It’s time for the last installment of my “Life After Baby” series with my partners at UnityPoint Health! In case you’re just tuning in, over the past five months we’ve been discussing baby/Mama-friendly topics including how to find your new normal after having a babyhow to eat healthfully after baby, and how to get motivated to get back into a fitness routine after having a baby.

Today I want to close the series with an overview on how both kids are doing, how we’re adjusting as a family, and what my life is like five months after welcoming Cameron into the family. It’s so cliche, but I just cannot believe it’s already been five whole months since he was born. I wake up every day excited to hold this joyful soul tight, and am so thankful to be healthy enough to truly enjoy this sweet and fleeting stage this time around!

The Boys

When I picture what a typical little brother looks like in my mind, Cameron fits the mold. He is along for the ride, down for anything, the sweetest little squish (at least once a day Lincoln has to remind me, “He is just a baby, Mom! You can’t eat him!!”) and adores his big brother. I kind of thought Cam would be cooing and grabbing for Lincoln as soon as he got out of the newborn stage, but it took 4-1/2 months or so for him to go from “Who is this crazy person running around the house?” to “I want to join in the fun!” He sits and waits for Lincoln to look at him then when he does, Cam’s face lights up and he gives the loudest pterodactyl squawk he can manage. I have no doubt that Lincoln will inherit a Cameron-sized shadow as soon as he’s mobile.

Lincoln loves being a big brother and is very mindful of, and affectionate towards Cameron. Lately his favorite phrases are, “Mom, we have a BABY!” and “It’s ok, little guy!” with a kiss and pat on the head if Cam is fussing. I don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture, but truly we couldn’t have asked for our toddler to adjust any better – he is such a rockstar. A lot of our success, I think, has been due to the fact that we’ve tried not to change “the norm” up too much. We still go to the zoo, the science center, the park, on walks, etc – we just take Cameron with us. As I suggested in my first Life After Baby post, changing an already established routine because of a new baby could create resentment and jealousy. It’s not always easy to go out with a 3-1/2 year old and a 5 month old, but it’s worth it.

Throughout my pregnancy, and actually the year leading up to it, I was worried that a three year age gap might be a bit too large and the boys would have trouble relating. My little brother and I are only 15 months apart, and were closer than close growing up, so I always wanted that for my children. Now that I see the two of them together, I realize they’re going to be just fine! Of course they’ll have their own things – 6 year olds aren’t into everything 3 year olds are into, for example – but they’re going to be best buds. Truly the gap couldn’t be more perfect for our family. At 3-1/2, Lincoln is able to entertain himself while I’m feeding Cameron or putting him down for a nap and, knowing myself, I would feel overwhelmed wrangling a 2 year old plus a baby.

The Family

To the people who say “having two kids is easier than having one!” I understand you the least. ? JK, but seriously, in my experience, having two kids is not easier than having one, at least not when they’re this young. Having your second child is EASIER than having your first because you have experience, and it goes so much faster, but adding an additional life that you need to love and care for does not make life easier. It’s twice the attention, twice the wake ups, twice the stuff – you get the picture – but it’s also twice the kisses, twice the snuggles, and twice the love. My children are my never-ending blessings and I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

So, yeah, it’s tough! But it’s also easy to make things more complicated then they have to be. When life feels insane, I remind myself that people have been raising multiple children for thousands of years (and with way more than 2 kids!) and that the chaos is temporary. 18 years-type temporary…but still. Deep breaths.

I was bummed we didn’t end up booking a spring break trip this year but, newsflash Kristin! You have an infant who naps three times a day and goes to bed at 6pm – a vacation at this point in your life wouldn’t really feel like vacation. Next year will be easier to travel, and the year after that will be even easier. Just like it was with Lincoln.

Parenthood is ALL about patience.

Other than that, we’ve been leaning on my parents more this time around for help babysitting so Ben and I can get out together alone. As I mentioned in this post, we got season tickets to the Civic Center and thus have an excuse to go out on the town once a month, and I’m trying to remind myself that Grandparents (well at least our parents) wait their whole lives to take care of their grandkids. I hate asking for help, but dedicated time away with Ben, when our day-to-day is kidskidskids, is really important.

Me

When I think back to my life before Lincoln I want to grab myself by the shoulders and shout, “YOU THINK YOU’RE BUSY?!?!” Hot breath on my own face. What in the world did I do with my endless gobs of time back then? And now with Cam here, I can’t believe how tight time felt with just one child.

That said, there is no downtime with two kids, a husband, work, and trying to maintain a social life. Especially now when the boys are on completely opposite schedules – literally I lay Cameron down for his last nap of the day and while I’m closing his bedroom door, I hear Lincoln waking up from his. It is nonstop from 6am to 8pm, and then I dig into work stuff. That said, this is my choice. I could get more help during the week (currently we have childcare one morning a week,) but I want to spend as much time with the boys as I can before they’re both in school full time.

It’s not like I’m harried and miserable all day either – it’s the opposite! I love being home with these nuts and we have a blast adventuring, playing, and listening to music all day. I know how lucky I am to do what I do, and I’ve worked my tail off to make this life a reality. It’s just knowing that I’m not going to get 90% of the things on my to do list done each day, and having to be ok with that!

I keep talking about perspective in this journey of being a mother of two. Specifically, I’m trying not to get riled up about the little things that don’t truly matter. Those are what makes the 16+ hour days seem like 26 hour days. Like not obsessing over crumbs on the floor (what’s the point?) stressing out if Cameron’s not napping well (I’m up with Lincoln anyway,) or worrying if my kids aren’t doing something their peers are yet (who cares?!) I’ve gotten better at asking myself “will this matter in 5 years? Heck, 5 days from now?” If not, I try to move on. Keyword = try. Trust me, I’m not as chill as I may be coming across right now. ?

I’ll never forget a friend’s wise words, “the hardest stage of parenting is whatever stage you’re in.” So true, right?! The journey’s going to be long and tough no matter what and I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to get out alive is if you can have a sense of humor about it…and an abundant stash of wine. Good thing I’ve got both. ??

Truly I am so happy in my roll as Mama to these two sweet souls – they bring me so much joy. To be two other human’s almost exclusive source of comfort, love, and care is extremely humbling, and I feel so privileged to be “their person”. They are certainly mine.

I have so enjoyed having these dedicated posts to talk all things Motherhood! I know at its heart IGE is a gluten-free recipe blog, but MY heart is my family, so the two go hand in hand. I also want to thank UnityPoint Health for sponsoring this post series. Ben and I owe so much to the unbelievable nurses, doctors, and providers who have been with us from the very start of this journey.

If you live in Iowa, Illinois or Wisconsin, UnityPoint Health provider services are available to you. Visit www.unitypoint.org, select the location you live in then click the “Find a Doctor” tab to find a provider near you.

UnityPoint Health also recently came out with an awesome app that you can use to book appointments, request prescription refills, send messages to your doctor, and review test results – I was able to try it out, and it is SLICK!!! Start by clicking “Sign Up Now” then “Click Here to Register” on this website. Once you’re registered, download the “MyChart” app in the app store, select your state, and then “My UnityPoint” to log in. So nice to be able to do everything from your phone vs calling in when you’ve got kids running around in the background! Enjoy!