Thursday, November 6, 2014

What motherhood looks like the second time around

Something happens when the second children are born amongst a group of friends. It's a play date that once would've been sharing anecdotes and coffee and quietly nursing your babies, but now is a series of unanswered questions, trailing off sentences, and utter exhaustion from managing toddlers who don't quite want to share yet. It used to be easy to offer advice, share a meal and help with house chores when a friend had a new baby. Now it's "welcome to the jungle, buddy" as you take turns wiping snotty noses, popping pacis in your mouths after they fall on a floor that hasn't been swept in ... Days? WEEKS? Who can really be sure. Neither of you even know what day of the week it is, or how many times the baby woke up last night, or how many weeks old he is. You're drinking too much caffeine - lukewarm at best, leaving a baby crying in the bouncy seat to take the 2yo to the potty, and wearing at least 2-3 bodily fluids - not your own - at any given time. 

But something magical happens when the second babies are born, and all of the moms start caring for all of the kids, regardless of who birthed them. You start doling out industrial size buckets of animal crackers and bouncing a newborn in each arm and not apologizing for bringing unsliced grapes. And there are a lot of tears, from the babies who can't be held as much as their older siblings and the toddlers who have ALL OF THE FEELINGS, and the overtired, overworked, overtouched mommies. But somehow, someone always has a free arm to stop your two year old from running in the parking lot or hold a pacifier in the baby's mouth while you pee for the first time in 6 hours. 

It's really quite lovely to watch, as each new second baby is welcomed and each new mom of two manages her own terror with the promise that she CAN do it, because look at all these moms who already are! There's so much grace given for moms of two, so much less judgement. And so much more coffee.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Dude is Three Months!

One fourth of a year. Wow ... It feels so different than it did when London was 3 months, I think because I knew I was going back to work. While he still seems very young developmentally, the weeks have just flown by this time around. 

Sleep: still doing 7.5+ hours almost every night - we even got 10h recently!! He's going down around 7:30pm these days, the same time as London most nights. Sleeps great in the crib at night and doing better for naps. I have to be vigilant about not letting him get overtired or else getting him to sleep is really tough. Sometimes still napping in the swing, out of ease / necessity. He seems to nap every 1.5-2h for about 30 minutes, so we are developing a routine which is very much welcomed in my book. Thankfully he still naps well in the carrier and occasionally can be transferred to the stroller or carseat if he falls asleep in my arms while we are out. Unfortunately needs to be rocked for naps and cannot be laid down even remotely awake - something I'd really like to work on. The middle of the night wake still takes a long time but at least it's [usually] only one time!

Eating: still using the nipple shield for most feedings, though I try to offer it without at least once a day. He is pretty inefficient at moving the milk without the shield so he gets frustrated quickly. I have about 40oz to go for me to feel comfortable with my Mexico stash, and exactly a month to do it - time to get serious! 

Quirks & Habits: he wants to be holding my finger while falling asleep, and grabs at the skin on my chest while he's in the carrier or cuddling. He is such a cuddle bug, although he doesn't sleep soundly if he's sleeping in arms or next to me (or anywhere, for that matter; he's very squirmy and grunty in his sleep). 

Firsts: we took Winston to his first wedding and he was a dream! Slept through the ceremony, flirted with the ladies, napped in the sling and never cried. We even kept him up past bedtime so we could enjoy the after party and he was smiling and cooing in his stroller. Amazing what a different baby he is these days! He also has taken his first stroller rides and likes the aprica but not so much the double stroller. He visited the beach for the first time and I left him with daddy for the first time (to go to a baby shower, it figures!). 

Weight: last I checked, he's well over 12lbs - yay! He's even getting little thigh rolls. Up to size 2 diapers (though they're still a little big). 

Activity: he's not rolling back to belly yet (thankfully, I'm not ready to stop swaddling!) and doesn't roll belly to back all the time. Still seems to enjoy tummy time, his bouncy seat and the rock n play. Still hates the car seat! He smile, talks and coos a lot, but hasn't given us a full-on belly laugh yet. 

Clothes: he's moved into 3-6m though the pants are often huge so we haven't packed up the 0-3 pants quite yet. Thankfully the weather is turning so he's able to start wearing his cute hoodies and long sleeve onesies. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's ok if you don't love it all the time

I went in for Winston's two month checkup a few weeks ago, scheduled with precision to allow me enough time to run through the Starbucks drive-thru after dropping London off at preschool and still arriving ten minutes early (a feat that never happens with two young kids and a chronically late husband). After the standard weight check (11'10 WHAT WHAT!!) and brief questions with the nurse, our pediatrician greeted me the way I imagine she greets old friends. She's warm and candid and actually remembers stuff about me and my kids. We complimented each other's hair (hers, darker and mine, shorter) and talked about our parents. 

And then, she asked how I was doing. Not in a "postpartum depression checklist" sort-of way, but in a genuinely concerned way that is a rarity for me to hear as a new mom of two. I told her the truth - that I was OK - and quickly, guilt overtook me for not giving a canned response about how full my heart was with this new baby, so I added in that Winston was sleeping pretty well at night, so I had a lot to be thankful for. Her response was like a breath of fresh air for my weary mama soul: "just because you have a lot to be thankful for doesn't mean you have to be happy all the time." 

Winston is a tough baby, I'll be the first one to tell you that. But being a mom is tough even when your baby is "easy". And being a mom to two is even tougher. Kudos to all of you who do this three or four times because I just don't think I'm cut out for that. Yet I know that I am blessed to be at home with my littles, while other mamas have to tear their hearts into pieces each morning at the daycare drop off. And as the sleepless nights with the newborn turn into early morning wake up calls with the toddler, and as they take turns crying (or sometimes, in unison, for a lovely little chorus of ear torture), and as the laundry and dishes continue to pile up... It's hard not to let my mind wander about whether it'd be easier to go back to work. To wonder if maybe I wasn't made to be a SAHM. To feel so guilty about not enjoying every little waking moment with these tiny terrorists. 

I know in my heart (especially after I've had a cup of coffee) that I love staying home with these two and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But now, when things get really tough and I feel guilty for not fully appreciating the fact that I get to be a SAHM, I'm trying to remind myself of this:

Just because you know it's a blessing doesn't mean you always feel blessed by it. 

And that's ok. And it's ok to want to throw in the towel or start drinking at 2 some days. It doesn't make me a bad mom; on the contrary, I think it makes me a better one, because it forces me to take a minute and breathe deep and not strangle anyone. A day where I don't strangle anyone? I call that a win. 

So, for those of you who are struggling to be thankful for staying home with your kids - whether you're willing to admit it or not - it's ok. Tomorrow will be better and one of those little psychopaths will ask to cuddle with you on the couch, and you'll thank your lucky stars you get to spend your days looking after them. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Winston is two months

Two and a half actually. But who's counting. I honestly have no idea how many weeks he is at this point, so at least non-moms are spared of having to do the math when they ask how old he is. 

Sleep: I really cannot [should not] complain. He does 7-8h when I put him down for the night, almost every night. We try to have him in bed by 8 or 9 which means I normally sleep from 10/11 to 4/5. And we just transitioned to the crib after his pediatrician encouraged us to try it at his two month appt. he seems to have no issues and was obviously ready to make the move this time around - Awesome sauce. Unfortunately, his wake-ups still often take awhile but I've stopped changing diapers at that time, so that helps some. And he is an early riser, so he's normally back up 2h later for the day. Naps are a whole different [sad] story. He rarely sleeps more than 15min at a time unless he's held. I try nursing, swaddling, white noise, paci, rocking. I try putting him in the crib, the rock n play, the swing. He either wakes up immediately upon being put down or 10-15 minutes later and we repeat the whole song & dance 2-3 more times until I give up and let him be awake. 

Eating: nursing is going very well, all except for the fact that we are still using the nipple shield and he is an extremely noisy eater; put those two together, and discreetly nursing in public is just not possible. Oh, and he wants to eat constantly / very frequently. But my nipples have finally healed and he's obviously transferring milk well. I'm down to only pumping once a day and not even every day; mostly to prepare for our trip to Mexico in November. I had previously cut out all dairy due to an apparent milk protein sensitivity, and did that for about 1.5m but his pediatrician doesn't feel like it's helping enough to make it worth it , so I'm slowly reintroducing in small quantities. I have noticed a difference in his demeanor since starting him on Zantac for reflux (about a month ago) but he still spits up a ton - he's just not as bothered by it now!

Weight: my peanut is now 11lb 10oz and in the 43%!! Such huge improvements from when we were panicking at his 2w checkup. 

Height: I think he's destined to be tall & thin like his daddy; he's 23 3/4" and 75% for length. 

Activity: he still enjoys hanging out in the rock n play so he can be moved from room to room. He has to be around people constantly. Hates the car seat though he seems to be getting just a tiny bit better about being able to sleep in it (which I have to wonder is reflux related and thus being improved by the right medication dosage). He likes the play may for short periods and doesn't mind tummy time at all. Starting to tolerate the bouncy seat, swing and bumbo. Loves the mobile! He started scooting around his crib at night which I'm a little nervous about, but not rolling yet. 

Firsts: he took his first trip to virginia (which was miserable considering he cried almost the whole trip there and back) and met my dad for the first time. He also took his first flight and did AWESOME. So awesome that people around us complimented how well he & London did. We flew to Pittsburgh so he got to meet the "Erie Elwells". He had his first outing with dad - to the beer store, of course. I've still not been away from him for more than 15 minutes [hangs head]. And most importantly, he has started smiling definitively (around 6w) and coos / talks a lot. He is a very happy baby for about 15 minutes at a time until he gets hungry or his tummy gets upset. 

Clothes: it's almost time to dig out the 3-6m clothing because my tall boy is starting to outgrow his 0-3 onesies! They either barely snap or pull down on the neck, and let's be real, a scoop neck onesie isn't so flattering on a little boy. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Winston is One Month

Poor kid. I just don't even have time to shower, much less blog. But I want to make sure I keep record of his first year just like I did for London, so here's a snapshot of Winston Dare's first month. 

Sleeping: right around a month, we started getting some 4h stretches of sleep which quickly turned to 5h. When I think about the nights that he was up every 25m, 5h straight is amazing! That's what London was doing at this age, too. It makes such a difference. I just need to do a better job of going down when he does! We normally do Jammies  & swaddle around 10pm and he'll sleep until around 3, then it takes a long time to get him back down (sometimes almost 2h) and then he sleeps another 2-3h. There's a skylight in his room and I think that may contribute to his morning waking, because he seems to do better on days when it's cloudy or raining. He is sleeping in the Rock 'N Play, which I hate. We were so big on only ever letting our kids sleep in their crib, but he spits up so much that he needs the incline. At least he's in his nursery - he is the noisiest sleeper ever so there is no way we could room share. Naps are a total crap shoot with this kid. Sometimes he falls asleep nursing and I'm able to transfer him to the couch / bed, or even the RNP, but rarely. He sleeps to prefer belly sleep for nap, which means I basically have to stand there and watch him the whole time. Car naps are a rarity and even more so that I'm able to bring him inside and stay asleep. He looooves to sleep in the ring sling - thank God for a sweet friend who loaned it to me because the kid lives in that thing! The days when he does nap midday (not on me) I try to kid a 30 minute nap while both kids are asleep. So needless to say, my house chores are being really neglected these days!

Eating: we are still using the nipple shield for all feeds, but are weaning away from the bottle so I'm thankful for that. At 2w our schedule was: nurse, bottle feed, nurse, bottle feed, pump - it took about 1.5h and I did it every 2.5h. Exhausting!! We are quickly moving to just using the bottle for bedtime feeds to make sure he's well fed before sleeping. I returned the hospital grade pump (that thing is awesome!) but I'm going to try to pump once a day most days, to help stock up for our trip in November. 

Weight: At two weeks, he was down to 7lb 6oz but had grown almost an inch to 21.6" long. We began the pumping / bottle feeding regiment that day and he started gaining weight immediately. We got his tongue & lip clipped shortly after that and his weight gain continued! A few days shy of one month, he was up to 8'12, a full pound over his birth weight. 

Activity: getting some sleep smiles, but not as much as I wish and no sleep laughter. I swear he's smiled while awake though! He enjoys and does well with tummy time, and has great neck strength - we're working with the chiropractor to make sure it stays even. He puts up with a ton of kisses from big sister and loves to be worn in the ring sling anywhere we go. He's been to church and out to dinner, to Marbles kids museum, library story time and parks. 

Clothes: he's already outgrowing the newborn onesies because of his length - gonna be tall & thin like his daddy! He's worn several things that belonged to London, a sleeper that was Tyler's, and even an outfit that belonged to Ben! London loves to pick out his bibs and insists he wear shoes. Poor kid, at least he'll be stylish! I do try to put him in bins every day because of all the spit up, poor darlin. 

Here's hoping the second month gets a bit easier, these were a tough four weeks! But I love this sweet little man and I can't wait to get to know him more. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Winston Dare: The Birth Story [part two]

I left off with asking for the epidural, which felt appropriate because it seems to be a turning point in my labors. I guess my body just needs that relief to relax and progress on its own. After finally requesting it, every minute seemed to crawl by. I prayed during each contraction that it would be the last one before the epidural. 

Side note, is it just me or are anesthesiologists kind-of mean? The one I saw with London was fine but this guy was a jerk; when he finally showed up, he was snapping at the nurse and wasn't particularly friendly to me either. I think I had 4-5 more contractions while waiting on him to get everything set up once he was in the room - let me tell you how hard it is to labor while bent over the side of the bed and not allowed to move. (Hint: really freaking hard!)

Once it was in (just like with London, I didn't find it terrible to have put in!), I was able to relax and calm down - I even did my makeup! At that point, somewhere around 7:30am on Sunday, I was at 5cm so I was hoping things would move along quickly - which they did, just not as quickly as I would've hoped! At some point my water broke and they found meconium, so the nurse (who, while very sweet, was brand new to the hospital which meant extra staff, extra questions, and a few other issues along the way) alerted us he would likely have to go straight to the special care nursery. Not exactly a great thing to hear when so many of my birth wishes revolved around the first few minutes after he was born! Honestly though, I was really calm about the whole thing and didn't let myself freak out about it (thanks epidural!) because it was 100% out of my control ... That doesn't sound like me, does it?! But I really don't think I brought it up at all to Ben, or if I did it was just talking about what that meant. So, a pat on the back for my type A self giving up control. 

Things progressed, slowly and uneventfully. Where, with London, they were saying "you'll have a baby by dinner. No lunch. No breakfast. Just kidding she's here!", with Winston it was more "sometime tonight. This morning. Hopefully today?" but again, I didn't freak out too much. It gave us time to name him and for me to do my makeup (a luxury I didn't have during my labor with London). They worried I may need pitocin, as the fluids that accompanied my epidural really slowed things down, but once those had run though te labor picked back up again and thankfully didn't have to be augmented. 

We updated our parents of my progress at various points. I sipped ginger ale and had a Popsicle at some point, another luxury I was not offered the first time. I may have even snuck a piece of candy that I had packed for Ben. It was all very casual and calm, until they decided it was time for me to push. Yes, THEY decided. Issue number one, right? Before I knew it, they were wheeling in warmers and tables and FOUR nurses (plus Dr. Segal & me and Ben in a suddenly-very- tiny delivery room). The temperature jumped about 20 degrees and Ben nearly passed out from the chaos and heat. 

Another stark difference in my deliveries; with London, it was calm & quiet, one nurse and the doctor, both of whom we loved. I felt totally in control, even though I was in pain and overwhelmed, I had the reigns. This time, I didn't know the names of half the people in the room, there were questions being asked and orders being given, and they were telling me when and how to push. It all felt very medical and scary. I had no feeling whatsoever in one leg, and absolutely no pressure or need to push. As they began to coach me through some "practice pushes", Dr. Segal discovered there was another bag of waters that needed to be broken. Luckily, this one was clear (no meconium) so they said it was likely he would NOT have to go straight to the NICU (praise God!). 

I'm thankful that it wasn't too long or painful but it was extremely disheartening to not feel in control of Winston's delivery.  I really don't remember how long or how many times I pushed, but it was less than 30 minutes. They wheeled out the mirror to help me focus my pushing, so I was able to watch him be born, all purple and gooey and tiny and perfect. So tiny, I kept saying; he's so tiny (he wasn't; 3oz bigger than his sister! but tiny in comparison to the 30lb toddler I was used to lugging around, yes). He didn't have nearly as much hair as we expected but his head was a lovely shape and his tiny lips favored his daddy. Actually, everything did - almost immediately I noticed how he looked just like Ben! 

They immediately put him on my chest and he latched right away while his umbilical cord was still pumping; such an amazing feeling. He nursed while I delivered the placenta - much easier than the first time! - which they preserved to be encapsulated for me. We kept his arrival and his name to ourselves as we chatted with the nurses through his bath, measurements, tests, etc. and got to know our new son. He had no problems finding his voice and had a sweet raspy cry just like London's. 

We made it back to our recovery room just in time for the start of the World Cup championship game, and he was introduced to his immediately-smitten big sister and the rest of our family & friends via social media. He was just perfect, and our family was complete! We are so lucky to have our beautiful girl and our handsome boy, both healthy and happy. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Winston Dare: The Birth Story [part one]

Oh, second babies. You get shafted in so many ways. I mean, sure, there's the benefit that your parents are more relaxed and you'll probably get away with more stuff in the long run, but the downside of that is hand-me-down onesies with spit-up-stained necks and me popping your pacifier in my mouth after it falls on the floor instead of sterilizing it in a steamer. So, you know, I'm sorry. But I digress, it's a month (boohoo!) tomorrow since this kid was born and I have yet to blog his birth story. Or make a single entry in the baby book. I remember feeling guilty that I wrote about London's birth story too late and I think it was only two weeks. Yeah, second kid syndrome. Anyway, here it goes. May be a multi-part story depending on how long the kids sleep... Praise God for both kids napping at the same time, am I right?

My cervix started to dilate & thin out at my 36 week check-up, which I thought was a great sign considering it never did either of those on its own with London. As it turns out, it meant nothing, because I was somehow LESS dilated & effaced at my 39 week check-up (which was a Friday). I asked the doctor if she could strip my membranes, and was told my cervix was too high for her to reach, so basically "good luck, you're going to be pregnant forever!". She to me to expect some irregular contractions that day but that they meant nothing, so I ignored them for the rest of Friday and most of Saturday. Ben volunteered to take London out to his parents' house so I could run some errands & relax, so I spent Saturday leisurely getting ready and checking items off my to-do list, sans toddler, which was basically a Caribbean vacation at 39w pregnant. 

By Saturday afternoon, I noticed the contractions seemed to be coming a bit closer together. Ben was painting the changing table while London & I made brownies, when I told him casually I was going to start timing them. Eight minutes, ten minutes, sometimes twelve. I thought / hoped this was the very early beginnings of labor! I continued to contract as we went to a friend's house for appetizers and drinks (I even had a hard cider!) but was able to work through them so I knew I had awhile to go. When a friend of ours asked about the baby pool, I (only halfway) jokingly told him to pick tomorrow! We came home & put London to bed, and when the contractions started coming closer together, the on-call OB advised we come in to make sure he was head down. 

The problem with a second baby is that you can't just quietly sneak over to the hospital to see if you're in labor, saving yourself the false alarm embarrassment from family and friends. Someone has to sit with the first baby (who was sound asleep and oblivious to the impending arrival of her baby brother). We had friends come over while we went to Rex (I was tidying up the house before they arrived - should've known it wasn't the "real" thing!) and the doctor & nurse confirmed that there was no change from the day prior - too high to even check dilation, not in labor, you're going to be pregnant forever, etc. So frustrating and embarrassing for a second time mom who had been having regular contractions for eight hours!

We sent our friends home and got into bed, with the discouraging news that these quasi-contractions could last for days or longer! No sooner had I fallen asleep than an intense cramp woke me up. I couldn't lay down, couldn't stand up, couldn't find a comfortable position. It passed, I fell back asleep, then another one. And another. I asked Ben to help me time them because they were so intense - three minutes apart. I was sick to my stomach and had terrible cold chills, and I remember telling Ben, "If this isn't labor, I think I have the flu!". After a few hours of alternating between the bathroom and being doubled over our bed, he suggested I take a shower - I think it took me 45 minutes because I kept having to stop & brace myself on the wall. Each contraction, I prayed to let them be "real" (productive) or let them stop. Around 3:30am we decided to call the doctor back (who reluctantly instructed us to come back in) and Ben's parents (who drove 40 minutes to stay with London). At this point, the contractions had been around three minutes apart for close to four hours. They started to build, one right on top of the other. I could barely move, much less speak, and I thought for sure I was going to walk in and have them tell me I was 6 or 7 cm dilated. 

The drive to the hospital was excruciating (I remember asking Ben to drive carefully but quickly!). The look from the hospital security guard, knowing we had just been sent home a few hours earlier, was almost as painful! But when the head nurse, who was our angel delivery nurse with London, saw me come back in, she took us back to the room without any questions and could tell I was in active labor. This was encouraging, I thought ... Wrong. Three freaking centimeters. After two days of contractions I had progressed a centimeter?! But baby was head down and engaged, so that was something, and they were willing to let me stay even though I wasn't at 4cm yet (which is their normal policy). With that discouraging news, I began to heavily consider an epidural, which I finally got about two hours after getting checked. After hours of that intense pain, I just didn't want to do it anymore. I was hoping for a natural labor this time, but I was also hoping for the super quick second-baby labor the nurses & doctors kept talking about - so since that wasn't happening, I went ahead and asked for the drugs. 

[to be continued]