When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, my first was just barely 6.5 months old. It was a complete and utter shock to me. My world dramatically changed with that one little pregnancy test and I didn’t know what I was going to do. Now that my baby boy is here and I have been adjusting to life with two babies, I have come up with a list that might help you as well!
1. It’s okay if you’re not excited
This is seldom discussed. When we women get pregnant it is just expected that we are incredibly ecstatic and excited about it. But, for some of us this just isn’t the case. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because I know that there are many couples out there that have extreme trouble conceiving. But, getting pregnant is a life-changing event and not one to be taken lightly. When people would ask me if I was excited it was hard for me to smile and put on that rouse. I was very concerned about what our life would look like with two babies.
I always knew that I wanted two children, I just wanted a little bit more time between them; a little bit more time to be just me (an un-pregnant me). When I first found out that I was pregnant again, I just broke down in tears. I had JUST done this. I wasn’t ready for another baby. I was still adjusting to life with just one baby! Luckily when we found out, my husband was very excited about it. That helped me a lot! But, I don’t think I really became excited until I was about 34 weeks pregnant… when he was almost here. It took me that long, and that’s okay!
I knew I would love him the instant he was is my arms, and I knew our lives would be that much more enriched with him in it. But, it took me a while to understand and really take that to heart. I knew the hard work ahead of me with an infant and a toddler, and it troubled me.
It is okay to feel this way. It is okay to be concerned and sad and stressed and just completely overwhelmed. Believe me, you will still fall completely head over heels with your baby once he or she arrives.
2. Delegate Tasks Before Baby Arrives
As my belly grew and my energy waned (from what little energy I had to begin with chasing around a toddler that seldom slept through the night), my husband and I started delegating tasks to make my life easier. He has always been incredible around the house, helping with the dishes and taking out the trash, even making breakfast and dinner for us every now and then. But, I knew at some point I wouldn’t be able to bathe and put Blair down to bed.
So, Conrad completely took over Blair duties when I was about 20 weeks along. He bathed her, unless I took a bath with her. And, he put her down for bed every night as I couldn’t have her sitting on me in the rocking chair while she had her bottle anymore… too uncomfortable with her squirming around. You may be asking “well, what about naps?” Luckily at this point Blair had decided that she didn’t really need any routine for nap time. So long as she was tired enough, I could just take her upstairs, give her a squeeze and lay her down in the crib.
We have kept this arrangement now that our little guy is here. He puts her down and takes care of her if she wakes up. He starts her day with her, getting her ready for the day and also entertains her in the early morning in the event that I can catch a few more winks (if baby boy is still snoozing along). He gets her dressed and meets my mother on the days that she watches her.
But, these tasks are not strictly limited to your first child. Assign chores so resentment doesn’t build once you are handing two children. For instance, if you cook, he cleans. You clean the showers, he cleans the toilets. You vacuum, he mops. He sorts and does the laundry, you fold…. etc. Life is hard enough with two kids, you need to embrace all of the tools at your disposal to keep your relationship strong. For your sanity, his (or hers), and for the well being of your children.
3. Help your babies be as independent as possible
I spoiled my daughter. As my first born, I had all the time in the world to play with her and rock her to sleep. And, I took advantage of that. But, it came back to bite me in the butt once I wanted her to be independent. I know what you’re thinking – how independent can a baby be? Well, oddly enough, pretty independent. After finding out that I was pregnant, we made more effort to help her fall asleep on her own.
She quickly became less reliant on us. It was almost her decision, I think. But, I’ll take it either way. She has also always been very good at playing on her own, though she usually always needed us in the room with her or she would lose it. So, I slowly started trying to slip away while she was playing, little amounts at a time, to make her more comfortable without me just a glance away at all times. And, now she does great without my husband or me in the room. Almost too good. But again, I’ll take it.
I also started giving her utensils to play with while she ate as early as I could. It made a mess sometimes, but isn’t that what babies do; make messes? She now eats quite well with a fork and spoon. This means I can just plop her down in her booster seat and give her food and just walk away and she’s perfectly fine on her own. The additional bonus of the utensils is it usually takes her quite a bit longer to eat, giving me more time to make myself something to eat or maybe just relax for a few minutes.
This also translates well to your new baby!
During my second pregnancy I spent a lot of time pondering the things I would do differently with this baby. I knew for one I would not rock him to sleep every time I put him down to sleep. I did this with Blair and it came back to bite us in the butt once she was about 9 months old. One day she just up and decided that she didn’t need us anymore to go to sleep. It was incredible. But, I didn’t want to wait for this to happen with the new baby. I wanted to control it… as much as I could.
So, from the beginning I swaddled him and rocked him until he was sleepy but not asleep and then put him down in his bassinet awake. Of course there were times when he was inconsolable and just needed to be held. So, I appeased. But, on the norm I feed him, burp him, swaddle him and put him down. I’ll stroke his face and sing to him until he is calm, make sure he has his binky and leave him on his own.
Now bedtime with him is so incredibly easy and I hope this continues to translate as he gets older. I do not have the time, patience, and energy to do what I did the first time around. He needs to be able to self-soothe. And so far it’s looking like he’s able to do that.
You’ll also want to try to help them not need you as much. I have found that with boys, they are sooooo dependent. My daughter was independent from the day she could play with her toys. She entertains herself so well. And that is great! My son, is not that person. He wants my attention ALL THE TIME. He wants my face in his face, he wants me talking to him 24/7, he wants me touching and tickling him. He is just starting to be able to play with his toys and is showing little interest in them. He wants people interaction. So, I am trying my best to give him what he needs to an extent.
I often send Blair over to him to play with him (as much as she can). But, I really want him to be able to play on his own so I can accomplish the things I need to do at home. So, I am leaving him “alone” a lot more now that he is more aware of his surroundings in hopes that he will find entertainment in his environment. It’s slowly working. Win.
4. Try to take time for yourself
I mean this is pretty self-explanatory. But, for what little time you have for yourself with one child, you will have a very small fraction of that once your second child has arrived, especially if you plan to breastfeed. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had massages twice per month, went to prenatal yoga twice per week, I would nap after work if I needed to, etc. Obviously the second time around I didn’t have all the time in the world to pamper myself. But, for what time I did have I took advantage of.
I had maybe one massage per month and made it to yoga once per week.
And, once my son arrived I felt so alone. I was lucky enough to have my husband home for six weeks, but I still felt alone. He would be downstairs playing with Blair and I would be upstairs in the rocking chair with the baby… in “my cave” as I called it. I started pumping when he was about 3 weeks old because I knew I would need to get away. And I think we went on our first date when he was 4 weeks old.
Time to do the things you want to do is important. And, it may sound impossible at some times to get to do those things, and it might be at that exact moment. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan and make time for you. Moms are important, too. It may seem that you are permanently chained to your nursing pillow, but that too shall pass.
Make time for yourself. There is time to be had – you just have to plan for it and TAKE IT FOR YOURSELF.
5. Let go of the Mom guilt
After the little pink plus sign showed up on that life-changing pee stick, I had this immense feeling of guilt. I looked at my little darling girl, just under 7 months, and I thought to myself: “I’m sorry.” I was sorry because my time with just her was limited. Our days of being a three person tribe was numbered. I felt bad about this. I felt bad that I wouldn’t be able to give her my full attention, effort, and energy. I had 32ish weeks left of discomfort and depleting energy, and I knew this would affect my days with her.
But, then I sat down and really thought about why I was feeling this way. Why did I feel so guilty? Well, she was my world; my everything. But, this little guy that would be entering my life would have never gotten the kind of attention she had gotten. He will never get that amount of one-on-one time. With that one little realization, I relieved myself of the guilt I was feeling. With that one thought, I was able to stop feeling bad and really commit myself to making every moment count with her until my little man arrived. I knew that once he was here he would be taking up the majority of my time and attention for those first 8 weeks or so. But, I also knew that she would be getting really meaningful time with her father because of that. Mom guilt gone, Mom strength revived.
6. Learn how to de-stress and release frustration.
If you have learned anything from you first child, you know that you are not in control 95% of the time. I wish I could tell you it was different with two children, but we all know I would be lying to you, and that’s just not kind to do. So, I highly, greatly, most urgently insist that you learn coping techniques for stress and frustration. There have been so many days that I just want to scream at the top of my lungs because my toddler isn’t listening to me or my baby just cries and cries and cries and won’t nap. Odds are one of your babies will be upset or crying or complaining most of the time. And that wears on you.
We all want to be our best around our children. But, sometimes our emotions get the better of us and we become this uncontrollable ball of sadness and anger and frustration. The best thing you can do in this situation is learn how to cope with how you are feeling. Learn how to calm yourself down before you blow your top. Believe me, losing control will not help the current situation you are in. So, try to take a second to catch your breath, count to ten, apply your favorite essential oils (Stress Away is my Godsend), go for a walk, go for a drive… whatever you need to do. Find a way to release.
Then when you are not in a stressful situation you can use even further measures to help your stress levels. Do some yoga before bed or take a nice hot bath. Some meditation might be helpful or give yourself a foot massage. You will be better off, and so will your children!
I hope these tips help you in your new life as a parent to two under two. What have you found to be helpful in your parenting career?