Motherhood 2.0

And then there were TWO!  

I read somewhere that going from one to two kids is the biggest and most overwhelming adjustment in your life. After that, apparently,  the number doesn't matter and you can have as many as you like. That's a theory I'm not too keen on testing.

My theory is that by number 3 you would be soooo sleep deprived and soooo busy taking care of these crazy-beautiful-needy-little things that you wouldn't have time to even breathe never mind to pause and reflect about how overwhelmed you are.

Keeping in mind I am talking about kids that are so close in age, I would assume that it's slightly easier when they have a good few years between them because the older one would be more independent. But a toddler and a newborn, haha, well that's a ballgame you never even knew existed.

My little bundles of joy are just under 21 months apart. My baby Gavriel decided to greet us at 38 weeks, it would have been 21 months had he waited until his full 40 weeks.

As with everything there are pros and cons; Both with the pregnancy and after. 

Here are but a few:

Pros: You kind of know what you're doing by now, or at least you know what to expect  even if you still don't what you're doing haha.

Con: You have to do it while you're chasing a screaming toddler trying to get him to put his nappy on 'cos it's freezing cold and you kind of don't want to have to clean poop off the floor while you're breastfeeding or 8 months pregnant and can't even bend over to put your shoes on. 

The pregnancies themselves, symptom wise and all that, felt nearly exactly the same.

The second one was the amplified version of the first pregnancy.

My stomach started growing a lot quicker, and was a lot bigger the whole way through. I had a very nauseating first trimester, luckily, I still had no throwing up just 24 hours of extreme nausea from about 8-14 weeks. I was still lucky enough to not have any heartburn. And both my babies came out with a decent bob of hair! 

One thing that is different though...  You're not as focused on where you are with your pregnancy and what your baby is up to like you are with your first.

I remember the highlight of my first pregnancy being reading my weekly info in What to Expect When You're Expecting as well as the Your Pregnancy app on my phone. I was so excited each week to read what size of fruit my baby was. Frankly, you just don't have the time for things like that when you're taking care of a toddler already. Or maybe in my case, judging by the size of my stomach, you assume he's a watermelon from half way already.

 The one thing I thought would be different but wasn't, is that last notorious month of pregnancy where you just want it to be ooooover already.

I remember feeling completely over being pregnant by the end of my first pregnancy. You just want to meet your baby aleady! and frankly, you just really don’t want to be pregnant anymore and maybe also so you can finally sleep on your stomach again. Little did I know you cannot do that. One, because you're breastfeeding and two, because you're not sleeping, so there's no point in lying down at all. *half laughs, half cries*

I expected to feel less like that this time around because the second pregnancy in general feels like it's flying by a lot quicker thanks to your food-covered, energy-for-days, throwing-everything-in-sight other little angel. But surprisingly that last bit of pregnancy was just like the first time, in fact I think it was worse.

My stomach was so huge by the end that you’re really not up for dragging it around anymore, it also gets harder and harder to be active with your super-active nearly 2-year-old. And maybe that’s why my baby G came 2 weeks before expected due date to help mommy out. He may not have given mommy  time to finish her assignments but, man, was it good to carry that little cuteso in my arms rather than my stomach.

So now that the little one is out... and he’s actually 4 months old already and just that little fact can give you a bit of insight into how little time you have to yourself with TWO under 2!!! (Although technically my eldest just turned 2)... but I’ve been trying to write this blog post for a while now and I thought I’ll give it a go now while I’m lying down on my couch with my littlest sleeping next to me and mastitis the 5th time around (no jokes but we’ll get to that in a bit) and I’m being forced to rest.... I might not get another opportunity to finish it so here comes all the nitty, the gritty and the wonderful! 

Straight up no sugar coating it.... the first 6 weeks were hell!!! 

Not 24 hours a day hell but nearly ;)

Your toddler’s life has just been thrown completely out of whack, he doesn’t understand why this wrinkled little ball is now a full time resident and why mommy has to give him so much attention.

I, unfortunately but temporarily, had to move Tesla and Daddy to sleep in the spare room. Well, temporary for Tesla not for daddy (haha, again no joke).

Baby Gavriel suffered with cramps/colic quite badly. So he would be up screaming in pain every night from about midnight until 4am. So I couldn’t have Tesla in the same room as he wouldn’t be able to sleep through that.

But because of that being a huge adjustment for Tesla (not sleeping with mommy anymore) he would wake up at exactly 4am and there was no way of getting him back to sleep.

So me thinking I wasn’t getting any sleep when I first had Tesla was laughable in comparison.

I was running completely on empty. Gavriel’s cramps were slightly better in the day than at night so for the first three weeks I was napping with him in the day to catch up on sleep because Tesla would be at nursery school. After that Tesla got sick (as they do when they’re at school) and he was home for the next 3 weeks right up until we left for overseas for a month.  

So 24 hours a day with a colicky newborn and a jealous toddler was challenging to say the least. And a husband with a company who’s busiest time of year is winter - smack bam in the middle of the time baby made his arrival.

I am however very fortunate do have full time help so I didn’t have to worry about cleaning or doing the copious amounts of washing and there was someone to help entertain Tesla for a bit while I was in my walking dead state. 

Here goes:

I thought I had the breastfeeding down. I had breast fed Tesla for 16 months. It means I’m a pro, right? Wrong.

I couldn’t get Gavriel to latch as he should so I got the cracked nipples that make you want to kill yourself alllll over again.

I highly recommend getting a lactation consultant to come see you the day your baby is born! My nipples were already cracked the next day. If you need a recommendation for a consultant send me a mail. They are worth the money (the good ones, as with some of them you’ll find it works while they’re there and as soon as they leave you’re helpless again) mine didn’t even touch the baby. She made sure I could do myself what needed to be done and not need her to do it for me. 

Best healing remedy in my opinion is to air your nipples out, don’t let them be damp. I put on nipple cream very few times as I don’t find it helps too much. and then, unfortunately, express rather than feed if your baby is still not latching very well. They should be a lot better by he next day if you express. If they are latching correctly then you can let them feed as them the nipples won’t suffer any further damage. 

And then... 

Mastitis reared it’s filthy head again (it happened twice with Tesla and I thought at the time that, that was so bad, well it came back 4 times in those first 6 weeks to teach me a lesson and now for the 5th time at 4 months when I thought it would never happen again.

 Tips for any other moms suffering from this ferocious thing:

Massaging out the lumps... and preferably getting your SO a.k.a significant other or someone else to do it for you.

Stelios would come home from work, boil water, get a cloth and massage them for about 20-30 mins or as long as I could take it for because it hurt like hell.

That’s why I think it’s better for someone else to do it for you rather than you doing it on your own. I couldn’t do it hard enough for them to unblock because it would hurt so much and frankly, I didn’t have the energy to do it either. So I would just bite down on something while Stelios was doing the massaging and just endure it.

Make sure that you or the person massaging you starts at the end of your breast and rubs/presses down towards your nipple. If you are very blocked up (like I was) milk won’t be coming out at first, but as those ducts get unblocked you’ll see it will start pouring out.

 Cabbage leaves... they don’t work for getting them unblocked but they do offer a BIG relief. Make sure they are cold, so put them in the fridge. Your boobs will be flaming hot from the infection so they won’t stay cold for very long but you can reuse them. Just put them back in the fridge until you need them again. Tip: buy the big cabbage not the small one so that the leaves can cover your whole breasts.

Antibiotics.... don’t rush to them as soon as you get it. It honestly CAN be treated without.  You anyway will still have to unclog the ducts and do all these other things whether you take antibiotics or not. So check how high your fever is, if it’s under 38.5 you are still managing it and wait 24 hours and see if you feel better before resulting to antibiotics. If you are not feeling any better or are getting worse than chat to your doctor or lactation consultant.

Lecithin... I started taking lecithin tablets after the first 3 bouts of mastitis. They are natural and safe for breast feeding, you can get them at Dischem. I took two a day until I got things under control. I haven’t been taking them for about 6 weeks now. And unfortunately am suffering from it again (I possibly would have prevented it if I was still drinking them).

Vibrators - you use them to massage the blocked ducts. This is something new I just “discovered”. I haven’t, as of yet, tried it myself but I read this mom’s article on bellybelly and apparently many have agreed. And it makes sense that it would work if you think about it. 

Expressing... do this in between feeds just to get out as much milk as you can and help break up any little lumps. The pump won’t work on the really big ones.

 Feed your baby as much as you can.... nothing breaks those lumps up like your baby can. Their sucking action is like no other and a pump can’t even compare.

If you are tandem feeding your toddler will probably work even better than the baby. I didn’t tandem feed. I thought about it, but I didn’t want to have to wean Tesla off the boob again. When he was 16 months old and I was around 4 months pregnant with Gavriel, my milk dried up.

It’s very common for your milk to dry up while you’re pregnant because of the new rush of hormones. And it’s probably natures way of protecting the mom, because breastfeeding already sucks up (excuse the pun) so much of your energy and being pregnant is literally compared to running a marathon. So your body probably can’t handle doing both at the same time.

I did, however, still give Tesla breast milk everyday for those first three weeks of having Gavriel. If you know me, you know I am ALL for the breastfeeding. I really think breastmilk is liquid gold and if you are able to give it to your babies, there really is nothing better for them. I would express and put some in his tea every morning.

Coincidentally enough, or is it? Those are the three weeks he wasn’t sick at school.

This year has been a roller coaster with Tesla going to school and pretty much the whole year he would be at school for about 1 week and spend the next 3 weeks at home sick. Those kiddie germs are something else! So for him not to have gotten sick for a full 3 weeks at school was quite something.

Then I got mastitis quite badly and ended up taking antibiotics (please refer to what I wrote previously on NOT taking them, I tried the antibiotic route - yes, it worked. But the next few times I tried without them and suffice to say it also worked), so I stopped giving Tesla the breastmilk for that while because I didn’t want him to have to get the antibiotics from my milk ( it was unfortunate enough that Gavriel had to) and that’s when he got sick and had to stay home for the next 3 weeks. 

On holiday he was perfectly healthy even though it was a complete change in climate and we had to go through a few different airports. But I went back to putting milk in his tea while we were there.

When we got back from holiday a month later he went back to school for one week and got very very sick again and I, since, have decided I want his little immune system to have a break and I will not be taking him back to school until he’s a bit older. He was at home so much anyway due to being sick, so I figured if he’s going to be at home he might as well be healthy and happy instead of sick and grumpy. 

Anyway back to the mastitis and the breastfeeding (sorry I went a little off topic there) do NOT give up breastfeeding. I know it’s hard and mastitis is freaking horrible!! But push through, “this too shall pass” as they say and the benefits of breastfeeding, not just because of nutritional value but for the bond and relationship it creates with your baby, totally outweighs everything. 

And the other (good) thing is... it’s not common. I have a condition called recurring mastitis. It is not common. Most moms will only get it ONCE (if they do get it). So comfort yourself in the fact that you just need to get through it once and it most likely won’t happen again. 

Ok, now back to Gavriel and his cramps. 

Firstly, hands up to any mommy dealing with a crampy/colicky baby. Man, it is rough. Tesla had no problems in that department so I really had no idea what I was in for. 

I researched and researched as I do... I found that food has a big part to play in it. Even if most doctors won’t tell you that or will tell you it’s not that it can’t be from anything you’re eating. 

I found, through research, that dairy is a big culprit. So that was my first food to try and eliminate. Well, actually in order for it to work you have to eliminate it completely you cannot have even a tiny bit of it. Food allergies/intolerances/sensitivities are very real and fairly common! 

I joined the dairy free breastfeeding group on Facebook and found that there are sooooo many moms that have helped their babies by simply (not that’s it’s easy) eliminating something or a few things from their diet. The group isn’t only for eliminating dairy it is for any dietary adjustment/elimination of food while breastfeeding. Some babies are so super sensitive when it comes to food and their mommies really deserve an applause for all the things they give up to make sure their babies are ok. 

Just as a side note; cramps aren’t the only indication of a food allergy/intolerance; Diarrhea, mucous in poos, rashes, gassiness, blood in poos, acne and constipation are some of the others. 

Along with the camps, Gavriel had constipation, he was very gassy, he had mucous in his poo and I could hear his tummy making noises all the time, almost like a boiling sound or like bubbles popping. 

Unfortunately dairy takes the longest to leave your system, so you will have to eliminate it for 4 weeks before you can make a judgment call on whether it was that or not. You should notice a slight improvement in the cramping after two weeks of being dairy free. 

In my case it turned out that dairy wasn’t the problem. And it turned out it was eggs. I accidentally figured it out. When I went dairy free I ate quite a bit of eggs because it just felt like something substantial to eat for breakfast.

Eventually I saw that not eating dairy made no difference. I saw about 3 peads and we went to 6 Chiro visits. The peads said he’ll grow out of it at about 3-4months. That colic is “normal”. This is very discouraging for moms to hear, yes you’re happy it’s “normal” and nothing is seriously wrong with your child, but your next thought is so my baby must just be in pain and agony for the next 3 months and there’s nothing I can do about it ???

While on holiday I was back to eating dairy because going dairy free didn’t help. I was trying to limit my intake of acidic foods and spicy foods etc after realizing dairy wasn’t the issue and I was still trying to figure out what was... but he was still the same until the holiday.

I wasn’t eating eggs on holiday (for no particular reason, I just wasn’t, we were eating other things) and I didn’t click that it could be that. I thought that maybe he just really prefers the warmer weather or something and that it’s doing good for him. It was amazing. He was so chilled and happy and slept so much. It just made the parenting thing seem like a breeze compared to what it had been. He was even pooing every day which back home he was only managing to do so about every 4 days. I do know that it is normal for breastfed babies not to poo regularly after about 6-8 weeks, however Gavriel had been like that from the beginning .

Then about 3 weeks in, he started cramping again badly for 2 days and I was so sad and confused as to why it had come back.

I phoned my husband and he was trying to help me figure out what I had done differently or eaten differently to the rest of the holiday and we figured out that I hadn’t been eating eggs the entire holiday up until then (I had eggs for breakfast for 2 days prior) and his cramps had come back and he had mucous in his poo.

I decided to give it a go and eliminate eggs and he has been fine, every now and then I slip up and have something with eggs in it and he cramps again. That’s how I have confirmed it. Because I thought maybe it was just a coincidence but now I follow what I eat and follow his behavior and he definitely has a reaction to me eating eggs.

 Have a read of this article on Kelly Moms if you think your baby could maybe be sensitive to something you are eating.  

Hmmmmm.... what’s next... 

Let’s go into the co-sleeping / breast-sleeping thing. Firstly, now that baby G’s cramps are under control, Tesla is back in our bed and all peace has been restored. Daddy still has to sleep in the other room because there’s not enough space for 4, I myself sleep on about 2-inches of bed every night and wake up with terrible neck/back pain from it haha the joys of motherhood. 

I co-slept with Tesla all the way and still do besides for the brief periods I tried with some sleep training stuff which never worked for us very long and didn’t feel right. I am hoping once Gavriel is a bit older it will be easier to get them both into their own room and they can have comfort in sleeping together as opposed to always wanting to sleep with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sleeping in the same bed with them but your sleep definitely suffers. As other moms will tell you... kids wriggle and roll and do all sorts of things during sleep like sleeping on top of your head or kicking you repeatedly (no jokes). It’s awesome waking up next to both of them but I imagine it will also be awesome to get a good night’s rest! 

But one HUGE benefit of co-sleeping while you’re breastfeeding is BREAST-SLEEPING; meaning you whip your boob out (actually it’s probably already out because your boobs are always out when you’re breastfeeding - a bit of a bonus for your hubby haha) as soon as you feel them getting niggly you just put your boob in his mouth and he’ll feed while he’s sleeping and then carry on sleeping when he’s done and you can sleep right through the feeding too.

I know there’s people out there who think co-sleeping is dangerous and that you could roll over and suffocate your kid in your sleep. From my experience I call BULL. You will never sleep as lightly as you do when you’re a new mom, the tiniest of sound or movement will wake you up and you’ll be checking on them, you’ll probably wake yourself up anyway just to check if they’re breathing (common practice around new moms), so unless you’re on medication of some sort tat would effect your sleep and waking state I think co-sleeping is excellent. You will not have to get up numerous times in the night to go get your baby and feed them, and this seriously helps when you’re so exhausted. Much research has also shown that it strengthens the bond between mom and baby. Yes, in the long run it will be harder to get them to go their own room but hey, you win some you lose some. 

All in all, once we sorted out the cramps (which for some of you won’t even happen) mothering a newborn the second time around really is easier. You are definitely more practiced in it.

Yes, having two is definitely harder than having one but at the risk of sounding terribly cliche, it really is twice the love and twice the happiness. 

And seeing your kids bond as siblings is the most amazing feeling. I was so worried in the beginning. I thought Tesla would never adjust to having Baby G around. I was worried he was going to hate him. But by the time Gavriel was 2 months old I think Tesla realized that this new little human was here to stay. 

And now (we’re 4 months in) and they love each other soooo much. Well, baby actually loved Tesla right from the start, he’s always had big smiles for his big brother.

But to see how much Tesla loves him too now is so heart-warming. They’re so happy to see each other when they wake up (another pro of co-sleeping).

Tesla cuddles and kisses him as soon as he wakes up. He always wants to help with the baby; fetching his blanket and throwing away his nappies when I change them. He always wants to give him toys to play with and always asks to carry him (which he can’t yet) but it’s so sweet, the only thing we haven’t mastered yet is the dummy; he is continually stealing Gavriel’s dummy hahaha. Tesla was nearly weaned off the dummy but with baby’s arrival we regressed a stage and he wanted his dummy all the time (probably as a comfort thing and also because he saw baby has one, although Gavriel isn’t too interested in the dummy for now).

To end off here’s a few mom hacks I’ve learned a long the way, maybe you know some of them maybe they won’t all work for you as each mommy and each baby and each family is different but it never hurts to try.

First mom hack is for dealing with your toddler when the new baby arrives. My Tesla took it hard and his tantrums sky-rocketed and amplified to the brim. It was hard for me too because you’re overwhelmed and you’re so sleep deprived and your nerves are already on edge but it doesn’t help to get upset with them. It only makes it worse.

I have read that when they are behaving so badly it’s because their connection with you is lacking. I find this to be true 98% of the time. The other 2% I’m assuming they’re possessed (finally I made a joke haha).

 So the worse they become, the kinder and softer you have to become. I did what all the books said about helping your toddler deal with their new sibling; I tried to include Tesla in everything I made one-on-one time with him without the baby but still it was too big of an event in his life to go smoothly and he threw tantrums and screamed about everything. 

I found that going down to his level (and I mean this literally) while he was having a meltdown would make the world of difference. I would go down on my knees, so that I’m not standing all tall over him and telling or yelling at him to stop misbehaving or begging him to listen, and he would change immediately. If he quitened down, I could actually speak to him and tell him why he can’t do what he wanted to do or what he should do instead and if he was still crying I’d offer a hug and he’s never (yet) refused one of those from me. And honestly it really calms the whole situation down and you realize that all they want is their mom and attention from her and even though you may feel like you were giving them attention and they’re just being impossible, something bigger is going on in their little heads and they just need to feel close to you.

 So... when your toddler is making you feel like you want to jump out a window. Stop. Pause. Lean down and hug them. Works like a charm. 

I do believe in boundaries and being strict. I do believe that children need discipline (and that discipline can be achieved without hidings, while some people firmly still believe that hidings are the way to go and may find the new ruling of hidings being a criminal act ridiculous, I feel that hidings have the opposite effect of what your are trying to achieve. I feel that it strains your relationship with your child and makes you further lose your connection with them). But I don’t think it’s a time for discipline when they’re going through a major change in their life. I think that’s the time to work on your relationship with them even more, put in more effort and love them more. Just as you would with your partner when the connection becomes distant. I’m not saying it’s easy to do and we’re all human and little ones can really test our temper but it’s our job to be the adult. I read something which resonated with me; “ it’s not your job to stop a tantrum, it’s your job not to have one”.

 Mom Hack Number 2...

Burping... Ahhhh the wonderful art of burping. I tried all the different positions with Gavriel. I’ve watched Dr. Mike Marinus’ video on burping ...

But what I found worked best for me and Gavriel was putting him in a sitting position (similar to the one in the video but without the bouncing). I put him in a sitting position and let him lean quite far forward and he will burp within seconds. I don’t know if it will work for you, but give it a go! It helped us so much. I would walk him in the upright position and put him over my shoulder for half an hour sometimes and it wouldn’t work. The sitting thing eased my life up a million times over.

Gavriel is very easy to read when he needs a burp, he stiffens up and it’s actually very hard to get him to lean forward because he makes his back all stiff so as soon as I manage to get him to bend he’ll burp. It’s amazing. 

Number 3....

Night Nappies

Use a nappy that is a size bigger than their normal size just for the nights.

I would find Gavriel’s clothes would be wet a few hours into the night because he would wee so much and you’re not changing nappies as often as in the day because you’re trying to get in a bit of sleep.

I figured this one out by accident. I ran out of Gavriel’s nappies (size 3) one night on holiday and had to use Tesla’s nappies (size 4).

With a bigger size that doesn’t happen and it will last all night. Of course if he’s made a poo you have to change him, but you really don’t need to change wee nappies all night long, your sleep is priority at night.

Oh and while we’re on wee nappies, another way to make sure the wee doesn’t come through the nappies (if you have a boy that is) make sure his boy goods are facing down! If it’s facing up chances are the wee will come through the top of the nappy.

And last but not least and I know you’ve heard this one before but it helps! Sleep when baby sleeps!

I know you have a billion things to do but try, at least for one of baby’s nap times, to get some sleep in as well. And if you have more than one child try make sure that one of the baby’s naps is at the same time as when your toddler has his/her naps so that you can get in that extra bit of rest because you need it.

Oh and I know the alone time is oh-so-tempting... they’re both sleeping and finally, FINALLY the chance to do something for yourself. But don’t fall into that trap. It’s not worth it. The sleep is more worth it, I promise. 

And to end off just enjoy it, enjoy it ALL!

They grow up way too quickly (oops, another cliche) but holding your baby in your arms is the most wonderful thing in the world. Nothing can compare. Feel grateful for it. Take a minute, don’t let your mind wander off too quickly and just be there in the moment with your full-of-fat-rolls little bundle of love. Because they are worth all of the hardships and the sacrifices that come with being a parent. And you are the luckiest person in the world for getting to be their mom ❤️.