Life With Two Children Under Two

6 feet

Three girls. Three pairs of feet. Three different personalities and routines, wants and needs.

When I became pregnant with Victoire, I often wondered how life would be like, looking after a 17 months old and newborn. I wasn’t so much worried about organization than how Sixtine would react to this change in our lives. I felt sad for my baby daughter thinking she would have to share her Mama, a Mama who could barely walk her to the park during a long, tedious pregnancy. I felt sad thinking she would have to be the “big girl” now, a big girl that was only so little…

I never really enjoyed being the eldest of four. My friends in school would call me “the little Mama” and that, I didn’t want for my daughter to have to go through. I wanted her to live her life and not worry about who was coming after. Or at least, not for some time. I guess I was projecting my own fears on Sixtine.

I had been dreading it for a week but one very early Monday morning, my husband had to go back to work after three weeks home (including one at the hospital for the birth of baby). When that day arrived, I had a good cry (I can’t-do-it-alone-sob-I-am-too-tired-sob-help-I-need-somebody-help), wiped my tears, got up and went. I nursed Victoire, prepared breakfast for Sixtine, got both girls ready, and one thing after the other, it was bedtime for Sixtine. I had mixed feelings at the end of the day: I felt both happy and proud, and at the same time I wondered how I would be able to do it for another week, month, year. But I realize now that children bring the best in you.

Looking after both of them day & night is extremely challenging – I find it hardest at meal times and at the end of the day, when we are all tired. But even then, it is much better than what I had envisioned.

Sixtine who I feared to be jealous and terrible, is actually very sweet to her baby sister, helpful, and generally well-behaved (as much as a 18-month old can be). She helped me change her sister this evening, holding wipes and diaper for me, and putting the dirty one in the garbage. She kisses, and strokes her sister’s head every single day, many times a day. She does sometimes walks on all fours (she has done that a few times now, since her sister has arrived), steals her sister’s soother, or jumps in her sister’s bed but I guess she is just showing her love. She loves her sister so she wants to be like her. She has also done a few cute things like putting a nursing pad under my shirt or hers. She’s also tried to nurse a couple times, asking then for a bottle of her own. (Oh yeah, and that one time when she told her sister not to scream with a threatening finger…I was in shock when it happened – it was the first time ever I heard her say “no screaming” (in French), let alone associate two words together.)

She loves her to pieces. The thought of it makes me really emotional as I can tell how happy she is to have a baby sister, even if she is still very small and doesn’t interact with her. I am so happy that we were able to give her the gift of a sibling. Now, I can’t say that it is all roses. I am extremely exhausted (as in major case of baby brain, and falling asleep for a half hour and waking up thinking it has been a full night already). I sometime forget to go pee or eat. I sometime feel like I am running a never-ending marathon.  I haven’t blow dried my hair since Vic’s birth. I have very little time for myself until the night comes, and even then, baby Vic keeps me company. She is breastfed and we co-sleep. But I enjoy her company very much.

It has only been a month and I know there are more challenging days to come but this is how things are right now. I don’t think I can afford to worry about how it will be in a few months down the road. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow and make the most of it. It is much less scary that way!

9 Month-Old Baby

7/17/2012: Our baby turns 9 months old today. Where did time go?

So what’s with little Miss Sixtine?

  • Two full bottom teeth, and two upper teeth are piercing through.
  • Longer and curlier hair.
  • 28.4 inches (72cm) and 16.8 lbs (7.6kgs)
  • Masters crawling.
  • Masters sitting.
  • Masters standing up with help of furniture.
  • Masters cruising.
  • Increased curiosity. She wants to see, know,  hear, touch, and mouth everything.
  • Manages to stay in a standing up position for a second without help of furniture (and without realizing!)
  • Babbles, laughs, chats, sticks tongue out, whines, squeals.
  • Sometimes shows shyness when meeting someone for the first time (and hides in Mama’s neck with a big smile)
  • Eats various food.
  • Has become a real little explorer!
  • Enjoys pulling and eating grass.
  • Says “Papa”, “Ma” and “Baba”.
  • Moves her hand in the air when listening to “Jean Petit qui danse” (French nursery rhyme).
  • Developed great hand-eye coordination/pincer grip.
  • Mouths everything!

I Am Ready To Conquer The World

Four months ago, I left Prince Edward Island, Canada, with my daughter and two huge suitcases a little unexpectedly. My husband and I decided I needed to go for a family cure. I was extremely homesick, sad and tired. We didn’t want it to affect the baby and thought it would be the best for everyone on the long run. We left PEI on a stormy day and arrived in sunny France the following day. I felt better almost instantly.  After a month, I did feel that I felt good enough to go but my husband had planned to come for a two-week visit later in June so we stayed in France with my family.

It feels like we had been gone for a year. Or that we lived here in another life.It is still the same yet things have changed. I feel different…Sixtine is not the tiny baby she used to be. She is a very active little girl and I am a happy Mama. It was heart-breaking to leave my husband and be separated for so long but I am so glad I went to France. We had a wonderful time there and 3000 pictures later, I can say: “I am ready to conquer the world”.

“It gets better.”

I was going to write a long venting post about how tired I was, how I couldn’t get anything done, and how I needed a vacation. Instead, I googled “it gets better first time mum” and read an article about how things will, indeed, get better.

So dear Mamas and Papas, share your it gets betters under this post and cheer up a tired first-time mum !

 

“The French Government Wants To Tone My Vagina” by Claire Lundberg

A French woman I know posted this article on Facebook and I had to share it. I was very eager to read this as it was about postnatal care in France through the eyes of a non-French person. It was funny to see how she felt about the whole ‘vagina work-out’ when I was myself very surprised to realize that I was left alone to do it. After the birth of my daughter, I was sent home with a brochure explaining how doing pelvic exercises was necessary and how it had to be done. To be honest, and I hope I am not going to regret it for the rest of my life, I didn’t work out as much as I probably should have. I was sent home, with my baby, could barely walk, or pee actually and I was exhausted. Lying down on the floor with bent knee and all that, was the last thing I felt like doing. I wish I had been given the opportunity to get those sessions. And because every French mother I know were coached to do it, I thought I would too. She talks about “organ descents”…Isn’t it a nice thing to think about !? I actually worked at a hospital when I was younger and remember the issue very well since I was working with elderly people. I wonder if that lady hadn’t done her exercises…

120214_FAM_vagina

A different kind of workout for new mothers
Illustration by Rob Donnelly.

Last week I began re-educating my vagina.

Let me explain: I live in France.

Shortly after my husband and I moved to Paris, I became pregnant, which was a relief, because I would get fat for a legitimate biological reason, not just because of all the pain au chocolat. When I gave birth to our daughter last November, my husband and I spent five government-sponsored days in the maternity ward at Clinique Leonardo Da Vinci, where we learned that French hospital meals come with a cheese course and that as part of my postpartum treatment I would be prescribed 10 to 20 sessions of la rééducation périnéale. This is a kind of physical therapy designed to retrain the muscles of the pelvic floor, including the vagina, and is one of the cornerstones of French postnatal care. Two months after our daughter was born, I summoned the courage to teach my vagina some new tricks.

Hmm, this is becoming the kind of story that uses the word vagina a lot. I know anatomical terminology can make people a little squeamish—as one of my guy friends pleaded when I was six months pregnant, “Could you please stop saying the word uterus?” But not to worry! I’ve Googled common euphemisms for vagina, and I’ll incorporate the gentler ones as we go along.

As you can imagine if you’ve ever watched a Gallic romantic comedy, the French are a little more blasé about the female body than Americans are. I realized this the first time I went to the gynecologist here. “Take off your pants and underwear,” he said in a bored voice, barely looking up from his computer. Wait, he’s not leaving the room? I thought. There’s no little paper gown? But then I realized just how stupid that little paper gown is, after all. Yes, just take off your pants and underwear. We’re all big kids here and we’ve seen it all before; no need to get into a lather about some exposed lady parts.

Read more…

Would love to hear your thoughts on this !

Milestones: 4 month-old

Today is Sixtine’s month-day. She turned four months. To celebrate the occasion, I decided to open her handprint/footprint kit and mark the occasion. It was very easy to use and I am very happy with the result. It will take a couple days to dry but you can see how cute it looks on this picture. Her foot looks really big on this but it is only tiny, really.

Milestones and everyday life accomplishments:

  • She drinks 5 to 6oz/per bottle.
  • She sleeps from about 8.30pm to 7am.
  • She smiles and laughs a lot.
  • She pushes or pulls Mama or Papa’s finger when being fed to say no more or ask for more.
  • She babbles a lot.
  • She enjoys playing with bright-colored toys.
  • She pays attention to very small objects.
  • She puts everything in her mouth.
  • She has fun pulling her own socks and generally playing with her feet.
  • She can move her legs enough to rotate on her playmat.
  • She pulls her soother out of her mouth and tries (sometimes manages) to put it back.
  • She loves pulling Mama’s hair.
  • She doesn’t enjoy being on her stomach much so she will put herself back on her back.
  • She recognizes Mama and Papa’s faces.
  • She enjoys other children.
  • She loves music.

She’s grown so much ! I can’t believe my baby girl is already four months old…!

When the Baby First Says Mama

I have been reading “How Smart Is Your Baby?, Develop and nurture your newborn’s full potential” by Glenn and Janet Doman and I wanted to share some of it with you. Right now, I am reading The Language Development Program from Birth to 12 Months chapter.

“Listening is key” ; “All sounds are language”; “When the baby knows you are listening, he will communicate as often possible.”; “It is vital for your baby to know that you know he is talking.”

Part V – Assigning Meaning To A Specific Sound

“Now consider the first word of a baby born in the United States. It is almost certain to be “Mama.” As it happens this is very easy specific sound to make. When a little American baby says “Mama.” for the first time  mother comes rushing over to him and smothers hm with kisses, “Yes, I am Mama!” she tells the baby. Every time the baby repeats the sound “Mama” the same thing happens. That night she proudly tells father, “The baby called me Mama today!”

“The truth is when the baby first says mama we do not have the ghost of an idea what the baby means. He may mean ‘mother’, he may mean ‘blanket’, or he may mean ‘food’.

Who knows?

Let’s assume this particular baby meant “blanket” but every time he says “Mama” he gets mother, not the blanket. At some point he says to himself, “Well, I am not getting my blanket with this but since I always seem to get mother I guess I’ll use this sound when I want mother and find some other way to say blanket.

If we ask a French mother, “What is the first word a baby says in France?”, she will say, “Why, Mama, of course!”

And when we ask “but what does that mean?” she will say, “It means me! It means mother.”

Again when we have no idea what the little French baby means when he first says “Mama” but our French mother also assumes he is talking about her and the baby quickly learns the effect that “Mama” has upon his mother.

If we go to Japan (feeling very confident now) we say to a Japanese mother, “Is Mama the first word that Japanese babies say?”

When she confirms that it is, we say, “And it means mother?”

She will stop us in our tracks and say, “No, Mama means food.”

Now we can propose that when a Japanese baby says “Mama” for the first time we don’t have a ghost of an idea what he means. He may mean “mother’, he may mean “blanket”, he may mean “food”. But every time the Japanese baby repeats the sound “Mama” he either gets a bottle to drink from or a breast to nurse from or a spoon full of food. He learns very quickly not to say “Mama” unless he is hungry.

In assuming that her baby wants food, the Japanese mother shows that she is a bit less egocentric than the rest of us. She is also probably closer to the truth.

(…)

The baby is looking at what works with mother and what does not work.

When he sees that she responds consistently, he will repeat the successful action.When the sound he makes does not produce a result, he abandons it.

If he makes sound and no one listens to him or responds to him, he will stop making sounds or will make them infrequently.”

I found this part of the book very interesting. I have noticed that my daughter always stares at my mouth when I am talking, moving her lips as she is trying to repeat after me. She is right now more interested in discovering parts of her body, playing with her hands and feet but she does enjoy having long conversation with me as well !

When did your baby say “Mama” for the first time and what was his/her first word? Bilingual families, which language came first?