I cannot believe my baby girl is turning 1 tomorrow. The saying, the days are long but the years are fast is so true. Some days I feel like I was just pregnant, miserable in the heat, nervous to go through the birthing process again and super excited to meet the final member of our family. Other times it feels like it went by in the blink of any eye and cannot believe I have a baby that is saying a few words and almost walking.
This past year has been an incredible year but also one of the most challenging. Parenting is beautiful and awesome but also hard and exhausting. The work-life balance became even harder. I found it more challenging to be a good mother, daughter, wife, sister and friend. Yet, welcoming Madelynn into our world of course has been such a blessing!
Below are a few things that I have learned over the last year.
- I will literally do anything to get sleep.
I read tons of pregnancy books and parenting books with Caleb. I was determined to have a good sleeper and create good sleep habits. I think we were either very successful with Caleb in this area or we just ended up being very lucky as he slept through the night pretty consistently starting at 4 months. We thought we were getting lucky with Madelynn too and were doing a good job with the sleep habits as she started sleeping through the night around the same age….BUT that did not last. She has consistently gone through sleep regressions and pretty much hates to sleep when she is sick (which you would think would be opposite), she is also not the best napper especially during the week at school. So though I tried to create good sleep habits with her too, this did not work as well. I am tired. Parenting one child is exhausting, for me, parenting 2 just brought it to a whole new level. If one is sleeping the other is awake NO FAIL. If one sleeps in, the other gets up super early and vice versa. I think they actually talk about it before bed and plan on who will sleep in and who will get up early, just to make sure they both are not doing it at the same time. 🙂
I will literally do anything to get Madelynn to sleep so we can get some sleep. I have rocked her to sleep, she has slept in our bed, I have slept in on her floor, I have even climbed into her crib to soothe her until she falls asleep. Though she is overall, a pretty good sleeper, I have a new respect for parents with chronically poor sleepers. I am just so tired that sometimes I would rather rock her to sleep for 5 min then deal with an hour of crying while trying to get her to self soothe. I know these are not the best habits to create but at 2 AM when I just want to sleep, I don’t care about following the ‘rules.’ I just want everyone to go back to bed. Which leads me to my 2nd lesson of the past year.
2. 2nd child ‘syndrome’ is so true.
I have of course heard that everyone tends to be more laid back with their second child but knowing my personality, I did not think I would be. Well, I was and am. I am usually a total rule follower. I like directions and policies and procedures. So as stated above, I am breaking the sleep habit rules! And probably many more. GASP! Having two little ones is honestly just survival mode most of the time. I am sure I did not do the prescribed amount of tummy time with Madelynn, half the time we forget to read her books before bed because we have another child to get to sleep, I know I did not do the suggested 3-day food introduction of solids with her like I did with Caleb and still she is happy and healthy. I did at least make her a baby book. I am a second child and my husband is a third child so I think we will all just be fine. 🙂
3. I do not remember anything from my first baby experience
Though my kids are only 29 months I literally felt like I remembered nothing. How many oz. of breast milk? How much food do we give her? When can she have water? My husband and I laugh that we felt like we were new parents again. This is probably just due to fact that we have 2 human beings to take care of now so we do not have as much mental space for all these details.
4. My marriage should come first but realistically always doesn’t.
This one is hard. The first line of one my favorite parenting books is “Your marriage comes first.” I whole-heartedly believe in this and that having a strong, respectful, kind marriage will help you raise strong, respectfully, kind children. I know my marriage should come first. I know my husband and I should spend more quality time together. But making your marriage first is hard. The biggest challenge is that the need is not as immediate. The baby crying and my toddler having a meltdown is a more immediate need than me being able to sit down with my husband over a glass of wine to talk about our day, jobs, etc. This is a work in progress and probably will be somewhat of an on-going battle until the kids are a bit older. We are working on it. We are taking a few short trips with and without the kids this year. We are trying to make date nights more of a priority. This has been a hard lesson this year.
5. I still question a lot of what I am doing as a parent
Parenting is the hardest job I have ever had. Do I think I am doing a good job? Most days, I would say yes, I am definitely trying. My kids are healthy, happy (most of the time 🙂 ) and I hope I am teaching them respect, kindness, healthy habits and much more. Having a second child maybe made me more confident in the logistics of parenting (certain safety things etc.) but having a second child did not make the doubt go away. I still doubt myself constantly and wonder if what we are doing is right. There is a lot of trial and error in parenting and not a lot of black and white which can be challenging for me. I am sure I will question my parenting in many stages of their lives. But just by questioning it means to me that I care so much about doing a good job and that I am probably doing a better job than I sometimes give myself credit for.
6. My body can do amazing things and I have a new found respect for it.
I have talked about this a lot over the past year in my blog about how much harder the recovery was the second time around. Recovering from my first pregnancy seems like a breeze compared to this past year. There are many reasons it was hard but I really had to take a step back and not put so much pressure on myself to get back in shape or lose all my baby weight in the same time frame I did with Caleb. After I came to the realization that it was not going to be as easy, I let go a bit and tried to practice gratitude of what my body has done in the past 40 months. I have grown 2 beautiful babies, fed 2 beautiful babies through most of their first year and now have an amazing family that I could not be more thankful for. I am thankful for my body for allowing me to do this. I know my body will never be quite the same and that is okay. I am actually probably more confident now, knowing what my body has given me and done than I ever was in my 20’s or when I was beating it up with endless hours of cardio and food journaling and calorie counting. So thank you body for giving the best gifts I could ask and hope for.
Pool pics almost one year apart.
Parenting is truly unconditional love. No matter how much attitude my toddler gives me some days, I will always love him with all my heart. Just when I might think my heart is going to burst with so much love for my first baby, my second baby comes and doubles the love. My love for my husband has grown as I have watched him become an amazing father for the second time. My love for my other mama friends has grown knowing what they do on a daily basis. My love for friends wanting to have children some day has grown as I know what they want to experience. My love for my father and sister has grown as I have watched them interact with both my children. I now know what my father went through raising children and watching the sibling interaction between Caleb and Madelynn develop reflects what my sister and I have which is an incredible special bond that I can only hope my children will have. In what seems to be a rather constantly tragic time in our society and a very challenging year for myself and my family, the love in my heart is trying to overcome all of these emotions and trying to let love win.
My loves in the pool.
Thank you to all my readers for being with me on this journey as I started this blog after my husband and I started our journey with baby #2, Madelynn. Now, onto the even crazier world of having 2 toddlers. #lordhelpme
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Birthday Photo Credit: Nick Nick Photography