Monday, September 14, 2015

Take Your Vitamins! I'm Talking to YOU Mommies!!!!

This post is one that I wish I could broadcast into the lives of every single pregnant woman on Earth but ESPECIALLY moms of multiples. Seriously, this is that important.

While I was pregnant with the quads, nutrition was obviously a major concern during pregnancy and making sure I got enough calories (seriously at one point they had me on a 7,000 calorie diet) and ate the right foods. From my very first appointment at Texas Children's Pavillion for Women, I was in the Multiples Program there which included regular visits with a nutritionist. One resource I was given on my first visit was this book, titled When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein. 

I found the book to be a tremendous resource but I have heard other MoMs state otherwise. (Some of the illustrations in the book can be a little scary.) What was most helpful about the book to me was the meal ideas and recommendations for what to eat at various stages of gestation for proper nutrition and growth/development. 

In addition to diet and nutritionist visits, I was put on a prescription prenatal vitamin that contained folic acid and was put on additional folic acid as well. Wanting the very best for my brood, I took them every single day of my pregnancy even on days when the thought of swallowing a pill completely grossed me out. 

However, once the babies were born, the shift and my focus suddenly turned all towards them and seeing their nutritional needs were met. There wasn't a lot of guidance anymore on what to eat and how to care for my body. In the beginning, I followed breast feeding advice of high protein and lots of water and kept taking a prenatal vitamin to help with that but eventually the demands of caring for four infants, my own mom in the hospital in very critical condition with what we later learned was cancer, and a husband working out of town got to me and I gave up breast-feeding and along with that, the vitamins and well, if we're honest, pretty much taking care of myself. Instead, I began to exist on a diet that consisted of mainly coffee, lots of good old Coca-Cola, and grabbing whatever food I could grab and eat without requiring any cooking. 

I didn't immediately feel the affects but over the course of several months, I started to feel worse and worse. I gained back weight I had lost after my pregnancy. My ankles hurt. The bottoms of my feet hurt. I had constant carpal-tunnel pain and my hands were constantly numb. My hair fell out by the fist fulls. If I sat down for even a few minutes, when I tried to stand up again, I walked like a 100 year old woman. I didn't want to do anything but sleep and I had constant headaches but when I went to bed at night, I couldn't get comfortable to sleep!

When the quads were about 16 months old, I finally broke down and went to the doctor, convinced that I must have a thyroid problem or else diabetes. When my blood-work came back just fine, I was puzzled and angry at my doctor for refusing to do additional tests and sending me on my way with the advice to sleep more, eat better, get as much exercise as I could and put the quads in a mother's day out program and just go home and sleep! Frustrated with this answer and still feeling terrible, I turned to the only place left: my Moms of Multiples groups on Facebook. One group is filled with women who all had multiples around the same time I did. Many of them suffered from many of the same symptoms that I had and one mom in particular had fought her doctor on it for many months and FINALLY gotten answers! The root cause: vitamin deficiency!!! At her advice, I immediately went out and bought a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin D and began taking them daily. After only a couple weeks of taking them, I began noticing improvements in my symptoms. My carpal tunnel improved, I had more energy, and I didn't feel like I needed to be headed to a nursing home instead of chasing around four toddlers! 

I'll be honest, these days, I do good to remember to feed myself and there are times that I do forget the vitamins sometimes for a week, or maybe even more if I'm really honest. I can tell when I don't take them and after I start back up again, it usually takes a week or two and I'll start feeling better again.

I'm no doctor by any means, but I truly feel like my body had to work so much overtime and gave so much of my own nutrition to support four lives that it depleted a lot of nutrients and has done something that makes it difficult for my body to extract those vitamins and nutrients from food. 

The more I've shared my story, the more moms I meet who've gone through the same thing! Pregnancy is hard on your body. Therefore, my plea is that all new mothers, but especially new mothers of multiples, continue to take at the very least a multi-vitamin long after your pregnancy and after you stop breast-feeding. You have nothing to lose and take my word for it, you DON'T want to feel like a 100 year old lady who needs a walker WHILE you're chasing toddlers! 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mom Badges

Every single night the last thing I do before going to bed myself is one last check on all four sleeping babes. Often, I sit and stroke each of their heads for a few minutes, pray over them and revel in how sweet and peaceful they are when they're sleeping (all while praying they don't wake up). Last night, when I walked into the girls' room, I was greeted by a familiar smell (if you're a mom, I'm sure you know the smell well). This wasn't the first time I've been poised with this dilemma and the age old adage to "never wake a sleeping baby".  Last night however, I knew there wasn't a chance I was going to let my daughter sleep all night in a dirty diaper so I did what any mom would do. I grabbed a fresh diaper and the wipes and went to work. I'll have you know, I changed my daughter's diaper, in her crib, in her sleep, without waking her. I thought to myself, "wow, there should totally be a mom badge for this and I should really be eligible for a promotion in rank". 

While my thoughts were definitely just ramblings in my sleep-deprived, sanity-seeking mind, as I lie awake later on,  with tons of thoughts and ideas running through my mind, I couldn't seem to get the image of "mom badges" out of my head. I mean, what would life be like if motherhood worked like girl scouts or other organizations where for each meaningful achievement/step in motherhood, you earned a badge which you got to wear with pride? Can you envision all the mothers of the world comparing their "mom badges"?  " got sleepless nights for 4 months straight"! "Look, she survived terrible twos and threes"! There's the "I manage to take all my kids to extra-curricular activities" badge. Then there's the "I'm a working mom badge".  There's a "I'm a stay-at-home and I just want to talk to someone who's not pint sized mom" (this could be me on more than one occasion in the past month).  "Oh my! She survived her entire living room being covered in baby powder" (you know you've seen the YouTube video) or the "I grocery shop with six kids badge"! Then what about the mothers who had the "I lost a child" badge. Or the mothers who have the "my child has cancer badge". What about the mothers who've struggle with motherhood in their hearts but not in their hands yet? 

In the crazy world of high-order-multiples where I suddenly live, some of my best friends are women that I've never met IRL (in real life). The bond we share with one another is strong. We have laughed together, cried together, celebrated and mourned together. Sometimes, we may have disagreements among us and we may annoy one another occasionally. We've watched out for one another, prayed for one another, counseled one another and even come together to help in times of need. Just as I am thankful for all of my IRL friends and the valuable advice and support they provide, these women are able to relate to me on a different level and have probably saved my sanity over the last two years or so. One of the most valuable lessons they've taught me is that while we all share something in common, we're all different too and what works for me, may not work for you. 

My point is, it's probably not a good idea for us to wear our "mom-badges" on our sleeves yet often, it seems like that is exactly what we do. Motherhood is a tough job as it is and comparing ourselves to one another will not make it any easier. We're all doing our very best with the resources that we have and what works for one person, may or may not work for another. Like so many other moms, I'm guilty of comparing myself to others and feeling as if I lack even when I know I'm doing my best. While it's always good to be able to turn to other moms for advice or even to vent, be careful not to take everything personally. And always remember that you never know everything that person is going through in their life or the battles they are fighting. No matter what, if you're a veteran mom, first time mom, mom in the middle of it all, a mom battling a fight you don't know if you can handle, a mom who's suffered loss, a mom at heart, or any other kind of mom, know this: you're amazing and you are loved! Make today a great day!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Got Mom Guilt?

"I'm at Starbucks. Alone. And blogging. Help me! Do you have mom guilt?" 

The statement above is a true statement I just texted to my best friend. I am at Starbucks. I have an entire afternoon that I can sit here alone blogging, drinking yummy coffee and writing until my heart's content. And I feel terrible about it. 

Let me be clear. My kids are with my husband who is an amazing dad. They look up to him and truly WANT to be the center of their daddy's world. He's fully capable of caring for them without me and I know they'll be entertained, fed, changed, and cared for. However, even though I know they're safe, there's a part of me thinking "but that's your job". 

Before I had kids, I had a career with daily adult interaction, fancy lunches, regularly ate out with my husband, and took fun trips with him. We went out on dates at least once a week. I had a dog but rarely went anywhere I couldn't take her and when I did, while I missed her, I always found someone I knew would take excellent care of her. Rarely did I ever feel guilty for anything. Now, it's a regular feeling for me. 

My friend's response? "Of course! Every time I have a free moment I'm constantly worried I'm forgetting someone. But what kind of mom wouldn't have mom guilt"?

She's right! Why wouldn't I have mom guilt? There's so many things to feel guilty about:

  • I didn't spend enough time playing with the kids.
  • I should read them more books.
  • I cleaned the house but I didn't spend enough time playing or working with the kids.
  • I played with the kids but the house is a wreck, the dishes aren't washed and the laundry isn't done.
  • I didn't take them outside to play.
  • I took them outside to play and Daniel cut his foot open and Evelyn got bit by ants.
  • I took them outside to play and they cried when we had to come inside.
  • I let them eat cookies before supper. 
  • I never let them have treats. 
  • I'm not strict enough with them.
  • I didn't hug that one enough.
  • I yelled.
  • I use the TV as a babysitter sometimes.
  • I would be a better mom if I got out of the house more often.
  • So many people would kill to be a stay at home mom. I am and sometimes I wish I could work. 
  • I'm at Starbucks so I can sit and do what I enjoy but they cried when I left. 
  • I spent $20 on a new outfit for me but the kids could really use some new pajamas.
Basically, anything I do or think about doing can turn into a reason for me to feel guilty. When my husband told me to leave today, he did it because he knows I've talked about wanting to get a few hours alone a week to focus on my blog, writing and doing things that I enjoy and love. Yet when he told me to go, I imagined that most women probably would have grabbed their purse and laptop, given everyone a kiss goodbye, and then let the tires squeal on their way out of the driveway. At least, that's what I wanted to do. Instead, I dawdled. I probably asked him a thousand times if he was serious, if he would be mad, if he felt like he could handle it, etc.! The truth is, a few hours to myself will probably do all six of us some good so I can come back feeling refreshed, relaxed and be a better wife, mother, and person in general. 

Often, we're told not to feel guilt as mommies. I disagree. I think Mom Guilt is something that God gives to us to help us be better moms. When I sit and think about my own mom, my friends who are AMAZING moms, and other mom role models in my life, I can see how they too have struggled with guilt that comes with the job description. The way I see it, when I stop feeling the guilt, that's when I have a problem because it means I've stopped caring. And I'm okay with the guilt. I will continue to question every decision I make for the rest of my life because there are five other lives it affects. And the wife and mother in me chooses to put them first even when I struggle with jealousy and yes, sometimes selfishness. 

What about you? What are your biggest sources of mommy guilt?