Baby M is almost three weeks old, and I can't believe I'm closing in on the one-month marker already. Yikes, time flies with two kiddos.
Just thought I'd check in with a few things I've learned so far in this transition to two:
1. It's easier and harder to have a second newborn. Easier because you don't have to look up answers every few minutes and try and find the best advice to go by--you finally trust your inherent mother's intuition to guide you. Harder because there's always another person to consider in every decision you make.
2. Transitioning to two is tricky (which is my nice way of saying it's hard). I hear that this is as hard as it gets. After this, adding more is no problem. Some friends from Norway told me they have a saying, "Having two kids is like having ten; having one child is like having zero." Isn't that the truth?
The simple fact is, no matter how stellar of a mom and multi-tasker you are, your time IS divided. There's no getting around it. It's not even fair to say it's divided because that implies an even 50/50 split. Right now it's more like 80/20--80 to my newborn/20 to my two year old. So when the two year old acts out or is needy, I understand. I almost hate to discipline when she acts out because I feel her pain. I really miss my exclusive time with my toddler. She's definitely getting the short end of the stick in this deal--at least for now. People told me not to fear how you were going to love a second as much as the first--it happens naturally. But what they didn't warn me about was the fact that I'd feel bad for my toddler because she was going to get the bum side of the deal to start with. Moms of one child, consider yourself warned.
3. Take all the help you can get--especially with your older child. When you factor in what a raw deal it is for the older one, on top of the six weeks you have to set aside and not pick up your heavier-than-fifteen pounds little one so you can heal, plus you add all the raging hormones that come with postpartum, you quickly realize that you cannot do this transition alone. Thankfully, my mom was here to help out the first week--and most of her helping involved taking my older daughter out to play at the park or run errands so my daughter could get a break from cranky mama.
The second week of my recovery I packed with play dates--friends who had volunteered to take my daughter for a morning to play with their kids. It was so helpful and appreciated that I almost valued it more than meals being brought in. I would seriously consider for the next sprinkle/diaper shower I throw that I encourage all the guests to sign up for a day to take the older kid/kids once the baby's born. It really made all the difference. Plus, there's something about having one baby that makes you want to shut off society and just spend time with your newborn; but there's something about having a second baby that makes you scream for help and dread mornings when you have to do it alone.
4. Cuddling is still just as wonderful as it is with the first. Another benefit to having my firstborn out of the house during recovery is that I still get lots of cuddling time with my newborn. A tiny baby sleeping on my chest, warm breaths on my neck, infant's chest rising and falling with each short breath . . . ahhh, it doesn't get any better than that. Easily one of my top-ten favorite things in all the world.
5. Louder is better. With a two year old in the house, it's almost never quiet. And that's wonderful because my newborn can/will sleep through anything. I can leave her in a room with a TV or radio blaring, I can run the garbage disposal, I can even pick her up and move her to a new location, and she can settle herself down and sleep through just about anything. It's such a blessing not having to tiptoe around my own home--especially considering how much the baby sleeps. I still have free reign in my home, and I like that.
6. A well-prepared home includes a drop station for baby in each room. No matter where I am in the house, I've always got a safe place to put the baby down at a moment's notice to chase/catch/stop my toddler from doing something harmful to herself. Currently I've got a swing in the kitchen, bouncy seat in the dining room, and pack n play in the living room; and I use all of them often. Plus, a swing in the kitchen has been sufficient so far for entertaining the baby while I prep food--and since I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this is especially handy.
I'm sure I'll have more raw observations as time plays out.
Bonus observation: Netflix on my laptop has been the best present to me during this time of recovery. It makes the numerous feedings and late bedtimes a whole lot more bearable =)