First of all, every time I think to myself “I am a mom of two” my brain still kind of does the shocked face emoji 😱. I knew it was going to happen, my obvious growing belly made that clear, but the reality of it is still setting in.
It’s crazy because I know I am only 19 days postpartum, but it already feels like life was always like this and also like everything has shifted so dramatically.
Being stuck home with a newborn has allowed me to have plenty of time to sit and think and so I thought I would channel all those thoughts into this blog post. Since it seems like a good use of time and one of the easiest ways to answer all the questions friends have been sending my way (and due to my new nocturnal schedule, I doubt people want me responding to texts at 3:00 AM, so I will do it here).
- How is E handling the transition to big brotherhood?I could not be more proud of my oldest son. I was so incredibly worried about him because he and I are pretty attached, but he has been such an amazing trooper. While it has been hard to understand why I can’t just drop everything to sit on the floor and play with him (due to breastfeeding taking up what feels like 20 hours of the day), he still accepts it and finds other ways to be with me. He will come sit on the couch next to me while I nurse little brother, or we will read a book, sometimes he plays with daddy. He also loves on his little brother. He will sneak over to the bassinet in the morning and tickle little brother or pat him on his head. I am so amazed and blown away with how he is adapting and I am so eternally grateful for his sweet and kind heart.
And don’t get me wrong, there are still some roadblocks for us too – E has insisted on sleeping in our bed with us since little brother is in the room. There has been a little bit of acting out at dinner, and this could just be a marker of his toddlerhood and not the addition of a sibling, but we are working through it. We know that this is a huge change for him and we want to make sure he knows he is as loved as ever and as special as before.
- How is this time different than with E?W-O-W, when people say each baby is different, I NEVER would have thought that possible. With E there was so much that felt like battles. From breastfeeding to sleeping, nothing was easy for me with him. My mom says this is because I was never a mom before, I was learning. My cousin said emotionally leading up to E’s birth I was under so much stress; whatever the reason, things are in many ways opposite.
Little baby I likes to eat, and while he is what one would call a “lazy” eater, he still eats more than E did. Breastfeeding isn’t painful for me like last time, and while I personally would still say its one of my least favorite things to do, I can do it more this time because I don’t find myself crying in pain during every feeding.
The other big difference is right now, Little I will allow us to put him down in his bassinet/dock-a-tot for napping. With E, that little man had to be in our arms at all times. Again, this wasn’t bad, but it made doing certain things hard, and to this day, E still needs someone touching him to fall asleep. Usually this means one of us will lay in bed with him until he falls asleep and then leave the room. And mom, if you’re reading this, I am not saying anything bad, just that is what his comfort is.
- How are you doing (as in me)?I am actually doing really well. I don’t know if it is because things are not as much of a shock or what, but I feel really good.
I will be transparent, while my delivery was considered “easy” by the doctor and nurse team, I felt like it was harder on me mentally. I think as I was preparing to give birth I kept thinking of everything that was hard with my first child and I kind of froze up. I didn’t think I could do this again. I had a panic attack.
There are still moments (most especially at night when Little I has a fit of fussiness) where I think I can’t do this. My mind sometimes doesn’t feel strong enough to survive the newborn phase. I know a lot of women who love and live for this time of sacred closeness, but I personally struggle with it. This is the time I feel most alone. It is the time where I allow the failures and fear to speak more for me than the braveness. I am learning to work through it. My husband has been wonderful in stepping in for me when he sees I am struggling under my own emotion. I wish I would have done that with E. The other coping mechanism I have started doing is one decade of the Rosary. I figure I am awake anyway, and instead of spending hours scrolling Instagram, I can center myself more with Christ and pray.
The crazy thing is that while emotionally I don’t feel strong, physically I feel great. In a lot of ways my physical recovery being so good has given me a false sense of power. I think wow, I am not in pain, so I try to push myself – and by push myself I mean lifting E or trying to clean all the laundry. I end up regretting it later, but in the moment I feel so good and I feel like more of my pre-baby self. It’s crazy, but just having my body back and not hosting another life makes me feel better. I just feel like I am me again (I am sure most moms can relate to that).
There are other questions I know people have asked me, but right now, this tired brain can’t fully remember. However, there is one last thing I really wanted to share.
Mamas out there, listen to yourself! That has been the biggest lesson I have learned in this motherhood so far. When I had E I listened to everyone outside of me. I let all the opinions weigh me down. I knew this time I couldn’t let myself do that. I saw how destructive it was to my initial mental well-being.
What this looks like for me is less visits right now. I know this has been killer for friends and family, but I am an introvert by nature. I need space and quiet to recharge. Learning to meet both of my sons’ needs and my husband’s needs are more important than seeing family – at least for now. And while I know this has been hard for our family and friends, they have been amazingly supportive and respectful and I think that has made all the difference for me.
Listening to myself has meant using bottles and supplementing with formula as needed. With E I cried and struggled with breastfeeding. I kept trying and kept forcing myself to make it work and in the end he needed formula to supplement anyways, this time as soon as I started to struggle in the hospital I asked for supplemental formula. I am still trying to maintain breastfeeding, but I am less afraid and less defined by my struggles. I know that breastfeeding will never be the part of motherhood I like, I do it for the health benefits of my child and the bonding.
Listening to myself has meant getting out of the house alone for an hour every other day. I am honest with my husband about my need to get out. Even if I am running our normal errands, I need to get out of the house. It is time for myself and until I am able to take baby I with me or I am cleared for working out, this is what I need to do.
Listening to myself is allowing the house to remain more chaotic and dirty than I would like. I have to accept that for now, I can’t keep everything clean at all times. I’m so busy feeding I and trying to play and be attentive to E, that it’s just not as important. It kills me a little inside to see dishes dirty in the sink before bed, but being there for my oldest son is more important than all the clean dishes in the world.
This new chapter will be a journey. I have by no means figured out parenting two children, but we are starting. I feel so incredibly lucky that so far it is going well. My next hurtle will be to learn how to be more attentive to E while still meeting baby I’s needs. I have been dependent on Jacob’s help to do that, but this week I have been transitioning to being solo. Doing E’s school picks up, making dinner again, and Saturday going back to having alone days with the boys while Jacob works. It’s all a process and I have to give myself some grace to work through it.
Until the next time,