You guys, we babysat. To those of you with multiple kids, feel free to roll your eyes and laugh at my naivete. To those of you with one bebe like us, HOLY SHIT, IT WAS HARD! Our friends are photographers and they needed some help with their two month-old while they did a shoot from 4ish to 9ish. I was more than happy to help out, and we prepped our house to host two nappers, eaters, etc. Our friends hung out from noon to 4, so they were managing their own daughter for that time. She’s cute, snuggly, and still so floppy. I FORGOT how floppy! I remember being the nervous parent instructing friends and family to be EXTRA supportive of her body parts, but then I was the one holding the baby while nervous mom hovered nearby to make sure I used enough care/support. I felt like such a noob!
After our friends left, I seriously felt panicky about tending to two babies. Was it rational? No. Were we matched man-to-man? Yes. But for some reason, I was sweating bullets! I also had some SERIOUS mom guilt…was I able to provide our daughter with the care/attention she is used to? Did she notice that I was distracted and not truly focusing on her consumption of sweet potatoes and beets in her dining chair? I know this all sounds crazy. It felt crazy.
I eventually took both girls for a walk – the 10 month old in the Lillebaby and the 2 month old in the bassinet/stroller. That worked fine for about 30 minutes. Then, the little one couldn’t fall asleep in this foreign environment. I let her fuss for a few minutes thinking maybe she would work herself into a snooze. Nope. At one point, because she’s so little and I’m now used to a 10 month-old whine/cry, I was asking her, “Are you really crying? Like, is that for real? On a scale of 1-5, would you say this is serious?” I promise, it didn’t last more than 2-3 minutes. At that point, I pulled the big girl out of the carrier, set her sitting up in the bassinet, and gingerly picked up the crying (it was real) newborn into the chest carrier. My daughter then played with every single fold, zipper, button and wrinkle while sitting up as we carefully continued our walk. About 10 minutes later, the wee babe was asleep and the big girl started to fuss, reaching for me. Ugh. I momentarily contemplated whether she could ride on my shoulders while I pushed an empty stroller home. I was able to plop the big girl on the ground where she happily started grabbing bark and twigs, carefully transfer the sleeper into the bassinet, then move the other one onto my chest. Anyone watching this debacle out their window had to think I was nuts. At that point, my daughter wanted to nurse, which is not the most comfortable or convenient setup in the carrier, but we made it work. The little one soon started to fuss and I texted my wife for reinforcement. She laughed at me.
I was surprised at how strong my “divided loyalties” guilt was. I was also surprised at how my 10 month old seemed to understand that at certain moments, she just needed to ride along with the circus, because the baby was demanding some attention. It SERIOUSLY made me reconsider my commitment to having 3 kids. I suddenly understand how 2 is plenty for many people. I am in absolute AWE of those who manage more than two, especially with just one parent home! It also gave me a newfound respect for our nanny, who manages her 4 year-old with our daughter on some days.
Obviously, if we’re lucky enough to have a second (or third) the older sibling(s) will be much more competent at the time (I think?). It will be less like a baby juggle and more like a toddler chase with passenger (I hope). And I’m sure that it is like a lot of parts of parenting…you just have to jump in and things will get easier with practice and confidence.
My hats are off to you, mamas and papas of multiple kids! I now understand how having more than one kid simultaneously sleeping in the evening is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world!