I am so fascinated by how different siblings can be, even from so early on. Everyone talks about it, but to see it in your own children is so interesting. Even in utero, L’s movements were more subtle compared to W’s big kicks and stretches in there. W was a tough baby, crying a lot and needing a lot of help falling asleep. Not that he’d sleep for long. Breastfeeding was always tough, because he’d get fussy despite my efforts to do everything the lactation consultants suggested. When we tried too early, at 4 months, to sleep train him, he cried and cried for an hour.
As a 4 year-old, he’s turned out to be a wonderful kid. But his temperament is still similar- when he is upset about something, he will cry and scream for easily 20 minutes. It’s recently gotten better, but this used to occur daily. My husband and I have always followed the #1 rule of discipline- never give in to the tantrum. Otherwise, the kid will learn that if he makes a big enough fuss, he will get his way. Not once have we ever changed our minds due to his crying and screaming. Just like the infant that wouldn’t give up for an hour, this 4 year-old does not give up. And apparently my husband used to be like that as a kid.
We prepared ourselves for another round of newborn hell with L, but she surprised us. I’ve been afraid to write about it and jinx it, but she is an amazing sleeper. At night, after the last feed, we can put her down, and she generally falls asleep on her own. Early on, I was waking her up every 4 hours to feed her because with the newborns, you want to make sure they are gaining enough weight.
At about 5 weeks, I was no longer worried about her weight, but was hesitant to go too long for fear of reducing my milk supply. I stretched it out to 5 hours at night. I was still waking her up, not the other way around, so then I decided to see how long she would go. Even at around 6 weeks of age, she would go 6 hours between feeds at night. I don’t remember the exact timeframe, but since 2-3 months of age, she will typically go 8-10 hours from her night feed to the next morning feed.
This is unheard of, and I feel like we won the jackpot. I have no idea how and why she figured out she’s supposed to sleep longer at night from the beginning. During the day, it’s harder to get her to sleep on her own, so I often put her in the carrier. It’s less convenient to do things around the house with a little human attached to you, but I’ll take it.
The fact that she has slept so well at night has made a huge difference in my well-being and enjoyment of maternity leave. With W, I was painfully sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, and felt like a milk cow and his personal slave. I didn’t fully feel the warm, loving feelings towards him until he was 5 months old. This time, I’ve been able to enjoy and appreciate my time with L. I felt the love for her early on, and felt such joy to be able to spend this time with her on leave.
Breastfeeding has been easier this time around, and because she is less fussy, I’ve been able to feed her in public. I rarely breastfed W in public because he would get fussy and thrash around, so it was more of a hassle. We’ve traveled with L, and even outside of our home, she’s slept fine at night.
W seems to have inherited more of my husband’s personality. He also looks more like Daddy, according to most. L on the other hand, seems to have more of my temperament and also looks more like me as well. There are a handful of clothes that W wore that L can wear, so it’s interesting to compare and see how different they look.
With W, I didn’t even go for a walk around the neighborhood until he was 3 months old. This time around, I started back on my hikes a couple of weeks after having L. Because I’m getting more sleep, I’ve been motivated to continue to hike regularly. I also signed up for a Mom and Baby yoga class, which has helped with my core strength. It must be a combination of the hiking and sucking in my belly, because the instructor was surprised at my core strength so soon after delivery.
Getting more sleep even affects my dental health. Because I was up all night with W, I’d inevitably get hungry and need to snack, then go back to sleep. It wasn’t practical to brush my teeth every time. This time around, I’ve only occasionally needed to snack after waking up to feed her in the wee hours of the morning.
I return to work tomorrow, and about a week ago, I started to feel super anxious about it. There was one night I couldn’t sleep much because of it. Unfortunately, I think the anxiety also reduced my milk supply, and L started to wake up after a shorter stretch at night because she was hungry. I did some power pumping like I used to in the early days, and it looks like my supply is back up.
Not sure if they helped, but I also made a batch of lactation cookies. They contain a lot of oatmeal, which is full of fiber and should be a good thing. But I downed a ton of cookies, which not only gave me gas, but L as well, which made her fussy. They generally don’t recommend eliminating foods from a mom’s diet to help with baby’s gas, because it’s too hard to pinpoint. Plus you don’t want to avoid healthy foods like broccoli. In this case, though, it was pretty obvious what the culprit was, so I will have to refrain from eating large quantities of the lactation cookies in the future.
I’m sure I will have a hard time sleeping again tonight. No matter what, tomorrow is going to be painful after being out since late July. My brain is not going to be used to being in work mode, so things are not going to go as smoothly. I also have to factor in the pumping. Like last time, I have the luxury of having multiple pumps, so I am bringing one to leave at work. But the first day, I have to bring everything and make sure I don’t forget anything. I do have pumping time built into my schedule, but it will still take some getting used to the routine.
With that said, going back to work this time is going to be way better than after having W. Back then, I went back to work full-time. This time, I’m already part-time (one day off per week). I was also able to stagger my leave and take an additional day off each week. Instead of going back 5 days a week, I am going back 3 days a week for the first couple of months (Monday Wednesday Friday). The days I’m at work will be busy, but I am hoping that being able to breastfeed L directly every other day will help maintain my milk supply, which was an issue last time. The holidays will also hopefully help with the transition back this month. And my husband has a generous leave policy at his work, so he is now starting part 2 of his leave.
Despite the natural anxiety of going back to work tomorrow, in this season of gratitude, it reminds me how lucky I am. I’m so grateful to have had a much better leave than expected. Instead of being utterly sleep-deprived and merely in survival mode, I actually enjoyed the time with L and W.
It was just about a year ago that I was going through the IVF process. The procedure itself with all of the injections and such was one thing. But looking back, I find that the struggle of infertility itself was really hard for me emotionally. I’m so fortunate that I only had to try once, and ended up with a beautiful, normal, healthy baby. Maybe because of what I do, and knowing about all of the bad things that can happen, I don’t take for granted how lucky I am to have L. Having her is more than worth all of the stress of IVF.
I’m also grateful that W has become a healthy, creative, curious boy. What a joy it’s been to see him with L. From the beginning, he’s loved hugging and kissing her, and always looks forward to seeing her. And for whatever reason, he loves rubbing her feet on his face! Now that L is smiling and laughing, it is amazing how she preferentially responds to him. In fact, he was the first person to make her laugh. And he continues to get her to laugh the most easily.
Like me, my husband was a little scared about what it would be like to have a girl. Now that she’s here, he loves her so much. He sometimes calls her Little [my first name], because after all, she is my mini-me. My husband is a hands-on father who makes our lives more fun. Even if L has inherited my mellow temperament, she is going to be raised in a rambunctious household with my husband and son, so we will see what that results in. I’m really grateful to have a husband who does so much for our family, and maintains a positive attitude about life. Parenting and life will always throw us struggles, but there is no one in this world I’d rather be on this journey with.