40 Days seems like an odd number to most, but in our culture, it is believed that the first 40 days of a baby's life are extremely important. Traditionally, women did not leave the house for 40 days minimum in an effort to recover from birth and for the baby to build up its immunity and strengthen. I think it is similar to the 6 week rule postpartum where the mother is supposed to avoid lifting and over exerting herself while the baby builds up his/her immunity. As today is exactly 40 days since baby Elma joined us, I thought it would be the perfect time to do an update on our life as a family of four. The 5 biggest things to mention are as follows:
1. IT IS ABSOLUTELY POSSIBLE TO LOVE BOTH
I know, DUH. But if anyone read one of my previous posts, it was my biggest fear. How is it possible to love both? Well let me tell you that your heart doubles (I don't know how the exact science works, but trust me it happens). I can't imagine life without our baby Elma, she has brought so much happiness to all of our lives. And plus that newborn smell, my GOD someone needs to learn how to bottle that up and sell it - there's nothing more hypnotizing than that. And plus, baby toes <3
2. Big Sisters Rock
So I don't mean to brag but my oldest is killing it as a big sister. Sure at the beginning there were a couple of days where she was lost in all of the confusion of having another baby at home, but she has really grown into her role as a big sister. She's a pro at helping us change baby's diaper (and throwing the dirty one away in the diaper genie after loudly announcing "BABY POOPED"), loves kissing "her" baby and has recently shown interest in feeding baby sis. She is so loving and gentle and has far exceeded all of our expectations. Our nickname for her is "mala mamica" (little mama) because it comes so naturally to her.
3. Most Things Are Easier The Second Time Around
When Ena was born, I rushed to her side every single time she made a noise. I second guessed every decision I was making and read all of the Google articles, especially at 2 in the morning (ex. Is green poop normal for a 4 week old). The second time around, I am much more relaxed. I trust my mother instinct much more, and can easily identify the different cries and what they mean. Another huge change the second time around is my realization that self care is so important, so a few weeks after she was born, hubby surprised me with a gift to get my hair done. I've also gone out for dinner with girlfriends, and spent some quality time alone. A happy mom = a happy baby, and it took me far too long to figure this out the first time around.
4. But There Are Always Going To Be New Challenges
One of the biggest changes is the new issues that I have faced this time around relating to nursing. Mastitis and Thrush are brand new to me and have made nursing much different this time around. In addition, another huge challenge is learning to provide appropriate attention to both babies. There are times that both want to be carried and held, carrying a 30 lb toddler 2 weeks post c section was a big no-no. So the mom guilt is real - but it's always going to be around no matter what you do or what your family dynamics look like right? Learning to go with the flow is so important, so I am trying to be gentle with myself and to learn to let go of what I cannot change.
5. I Am Much More Grateful
Becoming a parent changes your life and perspective, and it makes you realize that there are some things in life that are truly, truly important. I find, however, that the first time around I was constantly trying to build unrealistic expectations of myself in order to reach "perfection". I found that by doing that, I wasn't able to enjoy some of the little things that make life so precious. This time around, I took advantage of my mom staying with me and spent wonderful quality time with her (seriously, take ALL the help you can). I don't feel bad if some days we don't make it out of the house and spend the day snuggling instead. I enjoy our 4AM family parties in Elma's room because she woke her sister up (or vice versa) because I know these moments won't last forever. And most importantly, I cherish those Sunday morning family snuggles in our bed without worrying if I am causing "bad habits" for my kids. I realize that I am so lucky to be surrounded by so much love, and everything else will work itself out, eventually.