I’ve actually been working on bits and pieces of this post for weeks and thought about breaking it up but decided against it so everything is in one place. Today’s post touches on everything from Ryder and breastfeeding to newborn sleep and the transition into life with two children. Brace yourselves because you guys are getting a VERY wordy post comin’ at you today!
Oh Ryder! My sweet little boy! Ryder is such a gift in our lives and I absolutely love being his mother.
I don’t quite know how to put the way I feel about this little guy into words but he has a personality that feels almost calming to me which I know sounds crazy but there’s something about the way he locks eyes with everyone as he coos away that makes me feel like he’s going to be an introspective and thoughtful little boy. We all say he seems older than his 8 weeks somehow and I cannot wait to watch his personality develop and unfold as time goes on.
As far as babies go, he’s pretty darn easygoing and as Ryan likes to say, “He’s a good baby… but he’s still a baby,” which I think perfectly sums things up around here. It’s basically our way of saying he’s not too challenging but newborns are never a cakewalk! Ryder is admittedly an easier baby than our first (I hate to compare but I think it’s only natural for those with two kids to admit that all babies are different and some are easier than others) and Ryder truly feels like an angel baby to me because most of the time he’s just so content.
He loves to kick and coo and look at lights and fans and faces. High-pitched baby talk works wonders with Ryder and brings about the cutest little expressions that seem to showcase 5,000 emotions in 2.5 seconds. He’ll look at us with a big, gummy smile that will morph into a skeptical look that will quickly morph into a judgmental baby face and I’m trying to soak them all up!
It’s so neat to see Ryder’s personality develop right before my eyes and the past few weeks have brought about tons of smiles, gurgles and sweet baby chirps and coos that I just adore. He loves people and will lock eyes and stare at anyone and everyone who meets him.
Ryder is out of all of his newborn clothes and into 0-3 month and some 3 month clothing already. When he was born, I thought we lucked out and would be able to reuse all of Chase’s old clothes since they both have summer birthdays but I am beginning to wonder if Ryder’s size might not make this a possibility!
I love his squishy thighs, the milky bubbles he blows, the way his gummy smile creeps into his eyes and overtakes his whole face, his fluffy mohawk and the way he’ll come off my chest after nursing and give me the cutest little flirty smiles. It melts me every time and I am so grateful for this little boy.
Postpartum Life & Breastfeeding
Postpartum life has been completely different this time around. Breastfeeding admittedly got off to a bit of a stressful start. When we were in the hospital and I attempted to nurse Ryder for the first time, he latched well but would only take one or two powerful sucks before coming off my breast. We now realize this was likely because he couldn’t breathe well while nursing. Once he was admitted to the NICU, I spent the next few days setting alarms and exclusively pumping which resulted in some incredibly sore nipples and stressed me out because after my first pump, I was pumping next to nothing or nothing at all. I was assured that this was normal and encouraged to continue pumping.
During this experience and also in hindsight, I felt incredibly grateful that I was a second-time mom because I cannot imagine how much more stressed I would’ve felt to have to learn how to pump immediately and then try to navigate nursing for the first time. I also know I am very, very lucky that our NICU stay was relatively short and I was able to nurse Ryder after a few days. I know this is not the case for many and I will always feel so grateful for everything.
Once my milk came in and I was able to nurse Ryder, breastfeeding improved dramatically. I felt my uterus begin to cramp, my bleeding increased and my body seemed to physically respond to nursing Ryder in the most incredible way.
Nursing Ryder in the beginning was a very different experience from learning to breastfeed Chase. It’s truthfully been much, much easier this time. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Chase had a tongue tie that resulted in bleeding, scabbing and a lot of pain and I needed to use nipple cream like it was my job. I remember dreading the moment Chase would need to latch again because it would hurt so much until he had his frenulum clipped. Another thing I believe has contributed to an easier experience this time around is the simple fact that this is my second time breastfeeding. I truly believe nursing Chase for 15 months permanently changed my nipples and paved the way for Ryder a bit. Is that weird? Unfounded? Maybe! But whatever it is, I’ll take it!
Ryder is nursing well and seems to be a very efficient eater. He rarely wants to nurse for an extended period of time but he definitely wants to nurse often. I am nursing on demand at the moment which means that some days I feel like all I do is nurse, especially when Ryder wants to snack or cluster feed all day long. Ryder will often stay latched well for several minutes but then he likes to come on and off my breast and intersperse nursing with looking at me or looking around the room and cooing. This will often result in a very messy and milky nursing experience (my breasts will often spray milk or drip milk when he breaks his latch), so we’re going through a lot of milk-soaked burp cloths and blankets over here right now.
One obstacle that surfaced for the first few weeks of Ryder’s life that was somewhat related to breastfeeding was a pretty horrible diaper rash. His poor little booty was so red and he had little bloody sores on his bottom. The pediatrician had my breast milk tested to see if Ryder might have a milk protein allergy but everything came back normal. His diaper rash cleared up dramatically around 6 weeks and I think a HUGE part of this was the fact that Ryder started pooping less and his butt finally had time to recover between poops.
In the interim, we did a lot of naked baby time to give his butt a chance to breathe in between diaper changes and tried a bunch of diaper rash remedies, creams and oils. Most diaper rash remedies didn’t work well for Ryder (even a prescription cream) but Triple Paste seemed to work the best for him and we went through that stuff like it was going out of style!
My expectations for newborn sleep were really, really low. Chase was up nearly every two hours for feedings for well over a month or two and when I looked back on my monthly update posts for Chase, I saw that he was still waking up at least two times a night at 4-5 months old. This is what I was expecting from Ryder so I cannot tell you how incredible it has been to have a child who seems to sleep well. It’s pretty darn amazing. But I say this in the same breath that I say we are doing NOTHING different this time around with Ryder so if you have a baby that is a horrible sleeper, you’re doing a GREAT job and you’re doing nothing wrong. I feel you. Chase’s sleep was rough but in the beginning I had no point of comparison and thought all babies woke up a million times a night. (In this instance my naivety as a new mom worked as a benefit for me.)
Once I started to realize some babies were, in fact, sleeping through the night when we were still up all the time with Chase, I began reading baby sleep books which mostly made me feel like a big fat failure. As a second-time mom, I now realize some babies are just better sleepers and some parents just get really lucky. I guess that’s the reality of postpartum life and transitioning to two kids. That’s not to say following sleep training techniques and implementing schedules doesn’t work for babies — I think they totally DO! — but babies are so different and as someone who has had a baby who was a pretty awful sleeper and someone who has a baby who seems to be a naturally good sleeper, I just feel like that’s an important thing to say to any moms out there who might be reading this post with bags under their eyes after months of horrible sleep. You’re doing great and it will get better! That’s something I also carry with me this time around — bad sleep DOES come to an end and it happens faster than you might think. Understanding that all of the baby struggles are temporary somehow makes it easier this time, too.
In the beginning, Ryder was up every three(ish) hours in the night. Some nights were filled with more frequent feedings but as the weeks went on, the time between Ryder’s feedings stretched out more and more. Right now I typically feed him before we go to bed between 8 and 9 p.m. Ryder will then typically wake up between midnight and 2 a.m. and again around 4 or 5 a.m. The fact that I am usually getting at least one solid 4-5 hour stretch of sleep between nursing sessions feels like an incredible gift and has been a huge help when it comes to my energy level every day. We’ve even had a few nights where Ryder skips his middle-of-the-night feed and wakes up to nurse for the first time between 4 and 5 a.m. (I pretty much wanted to high-five everyone I saw the next day after those nights!)
Of course some nights are still rough around here — just last night I found myself pacing around our room and rocking him from 2:30-3:30 a.m. — and I admittedly found myself throwing a dirty diaper in the washing machine last week because I was so out of it but, on the whole, I am counting my blessings in the newborn sleep department at the moment.
Physical Recovery and Changes
My physical recovery from this pregnancy has honestly been pretty good. Labor was fast and my delivery was pretty easy (thank you, epidural) and I only needed two stitches so I wasn’t too sore for too long. I continued to bleed and experience some serious postpartum night sweats up until around 5 weeks postpartum.
I started walking for exercise (and sanity!) when Ryder was about a week and a half old. I kept my pace nice and easy and gradually worked up to walking three(ish) miles almost every day. I feel really good now and just started to return to boot camp classes this week.
I am definitely easing into fitness and currently modifying my workouts quite a bit. After I received the okay from my doctor at my 6-week postpartum checkup, I began doing some moderate strength training in our garage but only a few days and every workout left me feeling so sore!
From an aesthetic standpoint, I’m softer everywhere and the cellulite is REAL over here but I’m not really focused on that right now. I’m not weighing myself regularly (I didn’t before I got pregnant and don’t plan to start now) but I hopped on the scale for the sake of this post and saw I’m up about 12-15 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I know from my experience with Chase that the final 10-15 pounds of pregnancy weight gain took the longest to lose and it took me a solid 9 months to lose it all after my first pregnancy.
My plan for postpartum weight loss is the same this time around: I plan to focus on being as healthy as I can, work out regularly to make myself feel strong (mentally and physically) and trust that my body will do what is best. Breastfeeding is a priority for me and along with nursing comes ridiculous hunger so I feel like I’m an eating machine and I wouldn’t want to mess with anything that could effect my milk supply.
I say all of this in one breath but I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking I’m completely confident with my postpartum body. I feel secure in my body and so grateful for what it has done but getting dressed feels awkward since I’m in a weird transition stage where maternity stuff doesn’t really work and my regular clothes all cling to my body and feel too small. I am just not dwelling on my physical appearance and I am trying to put my focus where it matters — on my two boys — and remind myself that my body just did something amazing and it should look different right now.
Despite what the media and social media portrays, I know it’s not realistic to look like I didn’t just give birth 8 weeks after our baby arrived so I’m trying my best to embrace the softness, cellulite and body changes and focus on the incredible reason my body looks different. It just produced a HUMAN and that’s pretty freaking incredible!
Transitioning to Two Kids
In today’s post I’m focusing on how I’m personally handling the transition into life with two kids but you may read more about how big brother Chase is handling the transition in Chase’s Three Year Update.
To be completely honest, the hardest part about this postpartum period has been the transitioning to two kids. This is not because Chase is acting out or we have a colicky baby or anything dramatic but simply juggling two children is very, very different than one baby. There’s basically NO downtime and every day feels a bit chaotic right now.
When Chase was a baby, I could count on his nap time to work but now I can count on one hand the number of times Chase and Ryder’s naps have coincided which means I am constantly feeling behind on everything. I cannot blog or get work done nearly as often as I used to and our house rarely looks clean but I know this is a season and I’m trying to embrace this time as best as possible.
Possibly the biggest blessing in this postpartum transition period was having my mom here to help after Ryder was born. So many fellow moms encouraged me to accept help during this time and I’m so, so glad I did even if my first inclination was to say, “I’ve got this!”
My mom mostly helped with Chase after Ryder was born which is exactly what we wanted and needed most. Ryan got one week of paternity leave so his time off was all used up while we were still in the hospital with Ryder. Having my mom’s help during this time and right after Ryan went back to work was so incredible and absolutely helped with the transition. Her help made a huge difference to me during the first couple of weeks with two kids and I know how lucky we were to have her here!
When Ryder “woke up” (aka was no longer sleeping all day every day), I had quite a few meltdown days. Seemingly overnight, Ryder needed more attention and soothing to be content and on the days when Chase wouldn’t nap or didn’t nap well, he’d often be in a serious MOOD by 4 p.m. Let’s just say the hours from 4 p.m. until bedtime often felt (and can feel) like an eternity. This is the time of day that is still the most challenging for us and it can feel really long and draining some days since it’s typically the time of day when Ryder seems the most hands-on (they call it the “witching hour” for a reason!) and, depending on his mood, Chase can be needier and whinier than usual.
Ryan often doesn’t arrive home from work until after 7 p.m. (this isn’t a complaint, just a reality) and there have been more than a few days that he’ll arrive home to me telling him I just want to face-plant into bed. (Side note: My back often feels totally destroyed by the end of the day from all the rocking, bouncing and soothing. I don’t remember this happening with Chase but the pain I feel in my mid/upper back is killer at the end of some of the rougher days! Has this happened to any of you!?)
As far as the impact of two kids on our marriage, all is well over here but in full transparency our time to really connect as a couple feels rather limited on a daily basis. I swear an entire week can easily go by where I feel like I’ve barely talked to my husband! By the time Ryan is home from work and we tackle the bedtime routine, the only thing I want to do is go to sleep and since we both seem to fall asleep the minute Ryder goes down for the night, it can be a little challenging to get that one-on-one time to talk and connect. We’re trying our best but many times during the week our conversations feel fragmented by bursts of one child needing this or that or family playtime. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love building airplanes or playing dragons with Chase, Ryder and Ryan but playing dragons with my husband is very different from actual adult communication!
It’s more clear than ever to me that we need to be intentional in our time together as a couple as we’ve been experiencing postpartum life and transitioning to two kids, slowly getting into a better rhythm. I’m not quite ready to schedule a date night and leave Ryder with a babysitter (I still need to pump and get him used to taking a bottle again) but hopefully that isn’t too far off! In the meantime, we’re doing our best to keep communication open, acknowledge our feelings and lean on each other even if we’re not getting as much couple time as usual these days! Thankfully we both seem to understand that this time with a newborn is so fleeting and we are just trying to go with the flow and be great parents and great spouses even though the parenting role admittedly — and understandably — seems to be taking the front seat at the moment.
Sooo there you have it! A bazillion words and way more than you guys all probably cared to know about this postpartum period! I will likely do a followup post to this one in the coming weeks much like I did after Chase was born to address any lingering questions, so please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to touch on that I may have missed! And if you made it to the end of this post, thank you so much for reading about this special and crazy time in our lives!