7 resolutions for baby #2

So, about that whole balance thing. I’m bad at it. Really bad. And as we mothers tend to do when expecting baby number two, I’m going through my mental list of things I want to do differently now that I have some experience under my belt. My list seems to revolve around achieving balance. Which, I haven’t yet learned to do with my firstborn. Here are some things I plan to try to get better at this.

1. I will put the baby down. Sometimes. Once upon a time, I thought bouncy seats and swings were for mean mommies. But you know what? We need both of our hands and a full range of motion from time to time. To feed ourselves, to tend to the needs of our other children, to wipe up that dust bunny that brings our hormonal selves to tears because we’ve been staring at it for a week with a sleeping baby in our arms. Even the fanciest slings and carriers come with limitations. Tending to other things, including, you know, basic hygiene, is part of the program. And the baby will be no less content and secure. If she is, I trust that my instincts will pick up on it. Which brings me to…

2. I will trust my instincts. I had a hard time with this one early on. Could you blame me? What did I know? First, I’d never been a mother, so it was all new territory for me. Second, my mother had passed away years before my first was born, so I didn’t have that person I felt I could call to give me the right answer every time. I relied on books, where each one contradicts the next, and instinct. In retrospect, I’ve realized that instinct usually trumped what I found in print.

This time around, I’ll acknowledge that my mothering instincts are there and in working order. We are equipped with them for a reason.

3. I won’t be so paranoid about nursing in public. More often than I’d like to admit, I left a cartful of groceries in the middle of the aisle to run out to the car, or ducked into a bedroom, or surveyed a building upon arrival to find a hidden place to nurse, or lugged around an extra 15 lbs of bottles, pumped milk and ice, or made my crying, hungry child wait for a bottle to warm. And for what? For the comfort of the few squeamish who, in my humble opinion, need to lighten up? Wow, I prioritized rude strangers’ comfort over my child’s and my own. Not cool. I can’t whine that breastfeeding isn’t the norm if I’m not willing to be a part of the change I’d like to see.

4. I will try to remember that I’m a person, too. And I shouldn’t feel guilty about passing off parent duty to the husband or a caregiver to go to that yoga class I wanted to try, or to take a hot shower, or go to an actual store to find post-partum clothes that fit (vs. buying online). True, the baby might cry. And if I’m not there, Dad or the person in charge will do their best to soothe her.

Confession: I still feel guilty if I take a shower while my toddler is awake. My husband would think this is stupid.

5. I will live in the moment. As soon as my little guy was born, I started my mental panic countdown to the day I would have to go back to my full-time job. How much time must I have wasted feeling sad about someday being apart from him when I could have been enjoying my time with him?

Although I will be able to stay home with my kids this time around, being present is just as important. Sometimes it’s hard to do the day-to-day thing mindfully in our multi-tasking, over-scheduling culture. I need to remind myself to slow down and enjoy every moment as much as one can on just a few hours of sleep here and there.

6. I won’t feel guilty when I don’t get it all done. Heck, I don’t get it all done now. I would love to be superhuman, but see #4. I’m just a plain ol’ person. Even if it doesn’t get done, it’ll all be okay. It always turns out okay.

7. I’ll ask for help. Well, I say that now, but when the time comes I probably won’t. Those who know me know that if I’ve asked for something, it’s pretty much a life-or-death emergency and they should rush to my side. Hey, I listed it, which means I’m going to try. (I hope I don’t alarm anyone.)

Maybe I should revisit this list once the baby is born…

Is there anything you would do differently?

Beyond Babyhood: The Joy of Mothering Toddlers to Teens

I’m anxious to see the documentary “Babies” (see clip below), that chronicles the first year in the lives of four babies from across the globe. However, I can’t help but wish that the producers would follow up with a sequel, “Toddlers.” And of course, “Teens” would also be an interesting film.

(In case you haven\’t seen it, here’s the Babies documentary promo.)

I’m still surprised by how frequently new moms express a fear of parenting a toddler; sometimes openly critical of other moms with older children. I see it in the blogosphere over and over. All this judgment coming from parents who are used to observing a contented baby cooing in a baby carrier. I can only smile and nod, while silently praying, “Give strength to this mother, Lord, because she will certainly need it!”

I have definitely struggled to let go of the baby years; I was pregnant with my second child shortly after the first started to walk. And while I will always love being around babies, I’ve also embraced the joy of each passing milestone. This week, my five-year-old daughter lost her first tooth. I shared her pride and happiness, despite my memories of rocking her when she was teething. My seven-year-old girl watched in awe as an older girl got her ears pierced; asking again when she can do this. (Not before age 10, which will be here before I know it.) And I’m not afraid to admit that I will be incredibly grateful to be done with the diaper phase!

MOM DARE: For moms who are still at the beginning of this journey, your challenge this week is to imagine your baby as a toddler, a preschooler and beyond (as far as you can fathom). What will you miss and what will you be happy to put behind you? Conjure up that first moment when your child hugs your neck and proclaims, “I wub you.” And most of all, I urge you to practice patience and tolerance of moms who are mothering children at different stages than your own. If you’re a mom who has moved beyond the baby years, take some time this week to look back on that first magical year with each of your children. Look through some old photos or baby books. Sometimes during a rough phase in parenting, it helps to remember your child as that toothless, cooing bundle of love.

Sharron Wright is the work-at-home mother of three girls, ages 2, 5 and 7. Her mission is to help other new parents feel empowered and to instill in them the confidence to care for their babies in a loving, positive way that respects the uniqueness of all children. Visit her at www.babylovecarebook.com.

Move over: making room for 1 more in the bed (Part 3 of a series on preparing for baby #2)

This is the third post in a series on preparing for a second baby. If you haven’t read it already, check out the first part What on Earth Were We Thinking? and the second part To tandem or not to tandem.

…there were four in a bed and the little one said

“roll over, roll over”

so they all rolled over and one fell out

There were three in a bed and the little one said…

Sprawling limbs. Acrobatic nursing. Coughs. Teeth grinding. Wiggling. Wet diapers. Teething. All things that can make sleeping with multiple children challenging. But the cuddles, ah….the cuddles. They make it all worthwhile. And having your kids feel secure at night is a wonderful feeling. Continue reading “Move over: making room for 1 more in the bed (Part 3 of a series on preparing for baby #2)”

Baby Led Sleep

I have two children right now. The Bean is almost three years and the Chickpea is almost eight months. Last night, and the night before that, and the night before that, I parented my three year old to sleep until he was soundly, deeply, out. On those same nights I nursed my eight month old in the rocker in her room, rocked her with her pacifier, and put her in her crib from Treasure Rooms sleepy but awake. Then I left her alone and walked out. Within a few minutes, a few quiet minutes with a little tossing and maybe a sigh she was asleep. Continue reading “Baby Led Sleep”

Getting Dad into the Game

I often hear new moms tell me they are pumping so that dad can give the new baby a bottle. Over and over I hear that they want dad to feel involved and feeding an infant a bottle is just the way to do it.

As the mother of four, this seems redundant to me. My motto is always to prioritize and simplify. If you are nursing your baby, feeding the baby is not a task that needs doing by someone else. You pretty much have that one covered… and you can accomplish it while ostensibly sitting down and thumbing through a magazine or checking your e-mail. In my world, that means nursing is a baby duty I am happy to do! To let someone else feed the baby actually means more work for me, not less, as I have to figure out a time to pump when the two-year old does not tug at the machinery and what the heck do you do with a crabby newborn while you use both hands to juggle the pump anyways? Such a production!

So then, where does that leave dad? And older siblings? And grandparents? And everyone else who wants a piece of that delicious baby-care pie? Fear not, new babies are nothing if not, how can I put this graciously, full ’o needs. Even when mama is taking care of 100% of the feeding needs, baby still needs changing, bathing, dressing and holding. There are still plenty of baby-care duties that can be delegated and provide those special moments for bonding… tasks that actually need doing.

Send dad off on a walk with a well-fed, drowsy baby in a soft baby carrier and put your feet up and enjoy 20 minutes to yourself. Dad gets to bond with the new baby, dad feels competent because babies are generally content nestled in a soft carrier. Win- win! Let older siblings be in charge of choosing the outfit for the day, or singing to the baby during diaper changes. Grandparents can bathe and cuddle the new baby. There is never a shortage of baby care duties. And, hey, if someone really, really still wants to feed the baby, no worries, in 6 to 8 months, baby will happily accept cheerios, banana and avocado from just about anyone.

Breastfeeding can be intense the first few months. The nursing relationship between mama and nursling can seem exclusive. How have you included other members of your family in baby bonding time outside of the nursing relationship?

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