Happy three-day-weekend to you! I hope you’re enjoying it. I’m spending mine nursing a very fussy (and evidently hungry) newborn and attempting to convince my toddler that she can nap while I ensure her baby dolls sit on the potty. Yes, this is a real concern of hers. Every time we put Clara in her crib, she tells us certain baby dolls need to go potty and she will only sleep after we find those specific baby dolls and carry them out of the room, with promises that we’re taking them straight to the toilet.
I hope I never forget funny (albeit exasperating) things like this. Being a mom to a toddler can be a true joy.
While I nurse Isabelle I read quite a bit (both on my phone and in print) and these are some posts I found especially interesting.
Things I’ve Read on the Web:
// Enough: “These castles we’re building will not last, you know. One day we’ll breathe our last, the name we built for ourselves will fade, and others will quickly step on our ashes to take our place. I’m a businesswoman, and I have no problem with working hard, making a living, and growing a business. But when we forget who we are and why we’re here, we’ve missed the point completely.” (here)
// Simplicity Leads To Happiness In Children (And Here’s How To Do It): “Slowing down feeds our souls and nurtures our families. No matter what parenting style we practice, this topic unites us.” (here)
// Three Steps to Gracefully Say No: “Saying no is a learned skill. It takes practice to gracefully decline activities and commitments. But when we learn to say no to things that don’t fuel us, we will have more room to say yes to those things that do. Be courageous, friend.” (here)
// The Average American Today Is Richer than John D. Rockefeller: “Honestly, I wouldn’t be remotely tempted to quit the 2016 me so that I could be a one-billion-dollar-richer me in 1916. This fact means that, by 1916 standards, I am today more than a billionaire. It means, at least given my preferences, I am today materially richer than was John D. Rockefeller in 1916. And if, as I think is true, my preferences here are not unusual, then nearly every middle-class American today is richer than was America’s richest man a mere 100 years ago.” (here)
This is my first week as a stay-at-home mom, and guys, it is hard. Like way harder than I even thought it would be.
At any given moment I can’t decide who my favorite child is – the whining toddler who is destroying my house or the screaming newborn who can’t get herself to sleep and who won’t let me put her down?
Motherhood is messy. And it’s exhausting.
But then came a moment. (I feel like all moms must know this moment, the moment when motherhood is worth it. A moment that God gives us moms to inspire us to keep on going through the tears and messes and tantrums and diapers.)
The other night Clara woke up a few hours after we had put her to sleep. She needed to go to the potty, so I took her and then, instead of putting her back in her crib, I decided to sit with her in the rocking chair for a while. I needed a break, and I also needed to connect with my independent toddler.
Since Isabelle is usually attached to me and Clara has a strong preference for Tim when he’s at home, it was a rare moment – just us two. My oldest daughter and me.
She let me hold her in my arms and was totally still, which is quite the rarity. And then she looked up at me, and in her eyes I saw a child instead of a baby.
There may have been tears shed.
My baby isn’t my baby anymore, she’s my “big girl” as we often tell her. Isabelle is my baby. But the secret that I don’t tell her is that Clara will actually be my baby forever, too.
After a few minutes, her head started getting heavy and I reluctantly put her into her crib so she could get some rest (and because – if we’re being honest – my arms were tired). She fell right asleep.
There is nothing sweeter than a sleeping toddler, of this I’m convinced. It’s hard to believe that such a peaceful little being can cause so much chaos in her waking hours!
So as I spend my week chasing Clara while pacifying Isabelle, I’m fueled by the knowledge that this is a season and babies grow up and that there are rare moments of true joy and peace to be found in the midst of this current chaos. Sometimes those moments come when we’re playing, but oftentimes the moments come when we’re doing nothing special at all – when I’m answering yet another cry in the night that could have further worn me out, but instead fueled my spirit.
I anticipate that I’ll be writing a lot of posts on this topic. A lot.
If I even survive to tell the tale… gulp.
I get asked often how the transition from one to two kids compares to the transition from zero to one kid.
In a nutshell: it’s all difficult.
Welcoming Clara (our first baby) into our family was challenging because – hello, everything in my life changed! Everything. I became a stay at home mom, I had to make new mom friends and join new mom groups (which- even though I loved meeting new people – was also intimidating because I had very, very few mom friends at the time), Tim and I had to actually schedule date nights and find babysitters, I had to figure out breastfeeding and baby sleep schedules and navigate the world of baby products, and my social plans started involving a lot more coffee and a lot less tequila. Plus, a lot of my relationships changed, including my marriage. Then there were all of the physical changes with my body to adjust to… Basically nothing in my life went untouched.
Welcoming a second baby was hard, too, of course.
To start with, it was really challenging being pregnant with a very-young toddler, because I simply lacked energy. (I still feel guilty that I’ve spent half of Clara’s life pregnant and not operating at maximum-awesome-mom potential.)
Now it’s difficult because I have two young kids to take care of! I mean, that pretty much says it all, right? At any given moment I’m trying to breastfeed one while the other one is telling me she needs help going to the potty. Or breastfeeding one while the other one needs to be fed, too. Or breastfeeding one while one wants my attention for any number of reasons. It turns out it’s very difficult to multi-task while a child is attached to my boob.
(So far parenting two little ones under two has been manageable because Tim has been on paternity leave, but that all changes today, as he goes back to work. Gulp.)
Welcoming the second baby has definitely been easier in certain ways – thank goodness. I was so laid back with Clara that I was convinced I couldn’t possibly be more laid back with a second kid, but I am! For instance, with Clara I used an app to remember when she last ate and slept… I haven’t used it all this time around. Maybe I will in the future when I want to start tracking naps, but for now, I’m technology free with this baby. Also, I knew what to expect for my c-section recovery and breastfeeding, so those processes seemed to go a lot smoother this time around. I spend a lot less time on Google (researching every little thing) and more time bouncing a crying baby while asking Clara to stop whining. I feel even more confident with baby Isabelle, and I’m grateful for that because I feel less emotionally exhausted by the newborn phase.
The thing that has made the biggest difference, though, are the mom-friends I now have in my life. When Clara arrived on the scene I had almost no friends with babies, but now I have relationships with dozens of moms! It makes a world of difference to be able to talk to women who understand the trials of motherhood – and who can celebrate small successes (She pooped in the potty! She slept 4 hours!), as well.
So to answer the original question, about whether it’s harder to go from zero to one kid or one to two kids, my response is: Going from one to two kids has been more challenging, but I feel like I have more resources this time around to tackle the difficulties. And going from zero to one kids was definitely more life changing.
Moms with more than one kid, did you think it was harder to go from zero to one kid or from one to two kids?
Life has been going by in a blur of activity lately.
Which is kind of crazy since I’m supposed to be recovering from childbirth, or something. If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I’m terrible at resting. After one too many hours in bed or on the couch, I get an almost depressed feeling. I’m great at doing relaxing activities (yoga, walking, running, drinking coffee with friends…) but alas, sitting on the couch and physically resting/recovering is not my thing.
Although, the cure to this is a good book. Right now I’m loving this book.
Other Things I’m Loving Right Now:
This lamp that Tim bought me for my birthday. (Only the most romantic gifts are given en la casa de Benroeck.) But seriously, it’s perfection.
Having a sleepy newborn. I love the newborn phase because my babies come out huge and hungry and sleepy and this one loves to snuggle with me! Yes, I will take all of the newborn snuggles, please.
Avocado toast. Can you believe I ate it for the first time the other week (at Fat Hen) and only made it for the first time this week? I know, I know, I have been missing out. Here’s the recipe I used and loved.
Clara’s communication. She’s just starting to put words together into phrases and I absolutely love being able to communicate more effectively back and forth with her. But then I realize my baby isn’t a baby and she’s turning into an older toddler who will then turn into a kid and then I want to cry. Darn hormones.
These leggings that I wear all day every day. I can wear my pre-pregnancy jeans (Hallelujah!) but they aren’t comfortable with the healing incision, so I’m still all about everything elastic and loose.
The goodies I just purchased from a consignment store in town (for Isabelle) and online via ThredUp (for me). I love buying ‘used’ (sometimes it still has tags on it!) clothing!
There are quite a few things that I’ve found difficult with the almost-22-month spacing between my two girls, but one of the hardest things has been the physical toll on my body.
In October 2013 I got pregnant with Clara.
During pregnancy I was nauseous and tired and then huge… you know the drill.
I gave birth in July. The labor and delivery was hard and it ended in a c-section.
My c-section recovery was pretty rough, and I had a hard time moving around the house for quite a few weeks.
I had an oversupply of breastmilk, and while that sounds like a blessing, it was quite uncomfortable at first, until my body regulated itself to only make what Clara needed. I felt like everything in the house was drenched in breastmilk (so awesome, right?) and since it was summer in Chicago and we didn’t have air conditioning, I was hot and exhausted and sweaty and leaking and bleeding (from the labor and delivery) and generally I was just a huge mess. Plus I couldn’t get out of bed by myself without pain.
Those weren’t my best weeks.
I started going to physical therapy to attempt to ‘fix’ my abdominal muscles which split apart (yay diastasis recti!) during my pregnancy. I loved going to physical therapy, but it took so much time that I didn’t have any free time or energy to pursue other exercises. However, I finally felt like I was starting to get my body back into pre-baby condition after a few months.
I breastfed Clara on-demand for an entire year (until July 2015). Thankfully, I was able to pump after a few weeks (I waited for a while until my supply went down so that I wouldn’t continue to produce too much milk.) so I wasn’t physically attached to Clara for that entire time, but breastfeeding made me freakin’ exhausted and constantly hungry.
After a year of breastfeeding, I decided to wean Clara so that I could wear non-breastfeeding-friendly shirts and to stop her from pulling up/down my clothes at the playground or in front of friends to take a quick swig of milk and carry on her way. That type of breastfeeding is less than ideal in my world, so I made the decision to stop. Plus, I was getting a bit concerned that I couldn’t keep on weight, as I was getting skinnier and skinnier as Clara required more and more breastmilk.
I got pregnant with Isabelle the same month I weaned Clara, in July of 2015 (but we didn’t find out until September).
I had a very similar pregnancy the second time around. In the first trimester I was nauseous and exhausted and then we moved across the country so I was really nauseous and exhausted… it wasn’t my finest hour(s), that’s for sure. I felt like I couldn’t do anything productive at all and was disappointed in my lack of energy. I was especially disappointed that I couldn’t keep up with Clara in the ways I wish I could have, but that’s a different post for a different time.
I still breastfed Clara in the morning and at night until she was 18 months old. So for 6 months I was pregnant and breastfeeding. (Sidenote: it turns out that nipples get really sore when breastfeeding a toddler while pregnant.) My exhaustion just kept increasing, and I didn’t start feeling better until almost the third trimester of pregnancy, which of course is when everything started going downhill again with the ‘normal’ pregnancy discomforts.
I went 12 days ‘overdue’ with Isabelle, which only surprised me a bit, since I had gone 10 days ‘overdue’ with Clara. The labor was a grueling 36 hours and it ended with another c-section.
Now I’m 13 days postpartum from this second pregnancy and my body is worn down. Once again, I seem to be having an oversupply / fast letdown issue with my breastmilk and Isabelle is gulping down a ton and then spitting it all back up. I’m sure she’s eating enough, but I feel like I’m feeding her around the clock and just producing more and more, which becomes painful after a few hours while she’s sleeping and not eating.
Sore nipples and engorged breasts… it’s all sexiness over here.
And as if normal postpartum discomforts weren’t enough, last week I had a spinal headache and couldn’t move for days (yay side effect from the epidurals!) and I’m still feeling some incision pain, although this recovery seems to be much easier than my first c-section recovery.
Thankfully, I make sleepy newborns, so Isabelle has been able to sleep 5 hours at a time (I don’t wake a sleeping baby) and I’ve been able to sleep at night – but still, I’ve been getting tired and worn out lately.
Now I have a toddler and a newborn, and am breastfeeding on demand, and am recovering from a rough labor and an even tougher c-section delivery. I don’t have the ‘luxury’ of being able to lay around all day because our household has a lot of activity, but I’m not very good at relaxing anyway, so that’s really okay by me. However, my body is exhausted and I don’t see it improving any time soon.
I anticipate another 1-2 years of breastfeeding ahead of me, and I’m actually not sure how I’m going to physically be able to handle wrangling a toddler and a newborn by myself – once Tim goes back to work. And we aren’t sure that we’re done having kids, so there could be more pregnancies in my future, too.
My body hasn’t been my own since October 2013, and it won’t be my own for a while longer. I’ve been responsible for supporting other lives for almost 3 years and counting.
Mentally, I feel like I’m in a really good spot (aside from the anxiety about being a SAHM with two little girls) but physically, I’m feeling like a disaster. Once I get the go-ahead from my OB, I’ll start exercising and going to physical therapy to start regaining my strength, but even with a lot of hard work, I’m not sure my body will ever be able to recover to what it once was, pre-kids. And maybe that’s okay.
My goals for the immediate future are to recover from this c-section with as much rest as possible, eat well, sleep well, and survive this transition into being a mom of two.
I won’t say that the physical discomforts aren’t completely and totally worth it, because of course I would do it all over again – and I continue to choose to breastfeed even though it drains me (no pun intended). However, I can’t wait to truly get my body back one day. I look at moms who are done having kids and I think about how nice it must be to be completely done being pregnant, sleep-training, and breastfeeding… but then I look at my newborn and have a crazy urge to have more babies so that these snuggly newborn phases never end, so clearly I’m still a bit hormonal.
I’m constantly reminding myself that this season of life is just that – a season. And this particular season is an uncomfortable, unsexy, and physically exhausting one. I’m forced to be more self-sacrificing than I would like to be sometimes, but I also consider my abilities to get pregnant, grow babies, and then breastfeed for months to be great (albeit uncomfortable) blessings.
One day I’ll have my body (and maybe even a flat stomach) back, one day. Until then you can find me snuggling my two (2 week old & 22 month old) babies as much as I can and trying to find beauty and some rest in this season that we’re in.
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