Thursday, April 12, 2012

Transitioning to Two part 3

(Read Part 1 and Part Two if you missed them!)

-Balance your to-do lists, ambitions, and day-to-day household demands with a focus on your babies. They won’t be babies for long so enjoy them as much as possible. And don’t let other stuff become such an “idol” that you become stressed and frustrated with your loved ones. You probably will- I have- but make it a goal not to, anyway! :-)

You know the point about getting stuff done early in the day? I’ve had to sacrifice it a bit, lately…improvise our schedule. Because we’ve had gorgeous weather and I have a little girl who would live outside if she could! Certainly, it’s okay to tell her “no”, but I want to cultivate a love of the outdoors in her, and I know it’s healthy for all of us. So, while we do still get some stuff done in the mornings, there have been some days I’ve quit before it’s all done so we can enjoy an hour or two (or more) outside before naps…and then, if naps occur, I spend that time doing my usual stuff. That’s okay, too, because my babies are my priority…so as long as I’m not getting stressed, we’re all good.

Oh- and in your routines/schedules/to-do lists, make sure there’s lots of times allotted for interaction with your babies and general childcare. It’s amazing how much time you spend nursing and changing diapers, especially in the first couple months! There were days when it seemed like that was all I did, especially since Vivi was still nursing a lot at that point. It takes a lot of time…but before you know it, seasons will change!

-Babywear. Of course, I had to mention that one, right? It really is awesome for everyone involved, though. Babywearing the baby allows you to continue to interact with your toddler and/or tackle jobs. Babywearing the toddler while the baby sleeps down lets you get snuggle time in while playing catch up. It’s easier than finagling a double stroller, or trying to hold the baby while chasing the toddler at the park. You’re already stretched thin enough it can be hard to make all of your marks. Babywearing allows you to multi-task, and that always gets a thumbs-up!

Lots of moms mention how much babywearing soothes their fussy baby- that when baby’s fussy, they can pop them in and continue with what they were doing. I haven’t experienced that, but I’m pretty sure it happens, so there’s another benefit. Babywearing has greatly helped soothe my babies, it just requires concentrated effort, too. :-) But, with one who needed to be worn 24/7 and another who has gone through different periods of needing to be worn a lot, only sleeping while worn, only falling asleep while worn, etc., babywearing has definitely saved my hide, even if it hasn’t been as much the problem solver as it is for some mamas.

-While we’re on the subject, consider tandem wearing! If you’re already well-acquainted with babywearing, the idea of wearing both kiddos probably won’t sound foreign or extreme to you at all! :-) If you’re totally new to babywearing, you should read some of my informational posts and jump in- and it’s okay to start with just one.

Tandem wearing was awesome during the first 2-3 months. Since then, I’ve only done it on occasion, when Vivi’s having one of those days where she just needs up. Timothy’s settled into taking naps in a bed at different points, so I often just wear Vivi when he’s down on those days, too.

But the first few months. Totally effected how smoothly our transition went. It was so healthy for all of us! I tandem wore daily from as soon as I could handle the weight for the first couple months. Usually we went for a tandem walk for 20-30 minutes. Usually at a time when Vivi needed me desperately, Timothy was fussy and I was having a nervous break down because oh my gosh, the house is messy. Tandem wearing meant that everyone got to feel the skin they desperately needed; getting outside got me away from what was stressing me and allowed me to re-evaluate my priorities while enjoying two content kiddos.

It really helped Vivi to know she wasn’t replaced, and that she still had as much access to me as needed. Even if you decide not to tandem wear, I strongly recommend staying open to continuing to wear your toddler- it’s definitely blessed us!

-While we’re tucking about being weird, tandem nursing was another huge transition help. I already shared in detail about our journey and the joys and challenges here. Tandem nursing helped us immensely with the replaced feeling, too, as well as being another way to calm everybody down and give everyone a piece of me- while getting away from the stuff I was working on. Breastfeeding Vivi has allowed us to carry on a special relationship, as we make certain times of the day that are just for us- or to tandem, if Timothy’s around. She loves it! We don’t tandem as often anymore, since Vivi’s main nursing sessions are at sleep times or quick sips when she gets hurt, but during the first few months, again, we did. Vivi wanted to nurse almost every time Timothy did, so I let her. She did consume less “real” food for a while, but never lost interest in food altogether, so we were good with it. In the meanwhile, I ate like a horse. I was a little afraid of “tandem” tandem…because from what people said, I thought maybe it would be harder than it looked. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for me. Vivi’s old enough to get herself latched on however she has to, and Timothy’s pretty flexible, too. I won’t say every time’s been perfectly comfortable…plenty of times when kiddos were just popped on, it wasn’t the greatest for my back or nipples, or something….but it always worked. Now, Vivi always brings me a pillow when she wants to nurse with Timothy- so cute!

-Laugh. Because there are so many beautiful things- so many funny things- so many wondrous things- and you’re going to forget them so fast. But if you make time to enjoy them, they’ll be forever imprinted in your memory. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back on the little years and just remember all the hard times. It’s okay to remember them, to help other mamas get through them. But I want those memories to be sprinkled with so many laughing ones that I’d like to go back. And so far, that’s true. I haven’t been perfect, there’s days I wish I could change. But I have so many hilarious memories and beautiful memories. I wish I could remember them more clearly; they all fade so fast. What I do know, and will remember in the years to come is, we’re having a great time. Through the ups and downs, life is good.

-Summing up a few things I hit on somewhat in the above: remove yourself from stressful situations to give kiddos touch time and ensure your toddler (and baby, for that matter, but that’s less likely) is getting enough of you. That’s why tandem wearing and nursing worked so well for us. It might not for you- your toddler might not be interested in nursing at all, for instance. The real message is, make time to meet those needs. Take time to get away from a stressful situation before it boils over. Take time for both your little ones. It’ll make a huge difference in everyone!

-Evaluate causes of toddler’s misbehaviors. For instance, general transitions, lack of sleep (related to transitions?), not getting enough of you, feeling overwhelmed or displaced, being hungry or thirsty, etc.

As a parent heading in a direction of “gentle parenting” (so to speak), I believe many misbehaviors are connected to a deeper root problem. One that might be easily solved, and possibly isn’t even the child’s fault. I know that isn’t always the case…for instance, Vivi’s done a lot more limit-testing lately, and it’s seemed to stem from growing up- gaining maturity, discovering the world and her own mind, and seeing what she can and can’t make happen. As best as I can tell, it isn’t because of a need that isn’t being met…although at the same time, I don’t feel like it’s exactly purposeful badness, either.

I had a lot of issues with Vivi the first couple months after Timothy was born, and it was obvious that they were generally related to the transitions in some form or other. Knowing that helped me to be more patient (and less despairing!) in dealing with her. For instance: she would purposely defy me, all the time, especially when I couldn’t get up to remove her. But I knew it was just an outlet for all the confusion with the new changes. Another example: she went through a streak of purposely hitting Timothy. Now she’s an angelic older sister, except when she’s tired- and then she’ll purposely try to hit him- but only if I’m in the room to see it. It’s a pretty good key she’s over tired, and it’s time for bed!

Seek to understand your toddler, and the potential changes they’re working through. Remember, they don’t have the social knowledge to know how to let out their feelings!

-Take care of yourself- especially remember to eat and drink enough! A friend of mine has mentioned before that sometimes when she feels exhausted, and consequently overwhelmed, spending a few minutes drinking a couple of huge glasses of water makes a big difference. Suddenly, she feels energized and ready to conquer again! I haven’t noticed it to such a drastic degree, but in smaller ones, yes. It’s important to take care of yourself, mama! I’m easily headache prone if I don’t drink enough…and not eating enough can fall into the same category. If you’re nursing- and especially if you’re tandem nursing- you have to eat. A lot. It takes a lot of food to keep everyone running.

Don’t be afraid to allow time for you, too. Sometimes a shower or something simple enables you to be a much more joyful mommy.

-Prepare your home and kitchen before #2 arrives! I blog about some of the ways I prepared here. Having a head start on your home- like meals in the freezer, deep cleaning done, and regular cleaning kept up on- will put you off to a great start!

-Stop….and drink it all in. Oh, drink, Mama. Because life is beautiful, and yet fleeting.

-Allow grace. Grace for you. For your husband. For your babies. For your home. Grace to cover not getting it all done, not being all, not holding it all together, loosing your cool. Grace to cover your toddler on his tantrum-laden day, your growth-spurting baby. Grace for your husband and the needs that seem so obvious to you, but which he simply doesn’t see. Grace for other moms who don’t quite have it all together either.

If only I was better at putting it into practice- all of it….life would be much more beautiful!

-It’s okay to use cheats. There were certain things I decided I would cheat on the first couple months to make life easier. One specific one that stands clear in my memory (because I agonized over it for days before deciding! :-)) is store bought dressing. I figured if I just bought dressing and didn’t have that one extra step, we’d be likely to keep eating salads. Somehow…it just feels like so much more to make dressing. So for two months, we ate store bought dressing. We made through, all alive and all in one piece (so far!)….and less stressed for it.

Depending on what your lifestyle is (how much you cook from scratch, etc.), figure out what you can compromise on for a while, and run with it. I have a hard time with this one….feeling like, if I know something’s not as good for us, why would I feed it to us? But I’m aware….that stress isn’t good for us either. If it’s choosing between store bought dressing and stress- I’m for the dressing all the way.


Well…that sums it up- for now! Long and rambly, like everything I write. ;-) Rock on, Mamas!


  1. I would NOT recommend tandem wearing in the first 2 months. I am very concerned about giving mom's body time to heal completely from the birth, and the first 6-8 weeks are all about recovery. Even after completely natural vaginal birth where mom is feeling pretty good by 2-4 weeks, that doesn't mean her body is ready for lifting anything heavier than her baby yet. I was grudgingly allowed to lift my 25 lb. 2.5 y/o at 6 weeks after my c-section, so I didn't even TRY wearing her with my baby until 8 weeks post-c/s, when my lifting restrictions were lifted. I still met the needs of my toddler by snuggling with both my baby and toddler on the couch or in bed and got NOTHING done around the house. Sometimes my 5 y/o needed snuggles, too, and in bed worked best for that, because I had two sides and could lay the baby on my chest. What little was done around the house was done by my DH.

    1. Kiddos combined were about 36-40lbs when we started, and are 60ish now. Yeah, my kids are chunks! ;-) And, we don't tandem wear for long periods of time.

      You bring up some great points that are good to remember. Giving mom's body time is important, and it's good for moms to not loose themselves and forget to take care of themselves in the midst of mothering- interesting balance. I waited 2-3 weeks before I started tandem wearing (I'm thinking more like 3)...the first couple weeks I was definitely still healing and knew it- just spending an evening alone with the kiddos and thus having to lift toddler up to table or carry her short distances (she wasn't walking yet) would be a set back. Or "making" (heating leftovers ;-)) lunch. :-D Probably could've waited longer....but honestly, I didn't even use tandem wearing to get things done initially. It was just because Timothy wasn't happy to just be still somewhere- when everyone was melting, he needed to be paced, and Vivi needed to touch tandem wearing was the best feasible option there. But- if you have a baby who's a typical sleepy newborn and doesn't mind being still a lot of the time, downtime snuggles and allowing your body more time to heal are definitely a good idea. We probably never tandem wore for more than 30 minutes at a time, either, and only once or twice a day. Tandem nursing was a big thing, too, when Timothy wanted to nurse, or just reading to Vivi during that time. So we did have other options that worked some of the time, as well, which was helpful. Especially on low energy days, I would often suggest we all just nurse. :-D

      Anyway- it's interesting to find the balance when your kids have certain needs, and so do you. Even if not ideal, I guess keeping both sides of the coin in mind will help you balance so that neither end is totally neglected. A c-section would be tough to recover from...

      On a totally different note- what carriers did/do you use for tandem wearing? Do you have a favorite combo?

    2. I forgot that Vivi wasn't a walker yet. That sure complicates things! My kids are all a little over 2.5 years apart, so I didn't deal with that at all.

      I also knew beforehand that a c-section was a possibility with #2 (successful VBAC) and #3 (c/s), just because #1 was and VBACs are always "attempts at VBAC". So with #3, I hired my sis to come and just be in the house with me to do kid lifting and just enough housework to get us by until about 7 weeks PP. I would absolutely hire someone again if I ever have another, even though I'd be attempting a VBA2C. I love how some cultures (specifically thinking of the Amish) expect mothers to have a mother's helper come to do the work so the mother can just rest and recover. I often wish that our culture was oriented that way instead of expecting women to be back to normal almost right away!

      The carriers I typically used were a stretchy wrap for the baby in front and a mei tai or Ergo for the toddler in back. I think I preferred the mei tai because the chest strap of the Ergo tended to be right where I wanted the baby's head to be and while I can wear it without the chest strap, I find it much more comfortable with it.

    3. Hi Rachel!

      I've enjoyed chit-chatting with you!

      Yeah....I didn't anticipate the walking being a factor till closer to the end. I always thought that would be one of the harder aspects to having kids that are a year or less apart, and figured we wouldn't have to worry at 17.5 months. ;-) Thankfully- it wasn't as hard as I thought!

      Yes, the cultures that encourage a restful PP season are really neat...and also just to allow extra bonding time with the baby/being able to give time to other kids as they transition. Is it Switzerland that has some type of doula person who stays on for a couple weeks and does the housework/running/cooking etc....and it's covered by health insurance? Or something like that.... I have aimed thus far for at least the first couple weeks to not have much of any responsibilities, and planned on not being particularly productive the first 6 or so weeks. I wish I could get all of me in with the program- the proactive/productive part of me always ends up getting restless! ;-)

      Hiring your sis is a good idea- especially with c-secs. Man....they're great when vaginal delivery isn't possible or safe....but I sure can't figure out why so many women opt for it just for fun and for the sake of not experiencing labor/delivery. If I could avoid a truly-needed (unavoidable) recovery that long, I definitely would!

      I've toyed with the idea of asking one or multiple of my sisters/sisters-in-law to come over at least part of the day, or on some days, in the early weeks next time around. I know I'm likely to have at least a couple weeks of really not being able to move around after birth, due to the issues my perineum has that I recently wrote about. And spending longer healing- at least longer on a lighter schedule- wouldn't be a bad idea, since it's still 6 weeks or so before I've felt more or less normal. I've been really blessed so far as Ben worked from home, plus was able to take a week off after Timothy and spend a ton of time with Viviana that week which helped. So I didn't have to do any lifting the first couple weeks except a couple of times when he was gone for a few hours. But now he's a highschool math teacher, so unless timing falls in accordance with breaks, we won't have that luxury anymore, and I've thought about prepping myself to be willing to seek other help. :-D

      Yes, I have that chest-strap issue too! I can't say I've found many tandem combos that I really love. :-/ I guess it's not a big deal since it's never for any long periods of time.

      By the way....small detail, but my kiddos are 50ish lbs combined, not 60. :-)

    4. Brianna, I have enjoyed it as well!

      I haven't really researched countries that encourage a restful PP, but that sounds pretty amazing! My DH has had a regular office job each time, and has taken a week off. He's great with the older kids and housework/laundry/cooking, so I don't really need extra help when he's home! I'd say definitely try to work with your sisters/SILs to work out some help that works for all of you next time. It's great that you have those options! Or shoot for an early summer delivery. ;) I have NO IDEA what I would do next time, since I now live 5-22 hours away from my family members. Perhaps I'd try to hire a homeschooled teen or young local college student from my church. My sis was in college, and she would have to leave for a few hours a few days a week, but that worked out ok because some of her classes were later in the day and DH would be home partway through.

      After having had 2 c/s, I have no idea why people opt for them either. I have experienced labor every time, and I really think it helped to signal my body somehow that a baby was born, because I didn't have a delay of my milk coming in. I've heard that can be a complication of c/s. Even if I were with doctors who wouldn't let me attempt VBA2C, I would still want to go into labor on my own to make sure baby was coming no matter the mode of delivery. I wouldn't labor at home as long as possible, but I would want to be pretty certain labor was either there or imminent (like with spontaneous rupture of membranes).

      I haven't used woven wraps much, and I wonder if they would work better for the child on the back. I really don't like ruck straps, though, on a mei tai or a wrap or on an SSC without a chest strap. I feel like they're always about to fall off my shoulders. I could cross the mei tai straps over my chest, but then I worried about getting clogged ducts.

      Haha, that makes more sense! My younger 2 are 65lb. now combined, and my youngest is now 2.5. I still wear her sometimes, but she really doesn't need it that often anymore. I'd say it's probably about once in 2 weeks, more often if she is sick. I think the line for my knees is somewhere around 30lb., because my knees start hurting now before my back and shoulders do. We usually opt for snuggling on the couch or in bed in the morning these days, unless she needs me and I have to make dinner or something.

    5. Rachel,

      I haven't was just a culture Ina May talked about some in her childbirth book, which I read last summer. Yeah- my hubby's great with kids/housework/etc., too, which is really helpful....he doesn't necessarily see everything the same way I do :-), but he's always very willing to help, and with directions, can do anything. It's definitely a huge blessing- aren't very many guys like that! Poor Ben.....he was so busy around the clock the first few weeks after Timothy was born, trying to keep up with work and everything else. I've thought about the shooting for a summer delivery.... ;-) Which leaves first trimester morning sickness happening when he starts the school year. ;-) Can't totally win...but who knows, we'll see what happens as Timothy grows up.

      It's really nice that you've been able to go into labor spontaneously....hadn't thought too much about the b'feeding one, but I bet that's a huge problem for a lot of women.

      I have crossed my mei tai straps over my chest w/out issues....but, I've been blessed to have very few breastfeeding issues.

      Umm, kids ARE huge, but they AREN'T elephants. :-D

      I've liked a woven wrap on the back with Vivi, though I've still had the ruck strap issue with tandem wearing. I don't notice major issues with single wearing, but def. have the strap falling off issue with tandem. This morning I hit on a combo that I really becco in front, b/c I could put it on but put Timothy in last, and mei tai on back, with straps woven through and across my chest. Someone showed me how to put both kids in one wrap, and that was the comfiest tandem carry I've ever tried....but not always practical, since you have to take them both out once the toddler wants down.

  2. I should have also mentioned that I found tandem wearing to be a wonderful help after my baby was 2 months old! Especially while running into stores for a quick thing. My toddler LOVED being so close to me in a time where she was feeling somewhat displaced by the baby and a bit jealous that the baby was always on me somehow. I don't know how heavy yours are combined, but by 2 months, the combined weight of my two younger ones was a little over 35 lbs. My knees couldn't take that for very long, but I treasured those short times, nonetheless. :)