I have to confess, as I was getting close to the arrival of baby #2, I was a bit scared of what life with a toddler AND a baby would be like.
Would my toddler daughter feel heart-broken, seeing my attention go toward another baby? Would I survive breastfeeding challenges, recovering from delivery, and sleep deprivation… while managing a toddler all day? How bad would the toddler’s regressions be? What would I do when both kids needed something (and started screaming) at the same time?
Was I blowing up my whole world??
Don’t get me wrong—I really, really wanted this baby. I wanted a sibling and playmate for my daughter. And after losing my last two pregnancies, I was so grateful that we’d finally be having this baby. I knew what a blessing my rainbow baby was.
It’s just that I felt so blind-sided by the unspoken challenges we’d faced with baby #1. Breastfeeding was such a battle for me… and, while we’re being honest, our marriage was too, for a while.
There were so many things no one told me (or they did, but in these gentle, vague expressions that I really didn’t understand, like “it’s hard, but so worth it”).
So, yeah, a part of me was just scared to death of what challenges lied ahead. I expected to be a bit traumatized.
Well, now that our baby is here, I do know what I’m in for. You want to know what really surprised me about baby #2:
I’m really enjoying it.
This baby is such a sweet, mellow, little guy. I just love him to pieces. How could I not have realized how much I would love this little guy?
OK, before you punch me for saying that… I’ll tell you that surviving baby #1 was really tough at times… awesome but tough (look, now I’m using those vague expressions with so much wrapped up in there—you get what I mean though, right?). I love our first child so much, but I look back on it and sometimes I feel like we survived a war.
We really prepared for insanity in the house, this time.
But as the challenges came up, we mostly knew what to do. I had a couple of plugged ducts and a fight with my husband over nothing in that first week… but that was kind of it for the drama.
Other than that, it’s been silly stuff… There was the time the whole house ended up awake in the middle of the night, so I could do a 3AM pump, because I suddenly freaked out that my milk supply might drop if I didn’t. The toddler ended up sweetly curled up in my lap while I pumped, and my husband gave the baby a bottle. It was fine.
And there was the time that I accidentally forgot to put a diaper on the toddler before bed (I’ll bet you know how that story ends). As I was nursing in the middle of the night, the toddler came in crying and soaked in pee… which led to me stuffing nasty, pee-soaked sheets into the washing machine way too early in the morning, as I ran back-and-forth to check on the baby who I’d left strapped to the changing table, thinking my husband could get him (he couldn’t). The toddler went back to bed though and the baby fell asleep on the changing table (then transferred to the rock-n-play). It was a mess, but I pulled it off—I decided it was a win. A hot-mess-win.
The toddler actually loves her little brother. Sure, she tantrums more and has the classic regressions, but it’s so stinkin’ cute when they snuggle up together.
And my husband has been working so hard to pitch in—even taking the first feed of the night for the first couple months.
It’s not perfect, but at the same time it is. It’s hot-mess-perfect.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of life could be hot-mess-perfect?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could laugh at our chaos, when it happens? If we could approach our challenges with confidence? If we could just keep enjoying our lives, even as the madness rolls by?
As a parent, you learn to show love by cleaning up wet sheets. By hugging your pee-soaked toddler. By reassuring them that you’ll help and that you’ll always love them. By getting up with your baby over-and-over at night. Then after all that, by putting on a smile like you’re so happy to see you toddler, when they wake you up at 6:30 the next morning.
You experience your joy in seeing their smiles, helping them learn, and hearing their laughs.
You learn you can solve the big challenges and that the little ones just aren’t that big of a deal. Most of the time. The other times, it’s chaos, but you develop a sense of humor for chaos and you keep moving forward.
You learn how amazing your friends and family are. You learn what you need and how to ask for it.
You learn how blessed you are and you learn how fleeting time is. You learn that these are the sweetest moments of your life. You realize in the blink of an eye your baby will be older and you’ll never snuggle and nurse your baby again.
May you always have the strength to laugh at your chaos and the confidence to tackle your challenges. And may you always find a way to treasure the special moments. May you find your hot-mess-perfect.
As for me, a mom asked yesterday if I wanted more kids. Ha! More kids? I’m too scared… scared to death. So I guess, we’ll see…