It’s been some kind of year, that’s for sure. With still so much to be grateful for and in honor of Giving Tuesday, we tapped second-time mama (to twins, no less!) and co-founder of Welcome Baby, Juliet, to share her motherhood experience.
Here, this magnanimous mama talks to Babe about the critical and brilliant work she and her charity partner, Sarah, do at this challenging time for all mothers, especially those in need. Plus, twin pregnancy, breastfeeding for two, feeling isolated through Covid, and why she’s more motivated than ever to help as many new-moms as possible.
Current state of mind?
Most of all, I’m humbled and incredibly grateful that my babies are here safely despite all the stress of the pandemic and potential complications of twin pregnancy. Having twins has made me more motivated to help as many moms as possible. You forget how grueling the first few weeks of new motherhood are until you’re back in it. From carrying to caring for a baby, I feel it’s an immense undertaking that often invisible to the outside world. Women deserve recognition, credit, and support, even in the most basic ways.
Twin pregnancy is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have friends with twins who tried to prepare me physically, but there’s no way to comprehend until you’re in it. In my experience, once I was past the nausea of the 1st trimester, instead of enjoying my 2nd trimester (which is when you often get your energy back with a normal pregnancy), I felt as if I went directly into the 3rd trimester size-wise. With my daughter, I felt incredible during the 2nd trimester, but with twins, I was huge, anemic, and couldn’t walk from one room to another without lying down. Nevermind that I was also in lockdown with a toddler at 28 weeks pregnant. Let’s just say it was a lot.
I delivered May 9th, at the height of Covid. At that point, anxiety was at an all-time high, and no one fully understood how it spread. Plus, twin births can be early and complicated, sometimes followed by lengthy NICU stays, which under normal circumstances, I would be nervous about, but especially during Covid. Fortunately, I made it to 36 weeks and four days, and they only had to stay in the NICU for a week with jaundice. On the bright side, my husband was able to be with me during the delivery, and after all is said and done, our boys are home with us safely.
I’m a high-stress pregnant person. Before my twin pregnancy, I had three miscarriages between my daughter and the twins. Therefore, I was on alert every moment of this pregnancy, focused on the end game rather than enjoying the experience.
It turns out I can get pregnant easily but have a hard time staying pregnant. I found out about my first miscarriage at my eight-week doctor appointment. During the ultrasound, there was no heartbeat, and I had to have a D&C. The next two were chemical pregnancies that didn’t last. After experiencing three in a row, I consulted a fertility doctor, and she discovered I had a defect with my cycle wherein the second half was too short. She prescribed me progesterone and baby aspirin. Fourteen days later, I was pregnant.
Nervous about miscarrying again, I went in for a six-week appointment, holding my breath and bracing myself for another loss. During the ultrasound, the attendant asked me if I was on Clomid because there were two heartbeats! To go from anticipating a miscarriage to having twins was the biggest shock of my life! I was so disoriented and incoherent that the nurse made me eat graham crackers and drink ginger ale. She kept asking if I was OK to drive home.
Breastfeeding for two?
Covid, in general, has brought me back down to earth; I’m so grateful my babies are here safely, and honestly, that’s all that matters. Having twins is the best and I’m obsessed with them. But, having twins is also SO MUCH WORK. It’s double everything, literally, and finding a rhythm in the beginning was challenging.
One of the twins is magical and latched perfectly from the start, and the other struggled to latch and breastfeed. Until we found our way, I was breastfeeding one and pumping for the other to then bottlefeed. It was a lot of work, but so worth it. In the first few months, by the time I fed and changed them both and then pumped and washed all the pump parts, I had about 20 min to myself before starting all over. But now, at six months, I have them exclusively breastfeeding and swear by these sterling silver nipple covers from Amorini…they are THE ANSWER for breastfeeding. Trust.
A positive aspect of Covid life is that I’m with the babies all the time. We never separate, which makes breastfeeding them more effortless. I never have to go to someone’s wedding, dinner with friends, or to the office where I have to pump beforehand. There is no pressure to be anywhere except home feeding my babies.
The work you do with Welcome Baby?
The work we are doing at Welcome Baby is more important than ever. While it’s a critical and difficult time for all moms, I am mostly concerned with pregnant women and new moms who have lost their income and don’t know how they will afford the next pack of diapers. I’m concerned with the moms who are scared to leave the house for fear of being exposed to Covid or putting their infants in harm’s way. I’m worried about many of the women we serve who don’t have credit cards and cannot safely order items online. They are stressed, scared, and facing unprecedented challenges. We all know that being a new mom is hard enough even in the most comfortable circumstances, and somehow these women I mentioned are doing the impossible with the fewest resources. Moms in these times are also increasingly isolated; I know this because I am a Covid mom. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but in most cases, moms are unable to tap into their villages right now as we have to shelter at home. My boys are six months old, and the only person to hold them aside from my husband and me has been one of their grandmothers. Think about that for a second. It’s far from normal and has made this so much more difficult. But here’s the thing. We moms are all connected and all united by the innate drive to care for our babies. It creates an unspoken and undeniable bond. We have a real opportunity at this time to band together and help one another in any way we can, whether it’s offering financial or emotional support. Now is the time to help a mom in your community.
Welcome Baby solves a unique problem for moms with very few resources facing the added challenges of Covid. In one package delivered safely to them, a mother finds everything she needs to care for and keep her baby healthy for the first month of life, including 220 diapers, wipes, rash cream, clothing, swaddles, a thermometer, a baby carrier, and much more. Having these nonnegotiables delivered liberates the mother from the worry of how she will afford these items. It gives her time and space to focus on her recovery and the immense healing needed after delivery. And it gives her the supplies, dignity, and confidence she needs to start her journey as a parent in a prepared way.
Working and managing twins?
It’s been challenging (to say the least) and I have to give Sarah a massive shoutout! Adjusting to my new set up of round-the-clock feeding meant I couldn’t be involved in Welcome Baby until several months after birth. That said, at the same time, Sarah’s whole childcare system collapsed (as did all of ours), and somehow, she still managed take the reins of Welcome Baby. She has been incredible and managed to do it all for both of us. Right now, I don’t have a ton of options for childcare that feel safe, so, while I’m back in the swing of things, I work around my kids’ schedules, and Sarah brilliantly steps in when I can’t be there.
I hope future generations are more aware of how greatly our individual behavior impacts others; this has been especially highlighted during Coronavirus. We are all connected, and the consequences of our actions affect everyone around us. Raising young children with that awareness to consider others in everything they do is essential right now.
How to support?
To support Welcome Baby’s mission of ensuring that every newborn has the critical, essential items needed for a healthy start to life, please visit www.welcomebabyusa.org and click on the Donate page or click here.
Please also join our HATCH x Welcome Baby Event – the Solutions Panel – with experts discussing the unique challenges facing moms and mom-to-be moderated by Welcome Baby co-founder Sarah Steinhardt. Purchase tickets here with all proceeds going to Welcome Baby.
Perhaps this is what I need to be doing for myself, but in general, moms need to give themselves a break. It’s all too easy to be hard on ourselves, especially if there are any sort of perfectionist tendencies. Look the responsibilities are so great, and the pressure so high but try to be kind to yourself. And, help another mom if you can…now is the time.