In my last post, I talked about how similar my two birth experiences were. But I can attest that every baby is different. That is so true.
Another truth is that you are never a first-time parent again. Having your first baby is terrifying. At least for me, I didn’t feel capable of keeping my tiny human alive. I was consumed and confused by all of the conflicting guidelines. I didn’t know where I stood on controversial issues like swaddling, bed-sharing, pacifiers, sleeping in carseats, etc… I thought if I didn’t do everything “right” I was going to ruin this perfect little person. And I was sure that I was never going sleep again. But the pendulum swings on these issues. Some of the guidelines are actually the exact opposite of what they were just 2 and a half years ago. Now I’m pretty clear where I stand on these issues (and for the most part, the common theme is “whatever we need to do to survive these first few months”.) So different this time…
We’re pretty lucky that we had our challenging baby first and got to have our “easy” baby second. Two “easy” babies would have been even better but I know some of you have it the other way around and after having a happy baby end up with a difficult one. That seems way harder than this. Sleep deprivation is awful, but getting two consecutive hours of sleep is a luxury that I did not have the first time around. We were lucky if we had 20 minutes! We never both slept at the same time… someone was always holding the baby. It often took longer to put our baby to sleep than the length of time he actually stayed asleep. I distinctly remember being so excited that I texted a friend when we were able to put the baby down to sleep on his own for a whole 9 minutes. 9 minutes. So different this time…
With our first we struggled with slow weight gain and milk supply issues. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I took measures to make sure of that. I started supplementing immediately, went straight onto medication and herbal supplements, stocked up on lactation teas and cookies and bought an at-home baby scale for my own piece of mind. And our little Ezra surpassed his birth weight and his chubby cheeks returned right on time. He even has delicious dimples in his knees!
I love that since having Ari the “breast is best” slogan has morphed into “fed is best”. I love that I found this article called “sometimes breastfeeding looks like this” and I don’t have to feel so alone in my own at-breast supplement approach – which can be both rewarding and incredibly challenging. I love that this time I have all of the experience and knowledge and resources up front that took me months to accumulate last time. So different this time…
For me, the hardest adjustment has not been the sleepless nights. It has not been making sure my baby is fed and growing. It has not been trying to heal my own body from the trauma of carrying around and birthing a person through those challenges. It has not been the adjustment to basically getting nothing done and losing all sense of productivity and independence (although I have been struggling with allowing myself to simply rest and heal).
The hardest part has been how much I miss our older son, Ari. Having to miss out on stories and songs at bedtime, daycare pickups and having fun adventures together has been so hard. Hearing him cry for mama while I’m busy taking care of the baby in another room is heartbreaking. On the plus side, it has been a great opportunity for him to rely on and bond with Daddy. And I’m not gonna lie, I’ve pushed myself on the rest & healing part in order to have a fun adventure or two, like going to a concert or apple picking. Because I have FOMO of missing out on his memories and fun experiences. But it is already getting better. I’m already able to be there for Ari so much more now than I could a week or two ago.
Apple picking on our 8 year anniversary
Ready, Steady, Wiggle! – family outing to a concert
We only made it for the last 20 minutes, but we did make it to the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day parade (and discovered that Ari wants to be the “tuba guy” when he grows up)
But the love he has for his little brother is the sweetest thing I’ve ever witnessed. He wakes up and runs into our room (sometimes a bit too early) to see the baby and check if he’s in his bassinet. He is always nuzzling and snuggling his baby brother. He wants to hold him all by himself. He helps out with burping and fetches the things I need for me when my hands are too full. Last week, Ari told me that Ezra doesn’t know how to play. He just eats milk and burps. (He seems to not notice the amount of diaper changes we’re doing). But yesterday, he was so excited to join his baby brother on a playmat and told him, “Ezra, you keep practicing and practicing and you’ll get better at playing”. And then my heart nearly exploded.
And Ezra is getting plenty of love from everyone else too: grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and our dog, Mitzi.
The cousins & Ari react to the news that baby has arrived
We’re all adjusting to our new normal. We’re all getting to know each other. We’re even starting to see some resemblance of a routine shaping up in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future.
Everything is different this time, especially the fact that I have the perspective that each challenge and each phase is time-limited. I am managing through each challenge one at a time because I know that in a month, a week or even maybe a day everything can change. I know that while each day (or hour) can feel like it drags on forever, and (especially in the middle of the night) I might have feelings that I can’t stay awake for one more minute or change one more diaper without going crazy, this time goes by so fast. So I’m seizing every opportunity that I can to enjoy it while it lasts. I am trying to be kind to myself, be patient, and soak in all of those delicious baby snuggles while I can. And I’m doing my best to adjust to life as a mother of two and a family of four. So far, it’s pretty great.