going from one to two kids
"Was it harder to go from zero to one, or one to two?" That's a common question I get...especially by parents with one kid. All the parents of two (or more!) say "So how is it having two?!" with a little smirk, knowing full well that it is crazy. :-)
But, Eric and I agree, for us it was harder to go from zero to one. One to two was easier in most areas: labor, delivery, moods, breastfeeding, recovery, seeing the light at the end of the newborn tunnel, etc. (which were definitely answers to our prayers!)
But it's a tricky question. I don't want to downplay it. Postpartum is always a really hard time for me (and our marriage). Some women thrive in it (or they just put on a really good show on Instagram...), but for me it pretty much sucks. This time was a little better because I knew we had been through it before and we could do it again. We could survive it again. Eric and I just kept looking at each other like "We'll sleep again someday, right?! I'm sure this will all get better, right?!" We were obviously sleep deprived, which never helps, and I was (OK, am) super hormonal. And, even though we were experienced parents this time around, we were still learning a new baby. In our case, Finch has been completely different than Rooney (smoother breastfeeding experience, but didn't sleep as well, doesn't take a pacifier and wanted to be held more).
People told us that Rooney would be our biggest handful after baby arrived (and they were right!), but I didn't know exactly what they meant, because I was really surprised at her behavior. I thought they meant she would wear us out because she'd want to keep up our active lifestyle of being out and about.
She was the hardest part because she was dealing with a (BIG) change in her life, without the perspective we had (it gets better!) or the ability to verbalize her emotions. She tested every single boundary and got very upset when we would correct her (even silly little things). She threw tantrums every morning and every night. She would pretend she couldn't go potty by herself or get herself dressed. She wanted to breastfeed and be held like a baby. She would steal his pacifiers and put them in her mouth. She got jealous when grandma held him. When he was a week old, she hit him on the head with her iPad. On purpose. I instantly burst into tears. She would give him five kisses on the head followed by a hug and "I love you," and then kick him in the head a few minutes later. My first day at home with both of them, when Finch was 4 weeks old, Rooney had three potty accidents (after months of no accidents). I'm sure I cried that day, too. It was really hard for me to see her act out. At one point it brought on some sadness for me and almost resentment toward Finch, which I knew was irrational because it wasn't his fault. There were a few times when I thought "What were we thinking?!" about having another baby, and feeling like we ruined the good thing we had going. Luckily a friend had warned me about these feelings beforehand and reassured me that it gets better. It's just really hard when two things you created and love with all your heart are not coexisting very well. This is probably going to sound terrible, but during my maternity leave with Rooney, I couldn't wait for Eric to get home from work and help me, but this time I really enjoy my peaceful days with Finch and sort of dreaded when Rooney came home from school. I still sometimes get anxious when I'm at home by myself with both kids.
I don't know if it's true, but I have heard it's easier for kids to adjust to new siblings if they are under age 3 or over age 4. Rooney was 3 years, 3 months and 3 days old when Finch was born, so right in the thick of a difficult age regardless. I would not want to re-live those first few months, honestly. She has always loved her brother, but had a hard time not getting as much attention from us.
Sooo. All that to say, we've had some really rough moments, but I feel like we're mostly out of the fog. A few things that helped were...
- Daniel Tiger episodes about his new baby sister (Season 5 on Amazon Prime)
- Reading books to Rooney while nursing Finch - not the easiest thing to do, but she loved it
- One-on-one dates, even though they never seemed quite long enough before I had to get back for the next nursing session
- Asking Rooney to help with diaper changes and picking out his outfits (she would only sometimes want to help). Now that he's older, she loves giving him puffs and yogurt bites. It took a while before I could leave them alone together in the same room (she is rough with him and tries to pick him up), but after a few months I could for short periods of time. I would ask her to "babysit" him while I went to the bathroom, etc., and she thought that was pretty special.
- Talking about "baby Rooney." We would talk about how Rooney was the first baby to use the swaddles, crib, toys, etc., and look at pictures of when she was a baby.
- TIME...this really is the best, but not what you always want to hear when you're in the thick of it. I'd say it took us 3-4 months to feel like we weren't walking on eggshells around her.
The hardest part for me (besides not getting enough sleep) was trying to be there for both my kids when they needed me at the same time. It's so hard when they need such different things...Rooney wanted me to go to the park and push her on the swings, and Finch wanted me to sit on the couch and nurse him all evening. It made me feel like I could only give them each 50%, when I wanted to give them both 100% (not to mention feeling like Eric got 0%)! Especially because we are nursing, it is/was always me with Finch and Eric with Rooney, and I felt like I was missing out so much on her third year of life. This was a big reason why I wanted to quit breastfeeding when Finch was about 3 weeks old. But he's 9 months old now and it is so much better! He doesn't need to be held all the time anymore and nursing isn't quite as demanding, so I can have more time with Rooney. Having two kids is definitely more work...but I think it's also more fun! Here's to hoping it keeps getting better!
P.S. If you're curious how having another kid has affected our budget, click here.