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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blue Iguana

Ella is officially two weeks old.  Miles has been a big brother for two weeks.  I've been a mother of two for two weeks.  Zach has been a father of two for two weeks.  How are we fairing?  Blue Iguana.  What, you say?  Blue Iguana. 
Ella Grace - Feb. 1, 2012

It's been an intense and amazing two weeks.  Ella's birth was uneventful compared to Miles'.  I had a totally normal cesarean, coming off the anesthesia was not so bad and the three days in the hospital were easy and kinda nice.  Just like Miles, Ella took to breast feeding right away and though she lost about 8 ounces that first day, she gained it all back within a few days and is now well over 7 lbs!  According to my doula and the pediatrician, she's an "efficient and organized" eater.

Coming home from the hospital has been overwhelming and emotional, full of ups and downs. So far, Miles has been an awesome older brother.  He constantly wants to hold Ella and kiss her head and toes.  He can almost pronounce her name, though it sounds more like Etta than Ella.  And although he's good to her, he's been needy with us.  When she cries, he starts crying and wants to be held or he looks at her with a mixture of sympathy and fear.  That first week back, he definitely threw a few tantrums, yelling, crying and throwing himself on the floor for no reason.  It's been harder getting him to bed on most nights.  He's either overtired and throwing a fit or has too much energy and is defiant.  The few easy nights we've had where when the four of us sat in his couch and  read books and cuddled together.  But I do see what seems like the beginning of a little jealousy on his part.

Last night, the four of us were sitting on the couch in Miles' room, reading books and getting ready for bed when Zach got a call he had to take.  He stepped out of the room for what I thought would be five minutes.  No problem, I can handle putting Miles to bed with Ella here.  I'm gonna have to do it soon enough so I might as well get used to it!  Everything was going well, Miles was tired, Ella was calm, I turned off the light, Miles hugged me and two seconds later Ella starts crying.....loud and uncontrollably.  Merde!!  "Shh, shhh, here nurse a little bit.  No?  Don't want to eat?  Okay, gas?  Let me burp you.  No?  Crap!!  Where's Zach?!"  Miles looked at Ella with concern, I reassured him it was all right, she was just feeling uncomfortable but she's okay.  "Are you okay Miles?  You know I love you.  You're such a good big brother, I'm so proud of you, let me give you a hug."  He wanted me to hold him and kiss him, I tried my hardest but at the same time I had Ella on my right arm screaming.  Miles finally gave up, I think he felt left out, I don't know.  But his eyes went kind blank, he was seeing past me and out towards the door, waiting for Papa to come back.  But he didn't.  The 5 minutes turned into 25 minutes and all three of us in the room started breaking down!

My heart broke for Miles because I wanted to comfort him but Ella's crying was so loud that it was hard to ignore.  I considered taking her outside and leaving her in her basket while I finished putting Miles to bed, but I knew she would only cry harder and it would stress me out and it would still take a while to get Miles to bed.  What do I do?  Eventually, Ella calmed down enough that I was able to safely lay her on the couch next to me.  Miles jumped in my arms.  I hugged him, cradled him, kissed him and in that moment Zach walked back in the room and Miles wanted his Dada.  It broke my heart.  I felt like I had failed him.  I couldn't give him what he needed so he didn't want to be with me.  I took my cue and left the room with Ella.  Now I was the one crying.

So far, the hardest part of having two kids has been giving Miles the attention he needs from me.  Since I had a c-section, I'm not allowed to pick him up for a few weeks.  I can't drive him to his therapies or school, I can't take him in and out of the car seat, I can't pick him up out of his crib, I can't lift him into my arms when he comes running towards me.  And that kills me!!!  I tell him I still love him, I shower him with kisses and I hug him on the floor or when I'm sitting as much as possible.  But Zach's been his primary caretaker the last few weeks and it's been really hard for me to sit on the sidelines and watch. 

Zach emerged from Miles' room a few minutes later.  Miles was fast asleep.  Zach heard me sobbing and held me in his arms. 
"I just feel so bad," I said.  "I feel sad that I can't comfort him, that I can't hold him.  What if he thinks I don't love him anymore?" 
"Miles understands.  He knows you love him, you're a great mama."
"But what if he doesn't?" and my sobbing gets louder.
"Blue Iguana," Zach says.
Something inside me switched.  Do I feel a little smile coming on?
"Blue Iguana", Zach repeats.
"Blue Iguana", I say, now a full blown smile showing on my face.

Blue Iguana-- that's our code word for "shit is getting out of hand so lets laugh it off".  It's our sign to stop and smile, to find the comedy in the drama, the calm in the chaos, the sweet in the struggle.  Life is tough and we can choose to live in constant struggle or say, screw this!  I'm gonna be happy cause things could be worse!
Miles is not going to remember the few weeks that I couldn't hold him.  By the end of this year, he's not even going to remember life before his sister.  And neither am I.  We're in transition right now, all of us adjusting to this new life.  And if we keep our sense of humor, I'm sure we'll come out much stronger on the other side!

Miles and Ella meet

Big Brother Miles!
Ella at ten days old.