There are a wealth of articles out there on the Interwebs written about the chaos that is going from one child to two. I know this because I have spent many recent, sleepless nights Googling this topic in the company of a nursing newborn and by light of the glow of my smart phone.
The reason for my curiosity can be eloquently explained with the following statement: HOLY SHIT, this “two kid” thing is no joke.
Everyone with multiple kids goes through this, I know. I’m told that going from one kid to two is the hardest transition; more so than going from none to one, and definitely more than going from two to three. (I’m also told that anything after three is pretty much easy peasy and that you can really just keep going at that point and it will all be the same.)
I imagine this feels particularly difficult because of Penelope’s current age: she just turned two a couple of months ago. Which means that she is smart enough to have opinions and articulate enough to express them, yet still uncoordinated and unpredictable enough to be mistaken for your very drunk friend from college who has lost her shoes, forgotten how to use the toilet, has wardrobe malfunctions, but still somehow manages to wind up on top of the table.
To add to this is the fact that we’ve been thrown into the world of potty training Penelope. We had not planned on doing this right now, mainly because we value things like sanity and world peace. But then came last week, when she got an angry looking rash on her thigh that requires her to be diaper-less as often as possible so that air can get at the rash to help clear it up. She’s already cool with peeing on her little Elmo potty and has been for a while now, but she’s been very protective of releasing her “poo poo”. What that really means is that she freaks out, squeezes her cheeks and doesn’t know what to do when she has to go and doesn’t have a diaper on, refuses to go on the potty, but then yells at you for suggesting you put a diaper on her because HOW DARE YOU.
Toddlers are awesome.
We’re trying to find our footing and get used to the new “normal” around here. Which brings me to the literal shit-show that occurred just a few nights ago, as we approached week three with our newborn. I had yet to be alone with both children until that night, when Greg had to leave for a few hours to attend a work function.
Let me preface this by saying that this was extra scary for me, because I am still recovering from a c-section. I had only started being able to lift Miss P a couple of days prior, and even still, my scar burns every time I do it. You don’t realize how much you use your abdomen until it’s injured and hurts every move you make: lifting her in and out of her crib, in and out of her booster seat to eat, up and down the stairs…even holding her hand and supporting her weight as she climbs the stairs on her own puts a strain on my midsection. (You get the picture, and I will now put away my tiny violin.)
So Greg left, and I thought to myself: I can do this. I CAN DO THIS! I got Ciro napping in his swing, and I sat down to play Legos with Penelope. All was calm. She started playing by herself, at which point I became extremely naive and overly ambitious, and tiptoed over to the stove. This marks the beginning of mistake #1: I decided I’d make dinner.
I know. I KNOW. Rookie move. But he was napping! And she was playing independently so nicely! It’s in these moments we become painfully dumb to how fast shit can hit the fan.
I got halfway through chopping onions when Ciro suddenly woke up ON FIRE. Like an angry little man at the diner who has watched too many other patrons arrive after him and eat before him, he demands his food through desperate wails. And just like a frazzled waitress, I stop what I am doing to prevent the situation from escalating, which means I pick him up, sit on the couch, and start nursing him.
This was mistake #2.
About a minute into our feeding session, Penelope stands up with this strange and far away look in her eyes. I know that look, I think to myself, but I can’t yet place it. Why do I know that look? And then it hits me: she’s pooping. She’s pooping, and she has no diaper on her. SHE’S POOPING. ON OUR RUG. WITH NOTHING TO CATCH SAID POOP.
“Mama, I go poo poo.”
I keep my cool. Besides, I didn’t see anything yet. Maybe she didn’t actually poop, and “the face” was just her sending up a warning signal; a flatulent flare for help being shot up into the sky.
Staying calm, I said: “OH! You mean you have to go poo poo? Do you want me to take you?”
I then stood up just in time to see a nice little chunk of poop fall from her tooshie. Okay, that’s not so bad, I thought. But then I spotted the other two moo mountains sitting on top of the rug.
I knew Ciro would not be happy if I interrupted his feeding session to put him down and take his sister to the bathroom to finish this shit-astrophe, and I had to act fast. But I’m a master at multi-tasking, right? So I grabbed Penelope’s hand and calmly started walking with her, cradling Ciro in my other arm while he kept nursing.
We all carefully shuffle past the giant picture windows of my home: a half-naked toddler, dropping poo turds with every step, holding the hand of her mother, who has half of her boob out; and a nursing newborn, drinking from said boob. If there were ever an audition for a parental version of Cirque du Soleil, this would be my shining moment.
We ascended the stairs (slowly, because how fast can you really walk while balancing all of these things?), all the while hoping with every shred of dignity I had left that the UPS man wasn’t delivering any packages at that moment, because he would have had some story to tell his coworkers before he clocked out tonight. (“Hey Bob, remember that nice girl who seemed to have her crap together and wasn’t at all strange? Well apparently she’s gone crazy and opened a pretty impressive and new age day care/peep show.”)
We finally get upstairs, managing to dodge the aftershock poo nuggets that fell from P’s tooshie as she climbed each step. I got her to the bathroom – little man still nursing – and sat her on the potty, just in time for a single tiny finale to exit her bum and make it into the potty. (But we rejoice anyway, and do a dance in the bathroom together because it’s all about celebrating small victories and staying positive, right? RIGHT?!)
Finally: Penelope was taken care of, I got us all back downstairs, cleaned and sanitized the poo-tastrophe, and settled back down on the couch to continue nursing Ciro – which was of course the moment I heard Greg put his key in the door. “Wow, it feels so calm in here! Everything good?”
I could do nothing but offer a blank stare. I wanted to tell him, but I had no more energy to form the words until much later that night. The only thing I could do was cry, and then laugh, and laugh, and laugh, to the point that I think I made him nervous I’d gone mad. And it didn’t matter, because we did it. My number one may have gone number 2 on the rug, and my number 2 most definitely just went number one. (Wait – he also went number two.) This, in a nutshell, is my recent life of going from one to two.
I’m preserving my sanity by reminding myself that this is just a phase, it won’t always be this way. It will pass. And we DID IT. But promise me that if you hear that Cirque du Soleil is holding auditions for a parenting version of their show, you’ll tell them you know someone who’d be a perfect fit. Because there’s got to be a calling for this kind of skill set, somewhere. Right?