I’ve had about a zillion thoughts for blog posts bouncing around my head for the past couple of weeks. Blogging is… well… really low on the priority list these days, so I’m bundling them all into one post. It’s probably going to be longish, but it’s interesting… I promise (falling uterus ahead! Seriously!).
So B was born. I still get all mushy feeling on the inside when I replay the scene in the delivery room in my head. I mean… C was the first person in this entire world to touch, hold Baby B. He literally brought his son into this world. It was one of the single most beautiful moments in my entire life. I was the second to touch him, and I held onto his perfect little self for at least an hour or more before anyone took him away for anything. Perfection. Truly.
And then we hit the ground running. When E was born, life moved slowly for a little while as we adjusted to being new parents. I took it easy as I recovered from delivery and the second degree tear. Days were long even though the weeks were fast. This time? No. No slowing moving time here. There’s a household to run and most importantly, a big sister that still needs to be cared for, loved on, have needs met. Not only that, but part of the recovery process for me personally, is getting back to relative “normal” as quickly as possible. That doesn’t mean not snuggling the fresh new baby- there is plenty of that- but it means taking care of my house and my girl on our own as quickly as possible. Some like a ton of help. I do not. I want to do my own dishes and read to my girl myself. I used to think it was a stubborn pride thing about me, but no. It’s not. It’s more of a mental health thing for me. Honestly. When someone was here trying to do all MY responsibilities, leaving me to “rest” and care for the new baby, it honestly made me anxious. Legitimate, panicky anxiety. As soon as I started doing as much of what I normally do as possible, the anxiety subsided quickly. I don’t necessarily want to rest all day. I want to live my life. And when you already have a toddler running around, you get back into gear fast. Or at least I did.
Which was awesome. I felt fantastic (as fantastic as one feels with a couple of first degree tears). I mean, there are times I forgot that it had only been a week or two since I’d… you know… labored and delivered a baby from my body. Until, well, it slapped me in the face. Uterine Prolapse, my friends. On the day B was 2 weeks old, I was feeling some weird feelings down there and finally at midnight I was like: “C. Something is NOT RIGHT down there. I need you to look at it. It feels like something is falling out of my v.ag.ina.” C, being the wonderful doctor husband he is, got out of bed and came to look. He sat there for a second before saying, “Well. Your cervix is bulging out of your vagina. I have to put it back.”
COME AGAIN, WHAT?!
Yea, you read that right. You haven’t lived until your husband has had to push your cervix/uterus back into your body in the middle of the night. I was horrified and googling made it worse, of course. We didn’t go to the emergency room because, as C said, all they would do is put the cervix back and consult OB/GYN who would tell me to make an appointment to come in next week. As long as there was no significant bleeding or pain (I had no pain whatsoever), then there was no need to go into the emergency room (since he put things back together for me at home.) I spent the weekend freaking out and laying/sitting down. What if they wanted to operate? What if they wanted to remove my uterus? What if what if what if! C talked to my doctor on Saturday who echoed what he had already told me about the emergency room- sit tight and take it easy at home unless there was significant pain or bleeding. She would see me first thing Tuesday morning (it was Memorial Day weekend, of course). At the appointment my doctor examined all the things and called over to OB/GYN to see what they wanted to do with me. They talked to their UroGyn (doctor trained in urology and gynecology- also considered pelvic floor specialists). The good news? None of them were worried. This is a complication for 2-5% of postpartum women, and for most it resolves itself by 6 weeks. The other good news? My eagerness to jump back into normal life didn’t cause the problem. They said if it was going to happen, it was going to happen regardless of what I was doing. I did probably exacerbate it, however. The bad news? No one was going to do any kind of treatment for it until my 6 week appointment, at which point they will reexamine things and see if anything has improved/healed itself, or if further treatment is indicated. I was relieved to hear that this is something that can happen and that is expected to heal as the tissues down there heal and hormones balance out. Not relieved to walk around uncomfortably have to have things pushed back up every once in awhile, but hey! Better than being told they need to remove my uterus. Already things are healing up- my cervix is back in position and is no longer falling down. The v.ag.inal wall is still weak, but my uterus is no longer falling. Hurrah! Words I thought I’d never write. (And? I did kegels while pregnant. I did pregnancy pilates. I DID ALL THE THINGS. But still, word to the wise? Do those pelvic floor exercises everyone talks about. Certainly can’t hurt.)
The Second Kid
Everyone always talks about how difficult it is to go from one kid to two (or at least people around me did). I don’t know that I agree with everything I heard about it. Maybe that’s because mine are only 22 months apart. Maybe it’s because of the kind of personality E has and how. freaking. hard. I worked to prepare her for this transition. Maybe it’s because my uterus fell down and I was too busy worrying about that to pay attention to however difficult having a second kid would be. I don’t know. And that’s also not to say it’s been EASY PEASY. It has stressful moments. Stressful days. Times when I want to lock myself away and just BE ALONE. Most of those are when both kids are crying at me and each of them needs something RIGHT THEN and I feel utterly overwhelmed and pulled in 60 directions. I haven’t been at my best the entire time. I’ve snapped and yelled at E when I shouldn’t have. I’ve had to let the new baby cry longer than E probably ever had to cry when she was new because mama is giving E a bath and SHE JUST CAN’T WALK AWAY FROM THAT RIGHT THIS SECOND. So there have been moments that haven’t been great.
It feels like Benjamin was always meant to be in our family. Like he’s always been here. Like our family is whole. Genuinely. People ask if we want more kids, if we’re done, etc. The non-cheesy answer is that yes, we’re done, we’ve only ever wanted 2 kids. If we got surprised somewhere along the line, then of course, we’d accept that gift and adjust our mentality, but as far as we have control over it, two is our limit. The sappy response? The first three sentences in this paragraph. Something about our household feels different. I truly feel in my heart like our family is whole and complete. I thought that I’d FOR SURE miss being pregnant. This pregnancy was such a gift- very easy and enjoyable- and I loved it. I thought I’d be sad to not be pregnant anymore, knowing that I most likely would never be pregnant again, but no. I feel no sadness, or longing, for pregnancy. I feel done, and I feel at peace with that.
One of my biggest worries when I found out I was pregnant with our second was: What if I don’t love him as much as I love E?! How could I ever love anyone as much as I love E?! I was reassured time and again that somehow, you just… do. That your heart stretches or grows or something or another and you immediately adore your subsequent children as much as your first. I’m going to be honest with you. I was a little let down. You see, he was born and C placed him onto my belly and instinctively I immediately knew that I loved him and I had a duty to care for him and protect him. But the mushy gushy lovey feelings? Like what I feel when I look at E? I didn’t feel that. This terrified me, of course. OMG I’M A FAILURE AS A MOTHER. HE DESERVES BETTER. I DON’T FEEL THE OOEY GOOEY LOVE FEELINGS LIKE I DO WITH E!!!! I cried all those things at three in the morning to C on our first night home. C was quick to remind me that when E was born, I felt the same and worried about the same thing. The instinctive motherly love came, but not the overwhelming puffy heart love right away. It takes me a day or two. I have to hold them, and stare into their face, and get to know them. And then I’m inundated with all the puffy heart love. This time was no different.
But I will say this. I don’t think I love B exactly the same as I love E. I think I love them equally- as much as one another- but the love does feel different somehow. I mean, I’ve had two years with E. Two years of caring for her, watching her grow and develop and learn and blossom into this real person with thoughts and feelings and emotions and words to express them (most of the time) and a desire for independence. Two years of building a relationship with her. That makes for a different kind of relationship and different feelings than the ones I have with my sweet, delicate 3 week old boy who depends on me entirely. The love I feel is the same, but different.
Being the second kid is interesting I think. You get more experienced parents. I don’t worry about nearly as much as I did in the first weeks with E. Breast feeding? Bam. Champions. He hasn’t pooped in a couple of days? No big deal. It’ll come. C and I handle middle of the night wakings like pros these days. B wakes up. We turn NO lights on. C dons a headlamp and changes the diaper, hands him off to me, I feed him up good, swaddle him, top him off, and back to bed we go. We still have WTF moments where we’re like: WHAT IS HAPPENING HOW DO WE MAKE YOU HAPPY?! And WTF? You spit up?! E never spit up?! What am I supposed to do with this?! But overall? The mechanics of caring for a baby are second nature this time around. It took me a lifetime to leave the house ALONE for the first time with E. This time? A week. I think. And since then I’ve left the house plenty more. It’s a heck of a lot more work, but life keeps going and I can’t afford to keep my toddler holed up in the house all day every day. Nursing in public? I was a nervous wreck about doing this with E. This time? No big deal. Not at all. I so very much love the confidence we have this time around. Are we perfect? No. Do we still have clueless moments? Absolutely. But it’s nothing like being a first time mom and I’m so grateful for that.
With experienced parents, though, come some… flaws? Maybe? I don’t know what to call it. Like how it took us over 2 weeks to give him his first bath at home. Sorry kiddo. Life is busy with two of you. Taking care of a messy, emotional near 2 year old is a lot more work than caring for you, actually, and some things get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Like your first bath at home. Honestly, we are not daily bathers in this house anyway (go ahead, gasp in horror), but adding a second kid to the mix further inhibited our bathing habits. I have no doubt we will find a routine with this and get back to a normal bathing schedule, one that includes bathing Benjamin regularly, but first we’re working on finding routine in just the basics like eating and sleeping.
Second kid also has much less… personal space. E is ALL. ABOUT. her baby brother. She wants to hold him. Kiss him. Lay on the floor with him. “Help” him with tummy time. “Pat” him. There is obviously a large amount of supervision going on here, as a well-meaning older sibling is one of the biggest dangers to a newborn baby. But man. This kid does not get … well… anything… to himself. Everything that’s been given to him has already been played with/touched by his sister. Even the things that I’ve tried hard to keep separate, just for him. At a point I just gave up and decided to be okay with it. Second kid is trooper, for sure, and I can’t wait until he is a little bit older and can interact more with E. I have a good feeling about the two of them together. <3
Which brings me to…
I’ve gotten a lot of question about how E is handling the new baby. Honestly? Way better than I expected. Even more honestly? She’s kind of a champion. I do take a little bit of credit here. I worked my butt off trying to prepare her for this. We have five… yes, five… books about being a big sister. We Have a Baby, by Cathryn Falwell; I’m a Big Sister, by Joanna Cole; On Mother’s Lap, by Ann Herbert Scott; Big Sisters are the Best, by Fran Manushkin, and My New Baby, by Rachel Fuller. There are a ton of other books out there, but I like these five the best (my MOST favorites are We Have a Baby, On Mother’s Lap, and My New Baby- the other two are very, very similar to one another, but still good overall). When we read these books I would talk extensively about what the book was saying- pointing out expressions on the parent’s faces, or how much they clearly still loved the big sister and how important she is to them. I talked about how the big sister is a helper. These books became fast favorites and she requested to read them over and over (and over and over and over and over… ad nauseaum. For real.) But we never turned down her requests and always talked about what an important job being a big sister was, but more importantly how loved the big sister is.
I also just talked to her about the baby in my belly. I let her feel the baby move. I talked over and over about her baby brother, and what it was going to be like once he arrived. I told her how he would need a lot of attention from mama and dada, but that no matter what we still love her so much and how she is so important to us. I talked about how babies eat from their mama (because we breast feed), and how that will take a lot of mama’s time, but that I would always make time for her. I talked about how we would have to go away for a couple of days when her baby brother was coming, but that we would miss her so much and couldn’t wait to be with her again. SO. MUCH. TALKING. I was told by some that I was a bit over the top. “She’s fine!” “She doesn’t know!” etc. I disagree. She might not have all the words we do, and she might be young, but kids are observant. They know. And for a child who has been the sole recipient of all of our love and attention to suddenly have that attention drastically split? Well, I don’t think I could’ve ever talked to her about it enough- explaining to her what was going to happen and how it would change our daily life.
THEN, I wrote two letters to her for my mother in law to read to her while C and I were at the hospital having the baby. One to be read the morning she woke up and we were gone, and one for the next morning (which was the day we came home). Then I had a small present for her that was “from” her new baby brother, along with a note “from” her new baby brother. We gave her the present and read her the note the day we came home from the hospital with him.
I don’t know which, if any, of these was the just the right thing to help her adjust. But she’s adjusted beautifully. I think that’s also in part to the fact we’ve worked hard to continue to love on her as much as possible. C did a lot of this in the early days home. She didn’t seem phased by how much I needed to be with the baby, and I think this is because C loved on her so much during that time. I also worked hard to include her in everything as much as possible. We read books together a lot while I nurse the baby. I made her a “baby box” which is a box that only comes out when I’m nursing- it has special toys, special books, etc. in it that she only gets to play with while the baby eats. We still take her to do things- library story time, the park, play dates with friends. It also helps that we had such a solid daily routine before the baby arrived and we maintained that daily routine even after he came. We’ve worked to keep as much of the rest of her life as normal as possible while we introduced this MAJOR change of having a brother.
It hasn’t been perfect. She threw a toy at his head on his first day home. She has needier days and moments, and I try to be patient with her during them. She sees me holding the baby all the time, so if she has an afternoon that she is glued to my side and wants me to hold her/snuggle her more, then I do it, because a) one day she won’t want to snuggle at all, and b) I don’t ever want her to feel unloved or loved any less than she ever has been.
It’s been an adjustment for sure. The hardest days for me, and for E I think, were those first days home. The falling uterus threw a wrench in some things. But mostly it’s been beautiful and wonderful and, for right now, I feel confident that I can parent both these children well (it’s been a good day… maybe ask me on a bad day and the answer will obviously be different). I feel incredibly fortunate to have two beautiful, healthy babies, and my heart and family is complete.
*cue everything falling apart now that I’ve talked about how relatively painless the transition has been so far*
*braces self for fallout*