Baby #2 is a game changer, they say. ‘They’ would be right except I think Baby #1, #2, #3, #4, #5….are all game changers in their own right. Each time you bring life into this world, a responsibility beyond your wildest imagination is bestowed upon you and often leaves you wondering how you will ever get this child-raising thing ‘right.’ Throw-in a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis and the fatigue that so many of us deal with can leave you searching for any semblance of energy at the end of the day. Now that my husband and I have two children, both under three years old, I have realized that there are certain things I wish I had known prior to the first that would have helped me conserve this precious commodity.
Use a Backpack for a Diaper Bag: Seems simple enough, right? I often have trouble with balance, and adding extra weight to one side or another just spells trouble! I feel more secure carrying a backpack. I had not thought about this before we had children because you will find many types of diaper bags but not many backpacks as diaper bags (unless being marketed solely to dads). Backpacks are a huge help, because they save your back and shoulders and keep your hands free. We invested in a quality backpack and it was worth every cent. Each child has a compartment for diapers and a change of clothes, the front compartment is for snacks and toys, and there is even a compartment for my phone, keys, and wallet.
Co-Sleep or Room Share if Nursing: Living with MS has taught me the importance of a good night’s sleep. A nap mid-day is also something that I will never again take for granted. Without quality sleep, the cog-fog worsens and I feel pretty useless to my family by early evening. Caffeine is not a good substitute, as much as I would like it to be. Both of my children nursed for comfort throughout the night even after passing the ‘nurse every 2-3 hours because they are a newborn’ phase. Quality sleep is not possible when you have to physically walk to a different room and back throughout the night.
If you are not comfortable with co-sleeping, put a bassinet next to your bed or look into options that connect to the bed. On the rare occasion that the baby does stay in her crib for more than a few hours, I find myself staring at the monitor all night anyway so it just makes sense for her to be snuggled next to me. Although my husband thought our son would never leave our bed, he did and sleeps just fine in his own room now.
Be Honest about How People Can HELP YOU: Baby showers are a lovely gesture but are also a way to get items that the baby will outgrow in the blink of an eye. The first few months of life for my children saw them in someone’s arms more than a bouncer or swing. For baby number two, we asked people to sign-up to bring dinner throughout the first month, in lieu of buying clothes that are quickly outgrown. We did not have to grocery shop or cook for weeks. Getting out of the house with a newborn or toddler takes a lot of energy in and of itself, but throw-in shopping, prepping, and cooking and you very well might deplete your energy for the day.
You cannot predict how your delivery will go and what your needs might be after you get home from the hospital. You also cannot predict whether you will experience a post-partum relapse. Both of my children were born via unplanned C-section, and with that came lifting restrictions for many weeks after delivery. Our son also came home on oxygen as he was premature by five weeks. Having one less thing to worry about by having meals brought to us was a God-send. Ordering groceries or takeout online with delivery is another helpful option.
Remember to do what is best for you and your family. Do not spend time comparing yourself or your baby to anyone else. Take care of yourself! I learn something new each and every day so will continue to share tips. For now, just remember: You ARE Super Mom/Dad.