“Mommy, carry me!”
“Mommy CARRY ME!”
*more indistinct crying*
This is a standard morning for me. Demanding humans needing my every stitch of attention beginning around 7AM. I am lucky if I get to drink a full cup of coffee without it turning into an iced coffee (not on purpose).
Two under two was a cute catchphrase I learned when I joined the mom community in March 2017. I remember seeing moms out at the grocery store or the mall wrangling two little ones- always thinking to myself, “Geez, why didn’t she wait?”
And then I became that mom who didn’t wait.
Becoming a mom of two under two
I still vividly remember the day I found out I was pregnant for a second time. I was coming back from a Fit4Mom class with R, and I thought briefly how I hadn’t started my period that month. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. I had only had one cycle thus far (thanks breastfeeding) and just figured I wasn’t regular yet.
I picked up a pregnancy test anyway. Took it when we got home. And after 3 LONG minutes, my life with one baby was over.
I have to be honest- I started sobbing when I saw those 2 pink lines.
R was 9 months old. I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year. How was I going to do that? How was I going to love another human like I loved R? Could I handle 2 babies? The guilt I felt was overwhelming. I felt like I was robbing R of my and my husband’s attention.
And yet.. I managed. I managed to squeak out 12 months of breastfeeding. R weaned easily, my milk was practically gone anyway when he turned 1. And I soaked in every last minute of life just him.
N came into this world on August 28, 2018, and I sobbed that day, too. But this time I sobbed because I felt that same all-consuming love that a mother feels for her child.
If you are expecting your second baby and your first is still a baby, welcome to the club. There are a few things I learned in the last year that might make your transition from 1 to 2 a little easier.
1. Get on the same page with your partner
This is crucial. Communication is key when it comes to managing 2 children at such key moments in their lives. If one of you believes in cry-it-out and the other is a firm believer of attachment parenting, you’re going to run into some problems.
Talk through what you need. Tell your partner “I need you to wake up once with the baby tonight, and I will take the next shift after that.” Nobody is a mindreader and we need to communicate our needs clearly.
Lower your expectations, don’t keep score. Nothing causes more fights than the words “I changed 23 diapers today, how many did YOU change?!”
My husband took over caring for R and I handled N. One on one defense was our lifesaver in those first few months.
2. Try to get them on the same schedule.
Similar naptimes will be your saving grace. You don’t get much (if any) time to yourself with two under two, let alone with a newborn, so if you can get them to sleep at *relatively* the same time, you can at least catch your breath and get a well-deserved break.
3. Let go of expectations, try not to compare, and learn patience.
Schedules aside, the newborn phase is just a time of throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks, so don’t be hard on yourself if it’s a cluster those first few weeks.
It’s okay if your house is a wreck and if your toddler doesn’t get a bath every single night. It’s okay if you eat takeout 3 nights in a row. And, it’s okay if your toddler watches every episode of Daniel Tiger in a row.
Those moms who say their newborn is sleeping 6 hour stretches when they brought them home? One, they’re probably lying, and two, that’s fine for them. Stay in YOUR lane. Do what works at the time for YOUR babies.
And breathe. When you feel overwhelmed, take a deep meditative breath. And ask for help. Chances are, someone will be there to help. Loading your dishwasher, holding the baby while you catch a catnap, or just be there to sitting with you as you clusterfeed for 4 hours can help make it better.
The glory of two under two
I wish I had known when I got that positive test how absolutely wonderful life would be with my two boys.
Life is crazy, yes, and I have changed more diapers in the last 11 months than I can count, but I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Two under two is demanding, and exhausting, and more fun than I could imagine.
N is almost 1 now, and R is 2.5 and seeing them play together fills my heart with so much joy. We didn’t rob R of anything- we gave him a brother to learn with, grow with, and be a teacher to. N will always have someone to look up to and lean on.
All in all, my advice to you, mama, is this: lean into the chaos and embrace this season. And maybe think about investing in a cleaning service. You know, just for your sanity.
For more parenting experiences, click here.