Pregnancy Week 36: Easy tears (and an easy Christmas craft)

I’m officially 37 weeks now. Which means, in addition to the baby being basically fully cooked and safe to come out, I am officially eligible to labor in the tub at the birthing center, if I want. Hooray!

But let’s talk about Week 36.

The primary features of Week 36 this time around:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Lightning crotch
  • Hairtrigger crying reflex
  • Stress eating, and the subsequent return of heartburn

Pregnancy-wise, it wasn’t too rough of a week. I think I’ve finally completed the midwife circuit at the practice I go to, and I’m now on a weekly appointment schedule. At the 36 week appointment, I got the Group B strep test (presumed negative, as I didn’t get a phone call), so I won’t have to get antibiotics during labor.

Life-wise, it wasn’t an especially pleasant week. I’m still swamped with freelancing work (which is a good thing! And a fun project! But not the greatest timing on my part), had to spend two daycare mornings dealing with minor but inconvenient car issues, and The Toddler is once again going through a weird developmental phase (please, God, let this just be a phase) where he is refusing to nap and regressing with his potty-training habits. The Husband, too, was stretched thin, and worked late three nights last week, so while he did his best I felt like I was flying solo through a lot of turbulence.

The Toddler napped one. time. last week. And has had about four costume changes a day, thanks to his refusal to tell me when he needs to go. On the bright side, no naps means he is crashing for bed by 6 p.m. But then again, so am I.

All of which made that freelancing work pretty tricky to tackle, and all preparation for his family birthday party on Saturday had to wait until Saturday morning, which meant by 2:30 on Saturday afternoon I was just frantically running around the house, tears streaming down my face, as I tried to put everything together at the  last minute. I’ve got to stop being enormously pregnant during the holidays.

Fortunately, The Toddler’s grandparents and aunts and uncles were (at least outwardly) unbothered by our mediocre food offerings and only wanted to shower the Toddler in gifts and affection. He had a blast, and is enjoying the infusion of new toys. (And my mom gets to live to see another Christmas, despite her gift of a thousand-decibel tractor toy with no off switch, because she watched him Saturday morning so we could pull everything together.)

I don’t have any additional pregnancy wisdom or whining to throw your way this week, so here are a few shots of the quick-and-dirty advent calendar I put together for The Toddler. Obviously, it’s way too late for this to be useful for this year, but maybe it will come in handy next year if you feel obligated to make something homemade but want to keep it super simple (like, say, if you’re enormously pregnant.)

 

Super-simple Toddler Advent Calendar

Materials

  • 1/2 yard green felt
  • A way to affix the felt to your wall (maybe Command strips/velcro? I’m lucky to have a brick hearth that holds the felt all on its own)
  • Several yards of cotton string (I used craft baker’s twine)
  • 25 buttons
  • Yarn or ticker cotton string the length of your mantle
  • Multicolored cardstock
  • Hole punch
  • 2″-ish circle template (I traced the inside of a roll of masking tape)
  • 25 clothespins
  • Metallic Sharpie
  • 25 stickers (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut out a triangle shape from the felt. (Mine is about 30″-36″ tall and 18″ wide at the base).
  2. Sew 25 buttons onto the felt to give your toddler a way to hang up the ornaments.
  3. Hang the felt tree on the wall with Command velcro strips/brick.
  4. Cut out 25 circles from the cardstock. Number them 1-25.
  5. Punch holes in the circles and tie a loop of string to each.
  6. String up the yarn/string on your mantle and evenly space the 25 clothespins out.
  7. Pin each ornament up on the mantle, clipping a sticker behind each. (For older kids, you could also write something on the back of each ornament — an activity they get to do that day, a special memory you have with them, a riddle, whatever.)
  8. You’re done! Just help your little one take down an ornament each day and hang it on a button on the tree. I like to use the empty clothespins to hold Christmas cards as they come in.
Pregnancy Week 36: Easy tears (and an easy Christmas craft)

Pregnancy Week 33: Preparing and procrastinating for baby’s arrival

The latent sense of not feeling prepared for the baby at the end of this pregnancy is becoming more of a constant buzz in my consciousness as I find myself at the end of my 33rd week of pregnancy. Assuming I go into labor around the same time I did with my first, I have just five more weeks to get my shit together, and my to-do list looms long and neglected while life keeps getting in the way.

At 33 weeks, the baby is somewhere in the 17-19 inch range and anywhere between 4 and 6 pounds, and the estimations from here on out look to be pretty sketchy at best, as babies start to really diverge as they approach their final birth weight/length. Judging by the movements I’ve been feeling lately, the baby is mostly feet. One weird progression I read in my weekly updates is that, while awake, baby is keeping his or her eyes open in utero. I wonder what it looks like in there.

As for me, well…

I think this about sums it up.

I’m humongous. I can’t stop eating, but also, heartburn. I can’t breathe. It takes me 30 seconds to roll over in bed and a full minute to get up off the floor. My back hurts if I’m on my feet too long (oh, and also if I’m sitting too long). I’ve been super emotional–crying over very silly things, or for no reason at all. My abdominal muscles hurt from being stretched. I’ve had a few dizzy spells. I’m getting to the stage where only really long maternity shirts cover my huge, huge belly. My huge, huge belly that my toddler thinks is a trampoline.

And while I’m starting to look forward to not being pregnant anymore, this past week with The Toddler has also reminded me that I’ll be trading in immobility and indigestion for mind-numbing sleep deprivation.

While I’ve been using it as a blanket excuse for every behavioral hiccup for the past five months or so, The Toddler is finally, truly sprouting two-year molars, and that has manifested in really rotten sleep. He’s pretty miserable, and his parents are pooped. I think it’s affecting his dad more than me, because in the middle of the night, I am the last person The Toddler wants to see. So I get to go back to bed while The Dad tries to soothe him. It’s a good thing we put a twin bed in his room.

Though the teething hasn’t been particularly fun this week, we have pressed on in one important way toward preparing our household for the baby: The Toddler has started going to daycare (though we’re calling it “school”) a few mornings a week. I’ve been both meaning to do this forever and putting it off, first because my freelance work has been so feast-or-famine, and then because I wanted to feel he was fully through potty training before I threw off his routine.

So when my freelance work picked up this week, it ended up being the perfect catalyst for getting him out of the house a few mornings a week. (And, conveniently, the perfect excuse for further baby-prep procrastination.)

The Toddler has been struggling with drop-offs a little, but otherwise has a great time. And so has his mom! I’ve gotten a bunch of work done–mostly the paid version, but this morning I spent most of daycare time blowing leaves that have piled up on our front sidewalk and then did some shopping.

I picked up some stuff for my hospital bag (future post to come–after my next midwife appointment this week I plan to finalize my checklist to share with you) and for those special breastfeeding-time play kits to keep The Toddler occupied. That, too, will be a future post.

In the meantime, here’s hoping those teeth pop so The Husband and I can catch up on some sleep and tackle more of our to-do list.

Pregnancy Week 33: Preparing and procrastinating for baby’s arrival

Pregnancy Week 26: Looking ahead to delivery day

Today closes out week 26 of my pregnancy with Baby 2, and also wraps up the nesting frenzy that started last week.

First, a quick stats and symptoms rundown:

Baby weighs in at about 2 pounds and measures 14 inches from head to foot, or the size of a butternut squash, a slow loris, a bowling pin or an adult human skull???

Me? Oh, I’m good, thanks. Just rushing through this post on my way to nap-town because I was awake for hours last night with insane heartburn, which was 100% deserved because I celebrated my (presumed) passing of my glucose test by eating the following yesterday:

Breakfast: Homemade apple pie (my husband is amazing) and most of an everything bagel (split with The Toddler) and Neufchatel cheese

Lunch: Homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream, also half a mango

Afternoon snack: Vanilla ice cream

Dinner: French fries

I am contrite. This college freshman diet will not happen again during this pregnancy–if not for the sake of my unborn child’s health, then for my own sake.

Speaking of my husband is amazing, we plowed through a ton of to-dos over the week he took off work, despite the unrelenting heat wave. Rather than rewrite the list, I’ll direct you to my Instagram post listing off all the stuff he made possible.

Shoutout to @immortaldavis for kicking ass on his weeklong staycation, which was mapped out hour-by-every-waking-hour so we could tackle some long neglected projects, some farm-related and others in preparation for Baby #2. Here he's catching his breath from digging up a grounding rod that got stuck in three feet of drought-hardened clay after we moved the goats. Other things we accomplished this past week: garage clean out, barn clean out, freezing gallons of apples, setting up an office in the basement to make room for the new nursery, rearranging all our closets, and finally tackling a few episodes of Fargo Season 2 after the kid went to sleep on nights we still had any energy left. He also baked me an apple pie last night, and spent lots of quality time with our son, and made sure I got to put my feet up when I got too worn out. I don't say it enough: I'm lucky AF. I couldn't have dreamed of a better partner. ❤️❤️❤️ #farmlife #famgoals #parenting #partnersforlife #luckyme

A post shared by Reanna (@arkayokay) on

What I really want to talk about this post is what’s been weighing on my mind this week aside from prepping our physical space for another baby: Impending labor, and how I hope to approach it this time around.

My first childbirth experience went pretty much how I hoped it would. While we were bound by insurance to deliver in a county hospital with 90 percent+ epidural rates and limited accommodations for anyone pursuing an unmedicated birth, I managed to get through L&D *without an epidural and felt like a goddamned rock star. (Here’s my birth story if you’re interested.)

.*I super don’t care how you gave birth or plan to give birth–alone in the woods, with an epidural in place beginning at 36 weeks, or a scheduled C-section and tummy tuck, so please don’t take my satisfaction at my birth going how I wanted it as judgment about your birth plans or experience.

That said, there were parts of my experience that I hope to improve upon this time around, and now that I’m approaching the third trimester, I’m starting to consider these goals in more concrete terms. I’ll probably tackle this topic from a few directions in the coming weeks, but I thought I’d start with a general list of worries and hopes, and go from there:

  1. I hope my labor is shorter than last time, but not alarmingly so. With Baby 1, it was 12 hours start to finish. I waited as long as The Husband could stand it before we left for the hospital, but back then it was a (very difficult) 10-minute drive. This time, we’re looking at a 40-minute commute, so I’m hoping to balance getting labor off the ground at home and not pushing our luck on the road.
  2. I’m worried my more sedentary second pregnancy is going to make this labor harder. I wasn’t insanely in shape the first time, but I was walking 3-4 miles almost every day, and that’s just not in the cards this time around. I’m trying to work exercise into my days when I can, but I don’t know if it will be enough to give me the strength, stamina and flexibility I had last time
  3. I want pushing to go better this time around. I talked to one of the midwives at my appointment this week about how the directed pushing (the counting, the nurses and doctor telling me when to push and how long) just didn’t feel right, and how it resulted in some moderate (and painful) tearing, along with a lot of popped blood vessels in my face and eyes. She told me she doesn’t ascribe to this method, and generally advises moms to let their bodies tell them when and how to push, so I’m hoping with enough preparation on my end and a more supportive environment at the birthing center will mean a better time of pushing, and less damage control in the aftermath.
  4. I hope my husband feels equipped to help me with birth, without a doula, this time. This birth is costing us more, so we’re not hiring a doula, and while The Husband was a great labor partner last time around, it was also really nice to have a doula to support us both. He’s got some studying up/refreshing to do (hoping to get a hold of this book soon), and I also need to do my own work to figure out what types of affirmations, massage, positions, etc. I remember being helpful last time or that I think I’d like this time so he can be ready to help me get what I need when the time comes.
  5. As I think is extremely common with second-time moms, I’m anxious about how we’ll make sure The Toddler feels included in welcoming his new sibling, how our relationship will evolve, and (of course) how the heck I’m going to survive on 3 hours of sleep a night for a few weeks while also being responsible for a 2-year-old.

Speaking of The Toddler, looks like he’s not going to be napping for awhile, so neither am I. Better wrap this up.

Pregnancy Week 26: Looking ahead to delivery day

Pregnancy Week 23: Braxton Hicks, and why I hate the mall

I’m late again for my weekly update, but I have plenty of excuses!

  1. I am in the  middle of potty training The Toddler. I’m not going to talk any more about it until we’re successfully on the other side, so reserve your horror stories, advice, dismay, etc. because it’s not up for discussion, other than for me to mention I have been watching my kid like a hawk.
  2. I have a miserable cold. How I got it is a mystery, because every illness I’ve had since The Toddler was born came directly from his sloppy sneezes into my immune system, but he’s (*knocks on wood*) fine.
  3. I enrolled in an online creative writing course through my local library (you guys, do you have any idea how many free resources are available through your library? It’s miraculous) so my writing time lately has been devoted to trying to stretch my creative muscles and work on avoiding cliches, run-on sentences and passive verbs. (Don’t expect to see this effort here, on my blog, because of #1 and #2 and I just don’t have the energy for it.)

Now that I’ve wasted 200 words on explaining why I’m a day late despite no one caring, let’s talk about Pregnancy Week 23!

Pregnancy Week 23

Baby size: Papaya, large mango, Barbie doll, box of Kraft macaroni & cheese, can of WD-40. Or somewhere around 8″ crown to rump/11″ total and a little over a pound.

Symptoms: Heartburn, of course. Also this week I started noticing periodic tension in my abdomen that must mark the beginning of Braxton-Hicks contractions, which I didn’t experience the first time around (except for one day late in my pregnancy when I had to literally run home from work to make it to our breastfeeding class on time). It seems BH are more common in subsequent pregnancies, and they have become a regular feature in mine. I’ve been trying to chug water when I notice them and give myself a break when I can, but toddler mom, blah blah.

Baby #2 is also kicking more frequently and with more force. I felt a little nostalgic lying in bed one night this week with The Husband’s hand on my belly, catching the feeling of kicks as he drifted off to sleep. I remember him doing that with The Toddler and felt such tenderness thinking about how he’ll fall in love with this baby just like he did before. I wonder if he’s more excited this time around (maybe rather than nervous) since he knows what is to come. I guess I should ask.

Speaking of childbirth, my other main symptom this week has been growing anxiety about having everything (anything?) ready by the time Baby #2 arrives. We haven’t touched our plans to rearrange the bedrooms, we have literally zero boy names that we can agree on (and don’t know the sex of the baby, so we need a shortlist for both), and I can’t help but think I should count how many weekends we have left before the due date. And then maybe sign The Toddler’s grandparents up for a few long-term babysitting gigs so we can get anything done.

Speaking of that, we’re headed to a wedding next weekend sans-Toddler. I’m looking forward to potentially sleeping in (or at least just watching TV in the hotel room). I frantically drove out to the mall yesterday with the realization that I needed to purchase a maternity dress for the occasion, and My. God.

Malls are terrible, I’m glad they’re dying, it’s incomprehensible to me that the one I visited was filled with people, and the whole experience filled me with a judgy, frustrated befuddlement. There were two puppy-mill purveying pet stores and still a place to physically buy CDs, but there were maybe six wedding guest-appropriate dresses for pregnant women in the entirety of that sprawling monument to bougie suburban consumerism.

Only H&M and Motherhood Maternity had any maternity clothes. H&M had a small section, and of the three dresses I tried on, only one came close to working but was too long. I wish I could find the one online that had a floral print with ladybugs and a pair of boob-bisecting ruffles that made me look like I was cosplaying as a pregnant eight-year-old 90’s-era Sunday school student, but you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Motherhood Maternity, as usual, was a laughable combination of headache-inducing prints, unforgivably cheap construction and insulting prices. I walked out with a form-fitting black dress made of the same polyester you’d find if you bought a ballet leotard at Walgreens, and something I never thought I’d own… a pair of what amounts to pregnancy Spanx.

pregnancy shapewear
Meow.

Not feeling great about my MM purchase, I stopped at a nearby Kohl’s, bought two more dresses without trying them on, consoled myself with a Halloween-themed Cadbury egg at the checkout (now that I own pregnancy Spanx, why not?) and went home, feeling defeated.

Obviously, I should have just shopped online. But the three hours to myself were, admittedly, pretty nice.

Pregnancy Week 23: Braxton Hicks, and why I hate the mall

Pregnancy Week 19: A growing, shrinking family

Today concludes Week 19 of my pregnancy, and may I say, Good Riddance.

Pregnancy-wise, things are going blessedly well. According to the creative souls who come up with these things, Baby #2 is the size of: A zucchini (I’m assuming your standard supermarket zucchini and not the neighbor’s garden variety from which you could carve out a canoe), a Gameboy, a hotdog, or a pair of sunglasses. Hmm… OK. In real terms that means it is about 6 inches long and 8.5 ounces.

My symptoms haven’t changed much; the heartburn remains a near-constant but still tolerable presence, and I have found myself getting winded more quickly when I climb stairs, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good. This upcoming week we’ll have our anatomy scan, and the following week is my next appointment with my midwife, during which I will likely plead for heartburn relief of some kind.

(Incidentally, I saw a video on Instagram or somewhere from a mom explaining that pregnancy heartburn easily is eliminated by taking 100 deep breaths. I haven’t found the time this week to string more than five deep breaths together at a time, and I don’t mean to be a complete cynic, but… I expect this is bullshit.)

The real theme this week has been, unfortunately, loss (that, and toddler diarrhea, but nobody wants that recap.)

Last weekend, my beloved cat, Bills, died suddenly from an undetermined illness. In the span of 24 hours he went from seeming perfectly fine (he even hopped into The Toddler’s crib on Saturday morning to indulge in some tentative snuggling) to weak, with labored breathing that had me rushing, too late, to an emergency vet.

Soon after, I had to make the urgent and heartbreaking decision to have him put out of his misery. In the end, he was too dehydrated to have any blood work or to be able to get an IV inserted, so I have no idea what killed him, and I wasn’t allowed to be in the room when he was euthanized. My husband and I buried him under a white pine tree and sprinkled wildflower seeds on his grave.

I know that the price you pay for the unconditional love of a pet is the inevitable goodbye at the end, but God, it’s hard. Bills slept as my “little spoon,” with his head on my pillow, almost every night for the past eight years. He was the through line for every scene change, major milestone, disappointment and triumph of my entire adult life.

He wandered into the backyard of the first house I rented with my then boyfriend (now husband), who named him “Bills” in an unsuccessful attempt to deter us from taking in a pet we could hardly afford at the time. Bills reluctantly traveled with us through five moves, tolerated and eventually loved the second cat and the dog we brought home, let me cry into his fur when I had a miscarriage, and sat with me in the predawn Christmas morning hours while I started timing the first contractions that brought my son into the world. He was a steadfast, uncomplicated source of comfort, and that was the hardest part of losing him: He wasn’t there to console me.

So  that’s the bittersweet cloud that has hung over the past week, as my belly gets rounder and time marches on. My family shrunk a little even as it grows. Though we suffered a loss, we get to keep the memories. And that’s something.

Pregnancy Week 19: A growing, shrinking family

Guest post: Erin, mom of two (among other things), shares her story

Hi friends!

It’s been a heck of a week already (more on that later), so I am *super* glad I reached out to an old friend from high school, who just launched her own blog to help people coping with eating disorders (and, oh yeah, NBD, had her second baby) to help me out with a guest post, Q&A style. As the reality of being a mom of two sets in, I am grateful to have her share some wisdom on motherhood.

Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce Erin.

Erin and her family
Erin, her husband and her two little ones, under the Gateway Arch in their current hometown of St. Louis

Erin’s bio:

My family and I recently moved to St. Louis from Georgia for my husband’s job when I was about halfway through my second pregnancy. The Second Kid, a baby boy, is now 4 months old and The First Kid, a girl, turned 2 years old at the end of May.

In Georgia, I owned a private practice as a dietitian specializing in eating disorders and related issues. Right now, I’m staying home with the kids until we’re ready for me to go back to work part-time. Until then, I’ve been enjoying writing my blog at RecoveringWithGod.com.

How were your two pregnancies different? In general, do you like being pregnant or is more of a necessary but miserable means to an end?

I thought I liked being pregnant until The Second Kid! I had more nausea, fatigue, and discomfort with the second pregnancy. I think moving out of state and chasing around a toddler made the experience much different.

What were some things you learned in your first pregnancy, childbirth experience or early parenting days that you wanted to be sure you did differently the second time around? What were some important consistencies you wanted to maintain between the two?

This is a BIG question. The short answer is: get less tests and be choosy about health care professionals. The explanation is long and intense, but worth sharing with you and other parents.

We almost lost my first child based on a diagnosis that was made in utero. We were told by a specialist doctor that our baby would likely not survive to term and if she did there was a 0% chance that we’d have a healthy, normal baby. The doctor insinuated that terminating the pregnancy was the way to go based on a growth he spotted on the back of the baby’s head at 11 weeks. He said that it was an encepholocele, a type of neural tube defect in which brain matter protrudes through an opening of the skull. He left us with very little hope, no follow-up appointments, and no recommendations for other consultations or specialists.

It was the absolute worst day of my life. But our friends and family prayed. After I made the initial call to the abortion clinic (please no judgments), I felt God nudging me to get a second opinion. More prayers.

The second-opinion-doctor made us feel like we were in this together and gave us options. We waited. With every visit thereafter, the growth miraculously shrunk or stayed the same size. By the third trimester, the malformation was no longer detectable and the issue was considered resolved.

Against the odds, our baby was born as healthy as can be.

SOOOOO, how did all this change the second pregnancy? Well, the reason we went in for that 11-week ultrasound with The First Kid was because we were going to test for a genetic disorder that runs in my family that has the potential to be fatal. With The Second Kid, we decided NOT to get that test. We learned that (1) test results don’t always predict outcomes, (2) the test results wouldn’t change our actions during pregnancy—we wouldn’t terminate, and (3) God can heal.

I’m not really sure how to segue from that, but there are plenty of other things I did differently as well. I chose a birthing center instead of the typical hospital setting to give birth. Reasons include the following experiences that I had at the hospital with The First Kid: (1) getting my membranes stripped without consent, (2) my birthing plan was not followed or even saved in my chart to refer to, (3) I had to wait for the doctor to arrive before I could push, even though my body was screaming at me to PUSH! (4) Oh yea, I had to go through the transition stage of labor in the crowded waiting room, like WITH THE FAMILIES (who were staring at me because I was apparently making scary noises). In contrast, I loved the birthing center. Their practices were in line with everything I wanted, so I didn’t have to constantly worry or double check what they were doing. They listened. They didn’t rush. Gosh, I loved them so much. If you don’t like your healthcare team, look for someone else. I say that as a healthcare professional and I would say it to my clients too.

How were your two labor experiences?

I was told the second labor is typically half the length of time as the first. This made me quite nervous because I barely made it to the delivery room with The First Kid, but it was true! I was in labor from about 6pm-midnight for The First Kid and 9pm-midnight for The Second Kid. (To the women who have long labors, I am sorry and you are all amazing warriors).

There were no false alarms with The First Kid—once contractions started, they were regular and the real deal. With The Second Kid, I experienced contractions that didn’t turn into labor, which drove my anticipatory anxiety out the roof!

I labored at home longer for The First Kid because I was only 1 cm earlier that afternoon. With my second labor, the midwives never checked dilation at any appointments, but I knew I had to leave ASAP once contractions were at regular intervals.

Both babies arrived the day after their due date.

Both labors were medication-free. I used some Hypnobabies concepts with both labors even though I personally think it’s a bit cheesy. I really enjoyed the practices in Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke and highly recommend that book. It’s more evidence-based, less judgmental, and the skills can be used throughout the parenting experience. I need to go back and reread some sections!

I keep being reminded to expect my two children to be very different from each other, though it’s hard to imagine my second baby beyond what I know from my first. How are your two babies different so far?

The First Kid came out small and dainty and always falling asleep. The Second Kid came out sturdy and big and eager to eat. The First Kid was laid-back and The Second Kid is usually tense, but both happy. The First Kid was very observant and could entertain herself easily, interested in the smallest of details. The Second Kid (at least in this stage) seems to need a lot more stimulation. Thankfully, he loves watching his older sister as she runs around, dances, and gives him toys.

How did you prepare your first child for the arrival of your second? How has she adjusted to being a big sister? Are there any specific books/philosophies/etc. you relied on to help guide you through getting her prepared?

We talked about baby brother while I was pregnant and read the book “I Am a Big Sister” by Caroline Jayne Church, which I highly recommend. I’m not sure how much she understood, but she does mimic the girl in the book by helping. I also instituted “special time” with her while I was pregnant. We sing a song about special time, set a timer, and I spend 10 devoted and undivided minutes with her. Quality (attentive time) is over quantity (distracted time).

She’s loved and adored her baby brother since she met him. It was an adjustment (aka Tantrum City), of course, but she took her frustrations out on her dad and me for not giving her enough attention. She never acted resentful toward her baby brother. I’d say it took about 3 months for her to adjust. Now that she’s adjusted, she can truly be a big help to me at times even though she’s only two.

Talk about the first few days/weeks of being a mom of two, in general. What was the hardest part? Was there anything that went easier than expected?

The hardest part was definitely not having the ability to be there for my little girl. There are moments when you have to choose which child to attend to first, and the crying baby usually takes priority. Thankfully, The First Kid encourages me to go help The Second Kid when he cries, but she forgets that means she can’t get what she wants right away!

Taking care of a baby in general has been easier this time because I knew what to expect. I’m no longer trying to follow every rule or sift through all the conflicting baby advice on the internet…there’s no time for that!

I had a really rough time getting started with breastfeeding the first time around. If you nursed both times (and are willing to share), what was it like starting again?

It was a cinch! I had some insecurities the first time around, which I think most women do, and a naturally petite baby, which our first pediatrician freaked me out. However, a year’s worth of practice with the first child makes a huge difference for the second. Now the real challenge is breastfeeding while doing other tasks, such as reading a book with The First Kid in my lap, pouring a glass of milk, or putting on a shoe!

How did you and your husband adjust to having two? 

In general, my husband watches the The First Kid and I’m in charge of The Second Kid, especially in the beginning when I was nursing non-stop. We had visitors the first several weeks who we could hand either kid off to, which was loads of help! Then we were forced to figure out how to handle both at the same time when my husband returned to work and I had occasional appointments I needed to attend. We’re still figuring it out!

In general, what advice that I may not have covered that you’d offer to parents expecting their second child?

Go easy on yourself. You won’t be able to do it perfectly, if there is such a thing. It’s okay to plop your toddler down in front of the TV to attend to the baby, or *gasp* get a moment to yourself. (My husband is constantly reminding me of this). Are they smelling a little ripe because you haven’t bathed them in awhile? They won’t remember! Did you just yell at your toddler for a stupid reason? Genuinely tell him you’re sorry and that you feel sad/mad right now, and hey it turns into a teaching moment! Even if you don’t muster up the apology, life goes on and you are a good mom. Some mood swings and bending the rules won’t change that.

Do what’s easiest. Opt for grocery delivery, Amazon Prime, carryout meals, a cleaning service, and any other convenience you can find. If you’re thrifty like me, tell yourself it’s just for this season. You’re in survival mode the first couple months, so only expend energy on the priorities.

And finally, picking your nutritionist/disordered eating expert brain, I wondered if you had any wisdom regarding self acceptance/body positivity for new moms and/or setting a good example of this for your kids.

It’s important for postpartum women to give themselves space to grieve their old bodies. We have constant messages thrown at us to “lose the baby weight fast”, and then we’re also told to “appreciate our stretch marks and mommy tummy” because it’s “so worth it.” We feel guilty if we can’t get back to our pre-baby bodies AND we also feel guilty if we aren’t “positive” about this new body.

It’s okay to feel sad about your body sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you’re vain or shallow. It doesn’t mean that you lack gratitude. Avoiding feelings and pretending you’re fine never ends well. Journal or talk to a trusted fellow mom. Give yourself grace—your body just went through a traumatic experience, you’re healing, your hormones are crazy, you’re tired. Look the way you look and feel the way you feel.

Try to accept both your body and your feelings, and don’t beat yourself up if acceptance is a tough concept right now.

As for setting a good example for your kids, be nice to yourself. Even when we think they may not be looking, kids notice those under-the-breath remarks in the fitting room or self-deprecating comments over second helpings of ice cream. Then they mimic us. Give yourself the love and respect that you give to your kids.

There you have it! Aren’t I lucky to know her? She shared such an incredible story  — I’m stunned at her strength through the terrifying diagnosis in her first pregnancy and utterly appalled at her hospital experience with her first childbirth!!! — and so many good ideas — the “Special Time” idea is getting implemented STAT in our house, and I’ve got some new reading to tackle. (As usual, nothing on this site is sponsored, so the Amazon links are just for your convenience.)

I really needed some encouragement today and was so happy to find Erin’s words in my inbox. I hope you enjoyed it, too.

While her blog is a faith-based resource for people struggling with disordered eating, and not a mom blog, I know that there certainly is overlap between those two groups of people. In addition to selfishly picking Erin’s brain to prepare myself for parenting two, I also hoped that connecting with her would help connect any of my readers who might be struggling. If you are (or know someone who is) dealing with an eating disorder, visit RecoveringwithGod.com for words of encouragement. (And, as Erin points out in her bio, you should also seek treatment with a health care professional.) Take care of yourself, Mama.

P.S. I can’t figure out how to get someone a draft for review on WordPress without it going live, so sorry if you got a blank/password protected email post!

Guest post: Erin, mom of two (among other things), shares her story

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Remember for a chunk of time how this became barely a parenting blog and more a blog about very tame backyard farming? If not, here are a few samplings from that time:

Well, because I generally have the brain power for just one post a week, and because I’m pregnant again and therefore have a pretty easy framework for new material, I have neglected to talk much about our little menagerie for awhile. But I wanted to take a moment to memorialize a sad milestone in our farming adventure.

Last week, on a dark and stormy night, we lost a chicken.

Hera was a good chicken. She was about 17 weeks old, the only Buff Orpington in our little half-dozen flock. She was timid and sweet, she didn’t like to be pet but would eat out of my hand. She was getting big and nearing the time she’d start laying eggs. She had recently lost a bunch of tail feathers, making her look (to me, at least) the most dinosaur-like of all our chickens whenever she broke into a run.

Hera
Rest in peace, chickie.

I promised him I wouldn’t invoke the wrath of the Internet when telling this story, and I hope not to because he doesn’t deserve it: The Husband took a break from working on his laptop last Monday to lock the chickens in their coop for the night. (They free range all day and put themselves to bed at about 8:30.) He went out to check on them before the storm rolled in — even counted them all because they dogpile in their nesting boxes instead of roosting and are sometimes hard to see (need to figure that one out…) and then, unfortunately, went inside without remembering to close and latch the door to the chicken run.

In the night, something (fox? raccoon? coyote?) crept in and snatched up Hera. Whatever it was left behind a trail of bloody feathers and a rattled remaining flock. I think the thrashing, hours-long storm that struck was a stroke of luck because it probably kept away any later predators who would have taken advantage of the situation.

The Husband was beside himself with regret the next morning when I went to let the chickens out and found all but one emerging from under our porch. I felt sadder than I expected to, but not angry. For as absent-minded as I’ve been lately, it could have just as easily been me who forgot to latch the run.

Or, it could have been if I were ever awake late enough for it to be my job. The Husband has picked up so much slack since the pregnancy fatigue sunk in, including night chores for the animals, I feel bad that the responsibility has fallen almost solely on him.

Today, while walking around our pond with The Toddler before bedtime, I heard our dog crunch something (unusual, as she’s not a stick chewer) and found she had unearthed a chicken thigh bone with a few orange feathers stuck to it. Hera’s remains.

I can’t count how many chicken thigh bones I’ve discarded over the years without a second thought, but I picked up this one and brought it back to the porch.

Maybe it’s silly to bury a chicken, but that’s what we’re going to do.

She was a good egg.

 

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five