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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

PPD - REAL stories - PART TWO

By fellow mother and blog-reader, Danyelle Trexler Ditmer, she shares her own personal experience with postpartum depression. Thank you, Danyelle, for your honesty and strength.

1. How old was your child when you experienced postpartum depression (PPD)?
Day two I began to experience symptoms but at first the doctor thought it was Baby Blues -- when it didn't subside after the first week, he knew it was PPD.

2. What feeling words would you use to describe what postpartum depression was like for you?
Drowning in darkness, dullness

3. Why do you think you experienced PPD?

I'm not sure, but I do think a c-section with wound infection (plus 3 weeks of home health for treatment) had to play some role.

4. What helped when you were experiencing PPD?
Support from my church family and husband; I'm a pastor and usually care for others, but at that time my congregation cared for me and never judged -- I will never forget their love.

5. How would you describe PPD to somebody who has not experienced it?
Drowning in a dark well

6. What did NOT help when you were going through PPD?
Comments like "pray harder" or "God's will" -- that's crap and I have the degree from Duke to back it up!

7. What resources - books, people, counselors, Web sites, etc. - did you find particularly helpful while dealing with PPD?
Prosac. ;) [;)] I worked with a therapist who is also a spiritual director which really helped guide me through the shame and guilt I felt.

8. What HELPED you get through or over PPD?
Medication and therapy. My symptoms were severe. I couldn't be left alone with my son. My husband tells me stories, at my request, about those weeks and it's scary. I got the help I needed and the light came back.

Thank you, Danyelle, for this honest account about how real PPD is and that there IS help.

My Hormonal Experience by Angela Avery
I experienced what I thought could have been PPD for the first 5 days of my son's life when I was in the hospital. I imagined that is what it was because I had no other answer for why I felt so crazy during that first few days. However, now after reading Brooke Shields' book Down Came the Rain I think I did not have baby blues or PPD, but rather was strongly affected by hormones and lack of sleep (I did not sleep more than 2 hours the entire 5 days I was in the hospital...). Still, what I felt was so different than what many people tell me they felt the first few days of the baby's life, that I always felt ashamed and like I could not talk to people about it. I know now that people who have real and sometimes severe PPD feel this way also - like they are supposed to be on cloud 9 after the birth of their child and if they aren't in some way it's a bad thing and they are a bad mother.

This picture below is of me when we brought our son home from the hospital. Every time I see this picture I recall how I felt at that moment - relieved to be home and with hope that if I could just get a tiny bit of sleep and being on our own, away from pressures of people and lactation specialists, we could feed our child and be OK. I just look exhausted in this picture... not sleeping for days will do that to a woman!

For the first 5 days in the hospital with my son I was instantly attached to him, loved him dearly, was truly happy and on cloud 9 with my baby and the idea of being a mother. However, because I was not sleeping I was a wreck (I had an intense fear that if I fell asleep something would happen to my son and I would not wake up to help him, and I refused to send him to the nurse's station because I thought it would make me a bad mother or they'd lose my baby and mix him up with someone else's - again irrational...). The hormones played a huge part also, as well as trying to recover physically from a major surgery C-section. Breastfeeding did not work so that caused some stress between my husband and I as we were trying to come together to figure out what to do to feed our screaming child. It was overall a horrible hospital stay, very stressful period. I cried a lot, was not myself, felt alone and pressured about nursing, felt like we were strange, my husband and I, for not being all lovey dovey like so many other couples seem to be.

I realize this is not even close to what people experience with PPD, but I share it here to say that WHATEVER you feel in the hospital or after taking home a baby is OK. It's normal. And there is help. Even if that help is simply talking to a friend, being honest about how difficult it really is to have this drastic change take place in your body and in your life.


I encourage you to talk to your friends and family, your partner, your doctor, etc. if you are experiencing anything related to PPD or baby blues or even just the hormonal craziness like I felt that first week. It's ALL OK, normal and expected after your body and mind go through such a huge transition.

For the rest of you, when visiting a friend who has just had a baby, don't just focus on the baby. Ask HER how she is doing. Ask her, "really, tell me, I am hear to listen." Let her know you won't judge her. Offer to just sit with the baby for an hour while she sleeps or goes on Facebook or makes a phone call. Those things can help a new mom feel supported even if she isn't ready to talk about how she's feeling.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

postpartum depression - book review - PART ONE

(image from Google)
Down Came the Rain - Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields
I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time, thinking it's such an important topic all women should know more about in case they ever experience it or know someone who goes through it. Postpartum depression (PPD) seems to be a taboo subject. To have a celebrity like Brooke Shields write a memoir about what it was like when she had PPD with her first child is a great thing for women. Shields is so honest and her account is raw, sad, overwhelming and so true that I could not put this book down. I highly recommend it.

On page 55, Shields explains how the feelings began, "Over the five days that I was in the hospital with {daughter} Rowan, I was in a bizarre state of mind, experiencing feelings that ranged from embarrassment to stoicism to melancholy to shock, practically at once. I didn't feel at all joyful, but I attributed this to being tired and needing to recover physically."

On page 65, Shields explained what it was like with the baby at home, "At first I thought what I was feeling was just exhaustion, but with it came an overriding sense of panic that I had never felt before. Rowan kept crying, and I began to dread the moment when Chris would bring her back to me. I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise were tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of devastation overcame me. I hardly moved. Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail. I wasn't simply emotional or weepy, like I had been told I might be. This was something quite different... But this was sadness of a shockingly different magnitude. If felt as if it would never go away."

Page 69, "Why was I crying more than my baby? Here, I was, finally the mother of a beautiful baby girl I had worked so hard to have, and I felt like my life was over. Where was the bliss? Where was the happiness that I had expected to feel by becoming a mother? She was my baby; the baby I had wanted for so long. Why didn't I feel remotely comforted by having or holding her? I had always felt that a baby was the one major thing missing from my life, that a child would complete the picture and bring everything into focus. Once I was a mother, the different parts of my world would all converge, and I would experience life as I'd envisioned it and in turn would know what I was meant to be. But having a baby clouded my vision and threatened whatever peace had already existed. Instead of wanting to move forward, all I wanted was for life to return to the way it was before I had Rowan."

Shields provided information about PPD:
-typically starts within a week of baby's birth, but can start up to a year after birth.
-one cause is the rapid change in hormones after birth.
-sometimes symptoms begin in pregnancy.
-Other factors that contribute: sleep deprivation, difficult pregnancy or birth, complications of birth for mother or child, inadequate social support, marital problems, history of depression, recent occurrence of a major life change like family death, etc.
-can last from a few months to a few years if untreated
-PPD affects 10 to 20 percent of women
-if it lasts more than 2 weeks before birth or more than 2 weeks after birth it's more than just the "baby blues," and is probably PPD.

The important thing is there is help for PPD.
Resources for PPD, provided in Shields' book:

In part two of this PPD series we will share two perspectives on all emotions post-partum. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2 is cool!

My son, Owen, is TWO! Can't believe how fast time flies by! He is quite obsessed with John Deere and tractors (hmm wonder where he got that from, husband of mine?!), so of course we knew this year's party would be all about tractors!

I am also expecting baby #2 and my mother wanted to celebrate the baby so we combined the two events into one big "celebrating twos" party, which means 2 IS COOL, of course! Here's my homemade banner below. All I did for that was type up the letters on individual pieces of paper, get some clip art tractors and storks carrying a baby, cut each out individually, tape to yellow and green paper (alternating each letter), punch a hole, string up together. Voila, easy!

When I joined Pinterest a couple of months ago the first thing I started typing in was "toddler birthday parties," seeking anything fun to inspire me to get creative with this party for my son. Since I knew it was going to be combined with the baby shower and lots of people would be attending and because I knew this was Owen's last birthday party without a sibling running around trying to steal the attention, I wanted to make it really special. Pinterest did not disappoint. In fact, two months before my son's birthday I was in non-stop planning mode, writing lists and thinking up ideas, searching for cute things at the Dollar Tree and iParty stores. I became pretty obsessed, I'll admit, but it paid off because it was super fun and tons of people commented on how cute everything was at the party. I have Pinterest to thanks. I carried it out and put my own touches, but really these were not my ideas. So, thanks, moms who came before me!

A spread for a tractor king - the kids' table of food. Chex mix = chicken feed. Rice krispie treats = hay bales. Vegetable platter = Owen's vegetable garden. Oreo cookies = tractor wheels. Forks and spoons = pitch forks and shovels. Cupcakes with Oreo crumbles and worms = dirt cake. Blueberries and strawberries = farm produce. Animal crackers = farm animals. Glass bottles of strawberry, white and chocolate milks = moo cow milk. Mason jars for straws for the milk. Tractor napkins, green table cloth, and throw in some John Deere tractors on the table and there you go, a tractor party is made!

The kids loved this cake! One kid even asked her aunt if the "dirt" was real! She couldn't understand that it was just Oreo cookies crumbled up! So easy to make and they were totally fun. I just made regular vanilla cupcakes, put chocolate frosting on top, crushed Oreo cookies in a food processor and put those on the frosting, and topped each with a gummmi worm. Very easy and fun!

Because it was not just a tractor birthday party but also a baby shower for our second baby, we tried combining the two events with a clothes line and pins with my first son's old John Deere and Carhartt shirts and onesies! It was adorable to see hanging up. We even tossed in a pink one (princess of the farm) that my hopeful mother-in-law gave us the last time we did not find out what we were having.

For activities at the party we had coloring pages and crayons on the kids' tables when they walked in. I printed the coloring pages offline (type in free coloring pages and tons comes up!). They were all farm animals, tractors, and fruits and vegetables to go with our farm/tractor theme. I put crayons (Dollar store!) in mason jars on the table. We also had as a centerpiece on the tables sand buckets and shovels filled with animal crackers, which were the giveaway for each child to take home (along with a Valentine card since the party was 2 days before Valentine's Day).

Last but not least, we had "hay rides" in another big room with two wagons for kids to pull. They LOVED it! It completely kept the kids occupied for two hours straight. Some kids never even left the hay ride room! My son is a big fan of wagons, so we knew he'd love it and a couple of his cousins who are about his age, but we had no idea how much the other kids would love wagon rides. I guess riding in an outdoor wagon inside on a cold February day is just what young kids enjoy!

After wagon rides it was time for opening presents... which Owen made it through about 3 gifts before saying to his dad, "wagon ride, bye dada" and taking off into the next room with the kids. He got so many great gifts, including this amazing hand-knit tractor sweater from his Gramma. We put all of his gifts into a Radio Flyer wagon, again part of the farm/tractor theme!

It was a great party! We were so happy to have everyone there, and this non-creative momma was super proud of how creative I ended up being with all of the tractor themed things. I can't wait to plan next year's party! Pinterest, here I come!

differences between pregnancy #1 and #2

oh baby, are things sure different the second time around... What was YOUR experience?

(picture of me 8 months pregnant with my first son)

#1 - aww a baby is coming!
-Will I be a good mom?
-How will a baby change my marriage?
-What will the recovery from a C-section be like?
-What do we need for the baby at home?
-Let's design a nursery! Fun!
-I'm exhausted/feeling nauseous/have heartburn/back hurts, etc. so I'm going to lay down for a while.
-I am reading every word, soaking in every little bit of info I can get from the What to Expect When You're Expecting book and those free baby magazines at the doctor's office, trying to memorize every little new thing my baby is doing in the belly or what part it's growing now.
-I am so conscious about what I'm eating. For the entire ten months I had two caffeinated drinks and maybe two or three pieces of candy that had red or yellow dye in them, because I read (see last bullet point for the Expecting book!) not to eat those because they are bad for baby.
-I can't wait to have a bump and wear maternity clothes, said at 16 weeks pregnant.
-Planning for the hospital stay is a piece of cake - pack a hospital bag. Shut heat down to low. Leave house. All is fine. Return 5 days later no problem.
-I am going to breastfeed like a champ because it's what I'm supposed to do and it's perfect and healthy and I'll be the best mom ever for doing it. I read 5 books about it and took a breastfeeding class - with my husband - so I am all set. It's going to work great.
-I think every little decision we make about our newborn's life is going to be the end of the world, so I better make the right and perfect decisions about pacifiers, circumcisions, nursing, diaper changes, etc.
-Is that a flutter I feel? When do I feel the kicks? What is that I'm seeing on the ultrasound? Am I gaining enough weight/too much weight?
--I have no idea what to expect....

(picture of my dear friend Sarah pregnant with #2 and her son Eli)

#2 - awww a SECOND one is on its way!

-How can I be a great mom to two babies, splitting my focus and attention?
-I already know how it's going to affect my marriage... just not looking forward to that part.
-Last time I could rest to recover, never needing to lift things after my C-section... this time I can't imagine waiting 8 weeks to lift my toddler son... How will I give him a bath? put him in the high chair or car seat? get him out of the crib?
-Where on earth will we put the baby stuff - seats, swing, bottles, etc. - when we already have a zillion toys and big kid stuff around here?
-Let's re-design our entire house to make way for another person living here! Not so much fun as designing a nursery.
-I'm exhausted - and a zillion other new symptoms I never had last pregnancy - and I can't lay down until tonight when my toddler is asleep for the night. And even then I have a very messy house to clean up because toddlers have fun like that.
-I have not even opened the What to Expect When You're Expecting book this time around. I can't find it. It's some place in this house with toys and toddler things I'm sure. I'm also behind 3 chapters in the What to Expect The Toddler Years book that I'd been keeping up with prior to morning sickness starting. I grab the free magazines at the doctor's office, but barely have time to read the cover let alone get into any articles inside.
-If it's easier to drink a few sips of a caffeinated soda because I don't have an extra pair of hands to get myself some water or are too tired chasing a toddler to find another option, I'll drink the sips of soda. And I've completely forgotten my prior rule of not eating red dye several times this pregnancy, so twizzlers, sour patch kids and even Doritos have passed by my lips without me realizing until I've already had a couple of them.
-What?! I'm already showing?! I'm not even ready to tell people yet! said at 10 weeks pregnant, breaking into the boxes of maternity clothing.
-So much more to plan for this time. How is this going to affect my toddler? What preparations do I need to do for him? I need to talk about the baby all the time so he's ready and heard about it. I need to get him a present from the baby to him. I need to plan for who is going to take care of him while we are in the hospital for 5 days, how he'll get to daycare when I can't drive for weeks after the baby is born, etc. I cry just thinking about how I won't be able to physically help with my son as much as I do now for a while after a major surgery. I have to make a list of his favorite foods on the fridge for those taking care of him, and go shopping and stock up on his favorite foods because I'm the one who knows most of that and I want him to feel cared for and not forgotten while I can't do it all in the beginning with a baby here.
-Breastfeeding is tough. I already know this and will not be as naive this time around as I was last baby. I feel more prepared this time around going into the hospital with my own ideas about how the nursing-pumping-supplementing with formula-using bottles and pacifiers process is going to work. I will take on any lactation consultant who wishes to persuade me otherwise! I am a woman, hear me roar!
-I know babies survive in far less than what we will offer and that we are great parents and our baby will survive no matter what. It's not all about those "big" decisions about what or how to feed the baby that counts.
-Oh yes, the flutter sensation! So cool, I remember this! Felt much earlier than the last baby, probably because now I know it wasn't gas!
-I know what to expect this time, which makes a tiny part of me anxious yet mostly makes me feel calm and confident that we WILL get through it all and have a beautiful baby to thank for it all!

There are so many differences between the first and second time being pregnant.
It's drastic change in my experience. There is a lot more to worry about this time around. I think that's because of two things - one, I already know what to expect this time and two, I have a firstborn child to consider how this is going to affect. I think with the first baby it's all a surreal dream that you just go through and end up wondering about sometimes but can't really put your finger on how it will be. Whereas with the second, you KNOW already how tough it's going to be with those midnight and 3 a.m. feedings and being hooked to a machine or a baby's mouth and how you and your partner will argue about silly things just because you are exhausted. That causes more worry I think, just because you know how it's going to be.

I said recently to my sister that being pregnant with a toddler is the hardest thing I think I've ever done. Much harder than being pregnant the first time around. Working a full-time job out of the house, trying to keep up with house work, chasing - literally - a fast, running, active boy, and trying to maintain some relationship with my husband, friends, family - it's exhausting and overwhelming. To be blessed with two babies is the best thing in the world. I would do it all over again if I could. I'm just saying it's more difficult than I imagined.

In the end, a beautiful baby is going to come out of me and it'll be challenging yet again for at least a couple of months while this new family of 4 figures out how to navigate together. But we WILL make it. That's the best thing I learned from being pregnant already... you DO survive, no matter what. And you even look back long enough to say, "I want another one!" and it all continues! :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

book - The Mask of Motherhood

The Mask of Motherhood - How becoming a mother changes our lives and why we never talk about it by Susan Maushart

I wanted to read this book as soon as I read the title. As you know by now, I'm ALL about honesty when it comes to we moms sticking together. Motherhood is tough, challenging, difficult, NOT easy. It can be easier though if we speak up about our experiences instead of judging others and staying silent about our own struggles. So, I gravitated toward this book instantly.

In the introduction, the author wrote, "The messages we receive about mothering promise an Easymix lifestyle: having kids will prove not only fun and good for us, but will blend effortlessly with the other ingredients that go to make up 'the good life' (work, leisure, relationships, sex, to name just a few). The reality hits when the ideal baby in our minds is abruptly displaced by the real baby in our lives. It is then we realize there are no 'easy steps' to follow. Sooner or later we realize we're going to have to make the whole thing up from scratch."

There were good chapters, but overall it was very feminist-driven, which is great in many cases but this was somewhat too much for my own taste. I did, however, LOVE the chapter, "Lactation Intolerant," about breastfeeding and the pressures women feel to only breastfeed instead of bottle or formula feed.

From this chapter on lactation, on page 159, the author wrote about how breastfed babies are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night more frequently and for longer periods of time strictly because the babies enjoy the closeness of being with their parent and can't stay asleep like other babies can. This is a theory I completely agree with, based on people's experiences around me, so it was nice to read it in print. The author's point was that this is something lactation consultants, doctors, the media, even friends, etc don't tell new mothers. They only tell the positive sides of breastfeeding.

On page 168, "The propaganda encourages pregnant women to believe that, as breast feeders, all things will be possible - that, with just a modicum of planning, life will go on exactly as before. We are led to expect further that breastfeeding will add a newer, richer dimension to our lives as women. And it can, I believe. Yet there is a price to pay, and for every dimension added there is a dimension subtracted or diminished. This is common sense. This is life. Yet our persistence in upholding the fantasy of 'having it all' is stronger than our will to confront the most basic of our own realities."

I love the ending of one chapter in this book from page 36, "Unmasking motherhood means accepting that we are all of us making it up as we go along, and wishing we knew better."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dear 2-year-old Owen,

Dear Owen,
It's hard to believe that two years ago, February 9th, 2010, I was preparing to meet you for the first time, and now you are running around so fast I can barely keep up with you! When I look at your newborn pictures and those weekly photos we took during your first year, I can see you, my smiley, happy-go-lucky, wide eyed little man. It's funny to me that you haven't changed your looks all that much in two years. I thought it would be drastic, as you grew up I'd lose that little baby of mine. I'm so pleased to see that I still recognize my little newborn in your big boy toddler pictures.

You are the most fun little guy right now, and yet challenging at the same time. I say that with all the love a mommy can have, so don't worry, it's not like I'm sick of you yet! You are active, oh boy are you so active! You LOVE to run. You are so curious about the world. You get that from your dad. He's smart, a problem solver and always wondering and thinking about things. You are the exact same way. You love to figure things out. Your favorite toys are the same toys your Dad loves - tools like screw drivers (screw drive drive as you call it) and hammers (bang bang) and flash lights and drills. You also are obsessed with tractors and trucks. All of this is from Dad.

You are so incredibly smart. I know most parents say that about their kids, but honestly you are smarter than I ever imagined. Every single day for the last six months it seems you have learned a new word or thing to do. Hearing you "read" books to yourself - legs and feet crossed, holding the book with both hands in your lap, saying the words that you remember us reading to you - it's my favorite thing to see these days.

You aren't just all boy though. You do like to get dirty, yes - and we have tons of fun jumping in mud puddles outside - but you also love cleaning. You are totally into your vacuum, broom and dust pan, and your kitchen set. You get some of this I think from me. You are happy, so happy. You laugh louder and sweeter than anything I've ever heard. Everything cracks you up. Driving down the road you'll point outside to a bare field and say, "Hay! Tractor make!" and then laugh hysterically for no reason. Your laugh lights up your face and makes your eyes squint just like mine do when I smile. You have a zillion teeth now, which only makes your smile cuter. I remember when you had no teeth and I kept wondering how your smile would change with something white and shiny in there instead of just those pink gums that I adored as you were a baby. Now, I can't imagine losing this cute new baby teeth smile you have. It looks good on you!

I have told many people that I can't believe you are two. I've said that the first year feels simulteanously like 10 years and like a blink of the eye. And yet the second year feels like a complete fast forwarded movie of growth, new developments, talking and talking and talking, and walking and then running. It flew by! I feel like you just turned a year old, and then like we were just hanging out at the beach celebrating your 18 months half birthday.

Now you are two. You are entering the "terrible twos" now. I've heard it a few times already, "Watch out now... you're in for a ride." I'll admit it's been challenging at times with you. Like when you were super loud last week at the library and the lady came over and said, "I hear a dinosaur over here. Can we be a quieter dinosaur?" or when you fall on the floor as I'm trying to put your coat on, laughing, thinking it's hilarious when I can barely lean over to pick you up. Or when you say "no!" in your big boy voice that you all of a sudden seem to have developed this past week (I think you know the terrible two phrase or something). Yes, it's been tough at times. I just try to remind myself this is part of the growing... and I happen to love the growing that you are doing, so I am trying to roll with it.

You are the coolest thing in mine and Dad's world. I hope you know that. The times we have spent just the three of us this year and recently just you and me have been so special. As we prepare to become a family of four, I just hope you remember a few things...

You are our first love.
You taught us all we know about being good parents.
You made this adventure so much fun we decided to do it again.
We will always love you to the moon and back, no matter what.
We are so incredibly proud of you and all you have learned this year (eating more food, your first tooth, first steps and walking and running, talking, etc.).
We can't wait to see what this third year has in store for us all.

Last year I cried on your first birthday. I went up to your room after writing you a letter similar to this and picked you up out of your crib and rocked you while you slept. I sobbed... just thinking about all the ups and downs we'd had as a family - you, me and Dad. It was a tough first year together and yet it was amazing, nothing like it. This year, I'm tearing up as I write you this letter, just imagining you and all the fun and happiness that I see in you. Yet I'm not sad. It's not bittersweet this year that you are one whole year older. It's just plain cool. It's pretty incredible to know that everything me and Dad do is teaching you to become this little guy who thinks a lot and has his own ideas and who is loving this world around him. So this year, no tears. Just joy that you are this amazing little boy who we are so proud to call our son.

I love you, my little monkey.
Love, Mama

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2nd baby = bigger family!

I'm almost ready for baby #2 to arrive, a few more months. So I was on the lookout for books about growing families. I didn't find much. Here's what I came up with though.

I had a difficult time finding books about having a second child. I came up with three, all written in the 90s, so slightly older, but still great information. If anyone knows of a more current book please let me know.

And Baby Makes Four - Welcoming a Second Child Into the Family by Hilory Wagner
-Prepare baby #1 by reading about babies and what babies need, talking about how a new baby could never replace your firstborn, etc.
-Know that your first child will be affected by the second baby... it's just the truth of how it will be. Your first child may have difficulties sleeping or going to bed, especially if baby #2 is crying and waking him up in the night.

From One Child to Two - What to expect, how to cope, and how to enjoy your growing family by Judy Dunn
I really liked this book. It's older, but great information. I really liked that at the end of the book is a long section about as the two children grow older. So far I've only wondered about what it's going to be like the first few days and months when we bring baby #2 home... how my firstborn will react. I had not considered that my first child may react differently as baby #2 changes and develops into a moving, talking little being that isn't going away. It was interesting to read these passages.

Twice Blessed - Everything you need to know about having a second child - preparing yourself, your marriage, and your firstborn for a new family of four by Joan Leonard
This book starts out on page 1 - "Just when we thought we were finally getting the hang of it. Our stretch marks have started to fade; we've packed away our nursing bras and maternity clothes. Occasionally, we made time to shave our legs, pluck our eyebrows, moisture our neck, paint our toenails. Our face was beginning to lose that deer-in-headlights look of perpetual panic. Our body - well, although it never actually went back to its old tight self, at least it was beginning to go back a little bit. It even looked as if we might be having sex with our husbands again on a somewhat regular basis. Some of us were at the point where we could sail past the diaper aisle at the local supermarket. Or have a few free hours during preschool. Or even full-day kindergarten. Others were not only back at work with solid child care but proceeding nicely on the fast track to promotion. And sometimes... sometimes we actually slept through the night.
"Just when things seem to be returning to normal, boom - we decide to do it all over again. Even those of us who had horrendous labors and whose first words after giving birth were, 'Well, I'll never go through that again!' end up changing our minds."

A great read! Good chapter on preparing your marriage, and "when I first realized we were a family of 4" with real accounts from parents with two children.

Overall what I found out from these books is that you can only prepare so much for a second child. Your firstborn is going to react how s/he is going to react, despite what you do ahead of time to prepare. There are some good tips - like having first child help prepare the house and have a baby doll of her own to play with and to talk about the baby growing in mom's belly - but overall, it will be what it is when baby arrives. There is no use stressing over it - despite that most moms do. Life changed drastically with baby #1... we cannot expect just because we have been parents once before it won't change again. These are different circumstances, different players now with first child around and at a new age. Just be patient and roll with the changes, is what most of these authors suggest. Good advice! Now, if only I can take that advice myself!