Honestly thinking back to our zero to one child transition gives me anxiety. So you can probably guess my answer to the question…
What was harder? 0-1 or 1-2 kids????
100% it was harder to go from no kids to our first. Read my post about "The Diary of an overwhelmed first time mom" . There are so many things about pregnancy, child birth, recovery and taking care of a newborn that I was just not prepared for. I will say that I had bad tearing that made recovery so slow, a baby that cried for hours on end each day until 3 months old, and what I think was postpartum anxiety and that made the transition hard for me. My husband was also gone from about 6:45am till 5:00 for work when our first was born whereas now he works from home (had been doing before Covid). I was so lonely and our baby hardly napped during the day so it was exhausting and I felt like a failure. Everything is new a first time mom, especially breastfeeding which went really well for us but was not without it's challenges. I wrote a post about my breastfeeding journey (2 years!) here.
Even though I did all the courses and read certain books, I still was not prepared enough. So, my biggest take away and advice for pregnant ladies is to prepare more for birth and the following three months postpartum, recovering and taking care of a newborn than for pregnancy itself. I read too many pregnancy books and way less research about what the first couple months would look like on a day to day basis. What does a typical day look like? How to watch for wake windows? How to know when baby is actively feeding or just hanging out and we can try unlatching? How to manage teething which is a bigger part of taking care of a baby (3+ months) than I knew. I had no idea what cluster feeding would really look like until I was telling my husband if he even tries to suggest that our baby was hungry again after just feeding I was going to grab him by this decorative nipples and somehow squeeze out some milk miraculously to feed our child. No, I’m kidding, sort of, but it truly was a season of life that was so hard for me. I cried everyday and begged my husband to take days off work just to help with the screaming baby as I was slowly cracking. Looking back I also think I had postpartum anxiety which I had not known about. It wasn’t depression and I knew to look out for that but I had not been on the lookout for the signs of postpartum anxiety which showed itself with severe anxiety about leaving my baby, not wanting to leave, but really needing to. Also feeling anxious about going out in public with baby in fear of the crying episodes in which he was inconsolable. I still shiver when I think about those days. It really left an impression on me. Anyway, long story long. Having my first was the biggest change. I had to get used to taking turns with my husband if we wanted breaks and it wasn’t as easy to just go out together without planning around naps or feeds etc. but looking back, it was easier to have one child because you could take turns easily, have lots of one-on-one time with the baby, sleep when they did sleep and feed in peace and quiet without a toddler distracting and waking the baby up with their screams and meltdowns. It also got a lot easier as he turned one and then two. Going places was fun and looking back, having two parents and only one child is great. We didn't appreciate that enough now that we are on man to man defense.
[On a trip to Washington DC in December 2019 - little did we know it was going to be our last for a LONG time!]
Having my second was incredible. I loved the birth so much that I wanted another baby as soon as he was born haha. I planned a lot better for the transition by asking my mom to stay with us for 2 weeks and for my husband to take a month off instead of just the two weeks he took off with my first. Everything was easier knowing that it’s just a season (like night feeds) and babies (at least my second) are so much easier compared to three year olds am I right?
Some things are hard, like finding time for yourself as a mom. There is not a lot of time for hobbies as I’m just tired in the evenings and have little left to give. I think it’s just with two kids you have more to do- more laundry, more cleaning up and the list goes on. Daniel and I used to take turns cleaning the kitchen while the other did baths, stories and bed time but now that we have two the kitchen stays a disaster till everyone is in bed and then we have to tackle it, so our chill time in the evening is minimal. That was hard to get used to but we are in a good rhythm so it’s manageable.
My toddler is settling in to the transition now (6 months later) but it has really been tough for him. He had my full attention all day everyday for 3 years, added a pandemic for almost a whole year where it was me and him 24/7. Then baby came home and now I had 15 minutes quality time for him here and there in between feeding, burping, putting to sleep, changing and then all the household chores that still needed to be done.
So going from 1-2 was so much easier as I already knew what to expect with recovery (I tore the same again) and I had learned so much more about caring for a newborn. My second is also a very very easy baby who learned to fall asleep by himself very early on, unlike my first who wanted to nap on me every time which is exhausting. I know it might change as he gets busier when he learns to crawl and walk and talk. We will just enjoy this phase as much as we can!
What surprised you going from 0-1 and 1-2 kids?
Leaving the hospital with a living, breathing baby that I was responsible for and who came with no instruction manual was mind blowing. I had no idea how much a baby could cry and how much I would cry with his as well. The conflicting emotions I felt came as a surprise- loved my first baby so much, but some hard days I also wanted to walk far far away to get a minute to reset. I didn’t know how much I was going to change as I became a mom. I’m obsessed about hearing everyone’s birth stories. I don’t have time for small talk anymore, I want to know how people are struggling and how I can help. I wish I didn’t want to talk about my kids 24/7 but I really do. Right now they are very consuming and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s going to be really soon that they won’t need to drink my milk, or have me help them get dressed or want to hold my hand and sit on my lap so I am trying to soak it up, even though it still can be draining.
[Our first two weeks with our first were amazing. Then the colic/reflux and my anxiety started]
Actually everything is such a new experience as a first time mom and everything was a surprise – hyperactive letdown, the never ending crying, milk oversupply, how to pump and store milk, how to swaddle, oh wait baby doesn’t like that so now what do we do. And then vaccines, no vaccines, delayed vaccines. There is so much and everything is a first with your first. I was also surprised at how emotional I was all the time. I cried for everything and even now after two kids I am so emotional about my own kids, things I read, movies, thinking about children in difficult circumstances and empathizing with other mom’s experiences.
When we had my second, Callum , I could not believe how the evening/bedtime routine was like a marathon. Oh my goodness. It took forever at first, and left like it would never end. We would flop onto the couch after dinner, baths, teeth, bedtime stories, songs, nappy changes, feeds, holding baby upright and then cleaning the kitchen. We would have half an hour before needing to go to bed before baby would wake up again. That cup of tea at the end of the day is still our favorite and something we do every night.
What also surprised me with my second was how torn I was going to feel. I knew there was only one mom and two kids but I didn’t know how hard that was going to be on my heart. At the beginning the baby slept a lot of the day so it was pretty easy to give my toddler lots of time but I was recovering from a tear and that left me physically limited so saying “mom can’t run right now I’m still healing” got very old and I felt like I was missing out. Then the baby started sleeping less in the day and was awake more but because the toddler needed snacks, then help with toilet things, or getting clothes and shoes on, the baby had to be put down a lot and I felt like I wasn’t giving him the amazing quality time I had with my first. I mourned for the second child that he only got the leftovers of my attention and I mourned for my first child that he had to share my attention now. I talk about taking turns, for example -we do something the toddler wants to do, something for the baby and then something for me or the house, like workout or do dishes etc. This way I have felt like everyone is getting something, but feeling like I’m not giving anyone 100% is still hard for an over achiever like me.
How to get on a schedule where you get a moment to yourself without being too rigid?
[Baby sleeping on the left, toddler playing on his bed for quiet time on the right]
I know how important it is to get a minute to yourself during the day. I am truly a better mom once I have had some time sans kids to reset, and I’ve even told my toddler this to help him understand one of the reasons why he needs a “quiet time.”
I didn’t do a set schedule (that was at certain times) with my first or now with my second but we definitely do have routines and stick to them as much as possible because everyone is happier when we do. So when it was just one baby, I would try to do something for me when I had the chance, which was usually just a shower instead of laundry or dishes as that could wait. Now with two, I usually lie down for a little or work on my website or blogging while I sip a cup of tea during nap/quiet time.
My toddler stopped napping consistently soon after my second was born, when he turned three years old. I knew that I still needed some time to rest and reset so we set up a quiet time where he plays in his room for an hour while the baby naps. I just finished a post about how to set up a successful quiet time for your toddler so that’s coming soon. Since I’m not strict on time, I usually keep the toddler downstairs after lunch until the baby is ready to nap, then we all go upstairs to get everyone in their rooms so I can take a break. I can usually then have at least 50-60 minutes of time to just sit with my feet up which is amazing and I am genuinely a better mom for the rest of the afternoon.
What has the age gap been like with your boys?
Oliver was just shy of three years old when Callum was born. The age gap has been a blessing and a curse. It is so great to be able to go and put Callum to sleep knowing Oliver is busy playing by himself. Oliver has been so helpful with bring us burp cloths, baby clothes, picking up Callum’s toys when he drops them, choosing his next nappy and so much more. He is so sweet with his baby brother, even if we need to watch him all the time as he has a really heavy hand and loud voice. I wish I could feed Callum in peace as he is in the distracted phase but we just have lots of interruptions and shorter feeds because that’s just how it goes. It's hard on the days that baby Callum needs a little extra attention because there's not much to go around. I feel sad about that sometimes. Oliver got endless naps on me and cuddles when he needed but now I have two to tend to.
Oliver has acted out a lot lately and it’s hard to know if that’s a result of being three years old or if it’s him dealing with all the changes of a baby in the house. He has regressed back to using the potty instead of the toilet, but thank goodness is not back in diapers. Everything with my first is a battle even with us following “Positive Discipline” and “Love and Logic” principles with limited choices to try avoid power plays. I’m sure he would be going through this without a baby, but it seems to have ramped up and been heightened by the fact that he had to adjust to a sibling. I can’t imagine having a smaller age gap though! Oliver gets his own snack, can bring dishes from his table to the kitchen, can play by himself well, fold laundry and almost get dressed by himself. I literally don’t know how mums do it with another baby or toddler in diapers who is just needs so much more attention. I guess we are all amazing in our own ways!
So all in all, going from no kids to one was hard, going from one to two was more work but I love the company and experience plus an easy baby made the transition a lot smoother for me. I love our busy days and can't wait for the boys to grow up together.
Thanks for reading if you got this far!
Till next time,
I would love to know what you think about 0-1, 1-2 or even 2-3?