full hands

“When you pick this up, the pharmacist might look at you like you are crazy.” – My doctor, while writing me a prescription when I was first pregnant with Thomas.
“If it keeps me pregnant again, I’ll have two babies in thirteen months… which means I should probably get used to that.”

I expected to get lots of negative comments about having two children close together. After years of fending off mostly well-meaning comments about how I should have kids, and battling the urge to break down when innocently asked “Do you have children?”, this is a welcome change, though annoying in a different way. Even in the hardest and most exhausting moments of this fall, I have had very little patience for someone who would complain about having children.

When I enter a grocery store with Thomas in a carrier, Annie on my hip, and am hanging on to my purse and produce bags, someone usually tells me I have my hands full. They are right. My hands are actually full. I mean, if you waved a thousand dollars in front of me, I would not be able to take it from you. So I usually respond, “Yes, full of TREASURE!” or “Better full than empty!” and kiss whichever child is nearest to my mouth. This usually garners a smile. And I think I’ve had just as many positive compliments as any other kind, which has been a happy surprise.

Is it challenging to have two children, especially when they are both as little as mine are now? Yes. There are reasons this is biologically rare and few people purposefully space their children so closely. They both need so much from me. I can see where having a two- or three- year-old sibling would make the transition easier. At the same time, there are some unique blessings in this, too.

  • Annie is still young enough to have been napping twice a day throughout my pregnancy and Thomas’ newborn stage. I think they would have been much more challenging for me if she wasn’t sleeping so much during the day.
  • By entering her “big sister” role so quickly, Annie will never remember a time without Thomas. I’m glad they will grow up so close in age. Even if they aren’t best friends (my hope and prayer), they will still learn a lot about sharing and respecting others from their earliest days.
  • Far and away, the hardest week of parenting was last month when Annie had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. This means over a week of pure misery: fever, open oozing sores all over her mouth, face, and hands, a throat so sore she couldn’t eat or drink enough, crying from hunger which made her throat hurt even more… It. Was. Awful. I would prefer experiencing natural childbirth every day for a week over reliving anything like that. It was a little more intense to have a newborn in my care as well, but it would have been the worst week ever even if she was an only child.
  • I’m keenly aware of how quickly babies grow up right now. Thomas is a much more challenging baby than Annie was… I mean, we are nursing every 2-2.5 hours around the clock here, people. (Yes, I’m confident he is getting full, and we have been much more intentional about our sleep signals and routines this time around, but no dice. Whatever. It’s tough, but it confirms my hypothesis that “sleep training” for little babies isn’t all it is talked up to be.) I’m pretty sure watching her toddle around while he needs to eat or be held (again) makes it easier to savor the sweetness in those inconveniences. In a year he will be so big and running around with her… Before the eyes of a parent, that is not very long at all.
  • Raising even one child is going to bring a parent to their knees on a regular basis. The fact that there are now bigger challenges with two little children who need so much points me directly to the Holy Spirit for strength and wisdom in parenting.
  • If we homeschool, I’ll be able to teach them both at the same level in many subjects for quite a while!
  • And… I get to skip the awkward stage of having a one-year-old where people start asking if I was thinking about having another baby anytime soon.
two kids, two grocery stores - one giant bundle of blessiing

two kids, two gallons of milk, two stores… the days of getting the groceries to the house in one trip are past. 

10 thoughts on “full hands

  1. Yes, your arms are full of blessings, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In Utah people love kids, so you only get good comments, “Your arms are full!” is actually a good thing here. And you went to two stores in one day with such little ones? A.Maze.Ing. Good job! Glad Annie is feeling better. That sounds awful!

    • The stores are walking distance from each other and It took me 3 days to work up the nerve to get out of the house, if that makes you feel better. 😉 And I felt hitting Trader Joe’s was my reward for actually making the trip happen. I do get a pleasantly surprising amount of positive comments here, too! There is a pretty large devout Catholic population here, so I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

  2. Gwen and I have frequently talked together about what it would mean to have two so close together. As a great grandmother I just see how darling they are. A smile on Thomas already! Thank you for your lovely note, maybe weitten on stolen time? We saw All the local girls including Nora at Emma’s today. They are all growing so fast! We helped Emma cut up apples for a big batch of sauce. Gwen’s knee is healing well compared to everyone else we have heard about. I know she gets tired of a pretty constant ache and trouble sleeping. However she walks well though slowly and can bend at nearly 0 degrees. What a clan gathering it will be at Thanksgiving. I hope your kids are good travelers. See you soon. Love, Gram C.

  3. I watch Seán run around with Callan every day and am so, so thankful that they are close in age (though not as close as yours). I also clearly remember the difficult days when I was pregnant with Seán and Callan was needy, and then when they were both teething at the same time and I literally felt like I couldn’t catch a breath. It all goes so fast, and we are very blessed women.
    Also, now that Seán is 14 months, I haven’t gotten any questions about the next baby yet…but several friends who had babies around the same time as him are already pregnant again, so I know they’re coming soon. I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it…hopefully it won’t be too awkward. 🙂

    • You can always try “When will we have another baby? I guess we’ll have one when we have one!” or something… I think blowing off questions you don’t want to answer is usually the best, but some people do not let up! I mean, I had somebody asking me about that one time and I kept answering vaguely, and finally she said, “Well, isn’t it something you want to do?” Seriously, lady? We just met each other! If I have avoided giving you a straight answer three times in a row, I obviously don’t want to talk about it! (At those moments I have to laugh at how many people asked my parents if homeschooling would prevent me from developing a sense of social awareness.) Of course, if you feel like divulging information, go ahead. Maybe too much information? “Well, since you asked… here are the details of my most personal health circumstances and marital relationship!”

      It is good to know there are fun days ahead with two so close as well! It’s not all roses here, but it’s more joy than work (though it is a lot of work!) and it’s better than not having one or both of them. 🙂

      • 🙂 The most common question I get is “do you want to have any more?” As in, “it would have been ideal to have a boy and a girl, but I don’t know, some people are okay with just two of the same gender”. I always say, “yep! Lots more! We love it!” 🙂 I’ve surprised about 99% of the people who’ve asked. And then they kind of look incredulous, but don’t say anything else about it. I haven’t figured it out yet. 😉

      • I’ve gotten, “Woah, so you’re probably done now, eh?” a few times… I told them I was done for this year, and probably next year, but hopefully not done for good. One lady told me, “Well, I mean, I guess you look like you’re a great mom!” I might also tell someone in the future that Annie is way too bossy to have just one little sibling or something. 😉 Who knows! If this is all I have, I’m still much richer than I ever imagined.

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