So many well-wishing friends and family members have been checking in to ask how we are doing as a family of four. The simple answer is: We're doing pretty well. A bit tired, but happy and healthy and blessed.
But the more detailed answer would include our frustrations, fatigue and follies from the past week -- even as we ride out the wave of new baby bliss and continue to adore our toddler. I feel like I'm in the breastfeeding version of marathon training. My supply is low, again, this second time around. But thankfully I know more than I did when Ellie was first born, and I've been throwing everything I have into getting the supply to keep up with Katie's growing needs. Nine days in and so far (*knock on wood) we haven't had to give her any formula. To accomplish this, I am working with a lactation consultant and closely monitoring my output along with Katie's growth to make sure her nutritional needs are being met. My "homework" from the specialist is pumping with every feeding to get additional milk for Katie and condition my body into making a larger supply. This means every feeding takes at least an hour, by the time I've nursed and then pumped and then fed Katie the extra in a bottle. And since I have to feed her every 2-2.5 hours round the clock, I don't have much more than an hour between any of her feedings. It's intense, but SO worth it to me to make breastfeeding work. It's already going so much better this time than it did with Ellie. I'm really hoping if I power through the next few weeks I'll be able to cut back on pumping time... but we'll see how it goes.
Since my days are largely spent attached to Katie or a machine, Brian has had to take on a lot more daddy duties with Ellie. And he's doing the lion's share of the cooking, cleaning and errand-running. Really anything that comes up is more Brian's domain these days. I'm SO grateful that he's been super supportive of the extra breastfeeding efforts and making it possible for me to work so hard on it without letting much slip with Ellie or the house.
On the sleep front, Brian and I have been spoiled for a few nights now with Katie snoozing for long stretches (at least for a baby). I'm only allowed to go one stretch longer than 3 hours between feedings, but the past 2 nights I've had to wake Katie up after waking up myself to find it had been four hours since we heard from her! It's amazing how restful that amount of sleep feels to a new parent -- and it totally freaks us out not to hear from Katie for so long!
Even though things are hard right now, I still stick to my simple answer that things are overall good with the Schneiderheimers. All of the time spent nursing Katie is work, but also such a joy. Whenever I hold her close I am filled with the overwhelming new parent emotions of wanting to do anything in the world to protect her and help her grow. I'd forgotten how intense those emotions are, especially at the beginning. And Brian is enjoying the dedicated time with Ellie. She's testing our patience quite often these days with tantrums and disregard for our instructions. We're not sure how much of that is the age and how much is due to the second child we've introduced into her world, but either way we're trying hard to get her behavior more in line. I'll admit to a breakdown at the dinner table a few nights ago as Ellie threw a fit, Brian and I shouted and Katie somehow slept peacefully nearby. I mostly blame my tiredness and post-natal hormones, but seeing mom break down in tears stopped Ellie in her tracks and put her on her best behavior for the rest of the evening. But I don't want to repeat that scene again. We need fewer tears in our house these days, not more from mommy.
Ellie still melts our hearts a dozen times a day with a sweet phrase or a hug and kiss. And we're even more blown away by how big Ellie seems now that tiny Katie is in the picture. Here's hoping both girls continue to thrive and amaze us on a daily basis... just don't grow too fast, darlings.