The Power of 2

Now that my second child is 6…7…8… 9 months old, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve finally got a handle on things.

Yeah, I’ve been pretty confident in my ways for a while…but the truth of the matter is this: I don’t think any mom really knows if she’s doing it right…ever. Everything that my husband and I do for these children comes from love. No matter what the situation, if it doesn’t feel right in our hearts…we’re not going to do it.

There are several things that I found were significantly different with my first child than with my second…and I’m trying to figure out why people don’t tell you this!

First of all…the pregnancy in itself! With my son, I was literally glowing ALL. THE. TIME. People told me…and I felt it! I gained 70 lbs, I couldn’t tie my shoes by 7 months along, I couldn’t put lotion on my legs, I had to pee constantly, and it was the hottest summer in Indiana in decades…through all of that, though, I was happy. The unbelievable things that my body was doing naturally and the notion that I was MAKING a HUMAN were so overwhelming and wonderful that I was just always giddy! Fast forward a couple years, I’m pregnant with my daughter, my back hurt so badly so often that every movement was a struggle, I had mood swings like crazy (just ask my husband!), and to top it all off…I had a 1 year old to chase after. Maybe it’s not like that for every woman, but it was for me, which has me seriously considering whether or not to have another child for the sake of my sanity and my marriage!!

Also, all those friendly words of wisdom and tips from strangers change…DRASTICALLY! I used to get bombarded with strangers comforting my fears and telling me that “it all comes naturally” or “it just works out” or “it’s the happiest time of your life”. The second time around, however, strangers comments became a little more harsh when they found out I had a 1 year old running around. It became “oh, just you wait” and “good luck” or the ever frequent shake of the head and smirk as they walk away…like they have a terrible secret that they can’t bare to tell me. Even my mother, who had three little ones herself, seemed to be waiting for my head to burst!

All those helpful hints that came the first time around like “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “eat when the baby eats” and “don’t forget to take time for yourself” are completely irrelevant when you have a toddler to run after. Nobody tells you that your children will NEVER…let me repeat…NEVER sleep at the same time. So not only will you not be able to sleep at night with a newborn waking up every couple hours, but you can totally forget about the crutch of a short afternoon nap that you once had!

And all of that energy and focus and love and bonding time that was breastfeeding with your first is completely different when you constantly have to try to cradle a baby to your breast while trying to prevent your toddler from throwing his toys at the TV every two hours…because obviously, the only time to act like a miniature lunatic is when you’re mom is trying to soothe a hungry baby.

I distinctly remember the surprise and joy I felt when sliding into my pre-pregnancy jeans a mere three weeks after my son was born. The weight just seemed to fall off. All I can say now is that with missing as many meals as I have while juggling two minis these last few months is that I should definitely be closer to pulling those same jeans on as I am. That’s as much as I’m going to say about that.

Nothing’s easy with two. I still fear going to the grocery store or running ANY errand with two in tow while my husband is at work for fear that my toddler will run away and get kidnapped. I try to avoid it as often as possible.

However…

There are some positives that came from two that I also never expected. Let’s start by the way my baby girl has always looked at her big brother. I’m talking from the beginning, when she could barely focus on anything. The way that she looks at her big brother is something that I’ve never seen. There is so much love and trust. Even now that she’s bigger, my son can run and jump on top of her and be way more rough than I’d like, and she still just looks at him like, “I love this guy. This guy is MINE.” It totally melts my heart…every single time.

And I thought I loved my son before. I thought he was perfect when he was an only child. But I didn’t know anything! He has blossomed as a big brother! He has become so much kinder and selfless than I ever imagined a 2 year old could be!  Everyone told me, “He is going to be so jealous!” Well, granted he didn’t acknowledge her for the first 6 weeks of her life, he has never been jealous of her. He tries to feed her. He soothes her when she’s upset. He randomly runs up to her and kisses her on the head. It’s like he innately understands that it is his duty to take care of her. It’s a magic that I had never before experienced.

And lastly, the unity that it has brought my family. Through the challenges and struggles that having two young children brings, it has brought my husband and I closer than ever. We are on the same page. We want the same things for our children. We know we are a team and we don’t work unless we work together. I understand why marriages fail after having children. It’s hard. It’s really hard. But there is nothing that will ever be stronger than the bond that formed when we brought two little people into this world. And no matter what obstacles we face, we will face them together, and as a whole.

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An Extra Kiss

I’ve heard the stories about the kid of a friend of a friend, and I’ve seen the news stories about sick babies, and I’ve even come across tragic stories of people who I don’t know on my Facebook news feed. Nothing, though, could have prepared me for the scariest moment of my life when I watched my 2 1/2 year old son experience a seizure.

That helpless little face will forever be imprinted into my mind no matter how much I try to shake it out. I can’t describe the amount of time that passed or the faces of the EMT’s and paramedics that showed up or even how my husband was reacting because my vision was completely tunneled to my precious little boy and the terrifying idea that I wouldn’t couldn’t let myself accept: What if he doesn’t pull through. 

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Listen Mamas…We’re All Messing Up

I was recently in a Facebook group created by ladies in the town in which we were living called Crunchy Mamas.  I was excited to join this group to ask questions, get suggestions, and have local support from ladies near me that had the same ideas  and values as I did.  I quickly found, however, that many of the mothers involved in the site, especially the ones running it, had strong opinions about raising children…and if you didn’t agree with these opinions, you were either criticized, talked down to, or kicked out of the group.  The very young mother who had started the group clearly has much pride for it and likes to keep close control over everything posted.  When a mother asked a question about something that may have caused friction, this girl was quick to remind every one that she had the power to remove anyone from the group if she wasn’t happy with their response.

Apart from the politics of the site, what was most disappointing to me was the fact that the group of mothers that I had been so eager to join for support were in fact the most unsupportive and disrespectful group of parents I could have imagined.  I know that certain parenting methods can be somewhat controversial, but I had never actually experienced people’s brutal opinions until this Facebook group.

In my mind, how other parents choose to raise their children is of no concern to me.  My husband and I, before we were even pregnant with our first child, discussed the important values and beliefs that we felt were vital in the bringing up of our children.  We wanted to make sure that we were each on the same page and had each other’s back for the important aspects of creating a decent human.  Unfortunately, conversations like these don’t always take place.  I truly believe that is why there has been such a rise in divorces after children and single parents.

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How to Raise a Genius Baby

So, I have to start by saying this: my son is the smartest kid in the world.  He has been the smartest kid in the world since he was born. Does every mom feel like that?  If so, they are wrong…because MY son is definitely the smartest kid in the world!

Okay, if I haven’t lost you already, let’s get serious. I do, however, have a pretty smart two year old.  He is a polite, good listener with a kind heart who loves to show off!

Here are a couple things that my husband and I did that attributed to our son’s genius.

No Baby Talk

My husband is a high school English teacher and one of the funniest people I have ever known in my life.  He’s got that quick dry sarcastic sense of humor coupled with a calm, monotone voice.  If you’re not listening carefully, you’re gonna miss it and probably be (lovingly) insulted by him, too.  I was anxious to see how he was going to respond to our son when he was born.  I couldn’t imagine him going all “goo-goo gaa-gaa” on me, but then again, people always surprise me.  Sure enough, he didn’t get babied up.  In fact, he spoke to our son like…an adult.  I have to admit, my motherly instincts kicked in as soon as I saw our son and I immediately had to put his perfect little toes in my mouth while still “boo-boo-boo”ing him.  Not my husband, though.  He talked to him like a human being which got me to thinking…

Surely, there is nothing developmentally stimulating about the “bubby gubby doos” that I think every woman wants to say while pinching a pair of chunky little baby cheeks.  Speaking to our boy in direct, full sentences enabled him to bypass the “gabba gabba” cute stage and go right into trying to communicate.

READ

My husband started reading to our son while he was still in the womb.  I remember feeling him kicking like crazy when he would hear his daddy’s voice.  After he was born, I would read my books out loud to him when he was itty bitty.  Nothing that he could understand of course, but the sound of my voice would put him to sleep.  We started reading children’s books to him probably after about three months.  We knew that he couldn’t understand a word that we were saying, but my husband and I have such a passion for literature, that we wanted to be sure to do everything in our power to pass that along to him. Read more

Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper

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The amount of different cloth diaper brands and styles  is baffling, and the number of opinions about the best cloth diaper is even more overwhelming!

I am going to go over a few different styles  and brands of cloth diapers, hopefully making your choice a little easier!  Because there isn’t a store that sells cloth diapers anywhere in my area, I did all of my research online before purchasing.  What I chose to use, I immediately fell in love with, but keep in mind that my favorites may not be best for you and your family.  It’s all about preference!  No one diaper is better than another, it’s really just about what works for you!

Prefolds

These are what your grandma used.  And these are what people think of when they first hear “cloth diapering”. Prefolds are just that, prefolded pieces of fabric that need to be held together with either safety pins, covers, or a type of elastic fastener that you can purchase. The waterproof covers for these can be found for only a couple bucks, making this the cheapest way to diaper.

Although these may be the most affordable and the easiest type of diaper to clean, I didn’t go with prefolds because they seemed too complicated. Because I was used to disposables, I wanted something similiar to that. I thought it may be hard to teach a babysitter to use them, too. I have prefolds that I love to use as burp cloths! That may be saying something about how absorbant they are!

Fitted

fitted diaper

This kind of diaper is much more similar to disposables.  They fasten with either snaps, velcro, or loops and are fitted to baby’s bottom.  They are not waterproof so they still require some kind of shell.  These diapers are a little more expensive than prefolds, but cheaper than most other styles. Another plus is that there are all kinds of cute designs and colors. Read more

Why Go Cloth?

I started researching cloth diapers when I was pregnant with my son over two years ago. Knowing that I was going to contribute to the overflow of landfills with thousands of disposable diapers just didn’t sit well with me. Unfortunately, two moves in my third trimester (the last one being 10 days before my son was born) had me a little preoccupied. And as soon as my son was here, I was so overwhelmed with him and all of his perfection that I didn’t really think about it again other than the occasional “I wish we would have done cloth”…as if it were too late.

Almost a year ago, when I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I knew that I HAD to make it work! I began researching and found all kinds of websites, blogs, and forums on the benefits of cloth diapering, how to get started, and everything I could ever want to know about using cloth. I was blown away at how many people had the same frame of mind as me!  My husband (being just as environmentally conscious as me) was on board right away. Other people, though, didn’t seem as excited about the idea as I did. My response was simply, “why wouldn’t we use cloth?”

Here are a few key points to why I love cloth diapering so much:

Saves money

  • When you decide to make the leap to cloth, you should be prepared to invest a good amount of money into it. The high end, name brand cloth diapers can reach up to nearly $25 per dipe. Personally, I think that is CRAZY! I found hundreds of different YouTube channels and websites that reviewed every kind of cloth diaper brand and style out there and, based on what I researched, decided what was easiest and most cost-effective for my family. Trying to be as savvy as I could, I decided on three different brands of diaper that I got for as low as $4.50 per dipe that could be used from newborn all the way until potty trained.  And, as a general rule, I never paid more than $6 per dipe (for more info on which brands I chose, check out my blog Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper). There are several different online trading companies that buy, sell, and trade used diapers as well (clothdiapertrader.com and diaperswappers.com) so you could potentially get diapers for even less.  I would count on at least a couple hundred bucks to get started, though, depending on how many you want (I recommend at LEAST 20 as new babes go as many as ten times a day).
  • Disposable diapers are, on average, about $.20 per dipe (we used Pamper Swaddlers for my son which are closer to $.25/dipe). You’ll use about 10 diapers a day on your baby for the first three months before that number goes down to maybe six a day for the next two and a half years! That’s math I can’t even do! In all my research, I found that on average, every child uses about $2,000 worth of disposable diapers which creates over 6,000 diapers added to landfills..that’s PER CHILD! That alone should be enough to convince you, but don’t worry…I have more!

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