Tuesday, April 27, 2010

this is how we do it (insert tune to the awesome 90's song here)

Besides the "are they twins" question, (no, they are half sisters), the two things I hear the most are, "I don't know how you do it" (my pills are better than yours) and "How do you do it?" The truth is, I'm not sure I have a really good answer for that because, well, I don't really know. It has taken 9 long months to get to where we are today and I'm still trying to figure everything out.

The first 4 months after the twins were born were literally the most challenging and stressful of my entire life. Even though I had a lot of help from our families there was so much going on and too much to adjust to for even the strongest person to be able to cope well.

Being the sole physical parent to 2 preschoolers and newborn twins was brutal. Between the night feedings and wakings and having to pump in the middle of the night, I was getting about 3 hours of sleep a night. Add to that the normal everyday stressors and responsibilities and you pretty much have a recipe for disaster. There's a reason they use sleep deprivation as a form of torture. It messes with your mind and can make you think you are losing it. You see things that aren't there, you hear things that aren't being said and you just plain can't cope.

In addition to the sleep deprivation, I was also dealing with postpartum depression. It was no surprise to me, as I had been through it twice before, but this time I swore it was going to be different. Even before the girls were born I made a promise to myself that I was going to get help. And when I finally worked up the courage to get help at about 12 weeks postpartum, my doctor told me he really didn't think it was "that bad" because I was "functioning" and that I should wait it out a couple more weeks. I told him that was fine, but in the meantime if I happened to drive my car into a phone pole, he would know why. Of course I was "functioning". I didn't have a choice. If I didn't function, no one else would. The babies weren't going to feed themselves, the kids weren't going to take themselves to school... It was then that he took me seriously and helped me get help.

About a week later I ended up having to go on a total elimination diet (again) because both babies stomach issues had gotten so bad and all of the proteins that were passing through my breastmilk were causing them to have severe pain and lots of spitup. That meant I got to cut out dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, corn, beef, caffeine, citrus, nuts and chocolate. I remember pleading with the babies to at least let me have caffeine, if they were going to insist on being up all night. Fair is fair, right? They didn't agree. I had done the elimination diet, for 10 months, with CB, so it was nothing new for me. I was just praying so hard that it would be different this time so it was a big letdown, and a major change, when the last resort became the only option.

It was very hard living in that dark place. I remember laying in bed crying, wanting so desperately to love my babies the way I thought I should. Of course I loved them, but I wanted to really feel it. I wanted to see their beauty, instead of just seeing them as a responsibility. When they were about 13 weeks old I called a photographer and begged her to take the twins' pictures. I just kept thinking about all I was missing out on, how hard it was for me to see who they really were and how guilty I would feel if I couldn't remember their newness and sweet babyhood because I was so wrapped up in my own head. I needed someone to capture those days before they were gone. The day of their photo shoot was literally transforming. I got to spend 4 straight hours with just them, finally getting to see them for who they were, both as a unit and as 2 completely different personalities. I got to focus on their little toes and noses and the fine baby hair on the sides of their heads and really look at their sweet baby lips. I just got to be with them.

And for the first time I started believing it was going to get better, that I could really do this. I could be a mom to 4 kids and love and nurture them and teach them and grow with them, without completely screwing them up. While life was far from being in control and "normal" in any way, shape or form, I started striving for some kind of normalcy. I started getting dressed everyday and going out more, started cooking again and finding things that made me happy. We took some day trips and shopping trips and for the first time, I started to feel in control.

Over the next couple of months my confidence grew, my patience expanded and my sleep hours increased, all leading to a much happier person. I actually decided to make a quick trip with W and A to where we were going to be moving to find a place to rent and see my husband for the first time since he had left to go back to Germany 4 months earlier. Everyone asked me why A and W got to go while MJ and CB stayed back with the grandparents and the answer was simple: A couldn't live without me, MJ couldn't care less if I exsisted. W is a great traveler, CB would much rather stay back and hang out. After we found a place to live the the 4 of us flew back to California and spent 2 weeks getting adjusted to life as a family of 6 and preparing for the next big move.

We moved cross country the day after Christmas. Probably not the best decision but it worked out ok. Taking a 4 day road trip with 4 kids ages 4 and under isn't exactly on the top 10 list of things I want to do again in my lifetime, for sure. When we finally got to our house we realized it wasn't the "great place" we thought it was when we chose it, and over the past few months I have spent well over 55 hours cleaning up the messes and nastiness the previous occupants left behind while fighting the management company to make simple repairs. I don't even want to talk about it, I'll start dry heaving.

Sometime in February I got a headache. Normal pain meds didn't stop it and after about a week I went and saw a doctor. She gave me something stronger and after 2 weeks of that not working I saw another doctor. They did some labs and after 2 more weeks of pain meds not helping and having a constant, raging headache, I finally called the doctor in tears, begging her to fix me. She pulled my labs and asked me why I hadn't come in earlier as my test results, from 2 weeks prior, showed I was extremely dehydrated and severely anemic and was very deficient of a few essential vitamins. The next morning I ended up getting 2 liters of IV fluids, some vitamin shots and a shot of pain meds, and it still didn't help.

About a week later, after much discussion and some tears, it was decided that I needed to stop pumping for the babies because the elimination diet was literally going to kill me if I didn't. I was burning at about 1000 calories a day making milk for the babies and was probably only taking in about 1000 calories a day from the food I was eating. My BMI was officially considered "underweight" and my body fat percentage was off the charts low. Making that decision was so hard. I wanted to give my babies the best I could offer them, but in the end, if I'm not healthy, I'm not going to be any kind of good to them.

By stopping pumping I did gain 3 hours a day to do other things, like clean the house and actually play with the kids. We were finally able to unpack all of the boxes and settle in. I had more freedom to go places and do things and joined the gym, making my gym time part of our daily routine. Pretty stupid on the gym's part, including child care for ALL of my kids for up to 2 hours a day in my monthly fee... they are really losing money on me!

Yeah, sometimes life can be a challenge, like when all 4 kids start screaming at once or when they all decide that they want something from me THAT MOMENT when I've just sat down for the first time all day or when the older 2 decide to jump on the couch that has all of the nice, neat little piles of clothes from the 3 loads of laundry I just folded and sends them all FLYING into the air... deep breaths, mama. Deep breaths. Or when they all take turns waking up all night long... ever had 2 babies teethe at the same time? Or be sick at the same time? Or have 4 kids be sick at the same time? Not so fun. Sometimes even just getting 4 other people dressed and out the door in the morning can be a huge challenge.

But if having 4 kids and dealing with food intolerances and sleepless nights and sensory issues are the worst things that I have to deal with, then rock on! If having a husband who is gone a lot is the hardest part of my life, then boo hoo, cry me a river. At least he's coming home. The truth is, and this might come as a shock to some people, I'm really not anything special. There are millions of other women out there facing challenges that I can't even imagine.

So how do I do this? I guess I just do it. I take it one day at a time and try really hard not to sweat the small stuff. I try to focus on the things that are really important and enjoy the baby laughs and preschooler squabbles. And I don't take myself too seriously. I don't expect perfection and allow myself to mess up. When I mess up, I learn from that experience and move on. We do what makes us happy and keeps us healthy.

We have a system down and it is far from being perfect, but it works. I'm still not "supermom", heck, I'm sitting here typing this instead of doing the dishes and putting away the morning's mess. I make to do lists and try to check things off but my to do list from last Monday still doesn't have any check marks on it. But I'm in a good place. We are in a good place. My kids are happy and for the most part healthy, we have fun and we have dance parities and snack picnics and lots of cuddle time. And at the end of the day, that is really all that matters.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

why "mommy and me" can bite me.

It's no secret that I don't do mom's groups and other things of that nature. It isn't because I'm a recluse or anti social, most of the time, it's just that I don't have the patience or energy to deal with the other moms. I'm know some moms are great and live in reality, but the few who aren't really get to me.

I can't deal with the sense of entitlement, lack of perspective and general BS that those few present. And you know you know the BS type: the ones who somehow manage to wake up early and get dressed, have perfect hair and makeup, make their kids a full hot breakfast from scratch, do the school run, spend an hour at the gym, come home clean their house from top to bottom while managing the responsibilities of being the PTA president and church Bible study leader, have a martini lunch with their gal pals, go to playgroup, spend lots of floor and play time with their baby, wash, dry, iron and fold the laundry, pick the big kids up from school, do arts and crafts time with the kids, do their science fair project for them, make 500 cupcakes complete with gum paste animals for the school bake sale, make a wholesome and organic dinner, clean the kitchen, bathe the kids, knit a sweater for their friend's new baby, be a good wife and "spend time" with her husband, set everything out and make lunches for the next day and still get a full night's sleep, only to wake up and repeat it all again. Yeah, them. There's no way they do all of that. None. I'm not buying it. I think they only say it to make themselves feel better and to make the rest of us little people feel bad about letting our kids watch DVDs and feeding them fast food every once in awhile. And if they do manage to do it all, I'd like to know exactly how and if they are popping their kids Ritalin or not.

I also can't deal with moms who refuse to control their kids and I really can't deal with the moms who think their kids are perfect and can do no wrong and refuse to implement any type of consequence. Honestly, those are the worst behaved kids of the bunch. Am I saying my kids are perfect? No. Absolutely not, of course they have their moments and some days they have quite a few of them. But I make darn sure that I am raising polite and respectful kids who know that there are consequences for their actions. I am raising them to know right from wrong and to be kind to those around them. They know they are not entitled to anything and if they want something, they aren't going to get it, just because they want it. They are quickly learning they are going to have to wait for it and/or earn it because that is how the real world works. And there seems to be a serious lack of this in the rest of society.

Case in point, story time today at the book store. Allow me to paint the picture:

14 kids, ages 7 months to 5 years. Half the kids had attentive parents and were sitting quietly, listening to the stories being read. The other half had parents who didn't give a tiny little rat's butt about what was going on and their kids were climbing and running all over the place, getting in everyone's way and making it so no one could see or hear. One kid even knocked the book out of the reader's hands. One mother was drinking her second latte and reading a magazine. One father was playing games on his cell phone while his wife chatted with her friend. Another was busy doing a game book and the other was practically asleep. And all but 1 of these parents had kids age 2 and under. Why you would not pay attention to your child who is less than 2 years old is beyond me. Am I being judgmental? Quite possibly, but I'm just stating the facts... just setting the scene...

When we got to the book store, there were quite a few kids playing at the train table. W and CB wanted to play but I told them we would wait until the little kids had left. We waited, did story time, and then went back to the train table while all of the other kids were still in the story area. W got the train he wanted to play with, Toby, and put it in line with all of the other trains. Keep in mind, there weren't any other kids around. Within minutes, one of the other kids came over and plopped down right next to W. And when I say next to him, I mean the kid literally sat on W's shoes. This kid was probably a little older than 2, and he was one of the kids who had ruined the story time earlier. The kid wasn't interested in playing with the trains, but was playing with the stuff on the side of the table. Then he suddenly decided he wanted to play with Toby, and he grabbed it from W's train, while W was playing with it, and ran off with it. This, of course, upset W and he voiced his concern that this kid had just jacked his train. And before I could say anything, the kids mother looked at W and said, "Well, you have all of the train cars, there's no reason YOU should have all of the trains, if he wants that one, he can play with it".

Um, what?! Oh no you didn't just reprimand my kid while your kid just jacked something my kid was playing with, without asking. I tried to distract W and explain that we needed to share and blah blah blah. Keep in mind, there was no one else around before this kid came over and the kid wasn't playing with the trains before so of course W had all of the train cars. Yes, the kid is 2, he probably doesn't know the "rules" but his mom sure does. The kid should have asked, or SHE should have asked W if the kid could play with it. If W had known the kid wanted to play with the trains, he would have shared. He's cool like that.

Almost immediately, the kid lost interest in the train car. The mom took the train car from the kid and just held it. And kept holding it. I finally asked her if W could play with the car because her kid wasn't and she set it down. W said thank you. Then he went to rearrange the train cars he was playing with (which was only half of them because he had put some aside for other kids to play with) and as he was picking up Toby, the mother scooped in and GRABBED IT FROM HIS HANDS, saying that her kid wanted to play with it.

OH. NO. YOU. DIDN'T. Someone hold my earrings and call for an ambulance because this chick is gonna need one in about 34 seconds. Seriously?? SERIOUSLY?! You are going to take back the toy you just put down so your kid can play with it, and just stand there holding it, when your kid isn't even nearby or wanting to play with it? And GRAB it from my kid? Literally TAKE it from his hands?!

W got really upset and so did I. He started to cry, I told him very loudly, so she could hear, that it was VERY VERY rude for someone to take the toys someone else was playing with without asking, and she was not right for doing that, hoping she was paying attention and would feel at least somewhat bad. But no, she didn't, and proceeded to defend herself to her husband and then bash my lack of parenting skills. Yes, yes, your kid is perfect and can do no wrong and you are mother of the year, I get it.

I had to leave. What was I supposed to do? It is my responsibility to set a good example for my kids and going off on her or rearranging her face wasn't exactly going to accomplish that. Besides that, I don't really want to spend our spare cash on bail money.

I wish I wouldn't have left. I wish I would have come up with SOMETHING to say to her. Anything. But I couldn't. I was too upset about what she had done. And you know that is a big deal for me because I can pretty much always come up with something to say. All I can say though is homegirl is VERY lucky I don't have any pregnancy hormones coursing through my blood and that the doctor gave me a nice little pill to help control my raging PMDD because she really would have been leaving in an ambulance and I would have been leaving in handcuffs.

So I ask you, my fellow wise and good mothers who control your kids in public and aren't self entitled jerks, what would you have done in this situation? What should I have done? Was I wrong in anyway? Am I just as responsible for the situation as she was? Did I violate some secret train table code I'm not aware of? I'd really like to know because 5 hours later, I'm still really upset about this.

And this is precisely why I don't do the group thing. I just can't handle the stress.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Since it has been, um, forever, since I have shown my face here, I figured it would be a good idea to get reacquainted with my readers, if there are any left. So here's a brief rundown of who we are, and what makes us tick.

Me: I'm just me. I'm a mom of 4, a woman who happens to be married to someone in the Army, who is just trying to find a balance between what I want to do and what I should be doing. I know a little about a lot and am a jack of all trades but a master at nothing. I love my babies more than anyone should and I love this ridiculous life we live through all of the good and bad.

M: My husband. He's an amazing father and an awesome soldier. He's a tiny bit crazy, but we don't tell him that because he takes it as a compliment and it encourages him to be even more crazy. He works really hard at everything he does and it shows. When he isn't working or playing with the kids, he's in the gym or training for whatever his next big "event" is. He has done a few half marathons and a marathon and currently getting ready for a triathlon. And, he drives a minivan. And makes it look cool.

W: Our 4 year old son. W is a funny kid. He's a nerd. Yes, I said it. The kid is a total nerd and I love him for it. He's already reading kindergarten books and writing and spelling, loves math and science and would be perfectly content if you locked him in a room for hours with an activity book. He is such a wonderful brother to his little sisters and takes really good care of them, when he wants to, which is most of the time. He already carries more responsibility than I would like him to, but he doesn't complain about it. His sisters love him so much and I can always count on him to make them laugh when they are crying. He has a tough side too. He doesn't cry when he falls down or when he gets a shot and is totally intrigued by splinters, yet at the end of the day he will always say, "come cuddle with me in bed, mommy".

CB: Our 3 year old daughter. This girl is my challenge. She is the sweetest little thing you could ever imagine, except for when she's not. She can throw a fit like a 13 year old, but then love on you like none other in the next second. She can make you laugh like crazy and then make you want to pull your hair out. I have a feeling she is going to be some kind of entertainer when she grows up-- she was singing before she could talk and is constantly making up songs and dances for us. Her creativity blows me away as she's always coming up with a story to tell or coloring a beautiful picture. She has Sensory Processing Disorder, SPD, and is Sensory Defensive, which makes life very complicated. The littlest things can throw her off: socks, sleeves, something on her hands, noise or light, textures and temperatures, people touching her and/ or talking to her. She is the only child I know who will ask to go to bed and if we can't find her, the first place we look is in her room because she will most likely have put herself in bed-- it's her coping mechanism. She also has a wide range of food intolerances which have made us all very conscious of what we put in our bodies and taught me how to cook in an entirely different way.

A: One of the twins. A is a momma's girl, no one else will do, except for her brother because he is also W's baby. A and W have some kind of special bond. They have always gravitated towards each other which is funny because they look alike. She isn't very active but loves to observe. And she's a tiny bit of a bully. If she sees something she wants, she's going to get it. She wants what she wants when she wants it and she's not going to stop until she gets it. When you get her going, wow, she really gets going. But she has a sweet side too. She loves to cuddle and be held and has the tiniest little laugh.

MJ: One of the twins. MJ is a daddy's girl and the most laid back baby I've ever seen, which is funny because when they were newborns, she was always the first to cry and much more difficult than A. Now she is completely content and quick to smile and boy does she love to talk. She talks all day and even in her sleep. She makes the most adorable sounds and is extremely expressive. If she doesn't like how something feels or tastes she will wrinkle up her little face. She does the same when she's really happy too. MJ is a go getter and even though she's always been a little smaller than A, she's been the first to roll and sit and the first to cut teeth.

Both babies have the same food intolerances that CB has so food is a big issue in our house. They have spent the better part of their past 9 months spitting up like crazy and being uncomfortable. Any kind of dairy, even a super small amount, will give them bloody diapers so we have to be very careful to keep it completely out of their diet. Because of all their food issues, they are very small. At 9 months, both of them are about 13 pounds. Thankfully, people don't really comment on their weight like they did with W and CB. I think everyone is so fixated on the "twins thing" they don't think to comment on how small they really are.

So much really has happened in the past 5 months, including a cross country move, 7 weeks of me being quite sick and all of the other boring mundane day to day stuff. I'm going to do my best to catch up on the important stuff later. I also plan on boring you with lots and lots of information about cloth diapering, cloth diapering twins, car seats, baby gear, pumping for twins and one of my most favoritest topics: STROLLERS!!


I've had numerous people email me to ask if I am still alive. And I am, I've just been unbelievably out of my mind over the edge insanely busy. We are all doing great and there is too much talk about. So much has happened in the past 5 (!!) months and I can't wait to get back to updating this thing.

I hope to have a new design and some new posts coming in the next week or two. I probably need to go on a major advertising campaign when I get up and running again because I am sure everyone has given up on me. :)