When I was pregnant and envisioning this next life change, I truly just felt a bit frozen in fear. Part of it was that I really had no clue how taking care of every need for 2 young kids, myself a dog and a cat alone for close to 10 hours a day was going to go down. I was scared big time of the change and was worried about how I would handle things like getting Sammy down for a nap while the baby was awake. I wasn't too worried about loving both Sammy and the new baby. I had heard enough times, your heart simply grows.
What struck me horribly by surprise was what has been my biggest adjustment. I guessed people had me thinking the only two worries would be loving the new baby as much as I loved my first and easing through Sammy going from only to oldest child. The problem for me was that I somehow changed how I saw Sam because I started loving the new baby. A terrible feeling knowing that Sam was also probably feeling very replaced. Can you imagine, it would be like your spouse bringing in another woman to love and you just had to deal. I didn't anticipate how I would react to Sammy, vs the new baby. I've written redundantly about how Sammy's babiness has been disappearing in what seems like milliseconds on my monthly Sammy posts so I'm not sure how this surprised me so much. However when I got home it was like a bomb had gone off and in it's wake my baby and toddler were just replaced by big kid.
Paul is fortunate to work for an amazing company that provides fully paid paternity for two weeks and then allows a father to take as much of their vacation leave as they'd like or also just unpaid FMLA. Paul took off a bit more than 4 weeks and it was great and needed, especially with two kids. It gave me the chance I needed to bond with Lexi. Without him being home, I honestly can't imagine being able to sit and be still and just love on her the way we both needed. Paul being home allowed us to keep Sammy on his regular routine of getting out of the house each day, which in turn gave me 1 on 1 time with the new baby and Sammy 1 on 1 time with his Dad and sometimes with me. By the start of the 3rd week, I was ready to face reality and find a new normal at home. I think everyone Sammy and Paul included also needed to get back to life as a new normal.
What has helped for me now 3 months in has been to really focus the first set of waking hours before Sammy takes a nap just on him. I struggled emotionally with having to let Sam be by himself while I tended to Lexi but we have both adjusted to the normality of needing to tend to each child on their own a few times a day. I'm not sure what I could have done to prepare Sammy for this change in his life as I also didn't expect to have a nosey newborn who didn't just conk out when tired. It's almost like giving birth. You can only do so much to prepare for it, but in the end only the present moment will give you the opportunity to know and write your story. Fortunately, Lexi has blessed us as a great at home sleeper (knock on wood) which has given me and Sam wonderful one on one time.
I had to readjust my expectations since I had assumed she would have just come with us on walks, to the park and shopping in her carseat or ergo. Unfortunately even given my best effort to get us out of the house from the get go, it just wasn't going to happen once the early first few weeks of extreme portability wore off. Lexi was just way overstimulated by the environment around her or it was just reflux causing a host of problems. We have become very inventive on fun stuff to do at home while Lexi naps all morning. Sammy still gets out of the house after Paul gets home around 5 to run errands, go for walks or go to the playground. Also having my Dad come over to get him out of the house for a bit has also helped both me and Sammy tremendously. So aside from getting out of the house first thing after breakfast and watching tv more than he used to, Sammy's routine has stayed the same which I know has helped his world not be completely rocked. He now understands that I'm going upstairs to put Lexi down for a nap and to stay downstairs and watch tv, have a snack and play with his toys for 10 minutes (this took some time but it has helped a lot!)
Now that most of the newborn fog has lifted we are starting to get out alone and as a family. Life feels much more balanced and it is amazing how fast time has gone. It truly has been a butterfly like metamorphasis becoming the mother of two and watching Sam grow as a big brother and Lexi as a little sister. The worry has faded about whether both are getting enough of me. They have both grown to need each other and love being together. Sammy goes around almost all day saying, Baby awake? Baby asleep. Makes me so happy to know his sister brings him so much joy. I hope that they will always have such a strong innate bond.