Feeling Incompetent

Today has been one of those days where I am pretty sure I just can’t do it. I feel completely inept at taking care of my children, my husband, the house and myself. The sleeping problems around here seem to be getting worse, not better, and I am exhausted.

I haven’t been to the supermarket in nearly two weeks. There are mountains of crap piled up on both the dining room and kitchen tables. The kitchen is only clean because Super-Husband cleans it, runs the dishwasher and empties the dishwasher every day. The floors – oh the floors. We have a sand pit in the area next to the dog door. Dog hair tumbleweeds drift across the living room. I can’t remember to do basic things like call the pediatrician for a refill on Jelly’s reflux medicine. Poor OW probably doesn’t remember what I look like naked. I’m so miserable and ashamed about how I’m neglecting him. I swore I wouldn’t.

You know how they say the Universe (or God or Allah or Goddess – take your pick) doesn’t give you more than you can handle? That’s a flat-out lie. It’s a lie. People regularly get more than they can handle. The fact that folks live, physically, through hard times does not mean they “handled” it. People freak out, retreat, end up in psych units, drink, drug and lots of other things.

I’m not drinking (much anyway), drugging, near being committed or anything like that. I am freaking out and retreating. We ARE given more than we can handle sometimes. Now is one of those times for me. There is a voice in the back of my head that whispers, “They will grow out of this. This isn’t forever. You will sleep again. You will be able to vacuum the floor again. You will shave your legs again. You will be able to make time for your husband again.” But I don’t believe her.  I’m having a really hard time seeing past the sleep deprivation; past the endless, miserable days when the boys simply will not sleep.

I made a decision last week that was really, really hard for me, and I’m still not sure I’m doing the right thing. I think that’s adding to the stress I’m feeling. I’m not good at making decisions, which is why I married a man who is great at it, and I am nearly always happy to defer to his judgement. But this was a decision only I could make and no one could or can really help me with it.

I come back all the time to the nagging worry that I will not make good decisions and that my poor decisions will negatively impact my children and haunt them into adulthood. I know this is a possibility because I see the results of my bad decisions in my two adult children. The regret I live with is crushing and makes me feel nearly paralyzed when it comes to making certain decisions about the kids in Parenting Part II. I KNOW that I am inept in some ways. Not in every way, I’ll give myself that, but in ways that count. I didn’t think I would have to revisit my shortcomings in this area again. Now here they are, bright and shining in my face like an interrogation lamp.

Maybe I’ll be able to see things more clearly once I’ve had a few days of decent sleep, but I don’t know when that will be. In the meantime,  I am desperately treading water, trying to stop the waves from pushing me under. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just stop kicking, but I know I can’t. And I won’t.

But damn, my legs are tired.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

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Posted on December 6, 2011, in A piece of my soul, Confessions. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Mike (@hobbesoh)

    Only one thing that I can say: we are right there with you. One of the twins woke up at 5AM this morning with a mystery pain for an hour, woke me right out of sleep and kept me awake for an hour until she settled back down. The other woke an hour later for good. I went to sleep around 1AM, my wife didn’t sleep until 3:30AM due to insomnia kicked off by the trauma of twin parenting. You do the math, but that’s not enough sleep for people who have to make a living (me) and take care of two babies (wife) all day long.

    I’m now working on the couch at midnight (London time) literally trying to keep my eyes open to get enough done to keep afloat at work. I’m having to hire another person at work just so that I can get everything done, but lord knows where that money is going to come from. It’s not going to come from my salary either, because we need every cent after we decided that my wife isn’t going back to work – it’s just not worth the mental anguish and financial burden of having to find and train (for others: yes, train – caring for twins is a skill learned through experience, not instinct) a nanny.

    Twin parenting is all about survival, so I don’t think can question your decisions at this point in the process. My bet is that you’re making those tough choices because you have to survive – and that probably wasn’t the case with the previous decisions that you regret. There’s no formula with twins, but they have the built-in advantage of each other to make up for anything that they are missing from mum and dad.

    Good luck. Does it make anyone feel better that others are in it just as much? I’m not sure… but at least you’re not alone in your incompetence.

    • I don’t know that it makes it better, exactly, to know that others are going through it. It does help during the day when I can think logically. In the middle of the night though, it still feels like we are all alone. I think your girls are just a bit older than my boys. I guess I’m glad to know that mine are not the only ones not “sleeping through the night”. Oh how I have come to hate that term. I don’t need them to sleep through the night. I just need them to not wake up – at the same time – every 45 minutes to an hour.

      I hope your past couple of days has been better. I’m working hard on following The No Cry Sleep Solution, but it doesn’t give advice about how to manage it with twins.

      By the way, thanks for the info on baby-led weaning. I’ve ordered the book from my local bookstore and have joined up the forum too.

  2. Mike (@hobbesoh)

    Our girls are about 3 months ahead (10 months + 2 weeks now), so when we have bad sleep days, it’s probably more like your good days. 3 months makes all of the difference in the world, but we started something similar to No Cry Sleep Solution at around 7 months, so the timing there is about the same.

    I will say that for us we basically had to ignore all of the cry-it-out advice and went cold turkey. With twins, it’s impossible to do any sort of “5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes” pattern. Any time that you go in and comfort them, there’s just as much of a likelihood that you’re going to work one of them up into more than calm one down, so we just had to put them down and close the door.

    It was really painful to go through, but my wife and I had basically come to a point of either they had to improve their sleep or we would topple over out of exhaustion. Since then, their sleeping has gotten better and better and their ability to fall asleep on their own has expanded to their naps, which has been a godsend.

    Of course, there’s still lots of times that sleep doesn’t come easily, but now it’s a matter of something else, not just them needing us to comfort them to sleep. There ain’t an easy solution to the sleep equation for twins, but the only thing that I can say with any surety looking back was that our girls were ready to sleep better before we were ready to let go of what we thought they needed to go to sleep. It feels like you’re taking away something that is essential to their survival (especially listening to the first couple nights of crying), but the reality is that it’s us (the parents) projecting that onto them – they’re able to handle a lot more than we give them credit for.

    I’m not a fan of any of the cry-it-out methods, and I’m not really that happy that we had to resort to our own version. But ultimately, I am accept the decision. It was one that my wife and I both made together when we had no other options. And the girls came out great.

    I will say that the pain and agony of getting them onto a sleep schedule is hard to offset, but baby-led weaning is an incredible high. Being able to provide them with real homemade food not pureed into mush, then to see them grab it and enjoy every bite, is one of the real joys of our first year of #twinslife.

    Breakfast for the twins is around 2-3 apples (between them), sliced and steamed (I do a bunch every few days and put them in the fridge), 1 orange, and some organic porridge to round it out. Dinner tonight was two chicken legs (they love the dark meat), an avocado, sweet potatoes fries (made soft, not crunchy), and broccoli. Aside from the HIPP porridge (not sure if that’s just a UK brand), we’ve never bought them a single pot of puree’d anything, nor have we ever put anything in a blender for them. It’s truly incredible to watch and if you get a chance to do it, you will enjoy every meal with them.

    Good luck with everything, we’re rooting for the 4 of you.

    • As helpless as the sleep issue feels, I know that a big part of it is that I need to be more consistent. I need to resign myself to not leaving the house until we get it under control. I can’t cry it out. Can’t. Well, *I* cry it out sometimes but I can’t let the boys do it. It just goes against all of my instincts. People think I’m crazy but I don’t think I can get to that point. I know it will get better eventually and I do want to help them learn to sleep. There have been times when I’ve felt so desperate I’ve considered it, but I can’t follow through with it. Anyway, I try to remember that this will pass and they will sleep eventually. It would be easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel if I weren’t so darn tired.

      As for BLW – we’ve started! I’m going to post about it shortly. 🙂

      • Mike (@hobbesoh)

        Yeah, it’s probably worth mentioning that we absolutely refused to accept cry it out as a solution to any of the sleeping problems. Both my wife and I were staunchly against it from the beginning and made a judgement that any parents that had to resort to it just weren’t doing a good job. In fact, the day before we started, we were making fun of an article glorifying it in the paper. The next day, things got so dark that we resorted to it only because we had no other choice.

        It’s not to say that you should do it. You’re their mom and it’s your decision. But I was surprised at how we had to give in on something that we were absolutely 100% against because our sanity depended on it. Such are the lessons of #twinslife, I guess, but I didn’t want to give you the idea that we’re a fan of COI. It’s not to solution to the world’s problems, but if you do resort to it, just make the decision and don’t look back. PB&J won’t care or remember, because our girls love us just as much after we made the decision as they did before.

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