Thursday, March 29, 2012

5 weeks. Will Spring ever come?

We have had one official sunny day in the month of March. Even for the Pacific Northwest this is a bit sad. It has been gray, rainy and cold for so long. I honestly feel like it has been the longest winter ever, but then again I might say that next winter as well. I did take a quick picture outside when we got home from toddler school and there was a brief clearing in the clouds.
Kate has been busy playing 'Fancy Nancy' lately. My part of this game is to wear a head band with bunny ears on it. At anytime (and I really mean anytime) you might stop by our house and find me in my pj's, breast feeding with bunny ears on. It probably looks like something from a bad movie. Meanwhile Kate will have on either a Easter hat (from the dollar bins at Target) or a bike helmet and various other accessories. I also will have various fake carrots next to me on the couch (typically a box, block or other object). Luckily for her sister, she has not started dress her up yet. Though she pretends to take her temperature fairly regularly, and she is very accurate and does this with a rectal thermometer.
And the littlest addition is having a few more moments of being bright and alert. Unfortunately these are followed by more moments of fussing and screaming. Per the books, babies peak in their fussiness around 6 weeks. Fingers crossed that is true and we will head back down to sweet baby time. She is doing well over all and that is the most important thing.

I have one more week of maternity leave left. Its all gone so fast, and of course over-whelming to think of adding on more responsibilities to my plate. I keep thinking, I've done it before and I can do it again. Hopefully that is right, and we'll have spring here eventually too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

One month old today!

We did these with Kate too, though hers were always at her adjusted months not real months (I didn't have them in the NICU). But, all the same we made it to month 1! In Taylor defense as well, sister was on fortified breast milk and she is on just the regular variety (more like skim milk in comparision). Its been a long hard month, but here is to the adventure that is parenthood. On we go!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sibling Rivilary Continues...

I have this weird belief that if you go through a hard time, that then there is universal karma that will make sure that then you will have an easier time the next time. My husband who is a hundred (or maybe a million) times more optimistic than me, feels that even in the worst situation you actually are lucky if you look at it the right way. I instead hold out that if I go through a rough time, then the next big thing will be easier.

I can't say that this theory has worked out for me. I figured, one nightmare of a pregnancy and the next one would be a breeze. Hmm... not so much (though with my husbands rose colored glasses it did have a great ending). Okay, a long drawn out pregnancy with lots of restrictions then I will have a easy wonderful labor. Hmm... not so much again (though still per Mr. Optimistic at least we are healthy and home). Okay, well after all that has happened then the transition to 'normal' life now that is going to be great.

Holy Hell, I was wrong on that one! We are one month in (almost), and I am honestly thinking that we are taking a one way trip to insanity. We are in a big craptastic spiral of yuck! I don't know what part of it is the worst but, I just have to say this is not what I signed up for. First off, the sibiling rivalry which I thought would be minor and last a week or so just keeps going and going and going.

We now scream in the night and I am talking about the toddler. Nearly every night, at some point between midnight and 6 am there is a some drama. "NEED MY SOCK OFF!!!!", we now put her to bed without any socks. "NEED TO GO POTTY!!!", regardless of how many times we go prior to bed. We've tried ignoring her, but no she just keeps screaming. I am typically nursing (because that is all I do), so I have to yell for my husband to go take care of her and on we go. And this fun is only after an unbearable long amount of time it actually takes to get her to go to sleep each night. She also learned to get out of her bed and open the door.

Did I mention that we have had 2 3/4 years of sleeping bliss with her. No problems since about 6 months of age. She would sleep 12 hours a night in her bed with no problems and also a 2 to 3 hour nap everyday. All to come to a screeching halt with the arrival of little sister. Compounded by the fact that of course little sister doesn't sleep normal, she is a newborn. All of this combines to the point that nobody is sleeping!!!! Night after night after night. No matter what we say or do it doesn't seem to matter to the toddler, it just keeps going.

And I wish that was it. I might be able to live with simple sleep deprivation. No its the constant demands when I am nursing (which I know is a lot of the time, but that is out of my hands). "NEED TO GO BATHROOM!!!", "NEED HELP" "NEED HELP" "NEEEEEED HELLLLP!!!", "NEED SNACK!" or just simple screeching. And these are all at the volume and urgency that somebody would typically reserve for when they are burning from a house fire. Typically when I have just sat down to eat, nurse, go the bathroom or make a personal call.

She also has straight out jealousy acts too. Yesterday for example, she climbed up to the dining room table took the birth announcements (pictures of her baby sister), started screaming and threw them all over the table which then knocked over my tea and ruined finished pile.

Don't get me wrong, we do talk, punish, and have the sticker reward charts. She gets one on one time with each parent. We have a routine. We use plenty of positive reinforcement. I have special things for when I am nursing to entertain her with. I have watched 'Super Nanny'. This is still getting to be unbearable, and I don't know what its going to take to get her to return to normal.

Unfortunately I have a feeling it will just be time and consistency. I also think that I need to get a bit of perspective and escape from the situation. Have I mentioned that I haven't exercised in 10 months. Almost a whole year of doing nothing. For a person that used to run 25 plus miles a week and go to the gym 2-3 times a week. Now I do nothing, week after week after week.

I actually haven't left the house alone or even been by myself since our baby was born. A month of no personal time, no sleep and a lot of stress is not exactly a recipe for well care. For me it hard to know where and what to do, as well as it is hard to just walk away. The house is a mess, kids are crying, my husband equally exhausted just walked in the door and I am walking out?! That just seems so wrong. Plus I am tired still can't do much, don't have any money and look like hell. Where am I supposed to go? I guess I could just sleep in my car, that might be enough to help out. I don't exactly feel social right now, I can't even really carry on a conversation.

Okay enough with the rant. I will pull it together here, I've done the newborn thing before. I know it gets a bit easier. Our daughter is growing up and that is painful, all I can do is pray for both of us. I will leave the house in the next week alone, I promise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Breast Feeding a Preemie and Breast Feeding a Termie

Kate at 1 week old.

I know it is not wise to compare your children. I think I read somewhere that it will give them low self esteem and increase sibling rivalary. Of course I don't plan on comparing everything and blogging about it, and sure as heck don't plan on mentioning everything to my daughters. That said, one can't help but compare. Your memory works that way. Conversations work that way. "Does she look like her sister?" "Kate wore these pj's when she came home from the hospital." "Remember how we did that with Kate?"

First off I actually want to say that there was an advantage to having a premature child. A silver lining in a storm. She was nicely trained when we got home from our NICU stay. She was on a perfectly timed 3 hour schedule. She knew when to be hungry and she knew then to be tired. She also seemed to be able to put herself to sleep easily (sadly either because of her personality or because of necessity from being alone in a isolette).

Our full term baby, has maybe figured out the difference between day and night (maybe). But as far as a schedule, well that is a joke. Her schedule is so random that I am slowly going insane. I crave some type of schedule so that I can then keep some type of organization with the toddler. Again this is just a joke at this stage, and the sooner I stop trying to schedule us the better off we probably be.
Taylor at 1 week old

The other huge difference though that I have noticed is when it comes to eating and breast feeding. You can do quick search on my blog, and if I wasn't so damn sleep deprived I would link it for you but I have multiple entries on breast feeding and pumping for my preemie. I pumped forever, 14 months or so and we never mastered to breast feed. I was crushed. I took this as a personal failure and never really got over it. We worked on it for a month or so when I got back from the NICU but just didn't master it. To be honest, Kate never really mastered the bottle either. She was a bit of a nightmare to get food into. To be even more honest I still spend a huge amount of time trying to just get a chicken nugget in her (cookies are no problem though).

I blamed myself for it all. Maybe it was my guilt over a premature birth. Maybe it is because I like to be very hard on myself. I don't know the answer but I know that I wasted a lot of energy on it all. I never once blamed my daughter. I really didn't let it cross my mind that it might be a premature issue. I was so focused on the fact that she was going to be just fine that, I never really let myself realize there were some things that just weren't easy for her to do.

Now I have a full term comparison. Taylor came into the world and was ready to breast feed. We had a few little positioning things to work on but other than that she has been attached ever since. She has an incredible appetite, we've nick-named her the valsa-rapture because she is like a crazed monster when she is hungry. It is so much more exhausting than I ever imagined. I am her food source all day every day. There is no organized pumping and then bottle feeding, not yet anyway. And now that I can breast feed, I know I will be back to pumping once I return to work (hopefully with some breast feeding as well).

Kate would never have had the energy or the drive to nurse as much as Taylor does. I would never have had the confidence to put her in positions that I would have thought would cause apnea. Or push her as hard as I have my full termer. The doctors and I would never have been comfortable not knowing exactly how much she was getting at each feed. And then there were the medications, Kate had horrible reflux and constipation (which we have not seen at all with her sister). I had to get in the supplements and that was with a bottle. Plus we had to do a bottle to get out of the NICU, and they gave pacifiers in the NICU. Nipple confusion was probably long established prior to us even trying to breast feed.

I don't blame my daughter even now that I appreciate her role in our poor breast feeding relationship. I definitely don't blame myself anymore. I don't think anyone needs to be blamed. Somethings in your parenting relationship click right from the start, some don't. I am realizing though that you do want to cut yourself a bit of slack in 'special' situations. You do the best you can with what you have, and then maybe you should just let it go when it isn't as you expected. I sure could use all that energy that I used to blame myself for the past couple of years.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Survival Mode and Sibling Rivalry

How could you not like this face?

Day 10 of little Taylor life and we are moving right along. Breast feeding is going well, though a ton of work (a whole other post) and we have yet to figure out the difference between night and day. She will sleep like a rock all day long if we let her, then up all night wanting to be held. This is a brutal combination for us as parents, but pretty typical newborn stuff.

The first question out of most peoples mouths lately is, "How is Kate handling having a baby sister?". Well, how do I answer that? Horrible, rotten, bipolar psycho toddler those might be a bit harsh but at any given moment a bit true. It was good for about two days. Today for example though she walked inside from being with her dad and told me, "Put baby down now mom!". She has lost all interest in the baby, though at least for now we are not violent towards the baby.

No she saves the mean things for her mother. For several days we wouldn't sleep through the night, even though she has been a full night sleeper since 6 months. No instead, she would lay in her bed and scream like a weird goat (we think she was trying to sound like the baby). And despite rocking and petting, the tears and hysterics would just keep going all while a newborn is crying to be fed for what feels like the 20th time of the evening. We've total fallen off the potty training wagon which we had basically mastered, and are now back in pull ups. And the bipolar personality, goes from sweet to screaming within a micro-second. A toys falls off the couch, and there is yelling. I ask the dogs to sit and there is yelling at me. Typically the yelling is reserved for her mother who has done nothing but walk into the room with baby sister and is trying to sit on the couch to nurse.

Oh, but try to take her away from 'evil' mother and then there is a fit about that too. I know this is all normal, and even something about is biological. How could you not be a bit jealous, or a bit out of sorts when your family has totally changed? But, then again when you are sleep deprived and trying to do everything under the sun to keep the two year dictator and a newborn happy, fed and clothed... its a bit much.

For now, I have adopted survival mode. I do my best and just keep going. Sleep, eat and relax when I can. I am telling myself over and over, that it will ease up (kind-of) as the weeks go on. We will find a new rhythm. Kate will realize I still love her (this one keeps me up at night when I should sleep), Taylor will learn the difference between night and day (and like a crib rather than a chest) and I will heal up from the c-section. I also wouldn't mind if some spring weather would show up so we could get out of this house sometime too (and god, help me if I will ever get to go for a run again?!?).

I didn't know how much it would hurt to feel like I had turned Kate's world upside down. We have always been so extremely close, that it really hurts to feel her daily anger towards me. I bend over backwards to keep trying to do most of our routine things, despite another little being needing me constantly but in general it just doesn't seem to be enough.

Again, though I repeat this is survival mode for now. Change hurts even when it is for the best.