Caroline Grace was born at 38w1d on March 2nd. We are so excited to be a family of four and Maddie (2.5 yo) is thriving as a big sister!
If you missed my pregnancy announcement with baby #2, you can read that here. You can also read my posts when I was pregnant with Maddie (Announcement, 1st Trimester, 2nd Trimester, 3rd Trimester) and The First Six Weeks.
How was labor and delivery?
Just like Maddie, Grace started measuring small (<10th percentile) starting in the 3rd trimester. The plan was a 39 week induction just like last time because the thought with small babies is at some point they will grow better on the outside. I was going into the doctor every 2-3 days for ultrasounds and stress tests so they can monitor her and ensure the placenta is still doing it’s job. At my 38 week appointment, Grace dropped from the 7th percentile in weight to the 3rd percentile and, although neither of us were overly concerned, my doc decided to send me to L&D a week early for an induction.
It was more stressful of an experience from the start with an unexpected induction date and having to say bye to Maddie was a lot harder than I anticipated. The induction this time wasn’t nearly as smooth either. My water broke almost immediately so the only thing we could do to move things along at that point was pitocin. Grace wasn’t responding well to the pitocin (similarly to Maddie actually) and her heart rate kept dropping with contractions. Just a few hours into the induction, she flipped breech DURING labor after my water had broken, which is pretty rare I guess. So at that point my only choice was a c-section.
What’s Grace like?
Grace has distinguished herself from her big sister right from the start! She naps like a champ, she’s more of a snacker, and she loves peeing and pooping the minute I take her diaper off. If she’s awake she’s usually crying but has started to give us the occasional smile, and I swear it’s usually at Maddie! She likes to be held and warm; she’s been living in fleece onesies (and is still wearing newborn size hehe). I can already see her being a bit more go with the flow as baby #2 and just following her big sis around!
Grace and I are both the second girl in our respective families, which has given me a sense of connection with her from day one. Somehow I feel like she knows Maddie and I needed her to be a good napper haha.
What has surprised you the most in the first six weeks?
My postpartum challenges are never what I expect. This time around I was SO nervous about juggling two kids and didn’t give much thought to delivery and recovery. I think partly because I worried about it so much last time and partly because I just didn’t have time to think about it with a toddler running around! Turns out, juggling two kids has been hard but so far really manageable for me! Where as, recovery has been brutal emotionally and physically.
I have a much longer road ahead of me than I was expecting going into delivery and am especially nervous about returning to work and photographing my first wedding back in just over a week (7.5 weeks PP).
I am really glad I did a little research on c-sections when I was pregnant with Maddie (because she was breech weeks 35-37 until they manually flipped her at 37 wks), that knowledge and understanding really helped me know what to expect going into surgery. In general it’s truly wild how little information they give you before, during and especially after delivery/while healing. You are completely on your own when it comes to navigating recovery and I’ve learned way more on Instagram than I have from anywhere else.
A more ”fun” surprise has been how different I feel like Grace looks from Maddie. But also similar enough that its fun to go back to Maddie’s baby pictures and do comparisons in the same outfits. Bringing out all of Maddie’s old clothes has been another fun thing to do, even though they were born in completely different seasons so only some of the clothes overlap.
How’s Maddie doing as a big sister?
Maddie has adjusted so well to life as a big sister. I swear we had more behavioral and sleeping challenges with her while I was pregnant. She loves her “baby sister” and goes to her whenever she’s crying, shares her beloved Teddy with her (but not for long hehe), holds her hand, makes silly faces at her to get a smile, and cheers her on during tummy time. She likes going to her basinet to check on her when she first wakes up and likes pretending to ”babysit”. I am honestly so impressed and it has been the best surprise with baby #2 so far- I was really expecting Maddie to at best tolerate Grace the first couple months : )
What are some must have items as a mom of two?
The only items I’m using this time around that I didn’t use so much last time are a baby carrier (we have the Solly Wrap but any one will do!), a split screen camera monitor (we got the VAVA), and a riding board that attaches to the stroller for Maddie (she mostly scooters on our walks but sometimes she gets tired). We also got another sound machine and hand me down crib from my sister. I’ve tried not to buy many clothes but I haven’t been able to resist a few matching sets, “little sister” onesies and a few more warm clothes since Maddie was a newborn in the late summer!
You can find my favorite items for baby’s first year on Amazon.
What’s your daily routine like with two kiddos?
Every day is slightly different depending on how Grace slept the night before but most days unfold as follows: Maddie wakes up between 6:30-7am and I get up with her and make us breakfast. We usually get 45-60 mins just the two of us before Grace wakes up, which I think has helped Maddie’s transition, getting that 1-on-1 time with me right at the beginning and this part of our day has remained unchanged. Once Maddie is settled, I’ll go get Grace and feed her. Maddie will watch a show and play while I nurse. Then we’ll all get down on the rug and play, Maddie will “help” Grace with tummy time or Grace will lay on her activity mat while I play with Maddie.
After an hour of wake time, I’ll start to get Grace ready for a nap. We’ll go upstairs to her room and Maddie will watch another show (there’s a lot of screen time happening right now) while I get Grace down. If swaddled, Grace will usually sleep for 1.5-2 hours. This is NOT something I take for granted as Maddie was a notoriously horrible napper. I think these long naps have helped Maddie’s transition a ton as well because during that time I am again able to give her more 1-on-1 time. We’ll either play around the house, go to the playground with Grace in tow or do an errand or two during that morning nap.
At noon, we’ll have lunch and get Maddie ready for her nap at 1pm. In the early days, I would try to get both Maddie and Grace to nap at the same time so I could too. Now, sometimes I find it easier to have Grace nap during the play/lunch/nap routine and wake her during Maddie’s nap so I can have some time to just focus on newborn snuggles. When Maddie wakes up (if she naps at all..), we’ll go on a walk if it’s nice out. Or just more of the same.
By 4:30/5pm, Dan is usually home and we’ll have dinner and hang out as a family until starting Maddie’s bedtime routine around 6:30pm. We try to have her in her crib by 7/7:30pm (varies depending how she napped earlier) and then I’ll feed Grace and aim to have us both in bed by 8/8:30pm. If Grace is up before 12am, Dan will typically do that feeding to give me a longer chunk of sleep early in the night, and I’ll do the feeding(s) after that.
Just like with Maddie, I’m following Taking Cara Babies‘ newborn course- I love it.
When are you back to work?
As I mentioned above, I photograph my first wedding next Saturday at 7.5 weeks PP- I have 4 weddings during my 12 week “maternity leave” but am not taking on any other shoots during that time. Then I’ll jump right into busy season June 1st and will be in full swing with weddings, families and newborns through October. I’m booked through August but am still taking on a few more family/newborn shoots for September-December of this year.
I’m both excited to get back to work and unsure how I’m going to navigate running a business with two kids at home! Since having Maddie, I’ve made a lot of changes in my business. I’ve created systems and hired a team around me, which has allowed me to focus on the things that matter most (my clients and sessions. And my family of course!). And I’m sure I’ll learn and grow even more with two kids!
Professional photos with me in them by Lindsay Connors, all other photos by me 🙂
April 13, 2022