First Month with two kids: Fake it til you make it

I've always thought of myself as an someone who is capable of juggling multiple responsibilities and challenges , but having two children in diapers has been a whole new challenge. Hats off to all the mothers of multiple children, and stay at home moms, because I have never been so busy in my life.

To start with, our baby girl, now a month old, is perfectly healthy and amazingly adorable. She has been exclusively breast fed the first month, and has gained all of her birth weight back plus more. The first couple of days when I was waiting for my milk to come in were stressful, however since day three but I have  any issues with my milk supply or her ability to latch. I wanted to put her on a daily feeding and sleeping routine early, as it took sooo long to get my son to sleep through the night, however trying to get a sleep schedule and take care of a two year old, and do literally anything else I might need to do has been impossible. I have also been struggling to keep her awake during breastfeeding, especially at night, which leads to more frequent nursing, and can be exhausting.  The longest stretch of sleep has been four hours at night, but often she wakes up three or four times a night. Once her umbilical cord stump fell off I have been giving her baths every other night, which she loves. Her eyes seem to still be blue and she has two little dimples, but it's hard to say which parent she resembles more closely (my husband says she's my clone).

My son has done much better adjusting to a new little sister than I could have ever imagined. He wants to look after her, picking up her blankets, hats, and kissing her. I thought there would be some jealousy or animosity towards a new sibling, but so far he has been nothing but adoring towards her. This is not to say he is an angel by any means. For the past year he has become more and more of a diva in the morning when I try to get him dressed or feed him. He has become so picky with his food and clothes that it can take so long to get him ready in the morning, which can send me over the edge when I've had no sleep. He talks back to me more than he did before, and he has even learned how to go to one parent to ask for something the when the other told him no. My husband and I have noted that his speech has seems to have become increasingly more advanced in the short month our daughter has been home. He goes to preschool 4 days a week, which keeps him with a routine and gives me a break during the week. We are still encouraging him to use the potty, but not actively potty training him. Once we get settled in with our daughter I want to try potty training again. It's been rough with two in diapers. The days I am home with the two alone I spend the majority of my day changing one diaper as quick as I can to tend to the other one that's crying or throwing a tantrum, only to repeat this scenario with the other child in the next 15-20 minutes.

The relationship between my husband and I continues to evolve with the addition of our daughter to the family. There are so many family dynamics now that we are more than a triad. We struggle with disciplining our son, maintaining our own time together, sharing household duties, handling our finances, managing both of our stress levels and our own personal space. My husband has done many sweet things for me in the past month, including getting my flowers, framing a print of Portland, Oregon for which I am homesick, watching the kids while I take naps, and buying me a gel sleep mask so I can sleep during the day. He went back to work two weeks after our daughter was born, but will take more time off when I return to work in a couple of months. The first week he went back to work was rough. He was stressed returning to work, and I was stressed trying to handle everything at home alone, and we were both running on no sleep. Needless to say we had a few blow-ups, but with some communication and empathy on both our parts, we have smoothed out the issues and have been working well as a team. I started pumping at three weeks post-delivery at the advice of my pediatrician (after she saw the deep bags under my eyes in her office) just so I could have my husband give the baby a bottle at night and I could get a break. I try to pump at least  once a day, to start stashing a supply once I go back to work. Most days I only get the chance to pump once.

As for my recovery this past month in the so-called "fourth trimester", it's been a bit of a roller coaster. Physically, I feel so much better than with my recovery after the birth of my son, which I attribute to staying active throughout my pregnancy. I have lost weight quicker, have so much more energy, and have felt very little pain or discomfort after the delivery the second time. I started going on walks and even did I three mile walk with both kids in the double stroller. I have 15ish more pounds to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I plan to start working out more intensely in a couple of weeks once I have been medically cleared to do so. That being said, emotionally I have had a much more difficult time. I have had frequent spells of crying, feeling like a failure, and in general horrible moodiness. I've had talks with several close friends, who have been my emotional rocks these past years, and truly keep me grounded in times where I feel I'm falling apart.  I feel that the importance of having female friends standing cannot be understated. Although your spouse is your partner and best friend, your spouse will not be able to understand everything and all your emotions, especially those that come with pregnancy and giving birth. I digress, however I am truly thankful for the female friendships that have lasted through the years. I have been a lot more forgetful and clumsy than usual, which is probably the lack of sleep and stress getting to me. I have realized that my level of organization needs to be taken to an extreme level just to keep my head above water. I now keep a little notepad with me and write down notes daily on EVERYTHING, from lists to do and upcoming appointments,  who I spoke to when I make phone calls, last feedings and sleep times of the baby. I try to get naps during the day when I can, although anyone who's had a baby can tell you when the baby sleeps is your chance to catch up on the to-do list, so it's not exactly easy. My plan was to give up coffee while I was nursing, so as it would not affect my milk supply, and so I would not be so caffeinated that I couldn't take naps while the baby napped. The attempt to give up coffee lasted all of a week. My reliance on coffee, and my general love of the morning routine with coffee outweighs the benefits of giving it up. I usually drink a cup or two of coffee in the mornings, try to get cleaning and other errands done, take a walk with the baby and dogs, and then take a quick shower when I've put the kids down for a nap and then take an hour nap myself if the leaf blower isn't outside and the dogs start barking at him.... FML! The leaf blower every Friday has been my enemy ever since I started working the noc shift five years ago.

This stage of my life with this new addition to our family has definitely pushed me to be a stronger person each day. As I am reminded by a dear friend, this period of the kids being little will not last forever.  This is both a relief and a reminder to enjoy the little things, like my two year old's endearing little toddler voice and my daughter's new baby smell and little baby coos. I'll catch up on sleep eventually, and in the meantime there's coffee.
Stay tuned for my next book review!
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