Learning to Let Go

February 28, 2012

The morning I flew out to Nashville for Blissdom I woke up at 2am. Having had only 4 hours of sleep, and not needing to get up till 5, I was hoping I’d pass back out. Only, that didn’t happen. Instead, I laid in bed till 4:30 thinking about the twins.

And all the huge, life changing events that are coming with them. Before them. After them.

While I tried to tell myself over and over that I have 5-6 months (maybe) and things always tend to work out (even if it’s not in the way I pictured) – I just couldn’t shut my brain off. I saw myself so tired from lack of sleep, dealing with 3 screaming children, Bella being left out – having to give up everything I wanted to do to achieve the “Motherhood” standard that is set so very high, and I simply broke. 

I climbed into the shower and started to bawl. And cry, and cry, and cry, and got out and sat on the floor naked and sobbed. Then I threw up. I was so overwhelmed, so lost, so confused, so emotionally torn on all levels. My brain thought about two babies and literally shut off. I couldn’t even picture it. I had such a hard few months with Bella that all I could think of was, “God, what did you do? I can’t physically care for two infants at one time – I’m going to mess this all up. I will fail at motherhood.”

Then there was the guilt of it tugging away at me. Because there is no guarantee I’ll have two. Or even that they’ll be healthy enough for me to fail at taking care of. They might be in the NICU. I may only be able to touch them through glass. I could lose one. Both. And these thoughts haunted me as I cried because all I could think of was how ungrateful I was being when so many people would give anything for one baby. Here I had no idea the outcome of my two and I didn’t even know how to be happy about it.

It ate away at me all weekend. The guilt of feeling overwhelmed, I had no idea how to respond anymore when someone asked how I felt about it. I knew telling them, “Like someone made a big mistake but if I say that and lose one or both then it will be my fault for not being happier about it.”

When I got home, I started to reach out to moms of multiples – one I had actually worked a summer with right after hers were born (and she had 3 other children so 5 under 5!) and reading blogs of moms who had twins. It was amazing how every one of them felt the same way as me – and felt guilty about it. And one thing stood out over and over again in all the thoughts and advice:

You’ve got to learn to let go. 

With Bella, my expectations of motherhood were so high that I felt “on” all the time. Everything had to be done right. I had to exclusively breastfeed. We had to only cloth diaper. There was no sleep training. She needed to be worn. Perfect strollers. Car seats. No TV. Milestones would be hit. Although she balked at some and we did have to cave to others that never worked for us, as a mom of a singleton I felt pretty smug about what I had done.

Then life handed me twins.

These past few weeks have been a real struggle to get past some of the expectations I had of this pregnancy and as the mom of a toddler. But I know it’s nothing compared to what’s coming. I hate to put it this way, but I honestly have to lower the bar. I’ve heard that with multiples, survival is the only thing that matters for a good, long while.

So as I contemplate this, I start to tell myself:

I can do formula with breastmilk and no one will die. Heck – isn’t this one of the reasons formula was invented?

I can wear one baby or put them both in a stroller.

I can try for a vaginal birth. I can have a c section. Whatever is the safest at that point.

I can buy disposables with my cloth.

I can co sleep. I can sleep train.

I can have other people care for Bella. For the babies.

I can take a break and go pee – even if they cry.

I can do whatever needs to be done – because guess what?

I’m having twins. Two babies at one time. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure they are safe, healthy, and have a mother who is able to enjoy them and give them as much attention as she can.

Whatever that means for us.

Because I know if I go into this with absolutes, will not’s, and should have’s – I will regret things that truly don’t matter in regards to survival. My mental health is more important than making sure I pump 24-7 or wash 6 loads of laundry a day.

It’s so hard to let go. Harder still to have the well meaning, “But my sister’s boss EBF’ed her triplets, baby wore all 3 round the clock, and now they are 5 and all speak fluent Chinese! You can TOTALLY do this if you try.” Your sister’s boss is a rockstar, that is amazing, and I’m going to be my own rockstar here. My way. Whatever works for Sam and I as we face challenges no one who hasn’t had multiples can comprehend. We very well might be able to do things we never imagined, but I’m not going to force myself to make it an absolute.

It’s almost a relief to give myself permission to just do whatever it takes.

Setting that bar lower – guilt free – remembering the key is for everyone to survive for a while. Then later – adding back in the treats and smugness as we fall into a routine. One “My Baby Speaks Chinese” video at a time.

*ETA – I wanted to add that if you do the above because you had/wanted to, I certainly don’t consider it a failure or that you lowered your bar. Everyone has different expectations of themselves, mine aren’t better or worse. They were just ones I wanted.

 

22 Comments

  • Becca

    March 11, 2012 at 10:52 am

    If it makes you feel any better I’m feeling a lot of the same things and I’m only having one, not twins. My first is 16 months and I am 8 weeks pregnant and one week from moving 1/2 way across the country and freaking out a bit about what I have gotten into.

  • Theresa @ Confessions of a High-heel Wearing Hippie Mommy

    February 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    I honestly found my first (singleton) WAY harder in infancy than my twins (who came 17.5 months later)! You’re already a mom. You’ve done the baby thing before! It’s not that huge of an adjustment as far as that goes.

    Of course it’s challenging, and of course there are ideals that I’ve had to abandon (my twins spent the majority of the first few months in a swing. Together. And I’ve done very little baby wearing.) It really is about survival. But there are lots of lovely moments too. You can totally do it!!! 🙂

  • Bethanygp

    February 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I love your honesty. You are a beautiful writer. I agree that the best thing you can do is lower the bar and just survive. You can do this. God wouldn’t give it to you of you couldn’t handle it. Congrats again!

  • Jen

    February 29, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I dont think it uas to do with lowering the bar at all, its doing thing differently, that doesnt change the fact that you or anyone else is doing it wron, or right, just differently. As long as you are happy, (or in some cases trying your hardest) thats what matters. You will do great, yes it will be hard but not always. You will do great!

  • Ali

    February 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I love you. You are so REAL! It’s refreshing.

  • Dana K

    February 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I told you my big piece of advice in person…GET A HOUSE CLEANER!!!

    You can do this.

    1. Theresa @ Confessions of a High-heel Wearing Hippie Mommy

      February 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      YES!!! I’ve hired a house cleaner. Worth every penny! 🙂

  • Stacy

    February 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I think the fact that you’re thinking about this means you’re going to do what’s best for you and the kids, all 3 of them. Awareness of insecurities can help you deal with them better when you are faced with them for real.

    As far as the NICU goes, through a bulletin board for moms with preemies, I have heard MANY stories of babies (singles and multiples) who have had NICU stays, some long, some short, and have gone on to be incredibly healthy and happy little kids. Erin’s stay in the SCN was terrifying and heart-wrenching for us because we couldn’t hold her as much as we wanted to, I didn’t breastfeed her with any consistency until she was a month old, she was hooked up to monitors and machines, had tubes and wires stuck on/in her, and worst of all, we didn’t get to take her home with us. Those 11 days were unbelievably stressful, but it becomes a memory after a while. The nurses we met were unbelievable and the doctors were so helpful and concerned for Erin and for us. If I can do it, I know for sure you can do it.

    Keep remembering that God NEVER gives you more than you can handle. There’s a reason for this, and you may not know what that is for a while, but it will be revealed to you at some point, when it’s time.

    Keep repeating this to yourself…I’m a great mom. I love my kids. I can do this! Because you are, and you can 🙂 Print it out, stick it to your mirror, fridge, sun visor, wherever you need to put it to remind yourself.

    **hugs**

  • Lindsay

    February 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I have no idea what it’s like having one child before twins, but I know you can do this. I think it’s smart that you’re prepared for whatever may come your way medically, but don’t let everyone terrify you. I carried to 38 weeks and they were fine. They went home when I did. I wish I had someone who had told me about their pregnancy success rather than the “twin terror stories” so I wasn’t worrying my whole pregnancy!

  • Erin

    February 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing your heart.. I am due with baby #2 in a few weeks, we have a 3 1/2 yo, our house is on the market, and my husband is in school PT and works FT – I say this because I was stressed to the max a couple weeks ago until I “let go and let people help me.” I am blessed enough to have a mom who wants to help me and she has with my 3 yo an cleaning an packing.

    I think it;s TOTALLY normal to be stressed out – your going to have to ‘carry’ 2 babies. You love of your life (Bella) is sitting in front of you and if your like be your realizing things will never be the same. I almost greived for the presious time my little guy and I will have to carve our instead of just be the normal. BUT we are going to find a new normal. There is going to be a new ‘schedule’ for us, and most likley for you and Bella.

    I’m a realist, I know your situation is probably going to be hard at first BUT once you settle in a routine it will be beautiful. You will wonder where these 2 little loves have been all your life. Enjoy your time now with Bella, make special memeories, and then prepare to make memories for a family of 5! Exciting!
    Peace be with you!

  • Desi

    February 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I like how you listed what you can still do with compromises. I’m def. not offended that you used the phrase “lowered the bar”, but I don’t think you’re lowering the bar. In fact I think you just raised it two notches. Everyone always has such high standards for themselves as moms and especially on the internet, it’s intimidating to not live up to them, but realistically you will feel good if your babies are doing well and I can’t see anything on that list that will hurt your babies. I also think its good that you realized this now, it will take the pressure off of you during your pregnancy and when the twinnies arrive. Sometimes a good session of tears helps 🙂

  • MomEinstein

    February 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks for your honest post. I’m a little anxious about the transition from one kid to two, so I can only imagine how I’d feel going from one to three. I know you’ll do a great job and your kids will all be fed (BM or formula, whatever) and dry (cloth or disposable on their tushies) and loved (Oh, so loved). Everything else is just gravy.

  • Dana @SearsFam

    February 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    There is no lowering of any bars, its just changing the levels at different ends, the different ends allow to have better outcomes for all. The different levels allow you to win at life finding the positives where ever you can and in whatever you can. Life is full of the unexpected. Take chances, make mistakes 🙂

    I had no idea how to deal with the “twin” news, and then well you know the rest of the story. And now our life is forever changed even though it’s forever changed.

    I think you are going to be great, don’t put too many expectations on yourself and who cares if someone else does. You are going to do what it takes to be a happy and healthy family. You have proved this over and over again.

    Thinkin of you Lady.

  • Teresa

    February 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Once again, I enjoyed reading your honest post. I felt like this with this pregnancy (and it’s not even twins). I almost hyperventilated because I was so scared. Especiallly now that Cody will be starting kindergarten. I don’t want him to feel like it’s “out with the old…in with the new” i am afraid of failing him. My daughter will be home with me still and she is my shadow. This is going to be interesting…

    Let’s take it one day at a time, shall we?

  • melissa

    February 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I can totally relate. Not on a two at once level, but I had huge guilt when I found out I was pregnant again. All of those things you mentioned made me crazy and I up until I held Katie I still only thought of logistics and strategies (which are important) but once I met her and held her and saw her staring at me I realized that it was all just details. The amazing miracle of having her be a part of our family was all that was important. When you get overwhelmed try to think about the PEOPLE you are bringing into your life. Beautiful, sweet smelling, soft little people that will make it all worth while. <3 I am praying for your strength, health and peace daily! You can not only do this, you can rock this!!!

  • molly

    February 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Awww, Diana. I have no idea how it feels but I’m sure it is VERY overwhelming. I bet my brain would shut down too. And you’ll probably have those WTF moments (maybe for the rest of your life, lol). But I have this feeling that you’re going to ROCK this, mama.

    We’re all here for you.

    p.s. do you read Girl’s Gone Child? I love reading her blog. She just wrote a post about how they’re finally out of the survival mode of twins and now it’s just second nature. Might be helpful. I enjoy it.

  • Kendra

    February 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    You will be great! I think the “unknowns” in life are always the hardest. Plus, your mind can take you to some pretty dark places if you let it. But, in some regards the “unknowns” are also part of the fun. Can you remember back to when you were about to have Bella? Wondering what she would look like? When will she actually arrive? What will MY birth story be like? What kind of mom am I going to be? Those were probably just a few of them and those are even the simplest of them. The way I see it, that anxiety and anticipation is a reminder that you are about to receive the greatest gift of your life. If I wasn’t stressed out about any one of those “unknowns” it would be a day like any other. Letting go will be a big help for sure, but maybe just embracing the feelings and the stress as a part of your journey will be easier than not being true to yourself. Why do you need to let go? They are legit feelings and concerns. No, you can’t dwell on them but you are free to express them, cry about them, then pick yourself up and keep on doing the best that you can which is all any of us can do to begin with.

    Enjoy your journey and embrace all that it has in store for you! 🙂

  • becca

    February 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    You are such a wonderful mommy! Bella and the twins are some lucky kiddos! You are going to do an amazing job. It may not always seem that way, but it wouldn’t have happened to you if you couldn’t handle it. (In my opinion, as small as it is) you are already a rock star!

  • Misty @ The Family Math

    February 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    You have got this. And it’s OK if it’s not all perfect.

    We had to EFF after the first week or two, and Noah is doing just fine at 11 months old. We bought cloth diapers and use them maybe 50% off the time, and you know what? It’s STILL saving us money, and I’m not going insane trying to keep the damn things clean.

    Glad it sounds like you are reaching some good conclusions.

  • Stacey

    February 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    It is doable… it’s overwhelming, it’s tiring, it’s crazy, but it can be done. And without going crazy. I promise you. Colby was under 2 when we had the girls, but I managed. We managed. 🙂 And he LOVES the girls and no one is left out. Not even my school work or my grad school work. And I make the baby food. And cloth diaper. And I pumped and fed them BM exclusively for the first 9 months. It’s crazy, but it’s doable. 🙂

    And as for the NICU and the uncertainty with twins. I wish I had known that when I was pregnant with Colby & Connor. I didn’t realize how tenuous everything was in the beginning and for twins. And well, that didn’t work out how anyone wanted. Knowing what is possibly before you makes all the difference.

    And I don’t like to think of it as “lowering the bar”. Instead you’re going to do what works for your NEW family of 5. The bar isn’t lowered… it’s just different.

    1. Diana

      February 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      I didn’t know how else to say it but that’s a much nicer way of phrasing it. I think that for me – it’s letting go of what I placed on myself. I know what I almost couldn’t physically do with Bella (breastfeeding was a nightmare) and so this time around it’s the permission to let go some and know it’s ok. Even if other moms are able to EBF – I can’t see it in the cards for us.

      But like I said – you never know. 🙂

  • NJ @ A Pocket Full Of Dinosaurs

    February 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    There is so much wisdom in these self truths. You will find your own path- the best that is for Bo, Go, Bella, you, and Sam.

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