It has been way too long since I have posted on this blog. I have felt so guilty when kind-heartedly asked, “so have you retired from the blogging business?” But then a few nights ago, I snuck in some medical reading and came across an article summarizing advice to give to families adjusting to a second child. The author suggested allowing 6 months for parents to become a comfortable family of four. I whole-heartedly agree with her. Our little Nori will be six months old in a few weeks and I am just now beginning to feel like having two children is our normal way of life.
As much as I would love to reminisce about Nori’s journey into this world (she was born Friday the 13th at 11:41 pm and delivered by a dear friend of mine who is also an obstetrician), I think summarizing a few lessons I have learned will be more helpful to readers.
First, shower the first child with lots of attention, special visitors, and gifts right before and after the birth of the second child. Gavin was 2.5 years old when she was born and very much in love with his mother. My anxiety about Nori’s birth was mostly about his reaction to sharing his mommy. We were very fortunate that his long-distance grandparents came to town the week before Nori was born. Their presence and undivided attention lifted his mood and made her birth surrounded by happy feelings. He read books about bringing baby home, went shopping to pick out gifts for her, and watched that Daniel the Tiger episode (mommies you know what I am talking about) over and over again. All of this made the first few weeks at home with Nori so much easier as he was overwhelmed with activity, attention, and new toys from his new sister.
Second, I have found that the second baby was much easier than the first. Now the torture of being 9 months pregnant, having false labor, and actually delivering the child was just the same as the first. But breast feeding came with zero pain, the recovery process (you know, with all orifices leaking) was not as surprising, and the anxious need to quiet my newborn after every little whimper was not there this time. I am doing my best not to compare children (at least in front of them), but our Nori loves to sleep, hardly ever cries, and plays by herself so easily. Gavin did not have these qualities. Part of me is relieved; perhaps his poor sleeping and constant need for attention was not due to poor parenting on my part but rather his innate personality. But then another part of me wonders if her qualities are the result of having an experienced mom that allows her to learn to sleep, entertain and calm herself. I have had this conversation with multiple parents of two children and none of us can decide!!
Third, it is most certainly true that the first child will regress and it will likely continue for several months. I specifically did not even attempt to potty train Gavin before his sister arrived knowing that the hard work would likely be a waste once she was here. I have spent much time giving him a pretend baby bottle, a pretend pacifier, and rocking him in the rocker singing lullabies. It is adorable how much he wants to be a baby some times. And I am impressed with his own self-awareness of having this urge. As we near 6 months he asks for these things much less often. In fact, I am happy to report in the last two weeks he has become potty trained and he demands to sleep in his big boy bed rather than mine. It has been hard trying to meet his emotional needs for attention like his sister; but words cannot express my pride over him choosing to be a big boy.
Fourth, I do have enough room in my heart to love two little children each more than any other thing in the world. Becoming a mother has been the most amazing journey of my life thus far. I treasure the 3 am feedings where my baby clings to my chest and coos. I love looking into Gavin’s eyes as we dance around cheering on his latest poo in the potty. I could go on and on, but mothers you know what I am saying. As tired as I am, I have never been more fulfilled.
And fifth, my marriage has not only survived but it has thrived since making our lives more challenging. There have definitely been those moments of intense frustration with not-so-nice comments made to each other. But overall we have learned to quietly talk away from our children to discuss discipline strategies, sleep-training plans, and just plain sharing in the joy of their growth. We have learned to set time aside for each other and remember why we decided to partake on this journey together.
I can only apologize for taking so long to write about the growth of my family. I will do my best to write more often. But as all you mommies know, my family’s needs come first. I’m just happy the stars aligned so that both kids slept long enough for me to sit and finally write!!!