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Week one with ALL THE BABIES: Not so great

Let me start with some sweet and perfect things. Bunlet has started tracking my face. The first real sign that he is human. (Aside from that magical Not only am I human, I’m YOUR CHILD…please don’t defenestrate me smell.) And Bun Bun has started talking a little. First official word (clearly articulated, used only in the appropriate context): yay. I think that’s a brilliant first word. AND, a while I back I taught her that when she sees a picture of a snake in a book, she should trace the shape of said snake while making a hissing noise, and then flick her tongue in and out. Charming enough on its own, right? But today she patted the question mark I have tattooed on my ankle, and then traced it and made a hissing noise! OMG I about died of the adorableness.

BUT. It’s been kind of a joyless week. I’m definitely feeling like a total failure. I am dealing with two easy babies, and yet I cannot keep my temper for more than one fucking SECOND.

(I mean, Bunlet is not as easy as Bun Bun was. He actually cries. That was a bit of a shock, and I’m still adjusting to the horror. And, being only three weeks old, he still wants to eat at night. And in fact, he wants to eat a lot in general, more than Bun Bun did. Perhaps because he’s larger. Uh, anyway, he’s not a hard baby by any stretch of the imagination was what I was getting at. And I guess it was all her father’s fault or something, because Bun Bun has reverted to something much like her pre-sibling self. Thank god. Complete Toddlerhood averted for a little, anyway. So two easy babies.)

I guess it’s just that someone always needs something. There’s a lot of shifting between the two of them, and very little enjoying either of them. Or doing right by either of them. I mean, Bun Bun got all this pure, uninterrupted LOVE when she was a newborn, Bunlet gets left somewhere or other to cry while I do the necessary things for Bun Bun. Not to worry–Bun Bun’s getting the shaft, too. The week has been all about ignoring her other than to feed or change or nap her, or to prevent her from getting into deadly, or at least really gross mischief, which I do by abruptly yanking her away from things. And then when I have a chance I cuddle her super desperately; it can’t feel great for her to have this insane hot and cold Mama. It’s putting me in a psychological state where I’ve lost confidence in all my parenting choices and the logic thereof, but that’s a post for another time.

Anyway, I’m sure at least one of you is all sympathy, but the truth is, I don’t deserve sympathy. I’m only posing as a parent of two children. You see, our nanny is coming back after next week. Because we’ll need childcare when I go back to work in January, we needed to either keep her employed or find someone new. We like her. So she’s going to be taking care of Bun Bun three days a week, and I’ll be taking care of Bunlet.

I have a lot of conflicted feelings and a ton of guilt about this arrangement. For one thing, I feel like I’m missing out on the experience of having two kids. I mean, I’ll have that experience on Mondays, but this feels like cheating, like pawning one of my offspring off on someone else because its Just Too Much For Me. Even if that’s not why it’s happening. And for another thing, I hate the idea of someone else caring for my daughter while I’m RIGHT there. How will it feel? I can’t imagine it feeling good. And I hate the idea of sharing my house with someone else, of having to figure out intersecting routines, of losing my privacy and peace. Pretty much the only thing I like about the situation is that I get to have time with Bunlet alone. Several of my fellow baby hoarders have written about how valuable this is, and I’m looking forward to it.

But I wish I’d been able to figure out some other option. Because despite this week being hard, I can’t help but fantasize that I would have figured it out eventually, and found a rhythm, and while it would have continued to be hard, I bet it would have been rewarding, too.

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oak #

    Oh Bunny. I sympathize…and the week after next when your nanny returns, you’ll be ever so thankful you have her. Bun Bun will move towards a fussy trajectory which (assuming he’s like all other babies in history) peaks at about 6 weeks of age. So in three weeks when you’re freaking the fuck out and your nanny walks in the door, I’m pretty sure you’ll stop feeling at all troubled by the situation and kiss her on the mouth. I’m just saying…my days of two babies are very recently in my memory.

    And although she is there to take care of Bun Bun while you take care of Bunlet, I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll be tag-teaming the two kids to the best of your ability, Because its fucking HARD. It just is.

    So be okay with help. And be okay with being short-tempered. And be okay with drinking heavily as needed. Because getting through to the end of the day in one piece with two children that haven’t injured themselves is a bold goal.

    September 14, 2012
  2. ana #

    sounds like you are actually doing great, for only 3 weeks in. baby hoarding…its tough. I think the nanny will be great for all 3 of you—bun bun will get special toddler (-ish) outings & activities while you can hunker down and nurse & cuddle bunlet. we sent B to daycare while I was home with L, after all the grandparents left. it was much much better for all of us. I got all day snuggling/nursing and then handed baby over to daddy and got toddler time in the evening.

    September 14, 2012
  3. I have complete admiration for women who venture having two (or more!) non-verbal children in the house at the same time. Growing up, I’d always thought my mom’s plan of having kids three years apart (I’m 11 days shy of being 3 years younger than my sister) was a good one — that way, the older one is most likely potty trained and talking by the time the younger one comes along!

    For one thing, I feel like I’m missing out on the experience of having two kids.

    Luckily, you have the rest of their lives to have this experience — this is one of the most marvelous things that I’ve encountered since becoming a parent. I look at Gwen, I see how she changes and develops, and realize that I’ve got years of this ahead of me! How cool is that! It also makes me feel a lot better about whenever things don’t go as well, parenting wise, now as I would like (I am just NOT a morning person. And unfortunately, sometimes, like this morning, this results in me stomping off into the hall grumbling (in pitch just loud enough so as to ensure my sleeping husband hears me) “Why can’t you just take a nap?!”), knowing that I’ve got years ahead of me to hopefully improve on my mediocre performance.

    How will it feel? I can’t imagine it feeling good.

    I can imagine that it could feel awkward and intrusive, but there’s a little part of me whispering in my ear saying “an extra pair of hands on hand dedicated just to dealing with me kid? That sounds awesome!” I sure hope that voice migrates over into your ear.

    September 14, 2012
  4. EB #

    Ugh, the myriad ways to feel guilty and inadequate as a mother are endless. I have twins and have felt the exact same thing about not having enough to give either one, not being able to fully indulge in the joy of either one, not spending enough individual time, handing them over to a nanny, etc… It’s awful.

    While I can (and sometimes do) really get caught in that, it is fabulously easy for me to tell you to give yourself a break. Be as kind to and understanding of yourself as you would be to and for your best friend. A nanny (assuming it’s someone you trust) equals more love for your kids. More love is great for them – always. Kids benefit enormously (even this young) from learning how to get along in the world – how to share, how to take turns, how to be considerate of others, etc… You are so early in the game – it will settle. You’ll develop a routine, a new normal, a way of juggling all your roles… It will take time but you’ll get there and you’ll stay there – in that place of competence and love and support and intelligent juggling – for the rest of the lives, and for the entire portion of their lives that they’ll actually remember.

    You’re doing great. You will do great. Your children will be surrounded by the love you provide – including the nanny you chose, and nurture, and whose presence you ensure for them. And you’ll be parenting two kids on weekends, middle of the nights, holidays, days off, sick days, mornings, evenings, etc…

    You are a great mother – I’m sure of it just because of the guilt you’re feeling. I’m sure of it because two easy babies is (at least in part) a testament to your parenting skills and general capableness. And I’m sure of it because your daughter’s first word was yay. How can you beat that?! Your children are lucky to be born to you.

    Elizabeth

    (PS – this whole post is fairly hypocritical. I will be revisiting this every other day of the week when I need someone to give this lecture to me!)

    September 14, 2012
  5. Yay, is a great first word. How sweet!

    That sounds exhausting, bunny. Two babies are of course, a complete delight. But taking care of them is another thing altogether.

    Good luck, bunnies. Good settling.

    September 14, 2012
  6. Okay, first off, “yay” is awesome. Yay in fact! Isn’t it is just mind blowing to see them recognize and recall to memory something they have been taught out of the blue. Very impressive snake hissing Bun Bun!

    I love your honesty. As my doctor told me yesterday in regards to having someone to help around, staying sane is most important because if you can’t do that then everything else pretty much crumbles. I don’t know how I managed my sanity with Bee, and there is only one of him. I was wondering what you were going to do with your nanny. When I interviewed a few people I asked about time off periods. So you’ve answered that question.

    And easy babies, two of them, is there such a thing really? I can’t imagine any baby is truly easy. It’s such a life changer. One hissing baby and one crying baby still make two babies and one Mommy in my book which is the equivalent of holyfuckingshit. So I think you’re doing pretty good.

    September 14, 2012
  7. Nicole #

    Two is way f*cking harder than one for that reason. Especially when they are so little. I feel like I spend all my time coordinating, cleaning, diapering, cooking then a little bit of time actually hanging out. It’s tough. But now that is has been 17 months with two it IS getting better, we can all play a bit together now.

    September 14, 2012
  8. First of all, a question mark tattoo? BRILLIANT! Tracing it and hissing? TOTES ADORBZ! It’s like she just learned METAPHOR!

    For the rest of my comment, I will use the form of an introductory paragraph of an undergraduate essay:

    Since the dawn of time, people have been having babies. Sometimes they have multiple babies. Throughout the history of man mothers with two, three, or even more babies had help from various people like: grandparents, nieces, sisters, spinsters, and various others. In today’s world mothers endeavor to take care of many babies without this extra help. My thesis which is for the purpose of this 2000 word essay is to say that I feel that in my opinion mothers always had help and can’t possibly expect it to be reasonable to do all that divided mothering alone and stuff. YOLO.

    September 15, 2012
  9. Tracing a question mark while hissing is amazing. Go, Bun-bun! Especially for reversion to easiness.

    I might not have had the nanny, but we had a rota of family visits for the first three months of having two children. By the time that was over, I was getting enough sleep to be able to be a parent of two (well, kind of). I don’t know that you should feel obligated to do this independently. I think children need multiple caregivers, and I think even if you did find your rhythm and have rewarding moments, you’d also have moments of complete guilt that you hadn’t got somebody to help and that your children are having to put up with one over-stressed parent.

    Of course, I am also a complete coward when it comes to single-parenting (my husband is currently away for 36 hours; nightmare!) But honestly, I expect you and your nanny will also find your rhythm, and *that* will be rewarding too.

    Meanwhile, remember you gave birth three weeks ago and you’re supposed to be in the ‘fucking depressed’ stage. Cut yourself some slack. If you are coherent enough to notice Bun-bun mistaking your question mark for a snake, you’re doing well.

    September 15, 2012
  10. YAY! How insanely cool is that? So much cooler than mama, dada, cat, ya know? Why let your first word be a noun when it can be a great big feeling! I love it. Um, you DO deserve sympathy. Because it’s a big transition (multiple transitions no less). And transitions are hard. And having two babies to care for at the same time is hard. And working around a nanny in the home is hard (I always feel weird when I’m in the house with the nanny at the same time, it’s so hard not to butt into HER business of caring for MY children *sigh*. I mean, c’mon, it can be an awkward thing). Just know that this phase that you all are in will evolve so quickly, it won’t even matter to you soon. You’ll have lots of other things to worry about, but most of these thing will not even make the list anymore 🙂

    September 15, 2012
  11. Non-verbal toddler and baby IS HARD to pull off on your own. There is always something that gets left aside/undone/forgotten/whaever and when it relates to th children, the guilt that motherhood is made of doubles. That is: I hear you. You’re not alone. I envy you for the nanny. But then in Oct George start long hours crèche so there is my help. And guilt for sending him away so young to learn German and social skills. And joy for getting to spend time with Stevie – he is such a happy, sweet baby, I always feel bad for neglecting him, but what can I do?! But when I see him smile in his sleep, I think he is doing not that bad notwithstanding.

    September 15, 2012
  12. My bff continued to send her older (<2 years) son to daycare a few days a week when she had her second. Aside from giving her a "break" (because caring for a newborn is so easy and all), it also was good for her toddler. He was going to to return to the daycare when her maternity leave ended, so keeping consistent about him going there in the interim helped stave off any transitional stress that might have come from stopping going and starting again. So think of having BunBun's nanny coming as maintaining consistency for you daughter.

    I was often home this past summer while Smudgie's nanny was also there caring for him and the other child in our share. At first it was really hard and weird to not put him down for his nap or to let her give him a bottle instead of nursing him. But after a while we really got to know each other. We would talk about her children, life in Tibet (where she was from originally) and a lot of other subjects. If you like your nanny a lot, which it sounds like you do from your desire to keep her as BunBun's childcare provider, this could be a good chance to build up your partnership as co-carers of the Buns.

    September 15, 2012
  13. I have no personal basis for understanding what you are going through, but since I can read English and read the emotional tone of written communication, I’d like to volunteer to be the one all sympathy. Even with full knowledge of the upcoming return of the nanny. This just sounds really hard: hard as in you’d probably like to clone yourself and bump up everyday against the limits of science and technology. I hope it gets easier, better, more joy-filled. I was hoping you’d avoid the FUCKING DEPRESSED phase altogether this time. I’ll still keep my fingers crossed.

    September 15, 2012
  14. Rhianna #

    Dude, be gentle on yourself. Understated fully: this is some really hard
    shit. I haven’t yet lived the hoarding-all-the-babies-all-day-long-by-msyelf, but I do cry nearly daily over the fear of my highly probable stunningly inadequate execution of it. I understand if you tell me I am full of shit, but I will say this anyway: You will eventually establish your own tempo in all of this. It’s going to be okay. In time. You are doing your level best, woman.

    I am terrible at group work. I fucking hate it, in fact. (How terrible is that for the [former] professional whose whole career was about joining with people and promoting collaborative goals?)So, when I think of having to learn a whole routine that incorporates a whole extra person IN MY HOUSE, I share some of your queasiness. I think you will quickly discover the merit in it, though, and I think your queasiness will be replaced by some genuine relief in the ability to enjoy quality, less-strained time with your hoardables.

    I stumbled onto this post several weeks ago, and I re-read it more often than I’d like to admit. ‘Cause, you know, I cry a lot. About my highly probable stunning maternal inadequacy in parenting two all day long by myself. And about shriveling up into the worst version of myself under the strain. And about not being able to give Arlo the attention he’s so used to, or this new baby what I have been able to give Arlo. It grounded me, made me feel better. http://www.hobomama.com/2012/08/on-having-two-kids-not-playing-fair.html

    Hang in there, friend.

    September 16, 2012
  15. Yay for “yay”! What a cool first word!
    And boo for being so hard on yourself. Parenting a newborn is hard, even an “easy” one. I clearly remember lots of threats to defenestrate ours, and there was just one of him. I can’t imagine trying to do all of that while simultaneously caring for Ms. BunBun all by yourself. I totally get your hesitation about having the nanny, but it also sounds like a fabulous idea to have a 1:1 kid:adult ratio for at least some hours each week. It might even prevent defenestration of either baby.
    I hope and believe that things will get better for you soon. Part of what is hard about this is that it’s all so new, and I bet you’ll settle into a more manageable routine soon.

    September 17, 2012
  16. What a bunch of generous, kind hearted people you are. Sniff!

    September 17, 2012
  17. Oh bunny, life sounds frantic. And even though the franticness is all related to good things it doesn’t make it easy. I think you are absolutely doing everything you can and if you are in a position to have a nanny then say yes with both arms. Isn’t that what the wise people say abt parenthood? That you should always say yes to help? So, you must be one of them wise ones, not that I needed further convincing of it. You have to know that you’ll be a better mum to both your babies with the addition of this extra set of hands. And what makes it better is that bun bun already knows the nanny, and you already trust her with what is most precious to you. And let’s not forget you have a nanny because you LOVE your children, not because you are lazy and don’t want to spend time with them. It’s a good thing bunny. But not to undervalue your feelings cause man, I can only imagine the minefield of feelings that you have to process on a daily basis.
    Xxxx

    September 17, 2012
  18. Oh, two. Two! So hard, whichever way you look at it. But I’m with Oak – you are going to kiss that nanny on the mouth one day pretty soon. You’re doing good, lady. Mos’ def.

    September 21, 2012
  19. Yay is an amazing first word. What a child that BunBun is! And good on Bunlet, too, with the tracking and the aerosolized humanity and all.

    Rewards, sme-wards, I envy the nanny idea. It will be good for all of you, I’m certain.

    September 28, 2012

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