As much as I’d love to say that I’m the most carefree and easy going girl out there, unfortunately, that’s just not the case. I’m a worrier (which is a big reason why I’m such a planner). While I’m mostly able to keep my worries controlled, I struggled with this as a new mama.
During my twin pregnancy, I surprised even myself with how calm I managed to be. I struggled through infertility, a miscarriage, and I was a high risk pregnancy, but somehow I managed to not let the common pregnancy worries get to me. Well, until maybe the last month of pregnancy when I was convinced I was going to go into labor at any moment, ha!
That all changed as soon as B&B were born. I found myself struggling in a few particular areas.
Why am I sharing this? Well, now that the baby phase is over, I’ve been reflecting on my struggles and have realized that not a lot of mamas talk about these things. Struggles and worries tend to get pushed to the side and most of what is shared are the easy, happy moments. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to share those moments, and I like doing it too! But sometimes as a new mama, when all you seem to see are others’ perfect moments, it can feel like there must be something wrong with you to not be handling things as easily as others. And that can be lonely and make things worse.
I like to think I keep things real, and hopefully sharing some of the struggles and worries I faced will be helpful to someone else going through something similar.
This was probably the most difficult one for me! Oh and btw, I’m talking the babies’ weight gain, not this mama’s weight. The twins were born at very good weights; they were basically the size of singletons at 6lbs and nearly 7lbs. I was lucky that my milk came in strong and I produced enough to breastfeed both. They latched well, but were really sleepy from the get-go and would often fall asleep while being nursed. For the first couple of weeks, I would nurse and then we would top them off with a bottle of pumped milk to make sure they got enough. Once they rebounded to their birth weight, we stopped the top-off bottles. We’d received the green light from their pediatrician and lactation consultant to do this, but I still worried each time I nursed if they were eating enough and often enough. Their dad was a very big baby and I somewhat expected them to catch up to that, but they stayed pretty low on the percentiles. Braxton was at or slightly below average, and Brylie was in the mid-teens percentile. I was constantly comparing their size with other babies who had yummy chunky rolls, something my babies definitely did not have. I also started to compare them to each other since Braxton was significantly bigger than his sister (while still being average). I would obsess over how long I nursed, worry when they spit up, and wonder how much they were getting. I discovered a lactation center in our neighborhood was just a 10 minute walk away (an amazing place, btw, I highly recommend visiting if you are in Burlingame/San Mateo) and began weighing the twins as one of our weekly activities. Some days this was encouraging if they met or exceeded what I read as ‘normal’ weight gain. But then there’d be the days when they were behind or had little weight gain. I’d wonder what I was doing wrong. With each doctor’s appointment, our pediatrician reminded me that they were growing perfectly on their curves and that things looked normal and the twins were perfectly healthy. With help from others, I convinced myself to stop the weekly weigh-ins. Eventually, and I do mean eventually, I was able to worry and obsess less about the eating and weight gain (although these thoughts still creep up when Bryie decides she only wants a cheese stick for dinner #toddlers).
Another challenge for me was the so-called milestones newborns are supposed to hit. I’m sure you’ve seen the lists from your doctor, baby books, blogs or on Pinterest. You know, the ones that say what things your baby should be doing by what age. I read all of these and then found myself freaking out if they seemed behind, or if they seemed to be behind each other. With twins, it was so hard for me to keep myself from comparing them to each other. Early on, it started with tracking toys or people with their eyes. Then it was sitting up by six months, crawling, walking, etc. Again, with each doctor’s appointment I heard everything is normal, and even if they weren’t “checking the boxes” on all milestones, we were told not to worry. Spoiler alert: that didn’t stop me from worrying. The craziest thing happened: The pediatrician was right! I spent so much time worrying if they were going to sit on their own, why Brylie crawled later than Braxton, why Braxton took so long to walk, and now they run around like crazy little maniacs shouting, saying simple words and even signing a few gesturers. It’s tough, and I still find the milestone worries creep up (currently regarding speaking enough), but it helps to remind myself of the doctor’s message.
Doing It All
I have always been a Type A over-achiever who juggles too many things at once. Naturally, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do everything perfectly as a mama, wife, friend, professional. Ladies, I know I’m not alone on this one! Before the twins were born, I told myself I would get a hold of the mom thing, the twin life, go back to work, keep my house together, work out, rock my career, and still spend time with friends and family. I could do it all I told myself! Spoiler alert #2: I was wrong. I want to share more about my tips and thoughts in these different areas, but this is still hard for me. I get upset with myself for being overwhelmed or not having it all together. I don’t get as emotional as I did when the twins were young, but it took me time and is something I’m still working on. I need to give myself grace and cut myself some slack. My priorities have shifted and things like the house or my workout schedule look a little different than they did before. And that’s ok! I’m trying and I know slowly but surely I’ll figure out a new, healthy balance. One plug here is the book Drop the Ball. I heard the author speak about these very topics at an event at work… SO GOOD. I nearly started bawling hearing her speak because I finally realized I wasn’t just losing it and a lame-o for not being able to handle everything.
To wrap this up, mamahood is a journey and I still have my fair share of worries and struggles (and will share my current challenges in a different post). Though the struggles have changed as I suspect they will for as long as I live, I know all my experiences are normal and I’m not alone in this journey.