Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two under two

Many people asked me how I’m adjusting to life with two, so I thought I’d write a bit about it. I know a few of you moms out there are smiling, because you’re homeschooling five, six or more children of different ages, and have gone through the transition of adding a new baby many times. However, for me the road is yet just beginning.

I have to say that making the step of adding a second child to our family was, in fact, easier than I thought it would be. When Shira, our firstborn, arrived to join us, motherhood was overwhelming because I had to adjust to the new situation of having someone utterly helpless, dependent, and so very needy, in our home and our life. Now it came more naturally, perhaps because I knew better what to expect.

I was so worn out by the last months, and especially last weeks of pregnancy, that I had no idea how I’d manage taking care of a new baby on top of everything else I had to do (in particular, watching over Shira who is growing more energetic and curious day by day). What I didn’t expect, and what was a pleasant surprise to me, was how much my energy levels surged upwards a mere couple of weeks after birth. Despite the sleep deprivation, and despite having now two under two, I don’t feel as tired as before and much more gets done.

I even started some new projects around the house, and embarked on the journey of potty training (an adventure which merits a post of its own, sometime).

Of course, I also had to prioritize and minimize, and see what is important to our well-being and what can be put off until a less hectic season in our lives comes around. What would be stretching me too thin? What could I do without? How should I better manage my time? Sometimes you just have to stick to the bare basics and peacefully let go of everything else, knowing that life has different seasons and if you try to do too much at once you might easily burn yourself out. Taking care of our loved ones, making a peaceful nest at home, resting as much as possible – everything else can wait.

Many talked to me about the older child possibly being jealous of the new baby; so far, it appears that Shira is taking the addition to our family joyfully and naturally. She often asks to see the baby first thing in the morning, and snuggles her many times a day. I don’t spend less time with her, but some of the time I also have a baby in my arms, to the joy of us all! Some suggested I should send our older daughter away for a few weeks to stay with grandparents, so I can rest, but I believe we are much better off given the chance to adjust to life together as a family of four.


Stam House said...

love this post! and I agree after being home the first one the transition of adding more is way easier!!!

Being myself a mother of 3 little girls 3 and under I can say that is busy but more gets dome and my organization skill are improving everyday because of my little one!

Mary R. said...

Yes, I found the same thing when I had my second.

momto9 said...

It's smart not to send the 2 year old away...that's exactly what would MAKE her jelous!

Kacie said...

Thank you! My son is 21 months old and I am expecting my second child in December.

I often hear "He will be so jealous!" and those sorts of things. He likes babies. And I have a big lap. So I know that I can cuddle both of them, at least initially.

I know the grandparents will probably try and have him stay with them in the hotel or something initally after the birth, but I think it would be in his best interest for him to stay with us so that he knows he's still a part of THIS family, and mama is still there for him.

Katie Gregg said...

I've never understood why some mothers send older children away after the birth of a new baby. Granted, I only have one child right now, so I've never faced this situation. Still I can't imagine my feelings will change with the birth of another baby. I would expect that sending an older child away would cause jealousy and resentment, more than anything else. Being together as a family allows the children to bond from the start. Also, I cannot imagine how much I would miss my darling son if I couldn't see him every day!

Stephanie said...

This was such an encouragement to read! I have a 9 month old and am expecting in May so I too will be joining you in the land of two under two. So many people have implanted fear in my mind over "having children so close together" so I am thankful to read that you are enjoying it! I cling to the Word when it comes to receiving these children because I know that this world will not provide me with the truth. Still, I am seeking wisdom in the practicalities of raising these gifts.

Do you have any practical tips for caring for two under two? Like what does your other baby do while you are nursing? My first baby nursed for 45 minutes to an hour every two hours so it is hard for me to picture how everything will work with two. I know your daughter is a bit older than my son will be when baby arrives, but I would love to hear what works for you (when time allows of course).

Thank you!


Rose said...

I'm delighted to hear that things are going well for you Anna, you seem to be natural when it comes to motherhood.

Amy said...

I'm glad to see life with two children is easier than you thought. I still only have one child (15 months old) and hope to add more, but for now, it's just the three of us. I'm still learning SO much...

I've been curious as to how you're going about teaching Shira the traditions of your faith at her age. I know the celebrations of your faith are serious things, and require strict adherence, but how do you handle that with a active toddler? I know she's still very young, but do you read the scriptures to her? Do you do little lessons that are easy on her short attention span? What do you do when one of your traditions requires silence, or quietness, or prayer? Does she participate, or is she allowed to play quietly while the adults participate in the ceremony?

A lot of the people I know with young children simply put them in a church nursery for their spiritual "lessons" or wait to teach them scriptures or stories until they're more able to comprehend the lesson. I guess I just feel that there must be another way. I could be wrong -- these are simply the ramblings of a first-time mom. :)


Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

I am so happy to hear your update. I agree that the second was easier than I thought too. I was SO extremely excited and happy when I got home from the hospital with my second baby, I was cleaning and cooking dinner for my family. I was just too excited to lay down!

Also, when I had my second child, a son, so many people acted like my older daughter would be jealous, but she never has been. I think this is because we never expected it of her. We allow her to help with the baby and hug the baby and hold the baby, ... well you get the idea.

I truly believe that jealousy is a lot of the time taught or expected (kind of like when people say math is hard and then their kids think it -- we always say we love math and math is fun!). Even my 18 month old hugged his 2 month baby cousin when he first met him (he did it all on his own with no prompting from us -- it was SO unexpected and SO cute!). I think creating an atmosphere of love and caring for others will mitigate these silly jealousy notions.

You are such an inspiration for others -- keep up the good work! :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Stephanie, something we love to do while I'm nursing is reading aloud. It's now become a custom that when Shira sees me settling at my favorite nursing spot, she runs along and brings me her picture books. And I think that as Tehilla gets a bit older, she will enjoy the reading aloud too. If I need both hands and can't hold a book, I can simply tell a story or we sing together.

Amy, what you asked merits a post of its own, but generally, we are already teaching Shira the basics of our faith as we go along, at a level appropriate for her age.

Coffee Catholic said...

Hello Anna :-) I'm so happy for you that you had your baby, even if being in the hospital wasn't all that great.

I've been out of the loop myself with very bad health and ended up with emergency surgery. Although I'm still in pain I'm doing very well.

And I know how you feel on the being busy scale: we have three kids under two! But both myself and Erlend have discovered that if we don't make a big deal out of having more then one small child on our hands then it's not a big deal. For some reason people these days are so dramatic! We hear the exact same thing all of the time, "You must have your hands full!!" But when don't we grown people have demands made on ourselves? Even a career woman would be very busy!

We didn't send Elspeth away. She was right there meeting her new siblings the day after they were born. And she has taken to them as if they've always been here and now, with the twins 8 months and Elspeth 23 months, the three of them amuse each other to bits! It's great! I am just very careful that if I pay attention to one child I make sure and look at the other two and make them feel included. It's not hard to do at all and it keeps the peace.

Well, I'd better go for now. GOD BLESS!!! ~Michelle

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are better off doing it your own way, Anna.

I had to smile while reading your take on having "two under two", & how you were surprised by your energy level. I, too, remember this feeling after our second daughter was born. I'm not saying things were easy, but I was able to do many things in the first couple months after the arrival of our second that I wouldn't have dreamed of tackling so early after our first. I felt more competent about things in general, I guess. I hope this feeling will continue for you! :o)


Leah Brand-Burks said...

I can tell you, I wanted my older son around more! Things were so hectic and turned upside down, I loved just scooping up my older son and having a normal moment with him. I can't imagine sending him away. That seems cruel, and certainly NOT the right way to begin forging a new, bigger family!

Analytical Adam said...

It is funny you mention this about the reaction of your first child.

I myself am the oldest of two having a younger sister.

I don't remember or know but it does seem at some point my parent became much more hostile to me.

And most of my parents friends couldn't care less either.

Being an older man with a younger sister is bad for the feminist movement.

Same for my Rabbi who likes to put boys on drugs on Ritalin. I guess this is to make up for the fact they have no problem puting women on the pill.

He has Doctors in his shul who like to put people on drugs pretty quickly as well for other things.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the advice! That is a wonderful idea. Feel free to keep it coming :).