Doing it differently the second and third time around.

http://mybabybirds.blogspot.com/

 

One of the reasons I was so excited to be having another baby back in 2010 was that I felt older, wiser, and more prepared. I had been a mother for 7 years by then, which doesn't make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it did give me a decent amount of trial and error to go off of.  I mention it briefly under the "Cloth" tab above - cloth diapering, breastfeeding, staying at home, sign language - a few things I wanted to try out with my third. The biggest change I wanted to make was the amount that I was present. I was absent for a lot of the twin's day to day life. I worked full time almost continuously from before they were born, until they were almost 5 years old. Fortunately, the twins survived, and are wonderful little women today. That said, making these changes in my parenting style made a noticeable difference in Anna's behavior and development, as well as my experience as a mother.

 
1) We have a stronger connection than I did with the twins early on. I'm obviously bonded with the twins completely now, but I believe in bonding immediately after childbirth, and am convinced that their time in the NICU coupled with me being medicated and not even seeing them for almost 2 days after their birth cheat us out of crucial bonding time.  I was adamant that Anna was to be skin to skin with me as soon as possible after birth. I think it was about 30 minutes and she was on my chest, where she stayed almost exclusively for the next several days. 
 
2) My third child is a better sleeper. I realize all kids are different, but when she came I had 24 hours a day to focus on her schedule. More importantly, on adjusting her schedule to fit ours. Despite coming into a home with two busy, older kids, life was much less chaotic than when I was a younger,working mother. There was more peace, and routine this time around. 'Routine' being the key word. Routine and schedule are big in our house. I'm not generally flexible on dinner time, bedtime, or the fact that the house is quiet during certain times of day. 1-3 PM and then again at 7:30 PM, lights are dimmed, blinds are drawn, and the house is quiet. It settles everyone down and gives the baby a chance to sleep. The only exception to this is certain weekend days and special events.

3) Baby wearing. Big fan. The Sailor and I used Baby Bjorn carriers with the twins occasionally, but we were rarely out together with them, so it wasn't an option very often.  I wore Anna quite a bit in the Moby Wrap for shopping, outings with the twins, etc. Hands are free, no stroller to push, and she's safe and close.

4) Cloth diapering gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment, once we got into the groove. I felt like I had gone from a mom that didn't do enough and never had enough time, to one that went the extra mile for a change. Although if I had the twin's baby days to do over again, I wouldn't have cloth diapered. Women that cloth diaper twins are some kind of super hero. But, doing something that had a positive impact on baby and on our environment gave me a boost of  confidence. Parenting is more fun when you sprinkle in a little confidence. Not to mention, it saved us $!

5) Co-sleeping isn't for us. I have safety issues with it, but I won't get into that. This is somewhat related to the good sleep habits I mentioned above, but since we didn't co-sleep with the twins and they weren't good sleepers, I don't think that should be the motivation. What did motivate me were two things; I want my bed and privacy back, especially when my husband is home. That's the only space in the house that's designated solely for our use, and it's important to keep that sacred. And I want baby to be comfortable in their room and get used to self-soothing. I'm not talking about crying it out, but letting a baby fuss a bit on their own once they're 2-3 months old can save you a lot of headache later. I keep baby with me for 4-6 weeks, then she goes to her nursery at night.

With baby #4 I plan to do all of the above PLUS...
 
1) We're going to try breastfeeding long term again. I only breastfed the twins for the two weeks they were in the hospital. With Anna I tried, but once we got home I only had 3 weeks with family, including the Sailor around, before we were on our own. I didn't think I could keep up with the schedule and the effort required on my own, with two other kids. Obviously, the Sailor still isn't around and now there's a toddler to contend with, but I have family here. This includes a sister-in-law down the street who breastfed both of her kids, and a girlfriend who breastfed. I'm counting on them to help me stay motivated and focused.
 
2) I still give Anna a drink at night. I know it's wrong and a terrible habit, but it's a battle I chose not to fight. I'm not sure why, because had I weaned her from it 9 months ago, it would've been a piece of cake. Lately she wakes up in the middle of the night, sometimes more than once, for a refill. Crap. My awesome sleeper has become dependent on around the clock beverage service. I won't be making that mistake again. 
 
3) We won't be using sign language. I gave it a very mild attempt with Anna, but I just didn't connect and it didn't seem necessary. I never had a problem figuring out what she wanted, and she was able to communicate verbally at a reasonably young age. I think it's very cool though and applaud anyone who uses it!

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That's it for now. I've considered looking into making my own baby food this time around, but we'll see what life is like with four kids before I commit to that. If you actually read all of this, thank you! It's mostly for posterity and reference later on for me, but also to share what worked for us.

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