After Everyone Leaves

One of my first days all by myself with two children. Carrying them both in from the car sleeping.

All throughout the first week postpartum, I kept thinking how easy it was in comparison to what I thought it was going to be like. I was staying on top of things, my physical healing was much easier this time around, and emotionally I was feeling fantastic given all the hormones adjusting in my body. My husband was home, so he could help with Peanut. My friends and family were coming over and graciously offering to do housework for us. Twig was sleeping the majority of the day and surprisingly well at night (beyond the first night where she was awake for 5 hours in the night, she only woke a few times for an hour or so). I was getting to shower. My house was more messy, but not a catastrophe. Even Peanut, who wasn’t handling her world changing so dramatically well at all, was something I was able to handle.

Then everyone left.

My husband went back to work. People, for the most part, stopped coming over to visit. My in-laws went out of town and my mother went back to work. It’s like all my help was pulled out from under me all at once. Kaboom! Everyone’s gone.

But isn’t that how it works in our society? In other cultures, it’s normal to “baby” the mother, but in ours the focus is immediately shifted from the pregnant mom to the newborn, leaving little to no attention to the newly postpartum mother (thanks to Best of Babes for linking the article on Facebook). During a very difficult time in her life, both emotionally and physically, no one has much interest in her. Everyone wants to hold the baby, just occasionally asking the mom how she’s doing without any real interest.

Of course this is a more severe case than most of us experience. I had some wonderful people who came to visit and brought me dinner, cleaned my house, and just sat and talked with me. I am very thankful of all of the lovely people in my life. Just the act of listening does so much for a new mother.

But that’s just it, I’m still newly a mom of two. I’m still figuring out how to balance two children at once, one who is incredibly needy because she’s so new to this world and one who is incredibly needy because her world is now so new to her. I’m still trying to heal myself, especially in terms of my emotional health, which appears to be spiraling downward as time goes on (more on that in another post and don’t worry, I’m getting help). My house is becoming a bigger and bigger mess by the day, which just adds to these difficulties. Yet no one shows interest any more.

People have offered to come help, but I never take them up on it. I don’t know if it’s just me or a reflection of our society, but I find it very difficult to say “Yes, come do my dishes for me.” When people show up at my house and just start doing my dishes I even feel guilty. I don’t know why I’m so unwilling to actually ask for help either. I keep thinking of all the people who have offered and would happily come over and play with Peanut or vacuum my living room, but I can’t get myself to call. For some reason, the idea of calling actually makes me feel a little teary-eyed. That’s probably just the PPD though.

I honestly don’t even know the purpose of this post. My brain isn’t functioning fully at the moment, which makes sense. I guess I just wished that our society took care of new moms better. I wish people realized that it’s not just hard for the first couple of weeks, but rather for the first couple of months (if not more). I wish people cared more about the family as a whole rather than just the new baby.

I’ll leave you all with this great post from Code Name: Mama about things you can do for parents of a newborn.

What to Expect When You Have a Second Child

Today’s post is a guest post from Kristi at Live and Love… Out Loud. She’s been one of my favorite bloggers for a long time and I’m honored to have her guest posting during my babymoon. Read her full bio at the bottom of this post. Kristi’s post is on how life changes after birth of your second child.

As a mother of four children ranging in age from toddler to teens, it’s been a few years since I took the huge leap from being a parent of one child to being a parent of two children.

But I remember that time in my life like it was yesterday.

Those cool, carefree days of being a parent to just one child were a walk in the park compared to the chaos that ensued when I became a mother of two children.

It was a loud, crazy, fun-filled time in my life and an experience that I’ll never forget.

What to Expect When You Have a Second Child

All hell will break loose. Just when you thought you finally found a routine that works, the second baby arrives and throws everything off kilter. Bye-bye structure. Hello chaos. Life will never be the same. It’ll be better. You’ll find that even in the midst of all the chaos, there are moments of complete joy; moments that serve as a life preserver in stormy seas.

Invest in a pair of earplugs. The noise level in your home is about to reach an all-time high.

Forget about being on time for anything. One more bag to pack. One more child-sized body to dress and groom. One more hungry belly to pack last minute snacks for. And Lord forbid if the baby spits up or poops as you’re walking out the door. It’ll be a while before you’re ever on time for anything again, but don’t fret. Your super sweet children will totally distract from the fact that you’re 45 minutes late to dinner with the in-laws. Again.

Everything you thought you knew about raising children was wrong. Your first child slept through the night early on, was an even-tempered baby and outgoing around strangers. Surely your newest addition will be the just the same… Think again.

And finally…

Your heart will explode. Double the hugs. Double the kisses. Double the giggles and more.

Having a second child changes the family dynamic exponentially. Sure it’s louder and you probably won’t be on time to any events in the near future, but you’ll be blessed ten-fold with the love, laughter and joy that having a second child brings.

Kristi is a wife, mother, writer and photographer who’s passionate about breastfeeding advocacy and living life out loud. She writes about motherhood, photography and empowering women at Live and Love Out Loud.

Two to Three

This started as a post about my relationship with Peanut and my fears on how it will change after Twig is born. How nearly every day she tells me “Mama, you’re my best friend.” and how I sincerely feel the same about her. How I’m concerned that I won’t be able to give her the love and attention that she needs once I have a newborn to care for on top of that.

Don’t get me wrong, that is still a huge part of it, but I realized it also in large part how we’ll change as a family once we go from three to four.

I’ve been re-reading The Baby Book to prepare myself for what it’s going to be like to have a newborn again and I’ve gotten to the section on after the baby is actually born. Even with all the preparing I’ve been doing for the early days when I’m constantly nursing and Peanut is bored and our house is a mess, I didn’t really comprehend how different it will really be until last night. How our lives will never be the same as parents of two children as opposed to one child.

How will I find time for intimacy with my husband? Yes, of course there’s sex, but more than just that. I think it took a full year after Peanut was born until we just sat down and cuddled again. At least that’s how I remember it in my mind. Even when we did find time for us as a couple, we were constantly interrupted by a baby then toddler. How will we even begin to find time to just sit down together and watch a movie when we have a toddler and a baby both pining for our attentions?

How will I give Peanut the time and focus she deserves? I already feel like a failure as a parent that she’s getting so much TV right now with me being hugely pregnant and just not wanting to move or leave the house. I found myself incredibly irritated at my in-laws the other day for letting her watch TV at their house until I stepped back and realized I wouldn’t have cared before because she wasn’t getting so much at home. I don’t think she’s gone a single day in the last two weeks without at least two episodes of Dinosaur Train. I know that my attention and energy will just be further drained when Twig arrives, so how do I possibly expect things to change? When I don’t even feel like sitting on the floor and playing with her now, how will I accomplish it when I have a newborn to hold at the same time?

I know that everyone is going to say that things just work. We’ll find a rhythm again and a family of four will be our new norm. I know the early days will be hard, but we’ll eventually get things figured out. I know that my concerns about giving my daughter enough and my husband enough will work themselves out as my heart opens further to welcome our new addition. I know all of this, yet I still sit her and worry and cry and feel awful for bringing this on my family. I was the one who really wanted another baby, so why am I the one crying about it?

Because I’m a huge ball (pun intended) of pregnancy emotions and acne and irritation and mood swings and aches. Because I haven’t had a normal night sleep in weeks and I know I won’t be getting one any time soon. Because I’m allowing myself to get stressed out about Christmas and Twig’s arrival and school and anything else that I can possibly be stressed about. Because I’m pregnant. Blah!