Friday, March 8, 2013

two under two.

This is what I want to say all the time.
Whenever anyone asks me how we're doing.
I just want to say, "well... I have two kids under the age of two."
Because I think that sums up life right now.

I'm only partly kidding.

The truth is, it's both amazing and crazy. It's not bad that we have two kids under two. It is.... what it is.

Alta is just... the best surprise ever.

Alta.

From the first pregnancy test that I was so sure was going to be negative, to finding out we were having another girl, to wondering and worrying about our changing life and waiting, waiting, waiting, to over 41 weeks, to over 9 lbs to dark hair, to fat, darling, sweet, beautiful Alta.

She is so yummy and sweet. She seems to fit in with us all so perfectly. 

Alta.

Ember is doing very well with it all. Neil and I both worried about that a lot. And it's not actually Alta she has trouble with. It's Neil and I's interaction with Alta that she struggles with sometimes. Mostly me, naturally, as I'm almost full time with Alta right now, breastfeeding and all of it. She loves to hug, kiss, tickle and tell people about her sister. She also loves to ask me to hand her sister over to her dad so she can get some cuddle time in too. At first... it was kind of a doozy. She's getting ready to turn two in just a couple months. She's adorable and smart and frustrating and energetic and brave and vulnerable and fantastic and loving and really, really, REALLY good at tuning her parents out when she wants to.

Ember.

Ember was amazing during Alti's birth. Everyone, and I mean, it seemed like EVERYONE, had concerns about her being there. But it couldn't have worked out any better than it did. This is something I'll talk more about when I share Alti's birth story, but I finally got to the point where I had to ask people not to tell me their concerns anymore. A week before you're due to have a baby is not the time for people to suddenly start sharing negatives. It's just not. Ember did SO well though, and I am so glad she was here for it.

A couple hours after Alta was born, Ember was a little indifferent about her. She was much more concerned with all the company she suddenly had at the house, and that first day, she really didn't even want to address her sister. There was some beautiful time very soon after the birth, while Neil and Sarah checked Alti over, that I got to nurse Ember and talk to her about the baby. She was very excited to be with me, and talk about it. Mostly though, that day, she just enjoyed having family around to play with her, and the extra attention.

Ember and Alta.

Three weeks in, everything is starting to start (yes, starting to start!) running smoothly again. Starting to... starting to. I have to keep constantly shifting my perspective and attitude. I have to keep my heart open to these girls and their needs. I also have to take time to address my own. Just being here, typing out this blog, is me making sure to do that.

Dani and Alta.

Some days I start to get antsy. So far, recovery from the birth, has gone very well. I feel great. It's easy to feel tied down right now, with two nurslings (Yes, two.) and one of them a newborn. Being out of the "end of pregnancy fog" I was in, feeling rested and more normal after the birth, and having my body be a little less occupied has me suddenly dreaming about all kinds of different things I'm longing to do. Soon, soon.

People keep asking me if Alta is a good baby. I have no idea what that means really. I think she is a great baby! Is there such a thing as a "bad" baby? I think... that she's just a newborn baby. An individual newborn baby at that. I remember, those first couple nights, they kicked my butt. Like, completely dragged me back into parenting a newborn with an almighty force. Alta has a fussy time, which at first, seemed to come in the middle of the night, but naturally, predicting it was impossible. The first night, it was about one in the morning. And it lasted until sometime after five. I remember, Neil and I were out in the living room with her, and after she was finally passed out asleep and we were good and sure it was for real this time, I noticed the time. It had been a whole 24 hours since I'd given birth to her.

Alta.

At first, we were all in bed. Alta was with me, Ember with Neil. (we've got a huge family bed in our bedroom, which I'm planning on blogging about sometime... we'll see. I'd like to do a "co-sleeping and tandem nursing post" since those are the two subjects I get asked about all the time.) When Alti would fuss or start to wake, I would immediately go to nurse her. It's just what I've been used to for so long with Ember now. But it wouldn't always work for Alti. And in my tiredness, I couldn't see past trying to nurse her back to sleep. Neil got up, and immediately suggested he would change her diaper. Oh... yeah. Right. Then another time he took her and burped her. Oh... duh.
I have to laugh at myself... after such a long and happy breastfeeding relationship with Ember, I am used to relying on nursing for so much. Em hasn't required nighttime changes or burping for quite awhile now!
Neil doesn't have boobs.. he has to use other resources. He remembered it all from Ember. Meanwhile, I'm just all leaky boobs over here, trying to remember they aren't the only thing to use when caring for a newborn at night.

All the sudden, that first night, Alta would just wake up. Ready to fuss. And that's what she did. Lots of fussing, some crying, LOTS of cluster nursing, some light sleeping inbetween all that.
I felt a bit run over by the time morning came.
Ember of course was ready to get up and play about 7:30. Neil deserves a medal, since he got up and left me to sleep with the baby.

So the next day, it was easy to feel frustrated. And tired. It was simply time to look at it differently. I was parenting a newborn again after all.
As the next evening approached, I got everything ready. And when Alti woke up in the middle of the night, I had my netflix, snacks, water and cell phone (with facebook, pinterest and other distracting activities) ready to go. I simply decided to make the best of it. Neil would come out and help as well, as long as Emme was good. We'd watch silly shows, pass Alta back and forth to give each other a break, and just be grateful for our healthy, fussy girl.
After all, if that's the worst of it with our newborn, I think we're all doing pretty well.

Alta.(wanted to say, before I get asked, since it's real noticeable in this photo: just some peeling skin on her feet and hands. it's pretty much gone now, and just something from birth. she soaked up most of her vernix before she was born and so, her skin was a bit dry/peeling in some places. totally normal, totally fine.)

At this point, for the past two weeks or so, it seems like Alta has gotten more on board with our schedule, actually just like Ember did as well (she had this same sort of fussy time for the first couple of months). Alta now has fussy time in the evenings, and seems to calm and fall into a deep sleep about an hour before we put Ember down to bed.
We've also figured out the power of babywearing with a fussy baby again. Luckily, much earlier than we figured it out with Ember. And Alta really calms when she gets the "shhhhhhh" sound in her ear, something that never worked with Em.
There is so much that we already know, and then all the new stuff we need to figure out for this unique new person.

I type all of this knowing full well that she may change it all up again tomorrow. But, I'm going to enjoy this little bit of regularity while it lasts! I also type all this knowing that I better get my butt to bed soon, because neither one of these kids really believes in sleeping in. Plus, nursing, burping, diaper changes and sometimes rocking Alti back to sleep, not to mention if Ember wants to nurse sometime in the night, definitely means broken sleep for me.

Alta.

The hardest thing for me right now? Asking for help. A part of me feels completely valid in desiring help sometimes. Another part of me really doesn't want to look like I can't handle this. I've gotten comments and quips here and there, already one really hurtful one, about handling both kiddos, as well as "how I should be doing". I know that first week, Neil and I were like zombies. And I'm sorry, but I didn't want him going anywhere. I completely cherished him being here with us and I damn sure loved the help. Having that devalued was a bit painful for me. It's really only been a few days now that we haven't completely felt like we've been through the ringer. We took Alta out at three days old to see our chiropractor (she had some cranial stuff that needed adjusting after her birth, due to her having her hand up by her face) and stopped to have breakfast with some family. Neil and I literally just sort of sat there like lumps in the chairs. We ate. We mumbled when people talked to us. We probably even half way fell asleep! I quickly remembered why all the literature tells you to stay home and take it easy for those first weeks.

Alta.

I knew people were judgmental before, but I had no idea just how bad it could be, until I had kids. We all just judge the crap out of each other and our parenting choices! And it's not like before I had kids, where maybe someone doesn't like my hair, my obsession with Dr. Who, or my vague emotional posts on facebook, etc. etc. etc. This is about my kids, our kids! We want to do the very best for them, it feels important to us, because it is important to us and it should be important to us. We are, after all, raising humans. Who will grow up and go out into the world. And yet... we've all got to put each other down. Sucky. Really sucky.

I'm trying to let that bit go. Trying.

I think Neil is doing well. I know some days he wishes to be back to work. Neil loves work. He loves having a job to do and feeling like he's accomplishing something, seeing the progression. He's not a big fan of the housework and he really dislikes the cooking. I'm getting back to all of it, but it's at a slower pace and when Alti needs to nurse, I'm sitting out for a bit. Around here, like in most homes, you can do a full day of laundry, dishes and meals and feel really great about it, but by the next day it's time to do it all over again. It's never really done. He's made quite a few comments about how insane it seems to just keep doing it all over and over and over. I'm laughing about it, because dude, I know.

Neil and Alta.


Just like with Ember, we're both glad he's home right now. Your baby is only a newborn once. You don't ever get that time back. Being able to bond with both his girls right now, and be apart of settling in and setting up our new way of life is too good. It's too much of a blessing to be anything else. He's getting an opportunity many dads don't get or can't take. There are so many cute moments around here right now. So many sweet little spots in the day. We're all together. And we'll never get this time back again.

I keep telling myself, what am I going to look back and remember? Am I going to wish my dishes had been done? Am I going to remember the giant pile of laundry in our bedroom? Am I going to regret holding my sweet baby and watching my husband sit on the floor in front of me, playing with my toddler?

Ember.

When we talk about how broke we were during this time, when we talk about the unemployment, are we going to talk about how awful it was? Or are we going to talk about how happy we were despite it? More than that, will we even talk about those things? Or will we just talk about the time when Alta was born. How awesome it was.

Neil, Ember and Alta.

Life is good.

Alta.

And somehow, so suddenly, here we are. A family of four.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful post, Dani. :) And that picture of the three of them at the bottom of this post? Adorable! Congrats, too - I haven't popped by here in a wile. Alta is so lovely!

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