As I mentioned in the first series post I was pretty nervous about going from one to two kids. Grateful and ecstatic, too, but definitely nervous. I take mothering pretty seriously, so I didn't want screw up one child, let alone two. We wanted our kids close together (they're 15 months apart). But I found that with my second pregnancy, I was exhausted. I think I was so tired because I was already concerned, 24/7, about one human person.
I asked five women whom I admire for their character, lifestyle, and way of living motherhood to give me some honest insight into life with two kids. I didn't want to be blindsided but more than that, I wanted to know how they made it work because in each of them I see many things I want to emulate. I hope you will, too. Let me introduce them.
Kerry, a neighbor, has become a sort of big sister to me, ready to help me out at the drop of a hat, go for a walk, whatever. My first memory on the block is of her three boys play outside across four front lawns. Just last month when I'd been alone with the two kids for almost two weeks, she made me go for a 30-minute drive just to get a little time to myself. Her husband crawled through a window for me, five months pregnant, because I'd locked myself out and it was my son's naptime. And she runs marathons. Crazy.
I met Laura this past year at our local moms group, Compass. She struck me with her humility and honesty in some very vulnerable moments. We've managed a few playdates, though we miss way more than we achieve, and I'm constantly impressed with how she lets her girls live their childhood. She doesn't hover. She doesn't beg. She's calmly involved and attentive without overwhelming them. And she's joyful. All the time. (Sorry to cut the hubbie out of the photo! He has a lovely hand.)
Grace. Ah, Grace. Her name suits her character and her role in my life perfectly. She grew up the only girl among 4 (5?) boys, she sings soprano professionally, lectures at Marquette University, and is raising five totally unique kids. She and her husband, David, were our mentor couple through engagement (by our request), and they continue to give great guidance when we ask for it. She understands my heart the way no one else does, and she's wise beyond her years. And I'm paranoid about how I'm writing this because she lectures on english...She'll kick me, but I found this video. And I think she looks like Anne Hathaway.
I met Lora back in college. She was crazy then, and she's crazy now, but in a very graceful and refined way. Her first daughter encountered a number of medical challenges right away and Lora and her husband, Matt, just took it all in stride. Scary nights in the hospital never dismantled her cheerful, grateful disposition. She's smart as a whip but so humble. Never rushed, always patient. She makes sure her daughters genuinely love each other and that she has time to spend with each one. Oh, and Cardinal Dolan of New York attended her wedding when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee. Dang.
Jane is my I can't believe I just did that, I have to tell you how dumb it was, friend. I love sharing my mistakes with her because we just laugh and relate. She sent me a few photos for the series, and I chose this one because I think it captures her personality. She's a goof, invested in her boys though her hubbie, Arch, gets priority. She was over just last week swapping decorating and kid-sleep stories while our boys ran amuck. And somehow, she managed to throw together scrumptious food for me after each of my deliveries--even though she lives 30 minutes away! We also met in college, and I've been honored to see her through the last decade.
How did your second pregnancy differ from the first?
The second one seemed easier because we were still busy taking care of our first child - the pregnancy was not the focus of my life. While both were relatively easy, the second one had different discomforts.
Pregnancy not much different, lucky me no morning sickness, but did get vericose veins with #2 and my legs were very achy at times & especially towards the end.
I was--incredibly--even more tired than during the first. Still just as sick for just as long (6 months of nausea and puking). At least I wasn't working outside the home any more, though. I still had to be in top form for Cee, but she didn't care if I looked awful or had to puke mid-sentence--things I had tried to avoid while teaching.
I really couldn't think/read as much about the second as the first. I was working and an active mother to Hannah, so I kind of just lived life, and when I got sick, I had to get back out and stir the beef for dinner. I was on bedrest pretty early with Hannah, so I was constantly nervous at every doctor appointment. I did end up on bedrest again, but with another active child, there was a lot to keep me busy.
My second pregnancy flew by. With Tom's, I knew exactly how many weeks along I was, knew where the baby was developmentally but with the second one, I was so focused on Tom's development becoming a toddler that I felt like I was in my third trimester before I even knew it. I struggled feeling sad that I didn't talk to David as much while he was in the womb like I did with Tom, but my friend, Jackie, pointed out that the baby heard me reading books and talking with Tom, so David was actually probably getting more interaction, not less. We also felt like Arch didn't get to talk to David as much because we were still dealing so much with Tom's sleep issues at night. As far as physically, I felt like I got bigger more quickly and gained a little more weight than with my first pregnancy, but overall I've been blessed with pretty easy pregnancies both times.
What did you do to prepare your home for the second child?
We never got out of having a childproof house since Carter was only 2 so that part was ready. We did get Carter in a toddler bed before Gunnar was born so that the baby could have the crib. We also used the trick of having the dog smell baby smells to get her ready for another baby.
To prepare we got another crib and moved Abigail into room across hall. I also gave Ryan a good sigh because he came home one day to find that I painted that room Tiffany blue and made Abigail's room white, Tiffany blue and hot pink. I drove up to Grafton to get a gallon of the Mythic totally non toxic/VOC free paint. $60 but great stuff!! Not much else needed...we were already totally baby-proofed.
Physically, we had to figure out what to do with a tiny apartment and two babies. Buying another crib was out of the question (no money), so we had to pray about what to do with the Big Sister (who was a tiny 17-month old). We found a bassinet for the new baby at a rummage sale, and that postponed the issue for six weeks. P was a fast grower, though, so six weeks was all we could squeeze out of that bassinet. After that, we dragged David's old twin bed out of the basement and squeezed it in between the wall and the crib--effectively making another crib-like enclosure for most of the twin bed's length. C was a very obedient child, so after the first few nights of reminding her that she really was not allowed to climb down from the bottom of the bed without permission, it worked like a charm. It might not have worked with a different child.
Spiritually, we had far less trouble finding room for the second baby. Certainly we had moments of anxiety about supporting the cost of two babies, but we were starting to figure out that God's (crazy) plans come with full guarantees of providence.
I have to laugh at this one, because I did nothing :) Really the nursery was an office filled with stuff 'til about two weeks before Clare was born, and it wasn't painted/set up 'til my mother-in-law came a week after she was born. I couldn't even clean the house because I was on bedrest (imagine "nesting" on bedrest -- ha thankfully, I have an amazing, supportive husband!).
We decided to use an Arm's Reach Cosleeper this time instead of a pack 'n' play bassinet, so we set that up, got out the baby clothes to wash them and put them away (cleared out drawers in our room for them), bought a second dresser for Tom's room anticipating that they'll be together eventually. We got out the baby swing, baby papasan chair, bought Tylenol and Ibuprofen, more baby mittens, socks, and snap down onesies because I liked those better for newborns and didn't have many. It felt easier this time because I knew what I liked or didn't like when I had Tom, so I could just set our room up the way I wanted it and make minor adjustments from there.
Ah! Love it! Thank you, ladies.
Check back at noon tomorrow for how they prepared themselves for their newest addition!