Part 6 of a series of 8:
As we enter the last few (days? weeks?) of our pregnancy with LF#5, I have to admit that one of my biggest, most gigantic fears about having two nurslings under the age of two is “how will I EVER find a sitter for two completely attached, nursing babies AND my high-needs 6 year old???” Not that we have a need to spend a ton of time away from our kids, but having the option for some time together every few months seems like a marriage saving idea!
In the past, with the wide age spacing of the older children, it was really never a big deal. Everyone was always happy to have the older, experienced “helper” tag along to provide invaluable care-giving advice: “Oh, that cry means she wants her blankie! or “By this time, Mom always puts her in the sling!” And even when Bug came along with her higher-needs personality, we had my parents nearby to help out when she was very tiny. After we moved further away, she had her own personal favorite nanny to provide loving care when she was a toddler. When T-Bird arrived and I had to return to work much sooner than I would have liked, we got creative and rearranged our work schedule to ensure that either Sir Hubby or I could always take care of her (and yes, that’s our picture on page 189 of Attached at the Heart!)
Since moving away from my parents, our beloved nanny, and my flexible job, I have been a full-time homeschooler, stay-at-home-parent, and very tired pregnant lady! But being at home has also allowed me to forge many wonderful friendships in our new hometown. I adore that we share so many of the same parenting values with our new circle of friends. But, like me, they also have very full lives and busy families. We can get together and have playgroups, and homeschool groups, and ladies nights…but leaving T-Bird with someone other than Sir Hubby or Big Sister Ella has not been territory that I have delved into yet.
Feeling particularly burnt out in mid-pregnancy, I sent an SOS to my new friends asking for whatever help they might be able to offer a weary, exhausted, nearly insane pregnant momma. I wasn’t disappointed! In particular, one of my new lovely lady friends has stepped up to the plate in ways that truly humble me. She came over one day with her little guy and hung out with T-Bird and Bug while I ran some child-free, nursing-free, sling-free, whine-free errands for a few hours.
I bought maternity clothes that didn’t have to be returned because the kiddos were too hungry, tired, cranky, and/or bored to let me try them on before I bought them. I actually procured ALL of the ingredients for a recipe without having to send Sir Hubby out hours later to finish what I had started. I listened to NPR Talk Radio instead of the one Feist song that T-Bird insists I play over, and over, and over again whenever she is in the car. But better than ALL of that was seeing how happy the kids were to be playing with their new caregiver when I returned home. Knowing that this lovely woman shared all of the same parenting philosophies…had read all of the same books…adhered to the same lifestyle choices that our family embraced…it all brought me a peaceful, secure feeling. I knew that my children were being taken care of in a better way than I was capable of doing at the moment while under so much stress and pressure. This led us to the next big step: Sir Hubby and I going out together!
Since T-Bird’s birth in March of ’08, Sir Hubby and I have only enjoyed scarce moments out of the house together…Big Sister Ella, at 15, is responsible enough to cover a short period of time while I run Sir Hubby to the office, or we run an errand that requires both of us to be present (like picking out the new sofa), but we try very hard to be respectful of her time and not take advantage of the fact that she lives with us. Besides, while she is incredibly patient and loving with T-Bird, Bug’s more demanding needs tend to bring out the bully in Ella. So, often times, we decide to take Bug with us and leave T-Bird and Ella at home. A good solution, until you realize that Sir Hubby and I are still not enjoying any alone time together.
Recently, we decided to sign up for a Hypnobabies course, not because we needed to really prepare for our baby’s birth, but because we knew that taking time to be together and focused on LF#5 was imperative for our relationship and for preparing to welcome our newest little one as his/her own little person. Again, I put out the call for assistance. Again, our dear friend was able to provide the perfect solution.
She provides care for Bug at her place while Ella and T-Bird stay at ours. It gives Bug a fun night out with a family who really seem to enjoy her passionate, full-speed ahead personality. They can allow her to run and tumble and wrestle in a safe environment with their equally physical little guy. Meanwhile, T-Bird enjoys a quiet night where she gets snuggled and babied by her beloved Big Sister and treated to playing dress up and make-up, which she adores but usually cannot do when trying to keep up with Bug’s high activity level. Sir Hubby and I get to enjoy a nice talk in the car, a few hours dedicated to preparing for our new little one (getting so excited to meet our new babe now!) and sometimes we even stop on the way home for a treat that we don’t have to share with the kids (shhhhh, don’t rat us out!) It has been just the boost I have needed to enjoy these last few precious moments carrying this baby within me before we face the challenges of tandem nursing two under two!
Being the control freak/worrywart that I am, I know that it will be a while before I am willing to leave our new babe with anyone..shared values or no. But knowing that wonderful people like my parents, our beloved nanny, and our newest friend have been in our lives for our other children gives me hope that when the time is right, the right people will show up in our lives to provide exactly what our family needs–without compromising our Attachment Parenting principles!
Read the other posts in this series:
Part One: Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
Part Two: Feed With Love and Respect
Part Three: Respond With Sensitivity
Part Four: Use Nurturing Touch
Part Five: Ensure Safe Sleep