Well, we did it! On December 1st we added baby sister Eloise to our family and buckled in for the wild ride of having "2 under 2" - just shy of 18 months apart.
I don't mean for this to be a teaser post, but synchronized naptimes are rare and short. So I'll start with a quick update and will definitely write more extensively on these topics in the weeks and months ahead:
Labor and Delivery
Things went a bit smoother than last time but once again deviated dramatically from Ye Olde Birth Plan. Baby Eloise was 9 days "late" and labor with her was long and not without challenges (like, you know, not dilating). They say second labors tend to be shorter...I suppose 26 hours is an improvement over 30 but not exactly what I was hoping for! I'll definitely share her full birth story soon.
Despite being really sore for about a week, my physical recovery went much faster this time. Hip, hip, hooray!
We also were able to decrease the volume of visitors some, but not as much as I'd hoped. I still wound up feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Some people love company. Some people want to pass their baby around or hand her off to get a break. Some people have really helpful visitors who voluntarily wash their hands, offer to walk the dog or throw in a load of laundry.
Turns out, I am not one of those people. I have wonderful family and friends eager to visit and hold a baby which I feel like doing at about 2-3 months, not days, postpartum.
Eloise sleeps like, well, like a newborn. And I'm tired. Yes, exhausted. But not unbearably so. The best news of all is that Rowan did NOT experience a nighttime sleep regression with the arrival of his new sister, which was a big (huge) fear of mine.
The first 3 weeks baby sister was up like clockwork every 2 hours at night to nurse, but in her fourth week is starting to have a 3 hour stretch early in the night and last night had a 3.5 hour stretch (which I just jinxed by typing that). This mama is trying to get in the habit of going to bed close to baby's bedtime so I can enjoy that "long" stretch, too. But it's so hard to be disciplined with that, though, because I want so badly to have some ME TIME (can I get an amen?!).
Napping is a whole other topic. The biggest sleep frustration I've faced is the reality of very rarely having both kids napping at the same time (allowing me to nap or *gasp* get any single tiny thing accomplished) and not being able to predict when it might happen. There is also a lot of dog barking waking up toddler from nap, crying toddler waking baby from nap, etc. Calling that frustrating would be akin to saying the Titanic had a bad day on the water.
Tandem Breastfeeding A Baby And A Toddler
I have to say I am rather surprised at how smooth tandem breastfeeding is going. It helps that baby sister can latch onto a moving target from across a football field (or at least that's how it feels after breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby) and that I had established some reasonable boundaries around breastfeeding with the toddler.
I never EVER thought I'd be able to actually nurse them at the same time due to Rowan's size and activity level (translation: I figured he would accidentally kill her). But he asked and I agreed to give it a try and it really is the sweetest thing. I think it's helping him connect with the baby and keep our relationship strong through all the disruption. He's nursing about 3 times a day, she's nursing about 4 billion (okay, actually just ever 2 hours during the day and 2-3 at night) and they nurse together about once a day.
Eloise isn't quite as big a fan of Tummy Time as her brother. And it's much harder to offer her Tummy Time with a wild toddler running around (and don't even get me started on the 100 lb. dog losing his mind over delivery men bringing Christmas packages every day!).
So at the end of Month 1, baby is averaging 20-25 minutes a day. I'll be diligently trying to get this up to 30+ minutes over the next week or so to keep us on track for her end of Month 2 goal of 60 minutes per day. And I'll be sure to share a few new Tummy Time tips and tricks with you in upcoming posts. I've found using this Tummy Time Tracker I made when Rowan was a baby is really, really helpful for staying aware and accountable. Get yours -
Parenting 2 Under 2
Wow - it's a non-stop three ring circus full of adorableness and mayhem. It's taken nearly a month but Rowan is now gentle with the baby most of the time but she still gets smacked at least once a day (I'm so sorry, sweet girl!).
There is NO WAY I leave the toddler near the baby without very, very close supervision. Even when she's in the crib or Pack 'n Play, he is able to throw toys in or shake her bed violently. And then there's the issue of toddler roughness with the nearly 12-year-old dog. Basically my day consists of endless containment strategies to keep everyone separated and alive while accomplishing the necessary feeding, diaper changes, meal prep, and play.
I feel like we're managing VERY WELL but if you were a fly on the wall, you would be able to tell both parents are a bit frazzled. I think we're operating as a team much better than in the newborn phase with our firstborn, but that doesn't mean we don't have short-tempers with each other and with uncooperative inanimate objects (for the love of all things, could the smoke alarms choose a WORSE time to chirp in the middle of the night?!). Also, I'm pretty sure if the dog wasn't so neurotically attached to me, he'd be seeking out a different living situation at this point.