It's been a little while since I've told you what's up in this twin mama's life so along with a sensational hemp protein pancake recipe, I'll give you a glimpse into my life with 5 month old twins. And if you're here just for the recipe, keep scrolling, my friend.
For those of you with twins, babies or just curious about babies, first may I say listen to The Longest Shortest Time Podcast. (I have no affiliation with them, the podcast has just been a reassuring friend in my ear). I listen to parenting podcasts often on the countless hours I walk the girls around town on our "adventures", and this is one I've come to love, with many stories, anecdotes, experiences and tales of being a new parent. In my opinion, they need more twin episodes...just sayin'.
Anyways, back to the girls. They are thriving at 5 months old, with a little smaller than average bodies, but their heads are in the 63 percentile (Blair) and 82 percentile (Ivy), so we are confident they will have giant heads and big brains like their daddy. Developmentally you would never know Ivy was premature, and Blair is only slightly behind her sister. So, happily, they are healthy thriving girls and I am here to tell you that life gets easier and a little better after your baby/babies are more than a couple months old. I'm finally getting the occasional 5 hour or even 6 hour stretch of sleep, which is magical compared to those early days. Just when you think you cannot physically survive another night of limited, interrupted sleep-boom!-the babies sleep for 6 hours in a row and you'll want to tell EVERYONE you meet. (The checkout ladies at Whole Foods know way more than they would like about the girls' sleep schedule, I'm sure).
(Ivy, left and Blair, right).
For their mama, life hasn't been smooth sailing, though overall it has still been a rewarding yet emotional ride. Turns out when you have babies, your body, both physically and emotionally take a long time to recover, and maybe you won't ever be the same person you were before the pregnancy. Welcome to parenthood. There are things nobody tells you about new motherhood, and partly because it may or may not apply to you or maybe because if you knew everything that could happen, you'd probably never try to have a child. One example is postpartum depression. I thought I had skated by with no postpartum depression issues because at my 6-week checkup, I felt exhausted but fine. What I didn't know was that your hormones and emotions are still roller-coastering (yep, it's now a word) months later. So, after my OB basically said "Great!" and brushed his hands of me, at about 4 months I began to feel that something was wrong.
Though I NEVER felt anger or ill will towards my babies, I did towards me. I cried every day. I lamented (and still do) my midsection and long c-section scar and ab separation. I became cranky knowing I couldn't workout or rest or eat whenever I want, and my running has been drastically reduced for awhile which was a hard change to accept. After I came back from a visit to Oregon, where I had family, friends and neighbors eager to hold my babies while I ran or baked, and where I could walk the girls to the library for baby storytime, attend the ballet (shoutout to BFan, the ballet company of my childhood friends!), meet a friend for tea, or walk to my pick of local coffeeshops and bakeries, I was very, very down. The girls were four months old, demanding attention constantly, and I was back home alone. Though my husband is wonderful with the girls, he works long days, takes care of the yard, is working on his thesis and finding a home for us when we move soon and so he cannot compete with the countless hands eager to help that I had become used to in the two weeks in Oregon. I didn't want to make him feel bad or complain; though I was happy to be back with my husband, it was bittersweet because I missed my mother's expertise and my freedom (and familiar hometown of Eugene that is so dear to me) during the long days of being a mother to two tiny beings.
(Grandpa babysitting/working out with the girls!)
Finally, I tentatively called my OB office to seek an appointment with my OB to ask about postpartum depression. I didn't know why I felt the sudden onslaught of lethargy and sadness, but I wanted it to stop. Frustratingly, the OB office said since I was post 6 weeks from delivery, I was no longer a patient. Finally, I had a primary care doctor re-refer me to the OB, and got in to see him. Luckily, he was wonderful after that frustrating period of not being able to get in/not knowing what doctor to see. He was calm, understanding, and speaking from experience (his wife had postpartum depression), he had me fill out a questionnaire and went over the score with me. He insisted postpartum depression is very under-diagnosed, and offered to start me on the lowest dose of medication just to see if it helps.
At first I insisted I didn't need medication, as I have always veered away from medicine and chosen instead to treat myself with, say, coconut oil, healthy eating and exercise, which I believes cures many ailments. But at the same time, I felt like something had to change, and I wanted to feel like myself and be the wife and mother I wanted to be. So per his suggestion, I began taking the medication, which I will be on for a total of 3 months. And it works. I feel normal again, and rarely give in to bouts of crying for no real reason and feel much more calm when say, Blair starts screaming, Ivy poos out of her diaper and all over her jumper, then Blair starts spitting up, then Ivy starts screaming, all while the phone is ringing, Zeke is barking, Yogi is trying to lick said baby poo and the kettle is whistling since I had mistakenly thought all was calm enough to enjoy a cup of tea. Basically, if you feel depressed and are eating healthy, getting more sleep (ha) and exercise doesn't work, I highly recommend talking to your doctor. The good news is it won't make you feel crazy or artificially happy or anything; I simply feel more rational, confident and have less wild swings of emotions. It has enabled me to be a calmer and more present mother, and that's worth the squeamishness of taking an anti-depressant. I'm guessing the stigma of taking medication prevents many women from seeing their doctor, but postpartum depression is certainly a real thing, and it is worth considering seeing a professional. I am also a big fan of therapy, as probably everyone could benefit from seeing a therapist, but after one appointment for me I realized the stress of trying to have a babysitter or ensuring my husband can get home from work in time, getting to the appointment and worrying about my babies the entire time made it more of a stressful experience than a beneficial one. Also, talk to your spouse or partner. I tend to internalize any problems and negative emotions (it's easy to think you shouldn't "burden" your spouse), but as my husband wisely pointed out, it makes him feel much better when he knows what is going on with me, plus if you communicate with your spouse, it makes you feel less alone, and better able to deal with any issues together. Tiny babies are a pretty big stressor to any marriage, so the better you communicate and work together as a team, the better parents you'll be, and the better your marriage will become. Especially for us military families; if you are dealing with deployments or any periods apart, this is going to be especially necessary to communicate and express your appreciation for your partner.
So this has been my experience, and if you can benefit from my story, then fabulous--that's the intent of my sharing, and I would love to hear your experiences with the baby blues or postpartum depression.
On a related note, I recommend eating as healthfully as you can. The days when I drink too much coffee and eat too many vegan protein bars instead of real food, I feel it. Get some vegetables and lean protein in. Drink a lot of water. Try and exercise a little--even just walking every day or performing some squats, lunges or push-ups while warming a baby bottle or even holding a baby for a little weight training while doing some leg-strengthening moves. Trust me, it can make a huge difference. And maybe a protein hemp pancake or two, too!
Hemp Protein Pancakes
1/3 cup gluten-free oats
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 tablespoon hemp protein powder
1 teaspoon maca powder
1 teaspoon lucuma powder
1 teaspoon baking powder (I use a corn-free substitute every time I say "baking powder" in my recipes, but if you're not sensitive to corn, feel free to use regular baking powder)
2 teaspoons chia seeds
Chia "egg" (1 tbsp chia mixed with 3 tbsp water and set aside to gel).
1/2 cup water
1.5 teaspoon vanilla powder
optional: 2 teaspoons xylitol or sugar substitute of choice
Frosting: 2 tablespoons vegan chocolate protein powder mixed with water.
1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and let sit 5 minutes.
2. In a pan over medium heat, use coconut oil and cook a few minutes per side over until done.
3. Serve drizzled with "frosting " and garnish with hemp hearts if desired.