December 1, 2012

The First 5 Days with Livvy.


Today Livvy is five days old. These have been five of the happiest days of our lives. Nekos has two weeks of paternity leave so we have spent our days taking walks, cooking, cuddling, watching Christmas movies, and marveling at our newborn daughter and our two year old's reaction to her. Baby Livvy has thus far been exactly what the doctor ordered--quiet and calm, a great eater and sleeper, and the best answer to all of our questions. (Please, please, please stay this way. God?)

For all of our fretting and my anxiety over the past nine months about what it would be like to add another baby to our family, she has done exactly what everyone told me she would: cracked the stone of my heart wide open, big and glittery. For Nekos, too. He doesn't do well to get very excited about our babies when I'm pregnant with them, but once he first lays eyes on them, he loses his mind with love.

These first days with Livvy have been very different than my first days with Tessa, which were damaged by postpartum depression. So far I have been getting the sleep I need to keep that hell at bay, and I'm much more relaxed. When Tessa was little, I could never once unwind enough to fall asleep with her in my arms, or to fall asleep for very long under any circumstances, but for the last two nights Livvy has slept tucked in the crook of my arm, her cheek warm on my shoulder, my cheek nestled against the silk of her hair. This baby isn't tongue-tied like Tessa so nursing is going so much better (although I definitely wouldn't say it's been easy), and I'm mostly enjoying it. Instead of stressing me out, it is part of what helps me to relax.

As for Tessa, she had planned to teach Livvy how to paint and dance, and was disappointed to see that those things will have to wait. We will never forget the bewildered look on her face when she first saw Livvy in the hospital room naked and squalling and getting her first bath. Livvy was not at all what she expected. I can't leave Tessa alone with Livvy and probably won't be able to for awhile because she wants to hold and rock her and push her swing aggressively and generally be a bull in this baby's china shop. My mom, who is keeping Tessa tonight, texted me earlier: How do we keep Tessa from feeling like she's been replaced? We've all noticed that she's wilder than ever--doing the lion RAWRRR she loves to do more often and right in our faces and asking zillions of silly questions for no purpose other than to capture our attention. She has it. She will always have it. It will just take time, I told my mom. She is very loved. 

One more thought: Birth is so amazingly transformative not just because it just is but because it shakes up your very identity. Overnight I went from being the mom of one precocious little girl to the mom of two little girls. That makes me a real mom now. I'm not just playing at this. There are two carseats in my back seat, and I have a lifetime of mommy duty ahead of me. Birthday parties and temper tantrums and boo-boos and broken hearts, report cards and time-outs, Christmases and weddings, moments that scare the pants off me and others that make me cry for joy. (Sometimes I think, What have I done?) I'm official. Hi, I'm Ellen. I'm 30 years old, and I have two kids. Woah.

18 comments:

  1. Congrats to you on your newest beautiful little girl! But, here's the thing: you were a "real" mom with just the one child, too! You weren't just "playing at" it then! Moms (and dads) of one child also have "a lifetime of mommy duty ahead of [them]. Birthday parties and temper tantrums and boo-boos and broken hearts, report cards and time-outs, Christmases and weddings." We, too, are "official" moms! Best to you with your two girls!

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    1. I know I was a "real mom" before. I just meant to imply that my responsibility has now been doubled--twice as many of all the good and all the bad things about motherhood. And also to say that my identity as a mother has changed--going from the mom of one to the mom of two. Definitely not at all trying to be derogatory to mothers of only children!! My own mom was a single mom to me, an only child. And my husband is an only child. And for the past two and a half years I have had an only child. I fully realize that only children moms have a lifetime of mommy duty ahead of them, too. Just was trying to express a feeling. Guess I effed it up.

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    2. I totally understand what you meant. It's like you're "legit" now with your 2 carseats and double everything now. Not that you weren't before, but now it's like, "dude, things just got real". For me, when we had our second baby, I realized very quickly how easy one baby was even though at the time it was the hardest thing in my world. The baby nurse at the hospital where my son was born shared a great story with us. When she had her second baby her husband took her oldest daughter out on a "date with daddy". They were also worried, (as most parents are), about how the new baby will affect the oldest. So, they spent a whole day doing daddy-big sister bonding and when that little girl grew up and graduated college she spoke about that day and how much she loved it. My husband took our daughter out fishing and they hung out while I stayed home with the baby. She loved it.

      Anyway, congratulations on your new baby, she's beautiful!!

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  2. Ellen, she is soooo beeeeeeeaaautiful. Tessa will adjust nicely. It took my 2.5 year old about 5 months to stop swatting and squeezing her baby sister but, they are good to go, now. Also, breastfeeding will get so much easier. Hang in there and congrats!

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    1. Thank you so much! So good to hear about the two-year-old adjusting over time!!!

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  3. I meant LIVVY is beautiful. We already know how beautiful Tessa is. :)

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  4. Bless you, your sweet baby is lovely and it is so wonderful that the ppd is at bay. Just wanted to say, though...those of us with an only child are also "official". Our kids are just as real and loved and deep-hearted, and inspire the same happy lifetime of mommy-ness that several children would. It is too bad that this is often overlooked in society; I feel that a drive for "more and better" in our consumerist culture is at least partially responsible for this attitude, as an extension of the perception of children as commodities. Not saying that's where you as an individual are coming from, just that this attitude--often hurtful, always misplaced--is is pretty clear to those of us who have have only children, whether by choice or necessity. From your perspective, I can see you are very happy with your choice to have multiple children, which of course is perfect for you in your life.

    At any rate, what a lovely baby girl and what a perfect time of year to snuggle in and get to know her. You are a lucky woman, and your family is lucky to have you as its matriarch!

    best of luck, happy December

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    1. I did not mean to seem to be expressing that moms of only children are less than. By any means!!! I just meant to say that it's shaken me up a little that I'm now responsible for TWICE as many children and all that goes along with that. And what does "consumerist culture" have to do with any of this?! I certainly don't think of children as commodities or that more is better. I simply wanted to have another child. I have always wanted to have more than one. And it should be said--I am an only child, my husband is an only child, and my awesome mother single-parented me and has done a hell of a job of it. I have utmost respect for moms of only children. I have respect for most all moms, although I prefer the ones who don't leave defensive comments anonymously.

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    2. Hey. Sorry, I realized that sounded too sharp after I wrote it. Things around the "only child" deal had been building up for us here, and to read what (perhaps superficially) seemed like more of the same at one of my favorite blogs (really!) was rough. The last paragraph was aggravating to me, but since I know it's not about me (or anyone other than you) I should have kept my thoughts to myself. I didn't mean that you personally are a great example of the "more is better" culture that I was mentioning...sorry that was not more clear, I could have worded it more directly. I just meant that this cultural norm is one source of the issue.
      Interesting point about you + your husband being only children, too...that puts it in a bit of perspective. Clearly your own mom is a real mom to you. I really think you have a lovely family, are a good writer, etc. Also about the anonymous comment--I don't have a blog or website, so that was how I had to choose the profile. I don't know you otherwise, so I didn't sign off with my name.
      Anyway, sorry again for my comment--I shouldn't have responded at all instead of upsetting you. That was wrong and I apologize.
      best to you, honestly.
      Marie

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  5. As a sister of three sisters and one brother, with nieces and nephews all over the place, I'm excited for the world of sisters you've created in your home. Soon enough Tessa will understand the joy of the attention of a sibling and the fear of her feeling replaced will be long gone. Congratulations!!

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  6. What joy! My little pop tart is sleeping in my arms right now and with every inhale he makes that sweet little baby whimper. It's MADLOVE, huh? Wishing you and your dear family happy and peaceful days ahead. Oh! And you probs already know about it if you breasted Tessa, but I had a difficult time getting Zion to latch in the first days and I cried right along with him when it just wasn't working so I solely pumped until a couple friends told me about the nipple shield. Genius! Worked like a charm because for me makin' milkshakes all day is no easy feat. ;) Lactation specialists will tell ya not to use it for long cuz it can mess with your milk supply, but some moms I know I've found out used it for weeks and others for up to 17 months. (Plus, you can start with it and then take it off and trick baby in the middle of nursing) Anyway, just a little tip in case you never heard of it and it can make life easier for you. Enjoy your warm Livvy in your arms, the sweet smell only a baby has, and the fullness of your heart.

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  7. Ack! Ellen, I thought your post was beautiful, and it made me tear up (as all of your best posts do!) I only have my one daughter, Wren, but I was not offended in the slightest! Congratulations, and they're both perfect.

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  8. Yay! What a great post. And I looooved the post with all your pregnancy photos, too. I want to do that once this baby's born! How fun. :) Thanks for sharing your life with us.
    Tricia R.

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  9. 4 or 5 months from now... Everything will settle in. My 3 year old was the same way. Especially the constant in and out of grandparents and visitors made him that much worse. He's grown in to the best big brother, though I still have to keep a close eye on him... with his baby bro.

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  10. Well, I'm the single mother of one child named Ellen, who is now a blogger and a professional writer, with two children! I have to respond anonymously too because that's the only way I can get my comments to publish.

    I could relate to what the other mothers of one child said, but I, myself, used to say, "One is like none, and two is like ten." I'm sure that I picked that quotation up from some child-rearing book in the 80s. I think that it means that one child is easier because there are not two children to interact with one another and fuss and fight, and because one child can fit more easily into your on-going life. Ellen was an easy, sweet child, who I could fit right into my life, mostly with ease, because I was pretty much married to my profession--teaching English. It was my first love.

    Ellen, you didn't "ef" up trying to express your feelings, anymore than the women who expressed their feelings about being mothers of one child "efed" up. Nobody "effed" up! There must just be some misunderstandings out there about being the parents of one child.

    I know of people who assume that all only children are "spoiled."

    Even Aunt B comments that once the second child was born, she felt like a "legit" mother and "things just got real."

    So here are these words floating around describing mothers with two or more children: real, official, legit, etc. So how does that make mothers of one (or onlies) feel? fake, unofficial, not legitimate, etc.? Which we know not to be true. We know that one child does make a person a real, official, and legitimate mother. And we know that all onlies are not spoiled.

    Wow, words are powerful beyond what any of us are aware. And it's sometimes difficult to express our feelings through mere words.

    (Speaking of words, in her first comment, Marie said that "I feel that a drive for 'more and better' in our consumerist culture is at least partially responsible for this attitude" of thinking that women with only one child are not "real" mothers. To me, she meant that our consumerism culture always seems to think that "more is better." And, unfortunately, we often do think that "bigger is better" and that "more is better," etc.)

    We just all have to decide what is right for ourselves and somehow ignore society's many loud voices. When Ellen was small, I remember being offended and speaking up when someone made a remark assuming that children from single parent homes, which were then referred to as "broken homes" (what strong and terrible words) were less well-behaved, less well-adjusted, or performed less well in school, or some such thing.

    I guess that we just don't need to stereotype or to judge or to assume.

    In response to Mel, I pray that Livvy and Tessa become close sisters who become life-long friends, but in reality, it doesn't always work out that way. Many adult people are not close to their siblings, and some even are hurtful or hostile toward one another. Assuming that all siblings are loving and close makes those who are not feel less than, feel that something is wrong with them. My guess is that many sibling are not close, that "blood is not thicker than water"!

    I know that we can tell from her words that Ellen got upset about the those who took offense to her last paragraph--after all, she's a passionate woman with a new week-old baby. The women who spoke out, rather tactfully, about being "real" moms of one child are also passionate women.

    Don't people, like Ellen and those other women, who speak out, who speak their minds, make life amazingly interesting? And wouldn't it be a dull world if we all agreed!

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    1. I am removing the foot from my mouth in an attempt to explain my comments. I guess in my haste to defend Ellen I inadvertently may have offended parents of only children, which was not my intention at all. I totally understood her "real mom" comment and felt bad for Ellen that some took it out of context. For me, when I brought home my oldest daughter from the hospital, it was scary. We had this little colicky baby and it was so new and foreign and we had no idea what to expect or do or anything. Three years later when we had my son, having had three years to sort of "figure out" how to be a parent, we soon learned how easy our first child had been even though at the time it seemed so hard. Don't even get me started on the madness that ensued upon the arrival of our third!

      Like you stated above, you are right in that not all siblings have that life long bond and get along like they show on TV. My sister and I grew up in a two-parent household in the 80's. My dad is a Vietnam vet who suffers from extreme PTSD and my mom was, (and still is), an alcoholic. My sister and I were constantly in the middle of their vicious fighting and often forced to choose sides by our mom, with my sister choosing to side with our mom and, as much as I tried to stay "Switzerland", me siding with my dad. Needless to say, my sister and I did not have the relationship that we should have had. My parents finally got divorced after 25 years of marriage and us girls were adults. They claimed to have stayed together all that time for us. I always thought that was a little funny because I used to wish they would get divorced so we wouldn't have to hear and see them fight all the time. Anyway, it wasn't until years later when my sister and I were both pregnant together with our girls that we finally started to bond. Because we didn't have that sister bond growing up I have been so determined that my three children not necessarily get along, but at least have each others backs. I am happy to say that they get along as well as a trio of 16, 13 & 11 year olds are capable of doing. :) I am also happy that my sister and I were able to bond and become close friends later on in our lives because unfortunately she passed away in a horrific accident just this past September. If anything positive could come out of this, it was that our family has been brought back together and is stronger and tighter than it has ever been. I share this with all of you not to garner sympathy, but to demonstrate how short life is and how important family is and not to ever take anything for granted.

      To make a short story very, very long...at the end of the day it's not the number of children we have that make us "real moms". It's how we love and raise the children that we have, whether it is one or a dozen, single parent or not, that determines that.

      Ellen, I can't even remember how I came across your blog, but I love it. You remind me a lot of myself when I was younger, who my daughter refers to as "Fun Brandy". I wish you and your family nothing but happiness in the coming years. Merry Christmas. :)

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  11. Ellen's mom...you are amazing! Thank you for writing this thoughtful letter to us all...it meant a lot.

    --Marie

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    1. Hey, Marie: I wanted to thank you so much for commenting again and being so thoughtful. And for saying that my blog is a favorite. Ah, motherhood. So many misunderstandings! I hope you know I didn't mean to come across the way I did. I forget I have a small audience sometimes and don't think how other people might interpret what I'm saying. You helped me to be more sensitive to that. My best to you.

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