I remember somebody once saying, to someone who was just about to have their second kid, “Good luck! And remember, the second kid is 100% more kid!”. I didn’t think much about it. But now that I have spent the past few weeks with two children I totally understand what he was getting at. It’s not like I had a conscious thought that having another kid would be like adding 10% more kid, no no, nothing like that. But I guess I just figured I had taken care of an infant before so obviously I could do it again. And I had been taking care of Louisa for nigh on 21 months (minus the two I was in the hospital – grrrr) so obviously I was capable of doing that. So there wouldn’t be a problem, right? But see, the thing is, taking care of both of them at the same time? Good lord. I’ll tell you what THAT means. It means that one of them is always being neglected. Not in a place-a-concerning-phonecall-to-CPS kind of way but in small little ways that make me, as a mother, feel guilty. Like when I am breastfeeding Simon but then suddenly Louisa poops so I have to pop him off and go change her. Or when I am playing with Louisa and her menagerie of Mr Potato Heads and suddenly Simon wakes up and starts shrieking – so I have to ditch her and the spuds to go figure out what he wants (milk – it’s always milk). It’s quite a thing.
Other than the neglect, though, I think we’re doing okay. We’ve all pretty much adjusted to the chaos that is our world. There are definitely bad moments, like last week when I thought I would be clever and take both kids for a walk. I put Simon in the carrier on my chest and just let Louisa run wild outside as she loves to do. Unfortunately, she is closing in on those terrible twos and sometimes suddenly decides that she needs to be picked up and carried home. And if I tell her I can’t do it she throws herself on the ground and screams. Normally I don’t give in to tantrums because then she learns that tantrums get rewarded and will keep throwing them, right? I’ve gotten pretty good at diffusing them either by redirecting her, offering her a compromise or, in a pinch, bribing her (she really likes “cookies” (graham crackers)) but on this particular day I was extra sleep-deprived and extra irritated so I just got angry. I picked her up and proceeded to march home, mumbling epithets under my breath. Just as we got to our front door I felt my feet go out from under me. I’m not sure if I tripped over something (other than my clumsy feet) or just got off balance because it all happened very fast but suddenly we were falling. All three of us. Obviously my first instinct was to protect my kids so I didn’t break my fall but grabbed onto both of them. Sadly, Louisa bumped her head anyway but luckily it wasn’t a terrible bump. She cried a lot but I think it scared her more than it hurt. And thank goodness nothing happened to the baby other than he was awakened from his comfy be-bosomed sleep. My left knee, however, is messed up. Like, something is really wrong with it and I should probably see a doctor. There are also definitely good moments, like when Louisa walks up to Simon, points at him and says “Si?” with that cute little toddler voice. This is part of her favorite game. She likes to point first at Jason and say “Da?”, then at me and say “Ma?”, and then when one of us points at her and says “Louisa!” she laughs. So the fact that she was now including Simon in her little game, especially after spending his first week home either looking at him suspiciously or conveniently pretending he wasn’t there, made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And then there are the moments where despite the fact that things are crazy, I feel like I am a total badass – like yesterday when I took both kids to the pediatrician. By myself. Simon had his one month checkup (yes, he is already a month old, how does the time slide by so quickly?!) and Louisa was just along for the ride. I suppose I could have asked either Jason’s mom or my dad to come and watch her so I could just take him but I figured I would save those favors for when I really need them. I mean, at the pediatrician’s office there are always at least three kids screaming at the same time so who cares if my kids join in. And they did. Oddly enough Louisa was fine (having thought ahead I had plenty of sticker books, raisins and gold fish crackers to keep her quiet) until the doctor walked in and then she started screaming and reaching for me. I’m not sure if she was remembering her last appointment when she had the hand, food and mouth disease or what but she did NOT want to have anything to do with the doctor. I tried explaining to her that nothing bad was happening but she continued to scream through the whole thing anyway. Which made it very difficult to listen to what the doctor was saying. Luckily I’ve done this before so I know what to expect – is he pooping and peeing enough?, he needs vitamin D drops, at two months he’ll get shots, blah blah blah. And all the while she is screaming. And then as soon as the doctor handed Simon back to me HE started shrieking. For the love, you guys. Cut me a break. They continued to scream and shriek as I dressed Simon and put him back in the carrier. They screamed and shrieked all the way down the hall, past the checkout clerk (who smiled politely and said “have a nice day” – right, YOU TOO, JERK) and halfway to the car. And instead of being anxious I just thought “whatevs” and kept on walking. That’s right, motherhood – you don’t scare me. I got this.
So that’s my life now. It vacillates between good and bad, easy and hard, calm and crazy. I try to relish the good moments and relax when it’s calm, knowing always that any minute now things will be nutty again. I try hard not to get too irritated with Louisa when she is just being a toddler because someday she will be a teenager and I will look back on her toddler days longingly. At least once per day, when Simon is sleeping, I pay a whole lot of attention to her so that hopefully she doesn’t feel like I’ve ditched her. I try hard to enjoy Simon’s tiny infant phase instead of wishing it away. This is a difficult one for me because I know that things get so much easier when babies are even a few months older. A blogger I frequently read once said something about the problem with babies being that they eventually turn into children. I am the opposite. I think the problem with children is that they have to start out as babies. Not that I didn’t/don’t love my babies it’s just… they’re so high maintenance and needy and fragile and I get so very anxious. I had forgotten all about the postpartum anxiety that I experienced with Louisa. Did I develop amnesia or just block it out of my head because I had the baby fever? I’m not sure but it’s all coming back to me. I was so anxious that I never slept, even when she did. It was crazy. I don’t think I ever told anybody about it (not even my husband) because I never really acknowledged it to myself. And I can’t really describe what it felt like other than I just sort of constantly felt like something terrible was going to happen or that I was failing miserably at everything. I probably should have been on medication but oh well. Anyway, it’s not that bad this time. But I still have a hard time not wishing the next few months would zip by so that he will be sleeping better, eating solid foods, sitting up etc. I keep telling myself this is my last baby so I should enjoy it. And for the most part it is working. We got ourselves a monstrosity of a double stroller so that I can stuff both kids in it and go for a walk. My mom is coming to visit this weekend and that will make things easier for the few days that she is here. My husband has a three-day weekend coming up so that will be fun. And I’ve gotten good at timing Louisa’s naps so that she and Simon are both asleep for about two hours which means I can get some rest too. Or squander the time blogging…
Plus, just look at these kids! Who wouldn’t be happy surrounded by them?