For as long as I can remember I've always planned on having lots of babies. This was a "deal breaker" for me in a relationship back when I was hunting for a man and, thankfully, Zach and I are on the same page on this! Whenever we tell people that we want a large family the typical response has always been "I did too until I had my second one." I never understood why people decided to stop after two. Or why the "perfect American family" is always considered to be a family of four. If people wanted more than two kids why would they not have them?!?!
Now I get it.
When I got pregnant with Brittlynn a common thing people would tell me (which WHY people feel the need to say negative stuff to a pregnant girl I don't really get?!?! I mean I'm already pregnant haha) was that the transition from 1 to 2 kids was waaaaay harder than the transition from 0 to 1. Now that my #2 baby is 4 months old I feel like I can confidently write on this topic (Plus Kye was in a MEGA loving mood towards his sister recently and I have a bunch of cute pics to go with this post...I didn't tell him to do a single thing for any of these pictures. If these don't make you want at least two babies than nothing will!)
He crawled under her toy bar to kiss on her!
Becoming a first time parent is SO exciting. But it's also VERY scary. A boppy? A bumbo? A bouncer? All these strange and foreign things suddenly become your entire world. You research a million stroller brands. You read up on every detail of infancy. No matter how much prep work you do, nothing can truly prepare you for when that little baby enters your life. My heart truly goes out to those who will never experience being a parent. It IS the MOST amazing experience. It's also hard. And stressful. There is a massive responsibility on your shoulders. Who your child becomes is up to YOU. And it's kinda a crap shoot. I mean you do everything you possibly can to make the best choices for your child but really you have no clue if you did a good job or not until they are adults!
The transition from zero kids to one kid is tough. It's a COMPLETE life change. Your entire prospective on the world is different when you become a parent. Your priorities do a total 180. As a woman, your body also does a total 180. You have all these hormones, these strange random hairs in places you did not think grew hair, milk leaking out of you, constant exhaustion, etc etc etc. Then you have this sweet little baby who completely and totally depends on YOU to live. While it was a lot to take on, I feel the advantage with the first baby is that you have no idea what's coming. You have no choice but to live in the "now" because it's all you know. You adjust as the baby grows and changes. You figure it out (together, if you're as blessed as I am to have an awesome husband!).
Sweet sister loving
I truly believe my life as a parent is both easier and more difficult thanks to Babywise. It's more difficult in the sense that I want to do everything perfectly by the book and I hold myself to this mega high standard. It's easier because I KNOW what to expect each day. Kye was on a schedule since he was very little so HE always knew what to expect as well. It makes life less stressful for everyone when there is a pattern and a routine to each day. Kye was my first and, therefore, he was my "learning baby." Everything I did with him was my first time doing it. When I wasn't following Babywise, some other parenting book, advice from friends, or good old google...I was basically winging it. Guessing at what to do.
When Kye was a baby I wore the pages of my Babywise book THIN. I tore up the Babywise Blog and Google Group. I always had a question. I had to experiment with different things sometimes in order to figure out the best choice (we switched pacis a few times, heck we debated about the paci at ALL a ton too!). Once he turned a year old things got SO much easier. The rewards from sticking to a schedule started to pay off and there were less and less "tough" parenting choices to make. Duh, it's still mega tough to be a parent but now things are a little simpler than when dealing with an infant (like choosing which baby food to start with, what type, how many days in a row till the next type, etc).
I LOVE this!!!
When I was pregnant with Brittlynn and heard from SO many people that it was a tough transition, I honestly didn't believe them. I figured since I am hardcore Babywise that it wouldn't be that tough for me. I had a plan. I knew what to expect. I mean I'd had a baby before...so the guesswork is gone. That right there makes life easier right?!?! Then Kelly had Mack...Kelly is a very similar type parent to my style of parenting. And SHE said the transition was hard. That's when I freaked. If Kelly had a hard time then I surely would too...I mean she's just as scheduled as I am, if not more so (as she did CIO with her first baby and I didn't with Kye). Seriously I had days where I was BEYOND anxious about Britt being born. I was so scared about how crazy our lives would become and how I would manage it all.
Even though I was super, mega nervous I still knew that having a second baby was such a blessing. I don't understand how people could have one child and decide to not have any more??? I learned SO much from Kye (and still am learning!) that I was eager to use that knowledge again. To see what new, exciting changes another life would bring to our family. I felt confident in my parenting skills and abilities. I knew what having a baby meant and knew I could handle it all since I'd already done it with Kye. Knowledge, to me, is power. Having somewhat of a plan made me feel less stress. I knew, roughly, what Britt's schedule would be like. How often she'd eat and such so I could put it on paper and compare it to Kye's schedule to know what to expect. I knew I'd need more help than I'd ever had before, which is difficult for me to accept. But I knew Kye needed to get to and from school and my only option was to ask Zach and our moms to help out with that.
From a purely parenting perspective, the transition from zero to one child was MUCH harder than the transition from one to two. From the moment Brittlynn was born it was easier for me to parent her than it was when I had Kye. Heck, I didn't even know how to latch him to my breast!!! With her, I knew what to do. I was relaxed. I knew I needed rest so I rested. I knew she needed to eat every few hours so I fed her. I knew what things to demand at the hospital so I demanded them. My hospital stay was wonderful. I never wanted to leave ;)
Britt's turn to give kisses!
Coming home was when things got REAL. I will still say that it is EASIER to parent baby #2 than it was baby #1. I have yet to post a single question on the Babywise Google Group. I've had to ask Kelly and Laura (my fellow hardcore babywise mamas) several questions, especially in the beginning. But that's only really because we didn't do Babywise from the start with Kye so I was a newbie with the newborn ;) I have my own blog to refer back to and that helps a ton. I know I made it through the tough spots before. I know it gets easier. I have Kye running around as a CONSTANT reminder of how all the hard work in the early days really does pay off in a HUGE way.
I also think the bond I have with Brittlynn is stronger, faster than it was with Kye. It's hard to explain but Zach and I agree that our love for Kye grows stronger and stronger. I loved him from birth but not with the intensity that I love him now (I wrote a blog entry about it here). With Brittlynn, I appreciate her SO much more than I did him. I've seen so, so many families deal with losing their babies. Deal with health problems with their babies. And I truly get what a blessing Britt is. I thank the Lord constantly for her health and her being part of our lives. I also understand all that Brittlynn will be. I look at Kye and know Britt will be his age one day. She'll do similar things that he does. She'll cuddle up to me. Kiss me. Say she loves me. And that knowledge also makes my bond with her stronger.
My appreciation for Brittlynn is also more than it was with Kye. I savior her more. I not only appreciate how healthy she is, but I also appreciate this phase in her life. With Kye (and I know this is typical of first born babies) I was rushing to the "next thing." Eager for him to sit up, walk, etc. Excited for the next thing to come. With Brittlynn I'm in NO hurry. I KNOW how quickly time will fly and I truly enjoy EACH moment with her in a way I didn't with him. Even though my time is spread between two children now and Brittlynn doesn't get my full, undivided attention the way Kye did I still think I get about the same amount of quality time with her. I put my time with her on top priority. I kiss on her. Cuddle with her. Play with her. I'm selfish with her too. When we're both home I have to remind myself to let Zach spend time with her...I'm a Brittlynn hog!!!
At this point in the game I have a great system down (the 4 hour schedule makes life SO much easier). It only took a few months to get to a point where I feel like the parenting end of things is very doable. We're leaving Britt for the first time next week and I'm not worried about my mom taking care of them both. They are both on schedules and it makes it all pretty simple! I think the BIGGEST thing that makes parenting two kids manageable is to remind yourself during the tough times that it WILL get easier. Just like you want to cherish each sweet moment because time passes so quickly, it will also pass quickly during the rougher times. When Britt wouldn't sleep and I'd be crying my eyes out I'd remind myself (often out loud) that it will get easier. It will be okay!
Hugging a little too tight haha
Mrs. Charlotte made a comment to me that really helped me feel better about two kids. The toughest part for me was not being able to give my complete self to each child all the time. You can't. I want SO badly for Brittlynn to have all the benefits Kye had by being the only child but that's just not possible. I was having a breakdown (for awhile this happened kinda regularly haha) and she told me that I try so hard to be the "perfect parent" that I'm just harder on myself than I need to be. Most parents aren't on schedules. Most don't nurse their babies. They don't worry about nap times or nap locations (I see mamas all the time at the school with their babies asleep in the car seats or in a sling). They don't worry about the older child getting to bed at a certain set time or the younger one eating on a schedule. If I was more of a go-with-the-flow mom then this transition wouldn't be so hard. So a lot of the "toughness" of it I brought on myself. Would I change a thing?!?! Heck no! I strongly believe in the benefits of breastfeeding and of a scheduled lifestyle. I wish I wasn't so hard on myself when things don't go perfectly, but we all have faults and I'd rather have to work on not being tough on myself than not feel like I'm giving my absolute best to my children.
I have heard that the transition from 1 to 2 is the hardest and that it only gets easier with each added baby. I understand why so many people stop at two, but I haven't one time thought that I might be done having children. I can already see that #3 will be even easier. I'm learning to accept help from people, heck even ask for it on occasion! I'm learning that if Kye has to watch an extra 30 min of a video because I'm nursing that it's okay. I'm learning that if Britt falls asleep in the car on the way home from school and takes 30 min to fall asleep for her nap it's okay. I may still be more "hardcore" (I've been told if one word had to be picked to describe me that "hardcore" would be it...would you agree? I took it as a compliment haha) but I'm mildly more laid back than I have been in the past. I roll with the punches a little better. Plus the more children we have, the more the older ones can help out. Kye's still a little young to really do much helping, but when he's 6 or 7 he'll be great! And even older he can babysit ;) I DO think a lot of the "toughness" of adding children to your family has to do with the age difference...I can't imagine two in diapers and I'm sure that's much harder. And I'm also sure if Kye were older that it'd be easier than it has been, although I LOVE their age difference (someday I'll do a post about that...)
She loves it when we "run" her legs ;)
When people tell me they are debating having kids (either their first or second or fifth...) I always say the same thing "no one regrets a baby once it's here." And it's true. I was a nervous wreck about how baby #2 would change our lives. Mine. Kye's. (Not so much Zach's as he's not home all day haha). But once she was here all those worries seemed stupid. Life with two is harder than life with one. But I know as they get older it won't be as tough. It'll be so fun! Already (as you can tell in these pictures) I LOVE it. The three of us have a blast together.
Having Brittlynn has brought so much love into our home. I see Kye in such a new light. I love him and appreciate and value him in new ways. He's a Big Brother. He's awesome at it!!! He truly adores his sister and seriously has yet to have one act of jealousy or rebellion because of her. I get the best of both worlds. I get to have a funny, goofy toddler and a sweet, innocent little baby. I get slobbery kisses and random smiles to show how much she loves me and I get hugs and sweet words to know how much Kye loves his mama. I'm pretty dang spoiled if you ask me (all that and a loving, devoted husband!?!?!)
If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant with baby #2 then be prepared. You learned SO much from baby #1 and it will all come back to you and you will be able to handle this baby SO much more easily. However, your life is going to be tougher. It is going to take more work. You will get less rest. Less sleep. Less cuddly time with the hubby. The weight is harder to lose. Your body won't bounce back as quickly. You will feel guilt over the time you aren't able to spend with your first born. BUT. It all gets easier. And it's all totally, hands-down, worth it. Witnessing the love between your children will make your heart feel fuller than you ever imagined possible!
I LOVE my life and wouldn't change it for anything!!!
I'm mega interested to hear other people's perspectives on this...do you agree with me? How did babies change your life? Will #3 really be an easier transition or am I living in a fantasy world? ;)