After all, I wrote about Miss E for more than a year before I knew we were having another baby, and I still think about some of the same things that plagued me during her infancy. Before Little Sister was born I knew it would be a challenge to see the small dynamic changes in a baby’s temperament with the distraction of an enormous toddler personality. And I knew that as my second, Little Sister would inevitably receive less attention than Miss E had at her age.
But these things aren’t really it, or at least, they aren’t the whole story.
People often say that having two children isn’t twice as hard as having one, but rather exponentially more difficult. The thing that has struck me the most is the absolute lack of downtime – with staggered naps, or no naps at all, lengthier bedtime routines, multiple childcare situations and what often feels like laundry enough to clothe a small army, there’s not a moment in the day to collect myself. Night feedings don’t even guarantee the break I’d gotten used to once Miss E began to sleep through the night, so I’m always on edge, always waiting to be wanted.
Strangely enough, the need to be constantly alert makes me feel even less present, which is perhaps why I feel so much less tuned in with Little Sister’s babyhood than I was with Miss E’s. I want to enjoy her, revel in all of her languorous moments reaching for toys on the floor or her merry wiggles in my lap, but it’s harder than ever to slow down, even though I know it’s the best thing for both of us.
Here are a few things I would like to remember about her, what I will endeavor to really appreciate as we enter the last few months of her infancy.
She rotates her hands and feet when she’s anxious or excited or just ready to go, go, go. I don’t know what it means but I am so interested in her need to just move. Despite the fact that she’s developing gross motor skills at around the same rate as her big sister did, Little Sister is a much more energetic baby. She needs an outlet. I can’t wait to see what it will be as she grows.
She’ll stop nursing, repeatedly, just to smile at me. It’s impossible not to smile back, even though it’s often when we’re in a rush, sneaking in that last feeding before I have to leave for work for the day.
She is incredibly strong-willed. Little Sister won’t take a bottle or a cup, and has gone as many as fourteen hours without milk as she’s caught on to the fact that I will eventually return. She also wants nothing to do with being spoon-fed, but give her an ear of roasted corn and she’ll go to town.
She loves her big sister. And I mean loves. Anytime I think about all of the things Little Sister doesn’t get that Miss E had in spades as a baby – baths where someone wasn’t chucking toys at her or biting her on the face, a nap schedule, my undivided attention, etc. – I make myself think of the look on Little Sister’s face anytime she and Miss E are happily playing. It’s truly special, and looking up to a sibling is something Miss E will never have.
She chews books, she unintentionally scoots under furniture to kick happily for minutes at a time, she is super ticklish. She is our baby. She doesn’t make me choose her over myself but I do because there’s even less room in my life now for being a mama one moment and all of the other things I want to be in the next. This is a far tougher and more meaningful distinction than it was when Miss E was a baby simply because of that fact. She deserves more but I do my best because she’s the best.