Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Of mamas, new and not so new

I said I would touch on my changed view of babies' sleep habits and needs and link to some of the super useful and awesome websites I've found that have helped me get there in this post, but I've changed my mind. And I get to do that. Because this is my blog. NEAT.

I do actually want to start off by talking about sleep, though--at least as much as to say that my family is sleeping and I am not. As the beebs' first birthday quickly approaches and the reality of that just completely and thoroughly blows my mind, I often find myself wondering how much longer I can refer to myself as a "new mama." When does one cross over from "new" to just plain ol' "mama?" Because new mamas are supposed to sleep when their baby/ies is/are sleeping, but I woke up at 5:30 to nurse The Goblin Queen and once she was back asleep, decided getting up by myself in a quiet house sounded better than continuing to sleep for several more hours.

Did you catch that? I chose something else over SLEEP. Sleep, that most necessary of requirements of which I have experienced so little over the past 20 months or so. I was plagued by insomnia in my early pregnancy, was too uncomfortable to sleep well in my late pregnancy, and once they made their debut, well, all bets were off in that department. Apparently I handle sleep deprivation very well according to most everyone I know. I have gotten countless and continuous comments in that vein over the months. But it seemed to have caught up with me recently and the normal forgetfulness and missing words on the tip of my tongue turned into dropping things, breaking things, knocking things over, doing bizarre things and having zero recollection of them afterwards. I made it a priority to make sure I was eating regularly after that and made myself nap with the babies when I could. And right around that time we changed up our bedtime routine to me actually just going to bed with the babies around 9pm. I don't sleep right away, of course, but I think just having that extra time in bed is helping.

Which brings us to this morning and my choice to sneak out of bed (not the easiest task when one sleeps between two tiny sleeping grenades, seemingly ready to rouse at any minute), make a cup of coffee, and actually get on my computer, as opposed to doing everything from my phone, which is decidedly more mobile (hah!) and easier to use while nursing or flitting from room to room after two whirling dervishes. And, as luck would have it, the oddest thing just occurred as I was literally about to describe my babies as hand grenades--one woke up. Can you believe it? King Toad Agooga had woken when The Goblin Queen did and wanted to nurse, but as he had just nursed not long before, I handed him off to The Barbarian, on whose chest he happily went back to sleep...until a few minutes ago. But really, a little boobie does wonders for sleepy toads and goblins alike, and I chose, once again, to sneak back out to my now less-than-ideally hot coffee (I am nothing if not fussy about the temperature of my coffee...and beer, for that matter...but for completely opposite reasons, of course) and trusty computer (have I mentioned how much I love my computer? No? A post for another time then).

So why, if I am normally so freaking exhausted, I don't even feel like mustering the energy to shower when I have the chance, am I up long (hopefully) before everyone else? Well, it's quite possibly because I am SICK OF LYING IN BED NURSING BABIES AND TRYING TO GET ONE OR MORE (PREFERABLY MORE) OF US TO SLEEP. Seriously, people. If the ALL CAPS didn't tip you off, let me just take a moment to clarify that that statement is so full of truth, it's not even funny. It's far from funny. Very far. Like, all the way far. Far, far away. In a galaxy. Wait.

For the record, I LOVE nursing my babies to sleep. I really, really do. And I believe I love it precisely because it's the way the whole system is set up to work. It feels right and good and satisfying, to all of us. But, dangus. I spend a lot of my time doing just that. And, honestly, after nearly 11 months, it gets a little old sometimes.

And, if we're being honest here, after 11 months of being a "new mama," I think maybe I'm ready to just be a "mama" now. I'm ready to not desire only to sleep when I have the opportunity. I'm ready to not feel like I am merely treading water when it comes to keeping house. I'm ready to put even whatever tiny bit of time and energy I can scrounge up into pursuits other than filling tiny bellies and wiping tiny bums and making sure we all have what we need to eke by every day. Because just doing all that is exhausting--just as exhausting as it is to actually do all that. If that makes any sense. It very well may not. You should probably just get used to that.

I recently heard a new mama of twins, one with an older child already, mention that she felt she was spending the vast majority of her time nursing and wondered if she would ever not be. Her twins were some number of weeks old, like single digits. It definitely took me a lot longer to get to that point, and I'm sure having my twins first made a difference. And really, it's been a slow progression. From nursing round the clock, not really being able to put them down for any length of time, not showering or getting out of jams for days on end (it happens), not really thinking much beyond the current milk, sleep, and diaper nursing mostly during times associated with sleep, having an established mealtime routine several times a day, being able to put them down and watch them crawl (The Goblin Queen) and toddle (King Toad Agooga) off to engage in shenanigans big and small while I surreptitiously attempt some housework for a few minutes (I say surreptitiously because once they notice, they invariably want to "help," and we all know how "helpful" "help" from babies is...).

So somehow, suddenly, here we are. I'm thinking about the bigger picture of our lives and future again. I'm entertaining ideas of how we can live more sustainably and instill better habits and expectations in our children than the ones with which we were bestowed. I'm experimenting with ways to make our days and weeks go more smoothly so that instead of trying to play catchup on the laundry or dishes or vacuuming, our free time can be spent pursuing other interests like growing and preserving food, making things we might otherwise have purchased, exploring our community as a family, getting out in nature more.

And I'm still figuring out how my new life as a "mama," instead of my life as a "new mama," is going to look. What will my children's earliest memories of me entail? What will they grow up and tell others of the special days we spent together when they were small? What activities and routines and traditions will they make sure to do and keep alive with their own children one day because those things had such an important impact on them as children? Because, how lucky am I that this is my life and these are my children and these are our days? Our days to fill with whatever excitement, adventure, wonder, and magic we may find. And love. Lots and lots of love.

Especially, for now, as we nurse to sleep.      


  1. At the behest of "the Barbarian" via FB, I followed the link and read... I like your writing style, nicknames and other verbal accouterments. Thanks for sharing and I definitely sent emphatic waves your way, whether you ever feel them or not.

    'cuz Timmah

    1. Thanks, Tim! For the kind words and for the empathy. It definitely helps. ;)

  2. Wonderful writing on the trials and tribulations of being a FT on-demand food source instead of, you know, anything else at all.
    And I have to say, the positivity of your conclusion is a lovely, optimistic, dawn-over-the-verdant-fields-filled-with-golden-unicorns dream. 'Cause we're talking mobility now, and twins tend to both compete and join each other into what is in essence a toddler gang, making every exploration and sudden idea into a reenactment of iphone release day at the Apple store. you will get that exercise you've been dreaming about. Mobility changes everything!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Mark. Yes, the challenges of twins are many, varied, and ever evolving. I'll stick with the optimism, though. We certainly wouldn't get very far without it!