Life with two little ones two and under can be pretty chaotic. I don’t know that anything could have really prepared me for it, much like nothing can truly prepare you for baby number one.
I guess I’ll start by saying that I’m someone who has felt called to motherhood for a while. I really do feel it’s what I’m meant to do with my life. When I was younger I babysat kiddos, was a camp counselor for many summers, taught art classes in the evenings, and eventually (though I didn’t complete my degree) went to university to major in Child & Youth Studies and Sociology. Basically I’ve just always loved little ones and known I wanted to have at least three of my own one day.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter Hadley, I was overjoyed. I loved her instantly. Like many first time moms I spent the first trimester feeling anxious that something would happen to my little answered prayer. But thankfully, I had what I consider to be an easy, mostly complication free pregnancy.
My labour and delivery with her was days long. We had challenges afterwards with her gaining weight and with my milk supply. All in all though, with the help of our lovely midwives, we got through those challenges and went on to have a happy 14 months just us two (and hubby).
And then we were blessed with another pregnancy. This time though, I didn’t feel that same instant bond. I didn’t even find out I was pregnant until around 7 weeks. I didn’t remember every week what fruit size the baby was. I was just busier and still so in love with Hadley that it felt crazy to think I’d be able to love another little one the same way.
At 14 months old, Hadley had just started to really walk and still felt very much like a baby to me. It was a little daunting to realize I’d shortly have two! I kept thinking, ‘oh but she’ll be two by then, so much will be different’.
I’d say that was one of the main challenges I faced when the time actually came for our second daughter to join us earth side. Not that much had changed as I’d thought it might. Hadley was (and is) still nursing (we had one attempt to wean her while I was pregnant but it was just heartbreaking as she wasn’t ready to give it up, so I quickly decided to just push on and eventually tandem nurse).
Also, she was (and is) still bed sharing. These two things have been some of the challenges we’ve had to face. Though there have been some tears from both her and I, and a lot of juggling, we’ve gotten through it. Hadley is night weaned now which helps our bed sharing arrangements and has since developed a heart warming bond with Daddy who is now able to help comfort her through the night, where before only nursing would.
The morning I went in to labour with my second daughter, I expected the same long pre-labour I’d experienced with Hadley. But within just a few hours I found myself urging my husband that we needed to leave for the hospital NOW. I was like those badly portrayed pregnant women in movies, begging anyone I saw for an epidural. My contractions had started around 1am and by just before 11am my little angel Hope officially joined our family. She had dark hair like Daddy and looked very different from her big sister. And guess what, I loved her. Instantly, completely, and yet in a totally different way than I love Hadley. And I guess that’s the thing. You can’t love another little one the same as you love your first, but you love them equally. I’ve heard people say something along the lines of:
“You don’t make room in your heart to love another baby, your heart actually grows”!
We were home that same day with Hope and Hadley received her well. Any negative feelings she ever had were directed towards me. This did break my heart but also made me glad because she’s never acted aggressively or negatively towards the baby. I attribute this behaviour to our attachment parenting style as it fosters empathy in little ones.
The weeks that followed were a little tiring, though not nearly as exhausting as the first time around, and very emotional.
In the same way that I remember mourning the loss of time spent alone with my husband after the birth of our first daughter, I needed to mourn the loss of spending all my time alone with just Hadley.
Our relationship was going to seriously change.
About a week after Hope was born Hadley turned two. It felt like all of a sudden between the addition of her little sister and officially becoming a toddler (and cutting two molars, ugh!), she had become a very different little kiddo than the baby I knew before. It felt crushing at times. I’d look over and see my suddenly giant girl feeding herself or contently playing on her own. As I said, up until her sister was born Hadley was my baby. I carried her wherever we went. I nursed her to sleep and held her for most of her naps. We slept together, ate together, basically she was (and still is, though now I’ve got two) my shadow.
Now, just over three months in, we have truly found our rhythm.
We wake up together and dress for the day, we have breakfast and then while baby sissy naps throughout the day Hadley and I have our time together. She’s typically just happy to help me prep dinner, do housework, or read books. If it’s a tricky sissy day then we babywear in a wrap or sling (total life saver!). And on the days when no one’s happy to help, well then we order pizza!
Nap times are a bit of a juggling act. If I’m by myself when the girls need to go to bed at night that can be hard (hello colicky little sister!). These trying times are growing a more patient, resilient mama. Not always, but I try really hard!
Hope has been a blessing in that, aside from her colic, she is a very laid back baby. So many of the things that were stressful after having Hadley have been a breeze with Hope. And (touch wood) she’s a pretty good little sleeper!
Every day is full of challenges but it’s also full of beautiful moments. Real times of togetherness, sweet affection between these baby girls…
…and small victories:
– a quick hot shower while both babies nap,
– a dinner successfully prepped,
- a coffee drank while it’s still hot.
I count my blessings every day for these babies. And though on those hard days I sometimes wonder why I ever thought two under two would be a good idea (like the other week when I got the flu and then Hadley caught a cold), I know everything’s happening as it’s meant to and that hopefully these little girls can grow up to be the best of friends. And if I’m really blessed they’ll still wanna be my friend too!
Marissa lives in Erin, Ontario with her husband Mark and two daughters Hadley and Hope. Her interests are all things attachment parenting, DIY at-home Montessori/Waldorf setups, coffee, and really cheesy reality tv.