Updated: Feb 22
Life with a toddler, a newborn, a mother's guilt, and everything in between.
It had been two days being a mother of a toddler and a newborn. I quite frankly felt it was going well, too well. Gabriella, my firstborn, didn't feel much of the change at first. Possibly because our two-day-old daughter, Maya, slept most of the day, which meant more time for Gabriella. Well, as for this day, the second day together, everything shifted. Maya was scheduled for her check-up, the one where newborns are expected to be seen by their physicians several days after their arrival. My dad volunteered to help with watching Gabriella while I take Maya to her appointment. I was appreciative of that. Dragging my toddler and carrying Maya was the last thing my lower body needed.
The morning was a blur, although I do remember the afternoon and the struggle it was for me to put Gabriella down for her nap. It never happened! I got caught up trying to feed the girls, myself, and tidying up the house that time got the best of me. Also, Maya was fussy. Which, in the end, resulted in a no-nap monster – I mean, toddler. I managed to get things organized before my father's arrival and put on the movie The Incredibles for them to watch. That sounds terrible. What mother chooses to clean up their house, rather than put their toddler to sleep? I am guilty as charged. On that day, I felt shameful.
My dad strolls in, baring food: all hail dad and his amazing cooking skills. Once we placed the items in the kitchen, I warned him about nap time, and that he may have walked into a trap of monstrosity. He shooed me away, reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. I couldn't help to worry.
Maya and I arrived at her appointment. Everything was happening so damn slow. I kept envisioning all sorts of scenarios, whether my dad was alright, or if Gabriella had fallen asleep. Or maybe she was screaming and whining. I was interrupted in my thoughts when they called Maya's name. Finally! The nurses checked her weight, height, and observed her figure.
Let me tell you something awkward, yet worth chuckling over…it's uncommon for newborn's farts to smell, however not in Maya's case. We were in a closed room with white walls and no windows. Her farts could have put someone to sleep. I don't know how her doctor and myself included, did not fall over, and pass out. They were atrocious. She couldn't stop farting. And, they weren't those rotten egg smelling kind of gas, they were way worse! It was no wonder her doctor scurried out of the room once she finished. I didn't blame her.
Back in the car, I raced home to find my dad finishing up the movie alone. Gabriella was lying right next to him, fast asleep. My shoulders naturally dropped as I let out a sigh, relieved that everything went well. My dad summarized his time with her and headed home.
It was about 5:30 pm around this time. I took advantage as both girls were down, and devoured the tasty home-cooked meal my dad brought over. The clock was ticking, and I knew if I hadn't woken Gabriella up before 6 pm, she wouldn't sleep later. Boy, was that a mistake! Never, ever, EVER wake up a toddler in the middle of their nap, all while forgetting your infant would be up any minute for their next feeding. What the hell was I thinking?
Screams, wails, and tears filled the room, all coming from both girls. We were playing tennis, only I was the tennis ball, and my girls were the rackets. I had to decide on my next move. The decision was obvious. Maya can't feed herself, which meant I had to take her first, feed her, and then care for Gabriella. I gently placed Gabriella down and rushed to pick up Maya. Sitting down on the couch, I quickly pulled out the boob and began nursing. Gabriella was running in circles, yelling her head off. I was frustrated at this point where I shouted stop crying like five times. I immediately felt guilty. After several attempts of patting her back, soothing her, or talking to her, nothing was working. It was a good 7-8 minutes of this craziness, yet felt like 30 whole minutes, like I was drowning, and no-one could save me. Matthew was a phone call away, but he wasn't physically present at the moment. It was just me against the girls. I was outnumbered.
Finally, I hugged Gabriella tight between my legs and rubbed her back with my free arm until she stopped crying. There was a moment of silence and a loud sigh. I did it! I was feeding one, and soothing the other, as shown in the video.
I was mothering!
After that night, it got worse. Gabriella was not only envious of her baby sister, but she was throwing temper tantrums, hitting and wanted nothing to do with her. Her aggressiveness worried me. I won't lie; we threw hands several times. It's hard to admit that I hit my firstborn, but I did. To my defense, she was a rebel. Here I was trying to show her that hitting is unacceptable and how much it hurts. I came off contradicting! Still, this girl, she just cried for a second and then laughed. What?! I was blown away. I lost all hope right then and there.
Bedtime was the worse. Sleep is oh-so-important! There were nights where both girls did not go to sleep until 11:30 pm. I repeatedly cried to my husband and mother, asking when things will settle? My mother assured me, only time would tell when Gabriella will adjust to the life of being the big sister.
It wasn't just bedtime, the temper tantrums, and hitting, it was the fact that everything that was happening was out of my control. I didn't feel like myself. The sleepless nights, numerous bathroom visits, hungry newborn, sore nipples, and more, all consumed me. Postpartum is no joke! I had no idea what I was doing. 'Til this day, I still have no idea. I'm just winging it day by day. The only thing that eases my mind is how foolish I sound expressing how I struggle with two little ones, while other mamas juggle their life with 3, 4, or 8 kids. I can not compare. Kudos to you, mamas. If there is anything we could agree on, it'd have to be how becoming a mom, you are in control about half of the time, maybe even less, the other half is all on the children.
As for today, February 18th, my girls have become the best of friends. Okay, almost best friends. It is slowly happening right before my eyes. I couldn't believe it. Gabriella ultimately did a 180 and surprised us all! My mom was right. All she needed was TIME. Mothers always know best, right?
I mean, look at my girls! I couldn't be any more proud. I must have done something right. Gabriella has grown into this sweet, caring big sister, that I knew she was capable of becoming. The way she yells Maya's name when she's crying - like, mom, you better get her! She is also protective of her. It is the most precious thing I've seen thus far. Those are the moments I live for, my girls being as dainty as can be. That is my medicine.
My advice to you mamas is never to lose hope as I did. I gave up on bedtime, cleaning, sleep, even coffee. I was sick of drinking my coffee cold that I just flat out stopped fucking making it. I was a lost cause, and I didn't even realize it. I couldn't even recognize myself in the mirror. My husband was aware of what was going on, only not all of it. I'm pretty good at pretending. It was a solid two weeks before I woke myself up and stopped feeling sorry for myself. There are single moms out there, Angie. Moms that have five kids and no help. Quit your bitching and deal with what you got. Embrace the good! I knew all this. I just needed to take action, and seriously stop complaining. And before I knew it, there was Gabriella, one evening, leaning over baby Maya and plopped a nice big wet kiss on her nose. Maya smiled. I laughed and instantly was reminded how much these two little squirts mean to me. They have become my entire world. I flew passed my 'losing all hope' phase and moved forward. It was time to bring out super mom and conquer this whole mom thing all while failing at it too. And I'm okay with that. Are you?
I got this. You got this. WE got this, mamas! Don't give up.