parenting

Zombie Mom: My First Year With Twins

Posted by Kate Drummond

0 TO 3 MONTHS

I didn't think it would be like this. My twins -- a precious boy and girl -- are six weeks old and I'm teetering on the edge of sanity. My husband and I have a round-the-clock routine that goes something like this: Breastfeed baby one, pump, bottle-feed baby two, change diapers, swaddle, cry (me and the tots); repeat.

This routine goes on and on. Mix in post-pregnancy hormones, dangerous levels of sleep deprivation and a thrown-out back (thank you, difficult delivery!) and it's a recipe for disaster.

That warm and fuzzy new mommy feeling is nowhere in sight.

3 TO 6 MONTHS

Fast-forward a few months and things aren't much better. My back has recovered, and my nipples have stopped bleeding (yep, that really happens), but I'm as strung-out as ever. I startle awake, heart pounding, at the smallest sound -- a dog barking, my husband's soft breathing. Half-awake, I frantically dig through my sheets, convinced that one of the babies is buried in the bed suffocating.

Just when I think things can't get any worse, I'm crippled by unbearable insomnia. During those rare moments when the whole house is quiet, I lay painfully awake, tears streaming down my face. I'm a Zombie-Mommy: a bleary-eyed, anxiety-ridden version of my old self.

I used to be energetic and fun-loving. I wore stylish clothes and had interesting conversations. Now when I look in the mirror, I see a stranger; a pony-tailed woman in spit-up-stained sweatpants. All I can talk about is poopy diapers, breastfeeding and my constant craving for sleep.

My parents and in-laws have rallied around our new family, regularly bringing us meals and reassurance. But I'm still a mess.

My poor husband bears the brunt of my unraveling. He's as exhausted as I am, but has taken on all the cooking, cleaning and laundry. He has also become my pseudo-therapist, consoling me daily (sometimes hourly) as I sob and vent.

It's time for an intervention.

Enter the sleep doula. This magical woman swoops into my house (for a hefty fee, of course), and teaches my babies to fall asleep on their own. She uses a gentler version of the much-maligned cry-it-out method. It's excruciating to hear the babies wail and not pick them up, but it works. Within a week, the twins can fall asleep -- and stay asleep -- without being rocked for hours.

Around the same time, I start taking medication for postpartum depression. I'm reluctant at first, but before I know it, I start to feel like an actual human being again.

6 TO 12 MONTHS

Finally, when the babies are around six months old, I feel like my head is just above water. At last I can catch my breath and start enjoying my little munchkins in a way that I wasn't able to before. That warm and fuzzy feeling makes its triumphant debut.

My little ones recently turned one and they're busy tearing up our house and getting into things they shouldn't. I'm constantly calming tantrums and kissing boo-boos.

Toddler twins are trickier than singletons because they always want what the other one has: a new toy, mommy's attention, a dusty old raisin found on the floor. This leads to the little-kid version of fighting, which usually involves my son hitting his sister over the head with a plastic car and my small-but-mighty daughter sinking her teeth into her brother's chubby arm.

When we're not refereeing our kids, my husband and I try our best to keep our house "clean-ish." That's the not-quite-disastrous state of our home once we've washed the globs of yogurt off the kitchen floor, carved a path through the sea of toys and wiped gooey hand prints from the bottom of our windows and doors.

YEAR IN REVIEW

During our crazy year with our very dynamic duo, we've been witness to some truly heart-warming twin moments: My sweet baby girl giving her brother a slobbery kiss. My charming little boy roaring with laughter as he chases his sister around our furniture.

And as I watch my kids, I realize how fast they're growing up. I look back on the early months with a tinge of sadness because I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to fully enjoy my babies. Now, I try to savor each stage, even when it involves makeup being tossed in the toilet and potty-training squirmy toddlers.

There's no denying, life can be challenging with twins. But I'm looking forward to that miraculous day when my kids start playing together without hitting, biting or hair-pulling...even if it takes another 18 years!

Image(s): CSA Images