The second baby. Everyone tells you that two kids is hard… and they’re right. They also tell you that the second baby is easier… and they’re right about that, too. Is it the baby? Is it the experience gleaned from baby number one? I’m apt to think it’s a combination, but it’s definitely a sweet and trying season all it’s own. I feel more confident as a mom. I feel like I make more real time decisions without consulting google or texting friends– although I still do that from time to time, too. I put them to sleep at night, enjoy the first thirty minutes all to myself, and then wish we were all snuggled in my bed together. (Except also not really.) I dream feed Ever at 10pm and sniff her baby head over and over, trying to ingrain that smell inside of me so I never forget. I want to be able to recall that smell and these snuggles as I rock her for decades to come. Do you think that’s possible? Anyhow, here are 5 things Ever has taught me about motherhood these first 10 weeks…
1. The importance of self-care. I’ve found this newborn stage of parenting really easy to get down into a rut. It can be so monotonous and there’s no award or praise for accomplishing tummy time, keeping your feeding schedule, or a newborn nap well done. In between the making of preschool lunches, breastfeeding, changing of clothes, and keeping up with work, I’ve made it a point to think about the one thing I’m going to do for myself that day. Some days it’s as extravagant as getting a babysitter and getting a facial. I actually did that and I almost feel guilty just typing it out, but man I needed a break and a refresh! Other days it’s going to a barre class and some days it’s 10 minutes of quiet and calm while listening to crystal bowls meditation music on Youtube (yep, I just typed that!) or just getting a shower and washing my hair. But every day it’s something. It’s a really self-sacrificing phase and it’s helpful to have that one thing each day that nobody else benefits from, but me. (And, yes, it’s hard to type that without feeling selfish.)
2. I’m the boss. I think the golden rule of parenting is that for 18 years you have to do what they need in spite of what they want. It happens when I tell Parker she can’t watch TV or have any more sugar, that she has to take a bath and brush her teeth. With Ever, it’s swaddling her when she thinks she wants her arms out or putting her down for a nap when her face says, “but I’m not ready yet!”. (She’s out ten minutes later.) A decade later it’s curfews and homework. At least once a day I have to remind myself that I’m in charge and sometimes what they need is more important than what they want.
3. Everyone with a newborn (in my humble opinion) needs a swing. How did we ever live without a swing?! It calms her down if she’s overly tired so that I can then get her down for a nap in her crib, is a great place to be able to put her if I’m doing something with Parker, and will almost always extend her nap to her next feeding if she wakes up early in her crib. (I know they’re technically not supposed to sleep in them, but it’s always during the day and I’m never more than 10 feet away.) They take up so much space and are generally eye sores, but they’re also life-changing!
4. Not everything is quantifiable. When Ever is napping it’s like I’ve been given this precious gift of 90 minutes to get something done and I’m paralyzed by the best way to spend it: Clean the kitchen? Organize parker’s room? Tackle the inbox? Write blog posts? Plan our next round of shoots? Take a shower? When she’s awake I’m constantly reminding myself that the enjoying of coos and smiles and making up of songs and bicycling of chubby legs and flat baby feet is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Aaron will never walk in the door and say, “Oh wow! Look at all of that love and attention you gave our children!” the way he might if the house was sparkling from cleanliness. There will always be more I could get done, but I have a walking-talking-3.5 year-old reminder that this all goes so very fast, so I’m just going to do my best for the moment to enjoy THIS phase.
5. A schedule is saving my sanity. I use the word schedule loosely because it changes when I have to wake Ever up to take Parker to school or pick her up or attend a birthday party or play date, but we really try to start every day at 7am with our first feed, and eat play sleep for the rest of the day with feedings at 10, 1, 4, and 6:45 (with a dream feed at 10). Tiffany from Eat Play Sleep sent over a detailed schedule that she recommends for newborns when Ever was three weeks old and it was super helpful in establishing what I wanted our day to look like.
For now, she’s 10 weeks old. She’s so happy when she’s at home. Screams 85% of the time in the car. (I just experienced the rare other 15% where she didn’t cry on the way to Parker’s school or on the way home!) She puts herself down for naps easily (except sometimes that last cat nap of the day which can be tricky for her). She’s gaining and growing fast. At 13 pounds she weighs about a pound more than her sister did at this age. She still gets up once a night after her dream feed to eat and I spend too much time looking forward to the day when she doesn’t. She’s generous with her smiles and loves to follow you around the room with her eyes. She’s very content to just lay on the couch and watch the branches of the trees sway outside the window. She will hold onto your finger but not a toy. When I stare at her and her sister together next to each other I’m sure my heart will burst from happiness. So. Much. Joy.
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