Emily Henderson Header Image Emily Henderson

Charlie and Elliot

Six Weeks With 2 Kids

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Well, we are six weeks into ‘two kids’ and normalcy has set in – in a good way. Three weeks ago I was asking my friends who had one kid (trying for two) if that’s REALLY what they want to do. But you adapt, THANK GOD, and life gets normal. The first few weeks were so emotionally harrowing because we both felt like we couldn’t get a break and things felt unpredictable, despite having help. Plus my hormones were creating an emotional tornado inside – making me cry all of the time out of joy or self-pity (then I’d cry over the shame of crying about how sorry I felt for myself).

We’ve now got our rhythm down most of the time and when we don’t, we are fine with it. It’s amazing how you just adapt and can handle more, and now when I only have one kid it feels like NONE. Well, not exactly but one feels so incredibly easy compared to both.

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Ellie (although we mostly call her little bird or birdie) is a magical baby and I’ve officially become obsessed with her. It took me a few weeks, though, for the love to morph into obsession, which I’m not sure is normal or not. It’s like your first baby is like your first love where you are OVERWHELMED with your feelings for them all the time. Like “talk on the phone for 5 hours a night” kinda obsessed. But your second love, say your college boyfriend, isn’t quite as overwhelming – not because you love them less, but because your emotions have done this before.

This is all to say that I’m now equally obsessed with both children, something that I didn’t think would happen. All these pics are from when she was 2 weeks old, but now, at six weeks, she is so engaging and smiley and responsive and fun. She is relatively easy, but definitely wants more attention than Charlie did. I could put him down for 40 minutes and he would coo at the wall, whereas this lady is like “that wall is boring, have you no stories to regale me with while holding me and rubbing my cheeks???”

But I honestly try not to compare as that’s not good for anyone, and I never do it in front of them, just in case it’s interpreted weird (P.S. I’m a NUT about kids listening/comprehending things because I personally believe that they understand at least contexts, if not full stories, REALLY really early).

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Charlie has grown up so much in the last 6 weeks it’s insane. He can play more by himself, which has been a GODSEND. He’s communicating like an adult I swear (although I think nobody understands his language full of lisps like we can), so he can tell us everything that he is feeling. He also hangs out with his new friends, Big Bird, Goofy (classic Disney), Blue Fox, Blaze, and Peppa a lot more – something we used to reserve just for the weekends or “special occasions, ” but HA, not anymore my friends. Some days there are LOTS of special occasions. Like all day long. On the weekend, especially during college football season it’s a special occasion for like 3 hours in a row. I lay with Birdie and pin or catch up on my what my blog friends are doing while Charlie and Brian don their Duck gear and watch the game.

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Charlie likes Elliot, a lot. He wants to hold her often, loves to make her smile, gets sad when she cries and otherwise pretends she’s not there. At times he wants to be held when I’m holding her, “Up, Mama!” (I swiftly swap), but his jealousy with her is not really a thing yet. He gets sad and frustrated without knowing why, and we just talk through it – and it’s been over a week since that happened so it’s getting less and less. He reiterates to us what we’ve been pounding into his head for months – that he’s such a good big brother, that she’s his little sister (we were told never “the baby” or “our baby, ” always “your sister”), that she needs more help from us because she’s just a baby, and most importantly that he’ll always be our first baby. He says it all the time, “Chahlie, firs baby.” It’s painfully cute.

Quick Tip: The Berenstain Bears have helped a lot – because it’s Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Sister Bear and Brother Bear (I realize it all sounds a little disgustingly perfect at times, and certainly outdated but it happens to be our family make-up, too, so it works for us). He loves to point to all of us, naming our titles – mama, dada, little sister (he calls her Elliot half the time), Charlie, Bearcat, and snack. He’s apparently hoping that we also adopt any food that comes in a wrapper as another little sister.

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After we had Elliot I kept warning people with the “JUST WAIT IT WAS TOO SOON” story, and the look of sheer exhaustion on my face was pretty darn convincing. I told them to wait til their older one is 3 and in pre-school, and able to entertain themselves more. But now it’s starting to feel more doable and I’m sure in a year from now I’ll be touting the benefits of having kids only 2 years apart.

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I did make one of the stupidest mistakes last week, though. I had to take a trip to New York to be on The View. It was a really quick trip (less than 48 hours) so bringing the whole family seemed insane since I’d be working the whole time. Brian and Charlie stayed in Sacramento with his parents (we were already there for Thanksgiving) and I went with Elliot. It was not smart (work was fine, just personally). I worked all day (our nanny took her during the day), then at 6pm when I was dying to be with her I snatched her back. But I also really needed to catch up on emails and posts, and to prep all my talking points for the live TV segment. Plus sleep. I needed to sleep. And this lovely little baby doesn’t like being put down, and certainly not when in a different time zone, and in a weird hotel room. Both nights I didn’t get her down til 3am, after 3 total emotional breakdowns. The second night when I knew I had to wake up at 6am to be on TV I was crying so hard, not knowing what to do. I finally came to peace with it – I wouldn’t sleep tonight and that’s ok. Nobody would die if I went one night without sleep and adrenaline would see me through the day. If you are wondering why I didn’t utilize my nanny during the nights it’s because I didn’t want to. Despite needing to sleep, I was across the country from Brian and Charlie and I wanted to be with my baby. I also didn’t want my nanny to be with her all day and all night – she was only 5 weeks old!

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Lesson learned – we travel as a family or I just go alone. Also I’m just now letting our nanny hold her for more than a few minutes at a time, and that trip was hard for me. It’s a weird possessive, ‘mama bear’ thing I think. She’s my baby. She is going to spend enough time over the next few years with our nanny, and she will come to love her, so these are my months to get her to bond to me and Brian, first. I sound like a psychopathic toddler with the last box of raisins, I realize. Mine!

What else . . . we just got to New York where we’ll be for a series of shoots for two weeks. The whole family came and I’m super excited to live here for a bit again, especially during the holidays. We check into an apartment tomorrow, but right now we are in a hotel (we got a cheap “suite” at this hotel called Hotel Renwick) and we are just trying to keep both kids from waking each other up – because getting them down with the time change and no nap for Charlie was a FEAT.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in and say “hi.” It hasn’t quite been the most relaxing “maternity leave, ” but I keep telling myself that while I only took 2 weeks off, for the next two years I’m going take advantage of ANY week that isn’t loaded with shoots and take whatever days or half days off I want to. I have a flexible schedule, dictated by me which I realize is an extreme luxury and one that I’m going to take advantage of, for sure.

Sorry that all these photos are from a month ago – Stephanie Todaro took them when she came over to take photos for a sponsored post and I just saw them, so despite being outdated, I had to post them. Thanks, Steph.

Birdie is 6 weeks old now and I personally think she’s the cutest baby that has ever been born. I have proof:

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She looks like a little bird elf. One that loves sleeping on top of her tired, happy mama 🙂

*Photos by Stephanie Todaro

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  1. Hang in there, it does get easier! The lack of sleep really sucks (I’ve got two kids a little older than yours), but it does get easier. When you see them playing together and making each other happy, it’s worth it all.

    Also, I was a nanny for years, and kids always know who their parents are. Always.

    Best of luck!

  2. Thanks for the update! We’ve all been wondering how it was going 🙂 And you’re right, your little bird elf is the cutest baby ever.

    Wishing you some sleep!

  3. I have two kids (now grown) and my daughter Ellie (for Ellen) was my first. She too had to be held to sleep. I wish I’d just accepted that like you seem to. It seemed like a constant battle trying to “put her down.”
    Of course we didn’t have a nanny. But after 22 years I still remember the first time I slept was when my husband took her at night and laid on the couch with Ellie on his chest so I could rest for a while.
    Then with my son, it seemed so much easier. Unfortunately, you don’t really learn all this until you go through it.

  4. Thanks for the update you always give such a geniune look at what’s happening. Through it all your joy of family and life comes through.

  5. Impressive! I wasn’t even wearing real underwear yet, much less working. Go easy on yourself. Oh, and you WILL be touting the benefits of having kids close in age. It’s survival for two years and then a lifetime of patting yourself on the back when they play together.

    1. I was also not wearing real underwear at 5 weeks PP! Lol, and mine are 3 years apart and it’s still hard. My oldest can entertain himself, but he still gets jealous at times and it is hard on me because he is old enough to really get it and remember… Anyway, it seems you get this, but the best advice I got was to help the older kid first – get him a snack before you sit down to nurse or let the baby cry for 30 more seconds while you attend to the toddler’s needs – because the baby won’t remember, but the toddler might.

      Hang in there! Enjoy your trip.

  6. We have a Charlie (3) and an Ellie(1 1/2)! You will love having them so close together eventually. You feel like you complete milestones and will never have to go back (bottles!). It is always as hard as it is ever going to be, so you are heading downhill (in a good way) form day 1. Plus they do love to play together, even now.

  7. My heart goes out to you! My first baby was so hard at night despite all the sleep books I read and even now that he’s almost three, he still gets up at least once a night! I remember so many nights with him sobbing “why won’t you sleep?!” Luckily baby #2 has been an excellent sleeper all on his own. I think the difference is partly temperament, and partly because we figured out his food in tolerances much earlier than with my first. My first would be up five time a night up until 18 mos when we found out he was intolerant to gluten and dairy. Once we cut those out , he went from getting up five times a night and sometimes being up for hours to once a night for a few minutes. I wish you luck good mama! Be gentle with yourself!

    1. Same here with #1. I wish someone had mentioned gluten and/or dairy intolerances to me from the get go. I didn’t realize the effect of the dairy until about 6 months, but looking back, I see how uncomfortable he was the whole time. It was a REAL bitch for me to cut those things out while nursing, but it was worth it not to see a zit pop up on his face 3 hours after I’d downed some ice cream. Plus I was skinny!!

  8. It is definitely a challenge to have two young kids, and so rewarding at the same time…and much, much easier the older they get. This is such a beautiful and real peek into your mommyhood. Best of luck and wishing you rest.:)

  9. she *is* the cutest baby ever born. thanks for being so authentic about the challenges.

  10. she’s adorable! (and Charlie too)

    it gets easier, my kids are also two years apart and the little one is now 8 months (and always needs attention). I figure it’s tough going for a couple years while they are little but then when they are older it’ll be great especially when they play together 🙂

  11. cute baby, cute toddler…cute shirt! where’s it from??

  12. I had two girls, two years apart and I remember how emotionally harrowing it is, I was more concerned for the older one not feeling left out. But now at 14 & 16 yrs old they are inseparable. I don’t know how you do it, work and kids ! amazing………….you are doing an amazing job ! hang in there……..

  13. I love this update! I had my second two weeks ago. Our first born is two and a half. There are days when the TV is our best friend… Thank goodness for Daniel Tiger!

  14. You are doing an amazing job, Emily! What a gift that Brian’s work is so flexible too and you can be in NYC together as a family. You will one day look back on these early years and your stories will be on parallel with the Okies surviving the Dust Bowl or the folks who crossed the Sierras in winter. Yes, you’re that epic. Thanks for sharing the love and humor!

  15. Your kids are so, so cute. Great post too xx
    https://champagneinateacup.wordpress.com/

  16. She is so beautiful! What a sweetie. Birdie is the best nickname ever. I have three kids and they are all about 2.5 years apart. It was definitely a little insane when I had a 5 year old, a 2.5 year old and a newborn, but now that the oldest is 9, I love how close they all are in age. All three of them play together really well, and it isn’t that hard to find activities that we can all do as a family and that everyone enjoys. I have friends with a 9 year old and a 2 year old and they are always splitting up to go to separate activities. The kids are so far apart in age that I don’t know if they’ll ever enjoy the same activities at the same time.

    You are doing A LOT of work while on maternity leave! I completely understand the call to come back to work early, or sporadically, while on leave–resist as much as you can! My situation was that I had just started a new job while 8 months pregnant with my third child. I took 2 full weeks off after he was born, then worked a few hours a day from home until I went back full time when he was 6 weeks old. It was sooo hard and although there wasn’t much I could do about it at the time, I feel very regretful that it had to be that way. It is so stressful to manage everything with a newborn, a toddler and a serious lack of sleep. Go slowly, mama!

  17. You looked fantastic on the view especially considering you got no sleep.

  18. Reading this reminds me so much of times when my kids were little. Many similarities. Mine were 19 months apart, and while it was kinda crazy (pretty much no sleep for three years), I don’t regret doing it that way one bit. You get out of the “hard work” stages faster – from bottles, diapers, and car seats, because they are almost at the same stage. One regret is seeing our older one as “so much older” since there was a tiny baby to compare her to. But she was really just a baby herself during that first year. I think we had some unreasonable expectations because she was older. But from 2-5 years old was bliss. They played together in a lovely way, and that’s what I miss the most. Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your time in NY. How cool is it that you can all go?!?

  19. Dear Emily, thank you for sharing your experience in such an honest and warm way.
    With much respect and love, all the best!

  20. You are blessed Emily. Your babies are beautiful!!!

  21. My kids are exactly two years apart, and I thought the newborn days were going to do me in (and by “newborn” I mean first year at minimum). I couldn’t believe I had made such a mistake ruining my first baby’s life (and my own, and my husbands) by bringing in the world’s sweetest but most needy baby ever. BUT, now my kids are nearly two and four (sob), and they are best friends. My older child was crying at daycare the other day, and they took her to her brother for comfort because they just love each other so much and everyone knows it. When I pick them up at school my son wants his sister more than me. I cry big fat mama tears all the time watching them play. Now I’m panicking because I want a third, and that baby will be three years younger than the second and even though I know that’s better for me, I’m so upset that they won’t be so close in age.

  22. Your kids are so darling. You’re a sweet momma!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  23. I LOVE your family stories!!! Your babies are adorable. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m in NYC too and I’m wondering if you could sign my book? I love your work. If not, I understand you’re beyond super busy. Can’t wait to see what you’ll be shooting. Happy Holidays!!

  24. When I told my coworker, a father of two spaced two-years apart, that I was pregnant with my second (still am, 2.5 months to go…) he said, “Congratulations! You will never regret it. Except for the first few weeks when you will regret every painful second. And then it will become wonderful.”
    You’ve rounded the corner in warp speed time 🙂

  25. awwww. your post and the pictures are so adorable! i have a 3 year old and almost 8 month old so i totally relate to everything. we even have the berenstein bears. i laughed when you said that thing about making 1 feel like nothing. so so true.

  26. You are doing a wonderful job juggling two children and a job at the same time. It must be extremely hard. You are such a great mum and have really cute babies.

    http://www.dorisleslieblau.com/blog/

  27. I love your family posts. Thank you for sharing this aspect of your life and your career with us! Its so important to know how other women do it all. In my opinion your experiences as a Mother are as inspirational as your design aesthetic, especially because do I respect you so much professionally. Thanks for the little glimpses of your personal life!!!

  28. As I read this with a two-week old baby girl who loves being held, with a sad and frustrated 2.5 year old baby boy, I am completely subsumed by the bittersweetness of these first days and weeks and feel every word of this post. Yes yes yes – thank you for sharing the tales of your heart breaking and exploding, the sheer craziness of those nights and the meltdowns, the good, the bad, the ugly. I so appreciate you sharing this with us – not enough of us do (mostly because we’re so tired).

  29. So sweet. My sister and I are 22 months apart and we are REALLY close as adults. The teenage years were rough though 🙂

  30. Oh, Emily, she is lovely. Just lovely! I feel for you–the new baby stuff is so hard because of the lack of sleep. I get you! I remember one late night just thinking, “It is physically impossible for any person to never sleep–it’s got to happen sometime!” Loads of tears and laughs later, the kids sleep like bears. Really cute, furry bears and the mama bear is happy. Best of luck in the new time zone! Eek. XOXO, Poppy

  31. So funny, we also have an Ellie (Eleanor) that we nicknamed Birdie. She’s 2 now, and #2 is due in June, so this was both terrifying and exciting to read! Good job mama, you’re a great mother, stylist and all around person.

  32. Emily, you are a good mama! My second son was born just a few weeks before your Birdie (cute name btw) and honestly, I don’t know how you do anything else. Granted, I am not a fabulous interior designer with a blog and clients and such, but most days I’m lucky to get a shower.

    No words of wisdom here, just know that I’m right there in the trenches with you. Crazy tired, crazy in love, just trying to get the family through the day in one piece. All we can do is love them and do our best!

  33. I have a three year old and a four month old. I just went back to work… a new job a few weeks ago and am pumping. It’s been rough, a hard adjustment… very emotional and crazy. No one knows how tough it is unless they are doing it. Hang in there.

  34. I love this post, because it’s so refreshingly honest & sincere. Thank you for doing that, because motherhood isn’t as glam or easy as some other bloggers post. You’re an inspiration to all women and mothers – keep up the wonderful work, and can’t wait to see more of your family posts :).

  35. Adapt is the key word. Us moms are just able to continually adapt to the family situation and figure it out. It’s crazy how you don’t realize how easy 1 child is until you have 2…and then how easy 2 kiddos are until you have 3. The trick is to keep telling yourself that you’ve got this and whenever I’m overwhelmed I remind myself that my youngest could have been twins and that always puts it in perspective for me…I’ve got this. My three are 4.5 years, 3 years and 13 months old. It’s a crazy, exhausting, beautiful time in our lives and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Good luck to all you mamas out there with a newborn…it gets soooo much better. Chin up!!!

  36. She is a cutie. They both are. Merry Christmas.

  37. There’s no denying 2 is way harder than 1, and the lack of sleep thing is murder. But it does get better. I have a boy and girl split exactly the same apart, and they have such a blast together now. I wouldn’t do it differently for the world, but holy hell it was hard for a while. Hang in there, and go easy on yourself. You’re doing great. When in doubt, hand sweet Ellie to Brian or the nanny and go take a nap. Because Mama’s no good to anybody when Mama’s brain-dead from exhaustion.

  38. Just wait! Once they are a little older, they will start playing together and keeping each other busy:) Your photos are lovely.

  39. I so agree about not bringing the little ones if you don’t have to. There were times when their whole sleep pattern (which took a long time to settle into) was disrupted because of being in a new place. It’s just not worth it. BTW, cute kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Thanks so much for this! I’ll be in your shoes in … 7 weeks (hopefully less, haha!). I love the tip about referring to him/her as “your brother/sister” instead of “the baby” or “our baby”. I have an incredibly helpful and empathetic 2.5 year old now, and I’m afraid that will die and he’ll become a jealous, angry, aggressive little boy. This is very reassuring!

  41. Lovely and happy family! They are cute and adorable.

  42. You always have the right words. I just had my second son in June and the first three weeks were a doozy… but after that, we settled in and how we couldn’t imagine life any other way.

  43. So so happy for you & your sweet family. That is all. 🙂

    oh! and thanks for the update!

  44. We had our first 2 kids exactly 2 years apart. The hard part was our first hit the “terrible twos” within a couple months of the 2nd being born. Another truly tough thing was my parents had both gotten sick and passed away when each child was a baby so I was juggling new babies and dying parents for 3 years. Now 4 years later we have a 3rd beautiful bonus baby who is the joy of our family. We moved, I work full time now, and have the usual trials in this poor economy. How strong I’ve become since the baby years. As a mother you become super human because you have to. Each and every day. The growth is incredible. Wishing you and every other new mom the best.

  45. Aw – thank you for sharing so sweetly. I relate to the intense wonderfulness and how hard it is too. Our kids are 4 and almost 1 and, as you know from already having one, it just keeps getting better and better.

  46. You are the best! I let out a few laughs during this point and while I don’t mean to overtly laugh at some of your misfortunes, it is just SO true. I’m pregnant with my second and can’t wait, but know it will be challenging. It’s so refreshing to hear your take and also know you are surviving. The beginning years are the hardest I think but soon enough E will be as easy as Charlie and all the sleepless nights will fill like a distant memory.

  47. Great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here.

  48. Such a excellent job done by you.

  49. I like your blog or information which you give in the article. Such a informative blog you share.

  50. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post.

  51. Thanks for sharing your experiences, they are a pleasure to read! I love all your family posts and bookmarked your maternity clothes post during your first pregnancy. So helpful! I have a breastfeeding question. My baby wanted to be held all the time too, so I could rarely pump. Breastfeeding was a struggle. Any tips–sites or books that you’d recommend for breastfeeding/pumping? I saw your post on an eight hour sleep (hooray!), and remember a five hour sleep crushing my supply. (My midwife chastised me for it.) I feel like you might have some tips or could point me in the right direction for next time. 🙂 Thank you!

  52. Just wow Emily!!!! no words .

  53. Interesing post about kids , thank you so much

  54. If you are wondering why I didn’t utilize my nanny during the nights it’s because I didn’t want to. Despite needing to sleep, I was across the country from Brian and Charlie and I wanted to be with my baby.

  55. Thanks for the update! We’ve all been wondering how it was going 🙂 And you’re right, your little bird elf is the cutest baby ever.

    Wishing you some sleep!