As I look back over our first month as a family of four, I can safely say that going from one child to two was a lot harder than going from zero to one.
At the moment, Alice is the “easy” one because her needs can be boiled down to three categories: food, diaper change and sleep. But, I had forgotten how tough it is to decipher which of the three an infant needs at any given time and how difficult it can be to figure out how to best satisfy them.
Early on, I fell back on what worked with B (well, what I could remember working, that is. It turns out that my memory of B’s early days is actually pretty foggy), but Alice has completely different preferences. For example, the white noise machine could lull B to sleep in a matter of minutes minutes; Alice just seems to be annoyed by any type of shushing sound and prefers the quiet (and, randomly, when I sing God Only Knows by the Beach Boys and when my mom sings Thank God I’m a Country Boy by John Denver). B loved her pacifier from day one, but Alice will spit it across the room when she figures out that there isn’t any food coming from it. I definitely feel like I am still getting to know her.
When we brought B home, we could still find moments of calm amid the chaos. Now, the house is always noisy and someone is always demanding something—food, a nap, attention, help going to the bathroom, an adjustment for a crooked sock, etc. We have also had some really special moments when B and Alice go into meltdown mode at exactly the same time. It’s like they have already learned how to egg each other on. Infants and toddlers are needy in different ways, and we usually don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one person at a time anymore.
In the past, we used to do a St. Patrick’s Day photo shoot. This was the best we could muster this year.
I thought that the process of leaving the house with just one kid in tow was ridiculous, but it turns out that getting two out the door is even more of a herculean effort. How can I start getting ready for an outing at 5 a.m. and still not be ready to go six hours later? By the time I pack up half of the house, dress two kids and haul everything out the door, a walk to the park hardly seems worth it. But, if the alternative is staying home with a stir-crazy toddler and an infant who can’t take a decent nap because of said toddler yelling at top volume, then I most certainly will use my last bit of energy to haul 100 pounds of infant car seat and double stroller out of the door.
Basically, life feels like one of those episodes of Grey’s Anatomy where the victims of a major catastrophe have descended upon Seattle Grace (wait, that’s every episode of Grey’s Anatomy) and the doctors have to figure out who to help first. Luckily, we haven’t lost anyone yet, but Chester and I definitely have acquired a few more grey hairs and an even greater appreciation for bedtime.
Fortunately, Alice is generally a very content baby. With the exception of the hours of 5 to 8 p.m., she has been smiling pretty much since the day she was born. “Poor Alice” is sort of her nickname at the moment, because she just hangs out in the background while we go about our business and her big sister takes up everyone’s attention. When B cried as a newborn someone picked her up in less than five seconds; Alice might have to wait until we are finished wiping B’s backside or dispensing cheese crackers to get any kind of sympathy.
Poor Alice will probably have to share spotlight with B during her monthly photo shoots.
Alice is very alert and would rather watch what’s going on around her than take a nap. She makes a lot of eye contact and has pretty good control of her neck already. At her one month doctor’s appointment, she weighed in at 11 pounds, 2 ounces and was 22 inches long, making her look more like a three month old. All of these things make her seem much older than a month. I sort of feel like I got cheated out of the delicate newborn stage, but at the same time, it was nice not to feel like I was going to break her!
I am glad that we battled through our exhaustion during her first week at home to do a photo shoot, that captured what she looked during the brief time in which she was still teeny tiny. I go back and forth regarding who Alice looks like. There is a resemblance to B, of course, which I think is most noticeable if you compare newborn photos of them when they are sleeping. The consensus seems to be that she resembles me/my side of the family quite a bit. Specifically, I think she looks a lot like my grandfather, so sometimes we call her “Little Chick.”
These photos were taken by the incredibly talented April Ziegler. Her blog has plenty of additional images of our newborn session and of our family/maternity session, from January, if you are interested in checking them out!
B was a a bit timid around Alice for the first couple of weeks, but now the minute that she wakes up she asks to “go see my baby.” As annoying as Daniel Tiger is, I think I owe him a thank you for teaching B how to be a good big sister. She loves to hold Alice and stroke her head, and sometimes she’ll grab Alice’s hand and say “she’s touching my paw!” just like Daniel says about his sister, Margaret. B loves “playing” with her, which at the moment basically involves Alice laying in her baby gym while B shoves a variety of toys in her face and says “Look at this, Baby Alice.” I would think that that would overstimulate a baby, but Alice doesn’t seem at all bothered by it. She definitely responds to B’s voice and reserves her broadest smiles and sweetest coos for her big sister.
First trip to the park together.
Brunching at Sabrina’s
Taken the first time that B held Alice. She was such a proud big sister!
Watching B and Alice get to know each other was definitely my favorite part of the last month, and I’m sure it will be one of the highlights of the year to come.