I went back to work 7 weeks ago and it already feels like maternity leave was so long ago! The time really flies.
I took 12 weeks off for maternity leave. My husband took a month off and that first month with all of us home as a family of 4 was so much fun!
We spent our first week at home just adjusting to our new normal. Or our new chaos, actually. We took turns napping with the baby and trying to keep our older son entertained. We did start taking him back to daycare a few days a week after our baby was about a week old. My mother-in-law is a saint and helped us out SO much during this time. She came over nearly every day those first few weeks and took big bro out on walks and other fun adventures. That helped us so much so we could rest while he was out having fun!
That first week is so hard. Like most moms, I suffered from baby blues from day 2 through about day 8 with both babies. I’m happy to say that the baby blues the second time around are MUCH easier. Partly because I was getting more sleep (we were breaking ALL the sleep rules and co-sleeping like crazy) and partly because I just knew what to expect. Bringing home baby #2 wasn’t as life-altering as bring home baby #1. I still cried multiple times each day, but I found that I was usually crying because I loved my babies so much or because I was so happy to see them grow up together. With big bro, I was crying because I was stressed, scared, and EXTREMELY sleep-deprived. So, that was a huge improvement.
I know the strict advice on avoiding co-sleeping is for the safety of the baby, but…I have to say that co-sleeping literally saved us that first month. We exclusively slept with our son that first month. Whether it was on our chest, next to us in the nook of our arm, or in the DockATot right next to me, we kept him wherever he was willing to sleep. Because of that, I was clocking anywhere from 5-8 hours of (broken) sleep every 24 hours. For a mother of a newborn, that is a ton of sleep!!! It really saved both of us from spiraling into that depressed state that we found ourselves in with big bro in the beginning! So we were able to enjoy those early days so much more!
When he was on leave, my awesome husband would generally take my son to school in the mornings and then stop by Starbucks and pick up some treats. This was such a nice ritual to look forward to while I was healing and adjusting to the postpartum life.
We had no schedule during that first month (except for big bro’s schedule) and it was really nice to have that time to just adjust and let baby bro get settled in.
My husband went back to work when baby bro was about a month old. Of course, my first day at home with both kids, I quickly realized that I needed to show baby bro how to at least nap on his own for a little while. He wasn’t used to being put down at all! I used the swing and gently showed him how to take naps on his own. After just a day or two (they pick things up so quickly, it seems!), he was taking 2 hour naps in the swing on his own which made life so much easier.
After that first month, my mother-in-law came every Wednesday to help out with the kids. She usually took big bro on an adventure so baby bro and I could sleep in together. It was such a lifesaver. She cooked lunch and dinner for us and helped out around the house. (Did I mention my mother-in-law is a saint!?)
I generally took big bro to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so those were my days at home alone with the baby. I really enjoyed those days. I was able to do things around the house, catch up on The Bachelorette, and gradually start to work out. Baby and I could do things slowly on those days it was just the two of us, which was really nice. I took my time caring for him since I had to rush through every little thing when big bro is home. I would usually give him an afternoon bath on those days which was so fun and a memory I will never forget! I loved spending those lazy afternoons letting him soak and relax. It makes me so happy just thinking of those afternoon baths! I also used those days to pump and start a freezer stash for when I returned to work. I didn’t pump too much, though, because every time I did, it totally messed up my supply and I would wake up engorged and uncomfortable in the middle of the night.
On the days that both kids were home with me and my husband was at work, I quickly realized that stay-at-home Moms are superheroes. LITERAL SUPER HEROES. I mean. There is not much time for yourself at all, if any! I really looked forward to the days that I had help at home after those days! Haha.
Even on the hard days, I honestly couldn’t believe how happy I was. I was and am just so in love with those little boys. I feel so lucky to have them. They are so fun! They really do give our home so much life. I feel like I have so much more perspective with baby bro. For example, when I used to have trouble getting big bro down to bed at night, I would sometimes get impatient and irritated. But with baby bro, I stop and think, ‘what am I really going to do once I leave this room? Work on the laundry? Look at my phone? Clean up toys?’ And it makes soothing my baby in a dark room much, much easier. Snuggling my baby is so much better than all the other things I have to do in my life, so stopping to be mindful of that fact has helped so much mentally. I also know just how quickly the time goes. Didn’t I just bring big bro home from the hospital, like, yesterday?! I know all these hard times where ‘me’ time is limited is only temporary. Thinking this way helps me have more patience for my babes.
The last month of maternity leave was really great. I was sleeping really well. Baby was starting to settle into a routine of eating just once at night. My husband and I usually had like 30 minutes of time to relax together before bed a few times a week versus having NO time at all the first few months when you try to go to bed right when baby does so you can maximize your sleep. I started easing into light workouts around this time. I was mostly healed from childbirth. Breastfeeding becomes so much easier around the 2 month mark. I was able to run errands on Wednesdays when my mother-in-law came to help (usually Target and Starbucks…haha). It was a good last month before returning to the daily grind of work!