Postpartum doula Millie with my kids
They wanted me to go to the emergency room and say I was having symptoms of postpartum depression. They wanted me to be followed as an out-patient. That was a week ago.
At my six-week postpartum check up, my midwife asked questions and I answered them. I had been all out of sorts, finding myself looking for an escape from my life as a mom of two. What’s more: a mother nursing two. Some nights I could visualize myself screaming as I ran out of the house, leaving my kids behind. Where would I go? No idea, just the Hell out of dodge.
Exhausted in my bones, I was not only nursing both kids to sleep at night and nap, but also around the clock, day and night. I don’t know how moms of twins keep up! I won’t say tamdeming twins is easier than my situation, but I will say the hardest part of tandeming for me has been the battle of wills and tantrums that come along with nursing a toddler. I love nursing the Bug. It’s a pleasure. But when Babe insists on nursing and throws tantrums and when she equates the word “mama” with “milk,” it makes me very upset.
I didn’t want to see a psychiatrist and I didn’t want to be put on Effexor as so many friends have. The reason is not for shame or any of the feelings that might have come along with a diagnosis. I simply don’t think I am suffering from postpartum depression. I don’t know that my midwife did either but she did express concern that if things didn’t change immediately I might very well end up medicated or hospitalized. All this because I decided to tandem nurse?
One thing is sure, Babe’s nursing was out of control. That was the root of my problems. But I had seen the smiling mamas in Hilary Flower’s Adventures in Tandem Nursing and thought that should be me too. I didn’t want to nurse Babe to sleep and through the night, but I’d suck it up. This wouldn’t be the first time I’d put too much pressure on myself as a mom. Nor will it be the last! I decided that whenever she asked for milk I’d say yes. I thought this was the way to stop her tantrums and keep her from hitting her brother. I was not right. It was this decision that sent things spiraling.
But thankfully, the same day as my six-week follow up, I was graced with a visit from my postpartum doula: The lovely Millie Tresierra. She helped us in the early days and came back when we quite desperately needed her.
She showed up with a Guinness in hand. Just what the doctor prescribed!
I explained to her the day’s events and some of the things my midwife suggested I do to fix the issues I was having. (She also entertained both kids, cleaned my kitchen and wore sleeping Bug while Babe and I went to run a few errands!) Millie agreed that I needed to make changes but advised me not to change too much too soon. She helped me decide what the biggest issues were and helped me with a plan to get everything back on track.
The worst for me was nursing Babe and Bug to sleep every night and afternoon, and being the only one able to get the kids to sleep. I was also feeling touched out and totally overwhelmed.
The plan was to get Papa putting Babe to sleep every night he’s home. No ifs or ands, he’s in charge, even if she gets really mad about it. I would sleep in a room down the hall with Bug. We’d all rest better.
It’s been a week and couldn’t be going more smoothly! Huzzah. I nurse Babe and we chat a bit, then she goes with her Papa. She mo longer even protest.
We also started making sure Babe was eating actual food throughout the day. She had been drinking so much of my milk (which is cream at this point!) that she was not hungry for food. So she’d ask for milk. This usually happens to tandeming kids in the beginning. But my midwife tipped me off to a few things:
- 2 year olds don’t know when they’re hungry.
- Breastmilk isn’t enough to sustain a 30 lb kid all night.
So of course she started waking up all night! She was hungry and would cry for Mama cause she didn’t know what else to do! Now I just make sure to offer/give her food often throughout the day. We also make snack time an obvious part of her bedtime routine. A routine which was pretty non existent until lately.
We also made a schedule, which sends Babe out of the house together all morning. Sometimes with Papa or a friend or her Grandma. It gives me time alone with Bug, to get things done around the house or just relax. I take over taking care of Babe at lunch when Papa goes to work. I stopped trying to force Babe to nap. No more lying on my back pinned under two babies come Hell or high water. This too, has been very smooth.
Postpartum depression is very serious and it needs to be treated properly when that’s what it is. Some women experience postpartum elation. And if you ask Millie, some women, like myself are just experiencing “Postpartum perfection.”
Lucky for me I am quickly learning I cannot do it all and certainly not by myself. I’m building my village. With help, of course.