Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grinning and Regressing?

Photos are first, therapy session spew below!
These are the 1-day-old photos from the hospital shoot.  We didn't have these with Elliot, and since we have less of Leah than him, they're nice to have.

The night we spent alone in the hospital when Pat went home to be with Elliot- this is how she let me take a shower.

When Elliot met his sister for the first time.
Hanging out at home one day, at the two week mark or something, I think.

Leah is 5 weeks old today.  She blessed me with the first noticeable, seemingly genuine grin today as well.  She cooed and ahhed and was in a great mood.  I found myself kissing all over her little cheeks a lot today.  I feel like a mother bear, nuzzling a lot, taking in her scent, rubbing my nose around her face. 
We've decided, though, that she's become a monster at night.  For the first few weeks, the jury was out.  We'd have good stints and some rough nights, but overall, I was optimistic.  Then, it seemed, the routine has eased into her getting pretty darn fussy by about 10pm, and staying that way despite all our efforts until 12a or 1am.  At that point, after a full day for both of us, and Pat facing an early morning with teaching the next day, we are exhausted.  I found myself last night laying her in the bed and walking away from her screaming, reporting back to Pat, "She's wearing me down."  Alas, the life of a newborn, yes? 

Her preference is to sleep in what my aunt has dubbed the "lima bean stage position"- legs all tucked up, nuzzled up to your neck, a little ball of warmth.  This is wonderful except when it becomes the second leg of the night- not such good sleep for me on the couch with her like this from 4a-7a.  But not horrible either.  Many nights she ends up in our bed, which isn't our first choice or how we planned to do it (Elliot did well in the bassinet at the end of our bed), but it seems the minute you lay her down in her own space without another warm body near, she gives you about 5-10 minutes until she bubbles over again and we audibly, collectively, sigh.

I did my research to remind myself of the famous 5 Ss that are supposed to trigger the babies to calm instantly.  I did about 4 of them at once last night when the fussing started hard at 10p, and she did zone out.  Then, she konked out asleep- magical, wow, we thought.  Nope, she was back up in a flash.  Around 11pm, I strapped her on me in the Moby wrap and paced the hallways- she fell asleep good enough for 3 hours or so and I was able to transfer to our bed for a bit.

Of course, she sleeps well during the day. On her own.

Everyone asks me how Elliot is adjusting.  I felt like we were doing well and would say so.  He's been relatively kind to Leah and interested.  He's given himself the name of "Elliot Flower."  He loves repeating her name and told me today that we should call her Rose, not just Leah. I'll never forget the moment when he looked at me in awe and said softly, with self-realization, "I love her."

Any aggression towards her is what we expected, as his world has been turned upside down. Nothing major on this front- an arm pull here, taking her blanket there.  He loves to steal her hat off her head, mostly because I tell him not to.  The first day or two we were home, he rubbed his face against her head, and then we realized he had just started pushing harder and harder with his head until we noticed... We laugh now but we were nervous then!

He often nuzzles up to her and says, "She's so cuddly!  What's cuddly mean?"

However, we've had a very rough rut lately with his tantrums. For about a week and a half, it was meltdown after meltdown, with all our tricks not working. We questioned if we were doing anything right. Mealtimes were the worst and we seemed to go into battlemode in spite of our parenting philosophies, automatically. Mealtimes have always been a super challenge for us and for Elliot, and it ebbs and flows.  Sometimes we make progress and sometimes we regress.  We seemed to be regressing. 

This rut was fueled by a variety of things, we figured.  Elliot is outgrowing his full-3-hour naps and only gets them every couple days now.  (There's no medium, it's three hours or none.)  We've had visitors almost non-stop because of the new baby, so he has a new audience to test out every week or so.  Bedtimes have been inconsistent because of visitors and the new routine.  He no longer has the peer group that he had with the babysitter from last fall.  Of course, we have to blame our parenting too- we're tightening up with the discipline, but that in itself is an adjustment on top of everything else.  We had tried very hard to be positive but he needs the law laid down now. Or is it our harshness lately that spurs more harsh reactions from him? The answer depends on who you ask...

And, the last piece of the puzzle is that we attempted to wean him off of the Miralax that he's been on since his rectal prolapse last summer. He's been doing pretty well with the vegetables and the grain fiber is plenty.  Well, a few days off the Miralax and he had one or two hard stools that were painful.  (I just cannot believe how many times I talk about poop.)  We immediately went back on the laxative.  But the damage was done.  He was traumatized.  Now, he refuses to go, shaking with fear that it will hurt.  He holds it and holds it, even though the last 4 or 5 have been soft and easy, but he is unconvinced.  He will say out loud, "I am doing everything I can to hold my poop in." He'll prance, moan, whine, sit on the toilet multiple times for too short of lengths, and panic when any progress is made and bail.  Expectedly, we've had two days of dirty pants and lots of drama.

In all his discomfort, tiredness, and hunger at times (and I am sure this is a direct response to Leah's arrival), Elliot's started becoming much more mommy-clingy as well.  Just add it to the list.

Any one of these regressions- mealtime battles, sleeping patterns, using the toilet- is understandable with a new member of the family arriving or simply the constant visitors.  But altogether with the adjustments we're all making and I don't know that I should be saying that he's adjusting well!

We tell Elliot here and there when we explain things that we always love him, even when he's making bad choices or being mean, and he seems fascinated by this fact.  He now asks for the reassurance- "Do you still love me?"  Then he reciprocates with "I still love you, Mom, even when I'm bad."    

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