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.
Late again with my weekly update. I’ll happily blame a toddler cold and some well-earned social time this weekend. I seriously don’t understand how other moms carve out time to blog several times a week, or daily. Don’t you like sleeping? Doesn’t your kid assume an open laptop means an episode of Daniel Tiger paired with a barrage of snacks? Don’t you have goats to feed?
Anyway, last week was Pregnancy Week 27, the last week of the second trimester. I’m officially rounding the bend toward the finish line (and, you know, the starting line to a much harder and longer journey that is parenting another child. Holy crap, we’re going to have two kids soon.)
Baby: Is about 2-ish pounds and 14.5 inches, head to toe, or about the size of a head of cauliflower or a bunch of bananas. Is opening and closing his or her eyes, packing on fat, and undergoing some serious brain development.
Mom: I am feeling “bigger, bigger, bigger!” as The Toddler likes to say (not just about me, in general. At least that’s what I tell myself.) I’ve succumbed to the daily Prilosec, as heartburn has gotten the best of me, and I need to sleep. And also eat.
Speaking of The Toddler, this is also the point at which his bladder control is better than mine. Aside from one unfortunate nap-related accident (someone was too tired and belligerent to sit on the potty, or perhaps it was engulfed in flames I couldn’t see, judging by his reaction to my trying to get him to go), he’s been using the potty like a champ, and as soon as the next load of laundry makes it through, he’s got a new set of 2T-sized boxer briefs with trucks on them to officially move him into underpants territory permanently. We also are giving up diapers for nights and naps, because we’ve found a night pee buys us a much later wake-up call in the morning, and he never wets his diapers anymore, anyway.
Also this week marks the official beginning of my heavy-handed hint-dropping at The Husband in the form of strategically placed literature on his nightstand. I went to an honest-to-goodness bookstore this week (instead of Amazon, although it was still a Barnes & Noble) to pick up the latest edition of The Birth Partner, and I am confident (very hopeful?) he’ll get through all 400 pages before I go into labor. (Honey, I know you read this. You have the rest of your life to read about Ulysses S. Grant before bed. <3)
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re not hiring a doula this time around, even though having her was very helpful with our first baby. The combination of added expense of delivering at a birth center and the assumption (and sincere hope) we’ll have an even quicker labor than the last time just suggested it made more sense to equip The Husband with the tools to act as my sole labor coach this time around.
Though, honestly, it’s hard to imagine carving out any sort of time before Baby 2’s arrival to really focus on childbirth. I know I’ll feel differently when I’m as big as a house and truly can’t reach my feet anymore, but I don’t feel at all ready for this pregnancy to be over. There’s just so much to do.
Pregnancy Week 25 has come and gone, and with it came a rush of crazy nesting instincts.
Baby is approximately the size of an acorn squash, a rutabaga, a cabbage, or any number of other fall vegetables. (Translation: 13.5 inches from head to toe, and about 1.5 lbs.)
As far as how I’m feeling, mostly the answer is big and cumbersome. I caught myself waddling a few times this week, which horrified me. Mostly it was because I ended up wearing heels to the wedding I went to last weekend (dumb) or otherwise over-exerted myself (which, sadly, means I walked 3 slow miles behind a stroller, but that’s my current fitness threshold.)
Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I kept up my once-a-pregnancy tradition of audibly farting in a prenatal yoga class. What is the purpose of a personal blog with your real name attached to it, if not oversharing and publicly humiliating yourself? Whatever, farting is funny.
Speaking of funny, a friend texted me the link to this video comparing a first pregnancy to subsequent ones. Enjoy:
Hehehe. Accurate. (Minus the “all the drugs.” I’m doubling down on an unmedicated birth this time around. Call me crazy, but I’m looking forward to it!)
Oh, yeah, I was going to talk about the nesting instinct. The first time around, I had little else beside my day job and the guidelines that I should avoid paint fumes to prevent me from going buck wild fulfilling every nesting fantasy that crossed my mind at 4 a.m. (Here’s a snapshot of the nursery in our old house–the fruits of my intense nesting instinct and my equally intense ability to boss my husband around.)
The finished nursery – Note the poster (very well secured!) over our changing table.
Dropcloth curtains, a perfect little thrift store chest of drawers and a rocking chair in the corner.
My favorite Jenny Lind crib, with a wooden thrift store duck and a framed set of six vintage postage stamps on the wall.
This time, nesting has been primarily limited to fantasizing about what I would like to do with the house before Baby 2 arrives, because all my actual time and energy is devoted to laundry, chasing chickens off the porch, loading the dishwasher after The Toddler finally succumbs to sleep, reading stories to The Toddler while he poops, vacuuming up broken dried pasta from the living room rug (haha j/k, that’s also just a fantasy), and frantically trying to throw together dinner at the last second before we all starve.
By the time I get through even the most rudimentary daily housekeeping tasks each day, it’s 9 p.m. and I’m falling asleep sitting up against my headboard, waiting for the Tums to kick in so I can collapse for the night.
This week, though… this week is different. The Husband took a bunch of days off and I have mapped out every waking hour of every day to maximize our to-do list.
Already in the past three days, we’ve done a bunch of furniture rearranging, cleaned out half of the garage, moved the goats to a new patch of jungle, taken a minivan load of my grandparent’s stuff to Goodwill, made an equally large pile of stuff to drive to the dump, bought materials to finish trimming the floor in our kitchen (which we’ve been trying to do for more than a year), and ordered a new bed for The Toddler.
And we still have four more days of backbreaking, unrelenting nesting. I’m in heaven.
This blog has been almost completely dedicated to pregnancy updates for the past few months, due mostly to my inability to muster the energy to write more than once a week. Despite this, my days are full to the brim with toddler stuff and farm stuff, and my bump (and even the heartburn) are more of an afterthought. Really, this space is the only place pregnancy has taken a front seat. So it’s well past time I made some room for an update on all the other stuff! Today, I’m focusing on The Toddler, if for no other reason than to remind my future self what 21 months looks like.
But because I’m still pretty tired/lazy, I’m going to let my camera roll do most of the talking…
The Toddler is (Thank God!) back to napping pretty regularly after a very trying couple of weeks where he was flirting with the idea of quitting forever. Unfortunately, the solution to his nap reluctance has been rocking him to sleep in a soft-structured carrier. As my belly gets bigger, this becomes more and more difficult, so I’m going to have to find a new fix any day now. Setting him in his crib to fall asleep on his own, or even trying to get him to sit still while I rock him in a chair, are not feasible, as he just never stops moving.
It could be faulty memory, but I swear there was a period of time in the not too distant past I could keep the house within spitting distance of tidy at least a few days a week. That is absolutely not the case anymore. Whether he’s ransacking our closet to try on his dad’s shirts, dumping snacks everywhere he goes because he’s too busy to sit down and eat a meal, scattering a basket of clean laundry across the living room, or filling his dump truck with dried noodles and dumping them out on my bed, this kid is hell bent on destruction.
While he is sometimes willing to help with the clean-up, I often find it takes less energy for me to just wait until he’s asleep to deal with it myself than to try to battle with him/trick him/reason with him to help me clean up. The only thing that seems to get him excited is the prospect of vacuuming.
“High! High!” he says
Twisty slide expert
The kid has boundless energy these days. We’ve been spending a lot of time on the playground, where he’s either doing full-speed laps up the playground equipment to go down the twisty slide, or yelling, “High! High!” on the swings, tricking people into thinking he’s being friendly when really, he’s just bossing me around.
When we’re outside at home, he’s obsessed with dragging around heavy logs, dragging our garden wagon around, or digging in a dirt pile that happens to also be littered with goat poop. This means he’s been getting an exasperating number of midday showers. I’m hoping my Best Mom award hasn’t gotten lost in the mail, but I have not received it yet.
In other news, it’s been just over two weeks since we embarked on the potty training mission, and while we’re far from perfect at this stage, I thought I’d provide a brief overview of how it’s gone so far. We’re using the book Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki as our guide, which in very brief advises potty training in phases or “blocks”–from naked (and watched like a hawk), to commando (no underwear, but yes pants) at home, to commando out and about in the world, etc.
We’re still in Block 3, and while prompting and built in potty break times (immediately when he wakes up, before and after getting in his carseat–we take the potty chair with us, etc.) are still very necessary to success, we are going most days without accidents and he is even self-initiating a few times a day.
Our biggest hangup right now, which I think is pretty common for the under-2 crowd, is that he isn’t figuring out the mechanics (or the necessity) behind pushing his pants down before he sits on the potty. Sometimes he’ll just walk over and hover over/sit down on the potty, fully clothed, and let loose. So I need to be there to help him with that, but since I need to be around anyway to help with wiping and emptying the potty chair, it’s not a big deal for now. We’ll get there.
He seems to take a lot of pride in being able to use the potty, and I feel fine about the pace of our progress. My main goal is to have him completely out of diapers (he still wears them for naps/night) by the time Baby 2 arrives.
We went to a new pediatrician last month who scoffed at the idea of potty training at 21 months, telling us we needed to wait until he was 2 1/2 to 3, or we’d just be “training ourselves [his parents],” but all this did was make me want to prove her wrong.
Yes, I know there are possibly risks for potty training too early (though some of these claims seem pretty dubious), and yes, I have the luxury of being the primary person to help my son get to the potty when he needs to go and not needing to rely on day care to do so, but he was enthusiastic at the outset and seems to prefer using the potty to diapers (even going so far as to wake me up a few times in the middle of the night to pee on the potty because he’d prefer not to go in his diaper.) So now felt like the right time for us, and I’m glad we went for it.
In particular, here’s what I like about Oh Crap! Potty Training, for anyone who is looking for potty training resources:
The author recommends ages 20-30 months (with some markers–like retreating somewhere to poop, being able to ask for something to drink when they’re thirsty) as the best time to potty train. We were getting some signals that The Toddler was seeming ready, and this book basically says, “Go for it.” There’s no waffling about readiness within that window — you decide to do it (setting a date and getting ready) and go full steam ahead. This is the attitude I find most motivating in the rest of my life decisions (taking a new job, deciding to have kids, moving to the farm), so I knew this was the approach we needed for this particular project.
There’s no incentivizing/rewards system. After having pushed through a brief bribery period with getting The Toddler into his carseat that got out of hand very quickly and made me feel like I was very much losing a power struggle, I can see how treats/stickers/etc. would get with potty training, and am happy to avoid it.
Glowacki is staunchly anti Pull-Ups, which greatly appeals to my sense of righteous indignation at the commercial exploitation of every possible childhood milestone. It seems clear to me that the point of Pull-Ups is not to help get kids potty trained, but to make them reliant on diapers way longer than they need to be, so diaper companies can sell more diapers.
The book is realistic about the variations in timing that each kid will take to fully adapt to using the potty, and doesn’t make you feel like a failure based on a recommended time frame.
Well, there’s a way-too-long post about my SAHM-of-a-toddler life right now! Stay tuned for exciting updates about my ever-expanding belly.
Baby is the size of: A baby bok choi, a carrot, a head of endive, a baseball hat, or a “least weasel,” depending on who you ask. Or about 10 1/2 inches long and 12 ounces.
I’ve been feeling plenty of kicks this week. They’re mostly way down in my pelvis because I no longer have any abs to speak of to hold my uterus aloft, so I haven’t been able to offer The Husband quite as many opportunities to feel the kicks as I did the first time around. These low kicks have also been making bathroom trips pretty suspenseful if I ever drink more than a teaspoonful of liquid.
Other symptoms: Heartburn, heartburn, heartburn. You know that feeling when you get water up your nose at the pool? I feel that low-key almost all the time. You’d think it would stop me from eating so much, but nope. I apparently favor being full all the time over sleeping more than six hours a night. My current lazy pregnancy craving that I try to justify as healthy is plain yogurt with mini chocolate chips and whole almonds.
I had an appointment with my midwife this week and forgot all but one question I had. I also went grocery shopping and bought almost nothing we needed, and cannot remember the rest of the things I’ve forgotten this week and hoped to list to illustrate how bad my memory is. Suffice it to say I have a serious case of mom brain.
Quite a bit of this can be attributed, however, not to my fetus but to my 20-month old, who is hellbent on giving up naps and went four days in a row without one.
Four days. In a row.
I came as close as I ever have to a nervous breakdown on Tuesday, and found myself stomping my feet and yelling in the dark of the pantry, having a full-blown tantrum because The Toddler wouldn’t sleep, and I was so, so tired. And of course, there’s nothing more guilt-inducing than completely losing your cool at an angel-faced baby who just wants to “pway!!!” in his words. So I spent a good chunk of Tuesday afternoon wallowing in terrible feelings.
Finally, on Wednesday, I figured out that I could get him calmed down if I put him in the Boba carrier and rocked him to music. He’s just so amped up on playing and reading and talking and exploring that slowing down for a nap feels like torture to him. I get it–I can’t go to sleep just because someone tells me to, but holy shit, I need a break during the day.
Anyway, so for now at least, naps are fixed, and I am working really hard on being patient with my increasingly opinionated toddler.
Tomorrow, The Husband and I are heading out to test drive a minivan and probably buy it. I am not at all pumped about this dorky progression in our lives, but my little Subaru hatchback can barely accommodate one rear-facing carseat and a stroller.
Unfortunately, living on a farm means we can’t walk to anything, so if I ever want to leave the house with both my children, we’re going to need a bigger ride. I know I conceded 99% of any coolness I ever possessed long ago, but this really feels like the end of days for my non-mom identity. Somebody please tell me it will be okay.
I am consoled by the fact that buying a minivan is at least one thing we can check off the seemingly endless list of Things That Must Be Done Before Baby 2 Arrives.
Pregnancy Week 20 recap! I’m a day late, as today technically marks the beginning of Week 21, but it’s been a busy weekend. I hope no one was holding their breath.
The Internet says my baby at 20 weeks is about the size of a banana, a stapler, an endive, or 6.5 inches head to butt and about 10 and a half ounces. I say it’s big enough to kick me pretty good. We had our anatomy scan ultrasound on Thursday, and got to see fingers and toes and profile and fluttering heart chambers, but no genitalia — like last time, we’re keeping the baby’s sex a surprise.
While I was very comfortable with this choice the first time around, I had really mixed feelings–it seemed silly and artificial to shut our eyes for that part when we were literally seeing everything else, including parts of Baby 2 we’ll likely never see again. But The Husband was certain he didn’t want to know, and I waffled, and in the end didn’t request a sealed envelope with the news.
Symptoms-wise, the broken record of tolerable heartburn remains. Additionally, my chin has blossomed with pregnancy acne and the on-again, off-again relationship I’ve endured with eczema throughout my adult life is decidedly on again, in the form of a persistently itchy, red, peely, burning right pinky and ring fingers, which makes the 175 daily hand-washings all the more fun.
My bump is getting bigger, and my twice-weekly 3-mile stroller walks seem to be wearing me down more than they have been in the previous month or so.
Some people (those who encounter me on a regular basis) might also tell you I’ve been especially irritable lately.
Those people can go to hell. (Kidding! Sorry!)
This week also marks the beginning of, what I recall from my pregnancy with The Toddler, a long running theme of childbirth-related dreams. The weirdly comforting part of this is that I at least have an idea of what to expect, and so even though they’re still stressful, there isn’t quite the daunting element of mystery I remember the first time around.
I had two pregnancy dreams this past week, and the theme of both centered around not having enough time: In one, I was afraid we wouldn’t make it to the birthing center on time, and the other, I was afraid my husband wouldn’t make it home from work in time. In the second one, though, I also had what felt like a rapidly progressing, intense labor, but when I got to the hospital I was dilated zero centimeters. Either way, I have at least another 18 weeks to subconsciously build the dread and anticipation of the big day, and I suspect my dreams will be rife with more of these scenarios as time goes on.
In terms of my day-to-day toddler mom life, pregnancy Week 20 went a little better than Week 19, in that none of my pets died. It still wasn’t great, as The Toddler is fighting naps like his very life depends on it, and nothing breaks me like a missed nap.
It’s been seven days, so I think I can say officially that he is weaned. (Hallelujah/*sob*) On Monday, when he fidgeted through his usual pre-nap nursing session and then very much did not go to sleep, I decided I was done.
I had been reluctantly hanging on to that last nursing session, as it had been a nearly surefire guarantee that he would nap (and, conversely, a withheld nursing session promised a wide awake, cranky and endless afternoon).
Now that this doesn’t hold true, we’re stumbling our way toward a new nap routine, with varying success. He did nap each week day after a protracted rocking-to-sleep-while-begging-to-nurse routine that I hope to fade out, but he staunchly refused to nap all weekend. I’m hoping that as long as we don’t compensate by letting him go to bed early, he’ll eventually rack up enough of a deficit to surrender to a recovery nap the next day.
Just in case he doesn’t, though, I have finally (and, very possibly, temporarily, as my most notable personal attribute is inconsistency) found some routine to inject into our afternoons through my local library’s T.O.T. boxes: They’re file boxes filled with specially themed books, games and activities. I have reserved a different theme for the next five weeks and plan to spend a chunk of time each day reading stories, having messy play, doing a craft project, or taking a field trip related to the theme. Tomorrow kicks off Gardening Week at TLMB house. I’m looking forward to it! (But looking forward to a nap even more!)
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 launchedher 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.
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 atRecoveringWithGod.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!