Something of a “Second Baby Strategy”

“Life is gonna go crazy!” “I’ll get no sleep!” “I’m gonna go crazy!” These are some of my thoughts lately. No matter how excited I am for my second son to make his appearance, I’m also anxious. I’m not deeply worried about any longterm disasters–because I survived the infant stage with my first son and because God is on my side–I’m just anxious. At the end of a pregnancy, when you can’t sleep well, when your hormones are running wild, and when your body tells you “things they are a changin’,”  it’s hard not to be a bit on edge.

But it’s kind of cool, too, to see how God has designed mothers to go into this preparation stage. I’ve been doing things lately that I never do–all because of an instinct I believe God planted in us women.

Not only have I been scouring thrift stores for baby things, buying non-perishable groceries in bulk, and deep cleaning my house–making physical preparations–but I have also been laying plans to help me cope emotionally. Namely, I am enlisting as much support as I can.

Enlisting support in a new state, Missouri, is not as easy as it would be in Texas or Minnesota. Here I don’t have any family nearby, which is a bummer. But I do have resources. And I’m trying to learn from my past fails of going it alone that I need to use what I have.

The Strategy

  • Keep up Parents’ Day Out. A couple months ago Sam started a twice weekly Parents’ Day Out program. I thought of discontinuing this when the baby comes (because it will be harder to get three of us out the door, and will it really be worth the three hours’ break once I drive across town and drive back home and drive back to get him?), but then I thought better of it. It’s not just good for Sam to get out and about, it’s also good for me. When Sam was an infant, I was afraid to take him places because I never knew how he would act. I was unsure in my mothering and my ability to handle him. But I am vowing not to be so scared with Seth. It’s better for us to get out and about sometimes, and for Sam to interact with other kids and adults, and we will.
  • Join MOPS. I inquired on a MOPS group near my home several months ago, only to be told it was full. But two weeks ago they emailed and said several mothers had dropped out, and they invited me to join. Again, I considered skipping this extra hassle (too much work to get the kids out the door, and who knows how they will act when we get there?), but then wisdom convinced me otherwise. If I shunned this group, I would be shunning just exactly the kind of support I’ll need at just exactly the right time–I know, from my first baby, that I’ll need other mothers to talk to. And without family or many friends nearby, how else will I get this if not from a group like MOPS?
  • Lower Expectations at Home. This is a constant project in my life. I’ve always been an overachiever in my life’s pursuits, and once I became a full-time homemaker, it was no different: I wanted to have a clean house, healthy home-cooked meals, and an orderly schedule for my family. And after the first year of Sam’s life, I was starting to learn how to achieve these things (though not always simultaneously). But once #2 comes, I know all of these things won’t be possible, not right away. Maybe not even for a couple years. So I am praying for God to relax my perfectionism, and I am practicing being okay with some convenience meals and messy counters and laundry that waits until the weekend.
  • Make the Most of Weekends. With less ability to get house things done by myself, I plan to make the most of my weekends. Buc has been a great help while I’ve been pregnant–he’s helped with laundry, watching Sam, and random nesting projects when I’ve asked him–and I intend to keep enlisting his help when life gets even crazier. That will mean saving projects I can’t get to for nights and weekends. At the same time, I don’t want to put undue demands on my husband, who works hard at his job to support us. So, after I have prayerfully decided what expectations I can lower or drop, I will calmly and nicely ask Buc to help with what remains.
  • Bottle Feed as Soon as I Need to. I don’t want to even attempt describing the emotional roller coaster that breastfeeding Sam (or trying to breastfeed Sam) sent me into two years ago. It’s something I’ll write more about in my second memoir. But I learned this: I’m going to save my family the stress and struggle this time around. Yes, I will give breastfeeding a try while I have extra help at the house. But when my sweet niece leaves to go back to Texas, and when Buc goes back to work, if I don’t have enough milk, I won’t hesitate to introduce formula. God has blessed us with the money to afford this, and I will do what is best for all of us.

For now, those are the big strategy items. Oh yes, and prayer. I will be relying on lots of prayer for strength, energy, and wisdom. If you believe in the power of prayer, I wouldn’t mind if you sent up some extra prayers for me. Beyond that, I’ll also take your second-baby tips in the comments! Thanks in advance; and thanks, as always, for reading.

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Nesting, Purging, and Splurging—Hello 2016!

Now that we are home to stay until baby Seth comes, I am in full-on nesting mode. I had nearly the whole main floor of our house painted while we were on our Christmas trip; I have been combing the house for clutter to give away; and I have been comparison shopping for those last needed baby things (double stroller, baby carrier, dresser—anyone want to donate?). I can’t stop thinking and talking about all that needs to get done, and I am driving Buc crazy. “Take a break!” he says. And, “Stop spending my money!”

Indeed, I’m probably getting a little obsessive. To the point where my nesting is unproductive. I dropped Sam off at Parents’ Day Out two hours ago, and I spent an hour just wandering around Target glassy-eyed, unable to make purchasing decisions.

Now I have just a half hour left before it’s time to pick Sam up, and I am sitting in a coffee shop trying to cobble together this blog post—but I’m so distracted. What will I do when I get home? Will Sam even take a nap for me today, after sleeping in until 8:30 this morning?

I wish I were focusing on Sam more these days; I just can’t seem to stop focusing on my house. And I know that sounds stupid—it’s just a house—but 2015 was so crazy. I just wasn’t home enough to get it prepared for baby, or even unpacked. I slept away my second trimester because I was so tired…and now I’m back home and I have some energy back…but there is just over a month left until baby comes!

While I am filled with excitement for my next baby, I also feel the clock ticking down. Once he’s here, all heck is going to break loose. Nothing’s going to get done…except those most important things of feeding and cuddling and calming temper tantrums.

There’s probably enough time to get ready, it just doesn’t feel like it. So I will tell myself to Slow down, mama. Be a mama. Be a wife. Be a writer.

Can you believe I have a book coming out in a couple months? I haven’t even been thinking about it, except to get an author picture and a photo release signed. You can believe I am trusting the publishers to do the bulk of marketing this year.

Me? I’ll be busy with more important thingsjust as soon as nesting mode kicks off.

Waiting for Baby, and a Blog Anniversary

Baby Sam's 3D Sonogram from October 31, 2013
Baby Sam’s 3D Sonogram from October 31, 2013

I am interrupting my rebirth series to record these moments: waiting to go into labor and, as WordPress has informed me, my blog’s one-year anniversary.

I haven’t blogged much about my pregnancy. I’ve kind of gone underground in the last month on the whole thing, here and on Facebook. I keep getting text messages asking, “Is he coming yet?” I have some very anxious family members who “can’t wait” until he’s here. In fact, judging by my lack of comment on the topic, they seem even more excited than I am. What gives?

Fear

One thing that has kept me from writing on the topic is fear. Baby Sam is not here yet, and labor and delivery is a risky thing. Not to mention that newborns are pretty fragile. When I used to talk about having kids, as I prefer to do with most things, I focused on cerebral concepts (parenting philosophies), not materialistic details (car seats, breast pumps, umbilical cord care, ec.). Now, with my due date less than a week away, all I can think of is the details—and I feel overwhelmed.

Yes, I’ve read a good deal on pregnancy and newborn care, and I’ve been working every day to ready my house—“nesting,” I think it’s called—but these activities have not really made me feel better. Every day lately I have been faced with the fact that I lack practice and know-how for the material details of life. I feel suddenly estranged from those things that have recently defined me—teaching, writing, leading (various church groups)—and it’s a scary feeling. Rather than burden the blogosphere with my worries, like the Virgin Mary, I decided to ponder these things in my heart. (I wonder if she worried about breaking her baby?)

Respect

Another reason I’ve avoided too much “baby talk” is out of respect for the women I know who are struggling with infertility. It seems unfair that I get to have this experience and they don’t. I feel like it’s even more unfair because I haven’t always wanted children. Some women know their entire lives that they want children, while I spent most of my twenties denying the desire. Shouldn’t the women who’ve always wanted kids be entitled to them, first? On the other hand, is it because my heart was so hard in this area that God decided I needed them (and the other ladies could go without)? (Or another thought: Was I formerly in denial?)

It’s probably not a comfort to the ladies struggling with this issue, but I make sense of their infertility like this: these ladies are already healthy in this area, this natural desire to nurture. I wasn’t. Maybe those hard-hearted of us (and overly cerebral, egg-head-ish types) need children more than the already well-adjusted, family types. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I’ve debated posting that hypothesis, scared I would offend or minimize someone’s pain. I’d be curious to get your thoughts in the comments. I don’t understand God’s ways, except I believe he allows bad things (like infertility) to happen, he doesn’t cause them.

Exhaustion

A final reason for not blogging about baby is that I’m exhausted right now. My body is exhausted from carrying the little dude, and my mind is exhausted trying to wrap itself around how my life is going to change when he comes. With limited energy, it seemed smart to use the little I had to get things ready as much as possible during these last days, materially speaking.

In Conclusion…

The Three of Us
The Three of Us

I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I am very excited for baby Sam to arrive! I recently had my first “good” dream of his birth: he was cute, had a full head of hair, and he looked like my hubby—all things I expect, after seeing our 3D sonogram. I’ve imagined holding him in my arms and I want to cry for happiness. I smile at the thought of the three of us becoming a family. I long to inhale his baby scent and feel his smooth skin. I look forward to slowing down and becoming less mechanical and more of a person. I praise God for blessing me with a baby—and I will strive to be a good steward of what God has given me.

Perhaps the most comforting thought amidst these last-minute hormones and unknowns is the knowledge that Sam isn’t really mine—he is a gift on loan from God—and God is the only one who can sustain him. It’s not up to me to be a perfect mother; I’ll just do my best to follow God’s lead.

On that note, it should be an interesting second year on this blog, full of many firsts and, I’m sure, many mistakes—but always lots of learning and growth. Here’s to one good year behind me, and an exciting year ahead!