So it’s been a pretty low-key, non-exciting post Christmas week around here. R has been working nights and Ryland and Bobby have both had little Christmas colds, plus it’s been about 20 degrees every day, so we’ve mostly been hanging out in Ashland at my parents house or cuddling at home with a movie on.
Since I didn’t have any exciting things to share about our week, I thought I’d look back at the last 6 weeks since Bobby was born (sentimental side note: I cannot believe it’s already been 6 weeks!!). I had my postpartum OB checkup yesterday and I’m officially cleared for well, life. And so it seems like a fitting time to look back on the last month and a half with a newborn. This time around has been very different for many different reasons.
1. Physical recovery. As a whole, MUCH better this time around. My labor was so much easier (no forceps, 30 min of pushing versus FIVE HOURS) that I physically felt pretty good almost immediately. With Ryland I remember almost a solid two weeks where everything just hurt. The soreness was real and massive. Not to get too over share-y (although really isn’t that the point of a blog), but last time peeing hurt, for weeks. That little squeeze bottle of warm water they show you to use at the hospital became a cherished friend. Let’s just say that forceps and 5 hours of pushing do considerably more damage than the relative breeze of labor I had this go round. So that was great. Plus I think having a toddler waiting for you at home also sort of forces a faster physical recovery. You’re needed immediately when you walk in the door, to hug and carry and do all that mom stuff. Toddlers don’t give a hoot that you just pushed a baby out. They just want mom back in action. And luckily this time I was able to do that pretty seamlessly. However...
2. After pains. Why did no one warn me about these??! Granted I’m a nurse. I took an OB course. And yet I did not even remotely anticipate these. With Ryland I did not get these AT ALL. I had cramping, especially with nursing, but these were not “cramping”. These were full blown mini contractions, with the same pattern of rising and falling pain that makes you want to squeeze the nearest object until your knuckles turn white, only without an epidural. And apparently it’s very common to not have them with baby #1 but to have them with later babies. But you guys, when they first started to kick in for real (about 12 hours after Bobby arrived), I seriously wondered if there was another baby about to come out. I called the nurse because I was so concerned. I did not anticipate that level of acute pain and it freaked me out. It got so bad that I actually ended up near tears asking for Percocet (I hate that I felt “embarrassed” to ask for this medicine when I was hurting so bad that I couldn’t even speak through the pain and had to breathe through the after pains just like contractions, labor and post partum stuff HURTS and it sucks that culturally there’s this idea that women shouldn’t take any medicine for any of this and suffering=being a good mom, but more on that in another post). The Percocet helped a lot, but these after pains continued for a few days, and were especially excruciating with nursing (which is actually a biological necessity, nursing causes these contractions which tighten and shrink the uterus and thus reduce the risk of hemorrhage, pretty cool that breastfeeding does that in addition to all if it’s other awesome benefits). But it did mean the first few nights were pretty rough when the baby cluster fed and the contractions got much worse during feeds. Basically if you have a second baby prepare yourself for these because I was not prepared at all.
3. Milk “coming in.” I won’t get into too much detail other than to say this was the only other thing that was physically harder this time around. It hurt last time. I remember that well. But this time it was like my boobs were literally going to explode. I felt embarrassed because of how weirdly enormous and square shaped (yes this is a real thing boobs do with engorgement, being a mom is a non stop dignity parade) they were for a couple of days. And every time Ryland tried to climb in my lap or accidentally whack me with an elbow or knee I had to prevent myself from screaming out a rush of expletives that would make a sailor blush. I had to take the max doses of Tylenol and Advil round the clock and even those didn’t touch the pain too much. It sucked. But at least ended after a few days.
4. Breastfeeding has been easier in general. The good news is that after the early fun with engorgement, the whole process of breastfeeding has been easier. I think it might be partly because it’s just been about a year since I stopped breastfeeding Ryland so it’s all pretty fresh in my memory. Maybe Bobby is just a more efficient feeder. But he feeds both faster and less often than Ryland did (which was pretty much continuously the first few months). It also just feels like less of a mental stressor than last time. I think with your first, breastfeeding can feel so monumentally overwhelming in the beginning because you’re looking down what feels like an endless tunnel of 2-3 hour nursing blocks. It feels like your entire life is devoted to nursing and you’ll never be able to do anything that takes longer than 90 minutes ever again. It gets hard to imagine life without breastfeeding. It’s also such enormous PRESSURE that first time, the feeling that you are solely responsible for keeping a human alive and that if you leave your baby and he gets hungry and won’t take a bottle you’re a bad mother and letting your baby starve. I know that’s irrational but that’s how it felt, and sometimes the weight of that pressure can really mess with a first time mom’s mind. And this time around there’s some of that of course (mom guilt is always there), but it’s much less present. I know how quickly the first 6 months go, or even the first year, how soon Bobby will be eating solids and taking bottles instead of nursing, how I’ll miss breastfeeding when we stop. It makes me appreciate it all more now, soak it in a little more, the coziness and snuggles, the excuse to eat a lot (breastfeeding hunger is so much more intense than pregnancy hunger), the quiet of a nursing session when I’m out in public and need to sneak away. Last time I was so caught up in counting how far apart breastfeeding sessions were. I was so desperate to see them stretch out, to be able to tell the pediatrician she was eating every 3 hours instead of 2. It felt like that would mean getting closer to getting my life back. And this time I’m just not stressed about that. This period of life will end. And quickly. And as my currently screaming toddler so often reminds me, I will miss this sweet, lovely, squishy phase SO desperately. So even though breastfeeding can still be really hard and time consuming and exhausting, I’m not going to wish it away, even a little bit.
5. I refuse to google sleep or ready a single sleep book. Oh this was such a trap last time and such a mind f^#k. The HOURS of my life I wasted googling sleep. The stress and anxiety of comparing Ryland’s sleep habits to the babies of the internet. I drove myself insane with worry about sleep, how and when and where. About half this blog was devoted to sleep those first 6 months (go back and read the post titles and you’ll see), But at the end of all of that, after so much time googling and reading and feeling bad, we did what worked and felt right. With Ryland we co-slept and then sleep trained. She’s been sleeping through the night in her crib since about 6 months and still sleeps awesome 98%of the time. With Bobby so far we’ve done pretty much the same as we did with Ryland only with much less hand wringing and guilt. And I’ll probably sleep train him again when the time feels right. Or not. Well do what feels right and works for him as a unique baby with a unique personality. We’ll do what works for the family getting the most sleep as possible. And that’s pretty much that my friends.
6. I realize how “easy” newborns are. Granted newborns are not all the same. And Bobby is much easier than Ryland. He’s in general less fussy and more mellow. But it’s hard now to picture life with one newborn for how hard it felt back then. And it was hard. I’m not trying to minimize the experience of first time moms because I remember how much I resented that when I had Ryland, the knowing winks of parents with more than one kid, saying just wait until you have two to know hard. But here’s the thing. They were totally right. Toddlers are in so many ways harder than newborns. My alone time with Bobby now feels like I might as well not have any kids to take care of. I can lie with him in bed and watch The Crown and eat food without anyone grabbing it out of my hands. He pretty much just sleeps, eats or briefly stares around the room on his mat for his “playtime.” The waking to eat at night thing is hard but otherwise he’s kind of like a house plant who needs very frequent watering. Ryland only the other hand needs near constant attention and is loud and destructive and gets bored and whines and tantrums and is HEAVY and has giant poops and yells when she doesn’t get her way. She is HARD, like need a glass of wine at 3 kind of hard. But the reason first babies feel so hard and why I won’t minimize that is because that is by far the bigger life change
, going from no kids to 1. That’s huge. That’s life shifting hard. It rearranges all of your priorities and routines. So yes, having 2 is harder, newborns are easier. That’s all true. But I still think that the transition the second time around is much, much easier because its not that enormous existential life shift.
7. It’s less of a big deal to other people. The first time you have a kid you get flooded with visitors and meals and it’s a big deal. Second time, eh, not so much. And that’s absolutely fine and I get it because I do the same thing with people I know who’ve had multiple children. It’s just not as exciting that you’ve procreated when you’ve already done it once before.
8. There’s much less downtime. This one is kind of obvious but I still realize I really should have enjoyed my time with Ryland as a newborn a little more. I just remember lazy, endless days of sitting with her in the Boppy, watching Netflix or real housewive marathons. I could eat and drink while I nursed her. I always had snacks and water nearby. I could shower while she slept in the rock n play. Life was good.
This time is a little different. Especially when rob is at work, I typically nurse whenever Ryland is briefly occupied with food or a tv show and have to rush to stop when she inevitably gets in trouble or demands something else. Peppa Pig is on more than Bravo. I can’t have a snack or water near me unless Ryland is napping because she will try to steal/stick her hand in both of them.
I have many times had to nurse while chasing after Ryland around the house. I still shower but this time I am on high alert for the sounds of Ryland attacking her brother.
There are no leisurely days of nursing and snuggling and tv watching. We are on the move and on the go and living in chaos.
So if you’re reading this and only have one infant or are about to have your first, please, appreciate that time!!
9. I worry less. Again obvious. But things are much less terrifying . Honestly you just don’t have the time to worry. The newborn is kind of the afterthought in the house (sorry Bobby) because you’re spending so much time and energy dealing with the toddler!
10. You don’t count down/up the day/weeks. I kind of touched on this with the breastfeeding thing, but I remember with Ryland wanting time to speed up, wanting her to get bigger, to get to the next milestone or month. I was always looking forward. With Bobby I’m really trying to just live in the moment, savor every second of every day, and not wish time away at all. Because again I know now how fast it goes, how quickly this newborn phase ends. I want to live in every moment fully, as much as possible, even with the chaos and mountains of diapers and lack of sleep. Because these days are just so imperfectly perfect, so messily beautiful. These days are everything and they go so fast.
We had a wonderful, if a little exhausting, Christmas around here. Ryland doesn’t really “get” the concept of Christmas or Santa yet so for her yesterday was just a really A+ morning from mom and dad (finally these people put some effort in!)
A couple of months ago we had said something along the lines of “Ryland doesn’t need presents from us” because she’s not old enough to care and she’ll get gifts from family (both true), but somewhere along the way that kind of got ignored. We didn’t go too crazy but we did get her a couple of “bigger” gifts (including a balance bike) along with a few smaller things like books, wooden puzzles, and a set of Peppa Pig figurines I couldn’t resist on a recent Target excursion (I normally avoid the toy aisles like the plague).
She was adorably super excited about it all, from the cheap wooden block toy from the Target dollar section to books to the wrapping paper itself (I have a feeling I’ll miss this age on future Christmases).
Bobby however was less than impressed with the whole spectacle.
My parents and brother came over later in the morning and we had homemade cinnamon rolls (from scratch and a new Christmas tradition), egg casserole, sausage biscuits, lots of coffee, and mimosas🍾
We vegged our for an hour or so before it was time to start making my Mac and cheese and getting the kiddos ready for our family party. I vowed I was not going to clean up a single toy or put away laundry or generally be my anal, OCD mom self all day, and even though it nearly killed me (there is probably medicine for this) I managed to follow through and leave the house in chaos.
Ryland and Bobby put on their holiday finest.
Ryland took a ukulele dance break.
And then we were off into the chilly night to my aunts house for my big family shindig. It was noisy and loud and full of family and love and warmth and food.
I did the parent thing where you talk to people with about 50% of your brain concentrating on what you’re saying while the other 50% tracks your toddler as she careens around the room (ready at a moments notice to jump in and prevent property damage or bodily injury).
Ryland had a total blast and partied hard.
Bobby had many willing “babysitters” including my sweet grandma.
We managed to last til after 8 (super late for us) and all were pretty wiped out by the day’s excitement.
Being a parent at Christmas makes the day both so much more wonderful and so much harder. It’s all about creating memories for someone else instead of yourself. And while that can lead to stress and pressure to make things perfect (like worrying about silly things like finding the last set of matching Christmas pajamas in America, which obviously was a fail for me), you just have to remember what really matters, love and family and friends and hope and decency and all that good stuff that doesn’t go under a tree.
It’s a day late but as my friend George would say, “Merry Christmas movie house, Merry Christmas Emporium, Merry Christmas you wonderful old building and loan.”
Merry Christmas to you all :)
It’s been a festive, low-key (well as low-key as things get with 2 babies under 2) lead up to Christmas around here.
The most exciting moment of the last two days had to be when Ryland found some razor blades in the bathroom. I, being a serious contender for mom of the year, was actually in the bathroom with her putting on makeup (a rare occurrence) and had no idea what she had gotten into (she always sits on the floor pulling things out of the drawers, somehow missed the fact that there were razor blades in there). She didn’t make any noise that would indicate something hurt. In fact she was TOO quiet, which was when I looked down and saw what looked like a crime scene.
Cue twenty minutes of trying to hold a towel on the (very minor but we all know how crazy razor nicks can bleed) cuts on her finger while she screamed and wriggled like a banshee. (This is when my peds nurse background kicks in, I can hold down a kid like the best of them and barely break a sweat).
We don’t have any medical tape in our house (nurse fail) so we managed to Maguiver a solution to keep her from bleeding all over our house. She was less than pleased but consoled by chocolate.
Otherwise it’s been a pretty mellow couple of days.
I made scones from the latest issue of Magnolia that were pretty darn scrumptious.
And today I’ve made chicken pot pie turnover filling for dinner tonight and will make the first few steps for Christmas morning cinnamon rolls!
While I’ve been baking, Ryland has managed to entertain herself...
And I’ve also eaten ALL THE FUDGE. I really need to find a new in home hobby after Christmas ends or I will soon weigh 300 pounds.
The plan for the rest of Christmas Eve is a possible visit to drop off presents at my sister’s, then dinner at home (really hoping my pot pie turnovers turn out okay!) and gift wrapping/It’s A Wonderful Life/cocoa/and/or wine after Ryland goes to bed so that Santa can visit before morning :)
Its a rare year where Rob and I are both off Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so I’m really trying to enjoy every moment and soak in all the holiday family goodness.
Here’s hoping everyone else is having a lovely day! 🎄
5: The number of poopy diapers changed
1.25: Number of movies watched, Frozen in full and the first 20 minutes of Moana
33: Grocery items ordered on Instacart at Whole Foods and Wegmans
2: Snowglobes that almost bit it, because I underestimated my toddler's height and desire for destruction
6: The time Ryland woke up, an hour earlier than normal😬
25: Minutes spent watching Peppa Pig at 6am because mama has got to have her coffee
1: Kodiak cake pancake made for lunch for my daughter with blueberries "hidden" inside
1: Kodiak cake pancake fed immediately to George because...toddler.
0/2: Children wearing clothes other than what they slept in
1/2: Children wearing pants
3: Nursing sessions
2/3: Nursing sessions not interrupted because I had to stop Ryland from destroying property or injuring herself
36: Approximate number of baby Bobby toots (he is one gassy baby)
10: The episode of season 1 of The Crown that I've reached and can enjoy in peace while Ryland naps
5: Different types of Christmas treats packed up for gifting, because when you are basically home bound you have some time on your hands, and while I couldn't do any full fledged cookies this year I was able to make treats as long as they could be done in no more than 15 minute intervals
So I'm officially on day 3 of solo parenting two under two and the good news is that everyone is still alive, fed and washed.
Yesterday was my first 100% on my own day with no visit from my mom, and I'm not going to lie, parts were really tough. The trickiest parts of our days so far are the beginning and end, mostly because at these times both of the babies need things and need me.
In the morning it's trying to navigate how to wake up, do two diaper changes (and often clothing changes as well since one or both has inevitably peed or pooed on his or her pajamas) and feed Bobby while also getting Ryland breakfast (one might think the toddler could wait to eat until after the baby but you have never met my toddler). There's a lot of going back and forth, a lot of trading off who is complaining the loudest, and I've realized that second children are just going to be slightly neglected compared to first (which probably makes them slightly more mellow and easy going for life). Sometimes the baby just has to be put down even if that's not what he wants, and unlike when Ryland was a newborn, even though I don't like him to cry, I know it's okay if he has to for few minutes while I put peanut butter on an English muffin.
I knew evenings would be hardest because they were already hard just with Ryland, and they definitely have been tough. Yesterday especially both babies were cranky from like 3 onward. Bobby wanted to cluster feed and unlike when Ryland was a baby I can't just camp out in a comfy chair with the TV on and nurse for hours, unless I want to teach Ryland how to use the oven and give herself a bath (I'll wait until she's at least 2 for that).
We managed to get through it but both kiddos definitely just had to take turns fussing (or screaming occasionally) while I tended to the other one. Thankfully the sling helps out in these moments, especially for things like bath time.
There may have also been a lot of TV time involved. And I am all for limiting screen time, but that's a nice thing to say in hypothetical terms and another to actually do when it's winter and you have a newborn and a toddler and can't really leave your house. So for now we're just going to need a little Peppa Pig and Moana in our lives to all stay sane.
But even though there have been tricky moments, it is nice in some ways to start to find a new routine, and some things haven't been as hard as I feared. Ryland overall has done pretty well, even cooped up inside. There have been some casualties due to the times when I'm nursing and can't follow her around to monitor every move.
Our once fully decorated Christmas tree now looks like this:
And this morning Ryland decided to decapitate a shepherd.
She also drew a mural on one of walls with black pen. And random things keep going missing from our room or bathroom whenever she's in there alone (I'm convinced one day we will find a giant stash of moisturizer bottles and ties in some secret lair of hers).
Parenting two under two isn't easy. There are a lot of moments where it can feel impossible. Like when I had to chase Ryland around the house while nursing simultaneously because she decided to chew on a rock. Or the ten (TEN) stinky diapers I changed yesterday in the span of 12 hours. Or the moments when my toddler randomly decides to throw things at her baby brother (water bottles, pennies, my phone) when she gets frustrated at his crying. Or all the times I feel that good old intense mom guilt because I can't be 100% there for either baby, always having to divide my attention in two now.
It's an adjustment. And we're all doing our best. And sometimes our best means we don't wear real pants all day (or any pants) and watch Moana on a loop and eat ritz crackers with peanut butter for lunch and pancakes for dinner. And that's okay. It's freeing in some ways, to be forced to let go of any attempt at perfectionism, to have no choice but to embrace chaos.
There's a whole lot of beauty and love in this mess we've created. This mess is mine and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for the all the big and little things in life.