Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Three weeks with Two Kids

 Goodness, I don't even know where to begin.

It's been three weeks and three days since we met Louie for the first time.

Three weeks and three days since our world was completely shaken up and any semblance of our "normal" was all blown to hell.

Three weeks and three days since we rocked Gus's world by bringing into it a baby brother with whom he has to compete for attention.

It certainly hasn't been easy, but honestly it's been really good.  I've really loved getting to know this little baby boy of ours.  He is a dream, seriously, and so far (knocks on wood) seems to be super laid back and chill, the exact opposite of his big brother.  He sleeps for really long stretches throughout the day in his bassinet or crib, nurses efficiently and quickly, and barely cries.  When he's tired, he goes to sleep (what a concept!) and sometimes even puts himself to sleep without being nursed or rocked or bounced.  I know he's only three weeks and we have yet to reach that peak "fussiness" stage, but so far, like I said, he is a dream. 

Also, I have to say I'm really enjoying doing this baby thing a second time around with a completely different perspective, one of an experienced mother with confidence in how to care for an infant.  I feel like I'm so much better at picking up on Louie's cues, understanding what he wants without panicking or giving him the boob immediately.  I'm less afraid of crying, if that makes any sense.  Of course I'm not going to take my sweet time when the child is upset, but I'm just a little more in tune with the fact that his cries are how he's communicating with me, not to mention that sometimes I can't drop whatever I'm doing to immediately "fix" whatever is wrong.  Sometimes I'm making Gus lunch, or 30 seconds away from finishing loading the dishwasher or doing some other household task that I have been trying to find time for all morning.  

So to recap: the baby? - so far easy peasy my friends.  The toddler who has had to make room in his life for a little brother?  Well, he's been a bit more of a challenge.

Gus really does not like to share his mother.

The first week was very hard for him, dealing with such a change, such a shift in his routine.  He had spent a few days at my parents house while we were at the hospital, with probably threw him off a bit, and then we were all home together the whole next week, barely leaving the house, hosting a ton of visitors who were all bearing gifts and sweets.  The second week was a lot better, as I, myself, seemed to be getting better at managing, Dan went back to work, Gus began to adapt, and Louie seemed to start to really get used to being outside of the belly.  The third week... yeah my dear first born became a lot more challenging again.  The whining and screaming seemed to amp up considerably.  Everything became such a production, so full of drama.  He was very demanding and emotional.  And of course, every time I dared to nurse or even hold the baby, Gus would start to sob and scream for his daddy or grandma or whomever was near to hold Louie.  When no one else is around, he would just scream at the top of his lungs. 

I've tried to handle these outbursts the same way every time, I tell Gus that I have to finish feeding the baby, but I would love to have him sit with me.  I offer to read him a book, I let him drink his milk and twirl my hair while snuggling next to Louie and I.  Then when I'm finished, if I'm able to, I put the baby down or give him to someone else and have some one-on-one time with Gus.

I have to be honest, it's not easy.  Sometimes I'm just SO FRUSTRATED with his antics and I lose my patience.  Not to mention the fact that I'm nursing a newborn every one to three hours of my life right now, so already I feel a little bit claustrophobic, like my body is not my own and I have very little space.  So you throw on top of that a toddler hanging on me constantly... yeah, not easy.

But I am trying to stay the course, and remember how huge this all is for Gus, how stressful it would be to have your whole life turned upside down and not really understand why.  As we're almost half way through week four, it seems like he's getting better again, almost as if he's starting to realize that Louie isn't going anywhere, that this is his new life, and that it's not all that bad.  It helps that we're getting out of the house much more, and I really focus each day on doing something different, finding some way to give Gus a change of scenery. 

I want to stress that Gus hasn't really been aggressive with Louie at all, he's quite sweet actually.  He gives him kisses, talks about him, and seems really interested when we change the baby's diaper or lay him on the bed and talk to him.  I think he truly would be entirely into the idea of having a little brother if the little guy didn't steal so much of his mama's time.  :)

We're taking it day by day, and that seems to be the only way to really do it.  And I'm happy to say that I'm having fun.  While I don't really technically have any stay at home mom friends, we're finding creative ways to get out of the house and help Gus burn off some of his energy, despite the fact that it's the middle of winter.  My mom is off work Mondays and Wednesdays and she is almost always game for some sort of field trip.  She has even taken Gus for the afternoon a few times, and given me a chance to get things done at home or just snuggle my baby while watching TV for a few hours, reminding me a little of my maternity leave two years ago.  The local community center has this fun toddler open gym thing every Wednesday, which is awesome.  My mother-in-law is home with her kids and she's very nice to let me and the boys come and hang out for the day.  Today that meant Gus got to go outside and play in the snow with Tim and Julia, which he was so excited about.  I've also had some great friends come by a few times over the last few weeks to socialize and snuggle the baby. 

I'm starting to get better at getting out of the house with both boys, we're all finding a rhythm.  I don't dare take them anywhere in public by myself yet though, (I literally just do not have enough hands for that), but it's temporary.  I try to remind myself of that.  Temporary.  It will be easier some day.   

Oh scratch that, I DID go to the grocery store by myself with both of them last Friday.  Awesome, right?!  We had met my brother at a McDonald's Playland for lunch, and on the way home I decided to just go for it.  The baby was asleep in his car seat, and I needed a few things for a potluck the next day.  Plus, we were already out of the house, and that is really half the battle.  And it went fine.  Gus was strapped into the cart, unable to run, and Louie slept the whole time, until the drive home of course when he decided to scream the whole way, but oh well.  It was mostly a success, and I felt like I accomplished something, however small, which felt amazing.     

All in all, it's been a good three weeks and three days.  Some days I have felt like I have my shit together, and on others I have definitely felt like we were all hanging on by a thread.  But that is totally life with small children, right?  I'm relieved that I haven't been completely thrown for a loop by all of it, and I think it was important that I expected it to be really hard.  I've even found some things to go smoother than I had expected.  Low expectations... that's the key I guess.  ;)  Kidding.  But seriously.  

A few pictures of our new... "normal".


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Louie's Birth Story

December 31st, 2011

Well, I have to say I really truly never ever expected to have this baby before my due date of January 10th.  The possibility was always in the back of my mind of course, haunting me really, giving me nightmares.  I was so consumed with Christmas for all of December, I just convinced myself that I would have time after the holidays to check off the million and one things on my baby to-do list.

Ahhh crap, that is just how it goes right?  Oh well, honestly the fact that we de-Christmased the house on Friday, took down our tree and got our home partially back into some semblance of order was huge for my sanity.  I can't even imagine what it would have been like to come home from the hospital to a dying Christmas tree and holiday clutter on top of everything else (freaking mouse!).  So there's that.   

On the docket for the next day, of course, was to finish organizing the boys' rooms upstairs.  But that would have to wait, because our baby and my uterus had other plans.   

Gus woke up, per usual, sometime around 3:00 AM early in the morning of New Year's Eve, so Dan went up to help him fall back asleep and, per usual, fell asleep himself for a few hours.  Around 4:00 AM I started waking up every ten minutes to go to the bathroom.  I would wake up, look at the clock, and be pissed off that it had been just ten minutes since I had last gotten up.  I'd haul my beastly body to the bathroom, not actually "go" once I was in there, then crawl back in bed and fall asleep only to do it all over again ten minutes later.  This went on until 6:00 AM when I finally realized that I was actually having contractions and that was the reason I was waking up every ten minutes.  At this point Dan was back in bed so I told him what was going on, and said I was getting up to play around on the computer because I was too uncomfortable to stay in bed anymore.  He didn't really believe me when I said I was having contractions, and went back to sleep.

Thirty minutes later, on the couch blogging and uploading pictures, I started to notice that the contractions were really starting to get annoying, and a lot closer together.  I went to the bathroom again and saw that I had a little bloody show, and new that meant it was game time.  Whoa.  My first thought... we're going to have this baby in 2011?  Seriously?

So I told Dan he really seriously needed to get up, and that I was going to get in the shower and shave my legs, because I was in labor.  For real.  I told him to call the midwife, let her know this was happening today, then call my dad so he was prepared to come over and get Gus at some point.

I talked to the midwife around 7:30 or so, after I had showered, gotten dressed, and eaten a bagel.  She said it sounded like things were progressing just as they should, and asked when I would like her to call again, to check on how I was feeling.  We thought an hour, sure, it's as good an estimate as anything.  Contractions were still totally manageable, but happening about every 4-5 minutes and lasting for about 30 seconds.  Before we hung up she told me that I should try to eat some protein, so I promised I'd have Dan make me some eggs.  I went about finishing getting ready and timing my contractions with my phone while Dan pulled all the bags together, including an overnight for Gus, and got the car loaded.

By 8:15 my contractions were getting much more intense, I had to really focus on my breathing and do some rocking to get through them.  I wandered the house in between, but with each one I could feel them getting stronger, then after trying to eat the eggs Dan made for me I felt really nauseous, and all of a sudden I was like, NO.  We have to get going.  This is totally happening soon, and though I was terrified of laboring in the car and not being able to move around, I was more terrified of waiting too long and having our baby at home, by ourselves.

So Dan called the midwife, we didn't make it that hour, which she said didn't really surprise her.  Then he called my dad and told him to come over for Gus.  Amazingly, that child was still sleeping, and never even woke up before we left for the hospital.  So awesome, I am so thankful for how all of that went, because my biggest worry/stress throughout my pregnancy when I thought about going into labor was what would happen with him.  (It has been ALL about Gus for 2 years really, right?  So why would it be any different here?)

We left in a hurry, I barely said anything to my dad because I was in total CRAZY-EYED FOCUS mode.  I climbed in the back seat of the car and got through each contraction by hanging over the back seat and moaning some strange rhythmic chant while staring at a box of cheez-its that I had packed in our hospital bag.  Random for sure.

At about a quarter to 9:00, we pulled up to the emergency room entrance at the hospital, because this time around we had decided that we would not be parking in the ramp and wandering all over the hospital causing a scene.  Dan found a nurse that was just starting her shift to walk with me while he moved the car.  I was moving pretty slowly so we didn't make it that far before he was at my side again.  We got up to the 6th floor and headed to the assessment room.  This is where there was some confusion. 

So my midwives had basically just gotten rights at this hospital, after a political fall-out from the hospital I delivered Gus at, and I actually ended up being the first woman from their practice to deliver at this new hospital.  Needless to say, transitions like this are usually rocky.  Even though I had pre-registered, with my midwife's name, they didn't seem to understand who my care provider was.  In fact, once she showed up, just a few minutes after us, they seemed to have made the assumption that we were a home-birth-gone-wrong couple coming into the hospital with our midwife in tow.  I don't really understand what was all happening, but I was being told by some random nurse to lay down so she could check me, then my midwife was arguing that, uh, no thanks, she was my care provider and she could check me.  The admitting nurse was being super passive aggressive and patronizing, and my midwife was being her no-nonsense "I don't have time for this b.s." self.  They were arguing right there in front of Dan and me, the admitting nurse saying, "I need to check her and assess if she is in labor", and my midwife responding, "If she's in labor?  Are you kidding me? I can tell you she's probably about 9 cm without even having to check," and finally I think my midwife told her that if they were going to discuss this any further they would need to go outside the room away from the patient because this was all very unprofessional.

Dan later said he was seconds away from telling them to please figure this crap out somewhere that doesn't involve us.  Since, you know, we were busy having a baby.

Whatever.  I don't know what transpired, but they came back pretending to be BFFs and had everything worked out, the nursing staff had truly had no idea who she was, because with the craziness of the holidays at the hospital, she hadn't been able to meet the nurses or get her badge or any of that.  Anyway, I was checked and found to be fully dilated minus a tiny lip of cervix, and at 0 station.  

Yes, I was in active labor, well into it in fact.  Totally new information!

We got to the delivery room and it is all truly a blurrrrrrrrr.  They were trying to put all these straps and things on me to monitor the baby, asking me to get on the bed and lie down, and I kept trying to, but then another contraction would come on and I just couldn't do it.  My midwife just rubbed my shoulders and whispered in my ear how great we were doing and that I should do what my body was telling me to do, if I felt the urge to push, push.  If I didn't want to lie down, then I didn't have to lie down.  She had this amazing ability to take me out of the room and help me shut out all the annoying things that were going on around me.  Dan was doing a great job of rubbing my lower back, which near the end was starting to just kill during contractions.  When I was finally able to get on the bed, my midwife encouraged me to get in a kneeling/squatting position and hang over the back.  We tried that, I pushed a little, didn't love it, but my water did brake in the middle of one of my pushes.

I had to tell them it broke because I don't think people were really paying attention to whether or not my skirt was suddenly soaking wet.  Then everyone was trying to help take off my nasty wet skirt and I think it was either my midwife or Dan who suggested maybe I'd rather lay down and push the "traditional" way.  I know I heard Dan tell her that that was how I delivered Gus and I seemed to like pushing that way (like being the totally wrong word here).

And that's what I did.  I don't know how long I really pushed, but I can't imagine it was more than like 5 minutes.  It really did all go so fast, though during I just wanted it to be over so badly.  My instincts were just to push one huge monster push and blow that thing out, but my midwife kept telling me to hold back, she would say, "Ok push... good good, you're doing such a great job!  Now take a breath.  Push... good good!  Now take a breath."  She encouraged me to go really slow so as not to tear, and I followed her lead, but was sort of pissed off about it, because taking that breath mid little pushes was just pure, ring of fire, torture.

That's really over-dramatic, I know, but in the moment... goodness, I hated her with all her, "Take a breath!" crap.  Amazing though, because it worked, I didn't tear at all, and my recovery, if you can even call it that, was so quick.

At 9:39 AM, on December 31, 2011, Dan helped catch our little (or not so much little at 9 lb, 1 oz) Louie.  They placed him on my chest and I was just so elated, and so proud of this little guy, and yes, I admit it, SO HAPPY it was over.  It was such a surreal experience, never in a million years did I think I would wake up that day and have a baby.  Everyone else we called and texted to let them know he was here were just as shocked.  Like Dan's mom, we could have just as easily been calling to talk to her about what to buy our niece for her birthday, which we were celebrating the next day.  It was just such a wonderful, unexpected surprise.  And with that, we were officially a family of four... parents of two sons.   

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas Part 3

Christmas Eve

We woke up Christmas Eve with the morning and most of the afternoon free to do as we please.  With all the hustle and bustle of the days prior, this felt like such a delicious treat, to be honest.  Just the three of us.

So the day really began like any normal day, with breakfast (waffles) and trains (freaking Thomas, of course)...

And then we opened presents, and it was lovely.  We spent too much money on that child this year, not going to lie.  We didn't mean for it to happen but we really got swept up in the excitement of presents and Santa and all that, it being the first year Gus would really truly get it.  Both of us were guilty of this, I mean at one point last month Dan even sent me an email at work with links to train sets that were on sale, (like this kid needs any more trains!), and then we spent time on the phone debating the various merits of each one.

Then one evening we were randomly at the Sears in Ridgedale, since Gus loves playing with the train table they have set up in the toy department, and they were liquidating ALL THEIR TOYS.  Everything was "Buy One Get One".  Every. Single. Toy.  We went nuts.  I mean of course we bought a lot of gifts for our nephews as well, but yeah.  I was rabid for the amazing deals we were able to get on Thomas crap, which never ever ever goes on sale and is so expensive (we're talking $20 for each train).

All this to say, (wow, such a tangent), I'm thinking next year we need to be a little more thoughtful about the whole thing, try to get a little less swept up in our emotions.  This year was all, "Oh he would LOVE this, we HAVE to get this for him."  It's not like he didn't love everything, but he opened a lot of presents, and I think by the end of it all he was getting pretty "meh" about it.  Anyway, lesson learned, next year we take more of a "less is more" approach.

Gus's favorite thing, by far, was this little set of 4 Thomas board books, in their own little travel case.  Yesterday I think I read "Stop Train Stop" eight times in a row while nursing Louie.  "Read it again Mommy, read it again!" 

(Diaper leak in the middle of the night, thus the strange pajama situation going on there.)

So we had a nice morning at home, playing with our new toys, trying on new clothes.  Dan went crazy this year, hit up my Pinterest page to see what sorts of things I was digging, and bought me a bunch of really awesome and funky jewelry from Etsy.  Like seriously, the guy hit it out of the park, everything was so thoughtful... including a locket with a spot for pictures of each of my boys, and another necklace with Gus's birthstone and a little "G" charm.  I plan to add an "L" and Louie's birthstone at some point when I don't spend most of my day nursing and burping and delicately plotting out little ways to get out of the house and help Gus burn off energy.   

But yeah, Dan went to a lot of trouble this year, more trouble than he should have.  I say it often, I'll say it again, he's just all around, an incredible guy.  A great husband and an even better father.  Lucky lucky lucky me.  Every day I am thankful for this man.

We went to church with Dan's family at 4:00 PM, and I horrified various members with my beastly pregnant-ness.  Seriously.  I saw the looks. Dan and I tag-teamed to keep Gus civilized with books and cut up apples.  He is REALLY not the kind of kid that just sits quietly for more than an hour.  Even when he's watching Thomas he jumps around the room and gets up and down from chairs and generally just acts like a lunatic.

Then it was off to Dan's grandparents house for a feast of epic proportions, not to mention presents and cookies and toys and family and loud noises and a singing snowman with gyrating hips that Gus REALLY got a kick out of.

Christmas Day

The morning of Christmas this year was so darn perfect.  You know how when you dream about being a parent someday and you think back on your own childhood, there are those certain memories that really have a lasting affect and you sort of idealize them, you can't wait to have those moments, to make similar memories with your own children...

Well, that is totally Christmas morning for me, it's just magical.  And comfortable, easy, relaxed, low-key.  A lovely little end-cap for the season, after everything that is crazy and rushed and stressful about the holidays you have this peaceful and perfect little time at home, under your own roof, just being with those closest to you in life.

I was up before everyone else Christmas morning, Dan had ended up in Gus's bed after the little guy called out for us at 5 AM, and I had been tossing and turning for a good part of the morning, nine months pregnant and no longer really enjoying sleep as much as I would have liked.  So I got up a little after 7:00 and turned on the Christmas tree, tidied up a bit, made a pot of coffee, and started on the cinnamon rolls I had planned to make.  The house was so peaceful, it felt gluttonous to have so much lovely time to myself to soak it all in.

Santa had been here, of course.  The stockings were stuffed and everything was all laid out in the living room.  

And my boys were up about an hour later, Dan was so enthusiastic about the Santa thing, I could hear him talking it up to Gus upstairs through the monitor as they got up.  So so so sweet.  

I actually followed through on one of my Pinterest craft ideas for Dan's stocking!  I even really had fun making this little book for him, I never do anything "romantic", I think I use the fact that I'm the female in our relationship as some sort of excuse to not have to... I mean he would never want me to get him flowers, you know?  Well anyway, I did this, and he liked it.

Oh, this is so incredibly ridiculous, but the pictures make me giggle.  Gus demanded Cheetoes at like 10:00 AM because I put a little bag in his stocking.  He loves them of course, and we never really give them to him, so it was quite the little Christmas treat.  He insisted I open the bag, then demanded a bowl, then lounged around on our bed feasting on them while I did my hair.  He looked like he was modeling for some sort of risque magazine spread, of the white trash Cheetoes variety that is. 

Then while Dan set up our new Keurig (woot!), Gus made us a delicious plastic lunch.

That afternoon we went over to my parents house for Christmas with my extended family.  Very low key, potluck dinner, lots of card games and football and some family gossiping.

After dinner, the men all congregated in the living room, watching football.  Or was it basketball?  Goodness, I so do not care.  

And this is so cliche, at the same time, the women are in the kitchen, doing dishes and cleaning up after the meal.

Gus and his great-aunt Martha.  She gave him the most kick-ass Thomas sing-along book for Christmas, which I hear on repeat all day long. 

Helping great-grandpa open up his presents. 

Finally, these pictures are from the day after Christmas, we went for a little walk about the neighborhood, since it was so beautiful.  Irrelevant to this post completely, but I won't have any other reason really to post them.  And they are cute, and are the last pictures I have of our days before Louie.

A caterpillar!  

Give it a kiss Gus!