Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'd Like to Return These Babies Please Part II

The First Six Weeks

Dave was home for the first two weeks of the twin's lives.  Nearly one week of that was spent in the hospital.

Mom came and went for the first six weeks.  She'd leave and the panic would set in -- and just as I would think  maybe I was close to getting my footing on this mother-of-twins gig, she would return and I would hand everything off to her.

Of course, I wasn't really functioning.  Noon would hit and I would still be in pajamas.  It didn't even occur to me to dress the twins, much less bathe them.  They and I were lucky we were eating, breathing, and -- at times -- sleeping.

She's Gone

The day after mom left for the final time, Dave dressed for work and then handed me Sophia.  She was an intense baby.  The only way to keep her from crying was to hold her while walking her around. 

I was still in bed when he had to leave.  He handed her to me and she started screaming.  "Not again!" I told her. 

At that moment, I felt like I was falling off a cliff. 

Free Fall Downward

I didn't want to hurt the twins.  In the hospital I told Dave I was desperately afraid something was going to happen to them.  There was no reason for that level of anxiety. They were full-term, healthy, six and seven pound babies.

I couldn't make decisions. The morning I was to return to work, I flaked out.  I sat in my pajamas.  The daycare provider called "where are you all?"  I didn't call her back.  I didn't call work.  I. just. sat. I couldn't leave my babies with a stranger.  How would we make it on one income?  And I didn't feel I was the best person to mother them... I couldn't think.  Couldn't decide.  On anything. 

I was frozen.

I felt keyed up and agitated, but lacked energy or motivation to get through the day.  I couldn't concentrate well enough to read or cook or watch TV.

I felt out of control. And Dave, who is always the calm rock of the family became irritable, snappy, and overwhelmed.  I was scared.  If he’s not the grounded one here, who is?  How far will I fall? 

I was so fearful of harm coming to the twins, that left alone with the twins, the intrusive thoughts would hit me.  I'd walk by the microwave and wonder, "what if I put one of them in the microwave?"  Walking by the stair railing upstairs, holding a baby, I'd wonder "What if I go crazy and throw her over the stair rail?" 

I was afraid to leave them sleeping.  What if they died of SIDS?  Nightly, I couldn't sleep unless I felt their faces for air moving in and out.  If one slept "too long," I'd awake in a panic and race out of bed to their bedside, certain the worst had happened.

I was irritable.  I wrote in a journal "If they scream one more time I won’t be able to take it.  I can’t stand them. I don’t want them near me."  At times I would think that I would be able to handle things as I sat there breast feeding one baby, then Dave would come in with a second baby and I’d think, “Oh God there’s two of them”.  

I would breast feed them and stare at the wall, waiting until they would be done.  It felt like they were sucking the very life out of me.  

My self-esteem was in the toilet I honestly hadn't really thought I'd ever be a mother after all of our losses and failed fertility treatments.  During the pregnancy I didn't really think about mothering live children.  And if the thought did flit through my mind, I brushed it aside.  I had been a nanny or a babysitter for well over 15 years.  I had cared for multiple infants at a time with no problem.  I had cared for children with various physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities.  My degrees specialized in child development.  Parenting twins, I thought, would be easy enough. 

I felt guilty for everything I did do and everything I didn't do.   What kind of mother doesn't breast feed her own children?  I was already a failure in that I couldn't produce enough milk for both of them.  But to quit altogether AND voluntarily? 

WHO does that?  Who chooses formula?  ALL the books, doctors, nurses, --hell, society -- say moms sure the hell better breastfeed their babies.   

As if it's such an easy thing.  Did you know that to breastfeed ONE newborn a mom spends eight hours/day nursing?  I had two babies.  And let's not even get into how taxing it is to make sure you drink enough, eat enough, and rest enough to produce the milk.  It's not an effortless physical accomplishment.  

But I wasn't sleeping.  

I couldn't eat enough or drink enough or rest enough or hold Sophia enough to make her stop crying. 

At eight weeks the milk ran dry...
I was that mom who doesn't breastfeed. 

Relief was mixed with guilt and a sense of horrible failure. Motherhood was not going as planned...

I fantasized of running away where no one would find me.  In the car, alone, I thought of just driving forever.

I fantasized of not waking children would be better off without me...

To Be Continued....

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