Post contributed by Plum Parents member Julie Vlahon, who lives in the Sacramento area and is mom to a one and four-year-old.
“I’m not myself,” a friend admitted to me while cradling her new baby. “I can’t form sentences or thoughts. What’s wrong with me?” Just days prior I had a similar conversation with another friend with a newborn sleeping snuggly in a carrier on her chest while chasing her toddler at the playground. “I’m just getting by. This is really hard.” She’s right. Those first months of a baby’s life are a tangled mixture of sweetness and struggle.
I still remember driving in the winter rain to my six-week postpartum doctor’s appointment a little blurry eyed, absolutely sleep deprived and rehearsing in my head questions to ask. It was so hard to think clearly. The doctor asked how I was doing and I was determined to keep it together. After all, this wasn’t my first rodeo. I had done this before with my daughter nearly three years prior and in almost every way she was a harder baby. A complicated birth, breastfeeding issues, her painful reflux and my husband and I were so naive to the whole parenting thing. This time we were experienced, my son’s birth was uncomplicated and he was already much easier to calm and feed. I was happy to report that I was just fine.
When the doctor asked how I was sleeping I said matter-of-factly that the baby woke every two hours, sometimes three and no, I wasn’t sleeping during the day. I had an active toddler who was craving attention much more now that she was sharing her mom with another little person. I started to cry. I didn’t mean to or want to, but the tears wouldn’t stop. He told me I was severely sleep deprived and needed to find a way to get a four-hour stretch each night. Why can’t I just tough this out? This should be easier the second time around, right? It wasn’t. It wasn’t necessarily harder either. It was challenging in an entirely new way. I wasn’t second-guessing my every decision like I did the first time, however, I was struggling more than ever to find a balance between my baby’s needs, my toddler’s needs, husband’s and my own. In those early weeks, my daughter was getting too much screen time, not enough home cooked food, and the best way to describe it would be that we were in survival mode. That’s when Plum Organics came in – their food became part of every meal, snack time and in-between. It means everything to know I don’t have to compromise giving my little ones nutritious and organic goodness, even on the most chaotic of days.
The spring brought us out of the so-called “fourth trimester” and with it, I started to see new life in myself and my baby. My husband and I developed a loose schedule with the swapping of responsibilities that gave me breaks and time to sleep. I learned how to accept help when friends and family offered. Thankfully baby started sleeping longer stretches, developing a little personality, and my daughter was getting used to having a brother around.
By summer we were venturing out more as a family. A long road trip for a weekend at the beach, outdoor fun by the pool, we weren’t all fully sleeping through the night, but we had made big strides. Plus, I felt like superwoman on six consecutive hours of sleep.
Fall brought my daughter’s first day of preschool which gave me solo time with my baby boy who was nearing his first year. It brought excursions to the pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating and a big first birthday celebration. I finally felt like the fog had lifted!
If there’s anything I’ve learned from motherhood is that there are seasons of it. It’s what I remind my mom friends, and often myself when parenting gets hard. The thing about seasons is that they change, just like these little people we get to call our own babies. So, in the long winters, it’s ok that the house is a mess and they watched five Daniel the Tiger episodes today. It’s ok to say no to signing them up for more activities and yes to more intentional family time together. You’ll be ok and they’ll be ok because this isn’t forever. There really is sweetness in those seasons of struggle and Spring is a just around the corner.