Posted in All, My Story

Adventures in Sleep Training – Epilogue

Well our time with the sleep consultant ended a few days ago, and while it’s a bit scary to be out on our own I have to say – I feel so much more confident in my role as a mom now that we’ve had her help us. I’ll probably be repeating a lot of the things I’ve said over the course of this sleep training set, but they’re worth repeating for sure.

So first off, I’d like to talk about our consultant Jessica with Happy Little Dreamers Sleep Consulting and the process we went through. I had posted on a local twin mom FB page asking how the moms had gotten their kids to stop co-sleeping. After some really useful responses (not… There were a bunch that were like “good luck! Our kids are 3 and STILL in our bed! Lolololol” wow, so helpful. I’m clearly pulling my hair out and asking for help…), there was a lady that said she’d gotten help from Jessica several times and she was of tremendous help over the course of the I think 18 months they’d had their twins. I’d literally never heard of a sleep consultant before, and I was stuck between thinking it was super bougie and California-style (read:unnecessary) or possibly the most helpful thing that could ever be. Turns out it’s probably a bit of both, but definitely more the latter.

As you likely know, I was dealing with some pretty intense lows in my postpartum anxiety and depression. I knew sleep training was a thing and that I had to get the kids on a routine, but anytime I tried I just got so overwhelmed. One of my issues has consistently been an inability to cope with my kids crying – which I know is silly, they’re babies. They cry. But still any time I tried to put them down and ignore them for x-amount of time, it just didn’t happen. And I knew I was teaching them bad habits by giving into their cries but in my head I had no other options. I had no idea what to do. So Dave and I had talked about it, and how much was going to be our limit on the cost. How much is getting our bed back worth to us? Our sanity? All of that. We have limited savings, and we’re trying really hard to get debt put away and a down payment on a house put together. Is it worth taking a chunk of that and putting it to something that could possibly not work?

Enter Jessica. She was really quick to respond and set up a consult with us to see if she could help us. We chatted on the phone for a bit, told her our story and what the kids were up to. She told us upfront what the costs would be – I expected it to be at least double what we were quoted. Basically there was a flat fee for two weeks of help, on the premise that both kids would be on the same schedule and only require the one routine. Once we established that we were interested in her help, we set up a video consult with her. It took about 90 minutes and we went through eeeeeverything. She had all of the questions for us; stuff that I wouldn’t have even thought about. We decided on a start date and she set to work, sending us a comprehensive routine and set of guidelines the next day. She even set me up with a wellness plan because I was really nervous about how my crazy brain was going to do through this process. That’s one thing I really loved about working with Jessica – There was so much support on every level. Zero judgment about the depression or how anxious I was about all of this. When she was doing check-in’s it was for all of us, not just how the kids were doing with the sleep routine. She was full of advice and breathing exercises, and was clear about how I needed to present a happy and in-control mood when I was trying to put the kids to bed.

I have said this before, and I will say it again. Hiring Jessica was the best money we’ve ever spent. I’m hesitant to say how much we spent because I don’t want to lock her into fees for anyone reading this, but it was well under $400 for the two weeks of help. MORE than worth it. We have our sanity back, we have our bed back, we’re all so much more rested and our family is functioning better. I haven’t had a really depressed day in almost a month, and aside from some lingering anxiety I feel like I’ve gotten my PPD completely under control. The kids are well rested and raising them doesn’t feel like the overbearing chore it used to be. They’re learning things faster and having much better days. Dave is sad he doesn’t get to see the kids as much because of his work schedule but it’s worth it because he doesn’t have to worry all day that I’m breaking down. So often he’d come home from a long day at work to me just sobbing or emotionally wrecked, with two crying babies in my arms. That hasn’t happened in forever. He can go to work and just worry about doing what he has to do. We don’t need to burden my in-law’s with overnighters every weekend (they say they loved the visits but it’s a lot having visitors to begin with, nevermind giving up pretty much every weekend to help with babies!) We can make plans and appointments with confidence, and holy shit – I can meal prep now. I used to set the babies up in jolly jumpers or their chairs and just hope and pray that I could do what I needed to do to get dinner ready in time to cook it for Dave to come home. Then when we ate, we’d either take turns eating and taking care of babies or just eat with a kid on our lap. Now I prep dinner during their naps, and I’m able to cook it when they go down and have it ready by the time Dave is home. Then we enjoy our meal. Like grown-ups! I’ve recently become obsessed with my KitchenAid mixer, and I have time to use it. I made a super bad ass Cookie Dough cake this past week for when my family visited (I will make a post on that as well, cuz god damn!) that took several hours of work over two days. There is NO way I could have gotten that done if we hadn’t gotten the kids sleep trained.

Whether you get someone to help you, or do it on your own – I implore you to sleep train your kids. We didn’t want to ever be fighting with our kids about routine things like bed time. Now bed time will always have been a thing, they won’t remember a time where things were lawless and unorganized. It won’t be a punishment, it will just be the way it is. I’m sure there will still be arguments – they’re kids. But if we stay consistent on bed time and the routine, the arguments will be moot because again – it’s the way it is and always has been.

A lot of you will likely just have one kid. My friend has been sleep training her son for the past couple of weeks after I was evangellically extolling the benefits we’d been reaping, and her boy was having a tough week or so of sleep. I let her know some of the things that we’d been doing with the twins but she did a lot of reading and listened to a lot of podcasts. She found herself some great methods that she’s been seeing some great benefits of. It’s been very exciting to have someone to share this journey with, because those who don’t get it will likely just hear me ranting about my happiness like “oh wow, I’m happy you’re happy.” But this girl and anyone else who’s done the sleep training after a tough run gets it, gets the difference. It is life changing.

So I say to ye weary and frazzled new moms – whether you have one baby or ten babies (holy fuck can you imagine?!) Sleep train. And if you’re too weary and frazzled like I was, get some help. It is 10000% worth the money. If you’re struggling with cost I promise it will seem like pennies in comparison to the benefits you reap from your family being well rested.

Be well, mamas!

Posted in All, Useless Opinions

How to help a new mom/pregnant lady (mostly for non-parents)

This might seem kind of obvious, but I had a lot of really useless (but well-meaning) helpers when the kids came home so I thought I’d write a bit about it. This isn’t meant to be angry or bitter…. Just informative.

I’ve always been super defiant and obnoxiously independent, even when I was pregnant. We moved into our current place when I was 7 months pregnant (and huge) and my mother-in-law basically had to guard me to make sure I wasn’t doing any moving or serious unpacking. It drove me crazy but I understood, and underneath my defiance I was grateful for the help. The last thing I needed was to go into labour early (joke was on me anyways, I went into early labour 19 days later…)

Once I had the kids my ego dropped a bit. I knew I needed help. Watching the state of my house deteriorate was frustrating but I could do fucking nothing about it. I was drowning in newborns! I was at the hospital during pretty much all waking hours for the first 6 weeks of my kids lives, then after that the real work began. We had a cleaning lady for a bit but then COVID hit and she had to bail. But even before that I’d have a few of my friends come over to “help.” It was super frustrating. Not only was my perfectionism clashing with my not giving a fuck, but I was also so overwhelmed with becoming a parent – to twins no less. I had zero brainpower. Plus I was going through some sort of nesting phase where I just didn’t want to see anyone except my husband and my babies. I think this is important to mention because before kids I was incredibly social and loved to be around my friends. I still do, but it’s different now. I get way too exhausted to catch up or visit.

Anyways, these few friends would come by – well-meaning as they were – and ask me what I needed them to do. All I could muster is “I don’t know. Just come chill and hold a baby.” What I should have said was “yes, please do the dishes. Cut the veggies in the fridge. Watch these kids while I sleep/shower/leave the house for half an hour to see what the outside world looks like.” Because that’s what I really needed. I was just too brain-shot and sleep deprived to realize it. My mind went blank when they asked. And then I got somewhat resentful because they put me in a position to ask for it. I’m awful at delegating. I am way better at just doing things myself. There was at least one time where I just got people to hold or watch the babies while I got up and cleaned (which wasn’t the worst thing ever because at least I felt like I was accomplishing something. I didn’t find the first couple months of being a parent to be that rewarding. More on that later.)

Moral of the story – if you have a pregnant friend or a new mom in your life and you want to help, here’s a few ideas to get you going.

  • Bring snacks or prepared meals -The first 1 to 3 months of being a parent is a fucking blur. It’s hard to make time to eat, let alone put a meal together. Plus it’s nice to have finger foods or snacks when you’re living one-handed and it’s too easy to eat shit food all the time.
    • Make a lasagna or a shepherd’s pie or something for the freezer. Write reheat/cooking instructions on it so no brain power is involved.
    • Bring leftovers from the meal you made the night before.
    • Bake mini-muffins. See above comment about living one-handed. Morning glory muffins are a good way to get some veggies and vitamins. And it tastes like cake.
    • Bring washed and cut veggies/fruits. Good for the brain AND the butt.
    • Bring trail mix or something
    • Fuck it, bring chips and cookies and candy. Comfort food, yo!
  • If you want to help clean – just clean
    • Don’t ask what needs to be done. You can see what’s up, just pick a task and go to it.
    • If you feel the need to ask, maybe go about it like “hey I’m gonna do the dishes, is there something else that’s been bugging you that I can do first?” I bet you dishes is going to be the number one frustration. Or garbage. Or laundry….
  • Don’t be there just to chat
    • This one is tricky, but I’ll put it on cuz it’s how I felt. Your friend probably loves you but is super overwhelmed. If they want conversation, they’ll probably talk to you. Otherwise maybe just kinda hang out. Or don’t.
  • Help with kids (if you can/she wants you to)
    • Some moms are attached enough to their kids that they won’t want anyone really helping at that point. Some kids are so attached to their moms they’ll lose their shit if anyone else holds them. But in the event that kiddo takes a shine to you, let mom go get some sleep. Or maybe she wants to go for a drive or walk or something. Offer to hang while she goes to just be her for a minute, not mom.
  • Offer to pick up groceries or something for her
  • If you can’t do any of these things, don’t bug her.
    • Feel free to send a “hey, thinking of you” message or something but don’t expect a reply right away. The few friends I’ve had that have had babies since I had mine I specify that I am not expecting a reply at all, let alone in a timely manner. Shit is exhausting and overwhelming to say the least. I still have trouble talking to people. I just want to nest.
  • DON’T buy bouquets of flowers.
    • They’re too busy to change the water and they’ll likely just sit there dead and moldy for a few weeks until they start to stink.
  • DON’T stay too long. Hour or so is plenty unless you’re cleaning or whatever.
  • DON’T show up unannounced

This list obviously comes from my experience, and everyone is gonna be different and have a different take on it. But hopefully this offers a decent guideline for non-parents to help their new parent friends. I feel like if I had no kids I’d have zero idea about most of this. I remember when my close friend from high school had a baby almost seven years ago. I didn’t hear from her until a month or two later, and I was kind of offended she didn’t tell me right away. I actually think about that a lot lately, and laugh hysterically at myself in my head. If I only fucking knew…. If you don’t – I can only tell you that it’s an inexplicable experience. No one can prepare you for the changes in your life. It’s like a train wreck of hormones, emotions and more responsibility and work than you could imagine. It’s pretty rough for that first month or two, and stays rough for a while after. So cut your pals some slack!

Have you had a similar experience? Agree or disagree with things on this list? Comment and lemme know! I’d love to hear it.

Posted in All, Musings

Best Mother’s Day Ever

What a fantastic day. I’m writing this a few days late, but hey – I’m a busy gal.

The day started in my Mother-in-Law’s gigantic and luxurious king-size bed with my babies and amazing fiance. (Whenever we stay there and MIL isn’t gonna take care of the kids in the night, she gives us her bed so we can all fit.) Dave took the babies out to be fed and I stayed in bed to enjoy a much earned sleep-in. After a bit I came out to see that MIL had dressed them up in new clothes. Moosey was Mommy’s Little Funny Bunny and Birdy was Mommy’s Love Bug. Super cute! From there, MIL gave me a little photo book she’d had made and a cute photo of them reading said book. I actually saw the photo first and didn’t clue in at all that the book was my gift. It was pre-coffee. Anyways, my sisters are in town and they brought me tequila (I LOVE Tequila, or at least.. Pre-pregnancy Court did. Haven’t tried it since..) and a watermelon – both wrapped. And I got a gorgeous bouquet from my Sister-in-Law. So I got to see all those lovelies from far and wide, plus Dave’s grandpa made an appearance. Best part of the day, though? Dave kept coming up behind me and massaging my shoulders. WITHOUT provocation. I love that man.

So yeah – Mother’s Day was fantastic. I realized the night before how much I was actually looking forward to it, and I wasn’t sure why. I think I may have started to actually appreciate myself a bit (crazy talk, right?) I thought a lot about what I’d said in the original post, about not being able to enjoy being a mother yet. I don’t really think that’s true anymore. Yeah – it’s a shit ton of work. But they’re getting older, and to an age where not only are they holding their own heads up but also smiling and interacting with us. I do enjoy being a mom! I love their little smiles, and how I can play little games with them and get them to react. I love the way Birdy spends 10+ minutes stretching and kicking and making faces when she wakes up. I love the way Moose looks at the little butterfly that hangs over his vibrating chair and has an entire conversation using facial expressions. I love being constantly astounded at how fast they’re growing, even though they’re babies and that’s what they do. I am more and more proud of my kids every day, and slowly becoming more and more proud of myself.

One Mother’s Day down, hopefully there’s plenty more to go. I probably won’t pull in as much loot but maybe I’ll at least get a clean house and a foot rub.