And then there were two...
Shortly after we welcomed our beautiful daughter Anastacia into the world, we found out baby Ethan, was on the way. Being a first time mom, no one could prepare me for the roller coaster ahead. Thinking back on the experience, I'm not certain I would do much differently. It is always nice to speak with someone who has "been in your shoes" to better position yourself for any new journey you embark on. With this in mind, I am hoping that I can share something to allow for a bit less anxiety while preparing for two under two.
Sleepless or Soaking up the Snuggles?
The one thing that hit me like a ton of bricks was the guilt of having another child so close to the birth of my first. Immediately, I began to feel saddened that I did not give my daughter enough of my time, love and care (before creating another human that would inevitably take my attention from her). As I voiced my concerns to a few, I recognized that my despair was clearly misunderstood. For this reason, I decided to work through my emotions internally. It was a very personal matter and so I looked for the best way to be optimistic vs dwell on the negative emotion consuming me. One thing I realized was that I would not have many more "just us" moments. The times that my daughter needed me became even more special. Once this realization hit, the early morning hours when I found myself rocking her to sleep were very touching. The middle of the night cries turned into opportunities to hold her that much tighter, before balancing my care between siblings. After this shift in mindset I found myself eager to get to that spot on the couch we snuggled into with her bottle (around 3 or 4 am). Even though I was a working mom at the time, knowing that I was counting down the days of being able to hold her without listening for another cry off in the distance, helped me through the sleepless nights.
Find Ways to Introduce Baby #2
It can be difficult preparing your first born for a baby sibling at any age. In our house there were a few things that I believe helped to prepare Anastacia for the arrival of her brother. I had to get creative in communicating the news in ways that I felt she could understand since she had not yet turned one year of age. One of the first things I did was point out a #huggies commercial on TV with mom's and newborns. You may have see it, the mother and baby are fresh after delivery with the sweet lyrics about needing a hug play in the background. Each time this commercial was on TV, I would make a big deal about the babies, telling her that "mommy was having a baby". During this time I was swaddling bears and baby dolls as well. I would carry them around and place them in her swing or baby chairs located in our play areas. Also, I am not completely certain she understood but every morning we would sit on the couch together after her bottle and I would talk about my "baby belly". She would sit next to me as I pressed her hands firmly into my torso. Eventually, this became part of our morning routine and before I knew it, she would lift my shirt, press and wait with her hand rested on my bump. She may have even felt her baby brother kicking and moving inside, as I encouraged her to lay on top of my belly in the hopes of a teachable moment. Closer to my due date I was sure to get her settled in her "big girl room" across the hall and assemble her brothers crib with bedding. This way she could observe and become acclimated with this change prior to his arrival. Lastly, we had books out at all times and we encouraged her to thumb through and observe the pictures within, often. While reading the stories, I was sure to place her in the books as the "big sister" by using her name and turning the story into an extension of our home if possible.
Work Smarter Not Harder
Things will get difficult. There is no way around the exhaustion that will set in whether you are a working mother or a SAHM. You will find that the exhaustion on your body and mental state can be exasperating at times. I would advise you to look for shortcuts in almost everything you do toward the tail end of your pregnancy. They are out there, trust me. During my first pregnancy I played with the idea of shopping online for my groceries but I was not a fan of having a stranger delivering them to my home. There was also a part of me that felt like I was cheating by some way on my duties as mom/wife. With my second pregnancy I was elated to find that the option of curbside grocery service exists. If you have pondered a service such as this from your local grocer or Walmart but decided against it for fear of the lazy stigma attached, give it a try!! You may not know it but Amazon is also a great place to find clothing for your children, along with toys and pretty much anything under the sun. Time is valuable and your family can only benefit from the amount of time you save while allowing someone else to shop for you. My husband is a HUGE fan of the curbside pick up but he gets annoyed with the amount of Amazon boxes in our garage. Smartphones/devices have truly offered us the ability to use our time wisely by shortening our trips or eliminating them completely which allows an abundance of quality, family time.