I’ve had a few recurring questions hit my inbox from readers lately, so I thought I’d choose a couple and answer them on my blog today.
L Wrote: Can you give me your perspective on having two babies so close in age? To me, there seem to be more advantages than disadvantages but I wanted to ask you how you have done with it and especially how it was for you guys when Arlo was a newborn/infant. Did you feel like you had enough time to devote to both kids? Was it difficult for you? How did you handle it?
The first year was insane. I don’t remember most of it, so it’s nice to go back and read my blog and think “Oh look, this was a nice moment. I’m glad I wrote that down.” because I feel like my head has pretty much blocked most of it out! I’m being dramatic - but that first year…. yeah… intense! Maybe our experience was different than most because Arlo had such a rough time. Between his health issues and his refusal to sleep, it felt like we were barely keeping our heads above water for awhile. The first few months were actually the easiest because Arlo slept a lot - I would say that months 4-10 were probably the hardest. I definitely struggled with giving both children enough of my time - and that felt compounded because I worked out of the home 8 hours or more a day. I carried a lot of guilt because I was almost always on Arlo patrol since I was nursing him. He would cry if anyone but me was holding him - so for many months, Brent handled most of Everly’s basic needs. For awhile, Everly really preferred her father over me since he was the one who was putting her down to sleep at night, caring for her during the day and stepping in during those times that I was dealing with a screaming or hungry Arlo. I had to work really hard to ensure that I was getting precious one-on-one time with her. The older she has gotten, the more things have shifted and she and I have grown very close again, but there were some months in that first year that I remember just crying after she had gone to bed because she would say “I don’t want you! I want daddy” and I worried that I was failing her. At about a year, the fog lifted and suddenly everything felt SO much easier. Everly and Arlo began to play together and their level of needs started to even out. Now, they are in very similar stages as far as what they like, the care they need from us, their schedules, etc - so we are in an awesome groove. Even though we hadn’t planned on doing it that way, I would have them that close again in a heart beat.
R Wrote: I recall Everly still using a pacifier and you mentioned getting her off of it a while back. Were you successful and if so what was that like? Anything you could share about your experience with this would really be great.
Whew buddy. We are still feeling the repercussions of The Great Paci Send Off of 2012. Everly gave up her pacifier last October after weeks of us hyping it up. She had said several times, “I don’t need my paci, it’s for babies!” but every time we tried to get her to give it up, she refused. So we showed her a youtube video someone took at a Build a Bear store (she had never been in one) and told her that we could take her but that she would have to pay for her toy with her pacis. After three days of her saying she wanted to go, we took her and she picked out a monkey and a red cheerleading outfit. Then she proudly handed over all SIX of her pacis to the cashier upon checkout without a second thought. We told her that Build a Bear gives all the pacis they receive to newborn babies. She liked that idea at the time.
She named the monkey Hush Puppy and we spent the evening reinforcing the idea that Hush Puppy would keep her company at bedtime since she didn’t have her paci. Night one was ok, although she had no interest in bringing the monkey to bed with her. Night two was a little rough (some crying for paci, but she got over it) but Night three is when it sunk in that this was for real. The paci was gone and she was NOT happy. She cried for a long time and battled going to sleep.
Then, after four months of being completely potty trained with barely any accidents, she started wetting her pants 3 to 4 times a day. She’d look you in the eye and do it. Then she would demand to wear a diaper (“I’m a baby!” she’d cry) She told me she wanted the paci back from the babies. And she had a lot of tantrums.
We knew she was just physically acting out because she was having a hard time expressing her feelings about giving it up - but it was pretty rough. Everly used to go to bed like a champ - paci in her mouth, lights out, door closed. After she gave up the paci, bedtime became an hour and half ordeal where the closet light had to be on, the bedroom door open and Brent had to sneak out most nights after she was completely asleep.
She has overcome almost all of the regressions she experienced - but she still will say to me sometimes out of the blue “Mama, I want my paci! Call the babies and tell them to give it back!” She also asked me if her new cousin, Henry, (due in March) is going to get her old paci. I told her yes and she said, “Ok, he can have it.” So I think she is starting to really accept it. I wish we would have weaned her off of it at 18 months old instead of waiting until almost 3. It was much harder since she was older, then I think it could have been. I have heard all kinds of paci weaning stories - some easy and some really hard - I don’t think there is really any way to tell how your child will react beforehand.
P Wrote: I was wondering if you are still nursing Arlo? I think I’m going to wean my son soon, but am not sure where to start. If you have weaned him, how did you know you were ready?
I weaned Arlo at 17 months old. Or rather, he weaned himself. In the middle of last October, I had a series of work trips and an out of town wedding that meant I would be away from the kids for ten straight days. I was really nervous about being away that long and wondered if Arlo would even want to nurse when I got back. By 17 months, Arlo was just nursing at bedtime or when he was sick. Most nights, I would rock him for about ten minutes while nursing him and then he would fall asleep and I’d lay him down in his crib. When I packed for my trip, I decided not to take my pump with me. I figured that the time away would be a perfect chance to wean Arlo. As much as I had loved and cherished the experience with my son, there was part of me that was also ready to have my body back. I had been nursing or pregnant for all but 3 months of the last 4 years and I was looking forward to taking cold medication or just having a few drinks in a row again.
When I came home from my trip, I decided to try and nurse Arlo that first night back. He wouldn’t even let me rock him. He pushed himself back and pointed to his crib. I laid him down awake, gave him a sippy cup of water, and closed the door behind me. I was surprised by how sad I felt. I had been so sure that I was ready to be done, but when Arlo confirmed that he was too, it stung a little. I didn’t try to nurse him the second night home and he never tried to nurse again after that. It was really bittersweet to close the door on that chapter of our relationship. It was a good, long run for us - and weaning was decidedly easier than I thought it would be. I will always cherish the experience.