Saturday, January 27, 2018

Things I'm Doing Differently with Baby #2

Both of my babies are so different in personality and I'm finding what works with one does not work with the other - my style of mothering is slightly tailored to each one. Maya was our first baby and I was in my twenties when I had her and I didn't have any experience with kids. I remember the first day in the hospital, after giving birth, I was so embarrassed that I did not even know how to change a diaper, so I made husband-ji do it! None of my friends had kids and none of them were even married yet. Looking back, we truly had no idea what we were doing as parents. It really was all done by trial and error - sometimes I'm surprised how well Maya has turned out...given that we were completely inexperienced! Veda is such a different baby that not everything that worked with Maya has worked with her. Parents can be very passionate about the methods they use in raising their kids, but in reality, there is no "right way". At the end of the day, it's whatever works for the specific child.

Here are a few things that we have done differently with baby #2:

More breastfeeding
The biggest difference has probably been the breastfeeding. Veda is an exclusively breastfed baby, and won't take a bottle or a pacifier [Read more about our breastfeeding journey HERE]. I got a lot of help from the nurses at the hospital before we were sent home, which really gave me a great latch from the beginning. With Maya, I did not like the nudity of breastfeeding, so I had an aversion to it from the beginning. She also got a bad latch that was not corrected, so it was very painful. Maya only breastfed for a month before I started supplementing with formula, and then I pumped for 3 months until I gave it up all together. So she was only on my breast for a very short time. She also always took a pacifier, and we used it until she was past two years old. Both methods have their pro's and con's. With Maya, I loved the freedom of having husband-ji feed her, especially at night. A con would be that there was a lot more bottle washing, and it also took a long time to get her off the pacifier. With Veda, I love breastfeeding her and it has been a wonderful bonding experience to nourish her from my own body. Cons - since she is exclusively breastfed, momma can't catch a has been very demanding! But since she has started solids, we are slowly trying to drop a few feeds so that I can go out and have some time to myself.

More intuition
I have read a lot less baby books this time. I think I only had one baby-related book on my nightstand which was Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding. I prefer to trust my intuition, and it helps to just focus on the baby and drown out all the incessant chatter. Moms worry enough, without information overload adding to it!
When I had Maya, I had a big stack of books on everything from feeding, to sleeping, to development. And don't forget the internet - Web MD, weekly Baby Centre updates - I was in a conscious anxious state of whether or not she would survive each day, despite being a wonderfully healthy baby! People also offer so much advice, which I used to take so personally. With Veda, I don't ask for advice and when I'm given unsolicited advice, I just let it roll off of me because trusting my natural intuition is what's best for her.

Less going out
I used to take Maya everywhere from the time she was a week old. Even my midwife wanted me to slow down, but it was really boring for me to be at home with the baby. I loved to take her out in the stroller - so much so, that it was the only place she would nap until she was 18 months old! Because I had to walk her to sleep, I lost all my baby weight within 11 months. Husband-ji and I used to take her out to restaurants, travel...we took her everywhere! Sometimes it was stressful because we took her out despite her readiness for it. Looking back, I really overdid it. With Veda, I have barely gone out at all - just last month I started to go out to some mom and baby activities. Not going out too much, especially in the beginning, made me recover from childbirth at a more relaxed pace. I didn't feel so much pressure to "bounce back" to pre-baby life - something which is, of course, irreversible. And also, a lot of the times it was overwhelming for me to go out with Veda, due to my PPD
Our home life was also a factor in venturing out - with Maya, it was just me and her at home while husband-ji worked 6 days a week, so I felt like we both needed the socialization. And plus, I didn't have any mom friends. With Veda, we live in a joint family household of 6 people, so there's a lot of daily hustle and bustle to entertain her. And I already have my mom friends whom I meet for play-dates, so I don't have to search desperately for moms to meet.

More therapy
This time, I started going to a female therapist in my second trimester of pregnancy with Veda. She gave me some wonderful advice and it helped that she's also a mom. I really liked how I felt like I could talk to her because she made me feel like her place was a safe, inviting space where I could express myself. Motherhood is very complex and it's helpful to have someone to talk to about it. I have been seeing her regularly since I had Veda, and it has had a really positive influence on my outlook, and it has especially helped during my PPD. When you become a mother, a lot of issues resurface about how you were raised and what you'd want to do differently, so it helps untangle those emotions.

More co-sleeping
This is something we never did with Maya! I was so against it, and I liked having my own space and my own bed. Maya was in her own room, in her own crib, by the time she was 3 months old. Veda has her own crib in our room, and half of the night she ends up in my bed because I'm nursing her all through the night and it's just easier for me. By the time 3AM rolls around, I can't get up anymore to rock her to sleep, so I just allow her into my bed and she sleeps and nurses until 8AM. I also lay down with her for most of her naps, so I can catch up on my sleep. I really love sleeping next to her and snuggling with her. I'm not sure when exactly she's going to sleep in her own bed, but I'm not going to rush it.

More self-feeding
Maya was very active and we still have to force her to sit down and eat. She rarely eats enough, and it will never even occur to her that she's hungry. She has always been this way, which is part of the reason why we needed help from the iPad to feed her - something we have since stopped. We didn't try self-feeding with her and I don't think she would have done it either. We spoon-fed her until she was 4 years old! So crazy. Then, at age 4, she started having her lunch at school, so we started asking her to feed herself at home too. With Veda, she's a big foodie. Every time she sees anyone with a plate, she comes over and wants what they are having. She also loves more textures, so I just give her small pieces of things and she feeds herself. Then, after she does that for a bit, I spoon-feed her just to top her up a little bit.

Less fighting
Husband-ji and I fought so much when we had Maya! Over absolutely everything. He had his own way, and I had my way, and we used to criticise each other about which way was best or how it should be done. I realized later on, after many, many fights and marital counselling, that we each have our own way as parents and that it's ok to have different styles of child-rearing. With Veda, I've let a lot of things go and I'm open to try anything - or "whatever works". For example, sleep training & night weaning are planning to do in the next few months - I'm open to try several different methods.

More present
Having two kids that are 4.5 years apart in age, I am so much more conscious of how fast children grow up. Seeing how big Maya is compared to Veda, I am cherishing every moment with both of them. Motherhood can be such a blur of routines that you forget to stop and smell the roses.

More asking for help
When I had Maya, I wanted to be the perfect mom and I wanted to do everything myself with no help from anyone. What the heck was I thinking?!? Jesus. I don't know where I got this ridiculous idea from, and it really led to several mental breakdowns as I began to understand how hard motherhood was - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually - especially when you're doing it on your own. Nobody can do it alone and people shouldn't have to. Asking for help with the kids is an act of self-care, and I wish I had done it sooner rather than later. I think I wanted to prove to myself that I could be a good mother by taking full responsibility. The result was Maya being extremely clingy to me, even to this day!
Going in to having another child, I knew I would have to ask for help and I was ok with it. I let my mother-in-law help a lot more with her, which is convenient because she lives with us. I have also hired a babysitter to come twice a week to look after Veda, so that she has some exposure to a caregiver outside of our family.

Less screen time
This is something we implemented in our home last year which I'm so proud of. We used to get help from our handy iPad to help feed Maya from the time she was 10 months old. It was so wrong, and she got so addicted to it. I have completely refused to do this with Veda, and if she gets restless while having her meals, I hand her one of her beloved books. Our screen time rules in the household now is that Maya gets to watch one 30 minute episode of a kids' show on TV after school, which Veda also wanders over to watch with her. On the weekends, we always watch a movie all together. Nowadays, the screen time is more about togetherness. I also keep down my own screen-time habits by using the "Moments" app which keeps track of how much time you spend on your phone and reminds you to get off it!

Less buying useless crap
Baby gear is a huge business and there are products for anything baby related and even whole aisles dedicated to babies....not to mention rows upon rows of toys! With Maya, I didn't know what I would need so I just bought everything. Then I realized how little we used all the stuff and it just accumulated into a big stressful clutter! I kept the really useful items for our second baby, and especially the clothes. But this time, I find that I'm not using that much. All you need is a few good quality clothes, really. Clutter can be really stressful for kids, so I've been trying to keep everything to a minimum. Besides, Veda is much more entertained by grandma's pots and pans from the kitchen!

That's all so far, but I'm sure we will have lots more as Veda transitions into toddlerhood!


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