Pregnancy & Newborn

Last year was one of the hardest years of my life. But it came with so many gifts.

My twin pregnancy was the biggest physical challenge of my life.

The unexpected gift: As it turns out, my body is stronger than I ever imagined. So much stronger than my mind.

I carried my twins to 36 weeks gestation. They weighed six pounds each. And both of them came home from the hospital with us five days after they were born.

Bonus: My mom felt so bad for me she spent months at our house last year. This woman has three children and two step-children. Nothing phases her.

not afraid

I spent all of 2013 either pregnant with twins or with newborn twins.

Which meant my brain was worthless.

My short term memory? Obliterated.

I couldn’t even remember my newborn son’s name in the hospital when the nurses asked me. On multiple occasions.

atlas not his name

The unexpected gift: It forced me to release the goals I set up for my business and ignore the dirty kitchen floor while I spent most afternoons unconscious in my bed.

Note to pregnant twin moms: I promise you it’s easier to have newborns than it is to be pregnant with twins. You are experiencing the worst right this minute. It will get better. Especially after the first four weeks, which are so brutal you won’t remember them anyway.

I feel like my preschoolers were cheated out of a whole year with me.

The unexpected gift: Even though I spent every afternoon in bed, they probably saw a lot more of me than they did when I was working. And just like when I was a working mom, when I showed up for dinnertime, bath time and bedtime, I was all there. Even if I couldn’t get my belly to fit on my son’s bottom bunk for storytime.

Also, I think they’re handling it all okay.

happy boys

We were crazy stressed in the financial arena.

Providing for a family of six, plus our beloved 22-year-old au pair, is no small responsibility for my husband. When we go food shopping, we buy four loaves of bread at at time. Every trip to the grocery runs at least $300, even when we’re trying to be careful.

A trip to the pediatrician to get the twins’ ears checked for infections runs $70. We have one child in preschool, which costs more than my first year at Florida State. Even buying socks for all these kids is expensive!

The unexpected gift: We are blown away by the kindness of our friends and neighbors. We are constantly on the receiving end of bags of clothing and toys, even for our older kids. And even better is the feeling of passing these gifts on to other families when we our children no longer need them.

Another unexpected gift is that I’m dipping my toe back into work this year. Which means I get to hang out here.

EATagency hq

I’m sure I could go on, but I’m ready to MOVE ON.

Here’s to 2014. Let’s do it.

homework in pajamas

Here’s a tip for making your fall and winter evening routine more sane:

Bathe the bigger kids before dinner.

Here’s why:

The after dinner hour is one of the craziest times of day — kids are tired, babies seem to nurse constantly, dad gets home and everyone wants to climb all over him, parents are hungry, and there’s tons of basic household stuff to get done in the evening. Getting baths done before dinner takes one big thing off your list.

Older kids don’t get very dirty during dinner (we have a 5 year old and almost 4 year old)

Our kindergartener prefers to do homework after dinner. Having him in his pj’s already means we can take more time with homework, look through his school papers from the day, and turn homework time into quality time together. (Like the photo above, which my husband took before coming into the house one night.)

Having kids in pj’s sends the signal that the day is winding down.

It’s cold and dark. PJ’s are warm and comfy.

Having your older kids in pj’s for dinner means they have more time for quiet play, books, or free time before bed. (While you make lunches, clean up from dinner, and take care of younger kids who need more hands on attention.)

It also means more quality time with working parent(s) who tend to come home right in the thick of nighttime to-do’s.

It results in a much calmer evening routine.

So that’s what’s working for us right now.

What’s your tip for making the evening madness more sane?

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…