Monday, January 31, 2011

Current Concerns and Longings

For a few days, I was feeling pretty anxious about having two kids at home all by myself. The problem of how I would nurse was a bit maddening in particular. I just remember all the early frustration of getting Natalie to latch on, and all the quite hours sitting so still. Doing that again, but with Natalie to look after at the same time is scary. I want to have that time with our new child, but know that most of the time I nurse, I'll need to be engaging with Natalie in some fashion. I'm hoping that most of the time, she will be happy to sit next to me and read or play, rather than demanding I put the baby down and throwing some kind of tantrum. I know that night nursing will give me time to bond alone with our second child, but as special as it will probably be, I don't want that baby to continue to wake for that time alone with me, thus leaving me running on two or three hour bursts of sleep for months longer than I was with Natalie.

My other big concern at the moment is that I will have no down time all day long. Unless I get the new baby to sleep while Natalie takes her afternoon nap, then I will go the whole day with no "break." True, nursing is not that stressful once things are well established, so I am holding on to the thought that there will be times when Natalie plays contently (or watches TV), while I nurse or the baby naps. But, this nice picture can easily be interrupted by new baby sleeping problems or Natalie's need for attention. I plan on using a baby sling again, as well. As much as our first one was a godsend, it does take a toil on your body after a while. I'm also worried about needing the physical break from the children as much as the mental break. Constantly chasing Natalie or nursing or carrying number two could be quite physically exhausting, especially with interrupted sleep at night. If I remember it correctly, in the beginning, Natalie would nurse for about 20-25 minutes per side, then I would put her in the sling and walk with her for at least ten minutes, then sit with her asleep in the sling for a bit longer to ensure she was deeply asleep. So, that is an hour to an hour and a half before I get back in bed, and the baby can awake again to eat as little as an hour later! I've wondered if pumping so Mike can do one night time feeding without me would help, but at the same time I know that I will wake up anyway.

Its hard not to hope that this baby will be like Natalie. She has been so easy going and happy all along. She is a good eater. She enjoys sleep. She listens to us well for her age. She rarely cried as a baby for no reason. She's been very healthy. She slept through the night around 4 months, and also started sitting up and playing around that time, too. Its hard to think of a baby that takes significantly longer to do all these things, or that has a totally different disposition. The toil it will take on everyone will be so rough if this child cries all the time, hates to be put down, never naps, and is finicky about eating.

But, at the same time, I worry about Natalie's pleasant personality changing when she is no longer the center of attention. What if she acts up horribly to get out attention? What if the baby waking in the next room wakes her up as well? She'll be in a toddler bed, so that could be a big problem. What if she is rough with or abusive to the baby because of the changes its brought? Or what if she acts out her frustrations about the changes by not listening to us? I love her happiness and I'm so worried that this big change will steal away some (or all, what a nightmare to think of) of it.

Even though I have these worries, two things have been making me feel a bit better. First, many of the stay at home moms I've met over the last year have children spaced like we will. I've gotten to talk to two of these moms already about a couple of things. And, when I think of Mike and my families, both of our moms dealt with age gaps of a similar range. Mike and Chris are about 18 months apart; my sister and brother are 25 months apart; and my brother and I are 16 months apart. While neither of our moms nursed long term and they used play pens more than us, they both survived! Knowing moms who have just gone through it is a little more comforting. And, you never know, I might meet someone going through it at almost the same time as me, though all the moms I know at play group and story time with one year olds are currently not pregnant.

The other source of comfort for me has been books. At first, I couldn't find any titles about having your second child. While it makes sense that you wouldn't need as many titles about this, I thought there should be some out there. I was surprised that neither the public library nor the lending library at play group had any titles on the subject. But, then I looked on line some more. I've now got four titles on interlibrary loan. While most of the reviews of these books say the information is hit or miss, and is often terrifying, the bookish type person I am feels more supported with numerous volumes on the subject on the way.

The other stresser in our home right now is Mike's health. Ever since June of 2009, Mike has had some health problems. They have waxed and waned. Right now, we are at a bad point. With a problem going on this long, its hard for me to keep on top of it. I don't want to constantly be asking him how he feels like nag, but I also don't want him to think I don't care. What compounds the problem is that Mike often doesn't talk about it on his own. He tries to deal with how he is feeling and move past it to try to enjoy life despite it. What makes matter even worse is that its hard for me to complain about how I feel with my pregnancy symptoms without feeling guilty, yet I feel I have every right to complain. Just because he is already feeling ill doesn't mean that I don't get to talk or vent about how I'm feeling. But, add to that my tiredness. Falling asleep at 730 or 8 every night leaves Mike and I little time together alone. And when I am awake with him, I haven't felt much like physical contact. Whether its frustration at getting up to pee two times a night or roasting in bed, or irritability, or just wanting my space, it hasn't made our time awake together very comforting. I feel bad about it, but its largely out of my control.

Above all, I am dying for winter to be over. While I long for spring every year because I hate the cold, this year I have added reasons why. I am sick of struggling with the car seat straps over Natalie's winter coat. I hate climbing up snow banks to put money in a parking meter or squeezing in between a slippery snow bank and the car to get Natalie out or praying to find a reasonable parking spot with restricted parking. I hate being snowed in for even one day. And, I hate having only in door options for things Natalie and I can go do. I long to take her on a walk. It was so nice to go out in the afternoon for a walk. We got outside in the beautiful weather. And, it killed a nice chunk of time. Between getting ready to go out and the walk itself, that got us through about an hour. We also can play in the yard, which we would often do after a walk. And, Natalie is going to enjoy the park so much more now. I just look at pictures of Natalie from the early spring in her cute tee shirts and long for that weather to come back. The only hitch in this dream of walks is needing a stroller Natalie will be more comfortable in so that she won't demand to walk herself. Of course, we can go on that kind of walk too down our street, either on her feet, a ride on toy, or a wagon if we get one. Oh, how I love spring. Until we hit about July and it gets really hot, we will be able to spend so much time outside, or at least with the windows and doors wide open. And there will be so many new things for her to see outside from bugs to flowers.

A girl at play group continues to pick on Natalie (and not the other little girls). Today she hit her several times. Mike is appalled. But I'm not. These things happen. As much as I'd like it not to happen, it obviously was going to happen sometime. I'd rather it be at a playgroup with me and the other child's mother there than preschool or Kindergarten. Mike was like, where is her mother? And today, the mother was right there. She made her daughter apologize and even gave her a time out. This little girl just thinks that Natalie wants what she has and she needs to take what Natalie has. These kinds of things happen when kids think everything belongs to them and can't empathize fully yet. I'm sure that Natalie will do it to some other kid in some form later on down the line. And anyway, Natalie doesn't seem too bothered yet. Even when she gets her toy taken away or hit, she gets a little frustrated and cries for a second, but she isn't retaliating or freaking out. She still does near this other girl and isn't afraid of her. I'm sure to side with her about such disputes as much as possible. Unlike some moms, I don't force Natalie to share a toy she has become attached to. I don't think its fair to ask her to give away what she is playing with. But, I also don't allow her to take other kids toys or monopolize a toy another kids wants desperately.

Apart from these ideas occupying my mind, there isn't too much going on here. Natalie painted for the first time. We have a huge snow storm coming Wednesday. The 10th is finally my doctor's appointment. (I'm a little worried how Natalie will react to being stuck in a stroller while I get a PAP smear when she was nervous about mommy giving blood). We are most likely going to my parents weekend after next. My mom suggested Mike and I go out that night for early Valentine's Day. My book club meets the following weekend.

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