In 2010, I had my first child. There were sleepless nights in the beginning, the devastating first days of returning to work and leaving my baby at daycare, the pumping, the transition to solids, the teething, the struggling to get out the door each day, and the growing pains between me and my husband as we navigated our new roles as parents. It all seemed so hard at the time. Looking back on those days now as the mother of two children I can’t help but ask myself… how did I not realize how easy it was???
In September of 2012, I gave birth to my second child, another boy. My oldest was two years old at the time. This time there were sleepless nights in the beginning, but there were also sleepless days. The first maternity leave I compensated for lack of night-time sleep with daily naps with my baby. This time not so much, as my toddler demanded the same, if not more, attention during the day as my infant demanded during the night hours.
With my first, I committed (to myself) to breastfeed him until he was a year old. I pumped three times a day at work the first year, and I didn’t even wean him until 15 months old. This time we are nine months in, and the only thing that is sustaining me is the guilt I would feel (guilt! the motivator of mothers everywhere!) if I can’t make it to at least a year with my baby. And even when I am breastfeeding, it is often not quite the bonding experience it was the first time around, as I am usually also playing with or reading to my toddler in order to keep his jealousy in check, and hurrying my baby along so we can move on to the next thing.
With my first child, when we made the move to introducing solid food at six months, I was a mommy goddess – whipping up various purées (organic, of course) for my little one’s expanding palate. And being careful to follow the doctor’s orders that only one new food be introduced every three days in order to keep the watch out for allergies. My second is lucky to get a pouch on the run these days. I am encouraging him with finger foods and introducing new foods every day, because I cannot wait for the day when I can make one meal for both children.
With my first, I remember thinking how hard it was to get out the door without a food or diaper situation to attend to, while still managing to have my hair brushed. Now, I generally have a dirty diaper to deal with, as well as my older child realizing when we are five minutes out the door that he has “to go potty. NOW!!!” A baby wailing for breastmilk while the older child whines that he’s also hungry. I am perpetually late for everything (though to be fair, I was always on the late side) these days. And this time around, it’s a wonder I get my teeth brushed in the morning, let alone my hair!
With my first, my husband and I went through the new parent growing pains of trying to figure out what our respective roles as parents would be, and how our relationship was going to change but remain strong. When we had our second, we now not only had to focus on our own changing roles and emotions, but also had to face a new set of growing pains as our older son became a “big brother,” and all of the emotions that went along with his new role.
And the cost of child care. Let’s not even get started on the cost of child care for two. Sigh.
I was speaking with a woman the other day whose children are four and six now. She has assured me that as they get older, all the of a sudden parenting two is easier, as they are now playmates and constant companions. I know in my head that time will come, but right now we are sure in the thick of it.
Whenever I start to think how hard the transition has been, I think about my dear departed grandmother. My mother was child number four of thirteen (yes, that is THIRTEEN!) children. My grandmother was a tough lady with a very dominant personality, and the penchant for a strong cocktail. And now I can only begin to understand why – because children are hard, hard work. I keep thinking how hard things are with two, can you only imagine with THIRTEEN!!?!
And for the record, I do understand that should we decide to have a third in the future, I know I will be looking back on these days with just two and wondering… how did I not realize how easy it was???
How did you cope with the transition from one to multiple children? What was the hardest part for you? And if your kids are older, does it in fact get easier????