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Trying not to stress while mentally preparing for Baby number 2

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Trying not to stress while mentally preparing for Baby number 2

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7 NIV)

This is what I'm meant to be telling myself whenever I notice I'm stressing out. My goal for my "Me and YOU Monday" project is to tame the stress monster within me. I've been working fairly solidly at it for over a week and a half, and I'm getting somewhere but I'm not there yet. I'm no longer stressing about how much I stress, so that has to be a good thing right? ;)

My initial goal was to not stress about stupid little things I have no control over. I'm getting there. I made a batch of muffins today and they didn't cook through properly. They were burned on the outside and mushy on the inside. In the past I would have collapsed in a heap over it, but today I just went "oh well, they didn't work", and chucked them in the fridge anyway in case we can nuke the life out of them and eat them anyway with lots of cream. I'm having a friend over for dinner tomorrow night and instead of stressing over what to cook I just bought a supermarket lasagna that I just have to chuck in the oven. This is a big deal for me because I often feel like because I'm a stay at home mum people expect me to be a "housewife", a "floral apron", you know, someone who cooks and cleans constantly, whose house is immaculate and whose cuisine is second to none. Realistically I am an ex-scientist who would rather spend my time playing with my daughter and only does the bare essentials to survive. I am coming to terms with the fact that I am not naturally talented in "domestic duties", and as I allow myself to fail I allow myself to experiment more and am actually producing some good results occasionally. When I have a friend over though I don't want to experiment in the kitchen, I wanna sit on the couch, have a chat, have a giggle, and let the oven cook my store-bought goodies for me.

So sometimes I am beating the stress monster. Hurray!

I have definitely noticed though, some sort of underlying stress, a hidden tension just beneath the surface. This has been causing the mini-meltdowns over failed culinary attempts or being late to playgroup (who isn't), or running out of milk, etc etc. Now I'm learning to control the small stuff I'm starting to think about what it is that's causing me to teeter on the edge of losing it. I'm worried, concerned, apprehensive, whatever you want to call it, about bub number 2 coming along, and what this will mean for our little family.

I vaguely remember being nervous when I was pregnant with Alexis. I wasn't sure if I'd be a good mum or how Corey would cope with sharing me or how I'd go not working after going straight from school to uni to full-time work and never slowing down before. I wasn't sure if I'd bond with the baby. I wasn't sure if I'd be strong enough, physically, emotionally. When I think about it I can remember. I had forgotten though. I wasn't sure if I would be able to love the baby as much as I had to. It seems silly now, now I am madly in love with Alexis and I know how much she loves me too, but at the time the fear was real.

I guess it's similar this time around. I'm still scared about labour too, because I was induced with Alexis so I had laughing gas on tap from very early on and within five hours of them breaking my water I was holding a beautiful baby. That five hour labour in the controlled environment was scary enough. I don't know what will happen this time. I was pretty sore and sorry for myself after the birth too,(if you're game check out my post "Big Head") and I'm not looking forward to that again. There's more to it than that though. There seems more to think about this time around. There's an extra person to think about this time around.

I guess what I'm most concerned about is how am I going to juggle both kids? I know people do it all the time. People have babies 10 months apart for crying out loud. I can deal with a newborn and a 20 month old, I will have to, I will enjoy it, I will do it well. But I don't know how. I can't see it yet. I just have to have faith. Is there anything I can do to prepare though?

With approximately 2 months until Baby Wormy is due, I'm starting to evaluate my relationship with Alexis and wondering if I need to start taking steps to make things easier when bub is born. It scares me, because Alexis is my little shadow. During the day she wants to know where I am at all times. Where I am she wants to be, wherever that is. She has had my undivided attention her whole little life. When the baby is born she will have to share me. I am realising that I won't be able to spend half an hour reading her stories and half an hour cuddling up in her bed just to get her to sleep of a day and of a night. I am realising that sitting on the couch watching playschool and playing soccer in the backyard for half an hour and playing peekaboo through the mailbox for an hour (I kid you not) are luxuries that I probably won't be able to do very often. She is going to need to be more independent. Have I spoiled her and enabled her to become too dependent? Or is this OK because she is only young? The thing is I enjoy spending time with her. I enjoy almost every minute spent with her. Sometimes I feel like I'm wasting my time but only rarely. Lately I've been cherishing the time we have left. Part of me wants to get as much one-on-one time with her as I can before bub's born, but in the back of my mind I feel I should slowly be distancing myself so she isn't all of a sudden pushed aside when bub is born.

I don't want her to feel replaced when the baby is born. I know deep down that my baby boy won't replace Alexis, not at all, but I also am aware of how much care and attention newborns can need. Corey says that babies sleep a lot, and that's true in most cases, but some babies are very difficult, are windy, have colic, have allergies, have witching hours, or just don't want to be put down. For our own convenience and his own good I want to teach him to self-settle (something we still haven't mastered with Alexis) as early as possible, but will I actually have the strength to put him down awake and let him cry himself to sleep? I'm not convinced. Will his crying upset Alexis? It doesn't seem fair to expect him to self-settle when I remember cuddling Alexis to sleep, feeding her on demand, holding her for hours while she slept on me, days where I spent hours just staring at her in amazement. I want to give my son as much attention as I gave my daughter. That's not really going to be possible though is it?

So I'm worried about how to cut down the time I spend with Alexis without making it obvious, and not feeling guilty about not being able to spend as much one-on-one time with the new baby as I did when Alexis was a newby. I guess the most logical solution is to fob Alexis off to relatives when we first bring Baby Wormy home, that way she gets attention from others and her little brother gets time with Corey and I, but I am going to have missed Alexis like crazy while in hospital and I'm not sure I want to be aware from her any more than I have to. I like my daughter's company. I'll be exhausted though? Argh, this is too much to think about two months in advance.

I'm starting to think about it because I have to be responsible and make sure Alexis is well cared for when I am unable to be there for her. Well mainly because people are asking me whether I want them to take time off work or not. I just don't know yet! It's hard when we don't know exactly when baby will be born (could be early, could be on time, could be late) and I don't know how labour and birth will go and if Wormy and I will be well. Corey is quite capable of looking after Alexis without me, but I want to free him up to spend as much time as he can with his son in the early days. Fortunately, we will not have a problem finding someone to care for Alexis. We are very blessed to have the opposite problem, everyone seems to want a piece of Alexis. My gut reaction is that my parents should have her, because they see her so regularly and she is so comfortable with them, and they live the closest to us and the hospital, but then again if I have a difficult labour or baby Wormy has trouble adjusting to life "on the outside" then they are the very people I am going to want available to be with me and bub. I just don't know yet, and I won't know until we get there. How do you make these kind of decisions?

Don't get me wrong, I am already falling madly in love with this little boy "in ma belly". I look at his ultrasound pics and my heart skips a beat. I feel him kicking me and I can see him squirming around (well I can see my belly moving and bulging up and falling back down again). I love him dearly and I know that everything will be fine. I know that Alexis is a kind and compassionate soul, and that she will love her little brother very much. I can see her sitting with her dollies mimicking me feeding and changing and bathing. I can see her kissing him and cuddling him. (Then again I can also see me saying "don't sit on his face" and grabbing her lest she love him to death.) I know that things will turn out great. I just need to not stress about it now. Dear God, help me stop stressing, I need your peace.

That said though, I do want to be as prepared as I can be, so if you have any good advice or can recommend any good books to read, or would like to share your story I would love to hear from you. Be gentle with me though!

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At August 20, 2011 at 12:20 AM , Blogger Kristy said...

You are going to be a great Mum of 2!! It does take practice and patience and a lot of "I don't care what anyone thinks of me and the state of my house and the fact I don't leave it anymore, if they love me, they will come and see me, look past the mess and know that it's the toddlers fault." Mackenna loves Piper so much and is a great helper... I don't ever think she has felt pushed out or replaced by Piper. We've always made sure that they are a part of each other's life and they both 'understand' what the other is doing and why (as best you can explain it to a toddler and an infant anyways ;) ) and I always take the opportunity when the other is asleep to have special 1 on 1 time with the other. All things that you are probably planning on doing!! Teaching him to self settle early will definitely help (has been a godsend for me!) but I think I tried to start Piper too early (can't remember when I started, but I know I should have waited til about 6wks once she'd had that first growth spurt.) It was absolute hell to go through the first week... I nearly broke almost every day, but I'm glad now that I didn't. And definitely take any help that is offered... don't ever be too proud to say no (... and don't stress about them not folding washing the same way as you, cause it probably won't get done for another few weeks if you decline their offer to fold it ;) ) Just have everyone on standby and have backups for when he is born.. because as you said, you just don't know what will happen. We had our 'plan' for Mackenna in place, which thankfully panned out perfectly, but Todd was in Perth 2 weeks before Piper was due (which turned out to be a week before she arrived) and I had 2 alternate birth support people and babysitters on standby if she decided to come while he was away. Just plan what you can and try not to stress about what you don't know or can't control... there will always be someone available at a moments notice who is more than willing to help, even if you need them for just an hour or so until a family member can get there for any of you. That's the wonderful thing about having such wonderful family and friends. xx I love being a mum of 2.... I am just coming to terms with the fact that I don't have any life of my own, but I really wouldn't have it any other way :)

At August 20, 2011 at 12:55 PM , Anonymous Andrew W said...

Hi Karlee,

As we are in almost the same boat (just 2 months ahead of you), I can at least tell you how we have been going.

We attempted to prepare Rachael as best we could for the arrival of her sibling. We had her practicing the boy and girl names we had chosen, we taught her that the baby was in Mummy's tummy and that it would come out soon, we let her meet a couple of other babies and we made sure that she had her own "baby" to care for as well. This seemed to work ok, and there were some very funny moments in the last couple of weeks of the pregnancy where she would join me sitting next to Catherine's tummy and saying "Baby come out now".

Most of all we taught her early about sharing (sharing things with Mummy or Daddy). This was useful for then explaining to her that she needed to share Mummy with Simeon.

All this prepared her, as best we could, for the impending arrival of her baby brother who at this point is 1.5 weeks old.

When they met in the hospital for the first time, she threw a tantrum as it finally sunk in that this child would take time and attention away from her. This was anticipated a little and she has actually done pretty well with interacting with Simeon since then. She loves to give him kisses at every opportunity which we have to keep an eye on because she will just about run across the room and leap onto the bouncer with him to give him kisses, a double problem when we just got him to sleep!

One of the blessings that we have had was that Catherine's parents came to stay with us for much of the time since the birth. They have just served us in so many ways (constant cooking and cleaning), but particularly, they have invested a lot of time in Rachael. This has been a lot better than us sending Rachael to stay with someone as Rachael has still been with us in the house, but pretty well distracted a lot of the time. It will be a challenge when they head home in the coming few days but I'm sure we'll do ok.

I think that you just cope. Millions of parents have done this well before us, and many thousands and most likely millions will do it after us. No one cares what your house looks like. Worry about that when you are more used to being a family of 4. Your family comes first and I'm sure that you believe that too. You'll be fine! It's hard, but then it would have been hard when the first child arrived too.

On self-settling be very careful not to swing the pendulum too far from what you did with Alexis. Learning to self settle is important but not important in the early days. Rachael is learning to self settle without a dummy at the moment with limited success. It's stressful because I know that she will go to sleep really quickly if I give her the dummy but we want her to learn to go without it now that she is bigger. It's a battle but we are getting there. We are big advocates of feed on demand and we think that it is ok to actively settle your baby if needed. We often settle Simeon in a cuddle and then move him to a bouncer or cradle once he's asleep.

From one sleep deprived parent to a soon to be sleep deprived parent, good luck and God's richest blessings to you and your growing family!!!

Andrew W

(p.s. Feel free to call us if you need to talk things through at some stage! We understand!!!)

At August 20, 2011 at 9:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to your stress! I felt the same way before bubs #2. But you will soon realise that this time is much easier, because you have done it all before & you have learnt from past experiences.

I found that with bubba #2 that you don't have to feed until they are asleep, or hold the baby until he/she falls asleep. With bubba #2 I didn't have to do controlled crying because I feed him & if he was awake, I would swaddle him up and put him down. He was so relaxed & content that he feel asleep anyway.
Second time round I also created the 7.30 bed time. Regardless of awake or alseep I would put bub to bed at 7.30 every night & just go in when he needed me & he would go to sleep. Now I can tell the time without looking for the clock because he will cry on queue at 6.45 ready for a bum change, feed & bed.

We prepared our daughter by using bubby's name as much as possible and showed her where bubby would be sleeping. We also talked about things she could help with (ie getting nappies) and things we would do as a family. I strongly used the word family when talking about activities or things that belong to us. (ie family's cat, family hug)

I also strongly believe that as nice as it is to cuddle a new baby, limit the time. I would have a small cuddle after feeding & return the baby to the crib soon after so they don't get too clingy. I would still pick up the baby when the baby cried, but as soon as the baby was asleep my rule was put the baby done. I found this really helps & definately noticed the difference between the babys that were held pretty much from birth.

Good luck with the preparation & I look forward to reading your future posts about the new addition

At August 20, 2011 at 9:29 PM , Blogger Kate said...

Oh Karlee so so normal, I remember it well. I also was so scared that I wouldn't love the new baby as much... my little man was such a joy that I couldn't imagine ever loving anyone else as much.

Of course what I discovered was that your love grows and expands and envelops them all :)

Great idea to start preparing your little one now though... my big two are 20 months apart as well. And honestly I found the step from 1-2 children far harder than any other, but mostly because my daughter was a challenging baby and my boy developed issues (which we now know were ASD related) so my experience was not necessarily the norm!

You will do so well though. You are blessed with real life support and you know you can always jump on twitter or here for support when you need it.

Much love, you are doing such a great job xox.

At August 21, 2011 at 2:13 PM , Blogger mummysundeservedblessings said...

I had the same fears before Claire was born and as they are 17 months apart people would always say " Oh you are going to have your hands full" or "you are brave" and I would panic that I would ruin Emily's life by not giving her enough attention.

Everyone is different but I found two easier than one. You pretty much do the same things for them feed, nappies, change clothes, washing. It doesn't take long until they entertain each other so more time for yourself. You already know what to do with a baby so you are likely to stress less about little things.

Breastfeeding can be challenging with a toddler getting into mischief. I would close the door the lounge room so she would stay in sight. The worst was the snotty nose which she would not get close enough for me to wipe while I was feeding.

As you said the most important thing is to trust God. He will get you through whatever situation you end up in.

I am looking forward to hearing how you go

At August 22, 2011 at 4:43 PM , Blogger Gemma @ My Big Nutshell said...

Just a thought Karlee, Jen Lindsay from Lovely Living has just had a second baby (a few days ago). She is asking the same questions as you are. Might be useful to follow her on facebook under Lovely Living and her blog too.


At August 22, 2011 at 8:22 PM , Blogger Daisy, Roo and Two said...

You are going to be fine! I know that's not a helpful answer, but seriously, you will be! I was terrified of how I would cope and how Roo would cope - a barely 17 month old daughter with twin sons. Somehow we muddled through. This is gonna sound like I'm taking your concerns lightly, but I really am not! The biggest problem I had was that Roo was so interested in the boys we had a fwe "accidents" - wherein the boys got pulled from their seats or smothered or "played" with a little too roughly for such small little beings. I soon learnt that security gates were the answer, and that if I was going to leave the babies in a room then it was best to take the toddler with me for everyone's safety!

At August 26, 2011 at 11:21 AM , Blogger The Mother Experiment said...

Thank you so much to you all for taking the time to comment. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one who has felt like this.
Kristy - your suggestion to put people "on call" has been well received, thanks
Andrew - I'm sure you're doing great! I'm worried about Alexis wanting to cuddle and kiss bub all the time too. I guess we will just deal with that when we get to it.

Anon - thanks! I don't know who you are so if I'm not already following your blog let me know
Kate - I love your empathy and how real you are. Thanks for your support

Mummy's undeserved blessings - you're actually not the first one who has said that it's easier with two. I'm hoping that's the case, and you're right at least I know how to hold a baby etc etc this time!

Gemma - thanks for the tip, I keep forgetting to search for her but I will!

Daisy - yeah but you're a champion :p. Safety gates and supervising toddler sound like very good ideas ;). Thanks


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