As I sit here writing this blog post, I am 30 minutes shy of my 10pm dream feed; taking the time I can to get some work done with no television, just sitting on the couch and glancing back and forth from my computer to the baby monitor… listening to the white noise blasting through the screen and watching my two beautiful babies sleep. This is my normal.
Oh, has life changed… and then again, it hasn’t.
When we first had Vivienne over two years ago, no one could prepare us for how we would feel. The overwhelming love we felt for another human being, the need to protect, the fear, the exhaustion, the life change… all of it. It rocked our world. From there on out, we were parents and had another responsibility other than ourselves. When Alice was born, I expected to feel our world rocked again. It didn’t. In fact, I felt more confident and comfortable in this new role as a mom of two. The newborn stage that I once dreaded, was looking better and better every day. Like many newborns, Alice just wanted to feed, cuddle, sleep, and I definitely fell even more in love with this stage the second time around. I was able to appreciate it so much more.
I know I mentioned a little about the first week home with Alice and Vivienne in a past blog post. It was hard. Mainly because JJ and I didn’t quite prepare ourselves for how Vivienne could react and more importantly, how WE should react. I was still recovering, exhausted, and didn’t fully understand why V would be so interested in stealing her sister’s pacifier when she never had interest in one herself. We became naïve to her behavior, thinking she was just in this “wild child” phase, when really, I’d like to think now that she was making sure we were watching… listening… and still those same parents we were to her before Alice was born.
Now, the days of Vivienne testing us quickly came to an end and any fear of jealousy or anger toward her baby sister is no longer a thought. Of course, she has moments and is still a toddler for Peets sake (I don’t know why I even used those words) but she has so much love for her sister and I think these little moments helped.
- From the beginning, I always encouraged Vivienne to help with all things Alice. Keeping her busy and constantly asking her for help is what she wanted. To be included, needed, and in charge to some extent. Give them a job regarding their baby sibling and they will come running! Vivienne did not like being excluded when I would go in the room to change Alice. I always told Vivienne where I was going and that she could come follow if she wanted. She would answer, “coming!” and follow behind or be content to where she was. More often than not, she followed. I’d ask her to hand me a wipe or throw away a diaper and she was happy to.
- Vivienne took quickly to her baby doll and often mimicked me when I would nurse Alice and give her diaper changes. It is so sweet to watch and I think helps her feel like a mommy/in charge herself.
- We always encouraged loving behavior toward her baby sister. Asking her to give sissy hugs and kisses before bed and tell her good morning. We asked, but never forced. If she didn’t want to, she didn’t have to… but we did make it a routine. Now, she does it without asking.
- I will walk into another room and give Vivienne the task to watch her sister (with nanny or JJ there of course) but to Vivienne, it seems like it is her responsibility to watch her while mom is away. Each time I have done this, Vivienne doesn’t do anything but physically stand and watch Alice. It’s so sweet. She also will watch her sleep in the baby monitor.
- “Can I hold her?” I was given advice before Alice was born to allow Vivienne to hold her anytime she asked. So, that’s what we do. We make sure she is sitting somewhere comfortable while we hold Alice’s head, but the answer is always yes.
- What if both kids are crying? Oh man, this has happened to me more than once. I calmly talk to Vivienne and ask her to help me with Alice. If that doesn’t work, I tend to Vivienne and then Alice since Vivienne would remember before Alice would. If that doesn’t work, I’ve even gone as far as picking them both up … I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that one, but you do what you have to do.
- Getting them both to bed by yourself at home can be tricky, but I’ve come to really love the Dock A Tot for this reason. You can literally bring it wherever you are, and easily move it around to where Alice needs to be. I’ve had it on the floor in the bathroom while Vivienne takes a bath, then moved her to Vivienne’s crib when I needed to dry her off and have felt comfortable leaving her on the couch for a moment without fear of her rolling off. It’s truly a life saver. If I am putting Alice to bed first, then I ask Vivienne to be quiet and come in the room with me. She’s getting better at the quiet task. If I am putting Vivienne to bed first, then Alice can be in the Dock A Tot and I’ll have Vivienne’s door open. It’s all really circumstantial based off the night and how the kids are.
So, what’s my conclusion to all of this? You’ll always have your challenges with children, but with effort and a calm demeanor, it can be a much easier transition to two. If you are thinking about having another child, pregnant with your second, or have a newborn and toddler… remember, you got this! Everything you personally do and ways you can teach yourself will pay off in the end. I’m still learning and always will, but these are a few tips that I have learned these last three months that I wanted to share.
I hope this was helpful to anyone in the same boat. Cheers, mamas!