Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Motherhood 2.0

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Since our second baby Emma is now over a month old, I'm obviously a mothering pro. I'm batting two for two so far in keeping all of my offspring alive, fed, and relatively clean and mostly clothed. Being a parent has such a huge learning curve and can sometimes be such an uphill battle. There are days I'm counting down the minutes for bedtime, and other days I feel like Martha Stewart and June Cleaver and I'm rocking it.

When I had Eleanor, I felt like I had been through a hurricane, had survived being trampled by an elephant, been hit by a train, and was only left with half a brain. I had no idea what I was doing and the baby blues had hit me hard (read about my experience with the blues here). It was tough, really, really tough. I wasn't prepared for it and I prayed every day of my pregnancy that this time it would be easier. The power of prayer works my friends!

This time has been so much better and I've been able to enjoy it so much more. I have cried zero times so far! Which that alone I think is monumental. Now, it hasn't been easy every day, but I've learned so much and feel so much more confident and at ease. Here are a few things that have made it better and what I've learned and am putting to use this second time.

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- Accept help! 
My sweet and wonderful aunt came in from out of town and stayed with me for an entire week after Matt went to work. I'm beginning to think she is my fairy godmother. I can't express enough how thankful I am for her help and support. It was so much fun and Ellie loved all of the attention from her. We would come home in the mornings from an errand or the park and she would tell me to take the baby and head upstairs for a nap and to not come out before 2pm. It was amazing! Another day, a different aunt came over and went to work on cleaning the house and making lunch. When I had Ellie, I accepted food and that's it. I was too embarrassed and felt like I had to entertain when people came by. Not this time my friends! Want to wash my clothes or mop the floor? Please and thank you.

-The importance of the swaddle
For some odd, odd, reason we didn't swaddle Ellie for very long. Why? Because I had no idea what I was doing. It was also hot as Hades that summer (it was actually record breaking that year) and I hated having to bundle her up. Looking back, I think that was a big mistake on my part. Now, for every nap and bedtime little Emma is in a swaddle and is snug as a bug. She sleeps so much better! Our nights have been fairly easy and I swear it's due to the power of the swaddle.

-Baby Cries
When Ellie cried, I cried. She cried a lot, so therefore, I cried a lot. If she made a squeek, grunt, huff, or growl I picked her up immediately. This time, it doesn't bother me. Of course, I hate listening to Emma cry, but I've realized that she'll be ok if she cries for a few minutes while I finish what I'm doing or tend to Eleanor. I now know that if I take care of what I need to do, I can take care of Emma calmly, without worry, and with a full belly. It's much easier to take care of her when I've taken care of myself. Often times, she fusses for a minute and then goes back to sleep. If I picked her up right away, would she still fall back asleep? I'm not sure.

-I'm not your pacifier!
Nursing in general has been way easier this time, we haven't had any issues with latching or my supply as I did with Ellie, so Emma has been getting a full belly quicker. As soon as she's done eating, she's done. I don't let her pacify on me or play. Eleanor was nearly attached to me all day long, poor thing probably had to be to get enough nutrients, but she also used me as a pacifier for six months. It was all that I could do to soothe her or get her to sleep. Not allowing it to happen the same way this time, plus the combination of other things in this list (like swaddling), have made our lives much easier and we were able to avoid starting bad habits that would be hard to break later on.

-Entertaining the baby
Any time Ellie was awake, I felt that I had to be holding her, singing to her, talking to her, or entertaining her. It was exhausting. Although, it's extremely important to do all of those things with your new born baby, you don't need to do it every. waking. minute. Once, you have multiple children, it's nearly impossible. It's also easier to have a little helper who is so happy to play and sing to her little sister. Every morning and afternoon, Ellie and I play with Emma during her tummy time and during Ellie's nap and when she goes to bed I get some special one on one time with Emma to love on her. This time around, I just don't feel that same pressure to make sure that I'm doing something educational with her every moment. It's much more natural this time and I love being able to have Eleanor included in this time.

-The joy of a sleeping baby
With Eleanor, I never understood how you were supposed to put a baby down while they were drowsy and let them fall asleep on their own. Ellie would only sleep if I nursed her, held her, or pushed her in a stroller. With Emma, it's been a totally different scenario. She doesn't really fall asleep at the breast often and I can just swaddle her and lay her down and she's awake for a few minutes and then falls asleep. Every now and then we'll have to rock her in the Rock and Play, but it's been pretty simple around here. I'm really hoping that this can continue and I'll have a better sleeper now that I know more tricks. 

-They'll survive
As a first time mom, I worried constantly. Are they eating enough? Is this poop normal? What do I do? I had a million questions about everything. Not so much this second time around. I'm not toting every baby related thing with me for every trip out of the house or ditching a full shopping cart in the middle of an aisle to run home because of a screaming infant. I've realized that you don't need every baby gadget, toy, outfit, teether, etc. Your baby will be just fine without every possible baby gear and accessory. I'm also much more attuned to which cry means what, and I know the answers to most of my rookie questions! The anxiety I had is gone and I'm so incredibly thankful that it's been easier my second go around. The baby is easy, keeping Eleanor busy is what's hard!

I read somewhere while I was pregnant that time goes by even faster with a second child and it couldn't be more true. I'm halfway through my maternity leave this week and I can't believe it. It makes me so sad to know how quickly this time has gone by and how it's only going to go faster when I go back to work. There's days I feel like I'm grasping at straws to savor the time with both girls, both together and individually. The dishes, laundry, carpets, can all wait. Babies don't keep and I need to snuggle them a bit longer. Thank goodness it's been easier the second time, I look back and both laugh and cry at my experience. I'm so incredibly thankful for our little family and my sweet girls. I love them both to pieces and each day has been a blessing to spend with them.

What are some of your motherhood lessons you've learned with your children? How
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