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".