It's the middle of Chol Hamoed now, and my mother brought little G home from his bris a couple of hours ago. I don't think I know him well enough yet to know if he is more irritable than usual... the last week has been such a crazy blur. I think I forgot what newborns are like.
My husband keeps asking me what I would tell a client to do... but the answer is: wait it out. He's only a newborn.
But ooohhhh is it hard.
I've been doing my Rule of 5s - 5 days in bed, 5 days on bed, 5 days around bed - so I've pretty much been in my bed the past week. I've been trying to pamper myself and take it easy, but it's so hard when this baby JUST WON'T SLEEP. Well, on his own, I mean. He'll sleep on me or with me... but then I can't sleep.
I read The Safe Sleep Seven (I don't agree with a lot of what's in there about sleep hygiene, but they've got research-based information on safe co-sleeping) because I was SO looking forward to co-sleeping.
Yeah, well - not. for. me. I was so excited for it, but I hardly sleep when the baby is in bed with me. I wake up between each cycle, and don't have anywhere to roll over because, inevitably, my cute little newborn situates himself smack in the center of the bed (and people think they're helpless? I think not!) So there goes that dream.
And with yom tov and meals and the bris and vacht nacht, it's all been so hectic that I feel bad asking my mother or sister or husband to help.
Of course, my husband came in from the sukkah on the nights that I just needed someone else to hold him so I could close my eyes for a bit, and my sister and mother are happy to help out to in between the million and five other things that they're doing (think - making yom tov and running after my girls), but at the end of the day, I'm the one in charge of this smushy little boy.
On Motzei Shabbos, I was at my wits end with him so we tried doing PUPD (my sister did a shift while I ate melava malka). Miserable failure. I guess because he was only 5 days old? I don't know, and I've never tried with a baby this young and I don't think I'm ever going to try again.
So we're still in stage one: new baby; no sleep. I officially am not functioning normally.
My girls, of course, are super confused, too. B"H my sister was here for a week before G was born, so they're used to her taking care of them. But they keep wanting to see the baby, and wanting to sit on my lap when they come in to me.
I miss playing with them. I'm probably going to start returning to the life outside of my bedroom a bit earlier than I'd planned - y"t in the dark without any company is just no fun.
But on the bright side, they'll be 2 in just 14 weeks! (Ok, not "just." That feels like an eternity.)
And at least I got a nap while everyone was out for the bris. Score one for Mommy!
Don't you love when someone who's in a totally different profession reminds you of something you should have known?
Like... your baby's mohel.
He came for the day-after-the-bris check in, and asked how G had been the previous night. Miserable. We had a miserable night.
"Well, did he sleep during the day?"
Yep. A lot.
And he reminded me that the bris is very stimulating for a new baby, and they tend to sleep during the day to recover from it, and then have a backlash at night.
Heh. Right. I knew that!
Baby brain, Chaya Shifra?
I ended up joining the family on Hoshana Rabba instead of staying in my room - it was just too hard to be out of things - but we re-situated everything so that the baby would have a place to sleep on the main floor and I wouldn't have to walk far to get him.
I got a backlash from the girls for that. They started acting out a bit and being a little more kvetchy.
It's interesting because my sister said that they were totally fine until then - though why they were OK when I was hibernating in my room for a week after not being home for 3 days, and then once I was present (albeit in a snood and robe) started acting out is totally beyond me.
I also ended up starting PUPD again this week (though I hadn't planned on it!). I had put G down for a couple minutes right before he was supposed to start his nap so that I could grab a diaper for him... and by the time I came back he was fast asleep!
YES! He CAN do it! (*phew* I'll admit I was a bit nervous. I mean, here I am telling everyone this stuff works, and my own baby doesn't follow?)
So... once he showed me that, I went all in. PUPD for every nap. Some times it's taken longer and some times it's taken shorter, but he's actually falling asleep on his own (and he wasn't even 2 weeks old yet when he started! Yayyyy!!).
I've worked with so many newborns, and heard from my clients about it happening, but to actually see it with my own baby - especially after the miserable nightmare this stage was with my twins.... it's like a miracle.
Welcome to real life, Chaya Shifra.
My family left, bein hazmanim is over... and now it's me and all three of my adorable, crying kids.
OK, I'll be fair - they're not ALWAYS crying. And my babysitter is still here in the mornings four days a week.
But the girls are still adjusting. Very much still adjusting. Naps are very unpredictable at this point - they'll go into their cribs and chat/laugh/run around for an hour or two... and sometimes sleep. And they're both VERY kvetchy and clingy.
Of course, I know that this is normal, but it doesn't make things any easier.
B"H the baby's napping well. He's falling asleep by himself for all of his naps, and crying out maybe once or twice - but usually under a minute before he's quiet.
Nights, though, are a different story.
I've tried doing PUPD for up to TWO HOURS on more than one occasion, and he just won't do it. Really, the trouble is that he's a prop snob; he doesn't mind falling asleep with a prop, but once it's gone, he won't stay asleep for even a second (and, of course, like my twins, he HATES the swing).
So that means that he absolutely HAS to go to sleep on his own... but just can't!
He seems to be more of a sensitive baby - so probably even the 45 minutes is too much for him when he's got his two crazy sisters all over him, and yelling and, of course, crying.
I started playing with a middle-of-the-night-back-to-sleep routine - if it works for naps, maybe it'll work for night, too? - and he seems to be doing better with that.
I'm also going to take him to see a chiropractor, as he seems to have a slight rightward tilt of his head. Maybe that's the problem...? And maybe not…
Can I tell you a secret?
Don't tell any of my newborn clients. Really. Because I encourage them to take off from work as long as they can, and at least to wait till 8 weeks... and I just took on my first client since Sir G was born.
And he was only 3.5 weeks old when we started.
Yeah, I know. I'm crazy.
But look - working, for me, means chatting with a client I love (you know who you are!! 😉) every other day or so and answering her emails... while I'm in a robe over my pjs and a snood.
I'm not leaving the house, bundling three kids up in the already-wintery October or anything like that.
But still, I'm feeling kinda crazy.
I know if I tell my business coach (who is also a hypnobirthing instructor), she'd be shocked (to say the least), and I know that if I was my own client, I'd strongly dissuade myself, but so far so good.
No, life is nowhere near normal, and I'm nowhere near back to myself, but I love what I do.
And trust me - if you did what I do, you would too! I love talking with and getting to know the amazing mothers that I work with, I love watching the transformation happen, love hearing the difference between our first call and our last.
And it's been so so so long since I worked with anyone (I stopped accepting new clients when I was about 35 weeks, G wasn't born till 41.5 and he's 4 weeks old now... do the math.) and it's so INVIGORATING.
Of course I still have my babysitter coming every day, and my amazing client is totally fine when I nurse Sir G in the middle of our sessions, so that's how I make it possible.
I feel like I'm two different people - there's the morning, when I have help, and I'm working (only an hour or two, but still), and things are easy and relaxing...
And the afternoon when the wild natives are unleashed singing war songs around my house. OK, it's not that bad. Well, not all the time. But some of the time it is.
Did I mention yet that my twins are still adjusting?
As in clingy, kvetchy, nap-regression still adjusting?
And that... my delightful Sir G is still VERY VERY VERY much a newborn? Sure, we've got the independent sleep thing down pat, and nights are getting better, but that does not mean every nap is perfect - not by any stretch!
We had a chessed girl over this afternoon, and, b"H she's a family friend and knows the girls and deals with my sleep consulting mishugasin, because Sir G needed some attention to fall asleep while Miss S was sobbing at the bottom of the stairs because she wanted me to carry her up (at 22 months, she's not really chapping the concept of "Mommy can't pick you up", know what I mean?)...
The irony of it all is that I was so excited for the newborn stage for one reason only: it's ok to nurse the baby to sleep. But my cute little prop snob has taken that option away... so here we are with only the tough part of the newborn stage.
1 month down, only 2 more to go...
When is it going to be OVER?
Somehow the weeks pass quickly (Oh, it's Shabbos again?) but the days are interminably long. I wake up, and for the next 5 years I'm mommying, and mommying and mommying. And putting G down for a nap, and feeding him, and trying to keep the girls from changing G's diaper (yes, they did try that on more than one occasion - and it always ended in G making a mess all over himself. Boys.).
Monday through Thursday is better - the babysitter is here, so she's helping with both the girls and G, but by the time Sunday rolls around and I've been doing 3 days nearly on my own (I know there's Shabbos, but somehow between shul and shul, my husband doesn't end up being home all that much on Shabbos), I'm ready to go on vacation without any of them.
So here I am complaining about the newborn stage when I was dreaming rosily of it at the end of my pregnancy... *sigh*.
At least I know it's going to get better.
Nights are starting to look up for G - his circadian cycle is learning its thing and once he only woke up twice last night. (Yay!)
We're coming to six weeks, now so hopefully that will start to become more consistent in the future.
It's so fascinating to see how different he is week to week - last week he just started smiling, he's sleeping better at night, and generally being more consistent during the day.
But it will be nice when the newborn stage is over and I don't have to be as worried about him crying for more than a minute alone.
So nu? You going to give me a mazel tov?
I've reached the halfway mark in the newborn stage, and I'm starting to feel like a person again. I went out with the baby the a couple weeks back for an appointment (chiropractor. How come no one tells you your baby's head is going to get out of whack when they're born?), and when I came into the kitchen dressed in real clothing, S asked me, "Mommy bye-bye?"
*ahem* well... when you mention it...
It's so funny because with my girls, I got dressed every single day. I even went shopping for clothing when they were 3 weeks old.
It feels so good this time that I've given myself the space to let go and take it easy.
Sure, I'm 6 weeks postpartum. Sure I'm officially back at "work."
But I'm nowhere near feeling 100% yet.
So that means robe and snood on more days than not. And that's okay.
Letting myself take it easy during this crazy time has really taken a load off of me - because trust me, there are still plenty of loads to deal with.
Miss S and Miss C are still struggling through the nap regression that began shortly after Sir G was born, and of course, there's building Sir G's naps as well.
B"H nighttime is starting to look more like... nighttime. We're down to two feeds most nights, and sometimes the first one is before I go to bed, so that means I only have to wake up once.
But the girls still want me to carry them up and down the stairs, and I'm still not up to that yet. And they still are kvetchy and clingy during the day - and inevitably the WORST breakdowns HAVE to happen right outside the door to Sir G's bedroom when he's in there...
Iiiiiiin other news, though, G started babbling last week. It's so precious!
I have a theory that Hashem makes babies start to smile right around the 6 week mark because that's when we moms start to lose it. (Most of my newborn clients reach out to me between 5 and 7 weeks old).
Love seeing those toothless grins!
We're getting there!
Click, click, click.
That's what Sir G has sounded like for about ever when nursing.
I probably wouldn't have thought anything of it with the girls, but since taking my lactation course, I know that that means that something is up with his latch.
So I've been analyzing and overanalyzing and reanalyzing and latching and unlatching and relatching... and he's still clicking.
Call it baby brain if you will, but yes, it DID take this long to figure out!
If there ain't any problems outside his mouth, the problem must be INSIDE his mouth. Duh.
Sure enough, a peek inside shows a tight frenulum - tongue tie, my dear G.
B"H we have an amazing medical activist here in Chicago, so I've been in touch with him, and he's going to try to get me in to the top pediatric ENT asap... which might not be for a week.
And, of course, I neglected to follow my own advice about bottles, and, in addition to being a prop snob, he's a bottle snob too!
Of course, I've got my freezer stash for "just in case"s, but for now we're just gonna have to keep on doing what we're doing.
I'M A PERSON AGAIN!!! And I'm not sure that I like it.
Have I mentioned that my twins are taking their sweet time adjusting?
On the outside they look just fine (though we're still working on sitting NEXT TO Sir G instead of giving him a hug... when he's laying on the floor... aka squashing him. He doesn't like that all that much), but the truth comes out when they're not with him.
It's still decent enough outside for them to go out with the babysitter every day, and The Winter Snows (yes, it's capital-worthy here in Chicago) have not yet descended on our lovely windy city, so they've been going out every day with the babysitter right before lunch.
And come back yelling.
Every. Single. Day.
A neighbor across the street who works from home told me she heard such a horrific yelling that she had to look out the window. "I didn't know that such a small person could make such a loud noise!" she told me.
And she has six kids. Just saying.
Anyway, for some reason my mommy-brain decided it would be a good idea to get out and get some fresh air with my 3 under 2 on Sunday. It was the tail end of a stir-crazy weekend, and I was feeling up to it. Or so I thought.
Popped Sir G in my Beco Gemini, tossed the girls in our double stroller, and off we went. I walked a couple blocks, and then made the mistake of going too close to the park.
"PARK!!" my girls chorused.
So we went to the park.
As time passed, we were getting closer and closer to needing to get home for lunch before nap, I told them they could each do one more thing before we went home. No luck. They did NOT want to go home. So, as I put them in the stroller, they let me know that they did not approve of my decision to go home.
(Can someone tell me why I didn't foresee that this would happen??)
They cried and cried and cried across 3 short blocks. And then, two more blocks away from home, they decided to slide out of the stroller. And refuse to walk.
We were in front of a friend's house, so we planted ourselves on her leaf-strewn lawn, and I attempted to hold both of them while sitting on a lawn chair (no small feat when you have an 11 lb baby strapped to you and both of your nearly-2-year-olds are over 25 lb and the lawn chair leans backwards) to calm them down.
My friend wasn't home, so I called another friend who lives across the street. She came out with bribes (*ahem* refreshments) - rice cakes and whole wheat crackers. (Can you tell I'm a health nut? They never even get whole wheat crackers!) I was hoping they'd be so excited to see the food that they'd keep their mouths busy chomping.
No such luck.
At one point, both of them were planted face-first in the dewey leaves... and then were upset to discover that their faces were dirty.
Suffice it to say, we made it home eventually.
But they're not over this new baby thing yet. Clearly.
And I am now taking a little break before we venture outside again.
Remember that tongue-clicking thing I mentioned a couple weeks ago?
So our amazing medical advocate here in Chicago, pulled some strings and got me in with the top pediatric ENT downtown. [For the full lowdown on tongue tie, click HERE.)
And the appointment was FINALLY today.
I think the hardest part of the whole thing was finding a babysitter for my girls - the appointment was at 2 (when they squeeze you in, you don't have the liberty of choosing the time that'll work best for you!)
So, after a lot of finagling, and calling, I finally was able to arrange childcare (because let me tell you - some people think I'm supermom with 3 under 2, but I'm not. And taking all three of my kids downtown, parking, finding the ENT, sitting in the office, shlepping them back to the car and then going home is NOT my idea of normal. Forget fun - it would probably be dysfunctional.)
So the babysitter comes, I toss a pan of chicken from the freezer into the oven (I made about 20 pans of a slightly tweaked version of "Mommy's Chicken", courtesy of Between Carpools, (I replaced the sauce with spices) before Sir G was born - check out #2 in the list HERE), hop in the car, and off we go.
But here's the first thing: he doesn't really believe in lip ties. Well, I should rephrase that - he hasn't found that lip ties make any kind of difference. And, as a top ENT, he's not afraid to tell me that.
But there is definitely a tongue tie, and it's affecting his eating (and my comfort), so we can clip the tongue tie.
He went over the procedure with me, told me what to expect, and reassured me that I'll nurse him right after, and most babies nurse totally normally immediately after.
They swaddle him, and hold him down. Open his mouth, and snip.
And boy was he sad. I took him, I nursed him.
And he clicked.
I kept trying to readjust, but... he still clicked.
The doctor came back in when I was done, and I asked him.
"Look," he told me, "your baby is 2 months old; most babies get clipped a lot earlier. He's used to nursing the wrong way; you have to give him time to adjust."
I just hope it happens quickly...
(Oh, and by the way - when I got home, I discovered that the pan had a hole and leaked chicken juice on the oven floor, making the whole apartment fill with smoke so my babysitter and girls were at a neighbor. Moral of the story - "Mommy's Chicken" is great - but put a pan underneath. Because it's better to play it safe.)
We're in double digits... and only two weeks away from the end of the newborn stage.
I really don't like the newborn stage as much as I thought I would - my prop snob *ahem* adorable little newborn never really gave me the opportunity to do the things I love about the newborn stage (nursing to sleep, for one), and I really do hate co-sleeping.
But this week, I went on a TRIP!
A kinda-vacation for this overwhelmed and overworked mom of 3 under 2.
Sir G and I went to NY for a day.
I was a little bit nervous about his sleep while we'd be away - we were at my parents' house, so, while I knew I'd be comfortable and with people I knew, I was a bit worried about G. New house, new smells, sleeping in a pack'n'play instead of a crib... And on top of that were the flights there and back - how would I get him to fall asleep and make sure he wasn't uncomfortable?
Calm down, Chaya Shifra.
The flight was amazing. I had a window seat at the front of the plane with an empty seat next to me, and a lady in the aisle seat who slept the whole way. G fell asleep fine, and didn't seem to have a problem with popping ears.
And I was (pleasantly) surprised that he did AMAZINGly at my parents house that night, too! He went down without a problem, and slept beautifully with just one wake for a feed. Wow. Just goes to show how much we underestimate our babies.
I didn't really have time the next day for a real nap - we were heading to Crown Heights for a free Sleep Seminar - so it was a car nap.
The lovely Sarah Eichler (Hypnobabies instructor and Lactation Consultant - you can check her stuff out at saraheichler.com) hosted my session on my top 7 tips for sleep, and I got to meet the group of ladies who joined us in person.
Back to my parents' house, made sure the flight was on time, packed up my stuff and came back home to Chicago.
As excited as I was to go away, I was kind of worried about how clingy the girls would be when I got back. Again, I needn't have worried. They were a little bit more needy than usual, but I felt so recharged from going away for the day that I was able to deal with it so much better.
Lesson learned: taking time out for myself ALWAYS pays off.
We have an ANSWER to the Clicking Question!!!
(Because, yes, G is STILL clicking. And still taking... hm... just about forever, I think, to eat. Maybe a couple days short of forever.)
My dear little baby has a VERY high palate. Who even knew there was such a thing?
Well, there is.
And that means that despite the tie release, he STILL is clicking. And still not nursing efficiently - because his palette is just too far away for his little tongue to reach properly.
Learning new things every day...
There are a bunch of things I "could" do to "fix" it, (the lactation consultant started talking about nipple shields...) but with 3 under 2 (not to mention the fact that I'm working with a bunch of clients so can't just take off a random morning) I'm just going to wait it out and see how it goes.
[Note from a couple years later: I have learned a lot since then, and now know that the high palette was caused by the tongue tie, and wouldn't recommend “waiting it out” -- there's a lot you can actually do to fix it that don't involve anything like nipple shields.)
Iiiiiin other news I've decided to start potty training the twins.
No, I'm not crazy.
Yes, I am crazy.
I was going to wait until G was officially 3 months, but I've just been talking about doing it for so so so long, and my dear babysitter who's been with us since they were 9 weeks old is getting married in a month, so im lo achshav eimasai, right?
And I really do believe they have the cognition level to be able to go along the clueless --> "I made" --> "I'm making" --> "I need to make" continuum. So it's just a matter of starting and introducing them to it!
Day 1 was tough, as day 1 of ANYTHING new is going to be. S chapped right away... and C is taking her sweet time chapping.
But we're only on Day 2.
We'll get there.
WE DID IT!!! We made it to the end of the newborn stage!
I can't believe we're actually here...
Of course, things have not really calmed down yet, what with Miss S and Miss C's potty training adventures. Suffice it to say, I don't want to talk about it. (Ok, that's not really fair - Miss S did a brilliant job and has totally trained herself. Miss C, though, is... well... being herself shall we say. 🙈)
Sir G is officially traumatized and does not like laying on the floor anymore. I thought we'd gotten to the point that I could trust the girls to sit/lay next to him and I could leave the room for one second (laundry, I think it was). Well, clearly not. I think Miss C tried to lay directly on him ("Huggy, G!") and he did not appreciate that, to say the least. Since then, every time I try to lay him on the floor, he kvetches for a bit, and then launches into crying.
He'll get over his PTSD eventually.
He's been doing well on his 1.5 hour awake time, though his naps have regressed to just one sleep cycle
The good news is that, at 12 weeks old (can you believe it?!), there's a lot more that I can do to encourage him to lengthen those naps.
It continues to astound me how much we've all changed in the last 12 weeks with 3 under 2... and the girls are only 2 weeks away from their second birthday...
Life is, believe it or not, into a routine by now.
Of course, we are going stir-crazy because it's been bitterly cold the past couple of weeks, and between that and our potty training, the four of us are stuck at home staring at the same four walls.
I've been getting out to do some photoshoots for my instagram feed, and my babysitter takes the girls out for at least a little walk, so we're all getting some fresh air, but the afternoons just stretch on and on and on and on.... and we won't even talk about Sunday.
(Sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to live in EY where there's no real "Sunday" in the no-school, no-work, no-anything kind of way. I guess there are pros and cons to the schedule there.)
In babyland - we've started leaving him to give him the opportunity to fall back asleep after his short naps - which is miserable for all of us, so we won't talk about it now. And he's finally in his own room!
It's funny because I thought I'd have him out of my room by the time he was 2 weeks old. My twins made so much noise in their sleep, and, even though in real life I'm a deep sleeper, when they're right next to me (my bedroom's not that big!), I go onto high alert and wake up from the smallest noises.
But I liked having him in the same room as me - I liked being able to wake up from him just waking and making "I'm hungry" noises and not even waiting for him to cry before I fed him.
The things we can get used to.
So even though I usually recommend 6-8 weeks as the best time to move your newborn out... I didn't follow my own advice.
And we finally just moved him out when, after two consecutive nights, he woke up just from me walking into the room to get into bed.
No way, G!
And guess what?
I was right.
I should have done it when he was 6-8 weeks.
Because now, at 3 months old, he's a whole lot more aware of what's going on, and he did NOT want to be in this new bedroom that was different than what he was used to. No, siree. Protest at bedtime for two nights was my reward for waiting longer than I should have.
Moral of the story: when you know what you're talking about, listen to yourself.
(Of course, I'll probably do it all over again with the next baby. Women. Go figure.)
Happy birthday my girlies!
They are finally - FINALLY - two!
No, nothing dramatically changed - no flashing lights or fairy dust.
They still kvetch and say cute things, have the occasional accident and tear the house apart. But it's still a milestone of sorts.
Sir G is settled into a more predictable routine; we're all having fewer meltdowns (yes, me included).
So life is still crazy. I STILL have 3 kids under the age of three. But still.
That's better than 3 under 2, right?