When One Becomes Two
Water welled at my eyes and at his. “Maammaaaaaa, I want Mamaaaaaa put meee bed” wailed my toddler, as my husband pulled him away from our bedroom door and took him to his own room. Salty tears dripped off my face and onto my newborn as she nursed in my arms. I had prepared as much as I could to be a mother of 2. I thought I had it mostly figured out. I knew it was going to be difficult, especially in the beginning. I had worried about being able to juggle the daily tasks of caring for 2 very young children. But I was not prepared for the grief I would feel over my new inability to be “everything” and do everything for my son.
For the first 2 years of his life it was all about him. He had been through so much, that I didn’t hesitate to spoil and baby him a little extra. When we first brought him home from the hospital at 3 months old, he was recovering from his first open heart surgery and yet still not fully repaired. We were instructed not to let him cry too much or get too upset and we didn’t. At almost 2 years old I still held him in my arms in the rocker every night, rubbing his little feet as I sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “Lalelu” repeatedly until he fell asleep. I would then ever so gently place his body in the crib, hoping he wouldn’t wake up in the transfer. If he ever awoke in the middle of the night I ran to his room to calm him quickly before he woke up fully.
In my heart I desperately wanted to continue what had become a beloved bedtime routine for us both, but when I got home from the hospital it just wasn’t possible. I was recovering from a C-section and nursing a newborn on demand. So my husband had to fill in. He had his own bedtime methods, quite different from my own and this did not go down well with my toddler. Every night going to bed was a drama. He wanted Mama and my inability to fill this need broke my heart and made me sadder than I could have ever imagined. This scenario was repeated in various instances and I felt an enormous amount of guilt, frustration and sadness. At the same time however, I was completely in love and in awe of my adorable, new, baby girl. This made for a very confusing cocktail of emotions which didn’t mix well with postpartum hormones and the pain of my healing C-section incision.
One morning after the visitors and helpers dissipated and long after my husband had gone back to work, a little bit of light shone on my world. Both kids lay peacefully beside me in bed, one under each arm. They both enjoyed their pacifiers as I sang songs, evoking smiles from the baby and giggles and “sing-alongs” from my toddler. I began to realize that morning, that things would get better although it was tough. My son had a few difficult months adjusting to sharing his Mama but we have all more or less found our footing again. I suppose every mother of one that becomes a mother of two must go through a challenging transition period. If I could offer any advice to Mommies thinking about adding number 2 or about to go through this transition it would be this:
· Know that in the beginning it will be rough and it may seem like the darkness will never end. But remember that “this too shall pass.” One day the baby will sleep through the night or the kids will start entertaining each other and you will know that there are still tough days ahead but perhaps the toughest are behind you.
· Work together with you partner always. Your significant other is called your partner for a reason. Create routines together that can be executed interchangeably. That way if Mama needs to attend to the new baby your toddler’s world won’t end because the other parent has to step in.
· Talk to your partner and toddler about the changes that will come for the whole family. Although the changes may still be a shock when they actually happen, a prepared mind can help to make the transition smoother.
· Communicate your needs clearly to your partner or any loved ones and friends that will be available to help. You will need help, but no one freely gives what isn’t explicitly asked for.
· Do some special one on one activities with your toddler before the baby comes. Take lots of photos, those moments will be precious memories that you will cherish forever.
· Take some time to pamper yourself, get rest and relax. You will need some calm before the storm!
If I could do it all over again I would definitely take all of these into account. Hind sight is 20/20. But what’s most important is that I got through it and although there are tough days, I’m enjoying my kids. I love them more than anything and the love they have for each other is the most precious thing I’ve ever witnessed on this earth.
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© Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.