Sunday, August 12, 2012

New Mommy-to-Two Follow Up

"I don't think there's enough good literature that effectively addresses how difficult it is to lose the dyadic relationship between a mother and her firstborn.  It's painful--for both of you--to lose the exclusivity that, up till now, has been a hallmark of your entire time together."
(Parker, Natalia Swenson. "And Baby Makes Four." Nov-Dec 2009)

A Must-Read Article
This evening, I was searching through my good friend's blog in search of one of her potty training posts (yep, it's almost that time!) when I scrolled past a post that made my breath catch a little.  Another dear friend, Kelly, had blazed the trail into second baby territory ahead of both Lauren and me, and she gave us a magazine article about the difficulties of transitioning to mother-of-two.  At the time, Reed hadn't even turned one, but the article had me in tears.  And poor Lauren, who was already expecting her second, was reduced to bawling.  This was well over a year ago, so I had read cried over the article, passed it on, and completely forgotten about it until I saw it just now.

As I scrolled through Lauren's blog, I immediately recognized the photocopied article and pieces of the content flooded into my thoughts.  I leaned back in my chair and re-read, this time from a new perspective, from "the other side."  (You can read the full article and Lauren's post here).  Man, part of me is annoyed that it didn't come to mind while I was pregnant and thinking so much about the transition, or at least upon our homecoming in the thick of the raw emotion.  I really wish I had remembered it before now as it isn't much help in retrospect.  Ironically, though, I was actually searching Lauren's blog for the potty post on behalf of a different mutual friend.  And she does have a baby #2 who's still steaming from the oven, so I'll for sure send her to the article post as well!  As Lauren states, the article is so honest and a must-read for mommies... just remember to read it when your #2 is actually on the way :)

Pre-Molly Big Bro Follow-up
And here's the quick follow-up (as noncommittally promised) to my pre-Molly From Baby to Big Brother thoughts.  (I am just going to allude to and follow up on our battle tactics, but you can read the original post at the link above).

Bedroom Transition- Definitely glad we transitioned Reed to his new room and bed a few months before Molly.  The timing worked great for us.  It gave us time to let Reed's old room sit before we made it hers, and let him get used to a new space for himself that wasn't at all associated with a baby sister ousting him.

Room Time- Room time is a life saver.  Again, starting it early made it completely separate from Molly's arrival and presence, so that's good.  However, Reed just isn't a big fan most of the time. :)

Potty Training- So far, I am glad we've waited.  (Of course, I can't speak to the alternative because I didn't do it that way!)  I don't know because I am still selfishly trying to hold him off until after our vacations, but I think Reed is basically going to potty train himself.  Lauren says she wants to punch me in the face.  I hope she at least waits to make sure it really is going to be as easy as Reed is leading me to believe. ;)

Talking about Molly's arrival and celebrating Big Bro- I think both of these went a long way with Reed, but mainly because he is so verbal.  Some of his jealousy started to come out even before Molly arrived, (like when he ran away during any of the family pictures that included my baby belly in them!), but I kind of think that helped spread out his feelings and lessen their intensity when we really brought her home(?)  ...Both of these tactics were ongoing, and are difficult to truly evaluate, I guess.

First Weeks at Home- Of course, these didn't go like I had "envisioned."  Those initial couple of months are a blur of trying to learn how to redistribute myself.  I know we did our best and we survived, and I think that is all anyone can ask of themselves! :)

A Few Additional Post-Molly Thoughts
And last, here are a few additional thoughts on the #2 transition, (as written in a recent email exchange with the mommy-to-two I was originally searching Lauren's blog for).  Do you notice the similarities to the magazine article!  The garbage can?!  And the "Molly voice"-- guess some of the advice did stick from the first read!

Oh my. The tears over their little big brother hearts.  I ache just remembering with you- I bawled.  If it helps to have someone commiserate, then know that Reed cried, acted out, and even once asked me to put Molly in the garbage can. :)  I wanted so badly to spend special time with him, but most of the times I could finally time a feeding so that I could be the one to put him in bed or give him a bath or read with him he only wanted Matt :(  I tried to strike a balance between non-chalant and sometimes forcing my way in. (I didn't want to make a big deal, but also wanted him to see me "fight" for him).

Each big brother is different, but a couple of things that were helpful for the first several weeks:

- Lots of distraction, especially during feeding, and talking about what he is doing.  ("wow! can you jump that high again?")
- Making him a big helper (can you bring me a burp cloth?)
- Reed really took to "teaching" molly things- he thinks he taught her how to burp, how to open her eyes, how to stick out her tongue, etc haha
- Last- and this is totally dumb- but he loves when we talk in a "molly" voice, as if she is saying something to him.  "hey big brother! I love when you give me kisses" or "silly big brother! don't yell that loud! my ears are so little!"  "Wow!  I love to see you run so fast!  Will you teach me when I am bigger?"
- A couple of times I ran out for a special date with just Reed in between feedings.  (We got ice cream and threw pennies in the fountain).  I don't know if he cared or noticed but it made me feel better :)
[big brother] loves you, knows that you love him, and will fall in love with [baby sister] before you know it!  This is all just a season and passes by so quickly.

Does anyone have additional thoughts on the mother of two transition?  I so hope some of this stuff is helpful to someone some day.  What a crazy season!  I'm so grateful for the reminder of my deep, deep need for Christ.  When we are weak, He is strong!

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