How to cope with having a new baby after a long time in-between kids

I remember when we found out that we were expecting a baby boy just 9 months after our daughter was born. we were excited, we felt contented, grateful and a sense that our family was now complete. No need for another child we thought. I’m done I said. How was I wrong!

Fast forward four years later, our last born started primary school and I felt like ‘now I can focus on my career’. spend quality doing what I always wanted to do, then the yarning for a another child began. I suddenly became all broody again. I was getting older and I felt it was either now or never. I guess it was easier to say never initially because, firstly it wasn’t happening anyway, I mean I was able to get pregnant straight away after the first time but not this time. Secondly, my husband got reassign to a different country – continent, so we hardly saw one another and I am not Mary so no hope of an immaculate conception there! Lastly and most importantly, because the older two kids were so close in age, I struggled in those first two year. I had two under two, working full time, schooling full time. Saying it was difficult would be an understatement. So I was not going to give much thought to adding another baby. But as soon as they were both in full time education, I felt free and could think rationally. I’ve always loved and wanted a big family and if judging from my mom and grandma who gets to menopause early , it was now or never.

Its always nice to plan and do things with logic and analyse every decision however what we failed to realise is that while we were debating weather to have more children or not, time was going. our last born was nearly six years old. meaning it was six years ago since I last had a baby. I had gotten ride of all our baby things, I have forgotten what it was like to be pregnant or have a little baby. I am now at a different stage of parenting.

Some people told me that it would comes back to me, that it was just like riding a bicycle, although that is somewhat true. maybe it isn’t so much as coming back to you but your mama instinct does immediately kick in. you begin to know and remember what to do. what you don’t know however is that each pregnancy is different, each baby is different so what you already know or read may not be applicable anymore.

The age gap has its disadvantages and its advantages. having a big gap between kids isn’t all bad. I have come to appreciate it and thought it was a situation that turned out to be favourable to us. the kids are older and wiser. I could explain things to them and they would understand it. like why mommy was always so tired when I was pregnant. why mommy keeps forgetting things and sending the wrong things to school or signing the wrong school trip letter. they know about mommy having baby brain. We could involve them in the family decisions like what would we hope the new baby would be, a girl or boy? how about names? and so on.

Being older also meant I didn’t have to buy and wrap gifts from baby which they would have figured out because they know a new born baby can’t go to the shops and buy them gifts. one major worry I had was coping with the demands of the older kids versus the demand of the newborn. with the older kids, I have to take them to school, attend PTA meetings, help them with school projects and homework unlike when I was last pregnant, where I didn’t have to do any of those, they were a year apart. after the birth of my second child, three of us stayed at home together, went out together, they are just one academic year apart which means most of everything relating to school was done at the same time.

My favourite part about having an age gap is that the older kids are now very helpful. I have told them time and again that I do not know how I would have coped this few months with a new baby, new apartment, new city and new continent without their help. from helping to change the baby’s diaper to holding her while I take a quick shower. they sing to her, talk to her, read to her. they can see when I’m over whelmed and either give me a back rob or offer to hold her while I close my eyes for 5 minutes – quite literarily.

Its not just the benefits to you, its what it does to them too. my first born daughter was not as excited about having another sibling as she did with this new baby. it was simply because she is older and more mature. not only that, it has led to wonderful conversations like exploring other means of having a family such as adoption and fostering a child because they saw all the pains I went through and instead of it to discourage them from having kids, we looked at other means of having a family. they are more caring, gentle, kinder, compassionate and considerate. they have learnt and matured so much over the last few months.

Personally, the benefit of spacing kids out weighs the negatives. Yes it would be nice to have them all at the same time and get it done with but that maybe too much for some of us. Spacing them out gives you a few moment to catch your breath while you dive in again. If you already have kids and you are thinking about having more kids but are worried about the age gap, don’t worry. so far your doctor has cleared you, go for it. it won’t be easy but having and raising humans isn’t easy anyway, but it would be fun! I always say ” don’t let fear stops you from your dreams”. Go for it!

How to cope with the age gap

  1. Make the most of the situation, see it as a blessing. Having the age gap means you have had a breather, you are wiser, more confident. the things that gave you anxiety as a new mom does not bother you anymore. who needs a changing stating?
  2. Your older kids are your helper. They do love helping and it is a good character building to allow them to help with the new baby. I try not to take advantages though, I watch them to see if they are tired, not in the mood to hold a baby, or if they simply rather play at that moment. They do not help much during week days because of homework and wind down time.
  3. Although you may have to start buying the baby thing all over again, I see it as a positive. I love shopping, both in person or online. New baby things come into the market all the time so it would be fun to see whats currently trending. You don’t actually need much things, except if you are going to have even more kids.
  4. Remember that your life does not stop once you have a new baby, especially for the older kids. do what you normally do with them, go out for family meals, do home work together. when the baby is crying and the older kids needs you, attend to the older kid first, that will show him that he is as important. that the baby has not come to take over or take their parents away.
  5. give yourself time to heal. regardless of how you had your baby, you are not as you were when you had your first baby, it may take longer to heal or for things to fall back to where they were. don’t rush it. give it time. do what you can, when you can and how you can.
  6. it maybe harder to make new ‘new mom friends’ but then you realise you don’t need one as much as you thought you did when you first had a baby several years ago. keep the old friends you have and be open to new friendship but remember you are not the expert, don’t tell them what to do simply because you have been there already. if you have an opinion, write a blog : )
  7. unless it is literarily a matter of life and death, nothing else is as important as your kids and family. put everything else aside for now. focus your energy and resources on them.
  8. have an outlet. blog, instagram, take photos of nature, write a book, something that is yours and it is for you.
  9. know that you will feel guilty. the older kids will tell you that you don’t love them, that all you care about is the baby. they don’t mean it, you may know that, they may come around and say sorry they didn’t mean it but you will still feel guilty. Communicate, explain to them why you need to attend to the baby more. babies are fragile and helpless. you did exactly the same for them when they were younger.
  10. Stock the house of everything you use and need. not just food, stock the house with light bulbs, memory cards, batteries, etc.
  11. Keep some money aside. you will find Uber eats and deliveroo to be your best friend. the age gap means different routine and schedule for kids so there will be very little time to be cooking from scratch. Eating out/takeaway/delivery cost a lot more than making your own food.

3 months old baby update

fullsizeoutput_1638fullsizeoutput_1636IMG_7726IMG_7727you know how they say how time flies when you are having fun? well that is true. I cannot believe that our little rainbow baby Sophia is three months old already. I must agree the sleepless nights, body aches , fever, leaking boobs, picking dinner out from your bra because you’ve been eating standing up with child strapped to your chest. no that part of being a new mom all over again is not fun. but what has been fun has been the smiles they give you with their toothless mouth.

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their first giggles when you make a funny face, you realising that they can actually now see you from across the room and follow you with their eyes. them crying and as soon as you pick them up and they stop then you realise they were calling out for you, that your smell, your touch comfort them. that your voice soothes them that they are yours and you are theirs. it is truly a wonderful  feeling of love.

three months have come and gone, in these three month we have learned on each other for support, whenever I feel like it is getting too much and im having a bad day, I look at her, she smiles at me and everything is right with the world again.

she loves to talk, babble I know but I call it talk, we chat together, I let her take turns, when she stops, that is my cue to talk, and she loves it, because she smiles. I try to read to her even though it feels weird because how can she properly understand what im reading to her. at first she only kept her gaze on the book for five seconds, now, she focuses a little longer. im not sure if its the sound but I do know she loves the pictures. she looks at the pictures, boy does she look a lot.

she would look at the trees, cars and buildings on our way to the park. she would look at her hands, at everything and anything, I catch her looking at me when im not looking, she’s examining my face looking at every angle every wrinkle. when im smilling she smiles. she gets jumpy at sudden loud sounds. she tries to grasp for human contacts when she sleeps facing up, I put her bunny rabbit close to her but she still want that human touch.

she is being weened from swaddling now, especially as the weather is getting warmer at nights. she can’t hold objects for long but she tries when I attempt to give her a toy. when I help her and put in into her grasp, she can only hold it for few seconds before letting it go.

she loves to put things in her mouth, she sticks her tongue out to feel things, including my body and clothes. she drools a lot for someone who isn’t teething, she makes bubbles with her saliva and I can bet she actually enjoys playing with the bubbles.

she has lots of wind, it was bad initially and I changed my diet a little bit. avoided food that gave me gas especially diary. she still gets gas but it is less painful. if I let her, she will scratch her face with her nails which tends to grow very quickly.

she had cradle cap (flakes in the hair from dry scalp) and she had dry skin (eczema) after seeing her pediatrics I asked if it was ok to use the British brand of moisturiser I used with the older kids on her and the doctor cleared it. since using it, it has been better (will write more about it in another post), but for now her skin is much better.

she doesn’t sleep through the night but it is much easier than before, I get a good six hours at a time if I go early. she goes down by 7am, wakes up for a feed by 1am, 3am and 7am. so if I go to bed early, I sleep more.

she co-sleeps with us in the bed and I find that easier for breastfeeding her in the middle of the nights when im tired and worn out.

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I tell her I love her only a hundred times a day. its true. I really love and like her. she has such a sweet personality, calm, easy to love.

because she breastfeed, her diaper change is now less frequent as supposed to before when it was up to six times a day. she goes two days sometimes without doing a poo.img_7322

How to calm a crying baby

Have you ever had a newborn baby who would just cry and cry and no matter what you do they just won’t calm down? If yes, then you are not alone.

It usually starts late in the day, around bedtime. They will begin to cry for no apparent reason. You may think, maybe it is colic so you give them anti-colic medicine(gripe water), it won’t work. Then you think again, maybe they need a calm relaxing bath, that too don’t work. Maybe they need feeding but they won’t even take the food from you because they are busy crying. You have tried everything in the book and they are still crying in fact, they are getting louder and more upset.

First of all do not worry. It is probably hard to do given the situation and you might have even looked at the baby and asked “what is wrong with you ” or “what do you want” you are not shaking the baby or shouting at them, you are just genuinely looking for answers! won’t it be lovely if they can respond and tell us what’s wrong?

Crying is natural for babies. That is how they communicate with you. They are telling you something. Maybe they are over stimulated.

We live in the city and our baby is used to noise and sounds but sometimes I have noticed that she gets very upset when the older siblings are getting excited playing their video games, there is a program on tv and couple with the noise outside. It all becomes too much for her.

Another reason I have noticed is when she hasn’t had a good long nap during the day. Contrary to popular misconceptions, babies need a good morning and afternoon naps. Sleeping during the day does not mean they won’t sleep at night, in fact it helps to calm them down for the night and like a learned behaviour, it teaches them how to sleep.

Bearing these reasons in mind I do they whole thing the books recommend. Give her a bath, massage her body while moisturising her, add drops of oil to her head and massage her head gently. Clean fresh clothes, fresh diaper and feed her. A trick I use on her while feeding her and I noticed she wants to pull out and cry is to stroke her hair gently.

It may not seem it but most often times babies cry in the evening because they are tired and wants to sleep. They are feeling restless. They have not learnt fully how to settle themselves, this is why it is good to have a good routine and start teaching them to self soothe but they are babies and are still learning. So while we are teaching and waiting for them to get the hang of things, we can help them.

Find out what your child wants and likes. It is usually a variety of things. I will share some of my daughters with you

She likes to be carried so her head rest against my chest. I think it is so she can listen to my heart beats. Similar to when they were in the tummy. It might seem like I’m “spoiling her” but I see it more as we both keeping an ear out for each other. Making sure we are alive and our heart is ticking.

She likes her hair to be stroked gently. Especially the back hair. Luckily enough she is blessed with hair so there is something to stroke, if like my older daughter she didn’t have hair as a baby, I think I would just stroke her head.

She likes to be rocked in an upward and downward motion as supposed to the common side to side rocking of infants.

She enjoys a variety of sleeping positions. Sleeping on her tummy is her favourite. Followed by sleeping on her side facing me (we co-sleep and I nurse her on demand)

Lastly although she isn’t on a dummy or a sucks her fingers, she loves to put her hands on her mouth using her tongue to play with her fingers. It is actually quite cute to watch her sticking out her little tongue to touch the hands. If she’s not feeling her fingers with her tongue, she loves her hands close to her chin when sleeping on her tummy or clasped together (organically) while on her side.

I would like to point out that professionals do not support sleeping with a baby in your bed or putting a baby to sleep in a way other than on their back. So please check with your doctor and I am not a child expert. I am just a mom sharing my personal experience on how I manage to calm my baby down when almost everything else fails.

The Accidental Park Party Crasher

we’ve only been used to the America school system now for three months. there are still some things that we are trying to get used to. this week I got an email and a flyer from the school saying that they were having a dual language school picnic at the dinausar park in the upper west side of manhattan. we later got another email saying to bring food and snacks in contribution. the picnic was in celebration of cinco de mayo that had happened over the weekend.

 

the weather was lovely and we had had a rough night thanks to colic in the baby so I thought the fresh air and the chance to see my older two kids again that afternoon would be nice. I horridly got up, got dressed, got the baby dressed, made a quick simple cheese sandwich and left the apartment for the park.

on getting there, there were lots of kids playing around, climblng the cute dinosaur statues in the middle of the park, some where on the swings, some running around the sprinklers where water sprays out from. some kids were sitting down eating, some queuing up (which I found out was a lingo some Americans were not familiar with, I asked another mom “is this the queue?” and she looked at me probably pondering what I was asking her, im getting used to that look by now, that look that says I hear you but I don’t understand what you mean’. so I went on to repeat myself, maybe it was the accent.  no, still not getting it. the next thing to do is to rearrange the verb or look for another verb to replace the one you used. so I asked for the third time, “is this the line” “oh yes!” she exclaimed smiling, the joy of finally understanding was too cute to miss. I smiled too and made little remark about the English English and the American English. we both laughed about it as I went. on to join the now long food ‘line’ (not queue).

I looked around hoping that my kids would see us and come give us a cuddle while they run back to play, as they typically would do. but no one came. then I looked around for any of their classmates that I have come to now recognise . still no one. then finally I looked around for their class teachers, no? ok now this is not funny were are they? I told the lady behind me to please hold my spot while I go and look for my kids. I was worried this time. I sent them to school, walked them inside so what is going on? I had little comfort from not seeing their classmates and teachers. maybe their class wanted to use the loo ( almost all. the parks in manhattan has toilet – big big points to the Americans there!) but no one was lining up around the toilet area.

I went on to ask a lady wearing the school badge. at least now I know this was definitely my kids school. I asked about other kids and she then went on to explain that this was for the dual language program. But I choose this school for its dual language programs. one of the schools that teaches in Spanish and English. my daughter comes home everyday speaking Spanish to me, so what do they mean by “this is for the dual language programs” I thought the whole school was a dual language program. she went on to explain. I will try to explain because it still somehow confuses me too. so public schools in American or should I say in New York city (thats were I’m experiencing), have the general typical classes and then sometimes have specials programs running in the same school. this programs are not after school clubs or breakfast clubs. its like having a school inside a school. a school for special kids with a form of learning difficulty, a school for gifted and talented kids and in this case a school for dual langue. I say school to understand it better but its the same school, same principal. different teachers, different curriculum maybe and different classes. but all in the same compound. this was new to me. the only time I experienced something like this was at university. post graduate and distance learning students for example all shared campus with us but were somehow different.

anyway just to be sure that my kids were definitely not here I called the school and was told they were in class. I was relieved. I’ve gone past feeling disappointed stage now because this and many more will happen. moving into a new city is bound to set you confused over things but the joy is that its all part of learning the new way of life there. its all part of the adventures and memories you will have with you. I still remember going for my first job interview in London.

I went back to tell the kind lady holding my spot on the line that I won’t be needing it as I got my wires crossed. she said not to worry that I should stay and have lunch and join them in the celebration. I love food and I love music so I wasn’t going to say no to free fun!

that was how I found myself celebrating cinco de mayo in the park with students, teachers and parents who were not in my kids class. I was glad to be there because there was so much fun!

A Day out In The City

Today started out like any other day, the kids woke up super early despite it being a weekend and wishing just like every day in the last five days, they had wanted to sleep in, wake up late. What happens to the not doing anything until it was 11am rules? Kids being kids, they decided to wake up early and start the day in a high spirit. I looked at them wanting to moan about it but decided to go with the flow. we turned the radio on, dancing and singing while tidying up.

then my phone buzzed reminding me of a play date we had arranged last week, I had forgotten all about it, talk about baby’s brain! I had not only forgotten, I haven’t confirmed it. quickly I rushed to text the family and they said yes they were still expecting us. quickly we raced to get ready and just as we were about to leave the apartment, the baby decided to do a number 2. after cleaning her up, she started crying so I stayed back to nurse her. eventually we left the apartment and headed up town.

we took a taxi to 116th street and as the driver was going past the park I realised that it was unusually filled up, people were having parties, kids playing, music beaming from different angles. I asked the driver what was going on and he said it was cinco de mayo celebration. I have heard of this celebration were a lot of Americans dress up in colourful Mexican themed outfits, drink margaritas and eat tacos but I have not really thought much of what it actually meant. a quick google search told me it was a day celebrated because a small Mexican army defeated a large French army in the battle of Puebla. asked and answered. moving on swiftly because it is still all new to me. I am glad that at least that we are all somehow colourfully dressed. quickly I asked the taxi driver if he could be kind enough to play photographer and tale us a photo so we can remember our first somewhat cinco de mayo celebration in New York City. Maybe next year we will be able to do it proper,