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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Transition to Two

The transition to two has been...interesting. It's a lot easier than I thought it would be overall. But I need to justify that remark: Emmeline is a very easy baby (how much wood can I knock on here? all of it. I knock on all of it)*. She rarely cries unless she's hungry or hurt ("Carys! Please do not try to bounce the baby's head!"), she's generally easily soothed when she is crying, and she goes to sleep very easily.** She's happy to be put in her swing with her paci and watch the mobile. So she's an incredibly easy baby thus far and I'm incredibly, incredibly lucky, especially since Carys was also easy. I'm totally due a difficult baby now so I probably shouldn't chance a third kid.***

*Please don't hate me. Maybe it's just karma giving me a pass since our first pregnancy was so hard? Or the baby stork knew I needed an easy baby since I'm alone with both of them 9am to 10pm during the week and eight hours each weekend day (I completely know that's nothing compared to military wives and single moms)? Maybe it's just luck? Maybe it will all change tomorrow. Who knows what will happen with these tiny unpredictable beings? A sleep regression might hit and it'll be all WHOA KID HERE HAVE SOME NYQUILL and I'll be hiding in a closet.

** Carys went to sleep easily for the first few months, then totally disintegrated and needed to be rocked/nursed to sleep for ages and ages, so I don't expect this to to continue.

***I say "I" because Chris has said I'm welcome to a third kid but he won't be the one providing the other half of the DNA. We'll talk again in a year or so. ;)

With Emmeline being so easy, I can absolutely say that Carys has been the more difficult kid of the two. But if I'm trying to make you hate me even more, I'll be honest and say our "difficult" toddler is really not that difficult. She's a pretty easy toddler and a good kid (where'd that wood go?).  Lucky as heck again.  However, Carys is not yet three, and I hear from virtually everyone that it shouldn't be the terrible twos but rather the super-horrible-awful-where's-the-wine terrible threes. I am not looking forward to that. I am hoping that her cuteness picks up just enough to offset any wretchedness that occurs (although let's be real - have you SEEN her lately? I don't think she can get any cuter).  This all means that this "easiness" could come crashing down at any moment, and you'll find me crying in a corner.

So overall I've been lucky, and have had only a couple times thus far where both kids were crying or needed me, and have been able to keep myself fairly sane. Or at least not any more insane than usual.  Two kids has been easy since Emmy lets me put her in the swing to take care of Carys, and it's been easy because they generally nap and go to bed at the same time, which allows me to nap (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) or catch up on housework. HA. I wrote that but it never actually happens. It allows me to nap. Or jump on Facebook. Or edit pictures. But rarely do I use it to catch up on housework, which explains a lot [looks around at messy house].  It's been easy because Carys (usually) loves her little sister and because Carys is old enough to do many, many things on her own - get her own water, go potty, clean up, get her preferred toys out. It's been easy because Carys is also old enough to help out with the baby. She's not babysitting or changing diapers, but she can grab me a burp cloth or a diaper when needed. I give the girls baths at the same time and they go down for the night around the same time and they usually nap at the same time as well.  Also, she potty trained before the baby arrived, so I only have to deal with one in diapers during the day (though Carys is still in diapers overnight).  Carys plays really well independently, so when I need to nurse Emmeline, she's happy to play with her playdough or do stickers or stamps. And, as I said earlier, Emmeline is an easy baby who doesn't demand my complete attention. This is all pure luck, not some parenting coup. I'm not that great of a parent, but I do have great kids. Makes my job easier. Thanks, girls!

However. It's not ALL a piece of cake. Some things are hard.

What is hard is finding space for all the shit that accompanies two kids with completely different sets of gear. So. much. shit. SO MUCH.  The swing. The bouncer. The bathtub. The Boppy. It all takes up so. much. room. I cannot walk a foot without tripping on some sort of kid paraphernalia.

What is hard is trying to find time to take a shower because you have to do it when they're both sleeping (because who knows when the big one will decide to try to pick up the baby and give her a bath or something) and when they're both sleeping all you want to do is sleep.

What's hard is getting up the motivation to do quick errands, because it takes longer to get both kids packed up and in and out of the car than it does to run the errand. Truthfully, the IDEA of going out with both of them is much more daunting than the actual going out. Usually, once I'm out, I think it's easy. But the idea of doing it? HARD.

What is hard is keeping up with the insane amounts of laundry that another tiny person adds to the mix (it's enough that I was tempted to not cloth diaper, but our neighbors gifted us a pack of size one diapers and after using them here and there, mostly out and about, it reminded me of why I hate them and love cloth). But seriously. Emmeline is like 10 pounds. How did she quadruple the amount of laundry I have to do?

What is hard is finding a baby-sitter you trust with two kids, one of them being a super active crazy toddler and one of them being a delicate baby. It can be hard enough parenting them on your own, and you do it 24/7 - how can you trust someone else to do it? Also, who is crazy enough to want to do it? How do people with four or six kids ever find a sitter?

What is hard is feeling like you're constantly ignoring one kid for the other - feeling like you're constantly putting the baby down to focus on the big kid (since the big kid will remember all those times you say no, so you want to say yes as often as possible) but at the same time feeling like you're constantly rejecting the big kid to focus on the baby (since the big kid can do so much for herself and the baby is helpless). It's hard feeling like you're not completely present for either of them. And having to say "not now" to a child who is looking at you with big eyes and asking you to "pwease!" put the baby in the swing so you can play playdough with them - the first time that happens, you just might cry.

What's also hard is feeling guilty that you don't have the one-on-one time with the baby that you were able to give the big kid - that the baby will never be the only one and never know what it's like to have all the attention for two years in a row. What's hard is at the same time feeling guilty that you don't have the one-on-one time with the big kid that she was used to for the first few years of her life.

What is hard is rarely having yourself to, well, yourself.  I'm lucky, like I said, and I actually get some time during the day and evening to myself when they are sleeping concurrently...usually. However, on days when Carys rejects her nap and is awake all day, I usually get to a point where I. want. to HIDE. Five minutes to shower, PLEASE. I'll even take two minutes to go pee by myself without someone needing me. On the days when they both don't nap, it's 12+ hours of constantly. being. needed. And touched. And serving two little dictators with no regard to yourself. With no break. Really, it's hard enough to go all day like that WITH a nap and an hour to yourself. On days without that hour break, it's just really, really hard.

What's hard is trying to balance the number of pictures on Instagram. If you post one of the baby, you'd better post one of the big kid lest someone think that you don't love the big kid just as much. Same goes with trying to keep equal kisses and hugs and cuddles and eventually, I assume, toys and timeouts. This one was mostly a joke. Except have you ever tried taking a picture of a two-year-old who doesn't want her picture taken? So it actually IS hard. In fact, I was so worried about making sure I was posting pictures of the hard kid to photograph (Carys) that I realized I hadn't posted any pictures of the easy kid (Emmy) in like a week. Overcompensate, much?

What's hard is trying to convince the big kid is that a baby actually IS delicate, and while you know she wants to carry the baby across the tile floor herself, it just isn't a good idea, and that you'll do it, but thanks for the offer.

What's hard is getting the fingernail polish out of the carpet that spilled when you were giving the baby her second bath of the day and the big kid was supposed to be napping but woke up and silently got into your bathroom cabinets and painted her own nails. Well, painted her own nails with whatever was left after she spilled the majority of it on the carpet.

The answer to that last one?


Also, thank god for naps. Please don't stop napping til kindergarten, Carys.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Truest Words That Were Ever True.

I posted about this on my Facebook a while ago, but stumbled across it again and was struck once more by how very, incredibly, heartbreakingly, wonderfully true these words are. I've rarely read something that touched quite so raw a nerve with me, that I could relate to so strongly.

The original blog post is at Momastery.com, here. I highly recommend the entire article, but this is the part that struck me so deeply:


How was my day? Today has been a lifetime. It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I’d explode. I was both lonely and absolutely desperate to be alone. I was saturated- just BOMBARDED with touch and then the second I put down this baby I yearned to smell her sweet skin again. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do. Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst. At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption. Husband – when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period. But I’m not complaining. This is not a complaint, so don’t try to FIX IT. I wouldn’t have my day Any.Other.Way. I’m just saying- it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain- an entire day with lots of babies.
Every. Single. Word. is like it came straight from my heart. Every. dam. word.  Except "lots" of babies. I only have two. But sometimes it feels like lots.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Letters to Emmy : Two Months

January 12 to February 12, 2014
Dear Emmy,

Hey, there, kiddo. Yeah, you, with those big soulful eyes and pouty lips and cheeks that threaten to devour your face. You with the whisper soft whimper that I hear five states away and that breaks my heart even though usually it's just you shifting in your sleep. You with the big leg kicks and little hands that grasp at my shirt or hair. You with those elusive dimples. You who have completely entrenched yourself into my heart.

Hey, there.

Have I mentioned today how enamored we all are with you? Our little family seems like an always-four rather than a once-was-three. It's been an adjustment, not always an easy or smooth one, but it's also been a welcome one. I kind of can't even come close to explaining how much your big sister loves you. When I'm comforting you and say, "It's okay, Emmy, Mommy's here," Carys immediately chimes in, "And Carys is here too!"

I am so enjoying getting to know you and getting glimpses into your personality. I have a feeling it's going to be a big one, and a sweet one.  You're already so very different than your sister and I can only imagine what differences we'll discover in the coming years.

You are a complete paci fiend, whereas after a few weeks your sister completely rejected it. Emmeline + Giraffe Wubbanub = BFFS4Lyfe. You don't generally want to be held to be comforted, which is a concept that just blows my mind to bits. Your sister wanted to nurse and cuddle for comfort; you would rather get a paci and the swing. Being able to set you down makes life ohsomuch easier when there's a bigger kid to chase after, but it makes me a little sad sometimes, because oh I don't know BABY SNUGGLES ARE THE BEST EVER.  Luckily, I still get them sometimes, usually when you fall asleep nursing, but you're not permanently attached to me like I felt Carys was at this point. You do, however, love your Nana rocking you to sleep. Traitor!

You love watching the mobile on the swing, and fans, and sunlight on the walls (just like every newborn ever). You just recently started to enjoy baths - I was getting worried, because I was looking forward to swimming with you in a few months and didn't want to start you in class if you didn't like the water. You'll happily kick and splash in the bath with your sister (you've been sharing baths since literally your first bath at home, using a bath lounger that just sits in the big tub). Carys loves pouring water on your tummy or hair and singing the bath song she learned from swim class. "This is the way we wash our hair, wash our hair wash our hair...."

You JUST started smiling regularly. They're still pretty few and far between but sometimes you let go with the biggest, most heart-melting grin and it lights up your entire face and also, oh yeah, my entire heart. Carys was sitting with you and talking to you and you just sat there (ok, well, you weren't sitting, obviously...I was holding you there) with a huge grin on your face the entire time.

You are getting so big and already so strong. At your two month appointment you were around 13.5 pounds and just shy of 24 inches long. You were sitting up and holding your head up so well that the doctor commented he doesn't usually see that kind of muscle tone until closer to four months old. You love grabbing my fingers with your hands and doing a baby sit up to bring you into a sitting position and are not happy reclined. I seriously feel you might be sitting up by yourself like next week. I know that's not possible but come on, you're clearly a genius already so get on that already. You're starting to lose that baby hair (you have a big bald spot in the back, so it's mostly bald on top, with a strip of hair, a bald strip, and then a strip at the bottom) and I'm so excited to see what you end up with - light hair like your dad and sister? My dark hair? Your eyes, too, make me eager for the big reveal. What will it be? Your dad's brilliant blues? My dark brown eyes? Or your sister's gray-ish hazel? Right now they're big and dark blue exactly like Carys's were when she was your age. Hers stayed pretty blue for over a year and then developed the green-gray-brown shades that they have now, so it will probably be a while before we have any idea what direction they'll take. Your darling little elf ear is still present and accounted for but your Klingon ridge is gone. You have the softest hands in the entire world, probably.

Your cry is absolutely heart-wrenching and comes from nowhere - there's no stirring to indicate you're waking up, just a soft, mewing cry. And if we don't get you in a reasonable amount of time because, say, your sister has dumped an entire canister of hot chocolate mix on the floor (not that that ever has happened) (it totally has), it turns into the angriest cry I've ever heard from a baby.  It's more of a yell than a cry and actually makes me laugh. You're already a better sleeper than your sister was (I think - at least I am not experiencing the soul-crushing, headache-inducing tiredness that I remember from her being a baby, although maybe I'm just used to it by now and have become immune to the side effects). You don't need to be swaddled or need a paci overnight - just the rock-n-play sleeper and a blanket tucked around your arms. You're not really on a solid routine yet - you're still sleeping far more than you're awake, so there's no real naps or bedtime, but usually from about 8pm to 7am you're pretty solidly asleep, and any wake-ups are just to eat and you go right back to sleep. KNOCK ON ALL THE WOOD.

You want to suck your thumb SO bad. You turn your head towards your little fist and try desperately to make contact; when you do, furious sucking ensues but it's not what you want and you know that. You want that darn thumb, but you just haven't quite figured out how to separate it from all your other fingers. You grab at my hair or finger or shirt while you're nursing - you love to have a handful of whatever you can reach. Seeing your little fingers work the fabric of my shirt or cling to a strand of hair for dear life kills me. I like to think you just want to be THAT much closer to me that you can't bear to let me go, but I'm sure it's just some newborn reflex...but I choose to reject that notion and go with the whole "you love me" thing.

Unbelievably, you are still sick. I hate that you've been sick with this awful cold for so long. You'll sneeze six or eight times in a row and have these terrifying coughing fits, and your eyes are constantly watering and red. I just feel awful that you got like a week of being able to, you know, BREATHE, and since then it's been such a struggle. What happened to the magic of boob milk that is supposed to keep you healthy?? Fail.

You're sleeping in my arms right now as I type this, and I keep glancing down to try to remember all I want to say and getting lost in your newborn smell and nuzzling your soft cheeks. Your mouth is in the most perfect pout and one hand is resting on my chest. I really need to go to bed, and lay you down for bed, but I really really really want to just keep sitting here with you, feeling your warmth and weight and wonderfulness. It'd be totally normal to just sit here all night long staring at you, right?

I love you so much, little girl. SO MUCH.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014