Sunday, October 22, 2006

First trip with 2 kids 

I don't think I even dreamed to do this much 2 months postpartum with my first baby! Going to the grocery store was adventure enough! But thanks to my friend Anne whose wedding in Mexico motivated us to toughen up! Our first trip with two children under the age of 3 was fantastic. The flight was smooth, the house was awesome, and of course we had great company!

See more pictures from the trip here.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


So this is what everyone's talking about! I was wondering why with my first child I seemed to feel so stressed, while other mothers seemed so glowingly happy. I thought - what do you know that I don't know because I'm not having a good time??!

Well, now I get it. You don't realize how different baby temperaments can be, and how that can frame your parenting experience, until you have a basis of comparison. And Isabella was a totally colicky newborn, and everyone else had "textbook" babies!

Newborn Isabella would frequently scream what we called "the death cry", further emphasized by lots of back arching. She made us feel like we were killing her during so many diaper changes. I remember being up hours in the middle of the night trying to soothe her. We'd have to use every trick in the book - swaddling, 5 S's, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, sling, Baby Bjorn, fan, infant massage, car rides, etc. At her 5 day old doctor's appointment, my first question to the doctor was - "This baby cries a LOT - are you sure this is normal?!?" She always seemed to be crying for apparently no reason at all, even after you already fed, changed and burped her. She got so upset whenever you put her down, so our arms got buff carrying her and we got lots of exercise walking up and down stairs. I remember meals where we would scarf our meal so that we could take turns holding her; it always felt like a race before the next meltdown. We'd never have a leisurely meal, and I never felt comfortable leaving her to a babysitter because I felt bad subjecting them to such a difficult baby. The "witching hour" of late afternoon to evening was particularly bad. That girl would be screaming for hours so we were exhausted! I had Rich, my Mom, and my mother in law around, and I was still feeling totally overwhelemed! Our mothers were useless to help us - they just said we were unlucky to have such a "bad" baby, and used it as a launching point to criticize our parenting techniques. Isabella was and still is very sensitive.

Because of our experience with the first, I was scared to have the second. But we wanted 2 kids, so as Sebastian's due date approached, we prepared ourselves for the storm. I battened down the hatches, did errands 6 months in advance, and practically said good bye to the outside world as I entered the hospital to give birth, expecting the same sleepiness, long nights and frustrating days. Well, we have passed the Sebastian's 9th week mark, past the period when newborns are supposed to be at their crankiest, and we're still waiting for a storm that never came! I can't believe how mellow Sebastian is thus far! Things have been going great, and we have been really enjoying these first weeks. Rich and I do a man-to-man defense, so he takes care of Isabella and I take care of Sebastian. I am mostly one person taking care of the baby, but it has been no problem! Sebastian is a typical newborn and wakes up every 3 hours, but he is so easy to soothe and he can fall asleep on his own! Usually if he is crying, he needs a diaper change or is hungry, not crying for no reason! Once those needs are satisfied, he just sleeps or looks around the room. And if he is gassy, you just pick him up and rock back and forth for like a minute and he calms down! Wo! What a difference! But for swaddling, we haven't had to use any of the aforementioned soothing techniques or equipment. Rich and I can't get over how easy this guy is. We are taking advantage of this while we can by going out to nice long lunches whenever Isabella is in school - Dopo, Cesar, Sea Salt, Cafe Rouge, Grayson, etc. Since he is so quiet and just sleeps all the time, he's practically like a piece of luggage! And, since he is taking a bottle unlike his sister, we have left both kids with a babysitter already (after first putting the first one to bed - she is still high maintenance) and gone out on several date nights! If only I wasn't nursing and could drink wine.... ah, you can't have everything.

Of course, every kid has their "thing". Isabella may have been cranky as all heck, but she slept through the night at about a month old. Sebastian is totally mellow but he wakes up every 2-3 hours. He sleeps a lot, but never in any big chunk so we are tired. But let me tell you that I'd much rather manage my own sleep deprivation than a super cranky baby any day.

People have suggested that the second kid is always easier, and of course it is easier in the sense that you have already adjusted and dealt with this major life change, and you've said good bye to your life as you know it. You are not freaking out over dumb things like cradle cap, and the crying doesn't grate on your nerves as much. You are a little more confident because you've been through it before, and can deal with the task on hand instead of leafing through all your baby books looking for answers. You are not struggling to ramp up a 90 degree learning curve, but can gain comfort from your previous experience. You have built a network of moms so you already have other people you can talk to. You become wiser so you've gotten good at forcing yourself to nap or solicit help. And since you have been through it before, you have a groove of how to get things done, developed systems and have figured out things like when to take your shower.

But whether or not your second kid is always easier to manage than the first - I think that depends on the individual temperament of the kid. People who should be no impact on whether or not our baby is "good" or "bad", such as the Grandmothers, have repeatedly emphasized what a quiet and easy baby Sebastian is, compared to the girl! Since the Grandmothers should have equal ability to soothe both babies, they should know! And Sebastian has fallen asleep in people's arms who claim little or no experience with babies. I think it's funniest when people keep saying - "good for you, you deserve an easy baby after the first one!" If I had this baby first, I would have thought I had a magic touch with babies. So, I guess you can call this "payback".

Don't get me wrong - of course I adore my firstborn to pieces, but it was about a year and a half before I could sincerely say that I was having fun. Sebastian's newborn days have been so smooth and such a joy, that I am enjoying him and every moment of how amazing this little person is. This experience has redeemed my feelings about the newborn phase, and I no longer think people are loons when they say this period is the best. :-)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I can see clearly now 

Lasik is amazing! And less painful than a Brazilian bikini wax.