Puppies Don’t Train You To Become A Parent

Now that I’m a parent – OMG. I’m a freakin’ parent. – I’ve come to realize truths about parenthood that people don’t want to tell others about having kids.

For instance, childbirth isn’t something you forget. You are at your absolute most vulnerable to get that greasy human out of your contracting body. It’s not pleasant for anyone, producing everything from blood and feces to amniotic fluid and the most unattractive expressions and unforgettable displays of agony. Sure, it’s a process that welcomes your sticky spawn into the world, but no amount of doulas or breathing exercises will prepare you for the experience of giving birth, or the shock of what happens after giving birth. So if you’re dreaming of a simply magical delivery, there is no such thing.

Another thing that people say to others when it comes to preparing for a child is, “Get a puppy. Then you’ll really know what parenting is like.”

To this I call BS! Of course, there are similarities to owning a tiny dog and owning a tiny human, like having to clean up their urine and bowel movements and listen to their cries the first weeks after you bring them home. But the differences are plenty, and lie within those similarities. First of all, the cries of a new puppy eventually stop after a few nights, and you can even leave them in their very own crate to cry during this phase of sleeplessness. For babies, the crying lasts forever, and leaving them in their crib for hours on end is not an option…unless you’re wanting the neighbours to call Children’s Aid on your neglectful ass.

While both puppies and babies will puke and ruin everything from your rug to your favourite shirt, puppy vomits are few and far between. A baby can vomit every damn day, or in the case of my twins, after every feeding…for nine damn months.

It’s only in the toddler years that I’ve realized that this is the phase that people are talking about when they compare dogs to children. While it can never truly be the same experience for the level of care and attention it takes for two pups versus two thirty-pound people, these are just a few of the ways that I can totally see what people are talking about.

  • We have to train them on everything, from talking to proper toilet behaviour. Much like we train a dog to speak and do its business outside, we have to teach our children to speak actual real words and explain to them the basics of using a potty.
  • They both beg for food, like little fat and starving monsters. Whether it’s a puppy or a toddler, it doesn’t matter, they’ll both be on your heels, following your every move and crying for a bite of your toast. While you may feel compelled to kick them both off your lap, keep that move reserved for when you’re in the privacy of your own home.
  • When you leave the house – or bedroom, come nap/bedtime – they cry. Since both can’t communicate with you or understand the reason why you’re abandoning them, they just feel sad and confused and require tons of comforting. And while it pains you to leave them, you also know that you have to toughen them up so they don’t develop separation anxiety and live with you until they’re thirty.
  • They both require a lot of entertainment. Like, a lot. Toddlers have evolved past the point of silent, sleeping lumps and now have endless energy that must be spent on playing with toys. This is not unlike a puppy. Whether you’re tossing a ball around or chasing them, toddlers and pups are one in the same when it comes to the demands of playtime.
  • Giving medicine to them can be a challenge. You can either opt for holding them down or sneaking it into their food, but we all have to get creative when our little pups or people pups are sick.
  • Eating food off of the floor is not above them. Seriously. It doesn’t matter if there is hair or dirt on it, they’ll eat that two-day old strawberry they found under the couch.
  • Traveling with them is a nightmare. The packing prep and space they take up in your car is one thing, but both toddlers and puppies also feel the need to take road poops. So. Not. Fun.
  • When they do something good, you have to reward them. With toddlers, you have to get excited, clap your hands, and toss them a cookie with each new word they learn, with each pee-pee on the potty they take, and every moment they decide to share a toy or piece of their food with their sibling. For pups, you must also get excited, clap your hands, and toss them a cookie as they learn to progress as a dog.

With these examples that adequately paint a picture of what raising toddlers can be like when compared to raising puppies, I can also say that puppies are nothing like toddlers.

Toddlers can be opinionated, picky eaters, and getting cuddles out of them can be a challenge. For us, we have to roar like a lion to encourage Chloe to give us a hug. Pffft. We’ve fully resorted to scare tactics in order to feel the love. Puppies, on the other hand, always want to snuggle. They will also eat whatever you put in front of them, which means nothing you buy at the grocery store will go to waste.

Puppies can’t say no, they can go hours being left at home alone, and they don’t cost nearly as much to raise.

Puppies can also walk themselves without having to be carried to places like the car or down the street, so long as they have a leash. And while toddlers can also wear leashes, it’s a far less acceptable method of toddler-wrangling.

That being said, we are not above the leash technique. So if anyone knows how we can kick this dog analogy up a notch by recommending a good twin leash, by all means, send me the link.

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Hot, Bothered, & Barely Sleeping

Lately I’ve been going through something at home that’s forced me to sleep in the living room a number of times. While the title of this post may lead to thoughts of, “Oh, is there trouble in paradise?” that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this has nothing to do with my better half, and it even surprisingly doesn’t have anything to do with the twins! It’s about something that has been brewing inside of me for awhile that only comes out at night.

Hot flashes.

Don’t ask me why it’s been happening, ’cause I don’t have an answer. Throughout the day I’m the chilly one, covering up and asking people to turn the temperature up on the A/C. There are even times that I will go to bed and will be freezing after ten minutes of laying down, requiring me to reach for the socks and a bulky sweater – even in the summer! After a couple of hours I may wake up, remove these items, and go back to sleep. Other nights, I won’t need to cover up at all, but I am still overcome by the heat wave that strikes each night between 2 and 5 am.

But this isn’t just like waking up and having to shed a layer, it’s like I’m actually roasting like a basted turkey in my bed. Nothing will provide relief from the sauna that is cranked up high inside my body. I am radiating heat like The Human Torch or the actual sun. 

Now I’m not talking about night sweats, where you wake up anxious and drenched. It’s just an intense heat that leaves me tossing and turning on the nights that I decide to stay put on our comfortable mattress, instead of hailing to the couch for some relief.

Lately, I’ve been taking to the living room more often than I’d like – even if the couch is a bitch on the back – because that is where the air conditioner lives. I can literally lay underneath it and bask in the frosty, artificial air and manage to regulate my body temperature and sneak in a couple more hours of sleep.

While Chloe and Sophie are doing much better at sleeping throughout the night, it seems my body just won’t welcome the opportunity to get a full night of rest.

Now I’m not sure why this is happening. Is it a hormonal mom thing? Is it because summer in Ottawa just won’t freakin’ end? Is it the fact that the duvet I’ve used all summer suddenly traps my body heat and reflects it back to me, creating an actual “baking” effect? I’m not sure, which is why I wanted to share this awful menopause-esque hell I’ve been going through, and possibly get some insights from other moms.

So moms: did (or do) you also bake like a DiGiorno pizza at night?

You Suck! Now That You’re A Mom

Being a good mom means putting aside your wants and needs for the sake of adequately protecting and raising your children. It means redirecting your focus from selfish insecurities and indulgences to no longer giving af about much else other than your babies, maintaining some version of a presentable household, and ensuring that your adultish responsibilities are met (ie: paying bills and getting your oil changed).

Being a good mom also means that you will slowly start to lose your cool, and I mean that in the rad, hip and happening sort of way (although you will inevitably lose your cool in the other sense of the word, too). The things that used to make you stand out and shape your personality and relationships have become a distant, fond recollection that you desperately try to cling to as you scroll through your Facebook memories and vye to resurrect that cool and with it side to you once again… but maybe next year, when you’re less busy.

I’m here to tell you that as a mom, you suck. Or, certain things you do suck. And it all starts to go downhill the moment you go into labour, greet your newborn, and face the fear of not knowing wtf to do with the thing the moment you get home. Suckage literally begins with your baby’s first latch and continues into every facet of your life.

While you start to decline in a number of areas of your life, this siphoning vacuum is balanced by the things you start to become good at since embracing motherhood, such as self-doubt, worrying, and Googling. Yay!

While every mom begins to suck in different degrees and circumstances, there are 7 things that most moms can agree on when asked what has gone from successful to epic fail since becoming a mom.

Cooking

You’d think with all these baby food tools and containers that prepping a meal would be made easier for moms, but it simply ain’t. IT. AIN’T. When it comes to making any sort of meal, whether it’ll be consumed by your tot or not, it’s gonna get burned, or be mushy, raw, or tasteless. Whatever the cooking faux pas, it’s going to happen because you just don’t have the time or the attention span to give two shits about whether it’s Master Chef worthy, just so long as it’s edible. Before babies, you had the hours, the budget, and the dedication to preparing a five-course meal for your friends. As a parent, you’re ordering take-out.

Socializing

Whatever the occasion pre-spawn, you were there. Sporting event at the pub? GAME. ON. Networking opportunity? SIGN ME UP. Girls night? In. Beach volleyball game? Eh…alright, whatevs. Now it’s like, “How’s two weeks from now, in the afternoon because my baby has an appointment, but we can squeeze in some time after their lunch and before their nap. Does that work?” Your friends really have to be accommodating and patient if looking to get in any sort of face time with you. As for invites to parties and other social events? That’ll take some MacGyver-like planning and rearranging on your end to make an appearance.

Fashion

Life before becoming a Mom meant disposable income that would be spent on furnishing your pre-baby body with labeled linens and branded swag. It meant taking a trip to the closest mall whenever you had a free day (which was often) and picking up a few things to accentuate your on point wardrobe. If you’re a mom, those days are no longer an option. Aside from the fact that all your money is being inhaled by your offspring, you just don’t have the time or the body to care about what’s in style anymore. Pre-twins I had Kate Spade and RW&CO, now I’ve got loads of Joe Fresh. Why? Because it’s comfy as f**k, it can take a hit of puke without me feeling remorseful, and I can pick it up while also buying baby food, eggs, and beer at the grocery store.

Awareness of Current Events

Okay, maybe this one is just me, as I don’t currently have cable or subscribe to any news publications, but I’m calling the odds that most moms don’t keep up with new business ventures, the stock market, politics, or who’s leading when it comes to major sporting competitions. If anything, we’re learning about the news via Facebook or by overhearing it while we’re picking up a convenience store coffee. At best, we’ve grabbed the tabloids at the checkout. So while we may not be able to contribute to a conversation on Trump’s latest actions as president, we can tell you the names of George Clooney’s twins.

Self-Care

This is not as shocking as it may seem. We do care about maintaining ourselves; shower, shave, brush teeth, deodorant, done. We cover the basics and that’s about it. Making time for exercise, doing our makeup or nails, plucking, or even brushing our hair, is solely reserved for special occasions or on days where you miraculously wind up with an extra hour to spare.

Talking On The Phone

I remember the days when I could sit on the phone and have a conversation that would easily exceed an hour. Time wasn’t even something I had to be conscious of monitoring, unless someone’s show was about to start or I was getting sleepy. Nowadays, having a phone call that exceeds five minutes is dreaded. You just don’t have the patience to endure it, especially while trying to detach your twins from each other because they’re slapping each other’s faces. If what you want is a phone call, you best schedule that shit before dialling those digits – or better yet, send a message – because chances are, she’s not gonna pick up.

Pop Culture References

Aside from learning mild details from the aforementioned and rare impulse buy of purchasing a grocery store mag, we can’t tell you squat about what’s happening in the world of music or movies. “Hey, you hear that new song by…” Nope. We’re gonna stop you right there. We have no idea what song or new artist you’re referring to. And while we would love to schedule a time to go see a movie with a friend, we have no idea what’s playing and all of the titles look foreign to us. We’ll check out who’s in it and decide based on that.

While there are some moms who probably rock at maintaining some thread of success in these areas, while also mom-ing her heart out, I’d like to hope that the majority share in the same dwindling areas of past successes as I do.

In the meantime, we moms take pride in knowing that while that phase of our lives is over, this new phase is something we embrace and cherish even more than being good at all those things. So while we might not be around much or rockin’ the latest trends, we are mastering a new challenge and it’s one that we most certainly don’t suck at: motherhood.

I’m A Bad Mom

If you’re a mom, your ultimate fear is that you are somehow unfit to parent. You’re scared that your mom skills just won’t cut it and somehow you are not doing the best you can for the children you brought into this world. A lot of the time, this fear is ridiculous and obviously if you’re worrying about not doing enough, you’re already doing plenty more than others. The mere fact that you worry means that you care and are rocking the job more than you know. But when a medical professional says enough about your poor parenting to have your fears confirmed, it’s downright crippling. Two weeks ago I was in agony over the fact that I was professionally considered a bad mom.

For those who don’t know, our girls turned one on June 11. Woohoo! Their first birthday. We could not believe how fast the last year went by and how strong we were to have survived it. With this major milestone came the one year check-up with their pediatrician. To say it did not go well is a drastic understatement.

Upon arrival, our girls were measured and weighed as usual by the nurse. She gathered the stats and let us know that the girls lost weight since their last exam three months ago. Okay. We were a little shocked since they visibly grew and were now fitting into larger clothing, but we figured it would be up for discussion as to why once we saw the doctor. The nurse passed off their information to the doc and told us to wait.

No sooner did the girls’ doctor walk through that door did she start to verbally attack us. She said that she was not happy to see those numbers and gave us shit over their decreased weights. We were also unhappy to hear about the weight loss, but we had no idea it was as awful as she was claiming it to be.

Almost immediately I entered defence mode with her harsh questioning and remarks, being equally aggressive in my answers. She was making me legit pissed. Then she dropped a bomb on us that I’m not sure we’ll ever recover from. She threatened to call CAS. We could not even believe the words she uttered.

I backed down instantly and listened to her condescending and heartbreaking words. Their weight loss could lead to developmental issues. Their brains can stop growing. We couldn’t even believe we had put our girls in such jeopardy. She made us feel like the worst parents in the world and we believed that we were.

I broke down crying as she asked us questions about their diet. We let her know what and how much we fed them. Our meal and snack choices were great and she was surprised by this information. SURPRISED. She didn’t even care that we were feeding them so much. And trust me, we do. They gobble up so much food you’d THINK they were starving. They eat more than other babies, hands down. For whatever reason, the period between their nine month and one year visit they had dropped a little weight.

Well, we have a reason. And to this, we’re guilty. In an effort to wean our girls off of formula and replace the calories with food, we had diluted their formula with water so that they would eat more food and require less formula. This was working. This was done without our doctor’s consent, as we a) believed it was a smart choice, and b) did not know we had to consult the doctor in such matters (being first time parents and all). We had intended to work towards replacing it with fatty milk and was going to discuss this with the doctor at this appointment. When she learned about what we had done, she went off. She criticized us in a way that made us feel stupid and incompetent to parent and diluting formula was the most sinful thing we could have done for our children. This, it turns out, was why they were not gaining weight.

Let me take this moment to add more to the story. The reason we had diluted the milk in the first place (aside from weaning) was because the girls had been frequently vomiting in the night when we started feeding them more meal portions, snacks, as well as bottles of formula for their naps and bedtime. This reaction, we assumed, was because they were just eating way too much and that their stomachs couldn’t handle the extra calories. They suffered from reflux in the past and we knew that their stomachs were a little iffy at times. It was only then that we made the decision that it was time to wean.

When the doctor left the room, the both of us had broken down in horrendous sobs, fearful for our girls and feeling like the worst parents in the world. The nurse came in to comfort us and later admitted that the doctor told her that she was too harsh on us. I guess so.

This day was the worst we’ve ever experienced. I’d take late night vomits and explosive shits any day to not have to live through that torture again.

After recovering from our breakdowns and regaining some composure, our emotions quickly turned from defeated and grief-stricken to anger.

HOW DARE SHE TREAT US THIS WAY. We have the best of intentions for our girls and do everything we can to keep them healthy and happy. We worry about them constantly, protecting them and ensuring they always are in a safe environment. We always put their needs first and I can honestly say that we are doing the absolute best we can in making decisions that we believe is right for our daughters. We would never intentionally endanger their health, let alone intentionally underfeed them. And again I must say, we DO NOT underfeed them. There could have been so many reasons for the weight loss and it may not even be strictly because of the diluted formula.

Since their nine month visit, they’ve become WAY more active, crawling and even walking, and therefore burning more calories. They’ve also experienced their first virus (which can halt the growth of babies) and have been teething like crazy, causing them to refuse food at times. Not only that, but it’s common for babies to not gain weight, or even lose weight, between these two visits. All of this is new information to us, as we’ve consulted with other medical professionals and family members on the subject. All of this research just further fuels the fire within us over the doctor’s lack of understanding, empathy, or desire to come to any other conclusion other than that we were behaving like neglectful parents.

Aside from all the potential reasons for the slight drop in weight, they are both visibly healthy and happy girls. Their bones are not protruding from their skin. They do not look in any way malnourished, and they’re developing just fine. They are smart and curious and perfect.

As parents, we may not be perfect all the time, but we’re certainly not bad. And we’ve quickly learned that no one, not even a doctor, has the right to make us feel the way we did or have us question ourselves as parents.

We have began feeding the girls milk and fattier foods, as the doctor ordered. However, we will not be going back to that insensitive, offensive person ever again.

We are not at fault and we are not stupid. We live with our daughters and see how they behave and function every day. We know what’s best for them, usually. And when we don’t, well, that’s when we get the help from the doctor or someone else who knows more about babies than we do.

It’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, but that is only true if everyone is supportive and understanding of one another. While we needed to hear that they required more fat, we did not need to be threatened with CAS, been talked down to, or made to believe that we were putting our girls at risk.

This really sucks to share because it hurts me so much to admit that we had made even one mistake when it came to our girls. But I’ve accepted (even with my perfectionist tendencies) that people, including parents, make mistakes and it’s not anyone’s right to criticize you for making them, especially when your intentions are true and involve matters of your heart.

Facts About Motherhood: #58

Fact #58: Motherhood is boring.

It’s never fun to admit something that you’re supposed to keep a secret. Like, the fact that you have hemorrhoids or a third nipple.

There are so many secrets that mom’s won’t admit to that it actually adds more stress to keep the thoughts all bottled up. There is never a good time for moms to confess every thought or worry they had. If we did, we’d be sent to our guilt graves. Or we’d be looking at an epic novel, and not the short and loose dialogue I like to share with you all.

One thing that nobody ever tells you about becoming a mother is how boring it is. Oy, it’s mind-numbing. The moment you have a baby (or two!) is the moment that you enter a black hole of repetition, routines, and lack of spontaneity.

Hey, I’m not knocking down parenthood. There are plenty of joys that come along with raising infants, such as… well, baby giggles are nice. And teaching them things like the word “no” is kind of rewarding, too. All I’m saying is that the load of expectations of what motherhood is like should be busted open like Pandora’s Box.

Here it is, ladies. Motherhood in all it’s glory.

You’re gonna be bored AF sometimes.

Every day is the same cycle of tasks: waking up at the crack of dawn, washing the same dishes and onesies, playing with the same toys, changing the same bums, infinite nursery rhymes. Add the precise moment your toddler starts whining and you won’t even have to look at the clock to know you’re entering their afternoon fuss time.

Now, there ARE things to help you to keep your sanity in check while your little ones examine and toss the same damn toys around. For example, I like to vent about it online. Some moms like to work out. I don’t have such mom friends, but I imagine I’d hate them encourage them to maintain their interests.

Doing anything for yourself when your infants turn into toddlers with ‘tudes will make you feel a lot of feels, especially guilt. Even right now, I could be playing with my girls, but instead I’m doing this. While deep down I know the benefits of doing something for myself, I can’t help but feel like I’m neglecting them. And what’s more annoying is that they’re becoming smart enough to know that. The moment I open my laptop is the moment they start crying out, “Mama!”

 

Mom Boredom should be as much of a well-known term as Mom Guilt; both go hand-in-hand and can suck the pre-mom personality out of you faster than a bottle of wine.

Mom boredom can affect you so much that when you finally are gifted with a break, you simply can’t handle the freedom. You stay close to home and feel like a prisoner finally being released into the wild. This is why so many moms flock to Walmart and Target in their down time – it’s the least likely task that will generate guilt by spending time by yourself. “I’m buying diapers, damn it! I’m still thinking of my babies. Just leave me alone to walk every aisle for the third time!”

Being bored when you’re childless is like being bummed by the fact that you’re lazy and uncreative. Or hating the fact that you have way too much time to relax.

Being bored when you’re a mom means talking to yourself because you can’t talk on the phone with your girlfriends ’cause your baby won’t let you. It means dressing your babies up in endless outfits and taking dozens of photos just to make the hour go by faster. It means eagerly volunteering to go buy milk (or literally anything) the moment your partner comes home from work. “We desperately need more pepper – out of my way!” It means becoming socially awkward because you’ve been lacking in all forms of communication, other than social media. Being a bored mom means that you seriously consider turning to, ugh, Pinterest for things to do.

Nah thanks. I’ll stick to complaining online.

3 Out of 5

I have recently been reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington and, although I’m not too far into it, a bit of text caught my eye and has been sitting in my brain. She quoted Randi Zuckerberg’s entrepreneur’s dilemma. When it comes to being successful within the five key areas of your life – work, sleep, friends, family, and fitness – you must only choose three. So 3/5 is the magic fraction if you want to achieve success in those areas. If you wanted to be perfect and well-balanced in all areas, then the book indicates that you just won’t get there. You’ll wear yourself thin and then you won’t be successful in any area because you’re not spending the time you need on it. The idea that Arianna Huffington supports and writes about in her book is that you must be a little imbalanced, and accept that you’re not a superhero.

I’ve been craving ultimate success my whole life, trying to make sure that each of those areas gets the focus it deserves. I believe that giving each of them a piece of my attention has worked well for me. I was a firm advocate for being able to have it all! But those days were best lived when I was single and did not have two little ones to tend to.

Now that I have a family, those words by Zuckerberg and the support of Huffington is hitting close to home. It seems as if I really do need to choose three in order to find success in those categories of life’s fulfillment. I just don’t have the time or the energy for it anymore. I need to narrow down what’s most important to me and dedicate myself to them.

Well, the first one is a no-brainer. Sleep. Sleep is most important to achieve success in ANYTHING. At least for me. Some people can function off of five hours and be able to run triathlons and crap. I need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. To get there will take a lot of supportive participation from Sophie and Chloe, and dedication and discipline on my part. When the babies go to sleep, all I want to do is enjoy the sweet couple of hours I get to indulge in adult life. Watch Netflix, take a shower, catch up on reading, play video games, have a beer, scour social media, whatevs.

The second, again, is a piece of cake. Family. I love my little, complete family and want to spend time with them whenever I can, and give them space when it’s due. I want to make sure my babies are reaching their milestones, gaining independence, learning, and are well-fed and happy. I want to nurture them, love and snuggle them, and provide for them. And in order to provide for them, well you see where my third choice is going.

Work. I love what I do and love that my work allows me to do it. I love feeling valued, respected, and proud of the work that I do. I’ve always wanted to achieve success when it comes to my career, and now that success is trickling down to my family.

Choosing three out of five was easy for me, but that doesn’t mean that friends and fitness is not important to me either. Each of those areas in my life are very important to me and I hope to make a little time for each of them. Even if it’s once a week. I might have to pencil you into my calendar once a month for a weeknight dinner or Sunday morning coffee date. And you might also be competing for a spot alongside my weekly yoga class. Either way, friends, body, you will not be forgotten. I ask that you just take patience in knowing that I love you and will make sure that plans are made to keep you both in my life and in shape.

Just Do It

“Wow. Twins. How do you DO it?”

Somehow having twins makes you really popular and you make lots of new, random street friends with lots of opinions. Aside from the opinions no mother wants about simply raising one child, you get double the input with twins.

I’m asked many repetitive questions about #twinlife, like “Are they twins?”, “How old are they?” and “Can I touch them?” I am also asked the “How do you do it?” question a lot. And I never have any answer, even though they’re kind of being rhetorical about it.

Family & friends? A helpful spouse? Eating cookies in the closet?

When I really thought of an answer, all I could come up with is you just DO. I don’t think there’s a twin mama out there that knows how its done. You just have no choice. This is your life. These are your children. You can’t wallow. You don’t take a moment to think, “Motherf***er! This is stressful. How DO I DO it?” Because if you do, you unravel. Your focus crumbles. Your ability to mom is interrupted.

Raising twins is the biggest marathon you’ll ever run. If you stop to look around and catch your breath, you’ll forever be playing catch-up.

Determination and willpower. These are two key ingredients to keeping you on your feet and hurling you towards being the best twin mom you can be.

But what if you’re a twin mom who’s also trying to get fit? Finding a little leftover determination or willpower is like finding a four-leaf clover! So at the end of the day you eat that pizza, drink the wine, and sit on your widening ass, because there ain’t much more determination or willpower left in the tank. And you go to bed happy and proud knowing you survived another day.

Only 6,311 days until graduation.