So here we are. A brand new family of four.
Two kids under the age of 2. It's quite a transition around here. And yet I keep feeling like it's normal, natural, the way it's supposed to be and perhaps always has been. Yet that moment flies by and I'm back to feeling like we have no clue what we are doing with these two kids the hospital somehow let us sneak out with. We are still adjusting I'd say, but we're adjusting well. Things are starting to find their way into the shape of a routine, and then other things still have yet to be figured out. We are all sort of doing this dance that we are just learning the steps to, trying our best not to cut one another off or step on any toes.
The biggest transition I've seen with two kids is that somebody always needs something. We don't get a break. As I'm typing this, the baby is waking up and I have no clue when I'll get back to finishing it.
(Ah... 2 days later I return...)
My heart is indeed bigger, that's for sure.
Everyone told me I'd make room in there for another one after loving my first so entirely. I never doubted it, but now I know it's really true. I feel so incredibly lucky to have two. I keep writing that I feel blessed. It's the biggest word I can come up with to describe how I feel - blessed. It encompasses all of it. How incredible it is to have a boy and a girl, one of each! How totally sweet it is to see my older son coming up with his own little way of loving his tiny sister. How wonderful it is seeing my big tall husband holding this teeny tiny newborn daughter of ours. It's just amazing.
My husband and I are in this total team effort practice right now.
It's all hands on deck. My husband was an incredible dad before baby #2 came home. He helped me a lot - laundry, dishes, bed and bath routines, etc. Yet now, it's astonishing how much he's doing. It's like we don't stop though. Somebody needs a diaper (we've got size newborn and size 6s around here!) or something to eat or just something that we have to get. It's constant. There is no break. Things that used to take me a few minutes to complete now takes me days.
We are finding our way though. A few things are helping me get through this transition. I call them my
Keys to parenting two success:
1. ASK FOR HELP - I have never in my life asked for more help than I've asked for the last 3 weeks since having our second baby. I've put up boundaries ("No, we can't have visitors from noon to 2, that's when we all take a nap."). I've accepted people's offers of "Let me know if you need anything at all." Once I even called my neighbor to come over and lift my son out of his crib since I still can't lift him after surgery. I've asked my sister-in-law to take me to my doctor's appointment, my other sister-in-law to watch my son so he can have some super fun cousin time, and asked my siblings to play outside with my son until he comes back inside covered in dirt and smiles. I have felt weird at times asking for help like this, but then I think it's only temporary, until we get through the newborn needy stage and adjustment. And you know what, people offer help. They genuinely mean they want to help. So what does it hurt to accept that help? It's necessary really. And I'm proud of myself for acknowledging that.
2. REST - I'm actually getting rest this time around. With my first I never ever slept when he slept like people tell you to do with a newborn. This time I've learned from past experience of exhaustion really affecting me and I've rested! I started in the hospital by sending my daughter to the nursery a few hours a night. It was the best thing, as it helped me recover quicker from my surgery. Every single day since we brought her home from the hospital I have taken at least a 30 minute nap. I'm so proud of myself for doing this. I've always been one of those people who keeps going, despite exhaustion. I keep pushing to cross things off my list. But now I realize I need to stay healthy, strong and sane in order to parent not one but two children. So rest is helping.
3. REMEMBERING MY HUSBAND - The first year with our first child was kinda hellish at times for our marriage. It was just hard. This time around I swore I'd keep us as a priority, not let the baby or exhaustion take over. And it's working! We are communicating more than ever. We are quick to apologize and blame lack of sleep for any little bickering we do. We are working together more than ever before to keep this house running. We are laughing about the insanity even! Last night I said, "This parenting two is a tough gig." He said, "No kidding!" And we laughed and put our arms around each other. I'm even setting aside the laundry or washing bottles so I can just be with my husband on the couch in front of the TV (before we pass out from exhaustion!). It's important to stay connected. I'm also acknowledging that "this too shall pass," and we'll get to that other side where we can see clearly again through the haze of a newborn's newness. I still intend to keep my New Year's resolution of date night once a month and go out in May some time. It's just important to remember we started as a married couple before the children invaded our home!
4. BE TOTALLY PRESENT - What seems to help our first child is that we are really focused on him, totally trying to be present, in the moment, doing things we know will make him feel special and happy and noticed. We are working hard to make sure this transition is not too difficult for our first little love. Coming up with special time for me and Owen is really important now, especially since I can't lift him for a while and am so attached with the baby feeding her and everything. So every day we try to swap kids and take turns being super mom and super dad! Being present has also meant realizing and accepting the limitations. I'm a go-go-go type of person. To be forced to sit every two hours for a feeding or to see the laundry stacking up but knowing I can't fold it due to needing to nurse or change diapers means I have to be present, in the here and now, not be thinking of what I wish I could do if I had more time or energy. The funny thing is it's kind of liberating!
5. BEEN HERE, DONE THAT - Having done this baby thing before makes many things a lot easier to go through a second time. In the hospital I was much more of an advocate for myself and what I wanted and needed, especially with nursing. I am more relaxed this time around - not freaking out if I don't pump every 2 hours on the dot, instead going a few longer hours and nursing or pumping if she's sleeping, but not stressed that milk won't come in or will dry up. I also know that as fragile as newborns are they are not going to break. This has allowed me to dress my daughter quicker than I did with my son and bathe her easier, too. I also have not even had one second to boil bottles in between uses like I did religiously for the first month with my son. I just wash them myself in hot soapy water and call it good. Having been here before has made me more confident - I will not screw this up. I will see this child reach 12 months of age and older. I can do this. It's such a relief to let the little things go.
6. PUTTING US FIRST - I am getting amazingly good at this putting up boundaries thing by being a parent. It's taught me that my family comes first, end of story. So if someone invites us to a party in the middle of nap time, nope, sorry, we're not free. Or if we've already had one or two visitors in a day and I'm needing a nap I'll say so, sorry we're too busy today, come again another day. One day my cousin was going to visit the new baby at our house. We'd already been to the doctor's and had a photo shoot in our house. It was also my husband's first day back to work. I knew we were all done. Two years ago pre-babies I would have said, "but sure come on over, no problem!" Instead when she asked if that was a good night I was simply honest and told her the truth of what we'd done that day and how I just needed to get to bed early. People respect and truly understand honesty when it comes to parenting. No shame in putting it all out there. Most people have been there anyway themselves. My motto is not to plan too much in a day. One event or thing to do is good enough. I'm trying to keep us, this family of four's needs as the priority.
7. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE - I am trying to remember that my son is going through a change and he needs us to be patient with his outbursts and attention seeking behavior. I am trying to remember that when my husband seems frustrated that he can't just up and go outside and work in the yard or do some manly thing he likes to do whenever he wants because our kids need him or I need him, he's not mad at me he's just frustrated with the process that's all. I am trying to be patient with my very demanding and vocal newborn when she seeks only my attention from the hours of 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. most nights and I'm trying to remind myself that she's only little for a short time and that I must absolutely adore her even when she's vocal - or else! Patience. It's the biggest thing that helps us get through the changes. That and LAUGHING!
Parenting is hard. Parenting two is crazy rewarding -that's what I describe it as. Crazy rewarding.
It's all a blessing. I feel lucky to be a mom of two beautiful children. I have no clue what I'm doing most days, but I'm trying my best to be a good mother to these two loves. Their smiles show me something I'm doing is working and I'm getting it right at least some moments in the day! That's all I can ask for.