Thursday, February 18, 2016

I wish someone had told me: Two Under Two

Last January, when we found out baby 2 was on the way, Joel and I had a bit of nervousness alongside our great joy. We knew our kiddos would be less than two years apart (twenty months and one day, to be precise), and we couldn't fathom the craziness that would come with having Charlotte be so very young when her new sibling arrived.

I didn't get too much advice on the subject of having two kids under the age of two, though I did read this great blog post by a mother I follow online. Looking back now, I see that there's no way anyone could have prepared me for the challenges of those early days. I wouldn't have believed how hard it was, if someone had let me watch a feature film foreshadowing the beginning of our second baby's life. But if I'm writing a blog post on the subject (which I clearly am...), here are a few things I wish someone had told me.

I wish someone had told me... how much I would miss my husband. With just one kid, we were parenting together, side by side, taking turns with bedtime, giving baths together, he playing games while I finished dinner. Once Asher arrived, it was all hands on deck, all the time, and usually in separate locations. I nursed the baby. He changed the toddler's diaper. I put Asher to bed, while he entertained Charlotte, then put her to bed since I was nursing again (or still) by that point. I made dinner with Asher asleep in the Ergo while he took Charlotte for a run to let her out of the house for the first time all day. It was exhausting for everyone, and with a baby eating around the clock, we didn't really have a single second for just the two of us. Plus, I was totally zonked by the time both kids were in bed, and had little energy for watching a movie or hanging around to chat.

I wish someone had told me... how much the change in routine would affect my toddler. Ugh, Charlotte's behavior the first few weeks of Asher's life was so difficult! Due to unlucky timing, she got a new baby brother on the same day she got two extra house guests. We'd hoped my friend Melissa would arrive with her daughter a couple days before Asher was born, so she could be present at his birth. He didn't wait for her, though, and she flew in just 9 hours after he arrived! Charlotte had a really, really, really hard time sharing her mom and dad with a new baby, and also really struggled to share her house and life with another toddler. Obviously there's no way to predict when babies will arrive, but if I'm ever in a similar situation, I would probably just ask my mom to come and not have any other friends or relatives amidst the chaos.

I wish someone had told me... that I should do my absolute best to help my baby take a bottle consistently from an early age. In the beginning, it was too much for me to navigate keeping Charlotte occupied while I pumped AND fed Asher a bottle, and by the time Joel came home from work the house was so chaotic that feeding Asher a bottle got lost in the craziness. Since we weren't consistently offering it, Asher now has no interest in anything other than getting his milk straight from the source, and that limits the time that I can be away to run errands, go out on dates, etc.

I wish someone had told me... how my heart would break into a million pieces the first time my children met. Joel brought Charlotte into our room when she woke up (after Asher had been born at 1am). I will never forget her little voice when Joel asked if she knew who was in momma's arms.... "Asher!!!"

I wish someone had told me... how quickly and beautifully my little girl would become a brave, independent, hilarious big girl, once she had a new baby at home. Charlotte can do so much by herself these days, and is a very attentive, kind, and thoughtful sister. I'm really proud of her and feel very grateful that she has the gift of a sibling so close to her age.

I wish someone had told me... how fun it is to watch the love these two have for each other. Asher cannot get enough of Charlotte. He stares at her constantly, and cranes his neck all the way around so he can get a better view. They've started to play a little bit together, and she will pass him a ball and say, "Catch it Asher. Pass to me, Asher!" SWOON.