Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sleep, sleep, sleep...

Sleep, sleep, sleep!! My kingdom for an uninterrupted hour of sleep!

What was I just writing earlier this week, that they had settled into a bedtime routine?

Yeah, well, it really seemed like they had. Surely the Monday and Tuesday bedtime rough spots with Jack were just a fluke, and the Wednesday and Thursday all-night nursing sessions with Henry were temporary...

SURELY, they aren't trying to torture me with sleep deprivation (you know, to get back at me for all the baby torture we perpetrate against them, with the nose suctioning and the taking them out of the bathtub and the medicine administration...). SURELY they won't both decide to have sleep issues at the same time!

Ah, Kate. You fool, you fool, you fool. Sleep is for those little wussy newborns-- three month olds are way too mature for sleep. Sigh.

So yes. I posted about it on Facebook, but we are going on four nights in a row of someone waking every half hour, with the last two nights having BOTH wake up every half-hour. And while earlier in the week, each took turns on different nights refusing to go down at a reasonable time, now, we add to our other issues that BOTH are engaged in not-so-peaceful protestation of bedtime. Neither baby wants to go to sleep in the first place, and if they do manage to fall asleep, neither wants to stay asleep.

My brain is mostly jello at this point. Or a very loose swiss cheese.

Anyhow, we've revamped the bedtime routine a little, and tried working on other ways to soothe to sleep (other than nursing, because I think that's part of the problem, that they have a nipple addiction and cannot sleep well without a nipple in their mouth, and pacifiers don't work...), and last night, they did actually go down pretty easily each time they woke up, but sleep interrupted every half hour is still worthless sleep, even if it's only interrupted by 3-5 minutes.

It doesn't help matters that I still have this effing cold, and that they boys are still a little snuffly,too, and that H and I have been bickering like crazy (in part related to this sleep baloney and in part exacerbated by the inability on both of our parts to be gentle with one another in our sleep deprived states...). So last night found me in complete meltdown mode when (after an hour working to get both down to sleep and an additional 1 1/2 hours working to get Henry down to sleep), just as Henry finally drifted off, Jack woke up and refused to be rocked or held or comforted in any way.

I have had my share of sobbing moments in the last three months, but last night was a doozie. I felt (and still pretty much feel) like a shitty mother and a shitty wife and a shitty friend. I actually was barely a few decibels lower than what I would call a yell when I harshly told my three-month-old son that he should quit spitting the nipple out of his mouth if he was going to scream when he discovered that the nipple wasn't in his mouth. You know, because infants are so capable of understanding language and cause-and-effect reasoning, right? It was a low moment, and my fuse has been really short lately and while I know a thousand times over that I would never, ever do anything to physically hurt my children, I'm beginning to worry about my ability to control the way I speak to them. It really freaks me out. It freaks me out just writing this and putting it out there in the world, like by admitting it, I'm somehow making that behavior seem okay.

Anyhow, I'm short with my husband, bossy, nagging, condescending at times, demanding, resentful-- in short, a real joy to be around. While I knew that I would have no problem handling twins physically, I neglected to consider the emotional strain of caring for two babies when I have virtually no support system in place around me. For obvious reasons, I don't have a church family to rely on, my neighbors are great but elderly, I know shockingly few people in my immediate area and I certainly don't know anyone well enough that I would feel comfortable with getting them to stop by and take the boys for an hour while I rested or did chores, etc. I am terribly far from my "tribe" and that fact is just another on the list of things I resent about my husband (that his job took us away from my hometown). I actually find myself wondering sometimes whether or not it would work for me to live back home for a while until the boys were old enough that their demands weren't so all-consuming, but that ultimately makes me feel even crappier for wanting to take the boys away from their father when I know how much he loves them and how much they love him (no, I don't mean taking them away permanently, as in divorce or separation-- I just mean that it starts to sound like a great idea to live close to abundant help for a while).

Anyhow, shocking, I know, but motherhood is hard and mothering twins is ridiculously difficult and this particular phase is sucking royally and I'm finding the lack of sleep incredibly hard to cope with (largely because... I'm sleep-deprived!). I know that (for better or worse) things will change, more quickly that I could imagine, but right now, it feels like the long days are winning out over the short years I keep hearing about.

I think I'm mostly ranting here, but as always, advice is totally welcome. Oh, and as long as I've opened the advice door, anyone have any input on what one does to entertain infant twins? They've finally stopped nursing every hour on the hour, which is great, but leaves us with great gaping holes in our schedule. It's still a little too warm to walk (and I would probably have to drive somewhere to find a safe place to do so-- no sidewalks in my area and people drive like batshit crazy maniacs), and Book Babies is great, but only once a week. Tummy time and/or bouncy seat time or swing time or book time or stare-at-Mama time are all quite brief entertainment around here. We're a little young for arts-and-crafts, huh?. Seriously, what did you/do you do with three-month-olds?


Esperanza said...

Oh Kate, I wish you lived near by, so I could come and help you out (though just helping you sounds daunting!). I have to say, before I got to the paragraph where you decided against going to your home town for a while, I was thinking that might be a good plan. I mean, even for a couple of weeks? I know it's hard to take them away from their father but maybe visiting some extended family would be good for all three of you...

As for how to entertain them, when you figure that out, PLEASE let me know. Isa is at a stage where she no longer lets me drop her in her baby gym for 20 minutes in the morning. She doesn't want to be anywhere that isn't in my arms and even when she's in my arm she's bored a lot. I'm not sure quite what to do with her. Luckily we can take walks and I try to do one thing outside of the house every day, which helps a lot. I don't know if I'd be so eager to leave with two of them though... man oh man.

I wish I had even one iota of advice to give you. I just can't believe you're surviving these early months. Your boys sound demanding, to say the least. Are there any twin websites or discussion boards where you can get ideas from mothers who have actually survived this?

As far as your relationship goes, I think it's to be expected that things are rough, not that it makes it any better. I've read that marriages of multiples are much more likely to bite the dust. A harsh reality to be sure, and I don't mean to be a bitch bringing it up, but that reality should highlight how hard it is for everyone with twins, triplets and so on. Maybe if you go into it KNOWING that its really hard it will help somehow. I had to start realizing that my relationship with my partner was not going to be what I wanted it to be right now, and that that was okay. We can try to mend things later, right now we have some kind of agreement that we're just trying to get by.

I hope things get better, I really do. Remember that babies are always changing, for better or worse, and it seems like your situation can only change for the better...

VA Blondie said...

Sleep in infants is a moving target. I have enough issues with one, I suspect two would make my head explode.

Hubby and I did go through a rough patch around 3-4 months. He was not feeling appreciated and the baby was sucking all my energy. We got through it, but it was a rough go for a while.

Have you thought about hiring someone to come help you? One person I know with triplets hired a nursing student to come help her several days a week. I think it saved her sanity! If you do not like them, you can always fire them. You will know if it is right. I would think a nursing student or child development student would work well.

I also hope things get better for you soon.

Shelly said...

I agree with VA should try out a college student....if you don't like the arrangement, nothing lost....also, I know there are many who feel that feeding cereal before bedtime is not good on little tummies, but I did it with my own and it paid off....filling their little bellies with solids just may do the trick....worth a try.

amy said...

Oh geez. Hold on, let me finish crying...THIS is what I have to look forward to?! (I know, I know. You HAVE illustrated the good parts, too. But still. I really like my sleep. Not that I'm getting much now with the hips and the peeing-5-times, but at least it's quiet...)

Okay. You know we're poor but I think I've wrangled some help, just for a few hours a couple of days (2) a week in the form of a mother's helper. Ours happens to be 40ish and a little...slow but very sweet and also very cheap. Shockingly, my parents and grandparents offered to chip in to help with the cost. I don't think I'll be leaving anyone alone with her but if she can just entertain the 3-year-old so I can sleep if the babies are or grocery shop or run my errands or basically just be a pair of hands, I think it'll be worth it. I was also looking for a 13ish girl to do the same job, but this one fell into my lap. Maybe you could ask if the neighbors have grandkids? Or if there are any younger kids around? Even if you have to pick them up and drive them home (or split that job with their parents), you could probably pay them pretty cheaply and have time to shower, pee, nap, eat, fold, clean, or whatever else you need. SWEET FREEDOM.

(Also, I wonder if any of the elderly neighbors would want to help? Maybe if you mention to a particularly chatty one that you're looking for some basic help, someone would offer.)

Also, I'm truly sorry that I failed to mention to you that considering leaving your husband in the first few months is perfectly normal. Even if you were considering seperating or divorcing and NOT just moving away for a bit, I think you'd be totally normal. I did what you're talking about. When L was 2 months I went to visit my parents. Then I kept extending my ticket by weeks at a time until my husband ended up coming to see US. He was working and couldn't help much, I was completely alone where we lived and IT SUCKED. So, I don't think it's a crazy idea. You need help, obviously (and understandably). If he can't give it (even if he wants to, tries to, whatever but can't) OF COURSE you're going to look for it somewhere else. You'd be crazy not to.

Not to bring it back to me, but I don't know WTF I'm going to do this time. I'm shuddering at the thought.

Hang in there. Sending you good wishes.

amy said...

Also I forgot to ask...are you against gym daycares? I was with L at first but now I'm allllll for it. My gym had TVs on all the equipment and there was a channel you could turn on to watch the nursery. I got into running that way, and eventually got comfortable enough to do yoga and classes too (no tv in those, obv). It was something to do, a time killer, a break, and a stress release. And I think it was ok to me bc she was right down the hall. Sorry if this is ridiculous bc they're so young, I can't for the life of me remember when we started going. Just another idea.

Katherine said...

You have made it over three months raising twins without support before having a breakdown. That is amazing, truly amazing. One slip-up is not going to damage your children in any way, in fact it will probably not make it on to their radar. Don't beat yourself up or feel guilty, you have a lot to handle.

Can you call someone to come help for a week or so? Maybe you mom, mother-in-law, cousin, friend from home? And maybe if you find someone, they can help you pick out a mother's helper from your town. Raising kids is hard, you definitely need support.

If I remember this right, at 3 months babies are interested in seeing the world. Not really interacting just watching. If it is not to hot, you can start taking the babies to a playground. After a short walk in the stroller, they might be content to watch the other children play. This will also give you a chance to meet other parents. I know this sounds lame, but going to the mall, target, grocery store -- not to shop, just to be out of the house. If you find the shops with the grandmother types, the babies and you will get admiration and positive feedback, just a little society. I never did this, but I have heard about people taking babies to museums to walk around. During the weekday mornings, museums tend to be emptier, and no one will care if the babies get fussy.

But the best thing to do is find a mom-group or play-group. This can be challenging and I don't have any great advice on how to do it, but to just keep trying, talk to as many people as possible, maybe some of the moms at the book group?

I hope some of this helps. I hope the babies give you a break and have some good nights of sleep. And don't worry about your husband - it's part of the job to be your pincushion for a while.

And a random link for fun:

Rachel said...

Oh my. No good at all. First, on the 'going home' option, my firm advice is that that type of help always seems better in the theoretical than it is in the real. Meaning that if you go home, even if only for a week, it might be possible that no one will want to help with the babies overnight because they're tired (we got that one) and that if they are around you full time they will spend a good deal of that time criticizing your actions, especially since I seem to recall that these are the first twins in your family. Obviously, just my experience, but still.

As for sleepless nights, what have you been doing for their colds? Can you take the carseats into your bathroom and run a really hot shower before bed to try and steam the snot out? That's about all that ever worked for us, but our pediatrician was also really big on plain saline solution up the nose (and totally opposed to those huge bugger-pickers, for what it's worth). We were also told to try -very- mild warm tea in a dropper/bottle. I wouldn't do that without consulting your pediatrician, but might be worth asking about.

So, for non-sleeping babies ... my only advice is long walks. I know your neighborhood isn't as warm and snugly as mine (although I guarantee that there were more murders in my neighborhood while the fusspot and I were out for 2 am walks and there will be in your neighborhood, but that's just NYC) but I definitely recommend long walks at night. If both babies are up (and especially if they are snotty since the carseats keep them upright) go for a walk. At the least it will make you feel like you're doing something and get you out of a room filled with fussing, even if it's just pushing the stroller back and forth on your porch. Have you tried letting one sleep in the swing overnight? These are desperate times which call for desperate measures. Also, what about splitting the babies up and leaving H. with one while you take the other to nap on the floor of their room (or in your rumored mansion-ess upstairs with MORE bedrooms). H would obviously need to get you to feed whichever baby he had, but at least you could catnap when one baby is sleeping and maybe trade the babies back and forth during the night if one is sleeping better. And finally, if nothing else works, you need to schedule a 2 hour nap when H is home. Morning or evening, you need a decent block of sleep when you are not worrying about the babies. I really disliked going to bed from 10 pm to midnight but that was often the only time JD could watch the fusspot those first few months and so I'd sleep then and then get up and walk with her when she woke up in the middle of the night.

Finally, it may not be the very best in parenting, but ear plugs. You will hardly fail to notice the boys' anger if you muffle it a bit, and they'll never know.

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tireegal68 said...

wow - it sounds so hard and you sound like a trooper to have made it this far.
I agree with all the other advice about hiring someone, going to moms groups, maybe finding mothers of twins groups? asking H to be predictable in his schedule and in the help he can give.
Erm - the real live baby stuff I have no clue about yet. I think to give yourself a break but not to take the boys away from their home or routine you could ask your family to visit you so you are still in charge.
But please please get some help somehow - even if you have to pay them. H needs to know that this not okay for you or him or the babies and step up to the plate and make sure you get the help you need.
At my hospital there is a helpline to help moms figure out how to get help esp if they are struggling to find support, etc. Does your peds office or suchlike have any resources?
Sending lots of love and hugs - sorry this is so hard for you. I wish I could be more help.
Where do you live? For it still to be hot that must be somewhere south and with no sidewalks that must be hard.
Yes also I agree - go to the gym and put the kids in the daycare while you work out. Or sit in the locker room with a book and a cup of coffee! BIg hugs!!!

Katherine said...

One more comment. If they have a cold, still snotty and are not sleeping - they might have their first ear infections. Call your nurseline or just make an appt. It doesn't hurt to check and it might bring great relief.

Photogrl said...

Oh, Kate...I'm sorry.

I swear our lives are running parallel right now. You know that we're all fighting colds and I have a post in the works about having a support system, or lack of one...

Try not to beat yourself up or give into "mommy guilt". Raising twins is, hands down, one of the hardest things I have done.

For us here, Carina loves the swing...I can get at least 20 minutes of entertainment out of it. Nate enjoys a mat on the floor that has toys suspended over it.

Hang in there. ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

Oh, Kate, I too am so sorry you're going through all of this. But it's normal.

I hate to ask but why isn't H helping at night? Or is he and I missed it? Just because he has to leave the house to work does not mean he gets a free pass to a full night sleep. You work at home so your sleep is just as precious. I have no real advice because we still have sleep issues at nearly 11-months and had a similar night last week. Keep working on the self-soothing. That's one of our big issues.

I agree with the others in bringing the help to you and not the other way around. You need the safety/sanctuary of your own home. And the boys need to learn their normal surroundings. I looked back and when my boys were 3-months we had friends visit for a long 3-day weekend and they took over the nights for us so we could get some sleep. Any chance you could do something similar? How about the babysitter you have for this Friday night? I, too, have no friends here so I get your loneliness. And I'd be over in a heart beat if only you weren't 5-hours away.

I'd keep doing the activities you're doing. Eventually they'll start to like them longer and will interact with them more. We also sung a lot. Nothing like belting out a tune (any tune doesn't matter if you know the words) to help mama relax a little too.

Tracy said...

Oh God, I remember those days. I don't know if you've gone back and read my blog at all, but in the early days, I sobbed almost daily. I loved the stuffing out of E&R, but I sometimes woke to them crying and thought I was going to go mad if they didn't just. Shut. Up.

I don't have much to say other than this will pass. It will pass in the blink of an eye (but not while you're going through it.)

Sleep deprivation is TORTURE, literally. It makes us crazy, and depressed, and act totally out of character.

You're asking for advice, so I'm going to give it to you, at the risk of having people disagree with me (likely.) It is OK for your boys to cry. It is OK for you to put them in their cribs, shut the door, and go to another room. Put on your IPOD if you must, but it will be OK. No 3-month old ever died of crying.

Also, and you may have already done this, but the best advice I received and that was fortified after reading Babywise, was get them on a schedule. You NEED to have a predictable day, or you will go mad. I don't know if you're keeping track of meals, poops, pees, and naps, but I kept a steno pad and documented everything. Otherwise all that stuff that you're supposed to just know, and probably just would if you only had one baby to keep track of, just muddles around in your brain causing more chaos. I just wrote it down and forgot about it.

Even though I said I don't have much to say, I guess I do...and could say a lot more here about the importance of schedule for not just you, but the babies. If you want to talk, I am here...always.

Hang in there. Cling to the thought that many other women have gone through this and survived; you will too.

Tracy said...

Oh, and entertaining them? Don't think too much about that. Colorful toys, making faces, singing silly songs, all provides ample entertainment. They are just soaking up their surroundings right now. My kids had one of those playmats with toys that hang above them, and they'd stay entertained for a good hour on that thing.

Sue said...

I agree with everyone else that you should tried some paid help. Kicking H. out of the house with the babies on the weekends so you can rest is a good idea too. None of us are very nice when sleep deprived, so you all get a free pass on being unkind. One day things will be better.

My kid used me as his personal pacifier until I went back to work on left him with his grandparents. He very quickly decided pacifiers were awesome. Maybe yours just don't like pacifiers, but you may not be able to find out unless they spend a little time away from you.

I lost my temper with my baby a few times in the first three months and although I'm embarrassed about it now, I think it's normal - even more so with two. I also reduced my husband to tears because I was so cranky. I'm sorry you're going through such a hard time, but it's all normal and eventually things will get better. Can't make any promises about the sleep part because for me the whole first year was rough.

If your family would really be helpful, then go visit them for a few weeks, or pay someone to come help you. Just do whatever it takes to survive.

Jules said...

Ugh, the first few months were rough. I'd just sense certain nights were going to be long and we'd get no sleep and yeah, not fun. Hubby and I are way laid-back typically and we drove each other crazy at times.

As I don't really remember much (hah, besides being in a fog) not sure how we entertained them -, playmats, swings, anything that made music. They were 3 months in June so yup, got too hot for walks most days but they liked them when we could.

Ellen K. said...

This is a VERY hard stage and I'm glad you're being so frank about it, because people love to sugarcoat life with multiples. When I found out I was expecting twins, I said very confidently, "Oh, I can handle this; my brothers are twins." I meant that I would know how to navigate school-age issues. But I really had no effing idea what I was saying. Seriously, I would have NO problem with a law stipulating that anyone undergoing IUI with injectables or IVF spend a week in a daycare center's infant room (where you have to pay big bucks to get a 2:1 baby:caregiver ratio).

Losing your temper is normal. Even the Buddhist priest who wrote "Momma Zen" had an essay on controlling her urge to slap her daughter!

Do you have exersaucers? You can find them pretty cheaply on Craigslist (assuming you can somehow get to the seller's house and load up two exersaucers in a car with two infant seats...). When my girls hit age 4 or 5 months, they loved the exersaucers. Often I moved them outside on the porch, and they watched squirrels or stared at trees while playing. Or we'd stay indoors with Baby Einstein DVDs. Your boys are much bigger than my girls were, so if they can hold their heads up, they should be ready. Later on, around 7 months, we used jumperoos.

One of my friends actually did move back to her parents' house for 2 months when her newborn son was colicky and screamed day and night. This was just an across-suburbs distance, but she said it was the only way she survived and was very helpful to her marriage. She plans to do it again with her next baby.

The logistics are very constraining as a SAHM of multiples. I was far too exhausted and up to my eyeballs in babies to have any desire to join a moms' group. We spent a lot of time going out on long walks -- as your weather cools down, this will become a better option. Sometimes I took the girls to Petsmart. They sat in their stroller and stared at the fish for a good 15 minutes.

Having multiples is hard on a marriage. I used to pretend that fact wasn't true. The problem is both exhaustion and logistics -- if you go somewhere with one baby, the parents can take turns holding or entertaining the baby and eating, but with two babies, both parents are busy. You're talking (yelling) over the heads of two children and constantly navigating.

I can't realistically throw out any suggestions for splitting work more evenly with H., because he can't nurse the boys or pump for you, and that keeps you almost always on duty. When you start cereal and solids, perhaps H. could feed them breakfast or dinner. And although some peds recommending waiting until 6 months to start cereal, we started at 4 and had no problems; the girls also seemed much less cranky than at age 3 months.

luxzia said...

All the advice about getting a mother's helper sounds good. I don't know if you guys have the money, but having someone around just for one or two days a week could help your sanity intensely. Even if not a mother's helper, hiring someone to help with all those chores around the house could help too (take this from the former nanny who was practically the second parent of children past baby stage - the mom got a house cleaner just so the two of us would have time for the kids rather than cleaning the massive messy flat we lived in).

You lost your temper a bit - it happens to the best of us. You are probably going to lose it again - parents are human, too, and, quite frankly, if I were you, I'd probably be losing my temper a lot more with as little sleep as you're getting. Maybe go home a bit earlier than H for Christmas - that would give him time to get through the stress of final grades on his own, and give you extra time with your family and friends and help with little H and J.

Project Baby said...

I just want to hug you. I hope you get some sleep soon.

Di said...

Here from ICLW - now I can confirm my sleepless nights during pregnancy are just preparing me for the future!