A Morning in the Life of a Quarantwin Mom

IMG_20200331_1133196:45 Everyone gets up. Hubby gets dressed, I do not. I want to fit in my half hour exercise routine at some point this morning before I get dressed.. 

7:00 The twins watch Magic School Bus while hubby and I hustle around emptying the dishwasher, prepping the kids’ breakfast, prepping our own breakfast, feeding the dog, making tea.

7:30 Hubby eats breakfast and does the dishes. I drink my smoothie while trying to get the twins to stay in their chairs long enough to eat a few bites. If they don’t, they will be HANGRY.

7:45 Hubby goes upstairs to his office to start his work day after wishing me luck, which he knows I’ll need. The requests from the twins start flying my way. “Mommy hide and seek? Mommy read book? Mommy play?” We decide on reading a few books together. Then I tell them to play together while I deal with our laundry situation. And yes it is a situation. I only have to pause 13 times to help someone with potty, booboo, tie this, open that, can’t find this, she took my bear, and OH NO THERE’S A STRAW IN MY WATER CUP!!!”

8:45 It’s still a little too cold to go outside. Now would be a good time for me to exercise, but the twins are getting crankier by the minute, so I decide to do a craft with them instead. We make toilet paper roll monsters (I feel like there’s a good metaphor in here somewhere?). It eats up a good chunk of time and they love every second of it until the very end when one twin starts crying because she wants to make grass for her monster and I tell them we’re all done with this craft for now but we can bring the monsters outside later to play in the real grass. Of course the other twin catches on to the grass concern and they follow through with a level 6 out of 10 meltdown for me. As 2 ½ year olds, they are starting to master these morning meltdowns.

9:45 I manage to calm them down and I play with them for a bit before sneaking away to get dinner in the crockpot just in case I don’t get a chance later. I breathe a sigh of relief as I listen to them playing happily together while I cook. Now that their playgroup and library story time are no longer options- now that there is a pandemic – we stay home.  

10:15 It’s starting to warm up outside. Maybe instead of my indoor exercise routine, I’ll bring the girls for a walk in the stroller and then we’ll play outside… But all at once, the grocery delivery arrives, both twins are asking for a snack, and my phone is ringing. I give the girls a baggy of nuts even though I know I should have given them this snack earlier because now it’s too close to lunch time. Then I head out to the garage to bring in the groceries. The phone call is forgotten.

10:45 By the time I’m done, they’re getting tired. It’s too late to go outside because it’ll take us at least half an hour just to get dressed and ready to go out and then it’ll be almost nap time. We’ll go outside after nap, at which point some neighborhood kids will be outside too, and I will continue my struggle to explain to my toddlers why they cannot play with their friends.  I give them some carrots and toast to top off their snack-lunch and sit with them while we talk about what kinds of bugs we might find outside later. They’re obsessed with bugs at the moment.

11:00 We clean up and head upstairs. They’re cranky and ready for an early nap and so am I.

One twin goes potty, the other refuses via meltdown. This one’s an 8 out of 10 and she wins. I lose. Hubby is in the middle of a meeting; otherwise he would have come in to help me and we may have won. We go to their bedroom and read a few books. One at a time, I pick them up and say goodnight to the pictures on the wall, the windows, the giraffe that stands on their dresser, the fairy ornaments that hang from the ceiling… As I’m about to place the twin who just had the potty meltdown into her crib, she says she has to go potty. We all walk back to the bathroom. Several minutes later, they are both finally in their cribs.

12:00 I walk downstairs and collapse on the couch. I hear chatting coming from their bedroom. It’s fine, I think, they’ll fall asleep. But alas the chatting turns into crying.

12:15 I go back upstairs. Someone now has to poop. We all go back to the bathroom. One poops while the other gallops up and down the hallway. What happened to their tiredness?? Post-poop, we all go back into the bedroom and we repeat the goodnight routine. “Goodnight giraffe, goodnight window, goodnight painting, goodnight, fairy”… and then again with the other twin. My arms, wrists, and upper back have a constant mild ache from all of the daily lifting.

00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200331090103888_COVER12:45 They are both in their cribs – maybe going to sleep, maybe not. I am on the couch. Recharging for the afternoon is higher on my priority list than the morning exercise routine I never got to. This is not hard, I think to myself. Having a Covid 19 diagnosis is hard. Being a medical professional during this terrifying pandemic is hard. Losing your job and not knowing when your stimulus check is coming is hard. Having to work from home and homeschool teenagers at the same time is hard. This is not hard. But sometimes it kind of is.

~ Brittni

Empty Cup: When Motherhood Runneth Over

I’m tired. Burnt out if you will. I almost followed that up with a list of disclaimers about how I know there are a zillion people in this world that are way more exhausted than I am and have every reason to be burnt out and who would probably (understandably) label me as whiny and privileged. But I  honestly don’t have it in me right now to appropriately excuse myself of my whiny and privileged tone, so please bear with me as I get this off my chest.

147261My twins are 16 months old. They are my only children. They have been sleeping through the night for eight months. They nap every day. My parents live in the next town over and give me a generous amount of help. Technically, I should not be tired.  I should be full of life and energy. But for whatever reason, I am not. I am a stay at home mom and I love my job. Truly. Deep down I love it. But my God it is a lot of work.

Before I had kids, I was dancing professionally and working as a freelance visual artist as well. I was an avid gym-goer, a consistent maker of healthy meals, a keeper of the house and a doer of fun things with my husband, sisters, or friends.  I was a reader of books and a follower of news. A lover of the outdoors and an appreciator of the arts.

And then baby fever hit hard. My husband and I put it off for a little while, but when the time came, we were both ready and there was no denying it any longer. One baby was the immediate plan. We eventually maybe wanted a second, but we’d decide about that later. I told myself it wouldn’t be unrealistic to be a stay at home mom of one baby and still be able to consistently fit in some of my own art or dancing, or at least something of my own.

Of course it was not one baby, but two (surprise!), and now I can’t imagine it being just one. But wow. Since the day they were born, I have been slipping away from myself. Not in a way that I think I’ll never come back. I will. But right now – who I am today – is almost unrecognizable to me. I’m still “me” of course, but I’m temporarily (I hope) wilted. My entire existence is spent loving my babies and I don’t know how to leave some for myself.

I do get breaks during the week from my parents, and my load is lightened by my husband on the weekends. But even time “off” is spent catching up on daily tasks I’ve fallen behind on. And even when I find myself with free time – or choose to ignore the chores for a bit – I’m too bone-tired to muster up any creativity or stamina to even want to do anything I used to do.  

Who is this person? This can’t possibly be me…but it is and I sometimes get so discouraged by my own lack of energy that I send myself into a downward spiral of negativity and self-criticism that leads to an even deeper slump.

During the full throes of the day – when I’m in full mom-mode, I’m rarely faded and droopy.  I love these kids and I love raising them and I love doing all the fun mom things. We play and dance and read and go outside. I feed them healthy foods and keep them on a good nap schedule and bring them to playgroups. I often find myself blissfully lost in the moment, laughing so hard at their adorable silliness that tears roll down my face, or dancing so enthusiastically to “Old McDonald Had a Farm” that I end up winded. I of course have plenty of parenting-fails and plenty of days when I just don’t live up to my expectations as a mother. But when the good and the bad days are averaged out, I’d say I’m a pretty darn good mom.

As for taking care of myself, I do have some days that I make myself a nice healthy lunch, or use my girls’ naptime to exercise in my living room, or work on a long-forgotten art project after they go to bed. But overall – when averaged out – I do a pretty crappy job of taking care of myself. I like the idea of self-care. I want to feel good. But when the day is over and my beloved little monsters are in bed and I finally have a moment to myself, I have nothing left. I give myself away day after day and I just don’t have anything left over.

This lack of leftover gusto could be due to the physical stamina it takes to get through a day with twins; the double-carry, the double chase in public places, the double diaper changes, double meltdowns, double sicknesses, double doctor appointments, double…everything. Or it could be that I am an introvert in every sense of the word and after a day full of interaction – be it only with two tiny humans – I am simply drained.  Or it could that I need eight hours of sleep in order to feel rested and I don’t always get that because sometimes sick or teething toddlers = night wakings. Or it could be that I’m worrying myself into exhaustion. I worry a fair amount, but I’m pretty sure that’s just a normal mom thing to do.

Whatever the underlying cause may be, I am – in a word – tired.  I hurt. I’m dragging. I’m not fully myself. I also recognize the fact that my girls won’t be this little forever and this feeling will most likely pass. In the meantime, I would love to start bringing back small pieces of my old self. I don’t think that can mean daily trips to the gym or big blocks of time spent working on my art just yet. But maybe trying to make myself a yummy healthy lunch more days than not would be a good start. I have unwittingly set my self-care bar quite low over the past 16 months, so almost anything would be a good start. And burnt out as I may be, these babies are worth every bit of exhaustion.

~ Brittni

We Traveled With Two Toddlers and Survived

144838 (1)I returned home Monday evening with my husband (Jim) and our girls after a four-day trip to visit Jim’s family in North Carolina. The logistics of this trip were fairly simple by general traveling standards; a short, direct flight, a quiet air b&b to ourselves just five minutes from the family members we were there to visit, a spacious rental car with two rental car seats, two portable cribs waiting for us when we got there, lent to us by Jim’s brother, two generous rides from my mom to and from the airport at the start and end of the trip…
Yet there is no amount of simplicity or convenience that could have made traveling with 15-month-old twins easy. It was far easier than it could have been, definitely. And for that I am extremely grateful. But not easy.
I’ll spare you the full list of details, but in short, this four-day endeavor required a lot of planning, teamwork, and a solid sense of humor, and I am proud to say that Jim and I somehow managed all three.
Of course we had our moments (namely fruit pouches being accidentally squirted all over the seat of the rental car, our kids refusing to ride in their wagon for a 2+ mile walk, and a double meltdown at the airport (during which the parent -to -toddler ratio felt far too low). Thankfully, these fleeting moments were outweighed by the joy of spending time with family and by the sense of accomplishment of having survived our first plane-travel as a family of four.
Overall, it was successful, fun, and well worth it. It filled my travel quota for the foreseeable future though because when it comes to being a full-time parent of twin toddlers, there really is no place like home.
~Brittni

Why I Won’t Be Dressing My Twins in Halloween Costumes This Year

jonathan-talbert-530599-unsplashI adore fall. I’m your classic pumpkin-loving, sweater-wearing, apple-picking New England gal. Minus, unfortunately, the pumpkin-spice lattes. I can’t stomach the sugar or caffeine in those suckers, much to my dismay. But lattes aside, fall is my season. I was born in the fall. My husband was born in the fall. Our twins were born in the fall (okay they were born TWO days before the first day of fall, which I’m counting as fall) and I expect they’ll grow up to love pumpkins and wear sweaters and pick apples.

Yet, despite all of this, I have no plans to dress my 13-month-old twins in costume for Halloween tonight. Not because I don’t love Halloween (I was one of those annoying kids who dressed up and went trick or treating well into my early teens). But rather because finding/making/buying costumes for my toddlers, who are not old enough to remotely comprehend what Halloween is, just did not make it onto my list of priorities this year. Yes, I have a list. And everything on it is either important to me, important to my family, or otherwise important to someone or something that matters.

Keeping the kids healthy and happy? Important.  Grocery shopping? Important.  Family time? Important. Paying the bills? Important.  Date nights with my husband now and then to keep our marriage from being eaten alive by the fine art of parenting twins? Important.  Sleep, exercise, occasionally eating something other than the crust off my girls’ peanut butter toast? Important.  Voting? Important.  Laundry? Semi-important.  My super awesome seasonal pumpkin-carving job that I absolutely LOVE? Important.

Scrambling to dress my girls in costume for the sake of some cute photos? Not important.

“But they’re twiiiiinsssss!!!!” I know. That actually just makes it much more difficult and less appealing to dress them up. Twice the effort, twice the price, and almost zero chance of getting a single decent photo in which both of them are looking at the camera, let alone smiling. And then what? I’ve spent valuable time (and precious, limited energy) doing something they will forget by the time they wake up the next morning and that I will remember simply as a stressful couple of days of neglecting my own needs for the sake of a few lousy pictures.

I had a moment of mildly reconsidering this decision and even searched around for child-friendly Halloween events that might make dressing up a little more worth it, but all events are taking place either after their bedtime or during their nap time and let me tell you – Almost nothing is worth getting in the way of either of those.

So bring on fall in all of its beauty and splendor, but I’ll pass on Halloween this year. My girls will be in bed at their usual 6:30pm bedtime and I won’t be far behind.

~ Brittni

Uncluttered

Dana: It has indeed occurred to us that we have not posted in while.  Since Brittni’s identical twin girls (my granddaughters) have been born, things have been busy- as in all-hands-on-deck busy.

Let’s just say Brittni’s hands are a tad full. And so is her heart. And mine. And all the hearts of all who love these precious babies. 22555514_10214107010612056_8322138864080415592_o

Somehow, in October, Brittni managed to design a pumpkin for her fantastic seasonal art job with the JACK-O-LANTERN SPECTACULAR.  (I don’t have the photo of this years pumpkin; this particular photo is from a previous year’s drawing but is a favorite).  Have you heard that highly sensitive people are often also highly artistic? I’m kind of blown away by the creative work of the pumpkin artists, year after year. And one of them happens to be my daughter.

1969253_722970214453018_622482654485106487_n  

Other than that artistic escapade, it’s been pretty much all babies all the time for Brittni, as is the case with new twin parents, and especially for nursing moms.  Double the joy and love and cuteness – and half the rest! The sleep deprivation is real, people.

***

My husband and I got away for our anniversary- 30 years! – and had a fabulous time.  We are pictured here holding superfood smoothies from Newport Rhode Island’s JUICED cafe.   Just as some people like to scope out the brewery or best restaurant in a city, I like to find the cold-pressed juice and smoothie cafes. The one I am holding is called their Turmeric Turbo and is made with turmeric, pineapple, carrots, lemon, ginger and banana. It was delicious and left me so energized. You can bet I’ll be trying this recipe at home. IMG_20171104_111216_322

Last month I wrote about  Priorities  and this month I am more committed than ever to keeping my focus on my top three: Family, Health, and Writing. Honestly, that is all I have time for. These three areas of life keep me busy for sure, but in a clear and satisfying way. They are all interconnected for me- when I feel healthy and vibrant, I have more to give my family and my writing flows as well.  When I spend time with my family, as well as adequate time alone, I am inspired to write and to stay healthy. And when I write, I naturally fall into healthy habits. My life feels busy right now, but it does not feel cluttered.

And for me, uncluttered is a must.

How about you?

 

Two Peas in the Pod: Pregnancy Update

Peas in the pod update picWell I’m 33 weeks along in my twin pregnancy and, with two healthy buns in the oven and no complications thus far, I’m feeling like a pretty lucky mama. Each baby is almost 4.5 pounds – right on track! This is fabulous, but also means I am lugging around almost 9 pounds of baby and oh boy am I feeling it. With about a month left to go though, I know gravity’s pull is only going to get stronger, so I have been sticking fairly diligently to my daily walks or swims in the hopes that I might remain somewhat mobile for these remaining few weeks.

I’ve also been nesting up a storm, which keeps me pretty busy. I have suddenly gone from someone who is downright repelled by the mundane task of organizing to someone who cannot get enough of it. Motherhood is a strange thing indeed. I have a “pregnancy to-do list”, which includes everything from installing car seats, to decorating the nursery, to organizing my mountain of papers and binders that has been my “filing system” for the past three years. The thing is though, I made this pregnancy to-do list months ago – back when my baby bump was cute and manageable and time was aplenty. Well my nesting instincts just finally kicked in a week or so ago, my bump is most definitely not cute and manageable anymore, and time is running out.  Thank goodness I’m feeling reasonably well physically (as long as I allot time for frequent naps) because all of this last-minute nesting is a lot of work!

Speaking of a lot of work, these hormones have self-admittedly made me a lot of work – to live with that is. My husband deserves a quick shout-out here because I know that my emotional ups and downs and all-arounds can be a bit much at times (for both of us), and yet he handles them like a champ and never fails to be the loving supportive man he so naturally is. My mom is another one I couldn’t make it through this pregnancy without. My dad too for that matter. Call me needy, but I have never been so grateful to live a mere eight minutes my parents’ house. And my sisters are the just best, cutest aunts-to-be ever. These babies have a whole lot of loving arms ready and waiting to welcome them into the world, and for that I am so very grateful.

I found out at my ultrasound today that baby A (the twin who will be delivered first) is still bum-down (or breech). She’s been breech for several weeks now despite all of my well-meaning inversion exercises and underwater handstands. Whatever will be will be, but I’m still hoping she decides to flip sometime very soon.  And on that note, upside-down I go. Thanks for checking in!

~ Brittni

Twice the Feels

 My husband and I sat waiting to be called in for my first ultrasound, giddy and eager and at least half an hour early to our appointment. Classic cutesy new parents-to-be. Entertained by the rambunctious three year old boy gallivanting around the waiting room under the watchful but tired eyes of his father, we exchanged giggly whispers about how our baby would be that age someday.

I was just nine weeks along in my pregnancy, but so far I felt like I had been doing everything right. I was already reading parenting books and watching documentaries in my spare time. I had done hours of research into birth options and local hospitals and birthing centers. I had scheduled myself to join a “birthing circle” in a few weeks during which mothers would share their birth experiences with wide-eyed and bushy-tailed mothers-to-be. I knew I wanted a natural, un-medicated childbirth and had found myself a certified nurse-midwife who came highly recommended by the local crunchy moms on the online parenting forum I was already actively part of.

All of this preparation and organization is not my typical approach. With anything. In fact, I am pretty consistently a disorganized and last-minute kind of person. I get things done, but I get them done when they need to get done and not a moment before and certainly not in a linear, orderly fashion. But I was determined that my pregnancy was going to be the exception. I was going to be on top of things. I was going to be a proactive and thorough and responsible adult. I would not let my scattered disposition get in the way of what I envisioned would be a picture-perfect start to my journey into motherhood. None of this was easy and it pretty much meant that I had not cooked or done laundry in weeks, as trying to be on top of my mommy game while also experiencing all of the lovely first trimester nausea and fatigue took everything I had. But I was willing to do what it took and so far things were looking up.

Finally my name was called and I laid down on the table and lifted up my shirt and the technician did her thing. I was probably the zillionth pregnant woman she had seen that day as she seemed to be on automatic pilot as she quietly slid her instrument back and forth across my abdomen. My husband and I eagerly watched the screen, waiting for her to explain what we were looking at. She didn’t say much of anything until she asked me to go the bathroom to empty my bladder. Apparently I had taken my instructions to show up with a full bladder a little too seriously and was blocking her view of my uterus. When I got back she tried again. I was admittedly getting a little nervous at this point as she was still rather quiet. I looked over at my husband and he gave me a reassuring smile. Finally, in the tone one might use to ponder aloud their options for lunch, she said, “There’s two”…

Two. I could now see two shrimp-like shapes side by side. How had I not noticed that? I could not speak for several seconds and instead looked back and forth between the screen and my stomach in utter shock. How on Earth are two humans going to fit inside of me?!?”. I was busy trying to wrap my head around this seemingly impossibility when I heard my husband blurt out, “Two babies!?” as though he wanted to make sure she wasn’t just confirming my number of ovaries. The technician, who had yet to so much as smile, let out a chuckle. “Yes”, she said. “Twins.”

And that was the end of my short-lived period of feeling in control. Silly me. I should have known it wouldn’t last. Since the day I found out I am growing two humans, I have switched to a hospital with a great NICU, switched from a midwife to a doctor and then, upon learning what type of twins I am having, was transferred from that doctor to a high-risk specialist. I have learned that my due date is basically irrelevant as going past 37 weeks is not an option – and that’s if I even make it that long, which is apparently not very likely. I have transitioned from losing myself in cleverly written natural birth and parenting books to sifting my way through acronym-laden “moms of multiples” forums trying to learn all the strange lingo that is used when discussing twin pregnancies.

Suddenly my chances of needing a C-section are significantly higher. Suddenly hiring a doula and creating a birth plan seem pointless. Never mind the fact that I am about to become the size of Alaska as I approach my third trimester; I am more concerned about how the heck one goes about breastfeeding two infants.

I’ve heard parents say they made sure “everything was perfect” for their first child only to let go of this unattainable standard by the time their second child entered the picture. Well I am halfway through my first pregnancy and I think I have already gotten to that point of fully accepting imperfection. I think I took a high-speed train to the land of lower standards. I don’t know yet whether I am relieved or anxious about this fact, but, despite feeling elated and fortunate and already in love with my two little girls, I know that my days of being one step ahead of the game are already over.

~Brittni