It’s been a month and change since we came home from the hospital with our son. While all of my fears of complicated labor or complications after birth proved to be thankfully unfounded, all of my certainty that I was not ready to bring another child home has proven that my prescience is at times real and to be believed. The transition to a family of four has not been without troubles.
We saw the first signs when we were still in the hospital – my daughter, usually thrilled to spend overnights with my parents, was weepy, badly behaved, and unwilling to go home with Pappou and Yia Yia. When we brought everyone home a few days later we were bracing for a difficult first few nights of togetherness. What we got instead was a quarantine caused by croup.
To protect the health of our newborn, the pediatrician insisted on a full separation until our daughter had gone at least a full day without fever. She did not tell us this would likely be a week away. For seven days we divided the house into two areas – the master bedroom became camp newborn, and the living room became camp unlimited television watching. My daughter was disallowed from seeing her brother, and my husband would only come near him after putting on a fresh shirt and a medical mask. Apparently giving croup to a newborn is no joke.
For the safety of the baby, I too was disallowed contact with my daughter. Twice a day, on her way to school and on her way to bed, my daughter would sneak past my husband to peek her head into my bedroom so I could wave good morning and goodnight to her, but otherwise she may as well have been doing study abroad in Timbuktu.
This was not the plan we had in place for introducing the siblings, and we’ve been recovering ever since. It was only this week that my daughter has been able to help change her brother’s diaper without trying to pull him off of the changing table, or that she is able to give him a goodnight squeeze without trying to squeeze the life out of him. And can you blame her? From her four year old perspective, that bald little guy is the reason her snuggle time with mom has been reduced to near nothing, the reason the love and attention she gets from her parents have been suddenly and permanently reduced to depressingly small quantities.
But we survive, we learn, and little by little, we improve. And even if it means I need to act more like a prison guard than a mother, I’m relieved to have the family together. Even if it means listening to poop jokes ad nauseam (literally), I’m relieved to have extra hands helping out and changing up the endless routines of newborn care.
Thankfully Zeus is a quiet baby, otherwise I may never have survived a week spent cloistered away with him. Never in my wildest imaginations did I think I had the fortitude to care for a newborn by myself for any extended period of time. I was so convinced of this fact that during Koukla’s first year I decamped to my parents house every time my husband left town even for just one night, and yet already since becoming a mother of two I’ve gotten through two of my husband’s out of town trips (relatively speaking). But Zeus is so quiet and so good-natured I might even dare call him easy, if not for the oppressive nursing schedule that is – on a good day we sometimes manage to stretch his feedings out to every ninety minutes, but nursing every hour on the hour is not out of the realms of the expected (and yes, I’m nursing even as I post this).
Even a month into this, I still spend the vast majority of my time nursing. According to the baby app it usually adds up to six or seven hours a day with him attached to the boob, though considering this tally doesn’t count burp breaks, sleep breaks, or poo breaks, a more realistic estimate shows about twelve hours of each day engaged in one stage or another in the act of nursing. The remainder of my time I spend changing diapers, doing laundry, and trying in perpetual futility to figure out how to fold all of the laundry that I’ve already done. Oh yes, and trying in even more futile futility to get any decent length of sleep in for myself.
But I survive, I learn, and little by little, life improves. I shower every second or third day now, as opposed to once a week. I generally manage to get food into my system three times a day (and not just cookies). I’ve started to get out of the house daily for a walk or a visit. And I’ve even started trudging up the long, steep road toward getting back into running form before the summer heat gets too much in the way.
And this, of course. Here I am again with the blog. After more than three years, a hundred and thirty odd posts, and an undisclosed number of free (and worse yet, premium) site designs, I’m still somehow taken aback when I take a break and realize I can’t actually survive very long without this place. So here’s to hoping that I do more than survive – that I continue to learn, continue to improve, and continue to do both of these things through the shared experience you all help me to create.