Early on, I used to dread those few hours per day when I would be alone with the RJBs. Not because I didn’t want to be with them. Not at all. My biggest fear was that they would be hungry – AT THE SAME TIME – while I was by myself. Why? Because babies with reflux need to be fed upright, and remain upright for a period of time after eating, lest they throw up. And for us, feeding them in car seats or bouncy seats didn’t negate the issue. Their anti-gravidational reflux could launch rockets, I kid you not.

Holding one baby off could sometimes work. Most of the time not. In not feeding one while I fed the other, I felt they thought I was neglecting them, abandoning them to a swing or boppy to cry alone with no security in their young lives that someone was there to care for them.

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In feeding them together, it often initiated a cycle of feeding, throwing up, and crying. When they would throw up, it seemed more made its way up than went into them. Not only out of their mouths, but out of their nostrils. And then the need to suction them, to get the milk and mucous out of their airways. While they are scared and crying. While the other one is crying because you took the bottle out of their mouth. For which they would then cry themselves into throwing up. Because they weren’t sitting upright in your lap. All of which served to fester the wound of feeling like a parental failure.

And guess what? Inevitably, they WERE hungry simultaneously. Because you can’t schedule-feed babies with reflux. And the cycle happened. And I got through it – sometimes barely. But not without tears and that anxiety that tingles warm through your body and makes your heart race. You know that near-miss car accident feeling? That’s how it felt, the anticipation of this situation.

Now? This whole three months of their lives later? Totally do-able. But it is not solely due to my experience as a parent, IF AT ALL. And not because Bruiser’s reflux, cross my fingers, seems to be going out with the tide. It is because we’ve had lots and lots of help from nannies.

There it is. I admit it out loud. You want to know how I’ve had time to post? It’s because someone was sitting with the RJBs while I had ten minutes of sanity. How it is that I’ve managed to gain 5 pounds in the last three months? Because someone has brought us a meal while we do tummy-time with the kids. How we’re not completely exhausted? Because someone gets up with them most nights so we can sleep. How I haven’t run out of clean underwear? Because someone is doing most of the laundry.

We’ve had a night nanny since the RJBs were nine days old. Not every night. But probably five nights a week on average – 10pm to 6 am. We’ve had a day nanny slash housekeeper five to six days a week – 8 am to 6pm. Gulnoz. Ann. Regina. Jenny. Marisol. Our house has been a revolving door of hired help. We might as well leave the front door unlocked.

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This three months later, we’re weaning the RJBs ourselves off. The kids will start daycare in August and we’ll keep our day person for Saturday’s so I can run needed errands and Matou can go to work. We’re down to 3 nights per week with the night nanny and that will discontinue entirely by mid-August because she has another family she’s committed to. And because the RJBs are, for the most part, sleeping through the night – 7:30pm to 5 or 6:00 am. which means we’re just paying for a co-dependent relationship. Well, that, and I don’t have any more internal organs to sell to finance the expense.

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I’m back at work now, full-time. Matou has been back at work for two-and-a-half months. And we’ve discovered that the bittersweetness of having kids is the imbalance it creates for working parents. It’s counterintuitive to me, this two-income household for the purpose of paying for someone else to spend 10 hours a day with our kids. And yet, neither of us make enough for one of us to stay home.

The result is, I sense the RJBs feel loved and secure and like their needs are met, but I’m not sure they know WE are their mom’s. Just last Friday, I rushed home after work to find Bruiser smiling and laughing with the nanny. And when I went up to him and said Hello, he looked at me with the expression of “Who the hell are you?” And then there was a sense of connection, a connection that said “Oh, yeah, you’re the bath, bottle, bedtime nanny.”

Which is about what it feels like five days a week. We get home at 6pm. Take a short walk in the neighborhood. We each take a baby and give them a bath and feed them, alternating babies each night so we have equal time with them. Put them down to sleep at 7:30. Leave the next morning oftentimes before they wake. That’s TWO HOURS A DAY WITH MY KIDS. Deflating. Oh, sure, we could wait longer to do their bedtime routine. But that would be selfish of us, and fussy of them because 7ish is their internal bedtime. As it is, they usually end up alseep by the time we get home from our walk.

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Jen stays home Mondays and Tuesdays. She called me the other day and said someone wanted to talk to me. She put Bruiser and Birdie on the phone and they were cooing and squeaking away. Me? I was at the office reviewing operating agreements and writing formulas for a spreadsheet.

My mom said it’s the quality of time we spend, not the quantity. But this time it is taking to wrap my head around that reality and do so without immense guilt is expansive. All the more reason that I look forward to the weekends now more than ever.

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