Saturday, November 15, 2008

Something from the Comments

Ryan recently commented on an old post... He said:
My wife and I have a beautiful daughter that is now 11 months. We just found out that we are going to have another baby in July 2009. We really just want to know if it is actually possible to do.

We are very blessed to have 1 and now two.

I think we are just freaking out about money, time with each other, time with our daughter and raising two babies.

I guess what I am asking for is just positive advice. Thank you RYAN
Oh, do I remember that feeling... My oldest, Mary Grace, was 11 months when we found out that we were expecting Claire. I walked out of the bathroom after taking the test, rested my head against the wall and said to my husband, "Oh, dude, it's positive."

I don't ever call BJ "dude."

It was overwhelming. You just figured out how to do the parent thing. You just got to the point where life is starting to resemble your pre-baby "normal," and now you're starting over.

Ugh.

Fear not, Ryan! I am totally here for you.

First, read back through my archives. I've written a lot on having "two under two" and I've labeled it. I also recently found another blog called Baby Bunching that talks about closely spaced kids. They've got good stuff (and I'm going to be featured there tomorrow, so we must all show them much love and click their ads because I want to drive excellent traffic to them so they will feature me often and send their readers here to click my ads - that's how this blogosphere thing works...).

I hope most of what you read here will be positive. Like all parents, I have good days and days when I think "who are all these children and why are they calling me Mommy??" But honestly, now that my kids are 3 years 3 months and 20 months, I LOVE having them close in age and I wouldn't have it any other way...

You specifically mentioned money. There are a lot of ways that you can save. I think that if I had it all to do over again, I'd do cloth diapers. They're better for the environment, and they're reusable. It's a large initial outlay, but in the long run I think they're less expensive. We use Pampers (we've tried off brands, but none of them work as well...) and it is expensive. I try to use coupons, but I am singularly horrible at coupons.

Try to use coupons. Not only can you save on stuff for the kids, you can save on stuff for you, and bring your overall grocery expenses down.

You need to take a good hard look at whether or not daycare is cost effective, if you are both currently working. Look at how much it costs for whoever makes less money to work (gas, clothes, lunches, daycare, etc.) and how much it would cost for that parent to stay home (salary) and see if you can make it work on one salary.

Maybe one of you can work part time, or you could work one shift and she could work another, so that one of you is always home. I know a couple families where Dad works nights and Mom works days. Do you have family members who can watch your kids for less than a traditional day care center? Can you split a shift with a friend - I know of two sisters who both work in a hospital, and they both have sons near the same age. One works Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the other works Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and they watch each others' kids when they're off. There are lots of creative solutions to the daycare dilemma... It depends a lot on what career you're in and how flexible your bosses are, etc., but it can be done. In our situation, we're self-employed, so I took the kids with me to work for the first 6 or 8 months, then we have a sitter from the nearby university who watches them in our home for 10 - 15 hours a week. Once your kid starts crawling, the "take the baby to work" thing is pretty much over, unless you happen to work in a daycare center (another creative solution!). You just won't get anything done, and it's frustrating for everyone.

If you want to e-mail me at prbabies@gmail.com with specifics, I can try to help you find a solution that will work for your family. I'm no expert, but I am creative, and sometimes it's easier to see solutions when it's not your own problem.

Most of the traditional "how to save money" advice applies... Clip coupons, eat out less (like you'll have time anyway!), shop second hand stores - especially for baby clothes, trade babysitting with a friend instead of paying a sitter (still trying to get my friends on board with this one!! Ahem...), exploit your family for free sitting, etc.

You didn't mention your feeding choice for your first child, but breastfeeding is free. I tandem nursed (nursed MG through my pregnancy and for 9 months I nursed both of them) and I hated every minute of it. Ok, that's a little harsh, but it was really hard. If I could go back, I would've weaned MG while I was pregnant. I had a lot of pain nursing her when I was pregnant, and I felt like a dairy cow for the better part of a year (still do - I've been pregnant, nursing, or both for 4 solid years this month. Yikes).

I made my own babyfood most of the time with both kids (the Magic Bullet blender made it easy to just smush up some of whatever we were eating for the baby). That's another good way to save some money.

As far as time with each other, don't forget that babies sleep (most of the time.... MG is the exception that proves the rule). If you get the kids to bed at 8, you've got a good couple of hours to spend with each other. One of our favorite things to do, especially when the kids were even smaller, is to get take out from a restaurant and bring it home. That way, we can enjoy the benefits of going out (someone else cooks, minimal cleanup if you eat out of the takeout boxes) without dealing with having two small kids in a restaurant! Now that Claire (our youngest) is 20 months old, we actually have the ability to go out like real grownups. Not that we do, often, but we can. We usually end up going out with other people. It's not that we don't like each other, it just tends to work out that way. Again, exploit relatives for babysitting. If you don't have a local grandparent, you really need to get one. Beg, steal, or borrow someone who loves your kids and will take excellent care of them and give them treats so that you and your wife can go out.

As far as time with your daughter goes, you can spend time with her without her being the only kid present. The time you spend together as a family of four will be just as special to her as the one on one time. She'll be so young when the baby comes, after a couple weeks she won't really remember what life was like pre-baby, and it'll be normal for her to have to share you guys with her sibling. It's good for her to have to share you guys. A lot of people suggest that young kids deal better with the addition of a sibling than older kids do.

Don't forget that she won't really be a baby anymore by the time your second child comes along. She'll be almost two. She'll be talking, walking, eating real food, going on playdates, maybe even starting preschool* soon. She'll actually be a big help. MG, from the beginning, has LOVED to help with her sister. She fetches diapers for me and throws out the old ones (Claire, at 20 months, is starting to throw things away too, so I am sure that I'm not misremembering). They play together (closely supervised at first, but less so as they get older and more trustworthy). I remember in the beginning I'd put Claire in the bouncy seat on the floor of the bathroom while I took a shower, and MG would talk to her and sing to her and entertain her. It wasn't like when MG was little and I'd try to shower, and she'd scream the whole time because she was lonely.

* If not preschool, look for a Mommy's Time Out program. Our church runs one where you can drop off a kid for 2.5 hours for $6 during the day. I do this with Claire about once every two weeks, while MG is at preschool, so that I can have time for myself where I'm not supposed to go to work. BLISS. Worth every cent of the $6, for sure.

Do your best to get them on a nap schedule that allows for a break for mom (or whoever stays home) during the day. When Claire was smaller she took a morning nap and an afternoon nap, and MG would nap at the same time during the afternoon nap (and we had quality time together during morning nap). Now that Claire is down to one nap, they both nap after lunch. MG takes a nap every second day, so we still have that quality time on the off days when she won't sleep.

I just asked BJ what advice he would give you, and he said, "Relax, it's not nearly as hard as it is the first time. You have 100% more experience than you had before. He also says 'don't do cloth diapers.'" I think he's right on the first thing, anyway. I have really enjoyed being a second time parent more. With your first, people are CONSTANTLY giving you advice, and you don't have enough of your own experience to say, "No thanks, our way works just fine..." so you feel like you have to listen to everyone, and everyone's advice conflicts with everyone else's, and you feel a lot like you're trying to navigate a brand new area with twelve different maps, and none of the maps are the same. Now, when people give me advice (or the stink eye) I can point to my oldest and say, "She's doing fabulously and we are doing the same stuff, so chances are great the Claire will be fabulous too."

It's not as hard as you think it's going to be, and it's a lot more fun than you can possibly imagine. Congratulations on your new baby!! You are going to be just fine. And in your darkest hours, think of my friend Casey - her two younger children are only 13 months apart!! Or my aunt Gayle, who had Bridget, then 10 months later had Alex, then 10 months later had Chris. WOW. They're grown and have kids of their own, now, and she still hasn't recovered!

2 comments:

jen said...

Congrats to you! I know how you feel, my first was 1 1/2 years old when we were trying to get pregnant. But we had no clue what was in store for us! WE GOT NATURAL SPONTANEOUS TRIPLET GIRLS! No meds no pills, just natural girls! OMG! I cried for a while wondering how i was going to do it, but now they are 1 1/2 years old and i am so happy and wouldnt change a thing! God knew i could handle it! So congrats to you! I dont know you, but im here for you! By the way, I have a website to help other parents out, check it out and be sure to look at the ebook we have on there as well. Its called http://www.tripletsmommy.com
Good Luck to you!

AmyW said...

My son was 5 months old when I found out I was pregnant for the 2nd time. We planned to have them that close. They are 14 months 5 days apart. We had another boy, which has turned out to be an unbelievable godsend b/c they are the same size so they wear the same size clothes and I don't have to sort out clothes. The only bad thing about them being the same size is that there are no hand-me-downs. The 3 year old is about 2.5 inches taller than the 4 year old and most people mistake them for twins when we are out and about. It was really hard at first because our older son who had always been such an awesome sleeper decided to stop sleeping at night at the time when the baby decided he wanted to sleep through the night. Now that they are 3 & 4 and can play with each other, they are each other's best friends. If I had it to do all over again I would do it in a heartbeat!!! I stumbled on your blog and I am loving it. I am going back and reading all your posts. Happy Thanksgiving!