I am a mother of two.
It's crazy to think about, really. Just three months ago, I was chasing a toddler. Now I'm chasing that same toddler with a chunky, three month old baby in my arms. And I love it. My daughter dotes on her little brother, always wanting to be close to him, letting me know when he's crying (as though I can't hear it), and constantly chattering to him while he stares at her, taking in every word. It's incredibly precious.
One thing I wasn't exactly prepared for, after having a new baby, was the numerous regressions that took place in my toddler after her brother was born. I was prepared for jealousy. Didn't happen. I was prepared for aggression. Didn't happen. What did happen were three different regressions, one of which I didn't know could happen: eating, sleeping, and pottying.
The potty regression I kind of expected, and it was really rough for about a month. Accident after accident. I think a lot of it was shock after her organized, little world turned upside down. She was so embarrassed, and we tried to make as little of it as possible, and she gradually did better until she was back to normal.
The eating regression I had never heard of. She didn't nurse more, but she lost all interest in eating solids. There was a lot of grumpiness as she refused to eat anything we offered and then suffered the empty tummy. That, too, has improved, and I'm thankful I was still nursing her, as the fatty breastmilk my body is making for the baby has plumped her cheeks despite her lack of interest in food.
The sleeping regression we're still working on. At first, things were pretty normal, but after a month, my little girl was screaming all through her normal napping time, refusing to sleep. I didn't know what to do. She hadn't protested sleep that much since she'd hit one year. I reached out to other moms of high needs toddlers and heard every kind of advice.
"Kids that age definitely need to nap. Keep fighting for it."
"My kid stopped napping at that age. Some kids just don't need to sleep as much."
"Maybe try having a quiet time?"
I tried all three of those. I tried fighting the nap. Continued protests. I instituting quiet time. More crying. Finally, I threw up my hands and said: "All right! If you aren't going to sleep, I guess there's no point in fighting."
Maybe part of me was just too tired after giving birth and now dealing with a newborn.
No more naps. It was kind of horrible, honestly. Her nap time was important to me. I used that time to rejuvenate. I never did much - I either slept or sat and read. Now I couldn't do that. And now her hours of sleep at night had extended by two hours - the average length of her dropped nap. It made mornings stressful and unorganized, but we worked to make it as easy as possible.
Then, just a couple weeks ago, she followed me around, crying about every little thing. Her paper dropped from her hand. She cried. She tripped. She cried. I asked her to repeat something when I didn't hear it. She cried. In exasperation (clearly a theme of this saga), I said: "All right! Time for a nap." I carried my sobbing girl to her room, my babe in my other arm, laid her in bed, and sat next to her until she cried herself to sleep. Two hours later, she woke up cheerful and rested.
Then it happened again a few days later.
And several days the next week.
And suddenly I realized she hadn't dropped her nap. She needed me in there to fall asleep! know some people say sleep shouldn't have associations, but I could disagree more. I think that you shouldn't allow sleep associations you aren't willing to continue. As my intuition kicked in and I looked back over the past couple months, I realized that sleep had become something different for my daughter. Instead of seeing it as a time to be refreshed, it was a time when I left her alone to hang out with her brother.
Now I put her to bed and sit in the room with her until she's asleep. She still protests a bit, at times, but mostly she seems relieved that I figured out what she needed to make sleep feel safe again. And I'm glad I listened.