Two Months with Two Kids

2015-08-08 10.10.34We’ve made it through two months as a family of four. Winning!

We’ve also been in our new house for two weeks, and even though there are still plenty of boxes left to unpack, it does feel like we’re settling in. Figuring out a routine. Actually living our lives in the present and not looking ahead so much to when we find a house, when we have a baby, when we have our own space, etc etc etc.

So now that we’re here, in the moment, how’s it going?

Pretty well, actually. Not that we have no challenges. Obviously I’ve written about those a lot (to wit: losing my temper with Natalie and enforcing positive discipline, for starters) but I’ve been thinking about how the language we use to talk about our kids shapes how they think about themselves and working on reframing what I think and say. More “spirited” and less “omg you totally insane little criminal mastermind WHAT ARE YOU DOING.”

But anyway. Two months in and life is quite different than it was when we only had ONE two-month-old baby. Go figure.

I know many moms who are either pregnant with their second child or looking ahead to when they might become pregnant, and I’ve gotten a few questions about how things have gone the second time around. Two months in doesn’t make a me a pro, and moms of more than two kids will just read this and laugh, but this is our experience right now.

Breastfeeding

Let me start with my standard disclaimer: everyone’s breastfeeding experience is different and the way it went for me is not necessarily how it will go for you. Please just take this as my own personal experience and not gospel truth.

I had a pretty easy time with Natalie. It was extremely painful when she latched for the first few weeks (I had cracks and some bleeding), but then I started to heal and it was smooth sailing after 4-5 weeks. There were a few bumps in the road (no pun intended) when I got clogged ducts a couple of times, but we worked through it.

Breastfeeding the second time around? Walk in the park. A bit painful for the first week, but I never needed to squeeze Will’s hand so hard I was worried about compressing his knuckles. And then by day 7, it was completely pain-free. Mostly I attribute this to being completely intolerant of a bad latch. I was so worried Natalie not eating enough (in retrospect: LOLOLOLOL) that once she latched, no matter how bad it was, I didn’t take her off. As a result she tore me up pretty good, and when your baby is nursing 10-12 times a day, it takes a LONG time for that damage to heal.

With Olivia, though, I wasn’t afraid to take her off and reposition as many times as it took for her to get a good latch. I think that made all the difference.

I’m also a lot more casual about the where and the how of breastfeeding this time. With Natalie, I didn’t go anywhere without a nursing cover and always either used that or retreated to a private space for her to nurse. I don’t always have this luxury with Olivia, as Natalie is not really ok with sitting and waiting patiently by my side while Olivia eats, and since I’m a lot more confident about nursing in general (and pain-free!), it doesn’t bother me to breastfeed her in public. She’s nursed frequently while in the wrap or ring sling in many a store, and those are fantastic options for providing a level of coverage that I’m comfortable with while not requiring her to be draped in a ton of fabric.

Side note: you should nurse your baby however you feel comfortable. Nursing cover or no, it’s up to you. You should also know that it is your legal right to breastfeed your baby in public, without a cover if that is your wish, almost anywhere you go. The more you know!

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Sleep

Oh my god, I was OBSESSED with Natalie’s sleep. Probably because she didn’t do very much of it. I remember going to a moms’ group when Natalie was eight weeks old where we all went around the circle and talked about things we were struggling with. One mom’s biggest “problem” was that her three-month-old was napping for 2-3 hours in the afternoon, and is that normal? I wanted to strangle her with a swaddle. I would’ve killed for that.

And now I AM that mom that other moms probably want to strangle, because this time around I’ve been #blessed with a really, really good sleeper. I gotta tell you, it’s reeeeaaaaally nice not to be so wound up about her sleeping conditions. For Natalie: swaddled, always swaddled, white noise machine running, tiptoe around the house, don’t turn on music, don’t watch TV unless you’re on another floor, turn on the baby monitor, and FOR GOD’S SAKE don’t drop the silverware when you empty the dishwasher. Scratch that, don’t even empty the dishwasher. Or shower. Or flush the toilet because ARE YOU INSANE?!?

We vacuum when Olivia is asleep in the same room. We do housework and play music and if she’s in the wrap I even dance a little bit with Natalie. Now that she’s getting a little older, I know that we need to start thinking about a nap “schedule,” and I use that term loosely. Natalie (eventually) settled into 3-nap-per-day routine and I know Olivia will do the same. Honestly, right now I’m too busy loving the fact that she’ll sleep anywhere to worry about getting her into the pack and play for naps. Our window of being able to leave the house for naps is going to close rapidly so I’m taking advantage of only one kid needing one afternoon nap.

I knew with Natalie that we should’ve been doing these things, should’ve been living life as usual around her so she’d get used to the noise and activity. But her sleep was sooooo crappy I just didn’t dare. It was like tolerating her bad latch: I let her fall into bad habits because I wasn’t brave enough to correct it from the beginning. So this is totally not a judgement on other parents who tiptoe around their babies and I’m definitely not telling you to fire up the vacuum; it’ll be fine! It’s no biggie if the baby wakes up! I GET IT. I SO GET IT. I want to give you a hug and hold your baby so you can go nap for an hour. Take heart, mama, it gets better.

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General Logistics

This was something that really puzzled me when I was pregnant with Olivia. So, how, exactly does one accomplish day-to-day things, like showering and grocery shopping and making dinner with two kids? And what about nursing and diaper changes for the baby, how does that work with a toddler running around and wrecking havoc?

First, a word of encouragement to all the moms I know expecting their second kid: you got this. Seriously. You are all competent, amazing, caring moms and it will all work out. You’ll figure out your own rhythms and you’ll make it work. Trust me.

Babywearing is HUGE for us. Huge huge huge and I really don’t think I could function without it. That gives me an extra set of hands when I need it, and even though it’s super awkward, I can carry both girls at the same time for very short distances if I need to, like from the car to the cart corral at Target (I haven’t tried tandem wearing since Natalie is so over being worn, but I can wear Olivia and carry Natalie on my hip). I’m really looking forward to Olivia being old enough to back carry, since that will make things even easier. We have…probably more carriers than we need. An Ergo, a ring sling, and two woven wraps. But I love them all and I will never part with any of them. I’m not an expert but I LOVE talking about babywearing, so if you have any questions please feel free to comment or send me an email or carrier pigeon or whatever.

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I always joke that solo grocery shopping with both girls is like that brain teaser where you have to get a fox, a chicken, and a bag of corn across the river, but the canoe only holds two things at a time. The actual grocery shopping is fine; it’s figuring out what order to put groceries in the car, kids in the car, and return the cart. Usually I try to park right beside a corral so I can put the kids in the car first and then do everything else. If I have to park further away, I’ll unload groceries into the car with Olivia still in the wrap and Natalie still sitting in the cart, return the cart, and then put them both in the car. Sounds obvious, I know, but I have to think reeeaaaal hard about it sometimes.2015-08-17 10.34.04

I was nervous that nursing and diaper changes would be difficult because Natalie would be off in a corner quietly burning the house down while I was pinned to the couch. It’s actually not that bad. Natalie can be unsupervised for VERY short periods of time, since our house is more-or-less childproofed, so if she wanders off to her room while I’m in the living room with Olivia, it’s ok until Olivia is finished. We’ve definitely had some incidents with pens closer to the edge of the counter than I realized, or an entire box of Q-tips being liberated onto the floor, but Natalie usually responds when I call and ask where she is.

I’m also not opposed to using Daniel Tiger as a babysitter while I change Olivia’s diaper. Whatever works, man.

So that’s where we are right now! Life with two kids is pretty awesome, except for the times when it’s not, but that happens less often than the heart-bursting moments like when Natalie gently places her head on Olivia’s chest and wishes her goodnight, or carefully covers her with a blanket…and then tucks it in over her face.

We’re working on it.

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