I’ve felt a lot of nostalgia recently. I miss the pre-baby me, I miss staying up without worrying about getting good rest so I can keep up with two tiny creatures, I miss my hobbies, I miss the days I enjoyed taking Zelda out on a walk. But I also miss being pregnant, I miss breastfeeding, and I have a strange nostalgia for the days when the girls were in the NICU.
Why would anyone miss the NICU stage?! It’s full of ups and downs, a lot of emotions take over, and you do a lot of healing. But it’s also a unique experience – the nurses became like family, we knew we had two beautiful daughters but they never came home with us, and everything revolved around a tight schedule. I miss the smell of the unit the girls stayed in, I miss the idle chatter of the nurses and other parents, I miss the delicious hospital food I’d eat while there, and chatting with other parents while in the family room (that’s actually how I met and befriended a fellow twin mom, Kelly). And the girls were so small… so fragile. I miss holding them against my bare chest, skin to skin, the background noise consisting of monitor beeps and their oxygen tubes flowing. We went through so many different emotions and feelings while there, took so many pictures and videos, made decisions and plans… such a fragile moment in the lives of the four of us, and the two that were going through the most won’t ever remember it. Rick and I are stuck with the ghost of the NICU stay, and sometimes it haunts us, sometimes it soothes us.
I miss breastfeeding to a painful degree. My breasts still hurt like they did when they were full from time to time, and I always look down at them expecting the miraculous reemergence of my milk supply. But alas, it’s gone for good. I miss the closeness with the girls, I miss the day their super awesome nurse, Nanette, told me it was ok to try and put them to my breasts and see how they did. I remember the hours I spent hooked up to the breast pump in their rooms, my religiously set pumping schedule at home, my obsession with milk storage bottles and baggies and different flanges, and endlessly scrolling through Amazon while using the pump. I miss how much Rick loved the fact I was breastfeeding the girls and how he proudly held up my first ever container full of colostrum at the hospital, the content smile on his face before he carefully handled the labeled container to the nurse. I miss feeling like a hero when I brought bags and bags and bags of milk to the hospital. I miss how useful I felt when I saw the girls being tube-fed syringes full of my milk, how proud I was to participate in a breastfeeding study with the hospital because of how much I produced. It was hard to accept it when I witnessed my supply drop dramatically in two weeks. I remember the last time I ever pumped – I was using a hand pump at that point, tears splattering my hand as I squeezed the little trigger, not even half an ounce yielded in 30 minutes. I remember thinking “This is it” as I capped the embarrassingly empty little bottle and put it in the fridge.
Yes, I know, I did great. I gave them breastmilk when they needed it the most, when it was the most crucial. I am relieved to not have to pump every 3 hours anymore, relieved to have time in between feedings to spend with River and Lydia and do some things around the house, I am very happy I don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump anymore. As much as I am proud of myself for trying my hardest, I kick myself over how much cheaper it’d be if I had been able to just do it longer. Formula is not cheap, especially when you have twins that eat 5 to 6oz every 3 hours. But, in the undying words of Dane Cook, I did my best.
I miss being pregnant for a few different, sometimes selfish reasons. For one, it allowed me to eat without reservations. No Atkins, no Weight Watchers. Just eating as healthy and as much as I could (I cannot describe how hungry I was at all times). I miss the sweet look I got from other women when I waddled around. I miss resting my hands on top of my majestic twin bump, looking 40 weeks pregnant at only 20 weeks. I miss feeling the girls kick and move. It was such a surreal, intimate, irreplaceable feeling. I absolutely love having them out and seeing them grow, but it was a very deep, indescribable feeling having them in my womb. I miss how I looked, all big and glowing, with beautiful hair and nails. I miss being treated like a princess by others. That always made me feel good. I miss the look on Rick’s face when he’d look at me, and when he’d put his hands on my belly and talked to the girls. I’ll never forget those sweet moments, and I hope to experience it all over again.
I guess nostalgia can be good in small doses. I’ve been getting the tug on my chest and butterflies in my stomach quite often lately, but I also appreciate where I am in life today. I appreciate and adore my growing babies (and how much more they sleep now). I’m slowly learning to appreciate and love my new body, trying to not be discouraged by the countless stretch marks, my pouch that just hangs down, my stretched out and somewhat deflated breasts, the numbers that seem to never go down on the scale. We’re figuring out how to live our crazy busy life while not killing ourselves, and we still feel like we’re taking two steps forward and one step back at each stage. But we’re doing it together, and our marriage is only getting stronger through it all.
It’s good to remember to treat the past like a rear view mirror – only glance at it for hindsight. Stare at it, and you’ll inevitably crash, no matter how good the memories are.