Monday, April 14, 2014

Life at Home, Weeks 1-4

I look at the calendar---and Bennett's abundance of cheeks and chins these days---and am a little sad.  How in the world has nearly a month gone by since this little peanut joined our family?  It's been a whirlwind, that's for sure.  Four weeks of adjusting to our new routine, with the full spectrum of emotions and scattered sleep patterns in-between!  One thing is for sure---this tiny little person has absolutely stolen our hearts!  Oh, how we love him!!

So how are we doing?  I get asked that question a lot.  Followed closely by, "How's Beau?"  To be completely honest, we are great.  Life with 2 kids has been every bit as hard as I expected, yet at the same time, not nearly as hard as I expected.  I can feel both ways right?  That's not to say I haven't had my breakdowns, because trust me, I have!  The first being the night my mom went home (of course!).  Bennett was 8 days old, and she was scheduled to leave in the morning.  We took her to the airport and said our goodbyes.  It was our first long car ride out---and a fairly successful one at that.  Only one minor meltdown from Bennett on the way home, so I stopped to feed  him in a parking lot.  (The first of many times I have done that now!).   I arrived home to see Beau holding a sleeping Bennett's hand in the car.  My heart melted for my 2 little boys.  And I thought to myself, "I've got this!  I can do this!"  By 4pm I was still feeling good.  Mentally and physically going strong.  By 8pm?  Singing a different tune.  Devin still wasn't home from work.  My house was a wreck.  The nightly exhaustion was starting to set in.  I was nursing Bennett on the front, while Beau was literally straddling me in the back with his arms around my neck.  Aaaaaand, I lost it. As to be expected, right? :)  One quick phone call to my mom and sister later, I felt better.  I knew that some things were just going to have to go by the wayside while we all adjusted to our new routine.  (I've had a good chuckle at the mental image of both my kids literally hanging on me that first night alone!) Since then, I have done much better.  Only a couple of legitimate meltdowns (and maybe a daily moment or two that I am on the verge of tears until I remind myself to get a grip)---one when I had absolutely no food in the house (or diet pepsi!) but couldn't muster up an ounce of courage to go to the store with both kids, and another breakdown or two due to some intense cabin fever and a naughty toddler.  Other than that?  Doing pretty good!! 

I am happy.  Exhausted and not always showered at a decent hour (or at all), but so.very.happy.  I am finally almost fully recovered physically---you forget how long it takes for your body to really recover from delivery, and not hurt pretty much everywhere from the neck down.  I am adjusting to not being very productive (at least in the sense that I used to be productive.  Productivity has a whole different meaning these days!)  Most days it feels like I have absolutely nothing to show for my day's efforts, yet feel like I conquered the world because I ran an errand or two, did some laundry, wrote a thank you note, and picked up toys for the 20th time that day.  I have struggled a lot knowing that so much of my day is no longer about Beau---worried so much for him---but we are slowly finding a balance.  (And thank you to my sister for sending a toddler activity box with all sorts of fun toys and games for Beau to do inside!)  I am finding I have very limited windows thanks to naps and feeds where it is realistically a good time to go out with both kids.  Still, we always get out.  And we've braved the pool and the park a few times thanks to good friends who have helped me when I needed about 7 more hands.  Beau thanks you for the entertainment, as do I!

I am successfully nursing Bennett.  Maybe too much information to post online, but I don't care.  I am so thrilled things are going well so far.  This was something I kind of got to attempt with Beau, but ultimately was not successful.  Now, I am loving not pumping, cleaning bottles, or worrying about wasting/mixing/packing formula.  Nursing definitely consumes a lot of my day, but it's so convenient!  And guarantees some good snuggle time!  (Although, our first night at home was ROUGH.  Obviosly my milk wasn't in yet, so Bennett was up almost every hour.  While he seemed to be full each feed, it wasn't holding him very long.  By 7:00am, with hardly any sleep for either of us, I attempted to give him a bottle.  Which he chugged.  And proceeded to pass out for 6 hours after that.  Sad!  Glad he was full and happy, but I will do things differently next time for sure!)  Bennett likes to eat, that's for sure.  At our last pediatrician visit, he was up to 8 pounds 7 ounces.  (That apt was actually a circumcision follow-up......which was not a pleasant experience.  Bennett had a rough recovery that first night after his procedure.  Having 2 boys, this was not my first experience with circumcision, but wow did Bennett struggle!  So so sad---enough to make me not want any more boys!  Not really, but my heart ached for him seeing him so sensitive and hurting! Beau's circumcision was not nearly so traumatic!  We had to keep his diaper off of him for most of the night.)

How's Devin doing?  Great.  He loves his boys.  One huge reason I am glad Bennett came early is because Devin is on call the month of April.  And it's been crazy busy.  Had Bennett come on my induction date (March 31st), Devin would have been on call starting at midnight the very night he was born.  I am so thankful for a couple extra weeks to adjust and have some help---in addition to my wonderful mom and in-laws who have also visited and been a huge help!  Devin is smitten by Bennett.  And Beau for that matter.  He keeps saying how much he loves both of them.  I am finding Devin is very protective of Beau.  It's really cute.  Yet once he gets home and plays with Beau for a few minutes, he also immediately wants to hold Bennett.  Despite his crazy schedule this month, he has been so helpful!  I appreciate you Dev!!  I love seeing my boys all together.  (a.k.a. Big Dev, Little Dev, and Mini Dev!).  Seeing our little family of 4 together tugs at this mom's heartstrings.  I'm just so happy!

Cute Beau.  I get asked how he's adjusting almost as much as I get asked how I'm doing.  I would say that overall, he's done pretty well.  The first week of Bennett's life I know he struggled more than he could communicate to me.  We had the expected tantrums and not minding here and there, but despite my best efforts to not rock the boat too much for him, I know he was a little thrown off balance by  his new baby brother---and probably more thrown off balance from less one-on-one attention from his mom.  He didn't eat well (even worse than normal for him), and was up literally every time I was awake to feed Bennett.  (We were all severely sleep deprived those first 8 days.)  I am ashamed to admit that I provided myself a few too many opportunities to apologize to my toddler.  And maybe still do.  I've had to get on my knees and hug my little boy more times than I'd like to admit, asking his forgiveness.  He hasn't done anything wrong or different, but I think we're all trying to find a balance.  Fortunately, I think we're all doing a little better now.  We're not perfect, but I'm trying my best to smooth out the wrinkles.  I make a mental effort every day to truly play with Beau, and focus on just him for a time.  And get us all outside for some sunshine.  Sun does wonders for the soul!  (So does human interaction.  Chellese, if you're reading this, you're an angel for keeping us all sane and inviting us to play so often!)  An interesting side note also.....Beau's vocabulary in the last few weeks has absolutely taken off.  He all of a sudden is communicating in full sentences, and at least attempts to say everything we say!  We noticed the changes the week Bennett was born, and he has only improved since. 

Beau and Bennett have been adorable to watch together.  Beau is sooooo cute with him.  He still ignore him a lot, but he also has his moments where he really pays a ton of attention to him.  Sometimes too much attention. :)  He is always kissing and hugging him (sometimes when I'd rather he not so poor Bennett can get a decent nap!), but how can you discourage displays of affection?  We are working on "soft" and "gentle" and "quiet", but I have a feeling Bennett is going to learn to be a tough little boy and sleep through a tornado thanks to his big brother. :)  Beau has decided he loves Bennett's blankies---and hoards all of his swaddle blankets.   He also loves to "share" with Bennett.  I have to really keep a close eye on him "sharing" for obvious reasons, but to date I have found a strawberry, goldfish crackers, a pool toy, the toilet paper roll holder, grandma's shoes, and a "bandaid" in the bouncer with Bennett.  (The bandaid was actually the sticker that comes on the wipes package---that says "Remove Immediately".  Beau stuck it on his finger, so poor Bennett was waving it around all uncoordinated while Beau proudly told me he shared.  Ironic that the wording on the sticker was actually to remove the item? Ha ha.)  Mostly, Beau just likes to sit next to Bennett.  Or lay down next to him.  I can't wait to see their relationship evolve.  How I love both my boys!  And I love to dress them in the same color once in a while!  Lame, I know.  They're not girls.  Or twins.  But they look so adorable in the same color!  The first few times it happened was 100% unplanned.  But once I realized all 3 of us were in orange one day, I thought it was kind of cute.  Now I'm not heartbroken if the only clothes the boys have clean are matching in color.  I am loving having 2 boys in a row as well (in the same season of clothes), because I have been able to re-use all of Beau's baby clothes.  We all know that dressing kids is expensive!  And Beau honestly has a huge wardrobe (thanks in large part to generous family members and friends), so it'll be fun to use all of his clothes on Bennett as he grows.  It's been fun to reminisce about Beau when I put Bennett in an outfit Beau wore as a baby.

And Bennett.  Sweet Bennett.  Such a sweet little spirit.  I could kiss his soft little cheeks a hundred times a day.  I love him so much!  Bennett loves to be held upright over my shoulder---a definite change from his big brother.  He loves to get his hair washed, tolerates the bath as long as he's warm, and has long fingers just like his big brother.  (Face scratches are common due to his mittens not staying on.  We stopped using them completely after a few days.)  His cute little cry breaks my heart sometimes.  I'm finding his tummy does not tolerate the amount of chocolate his mom likes to eat.  Sugar deprivation here I come.  When he's awake, he's a very alert baby!!  I don't think he's been a typical sleepy newborn from the start.  He can definitely nap with the best of them, but when he's s awake, he's awake!  (And almost always his long awake time is from 10pm-midnight.  Kind of wish that one was a little earlier!).  Bennett reminds me so much of Beau as a newborn.  I swear sometimes I'm looking at the same baby.  Yet he also has his own look.  His face is fuller than Beau's was (cooking 6 extra weeks will do that!), his hair is longer, and his lips are fuller.  But that little button nose is identical, along with his perfectly round little furry head.  Their profiles are SO similar!  (I think at some point I'll have to post some picture of the two babies side by side to compare---definitely a family resemblance!!)  They gain weight almost identical, too---Bennett's chin and neck fat is starting to rest on his shoulders just the way Beau's did.  He's still so little, but definitely turning into a little butterball!  And his hair is already starting to lighten exactly the same way Beau's did.  (Sad that my babies have more hair than I do! And his hair is actually curly when it's wet!  By the end of the day, due to nursing so often and being held, his hair will actually end up with a Mohawk on top and both sides because it's slightly greasy.  So funny!  We wash it frequently.)  And although it's too early to tell, I'm thinking we will have another blue-eyed baby.  Bennett eats well for the most part, and sleeps well too.  He'll usually sleep a 4 hour stretch at night (or close to it), and then is up every 3 hours until morning.  I am tired for sure, but I have to remind myself that a tired mom means a well fed growing baby. :)  I just love him.  I can't say it enough. 

Life is good.  Crazy, exhausting, sometimes hectic, sometimes slightly mind-numbing due to too much TV and time cooped up inside the apartment, but it's okay.  This phase will go so fast.  Too fast.  I want him to stay little as long as possible!  Both of my boys for that matter!!

So, that's it.  Bennett is exactly 4 weeks old today.  Happy almost 1 month sweet boy!  (Also, I want to wish a huge happy birthday today to the little girl who made me an aunt for the very first time.  I love you Brooklyn!!!!  4 years old today!!  Proof that someone has life on fast-forward!!

Here is our life in pictures---somewhat out of order but I'm not rearranging them---with visits included from my mom (when Bennett was a week old) and my in-laws (when Bennett was 2.5 weeks old).   Two million pictures later, and about that many diapers too, days 1-28............