I just got done painfully somehow miraculously putting both children down for a midday nap. I'm probably totally jinxing myself as this has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE but for that very same reason it's worth mentioning, I suppose. That's right, America. In two months there has not been a daylight hour in which both of my children sleep simultaneously. PITY ME AND MAIL BAKED GOODS.
Two statements on the subject:
A) Somewhere my mother is cackling her evil, evil "TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY BWO HA HA HA HAAAAAA!" laugh, and
B) This is where I seize the opportunity to catch you up on my life with two children.
First of all? IT'S AMAZING. This very morning I sat on the floor with both my kids in my lap: Elijah snuggled into my chest with his sister at my shoulder, stroking his head and smooching his lips and telling him "Wub you, Wi-jah" over and over again. You guys, I am snatching up moments like this multiple times a day and tucking them away in my heart forever. Things like this must be the very reason for the phenomenon called Baby Fever, in which mothers who have already reproduced seem to forget about the discomfort of pregnancy and the capital-p PAIN of delivery and get it in their brains that they Must Have More.
If you needed more convincing, I give you exhibit A. Also known as "Manda might consider a third or fourth child because is there anything sweeter than your kids cuddling together on the floor NO THERE IS NOT!"
When Sydney first met her new brother it was the day after he was born.
The morning had been very rough for me. I was brought to my room from recovery at about 1 o'clock in the morning. John and I took some time getting settled, and then they brought me Elijah. I spent the next hours with my son (while John slept), nursing him and bonding with him. He was a fantastic nurser from the start and established a latch that satisfied me, so at around 4:30 that morning I let the nurse take him to the nursery for a few more tests and a bath. I asked them to keep him for a few hours so I could get some rest. I dozed off for a few hours and then woke up before the shift change around 6:30 am. A nurse brought me pain meds and recommended that I try a few bites of red Jello with my Motrin. I followed her instructions, and in less than 20 minutes I started feeling very nauseated and wound up vomiting.
The shift changed and I met my new nurse, an older woman named Helene. She immediately called my doctor and got me some Zofran (God bless you, inventor of Zofran!) and went about trying to stabilize me. She brought me cold towels and gave me some oxygen and worked with me for the next few hours. At around 10 am they brought Elijah back to me. I still felt awful and Helene actually tried to turn them away because she saw how much I was struggling, but when the other nurse told her that the baby had been crying I overruled and asked for my son. The second they placed him in my arms I felt 75% better. I nursed him for a while and started feeling much improved. Helene couldn't believe how much better I looked after an hour and started to encourage me to get up out of bed. She and another nurse got me up and into the bathroom. I changed clothes (into my beautiful Annie & Isabel gown!), washed my face and brushed my teeth, then sat up in a chair for a while with some apple juice. I'm pretty sure that apple juice with crushed ice was the best thing I've ever had to drink IN MY LIFE.
After a while I got back in bed and fell asleep for a few hours and when I woke up John told me that Sydney was on her way! Her grandmas and aunt planned to bring her to the hospital mid-afternoon (we were hoping she'd get her nap first but she didn't nap that day). John and I agreed that when they were on their way up to the room he would go out to meet her and bring her in so that we four could spend some private time getting acquainted. It was the right call. Right before she got there Elijah needed to nurse so when she arrived I was in the bed with him. She was dressed in the "big sister" outfit I'd picked out for her. I will never forget the way her face lit up when she saw me. "Mama!" she squealed. And then she saw Elijah and exclaimed "There's the baby!" Immediately she was fascinated with him. We let her touch him and hold him and give him kisses (this was all unprompted!) as we introduced them. She was so sweet and gentle with him. Over and over again she gestured toward him and said "Baby bruver!" Seeing my children together for the first time was one of the greatest moments in my life.
Soon the family filed in to spend a little more time with the baby. Sydney played with the present we'd given her "from her brother" (we had one in the suitcase for each day she came to visit), and then John took her to dinner with his mom at a nearby deli while my mom and sister hung out in the room with us.
After three more nights I was finally discharged from the hospital. Compared to what I went through giving birth to Syd, I felt amazing. I was so ready to get home. I didn't know what to expect from my daughter after my absence … we'd seen each other every day while we were in the hospital but it was the first time we'd been away from each other for more than one night. I knew that my transition home would probably be rocky for her (for all of us). And as expected, she was a little timid around me at first and everyone (except me) was really freaked about her accidentally hurting my incision. I just wanted to hold her in my arms and love on her, but I didn't want to force her and I also had a little someone new who needed me to nurse him A LOT. After she went to bed that night I had a complete weeping meltdown in front of my family (hello hormones!). I was just totally overwhelmed. I cried a lot those first few days, worried that I couldn't do the newborn thing again with any sort of excellence and be the mom I wanted to be to my daughter, and well, HORMONES.
Thank goodness our family was there for us. Sydney got so much wonderful attention from her grandparents and aunt those first crucial days. And that's not to say that Sydney didn't have her own things to work out. At this time she started acting out toward everyone … lots of hitting and biting. But the one person she never, ever acted out toward was her brother. She wanted to "HOLD IT!" And we let her hold him every time she asked and immediately took him away when she insisted "ALL DONE! YAYA HOLD IT!" She gave him kisses and stroked his head and was consistently gentle and sweet with him. Over the first few weeks I made sure to spend significant time one-on-one with her daily … whether it was rocking her for nap with someone there to put her in bed for me, reading a book, or just cuddling in my bed watching Veggie Tales while a grandma held the baby. It took a few weeks, but day by day things got better.
I got stronger every day, and after about 2 weeks I was getting back on my game mama-wise. I don't know about your 2-year-old, but mine needs discipline and boundaries. UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY. It took me about two more weeks to get her reigned back in behavior-wise, but all the while she continued to be sweet and loving toward her brother, and there was not One Single Episode of lashing out in his direction. I was (and am!) so proud of my little girl and how she has welcomed this baby boy into our family. She helps me with him – hands me a dropped pacifier, throws away diapers, tells him "It's ok Wijah-boy!" and announces "Mama! He's crying!"
And this is where we are now. Today I put Syd down for her nap with only a micro-cuddle because her brother was wailing – again – in the next room. She protested, even rolled her eyes when I put her down, but she let me go. Every once in a while we'll see the slightest, smallest hint of jealousy … a softly spoken (or, well, sometimes BELLOWED) "no" when Daddy needs to put her down for her nap so Mama can nurse, a demand to be held by whoever is holding the baby, but as far as adjusting goes I think we hit the jackpot with our patient, loving little girl. And me? I love our new normal, our little family of four. As hard as it is sometimes now that my incision has healed and so the grandmas have gone home; or when John's at work and I am on my own; when Elijah is up all night and then I have to be on my game for my girl the morning after … if I could do it all over again I would still choose to have this precious new baby here now.
But don't you dare ask me when I'll be pregnant with the next one. I might punch you right in the teeth.