Happy happy Friday! I’m super excited (and a little nervous!) to be joining a bunch of the best moms I know (and that the web has to offer!) as part of their Real Talk with Real Moms series! Every so often, these women share their thoughts on different topics relating to motherhood and… survival. Ha! And I have lived for these posts! We all enjoy making and sharing pretty things, but sometimes it’s good for the soul when you can just write. In this case, type. Today, we’re chatting about what it was like going from one kid to two! Or adding another child to however many you already have in your crew. It’s… an adjustment. And while I am certainly no expert on the subject, I thought I could shed some light on what the experience was like in our family. As I feel like it was different than most with our second baby spending several weeks in the hospital instead of coming home right away.
Whether you’re contemplating or in the middle of growing your family, check out the other posts on this topic as each of us has a unique perspective:
The Fresh Exchange \\ Sugar & Cloth \\ Lovely Indeed \\ Studio DIY \\ Natalie Borton \\ A Daily Something \\ The Sweetest Occasion \\ PARKER ETC \\ The Effortless Chic \\ Oh Lovely Day \\ The Life Styled I put that nice, “put-together” photo at the top of this post, but I really should have just posted the above. This was our family in a nutshell after Marz showed up. ??♀️
Before Mara came along, the three of us (Logan, myself, and Vita-girl) were honestly like The Three Musketeers. We spent as much time together as possible. And because I worked from home, I was able to give V so much of my attention. When she was awake, we were playing, and when she was sleeping, I was working. From the time she was 1 month old, we were having dance parties every night. It was a great situation – and don’t get me wrong, we definitely had our troubles – but I didn’t really have a desire to change our family dynamic any time soon. Because I’m a Type 1 Diabetic, I was afraid of what difficulties a pregnancy might have in store, and also weary about the challenges that can come from any complications before and after a second babe arrived. I’ve talked more about my pregnancy with Mara and the surprises and struggles she threw our way after she made her debut, but she’s about 17 months old now and we’ve had time to process and find somewhat of a routine in our lives. Our fam of 4 is in a really good place now and it feels SO good to say that.
But back to my feelings when I was just a mom of one.
Before Mara was born, I was honestly so afraid of how she would fit into our family. I was worried about Vita. How would she take it? Would she know that she’s still loved and every bit a part of my heart? I felt like my heart was so consumed with her, that I couldn’t possibly make room for another child. Not to mention the actual physical toll that another baby would demand of me. I didn’t understand how all the other moms did it.
The day I found out I was pregnant, I was with Vita and told her I had a secret. She was the first person I told. She was three at the time, so even if she had spilled the beans, nobody would have believed her because she was a bit of a storyteller. But she was my best pal, and I wanted to share the news with her from the beginning. As the pregnancy progressed, we kept talking to her and explaining the bond between sisters, and just what her role might be like. She was very excited and not once was she upset. It was like the firstborn jackpot! She kept saying how she “wanted this dang baby to get here.” ?Having Vita be so positive during the pregnancy really helped ease many of my fears about her feeling forgotten or left behind. And then Marz arrived. And the instant she was in my arms, I was just gushing over her. She seemed absolutely perfect. I only had about 8 minutes with her before she was rushed away to the NICU and it would be days before I held her again. Later that evening, our friend who was watching Vita brought her to the hospital to meet Mara. I was really hesitant as I was basically in the midst of an emotional meltdown and I didn’t want her to see me that way, but Logan insisted we let her spend a few minutes in the NICU with her new baby sister. It was absolute bliss. I had spent the previous hours crying and stewing and sobbing some more, but seeing my two girls together for the first time was this overwhelmingly calming sight. I felt like our family was actually complete. Vita was ecstatic. And seemed to be elated that she was finally The Big Sis. She kept whispering little things to Marz. Some of which I couldn’t make out, but I just know that every word was dripping with love.
Everyone’s experience is different.
Most babies get to go home and stay there shortly after birth. They just fit into the new normal. Their siblings get to meet and dote on them. The parents adjust to that lack of sleep that can carry on for however long that baby decides it needs to carry on.
Many firstborn children experience a little jealousy of all the attention the new baby gets. But Vita didn’t seem to express things that way. Mara arrived and stayed at the hospital. For weeks. I was so afraid that Vita would be disappointed by how things had turned out, but then I remembered that she’d never been through this before. For all she knew, this is exactly what was supposed to happen when a new baby joins the family. It stayed at the hospital, and siblings just get to visit from time to time. To her, it was totally normal for me to basically live at the hospital for that time. And for all she knew, I was working and not really sitting bedside with Mara for hours on end. Vita wasn’t there to experience a shift in the attention I could give her when we were together. She never acted out, but I wanted her to know how much she was still loved. Vita was able to visit a handful of times while Mara was there, and then it was time for us all to be together at home.
I held my breath.
And it was hard.
It was so hard.
There were times when they were on opposite schedules. V slept all night and then was an endless ball of energy during the day. Marz can be completely exhausted, but give her a ten minute nap and the girl can rally. Combine that with weekly (sometimes daily) doctor visits and frequent surgical procedures and I was a hot mess. I really didn’t know how to manage things well at first. I remember when Logan finally went back to work and left me with the two. I was just sick about it! The first time I ventured outside of the house with just me and the ladies, we went to the Dollar Tree. And I was so stressed that I forgot to eat and my blood sugar plummeted and the whole outing was a disaster. That was enough to scare me into never leaving the house again.
The girls are four years apart. And if you’ve been around this blog for a bit, you know that Vita is exceptionally observant. She picked up right away on my desperation when things were tough. 80% of the time, she’s a fantastic helper. She lives to serve. She is very mature and can help with Mara’s feedings. She understands Mara’s limitations. And she has really thrived in her role as the big sister. I’m a little ashamed to say that I put so much weight on her shoulders. She really carried me so much in those early days and I wish I would have been stronger. 80% of the time.
But that other 20%? She’s a five year old with five year old emotions and those can be tough to handle. Sometimes, she wants her space. She doesn’t want this cute little baby messing up her line of neatly organized Hatchimals, or coloring on her drawings, or stepping foot into her room for fear that something might be knocked out of place. She doesn’t always want Mara to infringe on her time with me. And I’m trying my best to remember that.
Would I do things differently?
When I look back, I’m not sure I would have done much differently. If I had it my way, Mara would have been born perfectly healthy and we would have all been a happy family at home from day one. But all I can say is that I WISH I would have been stronger. I wish I would have spent more nights at home with Vita when Mara was asleep in the NICU. We only live about ten minutes from the hospital so it was a quick drive, but I was so afraid to leave Mara alone that I completely forgot that I was leaving Vita alone. Yes, Logan was here. But I am her mom. There were times that I would get home and just crawl into bed with her. She was completely out, but I wonder if she could sense that I was near? I should have been here more. We don’t always get it right, but we’re trying. And I feel like as long as my kids are happy at the end of the day, it’ll all be okay.
How do they play together?
In the beginning, I know it was tricky for Vita because there was so much she wanted to do with this baby blob that just laid on a blanket on the floor. She didn’t mind singing to and laying down by Mara, but now that Marz is almost 18 months, she’s so active and has JUST as much personality as Vita. (I know. Please save me.) The two play games together. They play hide and seek around our living room and kitchen and when they giggle and have screaming contests together, I just melt. You can totally tell that Vita can do no wrong in Mara’s eyes. She is still interested in baby toys and activities, but you can bet that all that gets tossed aside for whatever cool big sis is working on. This is where I give a shout out to My Little Pony. MLP was strong with Vita through her younger years, and it’s shaping up to be that with Marz. This is the Crystal Empire – their favorite toy that they’ll spend hours with!
What are we doing to let both girls know they’re loved equally?
Marz is a baby. And she’s honestly content whenever she’s playing alone. We regularly schedule dates for just Vita and either mom or dad (a tradition that we have kept very much alive to this day!) and I make sure to give her my undivided attention. No phone. Just her and I and whatever is on the docket. Sometimes our dates are out of the house and doing something where we spend money, and sometimes they’re just a quiet night in. We shut ourselves in her or my room, watch movies, paint our nails, work on her choice of craft project (I’m a proud DIY mama over here), or just read a bunch of books in her bed. That time is so special to me, and I’m sure, to her.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but many of my friends said that going from one kid to two kids was rather easy compared to adding a third. To many, once you’re outnumbered, that’s it. You’re in real trouble. I’ve also heard that after three, you can just keep throwing kids in the mix. “What’s one more???” But I have to say that just adding a second kid totally kicked my butt. When do you get stuff done that doesn’t have anything to do with your kids? When do you sleep? Never. NEVER. Forget it. You’ll sleep when you’re dead. But that’s true whether you have one kid or a dozen.
For our family, going from one kid to two was a definite struggle. It took us (me) quite a while to find our (my) footing. But I feel like right now, we’re there. We’re doing it. And each day or week, we have to adjust our expectations to accommodate our feelings. And that’s okay. But if you’re like me, and you’re worried about that love in your heart being 100% occupied by your firstborn, stop it. Relax. It’ll all work out. Your heart just makes room.
What was the transition like for you? Is three harder? Four? Still on your first? Are you currently thinking about growing your family? I’d love to hear how you’re working through it!
Be sure to check out the other posts on this topic:
The Fresh Exchange \\ Sugar & Cloth \\ Lovely Indeed \\ Studio DIY \\ Natalie Borton \\ A Daily Something \\ The Sweetest Occasion \\ PARKER ETC \\ The Effortless Chic \\ Oh Lovely Day \\ The Life Styled