Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Things I wish someone had told me about having a second baby

If I could give warning to someone who is having a second baby it would be this: it is so much harder than having your first baby.
I had a very hard time adjusting to having Desmond, like took me 6 months to finally get the hang of things and get into a good groove.
Physically, it was so easy. I had  a VBAC with Desi and I can not even tell you how much easier the recovery is from a vaginal delivery, it's seriously not even fair! I went for a couple mile hike less than a week after I had Desmond. With Simon- my first and a c-section- I couldn't even stand up straight to walk for several weeks! What was hard was all the demands on me. Trying to take care of all of my baby's needs while still taking care of my 3 year-olds emotional needs. I had no clue having another baby would be tough. I thought to myself that it would be easy, I had done it before, I knew what breastfeeding was like, I knew what changing diapers was like, I thought since I had done it before I could do it again no problem. Boy was I wrong. I honestly feel like it took me a good 6 months to get the hang of things and finally get myself (and my two kiddos) into a good routine. Before I list my tips, let me say this. This is what works for us and for our family (or what I wish I had done instead), I made lots of "mistakes" and paid for them. We have a very different schedule than most people because of my husbands work schedule, my older child sleeps in and so do I. I am not trying to tell anyone that my way is better than their way and they should do what I said just because it worked for me. This is what works for us, what other people told me and I wish I had listened, or what I wish I had done instead, and might be things for others to try out or to ignore and say, "Whatev' girl, you are crazy!"
1. Listen to your mom (and everyone else) when they tell you not to hold your baby all the time. I was lucky and had my parents and husband around for the first week or two after I had my second baby, which meant my older child was being occupied by everyone else and I got lots of cuddling time with the baby, but when they left and hubby went back to work, I realized that holding my baby nonstop was a luxury I couldn't afford if I wanted my Simon-son to feel special and important too. (Please note that I didn't listen to my mom. I continued to hold Desi even though situations didn't allow it. We often ate dinner an hour or two later than we should have, ate tv dinners which can be easily prepared while holding a baby, Simon watched lots more tv than I would have liked, and Desi currently takes naps in my arms, which he is doing as I type. This is a case where you should learn from my example by not doing the same thing I did.) With your first, holding them non-stop is great, and I love the cuddles, but when you have an older child to take care of too, it just isn't possible to hold the baby constantly. When baby falls asleep put him in the bassinet, and let him get used to it, it's okay, he will still be loved and know that you love him even if you don't hold him 24/7. If you feel bad/guilty/just don't want to put your baby down, invest in a nice baby carrier whether you prefer a front carrier, wrap, sling, whatever, you will need your hands. Imagine that you are sitting on the sofa all cozy with your sleeping baby cuddling, then your 3 year old needs to go to the bathroom, and I mean NOW! That baby is gonna need to be content laying on the ground or in a bassinet or safely tucked into a carrier. I can tell you from experience it is not fun squatting in front of your toddler with a nursing baby balanced on your knees while you try help the toddler on and off the toilet and wipe his butt. Not only is it difficult to do, I imagine it isn't too sanitary.
2. I just said this but... Get a nice baby carrier if that is your thing. It's my kind of thing, but I always forget how great it is to use around the house. Use it around the house! Also, it's great for running into the grocery store especially if you have two kids. Desi is a heavy boy, and carrying him around in his baby carrier carseat is not doable, that thing is so freaking heavy! Pop him in the carrier and he's not screaming the whole time you are in the store, you can use both of your hands instead of trying to hold baby in one hand, while trying to steer the shopping cart with the other hand, and don't forget about your other kid, how are you gonna help him out when he gets hurt while in the store or throws a tantrum because he can't get whatever random thing he wants. Even if you are going in to grab one thing use the carrier. Desi out-grew his front carrier and it is a pain to wear him in, so I finally ordered a new carrier that can go on front or back, I ordered a Boba 3G, I will review it after I use it some. I am finally (after 8 months) to the point where I am so sick of holding him all the time! He is heavy! (20lbs) and it is nice outside, and I want to play outside with Simon without holding Desi, and we don't have a yard, we have concrete, so I can't just let Desi play outside with us. He gets put inside with the baby gate in the front door so I can see him and then he cries because I am outside, not holding him, and he is stuck in baby prison. Did I mention Desi has to be held ALL THE TIME! Baby carrier for this kind of baby=lifesaver!
3. Get out of the house. When Simon was a baby I worked full-time, so I got out of the house a lot. When Desi was born I was lucky enough to be a mostly stay-at-home mom. I was working two days a week and I could bring Desi with me if needed. When you are a SAHM (at least for me) it is so important to get out of the house. You will probably psych yourself out like I did and say it is too hard to go out with two kids, it's such a pain to get both of them in and out of the car and car seats, and packing bags, insert complaint of your choice... Yes it is a pain, but it is worth it. I had some little bouts of depression because I wasn't getting out of the house enough, plus it was wintertime, and I didn't like taking my babe out in the cold cold winter weather. But I can also say when I take the effort to get out of the house I feel so much better. I have more energy because I am getting up and moving around, I have to shower at a reasonable time during the day, I actually get dressed, all things that make me feel better.
4. If people offer to help, take them up on it. If they ask what they can do, put them to work! Have them babysit so you can go out on a date, have them sit at the house and hold the baby so you can take a shower, let them vacuum the floor for you or watch kids so you can do it, or take your older kid out so he can feel special. If people ask if they can bring you meals, say yes! And then don't have them brought consecutive days, if you can space them out every other day (a lot of times they bring enough to eat for two or three days). If your spouse is off work for a week have the meals start up after he goes back to work or maybe just one or two while he was around so he doesn't feel like your slave. :) If you have the freezer space, get together with a friend before you have the baby and make freezer meals and fill up your freezer. Also if you have the space, and people want to do a shower of sorts for you, have everyone bring meals for you as shower gifts, or ask them to bring them after you have the baby. Make your crockpot your best friend. Prepare ingredients when you have a few spare minutes during the day, toss them in, and put on Hi or Low depending on how long it was before you were able to start it up. Also some of those freezer meals can be ready to dump into the freezer. Pinterest has been a great resource for me on finding good recipes. (link above is to SixSistersStuff click on recipe index and scroll down to the section of freezer recipes then look at their entire website, it's awesome)
5. Take it easy on yourself. You might have been Superwoman before, but you just had a baby, and completely changed the dynamics of your family, it's gonna take some getting used to, and you are all going to have to change a little bit to adjust.
6. Exercise
7. Take time for yourself- even if it is just showering and exercising everyday.
8. Don't forget about your spouse. With the demands of baby and older kid you I often don't leave time for me and especially not always for him. He is important, and if he feels important and is happy, and not stressed, and his needs are being met, he is going to be more able to help you out. Tell him he is amazing, tell him thank you.
9. Don't forget about your older child. One thing I have been trying that I think maybe my mom or sister suggested is whenever I am sitting on the sofa feeding Desi or holding him while he sleeps I let Simon know beforehand that I am about to be unavailable. I ask him if he needs anything before I start feeding the baby, make sure his needs are being met, and then while I am feeding Desi offer to Simon to read him books. As long as he keeps bringing me books I keep reading to him. Also, another sad confession, in my tiredness I have napped on the sofa while nursing Desi, and just keep pushing play on the Netflix for Simon. Remember, I said don't be too hard on yourself. Yeah lots of tv isn't ideal, but is a nice life-saver when you need it. Your child won't be developmentally destroyed and you will probably be a lot happier and patient if you get a nap.
10. This one is going to be a contradiction, so just have a sleep situation that works for your family. I love co-sleeping. I also wish Desi was in his own bed. Do what's best for your family. Co-sleeping works for us because my husband doesn't sleep at the same time as me,  I have a king-size bed to share with my baby, and I enjoy it. We also live in a tiny little two-bedroom apartment. Ideally, I would have Desi sleeping or napping in his own bedroom in his own bed. However, he shares a bed with me, and my husband sleeps in that bed during the day. We have a crib, in our room, the room my husband sleeps in during the day. So what we do isn't exactly what I wish I was doing, but it would make things a lot easier if Desi was napping in his own bed and naptime could be spent keeping up with housework and playing with Simon. I have my ideal, just our current location sandwiched in an apartment between two neighbors doesn't really leave me feeling comfortable working on sleep training and letting Desi cry, I worry about my neighbors will think of me when they hear Desi crying, silly? yes, but true.
11. Stay up an extra 15 minutes and clean up before you go to bed. I recently started doing this and those few minutes at night makes a huge difference. When I come down in the morning and everything downstairs is clean it is so nice. It makes the day start a little better and I don't feel as overwhelmed as I did when I would wake up in the morning to a messy house. It is worth the 15 minutes of Desi crying while I quickly clean up the house.
I am sure there are more things I wish I had known or done when I had my second baby, but this is good for now. What are some things you wish you had known or done differently, or things you did that you feel you wouldn't have survived without?


Sarah Williams said...

So, I have been trying to plan when we should start trying for our second baby, and now I'm terrified! I have heard people say your second one is easier, but when Evelyn was born, I remember thinking how hard it must be to have to care for a newborn AND an older child, and what you've written here has confirmed that. It kind of makes me want to just get the baby years out of the way, but I am just terrified of how that first year or so with a new baby will be. Thanks for the tips. I'll keep this as a reference for whenever we do become brave enough to have number 2!

Leslie@leserleeslovesandhobbies said...

The second is harder, that's for sure. Because you do have that first child that still needs to be entertained. I hear the third is easy because the older two can play together while you take care of baby. But, I digress. One thing that helped for me was involving Abigail in the care of Bryant. She was only two, but she was such a good help. She could play with her brother while I fixed a bottle, and she could fetch things for me. Sounds terrible, but she felt like a valued member of the family and didn't feel like she was getting ignored. Of course there were lots of TV days, I'm pretty sure Barney taught her the alphabet, counting, and colors, but she didn't feel too neglected. At least I don't think so.

Getting out of the house is important. I loved story time at the library, and so did Abigail. She was able to feel special, and it was something geared towards her.

I honestly don't remember much about day-to-day life with a second baby, but we somehow survived, and both my kids are pretty good kids. I'm blessed, I guess.