Two Hearts.

Plum turns one on this week. She is my dear little one, and is so much her own little person. And now that those ears have gotten better (mostly) she really is a delight – silly, weird and smart.

Plum at One

I must admit, that it took me the better part of the year to figure out life with two. It was a hard year. Just when I was getting used to this whole kid business, Plum came along and upset my confidence and equilibrium. She was not a particularly difficult baby (except we still haven’t gotten that sleeping thing down). It was just that sometimes I felt like life had become one of those fast-forward film reels. Completely normal, I know, but still tough.

We welcomed a new nephew on Saturday. He is a gorgeous little boy, and we are so excited he is here. He is a second child. His birth, and Plum’s birthday have meant some mama-reflection on what life is like with two.

Second Baby Surprises

I so enjoyed my maternity leave the second time.
First, Plum’s birth was SO much easier on me physically. I felt surprisingly good after delivery, which made those first few weeks so much better. The pinched nerve in my back, and time of year made it tough, but I was armed with better knowledge of my rhythms and the rhythms of a newborn. I loved cuddling and nesting. We kept Pickle in his regular routine of daycare/school 3 days a week. So for those days it was just me and Plum, cuddling and napping and getting to know one another. It was awesome. Oh, and I watched seasons one and two of Downton Abbey – added bonus!

It is a different kind of hard.
I had been warned that a second child didn’t make things two times as hard, a second child made things 100 times as hard. Thankfully, I found this was not quite true. With one, you’re already giving it your all, with two, you’re still giving it your all, just differently. Two IS hard, so hard. But it is a different kind of madness. It means you spend your day managing the needs of the littles. It means you have to get good at needy child triage. Whose needs trump right now? Some days, everyone is in the groove, and you can jump from task to need to play to nap to meal to task smoothly. Most days it doesn’t feel like that. Most days I feel like I’m scrambling behind the runaway train, hoping things don’t go too far off the rails. Plum needs to be soothed and rocked and fed and Pickle is bellowing from downstairs that he NEEDS ME NOW because he needs his bum wiped. And in order for me to respond that “I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!” I have to yell, which wakes up Plum. And then no one naps. And then people start throwing things and then there are tears, from everyone. Including me.

I came to trust Pickle more.
I had to. When Plum needed changing, feeding or rocking it was often impossible to convince a stubborn 2-year-old to come along (and sit quietly). So instead of dealing with two crying children, I had to trust him enough to leave him alone downstairs, playing, by himself. I had to trust that he wouldn’t break things, hurt himself, leave, make incredible messes, etc. There were some minor mishaps, but for the most part, he was a champ. And he rose to the challenge, feeling accomplished and proud that he could be in charge of himself for a bit.

Baby two helped me to better understand the relationship I have with my younger sister.
It is so interesting to watch a sibling relationship develop as a parent. Pickle is annoyed by his younger sister, of course, but he is also fiercely protective, loving and sweet. Plum gets frustrated with her older brother – who tries to boss her around and is constantly taking things away from her – but adores him all the same. She grins like a Jack-o-lantern when he goes to visit her in her crib in the morning. He is the best at making her laugh. Their relationship has helped me understand some of the dynamic between my sister and I growing up.

The quiet moments are sweeter.
Mostly because they are fewer. (HA!) I would have preferred a stellar sleeper, but Plum isn’t wired that way. And while it sometimes makes for exhausting days, the middle of the night feedings and cuddles have been more magical than maddening. The moments when it is just the two of us, in the glow of the nightlight, cozy in our pajamas, is the best. And the time cuddled with Pickle, reading a book, and stealing moments together while Plum naps, is lovely. Thankfully, these sweet quiet moments continue, and now sometimes include all three or us, or all four of us even. Last night Pickle perched quietly on the edge of the glider, snuggled into my left shoulder, while Plum had her pre-bed bottle, cradled in my right arm. As I sang silly, made-up songs (requested by Pickle, of course) I realized that it just doesn’t get much sweeter.

Two Hearts

Things I Need to Remember…

I haven’t started Miss Plum Bee’s baby book yet.  Whoops.  I know that’s the norm with Baby 2, but I promised myself that I would be different!  I’m not.  And I’ve considered, on a nearly daily basis, starting a little kiddo journal.  I would write in it every day, or a few times a week and just make short notes about the things they’re doing, learning, saying. But I haven’t done that either.  Bad Mama.

There’s just so much.  There is so much about Mr. Pickle Pumpkin that I promised myself I would try to remember.  And it’s gone.  As I sat today, holding a softly sleeping Bee, I implored myself to remember the feel of her soft lips when I kissed them.  To remember her milky, warm breath. To remember the reddish color of her hair.  Her sweaty hands. Her eyelid stork bite. Her dimple – same cheek as my dimple. The way her little tongue quivers when she falls asleep eating her bottle. Her scrunched up, stretching face.

My mom makes me crazy.  But she’s right about a lot of things.  She always told me that the first child is amazing, and the second is precious.  I get that now.  With Mr. Pickle we were amazed by what he was doing, when he was doing it, and whether we were helping him hit his milestones. I am more content to let Miss Plum Bee just be. With Mr. Pickle, it was all new, and the focus was on the “what next”.  With Plum, the focus is on the “what now.”  Of course, I am more relaxed this time around, I think that’s just natural.  I’m loving my time with Miss Bee and I want to keep those baby snapshots in my brain forever.  But I know they’ll fade (heck, I can’t remember what we did this morning!) so perhaps I’ll get working on that baby book…



Second time’s a…

All it takes is a back spasm, some painful pelvic separation, oodles of heartburn, and one exhausted Mama to wonder if this second baby was a good idea.

Here’s where I say the stuff you expect me to say, and the stuff I truly mean, but have kind of forgotten these last few weeks: Yes, I am excited.  I am thrilled to welcome a new little one into the family. Yes, I remember the magic and amazingness of carrying this little wiggly wonder every time I feel a kick.  Yes, I realize how very fortunate we are.  I love the little Plum Baby in my belly.  I am glad we made this choice, and the universe complied.

Okay, now that that’s over…

I’m kind of stressing out here.

The anxiety dreams have started.  They include selling the gold post in my dental crown.  Leaving Mr. Pickle Pumpkin in the car for hours.  World annihilation. Nuclear winter.  You know, happy stuff.

I feel, like most moms I think, like I’m running on fumes a lot of the time. Like I’m forever searching for that elusive thing called balance.  I know I can handle two.  I know people handle more.  I know people handle a lot more… with far fewer resources and much less support.  But it doesn’t mean it isn’t scary for me.  I know I sound like a whiner.  But today, I’m just… so… tired.

I’m just finally getting the hang of one little doodlebug.  We’ve got a little routine going.  He’s turned into such a neat human.  Now I’ve got to meet and learn and know a new little person?  A new, very needy little person who will undoubtedly be routine-less for a long time?  Sounds daunting.

I still have no idea how we’re going to pay for kiddo-care.  Mama’s got to work if we want health insurance.  But quality childcare – even part-time – is a huge budget item.  A budget buster, really.  How am I dealing with this?  I’ve decided the best course of action is to put my fingers in my ears, close my eyes, and yell “LA! LA! LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” really loudly. That will make the whole budget buster problem go away, right?

I’m a little more worried about all the medical stuff that can go wrong this time around.  I’m not any more aware of the complications than last time, but this time around I’m already a mom and there’s a kiddo here I worry about leaving motherless when I decide to really let myself consider the worst case scenarios (which thankfully, isn’t too often.)  It is just a little scarier this time around.

So I’m trying to figure out how to relax, and – like The Beatles and then my own mama always says – “let it be.”  I’m open to suggestions…