Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The first month

Apparently I lied, and the birth story is still pending.  Because I haven't even started it yet, so clearly it's not done yet. 

Instead I will share with you the minutiae of Greta's first month on this earth.

She came home two days after she was born, and the next day her Grandmother arrived.  We planned that trip in advance, but the timing worked out perfectly.  Even just one night with two parents and two children was rough, so we were thankful for her arrival.  She stayed for three weeks, and the third week Greta's uncle came out.  We were sad/terrified to see them go, but have adjusted well.  Over the past week, Greta has started to give us a consistent 5 hour stretch at night.  This is usually followed by 2 hours of total wakefulness, and a couple more hours of fitful sleep.  However, a couple nights in the past week she has eaten and then gone straight to back to sleep.  So hopefully that becomes a thing. 

The night of rough sleep is usually followed by MJ waking up at 7 o'clock.  We put a fake clock that has hands permanently at 7 o'clock to put next to her real clock, and have told her she can't leave her room until they match.  It works, sort of. 

Although breastfeeding has been challenging, I am proud to say she hasn't had a drop of formula.  We spent most of our month pumping and bottle feeding, but this past week we've been nursing more.  Last night I nursed her when she woke up, she ate and fell right back asleep.  It was awesome.  I hope it happens again.  I've gone for half a day now without pumping, just breastfeeding, and it seems to go pretty well.  She's still pretty slow, but getting faster, sometimes about 30-40 minutes.  I actually think we might have luck just breastfeeding at this point, but I'm so nervous about having my supply tank that I just don't want to go there.  I'm so used to freezing some every day that if I go a day without I get nervous that my supply is going down.  I've purposely tried to reduce my supply a bit just so I'm more comfortable, and then I found myself nervous and ramped it up again.  It has definitely been a 2-steps-forward 1-step-back endeavor, but we're getting there.  Not sure what our plan is now, we'll just take it day by day and do whatever seems to be working. 

As for Miss Greta, we got our first smile out of her last Friday, two days shy of 4 weeks.  It was absolutely amazing.  Her smiles are still few, but I find myself working hard to earn them.  She's absolutely addicted to her Nuk; not much for swaddling, but it helps keep the Nuk in so she'll tolerate it.  She's been sleeping in a rock n' play next to our bed, has yet to even take a nap in her crib.  We'll get there, I suppose.  Hasn't even crossed my mind to try, yet.  I enjoy having her close.  I have also loved the month of cuddling.  The first week or two I found myself addicted to holding her.  I felt like I was going through withdrawals if I woke up after a stretch of sleep without having her in my arms.  I've become a little more sane about it now.  I spend enough time holding her every day that my arm hurts, and that has been enough to satisfy me.  As much as I have loved this cuddly newborn stage, the smiles have reminded me how much fun there is to come. 

MJ has really been a phenomenal big sister.  No part of her seems jealous of the time or attention that Greta receives.  She loves being helpful, and is expert at helping pop Greta's Nuk back in when she spits it out.  Greta was born with a wound on her hand from sucking on it so much, so the suck reflex is strong in her.  Although at first she was a bit rough with Greta (not in a mean way, just in a rambunctious toddler sort of way) she has become more gentle and seems to understand the need to be calm around her.  I know much will change when Greta is older, but I couldn't ask for a better start to their future relationship. 

It concerns me a bit that no part of me is missing work.  A month spent with an infant; shouldn't I miss the company of adults?  I do miss that a bit, but it's not like I had much company at work, most of it was silent computer stuff.  Three more months to go.  That doesn't sound like enough at this point. Already the thought of leaving this peanut is rough.

That's all I've got for the moment.  As for the photos, I'm hoping that will be easier to sustain than the little signs I made last time.  Only time will tell.  Soon, I'm sure she'll want to knock them over. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tradeoffs

Many of you already know this.  But let me tell you a secret:

Two kids is hard. 

It donned on me today, as I strolled through Target to buy some diapers, (Greta has a wicked rash that is not going away, so I've had to stash the cloth) that if we were worse parents we wouldn't be so tired. 

Which is not to suggest that we're amazing parents.  Or that those who don't adhere to some of the things we do are bad parents.  Simply that letting some things go would make life easier.  Specifically, giving into conveniences.  I rarely buy groceries at Target, I usually buy them at the local co-op.  This is a source of tension between hubs and I, because he points out, rightly so, that buying organic is much more expensive.  I maintain that it's important.  Furthermore, I have found that shopping at the co-op has changed my food habits.  I don't really buy convenience foods.  I don't buy much meat.  I cook most things from scratch, or close to it.  I think that establishing good food habits is incredibly important, so I try not to keep a lot of junk food in the house.  I try to cook nutritious foods most nights.  If I let these things go?  My life would be easier.

MJ rarely watches TV.  I think TV has some great aspects to it, I just see what she does when she's not glued to the TV and it seems so much better for her.  She runs.  She plays.  She colors.  She imagines.  It's harder on me, and sometimes I want to stick her in front of the TV.  But I so rarely let her she doesn't even ask me to watch TV anymore, she just plays as, I think, a 3 year old should.  It requires a lot more supervision.  I like to think it's a lot better for her.

These are two big ones in which I feel we are probably not in the norm.  At least not based on what I read on blogs and hear from others.  I was thinking today that I should make a list of priorities, and then cut off the latter half.  Just accept that they will not get done.  Would this make me more sane?  I'm not sure where a lot of things would land.  Showers.  Exercise (for me, MJ gets a lot).  This blog.  It would be hard to rank it all.

As for Greta, babies are pretty easy.  Priority:  keep them from crying.  Breastfeeding.  That's all there really is.  I'm not sure that I think breastfeeding is as important as all the time it takes suggests it should be.  What if I gave up breastfeeding and instead insured all the non-infants get nutritious home made meals?  Which is more important? 

Get ready for an extended metaphor.

Having our first kid was hard.  It was as though, after years of an economy that was gangbusters, a recession hit and we had to cut the budget.  It was painful.  We had to decide what was truly necessary.  But a lot of what was difficult was adjusting to a new normal, where freewheeling spending was not the norm.  Having a second kid, though, is a deepening recession.  We feel as though we've already made the cuts that could be made.  So then what do you cut?  When everything is important, what do you decide is less worthwhile?

Some day my kids may be offended that I compared them to an economic recession.  Which is why my next post will be my birth story, maybe the horror of all that vag talk will distract them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Survival

We are in full on survival mode.  Today marks three weeks on earth for Greta.  But survival with the second is different than survival with the first.  Survival with the second actually entails a lot more fun, because you force yourself to get out and do fun things to keep your first born's life as normal as possible. 

It also means a lot of things that weren't problematic with the first born become problematic with the second born.  Greta is still not nursing well.  Though we have gotten off the nipple shield (which we started using in the hospital) and she is taking in quite a lot of milk when she nurses, it takes her over an hour to do it, and we usually still have to supplement with some pumped milk afterwards.  With MJ, I could have just sat around and nursed all day.  Not too much of a problem.  Because we still have family in town, I technically could sit around and nurse all day now, but that would essentially mean not spending any time with MJ.  It just doesn't seem worth it.  So I've been pumping and giving her bottles most of the day, and we get in one or two good nursing sessions a day.  I'm hoping that as long as we can continue some amount, then when she gets stronger and less sleepy we can start just nursing rather than having to pump as well.  I'm skeptical at this point that that will ever happen, and we'll see what we're capable of once my mother-in-law leaves on Tuesday.  We're aiming for sanity.  Not sure what form that will take.  On the upside, though, my supply is pretty phenomenal.  If any of you remember my angst ridden posts back in MJ's early days, my supply sucked.  It never got very good.  We had to supplement with formula early on, then we had a few weeks without formula, and then I never managed to keep up and always had to supplement.  This time around, I probably have over 200 ounces frozen (ridiculous!!!) and am actually having some over supply issues.  I had heard that whatever foundation you lay the first time you breastfeed, you build upon that with the second.  I hadn't expected such an increase, but it makes me glad that I continued to try to breastfeed MJ for as long as I did despite our issues, because it seems to have paid off. 

Other ramblings.  I am only awake at this moment because I took a nap earlier, and now I can't sleep.  That is the downside to the "sleep when the baby sleeps" mantra.  MIL's departure coincides with the beginning of a rough stretch of work for DH.  I continue to wonder how I'm going to survive having to pump and give a bottle with every night waking, being awake much of the night and then getting up and being a functional parent with MJ.  All without DH around.  I find the whole concept daunting.  Even just the logistics of pumping and bottle feeding are confusing to me.  How do you console a baby that needs soothing while you're pumping?  It would be nice if I could wake up before she does to pump, but I've tried that and then she wakes up while I'm pumping and melts down.  Oy.  So we need to figure all that out.  She is not a great sleeper.  I know she's still very much in the realm of normal, but we've been getting a 3-hr, 3-hr, 2-hr pattern nightly for a while now.  She sleeps a ton during the day, we're just trying to convince her to move it to night time.  MJ was such a phenomenal sleeper so early on that we were spoiled.  If we could just get some 4 hour stretches I think it would make a world of difference. 

As for MJ, she's doing phenomenal.  She's sweet to her sister, loves to help, and is generally just a great kid.  She seems to have a harder time separating from us than she did, which I'm not shocked by.  Her tantrums have been more intense, and she's just been more emotional in general.  But I'm not sure if I attribute that to having a new baby, or just to her age. 

We got a date night last night, it was amazing!  In general it seems too early to be leaving Greta, but I know we won't get another chance for quite a long time, so DH's mom watched the girls for us.  It was absolutely phenomenal to spend some time with just DH.  It's nice to remember sometimes how this all began. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Blogger get-together! Tomorrow!

I should have posted this a while ago.  But, you know, busy and what-not.

Tomorrow (Sunday, August 19th) is a Blogger get-together.  You should come.  Because I've met some of my closest friends through blogging.  That seems weird to me, but it's true.  So it makes me really curious to find out what other amazing women are out there in the blogosphere.  The details are here:

http://erinkristine.blogspot.com/2012/07/mn-blogger-get-together-rescheduled.html

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Before and After

 
Photo 1: Shortly before leaving for the hospital (but not too shortly or that smile wouldn't have been so big.)
Photo 2:  5 days post partum. 

I'm not sure that this truly captures the size of my belly.  It's almost like tie dye is belly camouflage. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Some photos of our summer


This was a post I was working on a few days before Greta was born.  I was feeling bad about not doing anything fun with MJ this summer, but after looking through some photos felt better about the whole thing.  Turns out we've had a pretty great summer so far. 

 







































The first week

Well, it's been 8 days.  Almost exactly, actually.  Because 8 days ago at this time, I was asking the midwife how much longer she thought I'd be pushing, because if it was going to be hours still, I really needed to gear myself up for it.  But that's a different story, and a different post.

Greta was born at 10:08 on July 29th.  8 lbs 6 oz, which I didn't think sounded that big, until I looked it up; it's apparently between 75 and 90th percentile for weight.  Also 90th percentile for head circumference and length.  So a big girl.  That 21 week ultrasound that pegged her at 90th percentile?  Spot on, apparently.  1 lb and 4 oz bigger than her sister.  I'm curious if Greta will be the tall one. 

I'll give away the end to the birth story, which is that we did have a successful VBAC (though just barely).  As of 2006, only 8.5% of women with a previous C-section later gave birth vaginally.  That is a phenomenally low number.  I know some of them are necessary or for safety reasons.  I don't judge women who get c-sections, because I've been there.  I just feel like it needs to be discussed more, because having been through both, I can attest to how much better it is to recover from a vaginal birth than a c-section.  One week out I'm doing things that took a month to accomplish last time.  In Greta's first week of life, she went to Target, a restaurant, the zoo, a county fair and the farmer's market.  I realized at the end of yesterday I needed to tone it down a bit, but it's so nice to feel so much better.

If you want photos, check out my twitter feed.  Actually uploading them to the computer feels a bit daunting right now.  If I had posted a few days ago I would have been a bit more overwhelmed, but I now feel with it enough to say things are going pretty well.  Breast feeding has been challenging, because Greta isn't much for actually sucking.  We had four days without a bowel movement, lots of screaming, and a very unhappy baby.  I worried about colic, or worse.  But a visit to the lactation consultant confirmed she wasn't getting enough milk, despite having nursed 20 times that day.  I remember a similar thing happening with MJ; I thought I was nursing so much this time that it couldn't possibly be the same, but I was wrong.   So now I'm pumping and supplementing.  Once we started that, she refused to nurse AT ALL for a couple days.  Now we're back to nursing for a while, followed by supplementing, followed by pumping.  It easily makes feeding an hour+ long process, and I'm hoping she figures it out soon, because I can't keep that up.  With MJ it was easier, because my only job was to parent her.  Now there are two, and spending an hour nursing one while disregarding another seems ridiculous.  I'm trying to avoid going to exclusively pumping, but timewise it would make so much more sense.  I just know how much pumping sucks, and how burnt out I will get with it (already am with it) in the long run.

DH's mom has been visiting for the past week, and will be here for two more weeks.  The help has been wonderful.  DH starts back to work in a couple days, and I'm already dreading it.  Having him home has been wonderful.

As for MJ, she's adjusting well.  The time away from us while we were at the hospital was hard on her; since we have no family in town, she stayed with a dear friend of ours.  I think she did okay while she was away, but the meltdown when she saw us and met her sister was intense.  MISSING BIG THINGS is hard, and I think she felt like she was excluded for a short time.  But she loves her sister, and is always excited to give her hugs and kisses.  When I asked her to help find baby's Nuk she was ecstatic to be helping.  And then the rest of the time she just goes about her business.  We've been trying to keep things normal for her, but I think she's feeling a bit socially withdrawn.  During a normal week we go somewhere with her almost every evening, and she sees lots of friends.  We've toned that down a bit and she is clearly bummed about it. 

Alright, much more to say.  But bedtime, and the few hours of sleep that might occur, calls.