Welp. We did it. After what seemed like the gestation period of an elephant, I finally went into labor and had our son one day before his actual due date. Aside from three days of acupuncture to get things moving, it was pretty textbook this time around — 12 hours, start to finish, pushed for about 15 minutes and Baylor boy was born, 7lbs 3 oz, 20.5 inches long. Hashtag, blessed.
This was an incredibly different birth experience from my first with Georgia, which lasted nearly 36 hours, was mired in complications (like my cervix refusing to open), a bacterial infection and breathing issues due to the cord being wrapped around her neck twice. I was blessed this time with a relatively easy experience and therefore, recovery.
Getting home however, and adjusting to life as a new mother of 2 – yes, I can say KIDS plural now – has been the tricky part. People told me 2 would be a “game changer” and while there’s merit in that ominous proclamation (thanks btw for frightening me at 8 mos pregnant and not BEFORE I decided to have unprotected sex- not cool), I should make it clear that NOTHING is more of a game changer than going from zero children to 1 child. Everything about your life changes at that stage and honestly, there’s some value to having already gone through the anxiety of it all before. You know that moment- curiously peeking into the bassinet at odd, sleepless hours after hearing those crazy newborn squeaks and choking noises and deleriously having this conversation with your partner:
Me: “What was that? Is she breathing?”
Him: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Go check her. Just wake her up and make sure.”
Him (sigh of relief): “Ok yeah, she’s breathing.”
Him: “But now she’s also crying”
Wondering if those side-eye alien looks and eye rolls are normal or if
there’s something wrong with your kid that the doctor missed. Also, why is their skin flaking off like a reptile? And how much sleep is too much sleep?? Literally, I only recognize my kid with his eyes closed. Yeah. All that’s gone. Second kid syndrome is a blessing because you can actually enjoy this crazy new time for the beautiful, snuggly, new-baby-smell moment it is and not make yourself crazy trying to keep a child alive.
HOWEVER… and I’m about to do a 180 here… you also have a toddler. Who is great. And loves “her baby” and wants to do kind things for her baby… like throw 5 suffocating stuffed animals inside the swing with him. Or dump every leggo onto the floor and then walk away like a fart at prom. Similar to the dog you once thought of as your one and only, when she’s not “helping”, this child is suddenly underfoot, demanding cheese and apple juice like a tiny Napoleon and getting on your last nerve zero to sixty.
I want to be very honest about my feelings here because I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had them. I love both my children- I do. But there were moments coming home when all I wanted was to be in this newborn love bubble that I found her toddler antics downright annoying. She was suddenly the rudest child I had ever met. After hearing her ask the same question 12 times I wanted to scream. I was quickly sleep deprived and the bark of the dog, cry for her beloved lamby or ringing doorbell made me want to snap. And I did, on her, several times. (if you saw my post about the broken coffee pot that resulted in glass and hot coffee everywhere, you get it) And then I’d feel horrible. Truly like I just wanted to cry. Who was I? Joan Crawford? This sweet baby, who is only trying to adjust to this new normal, can’t help it. She’s just doing the best she can and the world is very big for her.
I had to do two things:
1) Take better care of myself so I could be a better human for her. I started taking naps when she did – I have never been a napper so this took some discipline – but a one hour nap literally prevented me from melting down at 4pm at the thought of making dinner. I also asked for help. I never had a nanny before and we now have a wonderful person who helps us three times a week for a few hours. There is no shame in asking for or employing help.
It doesn’t make you a “bad mom” or a lazy mom… for me, it was realistic. I work, my husband works… we are not scheduling superhumans and nor should we try to be to the detriment of ourselves, our careers or our relationship. Now I get to pick her up from preschool without also hauling in an infant, and take her to the park after. Our nanny can help Georgia with bath and dinner time while I pump and prep for my next gig in October. It’s part-time help but it’s the difference between managing it all and it being downright overwhelming. Also, we went on a date. Just dinner, just for a few hours down the street at literally the most unpopular place in Los Angeles (we were the only people there, lol) but again, I felt human. These things seem small but they are vastly important.
Because sometimes you need a reminder.
2) I needed to reconnect with my little girl one on one and give her my full attention. She loves Daddy, but not to brag or anything, I’m her best friend. Imagine being a tiny human whose BFF suddenly ditches them for a younger model? (I feel like I’m describing every Hollywood relationship ever) She needed to feel important again. I took her out on a Saturday to an event – we got dressed up and went and played and had lunch. I also enrolled her in a dance class and take her once a week as “our thing”. Sometimes it involves waffles after. Without the distraction of all the little things that come with caring for a newborn, I can fully invest in her again and it helped me remember how we best communicate – even in the trying moments. So rather than lashing out in annoyance, I remember that getting on her level and actually trying to talk to her usually works better – I saw usually because, well, toddler. (but it definitely makes me feel better). Also, patience. Toddlers need so much of our patience, which is in short supply when you’re exhausted and overextended. So I’m doing what I can to avoid feeling both those things.
We’re figuring this out, slowly but surely. Some of this is trial and error and will continue to be. There are no roadmaps in parenthood – just a ton of books from a ton of “experts”– but no one is more of an expert on your life or your kids than you are.
The three best things that ever happened to me.