowing other mamas. So that’s all I’m doing here. And believe me, I am very aware that I don’t know anything! That’s why I categorize some posts as “Non-Expert Advice”, to acknowledge that I’m coming from an extremely limited scope of experience.

I love hearing from other people and reading what other folks (in comments or on blogs) have to say, and I hope to be a helpful and interesting addition to the giant world of baby blogs. And most of all, I hope to be respectful of everyone who stops by. Because no matter how many babies you have, this parenting thing is hard! We all deserve support and encouragement. So please give yourself a virtual hug from me. 🙂 And give your baby a snuggle and don’t forget to give yourself a break every now and then–you deserve it!

Things I Wish I Had Known

I read a lot, in general. So of course when I was pregnant, I was excited to read books and blogs and learn new things about pregnancy and babies. However, I was disappointed because all the books (hahaha, “all the books”; I read like three) and blogs have the same old information. Fetus size compared to food. Complications. Morning sickness. Weight gain and nutrition. Call your doctor when. Blah blah everybody knows this already! Tell me something new! Tell me something that I really need to know!

Here are a few things about pregnancy and newborns that I wish had been in the books and blogs! Maybe it will be helpful to someone else out there.

It’s possible to have a twin pregnancy without major complications.

A multiple pregnancy is automatically categorized as high-risk. Lots of shit can go wrong with more than one bun in the oven, for the buns as well as for the baker. (Haha!) When we learned that I was carrying two wee ones, I assumed that a) I would get super giant super quick, and b) I would have problems and go on bedrest etc. However, neither of those things happened. As the weeks went by, I continued being surprised at how uneventful my ‘high-risk’ pregnancy was. I kind of felt bad about having it so easy, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. There are a lot of women out there (and I’ve met some) who did indeed have a lot of serious complications, and this is not meant to dismiss them or their experiences in any way. I just wish that it was made clear that it doesn’t end up that way for everyone. Everyone should be prepared for issues, but it doesn’t have to be a given or an assumption, if that makes sense. We got lucky.

Pregnancy can cause congestion and therefore snoring.

I read this tidbit in one book–I don’t remember which one–and I was surprised. The reason was increased something or other–more pressure, more fluid, something like that. I thought it was interesting and I was also surprised it wasn’t in the rest of the books with the other classic symptoms. By seven months if not sooner, I had started snoring at night! I was so embarrassed but at least I knew why it was happening. Didn’t make it easier on my husband, who ended up sneaking out to the guest room when it got to be too much. But he was (generally) understanding about it not being my fault and only being temporary. (And it was. By a week or so after babies, the snoring stopped. Thank goodness.)

New babies sleep a lot.

I sort of knew this maybe, in the back of my mind. But nowhere was it made explicit that newborns sleep almost literally all day long. Not counting feedings, of course. But they are hardly ever awake. No one told me that!

Related: Newborns are boring.

They sleep all day and eat every few hours around the clock. But that’s it! Not very interesting at all. You will be very tired but not exactly busy. You can’t do anything fun unless it’s in one or two hour chunks between feedings. You could read a lot, if you had the mental wherewithal. But if you’re like us, you’ll veg on the couch like zombies and watch a lot of television. This is a great time to watch an entire series on Netflix, Hulu, or DVD. Don’t forget your laptop. But be aware that no one else is up in the middle of the night, so Facebook gets boring. Could be a good time to write subpar and silly blog posts though! 🙂

Diaper rash is not a rash.

I felt really stupid about this. I assumed that anything called a rash would look like an actual damn rash! But diaper rash is more like redness and chapped skin. My MIL was here when the babies were six weeks old and told us that they had some diaper rash. I had no idea! We had the ointment in the changing table, because I’d read about the good brands and that it’s important to have, so we got to treat it right away. But I had no idea what to look for! Duh!

Bibs are important right away!

At the family baby shower I had last summer, I must have received close to twenty tiny bibs. I thought that my aunts and cousins were getting me set up for the messy eating stage with baby food and such. It took us over a month of spitty babies in dirty onesies to figure out to put the bibs on the babies now. Talk about DUH! The bibs do catch a lot of the spit up and prevent some of the outfit-soiling. Of course, just as often, the spit up rolls right OFF the bib and onto US.

Not all babies are fussy.

I read the book Happiest Baby on the Block, as it was highly recommended by several people and one of our childbirth classes. I read about the 5 S’s and felt like I was more prepared for our babies, though I was scared of all the horror stories–hours of screaming babies and exhausted, frustrated parents! I think I assumed that all babies do that. Happily, our babies didn’t. Not all babies have colic or scream. Ours, in fact, didn’t really cry at all for most of the first month. We did find the shushing extremely effective when they would get upset, and of course we swaddle them. But we never needed to ‘escalate’ to the other S’s. Thank goodness.

Babies *can* sleep.

There are also a lot of horror stories of babies who never sleep. Who wake up throughout the night, even between feeding times. Who have trouble going to sleep or being soothed back to sleep. Again, because of the prevalence of these stories, I think I assumed and was afraid that all babies did this. I was dreading months of never getting any sleep at all. Ours actually sleep pretty well already, and according to the twins group I belong to on facebook, plenty of other babies do too. Frankly, I think everyone is quiet about this because we don’t want to make anyone feel bad whose babies have trouble sleeping!

It really is fine to wake a sleeping baby/babies can be scheduled.

This is one of the cardinal baby rules–‘don’t ever wake a sleeping baby!’ This is the first baby rule broken by people with twins. It’s total bullshit. Another rule–baby experts insist that newborns can’t/shouldn’t be on a schedule. Again, bullshit. Ours were on a schedule from literally day one, in the hospital. (This is the case with most if not all the twins I’ve ever heard of.) It wasn’t a firm schedule at first in terms of the same time every day, but damn straight we woke the one or both babies when it was time to eat. And they’re great with it. Not to say we don’t feed them a little ‘snack’ when they are clearly hungry, but the feedings have always been three to four hours apart. And they eat great and have been growing like adorable, chubby little weeds!

All baby seats/bouncers are not the same

I remember hearing several recommendations for a Rock N Play. I thought it was just a bouncy seat. At one of the big consignment sales, I found two bouncy seats and figured that was good. No no, not so! Turns out I bought a bouncer and a rocker, and they are NOT the same as a Rock N Play. Our tiny babies were way too tiny for the bouncer and the rocker, but they were just fine–and very happy–in the Rock N Play. It was really helpful for them to sleep in the RNP because the incline kept them from spitting up. (Andy figured out in the hospital that they needed to be kept at a little incline for 15-20 minutes after eating so they wouldn’t spit up all over themselves.) We’d had them in a co-sleeper, which of course has a flat surface. Moving them to the RNPs made a big difference. They’re still in them now, at three months. We’ve just introduced them to the bouncer and the rocker, and they seem to enjoy them. The vibrating function is new to them, and they seem to like sitting up in the rocker.

We got all of these used, by the way. If you have twins, you should invest in at least one of each of these, but don’t buy new. Check craigslist and your local twins club. Ours has a great classified section–that’s where we got the Rock N Plays and our co-sleeper.

Bouncer

A bouncer has stationary legs and springy legs attached to the seat. Most of them have a vibrating function. The seat is very inclined. The babies can kick a lot in this seat, which in turns makes the seat bounce–very exciting.
Rocker seat

A rocker seat has rocking legs and a vibrating function. The baby sits up much straighter than in a bouncer, so he can look around at the world instead of just the ceiling. (Although our babies continue to be entranced by ceilings everywhere, so.)

Rock n’ Play

The Rock N Play is much taller than the other two and folds up. The seat is inclined, and of course it rocks back and forth, which is very soothing. I think the seat also kind of envelops the baby, which is another soothing feeling. This one does not vibrate.

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Anything you found out the hard way that should have been in the pregnancy/new baby books?