I totally freaked out last week. It was my first week alone with Ethan and Aria, who are now four months old. I was curled up on the couch this past Wednesday afternoon much like a newborn baby, whining to a friend on the phone, crying hysterically, and wondering if I’ll ever, ever, ever feel better – make that sane – again.
I am finding a lot of joy in having children, but it’s totally normal to say that raising twins is physically exhausting and emotionally trying. It’s a tall order for just about anyone, and needless to say that having Type 1 diabetes adds a whole other component. On top of taking care of them – which is a pretty big job – I also need to keep the house together, have some semblance of a career, and let’s not forget that I also need to take care of myself.
I’m finding it challenging to make the basics happen: taking a shower, eating, checking my sugars, exercising, sleeping, and going to doctors/filling prescriptions. My days have been starting at 4 or 4:30 am and ending at around 10 to 10:30 pm. And it’s pretty much non-stop. When they rest, I run around and try to get things done before one of them wakes up.
Then there’s the taking care of them part. I have been experimenting with feeding them at the same time, but that can sometimes go really, really bad really, really fast. Hysterical cries, formula all over the place (and vomit on the family room couches), neither child really getting my full attention (which I felt guilty about and was part of the couch hysterics). On top of that, I had to take them to two doctors’ appointments this past week – of course carrying two infant car seats in the pouring rain to and from the car way too many times for my liking. Each of them vomited for two days in a row on different days. And somewhere in there, they vomited on me too. Needless to say, lots of laundry has been done.
I’m not the only one adjusting here of course. The whole family is, and that adds to it all. Aria had to get used to having a brother and not as much of our attention (still working on that one, but getting much better than it was). And of course Ethan was adjusting to being in a totally new environment and routine, not knowing what to expect, and feeling at home and comfortable. Our remedy has been to fill them with a lot of love and consistency. It seems to be working, and they seem to be adjusting nicely so far.
What I realized as I thought about today's blog topic is that the Wednesday curled up on the couch freak-out was a wake-up call. I need to get my act together. I am the boss of this house, at least when Lior's not home. I need to be in control. I need to stay balanced and keep a calm mind. I need to stay present and not make matters worse with my griping. I need to love myself and be confident in what I’m doing. I have no other choice. I need to take care of myself or else who will?
And that’s when things started turning.
During those crazy moments when Ethan, Aria, and I are on edge, I had an epiphany that I should sing songs, which seems to put a smile on everyone’s face at any given moment despite my being a really lousy singer. I have learned to make shorter to-do lists, and I have also learned to let a lot go (a clean and orderly house being one of the more challenging things to let go of, but super hard to get done). I am also streamlining – I found an endocrinologist closer to home and have my first appointment booked. Lior and I have established a bedtime routine that seems to be working really well. Lior and I also spent the first week that Ethan was home organizing and figuring out who would be in charge of what and how we would prioritize stuff to do at home. So that makes things much better.
I have been mindful of savoring the amazing moments - the cuddling, the smiles and coos, and watching them grow and learn. The other day when I was singing songs – to calm the room – Aria started singing with me in her own way. She was smiling and kicking her legs in her chair. Ethan used to cry when we changed his diaper, and now he smiles from ear to ear and calmly waits while I take care of whatever I need to do. How amazing is that?
Also, I'm learning that it’s okay if babies cry. It’s loud, causes stress, and breaks my heart, but it’s still okay if they cry until I can get to them. Yes, I can go take a shower, and if one of them cries, well, they’ll wait for me to get out to take care of whatever is bothering them. Of course, once one starts crying, the other one sometimes does as well, and then it takes me quite some time to calm them down. I suppose this will help them build character. But still, my point is that I can go take a shower whether or not they cry while I'm away.
“Me time” has taken on new meaning. It’s composed of a few hours a week, rather than most of the time. And what that has forced me to do is think really carefully about what I want to spend that “me” time doing. I want to spend that time exercising, spending time with family and friends, writing, reading, and pampering (like getting a haircut or a pedicure).
I have learned to savor the “me time” moments in a whole new way. Lior and I watched a movie together last night! It was only interrupted once, and we watched it together until the end. And I actually took a walk by myself yesterday for thirty minutes, and it was so peaceful. I have learned to appreciate things I used to take for granted in a whole new way.
This whole experience is a real life lesson. Actually it’s all of life’s lessons rolled into one super intense immersion course in accepting what life hands us and making the best of it. And in this case, that means learning the lesson.