So… my second and last baby turned one and well, I am no longer going to have a baby again. Though I LOVED the newborn phase this time around as well as all the other phases, I can’t say I am completely sorry. I have lots to look forward to with two fast growing absolutely wild, beyond control, crazy boys and I’m hoping that I’ll slowly get time for myself and be able to contribute to families with my work in lactation, birth and baby wearing.
But here’s a quick recap of the first year. This first year was extremely different from the first year the first time around. This first year was so enjoyable as I was FREE. Free from any expectations, free from schedules, free from everything and all I expected from myself was to enjoy this baby.
From the second baby A was born he was communicating with me and I answered every whimper with ease instead of fighting it. While last time I tried to do the ‘right’ or ‘expected’ thing like: don’t pick him up all the time he will get used to it; don’t form the habit of him sleeping with you; don’t feed on demand try and increase the gap between feeds; don’t feed him to sleep at night he doesn’t need it any more and so on, this time I just trusted my baby to know what he wants and needs and myself to just respond to his needs.
The freedom has been exhilarating.
I just take off and go anywhere anytime not too bothered about nap times. I just put him in a baby carrier: wraps/ rings lings/ full buckles etc. and he nods off or suckles to sleep. Hungry/ irritated/ upset/ bored? I whip out the breast anywhere and everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. Big boy’s birthday parties, cabs, car, restaurant, park etc. and I don’t even bother covering anymore. And after awhile a schedule did get established at it’s own pace. Now two naps and bedtime is at the same time every day and I didn’t need to really do anything about it.
Any parent will attest that the first year is fraught with many clingy periods. Baby falling sick, teething, stranger anxiety, general fussiness, growth spurts, sleep regressions, the terminologies are endless. This time I didn’t even try to find a reason as to why he was behaving out of sorts or justify his behavior. This time there was no need. Fussy? Put him to breast. Clingy? Put him in a baby carrier and wear him around. Both? Put him in a baby carrier and nurse in it. Sorted!
These two things have made mothering so so easy this time: breastfeeding on demand and on the go and baby wearing. This time I went with the flow and completely trusted instincts, his and mine and enjoyed the time I had to cuddle and kiss away. I know now that change comes. Change is the only constant and any ‘habit’ I want to change will change as bub grows. Things will fall into place, even if I do nothing about it.
Expectations suck the joy out of everything. This time I didn’t expect anything from my baby. I didn’t expect him to sleep for a particular amount of time, I didn’t expect him to follow any schedule and I followed his lead, I didn’t expect him to nurse at any particular time or for a prescribed amount of time, I didn’t expect him to sleep for any specific intervals at night, nothing. I just feed when he wants and therefore have a thriving milk supply and one growing gurgling content bundle. In the first 3 months of his life he has been in a wrap on my body from 5 in the evening till night to suckle away to glory. I even took him to the park to hang with my bigger baby with little one happily on breast and everyone blissfully unaware.
I haven’t felt any sort of sleep deprivation with this baby. We sleep side by side touching, cuddling and have slept this way since the moment he was born. When he stirs, I stir, offer him the breast he takes it and we both go back to sleep. I have no idea if he wakes at night, for how long, how many times etc.
This first year I have hardly gone out at night as once he is down it’s quite unpredictable when he will wake and if he wakes and I am gone then nothing can stop him from howling. But I don’t mind. At one year I can see things are getting better. As I write this it’s been 3 hours since he has been put down and hasn’t stirred. And what’s a year in the grand scheme of things? I have the next 30 odd years to go out if things go well.
I have probably pumped twice this whole year and he has only been fed breast milk this year and I will continue to do so as long as he needs. If I need to I just take him along or just don’t go too far from home, as he is still very much on breast milk. We follow baby led weaning which is even less pressure on me, and one less thing to worry about. I don’t have to worry if he has eaten enough, I don’t have to spend time feeding him, just prop him up in his high chair and offer foods to him. He has specific choices, like he loves chicken and doesn’t like fruit, but that’s ok with me.
Has it been easy? Not at all. Juggling two kids 2.5 years apart is HARD. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done. Both boys are completely head over heels in love with mamma (yes yes I do secretly love it) and both fight tooth and nail for my time and attention (yes yes I am a queen).
But the baby phase hasn’t been hard at all. The baby phase has been bliss and here is something I have forever and ever and nobody can take from me: the memories of having cherished every moment with one of the most truest purest forms of creation. I don’t regret a day in the best year of my life yet.
Thanks for reading. Do pitch in with your experiences. How did they differ the second time around?