Becoming a Family of Four

It’s been a year and a half since welcoming Isabella into our lives and there is so much that I wish I could have documented and journaled about this little sweetheart of ours here on the blog the past year plus butt in reality I was so consumed with surviving that the last thing I had was time to blog as much as I did with Penelope the first year. I am glad I did document as much as possible on Instagram and collected those moments through Chatbooks but nothing really compares to journaling and pouring out all those feeling. I am such a visual junkie so I enjoy having a space like this with a collection of my personal photographs and words to enjoy forever. I know the girls will appreciate them one day too.

One plus one does not equal two when it comes to kids! It feels more like 10! Both being so little with a million little needs, they require so much from me, but I finally feel that I am coming up for air. Not until you walk this road can you be empathetic or relate to other moms about how hard this really is and it’s not until you are finally catching your breath can you even reflect on how hard this is but thank goodness it’s so rewarding and so worth all the sweat and tears because there are many days when you just want to quit.

The stage between 6-18 months is very challenging because you are basically spending your day trying to keep them alive and not like you aren’t already doing this in the newborn stage but it’s more than nursing and diaper changes, it’s that plus “don’t put that in your mouth” and “get down from there” on repeat all day long! So many milestones too! That first year is insanely fast and they change so much from day to day. When they become mobile you can’t just leave them in the same spot and expect that they will still be there when you leave the room for a quick second and find them in the corner eating dirt from the potted house plant that you forgot to move – again or you find them moving quickly towards the open gate that you forgot to close again -oops! Baby proofing the house became a real full time job with no end!

They need more than just the nursing sessions you were finally getting used to, they expect it plus they expect real food too! So not only are you food but you still have to make them food or buy food in our case because we couldn’t keep up with making baby food as much as we did with Penelope the first time around. The reality was there just wasn’t as much time and one less thing to have to juggle the better (she still did get the good organic stuff at least!).  Once they start finger foods, oh boy the mess! Ha! Somedays I still feel like all I do is change diapers and clean the high chair.

With all this work of course comes so many wonderful milestone that make it all so worth it from the sitting up on their own to crawling, to standing up and taking those first steps! It’s incredible and such an honor to witness. Isabella didn’t walk until she was 15.5 months  (early December) so it was a lot of crawling and cruising on furniture for what seemed like forever and a lot of being carried around like a princess because to this day she loves to be on the hip. But more on all that in future posts, so to make up for not writing the past 1.5 my new goal is to write once weekly and though I know it’s impossible to blog about the events in the past two years, I will do my best to at least write about a few of the big milestones and moments.

So how was it having a second child? It’s so different! So first off, anybody can have a kid but to chose to have more is such a huge undertaking and I admire those that have big families because the commitment, sacrifice and amount of work involved is so grand. I know I can only speak for myself but I am barely surviving and that is the honest truth so I don’t know how they do it. My mother had 5 and bless her heart she worked so hard and slaved away for us and not until I became a mom of course did I understand that. I guess you really have to want it because my mom used to always say to me when I was doubting myself that “When there is a will, there is a way” and I guess she is right about that in so many ways because I am still standing.

Having a second child has been so different for me because with our first we wanted her so bad I think once she was actually here it was love at first sight, such a honeymoon of a connection and bond and the obsession was real! Not to say we didn’t want Isabella as bad but it was a different kind of want if that makes any sense and it definitely wasn’t a honeymoon stage when she was born because we had the toddler to keep us in reality check and so busy! Good thing her birth was much smoother and I recovered quickly because the chasing after my toddler at the playground was calling my name. My first year as a parent was the best time of my life and I genuinely mean that from the bottom of my heart. We had so much fun with Penelope because I devoted myself completely to her and the role of being a mom. I gave it 110% from day one. This second time around it has been tough.

Isabella came into our lives a short time after welcoming our first baby so we felt really prepared have done it all the previous year but it really is different, maybe more relaxed in some areas but more intense in others. For example the little things you used to worry about with your first didn’t even cross your mind the second time around like heaven forbid you drop the pacifier on the floor and pick it up and put it back in their mouth without washing it but a quick wipe on your shirt ha! The level of exhaustion and sleep deprivation was even worse due to the fact that you are running after a toddler trying to keep them alive while navigating the role of newborn baby care once again.

These sisters though! Every single day, the more time passes by it becomes so clear to me why I was called for this role and why I love it so much. Even though I complain about it just so much, they are true sweethearts sent straight from heaven to show us what it is to love unconditionally and the purest form of love you will ever witness.

Watching your child blossom is the greatest privilege I don’t take for granted and watching your children love and grow alongside one another is really the most incredible bond to witness. I am so proud of Penelope and her big sister role and I know she is too. Yes, there are many struggles with sharing toys and our attention but Penelope always asks for Isabella and expresses how much she loves her Izzy on the daily. Who knows what life will bring when they are older but I sure hope with everything I have that they continue that bond and are there for each other nor matter what. We wanted our kids close in age even before Penelope was born so we knew right away that once we did that we would close up the shop and be “done” after having them back to back. It was all in the plans but as we know with plans, they change. I initially wanted three so basically I was preparing myself to do 3 under 3 (I still had to convince Andy for the third though ha ha) because that’s what my mom did though she had five so I figured, gosh I can do it too! Plus I have so many resources and luxuries than she ever did, but the reality set in after Isabella was six months old. Penelope was 22 months when Isabella was born making them both under 2 years old for two whole months. Looking back that was so crazy! Penelope was still in diapers and a baby herself. Thank goodness both my babies from day one were “easy” and nursed no problem, put themselves in a routine with the help of Babywise and didn’t give us too much trouble, we didn’t deal with colic or any funny business thank goodness but it also wasn’t all rainbows.

As soon as Isabella turned 6 months, stopped being swaddled (yes she was swaddled until six months because both my babies loved it!) started being more mobile as I was expressing earlier, sleeping less during the day, eating real food outside of breastmilk oh boy did the work really begin! Not to mention my 2 year old rambunctious toddler was getting more needy by the day and had so many emotions for me to try and help her navigate through (still to this day we are working hard on those “feelings”).

When you hold your child for the first time it’s like nothing else in the world! Their warm little body, their heart beating next to yours, the fact that they are completely and 100% dependent on your love and care and will look to you for all their little needs from the basic filling their little tummies to changing their diaper to letting them know through touch and skin to skin that you are their protector, they can count on you and are safe in your arms -what an honor it truly is. I know I kind of sound like a broken record, but I can’t say it enough!

I remember feeling like I could stare at her all day, watching her every little yawn, curling of toes, sucking on her fingers, counting each and every eyelash and feeling so happy and so emotional at the same time. Becoming a mom for the second time makes you feel more raw than ever because you know exactly what you have and the fears of losing what you have are even greater. I know that sounds a little dramatic but it’s so true for me because I felt so protective of my kids than I had ever thought I would have reason to, but they are so vulnerable seeking care under your arms that all you want to do is hold them and care for them forever. I know one day very far from now they will leave the nest, yes I am aware that that happens and it’s a crazy thought! So I am going to just hold them tight for as long as I can so that I can look back at this time and feel completely content that I gave it my all. Also I am so happy I have daughters because I know we will always be a tribe holding each other up and will be each others caregivers as we grow older together and that brings the biggest smile to my face. There is just something so special about the bond that mothers and their daughters have, especially reflecting on the bond between my mom and me.

My daughters are the best thing to have happen to me and I thought meeting my husband was! Ladies it all gets even better and better – like aging wine :).

Isabella was 10 days young in this photoshoot we did ourselves in the comfort of our own home. I’m going to try my best to pick up our real camera more often because these photos are priceless.

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