I recently read a blog post about a mom who felt adding a second baby to her family was a breeze. Well, great… I immediately followed this thought with, “Well, what’s wrong with me then?”
Because you know what? I think it’s hard. And four months out, there are still days when I feel like I’m literally running on empty. But I dig deep and push on with the day.
For us, those first few weeks were a blur and the months were intense. I’m super grateful for my two children, and love them fiercely, but I’m going to tell the truth here. Because maybe there’s another mama out there feeling the same and afraid to say so.
I think that when I say I’m ok, but I’m really not, I’m not doing anyone any favors.
At first, I wasn’t sure how MJ was going to feel about being a big brother. His emotions have ranged from being upset about sharing me with C to now telling me he wants to “keep her” (Good thing, buddy!) and how he just wants “to love on her.” He loves her so intensely I sometimes worry he’ll hurt her with his hundred kisses, squeezing her and wanting to carry her! I will do everything I can to foster that strong sibling bond. I want them to know that they will always have that one person to fight for them.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that I feel like I can’t get anything done.
I have these grand expectations every day about what I’m going to get done. Work, chores, projects with MJ, self-care, etc. I usually get through a ⅓ of it, IF I’m lucky! My son is (almost) 4 year and my daughter 5 months old. They are at high needs times in their lives. I’ll sit down to nurse the baby, and MJ will announce he needs to poop and I need to wipe his bum. Or I’ll be changing a diaper and MJ will be hungry. I’ll get C to sleep just in time for the dog to bark and wake her up. And forget it if one of them is sick.
I feel like I’m being pulled in a million directions all at once.
And I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes don’t handle it well! So far I’ve only put myself in time out once.
Thankfully everything is temporary. Not that long ago I wrote a post about how I couldn’t even get through a workout without C crying for me. Well, guess what? Just a few short weeks later, I can! Every day? No, sometimes she wakes up and quietly watches me. Or lays nearby and gets kisses between sets. She’ll even tolerate my husband now. I was SO frustrated by this in February and now in May, it’s just a memory. In the beginning, after her birth, I was so afraid to take both kids anywhere together. I just didn’t think I couldn’t handle it. I was completely consumed with anxiety about being able to keep them safe. Now I do it all the time!! Everything is temporary. Whatever thing I’m worrying about today will be gone and replaced with something new next month.
However, whatever combination of sleep deprivation and hormones is causing wicked mommy brain, it’s for real. I can’t remember anything. I walked out of the house one winter day to take MJ to preschool. Walked into the building and someone said, “Where’s your coat, it’s freezing!” I looked down and sure enough, I wasn’t wearing one! I can’t remember words I want to use, or to shift the laundry, or feed the dog.
I feel like a hot mess. all. the. time.
I forget to fill my car with gas, I forget texts people have sent or phone calls I’m supposed to make. I’m either super early or late to everything. I joke with my husband that I usually have time to think a thought, but no time to follow through! My solution? Lists and my smart phone! I am counting on Google Calendar to remind me of things. I’m thinking of adding a reminder to feed the dog. I’m not even kidding.
The second child will learn to be flexible. They have to be! With MJ, everything stopped if he was sleeping or fussy. If he napped 12-3, we were home by 11 and didn’t go out again for the day! With the baby, I always just feel like she’s along for the ride. Oh, you’re sleeping? Too bad, we have to go pick up your brother. Fussy and want to snuggle? Into the carrier you go, big brother needs to go to the park! We’re just go go go and she’s got to adapt. With MJ, I was totally against using a pacifier, but with the baby I tried daily until she finally figured it out! I just felt like I needed her to have one for the car or for Daddy to be able to help with getting her to sleep.
I have watched myself change and evolve to meet their needs and my own. Things I thought I couldn’t do, I have pushed myself to do. Everything from my VBAC, exclusively breastfeeding and managing a household with two kids has required patience, dedication, and perseverance. I am not even close to perfect. However, I know things keep getting better and I’m determined to master our new normal.
I knew it was going to be a big transition and I knew there would be tears, but I didn’t fully get how having a second child would change things. I couldn’t have predicted how my heart would ache when I was nursing the baby and could hear MJ crying for me in the other room. Or when I would lay with MJ before bed, his little hand in mine, breathing in my first baby growing into a little boy… but hear my baby girl crying to be nursed.
It was rough coming to realize that I literally needed to be two places at once and I couldn’t.
What I didn’t realize was that when I was thinking about life with a new baby, I was picturing my son as he was, not realizing he’d be almost a year older. He’s grown into a mature and independent little boy! Sure he’s still little, but he can get snacks on his own, use the bathroom and navigate a whole heap of other tasks independently.
I realize a lot of this difficulty is temporary, but right now I have no time to myself. I am exclusively breastfeeding a baby that won’t take a bottle or sleep on her own, so I have to be purposeful and protective about ME time. I have to MAKE time for workouts and get up extra early to have time to get myself dressed and ready for the day. With one kiddo, it was easy to get the family to watch MJ and find time to do things for me. It wasn’t a big deal to get a haircut, workout, or go to the dentist. Now those things require more planning and coordination and I wasn’t prepared for that.
Sometimes I don’t feel like myself at all.
There will be sacrifices. Right now it feels hard, but the way the baby’s face lights up when she see me, or how MJ says I’m his best friend because “I take care of him]” makes the sacrifices so worth it. Every day is filled with precious moments, and things start to feel easier, and we settle more into a new normal routine. I’ve realized there’s nothing wrong with me. Welcoming a second child to my household may not be a “breeze” but we’re just different.
She’s on her journey and I’m on mine.
I wonder if I’m not alone here, and that maybe you’re thinking you’re alone? I can promise you that you’re not. I’m right in the trenches with you.
What about you? How was your transition from one to two kids?