And Then We Were Four

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reflecting on the past several weeks, I'll be the first to admit, our transition to a family of four has been a bit bumpy at times. Overall, however, as long as the fridge has stayed stocked and tummies have been full, I don't think our transition has been been too far. We have been supremely lucky to have family close at hand to offer help in the form of playing with C and giving him their undivided attention, bringing us food, and even watching the boys so T & I cold sneak out for a couple of date nights during the first few weeks as we adjust to this new reality.

As you can imagine, C was thrilled to be surrounded by family for most of the first week after we brought baby G home. It was wonderful to have some help as he eased into his new role as a big brother, and good for him to have a break from all things baby for at least part of each day. Week two, he really got tested after our visitors dwindled down, and he was fully immersed into his new life as a big brother. I'll be honest, there were a couple of rough days that were spent trying to calm hourly meltdowns, or keep C out of things he wasn't supposed to be into...mostly things that T left out on the know...the brand new prescription glasses he just got, floss that was half unraveled by the time I reached it, and a coffee mug of thankfully cold coffee that C dumped all over his new shirt and the floor. He also managed to escape halfway down the stairs (we recently removed the gate as he was pushing on it and trying to knock it down) with his beloved Tervis mug in hand while I was in the other room changing what seemed like the gazillionth dirty diaper of the day. Of course when I spotted him, he tried to speed up since he knew he shouldn't be on the stairs, and he fell down the rest of the way while my heart skipped a few beats as I looked on. Praise God there were no serious injuries! As you might imagine, this was a scary ordeal for both of us, and he has since avoided going on the stairs without someone there to help. He does still enjoy throwing toys down the stairs in the hopes that it means we will go down to play, but he has backed off on going down on his own thank goodness. A note to any future visitors, C is NOT, under any circumstances, to play on or near the stairs unless he is at the very bottom. He needs to be either on his tummy, or holding someone's hand while he is going up or down. 

Tantrums and shenanigans aside, there have also been many sweet moments too. C is very protective and concerned about his little brother, and after waking up in the morning and greeting me with his standard 'Hi!', the next word out of his mouth is 'Baby?'. After a quick diaper change, he takes off in search of little G to make sure he is still around, and give him a good morning kiss after determining that he has 'open eyes'. T & I joke that C may in fact think that G's actual name is 'open eyes' as he checks about a million times throughout the day to see if they are 'open eyes' or 'shut eyes'...most of the time open after C finds him! C particularly enjoys sitting on the couch with me while G is nursing, and he usually brings over a couple twenty storybooks, three blankets, and most of his stuffed animals to share with the baby. He has taken to demanding that I lay G down on a blanket so that he can lay next to him and and inspect, pat his back, or give him a piece of his mind. C doesn't speak in sentences yet, so this is usually a solid string of incoherent blabbing, but he says it with such gusto, that he must know exactly what he's trying to say! 

In other adorable antics, when baby G stretches himself out, C thinks that he is flexing his muscles, so he will mimic his little brother by balling his fists, raising his arms, and grunting while he flexes his muscles too. G loves to be carried in my baby wrap, and the other night when he was fussing, C grabbed it out of my bag, brought it over to me, and asked in a quiet voice...'Hap?' This is C's word for 'happy', and he is always so concerned about his little brother's happiness that it just melts my heart when he stops whatever he is doing to lend a helping hand. Speaking of helpfulness, I've taken to giving G a bath on the counter in our master bathroom, and C loves to watch and 'help' as he looks on. Since he can't quite see into the baby bath from his current height, unprompted by me, he walked over to his bathroom on the other side of the house, picked up his step stool, and brought it all the way over to my bathroom, unfolded it, and stepped up all by himself so that he could watch as baby G got a bath. He has been exerting his independence much more since baby arrived, and is growing up into such a big boy! C's vocabulary has exploded in the last few weeks since G's arrival, and while he isn't stringing too many words together just yet, he has taken to repeating just about everything we say. Our vocabulary choices are usually on the clean side, so I don't worry too much about him picking up any bad words, but all the same, we find ourselves watching what we say around him a little more closely!

On a couple of occasions, if G is crying when C gets up in the morning, or from nap time, C will even share with him his most favorite blanket in hopes that it will make him feel better. This is usually followed up by a kiss from C, and then him pushing my head towards the baby to make sure he gets a kiss from mom too. C is such a sweet thoughtful little guy, and is just about the best big brother anyone could ask for (I say this without any guilt, because both T & I are the oldest of all of our siblings!).

As far as a daily routine goes, I've tried my best to keep C's overall routine relatively similar to his only child days. Our average day looks a little like this: 

9:30-10am // Breakfast, play indoors, read, help with household tasks, get outside if it's not too hot, have a snack or lunch
12:45-1:30pm // Naptime
3:15-4pm // Wake up from nap, snack, play outside, go for a walk, park, library, etc
6:30pm // Dinner time, playtime with dad
7:30-8:15pm // Bath, teeth brushed, PJs, story time & prayers with mom before bed

A few months ago, right around C's second birthday, I introduced prayers to our regular bedtime routine. He has now come to expect them, and after story time, says 'payers', and will fold his hands and listen as we give thanks for our daily adventures and pray for anything we have on our minds. We always end with 'please help Mommy, Daddy, C, and baby ALL have a good night's sleep so that we can ALL be well rested for tomorrow's adventures'. AMEN. C has taken to repeating 'Amen' at the end of the prayers, and usually follows it up with an eskimo kiss for me before I lay him down with his blanket and Mr. Fox. So sweet.

There really is no rhyme or reason to the G's schedule during the day. At night, he usually eats around 11:30pm so that he's ready for bed at midnight...approximately when T & I typically go to bed. For the first 5-6 weeks, he woke up about every three hours pretty consistently typically nursed around 2:45-3:30ish, 5:45-6:30ish, and 9-9:30ish before waking up for a while to look around and hear all of big brother C's stories in the morning. Just in the last week or so, around the 5 1/2 week mark, he has started to sleep a bit longer at night, and is going from about midnight until 6:30am without waking. Last night, G went from 10:30pm-8am sleeping FLAT ON HIS BACK in the bassinet (he's only been content to sleep flat for about the last three days), and I'm sending all the praises up this morning after what was the best nights sleep I've had since July (don't ask T, he was up all night smoking a stubborn pork butt, and didn't get to enjoy the restful sleep I did). The rest of the day is a blend of napping, eating, and adventuring. G tags along on our walks when it's not too hot, spends several hours in the baby wrap carrier, does some tummy time, and eats about every hour and a half to two hours. I have accepted and embraced nursing in public with baby #2 (C & I would never get out of the house otherwise!), and G has had the pleasure of picnicking in several local parks when we have been out and about and unable to stop everything and come home just because he was hungry. I am not so brave as to nurse in a super populated spot without a cover, but I've been lucky to have found a nice quiet park bench or picnic table in the shade when hunger strikes. I have accepted that feeding a screaming HANGRY babe is more important to me than being worried about what other people might think of something so completely natural and necessary as breastfeeding. I have my local moms group and the recent public push to support nursing mothers to thank for giving me confidence to be a mother who cares more about a tiny empty tummy than being worried about what someone might think (it's none of their business anyways!). My current goal is to master nursing in our ErgoBaby carrier so that we can all enjoy our upcoming trip to Kinnick Stadium for Iowa Homecoming weekend. #footballorelse

As far as T & I's transition to a family of four, I think we've done an OK job. Something that I am infinitely greatful for is that C is such a rockstar sleeper. Lately, he's been going to bed between 7:45-8:30p.m., and will sleep through the night until approximately 9:30-10a.m. the next morning. This gives me a chance to catch a couple extra hours of sleep (a.k.a. catch up on a couple hours I was up nursing during the night) before getting up for the day, and has helped to make my transition much smoother. One of my biggest struggles that I think I've been doing reasonably well with, is menu planning. When I have had the opportunity to get to the store for groceries, I try to pick up at least enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days. C & I may eat a lot of cold meat sandwiches and PB&J's for lunch, but at least no one is going hungry! 

T, after after a couple weeks of adjusting, has come around and is doing much better with his new role as a dad of two. I would say that his biggest struggle has been finding patience. Patience with C, who is doing his very best at adjusting to his new role as big brother, but still pushes the limits on occasion just to get some extra attention; patience with me, when I need to cook dinner, get some fresh air, or have a minute to myself to take a shower or get ready for bed; and patience with G, when he is fussy but I am not immediately available to take him and nurse him or help to calm him down. We did give G a bottle when he was one month old, but have only tried it once so far as I have once again been having a difficult time with my pump, and don't want to introduce formula and mess with my milk supply. Around the same time, we gave G a pacifier, and while he isn't great about holding it in himself, he will suck on it, which is an improvement over his big brother, and buys me a minute to finish whatever task I'm in the middle of before rushing to his rescue.

With all of the adjustments and trials of bringing a new babe into our family, when I look over at C as he quietly reads a storybook, or down at G snuggled sweetly on my chest, I know that...without a doubt...I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Love our little family. #thesearethedays


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