Hey, everyone! I have been working on this post for quite a while (very little 'me' time these days!) so I'm delighted to finally have a chance to finish it. Happy Monday!! How have you all been?? It has been 4 weeks since we brought our little peanut home - and as tired as I am, I still feel like that has flown. We've been slowly adjusting to the family changes in that time, and have experienced quite a few highs and lows as a result:
- Tantrums. Bug literally hit the 'terrible twos' on the day that Peanut was born. There were tiny glimmers of what was coming, in the weeks leading up to her birthday - starting to say "no!" with more regularity, etc. But it is as if a switch went off on the 12th. I'm struggling to determine if it is just those Terribles that all 2-year-olds go through, or if it's mostly jealousy over the arrival of her little sister, or a combination of the two. (Not that the reason matters all that much, but I do think I'd probably handle them slightly differently if I knew. Is it just me who thinks that makes sense...?)
- Jealousy. Speaking of, I think we reached critical mass in the jealousy phase. I'm praying that the slight easing back of this week is the new trend because it had been ramping up bit by bit and last week it was BAD. I'm blaming some of that on Bug being sick - I know, even as an adult I still want my mom when I'm sick - but even after she was better we had a few rooooooough days of following me around the house, pulling on my clothes, begging me to hold her and crying. And when she wasn't having moments like those she had taken to climbing my legs and sitting on my feet when I feed Peanut, and telling me regularly to 'put baby down, mama' or telling her directly, 'go sleep baby!'
- Guilt. As a result of the 'need mommy cuddles' phase and her frequent requests for "Mommy holding?" when I'm feeding Peanut or when I have to attend to her tiny cries, I haven't been able to lift Bug up or cuddle with her when she wanted to, and she got really upset each time and fell to the floor crying. :( And my heart broke. Every. Time.
- Losing my cool. I won't lie - we had a few days where I struggled with the jealousy, tantrums, both children crying, trying to stick to Bug's schedule with an infant who needed constant feedings, and trying to keep on top of even basic laundry / dishes / cleaning. And it seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn't make Bug happy. And I snapped a few times, and lost my cool, and spoke with probably a harsher tone than I needed to, at my toddler. I'm not proud of it, and I felt awful for it, but it happened.
- Sleep disturbances. Yes, yes, I am very familiar with newborn sleeping issues. I'm not surprised by that at all. But let's just say that doing it the 2nd time around is that much harder. The old saying 'sleep when the baby sleeps' just isn't a possibility with a toddler running circles around you at home, which means there is no real respite for mama during the day. I never realized how much having even just quiet, sitting down time, during baby's naps were so important. They balance out the frequent wakings in the nighttime for feeds. Without that daytime calm, the lack of sleep at night feels even more brutal. Also, Bug hit something of a sleep regression last month, and besides her waking up once a night or more crying out, she's also fighting naptime and bedtime something fierce - meaning she says 'no' every time to going for any sleep whatsoever and it's a bit of a battle each day!
- An insanely speedy recovery! I probably have to attribute it to the fast labor, but no matter the cause, the result is just pure awesome. Sleepless nights notwithstanding, I felt so unnaturally rested that first week, in comparison to my first time. I felt great straight away with only minor aches and pains, and couldn't believe how much energy my body had. (Seriously, if you saw me after the first delivery, you'd be shocked at me this time around!) I also couldn't believe how quickly my belly shrunk this time around! In the US, the nurses press hard on your abdomen repeatedly after you deliver your baby. They do this to help shrink your uterus back to normal size and make sure there's no unusual bleeding. This wasn't done in the UK with my first birth and the difference it had on my stomach was crazy. I barely looked 3 months pregnant three days postpartum, and it shrunk even more after that. There's something pretty uplifting about looking more like your 'before' self so quickly afterwards!
- Being out of maternity clothes less than 3 weeks postpartum? AMAZING. I've boxed them all up and put them away! Don't get me wrong, I still have some exercising to do - I'm in my 'one size up' jeans that I bought a few months after Bug was born, when I still wasn't back to pre-baby size. I've got a couple more inches to lose / tone around my midsection and bum - but being in regular clothes feels awesome.
- Peanut gained 2.3 pounds in the first 3 weeks! SUPERmilk right here! ;)
- Bug loving her sister - kissing Peanut's head when saying goodnight and looking for her first thing in the morning when she wakes. Despite the jealousy, she genuinely still loves her sister. She says her name constantly, points her out to visitors, and has unprompted random moments in the day where she looks at her and says, "I love you baby."
- Some decent sleep stretches. In the first week I had a couple 3 hour stretches, and more recently, some 4.5 hour stretches!
- Family time. M had a few days home with us, off work, which gave Bug some much needed 1:1 attention and helped me SO much around the house. One of my favorite moments was when all three of us gave Peanut her first sponge bath together in front of the fireplace. :)
- Support. When Bug was born, as you know we lived in the UK, away from both of our families. In stark contrast is this time around - my parents have been here regularly, bringing us meals and desserts, helping keep Bug entertained in this housebound cold weather, giving M and myself a break by holding Peanut or putting Bug down for a nap. It's more than I could ask for, and has been such a big help. And when M had to unexpectedly travel for a few days for work, and I was panicking about how to put Bug down for bed when that was specifically the time of night that Peanut kept cluster feeding, my parents and my sister in law alternated coming over to help me in the evenings, and made sure I kept sane. I'm SO grateful for all of the support and help!
- Coping. On top of everything going on in our lives right now, somehow I still managed to get both mine and M's taxes done - BEFORE the deadline! And we're talking the US deadline of 15 April, not the expat deadline of 15 June that I'd gotten very used to in the last few years. Whaaa? I'm on top of things less than a month afterward? Yes!!!
- Freedom in sight... Peanut has now taken a bottle two days in a row, from both M and my sister!! This is amazingly huge news because Bug never took a bottle, no matter how hard we tried. She was glued to the boob until she was old enough for a cup and that seriously limited my independence for a long time. Knowing that I should be able to leave Peanut for a few hours this early on is incredible!
- Little loving moments. Tonight when I was closing the door of Bug's room after putting her to bed, she called out, "I love you!" and melted my heart. :) We've only just gotten back into the habit of putting herself to sleep - for the past 6 months since moving here she's needed someone to rock her to bed. We had some rough nights the last week of her fighting the new routine of being put in her crib awake, so getting to the point where she's ok with it and still telling me she loves me, feels wonderful.
I'm so grateful for moments like those. I'm grateful for family, for the love and support they've shown us, and for feeling personally so good this time around. I'm grateful that all of the 'lows' are phases, and that we will make our way through them sooner or later. I'm grateful for this new little love in our life, and the love that Bug is already showing towards her. And I'm eternally grateful that God has entrusted us to raise these two little beauties!
Linking up with the fabulous Emily at EmberGrey for Grateful Heart.