Pack n Plays, Swings, Crib Mattresses, Highchairs, Gliders
Sleeping gowns and caps
Exersaucers and Jumperoos
Bibs, bibs and more bibs
Baby washcloths, which I now use as face cloths for me because they are so sweet
That silicone nipple shield thing that was the only way I could nurse my firstborn for the first five weeks, thank god for the lactation consultant who came up with that solution
Cloth diapers for nursing, which I stashed in every room and washed by the truckload
Bumbo Baby Seat
Muslin baby blankets
A handful of random womens’ clothing to justify my race to the handicapped dressing room to nurse a screaming baby. Why did I think I had to pretend to be trying on yoga pants for them to grant me access?
Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags
Super cuddly blanket sleepers
Avent bottles, Playtex Drop-Ins
Those adorable but mostly useless infant toys
Size N, 1, 1-2, 2, 3, and 4 size diapers
And for that matter, the sweet powdery smell of Pampers Swaddlers
Earths’ Best baby food, Happy Belly rice cereal, and Gerber Puffs
Onesies. Plain white sweet little onesies.
And when I walk by those aisles that used to contain 99% of the items on my shopping list, I feel a little sad.
In the midst of a really bad storm, you can be so focused on trying to remain calm and get everybody through it alive that it’s not until well after the storm has passed that you think–holy shit! How did I survive that? That’s exactly how I feel about the two under two years.
The Hardest Things About Having 2 Under 2
1. If you had a C-section, you can’t pick up your toddler for six weeks. And we’re not just talking about fun romps around the house. We’re talking about getting them out of daycare and into the car, carrying them up and down the stairs, lifting them onto the changing table, and putting them in their crib. Obviously you are going to have to pick up your toddler. But not without some shooting abdominal pains and fears of something really horrible happening to your midsection.
2. You can’t nurse your newborn without worrying your 16-month old is going to fling himself into the fireplace to get your attention. This is a rational fear because it’s what your toddler threatens to do every time his arch enemy finally gets a good latch.
3. Your toddler is still too young to be left in a room alone. But he can’t sit still. If you are nursing, you will rarely have the luxury of doing it sitting down.
4. There is a high possibility that you will open the front door with one boob hanging out of your nursing tank.
5. Your toddler has not yet learned how to wait for anything, especially food. Meals are prepared under a blizzard of wails. And when your newborn starts eating solid food, you have to feed it to him. Every single spoonful. Which means the days of feeding the toddler cheese chunks while you shove some organic “chickn” nuggets into the oven are over. You are strapped to your newborn’s highchair, so you better have dinner ready for your toddler, too.
6. You live on a diet of Cheerios, “chickn” nuggets, apple sauce and beer. No wonder you look like shit.
7. Your newborn thinks his Earth’s Best Split Pea Soup puree tastes fine straight from the fridge. Because that’s all he knows. You will carry immense guilt for this.
8. The aftermath of every meal will make you want to cry. Except you’re too exhausted to cry.
9. You will not have time to fix yourself a glass of water. Which is probably good since going to the bathroom is also out of the question. (Especially when your only bathroom is on the second floor.)
10. A young toddler may or may not have the attention span to watch more than five minutes of television. This young toddler may also be unsteady on his feet and runs a reasonable risk of emergency-room grade damage to himself at every corner.
11. Meanwhile, your newborn does not take to the bouncy seat, swing, or other expensive vibrating contraption happily. He may tolerate it for a couple of minutes. Then he’ll be demonstrating the strength of his lungs.
12. There’s nothing like a screaming newborn to put your toddler in the mood to destroy something.
13. Getting in and out of the car, especially in the winter, is enough to give any sleep-deprived mother agoraphobia. Unfortunately, staying at home with two young children all day, no matter how tired you are, is probably the very worst move you can make.
14. Getting into the house, especially when that involves scaling 20 steep and narrow stairs, is the bane of your existence. Each week is a new tactic. Most fail. Once you finally move to a new house, you almost wish you had video of those afternoons so you could cry for yourself.
15. The biggest goal of every weekend is getting both kids to sleep at the same time. It rarely happens, so you and your husband fall into a pattern of tag-team napping, all day long. This goes on for months.
16. Despite all of this, your husband still expects “the good stuff.” He will not get “the good stuff” and probably not “the mediocre stuff” either.
17. You wonder if having twins would have been easier because at least then people would drop off hot covered dishes and make sympathetic remarks at the grocery store. (Who am I kidding. I don’t take both of them to the grocery store.)
18. When other moms of toddlers ask what it’s like having two under two because they are thinking of getting pregnant again, you launch into an incoherent monologue about the stairs, the godforsaken stairs. Those moms avoid you.
19. Living in sickening fear that your toddler will kill the newborn. You see the news headlines: “Toddler climbs into crib and suffocates newborn.” “Toddler strikes newborn on head with Toy Story sippy cup.” “Toddler feeds organic hot dog to newborn, who chokes while mother is in upstairs bathroom.” You realize you probably need professional help
20. The heart-aching love you have for both of them as you grasp on to their last hints of baby-ness, forgetting all but #20 of the hardest things about having 2 under 2.
Breastfeeding (If you so choose) If at first you don’t succeed, call a lactation consultant. If she isn’t nice, find another one. These people have decades of experience and want nothing more than to help you feed your baby. Katie Powers in Florida was a godsend to me, and the lactation consultant I had in Sleepy Hollow, NY fought to get my baby out of the NICU the first day post c-section so I could nurse him. Lactation consultants are angels disguised as boppy pillow- breast pump-toting nurses.
Pump, and pump a lot. Stock up the fridge with reserves for when you go back to work. Money in the bank.
Bottle feeding Don’t buy a cupboard full of one type of bottle until you know for sure your baby likes it. Pre-baby, I had no idea babies had bottle preferences. I thought bottle selection was all about BPA and good design. Thus, I had a cupboard full of Born Free along with some other cool designs we found at Giggle, only to find out my son wouldn’t drink from a silicone nipple. (I was too tired to even attempt to figure out why.)
What worked best? Cheap-o Playtex Drop-Ins. Nothing “green” or pretty about them. Worked like a charm.
For baby #2, we got a free Playtex Ventaire (the bendy kind) at the hospital. I never would have bought this bottle, but baby loved it. However, he would only use the thin version, not the wide bottle version. (I learned this after buying a whole mess of wide ones.)
Do not buy a truckload of N, 1, or 2 size diapers! They will fly through these sizes and you’ll be stuck with them. In fact, you’ve probably inherited a bunch of these anyway–for exactly this reason.
Diapers.com is a lifesaver. I tried their brand of diapers after Pampers changed to that nasty “Dry Max” technology, and they are fantastic.
Buying Baby Stuff
Order everything online. Diapers.com gets to our house in 2 days flat. If they don’t have it, Amazon.com will.
The Amazon.com Prime membership is worth every penny. It gets you free 2-day shipping and overnight shipping for $3.99/item. This means you can also order last-minute birthday party gifts without having to endure a toy store on your lunch break.
Some babies fall into their own rhythm. Others really need your help. My firstborn was one of those. When he was 5 months old, a friend of a friend recommended The Contented Little Baby. I still worship the ground that friend’s friend walks on. Even if you don’t need to put your child on a rigid schedule, this book of daily schedules for your baby’s first year, gives you a rough idea of what a day should look like.
I remember being a new mom and trying to arrange playdates. “What times are good for you? Our times are x and x,” moms would write. I had no idea what times were good for us. Until this book.
2 Biggest Takeaways from The Contented Little Baby:
* You need to get your kid up and start feeding them in order to fit in x number of feedings per day if you want them to sleep at night.
* Every nap affects how well your child will or won’t sleep at night. If they nap too long, too late in the day, OR too short or too early in the day, you’re probably looking at a crappy night sleep.
On Getting Through the Day
There will come a time when your cuddly newborn expects you to play. All. Day. Long. And having one-sided conversations about trucks gets old when you’re living off 2 hours of consecutive sleep, decaf and mini-muffins. Get out of the house. You’ll feel less tired than if you’re on the floor rolling a ball back and forth. And it’s absolutely amazing how getting a cranky kid out of the house snaps them out of it. And if you’re lucky, baby will be exhausted by the time you get home and will sleep for a couple of hours. At which point you should NOT be doing the dishes–hello!
“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is probably the best advice in the world. Such good advice, in fact, that in our house, we call it “sleep when the little monsters toddlers sleep” and will probably keep amending it all the way through their adulthood.
How much you sleep at night has a direct correlation with how much you’ll cry during the day. This is normal. It will pass.
Don’t judge how you feel about work until you are a week or so away from the end of your maternity leave. When baby #1 was four weeks old, I couldn’t imagine being well enough or having the brainpower or even interest in going back to work. By 6 weeks, I was thankful to have an office to go to a couple times a week.
You’ll probably never be quite happy with whatever work/at home arrangement you have. Try to stick to whatever decision you’ve made for a few months without thinking about it constantly. Give it a good trial run. Then, if it’s not working, you can test drive a new schedule.
Remember how I said it will pass? Well if it doesn’t, talk to your doctor. Seriously. I had NO idea I had a form of PPD. And I read the Brooke Shields book! Somehow, when you are in it, you are least likely to see it. If something doesn’t feel right, let your doctor know. I wish I could get those months back of feeling like an anxious wreck.