During this month or two of post-storm waiting, we had been house-hopping every few weeks (with an energetic puppy, two almost six-month-old babies, our pack-n-plays, our boxes of diapers, our baby toys, our children’s belongings, my belongings and my husbands belongings) between my mother-in-law’s house and my mom’s house. Before you question why we wouldn’t choose to stay in one place, you should know-a puppy and two babies comes with a lot of energy. Welcoming that in and sharing your space is a lot to ask. It comes with many sacrifices. While we know our mothers are beyond kind, beyond sacrificial, and beyond willing to do that for us, it was the least we could do to share the burden and allow each mom a few weeks to breathe before we came back again.
When we thought we’d had a routine set and flowing, it’d be time to pick up and move again, meaning a massive disruption to said routine. A new environment, a new play space, new napping and sleeping conditions…it’s enough to throw anyone off-especially two little babies. We were learning how to be parents while our whole life was being tossed upside down. It added a mountain of stress to the already-existing-stress of learning to care for two babies.
While we constantly waited for answers and wallowed in our home-sickness, my mental health took a giant beating. I had just gone through a huge season of change as I’d made the transition from a young, married person to a mother of two. Now, I was facing a huge, blaring disruption in an already unfamiliar, new routine- when all I was really yearning for was a little bit of normalcy.
Pre-storm, I was wading in the waters of postpartum anxiety. However, it was throughout this time that I felt myself begin to drown in it. I was constantly filled with anxiety that I may never see “normal” again. I was filled with anxiety about possibly being a burden to family members. I was filled with anxiety about keeping my kids and my dog from destroying someone else’s property. I was filled with anxiety about said anxiety affecting my milk supply. I was filled with anxiety watching the stress cause my milk supply to tank. And then I was filled with anxiety about failing my children because I worried my milk supply away and now couldn’t use my body to feed them.
I felt overwhelming sadness that my children wouldn’t experience their firsts (first food, first crawl, first steps) in the home Jimmy and I built together. Then I was sad because that home wasn’t there anymore. I desperately missed my own space, my own kitchen. I missed the organization of my home- I missed pulling diapers out of drawers in the nursery instead of from boxes. I missed little things, like coming out of the shower and pulling my pajamas out of my dresser, instead of digging around in a suitcase. I missed home.
Jimmy was the absolute poster-child of positivity and optimism throughout this entire journey. While discontinuing breastfeeding did aid in lightening the symptoms of postpartum anxiety, I was the most pessimistic and negative I think I’ve ever been in my life. As someone who was always go-with-the-flow and positive, I was disappointed in myself. I cried about it a lot. I was confused by my mental health. And I’ve had to apologize to Jimmy on a handful of occasions for having to shoulder the weight of optimism and hopefulness when I couldn’t.
If I could go back in time and give myself a word of advice, I’d whisper “gentleness.” Be gentle with the words you say to yourself and others. Be gentle on yourself in making the decision to stop breastfeeding. Be gentle in your attempts to lay blame for a dip in milk supply-these things happen. It isn’t your fault. Be gentle with yourself when you feel you’re unraveling-you’re experiencing a lot of hard things. It’s okay to fall apart sometimes. It’s the coming back together that counts.
I would say to myself that you will see “normal” again, but you’re a parent now-new “normals” happen all the time. I would say that breastfeeding doesn’t define you as a mother. Choosing formula isn’t failing-it was a step towards a healthier you. I would say yes, the boys experienced a few firsts outside this home. But, their first birthday party would be held in a beautiful “new” home. Plenty more firsts will happen here-first words, first “twin” conversations, first jump, skip, hop. I would say things will work out-maybe not on your preferred timeline. But things will work out. And you will go home again.
And you will love it and appreciate it even more than before.
This picture showcases the new, tall baseboards. These continue throughout the house and bring a shiny, newness to our sweet, old home.
A shot of the renovations halfway done and a peek at those old floors. See that by the windows? Yes, those are cribs.
Remember that old, beautiful coffee table? It has become a piece outside on the patio. Coffee tables are one of those things in “baby jail.” We don’t want any climbing on top of or falling into coffee tables. Maybe when they’re a little older we can restore it to its original place in the living room.