Warning Signs You Need to Start Taking Care of Yourself After Twins
“Did you know you are losing hair?”
“Of course, isn’t that normal after you’ve given birth?”
“Not like this. You have bald spots. You should call your doctor.”
I remember calmly sitting in the chair while my hair stylist told me she suspected I had alopecia, a condition where your immune system attacks itself and bald spots result. I didn’t cry, I didn’t rush to Google anything. I just accepted the news and calmly reached for my phone to ping the doctor’s office.
I knew. I knew I had put myself on the back burner for 15 months. Self care? Not if you’re a parent of multiples. Our families live over a 1,000 miles away, my husband works full time and I work from home, so a night of self-care means having the energy to watch more than one episode on Netflix. taking care of yourself
Our society tells us, get back to work as soon as possible. Make sure you breastfeed or your kids won’t get into Harvard. Everything has to be organic. Do not let your child outside without sufficient sunscreen and essential oils to ward off West Nile virus. Your toddler can’t juggle and recite the alphabet in 17 languages? Oh, mine can.
Living in a world where we have access to so much information is overwhelming, and makes us feel like we are constantly behind. In order to ensure that we are being the best parents we can be, we run ourselves into the ground. But, at the end of the day, if we aren’t healthy and functioning properly, we are going to hit a breaking point.
I had plenty of warning signs, but I shrugged them off.
I am always tired. What parent isn’t? Especially if you have twins or more, you just get used to the idea that you’ll likely never sleep in again. Or nap. When people say, “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” you know they mean well, but laundry is piling up, trash needs to go out, bills need to get paid. The list is relentless. taking care of yourself
But, listen carefully to your body. Are you tired because you’re not sleeping as much, or are you fatigued? There is a difference and once you start feeling fatigued you need to figure out a way to rest.
Even after my babies were sleeping through the night and I was getting a solid 8 hours of sleep a night, I never felt rested. I felt like I was dragging myself through the day after a full night’s sleep and two cups of coffee. That was my first warning sign.
Physical pain is another warning sign that your body is telling you to slow down and take care of yourself. Is it your lower back hurting from picking up two babies? Or perhaps your upper back from hunching over to breastfeed? It could be your wrist from the weird angles you have found yourself in when wrangling more than one baby and bringing groceries into the home. taking care of yourself
Whatever it is — headaches, aches, pains — it is worth a checkup before it gets worse. I found myself limping into the chiropractor’s office one day, squirming with pain in my left hip. Sure enough, having a baby on your hip 24-7 is going to result in some problems. And until my body literally stopped allowing me to pick up my children, I just grinned through the pain.
Don’t do that. Ignoring it will only elongate the healing process.
Do you have trouble sleeping at night because you have a constant to-do list running through your head? Or maybe it’s hard to accept help from others when they offer because you’re afraid they won’t know how to handle twins? taking care of yourself
I get it. I do. There are a million ways things can go wrong- I’ve thought of them all. And then I realized that there was nothing I could do to prevent the crazy scenarios I thought of in my head beyond the basic precautions every parent takes to protect their children.
Another warning sign was going off, but I have twins — how could I possibly do anything about it?
Hard to focus on the present
Eat. Sleep. Play. We lived by this mantra during the first year. Everything was scheduled down to their next blowout (not really, but you get the picture.)
Surviving the first year of twins put me into a rhythm that made me end up feeling more like a robot and less like a fun mom. I LOVE my kiddos. They constantly amaze me, teach me, and make my heart melt. But there are days when I feel like I’m going through the motions hoping to make it to bedtime so that I have a moment to myself.
But what can you do about all of this? After all, time is your most precious commodity and unless you are one of the celebrity power couples with twins, you likely can’t afford a housekeeper, nanny, chef, and life coach to come to your house and rescue you from the insanity that is multiples. taking care of yourself
My first piece of advice would be to talk to your doctor. Whether it’s your primary care physician or OBGYN, do not be afraid to share your struggles and ask lots of questions.
Our twins’ pediatrician was a huge motivator for me to make changes in my life in order to find a better balance. She could tell that I was starting to crack and offered advice on making small changes that have brought our family so much peace among the chaos that is twin toddlers.
Next, whatever you have to do, find little ways to take care of you. It could be a ten-minute yoga routine you find on YouTube. Or a weekly bubble bath that you treat yourself too. For me, something as simple as brushing my teeth before I go to bed makes me feel more sane and human again. taking care of yourself
After finding out the obvious, that I needed to take time for myself, I joined my husband on a work trip overseas. I almost canceled it 24 times before I got on the plane, but I finally had the courage to listen to the voice inside of me telling me that my marriage and my health were vital to raising two amazing girls.
So, we drove 1,000 miles to our nearest relatives house, dropped them off for a week and you know what happened? Nothing. The twins loved spending time with their cousins and grandparents and my husband and I reconnected after a long, stressful 17 months of parenthood.
And finally, I see a counselor once a month. Her advice has been life-changing. From these monthly appointments, I have a safe person to talk to, who helps me find freedom in boundaries.
Now when I see that someone’s kid knows how to swim at 6 months, and my twins are 18 months and have never been in a pool, I can find the courage to applaud that momma while not letting it affect my personal parenting decisions. Right now it’s more important for me to be present and engaged with my girls, than checking off a to-do list of modern-day milestones. taking care of yourself
Each day that passes, when I take a moment to pause, listen to my body and make small changes, I feel more and more empowered. Simply finding a few moments to let go of expectations and embrace the present have been exactly what I needed.
I don’t know what that may look like for you, but if you are starting to feel like you are running out of steam, call a friend, a doctor or someone you can trust to help you take a step in the right direction. And if you ever doubt yourself, just remember that you love your little ones, and that, my friend, is enough.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
Stefani Zimmerman Drake is a wife, twin mom, and lover of rescue dogs. As a strategic communications consultant who runs her own business in Charleston, South Carolina, Stefani and her husband spend their time capturing all the sweet moments of their girls, while always dreaming about their next big adventure. You can follow their adventures online or via Instagram stories.
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