by Katherine Betts
'Why I'm a Mom of Multiples Hero' aims to celebrate our inherent awesomeness, and share our parenting and personal wins. As parents of multiples we can be guilty of criticizing our choices, or feeling like we are not offering our children everything we would be offering a singleton child. It's easy to torture ourselves about the difficulties; but what about what we have achieved? Every one of us have overcome challenges, so lets share our wins and get to know each other in the process.
I'm kicking off the Mom of Multiples Hero series to share a little of my own story and showcase some of my triumphant moments. We'd love to have some other Moms do the same, it's just five questions, so please get in touch!
Why I'm a Mom of Multiples Hero
Q: Please introduce yourself. How old are your children and what's your favorite thing about them?
A: My name is Katherine. I'm British, and used to work as an Architect, but have been home with my kids since we moved to the US three years ago. My daughter Elsie is seven and I adore her sense of humor; she's insanely sharp and absolutely hilarious. My identical twin boys are 21months old and I love how different they are in personality. George has the most adorable facial expressions, he can express so much in just one look. He's obsessed with crayons and stickers at the moment and I love his creativity. Arthur is a man of adventure, he'll climb to the top of a slide and throw himself down on his belly without even a blink. It gets him into trouble all the time, but I love his curiosity and his cheekiness.
Q: What's the one thing you wish you'd known before having your multiples?
A: I wish I'd known more about preemie babies. I was aware it was likely my babies would be born early (the boys arrived at 36wks), but I didn't realize how different a preemie baby would be compared to my daughter who was born full term. Feeding preemie babies is tough because they are really really sleepy. It sounds great that the babies slept, but not when you desperately need to fatten them up! Preemie babies can also struggle to latch, I really had no idea breastfeeding preemie babies had additional challenges.
Q: How do you practice self-care? What do you do to pick yourself up after a tough day with the kids?
A: I've found the twins particularly exhausting recently. As toddlers, they are able to do so much so fast, and yet giving them instructions or rules to keep them safe seems futile... it's exhausting! I'm a stay-at-home mom, but when the boys were about 15months we employed a Nanny for two days a week to give me a break. Although expensive, it really has been a life-saver. Getting out of the house alone and sitting in Starbucks with my laptop (I blog) is my absolute fave. I love my mom dates and nights out on the town with friends, but when the kids have been running circles round me all week, being alone is the best come down.
Not everyone wants to sit in Starbucks and sip iced tea, but get yourself a pedicure, go to the library and read (another of my favorite hangouts... it's so quiet!!), or go to the movies on your own... I highly recommend it. It reminds you that you're actually an independent, choice making, living human being (easy to forget when you live for the little people).
Q: what has been your biggest struggle and how did you overcome it (or how are you currently work on it!)?
A: My biggest struggle was the timing of our twins. My father passed away in England when I was 11wks pregnant, and we moved from Texas to Arizona when I was 20wks pregnant. We had absolutely no family and friends here, I even put our realtor as our emergency contact for my daughter's school as she was the only person I had a number for. I struggled to find an OB that would take our insurance, and others said they wouldn't take me because I was past 20wks. We were in an Air B'n'B while we house hunted, and I packed and unpacked every box myself with a twin bump. I was alone in the hospital with the twins for the first five days because my husband was home with my daughter. It was a grueling year.
I knew I only had so long before I entered the housebound world of newborn twins, so I did my best to get out there and meet people before the babies arrived. I joined the PV MOMs group and went to the Fall picnic with my mega bump; I joined a moms support group at the hospital (I still go two years later), I started conversations with every mom I met at swim class and dance class. I found playdates and mom dates through the 'MeetUp' app and did my best to surround myself with some kind of support. Not all the people I met became good friends, but it's worth the awkward moments... You need friends when you have kids!!
Q: What has been your Mom of Multiples Hero hero moment? That moment you gave yourself an internal high five because you were totally bossing it?
A: I Took my three kids to the beach in California... alone! The twins were 7months old and we all bundled into the car and off we went. The stroller wasn't an option on the beach so I had to get the twins into their carriers on my own, set up a tent, carry towels, food, bottles (breastfeeding didn't work out for me), and my daughter was insistent on taking all her sand castle paraphernalia. We were quite the scene, and although the beach was full of people watching, only one person got up and offered to help, just as I was leaving... honestly, what is wrong with people?!
I totally nailed it though... I dug two holes and molded a sand version of two Bumbo chairs so the boys could sit and eat their porridge. They weren't sitting up very well at that point so I had to improvise! They even both napped after breakfast in the tent, we had a bit of grumbling but I stuck with it and rocked them in turn until they fell asleep. I then got to build a sand castle with my daughter, happy times. My husband joined us later that evening to hit up Disney for the weekend and I must say I felt like a total champ!
Calling all Moms of Multiples... we would love to feature you in our 'Why I'm a Mom of Multiples Hero' series! Please get in touch if you'd like to answer our questions and share your awesomeness with other moms. We all need a little help sometimes, and focusing on the little wins can be the perfect pick me up on a tough day. firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Facebook.
by Erin Sweeten
1. This is where I hide the holiday candy I snuck out of the kids’ stash. It’s down to just mini Butterfingers now, which I don’t like, but I’m eating them anyway. Beggars can’t be choosers! I take my sugar rush where I can get it. There are many, many little people on the other side of that door, and all of them need me. Okay, it’s only two or three, but trust me, they can seem like a lot more.*
2. One or more babies has pooped and I am trying to outlast my spouse in the “Pretending I Don’t Smell Anything” game.
3. Yet another visiting relative started to tell me how I never had a car seat growing up and I turned out just fine. I said, “Is that a baby crying?” and went in here instead.
4. It’s Sexy Time and I’m mushing my boobs around to get them properly aligned in my favorite pre-breastfeeding-twins lingerie. Success! All that time at the playdough table with the toddler is finally paying off! Squish and pat, baby. Squish and pat.
5. This is the closest I can get to Total Sensory Deprivation.
6. I’m at a one-year-old’s birthday party and person number six just said, “You’ve got your hands full!” and saying "You should see my heart" five times is my limit. Fortunately there’s an actual closet in this community center. Why are there so many vacuums in here? It’s hard to get the stroller in. Never fear, I am a stroller-maneuvering expert. Tip left, tip right, tip forward, and we’re in. I am the champion of the world.
7. The babysitter is here so I can do my work-from-home job but the babies won’t stay with her unless I pretend I’m leaving the house and sneak back in through the other door when they’re not looking. Narrow escape in the hallway!
8. The other night I ordered a bunch of stuff on Amazon at 3 a.m. Because if I have to be awake at 3 a.m., I might as well buy a new shower squeegee, some whimsical earrings, and three other equally necessary things. Now the delivery guy is unloading the boxes at the door just as I’m walking through the house naked in search of clean underwear. We’re behind on laundry, don’t judge. The front blinds are open a crack. Fortunately, I have quick reflexes from all the time I’ve spent tackling escapist toddlers.
9. It’s 6:30 a.m. and I’ve already heard the word “Mom” 55 times today.
10. I want to watch this hilarious curse-filled video on my phone but I don’t want my kids to know that curse words exist. When I let one slip out in front of the kids, I add funny suffixes so they think I’m just launching into a children’s song. “ #@!$-a-rooney! %$^&-a-doodle-do!”
11. It’s 10:30pm in stomach flu season and the washer is churning through its third load of dirty sheets, clothes and throw rugs. Though I’m not sick myself, I wear that cheesy vinegar smell of old vomit. My spouse has just cheerfully suggested that now would be a great time to “hash out the finances.” I’m in the closet so I can compose myself enough to answer kindly, with reasonable sentences that do not in any way include the concept of shoving “the finances” where the sun don’t shine.
12. I like it in here. It’s the only place in my house where it’s just me, myself, and I. I’m searching the internet for an extremely tiny yet comfy chair. That way, I won’t have to stand while I eat mini Butterfingers.
*no tiny people were endangered in the making of this blog post.
It doesn't matter how much assistance you may have, if your babies sleep through the night at 12 weeks or 12 months, all I know is that first year, YOU are in SURVIVAL mode 100% of the time. There is no amount of preparation, reading, personal advice you receive, that will prepare you for the emotionally charged roller coaster and life altering change you will be enduring from day one. Those sleepless, helpless at times, nights, left me wringing with a type of rage and despair I never knew I was capable of feeling. This is not a black and white scenario that you can be ready to check off each accomplishment. It’s messy, confusing and draining to even the strongest people I’ve encountered. Every person will adapt differently and may never experience an ounce of postpartum depression/anxiety/anger. Mama, I just want you to know, that it is OK to not feel yourself post birth, but it is NOT OK for those feelings to linger longer than that first month without seeking a professional's opinion.
We celebrated the twins 3rd birthday this past April, which always spurs on the emotional rollercoaster of events that transpired two years ago to date and my anniversary of embracing the fact that it was time to evaluate ME. Why at times during my first year of motherhood had I felt more like I was constantly failing and overwhelmed?! I felt I had lost all intuition as a mother after strenuous months with breastfeeding issues, sleep issues and a failing marriage. I acknowledged that this was NOT going to be my new normal.
Two years ago, I was tearing down pastel colored streamers from the twin’s 1st birthday party, which my Type A personality had been planning tirelessly for months prior. All the while, preparing emotionally for my husband to be working abroad for the longest stint since the kids had been born. We had been in a constant sleep battle with one of our kiddos and I don’t think I had even slept more than a handful of three hour stretches at a time in that first year and felt numb to the constant fussy cries in those first four months. Naps were a disaster the day after their first sugar rush and I had slammed the back door to run out into the middle of the backyard screaming louder then I knew possible and was left staring at my shaking palms. Panting trying to catch my breath between the sun drenched tears that were streaming down my face and the complete and utter helplessness I felt while coated in this dark anger.
There was a constant battle of differing opinions being thrown at me, criticism for following through on advice from others, managing a velcro baby that needed me 24/7 and having so much guilt that I felt almost zero connection to Baby B. I felt like I was suffocating in my own life and I wanted to slap myself ten times over to just get “with it.” I kept telling myself, I was 12 months into this parenting gig, shouldn’t I have my sh*t together by now. I kept wavering in and out of what life was like pre kids to what felt like a constant uphill battle in my current state. I turned my head to face the big picture kitchen window and saw those chubby cheeked cherubs waving their hands at me. In that moment, I texted my OBGYN and whittled out a quick and semi-coherent message telling her that I needed help; serious help.
My OBGYN immediately had me connect with a twin mama, through PVMOM that had a counseling background and girls that were one year older than mine. This season was still semi-fresh for her, so she was able to grant me encouragement. I had my therapist on speed dial and my PVMOM mama on text message to get me through the next 24 hours of next steps.
Everyone’s postpartum is going to look a little different and mine wasn’t the typical baby blues depression, much like what you hear about. My therapist was quick to acknowledge that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture for a reason! Through months of mindfulness training, hours of talk therapy, sleep scheduling for myself, emdr therapy to eliminate some of my triggers and LOTS of self care time, I was able to lift myself out of the fog right when I joined PVMOM in August 2015. I’ll never forget the instant relief I felt while speaking to a few mamas (now my best friends) that had littles the same age about their current struggles. I immediately felt relief and strength that I could make it through this journey of motherhood. You are never alone!
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