I first found out I was pregnant with Eli when Dorian was about 4 1/2 months old. I was terrified. How in the world would I be able to handle two little ones? They were going to be so close in age!
I want a big family and I would like for my children to be close in age but I wasn’t expecting only a year apart. With Dorian being so young I knew he would not understand a baby and now having to share his mom. I wanted to prepare him for the transition as best as I could. First was going to be to teach him how to entertain himself for just a short while when I knew I would be feeding Eli. Which was harder for me than for him because all I wanted to do was hold Dorian and just snuggle him as much as I could! The first thing I did was getting him started on having play time alone during parts of the day. It wasn’t for long periods of time just enough for him to get a taste of it at first. Actually, it turned out to be very helpful because I would use that time to eat a hot meal or get some laundry done. Then, once Dorian started crawling, I had him crawl to me anytime he wanted me to hold him. I tried to encourage others when they were around to have him crawl from place to place instead of being carried. Of course that was a bit challenging at first since he loved to be held but the positive tones and encouragements he received helped with getting him excited to do it on his own. Same with when he wanted a certain toy, I cheered him on as he crawled across the room to get it himself and we both would do a happy dance when he got there. I didn’t do anything ridiculous to try to prepare him for when he was going to share me, but with him being my first child I just wanted to spoil him with hugs and kisses all day long. At first he HATED crawling longer distances, but I tried to make it more of an activity. It was always a race to see who could crawl faster to the next room or to the next toy. The key to getting a child, especially a young one, to want to do something is lots of encouragement. That may seem like common sense but its a difficult task to achieve all the time. You definitely have to work at it.
ALWAYS encourage them.
Rewards work really well like hey here’s a snack!
(or even allowing them to play with something you usually don’t let them play with)
His sleep schedule I was really adamant about. I wanted nap times at the same exact time every day and I wanted him in bed at the same time every night. This was one part of his routine that I wasn’t willing to differ from. That and falling asleep on his own were my top priorities. With a newborn it was going to be more challenging if he wasn’t able to fall asleep on his own. After a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of crying it was successful. Dorian did excellent with practically everything so when it came time to have Eli, most of my fears were gone.
The moment we walked in the door with Eli, Dorian stared us down wondering why in the world were we bringing this crying thing home?! All he wanted was for me to hold him and not Eli, which is exactly what I expected. Of course I snuggled Dorian as much as I could for the first few days. (He was also not walking at the time so it made things more difficult). I quickly learned how to carry both of them.. I even mastered the art of carrying Dorian, Eli in his carrier, and the diaper bag when we went places (mainly doctor visits or to the grandparents house). The first few days were rough. Every time I tried to feed Eli or change a diaper, Dorian would lay on the ground and bang his head off of the floor.
How do you handle something like that?
I knew if I acknowledged it too much then he would be getting exactly what he wanted, more attention whether it be good or bad.
So as painful as it was, I ignored him.
Every time he banged his head off of the floor I had to look away.
It broke my heart every. single. time.
But ignoring him ended up working. He realized that it was going to get him nowhere. After that first week I knew that I had to keep him entertained somehow while I was with Eli.
One of the best pieces of parenting advice I received was,
“deal with the older one first.”
No child was ever harmed from crying so just let that little one cry until you get the older one situated. It also shows them that they are not forgotten amidst a newborn and they will listen to you better.
So when it came time to feed Eli or change his diaper I would get Dorian started on a new activity. Whether it was building blocks, reading his books, watching TV, or even eating a snack I made sure he was preoccupied before I went to Eli.
Trying to get myself into a new routine was difficult. Eli slept 45 minutes at a time. He was in a bassinet in my room for the first month and Dorian was transitioning into a new room.
So nights were rough.
And I mean rough.
When Eli would finally fall asleep, Dorian would be up screaming and vice versa. Mornings? I felt like a zombie. I was in that newborn fog stage. My body was going through the motions while my mind was constantly struggling to catch up. Dorian was happy as can be and I was trying to keep Eli up for longer stretches of time so maybe he would sleep longer at night. I napped every time Dorian would nap because I couldn’t function otherwise.
(Two babies is exhausting when you don’t sleep at night so I napped as often as I could!)
The first month is hard because you don’t want to take the little one out in the world just yet but you’re starting to get cabin fever. So I went on walks around the neighborhood. It got us all some fresh air and it made me feel as if I wasn’t stuffed in a house for too long. Also, the fresh air would give me my second wind (or third/fourth/fifth..or whatever you call it when you’re so dazed and get little bursts of energy throughout the day).
When month 2 rolled around I moved Eli to his own crib.
He slept 12 straight hours.
12 straight hours.
Yes, you read that right.
I freaked out. All night I woke up every 2 hours wondering if he was still breathing,
why didn’t he wake up yet,
and why wasn’t he hungry yet?
I stared at the baby monitor to make sure I could see his chest rising and falling. But that still didn’t make me feel any better. I would sneak into his room to listen to him breathing and to my delight he was snoring away. I asked Mike at least a dozen times if I should wake him up. I was terrified. I wanted to wake him but I didn’t because he hadn’t slept longer than an hour for the whole first month. But once his eyes opened I didn’t even give him a chance to cry before I rushed in there. You know what he did? He smiled. And he kept smiling. He was SO happy! All he needed was a good nights sleep. And for the first month in his crib he did the same thing.
He slept all night long.
I was able to get so much sleep that I didn’t know what to do with myself. Handling the boys during the day turned into a piece of cake. Playing with Dorian while Eli napped, reading books while I fed Eli, dancing with Dorian while I changed diapers. Almost all of my struggles disappeared when I started getting actual sleep. So my advice to you…
Take any and all help offered.
SLEEP when people are helping.
I know when people are helping you feel as if you need to mingle with them or get the laundry done that’s been sitting there for way too long but don’t do it. Put it off a little while longer because it isn’t going to hurt anyone if it’s not done. Or if the house isn’t cleaned. Your husband isn’t going to be mad nor are you kids or guests. Because YOU JUST HAD A FREAKING BABY! No one expects you to be supermom so don’t stress yourself out. Sleeping is the most important thing for you and your recovering body. Once you start getting rest and you get more energy everything will seem a million times easier.
Fast forward a few months. Eli wakes up once a night to eat and Dorian does not wake up at all (most nights). Dorian is walking and talking and being a really great big brother. Any time Eli cries, Dorian gives him a toy and tries to make him laugh and if that doesn’t work he gives him his pacifier. Eli loves to be with Dorian and just watch him play. Soon enough they’ll really be able to play with each other and they’re going to enjoy that at least I know I will!