Back in December I did a post detailing each of my pregnancies. It was so much fun and if you missed it, you can catch up and read it HERE. At the end of the post I promised a post about my experiences post-partum and with a newborn and the day is finally here! It's "birthday month" and I've been spending a lot of time reminiscing, so the timing for this is perfect!
- Luke -
Luke was born and our world was instantaneously rocked. He became our singular focus and it seemed like everything in our world was turned upside down. We had taken every class, read every book and googled every possible newborn article. But I was totally unprepared :)
The love I felt for him was FIERCE and something I had never experienced before and hadn't expected and I had some equally strong anxieties that came along with all those feelings. Almost immediately I had an intense fear of him being dropped. It got to the point that I could "see it" happening when I closed my eyes. I didn't want anyone to hold him standing up and I didn't trust myself with him either. I would put him in his infant carrier and push him to the next room. I filled his bathtub and put it on our bed or on the floor of a carpeted room out of fear of him being slippery and falling.
In retrospect, I can see the irrationality of my fears, but in the moment they were real and crazy strong and if that wasn't enough, I pretty much had a complete and total meltdown every night around 5:00 p.m. Without fail I would sob and sob and sob and dwell on the worst possible case scenario every single day at almost that exact same time... typically right as Dave was getting home. #thatsconvenient
Dave didn't know how to help me and none of my close friends really knew what was going on (and none of them had kids yet, so there was that). My mom finally had a "come to Jesus meeting" with me and we were able to work through some of my fears and I was (thankfully) able to get my anxieties under control about two weeks postpartum.
Looking back, I think that it was a combination of huge hormonal changes, lack of sleep, a complete and total shift of focus and probably some PPD mixed in there. I was a nervous first-time mom and I was NOT relaxed at all. hahaha
I look back now and laugh because those first few months were so overwhelming and completely consuming for me. I remember feeling like I couldn't get anything done or go anywhere with him by myself because it was just "too much". (Now I dream about those days as I'm dragging my little menagerie behind me through Sam's Club. hehehe). My mom was still working and on days when Dave was working I used to count down the hours until she would be done at work and I could bring Luke over there and hang out with her. hahaha
I wasn't going to use a pacifier and after a few fussy swaddling sessions gave up on that as well.
At about the two-week mark though I got myself in gear, started swaddling that kid up TIGHT, decided not to feel guilty about the paci and never look back. When we first brought him home he was slightly jaundiced and so I woke him up every 3 hours to eat. Fast forward to weeks 3 and 4 when there was not a touch of jaundice in him, yet he was wanting to eat CONSTANTLY at night. That was a hard habit to break and we spent many a night pushing swaddled Luke in his stroller or pulling his swing up next to our bed so that we could get a few hours of sleep.
When Luke was about 6 weeks old I started pumping and letting Dave do an occasional bottle. I remember how LIBERATED I felt the first time I left him for a feeding. I'm fairly certain I was sitting in the parking lot at Half Price books MAKING myself stay away and enjoy myself :)
I nursed Luke exclusively until I went back to school in August (he was 4 months old) at which point my mom quit her job to take care of him. I pumped while at school and was able to keep him pretty much on breast milk until about 6 months at which point we started mixing formula in with it as well. I nursed him at least one feeding a day until he was a little over a year old and loved every single minute of it. (Except for the part where I wouldn't nurse him in public - which was something I quickly got over with Mason. hahaha).
I went back through my blog and I had noted that Luke started sleeping about 8 hours a night at around the three month mark. For me, that was a HUGE turning point in how we all felt during the day. We hit our "stride" and never looked back.
- Mason -
Fast forward three years and take a look at sweet, teeny newborn Mason West.
At just about 6.5 lbs he was SUPER laid back right from the beginning (so laid back that he didn't even want to breathe after he was born - now we know that this was just the beginning of "Mason Time" hahaha)
When he was born I was completely overwhelmed with love, just like I was with Luke, but I wasn't "situationally overwhelmed" like I had been with Luke. I felt confident in my abilities as a mom and I wasn't nervous about taking him home.
As much as we loved and adored Mason, he wasn't our "sole focus" and after being parents for three years we knew that life couldn't come to a screeching halt like it had when Luke was born. I think the prime example of that was that we had several cubic yards of mulch delivered to our house the day after he came home. He and I sat outside and did a lot of this... (he was jaundiced a little bit as well)...
... while the big boys did this...
One of my sweet friends gave me her nap nappy which proved to be an absolute LIFE SAVER for us. Mason had a touch of reflux and only wanted to sleep on an incline and with the nap nanny he almost immediately took to sleeping 5-6 hour stretches.
(I understand that nap nannies have since been recalled because older babies could flip out of them - but please know that he only used this as a newborn and only while under our supervision).
I was a MUCH better multi-tasker when Mason was newborn than when Luke was brand new and spent MANY afternoons just like this...
Luke was still napping and so we were home almost every afternoon for naptime, but Mason took really well to being "on the go" with us in the mornings and I have TONS of pictures of him asleep in his car carrier being toted along to playdates and events...
I would NEVER have dreamed of putting Newborn Luke on the patio at the pool. EVER! hahaha #liveandlearn
Mason was born mid-April and Luke was in a Mother's Day Out program two days a week which he continued until the end of May. My mom wasn't working and this gave Mason and I lots of one-on-one time during the early weeks and between Dave and my parents, I was able to spend some quality one-on-one time with Luke as well. Once school was out we spent LOTS of mornings at the Ranch Pool just like this. I'd pack lunches and he would play cars in the baby pool while Mason and I chilled in the shade.
One of the best things I did when we had Mason was to buy a Puj Tub. It's super lightweight, hangs up flat to dry and fits directly into your bathroom sink. It made bath time so much easier and much more enjoyable than it was with Luke as a newborn.
Over the summer, the boys spent LOTS of time together and Mason got to experience lots of "firsts" courtesy of his big brother including a first bath in the big tub...
... and a first time playing cars :)
I nursed Mason all summer, but found pumping really hard. When I wasn't nursing him I was taking care of Luke and the last thing I wanted to do was pump. Right before school started back I had mixed up a formula bottle and I was planning on mixing a few ounces of it with some breastmilk I had pumped earlier and attempting his first bottle - well, Dave thought I had already mixed the bottle and he fed it to Mason... straight formula! He took the entire thing, took an AMAZING nap and I took myself off of the fenegren that day :) My class schedule wasn't going to accommodate me pumping during the day and since he wasn't gaining weight as fast as we would have liked (he was in the 6th percentile) it was the perfect time to make the switch to formula. It was also at this point that Mason started sleeping about 11 hours at night.
Overall, our "newborn experience" with Mason was sooooooooo much different than it was with Luke. Dave and I were both experienced and confident and in turn, much more relaxed. We weren't as "by the book" (i.e. he ate apple pie at about 5 months old and was on solids after that. He's still my least picky eater! While, in contrast, with Luke he ate only carrots for 3 weeks. Then only green beans. etc., etc. and he still has a tendency to be picky. hahaha) and that coupled with Mason's more laid back personality resulted in him being one of the easiest babies EVER!!!
- Griffin -
So now, two years after Mason was born, we welcomed our biggest baby (7.5 lbs), Griffin Joy.
I think my first "mother of three reality check" came when I was in active labor with her and Dave had to leave to take Mason to the babysitter because his car seat was in the car we had with us at the hospital :) Thankfully, he made it back in time to see her being born and then about an hour after she was born he left to grab lunch with my dad and brother (and pick up the boys). When Luke was born I would have FREAKED OUT if Dave had left me alone at the hospital ;)
That afternoon Dave brought the boys to meet their sister and I was so excited! I had visions of super sweet sibling pictures and doting big brothers. Luke could have CARED LESS that there was a baby in the room and Mason only cared because that dang baby was sitting with HIS MOMMY!!! Everyone left the visit in tears, including me. :)
Bringing home our third baby was so much fun! We knew what to expect and set our expectations accordingly. I enjoyed our visitors, embraced the mess (and meals people delivered!) and finally took heed to the "nap when the baby naps" advice.
Their first Sunday morning church pic! GG was 4 days old!
So remember that picture of Luke getting his first bath on the bed, with blankets and towels and three adults hovered around him? Yeah - not so much with G :) hahaha
The boys kept their normal routine - school and Miss Lisa's house - and G and I planned two middle school events (a semi-formal dance and a movie night), visited our girls at Starbucks...
... and grocery shopped 'til we dropped. I'm fairly confident it was this visit that I sat at one of those picnic tables in the restaurant area of Sam's and nursed her while eating a giant piece of greasy pizza :) It only took 5 years and 3 babies for me to be comfortable in my mom skin!
The name of the game for us with three was multi-tasking...
The first four months were pretty much summer vacation and we were on the go a lot of the time. Anna Grace came with me on a lot of days to birthday parties, the museum and the pool to help with the boys or hold Griffin while I took them in the pool. I'm so glad that I had her around to help!
Griffin slept well at night, but I feel like we really hit our "stride" when we went back to school and all fell into routine. She was taking consistent naps and started sleeping 12 hours at night and it was glorious. With G I added in a "dream feed" where I would feed her at dinnertime, then do bath and bedtime like normal. Around 10:30 I would get her out of her bed without waking her and let her nurse for a while longer. This always tied her over until morning.
The hardest part of having three for me was always (and still is!) the 4:30 - 6:30 time. Griffin spent almost every day taking a nap in the Ergo carrier while I held Mason on my hip and made dinner.
The other difference that I noticed with Griffin was that I really SOAKED up every, single little baby yawn, squeak and sigh. Knowing she was my last and knowing how fast this stage goes by we appreciated all the little things - held her a little longer, snuggled a bit bast her bedtime and tried to capture as much of the sweetness as we could.
The newborn phase is fast and fleeting. I feel like I blinked and it was over. I wish that I had been able to be a "third time mom" all three times... removing some of my expectations and anxieties and replacing them with a more relaxed attitude and a little more perspective.
So, mamas. Snuggle those squishy babes for me! Sniff their sweet smelling little heads and snuggle them like it's your job ;)
I think I covered it all - but don't hesitate to ask me any questions!