when anxiety overwhelms: a mother’s tale of Hurricane Matthew

It was a mother’s worst-case-scenario. My  husband and I had finally made time for a much needed one-night retreat away from it all. Our children were staying with their beloved grandparents; we would be gone for a total of  24 hours, barely a few hours away. We disconnected from internet and cell phone signal was spotty. God met us right where we needed it, and when it was time to leave the next afternoon, we were aware of fresh winds of the Spirit breathing life into our hearts and our relationship.

But then there was Hurricane Matthew. We had assumed we were safe – that it was turning away from us.

Imagine our dismay when we had driven only a few feet and were practically floating through an unexpected flash flood – and this was in our SUV! We quickly switched into panic mode. For us, that meant my husband went super-calm and quiet, and I wanted to talk about it all. [We both quickly realized that this wasn’t working: lessons learned in a decade of marriage – and yes, you’re welcome.] Our focus was that we had to get home to our kids. We must. There was no other option.

One-and-a-half hours later, the situation was deteriorating quickly. More unexpected huge puddles on the road. When I checked the satellite radar, it showed us tracking right along with Hurricane Matthew’s new and unexpected path. Evening was falling and flash flood warnings were increasing.

We finally gave up and found a hotel that wasn’t yet full in which to stay. Then we had to call the grandparents and the kiddos and try to act brave and calm about the decision that had my mother’s heart trembling: we couldn’t make it back before bedtime as planned, and we were going to try again in the morning as long as Hurricane Matthew allowed.

Needless to say, it was a long night.

As we surveyed the damage the next morning, we decided that we were going to risk it and try to head back to our “babies.” So we did. And God used the prayers of many to clear a path for us back home. It was a joyous reunion and a relief to give and receive hugs, laughter, tears.

And there’s a picture there, right? How anxious I am! How anxious we are collectively as a culture/nation right now!

We look around us and want to be anywhere but *here* – whether that’s the dark side of a cancer diagnosis, the turmoil of parenting challenges, a hurricane that’s wreaking havoc in your community, on the eve of a presidential election that has us all twisted in knots inside, in the midst of racial tension, stuck in a hard family relationship, etc. We want relief. We want a way out, or a promise that we’ll make it through. Or, even better, our people with whom to ride out the storms of life – literal and metaphorical. 

We have One. He fought his way through the depths of hell itself to be with us. It was costly [he died] – but miraculous [God raised him to life]. And it’s the only Hope I know that’s so sure and secure it is called, “an anchor of the soul.”

When the storms of life hit (perhaps literally), where do you turn? How have you known the peace of Jesus even in the very middle of the very worst troubles in your life? 

scattered chaos – or a story?

A half dozen (or more) children’s books are scattered in piles of two or three around the perimeter of our living room. The one most recently read lays atop our ottoman beside a discarded ballet slipper. Its pink partner sits in front of my husband’s recliner. A pink polka-dotted blanket is on top of the rug, and a paper airline peeks out from underneath the couch. Blue sparkly Cinderella shoes and fuzzy pink slippers grace another corner, and the pink bin of Legos sits opposite. A plastic green cup with a straw sits proudly beside the remote controls. Cushions are all in tact at the end of this day – and that says something.

In my more frustrated moments, I’d say this is scattered chaos. I look around and feel annoyed that I didn’t ask my daughters to pick things up before they went to bed. I’m annoyed with myself for not picking up more before grabbing my laptop to write a long overdue blog post. But then I try to remember how this mess tells a story of a full day well enjoyed by two five-year-old girls. The books are from reading time at the end of the day, me in one chair with one twin and my husband in another chair with her sister. Before this there were dance parties (hence the ballet slippers and Cinderella shoes) and a yoga session (note the blanket on the floor as makeshift mat). One twin adores her slippers and hates cold feet, so she wore them downstairs until the day’s play began. Another girl was thirsty before bedtime and so she brought in her ice water with a straw while being read stories.

In ten years, the mess will look very different.

In twenty years, we’ll miss the days that left behind such a scattered chaos.

I wish – I pray – that I would have the long view as I parent during what feels like a long summer in the midst of a long season of gloriously imaginative play and charming smiles punctuated by sibling conflict and mommy frustration.

My word of 2016 has been “rooted.” I haven’t written about it here before because, well, the book has taken a lot of air time. But it’s because of the book’s publication that I chose this word as a focus and prayer for this year. It can be too easy to get lost “in the clouds” of a book release, becoming a published author, engaging in speaking events I’d only dreamed of before – and forgetting my roots. The lovely, hard, sanctifying thing about motherhood and marriage is that my family roots me and grounds me in reality. There is laundry, and the dishes pile up when neglected, and meals need to be cooked and planned, and these ones I love are always present. Loving me and counting on me for their rootedness.

This task feels too immense. And it is until I remember where I am rooted. Deep in the eternal love of God, secured for me by Jesus Christ, spoken into my heart and soul by the Spirit. To be rooted in him, all I need to do is rest and abide and remember. Reading the Bible and praying and worshiping in our local church community help immensely. roots

The truth is that as I look around my living room this evening, the scattered chaos and the story it tells reminds me where I am rooted. Physically and emotionally – here with my family at a house in Virginia amidst a neighborhood and community of friends. Spiritually – I am rooted in a story that often looks to human eyes like the scattered chaos of this room. But it is telling a bigger story of redemption and hope and joy as the life of God is known through my work and play and parenting and marriage and friendship.

 

when words break your 5-year-old’s heart

My normally exuberant, bouncy and easily-excitable 5-year-old sat crouched on her bed when it was time for preschool. When asked why, she said, “I don’t want to go to preschool!” before bursting into tears. It baffled me for about 2 seconds before I remembered what happened the day before.

Someone told my daughter, “I hate you!”

She is five. FIVE. And what stings more than hearing this from my child is feeling the weight of it with her, in reliving my own past experiences of social wounding and exclusion. No one prepares you for this part of parenting. It is one thing to deal with my own burdens of being socially excluded and rejected – the wounds now healed into scars by God’s grace (which included counseling and writing!). It is a totally different thing when those wounds are happening to your child’s heart.

It is one thing to hope for the gospel’s power to heal and restore and bring forgiveness for yourself; it is quite another thing to hope for the same gospel’s power to heal and restore and bring forgiveness to my heart as a mother aching with my child’s pain.

The shield I usually cling to is anger, first and foremost. It’s the easiest one to grasp, and I feel most powerful with it in my hands. Close behind this would be despair and pity for my child – to a point where I give way too much weight to this incident and allow her not to be brave and courageous and kind and resilient. Holding this shield close to my heart would make me hold my daughter too close for comfort and seek to protect her from all possible hurt things ever. (An impossible, and ultimately, fruitless task!) If I’d allowed this shield to win the morning, I would have coddled my daughter and told her she never had to go back to school ever again. But where would she be? That would have given too much power to the unkind words. It would have increased the shame that would linger and the fear ready in its wake. 

Instead my faith in a God who is just and loving calls me to put down my shields of anger and despair/pity, and to courageously guide my daughter through the shards of a broken world. A world where this is only the tip of the iceberg of what she’ll encounter throughout her life. A world where she, too, will say things and do actions that are unkind to others. A world where the line between “bully” and “victim” can be hours, minutes, or days apart.

To guide her through this world on that particular morning meant embracing her firmly and feeling deeply with her and for her the pain of these rejecting words. It meant telling her my own story of being hurt by others’ words, and answering her sweet question, “how many days did it hurt?” with an answer that is a prayer. “Oh, sweetie, it hurt for awhile, but Jesus healed my heart. And the best way to fight against these hurtful words is to be brave and kind to others, and to go back to school today. Otherwise, those words win. And we can’t have that! Remember you are loved and you are brave – and we are with you.”

What happens when words break your 5-year-old’s heart? You cry and protect – and ultimately choose to entrust her heart into the hands of the same God who’s loved and protected and guided you through your own journey. He is faithful, trustworthy, and the ever-present protector who takes wounds and turns them into compassion. Markers in a story that will shape who she is becoming: neither the bully who self-protects and retaliates nor the victim who is perpetually withdrawn, but the brave and kind girl who knows she’s loved more deeply than any words of hate and courageously moves into what she fears. 

 

Five Minute Friday: dance

I’m back for Five Minute Friday, my favorite of writing link-ups hosted by Kate Motaung. Her description is perfect:

“This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.”

Today’s prompt is “dance.”

****

ballerinasI turn on my favorite music to keep us company as we do the mundane task of transforming mounds of laundry into neat and organized piles sorted by type and owner.

She begins twirling, pirouetting, practicing her newly learned ballet steps. “Mommy, look at this!” Her twin sister joins her, and what was previously ordinary is now transformed into a dance performance worthy of a stage. My husband and I smile at the privilege of being the audience to such a play. They grab their blue leotards and ballet shoes and their dance takes new levels as they sway and spin and leap and laugh.

Soon we are mesmerized. Transfixed by their art and spontaneity and, in a word, glory.

Did you know that people who experience awe 2-3 times a day are more emotionally and physically healthy than those who don’t? We have much to learn from those who haven’t lost the wonder and awe of the ordinary, found in the mundane.

I who so easily stress and grow anxious and worried and bothered about too many things – I need them as much as they need me. They bring me back to what’s important, drawing my eyes above to their Creator who delights in them and me with an unending love eager to be interrupted to watch my dance. 

****

Day 20: when the reality of twins interrupts the best-laid plans

I am sorely aware that it is Saturday evening, October 31, the last day of the #write31days challenge, and I’m on day 20 of my “31 days of parenting twins” series. It’s easy for me to default into what’s familiar when I’ve not met one of my own expectations: shame of perceived failure, berating myself for not being able to write for 31 days about an experience I live out daily. 

And that’s the catch. In my writer’s mind, I could see the 31-days-of-parenting-twins journey mapped out perfectly ahead of me. The predictable twists-and-turns, like talking about the funny things people say about twins, and the ways my girls have had a “twin sense” about each other since they were born, even exploring together the topics of premature labor, bed rest, potty training twins, “the terrible twos TIMES TWO,” scattering helpful tips along the way. Most importantly, I was excited for the opportunity to write about an experience that is quite unique (while familiar to me), and has been characterized both by double joys and multiplied struggles.

pathway

image from poetsandquants.com


Instead, twins happened.
Over the past month, we had to scramble and cobble together childcare for two all-weekend events two weekends in a row. (Thankful for local grandparents who covered one of them!) We missed an entire week of preschool between the two of them having a bad cold accompanied by a croup-like cough and a fever. (Which means mama didn’t have her usual writing time.) And this week, L. came down with strep. We waited anxiously for signs that A. had it, and breathed a sigh of relief that we’re out of the woods. Or so we hope … just tonight before bed, A. seemed out of sorts and I imagined I heard the beginnings of congestion. Oh my. I feel like I’m in my “grin and bear it” mentality. What’s more likely is that her unexpected and long bedtime tantrum was the sugar low after eating way.too.much Halloween candy tonight during and after trick-or-treating.

With twins, I’m learning to expect the unexpected and unpredictable – both in terms of “way, way harder than I’d imagined” and “so much better than I could have pictured or orchestrated.” Like their spontaneous twin-fairy dancing show we were privy to this morning while sipping coffee after breakfast, or their graceful and radiant twin-princess-glory tonight while trick-or-treating through our neighborhood. The best of times and the worst of times is moments apart in parenting, and especially so if parenting twins. 

So, no, I did not complete the 31 days series in October. And truth be told, there are other topics I’m eager to share with you. Like what I learned in October, and reflections on Konmari organizing, and how excited I am that my book Unashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame is now available for pre-order (Crossway, to be released June 2016).

But this story of twins? It’s my life. I do want to share the rest of the story someday. I hope to finish it in November at various points.

For tonight, I’ll conclude by saying thank you for journeying with me thus far. I hope you’ll continue to follow along with my writing here on my blog. If you’re a fellow twin parent, I hope that something has resonated with you and given you even the smallest sense of being less alone as you’re outnumbered by twin babies/toddlers/preschoolers/etc.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Days 16 & 17: my favorite advice for twins, preschool stage

As my twin daughters are five-years-old, but not yet in kindergarten (birthdays were too close to the cut-off date), I consider myself an expert at the preschool stage. (Wink, wink … hardly!) They have been to preschool for three years now, the first year they were in a 2-day program; the second year they were in a 3-day program; and this year they’ve been in a 5-day program. Which brings me to my favorite advice for twins in the preschool stage:

1 –  Consider enrolling your twins in a Mom’s Day Out program or preschool. Even if you’re planning to homeschool later on, I think preschool could be a “sanity saver” for you as a twin mama. It is quite exhausting to chase preschoolers around and to try to keep their days planned and active. The emotional toll on me was steep, and so knowing the twins were going to a few mornings of preschool allowed me built-in time to breathe, step back, and be more engaged with them the other several hours of each day.

2 –   Let them wear what they want (princess dress to see Santa, costumes to Home Depot, mismatched clothes to school, sparkly red Dorothy shoes everyday) because they are only little once. [And might I add – and it’s not worth the feat of resistance it’ll take to oppose them every.single.time.] – Rebecca B., mom to a 9-year-old son and 4-year-old fraternal twin daughters

messy kids

photo from emmaschildcare.com

3. Embrace the messiness that comes with creativity. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you have witnessed my journey to nurture my own creativity and to allow the creativity of my kids. I don’t like to clean up messes, and art is usually messy (to some degree). So do what you need to do to be able to lean into the creative activities they (and you) will love. Creativity for us meant that I have looked for non-paint activities for them to do and/or we did the artistic project outside. It also meant that I banished glitter after an experience where glitter ended up everywhere in our house, even in our coffee. Enough said.

4. Odd/Even Days.  First born gets odd days.  Second born gets even days.  You go first on everything whether that is a flu shot, a bath, getting to choose the TV show/movie or even getting to sit in the front seat.  The 31st, when it occurs, is mom’s day.  She gets to decide who goes first and no one gets to argue.  This is so the first born doesn’t get the 31st AND the 1st as their day. [I observed Heather doing this early on with her twins, and I’ve done this ever since my twins were about 2-years-old. It makes things so easy, and caregivers can also follow suit.] – Heather B., mom to 10-year-old identical twin daughters

5. Give yourself lots of grace. Having two babies at once means experience the first-child anxiety of doing everything right AND the second-child worry about how to care for and love on two children at once. It’s a lot on you physically and emotionally, and a lot on your marriage too. Give grace to your husband too — I’m not quick to do that, and I regret some judgmental remarks that have given David, my husband, pause about his parenting skills. I have to remind myself, none of us get it right all the time! – Stacy L., mom of 2-year-old identical twin daughters

This is a beautiful, hopeful note to end on, and so we will conclude there.

If you’re also a #mama2twins, add your two cents to the comments. (And note that only positive and encouraging/helpful comments will be approved – no adding to the all-too-common online “mom wars.” We are all warriors doing hard things and so let’s support each other in every way we can.)

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Days 12 & 13: the best advice for raising twins, newborn stage

This week’s posts are going to be soooo good and rich that I’ve decided for them to “count” as double-editions worth two days. (Which also fits nicely with the reality that it’s October 19th and I’m only on days 12-13 of the #write31days challenge.)

image from memes.com

image from memes.com

I have polled a handful of my fellow mamas of twins who graciously have added their favorite advice to various categories. If you’re also a #mama2twins, add your two cents to the comments. (And note that only positive and encouraging/helpful comments will be approved – no adding to the all-too-common online “mom wars.” We are all warriors doing hard things and so let’s support each other in every way we can.)

Without further ado – I give to you the best advice for raising twins, newborn stage.

  1. Skip reading the delivery books & articles in favor of reading books about how to feed twins & set them up for healthy sleep habits. With twins, you won’t likely have a lot of say in how your delivery occurs since there are greater risks for complications. I decided to reserve my energy for trying to wrap my mind around the logistics of feeding twins and getting them on a schedule (a common theme of twin moms’ advice for newborns, as you’ll see below).
  2. “The best advice I received was to keep babies on the same sleep schedule- always!  Line up family help at staggered times so it spreads out over weeks and if breast feeding doesn’t work or is stressing you out then it is ok to bottle feed because a relaxed mom means happier babies. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; shower everyday; try to get out with other twin moms – I met a friend with twins the same age for lunch every Friday.” – Rebecca B., mom to a 9-year-old son and 4-year-old fraternal twin daughters

  3. Take the advice of fellow first-time moms (who don’t have more than one child) with a grain of salt. Their advice is well-meaning but often won’t apply to you. You have “two brand-new humans at the same time” (as described by my empathetic friend Susan who had two good friends deliver twins within weeks of each other). What works for one baby probably won’t work for his/her twin and vice versa. It’s an olympic feat of parenting, especially if twins are your first.
  4. Write everything down. Literally. You’ll be sleep-deprived and feeding/changing two newborns and will certainly forget who fed when and how much. “So how many wet diapers has your baby had regularly?” will be a pediatrician’s question that will send you scrambling for your written, daily log. A.k.a., your brain.
  5. A close corollary to #5 is to take lots of pictures. Early into my pregnancy, Seth and I ran into another couple who were parents of twins a few years older than ours. I’ll never forget them telling us that the first six months would be a blur; so take pictures so that you don’t forget these moments. I enjoyed creating photo books along the way to document each stage, and I did it from the perspective of the twins. I.e. “A tale of twins: the first two months” and “A tale of twins: our first Christmas.” I am thankful for these books to return to, and truth be told, I have about 2 years to catch up on in terms of recording memories/photos. My friend Bridget told me about “Groovebook” which seems like it might be a cool option: a $2.99 monthly subscription will give you up to 100 of your Instagram photos in a small booklet. You can cancel at any time. [And no, I’m *not* getting paid to promote them. Although I should be. ;)]
  6. Say “yes” to most of the offers of help that come your way, and direct them into what you most need. I.e. – rocking a baby, feeding twins a bottle, coming over so that you can nap or get out of the house for a few hours alone, bringing the luxury of adult conversation, dropping a meal off on your porch. And if at all possible, have someone else be the point person for all of your care needs. If that’s not do-able, use Care Calendar, Lotsa Helping Hands, and/or TakeThemAMeal.
  7. BUT say “no” to people who feel draining to you, or when you need some quiet moments or days or weeks to figure things out on your own or take a breather from constant people time. Especially if you’re an introvert. There were times we needed to “circle the wagons” and struggle through things, as long as we didn’t get stuck in “isolation-we-can-handle-this-on-our-own” mode.
  8. “The single best advice for us was to keep them on the same schedule. As they got a bit bigger and I didn’t need to instantly jump up when they awoke, we would let the earlier riser wait a bit and the later sleeper get those last few ZZZs. I think this approach has made my girls more patient and able to entertain themselves for a couple of minutes, at least! I would also tell a new mom of twins not to be scared to go out and experience that grocery-cart moment, as you described it. It felt like an Olympic feat — complete with lots of sweating — when we survived our first Target trip! Just be prepared for lots of twin questions 🙂 ” – Stacy L., mom to 2-year-old identical twin daughters

  9. Savor the sweet moments as an invitation to take a step back, take a deep breath, and be thankful for the gift of your babies. These moments may be few and far between, but they will be part of what keeps you going through the hard moments. They’re part of the abundant grace available to you with your twins.

I’ll reiterate what I started with: If you’re also a #parent2twins, I invite you to add what you would consider the best advice for newborn twins to the comments. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 4: it takes a village {to raise twins}

I ended yesterday’s post with a promise of a “double edition” in order to catch up. But here it is, late Monday night, and I’m barely scribbling out part 2 of yesterday’s post. My default as an entrenched people-pleaser is to seek to make everyone in my life happy, and a really effective way to do this is to meet their needs. You’ve had a new baby and need a meal? I’ll be there. You need me to watch your kids for a few hours? Sure. You’ve got a problem and need to talk it out? Call me anytime. And the thing is – I really mean it. I really do want to be able to meet the needs I see. I know how wonderful it is to receive meal after meal after meal in the stage of new babies. Many friends have given me respite along the way by providing childcare when I desperately needed some time and space away from the demands of mothering. Family and friends who listen when I’m spewing out my heart ease my burdens by bearing it alongside me.

The trouble comes when I forget my limits and I overextend what my energy, life stage, and personality has the capacity to carry. And herein lies one of the hidden blessings of finding out we were going to be having twins: we knew that we would not be able to handle it alone. My husband and I often joke that we are both so stubborn that God knew it would take two newborns at once to bring us to our knees.

village two

photo credit: startempathy.org

This is where we went when overwhelmed with the reality of twins: to our God who bears every burden. And how did he answer? Through providing a village of family and friends who did amazing things to carry us through the difficult twin pregnancy and especially the first 4 months of having twins:

  • brought us meals three times a week
  • cleaned our house weekly
  • arranged a “Care Calendar” to facilitate all the volunteers
  • went grocery shopping for us
  • shopped at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Target for me
  • assembled cribs, made curtains for the nursery, hung pictures, sorted through the baby stuff I needed (or not), washed baby clothes
  • partnered with us on home rehab projects: bathroom remodeling, painting, and crown molding to name a few
  • drove 3+ hours to IKEA in DC/Northern VA traffic and brought back a wardrobe for the twins’ room (I’m looking at you, Matt & Emma)
  • brought lunch to me during the 10 weeks I was on bed rest (spoiler alert)
  • listened, prayed, showered us with love and gifts for the babies-to-be
  • showed up to rock and feed the girls while a sleep-deprived mama slept or showered or if it was a *really* productive day, went to the grocery store

The oft-quoted, “God will never give you more than you can handle!” is actually (a) not true and (b) not in the Bible at all.

God gave us much, much more than we could handle by giving us twins, precisely so that we would begin to learn to lean on the help that was surrounding us – that we’d learn to live in the “village” in which God placed us.

A crucial part of being part of a vibrant village-like community is the ability to ask for and receive help, not only the ability to give help. And for this, I am thankful for the gift of God giving us more than we could handle by gifting us with twins.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 3: exuberant joy becomes overwhelming shock

I can remember the day and the moment like it was yesterday. I also journal my way through life, so I have a convenient entry to remind me precisely when this moment occurred. It was a shift from “wow – I can’t believe the double miracle growing with me” and the fears of miscarriage (since I continued to have regular and unexplained bleeding throughout the first trimester) to one of overwhelming shock. Like shock that fills in every inch of every free mental space you have in the executive function area of your brain. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to manage twins day to day:

3/2/10 (8 weeks)

How will I possibly manage twins? The thought terrifies me, and the fear can creep in triggered by the simple fact of seeing another mom with her baby in the grocery store and then realizing I won’t even be able to do that by myself. They don’t make grocery carts for twin babies!

I think I’m being confronted with a season of dependence like I’ve never experienced in my adult life. I will need help. Seth and I will need help. We won’t be able to do this in our usual M.O. – self-sufficiency and independence. We will truly be dependent on our family and community of friends….

photo credit: twinversity.com

photo credit: twinversity.com

I now affectionately refer to this as “the grocery store moment.” If you’re a parent of twins, did you have a similar revelation of how different and uniquely demanding it would be to parent twins? What was it like for you? And what did you do in response? 

Today will be a double edition since I missed yesterday due to a much-needed deep purge and clean of five years’ worth of twin gear from our basement. And, yes, it has been as overwhelming as I thought and more so in many ways. But spoiler alert: we’ve made it so far, and so will you if you’re an expectant parent-of-twins or in the foggy zone of newborn-age 2 of twins. It gets better – let that be your beacon of hope as it was for me as you navigate this unique journey of parenting twins.

Tonight I’ll write about what I did in response to my overwhelming fear/shock of anticipating the reality of twins.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 2: twin pregnancy, first trimester: nausea, exhaustion, and PB&J

If you were to ask my friends and family how they remember my twin pregnancy, you would likely get one of three answers:

  1. “Heather was always tired!” I vaguely remember the fog of deep exhaustion and the sleepless nights. It was such a bad combination – I would be exhausted all day, then could barely sleep at night. One Saturday early into pregnancy we walked around a museum with good friends who were visiting from Philly, and all I remember about that day is looking for the next bench on which to rest.  I was thankful that I didn’t have many counseling clients during those weeks because it was difficult to stay awake throughout the afternoon (much less make it past 8 or 9pm).
  2. “Heather ate ALL the time.”

“I remember she brought a cooler full of healthy snacks to our overnight women’s retreat. And she ate everything she brought.” -Maria

“We were signing closing papers, and Heather was eating a granola bar.” – our realtor, Jenn

“Every night, I had to make a PB&J sandwich and put it by her bedside table because she would wake up in the middle of the night hungry and nauseous.” – Seth, my husband

And it’s true. I ate at least hourly, and I would still be starving. It was incredible to try to keep up my caloric intake for two babies. My healthcare providers had conflicting opinions, which was confusing: my OB said to watch my weight; my midwife said to eat as much as I could, and then some more. I chose to follow my midwife’s advice. And I definitely put on the pounds. dr barbara luke twinsBut there were TWO babies, and I had read in my favorite twin-pregnancy-preparation book that the more calories you eat early on into your pregnancy, the better chance your twins had of fully developing before delivery.

2 – “Although Heather had it pretty good in terms of no throwing up; she hated the nausea the worst.” The constant eating was the only way to stave off the nausea and try to keep it at bay. It was counterintuitive to eat when I felt like anything but – yet eating effectively pushed down the nausea, at least until those calories wore off. Mornings were my best; afternoons and evenings the worst. I distinctly remember the evening that pregnancy nausea hit me head on: I found myself feeling increasingly queasy while watching Julie and Juliaa movie about Julia Childs. To the point that I couldn’t even think about that movie for months without my stomach turning. In fact, I don’t think I’ve watched it since – the power of negative associations. It started around week 8 and lasted until week 16. Which is *nothing* compared to many pregnancies, like my friends who were nauseous and vomiting the entire three trimesters. I felt like a wimp but I really hate the feeling of nausea, so this part of pregnancy was almost the worst for me. What helped me:

  • Jolly Ranchers for the first few weeks, recommended by a friend. The sour-sweet would immediately arrest my nausea and help me make it through important tasks, like grocery shopping. jolly ranchers
  • Eating only white foods for the next few weeks. Seriously I only wanted potatoes, bread, and bananas. It was weird! And Chick-Fil-A waffle fries. I could always eat those.
  • When all else failed, I called in for Zophran at week 15.5 because I simply couldn’t stand it anymore. And it was so helpful, so that before I knew it, I was out of the woods of the first trimester and into the second one.

That wraps up today’s post. I would love to hear your own stories as you’re reading.

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