Two months with two kids
Our second kid, Jackson, is almost two months old, and we’re just emerging from a haze of exhaustion and slowly easing our way into a new “normal.” Two kids is, unequivocally, way more work than one kid.
I remember my first maternity leave as a peaceful, restful time. Despite having literally zero infant experience between the two of us, with the help of Google and YouTube, Tyler and I fumbled our way through countless diaper changes, naps, and feedings. Towards the end of the seven weeks that I took off, I was itching to get back to work part-time and started to fill my free time by watching the Stanford iOS development lectures. This time around, I thought I would have all this free time on maternity leave. I had lofty aspirations for what I could accomplish — laughably lofty. Like I thought maybe I could ship an iPhone or Android app, or take on all these home improvement projects, or write a book. Seriously.
Taking care of Jackson is actually less work than Alina was (although he is much grumpier), mostly because we had experienced it before. The early stages of infant poop came back like familiar friends passing through town — the sticky black tar, the wet mustard-seed goo, the buttered popcorn odor, and then, as if that wasn’t all enough, oh yes, the violently explosive sharts. But also, we just had less time to take care of him. I remember religiously setting alarms and waking baby Alina up to eat every 2 hours — then Tyler and I had a serious discussion about whether or not we could increase it 3 hours at night, which we resolved by calling the pediatrician’s advice line. We haven’t woken Jackson up to eat — not even once (his pediatrician did say this was totally fine since he was quickly gaining weight). He probably spends more time in his swing in a day than Alina did in a week.
Having a baby in mid-November was fortuitously well-timed for my work at Medium, since we had just had a large October product launch, and some of my leave aligned with company holidays anyways. It was not well-timed, however, with preschool holidays, and we had a total of three weeks (one for Thanksgiving, two for Christmas and New Year’s) of having a toddler and an infant at home all the time. We also all had a string of colds that added to our already extreme exhaustion. Having to wake up multiple times at night to feed a baby is an inconvenience when you only have the one baby who sleeps most of the day, but debilitating when you have to wake up again at 7:30am to deal with an energetic toddler.
Believe it or not, I didn’t have time to write a book. Most of the last two months has been about surviving — about making it through the day or week. We prioritized our own sanity, which sometimes made it look like we had things much more in control than we did. At four weeks, we got a babysitter and went to Medium’s holiday party, and I had my first drink in 10 months. We went to two (yes, two) viewings of Star Wars. I temporarily felt guilty and selfish for leaving a four week old with a babysitter, but we came back to a happy sleeping baby, and he didn’t care at all. In dealing with a lot of conflicting feelings about babysitters, breastfeeding vs formula (this is for another post), I’ve tried to worry less and do what works for us.
Toddler Alina has handled the transition exceptionally well — far better than I expected. Her pediatrician had warned us that she may act up and exhibit behavior that we didn’t even think possible. But she has, for the most part, been incredibly loving and thoughtful to her baby brother. She talks about how she can play with toys with him when he’s older. She is delighted when we all go for a walk or a drive together, and she exclaims “We are a family! We are all together!”
The new normal is exhausting but filled with love in a wonderful way. Sometimes I can’t wait for Jackson to grow up so that we can talk to him and he can tell us what he wants, and he and Alina can play together. But sometimes when I’m done nursing Jackson in the middle of the night, he looks so peaceful and content, and I can’t help but think that I’ll miss it when he starts sleeping through the night.
A few months ago, I started a Slack team for moms in the tech industry to connect. If you’d like to join, feel free to leave me a private note with your email address, and I’ll invite you.