I feel compelled to tell you that I’m writing this in my iPhone notes while wearing my baby in a sling outside in the sunshine. The purpose is twofold: It’s an attempt to get her to take a much-resisted nap, and it’s vitamin-D exposure (plus a chance to drink the glass of wine in my non-iPhone hand). My husband is currently grocery shopping with our toddler. I really have to pee but I’m not risking a minute of sunshine or the baby waking up to relieve myself.
… So there you go, you’re all caught up (at least caught up to this moment in time, which will likely be quite a bit behind when I’m actually hitting publish, if history repeats).
But back to the point: What I’m learning as a mom of two under two — in listicle format, because who has the mental capacity for complete thoughts right now? Not I.
- First (and arguably most redundant): There was so much I could do when I just had one child. It didn’t feel that way, but my gosh — I’m realizing now how positively easy having just one baby seems now that I have two. (That’s exactly the way of life, though, right? And it’s all relative – you don’t know until you know). This is helpful, though, because now I realize that someday this hard will be replaced by something that feels harder, so that this seems easier. Basically: enjoy where you’re at because it’s an uphill climb from here (but surely the view is great?!).
- My mom was right. About everything. x2.
- I understand now why there are those people out there who will try to warn you: “Just you wait until *xyz*”. It’s certainly not a helpful thing that they’re doing – but sometimes motherhood is hard. Oh so joyful — but hard. And at times I do feel the need to prepare future moms out there by being brutally honest, and reminding them to sleep in while they can. Ha! But at the same time, I genuinely don’t think a blasé warning about motherhood and babies is what any expecting mom needs; and I’m learning to reach out to new mamas to be a listening ear or a source of comfort instead.
- You don’t realize how much you can do until you just have to do it. It’s like “if you leave it til the last minute, it only takes a minute” – except more like if you have two babies to feed, clothe, bathe, love and care for – you will somehow find the time to do all those things (but on a constant loop, not a minute). You just might not find the time to do any of the other things (but we’re getting there!).
- It’s important to breathe. Breathe deeper. In with the long breath, out with the long breath. Drop your shoulders. Release the tension. Repeat.
- My kids cannot be treated the exact same. It’s impossible to replicate the infant experience of your first-born when you also have a toddler, and it’s impossible to care for my toddler with equal (time) devotion as I’m giving my exclusively breastfed newborn right now. But I’m learning that putting aside moments for each child to have individual attention is helpful – and trying to give parenting both of them the same energy and intent (knowing where they’re each at developmentally) makes it all sit better with me.
- I need to remember not to neglect myself. I know, I know, internal voice: “it’s really kind of impossible with babies.” But try. Take that hot shower.
- Happy mama, happy babies.
- It’s all like one long, sleepless night — but infancy will be over before you can nudge your partner and say, “the baby’s crying, it’s your turn.” With the second baby we are much more exhausted, but it is going by so quickly. (Well, we’re very much still in the thick of it, but I can feel how fast it will go this time).
- It’s important to get off my phone and read books when I have a minute. Stare at the baby – rather than a screen – while nursing. Stop the endless scroll. But it’s also important to cut myself some slack when I need some mindless social-like interaction (IF it feels good both during and after the scroll. The key is making it about communication, not comparison).
- Wear the baby. Sling, wrap, carrier – however. It’s a Godsend.
- Communicate with the toddler. Be straightforward but infinitely gentle with her feelings. Hard, right, mamas?!
- Be honest with people about how your day is going if they ask ( and you feel like they’re someone who genuinely does want to know). It helps.
- Remember how incredibly lucky I am for things like the health of everyone in my family. The strength of my body. The ability to nourish my children.
- I’m learning not to neglect my mental health, or to shrug it off as a bad mood.
- Enjoy the hibernation (minus the sleep bit) that is postpartum ; know that home with your babies is right where you should be, and someday you will look back on this time as one of connection, devotion and a time to press pause on life’s social pressures.
- Call your mama, mama. Or at least another mama. She gets it.