Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adjusting to life as the Mom of Two under Two

I started this post a few days after we came home from the hospital.  I'm glad it's taken me almost three months to post it because it has really been quite the on going life change.  Now that I can see the semblance of a routine forming, I finally feel like I've gotten somewhat of a grip on being a mom of two under two (I'm sure I'll pay for that comment shortly, it is murphy's law after all).  For a few weeks I literally felt like days were just getting away from me, one melting into another compounding the feeling that I was seriously not winning at this game of whining and crying, feeding, changing diaper after diaper, repeat.

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.

In hindsight by 4 weeks postpartum the thought was completely ridiculous, but I just couldn't and still sorta can't see him as a baby anymore at all.   His needs were so different than this helpless newborn weighing just a mere 8lbs.  It was just crazy how he truly grew up in a blink of an eye.  It took me several days to find a new normal with how I viewed Sammy.  I was really upset over the way Sammy had gone from my whole world to this kid who was driving me absolutely nuts.  After a few days had passed, I was able to see on Sammy's face how down trodden he had become.  He just seemed weathered and sad and it just about broke my heart.  It was right then and there that I realized some of this had to do with me treating him as an older child vs the not even two year old he was.  I needed to get back to treating Sam with the level of care I had always given him.  Doing so, really helped us both to adjust.

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 think back to the question we get often of if it is harder or easier the second time around and the fact is that both are hard and easy in their own right.  I know I had severe newborn amnesia from the first go around.  I remember it being hard, but I think you just forget just how hard having a newborn can be.  The unpredictability, the amount of time they spend feeding, going to sleep, etc.  The first time around everything overwhelmed me because I had no idea what I was doing or if I was doing it right/wrong.  I read way too many books that did nothing but remind me to use my intuition and read my son.  The second time I have been way more relaxed (haven't picked up single baby book and haven't looked back).  Lexi has been exposed to so many of Sammy's germs and has been manhandled in ways I would have died over had it happened to Sammy.  The second time I have also been in tears with the enormity of the work.  The day I had to put both of them to bed by myself when Lexi was 9 weeks old and Paul had gone to NY for work was horrible.  So thankful that day is over and won't be back.

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. 
I am sure I will again feel overwhelmed when a new stage hits me by surprise but for now I feel like I can breathe and feel adjusted both from the standpoint of loving myself, my kids and our new normal as a family of 4.75!  Now to feel more comfortable in my non elastic waist band pants!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tiny Prints Christmas Card Time!

Incredible that we are already at the 2013 Christmas Season.  Last year at this time if told me I'd have a 4 month old for Christmas I would have laughed.  So blessed the joke is on me!

Last night before bed I stepped outside to take Bailey for a walk and was caught off guard by the beauty and smell of the crisp fall air.  I could smell the clean non humid air, the stars for the first time I can remember in our neighborhood were breathtaking (we live in a very well lit area) and you could just smell the leaves having reached their peak.  Never mind that I could see my breath and that Bailey was taking his sweet time, I was soaking up the change of the season.

Tonight when I made my great escape during Lexi and Sammy's nap I fled to target and was of course drawn into yet another sign that Christmas is near.  I was so excited to add Lexi to the tradition I started in 2011 of buying Sammy a child friendly ornament each year.  This came in handy last year when Sammy was able to pull at the ornaments at the bottom of the tree.  Hopefully this year Sammy listens a little better and our tree won't end up having to look like a backwards mullet of ornaments.

Another tradition to continue as we head into the Christmas Season is picking out our Christmas card.  Oh how our Christmas cards have changed over the last 10 Christmas' we have been married.  From boxed cards to photo cards of the cats, to the cats and Bailey, then Sammy and now Lexi and Sammy.  Now we have kids (emphasis on the plural) to spread joy through cards this Christmas.  How blessed are we!

I talked a little bit about how I was already perusing Tiny Prints Christmas cards when I ordered Lexi's birth announcements a few months ago.  Here are my favs for this year.  Will you be surprised by my choice in a few short weeks when they are delievered to your door? 

What will you chose this year?


I hope as you start celebrating this Christmas, you get a chance to hop over to the Tiny Prints website and see all the cute cards they have to offer again this year.