Category Archives: Questions

First Anniversary

My husband and I’s first anniversary is exactly 2 weeks away and I am starting to panic. Before I got pregnant, we hadn’t exactly discussed getting married. I mean, both of us sort of assumed that was coming I think, but he hadn’t formally proposed and I was careful never to have that “when are you going to marry me?” conversation with him. I knew it would come when it came.

Once I discovered I was pregnant, that discussion happened, and it was awkward. He insisted that we get married and that we do it before the boys were born. I told him I was very uncomfortable with the idea that he was marrying me because I was pregnant. He said he wasn’t. It was awkward. Did I say that already?

He assured me that he’d been working towards asking me. He is the sort of person who needed to have the honeymoon planned before he could even pop the question and he had actually been working on that! So we agreed that we would get married. Still, he proposed in a wonderful way, and tried to make it as romantic and spontaneous as possible. He went to my mother (who didn’t know I was pregnant) and asked for her blessing. He picked out a ring he thought I would love. He arranged for us and his mother, my mother, and my mom’s partner to go to dinner together, during which he pulled out the box, made a speech, and formally asked me to marry him. It was all supposed to be a surprise, but it’s hard to surprise me. I acted very surprised. Our mothers literally wept with joy.

We put off setting a date and planning the wedding because my pregnancy was going so badly and we were just consumed by that. In January, however, we knew we’d better get moving. I was willing to go to the courthouse, but he wanted a real wedding, in the church, with his family and friends there. We planned a lovely wedding in only 6 weeks and truly I don’t know how we did it. OW put a tremendous amount of effort into it. I had no idea a nice wedding could be so important to a man! We even had a little honeymoon on the beach in South Florida, in the town I lived in for years and years. I was on semi-bedrest so I mostly sat in the living room of our suite and looked at the beach, but it was beautiful and relaxing. Sadly, his plan for a honeymoon in New Zealand has been put on indefinite hold.

So now it’s a year later. I can’t believe it’s been a year already and I wish we could have a celebration befitting a first anniversary. A romantic weekend getaway in the same boutique hotel where we spent our honeymoon would be perfect. A close second would be a few days in the mountains of North Carolina.

I’m afraid what we will actually do is call my mother-in-law at the last minute and have dinner at a decent restaurant where you don’t need a reservation, then rush home because we know the babies won’t go down for their grandma and will likely be screaming. I don’t really have the time or energy to c0me up with the sort of creative, romantic gift I would have pre-twins. I’m even at a loss for ideas for a non-romantic, non-creative gift.

What I’m most nervous about is that OW will do something really thoughtful for me and I will have crap for him. It’s causing me a lot of stress and anxiety. Taking care of the boys is just so all-consuming. Do you have any easy-to-execute ideas for me?

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

On Blogging, Part 2

A while back I posted on the pressure I put on myself to blog three times a week. It was making me sort of sick to my stomach and causing me some stress, so I decided to just post as I wanted to, whether that be one time, three times, or even five times a week.

You can see the results of that. I haven’t posted in nearly two weeks. It’s not that I don’t have subjects in mind or even that I need to sit down and hash something out. I have many posts pre-written in my head. The problem is that now that I don’t have the pressure to perform, I simply don’t perform. I don’t make time for it and that bothers me.

I’d like to find a balance between putting some pressure on myself to post, and having a sense of forgiveness for myself as well. I’m a person of extremes, so I don’t know how to do that.

Right now time seems to be slipping away from me. The house is a mess, I often forget to start dinner until it’s almost too late to bother, My personal grooming habits have, uh, deteriorated somewhat and my kids sometimes wear the same footie pajamas 24 hours a day for two or three days in a row. What am I doing with my time? I never seem to stop moving so I don’t understand why nothing is getting done, including writing. I’m beginning to become really overwhelmed. I know I would feel better if I got the house under control and wrote several blog posts to have in the coffers but I just don’t know where or how I’ll find the time.

How do you find (make) time to write and take care of all of your other duties too?

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

Of Rainbows and Perfection

We’re finally finishing up the nursery, nearly six months after the twins’ birth. It almost seems silly to me because I really have no intention of throwing them in there and shutting the door, but it will be fun to have it decorated.

We’re using a Noah’s Ark theme and decided we would paint a giant rainbow on the wall. I had a very clear image in my mind of what this rainbow would look like upon completion. My imagination doesn’t often translate very well into reality, because my imagination has a lot more tools and skill than I do.

OW and I discussed, planned and researched. We decided we would trace out the ribbons of color with chalk and then paint, fading each color into the next. I searched and searched for pictures or instructions for how to paint a perfect gradient using tempera on sheetrock.  Alas, I could find nothing that really fit, so I tried to come up with a plan using cobbled together bits of information from various websites.

We’re finished but for two more ribbons and I have to admit that I am less than pleased with the results. The fading from one color to the next has not materialized the way I’d hoped. In fact, it looks to me like we just weren’t sure where one color should start and the other end. OW decided to override my techniques for the gradient process and barreled forward with his own. And I hate it. And I think it sucks. And I think it looks like shit.

There, I said it. I could not possibly say that to him because he’s so proud of it. I’m nervous even writing it. What if he somehow sees this? Of course, I don’t know whether my plan would have worked any better and he’s much more likely to be right about something than I am, so I acquiesced.

This business of having a firm picture in my mind of the end result of potential projects causes me to procrastinate about a lot of things. I know I haven’t the skill or knowledge to achieve the desired result, but nothing less than perfect will do. So I just don’t do.

Is this practicality or an excuse to avoid potential failure? I hate rejection. HateHateHateHate. Failing to complete a project in a way that I find acceptable means I have failed myself and therefore am rejecting my efforts and myself.

Truthfully, left up to me, the rainbow would never have gotten painted at all because I would be too afraid to start. So is it really as crappy as I think it is? Is a crappy rainbow better than no rainbow? How far below perfection is acceptable?

What price do we pay for never even trying?

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

On Blogging

I made a commitment to myself when I started this blog that I would post three times a week. This week I missed both Monday and Wednesday and I’m hoping to get this posted before Friday is over.

I’ve been thinking about why I’m blogging, what I hope to get out of it, and why I’ve put pressure on myself to post so often.

Part of the reason I started a blog is that I am not free to talk about some things that are important to me or are difficult for me to talk about with people in my offline life. This is a self-imposed restriction. No one is telling me to shut up. I’m just embarrassed about some of my darker feelings. Of course, everyone has little complaints about their life, their spouse, their mother, their kids, and those complaints are often not appropriate to share with the people closest to us. I don’t want to make OW feel badly by telling him that his end of day breath mixed with the odiferous diet cran-grape he drinks all evening makes me have to turn my back to him in bed in order to avoid gagging. But there are other things I keep deep inside that I’m afraid to share with the people in my life. There is something freeing and cathartic about revealing those secrets (nearly) anonymously with other people.

I hope my embarrassing incidents, weird confessions, worries and even dark moods are things that other people can relate to. I write not only to get it out of my system but also in hopes that I will get some kind of confirmation that I’m not completely wacko. In that sense, I hope to reach out to other moms who share my concerns, worries and joys as well. I want to know that I am not alone in this and I want other moms to know they aren’t alone either.

Why did I commit to writing three times a week? I know that most people won’t bother to read a blog that’s not updated regularly, and I know that writing frequently will improve my writing in general. Unfortunately, the pressure I put on myself to meet my own deadlines is stressful. It’s very difficult for me to find time to sit at the computer and write. I have to do it during naptimes or after the twins and OW have gone to bed. Those are also the times I have other things that need doing. I feel guilty about sitting here “doing nothing” while there is so much in the house to be done.

If you blog, why? What do you get out of it? Do you put pressure on yourself to blog a certain number of times per week?

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

Bonding Part 2

I’m not a Christian but OW is a devout Lutheran, son and grandson of Lutheran ministers. We have silently agreed that I will accompany him to church on high holy days and a few other times during the year.

Yesterday was the annual outdoor service and picnic. This is one of the days I agree to go and we managed to get the twins, both dogs, and us out the door and to the church before the service started. This is almost enough of a miracle to make me believe.

The boys were both tired and a bit grumpy, but I knew that they’d probably fall asleep. Grandma took Jelly and I held Peanut Butter because I knew he was hungry. It was a beautiful day and we sat in the shade of a huge tree near the church. I sat near the back and off to the side for a little extra privacy. As I sat there in my folding chair, nursing and listening quietly, I realized that I never take the time to just sit with my babies. I’m almost always in a rush to accomplish the next task. If one is nursing the other is getting fussy. If Peanut Butter falls asleep I hurry to get him to lie down so I can take care of Jelly. If I’m lucky enough to get them both asleep at the same time, I race to get to the washing machine, the kitchen, the toilet scrubber, the vacuum cleaner. If one is awake and complaining, up he goes on my back while I race to get to the washing machine, the kitchen, the toilet scrubber, the vacuum cleaner.

So as I listened to the hymns and nursed Peanut butter, I was free to do nothing but stare at him. I wasn’t playing with my cell phone, I wasn’t thinking about folding a load of laundry, and I wasn’t making mental lists. Because he was nursing and sleeping I didn’t even have to participate in the up and down of the service. I had an entire hour to just sit and look at him. To look at each hair in his golden eyebrows; the folds of his ears; the blue vein that curves around his right temple; the particular way his hair swirls at the edge of his hairline; the buttery smoothness of his skin; the scratch on his cheek; the length of each fingernail; the shape of his lips; the pads on his feet; the weight of his tiny body in my arms.

And it was beautiful but sad for me at the same time. I’m sad that I am so anxious to prove my worth as a new stay at home mom that I don’t feel I have the luxury of just sitting and staring at my babies. Who will wash the clothes? Who will cook dinner? Who will sweep up the pounds of sand the dogs track in every day? These things have to be done. It’s not an option for us to have no clothes to wear, or to eat take out every night. Beyond that, the house devolves quickly into chaos if I don’t constantly work on keeping the hotspot surfaces from being overtaken by clutter. It’s amazing how quickly that happens. As I write this, I’m looking around at the stuff – the STUFF – threatening to devour us because I’ve been too down to take care of things for the past few days.

In the meantime, the boys have become just a part of my household routine. I’ve mentioned before that I’m worried that I’m not bonding appropriately with the twins. The affection I noticed felt while taking that hour to look at my little Peanut Butter must be part of what the bonding feels like. I was more at peace during that hour than I have been in a long, long time.

How do I continue to develop this with both of my boys while dealing with the practical realities of feeding my family and maintaining our home?

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

A Tale of Two Parenting Styles

Last week I spoke at a childbirth education class for parents expecting multiples. I was excited about it because I love to speak in front of a group and I felt I genuinely had something of value to share. The only guideline I was given was to talk about my experience being a mom of twins. I had no idea whether there was a time limit (in retrospect, I really wished I’d asked for guidance on that). I knew I would be sharing the time with another couple, who have 11-month-old fraternal twins.

I arrived just after the first couple did and my adrenaline started pumping right away. I LOVE this shit! I couldn’t wait to get started. The other couple went first. I was mortified the instant the woman opened her mouth. She seemed completely devoid of personality and spoke in a monotone. I noticed she had the book Babywise on her lap and felt my heart sink. She was going to tell these poor, unsuspecting parents how great their lives were after they let the babies scream for hours several nights in a row beginning at about 7 weeks of age. Babywise is in almost every way the exact opposite of the attachment parenting style I believe in. It advocates “parent directed feeding” (scheduled feeding), crying it out beginning at 6 weeks, forced playtime alone, and punitive discipline starting at 6 months of age (including corporal punishment and isolation). The whole thing makes me completely sick to my stomach.

I understand that not everyone has the same parenting philosophy I do and I try to be respectful of others’ choices, as I hope they are of mine. Some things cross a line even I can’t ignore though. Most of this couple’s talk was not about Babywise methods, although they did cite it specifically for sleep training. Still, their experience reflected the consequences of following this advice. For example, The mom said that her milk started to “dry up” and she was finished breastfeeding by three and a half months. She said she felt sort of conflicted about it but figured they’d gotten “all the good out of it they were going to get anyway.” Following a feeding schedule and refusing to feed at night beginning by only 8 weeks of age is a sure way to diminish your supply, and don’t even get me started on the advantages of breastfeeding through the first year.

I tried not to screw up my face while she was talking. I tried to sit calmly, knowing that I would soon be able to present a different view of parenting, but I could feel myself becoming wild with fear that these parents would go home excited about the prospect of wising up their babies.

I have an issue with obsessive-compulsive disorder and this is one of the areas in which I suffer. In my non-OCD moments I do realize that neither I nor this other couple is likely to sway someone so much to one side that it defines their parenting. Each parent must research parenting styles and do what they believe is best for their family. At that moment though, I suddenly felt an intense need to “save” my audience. The thoughts started swirling around my head so quickly and so forcefully that I don’t remember much of what the other couple said after the first ten minutes or so.

When my turn came I was practically jumping out of my skin with anticipation. I may even have begun babbling. There was so much I HAD to tell these parents-to-be! I was a tent revival evangelist and my flock needed salvation. I demonstrated both a front and back carry with the mei tai. I recited the Gospel of Breastfeeding. I extolled the virtues of natural childbirth and co-sleeping and cast out the demons of crying it out and scheduled feedings.

Truthfully, I did not assail them with attachment parenting doctrine, though I would have loved to. I did try to focus on life with twins from my attachment parenting point of view. I told them about redefining success in various areas, including childbirth and breastfeeding.

I told them that the hardest part about having twins, for me, is having one cry while I’m caring for the other and not being able to do anything about it. The Babywise mom must not have been paying close attention because she piped up with, “oh you’ll get used to it.” I replied that I didn’t think I ever could. She responded that it was harder for her husband than for her but that after a few nights they stopped crying. I was horrified. I started to stammer and tried to make it clear that I was most certainly not talking about crying it out, rather that I couldn’t always comfort both at once. I reiterated that I would NEVER get used to that.

After that I continued to go on and on and on about what items I couldn’t live without and so forth. The poor instructor kept giving me cues to let me know that my time was up but I was too caught up in my spiel to notice. Thinking back, I do remember her saying “Well thank you SO MUCH Jenny!” at least a couple of times.

I just felt so passionate about sharing my “wisdom” (bwahahahaha!) that I couldn’t stop! I wish I’d worked up something more resembling a speech so that I could cover the points in a logical order, keep from rambling and seem sane. I have a lot of trouble editing myself. That’s true in my everyday life as well as here on this blog. How do I learn to moderate myself? I feel like I’m going to pop like a cork out of a champagne bottle when I try to hold things in. I love to write, I love to speak to an audience, and I love to chat with people.

Are you like that? Have you learned to edit yourself? Share your wisdom with me!

Friday Five

I thought it would be fun to do some memes, so here is a Friday Five.

1. Describe a recurring dream you have and what you think it means.

I have several recurring dreams. The details differ slightly but the theme is consistent. I had one of my regulars last night. I dream that I find myself in a situation that would, in real life, be very private or embarrassing. Everyone has those, right? You discover that you’re naked and you run around trying to clothe yourself. Mine have an odd twist. In addition to finding myself naked, I also frequently dream that I’m on the toilet or having sex in front of a lot of strangers. The twist is that I don’t care. I’m not ashamed and am happy to continue, even though the people around me are uncomfortable with the situation. There is usually a friend with me who is embarrassed by my lack of embarrassment and tries to convince me to put on my clothes, get off of the toilet, etc. I typically refuse and have an attitude about it too. Sometimes I will capitulate because of pressure from others but never because of my own discomfort. What do you think this means?

2. What do you like to daydream about?

Oh I daydream about lots of things. Unfortunately, mine are often dark. I daydream about my children’s future and pull up all sorts of depressing scenarios. I imagine myself old, alone and broke. I picture burning myself horribly while cooking. They aren’t all so miserable though. I also daydream about doing everything perfectly in raising Peanut Butter & Jelly – fixing all of the mistakes I made with my first two boys. I imagine them kissing me on the cheek as they leave for high school each day. I picture them graduating from law school and joining their father in his practice. Sometimes I daydream for myself. I see OW with a wildly successful practice, with eight or ten attorneys under him. He no longer has to put in 10 hour days and we have the money for me to comfortably stay home forever. I am the president of the Junior League AND the PTA.

3. What’s the scariest dream you can remember?

This is another recurring dream. I am being physically attacked and there is a crowd of people standing around just watching. I beg for help but no one steps forward. I fight as hard as I can but know I can not get away. When I was a teenager my father would often be in the crowd. I would cry and plead with him to help, but he would just turn away. I would always wake up in a cold sweat, feeling sick at my stomach.

4. What would be a “dream come true” for you?

Ah, the daydream about spending my days volunteering and shuttling my kids to their activities while keeping my house magazine beautiful and cooking a gourmet meal each night would be my dream come true. Some parts of that are reasonably attainable, some probably aren’t. But a dream is a goal to work toward.

5. What is the best dream you’ve ever had?

I’ve only had a flying dream once, but it has stuck with me for years and years. In the dream I had a beautiful, multi-colored cape that allowed me to spin around slowly and then levitate. From there I was able to just will myself up and down and in any direction I chose. Even now, years later, I distinctly remember the colors of the cape and of the world around me. I remember the wonderful feeling of flying. It was literally and figuratively a lightness of being. I keep hoping that I’ll have that dream again one day.

What do you dream about?

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

Bonding, or a Lack Thereof

This is a blog post for which I would really, really like feedback from other moms.

When I was falling in love with my husband, I would look at him and feel pure love washing over me. This wasn’t lust (although there was plenty of that), it was a sense of being lost inside of him, and he in me. I was expecting to feel this with my boys and I didn’t.

Peanut Butter & Jelly (I picked my code names!) are four months old now. I am concerned that I haven’t properly bonded with them. At the beginning, when they were in the NICU, my main emotion was fear. It was overwhelming and I got very little sleep. I felt something toward them, but I’m not sure what to call it. I spent all day, every day at the hospital, and I held them, but for all but 2 days of the 3 weeks they were there, I couldn’t do much with them. I couldn’t feed them (they were fed through a tube), I couldn’t go anywhere with them (they were attached to multiple monitors/IVs etc), and for the first week I was limited in the amount of time I could hold them because they had to be under jaundice lights and Jelly had to stay in an isolette. I spent my days pumping and looking at them, trying to will myself to feel a surge of love for them. I felt affection. I felt a desire to protect them. I cried when Jelly had bradycardia episodes, but I didn’t feel what I thought I should feel.

I’ve read that it can be normal. If it is, why do I feel so much shame about it? I believe in attachment parenting, yet I feel sort of detached from my little babies. It makes me feel like a fraud.

Breastfeeding was and is something incredibly important to me. I stuck it out when I think most people would have given up. I began truly breastfeeding (rather than bottle-feeding pumped milk) around 11 weeks. I thought for sure that would be the thing that would truly meld my heart with theirs. It worked that way with my first two children, so why hasn’t it this time?

People told me that it would come after we got home from the hospital, but it didn’t.

People told me that it would come once they could keep their eyes open and look around, but it didn’t.

People told me that it would come when they could smile and coo, but it hasn’t.

When does it come? Have I missed some window of opportunity? What’s wrong with me that I don’t feel it?

Moreover, what does it feel like? I imagine it’s this gushing sort of emotion, or maybe just a sense of peace when you look at your child. Is this right? How would you describe it?

 

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

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Code Names

Should I keep my family’s real names private?

I’ve been giving some thought to this recently. On our family blog, which is really just baby update stuff, we use all of our real names. It’s a WordPress blog and I have it set as not searchable. We give the address to our friends and family and that’s about it. I am aware that it’s not private and in fact I had that link as my Twitter link at first. I’m not terribly worried about it, as I don’t reveal our address or even the name of our town. Our family knows where we live.

This blog though is one I’m putting out there for the world (but hopefully not my friends and family – Doh!) to read. I will definitely keep my husband’s name private because he is not a social media guy and is very wary about that sort of thing. I don’t use my last name anywhere here or on Twitter and I don’t link this blog or my Twitter account to my Facebook account.

So I suppose I shouldn’t use my kids’ real names either. I notice that most mommy bloggers don’t. They all have cute code names for their family members.

I want cute code names for mine! I know I don’t have a ton of readers, but I think there are at least two or three of you so far. Can you help me pick out my code names or give me guidance?

I already call my hubby “OW” for Other Whole. He’s definitely not a half. In fact, he may be more than a whole because he has to make up for what I lack!

My oldest son is almost 22 years old. He is a musician with a tortured soul. He lives independently, even though that means sleeping on a mattress in someone’s basement. Ugh. I figure he’ll get tired of that eventually. He’s super cool. Like, he is the sort of dude people see and immediately want to hang around with because he looks like and gives off the aura of a quiet rock star. He’s not outgoing, he doesn’t talk a lot and he doesn’t seek followers. He just oozes cool and I don’t know how else to describe that. It’s very attractive to people. We’ll be in a restaurant and wannabe cool dudes approach him and desperately try to engage him in conversation. It’s so interesting to watch.

My second son is almost 20 years old. He is trying to figure out what kind of man he wants to be. He has really worked to seem hard and cold. He has claimed to be an anarchist (that’s finally fading, thank goodness), to hate the police, and to generally want to buck authority. But the truth is that he is a very sweet-hearted kid who thinks of other people’s feelings, wants to have a wife and a family, and needs a major boost of self-confidence. He is friendly and loving, but gets frustrated easily. He is sorely lacking in self-discipline but I’m hoping he’ll get better as he moves through school (he is FINALLY starting community college this semester and I am beyond relieved).

My twins are harder. They are starting to have personalities, but let’s face it: How much personality does a four-month-old baby have? My first one is the bigger of the two, and has a deeper voice. He is generally more willing to sleep and seems to just be more laid back in general. The second kid is the little guy but makes up for it in volume and pitch. He has a cry that I think must be the equivalent of having an ice pick driven through your head. And he is loud. L-O-U-D. He goes from zero to 60 in under 30 seconds. The bigger guy builds up more slowly and never gets that high-pitched screechy scream. They are mo/di twins and I honestly have a hard time telling them apart when they aren’t next to each other. Using physical appearance to come up with a nickname definitely won’t work here. Their size probably doesn’t either because the hope is that the little one will catch up to his brother by the time they are two years old. I’m hopeful that the screaming business won’t outlast infancy (oh pleasepleasepleaseplease).

So how do I come up with a nickname for these two? Even at home I don’t really have cutesy names for them. I call them both boo-boo and pooky-poo and that sort of thing, but when I’m talking about one of them I call them by their given name. How did you choose your family’s code names and what advice do you have for me?

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