Posted in All, My Story

Adventures in Sleep Training – Day one (and a half)

Today is day one of sleep training. We’ve hired a sleep consultant cuz I’m a mediocre parent at best and I need some outside help. Surprisingly not as expensive as I expected. We had a consult with her last week and then set up a sleep plan and basically a daily routine for us. Dave is off work for the next two days so we decided tonight is the night to begin.

I’ve basically spent the last five days worrying, since we decided Monday was the day. I’ve been super anxious about starting the sleep training. I’m not great at waiting. Gives me too much time to think. So instead of being negative about it all the time I just went over the reasons were doing this to myself and whoever would listen to me. By the time it came down to it I was feeling pretty good about it instead of feeling like it wasn’t going to work and it was hopeless.

So, as per the consultant’s program I started by bathing both babies and getting them into sleep sacks. I fed them both and then read them a story. Brought them into their room where we’d set up a second crib and blacked out the window with tin foil. Put them in their cribs, sang them a song, turned on the white noise machine and then closed the door. And now I offer you a play by play of the evening.

5:45pm – Did the first five minute check. They were both screaming too loud to hear me. But I said my “key phrase” either way and left them to their tears.

5:50pm – This time they were a bit more settled but started losing it again after I went in to do the check. I feel like an asshole.

5:55pm – Screaming still. I feel like a horrible person at this point, it sounds like I’m hurting them. I’d forgotten to replace their soothers in the first two check-in’s so I did it this time. Birdy went right down. Moose’s fell out of his mouth right away but I was told I can only put it in once so they learn their own methods of falling asleep.

6:00pm – Birdy was still out. I broke the rules and gave Moose a soother again. I held it in his mouth for a sec and let his head fall before I moved my hand away. He was out after that.

6:05pm – I didn’t do this check because they were both out. Holy shit, did it work? Are they sleep trained now? Do I have to keep doing this? I want to go have a much needed shower but I feel like it’s jinxing it and they’ll be screaming by the time I’m out.

6:40pm – Birdy started crying. Not sure how long she’s been up, but shes pissed now. She woke Moose up. He’s not crying yet but he’s definitely awake. Started the timer… Five minutes…

6:45pm – Birdy is pissed but sounds like she’s losing steam. Moose was quiet until I went in and talked to them. Now he’s screaming too.

7:28pm – They’re still super angry, in spite of my five minute checks. How long is this supposed to go on before I just go get them? They’re not slotted for food until midnight. Will they cry that long? I feel fucking awful. Like I’m suffocating them or something. I have to keep in mind why I’m doing this. This is for them, and for us. The babies need routine and structure. They’ve been super cranky lately, and not napping properly. They do better when they know what’s coming. Plus Dave and I need some mommy and daddy time. We miss each other even when we see each other all the time.

7:33pm – It’s been almost an hour. It almost seems like they settle and then I stir them back up by checking on them. Or one will be starting to chill out then I wake them up by talking to the other one. This feels like abuse. This isn’t abuse, right? Still haven’t cried but I feel sick to my stomach. I poured a glass of wine but I have a headache so I don’t really feel like drinking. Emotionally I feel like drinking but not physically. I’m a bad fucking mom. I shouldn’t be doing this to them. There has to be another way. I’m told there isn’t though, need to stick it out.

7:46pm – Dave to the rescue. I was holding it together before Dave came in but I started crying when he came home from work. He’s gonna take over the checks. It’s been over an hour and Moose is still losing it. Birdy found her soother and is just kinda chillin’ and playing with it.

7:56pm – Birdy has definitely chilled out but is still crying on and off. Moose is losing it. He’s the snuggly one out of the two. Birdy is more independent. I figured she’d be pissed for longer cuz she’s really Right as Dave went in to do the check, they both quieted up. So we skipped this check. As I was writing this, Moose started crying again. So we started the timer again. Then he stopped. So we stopped. I hate this. He’s going on and off. And we have to restart the timer everytime he stops.

8:15pm – Moose seems to have chilled out (not sleeping yet, but not screaming) but Birdy has woken up and is back at it. Again I’m wondering how helpful it is for us to be checking if we stir up the calm one whenever we check. But it’s not like we can just bail on the kids for the night. I just want them to sleep. It’s been an hour and a half. Fuck. I feel sick.

8:30pm – Babies are calm.

8:37pm – Birdy is pissed.

8:41pn – Birdy is down. Both babies are sleeping. Time for my shower?

9:30pm – Watching TV with Dave. Decided not to shower cuz it’ll wake up the kids. They’ve been asleep for 40 mins. Made bottles.

10:53pm – Still good…. Time to pump and then go to bed.

12:16am – The young man is up. Birdy is still out. Dave’s gonna feed him then change him, as opposite to our usual feed then change. Gonna get Birdy up in 15 minutes.

1:05am – We fed and changed the kids, and put them back in their cribs around 12:55am. Birdy didn’t fuss, she just kinda rolled around for ten minutes. Moose fussed a bit and made some noise but didn’t really cry. Then by 1 he was out. Gonna enjoy some much needed and well deserved sleep in our bed alone.

5:42am – Birdy’s awake, just kind of cooing and wiggling. We’re not supposed to go get them, even if it’s 5:59am. They kinda cried on and off so we were able to keep resetting the timer and get them at 6am proper.

6:15am – We changed them, took them out of sleep sacks and fed them. Now to keep them awake until 8:30. They’re super tired, Moose is still pretty disoriented and Birdy is bleary-eyed but pretty into in the exersaucer. We’ll see when they start getting angry and sleepy.

7:25am – Kids are mad cuz they’re tired and want to go back to sleep. Birdy’s eyes are literally closing but they can’t nap until at least 8. Gotta find ways to keep them awake and happy.

7:42am – We’ve been playing with them and holding them and trying really hard to not let them fall asleep. We had a little Rob Zombie dance party in the kitchen, now we’re gnawing on chew toys. The whining has started for sure. Dave finds this harder than letting them cry in the crib. I disagreed, up until the crying started.

8:05am – Kids went down easy. We changed them, put them in their sleep sacks, turned the light off and I sang them their song (Somewhere Over the Rainbow.) I didn’t even need to do that, or even say the key phrase as we left but I did anyways. Consistency is key, I’m told. I’m training myself here too.

One thing I can say for sure is that I can already see it working, and I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hesitant to get excited about progress cuz I was told the first night might be easy but the following night or two will be hell. Either way – at least I can see things happening. For weeks we’ve had to fight them to go to sleep. Now we just spent half an hour fighting them to stay awake. What a switcheroo. Now, I nap. Dave and I have a call with our consultant at 9:15.

9:40am – Had our call with the consultant, and the kids are still sleeping. Apparently we have to wake them by 11 if they even sleep that long. I doubt it… Either way, back to sleep for me until they do wake up. Mama’s tired as hell. And this is the first time I’ve had a nap alone in my own bed in months.

9:44am – I jinxed it. Birdy’s up. But she’s really happy!

12:08pm – That was a fairly successful block. I even had to get Moose up, he kept sleeping after we got his sister. We fed them, got them in the jolly jumpers, then just played for a while. Like last time, they got fussy and sleepy around an hour before nap time. So we had to keep them distracted and entertained as they got increasingly pissed off. At 11:55 we read two little board books, then we changed them and put them in their sleep sacks. Put them in their cribs, turned on the Dohm (the sound machine) and sang them SOTR. Birdy cried for three or four minutes but she hasn’t started again since I stopped the timer. Fingers crossed. I’m going back down for a nap. ‘Sleep when they sleep,’ they all told me. Deal. Besides, Dave needs some quality time with the XBOX.

12:41pm – Moose woke up. Then just as the timer was about to beep, he found his soother and put it in his mouth. Now he’s quiet. So… Timer stopped but still ready.

1:53pm – Birdy woke up. Of course it’s the birdy.  The moose would sleep for hours if we let him. He’s usually a good sleeper once he’s asleep. Time to warm up the food…

1:54pm – False alarm! Food will be ready anyways.

2:33pm – Moose woke up first. Go figure, I guess I jinxed that too. We’d just been discussing if we should go wake them so we can keep bedtime to 530, then… Surprise! A waking baby. We decided (and had it confirmed by our consultant) that we’d put them down for their catnap around 4 and have them up for 5, so we can have them in bed for good at 630 or 7. So now we’re gonna go for a walk for their catnap. Might as well work off some of the anxiety eating I’ve been doing over the past 24 hours.

4:33pm – Hey fancy that, it’s been exactly two hours. We took the kiddos for the walk, Moose lasted about five minutes and Birdy took another five after that. I needed a shower desperately so I broke off from Dave to head back home and do that real quick. We’ll let them sleep until about 4:45 then wake them up again. Gonna wait until bedtime to feed them cuz it would only be like an hour later and they wait that long all the time. If they’re getting really hungry we can start our routine earlier.

6:41pm – At 6:10 we ran the bath and got the kids started on their bedtime routine. Wasn’t a full bath, just kinda rinsed them. Splashed some water, wet their heads… You know. A rinse. Got them fed, read a couple board books… Brushed their gums with their fancy brushes (just fits on our fingers. There’s toothpaste that goes with it but them not having teeth, it seems like overkill. Got the door closed at 6:40 and Moose immediately started crying. So the timer is on. Birdy is wiggling like crazy but not crying, so that’s promising. I guess we’ll see how this goes.

6:58pm – The emotions start right away, no valiant strength that fades or anything. Just straight to feeling like a horrible mother. I’ve done two checks so far and my heart is already breaking. I’m talking about it with Dave and he keeps telling me it’s ok, and to remember why we’re doing this. I reminded him that I’m just talking it out because it hurts. Moose is doing his cry where part of it is just “mamamamamama.” I don’t think he knows he’s saying mama but I do and that is even more heart wrenching. Gotta stay strong. The whole day went well, now comes the hard part.

7:06pm – As I put my phone down after writing the last bit, my alarm went off to go check on them. At the same time I heard the crying stop. I checked on the monitor and they’re both out. Holy shit. Did it really only take two or three checks? I’m sure we’re not out of the woods for the evening but still… That’s a good start.

Dave and I were talking earlier about how nice today has been, playing with the babies and enjoying them instead of being exhausted and overwhelmed by them and leaving them to play on their own. Just another reason to be sleep training.  Better quality of life all around! I feel like this will make me a much better parent in the long run. Like, incomparably better. I have time and the headspace to care more about my parenting, and also to take care of myself.

7:51pm – Both kids woke up but didn’t make it the full five minutes before they looked passed out again on the monitor. Within a couple more minutes they both started again. Now here comes the fun part. Last night it took two hours for this part to end.

8:03pm – I did the last check-in with the kids, and they seemed to stop crying. I’m headed to get DQ as a morale booster, Dave is in charge. I bet they’re still sleeping when I’m back.

10:08pm – Birdy woke up. They did good, stayed sleeping until now. I was right, they did really well.

10:38pm – She’s woken up twice now and we’ve only had to do one check on her. She’s asleep again for now. I think she’s hungry. I guess it’ll be a long hour and a half until food time.

12:39am – Moose woke up, and woke us up. Dave still had to go get Birdy. They’re so tired, they’re doing that adorable “I’m too tired to hold my head up” crash on our shoulders. Too cute. Must keep them awake. Fed them, doing a change, and back to bed. We’ve stayed up so late these last couple nights, I’m a wreck right now. Can barely keep my eyes open.

I decided to do a really in-depth list of updates. Maybe it would have helped me to know what things were really going to look like before I started. Maybe not. I dunno. I was really overwhelmed with the idea of sleep training, it seemed like such a daunting task. When the consultant was going over the twelve step bed time routine I asked if we could shorten it. Dave laughed at me, which made me feel really silly, and he and the consultant assured me it wasn’t as intense as I thought. Most of the stuff I was already doing. Bath time, dress them and put them in sleep sacks, feed them, read a story, put them in the cribs, sing a song, turn on the sound machine, say the ‘key phrase’ and then lights out and leave. We were already doing more than half of these things before. Wasn’t much of a change. Anyways… Maybe it’ll help, and maybe it’ll just be a record to remind me on the hard days that this can be done, and why it’s being done.

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

The crescendo and the timbits

It got bad. It got to the point of calling the crisis line and considering putting myself in the hospital for a while until I could see the light again. Dave wanted me to quit pumping. We’d had heard about women that quit breastfeeding and almost immediately had their postpartum depression or anxiety clear up. My doctor hadn’t heard of this and couldn’t find any research on it, but he was on board with quitting because then we could safely adjust my medication. It made sense, but everything in my being was telling me that wasn’t the answer.

I put up a post on one of the twin mom groups on FB to see if other moms had dealt with this issue. I think there was 16 comments, and all but two or three talked about their PPD/PPA dissolving after they stopped breastfeeding. What caught me was those two or three saying that their issues worsened after they stopped breastfeeding. I wasn’t as worried about things getting worse, but what if nothing changed and I had sacrificed my milk. My babies need that to get the best start in life. Dave and the Doc argued that the difference between breast milk and formula was negligible compared to not having a mom either through distance and complications from depression, or through having to commit myself.. Or worse… And that’s a very valid argument. I hadn’t been doing tummy time with the kids, I barely played with them… Kind of just set them up to play or sleep and watched TV or played on my phone. Then I got mad when they started fussing but knew it was because they needed attention. I couldn’t handle their crying because I couldn’t cope with the stress of it, but also because I felt guilty. Like I’d failed them and was just giving up because of it.

I felt like I was in a pit like in Silence of the Lambs. Except instead of a pervert wanting me to lotion up to make for a nicer skin jacket, I had children screaming at me. Ok so not a great analogy, but it’s what I thought of when I felt like I was in a pit. It made sense to stop breastfeeding, but like I said – every single thing inside me told me that wasn’t the answer. I could find another way.

Last night I couldn’t get the kids calm, and could feel another mental meltdown coming. I went to visit Dave on his break and then went for a quick walk on the sea wall so the kids would chill. On the way I stopped to get a coffee, and some Courtenay Crack – birthday cake timbits. Holy shit those are a huge problem for me. Anyways… I was gonna get 10 but Dave wanted me to save him some, so I got 20. And of course ate all 20 of those little bastards on my 45 minute walk. That was my dinner. I felt like absolute shit for the rest of the night, I even thought I was going to throw up. But – BUT! I was in a pretty damned good mood and actually enjoyed my kids. What an insane concept!

Every once in a while I get really tired of my own shit and decide to make a change. Those timbits were the catalyst for that change. Not only did eating all that crap make me realize how much my diet was affecting me, but that short (and very enjoyable) walk brought my mood up higher than it had been in weeks. So I looked at the last few weeks of misery.

  • My diet had gone to shit and I was eating mostly sugar. Munching like crazy, barely drinking water, and I’d almost completely forgotten what vegetables tasted like
  • I hadn’t walked at all. Not even my quick laps around the neighborhood. Basically just to my vehicle and back.
  • I’ve been smoking a bit of pot on the weekends and nights where I am really, really losing my shit – which I know to be inflammatory to the body and a total depressant.

These are all super basic things that I know will help me. Even if I get one of these three under control the results would be staggering. But it’s cycle and always has been for me. I smoke pot and it makes me hungry, so I eat a whole bunch of shit food. Plus I get all groggy the next day, especially if I munch out (which I usually do because my mother in law always makes cookies.) I feel like shit and go into denial as to why I feel like shit, then all of a sudden two or three weeks later I’m having breakdowns and trying not to put myself in the psych ward. Before I had kids it was a totally manageable cycle. Now? Between the extra tonne of stress and the hormones from breastfeeding and being a new mom, it fucks me up.

So.. Once I put this together, I decided I was done with all of the misery and decided I had to make a change. If I do all of this and STILL can’t get my mood under control, ok sure. I’ll quit breastfeeding. But I can’t do nothing to improve myself and then feel good about not giving my kids breast milk. I’m lucky enough to be able to make as much milk as I do. I only have to give them an ounce of formula each bottle. And they’re on five or six ounce bottles right now. It’s mostly breast milk. And yeah, it’s not 100% fresh cuz I could never get into breastfeeding with them but it’s still breast milk. I owe it to those amazing little bastards to give them everything I can. I owe them the best version of myself. And that version doesn’t eat an entire batch of cookies after a joint every weekend.

With all that said, I publish my current goals. Maybe it’ll make me more accountable. I dunno..

  • Walk a MINIMUM of four times a week. Aim for seven, but shit happens and it’s been raining a lot lately. (Mall walks count though…)
  • Cut the fuck down on sugar. I’m not setting a specific parameter on this because I do use it to cope a lot, and I’m not sure how to successfully do it other than to avoid it as much as possible.
  • Only smoke pot once or twice a month instead of every weekend, but aim for zero pot. Sometimes I have panic attacks and lorazepam doesn’t really chill me out like it should. Saying I only have two freebies will make me really assess if the meltdown is worth substance abuse
  • Keep up with the blog. Finish all the drafts and the instructional stuff that isn’t just a glorified diary
  • Learn scriptwriting and try to start putting my movie and TV ideas into paper. Also, finish the damned children’s book.

There. You just became my accountabili-buddy. Go team! I’ll have to keep you posted. The writing goals are obviously really long term, but I think I could probably get some cool stuff down. I think I have cool ideas, but we all think we have cool ideas lol. Time to find out for realzzzzz…

Posted in All, Musings

It’s been a while

Damn, man. I started this blog and I was all gung ho to start blogging all the time. Then I got caught up on a post that I kept having to rewrite and just kind stopped. Funny how that happens. Plus, for some reason I have zero time to myself lately. Oh right! I’m a mom.

Had another good dip into the depths of postpartum misery. It’s intense! I know I’ve said this before but it’s amazing how quickly it comes over me. One minute I’m playing peekaboo, the next minute I’m in the fetal position on the bathroom floor with the fan on and my hands over my ears. I didn’t want to be a mom for like three days. And that made me feel like an intense failure, which made me want to be a mom even less because I felt like I didn’t deserve it.

I had some time to think about the misery because (as usual) Dave stepped up and took care of the kids while I laid down and chilled out. I mostly spent that time kicking myself. Kicking myself for not being able to do my job. For putting so much on Dave when he already works full time for us. For not giving those gorgeous kids the mom they deserve. For thinking I was ready for this intense responsibility when I wasn’t. Mostly I kicked myself for kicking myself. That’s a funny thing about misery, and I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone.. But I feel so much shame when I get depressed because my life is actually pretty fantastic. So I go into this silly shame spiral because I can’t climb out.

My sister is visiting, and we talked about it. One of the things we discussed is how I’m worried than when things even out and I’m not depressed anymore that I’ll still not want to be a mom. I don’t necessarily feel that way right this second, as I’m in a pretty good mood. But I feel that way a lot. There are days I love being a mom but it seems like as soon as things get too hard, I fall back into depression and feel like I can’t do it. Maybe it’s not every time there’s a bad day… I know there are a few days I can take it. But it really seems like I just can’t handle it when things get hard. She told me that it’s really obvious how much I love my kids, and I don’t remember exactly how she said it but it was the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

I have to find a way to make amends with these feelings. All this shame and frustration. Like I said, one of the things I’ve been struggling with is putting all that emotional weight on Dave. He’s such an amazing partner. Anytime I start feeling overwhelmed he steps up – no questions asked. He listens to me crying about the same old “I can’t do this” shit, holds me really tight, and then takes on both babies until I’ve had a chance to calm down. He acts like it’s all good but I know it weighs on him. It’s a lot. He works shitty hours at a monotonous job, then comes home and helps me with the kids. He really doesn’t get a lot of rest or fun time. I try to send him out to visit friends and stuff as much as possible but he says he loves to be around us. I wish I could keep it together for the kids, but more for him. He does so much for us. He’s an amazing dad and husband. I love him so much!

I guess all I can do is keep truckin’. Do everything I can to keep myself together so I can do everything I can for my family. They deserve it. Those kids are amazing, and Dave is the absolute best. I find when I have gone for walks a few days in a row my mood is great. The weather has been kind of shitty but the mall is open. I could strap on a mask, put blankets over the baby seats and just mall walk for an hour or two. I like the rain, and walking in it isn’t so bad. I just don’t have a proper way to keep the babies dry. Lately I’ve been arranging to walk with some friends. Only gotten one walk together… But the plans are there. It helps.

And back to the issue of food. I eat like such an asshole. An asshole that’s never seen a vegetable in her life. So much sugar… I am so aware of how much sugar fucks up the brain but it’s like I can’t stop eating it. It’s the only substance I can really abuse right now. Not that I’m a cokehead, but I’ve been known to have some drinks when feeling down. Maybe smoke one… Sure, not the healthiest way to cope but it works when I need it to. That was one of the hardest things to deal with when I was pregnant and having a hard time. Trying to figure out how to cope using only my brain. Still haven’t gotten a great handle on that obviously, as I still like to have a few drinks here and there. Especially when it’s been a rough week.

These are the things I need to do to keep it together. And shower, cuz I feel like a homeless bag of shit half the time… But that’s another issue.

I doubt this would help anyone with Postpartum, unless they just need someone to commiserate with. And if that’s the case, I’ve got you.

Posted in All, Musings

Good days, bad days

Today seems to be one of those days where postpartum depression is creeping back in. I’m not sure if it’s following my cycle or not, I haven’t gotten my period back yet but from what I understand it’s still going strong behind the scenes. It’s funny how quickly it hits – I’ll be in a great mood, things are awesome and the kids are being chill. Then bam. Downward spiral.

Its hard to parent on days like this. I get no joy from it, but I also don’t want my babies to see the scowl on my face that would be there if I wasn’t trying so hard to hide it. Back when the kids were first born, I was told by my obstetrician that research showed that babies of moms suffering from postpartum depression showed signs of mental health issues later in life. I don’t remember specifically but it was something about seeing their moms sad all the time and they mimicked the facial expressions, which created brain pathways or something. Basically when moms are sad, their babies get sad too. I have such happy babies – I work really hard to mask my shitty moods when I have them but sometimes I get frustrated. So less smiling at them on the change table, or snuggling them, or doing tummy time or playing or anything. Then it creates a cycle because they’re bored so they get cranky, and their crying makes me more stressed and unhappy, and so on.

I always seem to forget the stroller in the truck after the weekends at Grandma’s. Now would be an ideal time to go for a walk. If nothing else, it quiets the kids for a bit so I can think and calm down. Plus theres that whole ‘exercise makes your brain happy’ thing. And I’m vain so my weight has been bringing me down too. I should call a counselor or something but I just don’t know what to say, or moreso, what they would say. I was seeing one a while back that was a total cheerleader. Useless as an actual therapist but she was very validating. At times it helped but other times it was really patronizing. Like… Yeah, I know I have the right to be hormonal and sad and hungry. What can you help me do about it. She doesn’t work at that clinic anymore and I haven’t met the new lady, but I figure I’ll get more of the same ‘you’re doing amazing’ shit that I guess I already know but doesn’t help.

I’ve heard a bit a out how pregnant and breastfeeding moms lose a lot of vitamins and nutrients, and it’s hard to keep up with the loss. I take a daily, but I was recommended by a psychiatrist doing a postpartum assessment to take some omegas as well. I keep forgetting to buy some. I also remember a friend of mine’s sister was going to school to be a nutritionist several years back. She was talking about the link between proper nutrition and mental health. Niacin specifically is something that people can often be really low on and it means your brain isn’t doing its job properly. I also had a friend going to med school and we were talking about how potassium and sodium are what makes your cells actually function. So if you don’t have the right amount of those things, again – brain no worky. I know. I’m basically a doctor.

On a more experienced note, there were two main things I put into effect when I first lost a bunch of weight and got my mental shit together. One was hydration. It seems super obvious – our bodies are a mostly water. It’s like the fuel that keeps us running. It flushes out your toxins and keeps your brain floating in the jar that is your skull. I’m not gonna pretend I know the exact science behind it, but your body and brain work best when you’re really hydrated. I was drinking at least two litres of water a day. I’d have at least a half a litre as soon as I woke up in the morning, which helped get me started on hydration and helped wake me up. I’m awful for lazing around hitting a snooze button for an hour (or… Was, until I had babies…) even though I know the day goes way easier when you get up right away. I used to follow a thirty second rule, meaning I had 30 seconds to get out of bed after I opened my eyes. It didn’t last long but at least even if I was late it was only a few minutes. Not 30 or 40 minutes like it used to be.

The other thing I learned at a Workers Comp stress workshop when I hurt myself at work. Basically we use the top half of our lungs more than the bottom half, especially when we’re stressed out. You can feel your stress in your stomach and shoulders, right? Well when you’re breathing deeply and into your entire lungs, you stretch out your whole torso. I noticed when I was breathing deeper, my digestion was better. Almost like my lungs and diaphragm were massaging my intestines and helping me get everything back out more efficiently. It helped me with my weight loss. Another aspect of stress vs. weight loss was that when you stress out your body makes Cortisol. Cortisol makes your body store fat. So if you’re dealing with your stress, your cortisol levels go down and your body can process your food better. Or something like that. Over 2016 and 2017 I lost about 120 lbs. Mostly 2017 because I was walking around NYC for the first 4 months of it and then just kept roaming. My stress was non-existent so my cortisol levels were low, and I was broke so I was drinking a ton of water to reduce my hunger. I lost weight so fast I couldn’t keep up with my clothes. By the time I got back to Canada my clothes were hanging off of me, it was awesome. I’ve never looked so good in my life. More importantly, I’ve never felt so good in my life.

The problem is that even though you can know all of this, if you don’t have the motivation to change your habits it won’t happen. And I assume I’m not the only one who’s self sabotage mechanism kicks in when they’re depressed. It’s hard to care for yourself when you just don’t give a fuck. All of my fucks are being reserved for my kids and my fiance. It’s hard to find more motivation. The medication is doing its job but I’m not sure there’s anything that can completely wipe out bad moods. My doctor says it’s not worth adding more medication just to buffer the bad days because they are few and usually come every few weeks. Just have to bite the pillow and deal with it. Keep smiling at the kids and cooking dinner for my amazing man.

Dave is home now and we’re watching TV as I finish writing this (I started like 8 hours ago.) I feel a bit better. We had some dinner, went and had a quick bedroom session, and now we’re just chillin’ with the kids. Sex is important for both of our mental health. I know we’re not the only ones. We both miss the days when we could just be together and enjoy. Not even just sex, but the closeness. The intimacy. Now we exist to work and take care of kids. We even miss each other when we’re in the same bed. Our quickies are the only times that bring us a tiny bit of intimacy. Even though it only happens every week or two, it’s really held our relationship and individual self-esteem together. And most of the time I don’t feel like having sex until we’re doing it. It’s crazy how quickly I forget what it does for me. We’ll not have sex for a while and then once we’re done, all of a sudden I want it a few hours later. And the next day. And then for maybe another day before I’m back to existing without it, and forgetting what the hormones and exercise does for both of us. So… Don’t neglect your sexy time. Even if you’re depressed. It will make you happy. Science told me.

I’d like to mention that I have no medical research to quote for any of what I’ve said, it’s just a bunch of things I’ve learned or deduced over the years. I’d be happy to be corrected, or if I’m right have my logic explained in the comments. As you can imagine, I have no time for research lol. I just want people to know what I know so maybe it can help someone. At the very least, maybe it will help me just having recanted all of this. But like I said – it’s one thing to know it, quite another to do it. Tomorrow’s another day. Hopefully I can make it a good one.

Posted in All, Musings, My Story

Postpartum Precipice

One of the reasons I started doing this blog is to work past my postpartum issues. I got hit HARD with that shit. And I mean shit, in every sense of the word. I spent a long time working on my mental health issues before I got pregnant, too. I felt immune to Postpartum, which was probably one of the reasons it caught me so off guard.

After writing like a thousand words on my mental health journey I decided to keep it separate and just talk about postpartum. Stay in one lane, you know? But if you do want to know about all that, it’s in another post I’ll put in a newly created My Story section. Fill ya boots!

Pre- and Post-Pregnancy

I did NOT enjoy pregnancy. I didn’t really get depressed or anything but I was sore, barely slept through the night but was always incredibly tired… Plus I cried at EVERYTHING. I hate crying, but I couldn’t control it. It was so frustrating. I wouldn’t even be sad or overly emotional. Just.. Crying.

People warned me about Postpartum Depression. My doctor especially, because he knew my history and wanted me to be prepared. I was pretty cocky about it. “I’ve already dealt with all of my mental health issues.” “I’ve been through so many groups and therapy sessions, I’ll be fine.” It didn’t even enter in my mind that it would be a problem. And at first, it wasn’t.

The kids were in the NICU for six weeks, and I’m not sure when all the mood shit started. It was definitely more anxiety at first; in my head I’d see them choking on their food or spit up, their IV’s popping out and them losing a lot of blood… If someone was holding them, including my mother who raised four kids, I’d be picturing her dropping them.. Even when I was holding them I’d be abnormally concerned about hurting them, or holding them too tight and suffocating them. It was really insane shit, even as I was worrying about it I knew it was absurd but that just made me even more anxious because I knew I was going crazy. The depression started around three or four weeks in, but I figured it was just the stress of having the twins in the NICU. And fair cuz it was super stressful. They used to pull their feeding tubes out, and I couldn’t handle when the nurses put them back in. It was a pretty simple process and the kids didn’t fuss that long once it was done, but I’d cry like a child. I watched maybe twice and then I’d start leaving the room until they were done. Birdy was the first one to have to go under the bili-light for jaundice. They put this blindfold on her, and I just couldn’t fucking handle it. I really don’t like not being able to see (who does) and it bothered me so much that her eyes had to be covered and we couldn’t explain to her what was going on. She hated it too, poor thing. It was when they were like four days old, and it was only for like a day. When they’re so young, a day feels like an eternity. It broke me. Anyways.. Everything really wore on me. Dave and I both had PTSD from the beeps on the monitors. They were always fine, but it was just a lot to deal with.

I started taking Citalopram about four days before we were let out of the hospital. I waited so long because I really didn’t want to be on meds and I wasn’t sure if I was experiencing postpartum anxiety/depression or if I was just really burnt out from being at the hospital for at least 8 hours a day every single day for the past six weeks. I decided it wasn’t worth waiting to find out, so I started the drugs. They were going to take a couple weeks to really kick in anyways, so I might as well prepare for the worst.

Anyone who’s had kids knows that first few months with a newborn is fucking excruciating. Especially those first few weeks. We had NO idea what we were doing, and we had two of the little demons. And we’d just spent the last six weeks part-time parenting so you’d think we’d have had an idea of what we were in for. Nope! My friends – there were tears. So many tears. I’d have panic attacks just about every time they’d start crying… I think for he first two weeks I’d cry every time they cried. I had Dave home for a whole month and it was still so much to deal with. And the breakdowns… Oh man.. Every night I’d be bawling to Dave about feeling inadaquate, not knowing what I was doing, feeling super overwhelmed. God bless that man, because I know he was feeling a lot of that too but he was holding it together for me and the kids. He’d hold me as I was sobbing about the kids, and then sobbing even more about the fact that I was sobbing about what felt like nothing. I hate crying.

The day Dave went back to work was one of the worst of my entire life. My wonderful mother-in-law took two weeks off so she could come and help me. Then she got sick. And this was when all of the COVID social distancing and isolation started. She didn’t have COVID, thank god. But still. I think Dave went back for two or three days before we decided I wasn’t ready for him to be back at work. Every day he’d come home to three crying babies, one of them fully grown and looking like someone died. So he took another week off, maybe two. Its kind of a blur. After that I knew we couldn’t afford for him to be off work any longer and I had to deal with it. The meds were starting to really kick in, and I’d upped my dosage so I felt like I at least had feet to stand on. But still.. The first month or so of him being back at work was so intense. Most nights I’d have to go for a drive and just decompress for a half hour or so. Cry it out, maybe smoke a little bit of pot to take down the panic attack. Or take an ativan.. Either way. I couldn’t handle it.

I didn’t see the end. I felt like I was drowning in sludge, and none of the therapy or tools I’d learned over the years were working. Dave was doing his part and then some; he works full time, he kept up on dishes and made dinner most nights PLUS helped me feed and take care of the kids when he wasn’t sleeping. (I seriously lucked out, he is the most amazing man in the world.) Him being a superhero made me feel even worse about how little I could handle being a mom. There were more panic attacks and breakdowns.

Eventually my mother in law was able to work from home, or maybe she took a bit more time off. I can’t remember. But she started to come by for a few hours a day so I could get some sleep. I was getting like four or five hours a night between pumping and feeding, so an extra few hours a day made a world of difference. One weekend she invited us to her house for a night. She offered to watch the kids while we slept, and then during the day the next day while we went and had a date. Since then, it’s become the norm on weekends. We pack up half the house, roll down island to ma’s place, have a nice dinner and a few drinks and then a wicked sleep. Then Dave and I will usually go for a nice long country drive the next day and just spend some time together. We’re best friends and we’re always together, but we’re also always either working or taking care of babies. We miss each other even when we’re in the same bed because we never get to hang out.

Lately things have been pretty good, but I still have rough days. I am raising newborn twins in a pandemic, shit is really hard! I had so many offers for help that I can’t accept because we’re not allowed to be around anyone. MIL and her husband are being pretty good about isolating as much as possible so we aren’t upping the risk for anyone, I mean if anything Dave is the problem because he works with the public. We’re not trying to spread the virus, we just really need some help. Without my MIL and her husband, I think I’d (or we’d) still be in the depths of misery. Between their amazing help, the medication leveling out, and just the passage of time I’ve found my way out of the mire. Things are still hard – as I always say, two babies is a lot of babies! Usually on Sunday when we’re heading back home from the in-laws’ place I have a serious pout as I ride in the back seat of the truck with the babies. Sometimes I even still have minor panic attacks about the week ahead. Actually, quite often. But I’m finally at a point where I think I can do it, and I can recognize that it gets easier every day.

I never thought I’d understand those moms that up and bail on their families. I’d be lying if the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. Sometimes I was even so miserable that I could relate to those moms that drown their kids in the bathtub. I never EVER had any inclination to do that myself, but I understood how it was possible for things to get that far. The misery is so intense. SO intense. I’d hit some pretty intense lows in the depression of my 20’s but that was just a rainy day compared to the hormonal typhoon that was Postpartum Depression. There was no control. Nothing I could do to abate the instant mood swing that had me from OK and stable to a tense and sobbing mess in less than two minutes. And it was that fast. I really understood the whole ‘triggered’ thing, because it would be all of a sudden and seemingly for no reason. We’d watch a movie and some sad music would start, bam. Dave would make a lame but obvious joke, bam. I’d miss a spot on one of the dishes I’d washed, bam. Pumping also set me off, I got (and sometimes still get) really claustrophobic when I pump. Getting a pumping bra was a total game-changer for me – I could read or screw with my phone while I double pumped. Anyways… Postpartum was really different than anything I’d ever dealt with. It was very much a hormonal issue, and there wasn’t really anything I could do about it. It scared me. I still don’t feel super in control of myself and my life, but again. At least now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and broken like I was, please know the storm will subside. I know damn well how it feels when every day takes a year, like there’s no end to the misery or the insanely hard work you’re doing. There is an end. If you care enough about your baby/babies to be this concerned and upset about it, you’re a much better parent than you think. You’re probably crushing it. There’s a reason people call the first few months a survival phase – this shit is INTENSE! You’re trying to keep a tiny, fragile little creature alive that can’t express to you what it needs other than crying and shrieking at you. You don’t know any of the queues, there’s no hope of establishing a routine… It’s like running through a maze in the dark at full speed. You just keep hitting walls. No one has it figured out right away, even if it’s their second child. Every baby is different. Every situation is different. And even if people knew what was going on and how to do this right off the bat, it’s still incredibly overwhelming.

As hard as it is, try to give yourself some credit. Just a little bit at a time. Feed a kid? Give yourself some credit. Change a diaper? Give yourself some credit. Do the dishes? Holy shit, you need some credit. Do literally anything other than those three things (or really the first two) you’re a fucking superhero. Give yourself some credit. Mom is the absolute hardest job in the world especially when the kids are babies. Please don’t hate yourself and make it any harder.

I was really, really not into taking antidepressants. I had bad experiences on them in the early/mid-twenties. Plus I did all that work on my mental health, it made me feel like a total failure. Now that it’s working and keeping me afloat, I honestly don’t know how I would be getting through this insane time without it. If you’re being obstinate about it – take the pills. If not for you, for your babies. Like I said, being a new mom is hard enough without adding extra pressure on yourself.

Last thing I want to say, is that if it gets really bad – PLEASE seek out emergency help. Call your doctor. Call your midwife. Call the crisis line. Go to the emergency department at your local hospital. My city has a Community Outreach Response team that will come to your house and assess your state and give you some options, maybe there’s something like that where you are. It’s way to easy to think there’s no end to the misery when you feel like this, and when you feel that helpless you’re not likely to make good decisions. It’s a good idea to have some contingency plans in place. Seek help. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you responsible.

You are a super mom. You are doing amazing. This too shall pass.

https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/

Posted in All, Musings

Mama’s first Mother’s Day

In high school I was such a conspiracy theorist. 9/11 happened when I was in grade 8, so for several of the following years it was “George Bush” this and “Skull and Bones” that. The Government, maaaaaan! There’s still remnants of it in my personality. For example, I totally think the COVID virus was created and released. By whom, and to what end? Well.. I don’t really think enough about these things to form a complete opinion. Anyways.. One of the symptoms of this charming personality trait is that I hate “Hallmark Holidays.” Just days created by ‘the man’ to push sales, costing people money on things no one needs. What a rip! I would still call my mom, send her flowers sometimes. But whatever. Not a real holiday. Pointless, I say!

So now – I have kids. More specifically, I have two 4 month old premature babies that I care for while my fiance goes to work full time, in the middle of a pandemic that eliminates the possibility of accepting any of the help I was offered beforehand. Shit is hard! Holy crap! I had no idea how hard being a mom is. I thought I knew, and I thought I’d heard enough to be adequately prepared. No. And any mom who is reading this right now is chuckling to themselves, because you likely felt the same way. Even if you weren’t cocky about it like I was – You definitely learned a lot about patience and hard work in even the first week of parenthood. You’ve definitely had your share of breakdowns and “what the fuck have I done” moments. I remember sitting in the NICU with my mom and we were talking about how it’s something that you just can’t be prepared for. No one can tell you what it’s going to be like in a way that you will understand. I have worked hard labour jobs, waitressing jobs, three jobs at once, jobs where a normal day for me was 16 hours… Those was nothing in comparison. I love my kids. I absolutely adore my kids and would do anything for them. But unfortunately I’m not at the point where I’ve gotten to really enjoy being a mom. I spend a lot of time reminiscing about my old life when I could just up and go to Mexico for a month or two, or when Dave and I would go to the city for the night to see a band and get white girl wasted. Things you can’t do as new parents. And granted, I’ve been spending less time in regret mode as the kids get older but damn. I miss being young and exciting. If I only knew, bla bla bla… I’ll spare you that diatribe.

When Dave asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day, I honestly didn’t even know how to respond. It had never even occurred to me but all at once I realized how much moms deserve that shit. The flowers. The Chocolates. The macaroni pictures that live on the fridge and slowly lose pieces over time… All of it! Ladies – You deserve that shit entirely. Eat the whole box of chocolates. Be proud of those macaroni pictures. Smell the flowers. Let your kids make you breakfast in bed. (Warn dads to be ready to clean that shit up too cuz having to clean up the mess involved in kiddos cooking and serving negates the pleasure of a breakfast in bed.)

After I realized how much I’d earned a day, my sad self started thinking about how much I maybe didn’t deserve it. I still don’t feel like a mom. It feels weird to say that because I spend my life pumping and bottling and changing diapers and rocking and everything else involved with raising tiny babies. I am all that is mom. Except I don’t get to really enjoy it right now. Spending time with the kids is great, it’s just a lot of responsibility. Usually I get off on responsibility but not as a mom. I don’t know if it’s that there’s so much more at stake than someone’s breakfast order, or maybe it’s just the way it goes for new moms (new multiple moms, maybe?) Or maybe it’s just the onslaught of postpartum mental health issues I’ve experienced since the kids came out. It becomes a bit of a vicious cycle – I am depressed and exhausted so I don’t enjoy parenting. I don’t enjoy parenting so I feel guilty. My guilt makes me feel even more depressed and exhausted. I feel like I’ll probably start enjoying it when they sleep through the night and can sit up on their own. I recognize that a lot of my postpartum issues are due to near complete exhaustion, so maybe once I get a normal amount of sleep I will feel better and more in control. God, I fucking hope so. But I’m getting off topic.

I still don’t know what I want for Mother’s Day. I told Dave I want a clean house and a foot massage, that is really all I want. I sound like my mom and any other mom I’ve heard answer that question. I will likely only get the foot massage, and let’s be honest – I’ll still be really stoked about it. He’s gonna make us an epic dinner too. ‘Us’ being Dave and I, as well as Dave’s mom and her husband. We go visit every weekend to keep ourselves sane. Ma-in-law keeps the babies for the night so Dave and I can relax, get some real sleep, and then go for a little day-date the next day. We go home refreshed and (in my case) terrified to start a new week taking care of the babies alone. But for Mother’s Day, ma-in-law and I are gonna enjoy the relaxation. Me more than her apparently cuz she loves hanging with those babies!

All this to say – I have to recognize my struggle, and the fact that I have earned a day. I can still be humble about what I do for my family without being self-deprecating. I can let others appreciate me. Dave and I both have our jobs, and yeah mine is a little harder. Ok, maybe a lot harder.. But it’s ok. And I can do this – I do it every day! So yeah Dave, I’ll take the foot massage. And if you can swing a clean house? Fuck yeah. I’ll take that too. I’ve earned it. Thanks babe 🙂 Also, ma I’m gonna send you a big sexy bouquet of flowers. Maybe a little minion to massage your feet if I can find one.

Happy Mother’s Day, betches.