Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Secret Lovers

I'm finding that one of the trickier balancing acts going from 1 to 2 children is trying to give enough love and attention to the new kid...without the older kid really noticing. On the one hand, it's important for J to understand that Jr. is a part of our family and it's okay for Mommy and Daddy to kiss and cuddle and hold the new baby in front of him. On the other hand, I've BEEN the older kid. I know how hard it is to feel like last year's model standing in the background while everyone in the store ooh's and aah's over the new baby -- look how precious he is! His little hands! Oh how cute, he's smiling in his sleep! Look at how perfect his head is! (That's the number-one comment about Jr., believe it or not, from strangers and family members alike. Apparently he was born with a Perfectly Shaped Head.) When I'm kissing the baby's head and singing to him and absentmindedly stroking his back while I carry him around the house, I can sometimes feel J watching us, and I've caught a few sad faces from him that just about broke my heart. And oftentimes that's precisely when J decides to act out -- boy oh boy do they figure out QUICK that when Mommy is breastfeeding she can't get up and drag me over to time out as fast usual, so Let the Bad Behavior Ensue!! So I have to stop loving on Jr. to see about J, and the poor baby is yet again soothing himself from the bouncy seat/swing/couch.

It sounds weird but Jr. and I have to resort to being secret lovers. After J is in bed, that's when I can freely snuggle up with the little guy in my bed, and stare at him and kiss his hands and sing songs that I keep to myself during J's waking hours because it's only a matter of time before he realizes that I'm singing HIS songs to the new baby. On Daycare Days like today, I can actually take a nap with Jr., and spend 30 minutes trying to coax a smile out of him, and dance around the living room with him, without feeling like I'm totally betraying J again. (Of course I also feel guilty even taking J to daycare, like the world's laziest mom, but that's a whole 'nother barrel of Mom-guilt for another day. Maybe if I called it "Preschool" instead of day care it wouldn't sound so bad to me). Jr. and I have to rely on these stolen moments to get to know each other -- he'll never get the complete undivided attention that J got for the past 3.5 years. When J is around, it feels like at least 75% of my energy is directed toward him--coming up with fun things for us to do so he's not parked in front of the TV/computer all day, trying to head off tantrums and bad behavior so I'm not spending my whole day doling out discipline, paying attention to when he seems sad or needy, attempting to coax the increasingly rare nap/quiet time out of him, etc. Because the newborn is so easy to take care of in comparison, I often get to the end of the day and look down at Jr. and think, "Hey, you. You've been attached to me for half the day but it feels like this is the first time I've really looked at you."

So we sneak around like we're having an affair, which I guess we are, kind of. And now it's 4 o'clock, time for me to go pick up my first love. Until we meet again on Friday, Jr.....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Phone Photo Friday - the Happiest Baby on This Block

Ok I haven't read "The Happiest Baby on the Block" (yet) but I know that white noise or "shushing" is a part of the spiel. So today I downloaded a continuous loop of white noise and holy moly did that work like magic! Not that Jr. is a bad sleeper but I'm trying to get him used to being in the Bjorn less and in the bassinette more during the day. Add in a pacifier and voila! Baby asleep within 10 minutes without swaddling or carrying him around, and on his back no less. Gold star for Dr. Karp.

Disclaimer: My phone is a piece of shiznit. Not a cool iPhone or iTouch or Blackberry--more like an iHave-a-Relative-Who-Works-For-Sprint-So-I-Get-A-Cheapo-Phone. Hence the poor quality pic.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Before Jr. was born, everyone I talked to who had more than one kid, everything I read about it, said the same thing: Going from 1 child to 2 is a huge adjustment, much harder than going from 0 to 1. So I've been mentally preparing myself for awhile now that these next few weeks are going to be super hard, exhausting, lots of tears for everyone involved, etc.

However (and I know I'm jinxing this as I write it)....so far it really hasn't been that "hard." In actuality, my experience with incorporating Jr. into our life has been MUCH MUCH MUCH better than my experience when J was born. Looking back at myself as a first-time mom, I realize now that I had a really hard time those first few weeks, and was so much more stressed-out and anxiety-ridden than I am right now. I cried EVERY DAY for several weeks, whether it was over J's inability to take more than a 20 minute nap during the day or how much I hated breastfeeding in the beginning or just plain grieving for my old carefree life. I know what you're thinking - classic PPD symptoms. I agree. Somehow I didn't see it then, but now it seems so obvious and I feel kind of sad for me and for J during that time. Jr. is now 2 weeks old and I have yet to cry or even feel like crying. Tired, exhausted, frustrated with the 3 year old (and the husband) at times, yes. Sad, depressed, overwhelmed? Not yet.

Having J around has also made this transition easier for me in alot of ways, which I didn't expect. It's like I have a sense of perspective now that just wasn't there the first time around. When J was a baby, I remember thinking that he would never sleep through the night, that he would always have random screaming and fussiness, that we would be stuck in the super-needy frustrating little baby phase forever. Of course it was all over in the blink of an eye, and whenever I feel myself getting a little antsy while I walk up and down the hall with a wide awake baby at 2am, I can tell myself that "this too shall pass" and actually believe it this time. I'm glad that we decided to have another child if for no other reason than he's allowed me to know what it's like to feel confident and relaxed as a mother, something I didn't feel with J until he was at least 6 months old.

Overall so far it seems like it's just a matter of making adjustments. We've had a pretty good schedule going for the past 3 years, so it's been a challenge for all of us to figure out a new daily routine. Jr. has been doing pretty well sleeping in bed with us or next to us in the cosleeper, waking only to nurse and then (for the most part) going right back to sleep. Thankfully he doesn't make much noise at night so J is still sleeping well. In the mornings, however, it's a bit of a 3-ring circus, with J trying to jump into our bed while the baby is still laying next to me and TH rushing around to get ready for work and me still groggy and unable to get up early enough to get a shower in before TH leaves. Then the day goes by in a blur, with J watching waaaaay too much TV and eating too much "convenience" food (ugh I' m so ashamed, I broke down and bought Kid Cuisines, J didn't like them anyway) and the baby spending waaaaay more time in a bouncy seat or hanging out by himself in the bassinette then J The Blessed First Child ever did. Twice a week J goes to daycare so he can see his friends, I can get a break, and we can keep our usual routine going a little bit because it's only a few weeks before I'm back at work. At least Jr. is super mellow so far - this kid rarely cries except for when he's hungry. He's already good at soothing himself a bit when J is occupying my attention, and really doesn't fuss much about anything.

So far, so good. I know there are people who want me to say that this transition has been really hard and I'm losing my mind and regretting having another kid, but it just wouldn't be true. We're slowly adjusting and incorporating Jr. into our life, and yes we're tired and yes I'm a little more irritable than usual, but otherwise it's all good. We'll see if it lasts....

Friday, October 9, 2009

If I was smart, I'd be taking a nap right now.

J is at a friend's house, TH is off getting a haircut, the baby is sleeping. I'm so totally going to "rest when the baby rests," as soon as I throw a few thoughts out there about the last couple of weeks.

First off, the birth. Or should I say, The Birth. Ever since I posted the words "ALL NATURAL BABY!!" on Facebook everyone I know (and I mean everyone) has been asking me about why and how and when and why?? I decided to do it this time without an epidural. (And let me set the record straight: it wasn't exactly all natural. We kick-started things with Pitocin but that was the only "intervention.") The answer is...I'm not sure. I just wanted to. Over the last couple of months of this pregnancy, I began reviewing my whole birth experience with J, and wondering if everything that happened really needed to happen. I can't say it was a "bad" birth experience - quite the contrary. When I remember back to that day it still feels magical and joyous and ranks up there as one of the Best Days of All Time. But I still had this nagging feeling that as a first-time mom, I was more of a passenger in that ride than the driver. Whatever the doctors recommended, I just shrugged and said, "Sure." Induction because I was 10 days past my due date? Sure. Narcotics to "tide me over" until the anesthesiologist could put in the epidural? Sounds good to me. Epidural before my water even broke? Whatev. Episiotomy? No problem, I'm numb from the waist down anyway. And so it went. And a healthy child was born, and we all lived happily ever after.

I don't know why, but about 2 months ago, I turned to TH while we were laying in bed watching TV, and out of nowhere said, "I don't want the epidural this time. I want to Go Natural. Do you think that's doable?" TH paused for a few minutes, and said, "Sure." That was it. I didn't do any research on natural childbirth, or watch any documentaries made by Ricki Lake, or read up on all the latest literature proving that natural childbirth has some advantage over anesthesia during childbirth. I just decided that I wasn't getting the epidural, unless I absolutely had to, and didn't really spend much time thinking about it otherwise.

Fast forward to September 29. For a variety of reasons including some worrisome blood pressure spikes, we decided to go ahead and induce labor since I was 2 days past my due date and there was no reason not to. Although I didn't research much, I was aware that being induced definitely lowered my chances of an otherwise drug-free birth. I knew from being induced with J that contractions augmented by Pitocin are pretty intense.

And intense they were. We checked into the hospital around 8am, and by noon my water was broken and I was clinging to the side of the bed for dear life, questioning my somewhat irrational decision to forego anesthesia. Thankfully my mom -- who delivered two 7-pound twins and my 8.5 pound little sister without any hint of anesthesia -- turned out to be a phenomenal doula, basically talking me down from the ledge when I really started to freak about the pain. I don't why this embarasses me, but it does: there was definitely freaking out. And yelling. Not screaming, but...yelling. Like how they yell in the movies, you know, "Oh my God, I don't think I can do this!" and "Oh Gooooooooood, pleeeeeeeease let this end" and (according to TH) "Someone kill me." I'm not a super demonstrative person normally, I rarely cry, I hardly ever yell or lose my sh-- in public, so the fact that I was actually yelling and moaning where other people could hear me is a good indicator of just how God-awful the pain was.

Thankfully -- THANKFULLY -- right when things got really hairy and I was this close to begging for the epidural, the nurse turned off the Pitocin because I "didn't really need it." (As it turns out, the real reason was more practical. The L & D ward was extremely busy that day with alot of emergencies, and my dr. had so many c-sections and deliveries that the nurse wanted to slow down my progression so someone other than my mom would be available to catch the baby.) That's when I discovered the HUGE difference between contractions with and without Pitocin. Suddenly, the pain was more manageable. Tough, but doable. Within 2 more hours, I was pushing -- another sensation that I had NO IDEA ABOUT during my first birth. Extremely weird for me. It was so...involuntary.

And then he was out, looking just like his older brother, even weighing the exact same as J. It's probably one of the more surreal moments of my life, like deja vu all over again. Here we were in the same hospital where we had J 3 years ago, and the moment was no different than the first time. Awe. Elation. Disbelief. Feeling like the clouds had opened up and an actual angel had been dropped into our midst. It was like he wasn't real to me until 2:46pm on 9/29/09. I hadn't realized how much I'd been keeping this baby at arm's length in a way, because of our previous losses and the nagging feeling that somehow this was all just a dream, I'd wake up tomorrow and find that I had hallucinated being pregnant again. It's hard to explain. But I can honestly say that all of my fears about not loving this baby as much as J went out the window the minute I looked at him, and the fact that I delivered him "naturally" was the cherry on top. I felt almost euphoric, full of energy -- definitely not the exhaustion I felt after J was born. I was up walking around, eating, calling friends (updating Facebook via my phone) almost immediately, and I couldn't get to sleep until almost 12 hours later at 2am because I was so frigging exhilarated.

So that's the birth story. It was wonderful, but there were moments where the pain was pretty much horrifying. I'm glad that I experienced natural childbirth because I'm fairly sure we won't be doing this again, but I can't fault anyone who wants the epidural -- I didn't use the word "horrifying" on accident. In the end, all that matters is that our new little guy is here, he's healthy, he's gorgeous, and--knock on wood--he's already a MUCH better sleeper than his older brother.

(Everyone on FB knows his name, but for the purposes of this blog, since he's named after TH we'll be calling him "Jr.").

Introducing Jr.: