Dear Little Mister:
We started doing baby yoga together about two weeks ago and it is some of my favorite time with you. I have learned some exercises and activities to do with you that are calming, fun, and help me fill time when I am not sure exactly how to "entertain" you. In a group setting, parts of your personality are starting to emerge. You love to look around and see what is going on. You are generous with smiles and grunts of approval. You seem open to trying new things which have mostly been new yoga poses :)
You are starting to have longer sleep stretches at night. HOORAY! HOORAY! HOORAY! Daddy finally convinced me to try the noise machine and I am amazed at how much the "wind noise" improves your sleep. One unexpected downside to the long sleep stretches is that I feel incredibly sore in the morning and our first feed of the day is pretty messy. The pump has returned to my life as I try to manage the milk supply while making sure we all get enough sleep. It is another chance for us to practice establishing a new normal that works for both of us.
I must confess that I am struggling a lot with parenthood. As I mentioned before, I love being your mom and I love being your sister's mom. The challenge is being a good mom to both of you at the same time. One day last week, you both started crying after bath. You were hungry and wanted to be fed. Your sister wanted me to hold her and put her to bed. I tried everything I knew to reason with your sister and even laughed a little bit, then I saw both of your faces and I started crying really hard. I felt like a failure. You both stopped and just watched me. I was broken. After a few minutes, we worked out a decent solution which was that I would feed you in our bed and your sister would sit next to us. She decided she wanted to sleep in our bed and she feel asleep while I was feeding you. As soon as you started eating, your whole body relaxed and you went into a meditative state.
The transformation from the distressed crying to peaceful bliss in a matter of minutes captures the parenting experience. In a span of ten minutes, I feel so happy and then like complete shit because everything is falling apart. I want so badly to do right by you, for us to have a bond and connection that runs deep. I am glad you feel safe around me and want to be near me when you are upset. I also want those things with your sister. I want you to have those connections with your dad and with your sister. The question I struggle with the most is how to create strong bonds with each individual in my nuclear family without making the others feel left out or upset.
In the midst of all the anxiety, there are some good anchoring moments. Almost every morning you wake up happy. You look around to make sure we are all accounted for: Daddy, Didi (elder sister), and me. You and your sister spend time together in the crib. She gives you toys, tells you stories, shares blankets, and sings songs. Daddy and I watch you both together. In the midst of all the chaos, these quiet moments of togetherness are the best part of my day. Thank you for anchoring us in joy.
Dear Little Mister:
I cannot quite believe that you are almost seven weeks old. The days (and especially the nights) seem to go so slowly and yet the weeks are zooming past. So far, we have two important things in common: we both love sleep and eating. You (knock on wood) enjoy sleeping and are starting to get the hang of sleeping for long stretches of time. Your enthusiasm for eating is wonderful. As you are taking milk, you often grunt in appreciation or pat me with your hand. The experience of breastfeeding is new to me and while I sometimes wish for a break, I really enjoy the chance to snuggle with you and watch you go from being upset to blissed out.
Ever since you came home from the hospital, we have been lucky to have grandparents around. I am glad that all three of your grandparents had a chance to be charmed by you. Since you arrived, I am also aware that we are quite a loud family. The first few days you were home, you would get startled with loud voices, laughter, and screaming. Then, we noticed that you started to sleep through things, including your sister's very loud melt downs. We are in the middle of our first full week alone as a family of four. During the day, it is the two of us and you are starting to have trouble sleeping. I wonder if you miss the bustle of family; I do miss having folks around, but I am also excited for a little space in which to establish our own routines and rituals.
You have started smiling and making a noise that could sound like laughter. We all love trying to make you smile and the people who have the most success are your dad and sister. When your sister is in the room, you are often completely mesmerized by her. I love seeing you smile at each other and when she gives you a hug and a kiss, I often want to cry with joy. You are already so strong. You have been lifting your neck a bit and moving a bit like a turtle. When you are unhappy, you have figured out how to launch yourself a bit by doing a quasi-kicking motion. You are so affectionate. I think your favorite sleeping position is when you are nestled into someone's arm or snug in a lap.
In so many ways, the chance to be your mom is a dream come true. I feel less scared and nervous than I did before. I know a bit more about what to expect and that all of these phases feel like they last forever, but go by so quickly. I am glad that I have another chance to savor these moments instead of feeling so afraid of messing up or worried about not being qualified. On the other hand, I am so exhausted and needing to split my time and energy between you and your sister that I already know that there are things I did with her which I will not do with you. When you both look back at documentation of your childhood, there is more stuff from your sister's first year than yours. Please know that this is not a reflection of the amount of love I have for you. The specifics may not be detailed or documented, but know that I am so glad you are part of our family and I look forward to more adventures with you.
Dear Little One:
I am amazed that you are already three and with how you much you are growing and changing. You have an expanded vocabulary, are getting extra sassy, and more independent. You are so funny and creative. You are observant and repeat things back to us. You are cautiously curious and while you sometimes take awhile to warm up, once you decide you like someone, they are showered with affection that includes hugs, kisses, and dance performances. Over the last month, we all have been adjusting to the arrival of the new mister. Being a big sister is tough and figuring out how we all work together in the new normal is a work in progress.
As I think about what I want to share with you and for all of us to hold on to, a few images come to mind. When my water broke and we were leaving for the hospital, you were so excited to go to our neighbor's house. As we were leaving and I gave you a big hug I remembered telling you that we were going to the hospital to bring home the baby. You immediately clung to me and said that you wanted to come too. I almost started crying because I felt the change that was coming very deeply. I wanted the little mister so much and, yet, I felt really badly leaving you so that I could bring him into the world.
I was excited and nervous for you to meet him. I was sitting on the hospital bed. Daddy was standing near the door and the little mister was in his crib. We heard you in the hallway showing people your clips and declaring that you were going to meet your baby brother. We both started laughing. You came to the door, smiled and then ran to my arms. I felt so bad that I could not pick you up without assistance. As I held you close, it felt like a lifetime had passed. As I held you and I looked at your brother, I realized that you really are a big girl. All of a sudden, you were no longer a baby. That realization, more than any other to date, brought home to me how quickly time passes and how much you have transformed from when I first met you. When I introduced you to your brother and you gave him a gentle touch, I thought that my heart would melt with happiness.
I foolishly thought that the tenderness would be the constant theme of your relationship. Since he has arrived home, I have learned that your relationship with him is complex. I should not be surprised since almost all significant human relationships are complicated. You are sweet and loving to him, but also scream and get upset when he has too much attention. You ask to hold him, but push him away the moment he makes any noise that sounds like distress. I love seeing your sweet interactions and feel helpless when you are frustrated. You also yell, kick, and hit when I am not able to spend time with you because he needs something. I have never wished for more energy, stamina, and the ability to be in two places at once than I have since the little mister was born. I have watched you experiencing jealousy that you do not know how to express when family members and friends pay a lot of attention to the little mister. Every night since the little mister has come home, we watch you have a meltdown that includes loud yelling and screaming. I wish that I could tell you it gets better, that things will even out, and you will be on equal footing with the little mister. Many things will get better and be different. Hopefully, as he gets older, you and your brother will play together and become friends. Daddy and I will be better at figuring out how to show both of you how much will love you. In spite of all of this, there will be times (inside and outside our family) when it feels like you are loved less than someone else, when another person is getting all of the attention, and no matter what people tell you, you just feel angry. As hard as this transition is, I hope that the skills we develop together will help us function better in the larger world better.
Most of this entry has been about how many tender and tough moments transition brings. Sometimes, I feel like I have lost you in my desire to give you a sibling. Some days most of the words I say to you are disciplinary-- trying to make sure you do not hurt the little mister or reprimand you for hitting, biting or throwing things. I worry that there is a big space between us that I will never be able to cross. I am thankful for the grandparents who have been with us and have taken you out on special outings or played with you. Still, I miss seeing you and hanging out as much as before. When I hear you screaming for me, I sometimes cry and can hardly see the little mister's face as I am feeding him. I want to help you understand how much I love you and how hard we are all trying and that I understand how hard it is to welcome a new person to the family.
My favorite moments continue to remain the time just before you go to sleep. When we are both exhausted and worn out from the day's events. I am in the bed next to you and through the hallway light I can make out the details of your face. I can see both my baby girl and the woman you are slowly becoming. Then, you smile at me and we both start laughing. I feel like we are having the best time. We take turns holding each other tight and I hope that however our memories of this time are shaped that we both remember these moments of holding each other close, laughing, and marveling at the wonder in each other.