Freyja is seven days old. Thora has been a big sister for seven days, Johnny and I have had two kids for seven days. While we have had a few ups and downs this week, it has been a pretty easy transition overall so far.
I was so worried about Thora. Everyone told me she would regress in some way, that she'd start nursing again or waking up a million times a night. This has not been the case. She's a little jealous and a little confused, but none of it is directed at her sister. She seems genuinely happy to see her. "Baby? Baby?" she calls. She points at her, kisses her, and has even held her. "A kiss?" she'll ask, walking over to her, planting one softly on her face. It's adorable. She watches me nurse, which I thought would be very hard for her, and sometimes it is. She looks on wistfully and points and says "milk?" and I tell her yes, that it's Freyja's turn to have Mama's milk. That she, Thora, doesn't need it anymore. To my surprise, she accepts this readily and gently kisses Freyja on the head and forgets about it. She only weaned about three or four weeks ago, so I am still amazed at this.
She has expressed a new interest in the potty just in the past few days. Where she liked to hang around in the bathroom when we were on the potty in the past, now when we change her diaper she actually asks to go sit on her potty. Not that she does anything on it yet, but we dutifully strip her from the waist and set her down with her big Elmo potty book and we point out all the images on the pages. "Where's the potty? Where's Elmo's sister? Do you see the plant?" and so on.
[I have pictures of this but I am not allowed to post them. Trust me, they're cute.]
She could sit there for an hour and not pee one drop. But she makes pee noises ("sssss!") while pointing at her vagina and she grunts like she's constipated in a way only her Daddy could have taught her ("rrrr!"), poking at her belly and saying "big poop." So she's making the connections she needs to and she'll figure it out eventually. She is also suddenly into brushing her teeth, which, given how hard I've worked at this for the past six months, is nothing short of miraculous.
She's really into her Vitamix green smoothies, which we make every morning. She always ends up with a green unibrow, looking not a little like Frieda Kahlo with a mustache.
Her vocabulary is expanding rapidly now too. She's using a whole bunch of new words: sister, tired, sleeping, go out, park, almost, all done, all gone, moon, stars, clouds, orange, purple, yellow, blue, ambulance, laptop, laundry, heavy, dirty, empty. She tries hard to sing the alphabet song, babbles "ab-dab-dab-ba!" over and over. Above all, her favorite word is "again." She wants to hear Elmo's Song again and again. She wants me to sing to her or Daddy to toss her again and again. A hundred times and she still would be asking again. She's also imitating everything Johnny or I say, and has mastered a few parroted quips that embarrass us, like "Relax!" and "Annoying!"
She's also really into kissing. She kisses us constantly (which we love) and when she's tired or hurt either she or we have to kiss her knees, her toes, her hands (which we also love, especially watching her kiss her own big toe). What we don't love is that she has asked each of us more than once to kiss various parts of her body that do not get kissed. Trying to keep a straight face when you're amused, shocked and a little horrified that your daughter just asked you to kiss her moon (what we call her tush), or worse, isn't that easy. But it's harmless and innocent. Instead of nursing, she will lean in to kiss me on my chest. "Heart?" she says, planting one squarely where she thinks my heart is. She wants to kiss everything else too: the pumpkin on the kitchen counter, the cats, the flowers, the exercise ball, the bus we pass on the street. Anything and everything she likes gets kisses. "Aww nice," she'll say. "Kiss?" and faceplant into whatever it is. The cats don't love her kisses, but no one else has protested so far.
If anything, this week has been exhausting for her. Not that I blame her. She's back on two naps a day most days and if we keep her up a minute later than 7 pm she's melting down, crying and falling and clinging to me. Last night she didn't even dry off from her bath before she was climbing into my lap, naked and wet, sitting right on top of on her sister's legs before I could adjust myself to hold them both.
We are doing all we can to keep Thora's routines the same. Dinner, bath, bedtime are top priority in the house. It also occurred to us that having me leave every day is part of Thora's routine and that having me home all the time could be part of what's making her so clingy. So I'm here, but I go for walks now, I close the door and nap with Freyja, or do whatever else to ensure that Johnny and Thora have some of the quality time they are accustomed to sharing every day.
We've had a lot of help this time. Our neighbors, who insist they heard nothing the night Freyja was born, are all so excited to see the big sister out and about. Both my mom and Johnny's mom have made themselves available for Thora. My folks took her out to the park and to our back garden when Freyja was one day old, allowing both Johnny and me to nap. They played with sidewalk chalk and bubbles.
When my mom takes Thora at their place, they have picnics and hang out in the garden.
Johnny's mom came one day this week to take Thora to the park and for a long walk around the neighborhood. Again, I napped, and Johnny and I straightened up the apartment and talked like two normal people who had nothing new going on at all. Best of all, our neighbor and friend Karina has taken Thora to hang with her two girls several times now and each time she comes back with hand crafted goodies like Sesame Street finger puppets, watercolor paintings, and a bee made of construction paper, pipe cleaners and an old paper bag, all of which inspire me to be a more creative parent.
Freyja latched on correctly from the first time she nursed. Much smaller than Thora was, she sometimes needs to be awakened and encouraged to eat. She lost 11 ounces in the first two days which rattled me a little even though I remembered that Thora did exactly the same thing, was also slightly jaundiced, was also passing crystals. Our midwife came on day 2 for a followup visit. She seemed pleased with how things were going and gave me tips I didn't need with Thora to encourage a newborn to eat. Take her clothes off. Scratch the soles of her feet. Rub her scalp. Flick her cheek. They all work. My milk came in much earlier this time so that scary period was over faster and now we have nice normal newborn poops with the hilariously explosive sound. She's filling out now, looking less scrawny and more like a baby already. On Monday we will take her to the pediatrician and I'm certain she will have gained the 11 ounces back, and more.
Freyja sleeps better than Thora did in her first week of life. So far we have been able to put her down awake, which I couldn't do with Thora from the moment she was born. I still can't, though Johnny can, and does, every night. He's been great, handling Thora's bedtime and any nighttime wakefulness so I don't have to. While I wake Freyja every three hours or so to eat if she doesn't wake up by herself, I let her sleep for one 4 - 5 hour stretch at night, which has saved me. And this time I really am trying to sleep when the baby sleeps. Except, of course, when I want to work on a blog entry!
On the day the midwife visited, I hadn't left the house since the birth, but we were planning to walk to 125th Street to pick up some lunch after she left, a round trip of just over a mile. She shook her head. "Nah, too far," she said, encouraging me not to overdo it. Overdo it? I was on the subway with Thora at four days old so why couldn't I do a mile on day 2? I walked from Park Slope with a healing c-section incision and a heavy baby in the Moby inside of a week! I scoffed and we went anyway. I didn't expect it to be 80 degrees and humid. Two giant water bottles, three park benches and a little voice saying "She told you so" later, I admitted defeat. I overdid it. I was sweaty and feeling faint and anxious to get home and into the air conditioning.
The next day I scaled back, walking only the four blocks to our CSA pickup. Then Wednesday we went food shopping. We took the car for the first time as a family of four (holy carseats Batman!) to make it easier on me. Even though it took two hours to maneuver everyone and everything through the store, Thora happily peeling off shoes and socks sitting in the seat of the shopping cart, grinning at me and singing "Ma-ma! Ma-ma! Ma-ma!" at the top of her lungs, Freyja snoozing contentedly while I picked out produce and ingredients for easy to cook dishes, I felt energized when we were done. Yesterday I wandered around the Upper West Side and caught the bus home. Freyja and I are getting around.
Why am I so motivated? Not only do I have a policy of leaving the house every day, which keeps my moods stable and makes me productive, but also seriously, I feel like Jabba the Hutt. I gained 50 pounds with Thora but lost almost 40 in the first week. I guess they do a little roto-rootering in there when you have a c-section? Not the case this time. Not only had I not lost those last ten pounds, I gained another 50 with Freyja and have lost 16 or 17 so far at best. I gross myself out. Someone who met me in May for the first time and has only known me pregnant looked shocked when I told her I'm normally a small person and can easily wear a size small in almost everything (butt excepted). "I can't imagine it!" she exclaimed. I couldn't believe it.
I hate looking at myself in the mirror or in pictures these days.
Nothing fits me right and I don't even recognize the chunky body that looks back at me. I don't want to! Is that really me? Ugh! I know, I know, it took 9 months to put the weight on so it can take 9 months (or more) to lose it, but I would like to at least get up off my butt and move more so I can get this party started already. I posted something about it on Facebook this morning and within minutes got a dozen comments saying "No way!" I got embarrassed and deleted the post. Really, people, relax! I am not a dieter. I have a good appetite and I eat well. But I've gone through two boxes of Oreos in the last week. And once I start that, it's an easy jump to soy ice cream and potato chips every night (and I've been doing that too). So I'm just checking in with myself and making sure I make the proper food choices as often as I can. That's it for now, I promise!