We are officially out of the newborn fog! And I’m truly enjoying every single moment of Motherhood at this moment. As I shared in this post recapping the first 4 weeks with twin newborns, it was quite the adjustment… But funny enough, I’m shocked to have found it not *as awful* as most everyone around me (mostly Boomers…sorry, but true) were projecting & warning me of it being, especially while I was pregnant.
I was talking to a friend who recently welcomed her little one in April and she mentioned the same thing in conversation – that she was led to believe it would be the worst time of her life and to expect nothing but anguish. With all that “just wait until…” negative commentary, we both were expecting the first month to destroy us mentally & emotionally without question.
I spent so much of my pregnancy terrified I wouldn’t enjoy being a mother, begrudgingly putting my own needs on the back-burner caring for two dependents full-time, with zero recognition or “reward.” And I’m disappointed I let that consume my mind leading up to the arrival of our girls. Because it certainly ended up being far from horrible – in fact, the most special time I’ll forever cherish.
Don’t get me wrong, the first 4 weeks & overall first 3 months of taking care of a newborn is without a doubt a difficult experience, especially as a first-time mama. It’s not something to be thought of as pleasant even half the time. Your anxiety about the littlest things is at an all-time high. I remember being overly aware of all the door frames in the house and petrified I’d accidentally bang a small head into one while walking from one room to the next. The intrusive thoughts of mistakenly doing something wrong and panic-planning your every move afterward was exhausting in itself. So if you’re feeling all of that now, trust me it’s normal and it does eventually subside – or maybe you just get used to it? LOL ugh.
I’ve learned that taking care of a newborn is doable; it’s taking care of anything else other than the baby that’s seemingly impossible. I found in these early months that I’d rarely feel like I did anything other than care for the babies. And with two, you literally never get a true break… When you feed/change one & it goes down for a nap, the next baby needs the same rotation. Once done with Baby #2, then Baby #1 wakes up. See where I’m going here? And for me, this Groundhog Day repetition hit me harder than I anticipated. I really had a tough time learning how to accept it, at least in the very beginning. It’s one of those things where you truly don’t know what you’re getting into until you’re in it – no matter how hard to mentally prepare, it’s an experience-only situation. But once you’re in it, you then understand just how much sacrifice goes into parenting. Let’s just say I have more appreciation for my mom now more than ever before, because I finally “get it” after 31 years.
Every day was predicted to be unpredictable, that was for certain. And with each week that went by, where we felt we got the hang of it, the girls would go through a growth spurt or “leap” and everything would change – more fussy, hungrier = more bottles & feeding time. Thus the cycle of adapting to a new routine would begin again. But honestly, these moments enabled me to think quicker on my feet than ever before. It also taught me the key to success (aka not having a mental breakdown) was to get ahead of the chaos best I could. So at the rare chances I had the ability to step away, I’d prepare bottles for the next feeding and “reset” the nursery for the evening so I didn’t have to scramble at the end of the day or in the middle of the night.
Whenever I felt close to losing it, from being overstimulated to massive overwhelm, telling myself “this is only temporary” and “they’re not actively trying to ruin my life” were great mantras to set myself back to a good place mentally. Because it’s all true – they’re only going to be this little and this needy for such a small portion of our lives, and it’s not like they’re trying to make things hard for me by showing signs of discomfort in the form of loud screaming. It’s the only way they know how in this moment.
Despite the sleep deprivation and chaos of adjustment, I found this Fourth Trimester to be such a blessing. I look back at it being the moment where I got the confidence I desired to have as their mother, especially when Thomas was away for 12 days when the girls’ were 6 weeks (going into 7 weeks) old. That was quite the experience… haha. But what helped me through it was knowing I would feel so assured with myself by the end of it, as well as have this special opportunity to bond with these two little people. Today, taking care of the girls on the occasions I’m solo parenting has never felt more manageable. I remember being so nervous about being alone with them for longer than an hour; now, it’s something I treasure and take full advantage of whenever I can.
However, there’s no doubt certain things made this whole experience much more doable – especially with two. I feel like certain decisions and prioritizing what our needs were as parents is what kept us afloat. We definitely had moments of short fuses and frustration, but we didn’t take it out on each other as much as I was worried about anticipating. In fact, I feel that Thomas and I had a great handle on it all because of our expectations we discussed with one another very early on. Communication truly sits at the top of the needs pyramid in all aspects of a relationship, but especially in the season of child-raising.
What helped us the most during this Fourth Trimester
HIRING HELP – NIGHT NURSE, POSTPARTUM DOULA, NANNY
ASKING & ACCEPTING HELP WHEN OFFERED (FRIENDS & FAMILY)
PRIORITIZING ALONE TIME FOR OURSELVES & EACH OTHER
MAKING PLANS TO BE SOCIAL, WITH & WITHOUT THE KIDS
LIVING OUR LIFE AS SIMILARLY AS POSSIBLE
I won’t deny that I had & still have LOTS of help to make it through. I also understand how much of a privilege it is to have the willingness of friends & family to want to extend their assistance, as well as the proximity we have to our families and the necessary funds we (Thomas and me) have worked hard for & saved to be able to hire outside help in addition to it all. With two infants, there’s only so much you can do while on your own. Yes, you learn to appreciate patience and resilience within yourself even more than ever before. But you’re absolutely spent by the end of the day, and then you remember you have to do it again most of the night as well… With both of us returning to work full-time, granted it’s remote, we needed to hire someone to help us during the week. And it’s been the biggest relief and best decision so far. We’re able to see our kids but focus on work without interruption, and by the end of the day we’re so excited to be able to spend that devoted time with them. I know it’s not for everyone but for us, it’s been great to have the energy, without distraction, our girls deserve from us.
Making sure we had & have opportunities to spend time doing the things we enjoy is definitely the main reason why we stayed above water. We also have ventured into the territory of bringing the girls with us to certain social gatherings and events, similarly as we would if we were childless. And we’ve found it to be a great adventure in parenting. It takes several more steps to properly execute and our time spent is mapped out around bottles and bedtime if later in the day, but overall it’s been absolutely wonderful doing the things we used to do with them along for the ride. It’s helped us feel like we haven’t lost who we are as individuals. I also feel that getting the girls used to car rides and taking naps in the stroller/on demand has enabled us to have more flexibility in that regard as well.
What I’ve come to learn for myself as a new mother
DON’T EXPECT AN INSTANT RETURN TO “NORMAL” WITH EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES
THE BABY WEIGHT HITS DIFFERENTLY, SITS DIFFERENTLY, AND SHOULD BE MANAGED DIFFERENTLY
DON’T BURN YOURSELF OUT SAYING “YES” TO EVERYTHING NOW THAT YOU CAN DO THINGS AGAIN
MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO ENSURE YOUR CUP GETS FILLED
This postpartum journey has really taught me to remain humble thus far. And as a very Type-A person with an active lifestyle, it was hard to come to terms with the fact I simply CANNOT do it all – at least not all at once, right away. Having been so depressed throughout my entire pregnancy, I felt that the moment I was cleared to exercise at 6 weeks was when I tried to hit the ground running (literally & figuratively.) In reality, it’s a slow roll and I was finding myself getting so frustrated when all the things I had planned to do and accomplished felt like it was always getting derailed. Things are forever different, but that doesn’t mean everything I’ve worked hard for and had before has gone away. It’s just going to be a longer road to travel, full of detours and road closures. But eventually, the destination will be met.
I still have a lot to learn and navigate in this new chapter of motherhood. But right now, my biggest focus is showing up as the best version of myself for our girls. I’ll admit typing this post out and seeing it written in words feels great – sort of like a brain dump for me personally. Sometimes it’s hard to see how far you’ve come when you feel like every day has been lived the same or very similarly. Just remember there’s light at the end of the newborn tunnel and by the time they hit 3.5 months, it’s simply magical. You’ll get through it, and remember: You’re doing AMAZING!