Monday, February 25th, 2013
The other night I asked Harper, “What can baby Finley do?” She precociously replied, “She can take a pooh!” Nailed it.
If naming the short list of Finley’s achievements is paramount to adjusting to being a big sister, Harper is doing fine. Juuuust fine.
Lesbehonest, the first few
weeks months after having a baby are all about low expectations. I know this blog is called Great Expectations, but to survive the postpartum mayhem of emotions, change, and sometimes downright chaos, I’m remembering that I have to be kind to myself and someday I’ll be like Stella, and get my mothering groove back. For now, we’re just trying to take it slow as we adjust to our new life.
Even though I’ve only been a “mother of two” for a little over two weeks, I thought I’d share a little of how me, my favorite 2T, and our teeny tiny are adjusting to life.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty first: breastfeeding round two.
Finley knew her way around a boob from the minute she was born. Hallelujah. Unfortunately for my girls, the engorged C-cup wonders, she took lessons from a piranha on the art of suckling.
Knowing in advance that breastfeeding hurts worse than the humiliation of the 80s bangs I rocked until the year 2000, I have not been detoured. It’s hard out here for the mother of a baby piranha though.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the info you don’t want to know but need to know, my lovely lady lumps cracked so bad my white bras turned crimson and my teeny tiny was gulping pink milk. If she grows up to be a vampire, I’ll only have myself to blame.
Crisis averted though, thanks to my savior, the nipple shield, and even though I’m still curling my toes a bit at the initial latch, breastfeeding is going well. Rest assured that the only pink milk my littlest girlfriend will get in the future is strawberry. I overshare this info as encouragement. Breastfeeding is rough at times but doable.
In fact, until I started nursing again I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I missed tiny, wrinkled hands grabbing at my shirt, pulling me closer, asserting to the milk, “Get in my belly!”
Newborns are ravenous, grunty little things, who carry an intoxicating smell of spit up and showcase adorably gassy smiles. Sigh. I love me a newborn. Especially my little piranha.
Nitty gritty overshare numero dos I’m happy to report is not as graphic: the aftermath.
There was less of an explosion in the ol’ baby parts and recovery has been much less difficult. I’ve already said goodbye to my love, the donut, (but not stool softeners, we’re bros for life).
I took a friend’s suggestion to rock an ice pack from dawn until dusk and I believe it’s made all the difference. Sure this road less traveled by requires I wear an adult diaper and the hospital’s version of an ice pack, a newborn diaper packed with ice at all times. With two diapers strapped to my chonies, success is mine. Although you can hear the sound of my diapers coming from down the hall, I have the last “my stitches don’t even hurt when I laugh” laugh.
Thank you friend for the advice and you’re welcome for the tip to the two people still reading this overly informative post.
Now onto the real star and the person I get the most questions about: Harper.
Harper is adjusting well. She’s interested in the baby when she wants to be and the rest of the time just goes about her toddler business. She has realized mom’s hands are a little more full with the new babe so that means her toddler business now includes running around naked and untamed as much as possible. Her mantra, everything is better nudie.
Honestly, the girl sure is sweet to her sister. Sure, she’s going through a little “all the attention all the time” detox, but she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Instead, she calls Finley “my baby.”
Finley was crying the other night when I asked Harps to come to dinner. She replied, “I can’t. My baby needs me.” Shoot girl, you sure know how to make your post-birth hormonal mama cry even more. What can I get your sweet little heart? Cookies? Ice cream?
The first night Finley was home Harper woke up and immediately asked, “Where’s my baby?”
Even though I’d like a little credit for birthing this baby, I’ll take her protectiveness and baby hoarding over resentment any day.
She chatters to her in the car, which again, cues the tears, and is really not safe for driving. Whoops. How am I supposed to hold it together though when Harper is telling her sister, “It’s okay my baby, we’ll be there soon. Don’t cry.” You would cry too if it happened to you.
I welcome the tears for the sweet, thoughtful, birthday suit rocking big sister Harper is becoming.
Finally, I wanted to share a little about how I’m managing my newly divided attention.
Right now, two feels overwhelming at times, but each day we’re trying.
The moment I dreaded the most, when my girls needed me at the exact same time, happened. It’s actually happened several times. Occasionally, this moment of not knowing what to do and who to help first has left us all crying. It breaks my heart not being able to have enough hands for both of them. Sure, I’ve mastered the art of the one-hand, nurse while eating, cooking, cleaning, dance partying, and mail grabbing but sometimes, that’s not enough.
As both girls lay sleeping in their beds tonight, identical snores escaping from their rooms, I remembered that even though I don’t always have enough hands, I do have more than enough love for the both of them. That’s really what they need.
It is difficult to relearn how to balance my time and attention between the people I love the most. I am trying to set my expectations low. There are a lot of things that can wait. At the end of the day, the things I need to get done are to take care of myself and my family.
There will be a day when “routine” is a word in our vocabulary again, when sleep is not interrupted, and I’ll feel less frazzled by which crying babe to help first.
Today though, I want to welcome the fact that I don’t have all the answers about how to mother two. That’s the crazy, hard, wonderful part about motherhood; it is a constant learning process with new dilemmas each day. It requires growth, uncomfortableness, tears, love, forgiveness and a lot of laughter.
Being a mother to two is stretching me in new ways. For as many times as I’ve cried exhausted, helpless tears the past few weeks, they’ve been matched by joy and gratitude for our new life.
We’re taking it one day at a time over here and so far we’re surviving. Actually, we’re doing pretty swell.
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Monday, December 3rd, 2012
30 weeks/7 months
Darling baby girl,
The Christmas lights on the window were barely visible in the early morning sun and your big sister gabbed in her highchair while I fetched the bacon that had begun to pop from the pan. As we sat down for a lazy breakfast, your sister asked to tickle you. With her greasified, syrupy-covered chubby toddler hands I let her tickle “you.” We both laughed at this daily ritual and she declared, “she’s laughing.” As she paused to take another bite of french toast, she asked longingly, “when is sissy boo coming?” Her innocence, her excitement made me press my hands to my belly and reply, “soon sweetie, soon.”
I recount this moment so you know despite the fact that you’ll come into the hustle and bustle of our crazy little family, we are thrilled to be having you sweet girl. We pray for you, we dream about you, we thank God for you.
I wanted to tell you today how much I love you. I wanted to take a moment to think about you. I don’t have a chance to dream about you as often as I’d like, but I wanted to sit, feel your little life and tell you thank you for making me a mom again.
Even though you are not here yet, you’re very much a part of our everyday life. We take you to the park, we show you the Christmas lights, and read you stories. Your sister thinks I Love You Stinky Face is your favorite. I look forward to the day when I snuggle you on my chest as we cheer your sister down the slide. And one day, sooner than I realize, I anticipate the day your sister and I cheer for you on your first trip down the slide.
As Christmas approaches, I can’t help but fast forward to one year from now. I see a busy little baby rounding out our family of four as we sing carols in the twinkle of the tree lights and in probably the chaos but also the sweetness of the moment, I’ll look at you and your sister in matching pajamas, and your handsome dad, and feel my heart expand with a new kind of love for family and the little things.
We need you, baby girl. We need your little personality, your little life to teach us more about love. Soon sweetie, soon.
Dreaming of you today,
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Monday, November 5th, 2012
26 weeks/5 months
Maybe it was my mom asking what day I preferred her to fly out and help when the baby arrives.
Maybe it was the glimpse of the 5 economy sized boxes of baby wipes stashed and waiting in our closet.
Maybe it was the repeated thought that days have reached such a routine, such an ease with my daughter.
Maybe it was the fact that I just realized I’m a week shy of being 6 months pregnant and the THIRD trimester is knocking at my door.
Maybe it was the passing of the gateway holiday Halloween, and the recognition that these next few busy holiday months are going to speed by.
Maybe it was reading about the evacuated babies in the neonatal intensive care unit during hurricane Sandy and my heart aching for their families.
Maybe it was watching my little one trick-or-treating, so grown up, so not that little, so childlike and excited, and realizing how marvelous a process it is to watch your child grow from a sweet, helpless infant to an independent and captivating child right before your very eyes.
Maybe it was all of it.
But it really hit me this week. We’re having a baby. In 3 short months.
Maybe it should have hit me sooner, but this week I felt the giant tug at my heart strings to savor these last few moments as a family of three because soon, very happily soon, it will all change. We will discover our new normal, our new life, and my tears well up with gratitude for my little, growing family.
Maybe I didn’t let it hit me sooner because I cry uncontrollable tears of joy every time I let myself imagine the sweet little cherub joining our family, falling asleep in my arms, meeting her big sister, and snuggling her daddy.
I am completely besotted with my babies. The toddler-aged one I laugh with everyday and the one growing in my belly. Growing, raising, and keeping babies with my husband is my favorite. It is truly miraculous in every sense of the word.
I can patiently wait for the next three months because I have plenty to keep me busy, but especially because I know her arrival will be added to my precious list of “very best days.”
Until then, sweet baby girl.
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Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
I sat alone in the bathroom during the bright but chilly dawn of an usually cold June morning, surreptitiously awaiting the results of a pregnancy test. My period was late. My stomach was bloated with more than just a food baby, and my boobs were as sore as if I’d finally had them done after years of talking about it. There was no denying these tell tale signs. But there I sat, unglamorously, humbly, obediently waiting. A Cheshire Cat grin crept across my face as the two little lines intersected into a positive plus sign, confirming what I knew.
I very much regret being alone when I found out I was pregnant. I count it as my first with you, new baby, in the slew of regrets that holds hands with parenthood.
I snuck a pregnancy test on a quick trip home to see my parents that your dad couldn’t make. It coincided with the earliest I could find out. Patience is not my best virtue. I needed dollar store pregnancy test proof that this wasn’t just a wish that my heart made. But I regret that I didn’t have your dad there to immediately share our secret. I missed running into our bedroom at an ungodly hour, like I’d done with our first pregnancy, shouting the news and seeing his joy. I didn’t want to text him. It seemed too Teen Mom. Too impersonal for something so grand.
But regret eased as elation took me by surprise. I knew I wanted to be pregnant. I knew I wanted another baby more than anything in the world, but I didn’t know if it would feel just as moving, just as thrilling as the first time I found out. I was terrified it would lack the first kiss-type thrill of my previous pregnancy. I half expected, and prepped myself for the surge of panic regarding the impending sleepless nights, inconsolable crying, painful engorgement, projectile vomit, breastfeeding stress, and mesh hospital panties that accompany new babies. It didn’t come.
Instead, I stared down and felt certain that there are few signs in life sweeter than the plus of a positive pregnancy test. Those intersecting lines mark the crossing of two lives that are inextricably linked for the good, the bad, and the heart-wrenching. Regardless of when either of those lives ends, they cross forever.
I stared at those lines and prayed that they crossed for a long and healthy life, and not in a few short, nerve-wracking first trimester weeks.
I wistfully thought of the hundreds of lines they represent and we’ll cross with you new baby: The line into parenting two children, the line at the front door when we first bring you home, waiting for the school bus lines, everyday grocery shopping lines. And the bigger lines: The cruelty of others, heartbreaks, disappointments, mistakes, successes, loves, leaving home, the millions of lines that make up this crazy but beautiful life. And as I looked at those lines that I needed so badly to confirm my tell-tale pregnancy symptoms, I didn’t feel a twinge of nerves, just unadulterated joy.
I can’t wait to be a mom again, your mom, to keep another baby forever.
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