Jannelle Sanchez Emiliano

Hello friends!!! How are you?? I’ve missed you! The last time I was in this cozy space, I was asking for advice on transitioning from one kid to two. Hours later, I started feeling familiar, achy pains… and by the next afternoon, I was holding the newest member of our family, Emiliano, in my arms. Since his arrival, I’ve been traveling through the peaks and valleys of early motherhood (those long nights! that sweet baby breath!). Here are four things that have surprised me…

survivor meme

1. Good audiobooks and TV are a must for the newborn days. For me, one of the most physically and mentally demanding parts of new parenting is staying awake during those nighttime feeding sessions. But you know what made it feel easier and — hear me out — even fun? Listening to Lindy West rip apart the plot of The Notebook in her audiobook Shit, Actually. Tuning in each night to hear her hilarious critiques of blockbuster films like Top Gun and American Pie was my lifeline when I was nursing Emiliano at 2 a.m. I felt the same high I get when hanging out with friends! By the time I rolled back into bed, I felt happy and light, versus drained and anxious. My other saving grace? Survivor. The theme song will be one of Emiliano’s core memories because it was all I watched for the first three months of his life. All day, I’d think about only baby things and desperately crave grown-up content. Turns out watching big personalities make (and break) secret alliances and climb coconut trees in search for immunity idols fulfilled that desire.

2. Viewing my postpartum body through the eyes of my older self changes everything. After having my first child, Ella, my body pretty quickly returned to its normal shape and size. But this second time around, I feel like I’m processing two changes at the same time: a new child and a new body. My hips have stayed thicker, my face rounder, and my belly soft. My dark under-eye circles also won’t go away? One morning while carrying Emiliano to his play mat in the living room, I caught a glimpse of my pooched stomach in the hallway mirror and thought ugh. But then I was struck with a vision: how will the woman I’ll be 10 years from now look back on my current self? In my heart of hearts, I know she’ll think my birthing hips are beautiful and my soft stomach is lovely. And she’ll smile at my frazzled eyes because she’d know that the exhaustion is just for a season and that good sleep is right around the corner. She’ll also zone in on the dimpled leg resting against my stomach and marvel at how my incredible body made that! As well as miniature fingernails, a button nose, and curled eyelashes. When I think of Future Jannelle gazing back at photos of myself now, tears flood my eyes and I feel a genuine love for myself. And on days when I need an even bigger pep talk, I turn to this trick and these poems.

baby picnic

3. Different doesn’t mean worse. Emiliano is getting the classic Second Child Experience. The only time he receives 100% of my attention is the very early morning before everyone is awake. After that, he gets strapped into the baby carrier and comes along for the ride as we play outside with his older sister, run to the grocery store, and try to knock out chores. It’s hard sometimes not to compare Emiliano’s and Ella’s experiences and feel guilty about not spending as much one-on-one time with him. But then I think of Maggie Pouncey’s advice: “If you find yourself unable to devote as much time to stimulating baby activities as you did with the first, let it go — watching their older sibling’s gymnastics class (or whatever it is) will be plenty stimulating — it will be different, not better or worse.” Doesn’t that ring true? Even though I don’t spend hours playing with Emiliano, I know that he feels safe, happy and very, very loved. I see it in the way he coos and smiles when I’m changing his diaper; and in the way his lips turn into a side smirk when he catches me admiring him. The way we spend our time together looks different from the time I spent with Ella, but our bond is just as strong.

5 things I noticed during mat leave

4. Everything with two under three takes forever. Seasoned moms will read this and let out a resounding “duh!” but when I realized that our family of four could no longer get ready and out the door in less than hour, I was shook. To keep myself sane, I’ve decided to aim for mediocrity and lean into slow parenting. Instead of rushing Ella along on our evening walks, I’m choosing to match her pace and soak up the world around us. And while I’d love to blow through all the errands on my never-ending list, I’ve found that trying to do more than one per day isn’t worth the stress. There will be a time in our future for buzzing with activities, but right now it’s all about taking our time to do the bare minimum.

Now I’d love to know, what surprised you after having your first or second (or third) kid? Please share below, I’m so excited to chat…

P.S. How did you know you were ready to have a baby, and what’s the age gap between your kids?

(Photos courtesy of Jannelle Sanchez. Survivor meme by Drop Your Buffs.)