We’ve always known that we want two. One is too lonely, three would be too much.
We just didn’t know that the second one will be around so soon ;). Aidan was just 18 months, when his little sister was born 4 months ago, so we were in the dreaded two-under-two situation. We knew that it’s going to be challenging, but we thought “alright, let’s have a crazy and chaotic three years, then get it over with!”
The first challenge was the birth event itself. We needed someone to take care of Aidan while we were in the hospital. And since childbirth is unpredictable (for instance, Aidan was two weeks early, caught us off guard), we tried to cover all possibilities. We asked for help from our family months before. Aidan’s Opa agreed to stay with us two weeks before the due date, then passing the baton to Onkel J for the week after. We planned for my mom (Ema) and my sister (Tante D) to arrive three days after the due date, Tante D stayed for two weeks while Ema for two months (woohoo!). So when this little one finally arrived, we had our support system ready 🙂
The due date, Monday, October 18, passed by without any signs of labor. The next day, DD+1, we had a check-up at the hospital and they said, “let’s just wait and see, but please have a check-up (fetal heart rate monitoring) every two days.” On Saturday, DD+5, they asked me whether I want labor induction on Monday, October 25 (DD+7), or to wait until DD+10. I was worried that she would become too big to go out via natural birth, so I said, “get her out, ASAP!”
The Birth — October 25, 2021 — 13:50 pm
On Monday morning, off we went to the hospital. Due to COVID-19, just like with Aidan, I had to go inside alone, but the Bear was on standby outside the hospital. We started the induction process at 9 am, by inserting vaginal prostaglandins in the gel form, to speed up cervical ripening. Half an hour later I already felt the effect, contractions were getting much stronger, so I asked the Bear to come inside.
In summary, everything was almost the same as in my first labor: taking a warm bath in a huge tub, inhaling the laughing gas, then… push! The only difference… it was twice as fast! Amaya Kirana was born after only half an hour of pushing, roughly 5.5 hours after we arrived at the hospital. She weighed almost 3.7 kg, so it was a good decision to start labor induction. I cannot imagine how big she would be if we wait some more days.
Right after she was out, I remember thinking, or even saying, “Never again! This would be the last time!” Then I found the Bear lying down on the floor next to the bed. I got panic and asked what happened. It turned out that he almost passed out and the nurse told him to lie down. He said it’s because when I was pushing, he was ‘pushing’ along and forgot to breathe 😀
Aidan der große Bruder, the big brother
In the morning before leaving for the hospital, we carefully and repeatedly briefed Aidan, “Mama und Papa gehen zum Arzt, Aidan geht zur Kita mit Ema und Tante D (Mama and Papa go to the doctor, Aidan goes to the daycare with Ema and Tante D).” According to the daycare people, he kept repeating “Mama Papa… Arzt!” so they kinda expected that he would be a big brother, große Bruder, soon. Similarly, at home, my sister said he would suddenly stop playing, stared at nothing, said “Mama Papa… Arzt!” as if to assure himself that soon he would see us again, then continued playing. I was so glad that he got along so well with Ema and Tante D, even though they arrived only a few days before. And with my mom around, I was not worried about food, he loved Ema’s cooking!
The siblings met for the first time at home, after three nights hospital stay. I guess this picture could better tell what was on his mind when seeing his little sister 😀 He sometimes pushed her “Amaya, weg! (Amaya, away!)“ when she was in my arms and he wanted my attention. He often snatched away toys played by Amaya because they were his, and of course… are still his! However, no matter how jealous he was, he never really harmed his little sister.
The most important thing is to praise him excessively whenever he did something nice to her, like caressing her head, sharing his toys, or giving her the pacifier. We also discussed with him which toys would be given to Amaya, and taught him to trade toys instead of simply taking away from her. Yesterday, since Amaya has joined our dinner, I let her taste the soup from my plate, which she enjoyed a lot. Seeing that, Aidan also wanted to feed her a spoonful of soup from his plate 😀 This morning, after waking up, he decided to show his love to everyone, including Amaya, by caressing our heads.
I was worried that we kinda forced him to share his parents too soon, that he’s too young to be a big brother. But now I am quite sure that he is and will be an understanding, caring and loving big brother to Amaya 🙂
Dealing with 2-under-2
During the first two months, I am forever thankful that my mom was around, that she could and was willing to travel despite COVID-19. She practically took over cooking and laundry duties, so we could focus our attention to the children. Besides, when Aidan couldn’t get his parents’ attention because we were busy with Amaya or something else, he could always run to his “Emaaa!” After Ema flew back to Indonesia, we escaped to Dresden for the end-of-year holidays, so we were again relieved from household duties, and this time Aidan could always run to Oma or Opa 😉
After Dresden, instead of going home, we embarked on a crazy adventure… a road trip to Sicily, four weeks, just the four of us! It was really a test for us as parents, and as a couple. Long story short, we arrived back at home safe and sound, all healthy, and… feeling empowered, “we can do this!”
When it was only three of us, we could take turns getting our ‘me time’, while the other dealing with the baby. With two kids, and each is a handful, there is NO ‘me time’. So we quickly realized that “we need help!”, otherwise we will end up feeling depressed and living in a messy apartment.
We start with the Eingewöhnung (acclimatization) period for Amaya at the daycare, soon after we were back at home. Amaya was not even 4 months old when she started, joining Aidan’s Kita group. Now after 4 weeks, we can have some uninterrupted hours during the day to work, while the children are in the daycare. I will dedicate another post for this, how the Kita (daycare) in Germany is the savior for parents’ sanity, and all children everywhere should have equal opportunities to go to Kita.
We also hire a student, living in the student dorm next door, to help us with cleaning and doing laundry, for two hours once a week. Regarding food, for lunch, we can always rely on the Mensa (canteen) on campus, while the Kita provides children’s lunch and snacks. We take turns cooking for dinner, where we follow the same meal plan every week, to simplify our life. Three meals we order from hellofresh.de (really great for variety), one meal we order out, and the other three meals alternating between pasta, fish ‘n rice and Schnitzel ‘n potatoes.
I’m trying to accept that this period, at least this year, will be the most trying period of my life. So in terms of my career development, it’s okay to take things slow, not to be ambitious, and to focus on my children. Afterall, the first thousand days of the children’s life is the golden period of their brain development. Once we get through that… it will be my turn! 😉
In terms of partnership and relationship, this is really a chance for us, the parents, to grow a stronger bond, because we really need to cooperate and have each other’s back. I have a strong conviction that children’s upbringing is the responsibility of both parents. So both of us will be the breadwinners, and both of us will be the nurturers.
Such a little creature made a huge ripple in our dynamic, but she also amplifies our happiness. Both of them are so sweet and cute! But they’re not going to be small and cute forever, so we’ll just enjoy it while we can 😉