Caveat: I have no idea what it’s like to have one baby (if you’re reading this and you don’t know me, I have 7 month old twins). In my imagination, it’s impossibly easy, and I know that’s not accurate or fair. I also know that anyone with more than one young kid at a time / kids who are close in age experiences some of the same daily challenges that I do.
But I want to explain a few things. Mostly, because I’m terrified that people don’t get where I’m coming from. When someone asks something of me these days, I have an intensely hostile reaction that is a combination of panic (if I say yes, I’ll let them down eventually), guilt (because I want so badly to say yes much of the time), anger (because why doesn’t everyone understand that I -can’t- right now?!), and fear (by the time the twins are one, all of my friends and family and colleagues will be fed up with me). I know that right now I am forgetful, flaky, but above all, well-meaning.
I’m prone to making grand sweeping post-mortem announcements after something has gone wrong: “We’ll never do THAT again.” “This is why we always need to…” and I don’t even mean these things. It just makes me feel better to say them.
I can’t run errands efficiently- this must be true of people with more than one kid, period. I don’t have one of those “double baby wearing” harnesses, so I have to take the twins in either the mammoth stroller, or their heavy car seats. Some days, dealing with either or both seems too daunting to me. We don’t move around easily, so I try to combine my errands into half-day binges. This introduces different problems.
I’m always on edge if I’m by myself, because of a situation that happens often at home- one of the boys is crying, needs something. And just as I am tending to his needs, the other starts wailing too. I have to suffer through a lot of despondent tears while taking care of one baby and then the other. If this happens in public, it can spiral out of control quickly, and I usually wind up super stressed out.
The boys don’t really want to be on the same schedule, or even eat the same way. I find it really difficult to plan around them, because I don’t know what to expect on a daily basis. Even if one naps well, the other might not.
It’s really difficult for me to carry both of them at the same time, particularly if picking them up from their cribs. So, I often have to make two trips up and down the stairs, leaving one crying while I do. This makes me feel terrible.
I can’t competently feed both at the same time, although I do it sometimes anyway. Feeding both solid food takes about 90 minutes these days. That’s an intense 90 minutes, and I don’t usually get a break after. If one starts melting down while I am feeding the other, the whole process gets derailed and takes even longer.
I have a choice to make when someone asks me to meet up with them- if it’s a weekend I can try to get M to watch the twins for me (unless it’s an activity for both of us). But I spend much of the time away from home panicking, because I don’t want anyone to feel the way I do when both babies are sobbing at the same time, and I have to decide which one to soothe first. I can only fully relax, when I know the adult-to-baby ratio is at least 2:2. That said.. my sanity hinges on these breaks.
If it’s a weekday, I have to bring the twins. They will probably fuss, and disrupt the activity/meeting/appointment, but I can’t afford to always pay a babysitter to cover hours beyond my teaching blocks. I’m trying to pretend that I’m doing academic work in addition to all of this babycare, so colleagues sometimes ask me if I can meet them for meetings big and small. I can’t. Not without about a week’s notice.
I am mostly exhausted, so by the time Friday evening rolls around I want to lie face down on my floor for a few hours. Then I feel shitty for not being up to socializing.
When the babies do fall asleep at the same time, I go into panic mode- okay, I MUST work. I must get something done. (Note: not a conducive state to getting work done.) Often it takes me 20-30 minutes just to de-stress enough to focus, and on the bad days someone wakes up by then.
I sacrifice weird things in my attempts to get focus either on work, or on babies. I’ve needed to go to the doctor for months. I skip showers.
What I need from people is not requests for me to do things for them- I want to help, but I can’t. I want to so badly. This stage is temporary, I swear. If you come over and bring food (and drink), so I don’t have to cook or run errands, that’s a lifesaver (I’ll pay you back!) If you invite me over and respect that I’ll have to take a break around 7pm to put the babies down somewhere in your house, that’s also a lifesaver. If you do anything- anything at all to borrow me time to work or for myself- that’s the kind of thing I don’t forget and will file away to pay you back somehow when I am more functional.
In the meantime, don’t give up on me please. My desk is littered with post-it notes reminded me to even return text messages. Anything bigger may actually not get done.
Why am I telling you all this? Because someone with one baby was teasing me earlier for “not just strapping the babies to me and getting on with my day!” and it set me off a bit. I imagine it would be a whole other world if I just had one I could baby wear everywhere.
(End Note: to even write this, I put the twins in their bouncers for a few minutes. I haven’t had a break yet today and I needed it. I also just nearly drank from a baby bottle rather than my coffee cup. This whole entry was going to be even longer, but they’ve been fussing the whole time I’ve been typing. Finally, I am covered in baby food squash.)