No More Momster

No More Momster

I had planned on writing another blog much sooner than this, but having two kids really does take some getting used to.

Briana is slowly starting to adjust to not being the only child in the house. She never acted out towards the baby, but she sure as heck let me know she wasn’t happy. There were many days and nights where I ended up in tears, she was acting so angry, and only toward me (not so much toward her daddy). There were at least two “I HATE YOU” statements thrown my way, and both times I had to walk away so she wouldn’t see me cry. But that was a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like she’s getting a lot more affectionate toward me again, especially in the last two weeks. I’m getting hugs and kisses again, hearing “I love you mommy” at least once an hour, and loving every single second of it. I missed her so much. For a while there, I felt like (excuse the drama) I had lost her forever. She was here at home, but so emotionally closed off to me that I felt like my daughter had been taken from me.

But, setting aside the melodramatic statements about lost children, she’s opening up again, and her temper tantrums are slowly losing their intensity and going back to normal not-getting-her-way tantrums instead of her-world-is-falling-apart tantrums. She is showing true affection for her sister and loves to help out in any way she can…which is sometimes not actually particularly helpful. Like two days ago when Chelsea was peacefully sleeping in her Rock n Play Sleeper and Briana decided to “help” by shoving the pacifier into the baby’s mouth despite her very vocal protests. Her heart was in the right place, anyway. Or today when she kept coming over to wipe the baby’s face even though, after the first time, there were no bubbles or spit up to be seen. And Miss Briana is always watching to see if Chelsea has thrown up so she can let me know, “Mommy, she got sick!”

I know that seems like a random thing to say, but Chelsea has acid reflux, which is a new thing as a parent for me to deal with. You’d think that the second time around with a newborn I would feel more at ease, but it turns out not all newborns are alike, and some of them have medical problems that your other child didn’t. Who knew, right? Babies as individuals! What a concept! (Sarcasm…)

This reflux thing is actually sort of scary for me. She doesn’t just do baby “spit-up” that just sort of dribbles out of her mouth and down her front. It’s explosive. It comes out of her mouth with force, and it comes out of her nose, and it blocks her airway and she can’t breathe. We can’t lay her down flat to sleep. I was really bummed about that at first, because I had wanted to co-sleep with her, was really looking forward to having her in the little by-your-side co-sleeper we bought to go in between us on the bed.

But the reality is, you lay this kid flat and you’re inviting disaster. She chokes, and it sounds absolutely terrifying. And when she’s laying flat she can’t clear her airway on her own. I have to sit her up and sometimes hold her on my arm, parallel to the floor, facing down, so she can cough it out. Even in her Rock n Play (which she’s sleeping in because it keeps her on an incline, which we were instructed to do by her pediatrician), I have been woken up many times by the sound of her choking. Sunday morning, I heard her start to choke, rolled out of bed and took two quick steps, sat her up, and watched what looked like an entire feeds worth of milk pour out of her like a faucet. Then I had to listen to her heartbreaking little wail of pain. That’s the worst part, knowing that it’s hurting them.

Sunday night, I literally did not sleep. She was choking and gasping for air every couple of minutes, throwing up and coughing while she slept. I was afraid I would sleep too deeply and not hear her choke, so I stayed up, listening for her. Several times I considered taking her to Children’s Hospital, just putting her in the car seat and going. But she never turned blue, she was getting air, she just sounded awful. So I waited it out and called the doctor as soon as the office opened and took her in today.

She has been on medication for her reflux for a couple of weeks now, and it hadn’t done much for her. The first day or so it seemed like a miracle drug, and then it just stopped doing anything. If anything, it almost seemed worse. After last night, I was scared. Getting her into her car seat, she threw up three times. On the fifteen minute drive to the doctor, she threw up twice more. I knew she was okay, because she was screaming bloody murder, so I kept driving. I just wanted the doctor to tell me she was okay.

It turns out, my little baby Chelsea caught the cold her sister and I had over the last few days. It didn’t even occur to me she might be sick, because she throws up so often anyway. The doc said that her reflux was being exacerbated by the extra mucous and stuff created by the little cold. Briana pretty much only had a runny nose. I had a runny nose and sore throat. I’m mostly over my cold after two days, and Bri is mostly over hers as well. So I’m hoping Chelsea gets over it quickly. When I told the doctor that Chelsea’s reflux hadn’t improved on the meds even before the cold, she upped her dose to three times a day instead of two and said we’d check back in four weeks. She is concerned about the slow weight gain caused by the reflux, so we have to go back for a weight check next week.

Before the reflux started up, Chelsea was in the 81st percentile for weight. Now she’s in the 58th. She is still gaining, but it’s much slower than they want her to be gaining. It’s frustrating and scary, because I know she’s getting enough to eat. They sent me to a lactation consultant to be sure the weight loss wasn’t a feeding issue (I’m breastfeeding). They did a before-eating and after-eating weight check for Chelsea while we were there, and my gorgeous girl ate 3.5ozs in less than ten minutes. The acid reflux is definitely the culprit of the slow weight gain, and it makes me sad.

I know there are children out there who have it so much worse than Chelsea, and I’m not talking about all this to get attention or anything. It’s just new to me. I’m still figuring it all out and learning what helps and what doesn’t. I’ve cut dairy from my diet in an effort to make my breast milk easier for her to digest. If her acid reflux hasn’t significantly improved in the next two or three weeks I’m going to cut soy from my diet as well. (Goodbye Starbucks!) Cutting dairy was rough, as I love cheese and sour cream and milk and…dairy. Cutting soy will be difficult if it comes to that because soy is in A LOT of food. It’s even in some brands of canned tuna! (Who knew, right?) But anyway, moving on to the next subject…

Other than the reflux, Chelsea is a smiling, giggling, happy little baby. She thinks it’s funny when I sing nonsense words and bob my head around in front of her. She loves watching her sister, and loves being in her bouncy seat. Before the reflux got bad, she liked laying on her playmat and had even rolled from her front to her back starting at six weeks…I’m still not convinced she did it on purpose, but it was still cool to see. 🙂 She’s always so alert and looks like she’s just doing her very best to have the world figured out before she turns 3 months old. When she’s not smiling she gets this really serious expression on her face with one raised eyebrow, like “Are you sure about that, mom? ‘Cause I’m not.” It’s cute.

She fits right into our little family. She looks just like her daddy, except for the dimple in her chin. Her smile lights up her whole face. Briana loves her to pieces. So do I, and so does her daddy. Adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn has been every bit as difficult as I thought it would be, and in some ways more difficult, but now that we’re starting to adjust, I love it. I need about ten more hands, but I still love it. I love how Briana giggles when her sister smiles, and I love that she wants so much to help me with the baby. I love that she likes sitting on the floor next to Chelsea’s bouncy seat and share her toys with the baby, or tell her everything is going to be alright, or tell me “Mommy, Chelsea needs you, she got sick.” (I don’t love that she gets sick, but I love that Briana tells me and cares about her sister.)

I love breastfeeding Chelsea. I love how she settles in and eats with this death grip on my shirt (or sometimes my skin) as if she’s afraid I’ll take the food source away. I love it when she stops nursing to smile up at me. This part of being a mom is new. I pumped and put my milk in a bottle for Briana. She was never able to latch properly, even after having her tongue tie corrected. But Chelsea and I figured it out (after fixing her tongue tie), and now it’s just so…not easy. We aren’t to “easy” yet. But…it’s so comfortable, feels so natural. It is getting easier every day, though, and I’m growing more confident every day. I am really enjoying this part of being a mom. It’s fun to have a new experience even as  a second time mom. 🙂

Speaking of experience, some things are definitely easier as a second time mom. I deciphered her cries much sooner. And when she is seemingly crying for no reason, it’s almost always because she’s tired, and a few rocks from mama, holding her just the way she likes, and this kids eyes are half closed in seconds. I know how to soothe her if she was startled, I know how to settle her in to eat if she has worked herself up, and, sadly, I know what to do when she’s hurting (because of the reflux). It feels good to know what I’m doing this time around. It is always nice not to feel lost.

After those first few chaotic weeks where I was constantly on the verge of (or actually crying) hysterical tears, wanting to pull my hair out, and getting virtually no sleep…I feel like we’re settling in. We’re getting into a routine. I feel like a mom instead of an angry and sleep deprived momster. I am working on not yelling so much (fell off that not-yelling wagon for a while), and watching my tone, since I live with a two and a half year old copy-cat. (I have a…colorful…vocabulary. It isn’t pretty hearing that vocabulary come out of my little one’s mouth.)

Another thing I’ve learned the second time around is to allow others to help me. When I was sick and David had plans on Sunday, I let my aunt and uncle take the girls for the afternoon. I don’t think I would have done that with Bri, I would have felt too guilty and not been able to rest. This time I felt no guilt at all, except for forgetting to kiss Bri goodbye before she got into the car. I can’t be perfect and let go of all guilt, but at least I let them help me, right? 🙂

Figuring out how to juggle two little ones with two very different sets of needs (toddler vs newborn – very very different!), has been an interesting journey these past few weeks. But I’m hanging in there.

I am still learning.

I am still here.

I am enough.

I am Mommy.

And “Mommy” is a pretty awesome thing to be.