You mean, I have to sit here for hours on end and just be a vessel to feed my babies?
I was not prepared for the identity death of Robyn, as she was before I birthed twins into this world.
I hadn’t even heard about the concept of a motherhood identity death before becoming a mother and the new accompanying identity birth that would come with it.
I had purchased all the supplies we need to bring new babes into the world.
I took an online breastfeeding course so I could be prepared to feed not one but two babies at the same time.
I researched different possible birth scenarios for giving birth to twins in a hospital setting.
However, I was truly naive to think that I could give birth to twins, take maternity leave from work for 6 months, keep the twins alive, and then go back to work like nothing really happened.
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger non-mom self to take more weeks off work before giving birth to truly settle into just being. I would not go straight from work, into only taking one week off of work, and then jump right into a scheduled induction. I would tell that Robyn to take more time to relax, to nurture herself before she would be thrown into a double whammy scenario of having to take care of two babies and herself at once. And if I really could go back in time, I’d tell her to tell the OBs to screw their induction and trust her body who carried her perfect twins even further to term.
Of course, I didn’t have the foresight to know that a scheduled induction would railroad me into a birth trauma scenario, having to stay in the hospital for two weeks, where I would then develop a thrush infection that would last months. I had no idea that I would be trying to figure out how to just be with my babies while also healing physically and mentally from birth trauma and PTSD.
I would have way more conversations with other mothers on what it was like to transition into the role of mother and how to be prepared for just being. And yes, I’m well aware that you can’t really “prepare” for just being. But as an a-type, organized personality, I would’ve really appreciated time to at least think about what that meant for me.
I knew that my job after giving birth was to breastfeed my babies. Even after seeking tandem breastfeeding resources, I was truly not prepared for how non-stop and all-consuming breastfeeding would be. At the start I would attempt to feed both babies. Sometimes it was a success and at other times I would have to pump and then bottle feed my son (who got a bottle early on in the hospital – but that’s a story for another blog). I then shifted to feeding just my daughter while bottle feeding my son in a boppy pillow beside me at the same time. At the start I would spend ALL day on the couch and then ALL night in bed just feeding my babies. It was exhausting, all-consuming, and HARD. Remember that thrush infection I mentioned earlier. It lasted for 3 months and I had no idea I had it until later. I was in so much pain, and I thought it was normal.
Something else, I would go back and tell pre-mom Robyn was to ensure I was supported so that I didn’t feel like I had to do it all. I would have hired a cleaner to come weekly, I would have hired someone to do the laundry, I would have prepped more freezer meals (although I had made a ton) and I would have asked for more help to sleep. The birth trauma + sleep deprivation + working woman identity death was too much for me. I experienced not only PTSD from birth trauma to postpartum depression and anxiety. Because I lost so much control while in the hospital it translated into me wanting full control of everything at home. I would’ve asked for monetary gifts to afford help instead of a registry of gifts.
I am writing this now 2.5 years after the twins were born. I am acknowledging that I am still healing. I am still processing it.
This has been my healing soundtrack…
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. I do want to talk about the hard parts because I wish I had known that I was going to have such a hard time with just being with my babies. When you identify with doing for so long when you have to stop doing and just be THAT’S REALLY HARD on the nervous system!
I do really want to highlight the beauty or the light that exists amongst the darkness.
While I’ve been able to find many resources talking about identity deaths, I haven’t seen a ton of language around motherhood identity births. And I have been birthing the most beautiful new version of Robyn.
For the first time in my life, it’s completely acceptable to just be. I do really wish I could have come to terms that my only job for the first few months was to feed, eat (for myself), nurture (the babes and myself), and sleep. I would have stopped trying to strive to manage the house. I would’ve relinquished control and really asked for more help.
As our twins grow into toddlers I’m learning this even more so firsthand when they experience “big feelings”. They just need me to be. They need me to regulate my nervous system so they can regulate theirs. And they’ve been growing with me for 2.5 years so it’s understandable that they’ve absorbed some of my postpartum depression and anxiety. I cannot dwell on that but I can be in the present and be what they need. A calm presence that allows them to feel. Someone who allows them to cry. To hold them when they want to be held. To keep them from banging their head on the ground in frustration. To tell them, I understand they are frustrated. I hear what they are frustrated about and guide them in what we will do next.
I’ve birthed a new Robyn. Robyn the capable twin mom. Robyn, a loving, caring working mom. The person who would do anything for her family. Who has work boundaries in place so she truly be with her family when she’s not in her home office. Who gives hugs and kisses throughout the day as she comes out of her office. Who helps put the twins down for naps if they need their mom. A working mom who gives them kisses and hugs before going down to her home office and tears up as they stand and blow me kisses and yell “see you soon Mom”.
If you are reading this as a mom to be, I hope this was a new perspective you might not have been aware of. If you are reading this as a brand new mom and struggling to just be, I hope it gives you inspiration to take charge of your nervous system healing so you can be present for your babe(s) and yourself.