Summer is well underway, which means I have tons of help from Mr. Husband. It’s amazing how much easier it is to raise two kids when there are two people to change the diapers, wash the dishes, pick up the toys, etc.! We’ve even managed to get quite a few projects done around the house! I should really take pictures someday soon– I made CURTAINS. Yes, curtains, people. And I painted a canvas! And spray painted our patio set a gorgeous sunny yellow! Mr. Husband even helped me organize a few closets (without turning into a woman OR finding Narnia, safe to say).
I have a few thoughts, most of them jumbled, about how it is taking care of a newborn/almost-3-month-old second time around. When looking at my experience with Gregory vs. my experience with Anthony, it’s hard to separate their personalities from the mix. Gregory was picky about EVERYTHING. Not only did he want a pacifier at all times, but it had to be one certain kind of silicone pacifier– no latex, no weird shapes, just those NUK ones. Anthony doesn’t even like pacifiers. We only use one when he’s screaming his face off and needs a tiny bit of consolation to get a grip on reality. He doesn’t get any special type– most of the time, we just grab Gregory’s 18 month sized one out of his mouth and stick it in Anthony’s without even washing it (true story).
Even though he was picky, Gregory still wasn’t a particularly tough baby, by any means. He slept 10-13 hrs. at night by the time he was 6 months old, no allergies even when I was breastfeeding, no colic or spit-up, walked by the time he was 11 months, and now talks above and beyond his age level, speaking complete sentences. The only thing we ever had to worry about was his weight gain, and while that was STRESSFUL, he’s now evened out and is sitting right in the 50-60th percentile!
Since we had such a relatively easy time with G, I thought for SURE that Anthony would be a high maintenance baby, because you can only get lucky once, right?
Lucky for us, Anthony is even easier than G was!
Then again, how much of it is his personality? How much of it is that we’ve been through this once before? How much of it is we have “family-help” coming out of our ears?
Regardless, I thought I would outline some of my experience thus far, in the case that it is useful to someone out there. Who knows, it will probably be the most helpful to my future self, seeing as I am very forgetful when it comes to these everyday details that seem mundane until you’re in the thick of things.
Breastfeeding: 2nd time round has been SUCH a breeze. Anthony has had a perfect latch from day one, mostly because I had the lactation consultants right there at a moment’s notice for 48 hrs. They were able to correct problems before they even began, minimizing any collateral damage. I have plenty of milk for him with enough extra to give Gregory and freeze additional feedings. He also knows how to use a bottle, but we’ve only needed to use one three times thus far.
One of the “crazy” things I did this time around was I completely let go of control. I think I “might” have timed his feedings the very first day we got home from the hospital, but that’s it. I never looked at a clock to check how long he was feeding, never wrote down the times in between feedings, never kept track of which side he started/ended on. At first, I felt really guilty about this and kept making a promise to find a bedside clock or something. I also felt guilty because the few times I did time him, he was only nursing for 10 minutes! (for those of you who’ve forgotten, newborns are supposed to nurse for 20-30 minutes a feeding). Deep down in my gut, however, I knew he was getting enough– the brevity of our nursing sessions were due to his ability to suck super efficiently, especially for a newborn. Most of the time, I only fed him on one side even! Whenever I tried to “force” him to eat more, he always spat it up.
Once we had his first Dr. appt. and found that he was already a pound and a half OVER his birth weight, I stopped giving myself a hard time and decided just to go off of his cues, rules be damned! Yes, while I was always on a “schedule” with Gregory, I now feed Anthony on demand, whenever he wants it. I was scared to do this with Gregory because the books all say that they will only snack on foremilk this way, but they’re wrong (and I have a ginormous baby to prove it).
The downside to “on demand” feeding is that it’s harder (but definitely not impossible, surprisingly) to plan around. It also requires that one be really in tune with the baby. Anthony is right next to me all day, even at night in his little bassinet, so it isn’t hard for me to always hear his sounds and determine when he’s hungry.
My advice? Schedules are okay, but they’re probably more for the mother than they are for the baby’s health (unless the baby has medical condition…don’t get me wrong!). But don’t let the books scare you. Boobs are smart creatures, and they listen best to the baby they were meant to keep alive, not to some Doctor trying to make money off another theory.
Sleeping: Again, I think we just got super lucky in this category. Anthony has been a fantastic sleeper from week 1. The first few days he had a bit of night/day confusion, but he figured it out pretty quickly. Some of this is due to how much he likes sleeping in his bassinet that has the perfect incline. He sleeps pretty well anywhere (in the car, in his Moby wrap, in the living room) because we’ve never put him down to sleep in his own room. He’s used to having noise all around.
He also knows how to self-soothe— as long as he’s fed and changed, he will find a way to fall asleep. The one or two times a night that he does nurse, I just plop him back into his bassinet. I can only assume that he falls back asleep, since I don’t hear him complaining! Basically, I can’t remember a time where I’ve had to soothe this kid to sleep. All that could change, but for right now…knock on wood, right?
The only exception to all of this is if he’s gassy or refluxing, in which case he’s basically screaming his head off. This only occurs in the afternoon/early evening, for some reason.
I haven’t decided when we’re going to start a nap schedule. For right now, it’s pretty doable to let him decide when he’s sleepy and wants to nod off. His super-sleepy night time phase starts between 11-12pm and goes until 4-6am, on a usual basis. Until something needs to change, I’m going to keep doing what we’re doing, which is absolutely nothing 🙂
Siblings: Gregory has always taken pretty well to “Wee”, but he also has his moments. We are very strict about any physical interaction with Anthony– if G so much as lightly slaps him, even on the leg, he gets a spanking on his hand and has to sit there with us until he apologizes. Don’t get me STARTED on the foam baseball bat he’s taken to hitting everything with (he watched Jesse swatting a fly one day…BIG MISTAKE). But we try to mitigate his negative responses as best we can, basically by reading his Big Brother books, referring to him all the time as the Good Big Brother, praising the CRAP out of anything nice he does for Wee, and making the time to let him “help” with special chores that only Big Brothers get to do. We help him “hold” Wee often and talk about how much Anthony loves him. So far, it’s been working, 90% of the time. G hardly ever gets jealous any more, and he almost pees his pants with excitement when I say that he can hold Wee. Tonight, they took a bath together and it was absolutely precious.
I’ve also tried to make sure that Gregory gets plenty of one-on-one time in order to minimize jealousy. I make a conscious effort to put Anthony down and go somewhere to play with toys together. If he acts out while I’m breastfeeding Anthony, I ask him to bring books and we read together. We have started a weekly date, just the two of us, to gymnastics, and then we “discuss” it the rest of the day. When he’s cranky after a nap, he gets plenty of rocking in the chair instead of reprimanding him. I try and take the time to remind him that although he is a big brother now, he is my baby, first and foremost.
Not So Much: What we haven’t figured out yet is how to minimize Anthony’s reflux pain. Luckily, we caught all the signs early– the clicking at the back of the throat after he was done eating, the super sad/painful crying, the immediate relief after spitting up. I knew right away that something was wrong and persisted with the doctor at his 2 month appt. until she gave us some baby-Zantac. As much as I hate giving my baby drugs, I knew it was temporary, and I could see such an immediate difference in how happy he was. But the Zantac hasn’t cured it completely, and while I can minimize his pain by feeding him just a little bit at a time during his “bad” moments (afternoons are hard), it still persists as a problem. Perhaps he just has to grow out of it!
Basically? I think going with the flow and relaxing about all the stuff you’re “supposed” to do has worked a million times better this time around. With Gregory, we had the choice, and I got super anal about everything. With two babies, there was no choice, which is how we discovered that it was the best way to go in the first place! Basic mantra: unless it’s broke, don’t fix it. Even if some super schmancy book or website says so! Mommy’s Instinct really is worth volumes over anything else.