Tuesday, February 24, 2015

(Difficult) Transition to Big Brother

When I was pregnant, people often asked about W and if he was ready to be a big brother.  I was never sure how to answer.  W knew baby was in my tummy.  He knew baby's name, baby's room, baby's toys.  But was he ready?  I always told those who asked that I was really nervous about his transition to big brother.  I'd explain that W was very close to me and that I expected him to have a tough time adjusting.  He just wasn't used to sharing me.  And although he knew "baby", he didn't understand that baby would be a permanent member of our family.

Nearly every time I explained my worries, I'd hear, "He'll be just fine."  "Make sure he helps with baby; keep him involved."  "Be sure to set aside time for just the two of you."  It sounded so easy.  The only time I didn't hear, "everything will be just fine" was from my mom and a good friend.  According to my mom, I had a very hard time adjusting to the arrival of my brother (apple didn't fall far from the tree there) and a dear friend told me to be prepared for W to act out and test boundaries.

Maybe people were just hoping for the best.  Maybe they hadn't experienced a sibling having trouble adjusting.  Maybe they were just being nice.  I'm not sure.  But their responses implied that W would easily transition to his big brother role and life would continue as it always had - there'd just be a baby added to the mix.

So when W had an epic 20+ minute screaming fit on the very day we arrived home from the hospital, it caught me off guard.  I felt alone.  And I had no idea what to do or how to make W feel better.

I knew in my heart that W would have a tough time.  I just wasn't sure what that would look like.  I expected some resentment towards little brother, but all the resentment he harbored was towards A and me.  This is actually a good thing... I think.  But also incredibly hard.  That first day we were home, W wanted me to pick him up.  I couldn't.  Carrying a 30 pound toddler 3 days after a c section is highly discouraged.  I told W he could sit by me.  A offered to pick him up.  Neither of those options were acceptable and W proceeded to have a screaming meltdown that I've never experienced before.  He cried and screamed, "mommmmyyyy uppppp!"  It broke my heart.  He had rarely had tantrums prior to this and this was not a typical tantrum.  He was hurt.  And emotional.  I'd never heard him scream like that.  And there just isn't any way to explain to a 2 year old why you can pick up the new baby, but not him.

W's had quite a few tantrums since then.  And they always have to do with me.  I won't pick him up, I'm feeding S and W doesn't want to wait for me, etc.  He's been extremely clingy.  Only mom can change his diapers, hold him, pick him up (I ended up picking him up way sooner than I was supposed to - like 4 days after c section.  Stupid.  But I was desperate to make him feel better.).  He wants to sit on my lap during dinner and not in his high chair.  He wakes in the night and cries for me.  He follows me throughout the house and always has to be near me.  If A tries to help, W has a meltdown and tells A to go away.  It's exhausting.  And mentally draining.  And then I question if I'm spending enough time with S since W has been so needy.

And for the record, W helps with S all the time and I spend tons of one on one time with him.  The advice I received from everyone hasn't seemed to have much of an impact on W.

I never expected it to be this hard.  I've never questioned my parenting abilities as much as I have in the past 2 weeks.  I cried for 5 days straight after arriving home.  I've never doubted myself more.

I try to remain calm and not get frustrated, but I'm human.  And after W has had a tantrum, thrown the remote, a toy train, and a book, I'm ready to lock myself in the bathroom... except, W has actually figured out how to open a locked door.

Since that first day, things have gotten better.  We seem to take two steps forward and one step backwards, BUT at least we're making progress.  We even had 3 really good days in a row (followed by a really horrible day - BUT progress nonetheless).

I'm no expert, obviously.  In response to W's behavior, we've been ignoring the negative behavior for the most part.  When W tantrums, he often throws himself on the floor and bangs his head on purpose.  And he bangs his head hard - on the wood floor, on the wood table, against the wall.  It's disturbing.  The pediatrician told us he'd stop because it hurt.  Umm, no.  It hasn't stopped.  W is very stubborn.  I'll try to move him to a carpeted area and let him cry/scream until he eventually calms down.  One thing I can't ignore is throwing.  To me, that's a safety issue and I don't want him to throw something and hurt someone.  So when that happens, he gets a time out.  Consequently, he's gotten more time outs in the past two weeks than he has in 2 years.

I have to be very careful how I respond to W.  A reminds me often that he's very sensitive (again, apple didn't fall far from the tree).  On one occasion, he tripped over a curling iron cord after holding onto my legs and demanding upppp.  I gasped.  I wasn't mad at him, but concerned that the curling iron would fall and burn him.  I think W thought he was in trouble and had a meltdown.  I've learned to be more careful about how I respond to situations that involve him.

We give tons and tons of praise when W helps with S or exhibits any type of positive behavior.  I also tell S that he has to wait because I'm helping W - hoping this shows W that he's not always the one who has to wait for mom.  I point out all the things W gets to do as a big boy that S cannot do.

Every day seems to bring a new challenge.  Things are slowly getting better.  I'm hopeful that things will return to normal sooner rather than later.

On the bright side, W is really good with S.  He'll bring the pacifier to him and offer toys.  He throws away S's diapers, picks out S's pajamas, outs a blanket on him, and helps with baths.  I've seen him walk by S and say "Hi, S."  I'm really thankful for that.

I'm not writing this to be whiny or complainy.  I realize these boys are gifts.  Incredible gifts that I'm so grateful for.  I really never expected the third round of IVF to work and I still can't believe I'm lucky enough to parent these boys.  But I do want other moms to know that the transition to older sibling isn't always easy.  I really feel like people completely downplayed the transition and scoffed at me when I mentioned my concerns.  I wasn't prepared for W's tantrums and constant need for my attention.  This has been a learning experience for all of us.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Life Lately

Baby S is two weeks old today.  I'm not sure how that happened.  Time is flying by and it scares me.  S continues to be a very sweet, content baby and I'm so grateful for that.  I'm also thankful that nursing continues to go well this time around.  Not sure if I've already mentioned this, but at one week, S weighed more than W did at 1 month.  Holy moly!

On a related note, A's last day of paternity leave is today.  He heads back to work tomorrow.  To say I'm dreading it is an understatement.  In toddler fashion, I may be grabbing on to A's legs and pleading for him to stay as he walks out the door.  In all seriousness, my mom and A's mom have offered to help, which is such a relief and so very appreciated.  But W continues to struggle with sharing mommy and I'm extremely nervous about these upcoming weeks.  We've had more time outs in the past 2 weeks than in the last 2 years.  I've cried more than I ever expected.  The transition deserves a post of it's own and I'll write it some day, but suffices to say, it's been hard on W and on me.

Speaking of W, his vocabulary has exploded in the past couple weeks.  I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the arrival of baby brother, but he's saying tons of words and stringing 2, 3, and 4 words together.  I can't believe how much he's grown/learned in such a short time.  I mentioned before he knew all the main colors - he's also added black, white, pink, and brown to his color identification.  He continues to identify several letters and yesterday told me apple started with A... amazing.  He also sings, which is adorable and remembers characters from books.  He pointed to his toy duck recently and called him Ernie - the name of the duck in one of his favorite books. :)

Last week, W told me he loved me.  At that moment, all previous behavior issues were forgotten. :)  A recently asked him if he wanted to eat his puree in the tv room or the kitchen.  His response: mouth.  Lol. :)  I love him so much and it makes me sad that he's having such a tough time.

On a completely random, unrelated note (because that's how my brain works), Cadburry Mini Eggs are back and I'm super excited.  My favorite candy! :)

And finally, this...  Could they be any cuter?  No.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

S's Birth Story

Scheduled c-sections are such a weird thing.  On one hand, it's great to be able to plan everything in advance.  We were able to make arrangements for W and for Addie.  I was able to triple check and make sure I had everything packed.  Even the house was somewhat picked up and clean.  But on the other hand, there's the opportunity to over think things when you know exactly what time a major life event will occur.  And when I over think, I have a tendency to focus the negative/scary aspects of a situation.

I didn't think I'd be able to sleep the night before baby S's arrival, but much to my surprise, I slept decently.  The prior night, I was very emotional and scared about my upcoming c-section.  I cried and looking back, I have no idea why - I want to say it had something to do with with seeing an ultrasound picture, but I'm really not sure.  However, I awoke on Thursday, February 5, feeling excited and optimistic.

We had a quiet morning.  A and I both got ready for the day and I remarked how we'd be meeting our second baby in a matter of hours.  It was surreal.  We enjoyed a quiet breakfast with W.  I had to remind myself not to eat anything.  Before we knew it, grandma G was at the house and it was time to head to the hospital.  I snapped one final picture outside - wanting to be able to show baby S how much snow we had on his birthday.

I was very quiet on the ride to the hospital.  Nerves were getting the best of me.  I was receiving very sweet texts and messages, but they were also making me nervous.

We checked in at 10am without issue (when we checked in for my scheduled c-section with W, there was a mix up and we weren't on the schedule).  As we checked in, I heard a hello and looked up to see my doctor sitting towards the back of the reception desk.  I really like him and it was funny to see him looking so casual, while I was preparing for such a life changing event.

I headed to triage where I changed into my hospital gown, the monitors were placed, the IV was administered, and I answered a bazillion questions.  There was a final ultrasound.  Baby S was head down as I expected, but he was a little tilted - sort of at an angle.  I was having significant contractions and didn't realize it.  My doctor commented that I had a high tolerance for pain... thank you very much!  The nurse also told me I was tough, though I don't recall why she said that.

My c section was scheduled for noon and my doctor told me that we were right on track and I'd be heading to the operating room around 11:50am for the spinal.  The spinal is one of my least favorite parts.  That thing hurts.  Side note - when W was born, the assistant holding me for the spinal had the same name as W.  It was a great coincidence and I just took it as a sign that everything would be ok.  Well, this time, the nurse holding me had a son with the same name as baby S. :)

So once the spinal was administered, I quickly laid on my back and could feel my legs tingling and turning numb.  I had a significant drop in blood pressure and began to feel really nauseous.  I was told this is common and especially common with big babies because of the weight/pressure they apply while lying on your back.  I was given medicine to help and cool towels were placed on my head.  The anesthesiologist told me the nausea would only last a short time and I did start to feel better quickly.

The curtain was raised and A finally got to come in and be by my side.  I did have a few more bouts of nausea, but it never seemed as bad as I experienced with W.  As baby S was being delivered, it felt like my whole body was moving like crazy.  I'm not sure how to describe it.  People say you feel tugging, but this was different.  My whole belly was moving.  The doctors were remarking that he was big as they were delivering S and before I knew it, he was out.  He immediately started crying - music to my ears.  He pooped and peed on the doctor - same as his big brother. :)  He was brought over so A and I could have a quick peek and I could not believe how enormous he was.  My first words regarding W were, "He's so cute!".  My first words regarding S were, "He's so big!".  The operating room was abuzz, with "He's so huge!", "What a big guy!", etc. etc.  There were several doctors and nurses in the OR and they began placing bets on how big S was.  It was really funny.  Several guessed over 10 pounds and I think I said at least 10 times that I couldn't have had a 10 pound baby.  I was seriously shocked.

Meanwhile, as I was being put back together, A went and snapped pictures, cut S's cord, and stood by while he was examined.  He went with S to the recovery room and I (along with the surgical team) awaited word on S's weight.  Soon it came - 10 pounds, 4 ounces.  I gave birth to a 10 pound baby.  I'm not a big person and I'm not sure how he got to be 10 pounds, but so be it.  S also scored a 9 on the APGAR.

My doctor told me that I had minimal scarring from my previous c section and that I healed very well.  Good news.  Soon enough, I was headed to recovery.  I nursed S right away and he was a champ from the get go.  He knew exactly what to do.  S got his first bath.  I had a million checks.  When I could move my legs, I was on my way to my room.  As we headed out of recovery, A got to play the special lullaby song that lets the entire hospital know a baby has been born.  It's really sweet and hospital patients have remarked how uplifting it is to hear that lullaby. :)

S's birth was a really great experience.  Once in the room, I felt really good.  We sent the big announcement and pictures to family and friends.  We revealed S's name for the first time, which was tons of fun.  We also planned for W to come meet his brother.

W arrived around 4:30pm with Nani and Papa.  He was wearing his Big Brother shirt and I was so excited to see him.  Unfortunately, at that exact moment, things took a turn for the worst.  I suddenly felt extremely nauseous.  Of course, until that point, I had felt fine.  Everyone quickly left the room and I began vomiting.  Now, the same thing happened with W, but I only had one round of vomiting and then I was fine.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen this time.  I tried to visit with W and introduce him to little brother, but I was feeling awful.  Not the meeting I was so looking forward to. :(  That's still disappointing.  W, Nani, and Papa didn't stay long.  I had 2 more rounds of vomiting despite 3 different anti-nausea medications.  I pulled out my IV in the process and started bleeding from my incision.  It was awful.  I was also determined to get out of bed as soon as possible and the vomiting pushed that back.  I didn't eat and hardly had anything to drink all day.  The nurses were concerned that I was urinating enough - well, I was so afraid of any more vomiting so I wasn't drinking anything (even water was coming back up).

Finally, by the next morning, I was feeling better.  Some time in the wee morning hours, I began eating crackers and trying to drink more.  I ordered breakfast - an English muffin and kept that down.  My nurse told me she thought the vomiting was over and she was right.

W came back to visit on Friday and I was thankful for a redo.  He sat next to me in bed and we all took S for a walk as a family of four. :)  I even got my long awaited hot dog for dinner.  S was also doing great.  Eating well and such a sweet baby.  He's my gentle giant.  The nurses and techs that came in said that S was the biggest baby in the nursery and they all talked about how surprised they were that I had a 10 pound baby - I just didn't look like a person who has a 10 pound baby.  There were blood sugar checks for S because he was so big, but he passed with flying colors.  There were also billirubin checks since he was a little jaundice, but again, he passed the checks.

This was such a different experience than with W.  W lost weight quickly.  A pound while in the hospital and I was constantly being told to feed him.  It felt like I was doing something wrong.  He was also quite a bit more jaundice and doctors were concerned that he wasn't eating enough and would continue to get more jaundice.  W's latch was never great and despite producing more than enough milk, feeding W was a struggle.  S only lost about 10 ounces and was gaining weight by the time we left the hospital.  He was a natural at nursing and so far, that continues to go well.

We were discharged from the hospital on Sunday, February 8.  Since then, we've had our share of challenges - W is having a tough time adjusting.  More on that to come.  I've been a lot more ahem... emotional this time around.  I think it's because I'm having a tough time with W having a tough time. :)  Also, the lack of sleep is no joke.  But on the bright side, S has been a dream so far.  Good eater, good sleeper, easy going.  He only cries when he's hungry.  I'm crossing my fingers that this continues.

I was so eager to get out of the hospital and looking back, I wish I would have appreciated that hospital time more.  It was nice to be able to bond with S - and it was also nice to have all meals and medications provided while I relaxed. :)

I also want to say that c-sections seems to have a bad reputation and doctor's who recommend them are often criticized.  I love my doctors.  They kept telling me this baby was big and they were certainly right.  I have no regrets about S's birth and I'm pretty sure he wasn't coming out any other way.  Other than the vomiting episodes, my recovery has gone great.  A week later, I'm off of pain medications and 20 pounds lighter.  I feel awesome (albeit tired).  I know everyone's experience is different, but for me, both of my c sections were very very positive experiences.

I also loved that S was born on a Thursday - just like big brother.  The same doctor that delivered W delivered S.  S was born on the 5th and my birthday happens to be on the 5th.  A has requested that if we have another baby (highly unlikely, though I did admit I can't imagine not having another sweet newborn - easy to say since S is such a content baby so far), he be born on a multiple of 3 since both boys were born on multiples of 5.  Of course he's kidding.

So there you have it.  I'm feeling incredibly blessed to be raising these two sweet boys.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Our Final Day as a Family of 3

I took one day off prior to baby S's arrival.  I wanted to spend the day with W and didn't want the added pressure of everyone at work talking about delivery day.  I know they mean well, but I just wanted a day where I didn't have to answer questions or hear comments.

I was so pregnant, I knew I wasn't up to taking W to our usual day off destinations - library, mall play place, etc.  I decided the two of us would pick up Starbucks and head over to my mom's house.  And we did just that.

W always loves seeing the cats and my mom was recently given several toys that belonged to her neighbor's grandson.  I knew W would have a blast and I would be able to take it somewhat easy.  A win, win.

It was a great plan.  W had so much fun.  My mom made me sit in her armchair and relax. :)  And I was even able to run a few last minute errands while W played - a trip to the bank, a stop at W's preschool to drop off a check, a Target run, and finally a stop at the local Chinese restaurant for lunch.

The only downside - I didn't pack enough diapers for W.  Oops.  In my defense he pooped 3 times that day - sorry, tmi.

We eventually headed home.  I gave W my phone to play with in the car because I didn't want him to fall asleep.  He needed a diaper change and any time he falls asleep and wakes up after only a few minutes, it's impossible to get him back to sleep.  I jokingly told him not to call anyone.  While we were at a stoplight, I looked back and realized he was in fact calling someone.  Oops.  I grabbed the phone and realized he had called A.  I couldn't help laughing - I NEVER call A; I always text instead.  I knew A would think the phone call meant my water broke.  And he thought exactly that, calling me back immediately.  Unfortunately he had been in a meeting, but I hear his coworkers got a kick out of the false alarm.

Despite my plan, I couldn't get W down for a nap.  For the most part, he was still a good boy.

We ordered pizza for dinner and I packed a few more items.

It was the perfect, low-key day.  Just what I wanted.

That night, I got really emotional.  Our little family of 3 was great and I knew everything was about to change.  It was a change for the better and I was excited to meet S, but I also knew things would never be the same and it made me a little sad.  The feelings are difficult to explain.  As A was playing with W, I made my way upstairs and burst into tears.  The nerves of the following day were getting to me and I was just overwhelmed by my thoughts and fears.

I felt much better afterwards and was so thankful to spend the day with W.  Excluding the emotional/hormonal breakdown, it was the perfect day.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

He's Here...

And I have so much to tell. But it will have to wait for another day.  For now, I'll just say my little Hercules lived up to his nickname. He arrived on 2/5/2015 at 12:25pm, weighing in at a whopping 10 pounds, 4 ounces, 22 inches long. He's a big guy and absolutely perfect in every way. And since I'm
on my phone, I can't even figure out how to share a picture. Stay tuned. More to come.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Final Day of Work

My final day of work before starting maternity leave.  Such a strange feeling.  Of course I arrived to: "You made it in!", "You haven't popped yet?!?", "You're here!"...  Yes, dear colleagues, despite your predictions, I did indeed make it to work today. :)

It's still up in the air how much time I'll take off.  That will be decided by baby and myself.

I'm still scared to death about how we'll spend our days - between W, baby, and myself.  I just can't picture how things will go.  How will I juggle feedings and still manage to play race cars?  How will I get W down for a nap if baby is having a particularly difficult day?  How will W feel if I'm holding baby, but he also wants to be held?

I'm very worried about W's feelings/emotions as he transitions to his new role as big brother.  But I know it will all work out in the end.  Because it has to.  And these boys of mine will always have a playmate, a friend, a brother - that's pretty amazing.

I have a brother.  We got along alright as we grew up (we still get along, though different lifestyles/thoughts/interests have definitely distanced us), but I've always wondered what it would have been like to have a sister.  A sibling who shares similar interests, a confidant.  I'm so excited for my boys and I hope they are the best of friends.

I read an article today that brought me to tears.  My favorite part:

"Moms. The crazy, heart-stopping love that we feel for our children runs deep through each and every one of us as moms.
And this knowledge is painful at times. It's why every sappy commercial brings us to tears. It's why we can't watch the news. It's why we get in the car and cry after we drop our kids off to their first day of school. It's why food allergies are terrifying. It's why our hearts ache when we hear about miscarriage or fertility problems. It's why we are up at night worrying about our teens. It's why the thought of our children eventually leaving the nest makes us weep into our coffee. It's why the death of another mother's child is so utterly heartbreaking . . .
It's also why we should always provide a blanket of support to all fellow moms. Not only to those who are suffering through the unimaginable pain of losing a child, but also to those mamas going through plain ol' rough times . . . and even those moms who are just having one of those days. Hug her and if you are struggling to find the right words, all you may really need to say is, "I know, I'm a mom.""

Monday, February 2, 2015

Weekend Recap

What a weekend!  Where to begin?

First, no baby yet.  Several people predicted baby would make his appearance this weekend, but no, not yet.  And that’s a good thing because we had a major snowstorm – or should I say a blizzard!  But let’s start with Saturday…

A took W to school Saturday morning.  Nothing new to report.  W was great.  After that, it was off to Noodles and Co.  I actually won a free tasting for up to 8 people!  I never win anything!  The catch was that the tasting had to be done between 1/28 and 2/3.  So I asked if we could come in on Saturday for the tasting and it was arranged.  My mom, Nani, and Papa joined us.  It was so so much fun!!  We had 3 different appetizers, 3 salads, 4 entrees, and dessert.  It took forever (2 hours!) and W was such a good boy.  Unfortunately, he didn’t try anything.  I’ve mentioned before that he does not like pasta – more like despises it.  But he was a trooper to sit with us for so long.  It was a great experience and I definitely need to send the restaurant a thank you for a great time… and all that free food!

The rest of the day was good.  W napped and we went grocery shopping.  W was such a good helper at the grocery store.  He pointed out and named products, he handed me groceries to place on the conveyor, he brought in grocery bags, and helped me put items away.  He loves to help and he’s awesome at it. :)

Saturday night, the snowstorm hit.  We debated going to church Sunday morning, but the snow was really coming down so we decided to stay in and be safe.  I was disappointed, but knew it was the right call.  I really wanted to get to church before baby’s arrival, though.  We were also supposed to attend my nephew’s baptism, but by that time, there were blizzard warnings and local police were advising everyone to stay off the roads.  I’m sad we missed it, but again, I know choosing to be safe and stay in was the right decision.

On the bright side, being forced to stay in resulted in a productive day.  A did laundry, I made dinner and cleaned, there was lots of play time with W, we hung up baby’s name in the nursery (so the nursery is completely finished!!), and got out the 4Moms Breeze (baby will sleep in the bassinet part for the first few weeks).  The Superbowl was on, but I barely watched any of it… turns out toddlers aren’t interested in the Superbowl and that was ok with me. :)

It finally stopped snowing last night – after 19 inches of snow had fallen!!  A has a snow day and I’m working from home – feeling a little guilty because all of my colleagues made it into the office, BUT they’re not having a baby in a matter of days.