I am often asked what it’s been like for us going from one child to two. It’s a relief to say the transition has been so much easier than I thought it would be. I was prepared for all hell to break loose. It has not. I was expecting meltdowns from Skittle, Cupcake and I, all at once, on a regular basis. But, with the exception of one day in which Honey was away on business, the only meltdowns have been from Cupcake and I can handle that. Usually.
We did work very hard while I was pregnant to make the transition as smooth as possible. I stocked the freezer with meals and baked goods so I wouldn’t need to do much cooking for a while. (And even though we’ve eaten several of the things we made, our freezer is still so full that we can hardly fit anything else into it.) I stocked our pantry with the basics like peanut butter and pasta and with snacks like dried fruit and crackers so that I wouldn’t need to do much grocery shopping, either. I got ahead on my ‘to do’ list and started shopping for Christmas and my daughter’s birthday early. I made a commitment not to do anything that would overwhelm me in these early months and to be willing to let things like housework go if I was just too tired or stressed. And we talked with Cupcake a lot about what she could expect from a baby (lots of crying, pooping, and eating) and gave her a baby doll to take care of while Mommy cares for Skittle. It has worked like a charm.
But really? I think most of the ease of this transition is due to luck. Skittle is a happy baby. She cries when hungry. That’s it. She eats for 15-45 minutes and then she’s done, usually for another two or three hours. She sleeps, coos, observes, and kicks around in between. We’ve had a couple difficult nights, but I usually am able to get to bed by midnight and never later than 2 a.m. I only ever have to awake once to breastfeed and, on those rare nights when Skittle doesn’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, she will then sleep until 7 or 8 a.m. Like I said…luck. It seems too good to be true, I know. And I expect that it is. It won’t always be this easy, will it now? At some point, a growth spurt, or sleep regression, or teething is going to hit and I’m going to be in for a rude awakening. But right this minute, I feel like I could practically handle this with a blindfold on and my hands tied around my back. It’s been wonderful.
It also helps that Cupcake is great at independent play (and therefore doesn’t need me to play with her constantly) and adores her little sister. She’s had a few extra tantrums over the last few weeks and I imagine that is her way of adjusting and expressing her discomfort. But she never takes it out on Skittle. She hugs her, holds her, kisses her and, when Skittle fusses, she says, “Ohhhh, what’s wrong, baby? Why you upset? Don’t cry. It’s okay.” And the other day, I asked her what makes her happy. Her response: “Daddy and Baby Sister.” So sweet. And that makes my job so much easier.
In the end, the hardest part of the transition has been managing my exhaustion. I may not get up as often as many parents with new babies, but I’m still tired. I don’t get to always sleep when the baby does because I have a toddler who needs me. And though I’m usually successful at it, I can’t always coordinate Skittle’s naps with Cupcake’s afternoon nap. And I could go to bed early, but I usually don’t because I want to spend the evenings with my husband. So there are days when I get a total of four or five hours of sleep. It’s hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I still have more energy now than I ever did while pregnant.
Like I said, I know it won’t always be like this. I remember Cupcake’s first year very well. Getting her into a nap routine was one of the most difficult parenting tasks I’ve encountered. So was getting through the teething. I remember days and days of feeling like I was treading water, barely able to get anything done (including resting!) because Cupcake would just fuss and cry all day long. For weeks. I expect those times are just around the corner for Skittle.
But right now? I’m enjoying this. I love my girls. I love being their mother. I love being a mother. The last six weeks have been easy peasy. A piece of delicious cake.
Which, coincidentally, I’ve had way too much of lately. Cake, that is.
Oh, how sweet life is!