There she was . . . six pounds and three ounces, and she was absolutely perfect. After just eight hours of labor, our second baby, Ava Marie, made her grand entrance into the world. We were overjoyed, and we couldn’t believe that we were now a family of four.
I was crying uncontrollably as the nurses laid her on my chest. I couldn’t believe it. She was a dream come true. My husband Sonny had the biggest smile on his face, and he was speechless. We felt so blessed to have welcomed another beautiful and healthy baby girl into our family.
Although I was elated, I couldn’t help but think of my oldest baby, my Gracie.
She was just three years old, and I honestly had no clue what her reaction to her baby sister would be. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t felt a bit guilty after becoming pregnant again. Gracie had been the only child for what seemed to have been a long time. She was the princess of the family, but that was about to change. She was going to have to share the spotlight with someone else now.
The moment of truth. We were home from the hospital, and I was waiting for Sonny to pick Gracie up and bring her home. When I tell you that I was a nervous wreck, I’m not exaggerating. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there was clearly no going back now. Gracie would just have to adjust to this new life.
I was sitting on the couch holding Ava when I heard the front door unlock. As soon as I looked up, my beautiful Gracie came running at me and all I heard was “Mommy!” I was happy and emotional to see my biggest baby. I gave her a nice big hug and introduced her to her new little sister. She was in awe.
She looked down at the tiny baby bundled up in my arms and said, “Awe! Baby so cute!” I was relieved. I felt like I could breathe again, but little did I know, that was the easiest part of the transition.
Although Sonny is a wonderful and active father, I am a stay-at-home mom, so the girls spend a lot more of their time with me. Therefore reality quickly set in that I was now a mommy of two. I was now responsible for two tiny beings, two tiny souls who depended on me for everything. Transitioning from one kid to two is intense. With your second baby, you don’t get to do things like napping when the baby naps. Multi-tasking is a lot harder with two kids instead of one, so getting stuff done around the house seemed almost impossible. I now also had constant guilt that I was not giving either one of my girls the attention they deserved.
Gracie’s behavior changed almost immediately. Although she’s always been a strong-willed child, this new behavior was on another level. Gracie started to throw tantrums over the smallest things, and I noticed that she would react badly if she wanted attention while I was busy with Ava. She was impatient and loud, but then again, what else did I expect from a toddler?
Her entire life had drastically changed, and she had no idea how to cope with it. But the truth was, neither did I. I had no idea how I was going to survive this new chapter in our lives.
Thankfully I had received a lot of advice from my mom friends in regards to helping older children accept their new sibling. One very helpful piece of advice came from fellow El Paso Mom contributor Carrie Ring. She told me that in order to help Gracie adjust, I needed to include her in the things that I did for Ava. And boy was she right. I noticed right away that when I asked Gracie for help with her sister, she felt included. She assisted me with things like getting a diaper for me when changing Ava or holding the bottle during feedings. Immediately her attitude towards her sister changed.
» » » » » » » » » » RELATED READ: How to Prepare Older Kids for a New Baby « « « « « « « «
Throughout this transition, I’ve learned that my oldest was just feeling out of place. She wasn’t purposely acting up or being mean. She was just a little human trying to wrap her head around the idea that she was no longer an only child. Now she has to share her mommy and daddy with someone else, and that can’t be easy.
When it came to Ava, I felt like I knew what to expect since I had already gone through the newborn stage once before. The only difference this time was that this baby didn’t have my undivided attention like my first one did. I felt incredibly guilty about that, but there wasn’t much that could do about it. Gracie was as needy as ever, and all I could do was try to balance out being a mommy times two.
One thing that made all of the difference for my babies and me was designated bonding time.
Ava hardly ever napped at the same time Gracie did, and she usually woke up earlier in the mornings than Gracie. So I began to enjoy early, quiet mornings with Ava. I would feed her, talk to her, and watch the sunrise with her daily as Gracie was soundly asleep. These little moments made me feel as connected to Ava as I was with Gracie when she was a newborn, and it filled my heart with joy.
Designated bonding time with Gracie was a little different but just as beneficial. Since Ava was napping often, Gracie and I would do things like snuggle and watch a movie or play together. We would go to her room and play dress up or read books together, and I could tell that it made her happy. Not only did this help with the transition, but I felt better about myself as a mom as well.
Going from one to two babies is a big change and can be mentally and emotionally draining. But I was gradually discovering things to make it all run smoother.
The last thing that helped with the transition was embracing survival mode. There were many times when both girls would scream and cry at the same time. The first time they did that, I cried after they stopped. I was constantly feeling overwhelmed, but I knew that I had to get through it for my babies no matter how I did it. I eventually came to terms with the fact that I was trying my best and that it was all going to be okay.
Although I seem to have gotten through the thick of it, I still take it day by day. I would be lying if I said that I don’t still rely on coffee to get me through the day or that my clothes aren’t always covered in spit-up and diaper ointment. But that’s all a part of being a mom. All in all, it was much harder than I had anticipated, but I survived. I made it through and I hope that my experience can help other moms out there going through the same transition.
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