Mar 29 2013

Six long weeks

Published by Karol at 12:38 am under Baby Life

Today is 6 weeks since we brought Jack home from the hospital. They let me go a day early because I was doing well and told them I felt ready to go home, with my son, to my husband and daughter who I missed so terribly.

Not a day goes by when I don’t think about that extra night I should have spent at the hospital, having food and drink brought to me, the baby changed and cared for, and wondering if they’d turn me away if I showed up right now to collect that night. (Memo to my wise, mother-of-3, business partner: yes, you told me so).

It has been the most challenging 6-weeks of my life. Not the worst 6-weeks of my life-that was in 2004 when I had back surgery, was bankrupting myself by foolishly going to graduate school and my beloved grandma died all within a few weeks of each other. But challenging in a will-I-keep-it-together-or-won’t-I kind of way. Many days I think I will not.

And, I mean, I realize complaining is unseemly. After the first night home from the hospital I bitched on Facebook about sleeping for 30-45 minute stretches and a friend of mine noted that I should be thankful for two healthy (touch wood, spit, spit) children when some people want that but don’t have that. And while I feel like, c’mon, complaining about not-sleeping is a G-d given parental right like Californians complaining about traffic, or something, I still feel like I should preface this whole post by saying that I am so grateful for my children, so blessed, would kill and die for them, wouldn’t trade them in for anything, not even better sleeping, better behaved ones.

But wow was I unprepared for the horror that is having two children.

The first two weeks Jack was home my sweet Sadie was an unrecognizable nightmare. She cried, she screamed, she was defiant and rude and uncontrollable. And while, yes, all signs point to acting out about the new baby (whom she is completely in love with and would hug and kiss and squeeze all day everyday) the truth is the story I told about her screaming “don’t talk to me” at me in a restaurant was a good month before the baby arrived and seemed like the actual precursor to her attitude problem. Maybe it’s just 3′s, more likely it’s that she dropped her nap and is perpetually exhausted, but in any case things have since improved. She’s gotten better, back to being more like herself. Of course, no sooner do things behaviorally improve than she spends two nights screaming her head off in pain and it turns out she ruptured her eardrum. I know this kind of thing can happen when you only have one child but when you’re sleeping 2 hours at a time with the newborn and the toddler wakes up crying during (of course) those 2 hours all you can think is “why G-d, why?”

In the midst of all this, I still have a business which requires my attention. My partner and our manager have been amazing about allowing me to be checked out when I need to be but I’m not on anything resembling “maternity leave.” I have work to do every single day so I have to muster up every available brain cell, do the work and then go back to the half-asleep life I’m living.

And of course, my husband. He’s been getting the shortest end of the stick. He’s been great about it, and an amazing help, but it seems the only way life works right now is if one of us is sleeping while we’re together. He is lightly snoring beside me right now. We don’t have the kind of marriage where we’re ok with not spending a lot of time together. We love our children but we’re each other’s first priority. I miss him.

How do people do it, I frequently wonder. I think a lot about people I know who have three (or more!) kids. I have a lot of help. My mother or mother-in-law are over almost every day. My husband is seriously doing the second shift thing where he works his ass off all day at his job and comes home to me wiped out, needing him to take one or both children off me. Help is great but eventually help goes home or goes to sleep and anyway, I’m the mama, there’s only so much other people can do for me. “Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama.” “WHAT?!” “Watch me twist the spaghetti.” No one else can watch for me.

How do other parents physically survive with more than one child? When you’re nursing one and the other is on the potty ready to be wiped, who wins? How does leaving the house work–do I have to just plot out bathrooms and changing stations along all possible routes? What about nursing? As soon as I leave the house the race is on to get back home to nurse or pump. I’m not even sure what happens at the 4 hour mark. I’m afraid to find out.

Which brings me to my next problem: I am fucking boring. I have nothing to talk about right now. I don’t know who Buzz Bissinger is or why he’s in rehab for buying too much Gucci, I don’t get your twitter memes, I haven’t read that article or heard that song, I don’t remember anything in the past which is being referenced. I am physically much better than after Sadie but mentally I’m a mess. I don’t have the baby weight despair because it turns out breastfeeding really is some miracle eat-cookies-all-day-and-lose-weight secret. Of course, breastfeeding is also likely the cause of my more limited sleep (2-3 hours at a time instead of the 4-5 I was doing with Sadie by this point) but as my friend Julie pointed out “your choice is either food or sleep…but once you choose sleep you can never choose food again.” So, food and mental incapacity it is for now!

I’m trying to wrap this up without going the corny but-it’ll-all-be-ok-and-I-love-my-kids route because yes, it (touch wood, spit, spit) probably will be and obviously I do, obviously. If this blog is about remembering this time in my life I want to remember the bad with the good and not just have a Instagram’d-rosy-colored glow over this period–but, sidenote, wow do I have some good Instagram shots: It has been extremely difficult and I don’t want to forget it. We wanted three kids and right this second I just can’t see how that happens. Unlike people who have kids late because they met the right person later in life (or did it on their own when they didn’t), my husband and I have known each other since I was 20. Why couldn’t we fall for each other earlier? We could have done 4-5 years between kids, it just seems so much easier that way. Now I’m 35 and we don’t have time for gaps which make child rearing simpler.

I say there is a 95% chance we’re done with baby-making and the only reason I leave 5% open is this: while giving birth to Jack I asked my husband to tell me stories of Sadie to keep my mind off what was happening. She brings us both so much happiness. He told me funny things she’s said or done. We giggled together about her, the time flew by and then we heard Jack cry. That first cry is the most amazing sound of all time, I’ll never forget the sound of Sadie’s or Jack’s first cry, and there is a 5% chance I’ll forget all I’ve written here and need to hear that cry again. So that’s my happy wrap-up. No matter the misery, the sleeplessness, the pain, the agony, the crying, the loss of independent life (and there is all that! Don’t let anyone lie to you and tell you there isn’t!) that sound and everything that comes after is more powerful than any of it.


15 responses so far

15 Responses to “Six long weeks”

  1. Gerardon 29 Mar 2013 at 1:00 am

    “I don’t know who Buzz Bissinger is…”

    Friday Night Lights.

    See? You’re covered for a good three months.

  2. sarahkon 29 Mar 2013 at 1:14 am

    Oh, Mama. Hang in there. (You will be saying the same to me in 11 weeks.)

    It’s amazing how everything else seems to fall apart when sleep goes. I dive into depression really fast when I don’t get enough sleep, so I really feel for you. Lots of extra Vitamin D (sunlight or in pill form) seems to help me a lot when I’m sleep-deprived.

    On the breastfeeding thing, do you have a nursing cover? And a car? (I know you’re in NY, so I also know it’s not likely.) I nursed so many times just sitting in the back seat of my car, which will require lots of distraction for Sadie. I plan to always have BC’s iPad with me when new baby comes. Other times I nursed just sitting in public with my cover on, or sitting on a bench in a ladies’ bathroom. And then there were times I just nursed in the park with no cover but my shirt, but also not sitting right where a lot of people were.

    And do you do the 5 S’s from Happiest Baby on the Block? The 5 S’s and the Miracle Blanket are the 2 things we couldn’t live without. BC slept at least an hour longer each stretch once we started using the Miracle Blanket (similar results for a friend of mine). She busted out of every other swaddling blanket, but not that one.

    I hope Jack starts sleeping for 7-hr stretches soon!

  3. Saraon 29 Mar 2013 at 6:23 am

    Karol…I wish I could offer some sage mother of three advice. No offense to everyone who swears by this miracle blanket (which my kicky baby lasted all of a day with) but I really don’t think a blanket or book is going to help overcome the difficulty that is constant care for more than one kid. And breastfeeding. While the melt weight benefits are there, it is the single most tiring and time-consuming thing. I am typing this with one finger while my six month old has her second breakfast today (the first at 4:30 am). It is so hard to get used to not sleeping- it is still really hard for me. I love my boys but it is so hard for me to be patient and still ferry them to activities and get everything else done (cooking, cleaning, “working”). And my kids are 3 years apart (older ones) and four and seven years older than Maddie! And you know my husband is amazing and helpful as possible- after working a 12 hour day, comes home to help me… It is really amazing to watch the kids do things and say things but I exist in a state of pure exhaustion. I really do feel for you and don’t think it is bad you are complaining about how hard it is or what you have missed the last few weeks. It has gotten better now that Maddie sleeps until 4:30/5 from 8:30/9 but I am counting the days until I get to sleep from 11 pm to 7 am…hang in there.

  4. Jenniferon 29 Mar 2013 at 7:29 am

    Karol this is so beautiful. I’m glad the breastfeeding is knocking off the weight! I have no advice but agree with Sarah K – if you can nurse while out, that would eliminate some stress. I nursed J everywhere. With practice, you can be extremely discrete. I nursed on benches in Central Park, Riverside Park, restaurants, coffee shops, cars, anywhere really. If you want to get really crazy you can wear Jack in an Ergo or something and nurse him while you’re doing other things. I’m always around to help or just listen to you vent.

  5. Karolon 29 Mar 2013 at 10:33 am

    Thanks, Gerard. I’ll bring all my pop culturey questions to you for the time being.

    Sarah, we use a swaddle similar to the Miracle blanket from which Jack can not escape but everything I’ve read points to babies sleeping longer being tied to size and he’s just not at a size yet when I can expect more than 4 hours or so. As for nursing out– my problem isn’t shyness, it’s logistics. It’s March in NYC and today is the first nice day. Other days I’m wearing a sweater and a coat. How do I nurse in these clothes.

    But anyway, ladies, the issue isn’t nursing out it’s going out without Jack and having a small window of time to rush home to nurse or pump before my boobs explode. Does that time increase? Like, will I be able to go out for like 6 hours in a row while still nursing?

    Sara, I think about you parents of 3 kids often! I just don’t get how it works with 3 and I’m pretty sure I’m not ever going to find out. Is 4:30am feedings common for a 6-month old nursing? I can see myself abandoning nursing if that’s the case!!!

    Jennifer, thank you for the support and for listening to me vent! How does nursing in winter work???

  6. Jordanon 29 Mar 2013 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for sharing this. As my wife and I approach our due date in August, seeing things like this really help me mentally prepare for what is ahead. I am definitely emailing this to my wife.

  7. SIL!on 29 Mar 2013 at 2:52 pm

    This was so cute! I can’t imagine what it’s like to have two kids, and by your description you make me reconsider my hopes of 5 :) But you’ve been doing an exceptional job the both of you, and your two babies are the most scrumptious, delicious, beautiful, most gifted little things I’ve ever laid eyes on. And I always said if you ever want to trade in some sleep for a night out with your man I’d be more than happy to help attempt to show my enthusiasm in watching spaghetti twirl! I see another Sun morning sleepover is due soon!

  8. Saraon 29 Mar 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Karol- even if I had better advice I would tell you to stop thinking about any more kids until you get through this hard part with Jack! Maddie is my only kid who didn’t sleep from 9 to 7 from 4 months or so and she hates naps. She is also the tiniest baby i have ever had and I had previously chalked her drama to being a girl! I agree that size matters though with sleeping and you cross a bridge at 12 or 13 pounds. Before that, she would get up at 2, 4, 6, etc. now she is going longer *most* days – but there remains one or two days that she kills me with a 4:30! Wake up call. I also think my Passover high protein diet is killing her. She has been particularly unhappy the past few days. Even with all this hard stuff I still am very happy we decided to have one more baby. I do love babies and all their quirks and just watching them is pretty amazing. But I am glad to be done, too…

  9. Karolon 31 Mar 2013 at 1:20 pm

    “I would tell you to stop thinking about any more kids until you get through this hard part with Jack!”

    Ha, I know! It’s just that…we wanted three kids, I no longer think that’s possible and it’s hard to get over. I also can’t give it too much time to think it over and decide yes because, again, I’m 35 and time is a-ticking. But yes, now is now the time for firm decisions on the future. Now is the time for survival.

  10. Lisa Reisneron 31 Mar 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I recall an UWS almost foursome family asking me “Really you’re not going to have a 3rd? Why?” a few short months ago. (NOW you get it:))

    And don’t apologize about complaining. Like somehow you’re ungrateful b/c you kvetch for a few minutes. To date, I’ve never met one person who hasn’t complained about something.

    My happy ending- On this Easter Sunday 2013, 4 jews (2 parents, 1 almost 4 year old and a 9 1/2 month old) went to the diner for Sunday Brunch.

    AND SCHOCKINGLY had a relaxing french fry filled time. Miracles can come true.

  11. Vandyon 01 Jun 2013 at 12:20 am

    It gets better! I completely understand where you are coming from! Two is a total shock to the system. You cannot give the first child the undivided attn you are used to and you feel guilty that #2 doesn’t get what #1 got. It is absolutely ok to put the baby down and let him do a little crying while you attend to his sister for something pressing or urgent, like rescuing her from dangerous toddler mischief or helping her in the potty. He will be fine, he is not dying. Younger siblings learn real fast to sleep and eat when they can.

    My second was by far the hardest for me and the one that sent me into post-partum depression (which took me way too long to confront). I now have 4 boys, ages 7, 5, 3 and 6 months. #3 was actually the easiest. I was a pro by then, the older two had each other, and life is so chaotic with 2, that a 3rd hardly registered :)

    I am ecstatic to be feeling human again now that my 6 month old is eating solid foods and that helps him sleep through the night. All of my boys were huge (9-10lbs at birth), yet none of them slept through the night until they got solid food in their bellies at 5-6 months. But, your nursing baby should start giving you 5-6 hr stretches in the next few weeks. That also corresponds to the time when your breasts will not always be ready to explode.

    It seems like those dazed, difficult weeks will never end. You are exhausted, still recovering from pregnancy, delivery, hormones and over zealous breasts. The female body really is miraculous for what it endures and provides, and how fast it recovers from it all! You are doing an amazing job and you will get there. So get a comfortable, over-stuffed rocking chair and enjoy holding that baby in the middle of the night while you can!

  12. The big 3-5on 22 Jul 2013 at 4:20 pm

    [...] business and in February I had a son. I’ve only written three things since Jack was born and two of them were about how hard my life is right now (actually, the third kind of was too). I know talk [...]

  13. Helenon 08 Aug 2013 at 11:34 am

    Nice post! Your kids are so sweet) Good luck and be healthy.

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