Update: Breastfeeding, Post Birth, Being the Mother of Two, and Other Random Overshares

The other night I asked Harper, “What can baby Finley do?” She precociously replied, “She can take a pooh!” Nailed it.

If naming the short list of Finley’s achievements is paramount to adjusting to being a big sister, Harper is doing fine. Juuuust fine.

Lesbehonest, the first few weeks months after having a baby are all about low expectations. I know this blog is called Great Expectations, but to survive the postpartum mayhem of emotions, change, and sometimes downright chaos, I’m remembering that I have to be kind to myself and someday I’ll be like Stella, and get my mothering groove back. For now, we’re just trying to take it slow as we adjust to our new life.

Even though I’ve only been a “mother of two” for a little over two weeks, I thought I’d share a little of how me, my favorite 2T, and our teeny tiny are adjusting to life.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty first: breastfeeding round two.

Finley knew her way around a boob from the minute she was born. Hallelujah. Unfortunately for my girls, the engorged C-cup wonders, she took lessons from a piranha on the art of suckling.

Knowing in advance that breastfeeding hurts worse than the humiliation of the 80s bangs I rocked until the year 2000, I have not been detoured. It’s hard out here for the mother of a baby piranha though.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the info you don’t want to know but need to know, my lovely lady lumps cracked so bad my white bras turned crimson and my teeny tiny was gulping pink milk. If she grows up to be a vampire, I’ll only have myself to blame.

Crisis averted though, thanks to my savior, the nipple shield, and even though I’m still curling my toes a bit at the initial latch, breastfeeding is going well. Rest assured that the only pink milk my littlest girlfriend will get in the future is strawberry.  I overshare this info as encouragement. Breastfeeding is rough at times but doable.

In fact, until I started nursing again I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I missed tiny, wrinkled hands grabbing at my shirt, pulling me closer, asserting to the milk, “Get in my belly!”

Newborns are ravenous, grunty little things, who carry an intoxicating smell of spit up and showcase adorably gassy smiles. Sigh. I love me a newborn. Especially my little piranha.

Nitty gritty overshare numero dos I’m happy to  report is not as graphic: the aftermath.

There was less of an explosion in the ol’ baby parts and recovery has been much less difficult. I’ve already said goodbye to my love, the donut, (but not stool softeners, we’re bros for life).

I took a friend’s suggestion to rock an ice pack from dawn until dusk and I believe it’s made all the difference. Sure this road less traveled by requires I wear an adult diaper and the hospital’s version of an ice pack, a newborn diaper packed with ice at all times. With two diapers strapped to my chonies, success is mine. Although you can hear the sound of my diapers coming from down the hall, I have the last “my stitches don’t even hurt when I laugh” laugh.

Thank you friend for the advice and you’re welcome for the tip to the two people still reading this overly informative post.

Now onto the real star and the person I get the most questions about: Harper.

Harper is adjusting well. She’s interested in the baby when she wants to be and the rest of the time just goes about her toddler business. She has realized mom’s hands are a little more full with the new babe so that means her toddler business now includes running around naked and untamed as much as possible. Her mantra, everything is better nudie.

Honestly, the girl sure is sweet to her sister. Sure, she’s going through a little “all the attention all the time” detox, but she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Instead, she calls Finley “my baby.”

Finley was crying the other night when I asked Harps to come to dinner. She replied, “I can’t. My baby needs me.” Shoot girl, you sure know how to make your post-birth hormonal mama cry even more. What can I get your sweet little heart? Cookies? Ice cream?

The first night Finley was home Harper woke up and immediately asked, “Where’s my baby?”

Even though I’d like a little credit for birthing this baby, I’ll take her protectiveness and baby hoarding over resentment any day.

She chatters to her in the car, which again, cues the tears, and is really not safe for driving. Whoops. How am I supposed to hold it together though when Harper is telling her sister, “It’s okay my baby, we’ll be there soon. Don’t cry.” You would cry too if it happened to you.

I welcome the tears for the sweet, thoughtful, birthday suit rocking big sister Harper is becoming.

Finally, I wanted to share a little about how I’m managing my newly divided attention.

Right now, two feels overwhelming at times, but each day we’re trying.

The moment I dreaded the most, when my girls needed me at the exact same time, happened. It’s actually happened several times. Occasionally, this moment of not knowing what to do and who to help first has left us all crying. It breaks my heart not being able to have enough hands for both of them. Sure, I’ve mastered the art of the one-hand, nurse while eating, cooking, cleaning, dance partying, and mail grabbing but sometimes, that’s not enough.

As both girls lay sleeping in their beds tonight, identical snores escaping from their rooms, I remembered that even though I don’t always have enough hands, I do have more than enough love for the both of them. That’s really what they need.

It is difficult to relearn how to balance my time and attention between the people I love the most. I am trying to set my expectations low. There are a lot of things that can wait. At the end of the day, the things I need to get done are to take care of myself and my family.

There will be a day when “routine” is a word in our vocabulary again, when sleep is not interrupted, and I’ll feel less frazzled by which crying babe to help first.

Today though, I want to welcome the fact that I don’t have all the answers about how to mother two. That’s the crazy, hard, wonderful part about motherhood; it is a constant learning process with new dilemmas each day. It requires growth, uncomfortableness, tears, love, forgiveness and a lot of laughter.

Being a mother to two is stretching me in new ways. For as many times as I’ve cried exhausted, helpless tears the past few weeks, they’ve been matched by joy and gratitude for our new life.

We’re taking it one day at a time over here and so far we’re surviving. Actually, we’re doing pretty swell.

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  1. by Lindsey

    On February 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    What an honest and heartfelt post. i loved it. There is no such things as TMI in the post-partum world of mommies, so i totally understand. Nursing was difficult for me the first time around and when bleeding nipples and kicking the couch each time became intolerable, I finally let go of my pride and called the miracle worker of all lactation consultants: Doris Christiansen. It was so embarrassing to flash my boobs to a stranger and ask for help doing something that should have been instinctive and easy, right? She made me feel super comfortable and had that baby latching on properly in no time (and in 6 different positions). It took a week or so for my nips to heal, but man it took her to help me not give up on a wonderful breastfeeding experience that followed. I am a few weeks away from delivering #2 and I hope this time its easier. If not, Doris is only a phone call away. Best wishes for BF, but please call an amazing resource if you need any advice, or assistance. She’s already helped over 10 of my friends who were struggling. So happy to hear Harper is adjusting well. She sounds like such a sweet and caring sister!!