Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Second Postpartum

I can still wreak havoc in this white jacket, Mom.

It's been three years since my husband and I have seen the upheaval particular to that of bringing home a bundle of joy.  In anywhere from 6 - 10 weeks (give or take some), we will see our sense of  "normal" fly out the door as we adjust to our new life as a family of five.

I thought I would sort out some thoughts here on how I plan, quite the laughable word when twins are part of the picture but whatever, to work through a second postpartum season.

Things I WON'T be doing:

1. Swearing off pacifiers.  You would have thought these things were nuclear weapons when Thomas was born.  I was terrified of nipple confusion.  With the twins, I have all kinds of resources at an arm's reach for a little bit of just in case and a whole lot of flexibility.

2. Denying help. My first go at this, I envisioned coming home with a baby and being so capable that anyone at home would have compromised my sense of space and my chance to do it on my own.  These instincts didn't betray me.  I did reap benefits from attempting a heck of independence, but the reality was that I did need help in ways I didn't foresee.  My c-section sent me in a tailspin of a tinge of postpartum depression and an inability to nurse.  I won't pretend this time to know exactly how or when I'll need the help or even who is willing to do so, but I'll humbly accept any sweet soul who is equal parts kind and brave enough to ask, "You need a hand?"  I'm so grateful for the family and friends who helped out in big ways after Thomas was born, and I cringe to think of being unwelcome to those close to me who wanted to help even more but could sense I was closed off to the idea. 

3. Tackling nighttime feeding on my own.  Again, there was some sound logic in me approaching the night on my own this last time: a) my husband's performance at work is of high priority and b)it didn't make much sense for me to complain about feeding at night when I had the daytime to get some sleep.  The problem here is that a mother can get in a situation where she is so worn down and fatigued, that those bursts of brief and interrupted sleep, no matter how many caught throughout the day, just do not cut it.  I know I got there with Thomas, and I can't afford to get there with three boys to take care of the next day.  I also think that, while respecting one's spouse is important, conversations about appropriate changes in priorities, values, and demands of mother can be difficult to have when the husband hasn't had a taste whatsoever of REM cycles being torn to shreds for days on end.  *I won't share yet what exactly I'm hoping to get from my husband in terms of help because that seems like a recipe for disaster and also because our 1st serious conversation about this ended with Paul saying, "Yeah. I hope I wake up." So there's that.

Things I WILL be doing:

1. NOTHING! No. I know.  Taking care of babies and a three year is a ton. It's a lot.  It's a lot of something.  You're right! But what I mean is all the other stuff.  One day, weeks after Thomas was born I confided in my mom the terror that I was getting "nothing" done.  Her answer was a relief but it took a stupidly long time to sink in. "Yeah, you won't get anything done for a while and that's okay.  Before you know it, you will be...when it's time."  My productive self was frantic to be working on "work"---something quantifiable, visible, valuable to people living outside my home.  This time, I'm going in as a friend of Nothing.  Anything extra will be an unexpected bonus.

2. Laughing.  Earlier tonight, after three times in a row of Thomas pooping in the toilet in the past 72 hours and being so proud of himself, he pooped in his underwear.  No big deal.  I cleaned him up and was carrying the wipes and the underwear to the trash can and was just figuring out the logistics of disposal when plop, the turd I thought was secure in the hammock o' undies escaped and made a landing on my hardwood floor. I stopped, tilted my head, and laughed loudly for a long time.  You deal with a lot of poop (only I'm thinking of the word that starts with "sh" and ends with "it") when you are parenting.  Sometimes, your best coping mechanism is to laugh before you have to get down on your hands and knees and deal.  

3. Capturing the moment.  I don't know exactly how this will look.  Photos. Videos.  Blog posts shorter than my pinky.  All the staring into eyes and letting little hands curl around my finger are wonderful and sacred and beautiful because they're captured in a mommy's heart in a very, very special way.  But, I'm sad to say, some of these things can fade out too in the sifting sands of time.  We think I will never forget his ....or I won't ever forget how this feels when... but we do.  The fatigue of the first few months can play tricks on our minds.  Having pieces of memories solidified in video, the written word, and photos are such a blessing later when we are so busy with life those deeply cherished memories of late night feedings and little boys in their 1st bathing trunks seem buried beyond reach. 

4. Eating from the freezer. How it was possible for me to have such a love affair for cooking and yet miss the mark so greatly on food prep with my 1st baby astounds me to this day.  When we came home from the hospital Paul, after giving Thomas a tour of the place, got in the car, went to the grocery store, and bought a lot of food.  Because I'm pretty sure we had a conversation that went something like this: 

ME: "Um.  Can you like go to the store and just get a lot of easy to cook food?
PAUL: [Husband who does the grocery shopping on average of 1 out of 10 trips]  "Sure. No problem."

WHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAATTTT were we thinking???!!! No, Thomas was not an early birth.  Yes, we were on a budget AND knew how to cook AND hate processed store-bought foods.  Whatever. Sometimes in life we can just be really, really dumb, and my overconfidence that I would come home post birth and be whipping up homemade meals in no time would be a perfect illustration of that.  

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What's on your list of DOs and DON'Ts for postpartum?  What are your best tips for surviving the season of tiny toes and little sleep? I would love to hear your advice!


  1. 1. If you don't have a kindle/tablet of some sort, now is the time to get one if you can. If you're nursing your babies, you'll spend a LOT of time on the couch without any real means of getting up (those twin pillows are huge and hard to manage in the first few weeks when your body is recovering), so you need something that will keep you amused forever!

    2. Nighttime feeding help is absolutely a must - I pumped and kept a bottle by the bed so my husband could feed one baby while I nursed the other because I was ABSOLUTELY not getting out of bed to nurse both babies for an hour in the middle of the night...

    3. Definitely prepare a lot of freezer meals in advance, but also get your husband prepared to do the grocery shopping on his own, and take stock of what meals you make that require limited prep time for those nights when you just want to let someone else hold the babies so you can cook! And if people say, "Oh, I want to help!" and don't give specific offers? Solicit gift cards to take-out or delivery places, freezer meals, or even just time that they can hold babies so you can get stuff done. My Mothers of Multiples group leaders said, "Let other people do the work so you can hold your babies!" but I *really* wanted to hand the babies off once in a while so I could cook by myself, or fold laundry, or wash dishes... These honestly have become a release for me, because nobody's going to ask me to hold a baby when I'm washing dishes - it's the only "me" time I get!

    4. http://www.itstwinsanity.com/ 2 sets of twins. 3 singletons. A military husband who's often deployed. Sometimes I need a reminder that my life could be SO much crazier!

  2. Rosie, thanks so much for the advice! I was excited to see that I've already got #1 taken care of. I'll happily put my Kindle Fire to good use.

    And I checked out this blog you shared--OH MY! And she seems so together. It put me in my place to peruse her site. Thanks for the perspective!