It’s officially been just over six weeks since little Lou came into our lives and I thought it was about time for an update and some reflections after this first stretch at home with our family of four (plus can’t forget Wes, so I guess we’re 5).
Lou has been such a joy. A sweet, snuggly peanut, who overall has been very chill for a newborn I’d say! He cries for typical newborn reasons, but it’s not been excessive, and he sleeps a good amount (especially during the day, of course). Week one was the honeymoon phase with his overnight sleep. He would basically wake to eat and go right back down really easily. I think he was maybe still half asleep from the womb. As of now, the beginning of the night he does pretty well and then from about 12-5am anything goes. It’s amazing how noisy a teeny newborn can be, and holy smokes it sounds like there’s a barnyard of animals next to me sometimes. Half the time it’s in his sleep, but the grunts and snorts and squeals and farts and who knows what else are just out of this world loud for such a tiny human. But his temperament so far is very calm and sweet and he’s just beginning to really explore his world and maybe start to see and recognize us?! It’s so exciting.
Oh, and his name. Is Louis – pronounced Lou-ee, not Lou-iss. Yes, we were aware this would be a challenge for people in the beginning. But think: Louis Armstrong, Louis Vuitton, Prince Louis. It’s more common than you might realize at first. Also, many people assume Mason is a girl with his long hair, and many people are calling Louis “Lewis”, so maybe we just like to confuse everyone…
Speaking of Mason, my gosh he’s the sweetest big brother. He’s so attentive to Lou, always wanting to be around him, hold him, and include him in what we’re doing – all the time saying “show Louis! show Louis!” He also tries to help me, which often isn’t actually that helpful because it includes removing Lou’s pacifier and then shoving it back in, covering him (face included) with blankets to keep him warm, and “rocking” his bassinet just a tad too hard, but it’s all out of love. Seeing them with each other has already gotten me so excited to watch them grow up together.
Our little family unit is really doing well and that makes me so happy. Most days feel natural and good and like Louis has been part of the picture for a whole lot longer than he really has. Second time around, many things came easier too, and it’s made a big difference. Nursing happened without learning curve, pain, or issues (at least none yet). I have so much less worry about all the little things that pop up – rashes, bouts of crying, sleep challenges, the general handling of such a tiny human. I know myself as a mom and I’m far more comfortable with Lou in the care and arms of other people than I was with Mason. My higher levels of comfort and confidence as a mom help so much in these early weeks.
And, of course I knew some days would be tough when adding a newborn into the picture, and I can confirm it definitely adds a whole other element, especially on the days and nights when I’m home alone with both boys. Louis is obviously still at that stage where he needs close to round the clock care, since naps are so short and he eats so frequently. So even if he’s not extra fussy, he still needs (and I want to give) hands-on care for much of the day. Mason also needs a lot of hands-on attention during this transition as he navigates a new family member, new dynamics between all of us, and having to share his mama for the first time ever.
I only have my two hands and whatever energy stores I can find after about two months of minimal and very interrupted sleep. Side note, sleep deprivation is a whole thing in itself. I’d forgotten (maybe blacked it out?) how much it impacts this early newborn stage but it sure makes the tough days a whole lot tougher. On those long days alone there’s been times when it feels like everyone needs just a little bit too much, a little bit more than I have to give. I’ve felt short on patience, energy, ideas, and lots of other things. I continue to remind myself that we all just have to do our best, and that really is enough. There’s no sense in aiming for perfect days, beating myself up if the house is a tornado or if I allowed too much screen time and too many meals that consisted of mainly Annie’s snacks. Even on the days when I feel I’ve done a sub-par job, we’re all taken care of well enough to be safe, fed, clothed, and certainly loved on.
And sometimes I forget we’re only six weeks into our life with two kids. It doesn’t have to all be figured out yet or running like a perfectly oiled machine. On the days it does run like that, and we all sleep more, it’s a much-needed catching of our breath.
Here’s a few things I’ve been focusing on…
Paying attention to my own cues
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Being aware of when I’m getting overwhelmed or overstimulated and doing something to help myself as soon as possible. I’m generally pretty even keeled, calm, and patient, particularly with the kids. But overwhelm can always creep in, and for me with the kids it shows up as irritability and low patience. I get more upset and more quicky upset at things that wouldn’t normally bother me. I’m short or rigid with rules and expectations (which backfires when everyone’s already at a level 10 and needs more leniency). When I feel these things happening inside me, I’m asking myself – what can I do right now to lessen this even a little? Realistically, I can’t always get time or space or quiet to myself. But, I can set Mason up with an activity to do solo, I can put on music or a podcast, we can get outside which is generally helpful for all of us, I can reduce any extra unnecessary pressures I’m putting on myself and focus on getting us all back to a place of calm.
Lowering expectations of everyone, including myself
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What was our “norm” before, may need to change and adjust day to day now. Just because it was easy to do before doesn’t mean it will be now. Maybe the house isn’t as clean, maybe we don’t do as many bigger out of the house activities, maybe we watch a little more tv, maybe dinners are ready-made, ordered in, or thrown together from whatever’s in the back of the fridge. It means not expecting things to always stay on routine or as planned. Also, reminding myself that Mason is only two, and this is a huge transition for him – having extra patience and understanding when he’s struggling is crucial. The things he’s doing are not “on purpose,” it’s not terrible twos (not a fan of that phrase), and challenging behaviors never last forever.
Having grace with myself
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Showing compassion and kindness towards myself. Towards my body, which is in the in-between. I’m not fitting in pregnancy clothes and not fitting in pre-pregnancy clothes. I don’t have as much strength or stamina as I want to some days. My body has a mind of its own and is ruled by postpartum symptoms much of the time – peeing pants, leaking boobs, sweats and chills, ravenous hunger, hormonal mood shifts – all these subtle and not so subtle postpartum changes that are just par for the course. And that’s okay – that’s exactly how it needs to be right now. Grace with myself looks like doing what I can when I can, and focusing first on doing things that keep me healthy, mentally and physically. I wanted to put out a ton of writing this last month, envisioned spending every nap time and free moment documenting life and getting in a good routine of content creation – it just didn’t happen and I’m letting that be okay. Turns out free time has been a little harder to come by these last two months! And I’ve focused instead on giving those spare minutes to myself to recharge, and paying more attention to my needs and my level of peace and calm then on any to-do list or task I was hoping to accomplish.
Focusing on the little moments
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Slowing down. Especially in busier or more chaotic times, I can get going on autopilot and go through the day without soaking up the little moments that really make me happy. It’s stopping what I’m doing to really watch Mason entertaining himself and giggling. It’s letting him go to bed later so we can all snuggle on the couch together. It’s letting our walk take 5x as long (so hard for a fast walker like myself) so he can walk on his own and admire every rock we pass. It’s laying around and napping with Lou instead of feeling like I need to put him down so I can “accomplish” things during his nap. It’s letting dinner burn on the stove because we’re watching the sunset from the front porch. It’s letting messes be messes, and skipping baths so Mom and Dad can have a few more minutes of awake time together without kids. It’s these little moments that often pass by without being noticed or appreciated – these are the life-giving things that often bring me the most joy and feel the best. Reminding myself that just because they’re not things you check off a to-do list, they’re still hugely productive.
Happy almost end of November! I might regret saying this when I’m shivering in the California “cold,” but I’m so ready for true fall to set in. We’ve had a heat wave here, and while I love the warmth, I’m waiting patiently for that crisp cool air. Booties and flannels, get ready, it’s almost your time to shine. Speaking of sweater weather, I’ll leave you with this…