Trapped With Twins and My Medela Breast Pump

I'm linking up again today with the Red Dress Club. We're doing "flash fiction." If you're unfamiliar with flash fiction, think of it as a condensed short story. Shorter than short. The word count for flash fiction typically ranges from 100 to 2000 words.

and the prompt I've chosen is:


I'm trapped in the mire; the thick, dripping, caramel-like consistency of my mommy brain. Neurons fire in a mad frenzy, crashing into one another--then disappear, POOF-- in a cloud of dust. I am incapable of a single coherent thought.


I'm so exhausted I'm falling asleep at the pump. The Medela Pump In Style, that is. Though there's nothing stylish about it.

I sit, boobies locked and loaded to this dreadfully slow contraption (the one I got to use in the hospital was like a Mercedes, while this was more like a Yugo):

photo courtesy of www.medela.com

Listening to the obnoxiously loud motor, rivaled only by the obnoxiously loud screaming of my twin baby girls. One is howling in my lap, the other lies on the floor next to me, red faced and squawking. Fortunately with all this carrying on my let-down reflex is uninhibited; yet the noise is closing in on me, trapping me in its tight web.

Sometimes you can say the same word over and over until it becomes a string of meaningless sounds. Well, the crying is kind of like that, too. Soon it barely interrupts my tired trance. I'm staring at the wall, one forearm holding the pump's parts in place with my free hand pressing a paci into Abby's mouth. I realize my mouth is sagging open and that it's time to switch out bottles. Which is messy and complicated with a baby in one's lap. Let's not even talk about how many times I've spilled milk on the carpet trying to do this dance.

It's January in Kansas, and bitterly cold outside. Because the girls are preemies, their risk for RSV is exceptionally high and their neonatologist told us not to take them out. Too many germs. So we're sequestered. Only my husband uses his Get Out of Jail Free card for work every day and has intelligent conversations with actual adults. He also gets a regular shower. He eats meals in peace, even if they're sometimes rushed.

Me? My hair is filthy. I smell like milk. I've been wearing the same pair of pajamas for three (going on four) days. Sometimes after the girls are fed, burped, and freshly diapered, I swaddle them tightly and strap them into their vibrating Fisher-Price seats. I turn on their white noise machine, poke the pacifiers in, and pull their bedroom door closed behind me. Then I go to my room, closing my door quietly behind me.

I'm trapped. I crawl into my bed, close my eyes and pray they fall asleep.


Do We Have the Gimmies? And Too Much Stuff?

(photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

Lately there's a lot of loud humming in my head. There's too much of it this time of year when the toy commercials come on constantly, the newspaper arrives loaded with extra ads and inserts what a waste of trees, and the emails for special sales and promotions flood my inbox. It's enough to put this girl into a tailspin. And it ain't pretty, people.

I've been reading a lot of posts lately that have made me even more pensive about life and "stuff", like this one on homelessness via Diana Adams of Bit Rebels. And this one about gratitude and greed via my friend Amy Oscar.

I've also been thinking about this video, The Story of Stuff, which you should watch if you haven't already.

Then my BFF Shelly Kramer of V3 Integrated Marketing  and I went road trippin' to BFE Bern, Kansas on Saturday to pick up our cow. You know the one. And if you don't, go here to catch up. I'll wait.

Anycow, we had lots of time in the car to talk, seeing as we took a few minor detours, including one to, um, Nebraska (cough, cough). When we came upon this sign
I slammed on the brakes and pulled over freaking out slightly. Shelly, ever level-headed, got on her phone to call the meat packing plant for more specific directions (let's just say country folk don't get that we city people aren't used to going off the grid. My GPS was no help--it showed us kinda floating on a screen of white space). As we drove, wide open fields raced past us while a beautiful blue sky floated gracefully above. Grasses turning dry and brown, trees that seemed naked with the recent loss of their leaves. I squealed as we passed cattle grazing, baby calves, deer, and even alpaca!  

We talked while we drove through several small farm towns as we neared Bern. Shelly mentioned how different people's lives are up there. For example, Deborah, the woman whose cow we bought, lives in a very small house with her husband, two kids, and a third on the way. Her kids have no idea what Gogurt is, and the abhorrent fruit snacks my kids are addicted to are completely alien to them. Their nearest grocery store is a half hour drive away. Deborah and her neighbors stock a nearby food pantry with essentials so that in a pinch they can grab what they need: a sack of flour, maybe some sugar, and perhaps some beans or potatoes. There is no McDonald's in Bern. There is no Wal-Mart in Bern. It's truly all very quaint, simple, and quiet. Nothing but miles and miles of farmland around, wide open spaces, and consequently less of a need or desire for the "stuff" the rest of us constantly crave and find so necessary.
What a different life many of us lead. It's difficult for me to admit, but we definitely lead a life of excess. We have not only what we need, but so much more. I drive a two-year-old minivan that we bought brand new; we live in a large new house with plenty of space; and our girls have their own playroom in the basement that's overflowing with Barbies, an easel, a doll house, kiddie table & chairs set, a ginormous dress-up trunk, and a small inflatable bouncy house (thank you very much for the Craigslist find, Shelly!). We go out to nice meals at restaurants when we want, go to the movie theater, shop at Banana Republic, The Gap, Target and Old Navy. We have several different chains of grocery stores available to us, all within a two or three mile radius. We take all of this for granted.

Still, we are generous. We donate to many different charities and make a point of supporting lots of people and organizations in need. I keep granola bars and packs of peanut butter crackers in my car to hand out to the homeless, along with the smile Diana Adams talks about in her post. This morning I dropped off several large bags of clothes, shoes, housewares, etc. at Goodwill. I support Heifer International and send meaningful gifts to help people around the world receive training that helps them become self-reliant. Not only is that being green, it's not just more "stuff."

But here I am trying to make all these excuses for myself. When I'm part of the problem of "stuff."

As I type this, there's a closet upstairs where we're hiding Hanukkah and birthday gifts for our daughters. Part of me can't help it. They are still so young. I'm hopeful we can gradually ease away from this unhealthy obsession and instead do things like volunteer at shelters or food kitchens someday when they are older. Maybe rather than giving each other presents, we can commit to putting that money towards a charity (or a few) we all believe in and want to support. There are so many in need. I have taught my children about homelessness and while they clearly don't fully understand it, they do show sympathy and they enjoy helping me dole out snacks or put money in a bucket. If I have my way, within a few years we'll take gifts to a nearby children's hospital to hand out.

And that good feeling, that high I get from helping others? That's the only "stuff" I really need.

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