We’re Back, Part 2: Some Updates and Thoughts

Goodness, now it’s October?! I’m guessing one of these months you’ll get tired of these, “Wow, time really flies–here’s a brief update!” posts. But here we are. Another month has come and gone.

Babykins turned 3 years old last month. She loved her birthday party, especially the lovely cake a member made for her. Sweet Pea is now 10 months old. She is pulling herself up on things, starting to cruise next to furniture, and has made it her life’s mission to eat the cats’ food every time I turn my back. Oh, and our cats also turned 4. I made cupcakes for their birthday (actually, I just wanted cupcakes but pretended they were the reason).

In other news, you might be wondering if this blog is more or less defunct. Not officially. I keep thinking that I’ll get my act together and put together some awesome posts with hilarious illustrations, but it just isn’t happening. Most of the reason is that the biggest chunk of free time I get during they day is after the girls are in bed. Sadly, I’ve never been a night owl and my brain just doesn’t have the same creativity that it would have at 6 a.m. Both girls are typically up around 6:15 a.m. There goes creative work time. I suppose I could always get up at 4 a.m., but Sweet Pea would have to start sleeping through the night. . . or at least stop waking up every 2-3 hours throughout the night. But it’s not entirely due to the girls’ poorly timed wakeups that I’m not posting–I also have a tendency to waste time on Facebook during nap/quiet time.

At any rate, this rambling post was to give you a quick update as well as prove that evening writing isn’t my strong suit.

Advertisements

Patience is a Virtue and We’re All Learning It

I’ve never considered myself a naturally patient person. However, I did fancy that I was decent at forcing myself to be patient once I started working with children. On particularly hard days as a daycare worker or nanny, I could always tell myself on difficult days that I only had to stay patient for number of hours before going home. There was a finish line for patience at the end of the day.

Even when I just had Babykins, I still could dig deep to find patience when I was starting to loose it. Love is a powerful motivator and I could often look at the situation and tell myself that she was just a baby–she needed me to be patient.

All this isn’t to say that I didn’t lose my patience as an employee or a mother of 1. There were times that I was impatient or things were going so horribly that even the most composed person would have lost their cool. But my patience reservoir seemed much deeper then.

But being a mother of 2 young children. . . oh, man. Patience is in short supply these days. It’s no longer enough to fake patience anymore because Babykins and Sweet Pea still need most of my attention during their waking hours and it seems like someone is always awake. There is no “end time”. Additionally, Babykins is in a “I do it!” phase, so everything takes 5 time longer than if  I was doing it myself (and yes, I know it’s good for toddlers to learn to do things and have a sense of independence. It’s hard to wait when the baby is crying and dinner is burning and for the love of all that is good and holy can we get this show on the road?!).

So in these long days, the three of us are all having a lesson in patience. Babykins is learning that she doesn’t always get what she wants, Sweet Pea is learning that her whims aren’t always immediately answered, and I’m learning to take deep breaths before speaking.

18-20 years from now, I might actually have the patience of a saint. Until then, “Lord, help me,” is a constant prayer in my life.


The Whirlwind of Motherhood

I was warned that life would seemingly go faster with two children. It’s true. Sweet Pea turned 6 months old at the end of May. How did half a year already pass?!

Babykins is turning 3 in a few months. She sleeps in a toddler bed and is quickly becoming potty trained. Sometimes I look at her and wonder when did she start becoming a little girl.

Sweet Pea is different than her sister. She is quick to laugh and quick to wail (I think she’s going to have what we might call a “strong personality”), and has a strong desire to not sleep in her bed at night. All babies grow quickly, but it’s still shocking to think that the chubby baby that is learning to sit and roll over had very little controlled movements 6 months ago.

It’s so hard to write about these days–the mundane triumphs, the trivial woes, and the never ending sleep deprivation. My daily grind can seem repetitious and dull to an outside observer (and sometimes it is to me!). However, I find more and more that there are moments in my days that amaze me.

There is breathtaking beauty in seeing my girls grow. I cannot orchestrate these times that dazzle, so it is a privilege to observe them. For example, I get to hear Sweet Pea’s delighted giggles as she watches her sister frolic around her, I can watch as Babykins unabashedly runs about in a rainstorm. I am the audience for Babykins’s yells of, “Momma! Watch me, Momma!” and the receiver of Sweet Pea’s nuzzles. Like I said, so many little moments of immense joy.

This isn’t the life I wished for growing up, but I suppose this just shows that it can be wonderful that our wishes don’t always come true.

 


Keeping It Real on Good Friday

Yesterday I took both girls to a midday service for Good Friday at another church in our circuit. Generally I try not to get too worked up about circus act that comes with bringing two little children to church. However, Good Friday services are so somber and quiet that the girls’ inevitable antics seem especially jarring even in the most child-friendly churches. Why? Because while people are reflecting on Jesus’ suffering and death, things like this are going down in our pew:

  1. 4 month old Sweet Pea grinning like a fool in the silent sanctuary.
  2. 2.5 year old Babykins slamming her water bottle against the pew.
  3. Sweet Pea needing to eat during the sermon.
  4. Me realizing that Babykins is pooping right before communion (I left her in the pew to finish her business while I went up).
  5. Babykins loudly annoucing, “All done pooping!” as the rest of the congregation silently leave the sanctuary.

Needless to say, the feeling of piety was pretty low after that. At least the children keep me humble.

 


Baby Sleep: A Tale of Ecstasy and Woe

Sweet Pea is 4 months old, which means we have already cycled through many sleep phases in her short life. Despite this being my second child and despite the fact that Babykins now sleeps through the night even though we let her sleep with many “bad habits” (Nap in the swing? Check. No schedule? Check. Nursing to sleep? Check. Nursing in the middle of the night? Check.), I still find myself subject to the roller coaster of emotions relating to baby sleep.

Sweet Pea will go through a few days that she sleeps “by the book”. Her awake times are predictable, she goes down for naps without a fight, and she drifts off to sleep at night in a timely manner. Then I feel like a sleep master–I unlocked the magical door to my baby’s sleep!

But then everything will fall apart and Sweet Pea just. won’t. sleep. Careful observation of her wake times does nothing. Turning off all the lights in the bedroom just means she yells in the dark. Leaving the house doesn’t make her sleepy. And when she does sleep, it’s only for a short time. At that point, it’s fairly clear that I’m a failure as a sleep guru and a mother.

But here’s the secret that all those sleep books and blog posts never fully admit: YOU CAN’T MAKE A BABY SLEEP! Sure, there are things you can do to encourage sleep but babies do what they want, when they want.

Now could someone please remind me of this about every other day? Thanks.


That Awkward Moment When the Substitute Pastor Doesn’t Show

My husband gets 3 Sundays off a year. While 3 Sundays off is more than some pastors get, we still have to consider carefully how to best use these Sundays. Last year we used 2 of the Sundays for vacations (because we’ve found that a vacation isn’t really a vacation when he still has to write a sermon) but saved the third Sunday for after Sweet Pea was born. That way he could take a full week off as we tried to settle into our new normal.

Unfortunately, the week Sweet Pea was born was a Sunday that my husband hadn’t lined up an “on call” substitute (it was Thanksgiving weekend and his go-to subs were either already booked or out of town). My husband suggested that he take the following Sunday off but I was anxious to get Sweet Pea baptized on that Sunday. I came up with a different solution: He get a substitute pastor to preach but he would do the rest of the service, including the baptism. My rational at the time (which was just a few days postpartum, so not thinking clearly) was that not writing a sermon would free up time in his schedule during the week and that Sunday could still seem vacation-like. It made sense in the moment. :p

At any rate, the night before the baptism we were under a winter storm advisory. Several inches of snow was predicted to fall overnight and continue until late morning. I spent that Saturday fretting about the possibly of church being cancelled and not being able to get Sweet Pea baptized. I started asking my husband if we could still do the baptism even if church was cancelled. One of the in town elders could witness it for the sake of good order and whatnot. Worry, worry, worry. Fret, fret, fret.

Sunday morning arrived and while the roads weren’t great, members who lived in town could still safely get to church. The service was still on!

We arrived at church about 20 minutes prior to the service. I rushed to get Babykins settled and Sweet Pea dressed in her baptismal gown. However, since family members were there to help, we were actually settled into the pew in time for the pre-service announcements. As my husband read through the announcements, he casually mentioned, “Well, Pastor M. hasn’t arrived yet, so let’s hope he gets here in time for the sermon. Otherwise, I’ll be preaching off the cuff!” Since I have a terrible poker face, my husband glanced at my face and stated,

sub-sunday

If you read the title of this post, you can already guess what happened: Pastor M. didn’t make the service. So my husband preached a five minute sermon without any preparation. I missed most of the sermon because I was feeding Sweet Pea but apparently the congregation liked the content. Definitely not a Sunday off for him, but it made for a memorable service!

Note: Pastor M. was fine and had a legitimate reason for missing the service (as could have been assumed since pastors don’t just forget to go to church). His car had slid off the snowy road and got stuck in a ditch. He had texted my husband to tell him this but my husband had already locked his phone in his office. 

 

 


Pew Wrangling with a Toddler and Infant

I’m going to regret writing this but. . .

Church with Babykins and Sweet Pea has been going much better than I anticipated.

Please note that I described the service as “going much better”, not that it is “easy”.

When I was pregnant with Sweet Pea, I would sometimes leave the church service and think, “How am I going to do this with 2?!” I would think about trying to catch an escaping Babykins while holding an infant or trying to slip out of the service to nurse Sweet Pea with a toddler in tow. It seemed impossible, especially since we sit up front.

Thankfully, Babykins is currently at a cooperative stage for church attendance. She likes hearing the music and flipping through the hymnal. She also likes being able to see the congregation, hence the reason we sit up front. And somehow I’ve managed to convince her that apple slices are an acceptable snack during the service and she’ll happily munch on those.

Likewise, Sweet Pea is proving to be an easier baby than Babykins was. She isn’t nearly as prone to crying fits as her sister, nor does she have the same intense need for movement when I wear her (I can get by with rocking her in the pew instead of marching around the back of the church). She is also a better nurser and I’m able to feed her in the pew. Sometimes she even sleeps in her car seat! About the only time I’ve left the service for Sweet Pea is when she needed a diaper change.

Of course, I’m still far from consciously getting anything from the service. I sing the liturgy mostly from memory as I awkwardly hold a hymnal open for Babykins. I half hear the readings while trying to get Sweet Pea ready to nurse. I less-than-piously stand for the prayers while keeping one eye open on Babykins lest one of her mischievous hankerings take hold of her. And there are moments throughout the service that I have one child strapped to my front and another child balanced on my hip. It’s exhausting, but manageable.

pew-wrangling-toddler-and-infant

However, I’m not naive enough to think that pew wrangling will stay at this manageable level. I know handling both girls will probably get harder at some point (like when there’s 2 mobile kids in the pew. Oh my!). I’ll get frustrated and wonder what’s the point of going to church. Then it will get easier, then harder, then easier, and then someday the girls will be old enough to not need my constant attention during the service. And then I’ll be by myself again and remember with laughing fondness of this time in my life–at least that’s what the church grandmas seem to do.

Now, getting to church on time–well, that’s a different matter entirely. :p


How to Make Your Husband Believe You’ve Lost Your Mind

Ever since Sweet Pea arrived, Babykins has become firmly attached to her baby doll. Throughout the day, Dolly does many activities with us–diaper changes, playtime, walks in the stroller around the house. Whatever I do with Sweet Pea, Babykins will eventually do with Dolly. Sometimes Babykins even insists that I take care of Dolly.

One day, Babykins asked that I put Dolly in the Moby wrap after I had put Sweet Pea down for a nap. I had the time to play along, so into the wrap went Dolly. Babykins wandered off to do toddler things and I used the momentary peace to brush my teeth.

And that is how my husband found me when he came home for lunch: Standing in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, carrying a doll in a wrap.

Sometimes it is extremely difficult to explain what goes down here while he’s gone.


Eat, Play, Sleep, What?

Many mothers with babies swear by the Eat, Play, Sleep routine. It’s a simple enough concept: Feed your baby as soon as she wakes up, then let her play (or squirm around on the floor), and then put her down for a nap. Volia! Baby now has a “schedule” or a “rhythm”.

I tried to implement the Eat, Play, Sleep routine with both my girls. Babykins had dismal results–we had more of an Eat, Play, Burp, Cry, Eat, Cry, Sleep routine. Sweet Pea isn’t proving to do any better–she currently has an Eat, Play, Burp, Eat, Freak Out Because She Doesn’t Actually Want To Eat, Fall Asleep in the Moby Wrap. Sometimes she even throws in Spit Up a Prodigious Amount for good measure.

So, has anyone had real success with the Eat, Play, Sleep routine? Likewise, why do breastfeeding books claim that breastfed babies almost never need to be burped? My little ladies beg to differ on that point.

 


The Second Baby is Easier and Harder

Sweet Pea is now just over 3 weeks old. People have asked if she is a good baby. I’m always thrown by this question since babies aren’t intentionally good or bad (well, besides that whole original sin thing). The only proper answer to this question is, “Yes”, because how can I say my baby is bad?

But truthfully, our first baby wasn’t a good baby. She was fussy. I’m quite skilled with the Moby wrap because I bounced her to sleep in it almost every night from 6 weeks old to about 4 months. She and I had difficulty nursing and she gained weight slowly. Almost every outing ending with her red-faced and screaming. No, Babykins wasn’t an easy infant. But that’s okay because she grew out of it and is now a spunky 2-year-old. It was just hard to see her potential through the screams.

I don’t know if Sweet Pea will be as difficult as her sister, it’s still too early to tell. But I can tell that some things will be easier just because I have experience. I know that sometimes she will sleep and sometimes she won’t. Sometimes she’ll even sleep where she’s supposed to (this isn’t one of those moments since she is currently in the Moby wrap). But I know she’ll grow out of whatever odd sleep habit she develops. She’s also a better nurser. There’s no nipple shield to finagle this time and she’ll nurse in public without making a scene. If she was our first, I would say she’s a fairly easy baby.

But she’s not our first, we still have our lively Babykins to contend with. So when Sweet Pea decides not to sleep from 12 a.m.-3 a.m., it’s hard to fight back some of the postpartum hysteria because Babykins will still be up at her usual time in the morning. Sweet Pea may nurse much better, but she’s still unpredictable in when she’ll want to eat. And those 45 minute newborn nursing sessions are a bit tricky when an antsy Babykins decides that she wants a space on Mommy’s lap as well. Then there’s the whole thing that the people around here still want to eat and have clean clothes. And these factors is what makes the second baby hard.

But in my clearer-thinking moments, I look forward to spring when Sweet Pea is a little older, the weather is a little much warmer, and I’m a little less hormonal. Experience tells me that life won’t always feel this chaotic (or at least the chaos will become our new normal).