The virtues of maternity leave

I have a pimple. Right above my upper lip. The sucker hurts. And every time I wash my face or look at myself in the mirror I try really hard (but inevitably fail) not to look at it, poke at it. But, because I’m on maternity leave, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it normally would. The babies don’t care if I have a pimple. I don’t have to leave the house if I don’t want to. Thanks to Amazon prime, I can have everything I need to live delivered to my door in 48 hours.  So far, this is the only good thing about being on maternity leave with twins, besides not wearing pants and the drugs, but they stop giving you those after the first couple of weeks (the drugs not the pants, but you can stop getting those all on your own).

Crazy pills

There’s no question that having three kids age three and under is a recipe for crazy making. However, my predisposition to OCD, anxiety, and depression has made having twins particularly debilitating. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. I love them so much I want to attack every tiny piece of dust that dares enter my home, sterilize every toy, nipple or finger that might possibly enter their mouths, and invent some sort of breathable yet germ retaining suit for my three year old to wear at all times. Needless to say, things have been a little rough around here the past three months. Luckily, this isn’t my first rodeo, so when the crazy crying cleaning meanies arrived I knew enough to know I needed help. Lots and lots of help.

With my first son, I honestly didn’t realize how crazy I had become for nearly six months. And then, when I very kind and perceptive friend pointed out that maybe I had become a teeny bit wacko about all things parenting, I was so ashamed. It took me weeks to work up the nerve to tell my husband and then my therapist. I was devastated at the thought of going back on my antidepressants; sure that meant I would have to stop nursing and BREAST IS BEST, RIGHT?! How could I choose my own mental health over THE BREAST!

Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive husband and a great team of mental health professionals who got me back on my meds and made me feel comfortable enough to continue nursing (which I did until my son was one and then stopped immediately and had a big party with lots of booze and burning of nursing tanks).

Fast forward three years to my six week ultra-sound where we meet Baby A and . . . wait for it . . . Baby B. I gasped. I cried. I told my husband we needed a bigger house. And, on the way home in the car, I told him I was no-way-jose going off of my meds for this pregnancy. He agreed that was best, as did my OB.

The pregnancy went well (I mean, I puked every day for eight weeks and there was a cane involved and I had to start working from home at 30 weeks because I couldn’t walk from my parking garage to the building even with said cane for assistant but overall we did great). I carried to 38 weeks. Vaginal birth for both babes. I am a twin baby mama rockstar! And I continued to feel like one right up until three weeks postpartum, when my hormones did a nose dive and suddenly I couldn’t get off the floor. Not even in the bed, I was on the floor.

I told my husband and my mom that day. I called my therapist immediately. We upped my meds that night. Then we upped them some more. And I’m back in therapy.

Of course, I’m nervous about the breastfeeding impact of the meds and am doing everything possible to minimize exposure (BREAST IS BEST!). If it comes down to it though, I will stop nursing. I will stop because getting my shit together enough to be present and engaged in my life is not only important for my twins and my three-year old and my marriage but also for ME. I count, too. And I feel a whole lot better when I take my medication.

I’m also trying something new this time by talking about it, with my friends, my family, and even you, stranger that you are. I think talking helps. Talking about it makes it feel less shameful. It’s not a secret. I’m not broken or bad or failing at parenting or life. It’s just the way things are for me (and for a lot of other moms too).

It is what it is and we do what we can.