Some of you may have heard of the comedian Jim Gaffigan. He’s super funny and super honest, which is always awesome. He is also up front about his Catholic faith and has incorporated his large-ish family (five kids) into many of his stand up routines. He has one bit where he describes a conversation with a friend who asked him what it was like having four children. Jim’s response? Imagine you’re in the middle of the ocean, drowning, and someone hands you a baby. (see the full bit HERE)
I never really appreciated that joke until M was born. So, if you were to ask me now what it is like having two young ones 22 months apart, I would describe it in Jim’s terms: Imagine you are in the middle of an ocean and you were drowning but then you magically happened upon a raft. You and your significant other are delicately balancing on that raft and then someone hands you a baby. And then that someone pushes you off the raft, and rows away laughing.
Anyone reading this who has had two or more kids knows exactly what I’m talking about it. Parents who have one child and who are considering another probably just pushed their timeline out a little bit. Everyone else probably thinks I am crazy.
But, let me explain.
Even before we had really thought about having another baby, I had only heard that having two kids was a ‘hard transition.’
Funny, now that M is almost four months old I look back on that description and think how incredibly vague it is. It’s kind of like the postpartum period right after you have your first baby…everyone goes through it but it’s usually described in ambiguous terms. Tough. Difficult. Different. Life-changing. I wish I had known more about the real stuff, like the importance of stocking up on as many witch hazel pads as possible before leaving the hospital, and the usefulness of the granny panty (no offense to the grannies out there).
I experienced the same feelings after M was born…and thought multiple times: “Why the [insert expletive of choice] did no one tell me?” So, dear friends, in case you are like me and would prefer to know what to expect before you start expecting again (see what I did there?), I’d like to share some things that I wish I had known from the day M was born.
Just because you’ve already been through the newborn phase doesn’t make those first few weeks any less crazy. Remember how the newborn stage was for you with your first? Chances are it will be somewhat similar to that experience. Yes, you might be able to read your baby’s signs a little bit quicker and you may not freak out when you see black poop for the first time. Some things will not change, though. You will still have to recover physically, regardless of how you delivered. You will still have sleepless nights trying to figure out how to get that baby to stop crying. You’ll still have appointments to go to, feeding issues to work through, milestones to (somewhat) keep track of. And you still have to work through that crazy hormonal roller coaster as your body returns to some sort of a normal level (so. many. tears.).
The only difference is you have another kid now, so when you’re not trying to do any of the above chances are you’re devoting your attention to your other child as well. And if both children happen to be miraculously asleep, you better get your butt to bed because you know one of them will be up within an hour.
You might not fall in love right away. This was the hardest thing for me to face, and I honestly should have known it was coming because it happened with B, too. I’m not much of a new baby person. I was never really around babies when I was younger and while I think they’re cute, I would much rather interact with a baby that can hold their head up and not cry all the time. My sweet-spot with babies is about three months through nine months…those are my favorite baby months (for various reasons, we can go into that more later).
Anyway, it took about four weeks for me to feel attached to B after she was born, and the same amount of time with M. I know some women go through this, while others feel that motherly connect and love right from the get-go. It was hard for me to have this new life in my arms needing every ounce of my attention when I was still struggling to feel anything beyond the lets-keep-you-alive instinct. It was especially hard to go through this phase with B around, because I was feeling all sorts of love towards B and hardly anything toward M. I was fortunate enough to recognize it after about a week and realize that it was going to get better. Like clockwork, around the one-month mark she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and I was hooked. I felt like the Grinch, whose heart finally doubled in size after experiencing what real love is.
Oh, it does get easier. As with all newborns, each day brings a new experience for them and they mature just a little bit more. It helps when they start smiling, too. I feel like B instinctively knew when M exited the newborn phase and was more of a ‘baby’ than a newborn, because she started asking if she could hold her and play with her. That has only continued to increase as both girls get older and I very much look forward to the day where I can leave them alone to play together. Right now we’re still making sure M isn’t stepped on or manhandled by her sister. :)
But life will stay crazy. Our schedules are nuts. I mean, our schedules are crazy if you take our kids out of the picture, we’re just that way. Add two little ones and you can pretty much kiss your social life good bye for a little while. A week or so ago we tried to go to dinner with my parents, and I think Reece and I were at the table for a total of thirty minutes. All of us were sitting for approximately five minutes, before I was running off to entertain B with the toys in the waiting area (because who wouldn’t want to play with those even if there’s a hot meal at the table??). We’re fortunate to have friends either in the same boat or who are extremely understanding. Chances are it will always be crazy for us, but I do pray that one day we’ll all be able to sit at the same dinner table again.
It all goes by too fast and you’ll wonder where the time went. How is M four months already? Since when did B start making jokes on her own? Sigh.
And yes, your heart does expand more than you ever dreamed it would. See Grinch example above.
In summary, yes, it is very difficult to have two children. But, it is fun and after you get past those first few weeks you’ll laugh at just how nuts everything has become. I can only imagine that it’s even more difficult, crazy and beautiful once you have more than two (to those parents of 2+, I salute you). If you’re wondering if it’s worth it, I assure you…it is.