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Jennifer Barnes

I have a 16 week old and a 23.5 month old and I think Moxie's nailed it. Naps are most definitely "busting our chops." I tried the nursing in the sling part but my little guy would have nothing of it. I bet that would have made a world of difference on some days.

Thanks for posting this, Moxie. I needed to hear that it does get easier.


We're at almost 9 months and 3.5 now, and your stages sound about right. However, I found that while it was intensely hard in the beginning to deal with both kids' needs, from about 2-5 months it was somewhat easier. It got hard again from 5-7 months when the baby was a lot more aware and needed more than to just be worn, but couldn't really play on her own yet. That kind of sucked, because I had been expecting it to get progressively easier and not to ever go back to being harder. Anyway, now that the baby is getting mobile and is happy to be plopped on the floor with some toys, and even sturdy enough to play with the 3 year old, it's getting much, much easier.


With my first I was one of those hateful women who essentially loved every minute of it. Really never felt overwhelmed or that 'WTF was I thinking?' feeling. Sorry. Commence with the despising -- I'm used to it. (I wish I were kidding.)

With my second I remember thinking during the first few weeks that it wasn't as crazy as I expected. The first was just past 18 months at the time. The new baby slept a lot and other than some intense disappointment that I still didn't make enough milk to keep him from starving (high hopes for the famous increase in production the second time around), we had a handle on it.

The tricky time for me was when the novelty of new baby wore off for the Munchkin and she began screaming for my attention. Right about the time the Hubby started spiralling into one of them there 'sympathetic' post-partum depressions and was sleeping 10-12 hours a night.

Also, and I don't think enough attention is paid to this EVER by ANYBODY, AT AROUND 6 WEEKS THE BABY IS GOING TO BE SUPER CRANKY. Hold-me-every-second cranky. Does-he-have-colic cranky. So I think weeks 5-7 suck rocks, especially with the second.

For me, after about 8 weeks things with the baby evened out (sleep became more regular, we could realistically institue a schedule). The Muchkin was still a gigantic ball of extra-neediness, but the Little Dude was starting to seem manageable.

I totally agree that it got harder again when the Little Dude got mobile and especially when he started walking and his big sister became aware that he wasn't so much a baby as he was a little person and therefore a RIVAL.

We're at 18 months and 3 now and I'm starting to wish I'd spent a little more time researching how to handle sibling rivalry ...


Here's how our timeline went:

Weeks 1-3: thrilled but exhausted and anxious
Weeks 4-12: anxious and exhausted but thrilled
Weeks 12-24: really, really exhausted. Hard to remember being thrilled, ever.
Weeks 24-36: feeling somewhat more competent, but more exhausted than ever.
Weeks 36-52: exhaustion starting to feel like less a temporary burden and more a way of life. Start to feel on top of things, a little.
Weeks 52-76: Occasionally get almost enough sleep. Realize how awful the worst sleep deprivation really was.
Week 84: Really start to enjoy being a mom.


I believe that it's the first two weeks that are pure and absolute HELL. Honestly. I told my bff that and she agrees wholeheartedly and was thankful for me saying that. If you can get through the first two weeks, you are golden. It hits you like a brick wall "Wait, WHY THE F*** did I do this again?!" and "Wait, this newborn stuff SUCKS ASS!!" oh and "I forgot how hard this was" then you hit two weeks and go... okay I don't need to freak out every time the baby cries, farts or pukes. Phew.


As someone considering adding a second child to our family, it would help me a lot to know what your child care situation is when you give your experience, Like caro for example.

I am a little intimidated but I think it would be a lot harder if I didn't have day care for my son during the maternity leave. And honestly, I think staying at home with 2 kiddos would be a lot more exhausting than having daycare for them and going to work at a boring desk job.

Not to start any SAHM/WOHM debate - that's just the reality of my personal situation. I must WOH and really feel that despite missing my son terribly during the day, at least I get a physical and mental break that helps me recharge and make the most of our time together.

Will having daycare for the older child the first 8/10/12 weeks that I'm home with the new baby help considerably? Or am I doomed to nearly unbearable exhaustion no matter what my working/care situation?


Just to respond to Lisa's recent comment about daycare during maternity leave.

My son is now 6 months old and has just started FT daycare (I had a very generous maternity leave). My daughter, who turned three 2 months after my son was born, stayed in daycare essentially through my maternity leave, although I or my husband did take her on special excursions from time to time, so she could have some of her own special time with us, alone (e.g., trip to the mall carousel, etc). I thought this situation worked out SO WELL for all of us. My new son was able to receive my undivided attention during the day, just like his sister had when she was the only child. My daughter got to maintain her own life at her (lovely) daycare/school, and she got special times with us, too. Plus, she wasn't around all the time during the day to watch me devote myself to the new baby, so she did not have to feel so rejected (although of course she had her moments).

In terms of exhaustion, if your oldest is happy with the daycare situation, as mine was (she WANTS to go to "school"), then I would recommend going for it. You will then get tot ake naps when the baby does, and this may save your sanity, espcially if you're using up lots of energy nursing and recovering.

Just saying this is what worked for us. Good luck!


On the topic of daycare:

I have a 2.5 week old and a 22 month old. After various family members took turns caring for the 22 month old while I was in the hospital, they got a sense for what a handful he is and decided to pool their resources to buy me childcare (a part-time sitter) for a few weeks. It's been a godsend. He's happy and gets to keep to his normal schedule, and I have time to remember how to deal with newborns.


Ok, it was kind of mean of me to post that without any background.

Child care: I was on maternity leave for 6 months, then returned to work two days per week. Other very relevant info: Our daughter didn't sleep through the night until she was just about 18 months old, and I don't do well without sleep.

Moxie's schedule for getting over the stress was so different from what I went through that it made me want to burst into crazed, maniacal, teary laughter. I know it is very common for things to get much better at 12 weeks or whatever (because every damn person I talked to during the first 12 weeks told me so), but that was not our experience at all. In fact the supposedly magical 12 week mark is when the real impact of the sleep deprivation hit me and everything seemed to get much harder. Clearly this isn't true for everyone, but it's what happened to us.


We have a year-long maternity leave in Canada. My daughter turned 4yrs, 2 weeks after my son was born. I continued her in daycare part-time so I could spend time alone with the baby. Although it was really hard, because it was dead-winter (January) and there were times when it was easier/more enjoyable just to stay home and not deal with getting everyone ready to go to the sitter's. She started JK half-days and I went back to work fulltime when ds was 8 months old.


For me, going from 0 kids to one was a complete head-whack, and from one to two kids wasn't too bad at all - pretty much loved it. I think where each person 'hits the wall' (maxes their skills and tolerance and talent) is different, though it isn't unusual for people to find one 'hard but not KILLER hard', and then think two is 'WAY hard' and then three 'eh, no biggie'. I just started at that second point, and carried on from there. (our 'three' was three AND four at once, so no relevant data point on that - twins is just gonna be hard).

So, my schedule of issues was:

weeks 1-2, breastfeeding pretty miserable due to inflammation but reasonably happy and easy (older child in preschool).

weeks 3-4, dreaded jealousy from older sib starts kicking in, makes me CRAZY, and brings on that 'ohmygodwhathavewedone' feeling.

week 5, got a handle on the sibling thing (I highly recommend the book Siblings Without Rivalry); and B started sleeping 5-plus hours at night and increased hours weekly from here (don't hate me, I've paid the sleep-deprivation dues with the other three kids!). Oh, and had a HUGE reality check on how much to fret things as B had emergency surgery for a rapidly growing tumor of unknown origin at this age. That so helped put things in perspective... fortunately was only a hemangioma (large strawberry birthmark, under the skin).

months 2-6, not bad (back at work after 10 wks, dangit), despite B's huge colic and GI problems and total dietary change (ugh!).

Months 6-7, resurge in sibling issues with increased mobility (and toy-stealing), plus fussy stage, ACK! Crazy, tired, confused mommy.

Better again after that, but surges in sibling issues with each major leap in B's skills.


Managed to not say what I meant with the hitting-wall thing - once you've hit the wall, and totally maxed out, it gets easier again - it is like we have to hit a crisis before we grow new skills. Once we grow the new skills, things are easier again. The BIG surge in skills comes at different points for different people. I think a lot of people stop at two because two is SO hard for so many, it seems like three would just flatten the world. That might not be so, really, it is just that's where the wall was for them. JMHO.


I'm at week 5 with #3 and things are getting better. At end week 2 I was thinking "what the f*ck have i done???" but it's getting better now. I bounced back from vag delivery like a champ (birth on wed. at school function for #2 that friday) but feeling great and trying to be super mom to everyone caused a bit of ppd by end of second week. I tried to slow down but older two had just gotten out of school for summer... so "slowing down" was relative. I just keep trying to remind myself that all too quickly #3 will be off to kindergarten and i need to appreciate each stage b/c it won't come again.

i will say that lately i've been trying to convince hubby to take up polygamy b/c i really could be a great mom to all 3 kids if i didn't also have to be a great wife, house cleaner, chaffeur, shopper, thank-you writer, etc! ;)


I was in complete mental/emotional shock with #1 for at least 8 months. At 8 months she got charming and I suddenly went, "Oh, this is why sane people do this twice." (We didn't get good sleep until maybe 18 months and night-weaning, so I wasn't sure I'd live to try for a second until then.)

With #2, born when #1 was just shy of 3 and in full-time daycare, the adjustment was much easier. By 2 weeks I felt things were under control, and I went back to work 50% when he was 8 weeks old. If I hadn't had my older child in daycare this would have been much, much harder - I was able to nap with the baby's afternoon naps and generally take it easy and ease back into work, and before I went back to work I was pretty relaxed - after week 1 of dealing with repeated bilirubin tests I found, "Hey, I remember this! I am tired and constantly in contact with an infant, but it's not nearly as alien as last time! I can do this!"

One thing I found very helpful at the very beginning was to make a big solid block of time for the older child when she came home from day care that was just her and me, and my husband took the baby. This made jealousy much less of a problem in the tiny baby stage.

(Also, AMEN to the insane uncontrolled crying at 6-8-10 weeks - #1 screamed like clockwork from 10-11 pm for several weeks straight at that age, and #2 was much less consistent but still very melt-downy in the evenings. This is the thing I warn new mothers that may happen and knock them on their asses. Even at "non-colic" levels, it is so stressful.)


When our second arrived, it was nothing like the brick wall we ran into with the first. We were prepared for the post-partum depression, and we made sure that the older spent a lot of caring time with the younger. Matter of fact, she LOVED her sister. We didn't get the jealous moments early on, and we still don't get them often. I guess we're lucky. The older is really empathetic and, let's face it, loves having a sibling who follows her every order. (Someday, this is going to cause problems, we know). The older (by 3 years) was in FT Montessori this whole time, by the way. We also regularly hired a sitter for afternoons, if needed.

As to the first few weeks, they do suck rocks. We split up jobs in the house, though, and made sure that mom and dad got enough sleep. I stayed up, after the older went to bed, and my wife slept. I brought the newborn in to feed, and got her to go back to sleep afterward. Sometime after midnight, I went to bed, too. My wife was up as needed during the night, and I might do the duties of getting back to sleep. I suppose the solution there was that the DAD gets the least sleep. It actually worked for us. Then again, there's nothing like serious sleep deprivation to remind you how dark and evil a human being you can be. As long as you don't ACT on it, you're fine. The second was a bad sleeper, though, so it never was easy.

Then again, our second was in the hospital with a near deathly infection at 2 months, and that kind of affects everything else in this story. In comparison to that traumatic experience, the rest wasn't so hard. I suppose it's all perspective. That seems to be the case with the zero-to-one and one-to-two, as well.


Thank you all for the reference points on your work/childcare situations - that helps a lot.

Gosh, Caro - I just want to hug you for your honesty. My 26-month old was/is very high-needs, still doesn't always sleep through, and still co-sleeps. I love co-sleeping to a point, but I can't figure out how to get out of it now! We put a toddler bed in our room, but it is now used as a clothes hamper/toybox. ha But that's a "whole nother" Moxie column, isn't it??

I'm encouraged about the early days - with my son at daycare I should be able to survive. I think we will start trying soon...thanks again, Moxie for this great resource.

pnuts mama

caro- i am with you on the sleep deprivation...god help me i was sure i was going to lose my sanity for the million or so months it felt like we lived through until that child would sleep for 4+ hours at a time. "sleep through the night"- bah. i would cry with relief just to get 3 hours in a row.

i only have one kid, and am teetering on the verge of being ready for insanity +1. moxie, you made me laugh with the 3 or 10 doesn't make a difference, in my family we say, "when you're in the deep end of the pool, it doesn't matter if the depth is 8 feet or 20!"

i don't remember the first two weeks being as bad as the following 30 or so. seriously, as a newborn my kid slept pretty well wherever i put her between feedings, even if they were every three hours. i know i planted flowers the week after she was born, cause i was all pumped up on adreneline and the lack of uninterrupted sleep hadn't caught up to me yet. it was after 2-3 weeks that the kid wanted to be held all the time, cried like a maniac for hours, and literally could have sucked on me for 24 hours a day if i let her. and she turned into a light sleeper that would wake up at the slightest noise and would only EVER go back to sleep NURSING (or driving, but only if full). sigh. if we have another kid like that i know i'll be checking moxie from the psych ward of my nearest hospital. sigh. give me some hope, people.


My experience lines up with Moxie's timeline, at least for the 1st (all I know right now). But I think it can't be overstated that all of this depends on the child's temperment, and any other situations (ppd, illness and work situation all come to mind). In my moms group we all have a '07 baby, and we are all at completely different levels of stress. One mom of 2 feels like two is easier than one (her words!); she has a pt nanny, and is enjoying her maternity leave. Another is just barely keeping her head above water - her first was a good sleeper, and this baby is colicky. I'm doing pretty good at 5 months, but only because I can take naps during the day - I'd be a zombie if I had to work ft.

I also totally agree about the perspective issue. After a week in the hospital for an infection when dd was a week old, fretting about the little things got old fast. I'm sure it's the same for a 2nd - you know how resilient a baby can be, so it's not so scary to trim their fingernails or give a bath (for example).


Oh, one other reference point I remembered, though it's later on.

Does anyone else feel like the two-nap-a-day period is like being in jail? Especially with more than one kid. I felt like we'd get up, dress, eat and it would be about time for nap, so we couldn't go anywhere. After nap we'd have a little time, but then there needed to be lunch and another nap. It just felt like we could never go anywhere and do anything. And I'm not talking trips to Disneyland, I'm talking runs to the grocery store for food.

So, yeah, least favorite time periods: 5-7 weeks and 9-14 months. For totally different reasons.

Rachel didn't ask for this kind of advice, but someone might be interested (besides, honestly, since when has that ever stopped me?). If you first kid likes to be read to, I highly recommend these:


or something like them. Small enough for you to hold in one hand and read while you're nursing. Or whatever kind of feeding you might be doing. :) Or just holding a sleeping newborn.

On childcare: I intended to have our regular sitter come one day a week just to give me a break (or do a little cleaning), but it just never really worked out. I can see it being great if your kid went outside your home (and if your kid didn't think, as mine did/does, that being apart ever, for any reason, is bad bad bad), but it just seemed awkward to me for her to come be at our house while I ... held the baby. Or even slept. Maybe that's just me.


No personal experience, since I'm still in complete denial about possibly ever having a second one, but something that happened to a friend: for the first two weeks or so, her eldest (3 at the time) threw a major tantrum every morning when he had to go to daycare. He'd been very happy there before, but his mommy staying home (with that baby, no less!) while he had to go away? No way!


No personal experience, since I'm still in complete denial about possibly ever having a second one, but something that happened to a friend: for the first two weeks or so, her eldest (3 at the time) threw a major tantrum every morning when he had to go to daycare. He'd been very happy there before, but his mommy staying home (with that baby, no less!) while he had to go away? No way!


That was awesome, caro. We're entrenched at 40 weeks now, and definitely are in the "sleep deprivation is a way of life", which in a way makes it easier. Just because you've accepted it. You've given me hope that I will sleep through the night again. Someday. I've made it 40 weeks, I can make it 40 more.




caro and pnuts mama,
just wanted to chime in a litle late to say ME TOO. when my son (now 11 months) started sleeping in 4 hour stretches I wanted to cry with relief and joy. and that was just last month. sleep deprivation is a serious serious issue and I wish that more attention was given to this topic in the prenatal months.

Susana Abaya

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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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