It's amazing to me how different my experience has been so far with Dorothy compared to Valerie. She's ten days old today. When Valerie was ten days old, she had only been home from the hospital a few days, she was just coming off the bili blanket, and we still had ten more days to go until her due date. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Some piecemeal thoughts and observations from the past 10 days:
-Dorothy was allowed to nurse right away, and breastfeeding has been going great. I knew what to do when I started to notice signs of oversupply, and I knew what to do when I got a plugged duct. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes having been through this before and knowing what to expect.
-My milk came in after 36 hours, and Dorothy's poops turned yellow on day three. By her six-day well-baby check, she had surpassed her birthweight by 4 ounces.
-Dorothy was already cluster-feeding and having longer stretches of sleep within the first 24 hours. I actually got a little bit worried the first night because she nursed a bunch of times, then slept for four hours. Since Valerie was jaundiced, I could never let her go that long without nursing, so I struggled with Dorothy for half an hour trying to get her to nurse. She ate for a while, then slept for two hours, then ate, then slept for two hours, then cluster fed for four hours before sleeping for another four or five hour stretch. That's when I realized that her body was doing this on purpose so I could get some proper rest, so I relaxed and let myself rest.
-Even though Dorothy wanted to let me rest from about 6 to 10 a.m., the hospital staff seemed to think that I should be wide awake, then, and even though I had my light off and my door closed, a parade of shift change introductions, papers to sign, breakfast, blood pressure checks, etc., left me absolutely exhausted in the morning. I convinced them to release us early so we could actually get some sleep the next night.
-Dorothy had more of a schedule in her first week of life than Valerie had in two years. By around day four, I was catching myself saying "we usually do X" and marveling that I could even pretend to have "usuallies" this early. But we do. We usually go to bed around 9:30, nurse a few times in the night, spend about two hours awake between 2:00 and 6:00, then snooze again until 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. (Plus a two-hour or so nap sometime between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.) Valerie nursed about once an hour, around the clock, until she was several months old, so this is unheard of for me. I'm actually not a zombie. Weird.
-Dorothy was born a pound heavier than Valerie, and she just seems so solid to me. She barely feels like a newborn in my arms.
-She has really long alert periods, sometimes hours at a stretch, and stares around wide-eyed like she is taking everything in. She gazes into my eyes like I am the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. I swear she was smiling at me the very first day.
Taken at 3:00 a.m. the night after she was born:
-Pooping was easy for her for the first few days, but once the meconium was cleaned out, poops became a huge ordeal. She squirms and squeaks and squawks. Poor girl. I hope she outgrows this soon!
-She always seems to have an extra poop in reserve, no matter how long you wait for her to finish before changing her. Sometimes two or three.
-Other than pooping and gas, the only time she really cries is when she wants to nurse and doesn't get the boob RIGHT NOW! Sometimes she doesn't show any early hunger signs - she'll wake up from a dead sleep, and within 30 seconds be in full-on starvation mode. I'm really glad I'm breastfeeding, and getting her meal ready takes only as long as unsnapping a bra. I can't imagine listening to that heart-wrenching wail for as long as it takes to prepare and warm a bottle!
-Her belly button stub fell off when she was five days old.
-I'm so glad I side-carred the crib for her! She sleeps so much better beside me, and I sleep so much better with that extra square footage of bed for sprawling limbs.
-Maybe this is just the difference between a mild second degree tear and a third degree tear, or maybe it's the extra sleep I'm getting, but it seems like I'm healing pretty fast. I feel better than I did a month after Valerie is born. I have to consciously tell myself to rest, otherwise I do too much without thinking about it. The hardest part, by far, is trying not to pick up Valerie.
-First time at church, four days old:
-She loves being the the sling/wrap, but doesn't like the cradle hold. She prefers to be upright, as did Valerie.
-She likes being swaddled, unlike her sister. Not all the time, but when she gets overstimulated and hiccupy, it's the only way to calm her down. Why on earth don't they make receiving blankets bigger? (I'm hoping to make it out to a fabric store and just get some big squares of flannel, but there isn't one close, so it has to be an expedition.)
I was going to talk about how Valerie is adjusting to becoming a big sister, but this post has taken long enough already (she's 11 days old, now!) so that will have to get its own post later.
Really, the biggest difference I've noticed with baby number two is that I'm already a mom. Taking care of a newborn takes a lot of physical, mental, and emotional energy, but it's a lot easier to cope with all that when you're not also reeling from the "Holy crap, I'm a MOM??!!?" thing. It's still not easy. Like in the middle of the night, when Dorothy is gassy, and I can't seem to muster the energy to sit up and burp her. I'm still lost sometimes, and I still have no idea how I am going to survive the days with Valerie and Dorothy on my own starting tomorrow. Hopefully my confidence and optimism will last through that.