So I now have two children. two kids. two of them. 2 babies. Maybe if I say it enough it will hit me. It is taking a while for that fact to sink in. At times I still feel like a junior in high school with butterflies clips in my way too short hair and pudgey face. More often, I feel like the 20 old me with butterflies in her stomach because George, my crush, actually wanted to date me. But although those are still a part of me that I will cherish always (well minus the horrible fashion and pudge), my life is better now. ten fold. incomparably so. See now I have this love in my heart that is of the type that makes you fall on your knees and thank God that he has bestowed this miraculous gift on you. That is how I felt in August of 2011 when they placed my wonderful first born son into my arms. My heart grew every day with love for him and continues to do so. A little over five weeks ago, my heart grew to proportions I did not think possible. My sweet Jack came to me via a delivery I dreamed of (well minus the shoulder dystocia) and he healed me. I see my body completely different now. I knew I could sustain life both in utero and afterwards through breastfeeding. And I gotta tell ya, that is powerful knowledge. To know that you provided life, well it takes my breath away. But the love....oh the love. That word seems so small to describe the feeling. And really and truly, it is indescribable. You cannot know it until you experience it. And let me assure you, it is so worth it and then some. It is the hardest thing you will ever do. But the rewards, and they occur on a daily basis, are sweeter than anything you could imagine. I was struck with that when I was holding my 5 week old today. I looked on his perfect face and was brought to tears because I could literally feel something physical, as though my heart were moving. The feeling is so powerful it takes my breath away. Now, before I come across all sunshine and roses, let me be clear that parenting is anything but. It is the hardest, most selfless thing I have ever done. And although there are times when I just want to put on my pj's and watch Teen Mom all day, that life is over for me. But I digress....
Life with two kids is pretty different in some ways and not so much so in others. First of all, the emotional rollercoaster I went on after Mark was born was non-existent for Jack. Specifically, I will admit that every day for 6 weeks after Mark's birth, I cried. Now at first the tears were sobs...even over a preview for the movie Dolphin Tale (yeah I still haven't figured that one out). They gradually lessened to the point where I would just look at my sweet Mark and be so overcome with love that I would get a knot in my throat and shed literally a few tears. But nonetheless, every day for 6 weeks post-partum, I shed tears. I do not think I suffered from true PPD, but rather baby blues. I am not sure if it was also due to my c-section which I was definitely depressed about. Regardless, it happened. I was apprehensive in the months leading up to having Jack because I didn't want to go on that emotional ride again. It was exhausting. and I know I scared my husband. I mean c'mon, who cries for a preview for a movie about a Dolphin getting a prosthetic tail?! (Again, I still can't figure that out). You can imagine my surprise when I am 5 weeks postpartum and have really cried twice and maybe gotten teary-eyed about 6 times. I definitely cried my eyes out as soon as they placed Jack on my chest after I delivered him. I sobbed. But they were unbelievably happy tears. My baby Jack healed me. I got teary-eyed mostly over Mark having a hard time adjusting to his new baby brother. It was upsetting to watch Mark so distraught. I don't know why there is the difference but I am relieved. I think a part of it is that it felt so overwhelming to become a parent for the first time. I literally did not feel like I was myself anymore. When I had Jack I had put the non-parent version of myself to bed when Mark arrived. I no longer partied or thought of myself first, rather my life was my husband and my children. Our family came first and that sense of self no longer overwhelmed me.
The main way that it is different is that you don't really get a break. We had Mark sleeping through the night by 11 weeks old. That meant that eventually, Mark went to bed at 7:30 and slept until 7:00 so we had plenty of time to relax in the evenings. It also meant that if one of us wanted to do something, handling one kid on your own was simple. Now, the same is definitely not true. Mark is only 20 months old, still a baby (atleast to me he is). So leaving one of us alone with both is not to be desired. Now I have juggled both because of the nature of George's job but it is difficult and not ideal. So that is the major change. But overall, I was expecting the same reaction after bringing Jack home and it has not even been close. Maybe that is because I had such a rough time after my first. I know part of it is that God has blessed us with an angel. Seriously. The first night in the hospital, I had to wake Jack to nurse. I should have known then he was good. The week my mom spent helping us, she never heard Jack cry. Now, he does cry I assure you but he didn't really in the first couple weeks. He nursed and he slept. And that was pretty much it. I got a 5 hour stretch of sleep my first night home. Seriously?! Mark did not sleep his first night home. The only reason I got any rest is because of my amazing mother-in-law. Now, we have had a couple of rough nights. One bad day when he was 3 weeks old led me to diagnose him with colic (silly me). And in the evenings, we have to rely on the swing. But even though he is fussy, we know what works and use it immediately (swaddle and swing) But for the past 2 weeks (mind you, he is only 5w, 2d), he nurses every 3 hours. He nurses around 9:30-10pm and not again until 4am and then again at 7:30am. I usually wake him at 4 am because I am scared of him sleeping through the night and it affecting my supply. It is unbelievable to me. Now I have been working really hard as I did with Mark. This doesn't just happen with my kids. You can ask my husband. I keep Babywise within arms reach always. And although I do not apply it rigorously, I do use some key principles that take a lot of work implementing. The result has been 2 kids with incredible sleep patterns. Regardless, my hard work is paying off. I always said I wouldn't hold any stock in the method until I put the principles to work with #2. Well I have and now I am a believer that it works. Jack is such a different baby from Mark in every way. Yet it works. The only way they are similar is their hatred for rubber nipples; i.e., pacifiers and bottles. Mark took a pacifier for a few months but Jack wants nothing to do with it. We are working on the bottle because, for my sanity, I need to know I can leave him in the care of someone else and he will drink.
So although I do not think life has changed that drastically with 2, I know part of that is that I have this unbelievably good baby boy. He is an angel. He has already started smirking at me. I can't wait to watch this precious baby boy grow. It has really been the best part of my life to watch Mark grow and I know the same is true for Jack. Well I could go on and on but I need to nurse Jack and get to bed. Oh, because sleep is more precious with #2 because another way things have changed, I am more drained at the end of the day. See, I can't nap when Mark naps anymore because they are not on the same nap schedule!