Monthly Archives: September 2016

I’m Still Here, Just Overwhelmed

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.)

I Broke the Reasonable Bone in my Body

(Let’s see how easily I can type with a baby on my lap.)

I have two kinds of reactions to annoyance these days: overreactions, and massive overreactions. It doesn’t take much to push me from “anxious, but basically okay” to “why did I just punch the car radio?”

The other day M asked me which is the closest Home Depot to our house- we were already driving up the street, but it wasn’t as though WE WERE ALL GOING TO DIE IF I DIDN’T FIND THE ANSWER IMMEDIATELY.

Siri didn’t cooperate. Google Maps seemed angered by my failure to call it THE Home Depot. I had nothing and we were almost to the stop sign at the end of the street already. I started yelling at the phone, and not in a reasonable “Oh shucks, technology” sort of way.

Yesterday, I had just showered while C2 was crying- he didn’t want to be put down, fed, etc. And he’d just had a nap. Clean diaper and all that stuff you check. I gave up and decided I would jump in the shower anyway. But my nerves were rattled (I forgot to shave one leg… I accidentally put on a dirty, stinky shirt) I got out of the shower to various time-sensitive demands on my attention – I hadn’t sent a package off at the post office last week, the insurance wanted me to resubmit a claim, a copy of my finalized syllabus was due to the university. And little C2 was not having it. Just then I saw it- a half a Nutri-grain bar smooshed into the couch, leaving crumbs and fake fruit filling everywhere. I did not have a reasonable reaction.

I felt like one of those stock photos of “overwhelmed woman”. I think they use the same images for “woman who needs to go on meds” too.

Sigh. I’m teaching again, in an adjunct sort of way- leaving alone that I said I’d never adjunct (again) because it’s slave labor, supporting a system I don’t want to support. Great for retirees who need to “stay active” though!

But, my stress is so high that it’s been… challenging. I’ve had some of my worst anxiety moments of all time trying to teach this week. They’re big classes, for seminars anyway (40 students), so it just feels like a lot of eyes on me.

Finally, our local Toyota dealership is fired. I dropped my car off for repairs on Monday- they said 24 hours. I can’t get anyone on the phone there who won’t 1) Hang up on me 2) Tell me they’ll call me back, and not do so 3) Burp in me ear (okay, that happened once). I’m about to take my overstressed, unreasonable self over there and behave badly ….

Ha, can you imagine, really? I’m so non-confrontational. The worst I get is “mildly stern” in situations like this. Very… mildly.

Ok… I’ll try to work. Just not in much of a state to do so today.