A few weeks ago, I woke up to get ready for my bi-weekly get-together of a bunch of moms spanning all ages. Something was different when I opened my eyes. I was excited to be awake. The day seemed clearer. This invisible pressure that had formed over my head and shoulders since having my second baby had dissipated. I’ve finally walked out of my postpartum fog. For ten months, it felt like the air surrounding me had been heavier, more dense, as if I was walking around on a planet with higher gravity. Everything felt slower and harder, like more work. I was constantly exhausted, overly sensitive, impatient, and couldn’t concentrate on anything. I’d flit around the house like a moth cleaning, doing laundry, cooking dinner, changing diapers, breast feeding, and playing with and reading to the girls. I bitterly laughed at the suggestion of sitting down and relaxing. Now that nearly a year has passed since having my second baby girl, I am so thankful to be on the other side.
I was a total emotional wreck just before having my second daughter, and for months afterwards, worried about how I was going to balance my time between a newborn and a then 21-month-old. My worries down to my gut were twofold. First, how do I get Noelle, my oldest, to understand that I love them both more than anything? And secondly, how do I get Noelle to love her sister, Autumn, and for them to not be jealous of each other? I had no idea how or if Noelle would tell me she needed my attention. I wondered if it would be nearly as difficult for her to adjust to having a baby sister as it would be for me to adjust to having two babies. My pint-sized ginger haired girl used to be so easy before her baby sister came along. I was congratulating myself, while pregnant with Autumn, that I had such an easy toddler. Over this past year, most of her jealousy has been in the form of retaliation towards me, and blessedly not at her baby sister. Not that that makes me any less frazzled, but I’m thankful my sturdy Autumn was no fragile baby bird between Noelle’s overzealous hugs that looked more like headlocks, being pushed over from a seated position, and Noelle’s general lack of understanding the meaning of “gentle.” Noelle will let me know when she is jealous of Autumn. She will tell me, “Momma, put her down,” if she feels I’ve held her sister for just a bit too long. While I was giving Autumn a taste of banana a few months ago, Noelle dumped out her smoothie onto the hardwood kitchen floor. While I’ve nursed Autumn, Noelle has ripped out pages from her books. All of these events were done WHILE SHE WAS LOOKING AT ME. When she’s done these intentionally destructive things or has done exactly the opposite of what I’ve told her to do, I’ve wanted to flip out and scream, “What are you thinking?” I’ve had to stop, pause, pray, and then realize she is two years old, and doesn’t know how to maturely express to me her feelings. She acts out to get my attention. Even if it’s negative attention, it’s still attention in her mind.
Now that Autumn is crawling, laughing, and interacting, my girls love to PLAY with each other. I love seeing Noelle kiss her baby sister every chance she gets. They laugh when Noelle gets Autumn to crawl after her in their version of chase. I don’t worry about what Noelle is doing to her sister if they’re on the floor playing together. When Autumn was only two months old, I remember she was in the car with Noelle and me. Autumn was crying inconsolably, and Noelle in exasperation, stated, “Baby Autumn! I can’t hear myself!” That stabbed me in the heart as both funny, because it came from the mouth of a not-quite-two-year-old, but also sad because she was already annoyed by her sister. Now, when Noelle complains about Autumn being loud, it’s because Autumn is a loud talker. She’s totally happy and content. Just super loud. Nursing Autumn is winding down to a close. This makes me both relieved, but also a bit nostalgic, knowing she is my last baby. It’s amazing considering at six weeks sometime around 2am, I was ready to quit. Looking back at this year, I’ve grown and stretched so much. So have my girls. We all have assimilated as a family of now four. I’m so excited to watch my girls grow up and become best of friends, no matter how different their personalities, interests, and/or talents develop.