12 Truths of Having 2
There is an old saying, "1 is 1 and 2 is 200" and I don't think I truly understood that until I had 2 children myself. Finally, after 1 year + in, I can finally say our family has achieved a balanced rhythm.
I remember talking with friends and family while I was pregnant with my daughter, basking in maternal glow as I packed my hospital bags. Those that had more than one child were of course, happy for me, but there were definitely more questions this time around as they sympathetically asked,
"But how are you going to manage working with two babies?"
I would usually pause for a moment, my naivité taking over, and would brush the question off, having internal reassurances with myself that things would be just fine. Although retiring from work for awhile may be an option for some, it just wasn't for our family. Adjusting to this reality my mindset had to be not if this was going to work, but how.
However, after having my daughter in the hospital (read her birth story here) and my tidal wave of emotions pouring in (read about my postpartum depression here) the clock ticking down to my birth switched to a clock ticking down to my arrival home, and reality smacking me in the face.
14 months into have 2 children, here are 12 truths that reflect my personal experience. These facts are those I can authentically speak of and I feel like most mamas can empathize with at least a few. I also hope to provide some hope because my family is finally getting out of the weeds with our new family of 4 reality:
1) Sleep doesn't exist for the first 6 months. You can rationalize this in your mind as you prepare for baby #2, but this is a different sort of sleep deprivation than #1. Like you literally, do. Not. SLEEP. Because guess what? Even if you are up all hours of the night, you don't get the luxury of those precious cat naps during the day that you had with #1. There is a wide-eyed bushy-tailed other tiny person in your home than needs you ASAP, and I'm talking like they needed their waffles YESTERDAY. During that time Netflix at 3am was life while I breastfed in the middle of the night, and although my coffee may have run cold by the time I got to it the next morning, I enjoyed every last drop.
2) Sleep doesn't exi - Oops sorry, I'm still tired ;)
Ahem, # 2) Your oldest's behavior may regress. In my personal experience, my oldest was still technically very much a baby in a lot of ways at 18 months, and he had no idea why mommy all of a sudden was carrying around a tiny and noisy little person. Entering the very normal "Terrible-Twos" his behavior was magnified and the jealousy was real. He hated the baby, was frustrated with me, and the tiny angel-child I once knew was often replaced by a very frustrated little boy. With patience, extra hugs, and a whole-lotta activity-planning, it took a few months, but this time did pass, and his jealousy is at a minimum compared to how it was a year ago.
3) The parenting playing-field is leveled. So, I'm not sure about anyone else, but with baby #1 my husband and I would often ping-pong responsibilities. Meaning, "I'll go out and run some errands, and you stay home, " or "I'll sleep in today, you sleep in tomorrow." ...HA. There is no more of that. Because I breastfed our oldest, a lot of the baby responsibilities seemed to fall onto my plate. Now our dynamic has become an effortless rhythm because both parents have just got to chip in at all times. There were some bumps in the road in the beginning, but now my husband and I easily bounce back and forth to making sure everyone's needs are met.
4) You need "Date Nights" more than ever. Yes, date nights are always important. But what I have found is that after having two, you truly need time just the two of you to start and FINISH a conversation. My husband and I have always tried our best to still hang out after the kids are asleep, but to be honest we are both so tired its not exactly "quality time". Previously you might have had "bedtime" or "bathtime" off for one night, but now guess what? You are literally doing it all for at least 1 child at 1 time. Both of you. Finding a sitter, going through the ritual of getting ready to go out, and actually going somewhere in a new environment does wonders for communication and bonding. My husband and I sometimes even have "Date Nights" in our basement after the kids are sleeping on the weekends. We pick a move, order take out, put our phones away, and enjoy time just the two of us in a slightly different space, but just different enough it breaks up the typical lounging on the couch.
5) You appreciate the one-on-one time with each of your children in a different way. I always loved spending time with my son, but now I have to say there is something special when it is just the 2 of us. Or vice versa, when I have alone time with my daughter. I don't exactly know why that is, but when I break away separately with one of my babies I find so much joy in giving them my 100%, undivided attention.
6) There are serious growing pains when it comes to travel. The first time we tried to go to a restaurant you would have thought we were going to Europe. I had to pack "All the Things" not only for my oldest, but also all the baby's stuff. After awhile I got so sick of all of it I often ditched my diaper bag and put the 2-5 essentials in my regular purse because I realized packing such a huge bag and driving myself crazy over forgetting something was too much drama!
7) Stuff that bothered you before with #1 doesn't even cross your mind with #2. With my first, I was constantly looking at leaps and benchmarks. With my daughter, I often forgot how old she was. I celebrate her accomplishments when they occur. I also don't agonize over every last detail because I literally do not have the TIME. Is she starting to teethe? GREAT. Did she eat a mystery Cheerio off of the kitchen floor? Oh well! I'm too busy making sure everyone is just ok that I can't worry about if everyone and everything is perfect. And that's ok.
8) Seeing your kids play together is the best thing ever. When I hear my children laugh together, when I see them play and wrestle and kiss and hug, I feel so incredibly blessed. When my son fed my daughter for the first time, I couldn't stop crying!
9) It's easier to see the big picture. With baby #1, I felt like I was in a more moment-to-moment mindset, and on bad days it was harder to see how quickly the phases pass. With the second time around you have a fresh perspective since you've already been through everything once. You know one day you will wake up and realize that all of a sudden: they stopped spitting up, you can give them a bath in a regular tub, and the next thing you know they are running circles around you. With baby #2, it was easier because the old adage really is true: This Too Shall Pass. So soak up every last moment!
10) You begin to see how different your children can be. Just because their parents are the same, and they both came out of your body, does not mean you will experience the same newborn. What worked with my son, definitely did not always work with my daughter. Some things did, but they are two very different humans and just need very different things at times. My daughter had horrible colic and I was just not prepared for those first few months because I had not experienced it with my son. My daughter loves to cuddle, and my son would rather pretend to be an airplane. I had to learn to stay as open-minded, flexible, and patient as possible and respect them as individuals, catering to their differences as best I can.
11) You wonder how "Moms of Many" do it all. I cannot give enough praise to mothers who have more than two. You are truly rock stars and I am mentally giving you a high-five right now and bringing you coffee. And if you had TWINS?! Wow, I am groveling at your feet!
12) You feel more love in your heart than you ever knew possible. There is a feeling I get, and I cannot explain it, but when both my children are looking up at me, with their 4 adorable little eyes, my heart feels so full I want to burst. Not to say you don't feel that amazing with 1 child, but when you are pregnant with your second you may have thoughts looking at your first like, "How could I possibly love another little human as much as I love you?" Trust me, you can, you do, and you can't picture your life without them in it, either.
...So these were my truths. They may not be the same for everyone, but I'm sure a few of you can relate! What were your struggles? What were insights you gained after you had another baby? And if you are brand new to it all, I can promise you is: it does get easier.