Well, We have all survived as a family of 4 for 10 days! Boy has it been a journey! Not just week one of newborn life, but just for fun throw in a toddler, Christmas Day and New Years in the mix also, OH and a pandemic. And just for extra sprinkles on top, a crazy dog and 2 cats.
Alas, we are all alive. Somehow our memories make us forget what the newborn days are like so that we procreate again, because we are both wondering "Was it this hard with our first??" And the answer is no and yes. It is different. Being the second child makes it easier because we know what to expect (mostly), but much harder juggling a toddler and a newborn this time around. But things do come back to you like riding a bike, like breastfeeding, diaper changes, newborn baths, etc.
My toddler (2 years and 4 months) hasn't really warmed up to him yet. She does seem to care for him, and frequently wants to know his whereabouts, wants him to be in the same room, brings him toys, and now is into shouting "It's Okay! It's Okay!" when he is crying (it's the cutest). But she does not want to hold him, or touch him, or any type of contact yet. We are letting her do it when she is ready on her own terms. We are definitely seeing some behavior changes as well with her as she adjusts to this new transition and realizing she's no longer the center of attention. I am trying to do all the things, give her 1:1 time, tell her I love her, keep her routine as stable as possible, give her clear explanations for what I am doing with baby boy but not blaming him for why I cannot play with her. Hopefully she adjusts soon! We also struggle to adequately keep her entertained and busy, but due to the fact that we are all in what I call "basic survival mode" meaning making sure everyone is alive, fed and somewhat rested- entertainment is hard to muster up. So, big amounts of gratitude go to Disney +, as I can now proudly say I have memorized the scripts to not just Olaf's Frozen Adventure, Frozen, Frozen 2, but also now working on Once Upon a Snowman. Frozen is now officially her favorite thing ever. Normally I might feel guilty about letting her watch all of these in one day....um, every day, but again, survival mode. Honestly, if my toddler will sit there nicely playing toys and watching movies that I in fact also like, then its a win right now. We will work on the screen time later. We are parenting a newborn and a toddler in a pandemic! Basic-survival-mode.
But week one, it's been rough. However we are so blessed that we have a support system, although it is more challenging this go around with COVID mixed in. We can't really accept much external help due to the fear of introducing COVID in this vulnerable household right now, so yet another change in how we have been able to welcome him into the world.
The nights have been rough- He is awake about every 2 hours (sometimes 2.5) at night, and changing him and feeding him takes about 30-40 minutes, giving me about 90 minutes maximum to sleep in between. And thats if I fall asleep right away. That is sometimes the hardest part of new motherhood. It's easy enough to say, "okay I have 90 minutes, let's sleep the whole time!" but really, mom ears are always open and every little baby grunt or whimper whips me wide awake again, and I spend a large amount of time stressing myself out with thoughts like, "Okay, now is your chance- ya better sleep now...like right now...go to sleep...count the sheep...now's your chance...Soon he will be awake again...sleep now or forever stay awake...soon your time is up..." and it goes on and on. During the day I get about 3-3.5 hour naps out of him, but of course we are chasing our toddler around all day. So "Sleep when the baby sleeps" carries a new meaning when you introduce your second. And it's pretty much nonexistent. Basically we have still been able to take naps with the use of "who's turn is it to nap" and one parent will man both kids while the other can peacefully get a solid 2 hours.
At night I also find myself not sleeping in my desired positions either. After you put the baby in the bassinet, of course you must awkwardly stand there making sure all your efforts have worked and it appears in fact that he will go to sleep. Once you've accepted the fact that just maybe, he does indeed appear to be falling asleep, you realize OMG my 90 minutes has now started, its now like 87 minutes! So you carefully crawl into bed (our bassinet is right next to my side) so as not to make any noise. But THEN, You can't get into a perfectly comfortable position because THEN you are pretty much asking the baby gods to wake your baby up, thus you must let go of your comfy position and attend to baby. So INSTEAD, you awkwardly lay there in pretty much whatever position you got in the bed, and compromise with the baby gods- "I will agree to lay here uncomfortably if you just give me 2 hours of sleep" and there we go. Except sometimes the baby Gods still go back on their word, and on nights like last night, baby is up at 2 am and doesn't truly find more sleep until 6:30 when we all give up and come downstairs. These days, I find extra comfort in latching on to dreams I have had, because they are proof that I did in fact sleep. I'd also be lying if I said I haven't googled how much night nurses cost! Just kidding, I won't go there...yet.
Having a boy has its other challenges of course that having a girl did not bring prior! Of course I am talking about the lovely diaper changes. Prior to newborn life, I heard all the warnings, but thought, how hard can it be? Just keep the diaper over the area and you won't get peed on. HAH! HA! We have been shot with valiant streams of pee (it really is amazing how high it can go) multiple times. On our first night home, I assure you we went through approximately 5 outfits (JUST overnight). Luckily we have improved slightly since then and *only* range 1-2 outfits per night now. If we are lucky enough to catch it from shooting in the air, we still sometimes face it creating puddles underneath as well. BUT I have learned some tips, in which I will share with you- in possible hopes it may help another boy mom out there!
From this point forward, lets just refer to "it" as well...It.
Step 1: Roll up the onesie as far up as you can go as to prevent babies outfit from getting soaked.
Step 2: Place a new diaper directly under the still fastened, dirty diaper, so as also to protect the changing pad from puddles.
Step 3: Open up the old diaper. NOW WAIT. NO SUDDEN MOVES. "It" has now seen the cold and you are now in the danger zone. DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT. THE MINUTE YOU TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT, IT WILL SHOOT HIGHER THAN THE YELLOWSTONE FOUNTAIN GEYSER.
Step 4: If you aren't lucky enough to promote the pee fountain during these first 30 seconds with the old diaper still there ready to re-shut to capture the pee, then try waving at it to further induce coldness. No I don't mean waving hello, you know what I mean- just wave to blow air on it. Repeat Step 3.
Step 5: If you have not been able to induce the stream of pee, you're now on your own. Ya gotta do the rest As-Fast-As-POSSIBLE. Have your wipes ready, have the butt cream ready and ready set GO! Get that old diaper out and new diaper fastened as soon as possible! Beat your own record every time! We still sometimes have gotten hit during this danger zone, but the likelihood has been a little less.
We did buy these little "pee pee teepees" that basically provide somewhat of a pee shelter in hopes of catching most of the pee if he does go. But these have not quite stopped the other problem of the puddles underneath, plus they don't stay on great, especially with small squirmy babies like mine.
Speaking of buying things, holy canoli. First off, let me express my gratitude for Amazon, especially during this pandemic. I realize I suddenly need something, and I'm on Prime ordering it right away. Sometimes I don't even know if the product exists and Amazon shows me the light! (Like the pee pee tee pee!- I just typed "pee shelter" into the search bar, and who knew- it exists!) And also I'd like to express even MORE gratitude for Amazon's return policy. Four products in the last 10 days, FOUR, I have bought hastily because I was convinced I needed it for my postpartum recovery or for baby, and by the time it arrived (granted there were holiday shipping delays), I realized I did not in fact need it. RETURN.
As for my recovery, I must say it has seemingly gone much better than I felt it did with my first. Maybe its because I knew what to expect, maybe not. I had the same degree tear but this time overall felt like I healed faster. My biggest piece of advice to any pregnant mom is to start a miralax regime about a month prior to expected delivery and continue post partum. It will REALLY help that first poo after birth which is NO-JOKE. In fact Miralax might be my new go-to present I gift to new moms at their baby showers. I might get weird looks but they will thank me after their first poo.
My milk came in around day 3, 4 ish and hot diggity. I cannot actually believe women pay a lot of money to feel like this ALL THE TIME. I truly feel like I am a breast size X right now and it is ridiculous. I know my body is still figuring it out but MAN. Whenever the baby nurses, he's basically telling my body each time and each day how much my body should continue to make, and frankly the milk chef is having a hard time keeping up. I visualize a milk waiter taking his order, like- ok so you want 2 oz now, 7 oz later, 5 oz after that, Left boob right boob, 6 oz tonight- and then the waiter gives up and delivers 2 gallon milk jugs and just basically installed a gallon on each boob and told the baby to figure it out. It is insane.
I'd say the last biggest difference between the first and second kid (besides the gender, duh) has been the comfort level. Although caring for newborns is still really scary and still generates anxiety, the comfort level is still noticeably higher. With my first we literally logged every time I nursed, which boob, how long...every pee, every poo, etc. We used the Glow Baby app and it was great, I highly recommend for new parents. I even printed the spreadsheet it gives you and brought it to my pediatrician and he laughed at its insaneness. This time around, we made it to day four with logging everything. Basically, is he peeing? Yes. Is he pooping? Yes. Is he eating? Yes. Thats all we need to know. Everything works. As for remembering which boob I handed out last and exactly what time it was? No idea. But we're figuring it out.
The last thing I leave you with is the emotional state. Being a new parent is so hard, so emotionally and physically exhausting that sometimes each day its hard figuring out how to keep going. How to face yet another night of no sleep. The best advice I can help give is to do teamwork parenting. Take turns on who is doing what. Give each other turns napping like I mentioned above. Give each other GRACE and don't get on each others case about what they are or are not doing right now. Show each other love and support as you are each struggling in different ways. Balance the duties. If the mom is exclusive breastfeeding, then dads can help with more diapers, or the dishes, or laundry, etc. Set goals for the day. That sounds overly ambitious, but I actually mean it to be the opposite. Set one goal or intention for the day, and everything else is icing on the cake. For example, "today we will just do one load of laundry", or "today I will fold yesterdays load of laundry", "today I will wash the dishes", and literally GO YOU. You set a goal, even if its a small one, and rest the rest of the day. In fact, writing this blog today was my only goal. The rest of the day has been baby snuggles! And lots of pee and poop. But give yourself grace. Give yourself rest.
So many people have asked me in the first couple days, "do you need anything", or "how can I help", but I don't know what to tell people. What we need is someone to help pick up all the toddlers toys off the ground for the millionth time, someone to help make dinners, someone to do laundry, the dishes, etc. Unfortunately with COVID its a lot harder to even accept that kind of help right now. So we cope. See above: basic-survival-mode. When hubby goes back to work....I'm still trying to figure out how I will survive, but again I plan to use my goal/intention technique above- one goal, one task, and the rest will be icing on the cake.
Thank you all for reading my extensive word vomit. Newborn life is no joke. Its ONE of the hardest parts of parenting but also one of the best, too. The newborn snuggles are THE BEST, truly, the BEST. My toddler doesn't really snuggle anymore because she's always on the go, so when my little man will fall asleep in my arms, it is the best feeling ever. I cherish these days and am doing my best to record them in words and in pictures because I truly know how fast they go!
Thank you for reading,
Love, The New Motherboard.