I'm three weeks into my journey as a mother of two. So much feels different this time. So much is different this time. With my first I had never been a mother before. The learning curve was steep and everything was new. I vastly underestimated the change it would bring to my life and was caught off guard by how much motherhood challenged me. This time I have a toddler to manage in addition to a newborn. So while the mothering part isn't new, learning to mother two is something I have never before experienced. I mentally prepared myself for, and greatly feared, this transition in ways I didn't the first time, and feel that I have adjusted much better, so far, to being a second time mom than I did the first time around.
So, three weeks in, here are my thoughts. With my first I was so sleep deprived. I didn't know I could be so tired and didn't handle it very well. Looking back I wish I had slept when the baby slept. Instead I think I just watched him. I was so in love and had never been through any of this before. I probably was also scared that I might do something wrong or miss something. Also, he wouldn't sleep without me. Now I can't sleep when the baby sleeps. My newborn wakes me at 1am, at which time he insists on being held and/or nursed for the remainder of the night until my non-napping toddler wakes for the day. I'm tired. I'm sleep deprived, but I think I'm managing it better. Maybe I've grown accustomed to surviving on little sleep after years of way too little sleep so the adjustment isn't as sharp. Maybe I am sleeping more than I did with my first since I allow myself to sleep holding him (actually I think I was more scared about that this time around than I was with my first. Sometimes knowing more creates more fear).
I also miss being able to just breathe in my newborn. I can't sit and stare into eyes all day. I still take a million pictures of him, but I miss being able to just watch him--to watch him sleep and breathe, to listen to his coos and sounds, to smell him, to watch him move and sleep, to study everything about him in an attempt to seal it into my memory forever. As guilty as I feel for saying it, sometimes find myself longing for time with just my newborn. I wish my toddler would stop asking me a million questions and demanding to play with me so that I could just sit quietly with my newborn and take it all in.
And my poor newborn is always surrounded by so much noise. When my first born slept, he got quiet. When we spent time looking at each other and studying each others' faces, there was no one screaming in the background. I was able to speak quietly and calmly to him without any other outside noise or distractions. This time my baby gets no peace (sometimes I think that's why he chooses to spend the nights up with me). Sometimes I worry about the fact that his world is always so chaotic, but I also realize that's always been his life. In my womb, my firstborn had peace and quiet as I taught yoga through his whole pregnancy. This one heard his brother from the beginning. I imagine that's why he startles less and has been so patient with the chaos--it's all he's ever known.
It's sometimes a struggle to try and meet both their differing needs. I want quiet and calm for my newborn, but, at the same time, I don't want to tell toddler to be quiet, especially if I'm telling him to be quiet for his brother. Their relationship matters to me, and I want them to grow up appreciating and loving each other from the start. I never want to create resentment or an atmosphere of competing for my affection or attention between them. So, I try to help them both get their needs met in ways that are different than I would do if I only had one. Things like covering my newborn's ears, holding him against me, and gently patting him while playing an excited, loud game with his big brother. I want them both to feel like I love them separately for the individuals they are and together for the way they treat and care for each other. I want them both to feel seen, heard, and valued, which can be more challenging with two because I can't make eye contact with both and I only have two hands. But, I've learned how much I can do with those two hands. How I can hold them both and rest them against me. How I can caress one while looking at the other and how I can talk to one about how much I adore the other while in the other's presence.
Also, I realize that I must adjust my beliefs about what is ideal. My newborn may not get my undivided attention like my toddler did, but gets the adoration of his big brother. Ultimately, I love being a mother to two, maybe even more than being a mother to one. Maybe that's because I have adjusted better, maybe it's because I love seeing their relationship already forming, or maybe it's because I love them both so much and can't envision my life without either of them (I had no idea I could love my second this much). I know each stage and change will bring new challenges and difficulties, but I also know we will adapt. I love being a mother of two, and will gladly take the chaos for all the love.