Thursday, April 9, 2015

Those three times we never slept :)

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!

36 comments:

  1. This was such a fun post to read!!! I couldn't agree more!!

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  2. I am due with our first baby on Monday, and I greatly appreciate your experienced perspective. Thank you for sharing! :)

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  3. I remember each and every one of these experiences. I love that I've been able to be a part of your three babies lives. I also love that I am able to do the mommy life with you. Love you five!

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  4. Maybe there will be the 4th :)
    I really like your blog. I hope one day I will be such an amazing mum like you.

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  5. My experience mirrors yours exactly. Honestly freaked out when I brought our oldest home, definitely looking back, I was struggling with PPD. I was almost afraid to have my 2nd, because I didn't want to feel those feelings again. Baby number two was a total breeze, even did the accidental (but heaven sent) formula mix up, too! So crazy. And now #3 is 18 months old, and like you said, knowing he is our last has me soaking up the extra moments (and nursing in Sam's! haha). You have some sweet adorable kiddos - and I'm sure what you shared about your first postpartum experience will make some mamas feel a LOT better about their experiences, too. Honesty is so helpful! xoxo

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  6. This was a precious post! Your first time mom fears/experience sound so familiar. Good to know that I wasn't the only one feeling that way. If only I had known then!!! Thanks so much for sharing your stories. <3

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  7. So, so sweet! I loved reading about each of the kiddos and your experiences!

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  8. Love this post! I was due with our first on Tuesday. She's taking her sweet time which is totally cool. I just can't wait to finally see her face and snuggle her. Thanks for writing out your experiences!!

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  9. So sweet! I'm not a mom yet (I have at least a few years before that stage) but I LOVE kids, especially babies; and I can't wait to become a mommy! :) Thanks for sharing, and the advice! I love reading "mommy things" and what to expect (I'm weird.. always dreaming of my mommy to be days lol)
    Did you know Griffin was going to be a girl??

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  10. It's crazy how time flies by ! And it's so funny how relaxed we all become after the first!

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  11. We are going to be trying for #2 at the end of the this year and this post just made me feel so much better. Thank you for sharing your 3 experiences!

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  12. I just found your blog and as a mom of three (6, 4, and 1) and a teacher I can relate to everything you write! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Hi, I've only discovered your blog about a month ago (and LOVE it!). This is one of my favorite posts... I just love the pure simple grateful family love!!!!

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  14. Loved this post! Our second baby just turned a year and I can relate to so much of what you said about baby #2 being born! So much more relaxed, fun, easy, and I definitely feel like I savored each stage so much more!

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  15. Thanks so much for this post, Andrea. I have one baby right now and, honestly, as someone who prides myself on being laid-back and level-headed, I have not even recognized my crazy self through much of her life so far. I keep wondering if I will be able to find the relaxed mom I always thought I would be in my future babies. You gave me hope!

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  16. I think my reaction to having elle was about the same as yours with Luke. I just broke down every night. It only lasted a few weeks but I know now that if it happens this time, I should ask for help.

    How did Luke handle adding a baby brother? Baby #2 is due in two weeks and I'm so so sooo nervous about how Elle will handle having to share some attention.

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  17. I LOVED this post!! Thanks for sharing!

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  18. What a fun post. It is so funny how much more relaxed we are with the second, third kids then the first. Ditto on the feelings of dropping them! Oh my gosh that fear was so real for me! I would walk touching the wall because our upstairs looks over to the living room, I was so scared that my son would somehow flip out of my arms and over the railing...

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  19. I've been reading your blog for a while now and this was the first post that compelled me to leave a comment. I had so many tears while reading it because it brought back those memories. I have a 19 month old and hope to be blessed with more children. I can relate to the sleep deprivation and anxieties, but man are those babies worth it.
    I love your Mommy posts, thanks for sharing your stories and creative ideas. AND I made that pineapple casserole for Easter and it was so good!!

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  20. I did the same thing after having my first - I broke down crying every night around dinner time. Turns out, it's a real thing called "Sun Downers" - and that's when I would lose it. Right around sun down. After about 2 weeks, it went away! Thankfully, I didn't experience it with my second.

    This was a great post!

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  21. This is such a great accurate summary of what most people (especially myself) go through when having babies. It was just such a huge adjustment with our first that it was pretty traumatizing for all! I only have 2, but man is the 2nd one so much easier!! I think they are just made to be that way and are easy to adjust. Loved reading this.

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  22. My experiences postpartum were SO similar!! I cried every day at 5pm for the first two weeks too! So weird! Must be something to do with the hormones. Unfortunately my anxiety didn't go away for a while and it turned out to be some PPD. I wish I would have known sooner, but as a first time mom you have no clue what's considered normal. Plus, nobody talks about it even though it's pretty common :/. Now, we have our second baby and the whole experience has felt like a breeze! Thanks for this post!

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  23. Thank you so so much for sharing this post! I love getting to see the transparent, honest real life happenings that go on after having a baby (without the sugar coating a lot of people on TV put on it) and how it changes from kid 1 to kid 3. Since I dont have children yet, but there are so many things I want to know and I feel like I should know before that time comes but I never really know what to ask and how to ask it without coming across the wrong way. haha. So thanks so much girl!
    :) Dani

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  24. As a first time mama, this could not have come at a better time. It was a rough day today and reading this brought me to tears. Thank you!! Big hug to you!

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  25. You really need to write a book. Your perspective on things and "voice" are just so good. I wish I had had this to read after my first baby-it would have helped me so much! I too, had the nightly meltdowns. My poor husband-crying baby AND wife after a long work day. Haha.
    I love your last line-"snuggle them like it's your job" :)
    Loved all the sweet newborn pictures. One of my favorite things is a newborn baby, and you are so right-it flies by.

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  26. Right!?! I cannot believe how long it takes to get used to your "mom skin!" It took me 3 littles as well, and now that I'm at my 4th, I'm maybe too comfortable in it! ;)

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  27. So nice to read as we are about to welcome #3!

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  28. Love you and everything you write! Can you share how you got your kids to sleep through the night? I'm expecting baby number 2 and struggled with my first!

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  29. This was such a fun read - I may have to do a post like this too at some point! Your family is so precious and I totally agree with you about soaking up the moments with G - I feel like I'm doing so much more of that with Davis since he's our last.

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  30. I love how real you were in the post! Precious stories!

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  31. Absolutely loved this post! What a great idea - and I could relate to so much! Also, I love how you shared so honestly about your struggle after Luke was born. Thanks for always being so real :)

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  32. I love this! It's so nice to hear other people's newborn experiences, especially after the fact. I've got my 3 month old asleep on my chest right now and I just love these nighttime snuggles so much!

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  33. My firstborn was four years old when my twins were born. I feel like I was coo coo crazy after my first was born. Worried and stressed about every little move he made, I made and the schedule. Thank goodness I got that out of my system because there was no time for that with the twins! I can totally relate to your experiences. Twins are almost 7 now and their infancy seems like another lifetime ago. It truly does go so fast!

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  34. reading this while snuggling my 6 week old ;) husband says she's the last but i'm hoping i'll change his mind in a year or so!

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  35. I am soooo behind, but this post especially caught my eye!!! I feel like it is so much exactly reminiscent of my 3 babies & how I felt!! I love this look in to the early days after having a baby each time...soooo different yet so sweet & endearing each & every time! I feel like I "get it" all!! Haha!! Yay for summer right around the corner!!

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  36. I am so behind on my blog reading but so glad I finally caught up to read this post as it hits very close to home. My third and last just turned one and though I have tried to soak all the newness in as much as I could, it still went by too dang fast. I think being a third, trying to catch up to the older two has something to do with it. Also, you are so lucky to have such good sleepers! Makes such a difference for a Mom! Thanks for sharing with us!

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