- Change diapers less often… oops
- Bathe less often
- Bathe baby less often
- Let them cry more
- Realize your extra baby mattress protector really belongs under you to block those night time milk leaks
- Swaddle confidently
- Nurse more confidently
- Lay them down for naps vs cuddling
- Swerve societal pressures
If you’ve read any of our other posts, you’ve probably noted that I hardly slept when our first, Ivy, was born. I was so paranoid. I come from a line of worry warts, it’s literally in my blood. If she wasn’t sleeping, what did I eat? Did I give her stomach ache because I inhaled a family sized bag of BBQ chips today? Did she not get enough milk when she nursed 7 minutes and 33 seconds ago? Are her socks too tight? When she was sleeping… *wakes up Ian* is she still breathing? They’re so quiet when they aren’t crying. I better go check *fumbles out of bed into the brisk Midwest February bedroom air to discover she is breathing, gets back in bed, complains about to chill of my sheets, force cuddles spouse for warmth. Repeat after a 30-minute nap.
So this time around, we swaddle little baby Rae right out of the gate. She spent her first night in the nursery with the wonderful nursing staff. Ian went home to care for Ivy and I slept like a rock for 2-3 hour increments. Pure bliss. A room to myself. No snores. No crying. Just the gentle buzz of hospital noises. I had great nurses… so I subdued the roaring Cave of Wonder’s Tiger that stirred deep down inside me.
With my new found parenting confidence, I mean we kept Ivy alive and relatively uninjured (no hospital visits, just a goose egg or two managed at home – no signs or symptoms of brain injury, don’t worry ☺️), I felt the pressure to be perfect slip away. And by slip away I mean like an ice cream cone that’s melting close to the sun… a hard plop to the ground of normalcy. When Ivy was new I felt like I had to be right there at every peep. Change every diaper instantly. Feed her inconspicuously but with great eagerness; you know to please both sides of the breastfeeding views. I’ve learned my lesson with trying to change Rae right after she goes… more is coming. Just wait a moment. Yep. Pee or more. Obviously, each kiddo is different. Mine prefers urinating when you’re trying to hurry out the door or in a fresh diaper or when her sister is screaming from (her perceived) starvation. To sum it up, you’re not a horrible parent if your kid’s diaper is wet for a bit. Or if you hold off on a poop change for a few minutes while you wait out the sneaky second take.
In the midst of the chaos of transition to two, I found myself noticing weird smells around the house. A regular culprit… was me. Poor Ian came in for a hug one day, pulled back and asked if that smell was me. Yes. Yes, it is. I knew it was really bad when I noticed my milky BO scent amongst all the other smells at the state fair. How pungent it must have been to fight its way through animal poops & fried food… but look how cute Ivy’s overalls were! She HAD to wear them that day.
Our Iowa State Fair adventure 2018. Ivy’s second state fair and Rae’s first. It was filled with family support as we all took turns herding and chasing down Ivy. Rae was an easy keeper as she slept through 90% of the day. Although she was the topic of most discussions with strangers. The sweet encouraging glances and congratulations outnumbered the unnecessary “two weeks and she’s at the fair?!” statements. My poor future sister in law happened to be holding her during the most uncomfortable comments. First, someone woman asked if that baby was real. Whaaaaa.
The second and most challenging statement, “I don’t like how you’re holding that baby. I don’t like her color.” I’ll continue to tell myself she was well-meaning; expressing a concern for a child’s health. She then shared how she was a nurse for many years, thank you for your service, and all her baby experience. Sweet, patient sister in law even asked how the woman would prefer her to hold Rae… “just not that way!” OKAY. So you charge up a complete stranger but don’t have the time to educate them? Let’s move on… Ian wasn’t our with us so I’m assuming she had no idea Rae was biracial which would explain why Rae’s coloring did not match the three white adults she was with at the time. I’ll just leave that there for now. Probably deserves its own post in the future.
Ivy experienced stinky milk neck on the regular. The let down is heavy and the poor thing almost drowned daily. Rae is no exception. Instead of filling the baby tub, getting everything sorted while Ivy is helping, I grab a washcloth and wipe through those double chins and neck creases. She only gets a traditional bath every three to four days. Strategic timing of baths comes into play now. Ivy loves being involved with Rae for which I am grateful. However, it does add an element of difficulty. Extra tiny hands and a lack of awareness to her own strength poses potential risks for a tiny baby sister. Some nights, when I’m too worn out to carefully guide Ivy’s help, we wait until Ivy is asleep for Rae’s bath.
*Rae is now three months and chonky. Our newest strategy for double bath time involves Ivy playing in the tub with a sneaky dunk of Rae in the other end. Ivy still longs to help… which occasionally presents itself has pushing Rae deeper into the water…
While people feel guilty about taking attention away from the firstborn as the second comes, I felt bad for number two. Not nearly as many snuggly naps; must put down baby to feed, clean, love on the toddler… as soon as I start feeling guilty I remind myself that each child is different. They have different needs, strengths, and weaknesses. They were given specifically to me to raise and love at the perfect time *whether that aligned with my plans or not.
So no beating yourself up. No comparing to how you did things the first time. As long as both are fed and relatively clean and deeply loved, they’ll be just fine.