As I mentioned in a blog post last month, being a mother of two is harder than I thought it would be. It shouldn’t be shocking that managing two children is more difficult than managing one; I know. I’m a late learner. One of the reasons this transition has been hard for me is because I went into it thinking that all the tips and tricks I’d learned with my first son, Lukas, would work with my second. I expected the first six months of Julian’s life to be much like the first six months of Lukas’ life. That was my first mistake. I quickly learned that Julian was on his own path, which was different from the path his big brother took in many ways.
- Lukas loved nursing and would eat at any time of day, for any reason or no reason at all. Julian will only nurse if he’s truly hungry and looks at me like I’m crazy if I offer to feed him when he doesn’t want to eat.
- Lukas slept through the night at 5 months. Five months came and went, yet Julian is still waking up multiple times each night to eat.
- Lukas cut his first tooth at 4 months and Julian was toothless until 6.5 months old.
- Lukas spit out his pacifier at 3 months, never to take it again, so I assumed that at 3 months Julian no longer wanted his “paci”; yet he would cry when I put him in his crib. One day his teachers at Primrose mentioned that Julian would often find his paci in his crib at school and soothe himself to sleep. Oops!
They are clearly not the same children. Over the past seven months, I’ve tried to remember that even though I’ve done this once before, my second child is not the same as my first, and I must approach everything with this in mind.
I distinctly remember people commenting on how round my first son’s head was. And it was. Perfectly round, like a small bowling ball. So when my mom asked me if I’d noticed Julian’s flat spot around 2 months old, I said, “No, no, he’s fine, his head isn’t flat.” A mommy can be blind when it comes to her children.
A week later my pediatrician confirmed that no, he was not fine, Julian did indeed have a flat spot, but we were just going to watch it for the time being. Then at his 4-month appointment, we were referred to a specialist to measure the severity of his flat head. Sure enough, his misshapen head (i.e. his plagiocephaly) was in the moderate-to-severe range and before we knew it we were ordering a helmet to help correct his head shape. Next, we were referred to a physical therapist because he had torticollis – his neck muscles weren’t working correctly and he had a head tilt. Cue the weekly doctor’s appointments. This was certainly not something we dealt with during our first rodeo.
Over the past nine weeks that Julian has worn the helmet, we’ve had to adjust to our new normal. Cleaning his helmet has become part of our nightly routine. Every other Friday we go to the orthotist. We fit physical therapy exercises in before school, after dinner and before bed. We’re very lucky that we’re not dealing with a permanent problem – the helmet is working beautifully and we’re hoping to be finished within the next month. This experience has helped our family learn to go with the flow, reminding us that we can’t plan for everything.
Parenting is a constantly evolving process. We’re never done learning what works and what doesn’t. We must be open to change and handle different children, well, differently. Hang in there mommas of two! Try not to fall into my trap of expecting both of your children to be the same – both you and your youngest will be glad you didn’t!