When I was pregnant with Belle, I was insanely excited, but also unsure of what motherhood was like. I knew that everything would be a new experience and I would literally learn as I went. I spent countless hours looking at my registry and debating whether or not to get things like a diaper warmer or diaper genie. I would organize her nursery, and then reorganize it. I literally remember sitting in the glider trying to imagine what life was going to be like when I sat in there with a baby in my arms. I knew exactly how far along I was in my pregnancy and what stage of development the baby was at in the womb. I knew I had sleepless nights ahead of me, but figured I had pulled many late nights in college, so it couldn't be that bad.
Then Belle came. I learned very quickly that the sleepless nights were rough. I learned that I could be angry and irritated with Paul for no reason other than he was sleeping next to me while I had to nurse a baby that seemed to want nothing more than to use me as a pacifier. I learned that my baby would cry incessantly and I would have NO clue what she wanted, nor how to fix it. Things like a diaper warmer seemed so trivial when it came down to the actually nitty gritty of caring for this human being. Overall, those first 6 weeks of Belle's life I felt very overwhelmed, unsure of how I would handle this mothering thing, and certain I was probably doing everything wrong.
Obviously, things got easier and we decided to go for baby #2! How easily we forget that newborn stage, right? This time around I knew what to expect with motherhood. I had been doing this gig for 18 months by then, so I felt I was over the initial shock of that major life change. This pregnancy was much less glorified. I remember about a month or two before she was born feeling like I should probably do something with the nursery. Being as it was another girl, I didn't really make many changes.
I spent MUCH less time on the things that a baby needs, and more time spent wondering how I would manage two children. I was honestly scared I would forget about one, or not keep a good enough eye on Belle when I was tending to Evie and something awful would happen. I was concerned with how Belle would handle the change. As far as she knew our world revolved around her, and she was used to not sharing.
Evie came, and surprisingly, we just did what we had to do. The baby still cried and I had NO clue how to fix it sometimes, but I remember looking around at one point and realizing that everything I was so scared of I was doing. I was a mother of two, and I was taking pretty good care of both of them! Now, there was for sure times when I would nurse Evie and somehow Belle ended up naked on our back deck in the middle of winter. I remember a time that Belle spilled milk every where, peed her pants, Evie was screaming insanely, and the door bell rang causing Mac to bark. I for sure felt crazy, but within the 30 seconds all of this happened, it all seemed to calm down and get fixed 5 minutes later. I survived.
Sure, as a family we had to adjust. Belle struggled with sleeping issues, and Paul and I felt like zombies between a new baby and a 2 year old that wanted to get up as often as Evie, but somehow we got through it with lots of prayer and loads of support. It felt like years, but in reality the couple of months that were really hard didn't last that long in the grand scheme of life.
So, onto baby #3. I feel confident. I feel like I have learned that the newborn stage is tough. They don't sleep, I feel like a cow with all the nursing, it's hard to get out of the house, and it is an adjustment...but it is over with REAL quick. I have survived it twice, so surely the third time will be survivable as well.
I've learned that toddlers are busy. They make messes. They cry over very illogical things. This stage is tough, but it is THE best when you get to watch them learn how to move, how to say new words, and to see them explore life. Evie's age right now is physically exhausting, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't love watching that girl say a new word or run like a crazy woman all over the house. Toddlers are certainly entertaining!
Belle's age and stage is always a new learning experience for me. I LOVE having full out conversations with her. The other day she let me know that she was very certain she did NOT want to go to Heaven, because she wanted to come back to our house after she died (glad she likes our home so much!). I am also amazed at how much of a sponge she is! The girl has books memorized, and loves to learn about animals and fill random people in on things. For instance, did you know that only female bees sting?? On the other side of the coin, the potty training is tough, and so is finding a discipline that works sometimes.
All in all, I can say that I have learned in being a mother not to have overly high expectations of myself, not to compare myself to others, and always be ready to try new things---because honestly, I often don't have a clue what I am doing or what the plan is. Some days I don't discipline enough, while others I think I discipline too harsh. There are days Evie is still cranky after a 3 hour nap, but then the days she takes only an hour nap she can be happy as a lark. Some days prizes work to get Belle to go on the potty, and other days it's consequences.
One piece of advice for any mother is to give yourself grace when you screw up, and kudos when you really do something well. Having a third child doesn't scare me so much, because I know it will be another process of forgiving myself for mistakes I will inevitably make, and being sure to give myself credit when I have a major success. As women we are so quick to criticize our wrong doings and downplay when we do something well. I still have loads to learn about parenting, as it's a ever ending learning process, but I feel that grace and kudos is the only way to get through it without completely feeling you are failing.
Grace and kudos.