Insecurities of a sleepless crazy lady.

  • I think I have discovered one of the pitfalls of having twins (or maybe it’s just a pitfall of having twins before having any other children. Or maybe it’s just my own particular brand of insanity, and no one else goes through this at all): comparison.

    This Baby is so engaged and eager to interact. The Other Baby is so mellow. Is there something wrong with The Other Baby?

    This Baby is all cream and pink. The Other Baby’s more yellow and red. Does The Other Baby have jaundice?

    This Baby pooped three times today. The Other Baby hasn’t pooped since yesterday. Is The Other Baby constipated?

    It all boils down to the fundamental question of Which baby is the normal baby, and which baby has something terribly wrong with it which requires drastic intervention, and how much more am I damaging that baby with every second I don’t run screaming to a pediatrician?

  • My supply of breastmilk is still building, but slowly. Until I have enough milk for both of them (and I’m still working toward that goal, so please no discouraging comments), I have to supplement with formula. In my pre-birth vision of parenting there weren’t any bottles at all, so as you might imagine, formula gives me a major case of The Hates.
  • Upon discharge from the NICU, we were handed one sheet of instructions per baby. Each item was basically phrased as “Do (or Do not do) X, or else YOUR BABY WILL DIE.” My previous placidity has been forever ruined by these little yellow pieces of paper, as every time I violate a precept (OMG baby slept on its side, not on its back!!1!), I have visions of the jury that will convict me of killing my children.
  • Speaking of which, I’ve been having some really impressive nightmares. Every night it’s a cavalcade of baby-related horrors in my brain. I would detail them here, but it would probably give you nightmares too.
  • Despite all of these anxieties, I am actually loving every delirious, nipple-searing moment of motherhood.

    Don’t even get me started on the nipple-searing, though.

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23 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    akeeyu said,

    You totally have my babies, don’t you?

    All of those questions? We’ve asked those. Even worse, we’ve asked them of their pediatrician, who now thinks I’m a dork.

  2. 2

    I have only encouraging comments for you. I think you’ve heard (in five-part harmony, with feeling) about my early experiences nursing LG. (Ah, the nipple-searing. Labor was less painful.) He was WEANED at a week thanks to the aforementioned seared nipples. But we persevered, and he ended up being exclusively breast-fed for lo! so many months.

    (Right, because he wouldn’t eat solid food. Hey, there are some parenting mistakes that you didn’t realize were mistakes until YEARS LATER. Sigh.)

    As a cardinal rule, though, I think it’s always good to remember that pediatricians expect new parents to be freaking. out. And I’d imagine that they expect new parents of twins to be freaking. out. twice as much. So there’s really no downside to screaming to the pediatrician whenever the spirit moves you to do so.

  3. 3

    Mahala said,

    The single most frustrating thing with babies and small children is that the instant you figure something out, work out a schedule or have an awe inspiring “aha!” moment, they’ll grow a bit and all the rules will change. Along with that comes the comfort that the difficult parts are only temporary.

    You will sleep again and some of your sanity will eventually return.

    That’s my wise, old owl motherly advice lol.

  4. 4

    Michelle said,

    If this is un-asked-for advice, *please* disregard. I’m sure that you are doing an absolutely lovely job of mothering these little ones. Of course your milk supply is still growing. Of course you’re examining them minutely. Are you getting a chance to work with a lactation consultant? They can be great helps with milk-supply suggestions, nipple-searing reductions, and notes about tandem nursing. I’ve got much love for the LCs I’ve met and worked with.

    Re: jaundice… In the well-baby nursery we look not only at their skin but the whites of their eyes. Those turn yellowish when it’s heading toward jaundice. That way you don’t freak out about babies whose skin may merely be sallow or olive. If the eyes are clear and bright white, you’re fine.

    Re: constipation… Whether it’s a good practice or not I can’t say, but what I’ve seen done in my nursery is that as the 24-hour mark approaches with no poops one of the nurses will lube up a rectal thermometer and take babe’s temp that way. This generally is “stimulating” and the babe poops out the tough stuff fairly quickly. Sometimes at the nurse. (She might deserve it — I’m on the fence about whether the cure is worse than the problem on this one. But dang if it doesn’t work!)

    They’re just so beautiful. Congratulations again. Keep us posted on their growth spurts and new powers of cuteness!

  5. 5

    Allison said,

    I hope people aren’t criticizing you for using formula. They’re your kids; do what you wish (or what you need to do.) Millions of babies are raised on formula and they are healthy and happy. There is such a guilt that comes with breastfeeding – it’s the part I hated most about it (to be honest, I didn’t really like it at all.)

    If it makes you feel any better, with my one kid I supplemented with formula, even after my supply was really good, which took about 2 months. Also, sometimes it was not convenient to breastfeed and your kid is hungry, like in the line at the grocery store. Formula comes in handy! We used the Target brand formula and it was awesome. Also it was half the price of the brands and the same ingredients (probably made at the same place.)

    Your issues in having twins are really interesting to read. I’m sure you’re doing a great job. Worrying is part of motherhood. It doesn’t really go away!

  6. 6

    brina said,

    Well I will be nothing but encouraging, too, because I know you’re doing a great job. I don’t need (or even want, really) to know every parenting choice you make. Your brain didn’t come out with your kids, so I know you’re doing whatever is right for you and your family.

    It isn’t failure to need to supplement with formula. It just is what it is, and they’ll be fine.

  7. 7

    Nora said,

    insert hug here

  8. 8

    Annika said,

    It sure looked to me like you are (all four of you) doing a marvelous job. If Wren keeps nursing like she did when I was there, you will have a great supply in no time. She is a champ! And really, there is No Such Thing as a normal baby. Nor are you likely to kill either of them. I never got instructions and my kid is 100% alive.

  9. 9

    Jaye said,

    I’m not sure that’s limited to having twins. My parents seemed very confused and worried about my little brother, because he just sat their quietly and played with his toys. He didn’t run around and bounce off the furniture. He didn’t try to talk with random people on the street. He wasn’t really interested in food. In other words, he was a different person from me.

  10. 10

    julie said,

    I bounced over from SilliGirl’s blog to see how you and the twins are doing. Congratulations on your new arrivals! I am not a medical professional. Disregard any or all of the following, but I couldn’t stop myself from typing (which is so not me, despite my frequent comments at SilliGirl’s). Besides, I walked you down the aisle at SilliGirl’s wedding, so it’s not like we’ve got nothing in common, right? =)

    My son is almost 3yo. He’s doing great. Prior to birthing him, I had ZERO experience w/ babies/little kids. If I can do it, you can do it! You’ve got all the motivation you’ll ever need…times two!

    Check out mothering.com if you haven’t already. They’ve got breastfeeding, life with a babe, gentle discipline (not that you’ll need this for the next year), nighttime parenting, and many other forums. In general, I’ve found it to be a fairly open-minded community of supportive parents (skewed towards mothers) with tons of been there done that advice to read up on. And I’ve read plenty of posts from mothers there who know that every child is different, but they still can’t stop themselves from comparing their kids (to their other children or to other people’s children)–so you’re totally normal to wonder if something is wrong with your babes. And if your mama instinct is telling you to get it checked out, go check it out! (BTW, if you’re not comfortable with your ped, find another one, or three, or however many you need to go through before you find one you can click with. If your ped isn’t supportive of _you_, it’s not a good fit, and it’ll just make your job that much harder.) If it’s more of a casual worrying, look it up online, or contact some mama friends, or use the nurse hotline if you don’t want to bug the doctor just yet. Don’t waste your energy worrying about what other people think of you (b/c no matter what you decide to do, everybody else will be more than happy to share contradictory opinions with you, usually in a very authoritative tone).

    Breastfeeding. My son’s weaning. He’s down to 3-4 nursings a day. I’m starting to accept it (for the first 2 years, he nursed _at least_ 12 times a day), but it isn’t easy. There’s so much emotion involved in breastfeeding (and yeah, part of my problem is the changing hormonal balance). Lansinoh (or equivalent product) works wonders for soothing the nipples, so if you don’t already have some, get some! The other all time best thing you can do for your nipples is to let them air dry after you nurse/pump. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the first 4-6 weeks of nursing/pumping is the toughest–after that, it usually gets a lot easier for the majority of moms. My son was born a lazy feeder. I supplemented with formula for most of a day (one of the most exhausting of my life)–the ped had me nursing my son every 2 hours, and after every nursing session, I pumped (was still borrowing the hospital’s super spiffy motorized pump). So while I pumped, DH bottle fed DS, first w/ formula, then as my supply amped up, with expressed breastmilk instead. It ended up being a wonderful way for DH and babe to bond (and it gave me a couple minutes to wash the pump parts). Thankfully, after about 18 hours of that sucky schedule, my supply was good enough (plus all the 1oz bottles in the fridge) that I didn’t have to keep it up any longer. Of course, your body/situation is different, so your mileage may vary. But starting out, I had zero intention of ever using formula, so I totally get where you’re coming from with that one. You do what you have to in order to ensure the wellbeing of your babies. I used formula 2 other times, too–once when I had a doc appt and left my 1mo old w/ his grandmother, and once when it was the middle of the night, DH had to get up early for work, and I was so exhausted/stressed/hormonal/freaking out that I just could.not.nurse one more time (this was still during that lovely initial 4-6 weeks where the nipples were not happy, and the babe hadn’t perfected his latch, etc). It was a sanity saver for me. And nothing bad happened. I let go of the guilt and moved on.

    Last tidbit (and yes, I know I’m writing a novella here–trust me, I’m leaving out a lot) re: sleeping. For the majority of babies, it is healthier for them to be put to sleep on their backs (as opposed to their sides or tummies); however, every baby is different. I quickly learned that my son had 2 favorite sleeping positions–at the breast, or upright, chest to chest with me. For 3 months I lived on our couch (we didn’t have a headboard on our bed, and it wasn’t against the wall, so being upright in bed wasn’t an option). Well, in between walking him around (b/c he hated for me to be still…I had to either walk or sway while holding him, unless he finally fell asleep, then I could sit/recline on the couch for 20-40 minutes until he woke up again). Oh, and not every baby is able “sleep well”. At almost three years old, my son is finally starting to sleep a 5 hour stretch at night…sometimes. Sleep maturity happens when it happens. We happened to cosleep, and we’re still cosleeping (me and son in one bed; DH in a different bed) b/c it’s what my son needs right now. Yes, my husband misses having a sleep partner, but we weren’t willing to upgrade to a king sized bed, so, like many other families, we’re doing what works best for us. (Memorize that phrase–“We’re doing what works best for us.” Then use it all the time with everyone. It’s another sanity saver.)

  11. 11

    Hihankara said,

    Wow, nipple searing. Eeps. No wonder everyone thinks their mother is a saint! (At least they arent teething…?)

    On another note, I had a dream last night that I had two children. Not twins per se, but it was like I was a cat with two pregancies going at once, I had one kid and then a second one like a week later. And in my dream I thought about you and how I should call you and we could do play dates and stuff.

    And then, the horror, I realized I had no baby stuff and had told no one we were expecting and therefore had had no showers or advice or car seats or diapers. And THAT woke me up.

  12. 12

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    Well, Julie’s pretty much said it all (and then some!), but most of us that have been or have known mothers can tell you annecdotally that your experience is TOTALLY NORMAL. I think we went to the ER at least 3 times when WMG was newly-born. In comparison, my BFF’s baby (born last week) is just a mellow, mewling bundle of love. He barely even cried when he got his wee-wee cut. No two babies are alike, and yours are perfect and normal and you are perfect and normal, and one day you will look back on all this stress and worry and laugh.

    Well, probably not laugh, but at least you’ll understand it a bit more. In the meantime, don’t be reluctant to call the pediatrician EVERY HOUR if that makes you feel better (it’s their job!), or to call on friends (it’s our job!!) or to just vent and get support (and some good ideas!) here.

  13. 13

    Starfish said,

    I echo the “we’re doing what works for us” mantra – say it to yourself all the time! Sometimes I have to say it very loudly to myself when all around are raising eyebrows but Jack’s happiness and health is good backup for me.

    Re formula – this is part of the reason it was invented – to give you a densely nutritional supplement when BF isn’t perfect so you won’t have to resort to watered down food or risk animal milk. Even little bits of breast milk do wonders so don’t beat yourself up. I had issues until Jack was about 2 months – I kept telling myself “I’ll just do one more day..” and we’re still going! Just do a day at a time – tomorrow will look after itself till you get there. I’m just grateful we live in an age where we have formula available so when things don’t go as planned we know we have a good backup.

    I have to add one more thing (ok, repeat what someone else said): TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! You know your babies best of anyone – you built them after all! Mother instincts tend to be second to professional opinion but shouldn’t be. If something your pedi says doesn’t quite sit right – follow your gut and get another opinion.

    Worry plus love? Welcome to motherhood! (I wouldn’t trade for anything!)

  14. 14

    Sara R. said,

    Everyone has given you great advice and feedback. I’ll just add my voice of support — You aren’t doing anything wrong. Breastmilk is optimal, but formula is a totally acceptable option, especially for supplementing as needed. The first six weeks with Vivian and breastfeeding were very difficult, but it got progressively easier. I hope it will get easier for you, Robin & Wren, too!

  15. 15

    esperanza said,

    Yes, you’re doing great. I can’t even imagine two of the little darlings. My one is plenty.

    And I had to laugh at your dreams…a couple of weeks ago, I dreamed that little A and I were walking through the neighborhood (well, I was walking and she was in the stroller). And who should jog by but our favorite neonatologist from the NICU? How handy, Dr. D, I have just a few questions for you…maybe you can conjure up a comforting presence in your subconscious too!

    Sleep, sleep, sleep, Wren and Robin. Your mama needs to sleep too.

  16. 16

    kathy a. said,

    it sounds like the babies are doing well, they are both individuals, your milk is coming in, and you’ve got formula for backup. all good!

    it really is surprising how different sibs can be. mine weren’t twins, but 19 months was close enough to remember. one was colicy, and those were bad weeks; the other was happy but didn’t sleep much. one wanted to nurse 24/7; the other, less often, but then she’d take too much, barf happily, take a second helping, and go on with her day. one wanted constant motion. one wanted to be up and watch everything at the earliest possible time. etc.

    my kids are 19 and 20 now; i think we were advised to keep them on their sides if possible, in case of barfies. so, i guess advice changes.

    you’re doing great! hugs to you and the babes.

  17. 17

    JenL said,

    I think you are doing great. No one tells you in advance just how difficult this breastfeeding business can be. And you so nailed it with the nipple searing in the beginning – ouch. But it does get better. There is nothing wrong with supplementing with formula. The goal is to make sure your kids get enough to eat.

    Bug couldn’t latch, so I figured fine, I’ll just pump and pump and pump until I drop and we would bottlefeed her. Ha. Supply problems kicked in so we supplemented, even in the hospital. Gradually, with the help of a great lactation consultant, enough fenugreek to make a person smell like maple syrup, and a lot of luck, she figured out how to latch and nursed like a pro.

    Just do what works for you. But beware (if you haven’t seen it yet), the iron in the formula can turn baby poop green.

  18. 18

    A said,

    Another anecdote to (hopefully) make you feel better. When Daughter decided once glorious day that she didn’t feel like drinking anything, I was sure it was Something Dire. So I called the pediatrician whose kind, patient nurse said this sometimes happens, keep offering her fluid, and call them if she stopped drinking. When she finally decided to have some water, she drank for a bit, then stopped…so I called the pediatrician again. After a painful pause the nurse said, as gently as possible, Mrs. A we meant if she stopped for a prolonged period, not when she finished. Cringeworthy at best. I was sure I could never again convince anyone that my IQ was actually higher than the room temperature.

    The object of the exercise is a happy, healthy, nourished family, not angst over how that is accomplished.

    …and your children are absolutely adorable, btw 🙂

  19. 19

    sara said,

    your children are beautiful!

    and this is what i have noticed with nursing: it is wonderful, and beautiful, and i would not trade nursing my daughter for anything, and all of that joy and beauty can make it hard to see the same in bottlefeeding. nursing is something that makes mommyhood bearable, especially during the first few months (although it really hurts), and it can feel like we are not adequate as mothers to not be producing enough milk, or if our child is not quite strong enough to take the milk they need, and we forget that the supplementing for a while is a wonderful way to have our children get enough to eat to satisfy their growing bodies so that they are content.

    i hope the pumping is going okay, and am glad to have come across your blog.

    just out of curiosity, are you trying one of those supplemental nursing systems that you wear around your neck?

  20. 20

    Peggydoula said,

    GO FAMILY GO! I’m so proud of you and I’m sure that you and husband are excellent parents! You’re in our thoughts! We love you guys, cats too!

  21. 21

    Frank said,

    Goodness, I thought I had it bad with one! I dunno what I’d do if I had another one for comparison!

    I’m sure you and Hubby are doing great. As I’ve learned, follow your instincts.

    Oh, Oliver hasn’t ever tasted breast milk and he seems to be doing just fine!

    xo

  22. 22

    Jen said,

    You two are doing an incredible job, mastering sleeplessness while keeping a great sense of humor (and we have video to prove it!). You make it look easy, even when it may not be. You and husband work as such a great team!

    Much love to you both!

  23. 23

    Waiting Amy said,

    For what its worth, I have one child and am expecting twins this summer. Yet I can TOTALLY see myself making those very same comparisons. I read it to my DH who agreed that I would be the same if not worse!

    Sounds to me like you are doing great with them and they are thriving!


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