I’ve wanted to write this post for some time, but I kept putting it off because I figured if more time passed then I’d have more to write about, which totally ended up being the truth. This post is a novel so get ready! (Please ignore the typos. I typed this on my phone over the course of a week while feeding the little babe.)
Here I am almost at the end of my maternity leave and I think it’s the perfect time to talk about how the first few months with Emerson have been very different from the first time around with Sage. I wouldn’t change anything from the first time given the chance. I had a 20 week maternity leave and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I’ll discuss further though, it’s just a different experience with baby #2. Also, I feel like I need to say that this is just my experience and since all babies are unique, I’m sure other moms have had different experiences than mine.
For starters, having a two-year-old toddler in the picture with the arrival of the second baby changes everything. My attention was divided from the second we arrived home from the hospital. I couldn’t just sit on the couch and stare at my newborn baby because my other baby (who now seemed like a giant) wanted my attention. Being a first-time mom is an incredibly special experience and entirely all consuming. It’s only seems easy now looking back on it because now I’m balancing a lot more. Everything was just so new with the first baby and I really didn’t know what I was doing. It was a lot of learn as you go (as parenting continues to be).
I felt much more comfortable and relaxed bringing Emerson home. I had a feeling off “I got this”. “This” being the baby part as balancing a toddler and a baby is a whole other ballgame. I’ve said if before, but I feel so lucky that my husband only worked part-time for the first six weeks home with Emerson. I don’t think I could have predicted how much that would mean to me having him around in the mornings to help. Anyways, let me get to the bullet points of what I wanted to cover which is what I’ve been doing differently with Emerson than with Sage as a newborn, and how it has made a BIG difference in our lives.
I’ll start by saying the book Moms On Call has been a huge part of this. I read it before having Emerson and still refer to it daily (there’s an app!). I think it’s a wonderful book for any mom whether you’re new to motherhood or not. There is a schedule provided for balancing a toddler and newborn. I knew Emerson wouldn’t have much of a schedule in the early days, but Sage does so keeping up with his schedule while incorporating Emerson into the picture was important. I refered to the schedules provided pretty much from the moment we got home. I followed them loosely, but stuck to the pointers of things like feed baby every three hours, no naps longer than 2.5 hours, swaddle baby, use white noise, baby sleeps in crib (more on this in a bit). This meant I was feeding Emerson the same time each evening and getting into a bedtime routine and same goes for the morning. Following a routine with him made things more predictable and it was very comforting. It wasn’t just a guessing game of when he’d eat and sleep, I sort of knew (to an extent). With Emerson on a sort-of schedule early on and Sage going through his typical day, I could manage things and not feel crazy overwhelmed. It worked really well for our family. My husband and I felt at ease and I credit a lot of that to finding a routine from the beginning.
This is a biggie. Let me preface this by saying that Sage didn’t sleep in his crib for months. He took every nap on me and slept in his rock n’ play for months at night. He also was not a good sleeper for a longgg time. I learned to function on no sleep. I made the decision that things would be different with Emerson because I wanted time with Sage too. I wanted to be able to read Sage books and play trains with him while Emerson napped. I wanted to be able to make him lunch and keep up with the house (still working on that) and I couldn’t do any of those things if Emerson wouldn’t take naps on his own. From day one I put Emerson down to nap in his crib. I’ve swaddled him for every nap (and at night too) and it has been nothing short of amazing having that freedom this time around. Also, I’ve put him down in his crib when he’s sleepy, but not sound asleep, from the beginning. I rocked Sage to sleep at night for months. At bedtime with Emerson, I feed him and rock a bit (more just for me though to get those baby cuddles!), and then put him in his crib and swaddle him. If he’s awake, that’s alright because he puts himself to sleep within 5-15 minutes. He’s not crying or anything, sometimes he’s just looking around getting sleepy. Of course it’s not a perfect system and there have been times when I’ve gone in and held him in my arms to help him doze off, but for the most part that’s how it works. Doing things this way makes it possible for me then to be a part of Sage’s bedtime. Typically by this point he’s finishing reading books with my husband and I can jump in and read a few or just get to say goodnight and give hugs/kisses.
Onto the crib talk! Emerson has slept in his crib in his own room since night two home with him. The first night he was in the rock n’ play in our bedroom, but had been napping all day in his crib. I put him in the rock n’ play that second night and he just didn’t seem as content so I moved him to his crib. He sleeps best in his crib. He knows his crib means sleep time. There’s that association. I also started using a white noise machine after the first few weeks to make the association with sleep stronger (again, all tips from Moms On Call). Between the swaddle, crib and white noise, we’ve got a good thing going. My husband and I don’t have to tip toe around our bedroom and we can actually talk to each other and catch up about our days without fearing we’ll wake the baby. I’ve got a video monitor that’s on all night so I can always check up on Emerson and hear him when he wakes up.
Leaving the House:
With Sage I think it took me at least a solid month before leaving the house. Even after that it wasn’t very often, maybe once or twice a week. Because Sage is now a toddler and likes to get out lots, Emerson has not been housebound. Since my husband was home in the mornings, we started getting out almost immediately. Most times it was to go to a local playground or just walk the trails around our neighborhood. Emerson quickly learned the joy of his stroller and I benefited hugely from getting fresh air. We really just wanted to keep up with life as it was for Sage’s sake so we still went on our weekly grocery shopping trips, Barnes & Noble where Sage likes to play trains, Chipotle, the mall, as well as other places. Emerson came everywhere with us in his car seat carrier. Because we were out and about so much more I have learned to be ok with breastfeeding in public. This is something I really did not like to do too much with Sage, but I’ve grown much more comfortable with it. I’ve got a nice cover and it’s really no big deal. It makes it possible for me to be out and about with my family which makes me happy!
I think that’s probably enough for now. I know things will continue to evolve as Emerson gets older. The whole experience of bringing home another baby has been so wonderful. Of course it is not without its harder moments. Two kiddos is definitely more challenging! I’ve taken plenty of deep breaths and just reminded myself that this is just the season of life I’m in. I’m so grateful that Emerson has joined our pack.
Let me know if I missed anything!