When I called my mother to tell her that I was pregnant with baby number two, her reaction was very… unexpected. After what seemed like an eternity she mumbled under her breath, but Lelan is not old enough to be a big brother… I’m sure she was happy for me, but I’m also sure that in those moments of silence she was seriously wondering if I’d lost my mind.
If truth be told, I wasn’t fully prepared for this experience. But, then again is anyone ever? Sure, I was already a mom to a thriving toddler; I’d lived through the sleepless nights and uncontrollable crying… or so I thought. But, nothing, nor anyone can prepare you for the arrival of a new human being with its unique set of wants and needs. Throw breastfeeding into this mix and it’s a damn miracle that people keep having babies. The things I worried about, like the hospital stay, breastfeeding, Lelan’s adjustment, etc. turned out to be the least of my concerns and those things that I thought were manageable ended up kicking my already sore butt. Here’s an honest account of how we survived the first six weeks with our second baby.
Sleep: I had no idea how good we had it with our first born. Lelan was two weeks late and spent a week in the NICU before coming home and I’m sure those weeks had something to do with his temperament. Ravina was technically a week early and barely slept longer than 45mins at a stretch during the first couple of weeks. When she wasn’t sleeping, she was nursing. On top of this, she only wanted to sleep in my arms. Not even my husband could hold her in the beginning. And, no matter how soundly she was sleeping, as soon as I left the room she would wake up screaming. I was convinced she could smell me. My son, on the other hand, was going through a regression of his own and wanted mommy for everything. Basically, we did whatever we had to, to get through this phase and threw out any schedules or routines that were in place… During sleep times, I would sit at the edge of the bed with the baby in one arm and my son hanging on the other, all while trying to recover from a csection. Good times! On those nights when I had two screaming babies on my hand, I tended to the one who needed their basic needs met first. If my son woke up in the middle of the night, my husband took over no matter how long it took to get him back down to sleep and I primarily tended to our newborn. As much as I hate to admit it, cosleeping worked for us on those times when the baby refused to settle down. I would lay her down next to me, sometimes latched, and maybe get an hour of uninterrupted sleep. But, almost always, I woke up in a panic only to find her sleeping peacefully. I know it made my husband extremely nervous too since we are both sound sleepers in general… Thankfully, around 4 weeks, Ravina started distinguishing between days and nights and began consolidating her feedings. And finally, around 6 weeks, she has started sleeping longer stretches at night. Last night she slept for almost 6hrs without waking!
Feeding: Let me just say bottle feeding was/is a thousand times easier than breastfeeding. I knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk going into it. I had prepared for the cracked nipples and improper latching issues but I seriously did not have a clue as to what a time commitment it really was. Not only was I delirious from lack of sleep, I was attached at the boob to a tiny human who seemed insatiable. Some days it really felt like she was sucking the life out of me. Sorry little girl! Breastfeeding is soooo much more than just feeding your little one. It’s about comfort, security, relaxation, bonding… and on and on. And, my daughter needed me more than my son ever did as an infant. Some say it’s girls in general and others say it’s second babies who are more needy, but whatever the reason those first couple of weeks of breastfeeding were pure agony. Once I got through the hump, however, things became more manageable. The goal was always to do the best without subjecting to an ideal standard. I nursed as much as I could in those early weeks and when she lost a little bit of weight, I had no qualms about giving her formula. I give my daughter a bottle of formula twice a day now, to give my body a break and to prepare for going back to work. And, based on OUR daily needs I supplement more or less. I have absolutely no guilt or restrictions when it comes to this subject, whatsoever.
Bonding: I gave this subject a lot of thought, but mostly from my son’s point of view. I naively assumed that my husband and I wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Thankfully, Lelan has had the least issues out of us. Ever since we came home from the hospital, he’s been acting as if the baby has been a part of our family all along. His little heart is so big at times! It is so endearing to see him running towards the bassinet first thing in the morning or searching for her paci whenever he hears her crying. He has shown absolutely no hostility towards her, thank goodness! My husband, however, had it the hardest because the baby simply wouldn’t go to anyone else until she was almost a month old. There were no midnight bottle feedings he could help with. With a few diaper changes here and there and a toddler on the loose, there was no time for bonding with the baby. Besides, Lelan needed him more and he willingly took on the role of being his primary caregiver during those weeks. When my husband went back to work he could no longer attend to Lelan at night, so there were days and nights when I was burning the candle at both ends leaving me tired and cranky. Luckily, Lelan started sleeping better around the one month mark and we were able to resume his daily routine again. Ravina’s schedule is slowly becoming more predictable and she has been bonding with her daddy more and more lately.
Have you heard the saying, fake it till you make it? Well, that’s been my motto for the past few weeks. Slowly but surely I’m getting the hang of how to parent two under two. Seriously, there’s never a dull moment around here! There have been episodes of epic meltdowns and serious crying, but nothing that hasn’t been manageable and thankfully, nothing that has lasted more than 10mins. I had no idea how much of a type A person I’ve turned into since becoming a mom. I’ve come to appreciate the predictability of a monotonous routine and without it, I feel a bit lost. But, as with everything in life, if you stick with it, it does get easier or maybe you just get better at faking it, whatever the case maybe it’s a helluva ride and I’m just thrilled to be on it!