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Sep 2015

Preparing for two under two + a short guide to pregnancy

Our little girl made her grand entrance last week on Monday, August 24th. You can meet her here.  Beyond Marshall kissing my belly every hour or so before she was born, he didn’t really seem to know what was going on, but now that she’s here he seems pretty proud to have a baby sister.  Since he’s still such a little guy (just 18 months) we’re hoping the transition continues to be easy breezy for him (if you have any tips on having two under two, please leave them in the comments below! I’d be very grateful).

This pregnancy has been very different for me in so many ways, physically and emotionally, and I took some time to reflect on what I’ve learned.  I’d also love to gift you a free mini-program: Live More Weigh More: A short Guide to Pregnancy.  If you’re pregnant, want to get pregnant or are curious about getting pregnant someday, I hope this will give you some extra support and guidance.  This guide also includes Marshall’s birth story which I have actually never shared in it’s entirety!  You can get it here: https://sarahjenks.wpengine.com/short-guide-to-pregnancy.

A few things I’ve learned during my second pregnancy about business, love and life…

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You can do everything but you dont HAVE to do everything.  A lot of entrepreneurs confide in me that they are worried to have children because they’ll have to put their businesses and lives on hold.  In my experience, there’s no need to put your life on hold, but it is a great opportunity to slow down.  When I got pregnant when Marshall was 9 months old, I freaked out.  Jonathan was working from 5am – 9pm daily and every other weekend, I was doing a HUGE launch of Live More Weigh Less and I felt like crap.  Hello overwhelm.  I spent many months pushing, complaining and crying.  I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and I felt trapped… I had to have this baby, I had to financially support our (expensive) lifestyle, I had to pay 4 full-time employees, Ihad to raise my son essentially by myself. I was operating in the realm that I was being forced to do all these things by myself and as long as I stayed in that space, I was miserable.  I finally got it through my thick head (with the help of my mentor, mother and friends) that I don’t have to do it all.  I have a choice with everything.  I could easily slow way down with work, reduce my expenses and move into hospital housing (instead of paying so much in rent).  I had a choice, I was not stuck, I was not alone.  The best part about realizing you have options, is that you can look at your current life with fresh eyes.  I realized that there were so many things about my life that I loved, that I would choose again if I had the choice (which I do, everyday).  So I made some minor changes with my expenses, business model and lifestyle to take some pressure off, but mostly I just stopped the unending loop of “I’m not in control” which freed up so much space to be at ease during my pregnancy.  In short, life doesn’t have to end when you have a baby.  My business has grown tenfold since I’ve had Marshall.  You just have to be smart, strategic, super focused and willing to make some changes, no matter how uncomfortable and hard it may feel.

I got really clear on what I needed postpartum.  After Marshall was born, Jonathan went back to work after three days, my whole family arrived on day two, and Jonathan’s whole family came at the end of the first week.  Although sharing our new baby with family was such a joy, I had a really hard time bonding with Marshall with everyone around.  Because my labor was so long and arduous (you can read about it here: https://sarahjenks.wpengine.com/short-guide-to-pregnancy) I didn’t have that instant connection with him, and having so many people around didn’t give me the endless time I needed to just be with him.  It’s never easy to create boundaries, especially with family, but I knew this time I needed to do it.  So now for the month of September, only my mom will be around to help, my Dad came out for a few days in the beginning, and Jonathan’s parents will pop in for a day or two in two weeks to meet Annabelle and then they’ll come for an extended period of time in October.  My nanny is also still with us full-time taking care of Marshall and helping around the house when Marshall is with my Mom.  So we have 4 adults to take care of two kids.  Perfection. Our theme is space, family time and bonding, bonding, bonding. It’s working so far:).

Jonathan needs to come first… no matter what.  All couples get out of sync when you become parents, and Jonathan and I are no different.  The difference with us is that we have a really short leash when it comes to disconnection and won’t let it go for longer than a week or two without getting on top of it.

I can seriously see how it’s so easy to get into survival mode as new parents, how we take our relationship for granted and trust that it will always just “be there” when we need it.  But if you’re only turning to your partner in times of great need and not nurturing the fun parts of being married, the relationship is going to easily and quickly wear down, just like anything else.  Trust me, being pregnant with a one year old and each working full-time does not make spending time together easy, BUT being bonded and happy as a couple makes life so much easier.

Jonathan and I really try to go on a date one or two nights a week, even if it’s just for an hour or two and we take time every night to connect without phones or TV to distract us.  We also go to bed at the same time every night (a ritual that is more important to Jonathan than me, but I admit, it makes a big difference).  I also know the biggest obstacle to going on dates is money.  Here’s how we deal with that: we have a completely separate budget for babysitting (approx 6 hours a week) so when we go out we know it’s not eating into our grocery budget or diapers.  I really believe that you can clearly see what your real priorities are when you look at how you spend your money.  I rather put less money towards our retirement fund and actually know that I am putting my money towards something that will guarantee I have someone to retire with.  

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I am so happy to have kids close in age. A lot of people ask me how I’m feeling about having two under two, and honestly, I’m psyched.  I’m applying my number one life philosophy to kids: it’s never going to be easy, so you might as well do it now.  There’s never going to be a right time in my career, Jonathan’s career or when Marshall is “easier” (haha) to have another child, so we’re just going for it.  I prefer to make having children the priority and creating a life that works for us around our family.

When it comes to having kids, everyone has a lesson to learn.  Many of my friends have had babies in the past year and there’s always something that goes “wrong”.  Whether it’s difficulty in getting pregnant, getting pregnant with a young baby (moi), having difficulty postpartum, going through a terrible labor, needing a c-section, having a miscarriage or needing to spend time in the NICU, there is always something that teaches us something as a mother and makes us stronger. I spent so much time in my first pregnancy planning and preparing for everything to be perfect, as if I could actually control it.  I had to learn this lesson again with Annabelle, which I shared about last week.  If you missed it, you can read about it here.

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In the comments below I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear your parenting tips, questions and lessons learned.  We have the best community here, and I always love hearing your take on these important topics.

Lots of love to you,

Sarah

P.S. If you are pregnant, wanting to get pregnant or feeling like you want kids someday but are petrified about how you’re going to make it all work, I really hope you’ll download my new guideLive More Weigh More: A Short Guide to Pregnancy. It’s completely free:).  Hope you love it.  xoxo

Photos by Danielle Fletcher

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  • what a gorgeous post. so honest and insightful. you being so forthright and generous in sharing your experience is such a service to other mamas and soon to be mamas.
    i’m deeply happy for you all and cannot wait to come see you and your little ones.
    love, kc

  • Ask and ye shall receive! When I became pregnant with my second when my daughter was only 8 months old, I searched for resources on preparing for and parenting 2 under 2. I found pretty much nothing so I decided to write a book on it as my journey went along. Here ya go! http://www.amazon.com/2-Under-Pregnancy-Parenthood-ebook/dp/B00EVZUFXW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1441299395&sr=8-2&keywords=2+under+2&pebp=1441299400181&perid=1YXPNZNJVK4FJ302320Z

  • Mariana

    First of all Congratulations on the wonderful arrival of your baby girl! I have two children 14 months apart. There is so much I would want to share, but the one thing I learned is that each child is unique, and their little personalities shine through from day one. We called the first 3 years of having them together our “dark years” – not because we didn’t enjoy them but we truly felt the light shine on us when James (our youngest) began feeling independent and joined Olivia in their own flavor of games we could have never taught or modeled for them. We became observers and no longer drivers or participants of their activities. Our constant inclusion of Olivia in the care of James has made it natural for them to care for each other and seek the other for comfort (as well as plenty of fighting, let’s be real). They are six and five now, starting at a public school next week and they are not afraid because they know their sibling is just next door. That is what I would call a small success so far. Plenty more to come.

  • This is great info, Sarah! I always love how honest and raw you are.

    My main thing is working on that transition of being an employee to dedicating my time to our family and business full time. I’m not there yet and at times I feel discouraged because it feels like it’s taking so long to get there, but blogs like this remind me that I’m in control and I can figure out ways to continue to walk towards my goal.

    Congrats on beautiful Annabelle!

    • Thank you. Pachi, what’s one action you can take today to help make this transition easier?

  • Oh yes, I learnt so much with each child (I have 3). Mostly about control and letting go! I do have a great tip for you – have a special box of items/toys for Marshall that only comes out when you really need him occupied. So when you’re feeding or cooking dinner or just having some bonding time with your new little girl. Fill it with a few exciting things you know he’ll love, but make sure you pop it away again after a short time. This keeps them super excited about getting it out again next time and guarantees you some quiet time!

  • Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl.
    Our oldest two were 16 months apart and we ended up having 4 in 5 years. We love that they are close in age. They will always have each other to play with and will have a very close relationship. Ours are now ages 5-10 and they still love to play with each other. There were definitely moments (all fussing at once while driving for instance), but it was beautiful and fun! We never struggled with the jealous sibling syndrome or anything, so I would bet you are good to go. Enjoy!
    Julie

  • Hi Sarah — congratulations on your new addition! I had my own kids, who are 16 months apart, when I was about your age, so it seems like a bit of a distant memory now that they 13 and 14. Not sure how that happened so fast. As for advice, here’s what I learned (after the fact). I think you’re probably already nailing all of these, but hey, you never know.

    1. Relax, relax, relax. I took things way too seriously and it prevented me from really enjoying either of my kids when they were babies.
    2. If possible, find part time care for the older child. My daughter was in daycare when my son was born, and we decided to take her out to save money. I wish I would have had her stay in daycare at least a couple of days a week. What I found was that they were just far apart enough in age that I couldn’t do many of the available mom and baby activities with both of them. Having my daughter in daycare would have allowed me to relax more, and do some mommy and me stuff with my son (who was an extremely fussy baby).
    3. Take advice, to a point. I think one of the biggest things I suffered from was overwhelm with all the advice out there. I considered myself a pretty smart person, but somehow having babies and seeing all the things I was supposed to do stripped away a lot of my confidence.
    4. Trust your intuition. You know yourself and your babies. You will do the right thing.
    5. Try to find a way not to worry about what other people are doing. It seems like parenting has become a competitive sport. I spent too much time comparing my kids to other kids and myself to other mom’s and judging myself as worse because I didn’t have my infants in swimming lessons or music lessons or multiple playgroups and early reading programs. Do you, and let your kids do them.
    6. Find some way to make time for yourself. I held my son 22 hours a day because if I put him down, he would cry. If I gave him to someone else, he would cry. The other 2 hours he was in a car seat or stroller. Seriously — I ate holding him, I went pee holding him, I slept holding him. It was exhausting and I totally lost myself in it. I had the opportunity to stay off work for a year, but I went back to work after 6 months because it was too hard to stay at home. I think if I had managed to take time for myself, I would have had more energy for him. And his energy might have been different too.

    I wish you all the best in your awesome new journey!

Sarah Jenks

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