I’ve been a mom for a little over four years now, which at 30, takes up a mere 13% of my life. The knowledge, experience, and growth I have gained in these past four years has saturated my mom-brain so much that I sometimes forget about the other 87% of my life (and that I brewed a pot of coffee 3 hours ago). After having my daughter, two years ago, I realized that there were so many things I didn’t expect in motherhood, and wish someone had shared these things with me sooner. I’m here to share my motherhood badges of wisdom that I have gained over the past few years.
It’s completely normal to mourn the transition from one to two kids (and beyond).
In the months leading up to my daughter’s birth, this incredible mom guilt started to creep in on me. Once our second baby was born, I would no longer be able to give my full attention and care to my son. Would he resent me for this someday? How would he handle the transition? I had heard a mix of results from friends over how new siblings were received and I just prayed he would handle the transition well. Then right around my son’s second birthday, he qualified for speech therapy for expressive speech and his sister was due two months later. I felt even more emotional at that point. I just wanted to soak even more time in with him so he knew how much I loved and cared for him. It was around this time a friend of mine told me this wisdom: “It’s okay to mourn the ending for your single child days.” Knowing my sadness was not uncommon made me feel so much better – and yes, I cried. I made a point of having a mother-son date with him before his sister was born, which helped me cope better. Then, of course, when he became a big brother, all my fears and questions dissipated over time. He’s a great big brother, and although I can’t devote my attention to him 100% of the time, he’s growing, maturing and showing me that he’s doing just fine. In hindsight, I’m so glad I got my tears out – it helped!
Second newborns can be easier than firstborns.
Hear me out on this – once you’ve had a newborn once, you have a decent idea of how to handle another tiny human. You sway your hips back and forth when you hold another newborn, you make your tried-and-true shushing sounds and you realize how light as a feather they are compared to your other child(ren). You’ve survived the newborn stage once, but you’re in a brand-new stage with your firstborn. My son had just entered the terrible twos when his sister was born – I wish I had known sooner how much more difficult it would be to parent him compared to his freshly born sister. Don’t be afraid to grab a book from your local library, or join one of those free webinars on parenting toddlers on facebook; I’m not kidding, that’s what saved my sanity with my sweet son.
Grant yourself some grace on your hardest days.
Motherhood is hard, you probably know that by now. On the days where you are covered in spit-up, drank two cups of cold coffee, and managed to keep two or more kids alive and thriving, remember, you’re still #MomStrong. Let’s be real – you’re doing one heck of a job raising little men and women who take time to learn and grow into who we pray they will be someday. It’s a process that can take a toll on your every fiber, so don’t believe for a second you aren’t worthy. As my friend Daniel Tiger says, “Do your best – your best is the best for you!” Give yourself some grace when that balance doesn’t come at the get-go. It took me roughly 6 months after having my daughter, before I began to feel like a balanced mom again.
Do NOT overdo yourself when you are pregnant and after childbirth – especially with second babies and beyond.
I know, I know – doctor’s orders after childbirth are to rest and let your body heal. This is way easier said than done, especially with second children and beyond. With your first child, (in my experience) there is usually more help offered, meals delivered, and more provided. However, once your second child is born (even though it’s equally as exciting), the aid offered just doesn’t compare. I found myself doing more dishes, loads of laundry, and chores because I thought I would be fine. Truth is – hauling the Christmas tree up our townhouse stairs, as well as carrying all the décor up BY MYSELF, was such a terrible idea. My super pregnant body couldn’t handle it, and I ended up with some rough sciatic pain the last few weeks of my second pregnancy. My last item on this list is the result of my overdoing taking down all those Christmas decorations AFTER I had my daughter. So please, ask for help with the chores; if it’s not a necessity, don’t stress over it. Your body will thank you!
Pelvic floor therapy is a thing – AND it’s wonderful!
As I mentioned, I may have overdone myself during my second pregnancy and after my second childbirth. After having my daughter, I had some repeat issues with scar tissue not healing, and I ended up going to my gynecologist a handful of times to get it cauterized (ouch, I repeat ouch)! Around the second time I decided it was time to address my insides. I had recently taken a mirror down below and got so freaked out that I almost passed out. What was happening and why did it feel like I had a tampon falling out all day long? Long story short, my bladder prolapsed. I do not fit any of the descriptions of people at risk for a prolapse so I was completely shocked and horrified. Thank goodness I asked questions and followed through with a women's health specialist who specializes in pelvic floor therapy. I’ve seen my therapist for 1.5 years now, it’s taken time (and work) but I am doing so much better now. My therapist was able to help me with my scar tissue AND bladder prolapse. I had no idea pelvic floor therapy existed until I asked questions and did a ton of research regarding my prolapse. Even without my issues, I’ve learned that it’s something that’s incredibly beneficial to any mom who has gone through childbirth. If you suspect you aren’t where you should be after having your little one(s), ask your doctor what your options are – I highly recommend therapy.