Disclaimer – this post contains my personal thoughts and experience with motherhood so far -both good and bad. I in no way intend to make it sound as if I am complaining – however, if you think this post may be a trigger to you you may want to skip over it.
While lost in the depths of infertility, when I heard the phrase “motherhood is one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences” I admit I sometimes found myself sighing at the “hardest” part, swearing I would take every cry, shit and vomit in stride. I would be appreciative of the opportunity to simply be a mother. It is all I ever wanted, after all. I’m finding this to be both true and false. (And I do think I get a bit of extra leeway considering I’m mothering not one but two. Seriously, cut me a little slack)
I attribute both my older age and experience with infertility for a higher level of patience. Part of it is the nature of twin-dom too, I think. I can only care for one baby at a time which means sometimes the other is going to cry. Until I get these milk issues sorted out, I can only feed one at a time which means sometimes one is going to wake up early and be mad. I get that getting out of the house takes an extra 20 minutes and that unless I feel like feeding in public my outings are limited to 2 hours tops- and that’s only if someone doesn’t decide to explosive poo through both their worn and back up outfit. I feel like I take all of this with as much stride as a woman with two babies possibly could. I truly believe that infertility makes mothering two babies easier. Not easy, mind you, easi-er. As someone who worked both as a nanny and with babies and toddlers for the past few years I thought I understood that diaper rash happens, some babies spit up more than others, sometimes babies fuss even when you’ve checked everything off the list (diaper, food, temperature) etc. Some feeds are just going to suck. I expected that.
What I didn’t expect was that despite all of this knowledge, I was going to question my judgement anyway.
Let me just come out and say this outright: breastfeeding is hard. People told me that and I get it now. Its (so far) more often stressful than completely successful. My initial worry that I wouldn’t make enough milk for two babies turned out to be hysterical because I actually have the complete opposite problem: I seem to make too much, which results in the whole squirting the baby in the face problem I’ve joked about before (and do at times find genuinely funny). But it also causes other issues: it makes Miles gassy, it makes Abby spit up because it comes out so forcefully and the fullness often makes me ridiculously uncomfortable. Sometime in the middle of the night when I’m already tired, the thought of listening to my poor baby cry or cough just seems overwhelming.
Logically, both babies are healthy. Per the doctor, both are gaining weight appropriately. Per the millions of pages I’ve read (and my own professional knowledge) mild reflux is not a concern as long as babies are gaining and it doesn’t appear to cause lots of crying or pain. Squirming from gas could just as easily be from an immature digestive system as my supply issue. From what I’m told my supply should resolve itself sometime within the next month or two. Poor Abby’s sore bum is likely due to the ridiculous number of times they poop and is probably not due to some milk allergy. Sometimes lots of background, research and ability to find an answer at your fingertips is a bad thing. Logically, I understand all of this. Professionally I’d explain this to a concerned parent and tell them not to worry.
Emotionally, I tell myself not to expect the mother of the year award anytime soon. I wonder if I really am making the right decisions, if the reason why someone is crying is because of something I did or didn’t do. Because of something I should have known.
Logically, I understand that I’m doing the best I can with what I know. That it is and is going to be a lot of trial and error. That sometimes I’m going to mis judge hunger cues, or mix them up with “I need changed” cues or simply “I’m mad for no apparent reason” cues. That the babies are growing and gaining so obviously I have to be doing something right.
Emotionally sometimes I wonder if I’m cut out for this.
Its funny sometimes how you can understand something logically but the emotion tied to it is the complete opposite.
I look at these babies and feel simultaneously blessed and unworthy. I think I struggle a little more with my infertility history because I understand what it feels like to do nothing but wish for the problems I’m currently writing about. Because for some reason I feel like this means I shouldn’t ever be frustrated, confused or feel like I could use some support. Which is just plain silly, but doesn’t stop me from feeling that way.
I feel so happy to have the chance to be a mom – it really IS all I wanted. I tell Bryan often how amazing these babies are, how cute they are, how lucky I feel. Sometimes though, I feel like I am failing at the most important job I’ll ever have.
Welcome to motherhood.