the race of your lives

In ALL, SNIPS & SNAILS by Stephanie Klein34 Comments


It’s frightening being home alone with the two of you.  This isn’t the first time, but it’s the first time I know you’ll be awake, wailing for me to feed you.  There is an order to things, a particular way of doing, and I won’t do it the way your father does.  The right way, will be the less efficient way, with me.  The new mother way, where I’m not quite able yet, to grab you with only one hand.  You’re resilient and hardy, I’m sure.  It’s what they say, but you’re mine, and I have dreams of dropping you.  And enough of your life will move too fast, so we’ll live, in these moments, stretched out, and tortured, not savored, because it’s all I can do.  I just want you to be back asleep, quiet, so I can sleep too. 

I’ll have to navigate the changing table alone, first one of you, then the other.  I’m frightened your cries will throw me into a panic.  I’ve got the DVD rigged with stacked chick flicks, bringing you both into that world of mine, where things are scripted and endings are happy.  It’s a sing-song world where if babies are crying, everything is still right.  I’m afraid of being overwhelmed.  Of all the steps and all the minutes and all the ways to do things.  Of snapping out the changing table above your bassinet, placing you there, undressing you fast enough to soothe you again, turning a filthy defiled diaper into a rubber glove, getting into all the cracks and folds good with a wet wipe, then wrapping the diaper up tight and new, hoping the plastic lace is all out, that you won’t soak it through.  Swaddle you, feed you, listen as the other of you wants your turn.  It’s hard and frightening and overwhelming when all I want to do is hush your cries, so I move too quickly and forget to breathe.  Babies cry; it’s what you do, but when I hear it, and it’s my turn, when it’s all up to me, I want to soothe you as quickly as I can, which leads to your mother as a blur, in a blink, passing by, rushing forward, with clumsy hands she’s trying to keep steady.  It’s why I need the chick flicks with the happy endings, to comfort me, to get me through the race of your lives.


  1. By reading your posts, I have a feeling that you weren't totally convinced that it was the time to be a mom. That you still had too many things to do, projects and stuff.. and being a mom has thrown you fast and unprepared to a new world that you weren't eager to get to.
    Not that you don't love them.. I'm not saying that, but I think you wanted to enjoy your life as an indidiviual IN LOVE and IN MARRIAGE before you were handed this huge package.. hopefully you'll get the hang of it soon. Overwhelm is not fun.

  2. Do it your way. You're their mom. You'll figure out what's best.

    Dads throw the kids in the air cuz they think it's fun. They let them flip from walking their legs up his chest and pulling their heads back until they do a backward somersault from his body. Dads wrestle with the kids until one of them eventually cries for him to stop, or until I yell at them to stop because it's bedtime and it's time to calm down.

    That's what dads do.

    Moms, they treat their babies like a fine piece of china. Hoping never ever to chip them. Eventually, they all chip, but nonetheless, each is still perfect.

  3. Yes, yes … that's exactly how it is.

    I don't think Miriam must have kids. Overwhelm is par for the course, ready or not.

    I'm 35 and have my first, 5 months old, she was very very wanted for a very very long time – I've been sobbing at every TLC's "A Baby Story" episode since I was 21, I've been working with babies and children since I was 11 until this very day, I've read every "How to Care For Your Baby" book on the market, gobble up every magazine article …

    … but nothing – NOTHING prepares you for the sheer overwhelmingness and exhaustion and self-doubt. And you have it times two.

    And yes – "all the way to do things". Yes. One book tells you they will end up sleepless in college and on sleeping pills if you don't let them "cry it out" to sleep, the next book tels you they will end up in therapy and have blood pressure problems if you do.

    I think it gets better though. I'm starting to think it gets better. At 5 months she feels sturdier to me, I can roll her around in my arms and tickle her, heft her on one hip while I do laundry – but I still stick my finger under my nose to see if she's breathing when she sleeps sometimes. And sleep is still the shits. She went from about 1 month old to 3 and a half months old sleeping 7-10 hours at night, now she's up all night long again – apparently, perfectly normal for this age. Good times, good times. It's exhausting.

    You are perfectly normal. Hang in there.

  4. I remember this stage and thinking this was the way things would be forever. No. It doesn't last long. Really! It gets easier in some ways. Harder in others. Your babies don't know what perfect is. They have nothing to compare with you. They just know love and that's what you're showing them. Mine is now fourteen and the growing independence is a whole nother scary path. I see grown men (strangers) looking at her in the WRONG way! I want to scream at them, "She's only 14!" People who don't know better think childbirth is what stretches you. No, it's every stage after their birth that stretches you more, but you'll be amazed when you successfully pass from one stage to another and see that they're turning out fine–with you or despite you (on some days) and it's because you've loved them all the way.

  5. "… but nothing – NOTHING prepares you for the sheer overwhelmingness and exhaustion and self-doubt."
    Well said, Wendy. My four year old son was very wanted too, but in the first months I felt exactly like you said: exhausted. And whenever he was crying I`ve been stressed because I didn`t know why he was crying. And whenever I`ve been stressed he felt it and started crying even more. I think this is a new-mommy-problem: the baby cries and you don`t know why- is it hungry, lonely, tired – there are so many reasons why babies cry. And you can only do what you have to do; feed them, change the diaper, soothe them, sing for them, but sometimes you can do all this and they are still crying. I don`t want to say let them cry, I wouldn`t do this. But they are babies, and crying is what they do. It`s not comfortable, I know, but it´s easier to endure when you know they are NOT crying because you`re a bad mom.

  6. You're doing great. Don't let the self-doubt creep in. When I had my daughter 6 months ago, I freaked out. I even worried that letting her soothe herself on the boob would lead to her soothing herself on food later in life. Nobody told me that babies are tiny chameleons. By the time you notice that they have developed worrisome habits, they'll change them. Also, at a certain point, you will lose your fear. You will realize that your sweet babies won't remember every misstep you make, every method you try to get them to sleep or to soothe them. They'll only remember that you love them.

  7. awww.

    I can't sympathize…I can only imagine. Knowing what you've told us about yourself, you seem to excel at everything you do. Not just excel, but do it beautifully. Im sure this race wont be any different.

  8. I'd be overwhelmed with the urge to nibble on their cheeks. They're so freaking cute, Stephanie. I'm not about to comment on your parenting because I don't have children and it's none of my business. But oh my hell, those are some good looking kids. The end.

  9. have you found a nanny yet? that will definitely give you a break you can count on, even if she is part time.
    i was completely panicked by the sound of my son crying as well.
    of course it is normal to feel overwhelmed but panicking when being alone with them could also be signs of PPD. i certainly felt that way and i had PPD. your recent posts seemed pretty lively and you seemed well. this one, less so. i wondering if you are still getting checked by your ob. one thing i will say about that is that i had an expensive manhattan ob and she didnt follow up after my post partum appnt. at all – even though she knew i had PPD. then friends who are doctors said that ob's arent great about PPD and sort of drop you after the post partum check up.
    i would think it's also hard for you because i liked getting out and being with other new moms but i know that with twins that's very very hard.
    in any case i hope you get some sleep – it adds up in nasty ways, the lack of sleep.

  10. Just commenting to sympathise! Their cries are programmed to stress you out, so you are motivated to ease their discomforts or meet their needs. You're doing an amazing job, so when you feel your nerves are getting fried, just take a deep breath and know you're doing great! Close your eyes a second and try to emanate a soothing aura, showing your babies that even when they're crying, you're happy because they're showing you what they need (not trying to stress you out!). It may or may not work but it's always nice to do a little relaxation when you're stressed :) Wishing you a nice deep restful sleep the next chance you get…

  11. I know exactly what you are going through. I was there 5 months ago. It does not seem possible and everyone told this to me as well, but it does get better. My twins are 6 month old and only now am I confident to pick them up with one hand and only now can I stand to hear one cry while I'm tending to the other. I had a really hard time with that as well. I don't think it's not that you were not ready as the first commenter suggested. You can NEVER fully prepair for kids much less twins. I had NO idea what I was in for and it's really, really hard. I take it by milestone, I'm at 6 months now I'm ready for 1 year then I feel like I can enjoy it more. It is only in the past few weeks, now that they interact more that I enjoy them more. I always loved them but now I enjoy them. Not so much in the middle of the night when your Desperate for sleep and one keep spitting his binky out and you rush in cause you just KNOW he will wake up the other one and then you will never get to sleep then not so much but it is getting better. Hang in there.

  12. Abigail and Lucas look like total cutie pies. I related to this post, even though I don't have children. I HATE the sound of a baby crying–it stresses me out– I hate seeing babies unhappy, upset… etc..

  13. your are such an engaging writer — and clearly you are already in the process of becoming a great mom. i really think your attitudes about nursing,parenting, etc are very down-to-earth.

    when you do have a chance (maybe in 10 years?) you should read Malcolm Gladwell's archived new yorker article: Big & Bad — all about SUVs and automotive safety. frightening article both about high rate of being injured in an SUV and injuring others. check out how your SUV rates in the chart he has in the article. and this is not even about gas guzzling — just th esafety issue.

    can't wait to keep reading your blog.

  14. Cut yourself some slack woman! They've only been wireless for such a short time and the best part is they don't begrudge you a thing. They both still aren't quite sure how they ended up here either. You will all discover your routine. In the meantime…those babes in a basket look just like mini versions of you and Phil.

  15. I felt overwhelmed having one infant at a time, so I cannot imagine having two. As a new mother, you just have to learn as you go along. Some days will be easier than others. Unfortunately, they didn't come w/ a handbook, and it's hard, but it does get easier. There's not a right way or a wrong way. As long as you love them and meet their needs, you're doing ok. Definitely try to find a nanny to help so you won't feel as overwhelmed, and you can take some much needed time for yourself. Oh, and I did drop my first born off the changing table. I was standing RIGHT THERE, and it just happened. I felt so guilty, but he was fine. Then, when I told my friends what a horrible mom I was, they laughed and said that it happens to lots of babies. (He's 15 now, and there were no guards on the changing tables back then – in the dark ages).

    BTW, the pix are so cute. If I'm making it out correctly, I think it says "Automatic Sprinkler" on Lucas's shirt. Love it!

  16. Fancy Schmancy,

    You are too funny! At first, when I realized she was doing the good ole daycare, inside out glove trick I was kind of thinking the same thing, but then I realized what it's like NOT to change them that way (I worked in an infants room in a daycare) and I would DEFINITLY go the glove route, no matter if they were my kiddos or not! Not only does it make things easier and more sanitary, but I think it also cuts down on the stench that can sometimes come from the Diaper Genie :)

    Stephanie, your babes are absolutely gorgeous. Precious. Precious.


  17. I knew exactly what you were talking about with the gloves– like I said, I worked in an infant room in a daycare, and it truly is a great idea! :) I didn't think you were just scared of the poo :)

  18. This is so well written. It's almost, I want to say, soothing? Nice.

    I'm not a parent so I can't speak from experience but I have to say you sound like a pro already. You've got your own rhythm and routine going on.

  19. This was perfect, just perfect. Perfectly written and the picture is the icing on the cake with this one. Love it.

    Hang in there. It will get better once they start sleeping through the night. As I said before, you will feel like a completely different woman when you finally have your sleep.
    Just know that whatever feelings you might be having, crazy, wonderful, not so wonderful, all are natural and it's not forever. Just wait, it only gets better from here. And I cant wait to read about it and vicariously relive it through your blog.

  20. Oh Stephanie – I remember it like it was yesterday. I brought home that third baby in three years and sat in the middle of the living room and bawled because I was certain I'd never, ever be able to leave the house again. I was outnumbered.

    But amazingly, all these years later, they've all survived, they're all lovely people, one of them accidentally fell from the bed to the floor when he was about 3 months old, and is now a brilliant young man with a driver's license.

    Be kind to yourself – enjoy those chick flicks! Oh – and the picture is unbelievably gorgeous. Happy days ahead.

  21. Ohhh Im doing it again. Here's my third post today- just wanted to say one of my gifts I tend to give gfs who just had a baby is the entire Sex/City series just to have something to do when the babies are sleeping all the time and you're stuck at home those first few months. You'd be surprised how much use they got out of them too.

  22. Hi Stephanie,
    two nights ago i dreamt of you. I stayed with you in your home. It was a very sunny day and you were annoyed with me because i'm not read your book yet. : )

    Beatiful pictures, twins are very cute.

  23. I am reminded of a day, oh so long ago, when my now 15 (and a HALF, mom– I'm 15 and a HALF!)-year-old first-born son was but a tiny little wiggle worm of only three months. I had places to go and things to do and needed to be dressed and ready by 6 pm. Daddy was at work and I was all alone and couldn't get my little one to stop crying every time I put him down in his bassinet long enough for me to even THINK about getting in the shower. He'd been fed and burped and changed and cuddled and rocked and soothed and finally tearfully BEGGED by one very frazzled new mommy, "Will you PLEASE stop crying? I don't know what else to do for you and I need to go take a bath and I'm so tired and I don't know what's wrong and I…" At that very moment, he stopped crying, looked up at MY crying face, stopped his own wailing, tilted his head back and grinned and cooed at me. I put him down in his little bassinet– without him making a peep– and then proceeded to break a land speed record in the shower lest he should change his mind. It was that day that I realized that no matter how stressed out I got, how worried I was that I was doing it all wrong, babies are just little people. They don't expect perfection from us any more than we should expect perfection from them. Just do the best you can, take it one day at a time, and before you know it they're 15 (and a HALF) and you'll wonder how on earth it went by so fast.

  24. Have you heard about this? The Dunstan Baby language is supposed to help figure out which cry means what so you can help soothe your little one faster and easier. A friend of mine highly recommends it.

  25. Those first few weeks are the toughest, and that's with ONE baby. I remember going to my pediatrician's office, in tears because my baby had colic and hadn't slept more than two consecutive hours in almost three months.

    He told me he guaranteed, barring extraordinary circumstances, that these early months were the hardest part, and that it got better and better from here.(Although he offered no guarantees on the teenage years).

    Looking back almost a year and a half later, he was utterly, totally, absolutely right. It gets easier–think of this as your motherhood boot camp. Hang in there!

  26. Oh honey…I can feel your soul here. It's as if you were speaking for me. I remember feeling so incompetent and lost and I only had one! I was crying when I left the hospital with her – she's 8 now – because I didn't know what to do. It was during those first few months that, like yours, my husband seemed to be the natural and I was the trainee. It will get better. I promise.

  27. Happy endings get me through my life too.

    Yup, that's right over a week out and the best my medicated ass can come up with to leave as a comment is a dick joke.

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