A Journey of Hope

Parenting thoughts

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Baby, Parenthood

Having a second baby is a different journey from just having one. I felt guilty when I was pregnant with Nathan, because I love Aidan so much I didn’t think I could have much room in my heart for another.

Well, little Nathan arrived, and I also fell so in love with him. Sometimes I do feel guilty about not paying as much attention to my two-and-half-year-old, but daddy has really stepped up playing with him.

The little one is starting to laugh and crawl, and it’s so adorable watching the boys interact with each other. There’s definitely enough room in my heart for all my boys (my husband, too)!

It has also changed me as a parent, because I’m no longer a “first-time” mom. With the first baby, I wanted to do everything perfectly. I did all this research and stressed over every little detail. I was obsessive about milestones, cleaning, sleeping, eating… everything. As a result, I was constantly frustrated and stressed.

With the second baby, I’m a lot more relaxed. It’s not because I love him any less, but because I have more perspective. Instead of freaking out about every milestone, I’m just letting it happen while keeping an eye out for them. Instead of insisting on absolutely only breast milk before 6 months, I supplemented with formula in the early weeks.

My husband jokes that our older son “broke” me. The truth is, I had to just let go and relax about some of the non-essentials.

Aidan started acting out a bit after Nathan came along. Part of the reason is that I had less time to devote to him, so he started feeling jealous. We never say “no” or get angry at a tiny baby, but when the Aidan gets in one of his his toddler moods where he just has to have something and throws a tantrum, he gets negative attention. Then he probably started to feel like that’s the easiest way to get attention. We also have no expectations of the little baby, who gets praise for doing every little thing like crawling, standing, cooing, etc.

So my approach has been to lavish praises for every little positive thing Aidan does. He goes potty in the toilet — “Yay, good job (clap!) you’re such a good boy!” He asked for food with words instead of whining — “Wow, you’re such a big boy using words!” I try not to get too hung up on what I wish Aidan would do, but just see him as an “older baby.” We have also not cared as much about potty training, and we’re just letting him take the lead on it.

When it comes to discipline, I didn’t want to do yelling or physical punishment. According to research, authoritative parenting — rules with love — results in better outcomes for kids than permissive parenting. One of the effective tools of discipline is time-outs, and it helps calm down both the kids and the parents. When we started doing time-outs consistently, we saw a marked improvement in his behavior.

We’re learning as we go along, and parenting two kids this young is hard. Everybody says it gets easier as they get older. Parenting is a balancing act, and hopefully we’re doing okay with our kids. We focus focus on safety and giving them a loving and stable environment. We show a lot of affection, but we also give them rules, structure and discipline.

Dealing with two babies

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Life with two babies is rough.

It’s hard to juggle everything. I constantly feel like I am pulled in multiple different directions, needing to divide my time, energy and attention between the 4-month-old, the 2-year-old, and my husband. I don’t feel like a good mother and wife, and I don’t feel like I’m doing a good thing. Worse still, I am starting to dread weekends and look forward to the work week, where I can have hours of alone time away from the babies.

Poor Nathan has not been his sunny and low-maintenance self. He is being fussy, not drinking much milk, possibly teething, and crying a lot more. He also has a swollen eyelid but no red conjunctiva. I’ve taken him to the doctor, but the diagnosis is inconclusive. For now we just have to keep watch.

Aidan has been testing his boundaries and figuring out what he can get away with, so it can be difficult to deal with him. He will whine, cry, hit me and act out with me, but not with others, because he knows he can get to me and get under my skin. This adversarial mode of interaction has not been easy for me, but I try my best to either ignore him or set firm boundaries.

I know it’s a passing phase, that the baby and toddler stages are hard, and that life will calm down and get better. But right now, with Aidan being speech delayed and Nathan also being low on weight, it’s hard to see the end. Something else always comes up, another issue, another illness, or another crisis.

Two months and two years

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Nathan is two months old, and Aidan is getting close to his two-year birthday!

Aidan has gotten sick again with something, which means he isn’t sleeping through the night and wakes up early in the morning screaming and crying. I’ve been having a sore throat, nausea and fatigue as well. Our house really is what my mother-in-law refers to as “The Plague Hhouse.”

On the bright side, Aidan has been doing very well in his speech development. I had been worried that he wasn’t really talking much, at least not anything that we can understand, but lately he has really improved his pronunciation and has been more willing to imitate what we say. One time my husband said “unacceptable,” and he imitated the word with some accuracy, which was pretty cute. I managed to get him to say “food” and “juice” during dinnertime, and he will also make the sign for “more” while saying “neh?” Either he’s lazy about moving his lips, or the “m” sound is difficult for him.

For the most part though, Aidan’s favorite words that he likes to say unprompted are “outside,” “shoes” and “ball.” These are all related to play or things that he really enjoys, as is typical and expected for a little active boy.

Aidan doesn’t really pay much attention to his little brother, probably because Nathan is still kind of a boring lump right now.

At his two-month checkup, Nathan weighed 11 pounds and measured almost 23 inches. He isn’t quite as big as Aidan, who was 12 pounds at 2 months, but he’s definitely growing well.

Even though I shouldn’t compare, it can be hard not to do it. Like Aidan, Nathan has a bit of reflux and spits up a little, but it’s not as bad. When we were at the pediatrician’s office, Nathan did have some wheezing and noisy breathing due to the reflux, so the doctor prescribed Ranitidine/Zantac for him. Also like Aidan, Nathan screamed until his face went all red when he got his vaccine shots, but he quickly calmed down and was not that fussy after. He didn’t even need Tylenol, as he never got a fever above 99° F.

Nathan seems a bit more social and has smiled earlier than Aidan, starting from 6 weeks as opposed to not really smiling until nearly 3 months. It could be that I don’t remember as much now, but Nathan’s coos and noises seem more numerous, and he makes more eye contact as well. Nathan isn’t quite as impatient and crazy about getting milk as Aidan was. When Aidan was this little, he would cry like it’s the end of the world and go nuts for the milk. Nathan seems to be able to wait while he gets his diaper changed, trusting that he would get milk soon.

It also seems like time is flying by faster with Nathan, despite all of the difficulties I’ve had with illnesses. It could be that this time around, I know more of what to expect. It feels like Aidan is taking forever to become a big boy, while Nathan is just zooming past all of his milestones. I might eat my words in a few months, though!

Stomach flu cramping or period cramping… either way, it sucks!

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Aidan loves to bring home all sorts of lovely diseases. Recently he had a cold, which then turned into an ear infection even though he has ear tubes — because the tube in his left ear has fallen out! So he got on antibiotics, which turned into diarrhea, which then turned into horrible diaper rash. For a while there we were changing a diaper every 15 minutes between the newborn with loose breastmilk poop and the sick toddler.

Then a few days ago, Aidan got some kind of gastroenteritis, complete with projectile vomiting and full-blown watery diarrhea. It’s supposed to only last one day, at least according to the daycare who said that this had been going around with other babies. So yesterday I get the stomach bug, complete with chills, fever, muscle aches and diarrhea. It was a miserable time.

Oh, and yesterday morning Aidan also managed to climb out of his crib for the first time and hit his head on the carpeted floor with a big thud. Lots of crying, but hopefully that will deter him from getting out of the crib again soon.

This morning my fever broke, but I got some insane stomach and tummy aches and intense cramping. I whined to my husband that it’s almost as bad as labor pains. A few hours later of this, there’s bright red blood, though not much of it at all, and I wonder if I got my period already? I’m 5 weeks 2 days postpartum, exclusively pumping but only 4 times a day. Right now I have this horrible dull lower back pain, and it reminds me of some terrible period cramps, but I have no idea what’s going on with my body anymore. I think Nathan and I still have thrush, I’m exhausted and sick, and I just want to lay in bed all day…

Sorry for the whiny post, but this is miserable!

One month old Nathan

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Nathan’s colic started around 2-3 weeks, and is basically getting worse. Our pediatrician did warn us that colic tends to peak around 6 weeks. We’re on the upswing if that’s true. He has crying episodes of 2+ hours every night, anywhere from 10pm to 6am (like 10-midnight, then 4-6am). This is a daily thing. He has the classic signs of arched back, clenched fists, legs drawn up to torso, red flushed face when screaming, and tightened stomach muscles. He’s not inconsolable, because he can be calmed down if I rock him a lot, but the fussy period lasts for 2+ hours regardless of what I do. I’m typing right now in the middle of one that started at midnight and is lasting until almost 3am.

I’m not really sure what to do at this point. He has been on pumped breastmilk, but I first had double antibiotics and now am on anti-fungal medication due to nipple/breast thrush from antibiotics, so baby has been getting all of that in his milk as well. He’s on nystatin for thrush in his mouth and some probiotics (culturelle kids). I’m on a restricted diet of no dairy, no caffeine, no broccoli or eggs, and my mother-in-law has been giving him an antacid medication mix of prilosec and prevacid (which I don’t think hurts or helps either way). He seems to over-eat because he frequently takes 5oz+ in the span of 3-4 hours. He eats 2-3oz at a time, and then another 1.5-2oz an hour or two later. I stop him to burp him, but he still cries for more if he doesn’t get totally stuffed. We give him simethicone gas drops several times a day. It doesn’t seem to change the colicky crying.

I’ve read up all I can about the subject, and most sources say it peaks in this time period and will just naturally subside around 3-4 months. I just don’t know if it’s actually colic or if there’s something I can do about it, since baby can be soothed and seems like there’s something bothering his tummy. He also stopped pooping regularly, going over 24+ hours between poops. Earlier today we had to do a glycerin suppository to get him to poop (and tons came out, all soft and normal looking). Maybe his gastrointestinal system is immature?

Really tired of this and hoping for a solution… besides the long wait.

First weeks with Nathan

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These first several weeks suck. HARD. Nathan is three weeks old and getting up every 1.5 hours. I have been sick and exhausted, but at least I know with certainty it gets better because of our 22-month-old son. With him, I wasn’t so sure.

Eventually things got better enough that I felt like having another! Right now? I feel like that was a mistake, like having two kids was bad and I wish for going back to “normal with just one kid.” But I know deep down that months, years from now, we’ll grow into the new normal, and life will be good again. I’ll get to sleep for 3, 4, 5… even 8 hours at a time again!

Aidan was fed breastmilk exclusively from birth until 6 months, and he had reflux, had so many ear infections that he got ear tubes before one, in addition to getting his adenoids taken out. He also has eczema and tons of allergies, and the worst is the peanut allergy, which nobody else on either side of our family has!

Nathan is two weeks old, and we supplemented with formula for a few days while waiting for my milk to come in, but now going back to all breastmilk. But I’m pumping exclusively and bottle feeding. Maybe he’ll get everything his older brother has, or maybe he won’t. I am hoping he won’t.

One week old Nathan

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Nathan is now a week old. I’ve given up on breastfeeding, and I’m no longer needing to supplement. I’m now pumping 2+oz from each side, sometimes 3+oz each for a total of 6+oz in one session. Making enough that I can give some to Aidan because…

Yeah, I got hand foot and mouth disease, too! Fortunately I am not nearly as symptomatic as Aidan. He has it really, really rough. He got these big red nasty bumps and rashes, along with tons of little red dots that looks like he has chicken pox all over his body. He has lesions in his mouth and throat that make it painful to eat and swallow. We give him ibuprofen and benadryl, but those are probably barely relieving his symptoms. Since I got only mild symptoms of the hand mouth and foot, I think my antibodies are fighting them off, so I’ve been giving some breastmilk to him whenever he does feel like taking in some liquid.

Before this week, I thought that the newborn would be the difficult one, but no, it’s our toddler. He screams, throws tantrums, won’t eat or drink much of anything, is on a short fuse and can’t be told “no,” and cries all hours of the day and night. The first night we got his hand foot and mouth diagnosis, we were all at the end of our ropes. His screams are way loud… As for sleep, I’m getting like 4-5 hours a night, which is not bad considering the circumstances.

At least my eye infection, sinus infection and uterine infection all cleared up within two days of taking the antibiotics. Of course with two broad-spectrum antibiotics comes the fun of constant diarrhea — and thrush! Got white dots on my nipples, shooting pain, the works. This is why I’m actually kind of glad not to be breastfeeding. Pumping is much less painful, plus Nathan will hopefully not get thrush in his mouth which would make him not want to suckle or drink milk.

But at least tiny baby is drinking like 2.5+oz each feed and sleeping up to 3 hours at a time. Hopefully he won’t get sick…

Two under two

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Two under two… they said it would be hard. I didn’t know it would be THIS hard.

Our 5-day-old son is home. The birth was a smooth induction with pitocin and unmedicated vaginal delivery at 39 weeks, but things went south pretty quickly after that.

First I got some kind of eye infection while in the hospital that made my left eye itchy, red and gooey with green/yellow discharge, which they never gave me anything for (we asked for a doctor to see it, but they never came), and it spread to the other eye yesterday. Then I got a sore throat hours after delivery, with cold symptoms that persisted and developed into a sinus infection.

Breastfeeding was sort of going okay, as baby did latch, but my milk refused to come in because I was sick and because baby was very bad at getting milk out. He would nurse for 6 hours straight, and seemed like he was getting enough, but as it turns out he wasn’t getting much at all. The nurses at the hospital didn’t notice the bad signs. When I pumped (I did so exclusively with the first for 6 months because of bad latch and tongue-tie) I got less than 1/4 oz, and he was obviously crying for more food. So finally I broke down and supplemented with formula, which made me feel terrible. But it was good to do that before he lost more weight and got more dehydrated, because baby was taking in literally 2+ oz. every 2 hours with supplementation.

Yesterday my uterus started hurting, and I have a history of uterine infections/endometritis after miscarriages and delivery (one landed me in the hospital hooked up to IV antibiotics for 3 days). I was getting no sleep since baby was born, maybe 2-3 hours a day, on top of the other illnesses, so my body was just having a horrible time recovering. My husband took me to the instacare, and thankfully they took me seriously and gave me two different antibiotics as well as an antibiotic shot. I also got clogged ducts that probably would have turned into mastitis if I didn’t get on the antibiotics.

My mother-in-law is living with us for a month to help out, and our 1st was going to daycare so we could focus on the baby brother. MIL got the same awful infection the day after I gave birth, lost her voice, and went on antibiotics. She isn’t in the best of health and is immuno-compromised, so she couldn’t help out as much. She also can’t do any childcare at night.

On top of all that, Aidan who is 21-month-old and normally pretty easygoing, has hand mouth and foot disease — again! He got it from daycare a few months ago and had such a terrible episode of not eating and drinking. Even though you’re not supposed to get it again, this time it’s apparently a different strain of the virus. It’s even worse this time, with more rashes all over his body, and he is distraught. So now he is staying home because daycare won’t take him, and we have to keep him separated from our newborn.

Thankfully these are all things we can recover from, but with such a young baby it’s too easy to land in the ER. We’re all stressed out, tired, sleep-deprived, and have no time. I was on the edge of breakdown, but at least I managed to get some sleep last night with my husband’s help. This morning I lost my voice, but at least my eyes are no longer itchy, red and swollen, and my throat and uterus hurt less. I also pumped 3oz total from both sides, so I can supplement less. But my husband has had to take off too many days and will go back to work tomorrow. I won’t get much help tonight…

The newborn phase sucks when you’re all sick!

Walk of shame out of the hospital

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At 38+3 weeks, I started having some regular, painful contractions around 11pm Sunday night. After about three hours of them, around 2:30am, where they got as close as 4-5 minutes apart and fairly regular, they were painful enough to wake me up frequently. I woke up my husband, called the doctor on call at the hospital, and was told I could come in. We were all super excited thinking, this could be it!

At the hospital my contractions lasted 1 minute (one was 2 minutes) and were intense, but sporadic between 3-7 minutes. They monitored the baby and me for a while, but there didn’t seem to be much progress, as after 2 hours I was still at 2cm (though that was 1cm more than when I was checked on Friday). We were told to do some walking, so I walked around the hospital for 2 hours while horribly sleep-deprived at 5am.

At 7am I was still stuck at 2cm dilated, still pretty thick cervix, and then a midwife came in and saw my contraction patterns (my contractions were coming in twin peaks and irregular) and said the baby is probably posterior. She confirmed it by ultrasound, although baby wasn’t totally sunny-side up, but a bit looking to the side. Apparently posterior babies can cause all sorts of issues, which I didn’t realize before. They sent us home and told us to come back when the contractions are every 3-5 minutes, and I can’t talk or do anything through them…

So we got to do the walk of shame out of the hospital. Then at home, after a few hours, the contractions stopped completely. I guess it wasn’t totally “false labor” since it did do something, but not really “early labor” either because it stopped. At least today I’m better-rested, and officially the induction date is still on the 19th. I’m just feeling annoyed and confused, and looking up ways to turn a posterior baby, none of which has been working. I probably won’t get to have an “all natural” birth after all. I have read lots of stories about posterior babies ending up in C-section. I am hoping that it won’t come to that, but if it does, at least I’ll be in good hands.

Oh well… this gives us a little more time to prepare. Troll baby has trolled us, but we still love him.

Long hiatus

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I had been taking a break from the blog. Aidan has been a growing boy, and the pregnancy with Nathan has been going well despite Aidan giving me every single illness he catches.

We were having trouble coming up with names for a second son. We had the perfect girl name, but it’s another boy — not that I’m complaining. It’s just hard, especially trying to get something that would go okay with our son’s name as a little brother and not too popular.

I rather liked the name Lumen, which is Latin for light. But my husband’s parents, who are as dear as my own, laughed at it when we brought it up, because it’s also a unit of measurement.

We ended up going with Nathan. It means “gift from god.” At first I didn’t like it because it rhymed too much with Aidan, and I was afraid their names would get mixed up a lot. But it’s a friend of the family’s son’s name, and it’s easy to spell, strong and masculine.