I've been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now, because when I was pregnant with Cecelia I constantly wondered what it would be like to have two children instead of 'just' one. In fact, I asked a few of my girlfriends who had recently made the jump from one to two if they thought it was easier the second time around. I mean, going from zero to one is LIFE-CHANGING. I cannot even remember what I did with my days before Truman came along (I think I worked, ran, blogged, slept and lounged a lot?). I figured my friends would say that zero to one was harder than one to two. But the verdict? Not so much. Two of my girlfriends were very honest when they said it was a lot harder than they had anticipated. Gulp.
Now I'm not here to say it's harder for everyone to make the jump to two kids, because there are just too many variables out there to consider. The temperament of both the newborn and the toddler will make a HUGE difference in your own personal experience. Then there is the husband wild card---is he one that's incredibly helpful, present for weeks after the birth of number two, and able to handle the demands of one-on-one defense? Or will you be mostly on your own during the day with only a few hours at night and on weekends with an extra set of hands? And what about your employment status? Will you be going back to work outside the home in 6, 8, 12 weeks or do you stay at home? See? All of these variables make it impossible to compare situations between moms. So take my experience with a grain of salt. You know I still want to share my opinion, though, right? ;)
I think the bottom line is this: it might be easy to assume that jumping to two kids will be easier than the jump to one because you've done it before. You should know what to expect. But honestly? That is sort of laughable to me now. Because every child is SO different, you haven't done it before with *this* child. And you haven't juggled that second child with a toddler before, either. And so the transition from 1-2 is very much like entering a completely different universe. A familiar universe at times, but still unique for the most part.
I've even heard people say the phrase: 'One is like none, and two is like ten' which I think is a little dramatic. But it's true that on my days with just Cecelia at home, I marvel at how much easier it is with just one baby. I know when I had little newborn Truman to care for it didn't SEEM easy and looking back, it wasn't easy. But it's funny how your perception of 'easy' changes with more kids over time. My favorite article written to moms with 'only' one child is this one, written by a mother with nine kids. I love that she respects the difficulty of raising your first child. Maybe if I have nine kids then looking back on having 'only' two will seem like a cake walk? :)
I can't proclaim that the jump to two kids was harder than I expected, since I honestly could not wrap my head around it while pregnant. I didn't really have an idea of what it would be like to juggle two kids, which is good in a way. Going in without expectations means this experience is what it is. Not harder or easier than 'expected.' But I definitely feel a huge difference between having one child and having two children to care for. And I think the differences are so interesting they must be explored.
The biggest difference this time around is that I not only have a newborn to care for but a toddler, too. I mean, duh, right? But I didn't really comprehend how different my maternity leave would feel this time around compared to the last. Truman can definitely be labeled as an 'easy' toddler, which is something I promise not to take for granted. He's laid back, well-behaved, and rarely throws tantrums. He can play independently for a decent amount of time and is usually pretty agreeable when I ask him to do something. Now he's not perfect by any means---but I would not call him a 'strong willed' child, like so many other mamas in the blog world have. And because of his temperament, I know that he is making this round two with Cecelia a little easier on me. But it's still not 'EASY' by any means.
As you read in my DITL post, balancing Truman's needs and his constant energy is tough at times, simply because there is a also newborn in the picture to consider. He has to have activities to do and we have to get out of the house or it gets hairy around here. And because I have to be on the go-go-go with a toddler, I don't have that focus on Cecelia 100% of the time like I did with Truman's maternity leave. Sometimes I expect Truman to be all grown up, because he just seems so mature compared to helpless Cece. But obviously he can't get food on his own, he isn't (totally) potty trained, he can't dress himself, and he just plain old needs mommy sometimes. The kid is two-and-a-half, not twelve, like I sometimes assume.
And because I have two kids, my valuable 'me' time just got squished out of the picture even more than before. It's important to find some mommy time for mental health, but it's certainly a challenge with two little kids demanding your attention. I know I need to be better about forcing 'me' time. In fact, I think deserve a big fat massage in the next few weeks. Now I just have to make the appointment...
Another big difference this time around is that I don't get the option to sleep in bed half of the day if we've had a rough night. I really do miss that part of having 'just one'---no toddler schedule to follow, no need to take the baby out in the car for daycare drop offs/pick ups, and no need to force her into activities outside if we don't feel like leaving the house. But mister Truman kind of runs the show around here, not Cecelia. And so we are on the move and don't get to sleep as much with a toddler in the picture along with a newborn.
I guess the thing I miss the most from my days of having only Truman is the routine--I'm talking about Truman as a toddler here, and not as a newborn. There was no routine back then, either:) I miss knowing what to expect with my one toddler. I miss being able to leave the house without packing half of our freaking belongings into a bulging bag. I miss not having to whip out my tat to feed a child in public, while simultaneously keeping my curious toddler from getting hurt on the playground. Feeling on top of things as a mom----that is a thing of the past for right now, but I know I'll get there again. Because a newborn doesn't adhere to your previously scheduled routine. True story. Go figure. :) I'm a control-freak and felt a lot more in control with just one. I remember at the end of my pregnancy with Cecelia how I sensed that it was the calm before the storm. Life was pretty amazing and we were confident parents, knowing what to expect from day to day. I freaked out a bit then wondering why on earth we wanted to change EVERYTHING. And it's true--nothing like a newborn to really humble you as a parent. But man, it's freaking awesome having two kids, even though it's hectic and unpredictable. I would not change it for the world.
And! Now that I have two kids, I think that it's actually a LOT easier for me this time to put things into perspective. The first time around I had no clue what to expect as my little baby changed before my very eyes daily. I didn't know how fast it really goes. I didn't understand that everything is a phase--even the hard stuff. I couldn't see past the present moment because I hadn't gotten to experience a growing child, moving into new and exciting phases all the time.
That article I linked to above has a beautiful quote about children being light as air, nudging past you as they float away like balloons (makes me cry to read that, but it's true). This time around I understand that these times with my children are fleeting. I know Cecelia will eventually sleep all night....in her room:) I know she will eventually drink milk from something other than my boob. She won't always hate her car seat. And I also know that she won't always want to be held. She won't always need me so much (and man, they really are helpless and pathetic as newborns, aren't they?). She might not be able to tell me exactly what she needs---something I find sort of maddening with newborns---but man, this itty-bitty stage still has a lot of positives to absorb. Of course, I cannot freaking wait to see her giggle, to see her sit, walk, talk, and interact with us like a real 'kid'. It's been nothing short of amazing to watch Truman grow into his own little person and I know it's going to be just as fun to see Cece emerge, too. That is another thing about the second child---you now KNOW how awesome kids can be as they age. And you also know there will be challenges. :)
The second-born definitely makes you appreciate each child for what they are. I love that Truman sleeps through the night and is somewhat predictable. I love that he can play by himself a bit and is constantly making us laugh with toddler-isms. And I love that Cecelia loves to cuddle me, nurse from me, and sleeps a ton (during the day). And that I can put her down in one spot and she actually stays there!
Since I'm a mom who works outside of the home part-time, this maternity leave is incredibly special to me---just like it was with Truman. But it's different this time, for a few reasons. First, since I'm going to return to work with a 20 hour per week schedule, and not my old 36 hours per week, I don't feel that sense of dread this time. I don't feel particularly sad about going back, or panicked like I'll never get to see my child again. With Truman I had a pit in my stomach, feeling like I should be mourning the loss of something. My child? My time with my child? I don't know but I was just so sad and scared to go back to work. It felt like the end of something....and I suppose it was the end of my maternity leave, but it wasn't the end of my time with Truman. Does that make sense? Now I know that life goes on and I still get to enjoy my children for a majority of each week. And even more so now that I don't work a whole lot:) I'm not as scared about my milk supply tanking, or fearful of the pump. I still loathe the pump but I totally know I can handle the three sessions each day this time.
Life is about finding a balance. Now I know I can work outside the home in a career I love AND I can be a good mom to my children. They can still be the lights of my life even if we aren't together 24/7. I didn't feel that way the first time around and I'm so grateful to be in a happier place this time as my maternity leave comes to a close.
Maternity leave is still a magical, dreamy period of weeks for me where time doesn't really exist. It's like you are in a bubble just drifting through the days without any sense of the world around you. That is probably because of the sleep deprivation, which would be the case for any new mom and not just working moms:) I am not saying that staying at home *in general* is magical and dreamy---just the first weeks with a new baby are like that. Because I do stay at home two days a week with my kids and it's not really 'dreamy' past the first three months. And obviously, there are really hard days during maternity leave and it's not always magical. It's just a wonderful time and I will definitely miss it. But I don't dread going back to work, either. I'll just look back on this time with a hazy, foggy perspective of what it was really like to be a new mom again. And I'll smile about these twelve weeks at home while I'll probably forget about the hard days and nights.
(and what good is a post without a baby pic?)