What I’ve learned in two weeks as a mom of two
Just two weeks ago we welcomed our family’s second boy. As a mom of one preschooler who in many ways is old enough to be more independent, I was pretty confident we’d get this two-kid routine down pretty quickly. I thought we’d perfectly spaced our kids that we’d have none of the two-under-two craziness that I am sure I could never handle. Ha.
Well, in some ways that has turned out to be true, but in other ways…we are still learning and figuring out what works best. Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve come away with in just a few short weeks as a mom of more than one child.
Having done this once before really does make it easier. Knowing what contractions feel like, knowing what to expect when going to L&D, having already pushed out a baby – all of this prior experience took a lot of the scary unknowns out of the equation the second time around. There was no look of shock on my face when I saw the bag of supplies given to me by my postpartum nurse that I had the first time. I remember thinking then: Do I really need all these sprays and pads and creams to put myself back together? Yes, yes you do.
But just because you’ve done this before doesn’t mean it will be exactly the same. My labors were totally opposite for my two kids, and even though I am an OB and tell patients every day, “Every pregnancy and delivery is unique,” I still for some reason thought mine would be identical – wishful thinking! And when they weren’t, I wondered if something was wrong (it wasn’t, of course). So be ready for things to vary from birth to birth, and that means it’s OK if you aren’t totally sure if you are in labor or your water broke. Just because you’ve done it once, doesn’t mean you have to be an expert.
Confidence goes a long way. Since this was my second time breastfeeding, I found so much of the doubt and worry I experienced with my firstborn never even entered my mind. I knew I could do this, so I didn’t feel the need to obsessively track every diaper and feed. Having a little confidence pulled me through the rougher moments and gave me the freedom to just enjoy the early days. Practice really does make perfect!
It’s a juggling act. We are still figuring out how to get everyone up, dressed, and out of the house on time now that we’ve got another person to care for. Some mornings it’s super easy and the stars align, and on others I wonder how I am ever going to manage once my husband goes back to work. It’s OK that some days are smooth and others are rocky. Juggle what you can, and don’t sweat it if you are a little late or slightly unshowered…people will understand!
Don’t expect siblings to share your enthusiasm. Some moments my older son relishes in getting to perform for his baby brother, and at other times, he says exasperatingly, “All this crying is giving me a headache!!” I think the best piece of advice I can give is to not push your older kids. Let them be as involved as they want – which may be a lot or a little – and set aside time just for them. Their world was just turned upside down, so try and see it from their perspective to help understand why they may be acting out.
Rest when your kids rest. Please let me know when you’ve got this one down, as I have yet to really achieve this—yet I know I’m supposed to. Don’t be shy in asking for help, but really – take care of yourself. You can’t care for your growing family if you are constantly exhausted!
Wear your baby. As I’m writing this, my baby is sleeping on me in his ring sling. I don’t know how I’d get anything done (including playing with our older son) without baby wearing, so give it a try if you find yourself needing extra hands! Lots of styles exist, and once you find one you like, it just may be the lifesaver you need.