It’s been 4 weeks since our family grew from 3 to 4. Going into this, I knew it was going to be such a blessing to have our boys so close in age (19 months apart). We also knew it would be quite the challenge, especially in the beginning. We set up a support system for the first few weeks: my parents were with us for the week prior to and following baby Carter’s arrival, then my in-laws came for 5 days to help out, and a few close friends came by to visit and play with the babies. Our saving grace throughout has been our amazing nanny, who has been taking care of Chase full-time since he was 6 months old. They say it takes a village, no kidding! Now that things have settled a little, I wanted to share how we’ve been navigating this new, unchartered territory of life with 2 kiddies under 2 years old.
What has been easier:
- The delivery/hospital course: Our first son was delivered via emergency c-section due to complications during labor and difficult natural delivery. This time the c-section was scheduled. Going through the process of surgery was so much easier due to the planned nature of it. I knew what to expect every step of the way and even our few days in the hospital were relatively a breeze. I was able to get up and walk around the day after surgery and was discharged home the day after that.
- C-section recovery: Sometimes I forget how major of a surgery a c-section is and all the complications that are possible. However, I’ve been very blessed to have recovered well from both of my CS with minimal pain afterwards. I really pushed myself to mobilize ASAP since I knew tissue would start scarring down and make it harder to stand and walk without discomfort. I’ve been wearing a medical grade abdominal corset this time from Bellefit all day since I got home, which has helped a lot. I plan to write a blog post later on tips to survive that first month, including exercises and info about the corset!
- Newborn phase: Since Chase was only born last year (it definitely seems much longer than that), I’m not too far out of practice on knowing how to care for a newborn. I had to kickstart my memory a few times, such as breastfeeding basics and post-circumcision care, but mostly everything came easily. There’s definitely less second-guessing, less anxiety about germs, less googling everything. The fact that Chase came down with croup the first week Carter was home (and even sneezed into his face) without Carter getting sick was a miracle. Now everyone asks “How are you guys sleeping?”. Well the transition from no kids to a kid is tougher than going from one kid to two. I’ve just learned to function on some level of exhaustion mode at all times since Chase was born. Concealer does a number on those chronic dark circles under my eyes.
What has been different or difficult
- Sibling interactions: This mostly pertains to Chase getting to know his new baby brother Carter, not so much the reverse. We had read up on the different things to consider when introducing the baby to older siblings, specifically to a toddler. The main thing we wanted to ensure was positive, but safe, interactions and giving adequate attention and affection to Chase during this transition. We had started introducing the idea of a baby to Chase a few months prior to Carter arriving, and even bought a babydoll with similar skin tone to practice “gentle touch” and “quiet voice”. For the most part Chase, didn’t want much to do with it, but he did start coming over to kiss the plastic baby doll every now and then. Chase came to visit the baby and me in the hospital the day after Carter was born. He immediately knew it was a baby and climbed up to snuggle with him, although slightly aggressively. The interactions were all initiated by Chase, as we didn’t want to force any connection or make him feel negatively about it. When we brought the baby home, we brought a toy gift “from the baby” for Chase to open. To be honest, he probably didn’t care who it was from, but the fact that he was benefitting from this new human being in the house was fine by him! We’re still working on reinforcing gentle interactions, and we try not to say “no don’t do that!” and instead redirect him with “Why don’t you tickle baby’s toes?” or “feel how soft his hair is!” So far all Chase wants to do is cuddle the baby, which melts our heart. He comes running whenever he hears him cry and greets him with a big kiss “muahh!”…and then runs away with his pacifier. There’s room for improvement, but not a bad start.
- When it’s 1-on-2 defense: When it was just Chase, it was relatively easy to take care of him and get things done around the house simultaneously. Now with two kids, it’s definitely a stretch. When my husband or the nanny are home, we divide and conquer. The few hours between when the nanny leaves and when my husband gets home is what I call Crisis Aversion Hour (or two)…Literally trying to keep it all together to avoid any meltdowns by baby, toddler or mama. We’re definitely getting better, but I’ll explain more in the learning section of this post.
- Coordinating babysitters: Everyone wants to babysit one, fun, social toddler who almost never cries. When you throw a newborn into the mix, things get a little hairy. Since my husband and I never try to intentionally leave each other with both kids at any time, we certainly wouldn’t put another person in that position. So the only time we’ve been calling in the reinforcements are when we have mandatory work obligations or when family were in town while we had a wedding to attend. It’s going to be a little while before we leave the house sans both babies again, but we prefer our Netflix and nap nights over date nights anyway 😉
What I am learning
- Planning ahead– When I first became a mom, I learned how important planning was in order to get ish done during the day. To get out of the house with a child, all parents know that it’ll take twice as long and you’re most likely going to come back into the house to retrieve something you forgot. Now with two kids, the mental checklist is much longer. To avoid any “caught-with-your-pants-down” moments, I’ve fully stocked the car with anything and everything needed: diapers, wipes, changes of clothes for both kids, snacks, cleaning wipes, plastic bags, toys etc. I also plan ahead for meals because the last thing you want is a hangry toddler, baby and parents at the same time.
- Strategizing with moving targets– So as mentioned before, dealing with 2 kids by myself is more than a handful, literally. Having 2 hands with 2 kids does not compute well. There are times when Chase is relatively calm and sticks by my side…but 90% of the time he’s running around like the Tasmanian Devil. Until he starts adhering to directions a little better, I’ve got my running shoes on and ready for anything. I’ve developed the skill of Strategic Containment: this means if I’m dealing with one kid, the other is immobilized. Baby wearing is very effective both in and outside of the house. Going on walks in the double stroller has also been a clutch move (both kids contained, toddler entertained, and exercise for mama).
- Mega-multitasking: Moms are known for being masters in the art of multitasking… no shade at dads, but it’s probably statistically proven somewhere that moms are just rockstars in this department. It kinda goes hand-in-hand with the first two points, but it’s a MUST when you have two kids. With Chase as a newborn, I would usually sit on the couch to nurse him. Now with two, I’m nursing Carter while preparing meals, playing with Chase, doing the laundry, feeding the dogs etc. This kid is learning how to eat on the go!
So that’s how the past 4 weeks has been, and I can’t really complain. It’s going to get even more challenging once Carter is out of the newborn phase AKA “fourth trimester” AKA larva stage. But as exhausting as it is, my husband and I love this life. Watching our toddler interact with his new best friend and drowning ourselves with that newborn smell is what makes it all worth the work. Our hands may be full, but so are our hearts.