For the past month I have basically been proving myself wrong. It’s truly the theme of motherhood for me. I have preconceived notions of what I won’t be able to handle or do and in the end here I am– handling things. So before we welcomed our second son, I hypothesized there would not be enough: time to love and nurture them both; sleep between newborn and toddler schedules. Enough help with childcare. Enough energy left over to foster the bond between my husband and I. Enough of me left to recognize myself. While my experiment is ongoing, data shows I was tripping, I mean incorrect.
Overall I am still in a honeymoon phase with my new little one, enjoying his snuggles and breast milk breath. There is an awe that comes with looking into those little eyes, imagining all the unfolding that can be for this little life that until a short while ago was inside of you. I am fully basking in the tender love my older son has for his little brother. He does not miss an opportunity to kiss or hug him and the way he looks at him each morning leaves me with a sense of gratitude that I cannot even describe. I am also enjoying the transition back to being the only person in my body, being able to see and reach my toes with ease. We even have a working bed time routine that gives me an hour or so to myself before I head to bed. It hasn’t been the nightmare I made up in my own mind at all. I had a picture in my mind of a house full of chaos, sleepless days and nights filled with tears. Theirs and mine.
Now the past four weeks have not been without moments of overwhelming doubt because they are both crying at the same time or because my two year old test limits (and my patience) while I am fully engaged in a cluster feeding marathon. My newborn is very different than my first son in his needs, wants and preferences. My oldest son was what my mother called a “trick baby”. He hardly cried, was easily comforted and slept through everything. My youngest son only seems to find comfort in my arms, preferably when my shirt is off leaving me often feeling like I will never return to a yoga class, nail appointment or work. Logically I am fully aware that he is still very new and that each child is different but late at night when I am awake with him in my arms I can get caught up in a whole story about how I am not capable of his care. Then my husband often joins me on the couch and reminds me that I was selected for him and our new bond is divinely ordered. He has a way of reminding me that even with my first son I had these same thoughts and two years later I have proven I am enough.
Immediately following my newborn son’s one week checkup, I was readmitted to the hospital because my blood pressure was so high the doctor feared I may have a seizure if I returned home. She thought a night or two would get it under control but on the fourth day when I was still there, I sobbed uncontrollably being comforted by my husband. I was ready to go home. I was separated from my older son for longer than I had ever experienced and as a healthy person I have never had to be on such heavy meds in the hospital with unknown time tables. I felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew. I felt immensely guilty because I wasn’t able to take care of my toddler, the people in my life were having to pick up the slack and I couldn’t be sure when I would have it all under control again.
But you know what? Even my hospital stay proved there was enough. Enough family and friends who stepped up to watch my older son or visit me in the hospital. Enough support from my husband who had to juggle me, the kids, his work schedule and his own stress. Enough insurance to make sure I could seek care. Enough self-awareness to do my best, rest and ask for help when needed.
This is the second piece in a series entitled “In Infancy.” by guest contributor Kelley Carboni-Woods. Kelley lives in Charlotte with her husband Christian and their 2 year old son, Palmer and one month old son, Duke. Kelley is a natural hair stylist, salon owner, yoga instructor and writer. She writes about parenting on her blog Infectiously Happy. Her first post is here.
Photo credit: Laura Stout Photography (bottom two)