Mama in the City

A blog about raising my family in downtown Vancouver

30 Weeks And Already Worrying About Life After Pregnancy

My family tree is really more of a small squat bush without too many extra branches. I come from a family of five with no aunts and uncles and subsequently no first cousins. Of course, growing up we had a plethora of 'fake' aunts and uncles but my actual family is kind of small and limited. Right now the closest family member is a good hour drive away and that is about it for my side. Now, my husband has A LOT of family but they all live in a different country and we don't see them on a regular basis.

This didn't really phase me much when we had our first child but with the upcoming birth of baby #2 I am really starting to realize that we are all on our own over here in the city. At work I get to see lots of large families who pile in after the birth with food platters and celebration and cheer. Sometimes the amount of family borders on pure ridiculousness and I hear new grandmothers arguing over who gets to help out the most in the early days.

I totally know the realistic downside of having a huge family along next to you every moment of the way with a baby. The headaches it can cause and the fact that quiet time doesn't seem to come easily. But the food! Food is everywhere and prepared and dropped off for you!

My biggest concern this time around is who I can call up at 2 AM if I go into labour. Especially as second babies are notorious for shooting themselves into this world at lightening speed, I want to know who will be zipping over to take care of our boy Ben while we are busy having baby #2? I think that I am going to have to ply some good friends with promises of good chocolate and bottles of wine. Side note: crazy to think that last time I had a baby 6 weeks from now!

0158 AM: Hi, It's Andrea. WHOA! I'm in labour! Come over RIGHT NOW!

I'm also starting to worry about how overwhelming it will be for me in the first few days and weeks with a newborn and Ben all on our own in our apartment. I'm sure the take out and food delivery will be at an all time high and the apartment will be in a glorious state of constant disaster.

Back when Ben was born, my husband was able to take a heap of time off from work but that's not an option these days, instead the guy is working ridiculous amounts of hours. Last time my older sister came over with her 1 year old and stayed for a few nights after we got home from the hospital.

She fetched me lunch and drinks galore while I learned how to breastfeed and battled through engorgement. She changed my bed sheets and kept the kitchen clean and tidy. It was bliss! But times have changes and it isn't as feasible for that to happen this time around. Realistically I know it will be me, Ben and baby in the apartment recovering from pregnancy and birth and figuring out breastfeeding a newborn again. It's those early days and first two weeks that make me a little nervous.

So, if this sounds just like your own scenario please give me your tips! How did you cope and thrive when you didn't have nearby family support when expanding your own family? I've met a lot of amazing women in my 6 years as a perinatal RN, so I know that it is possible. However, I want to be able to enjoy the early moments without feeling flustered and fussed about being on my own. I also want to love my husband and not be giving him the evil eye as he works a 10 hour day and the dishes in the kitchen pile up to make a new wall.


I was very lucky to have a neighbour across the street with a daughter the same age as my first who took her almost everyday for playdates (my son was born during the christmas holidays), that was a lifesaver for me during the first week.  Start scoping out friends now that maybe can take Ben out for little outings here and there (if he'll go). 

November 16, 2011 at 12:30 PM  

Great tip! I just had a great girlfriend offer to help out. So thankful for that!!!

November 16, 2011 at 2:56 PM  
worldbysmith said...

i could barely finish reading the enitre post becuase I knew exactly where you were headed with this one! I JUST went thru this and I was thinking 'I TOTALLY GET THIS!' haha. So let me start by saying. YOU can do it. And I'm sure deep down you already know that. I didn't have family close by, and our friends don't have kids yet, so while they were excited and happy to celebrate with us, the idea of dropping dinner by, or offering help with kiddio #1, didn't exactly register with them. My first thought to tell you is to prepare what you can ahead of time. Whether that's a big trip to costco for a well stocked supply of easy/healthy go-to's grab food items or cooking up a storm of pre-made suppers, or even a mix of both options. Remember newborns sleeeeeeep so while it seems crazy at first...even a few days in you'll remember that babies sleep a lot, I acutally feel busier now (she's 1) than I did the first 6 months- they seem easier in hindsight, than what we are learning now. BUT we do have some relief now, as we have found a sitter who comes in here and there- so I can work a few days a week. 
Ask your mama friends to take your older guy on a play date- book a few in advance so that you know he is getting out and having some play time. But if being at home means, a  few more movies and not so many crafts, don't be to hard on yourself. Mother's all over the world manage this juggle and so will you. I hope some family will be able to come and pitch in, but if not, don't underestimate your ability to do this. Sleep when you can, breathe in and out and remember you've done this before- your learning curve isn't going to be as steep this time. My other big bit of advice is that if you are feeling well after birth ( a week or two later ), just pack the babe up with you and walk and get outside as much as possible. My second babe was born this time last year and I spent a lot of time at granville island with the two of them - just getting the babe used to being on the go and able to sleep anywhere. It's not always glamerous (read your pants slipping down while you lug the baby carrier and groceries and a toddler) but the more you start off as you mean to continue on, the easier it will be to maintain a life you love. best of luck!! it's going to make for some fun blogging stories!

November 16, 2011 at 5:52 PM  
Jill said...

Too bad your extended family isn't able to help out more and give you that support you need with a brand new baby. It is really hard to cope when it is all you and no extra family to help you out, especially so after the first child. Hope you have some great friends you can rely on!

November 16, 2011 at 6:19 PM  
Auntie Glyn said...

If you baby #2 comes at 36 weeks like Ben, then Kyle and I will easily be able to help out because of Christmas break. We're off until January 3. But regardless, we'll be coming out hopefully once a weekend in those first few lovely newborn weeks :)

November 16, 2011 at 6:43 PM  
Lisa S. said...

Our families live 6 hours and a ferry ride away.  My hubby was able to take 4 days off when our second was born.  I kept my daughter, then 22 months in day care 2 days a week and I swear that was my lifesaver.  Those 2 days were to be cherished.  I slept when the baby slept (or tried) on those days.

November 16, 2011 at 7:54 PM  

I think I'll be doing the same as you did and keep Ben in his 2 days a week least for the first while. I think that will be my life saver for sure.

November 16, 2011 at 8:03 PM  

Ben will be grateful for a little special 1 on 1 time with you for sure. I remember when G was born and heading over to spend almost a whole week with S. She loved it! We went to the library and butterfly world and danced in the living room... I think for a moment she almost forgot that she had a new baby brother!

November 16, 2011 at 8:05 PM  

Awe, thanks for the support!! I can feel the love! You are right on with so many points and I know I will be able to do it...I just want to be able to enjoy it at the same time.

November 16, 2011 at 8:06 PM  
JBaum said...

Oh don't forget to page me when this labour starts! You can book me for a playdate with Ben!

November 16, 2011 at 8:49 PM  

You are one fantastic neighbour/coworker!! Alex was saying how if you just took Ben to a Starbucks and let him have a hot chocolate and a treat...he'd call it a great playdate ;)

November 16, 2011 at 9:04 PM  
Krista said...

Sign me up for the midnight call and Benji playdates too!  The little guy will feel so special with all the outings he'll be on :)  

November 16, 2011 at 9:53 PM  
Helen said...

We were in the same situation as you (but with our first). Before the baby came, I made lots of food to freeze (chilis, lasagna, etc...). We also hired a cleaning lady to come every two weeks - at least the big stuff was done (vacuuming, cleaning the tub, etc...) even if the sink was always full of dishes. 

My husband went back to work after a few days - I was fine for a week or so and then PPD kicked in. My husband ended up hiring a postpartum doula because I was so out of it. She was AMAZING. She was a certified lactation consultant which was great because my daughter wasn't latching. She cleaned up a bit, folded laundry, did grocery shopping AND RUBBED MY FEET (amazing). She came a few hours twice/week - it was too expensive to have her come more often but it was great having that little extra help (especially with the breastfeeding advice). It was like having a favorite aunt come over - she wasn't too pushy but she got lots of stuff done and had plenty of great parenting/new mother advice. Ok, you wouldn't have to pay an aunt to come over...but it was worth it for us!

November 17, 2011 at 10:43 AM  

So funny because I was just looking into a post partum doulas today. I really could just hire myself a house cleaner and hope some friends will take Ben on play dates and bring over some food too!

November 17, 2011 at 8:48 PM  

Thank you Auntie Krista!!! The first time around your food deliveries made all the difference! Oh and the dog walking too! I still remember the lasagnas and the home made perogies. 

November 17, 2011 at 8:49 PM  

Oh, I have been there!  We don't have family nearby so having kids is stressful.  We've had to rely on neighbors in the past.  And they were so sweet about it.   Though my parents were here for my (4th) last baby.  I got induced just so I could have the baby before they traveled back home.  All my kids had RSV at the time.

Also my husband usually has to work the next day after I give birth.  One time the same day!

I'm not saying these things to complain (OK maybe a little), but mostly to let you know you're not alone!!!  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  People want to help you!  I bet it will be a wonderful experience. :)

November 17, 2011 at 9:34 PM  
Rosie said...

Hey Andrea. Don't forget family at a distance can be of practical help too. We have friends in the UK with grandchildren in Australia who 'babysit' by reading stories over Skype. Oh, and 'Wine Friday' helps enormously too...!

November 18, 2011 at 12:49 PM  

I will gladly take advice from a mom of 4!! Amazing!!
I am making a big effort to totally take people up on their offers. When we had our first we had lots of little offers for help but they never ended up working out. This out friends! ;)

November 19, 2011 at 7:56 AM  

Hey Rosie!! I forgot that I'll be able to partake in Wine Fridays again. I remember looking so forward to those evenings back when Ben was a baby. :) Thanks for reminding me!

November 19, 2011 at 7:57 AM  
Nat said...

My advice: have someone take Ben out on little outings...someone like me! Raina and Ben can have a little date! As long as you are prepared for things to seem very hectic for the first little while you will do fine. Pretty soon you will be putting the babe in the stroller and taking them both for a walk forgetting what it was ever like to just have one:)

November 20, 2011 at 2:36 PM  
Lindzerds said...

Always happy to help out in anyway Miss Andrea!!!

November 24, 2011 at 4:31 PM  
Lindzerds said...

Always happy to help out in anyway Miss Andrea!!! 

November 24, 2011 at 6:16 PM  
Kristen said...

I know exactly what it is like to not have family living near you.  Ours are on the other side of the country.  When we were expecting our 2nd, we had close friends lined up to receive that middle of the night phone call to expect a 2 year old house guest at the drop of a hat.  Here are a few things that helped us along in those early days:
We opted to continue our first in daycare a few days a week when our second was newborn, just for the first month which helped a lot.
I took advantage of the double nap time and slept whenever possible.  (double nap meaning both were sleeping at the same time)
We prepped a number of meals ahead of time for the freezer to make life a little bit easier (cooking is a great place to put that 'nesting' energy)
I kept a treasure trove of quiet toys near the couch and our bed so that our oldest could have play/snuggle time with me and not disturb the baby so much.
We got a bassinette for the 2nd (which we didn't have with the first) - I loved this so much because I could keep him close and still have free arms for doing with my oldest.
I also took advantage of the sling as soon as we were able to spent extra time with my oldest.  We had an IKEA soft toy soccer ball that we would kick around the living room while baby slept soundly next to me.
I also kept in close contact with my mom and a good friend who had recently had her second child and was just a couple of months ahead of us.  It was great to talk to someone who could encourage you and let you know that yes indeed you will get sleep again, and you will get through these first few weeks and yes, it is completely worth it.
My husband was not able to take much time from work when our second was born but the best thing he did for me was continue to tell me not to worry about anything besides taking care of myself and our babies.  He would continue that laundry cycle when he was home so that we at least got one load a day done.
It was also amazing how friends and neighbours would stop by with a casserole or an offer to take the older one to the park for a couple of hours just to help us out a bit.  One of the neighboring teenagers popped by a couple of times just see if there were any odd jobs she could do for us (and didn't want to get paid in return - she was that kind of kid).
And I found message boards helpful.  During my last pregnancy I was part of one where all of us were due at the same time so we all ended up having our babies within a couple of months of each other.  It's was great to throw out a "help me!" message or vent and get loads of responses quickly.  Our babies are turning 2 in the new year and we still communicate frequently with each other.
I wish you well and hope you enjoy every minute and moment you can!

November 26, 2011 at 7:13 PM  
Ktrotter said...

Hi Andrea, 
I read this a while ago and have kept it on my reading list so that I remember to write back.  We have our two girls with all of our family out east and my husband travels a lot for work and so a lot of what you said here resonated with me when I was pregnant with my second gal.  I was so worried about not being able to manage and losing my mind.  I was so anxious about sleep deprivation too.  
I think what I have learned in hindsight is that friends are willing to do far more and help out than I thought.  It seems that when family isn't close we built up a community of friends that are like family.  All your wonderful friends that have offered to help out following this post - take it.  Don't feel that you aren't "doing it all" or managing if you ask for Ben to go for a play or anything.  That guilt can get to us all!  Those first 6 weeks are so precious (and crazy) and best to have whatever you need for keeping yourself grounded and doing well by tapping into whatever you can to make that happen.  
Also, I was far to concerned with feeling like I wasn't giving my oldest enough time or love.  Again, she was positively fine, it was all in my head.  I loved her up as much as I could, but her Daddy spent more time with her (which was amazing - Daddy/Ben time as much as possible will be awesome!) and she felt as much love as she needed at that time with him.  My guilt was what got in the way from being relaxed about that.  In time it all evens out again.  
Lots of patience! Reminding yourself that at that time being a mother is ALL you need to do and to please be patient with yourself and the pace at which you get things done and expect of yourself.  Just like having your first child, the learning curve gradually smoothes out.  
Wishing you all the best Andrea.  You have so many great responses to this post.  Remember these!  ; ) 

January 1, 2012 at 9:07 AM  

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