Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Asha Moremi - 8 weeks



My sweet, snuggly, easygoing Asha is 8 weeks old today. I'm not one to believe that "everything happens for a reason," but it does seem fated and somewhat magical that this steady, gentle soul entered our lives at such a transitional moment.

I'm going a little bit crazy with two kids, I admit. They are so LOUD, all the time, and I hate noise. My brain short-circuits, and I just want to run away. They have competing needs and I feel like I need four hands for each of them, when I only have two to do everything. It's in those moments, when Amaliya is shouting mean things at me and dinner is burning and daddy is late and I'm totally burned out from 12 hours with no moment of silence and at least one person always touching me, that I have to pause.... and be grateful that, of all the second babies in all the world, Asha is mine. I can put her down to tend to her sister; I can lie her in her crib and know that she'll nap; She doesn't mind waiting a few minutes to eat, and then eating quickly so I can get other things done; She goes to bed with minimal pageantry and no fighting required.

Yes, she cries, and yes, she demands as much attention as any other baby. She'll scream her protest at being put down while I'm busy with her sister, but as soon as I pick her up, all is forgiven. She's accepted the chaotic but inflexible routine of our household and adapted to it perfectly, in only 8 weeks. She smiles at me, and I know without a doubt that she's on my side. I need that, these days.

I'm not generally prone to guilt, but I do feel as if I've been failing a bit for the past few months. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not as bonded to Asha as I was to her sister at this point. Part of it is that I haven't spent much time alone with her, since her dad and big sister have been home a lot since she was born. Part of it is that we're frequently stuck in the house (with the weather being so damn hot and Asha screaming murder in her carseat or the carrier, it's really hard to get out and even take a walk) and being indoors/inactive makes me unhappy and rather crazy. And of course, part of it is those lovely postpartum hormones which have been doing a number on me for the last couple weeks. I don't feel as bonded with her as I'd like to be, and I also feel like her presence has drastically changed the solid bond I have with Amaliya. I feel adrift, taking care of both of them and loving on them the best I can, but not really connected, you know? I know this will pass, and I'm doing my best to take care of all of us (myself very much included) and find our new normal. I love my girls, they love me, and their growing love for each other is a beautiful thing to witness.

It's been hard, but now that my husband is back at work and Amaliya is settling into her new school, I'm trying to make the most of the days I have with Asha.  I talk and sing to her, take naps with her, and try and be more "in the moment," breathe in her sweet babyness and let go of my anxiety.

I'll save my crazed postpartum ranting for another post, and focus now on my beautiful Asha. She's just started cooing this week, and it melts me.  I love how she locks eyes with me when I talk to her, grins, and squeaks while frantically flailing her limbs. You can tell how excited she is to be part of the conversation. Her eyesight is much better now, so she can actually focus on and watch her sister's crazy antics (for the first month or so I think Amaliya was just an afro'ed blur and source of loud noise for Asha, and she was terrified. Now, she's fascinated!)

She's still incredibly strong - she pushes herself so far up during tummy time that she consistently rolls over onto her back. She's getting much better at holding her neck up and sitting upright in my lap. She'll get weighed at her 2-month appointment next week, but I think she's approaching 11lbs right now, and almost outgrown her 0-3m sized clothes.

Lots of drool these days

Asha Likes: Being talked to, making eye contact, watching her sister (from a safe distance), being outside, my left shoulder (still), her play mat, wiggling on her changing pad, and this balloon that Amaliya "bought"for her:

Asha Dislikes: Her carseat (sigh), the carrier (bigger sigh), being stifled by her sister's love (see below), being carried "like a baby"unless she's eating, being bathed and massaged, pacifiers (unless she's REALLY tired, and then she'll take one until she falls asleep), being woken up prematurely from a nap.

Sleeping: We're emerging from the chaotic newborn days, and Asha is turning into an excellent sleeper. She's in her crib at night probably 90% of the time, and only sleeps with me if she wakes up in the early morning hours and can't doze off again. She is AMAZING at putting herself to sleep.  We started putting her down sleepy-but-awake at around 6 weeks, and she usually dozes off within a few minutes with minimal fussing. In the last week or so her sleep patterns have changed - she's not napping for such long stretches during the day right now, but she's consistently doing a 6-7 hour stretch at night (one night we got a solid 8.5 hours!)

We're working on a bedtime routine, since that will make evenings with two kids SO much easier. For the past couple nights I've changed and fed Asha around 6:45, rocked her in a dark room with white noise on and sang a little, and put her down in her crib around 7:00. She goes right to sleep, wakes up between 1-4am to eat, then goes back to sleep until 6. After I put her to bed I'm free to spend a little time snuggling and reading with Amaliya, and both kids are in bed by 7:45 which is so, so essential for my sanity and hygiene and marriage.

Asha is getting better about napping in her crib, but her favorite nap location is still the Boppy Lounger (but she's outgrowing it and getting more mobile, so its days are numbered). She doesn't seem to like sleeping on me much anymore, but that's probably because it's hot and we get sweaty.


Eating: There's not much to say here, really.  She took to breastfeeding like a natural, eats 6-7 times a day and once at night, and has no issues taking a bottle.  She tends to gag and choke on my milk a lot more than her sister ever did, but I think it's because I have an oversupply and am pumping extra to freeze.  I try and pump regularly and not feed her when I'm engorged, and that helps. She's pukey sometimes and has really terrible gas that makes her miserable (due, I think, to the abundance of kale in my diet. I'm quite sad to give that up).  Gas drops and gripe water seem to help though.

Nicknames (all given by her sister): Ashie, Ash-ba, Ash-bosh, chubby cheeks.

Asha is definitely one of those "trick babies." The kind of baby that makes babies seem so wonderful that you feel like you should have more babies. Terrible birth control, this one is. Aside from the temptation to always have a sweet smelling, snuggly baby in the house, I do feel that our family is very complete now that Asha is with us. She rounds us out, in a way. My husband with his intellectual, analytical brain on fire; me, like a dalmation on steroids, always jumping around and juggling a dozen things and unable to contain my need to MOVE; Amaliya, with her fiery temper and social nature, always talking, always needing to interact and connect and communicate; We're a mess of strong, at-odds personalities.... and then came Asha, with her steady gaze and aura of Namaste. She unites us. She brings us peace. She seems softer than the three of us, more sensitive, more gentle. She is exactly what we always needed.

And we do love her so.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Asha Moremi - 4 weeks

It's been four weeks since Asha joined our family and, dare I say it? I feel complete. She's so sweet, so snuggly, so tiny, such a baby, that I just know she was meant to always be the littlest member of our family.

Amaliya's infancy was a confusing time for me.  I knew nothing about newborns, of course, so the physical demands of caring for one knocked me askew for quite a while. For the first 6 weeks I wished fervently that she was just grow a bit, just be a bit older and more independent, not constantly needing so much from me. I wished away her newborn-ness, and though I don't feel particularly guilty about it (I was doing my best, at the time), I am happy to say that I am reveling in Asha's first weeks on this earth. Newborns are familiar to me now - their simple yet taxing needs, their squeaks and gasps and yawns and sneezes, their erratic sleep patterns. I felt overwhelmed by Amaliya, never sure I was doing the right thing. Now?  Ah, the different that confidence makes.

I've learned not to overthink babies. With Amaliya, anxiety about everything kept me up at night, even while she slept.  With Asha, I am much more easy going. No panic attacks wondering if she's getting enough breastmilk, if her poop is the right color, if her weird breathing patterns are a sign of undiagnosed issues. She nurses and is gaining weight, so I don't freak out about her nutrition. She won't sleep in her crib? That's fine; we all sleep better with her tucked into bed with us anyway.  Panic-free parenting has been wonderful, this time around.

Much of the credit for this relaxed attitude goes to Asha; Her needs are easy to interpret and address. I never felt like Amaliya was a baby, really.  She was such an old soul, independent and sassy from the get go.  Asha is different. There's something so vulnerable, so sweet about her, young though she is. Something about the way she can't sleep unless she's snuggled up in my warmth, how she burrows her face in my neck and falls asleep on my shoulder. Something about the way cold sensations and loud noises seem to upset her, the way they never upset her sister.  She's delicate and gentle, with a quiet, mournful cry that sounds like singing (which her dad says makes him feel guilty, even when he hasn't done anything).  She's made these first few weeks relatively easy on us.

Asha Likes:  Being held all day and night, sleeping, boobs, staring at faces, the Boppy lounger, her play mat, the changing table, blankets, resting on mama's shoulder.

Asha Dislikes:  Baths, cold wipes, the car seat, the bassinet, babywearing (though we're working on it), getting dressed, unfamiliar people, pacifiers.

Sleeping:  Not bad for a baby, I guess?  Her first couple nights at home, she cried from 12-4am and otherwise slept fitfully on my chest, but thankfully she straightened out her days and nights fairly quickly. Now she reliably sleeps from 8pm-12:30am, 12-3:30am, and 3:30-6am (roughly). The only caveat is, of course, that she has to sleep tucked into the crook of my arm, hugging my breast. We start every night in the crib, just for practice, but it typically lasts about 10-60 minutes before I take her to bed with me (except for one glorious night when she slept the whole night in her crib and I got really excited, only for her to refuse the next night).  Honestly, I don't push it too hard. When she gets a bit older I'll try harder to transition her (I really don't LOVE cosleeping, snuggly though it may be. I want my adult bed back soonish), but for now?  We're sleeping.  I have a newborn and I am more-or-less well rested, so I'm willing to do whatever works to keep it that way, for now.

I am enjoying these moments.  I know the days of falling asleep with a tiny baby snuggled in next to me are fleeting, and its likely something I won't experience again. I am soaking it in while I can.

Naps are all over the place, in typical new baby fashion, though she does take one 3ish hour nap every day, usually in the morning.  She'll nap in the crib sometimes, but mostly likes to be on her tummy in the Boppy lounger (a position that does give me anxiety, but it is what it is. I watch her like a hawk).

Eating: Asha had an amazing latch from the beginning and, thankfully, we've had no problem with breastfeeding.  She has a partial lip tie just like her sister, but less severe than Amaliya's I think, so my nipples are sore but not bleeding like I remember from 4 years ago. It doesn't affect her intake and I know from experience that the soreness will go away in a few weeks, so we're just going with it.  There's no pattern to her feeding yet - on demand, 'round the clock is how we roll right now.  She generally doesn't go more than 3 hours without eating, with an occasional 4 hour stretch overnight.  I started pumping as soon as my milk came in to start building a freezer stash.  She took her first bottle at around 2 weeks with no drama whatsoever, thank goodness.

How's the family?:  We've all fared better than I anticipated in the wake of so many huge changes. The jump from one kid to two has been just as hard, if not harder, than I anticipated, just in interesting ways. Amaliya has been absolutely wonderful with her little sister.  She's never acted jealous, loves on the baby constantly, and really enjoys being a helper. We're sleeping and therefore not as short-tempered as I had prepared for.  Mostly it's the NOISE that is killing me now. Having a baby screaming in one ear, Amaliya yelling in the other, my husband trying to talk to me, and the TV going in the background is just too much, and I start to short-circuit and want to run away (obviously, I'm the only one in my house that appears to be averse to noise and chaos. Lucky me). I'm trying my best to just roll with it.

Otherwise, we're getting into a rhythm. Figuring out how to do all the things we used to do with one kid, just with two.  Accepting that everything takes longer and requires a lot more equipment.  A big perk of baby #2 is that you're not allowed to just wallow around in the newborn haze for too long. Big sister has school, extracirriculars, a routine that cannot and should not go out the window because a baby came along. Plus, it's almost summer, and we have a ton of fun things in mind to do. Our newest addition will be right there, living life with us.

Though it would help a lot of she could make peace with her carseat already .