It’s been eight weeks since I became a mom of two, and I have a not-very-surprising confession:
Baby number two has been really hard.
Not that I thought it would be easy, but I figured the experience and perspective I gained with my first would somehow make me better at this newborn thing. As it turns out, I AM better at diapers and baths, pumping and milk storage. I am less paranoid about milestones, percentiles, and every little grunt and cry.
Being an experienced mom has NOT made me less anxious, given me better self-esteem, improved my baby telepathy powers, or made me tolerate sleep deprivation with any more grace. Plus, I now have an older child to worry about; I never anticipated all the guilt around meeting her needs now. Honestly, things have gotten pretty ugly at times. I don’t know how else to say it. Better now than the first month but still rocky.
Baby blues are supposed to last two weeks – I’m going on eight. Maybe I have postpartum depression. Or maybe I’m just still adjusting to one of the biggest life transitions I will ever experience. I have a hard time getting over a bad haircut or a hole in a favorite shirt in two weeks. I get two weeks to adjust to adding a whole new family member?? It’s hard to imagine that a new mom wouldn’t continue to feel a little blue after so little time.
The good news is that I’m not doing this totally on my own. If there are two things motherhood has bestowed upon me (besides my kids, of course), they are humility and resourcefulness. So I’ve been talking and researching and joining and doing. I am actively working on figuring this all out.
A few important supports to mention:
-My husband and parents have all but taken over caring for my two-year-old, have kept my house in livable shape, provided endless emotional support, and kept us all fed. On many occasions I have had to swallow my pride and say those dreaded words: “I need…”, and they find a way to make it happen.
-I hired a lactation consultant to help us work through the early days of breastfeeding. Things still aren’t perfect, but she had a very non-judgmental approach and really helped us get off to a good start.
-My healthcare professionals aren’t always the most sensitive, but I give them credit for being concerned about me from day one and checking up on me consistently. (I’m a little annoyed that, after flags came up on my postpartum depression screen, they gave me the homework of finding a way to get more sleep before making any other recommendations, but that’s probably a topic for another day.)
-I joined a facilitated moms’ support group, which is something that I didn’t even know existed in the world until recently. We have only met twice so far, but it’s been beyond great to have a dedicated time and place to talk about some of the things I’ve been going through with people who are also living it.
-I have met and been socializing with some other moms of babies in my neighborhood. Putting myself out there and actively pursuing these types of relationships is sometimes hard for me, but I’m so glad I have had the guts to go outside my comfort zone. I’ve met some really great people.
So that’s my update. I know that it will get better, she’ll eventually sleep longer, and I’ll start to feel more like myself, probably sooner rather than later. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that being a mom to a new baby is hard whether you’re on number one or number five. Babies are just hard, and I find myself guiltily wishing these days away. For now, I’m just taking it one day at a time.