A bunch of us were lounging in Christina’s living room, drinking champagne and eating popcorn while Mean Girls played in the background. Lee was sitting on the birthing ball, rolling her pregnant body back and forth.
My friend Caelin thought for a minute before delivering a well-earned nugget of wisdom. She said the hardest transition from one kid to two kids was figuring out how to balance the time that her and her husband spent with each child. She said they quickly fell into a routine—her husband took care of the toddler and she took care of the baby.
“Sometimes I wanted him to take the screaming baby so I could play with Keller, you know? I missed him," she explained.
We all nodded in agreement. I could totally see that happening to us, I remember thinking to myself. I wasn’t even pregnant yet, but went straight home that night and relayed the entire conversation to Brett.
“Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen when we have another baby, okay?"
Those two days in the birthing center after Carson was born felt like a mini vacation of sorts. It was just so…..quiet. I’m pretty sure I never even knew the meaning of quiet until I had a child. Quiet is the absence of sound. It’s something I never truly appreciated until my life was full of sounds.
Everett came to meet Carson late in the afternoon on the day he was born. I had labored that whole night before, pushed all morning, and delivered him at 6:51am. The lights were dim in our room and Brett and I had been napping on and off as best we could. Carson was in a deep sleep, basically sleeping away his first day on earth.
Around 4:30pm, in true 2.5 year-old fashion, Everett arrived full of sounds. And while I was so happy to see him and loved watching him hold his baby brother for the first time, I was also secretly relieved when it was time for him to go home.
I just wanted it to be quiet again.
When we came home on Monday afternoon, our life snapped back together. We fell into a non-routine routine: breakfast, outings, chores, spontaneous naps, visitors. It all felt very whirlwind-ish, especially considering the fact that Carson was born an entire month early. There were several moments where Brett and I looked at our two kids and looked at each other, exchanging a knowing glance. Did that just happen?
I was recovering---mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, everything. I spent a lot of time in bed and a lot of time on the couch. I was breastfeeding, sleeping, doing skin-to-skin, tending to my broken lady parts. I was marveling at Carson, kissing him, smelling him, holding him, loving him.
Meanwhile, Everett was running around the house like a maniac. A well-behaved maniac, because Everett is very well-behaved, but he's still 2.5 years old and has an insane amount of energy. Brett took him to the park, took him to Jamba Juice, changed every diaper, made every snack. He completely took over Everett duty while I stayed in bed with Carson, snuggled under the duvet cover with the door closed in complete isolation.
And I was happy.
It shocked me, how happy I was. I didn’t mind one bit that Brett was caring for Everett while I cared for Carson. My body was perfectly content to lounge in bed and breastfeed rather than chase a nap-protesting toddler down the hallway every afternoon.
I didn’t feel guilty in the slightest, until I started to feel guilty for not feeling guilty. (Hi, motherhood).
A week later, I confided in my friend Lesley that I was starting to feel guilty about the lack of guilt I felt for not spending as much time with Everett. She reassured me that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing: I was bonding with my newborn baby and keeping him alive. Everett was enjoying special one-on-one time with his dad—something he never gets for whole days at a time. It was okay.
Brett was 95% on Everett; I was 95% on Carson. Our ratio was skewed because we were in survival mode. It was okay.
Eight weeks later, we are still figuring out the ratio of balancing time with both children. When Brett is home, I'd say we're still at a 70/30, inching slowly towards 60/40. I guess 50/50 is the ultimate goal, although that seems like something that will only happen once in a blue moon when all the stars align. Most likely, we will shift back and forth depending on the day, the week, who has more energy, who has more patience, who can handle which kid the best in any given circumstance. I'll tell you one thing for sure: this two kid business is no joke.
And if we ever have a third? Lord, bless that baby. Let's hope we never accidentally leave them at the grocery store.