I started Learning To Crawl was because I was trying to figure out becoming a parent for the first time. I learned heaps along the way, but that’s not to say I’ve got this sussed! I’m still learning all about myself, my daughter and my partner. As any parent of young children will tell you, shit changes all the time. You get one thing sorted and the next challenge pops up. With lots of heartwarming stuff in between. In April next year we’ll throw a newborn into the mix. So here’s what I’ll do differently this time…
- Ask for and accept offers of help
As a first-time Mum I was so keen to prove I could do it all – to my detriment. Social niceties dictate that “fine thank you” and “no thank you” are easier than “I need help” and “yes that would be wonderful thank you”. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and modern parents operate more in isolation that we used to. So for those who do come calling, let them help as they actually want to.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Good grief. Just remembering when the old school Plunket lady would come bowling in and leave me in tears. I always felt so inadequate: “you should really know how to settle her – if she doesn’t sleep during the day, she won’t sleep at night” Well that’s enough to strike anxiety into the heart of a sleep deprived new mother! And it’s not true. Aside from the fact that each baby is different, it wasn’t helpful for me to stress about any lack of sleep during the day. This time, instead of clock-watching, I’m going to try and roll with it. Hopefully I’ll generally be more relaxed with two to worry about and not try to micro-manage every aspect of the day.
3. Trust my gut
Something was very wrong around the 4-month mark. This coincided with my milk supply running dry. Jessica was upset all the time and she was treated for reflux, constipation and we were told it’s “probably colic” and that “babies cry”. Despite being a first time parent, I knew it wasn’t right for Jessica to be upset for half of the day and night. Other babies were much more settled and content. We saw several GPs, a lactation consultant and Plunket and no one suggested a lack of supply as an issue. It never occurred to me either, as I was taught in ante-natal class that only 4% of mothers will have an issue with supply. Eventually I got an appointment with a Paediatric Specialist after crying down the phone to the receptionist and in the same week I called in a Karitane Nurse. Both concurred that unfortunately Jessica was starving. If something is wrong with her and I’m not comfortable with the answer offered, I go into bat for her. That is my job as her Mum.
4. Be Prepared
- Purelan and Hydrogel Breast Discs for sore nips for breastfeeding
- A tin of formula on hand if it doesn’t work out and zero guilt
- Food and snacks galore at hospital and in the house for hunger and convenience
- I’m thinking some sort of bassinet that can side-car to the bed this time to save getting up, especially if I have another c-section
- A plan for regular self-care (ie every day I’m going to have a shower, or go for a walk/leave the house by myself when I’m ready)
- A plan for time to spend with just Jessica and Mummy
5. Reality Check
Chances are, this next kid will be quite different to our boisterous toddler. So just realising that just because we found some things that work for Jessica, they might not work for the next baby. We might have to start from scratch – with a toddler in the mix. However on the optimistic side, I’ll have a (hopefully) keen big sister whose goal in life will be to look after and entertain her little bro/sister.
6. Know That Sleep Will (Eventually) Come
Sleep deprivation is the absolute pits and impacts the whole family. Everyone is shitty and even simple decision-making is quite taxing. Part of the stress in the first year was the panic that we were stuck in a particular phase with no change or end in sight. I think that’s the hardest part. So while we start the sleep deprivation cycle again, we need to remember that sleep will come – maybe not right when we need or want it to – but we will get to shut our eyes at some point.
What would you add to the list? How else can someone prepare for going from one child to two?