We're breaking this period into the time when your infant makes his way into this world until about four to six months. After five children, we have realized that this is about the time frame that babies start to fall into a regular schedule.
Linda would like to summarize the hospital in a few simple words - send your baby to the nursery at LEAST one night. Many of you may be huffing and puffing about this, but keep in mind that when you get home from the hospital there will none of this "sleeping when the baby sleeps" (which is about 20 hours a day, just not the same 20 hours that his sibling is sleeping). No, you have a toddler who hasn't seen you much in the past 48 hours and you're going to have to be ON for him too. So send baby to the nursery so you can at least get caught up on a little sleep before you have to go home and parent two kids. Please, please, Note: Cara dissents on this - could never quite bring herself to do it, but encourages all moms to exercise their rights to do so if it strikes their fancy - you need all the rest you can get!
Baby will come home in some kind of outfit, probably one you bought a week before you went into labor when you realized you didn't have your "coming home" outfit (we bet you bought that by month 5 at the latest with the first baby). Remember to take some pictures. Great news is that this time, you don't have to remember to take pictures of the dog "welcoming" New Baby home because you now have two children and your dog has become just that - a dog.
The first few weeks after baby comes home you will find yourself in what we call the quiet period. We've touched on this before, but it's the time frame when your baby sleeps all the freaking time and you think life is just so perfect. Uh huh! Enjoy it. Embrace it. Love it. Don't get used to it. But do use it to catch up on sleep and cuddle your oldest.
The first four months or so of the Baby Bunching gig we'll call the Trial and Error period. You will try. You will make errors. You will readjust. You might even wonder if life will ever be the same. Babies can be hard to manage in the beginning with nonstop feedings, colic, reflux, sleeping issues, etc. It's even harder when you're navigating that route with a toddler who can neither express what he wants (for baby to LEAVE!) nor sit still long enough to watch an Elmo video let you catch your breath. Don't expect your Big Baby to be a big help. He may be capable of fetching you a diaper, but chances are he is more likely to get waylaid and be found in the corner, (very quietly) pulling wipes out of the container......one.....by......one.
Not to bore you with all the stories we have (believe us, you will have your own), here are a few things to keep in mind during the novice days.
For the first few months, our biggest tip is to forget about putting
New Baby on a schedule. Really. You will truly make yourself crazy.
Stick to Big Baby's schedule/routine, which is MUCH more important
during this time of transition, and worry about integrating New Baby
when you start to see some regularity in his sleep/wake/eat patterns
(around 4-6 months, as we mentioned earlier - and typically not earlier
than that. Really.)
If you are nursing, get an electric pump. Even if you were the neighborhood milky cow last time around and a hand pump did you just fine, we promise that you will encounter supply issues this time. An electric pump will help get you over the hump.
Get a sling. Your Big Baby is likely constantly on the move and into dangerous stuff. A sling will keep your hands free while you dash around keeping Big Baby out of trouble.
If someone offers to help you, let them. Let them take Big Baby off your hands for a few hours. Let them make you dinner. Let them babysit while you escape to a neighborhood restaurant for a quick dinner with hubby. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. No need to be a martyr about it. Likewise, cut yourself some slack. You house won't be a pit and you won't be wearing
Watch Big Baby like a hawk. Even if he "loves" New Baby, he is not even two years old and he likely has his own unique, age-appropriate brands of loving, many of which would violate the Geneva Conventions. Do not leave the babies alone together unsupervised. Period.
Cut yourself some slack. Your house will not look like a pigsty forever and and you will not be wearing the same spit-up and poop stained outfit when your youngest graduates from high school. The first two years of Baby Bunching will pass quickly and you'll find yourself getting your groove back soon enough - we promise!
The days will drag on, but the weeks will fly by. Capture a few minutes here and there to take video, photos, write in a journal, scrapbook, blog, or whatever is easiest for your to capture the antics of your ever-changing children. Linda (an avid scrapbooker) made Cara a beautiful "Baby's First Year" calendar that included spaces to write in milestones and glue pictures. Hallmark makes a similar (but not nearly as beautiful) version. The first year of Baby Bunching will be a blur - when it's over, you want to have something to remember it by. It doesn't seem possible, but it turns out that time really does
heal all wounds and you will remember your Baby Bunching days with a
Finally, the most important thing to bring home from the hospital (aside from New Baby) is a sense of humor. Everything you can possibly imagine can and will go wrong during the first few months. You will mix things up. Get the timing wrong. Give someone the wrong pacifier. Put the diaper on the wrong kid. Find yourself shoving Cheerios into a 3 week-old's mouth. Wear your underwear inside out all day long. Laugh it off. This is why we suggest forming a great momtourage of Baby Bunching friends before you have Baby #2. You will need the laughs to keep you going. But hopefully your hubby is around enough to help you get through this with a few giggles.