Maternity leave

how to nap for moms

How did I survive this past year with baby twins, a preschooler and a kindergartener?


(And the people who watched my children while I took said naps. Thank you Mayra and Mom!!)

“But I can’t nap,” you say.

I’m here to tell you that you can learn how to nap, even if naps have never worked for you.

How to be a power napper

1) Get the kids in a safe place.

Ideally this means into the hands of a babysitter, teenage neighbor, playdate, or if all else fails, an iPad.

When I was pregnant with my twins and still had two preschoolers at home, we had “quiet time” every day after lunch. My boys were so thrilled to be in their room alone with Netflix on the iPad, they never once came out to wake me up or get into trouble. I also have a very responsible older son I could trust to tell me if anything went awry.

But if you are concerned about snoozing with kids in the house, bring the youngest one into your room to watch a movie (while the oldest gets the iPad by himself in his room). You might even get your little one to wear headphones next to you while you sleep in peace.

2) Set the stage.

So ideally you are all alone in your room now. Your beloved room! Create a perfect napping environment by:

  • Making it cold and dark
  • Silencing all ringers.
  • Firing up your white noise machine
  • Popping in some earplugs (if your kids are with a babysitter)
  • Setting your alarm if you must
  • Blocking out all remaining light with a comfy eye mask.

My love of the eye mask emerged when I realized it’s a signal to my brain to shut off. Something about the weight over my eyes helps tell my mind it’s time to be quiet. I’m completely addicted to it now. This kind is my fave.

3) Let it go.

This is the part where you can start to stress that you’re not going to be able to sleep. Or you’ll start thinking about all the things you need to do. Or feeling guilty that you are spending money on a babysitter to sleep.

Everything can wait. And you have never spent your money more wisely. You are buying your health, and you are giving your children a much happier mother. This nap is going to help you make it through bedtime with a smile on your face. 

This is where you want to practice the breathing exercises you learned in yoga. If you need extra help shutting off your brain, try a relaxation app. (The one I’ve used doesn’t seem to be available anymore. I’ll update this if I find another one to recommend.)

4) Decide how long you want to sleep.

Sometimes I tell myself “I can sleep for one full hour” and I’ll magically wake up exactly an hour later.

Lately I can even nap for 20-30 minutes and get enough energy to get through the rest of the day reasonably well. If you are the type of person who feels groggy and hungover after you nap, first down a glass of water before you fall asleep, and then aim for a shorter nap.

Check out this infographic: How Long to Nap for the Biggest Brain Benefits.

5) Do not do anything else but breathing deeply and not thinking.

And hopefully the next thing you know, you’ll be waking up ready to move mountains.

But as I tell my non-napping friends, even if you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes of lying in the dark not talking to anyone and breathing deeply, you’re going to feel better.


1-4 weeks postpartum

As you slowly make your way back to yourself after the outrageous challenge that is a twin pregnancy, the early fourth trimester is all about firsts.

The first time you:

hold both babies at once

Hold both babies at once.

e with footprints

See your husband as the father of four.

boys with babies collage

Arrive home with your new babies.

the first month

Start back at the beginning.

nana with teo

Realize that your mother may love them just as much as you do.

first time alone with all four

Are left in charge of your new number of children, and the panic you feel.

todays plan

Finally submit to the only to-do list you should be following.

friends in bed

Invite friends over to hang out in your bedroom, and feel totally normal about that.

first time out

Venture out with your new family.

busting out thelma and louise style

Get behind the wheel, all by yourself.

breastfeeding in dressing room 2

Breastfeed your babies in a dressing room.

ian judah june

Witness the love.

b and e

Have two minutes alone to sit with your spouse, even if it’s while taking out the trash.


Accept that there is not enough water on the world to quench your breastfeeding mama thirst.

babies at the pool

Experience, for the handful of times in your life, what love at first sight feels like. Times two.

What were your firsts?

Stay tuned for The fourth trimester part 2, where the theme is S l o w l y.

nursing twins

Three months off!

Hours cuddling with an adorable baby (or two or three).

They sleep 18 hours a day!

The playroom will finally look like this!

My basement will look like this!

My husband will come home to meals like this.

I’ll do activities with my older kids like this!

I’ll check in at work to show them how very dedicated and together I am!

And other fallacies of maternity leave.

I remember my first maternity leave, five years ago. I was completely unprepared for how much time nursing an infant would require. I’d sit there in my glider making mental lists of all the things I absolutely needed to get done as soon as this baby was fed. And burped. And changed. And asleep for those alleged 18 hours a day.

But when I’d finally find myself with a free moment, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what was on the list.

(Believe it or not, five years ago we didn’t have the plethora of to-do apps we now have for reeling in our monkey minds. In fact, I think I had a Blackberry that could barely access the web.)

The ADD inherent with sleep deprivation and constant interruptions made me crazy. I’m a Capricorn! I need something to show for my day!

And the ever present cloud of work stress never quite cleared — or I never allowed myself to release it. I ended up going back to work when Isaiah was six weeks old. A mistake I wouldn’t make with my second and third pregnancies.

One day it occurred to me: all of my angst came from trying to get things done other than caring for my baby. Sure, my mom can care for him all day, have the floors sparkling, scrub the fridge, and whip up a roast for dinner. But then again, she probably had a good night sleep.

If I could just surrender and let myself sit and nurse, or sit and play with my baby, he was happy. But the mental vice of my to-lists and fantasies of maternity leave put up a good fight.

(Do I really want my child to think I’m available all day to him? What about the women who work in the fields? They aren’t on the floor all day playing peek a boo. I’m bored as hell with peek a boo!)

It’s just so hard to let go.

Being strapped to a Boppy pillow (or in my case this time around, a double “My Breast Friend”) for hours a day gives a girl a lot of time to look around the room and see what needs to be done. Plus I think postpartum hormones tip my natural organizing fantasies into overdrive.

Meanwhile, I’m reading a book called Large Family Logistics (because, well, yeah), and in it the author mentions being in Newborn Mode. In Newborn Mode, she explains, the only thing you try to keep up with are the dishes and the laundry. As long as those are done, all is well.

But we’re home all day! For three months at least! There’s so much to do! What about my closet? What about the entryway? What about that rainbow cake I saw on Pinterest??

It all comes back to surrender.

Fortunately this time around, I don’t have the pressure of client demands hanging over my head. But I do have two older children (3 1/2 and 5 years old), and a house with an overstuffed basement and attic, and personal interests I’d love to pursue with all this time off.

And see, there it is.

Maternity leave is not “time off.”

Maternity leave is taking care of an infant (or two or three) 24 hours a day. For me, it’s also feeding these little people from my boobs. Which means feeding me a hell of a lot in order to make enough milk for them. Maternity leave is spending enough time with your older kids so they don’t think you’ve replaced them with poopy creatures who cry a lot.

Maternity leave is about focusing on your family. It’s not necessarily for planning your work comeback, executing your dreams of a perfect home, running a summer camp for your older kids, or performing culinary acrobatics.

And hey, if any of that extra stuff gets done, it’s just icing on the cake.

Now, if I could only put this in action…





Last week I visited the hospital where Judah was born exactly two years ago. As I drove home, along the same winding route, I found myself flooded with emotion as memories of that first year came rushing in.

The drive home from the hospital two years ago wasn’t so hot. It was my idea that Isaiah (then a mere 16 months old) should be with us to bring home the new baby. Unfortunately the timing coincided with his lunchtime and naptime. Isaiah banging on the metal bassinette as the cranky hospital nurse went through her endless discharge directions. And because I was holding a newborn and had a fresh C-section, I couldn’t physically restrain him. Although I tried anyway, sure I was ripping my stitches.

The drive home wasn’t any better. Both babies were screaming and crying. Not only was this a shitty moment, it went against all of my expectations for what the drive home with a new baby should be (and we all know our expectations of how things should be will always set us up for failure). I think it was on this drive when I had the first taste of that miserable anxiety. Wanting to either scream or get the hell out of the car.

Unfortunately this was only a foreshadowing of what was to come for the next 9 or so months.

So what would I say if I could go back and whisper something in my ear that day, two years ago?

That day when I was so tense and edgy and cagey and nervous and mad and tired and sore.

What would i say?

  • take a deep breath and let it go.
  • don’t be so testy. don’t worry about the rules. don’t find so much blame. so it was the wrong move having isaiah come with us. let it go. give him a snack. give him what he needs. and try to give the baby a reassuring hand.
  • i’d say get as much sleep as you possibly can. for real. because every ounce of your health starts with getting sleep.
  • leave the f*&^ing housework
  • get grocery delivery for gods’ sake. it’s worth every penny.
  • have martha, my angel of a housekeeper, come over. (actually, i hadn’t met martha yet.) find a martha–someone who will come over and spread their touch of joy around my house. someone who will see what needs to be done. catch me up on the laundry. bring groceries. hold the baby for me.
  • find a baby holder. because this new baby cried every single time i put him down for months.
  • god forbid find a different way than trying to get isaiah and judah up the steps after daycare every single day. i had all kinds of hangups about having a nanny, but in retrospect, it would have been so much easier.
  • get on medication for postpartum anxiety sooner. talk to someone who would help me see that I had postpartum anxiety, something I had never even heard of.
  • stop being so angry and find out what the root is. figure out what i need.
  • don’t be so judgmental to my spouse about doing everything “the right way.” the newborn days are not about doing anything right. they are about survival.
  • let it go.
  • i’d go back and just give myself a hug and say just enjoy this time.
  • find the joy in this moment and revel in that. 
  • find other moms. such trite advice but so helpful to see how others are coping and to laugh through tears.
  • get out of the house more. that winter was brutal.
  • stop having so many people over! why were we having people over every weekend? those visits that never seemed to end. Isaiah and their kids going crazy from being winter housebound. Me just wanting to go upstairs, put on pajamas and sleep w/ my baby.
  • what if i just admitted to everyone that i was a total wreck? why was I so afraid to let that show? trying to keep up appearances was exhausting. i’d go back and say to all those visitors. “i’m a wreck. what day can you meet me at the driveway to carry these babies up the steps?”
  • breathe. let it go.