Sunday, July 29, 2012

Three Babies?

No, we aren't having another baby. I did get your attention though, didn't I?

Alessia has a doll who goes by the name of "Dolly." While Alessia was becoming increasingly attached to Dolly before Olivia was born, Dolly is now an ever-present part of our life. Dolly comes to the grocery store and on walks. She is taken up to bath time and is critical to napping. Alessia has also started mothering Dolly, making her the third baby in my house. It began with swaddling. Alessia will present me with Dolly, a blanket, and the request "wrap Dolly." She will then put Dolly in the swing and say "shhhhhhhh." She offers Dolly Olivia's binky and uses my phrase "try binky." Here she is carrying Dolly in the sling I made for them after watching Alessia try to get Dolly into my sling. This mothering is very sweet to watch, especially since it is happening at Alessia's initiative.


On another note, many people talk about how parents block out the more difficult memories related to their children's early years. I thought it was a process that happened when children got older, but apparently it starts immediately. Yesterday I interrupted Olivia in the middle of a feeding in order to change one of Alessia's diapers (it was a stinky one and just couldn't wait). Well Olivia became so hysterical that she wouldn't take the breast again, and after fifteen minutes of trying to convince her that what she wanted was right in front of her, I finally had to swaddle her and walk around bouncing up and down while holding a binky in her mouth. After about five minutes of that, she was calm enough to eat again. Later on I remembered that we had to stop burping Alessia halfway through a bottle when she was about the same age. Otherwise when we took the bottle out of her mouth to burp her, she would become so hysterical that she couldn't see the bottle in front of her nose. That was only 20 months ago, and I had already started to forget.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Sleep And Babies

First of all, I would like to thank God for the makers of the electric swing. I held Alessia while she napped for the first four months of her life. Her doctor then suggested that I try a swing. Magic! She took four, half-naps a day for about two months in this swing. At first we thought Olivia would be different. She didn't sleep much during the day her first month, but we could put her down for a two to three hour stretch of sleep in the middle of the day. Then all that changed. Swaddled, not swaddled, with a binky, or without, she started waking up screaming five minutes after being put down. So, at just over a month, we're back to a swinging, sleeping baby in the living room.


Second, I would like to thank Alessia (and Adam, the real hero of this story) for learning how to fall asleep on her own. For some months Adam has been in charge of Alessia's bedtime, in anticipation of Olivia's arrival. Alessia is often very wired at bedtime and would chat and squirm after finishing her bottle, while Adam tried to gently rock her to sleep. So he got into the habit of gently putting her in her crib, where she would talk to herself and squirm for a short while before crying for him. Sometimes this process was repeated several times before she succumbed to sleep while being rocked. Right before Olivia was born, Adam and I were discussing how difficult Alessia was at bedtime, while she burbled in her crib. Suddenly we realized it was very quiet. When we peeked in her room, there she was asleep in her crib. Joy! In the past two weeks she has fallen asleep at night on her own more nights than not and has even managed it twice at nap time, when I am sitting with her and Olivia starts crying. I'm proud of her. The baby is slowly slipping away and she is becoming an amazing little toddler.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Olivia at One Month

So the newest addition to the family is one month old today. In the past week Olivia has started making those goofy newborn smiles (open-mouthed with the lips curled in) and her first cooing sounds. She loves a shaken rattle and a spinning mobile. She's a miserable daytime sleeper, but a generally good nighttime sleeper (although last night we were up from 2:00 to 4:30). Unfortunately, at the moment, she won't sleep in the stroller, which means I can't go with the often repeated suggestion of taking the babies to the park and letting the newborn sleep in the stroller. She is in love with her big sister.

I told Adam a few weeks ago that Olivia has entered a louder and rougher world than Alessia did. I think she's up to the challenge though.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baby Blues

Baby blues are a seemingly inevitable part of having a baby. All the pregnancy books talk about them. With each of my babies, about a week after they were born I had one good sobbing meltdown. After the first, I explained to Adam that a big part of it was hormonal. With pregnancy hormones crashing and mom hormones surging, if I hadn't just had a baby I would be on medication for a hormonal imbalance. Add to that all of the life changes and responsibilities of having a new baby, and the occasional tears are to be expected. A couple of weeks ago, it occured to me that with Alessia my tears were generally about my fears that I couldn't care for Alessia. With Olivia, my tears have been generally about my fears that I can't care for Alessia. Olivia will be fine. I know that, because I know from caring for Alessia that the tough newborn stuff passes. It's Alessia that is having a hard time right now. I know that she will adjust, but right now it is very difficult for her and for me. I miss playing with her as much as she misses playing with me. Today she tried to give me a full body hug, and I had to stop her, because the only way I could get Olivia to sleep this morning was in a sling. Last night she was having a bath with Adam, and I mentioned to Adam that I was "going to get her ready for bed," meaning Olivia. Alessia thought I was referring to her and started crying and clinging to Adam. I am simply not welcome at bed time anymore, and that's hard. I know that as the next few months pass, and Olivia does not need every moment of my attention any more, I will be able to reconnect with Alessia. Until then though I still may have a few moments of the "baby blues."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meal planning with a full CSA share and two babies

Even though we knew this summer would be extremely busy with two babies, we went ahead and signed up for the full CSA share. The first couple weeks were easy. Adam was home and did all the cooking. Now that he is back at work, we are going to have to get more deliberate in our meal planning and prep. I came up with a meal plan for this week based on the CSA veg and the various beans and precooked meals in the freezer. Today, I prepped lettuce for several salads, froze kale to use later in the week, cooked a pound of lentils and froze one 2-cup container of them, and prepped enough beets for tonight's dinner and a second dinner. This is the plan:

Saturday: grilled beet and zucchini salad with feta, bread, blue cheese (we are picnicing in the park this evening)

Sunday: grilled ham steak, grilled green beans and onions, bread, sliced tomatoes

Monday: lentil salad with leftover beets and fennel, sauteed zucchini, rice

Tuesday: swiss chard and chick peas over pasta, salad

Wednesday: kale and black beans over quesadillas

Thursday: sauce from the freezer (from the last time I made pot roast) over pasta

Friday: order in pizza


The goal for each night is to keep cooking to a minimum - sauteeing garlic, boiling pasta, putting rice in the electric rice cooker, dressing lettuce for salad. Wish me luck!




Monday, July 9, 2012

Two Under Two

Olivia is almost three weeks old now, and today is Adam's first day back at work, which means it is my first day solo with two under two. Somehow two babies works out to more than twice the work. While there are two bums to keep in clean diapers, two mouths to feed, and two to entertain, the fact that whenever I am doing for one, the other is there with her own needs, means that doing for one is more work than it once was. Did you catch all that?


Olivia loves to nurse. This is a pleasant change from Alessia who took the opposite approach and ended up a formula baby. On the downside, she wants to nurse ALL THE TIME. If Alessia ends up resenting Olivia, it will be because she has heard "mamma can't right now, I'm feeding Olivia" one too many times. At the same time, Olivia is a very wakeful baby and enjoys wriggling and gazing around from the comfort of her boppy chair. When she does finally take a break from eating, I have had some success swaddling her and putting her down in her bassinet. At this age, Alessia did nothing besides eat and sleep, and we could not put her down during the day without her screaming in protest.


So far Alessia is handling this new development in her young life fairly well. She is very curious about Olivia and is already trying to share with her. She offers crackers, crayons, and sips of water. Hopefully she will still be in the sharing mood when Olivia is old enough to actually accept. I'm the one that Alessia is mad at. I completely understand why. I went away for three days, something that had never happened before (well, once before, but she was only four months old). Since coming back, I all too often have this little baby attached to me. My lap used to belong to Alessia, and I used to be ready at any moment to play ball and accept a full body hug. Things will get better between us, and all this will be a distant memory, but these first few weeks have been hard for both of us.


I think the hardest thing about this next year is going to be that babies change so much. Every time Alessia changed (new nap routines, eating routines, sitting up, cruising, crawling, etc) I had to adjust, but I'm an adult, so big deal. With two of them, as Olivia changes, Alessia will be affected as well, which is going to be difficult for both of us. Toddlers enjoy routines, and while Alessia has proven herself to be very flexible, she is no exception here.


At the end of my first day as a stay-at-home mom of two under two, I am so glad to have two beautiful baby girls and a wonderful husband. This morning I found a note in my diaper bag that read "I love you. You can do anything."


Friday, July 6, 2012

First Adventure

This morning I ventured out alone with both of my girls for the first time. We weren't over ambitious, just a trip to the library. I had Olivia in my new Baby K'tan carrier (it's a cross between a wrap and a sling), and Alessia was in her stroller. Overall it went well. Alessia loves the library and was very eager to go. I nursed in public for the first time, changed a newborn poop overflow diaper (I had forgotten how common those are), and Alessia had her snack in the stroller on the way home. All in all, it was a very successful trip.

We're still debating wether or not to get a double stroller though. I love how compact and easy to manuever Alessia's stroller is, and I've always loved "babywearing." At the same time, I can see many situations in which I would want to put Olivia down in order to deal with Alessia, and that doesn't really work without a stroller equipped for a newborn. (Yesterday, for example, Alessia was outside with Adam and fell face first down a step onto concrete. If something like that were to happen while we were out and about, I couldn't pick her up with Olivia in the sling.) Also, Olivia often cries a bit when I first get her into the sling. She always calms down after a minute or two, but it wasn't ideal in the library when I was getting us reay to go home. This particular problem will get better over the next couple of months though, and I hate to make any purchasing decisions based on short term need. I'm also worried about getting a double stroller in and out of the house. There are two concrete steps to negotiate in order to get to my back door. With Alessia's stroller this isn't a problem. I could see it being very difficult with a double stroller. I know eventually I will need a double stroller (I carried Alessia in a baby bjorn until she was about 6 months old), but if I wait, I don't have to worry about wether or not the stroller is suited to a newborn.