Of course, I now realize just how individual each person's experience is with each new baby because so many factors go into that experience. First and foremost it depends so much on the baby. Is the new baby a sleeper? Or do they cry all the time? And beyond the baby's temperament and sleep habits there are infinite factors that color a person's experience. Are there other kids in the family? What ages are they and what stages are they in? Do you have a partner? How much can/do they help? Do you have family nearby and do they help? Do you have a babysitter and/or can you hire extra help? How was your delivery and are you dealing with some health issues in the postpartum period? Are there some other major non-baby stressors going on like moving or job changes or health problems or family issues? And on and on and on.
Basically what I'm saying is that one person's "ZOMG ONE KID IS SO HARD" is another's "ZOMG THREE KIDS IS SO HARD" is another's "ZOMG FIVE KIDS IS SO HARD." So it doesn't really make sense to try to compare your own experience to mine or to anyone else's.
That being said, I think there is a lot of value in hearing about how others are doing after they add in a new kid or a first kid. It helps to read about someone doing well because it can feel very hopeful. And it also helps to hear if things aren't going so hot because you realize that your own struggles aren't an isolated thing. It takes the pressure and blame off yourself to realize that others are dealing with the same or similar challenges.
My transition to from one-to-two kids is well-established on this blog as being a fairly crappy experience. I love(d) my little bundle of Ollie joy, but holy hell that was tough. For about 9 months it was REALLY tough and then I started medication and therapy for postpartum depression and anxiety and then the following 15 months after that it was only sometimes tough. The turning point for life getting considerably easier happened at the start of last summer when Oliver was finally done teething (when Oliver was teething, the whole family was teething) and Bella finally left her threenager attitude behind. During the tougher days of Oliver's first two years there was generally never any major thing wrong but there seemed to always be 10 minor things wrong at any given time. And too many minor things add up to feeling major.
It's like this transition to baby #3 is the reverse of that. So many little things are going right that it adds up to this time being so much easier, so much smoother, and so much more enjoyable. Sure Lily is still a baby and therefore has fussy times, wants to be held most of the time, and needs to nurse frequently, but so far she's an easy baby. I'll carefully add the modifier of "so far" as I am not going to assume this will always be the case. But in the meantime I'm very much enjoying these early days of experiencing an easy baby! Lily only wakes 2-3 times a night, which makes her our best newborn sleeper. For me to get sleep in bigger chunks means I am so much more functional.
My expectations for this time were so low (SO SO SO LOW) as I imagined something potentially similar to the time after Oliver was born. But that hasn't been the case in the slightest. Having these past few weeks be so far above and beyond my expectations leaves me feeling giddy. I'm the zen mom I so desperately wanted to be after Bella and Oliver.
Again, forgive me my #seriouslysoblessed talk once again, but seriously? I'm so blessed. Heh :)
Onto the specifics of what is going on around these parts...
Logistics of Managing Three Kids:
I'm now 10 days into "real" life (i.e. my MIL left 10 days ago so there is no bonus grown-up readily available) and I'm getting the hang of three. In the same way I took all the knowledge from my past births and applied it towards Lily's birth, I feel like I was able to use my past postpartum experiences and apply that knowledge to this time. Specifically that meant lining up lots of things to make my life easier. Having a long to-do list complete before Lily was born has helped a ton (for example, we had taxes done early for the first time ever), the many freezer meals I made (or have received!) are so handy, upping our babysitter to 8 hours a week is super helpful, and I also signed the kids up for a little extra preschool time on Fridays to further reduce my kid load. I've asked the babysitter to help in other ways like preparing "busy bags" for Bella to do during her rest time so that I can nap. The sitter also pitches in with dishes when she is over which is wonderful. Oh, and we can't forget screen time. That is for sure a saving grace, especially first thing in the morning and again right before dinner. Raj is working long, long hours right now (like 7 am - 6:15 pm) so that means I have often all three kids during the two craziest times of the day: mornings before preschool and dinner time/everyone's "witching hour". Strategic show watching is a huge help. Without shows I would not be able to get ready in the morning or get the kids dinner on the table at night. The Moby wrap is also pretty key, especially for the evening fussy time. I'm going easy on myself about getting stuff done. I do try to stay on top of dishes and at least the washing portion of laundry (folding & putting away: meh) for sanity and life-functioning reasons but other things like regular blogging or keeping on top of my emails - cue up "Let it go!"
I have now successfully brought all three with me to preschool drop off/pick up over six times and we haven't been late once! Woohoo! I have attended two of Oliver's ECFE classes (basically a mommy & me type class) with Lily in tow and that went fine. I was stressed about how that was going to work before she was born but now it's somehow no big deal. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Universe, for letting me try the easy baby lifestyle on for size.
I have yet to have a big postpartum cry. I didn't know that skipping the baby blues was even a possibility for me. Oh, I remember all the random weeping spells I had after Bella and Oliver, often in public and rather unexpectedly. It left me feeling out of control and in general I felt overwhelmed. It hasn't been like that this time. The two times I teared up were directly related to the kids crying about something and I just felt so empathetic, plus I'm dealing with some guilt over changing their lives and not being able to give them the same amount of attention as before. I know that guilt is not necessary, but I think it's pretty common and normal. Anyway, the kids moods have been the triggers for crying but there has been no crying for no reason. Is it the zoloft I started taking a couple months ago that is allowing me this smooth time? Is it my placenta pills? Is it the improved weather? Is it the fact that I have recovered so quickly and am able to be up and around? Is it just all those other "easier this time" factors? Who knows, but it's wonderful. Also, the fact I'm no longer pregnant and therefore no longer dealing with nausea, vomiting, and terrible reflux goes a long way to making me a happy camper, too!
The pain associated with breastfeeding is starting to really subside which is a major ALLELUIA for me. I have some random factors that can make breastfeeding painful (nipple blanching, Reynaud's syndrome) but those factors are usually extremely mild and not at all problematic during times that my nipples are healed. But during initial breastfeeding I always seem to end up with bad cracks from nipple trauma which makes those bonus problems flare up. Anyway, my nipples are almost healed and the pain from Lily latching on is way down. It should continue to improve. Best news of all: no thrush!! And in the category of applying past knowledge to this baby: I knew to block feed from day one given my tendency towards oversupply. What that means is I generally only offer one breast per feeding. Lily is growing nicely (~1 oz/day) so I feel validated that that was the right choice. One challenge that I'm having, and that I've always had, is that I feel awkward breastfeeding in public. It's really challenging to be modest when you have H-sized boobs. I find nursing covers so awkward and way too stuffy and hot. So I'm trying out using an infinity scarf to keep a bit more covered. At this point I simply have to nurse in public sometimes given the older kid's activities so hopefully I get the hang of it. It will also help once Lily gets beyond the newborn stage so there is less to manage when it comes to her latching on well and I'm also not fighting off tiny baby fists. (And then it will again get harder to modestly nurse when she hits the pop-on-and-off stage of being distracted...but I can worry about that later on!)
I had an initial weight loss of 8 lbs and then by week two I dropped another 7 lbs of straight water weight (it lingered due to the pitocin IV). After that initial 15 lbs loss my weight loss has stopped, which is similar to how I dropped baby weight before. This means I have 25 pounds to go. Initially I was feeling super okay with that but in the past few days I'm starting to get a little bothered. Not enough to really do anything or change anything (plus food is pretty damn exciting right now after everything tasted weird and off for nine months) but the feeling of being less than happy with my shape is there. I'm trying not to give it much brain space because I know that won't help. I'm looking forward to exercising again which will help my body image a ton and in the meantime I'm making a concerted effort to get ready each day including some make-up which helps my mindset. I'm also thinking that I need to calm down on the feeding frenzy because I can tell my dairy/gluten issues are flaring up (soooo puffy). Careful eating is really hard without a solid 8 hours of sleep each night, but I am capable of trying harder. But meh. My dairy/gluten struggle is nothing new, of course. And does anyone else notice that their desire for sugar and sweets goes through the roof when sleep gets rough? I thought it was breastfeeding related for the longest time, but now I'm convinced it's really just a sleep issue.
Speaking of sleep! Like I said earlier, Lily is our best newborn sleeper. I have no complaints on the sleep front! The older two continue to mostly sleep through the night and Oliver is napping most days so all is well. And my own sleep is way more solid and I fall asleep/stay asleep easily now that I'm not pregnancy anymore. For this baby we are doing things slightly different when it comes to where everyone is sleeping. I'm in the nursery with Lily. This way I'm not trying to stay super quiet or avoid turning on lights during night feeds to keep from waking Raj and I can also co-sleep with her more comfortably/safely than I could in the master bedroom. Raj and I are also playing to our known strengths when it comes to dividing up night duties. Raj is a kind of a mess in the middle of the night (sorry, buddy, but you know it's true). Trying to wake him up to help never goes well as it take forever and then he is all confused and it all makes me want to kick him. So we simply avoid having him do middle of the night stuff. Instead he is pretty much the one on Lily duty from 8 - 11 pm or midnight and I can sleep during that time. If Lily is particularly fussy in the morning I can wake him around 5 am to deal with her while I catch a little more sleep. I also get to sleep in on the weekends. This division feels fair and leads to us feeling much happier and not resentful. And should my sleep start getting really compromised then Raj would step up to do more middle of the night stuff but for now that's not necessary.
Oliver is having more tanreums, but it's hard to sort out what's "new baby" related and what's "2-going-on-3." Thankfully his acting out is never towards Lily and the tantrums are short-lived. Probably the hardest issue we are dealing with is that he is having a lot of separation issues and doesn't want me to go anywhere or be away from him. He mentions the hospital a lot and is very concerned I will go away again. Poor Bubs. Trying to reassure him as much as possible and hoping this phase ends soon. In the meantime, he is so sweet to Lily and he's really proud of her. He likes to show her off at preschool and she is the first person he wants to see every morning. "Where baby Lily at?"
Still doing really well with the changes and she is a fantastic big sister and help to me. She instinctively will move to soothe the baby and often gets there before me. I knew she would likely help out here and there, but it's been amazing to me just how handy it is to have a five year old around to help with the baby.
Doing well but he wishes daily that he could be home more rather than doing extra work. We are both glad, however, that his job doesn't involve all that much travel so the kids and I still get daily time with him and also lots of weekend time. I thought his lack of paternity leave would feel really jarring, but in the end it wasn't too bad. And he also managed to get three days off: one for the Monday we were still in the hospital, one was a snowday (first and only time I'll be happy about an April snowstorm!) and one was a vacation day that had to be used. I think we will really enjoy postponing his "paternity leave" until July since we should be good and settled by then and will be able to really make it a mini-vacation (a relative term when it comes to vacationing with children and a baby!) And as far as how we are doing as a couple, we are doing really well and have only had one squabble. It was one of those really rational tiffs: I got mad at him for pausing Mad Men when Lily was latching on. I think what's working in our favor right now is we are giving each other a wide berth to be a little crazy/irrational while at the same time trying to thank and praise each other go what's going well.
Continues to care zero about Lily. It's most rude. He's also excessively meow-y.
So I think that is the scoop on how we are doing. How about a few more pictures?
Here we are mocking our newborn.
And this came up on my Timehop (iPhone app) this week.