Mamas! You all know this saying right? Or another one that goes along with it: "you don't know until you know"?
I was completely unprepared, as even the most prepared and wise women often are, when I had my first baby. Unprepared for what true sleep deprivation is like (not the kind where you pull an all nighter studying or partying but the kind that rages on through years and years), unprepared to completely give myself up in order to keep another human alive, unprepared for how it changes a marriage (not for the worst in my case, but still, it changes), and unprepared for the general sheer insanity that is parenting.
And then what happens? Lots of us, but not everyone, go and have baby number 2. I'm told after baby number two it's mostly a logistical challenge to keep shit together, that things with 3 or more little ones generally are more chaotic but the "holy shit what the @#*& is going on" feeling wears off a little. Because I mean, come on, that's really what it is right? Just complete insanity when you have more than one child, whether you're a working mom, a single mom, a mom that stays home with your kids (bless you all and my mother who did this with three of us), a mom that has commitments, doesn't, whatever. It's all crazy.
The first baby is tough, but then you adjust. The second one comes, all goes to hell in a handbasket. At least, I'll tell you, for a little while.
I am going to write about this more as time goes on: my adjustment to having two kids, exactly two years apart, didn't go smoothly. I had a rough time. There were many factors, I'll tell you all about them someday, but it was tough.
Now that I'm in a better spot, and I've really started to find myself again (they're now one and a half and three and a half), I feel more in a position to try to help my fellow mamas who are about to make this transition. I think that the more we help and guide each other through these stages, the better. If you're about to go through this, the best advice I can give you is rest, rest, rest before baby number 2 comes along. I'm not trying to scare everyone, I'm just now able to reflect on how things get a little crazier with the birth of a second child. I can reflect on those many times when I would just think to myself, especially in those first few weeks "well now what the hell do I do: both of them need me at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME - AND I have to pee like a mother."
Case in point: I was in my basement, with my then 2 year old and my newborn. Child #1 is doing fine watching cartoons (he's just turned two) and I'm nursing my new baby. Hubby says "I'm just going grocery shopping" (bless him I was a mess physically so forget any trips outside the house) and I'm like "cool, I can do this." But wait: mid-nursing session, and all of a sudden both my kids have shitmergencies. What can I do? I can't leave the two year old alone, or the newborn, to run upstairs and get diapers. I can't just call hubby and get him to take one kid. I'm also extremely hormonal at that point (like, 5 days in), so cue the ugly ragey crying at the situation, which makes everyone in the room upset.
I figured it out, and it ended up somehow getting handled. But the initial panic: I now look back and think: how can I help a soon-to-be new mom handle this situation? Unless you're there, you really can't. But for one friend I had an idea: what about baby stations in all the rooms you'll frequent in those precious few first days? When you're trying to figure out your latch or how to get the baby to take a bottle because they're not gaining enough weight but WAIT omg child number one is having a MELTDOWN. Yes, those moments.
For my friend I created four very simple stations with some go-tos.
I recommend hitting up the dollar store, bulk food store, and your mama friend's stock of first baby gear to get these things ready (I bought some cute onesies to put a new one in each basket, for the inevitable shitmergency, but just throw an old one in there). All that's missing from this basket is a couple of diapers, baby wipes and your go-to painkiller. Especially those mamas that are going to be healing from c-sections: the less movement, the better! This is where mama friends can help.
Contents: Nursing pads, granola snack, peanuts, tissues, flushable wipes, stickers for toddler entertainment, emergency bottles of water, receiving blanket, spare newborn jammies, newborn onesie, juice box for the toddler, and any of your pal's fave candy i.e.