Monday, July 14, 2008

Being Pregnant with a Toddler

Okay, so this isn't really about women who are carrying toddlers in their bellies, but it feels that way sometimes so I left the title. I'm talking about carrying two babies, one on the hip and one in the belly. I remember being pregnant with my daughter and loving pregnancy! Felt great, got rest, didn't get too big, ate when I needed to, didn't push myself (much), and didn't feel any contractions until an hour after my water broke. Then comes the second pregnancy and you've got this toddler in addition to the baby you're growing and pregnancy is a whole new story. You know, what I'm talking about, most of you are there right now or have been recently. So how do you balance the needs of your toddler and those of your unborn child? Toddlers need to be held, hugged, changed, carried and sometimes dragged just as much but as a big pregnant lady it's exhausting and strenuous. Tantrums become an especially difficult challenge during this time too. Not so easy to pick them up and take them away. So short of sending your toddler to live with Grandma for 9 months, what can you do to take care of your babies and yourself? Well, I'll mention a few things I did but I really want to hear your thoughts because God has a kind way of making you forget your pregnancy and labor trials.

1. Stay Home- This may sound like a joke but for me it's serious. I didn't go out more than I needed to. For my second and third pregnancies we were living in a second-story condo so trying to get my tired, pregnant self and 1-2 kids to and from the car was tiring enough just to think about. I spent time at home getting things ready for baby and getting in my last one-on-one time with my current baby. Then if there was a tantrum I could just walk out of the room and not be publicly embarrassed.

2. Preventative Measures- I'm all about planning and preparing in advance (see my "Saturday.." post). If you are going out bring what you anticipate you and your toddler needing-snacks (for both of you), sippy cup, toy, diapers, anything to lower the risk of stress and fits. Don't go during nap times or other cranky times. Know what type of things upset your toddler and avoid when possible.

3. Take it Slow- Toddlers move (and pregnant ladies for that matter) at their own pace and don't like to be rushed. Schedule yourself accordingly. Don't pack your schedule, it'll wear you and your toddler out.

4. Structue/Routine- Don't pack your schedule but do have one, and make it routine. Toddlers need structure and routine. Naps should be about the same time and length every day and bed time routine the same. Okay, so you don't have to pencil in coloring time , but the things that are done daily need to be the same. This will help relieve stress for both of you and help a ton when baby comes.

5. Don't give into Tantrums- I once heard that you don't need to explain your children to anyone-anyone that has children already understands, and anyone who doesn't won't understand. If your kid throws a tantrum they're looking for attention (even negative). You can wait or just walk away if necessary (okay don't leave them in a store but you can peek around the corner from the next aisle).

6. Hire Daddy- I use to wait until my husband got home to do my shopping (or sent him). My child got Daddy time and I got quiet time at the store. Sometimes I'd wait until after their bedtime so I didn't feel bad for my husband.

7. Lots of Love- In addition to gearing them up for baby, show your toddler how much they mean to you and will always mean to you. This is a rough time for them too and they need lots of hugs, kisses, and time from you. Find things you can do with them that you think you'll still be able to do with them when baby comes. Stories are a great way to spend toddler time while nursing.

Well, you probably knew all that already, so what has helped you during the pregnant/toddler stage?


shayla said...

I happen fall into this very category. I'm pregnant (almost 6 months) and have a toddler (18 months). One thing that helps me is to make my husband do all the "strenuous" stuff. Like I refuse to constantly pick up after my son throughout the day. That's way too much bending. And I haven't quite gotten him to pick up his own messes. So, when my husband gets home from work, he spends a good half hour cleaning up the days activities. He's a champ. He also is good about being the one to put Brighton in his carseat, bathing him when asked, playing indoor soccer with him, etc. etc.

Here's something I was thinking about the other day. It kind of sort of relates to the topic at hand. I remember during my first pregnancy, I was so protective of my belly. I remember being so careful to shield it from bumps and bangs. One time I ran into a handrail with my belly. It wasn't very hard, but I panicked and hoped my baby was okay. Another time we were rear-ended while driving home from work and I was paranoid that the crash had jarred the baby too much and that brain damage was looming. I even brought it up with my doctor. He assured me everything was just fine. Haha! NOW...hardly a day goes by that my toddler's knee doesn't jabs my growing belly as he climbs into my lap for storytime. Or as he head butts me right in the stomach when he wants attention. This new baby is getting beaten up by his older brother already! I hardly think twice about the bumps and bangs anymore. It may hurt ME, but I don't worry too much about the baby. Surely this is unavoidable and by nature the little guy has all the protection he needs.

So my two bits of advice: (1) utilize your husband (or someone) every chance you get. And (2) pregnant with a toddler = unavoidable (but usually not dangerous) tummy trauma.

Gina Rochelle said...

haha Thanks for the laughs Shay! Brighton is just giving baby 2.0 a taste of things to come :o)

Jodi Jean said...

oh shayla ... i'm jealous. i don't pick up the toys and it stays that way until i decide to do it. how nice of brent to help out.

my hardest things while being preggo with a toddler is that he's figured out he's faster than me and i HATE having to chase him down. UGH!!

the thing i'm scared of is having 2 kids only 2 months apart ... holy crap!!!! we need more tips on how to nurse without the toddler trying to sit on the baby!! etc.

lindy cannon said...

My two-year old loves action and has a hard time when we don't do enough stuff or go "bye bye" often enough. As a pregnant person my energy level isn't as high as it used to be. However, he will get the diaper bag, bring it to me and say bye bye expectantly. If that doesn't work he goes to the door and yells "bye bye" or "oww side". Sometimes I distract him and it works.

However, I don't have the heart to disappoint him too often, so we are frequently on the move. A few things have helped me. I keep the stroller in the back of my car. My son doesn't walk, he runs. Since I'm not in the mood to chase him outdoors (or anywhere near a street) the stroller helps. When we go on walks as a family in the evenings, my husbands half jogs to keep up with Carson and I walk behind. Once Carson is too tired we put him in the stroller and walk together.

Another thing that has helped are frequent outings to the swimming pool. Carson loves water and I don't mind holding onto him when the water makes everything weigh less. When Carson decides running on the deck is more fun then staying in the water we go home. Trips to the park help as well. I choose parks were the playground is not right next to the street or parking lot as Carson tends to like running in open spaces just as much as the playground equipment. I let him run at the playground for shorts bursts of time but keep the stroller close by.

At home and abroad there are times when I can’t get around the need to carry him (physically removing him from danger or an inappropriate behavior) Carson is a stubborn little guy and I can’t reason with him yet. However, I am trying to cut back on carrying him as it has been hard on my back. I am in such a habit of picking up my toddler to console and love him that I frequently have to remind myself there are other ways. I can talk lovingly to him while leading him by the hand. We can sit down in the rocking chair and read a book. He likes the motion of the rocking chair.

When my husband is home I do ask him to put Carson in his highchair and do as much other lifting as possible. I also bought an exercise video and yoga video that were made for pregnant women. I feel that consistent well balanced exercise helps strengthen my achy back. (Ice packs have helped too). Overall my body feels a bit better. I just have to remember to balance my child’s needs with my own physical needs and limits.

lindy cannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brittni said...

i know this is older but it was great to find, makes me feel better about how i have been doing this pregnancy.. i feel so lazy at times, but i think it's normal/need to cut myself some slack.. this third trimester is kicking my butt. Not sure advice i can give.. i will admit there have been days where i have took the easy way out of making breakfast and my daughter will get a banana and goldfish for breakfast lol..sometimes i just need to lay down on the recliner and get a couple extra seconds even if that's all i get because naps sometimes don't happen and sleep isn't always predictable.