Having one baby forces you to find a new normal. Having another baby forces you to find another new normal. Along the way, I jotted down some emotions, thoughts, and stories that I wanted to share with those of you are anticipating the transition or are right in the thick of it.
Oh my gosh, what have I done? I am back at square one. I have made things hard on myself all over again. This is mostly what I'm thinking.
Let me tell start by telling you about the worst day ever. I decided to be awesome and load the kids up in the car and go somewhere. "Somewhere" meant driving thru the bank to make a deposit and driving thru Chick-fil-a to grab lunch and bring it home. Woo, livin' the life over here. So, we all got in the car. After 20 minutes, Nova started screaming. (Not a car seat fan.) I was racing back home as fast as possible. Right when we got there, I got Duke situated at the table with his food, put Nova down for a nap, and immediately ran back in to assist Duke with something he was getting worked up over. Got him down from the table, took a few bites of my lunch, and heard Nova cry. I tended to her for a bit, but then put her back in the crib because Duke needed to take his nap. I got Duke's diaper changed and got him bed, walked out, and heard her crying. Went to calm her down and she just wouldn't. I was rocking her and crying because I felt so helpless. I couldn't just let her cry. She was still so little, and I didn't want Duke waking. My cold Chick-fil-a lunch was sitting on the table and I was filled with angry tears. It wasn't just me being hungry or Nova not napping or Duke constantly needing something or making noise - it was all of it. It was such an awful day that I called Colt to come home early from work. And he did. I didn't really know how I'd ever make it past this day.
There's just so much going on. There's the newborn stuff. I feed around the clock, my body is still recovering from childbirth, my brain/heart are still recovering from childbirth, I'm not getting any sleep, I'm overweight, my body is still not mine, and I'm so confused/exhausted/frustrated dealing with all of the feeding issues.
Then there's the emotional stuff. I don't love the emotional roller coaster of the first month. I don't like waking up and not knowing what kind of day it will be. Will it be a dreamy day full of Instagram filters and bottomless cups of coffee? Or will it be a day full of temper tantrums, infant cries, and absolute exhaustion? (Hint: It's usually the latter.)
Then there's the thing that I anticipated, but didn't know would be as deep as it is: the weird mom guilt I feel for having another child. Duke has been fine with Nova, but his attitude towards us is very different. He acts out more and is more defiant. He throws tantrums often and is unsatisfied with most things it seems. It's been hard to see him go through this change. Am I torturing him by adding another little person into our lives? Will he be mad at me forever? These sound like silly questions, but in the midst of it, they are very real.
One night, around 7 p.m., I was rocking a really fussy Nova while desperately trying to brush up on Babywise by re-reading the book. Tears and snot were dripping down my face. I was crying because I was tired, but I was also crying because Duke and Colt had just left for the park. I mourn the loss of my time and attention towards Duke. It's almost unbearable at times.
There's so much questioning. Why is she up? A burp? Hunger? Uncomfortable? Just being a baby? Wrong waketime? It's awful trying to FIGURE THINGS OUT. Naps are everywhere. Some days she'll do 2 hours and some days just 45 minutes. Some days the swaddle seems to soothe her and other days it's like she's in prison. And most of the time she breaks out of her swaddle which causes her to wake. The only thing I have to hold onto is our routine - eat/wake/sleep. I knew this already, but I'm having to remind myself that the first month is a crapshoot. There's no reason for anything and at the same time, there's a reason for everything. In other words, I just have to survive.
Surviving this time around looks different than it did the first time. It's hard balancing a newborn's needs with a toddler's needs. Many days I think, I just want to quit motherhood. It's just too hard sometimes.
The good things? I love this sweet girl and I love our family of 4. I'm very grateful to have a husband who is extremely helpful, friends who are reminding me that it does get better, and a mom who has whisked Duke away for me, cleaned, made lunch, and given me time to nap.
So I guess I'll eventually get used to not sleeping and having to entertain a toddler all day?
Things are a bit more settled, yet still a guessing game. I've started pumping exclusively which is just dumb. Some days she takes 4 oz each feeding and some days it's a battle getting 2 oz. Waketimes are constantly being adjusted, the swaddle is constantly being questioned, and night sleep is constantly causing me to rack my brain trying to find different strategies. One night, she went 9 hours between feedings, but all the other nights she goes 4-4.5. But even though I feel like everything is all over the place, Nova is an incredibly pleasant baby. She's happy and smiley, so I can't complain about that.
I'm really ready for naps to be consistent. Let's be honest - naps are 50% for kids to rest and 50% for the sanity of moms. So when naps are messed up, I'm mostly mad that my "me" time is cut short. When I only have 45 minutes of peace and quiet, I start pondering life's questions and looking for desk jobs. (Half kidding - I really do love being a SAHM. But sometimes, we get a little off our rockers.)
One of the hardest things has been feeling like I have to pick which kid I want to have the successful day. Will I please Duke by getting him out and about, allowing him to use up all of that energy he has? Will I give him the fun day? Or will I choose Nova? Will I allow her to have normal length naps in her crib and be fully rested?
But this is what I decided: Nova needs to win right now. I have to convince myself that even though it feels like Duke is getting the short end of the stick right now, he's really not. When Duke was a baby, I gave him a working routine with solid naps. All of my focus was on him and his needs. In my opinion, Nova deserves the same. I have to be okay with allowing myself to continue recovering and choosing to focus on Nova most days.
I try my best to divide our time at home into "activities." Play-doh time, bug catching time, book reading time, movie/TV time, shower time, anything I can think of that can be turned into some kind of organized play. When I do begin to sense some cabin fever from Duke, I plan the night before and gear myself up for some kind of outing with both kids.
This month is still really hard, but let me tell you about the best day we had. One morning, I decided to take Duke to the park. THE PLAN (because there HAS to be one for a weirdo like me): While Nova takes her first nap, I pack Duke's lunch, get both of us ready, and get Nova's bottle ready. As soon as she wakes, we all quickly jump in the car and head to the park. Upon arrival, immediately get out, let Duke play, and feed Nova's bottle. The key is to be fast with everything and to plan everything, which is exhausting. But we did it and it was successful! In fact, it was so great that I ended up going to Barnes and Noble so Duke could play with trains. Then we ended our outing with Sonic drinks on the way home. Everyone was well-behaved and nobody had a meltdown. I drove home feeling like I was on top of the world!
Those first two months were rough, my gosh. There were many times I'd call Colt crying and say, "I'm not a good mom! I can't have 2 kids! I can't do it well and it's not easy for me! I must be bad at this!" This month already feels better.
Things are starting to come together. About halfway through this month, Nova started sleeping all night - like 10-11 hours. I feel like a new woman! We've also completely switched over to formula. It's been really hard and really freeing all at the same time. I'm just relieved to have settled on something.
I've had 2 kids in my household for 3 months now and it's equal parts everything - hard, easy, wonderful, awful, beautiful, brutal. You may find me exhausted and at my end emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually one day. But the next, I may be as light as a feather, floating on a blissful, mom-of-two cloud 9. It's all of it. However, I do know that things will become more balanced as we all continue adjusting.
Nova is still sleeping through the night, is taking much better naps, and there's just so much more predictability in our day! We have arrived. Having two kids and not feeling crazy is starting to be my normal. I can hardly believe it.
Waketime is getting longer so we can go do things and still get back for good naps. This is such a big help! We've done several days at the park and Duke actually gets a decent amount of time to play before needing to head home for Nova.
Most days are great. Few days are chaotic. That's a ratio I can live with. What they all say is true - it really does get easier!
Everything has a "this is how it should be" feel. I feel like I should be a mom of two. I feel like Duke should be a big brother. Everything fits and everything is just as it should be. Everyone belongs here and I wouldn't have it any other way.