What a difference nearly four and a half years of parenting experience makes. Bringing home our second daughter has been very different from our first.
With my first baby, I was meticulous with writing things down. For the first six weeks of her life, I wrote down every nursing session – side and time – and every wet and dirty diaper. It started in the hospital and so seemed important, and I like data so I kept that notebook up-to-date. I finally stopped because we were traveling for Christmas and it was too hard to keep up with it while visiting and staying away from home.
Looking back, it seems rather silly, although I don’t regret it since it gave me comfort and eased my transition to motherhood. But bringing home little sister has been much different. I wrote down diapers and feedings at the hospital to help the nurses do their job (they provide green sheets and ask parents to track those things). Once we got home, I tried to keep up with the data collection, especially because my daughter was recovering from jaundice and knowing that she had 6-8 wet diapers every 24 hours was important. But my record keeping didn’t last. Eventually I just decided to go with the flow and listen to my baby.
Amazingly, it’s working fine – she can tell me when she needs to eat, and her growth and weight gain has been incredible even without keeping records. I grow big babies in utero and they keep on growing once out in the real world.
One of my favorite compliments from my daughters’ pediatrician was on one of our very first visits with our first daughter. She said something like “you don’t seem like a first-time mom because you’re so laid back.” I treasured that in my heart and hoped I was a “natural” at this motherhood thing.
I hope I’m even better now, although the work of juggling two in very different stages of childhood is certainly challenging. Recently the pediatrician said “you make it look easy,” and made my heart soar again. So my advice is to find a doctor who will build you up like that – no matter what number baby you’re bringing home!
Of course baby #2 has baby #1 to contend with when she comes home. Our older daughter is four and a half, so no longer a baby. She’s enamored with her little sister, which is amazing and also terrifying because we have to stay on her to not smother the baby with kisses, jostle her too much, etc.
As for me, I am definitely multi-tasking more with this baby than when we had our first. I sat a lot more for nursing, rocking and singing with our first daughter. I do a fair bit of sitting now, but definitely less because our 4.5-year-old girl needs help too – with the potty, getting a snack, playing a game, etc. And she also generates a lot more housework that keeps me busier than when we first became a family of three.
I expect we’ll deal with jealousy and other problems later when the baby is mobile and can get into our big girl’s things, but so far we’ve been lucky and are settling into a good groove as a family of four.
Mari Walker lives in Baton Rouge with her husband, Shawn, and daughters Jane (born November 2011) and Livia (born March 2016). A freelance communications professional originally from Oklahoma, Mari also blogs at silvermari.com.