Double Duty

The gradual journey to me handling two kids on my own continues. Eric is back at work this week, but my mother-in-law is here for the week, too. So I’m not completely on my own until next week. And next week I plan to bring in daily reinforcements to give me a little nap time should I need it.

It’s not so much that I feel incapable of taking care of two kids. I’m already learning how to juggle both Graham and Tessa. It can get a little dicey when I’m feeding the baby and Graham is in need of something, but he’s doing well at waiting so far.

What’s really an issue is sleep. Partly that I’m not getting enough of it. And partly that Tessa is still being difficult about it. I’d hoped we’d have her transitioned to something besides ourselves by now, but it hasn’t happened. Our nights right now are split. Eric takes her for the first half and I take her for the second half. Eric puts her in the Mei Tai and can manage to lay down on his back with her on his chest and sleep. The Mei Tai keeps her from rolling off and so I don’t have to wake up every little while out of mommy anxiety to check on her.

I take her into the twin bed in Graham’s room, which has a very firm (I’d say more like hard) mattress from Ikea. We’ve found a good position where I lay on my side, Tessa is swaddled and lays parallel to me up with her head against my stomach. That way I can move my arms without worrying about smushing her. As long as she’s swaddled she won’t twitch herself awake (we tried unswaddled and it didn’t work so hot).

When she’s up for sleeping all’s well. But lately she gives either Eric or me or both of us a hard time. She’ll fuss, or just sit there wide awake. At the handoff for the last several days I’ll feed her, change her and swaddle her only to have her insist on eating again 20 minutes after she’s finished. Sometimes we repeat this cycle a few times. When I spend over an hour up with her getting her fed over and over, it can be tricky to get back to sleep.

And there’s no guarantee that she’ll be up for sleeping once we lay down.

How I long to just set her down in the bassinet and have her sleep.

She will sleep for small periods of time in the napper in her PacknPlay. But no success otherwise. I think we’re going to try and find the bouncer (it’s in a box somewhere) and give it a try. I remember Graham slept in it for a few weeks and wouldn’t sleep in anything else.

These bumpy nights mean that when it’s time to get Graham up at 7:30, I’m not really ready to go. Yesterday Tessa woke up at 6:30 which gave me time to feed her before the Bug got up. But today she woke up just a couple minutes before my alarm, so while I got Graham out of bed, changed and dressed, we had to listen to Tessa cry the whole time. And luckily Eric hadn’t left for work yet so I could send Graham downstairs to wait for therapy while I fed Tessa.

I know I’m lucky, since it’s generally just the start and end of therapy sessions (of which we usually have two a day) when Graham needs help. I could be a normal parent whose toddler needs constant attention. So I do appreciate the simplicity of my situation. Still, even though Graham is pretty patient so far, given that Tessa is an astonishingly slow and lazy eater, things can get a little dicey.

I feel like I can handle two kids. What I don’t feel like I can handle is a kid and a newborn. Especially a newborn who always wants to be held and who eats slowly.

(Oh, and let’s not talk about the house. That is a whole other issue.)

I’d love to hear how the rest of you have handled this. (Especially if you have MORE than two kids. What on EARTH do you DO??)

I feel a little better after talking to my Mom, who raised 4 kids. She told me stories of dealing with us as babies that surprised me. Because I can’t remember my Mom ever not having a handle on things. If the Master Baby Whisperer got flustered, surely I’ll get flustered.

Over the weekend I worked on a new skill: feeding Tessa using my new breastfeeding pillow and nursing cover. The cover is necessary as I spend 3 to 7 hours a day sitting in on Graham’s therapy. There are 5 different people who come over and since none of them have kids and two of them are male, I would really rather not make them uncomfortable by whipping out my boob all the time. And I can’t just disappear upstairs for 45 minutes. (Seriously this kid is SLOW.) Separately, the pillow and cover are easy to use, but with both the cover doesn’t quite drape right and I have to keep pulling my arms in and out from under the cover to get Tessa correctly positioned. It is a bit tricky but I have it in hand enough that I can feed her with people around. Triumph.

I have to say, the best thing about having extra bodies around is that I can leave the house. I had a massage over at Isis on Sunday and had time to shop a little afterwards. Yesterday I was able to fill in at the last minute for a dinner with my buddies at Boston Brunchers. I got to take both expeditions without any kids. Yesterday morning I took Graham to his Cognitive Eval for his IEP without having to keep Tessa happy the whole time. On Thursday I can take Tessa to her 4 week checkup without having to pull Graham out of therapy. I will miss the ability to do these things. Tessa will be along for the ride for Graham’s Speech Eval in 2 weeks and Graham will come with us to Tessa’s 2 month appointment. And BOTH of them will be there for my 6-week postpartum checkup. Fun times.

After this week I’ll be back to having to find a babysitter if I want to visit my psychiatrist or finally take that trip to the dentist. I’m back to missing all the weekday blogger events. And any other things that I want to do on my own will probably be saved for the weekend. Not that weekends are wide open. Eric usually has to work at least one day each weekend, so no day is really a sure thing.

It all looms ahead. And it’s just a little terrifying.

In fact, the only reason I’m not feeling overwhelmed is that getting Tessa to sleep is by far the #1 priority. I feel like I could be capable of anything if I could get two 3-hour stretches in a night. Double diaper changes, double feedings, and double crying fits are surely manageable if I have some more sleep. (And some coffee.)

How are you new Moms of Two managing? And do you experienced Moms of Many have any tips for us?


This post is part of my New Moms Series. See all posts here.


  1. Laura says

    It sounds to me that you are hitting it out of the park. These are early days still, and you’ve gotten through!! What worked for us at this age was when he woke up in the night, I’d nurse a bit first to calm him, either lying down or draped across my chest with me barely awake. Then Keith would change him, then I would nurse a little bit more until he fell asleep and we’d drift off together. I’m not sure if little Tessa falls asleep nursing, and how she’s doing nursing lying down (takes practice) but it’s such a huge help to both of you, the nursing dyad, to return to sleep. I remember feeling like I had a very powerful tool 🙂 There were some times I would swaddle after the diaper change and walk/rock him down and then place beside me, but by far just cosleeping and nursing on demand until he fell asleep was the easiest thing. Norhing can be a bad habit at this stage; nursing is not only food, but, as I’m sure you’re finding, the breastfed baby’s favourite form of comfort, cuddling and soothing. Also, I wore him tonnes around the house, which I’m sure you’re finding helpful for bug-dressing time, etc… I’m far from experienced, but just what popped into my head when reading this 🙂

  2. says

    I have no advice as this same issue is looming before me, but if we think back to the early days of our first newborn, the issues were similar – the adjustments, the change in schedule, the lack of freedom. I guess the thing is time and knowing that as each month progresses, it seems to get a bit more manageable. Otherwise, we would never have more kids. But cheers to when they are all in school! 🙂
    Charlene @CharChronicles recently posted..What is a Gender Reveal Party

  3. tnzed says

    I think you’re doing great for one month in! Like with many things pertaining to having a new baby, time is your biggest friend (and enemy). You just have to wait some stuff out and in time, things get easier as you get into more of a routine. But yes, waiting sucks. The days are. I kind of feel like we cheated a little bit when we went from one kid to two as we continued to send our son to daycare even though I was at home with his sister. That way I had more one-on-one time with the baby, and he kept up his routine. Going from two to three was much harder because by that time, our son was in school which he had to be at by a certain time. Those mornings were a killer because poor Violet had to be woken up in order to take Cyrus to school. I didn’t feel like we got into a groove until she was several months old, and now 18 mths later, we’re doing good.

    As for the sleeping, some folks swear by the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. I probably would’ve gotten one for Violet if she had been younger when I first read about it. If she doesn’t like the bouncer, you might want to look into that.

  4. says

    Well, the 2nd one is a lot harder just b/c you can’t nap like you did with #1. Ben slept pretty well, but only if he was swaddled and in the swing (he thankfully loved the swing, which freed me up a lot). He had awful reflux, though, so he had to sleep kinda sitting up. Or he slept on me and I had to half sit up. He was also a super slow eater. It would take like 45 mins/feeding. And he refused a bottle, so I couldn’t even pump and try to do a quick feed or have someone else help. I did have slings and an Ergo and a Mei Tei and I used them all, so I could get stuff done. I love my Mei Tei. That thing was a lifesaver. I don’t think there is any magic’s all about just making it through those first few months, then you get into more a rhythm. Katie had been such a HARD baby, though, that I went in fully expecting Ben to be the same way, and when he wasn’t it made things easier. I was prepared for much worse!

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