How I’m able to take the time to write this: Hal and Max are out running errands, Bella is napping, and I’m happily and rightfully ignoring the mess in our kitchen and living room.
This last week has been all about making adjustments in our life and healing my body. We do have a few challenges, as one would imagine. The first thing we had to figure out was the night parenting stuff. We are an attachment parenting family and Max was still sleeping next to mommy before Bella arrived. I did myself a huge favor by night weaning him during the month of December, but that didn’t take away his love for snuggling with me at night. So, after rearranging our beds a couple times we finally *think* we have figured out something that will work for us. Max is in a full-size bed – by himself – papa and the dogs on the twin bed – and Bella & I on the other side of the room from Max in the other full-size. That way, papa is in between Max and I.
Hal has started night parenting Max. This means that when Max wakes up it is Hal’s job to get him to go back to sleep. Mind you, before Bella was born Max had stopped waking during the middle of the night, but with all the newness going on in our home his sleep has been a little less than deep. Hal is getting a good taste of what I have been going through since Max’s birth – soreness from being in the same position to comfort him and tiredness from the lack of sleep. However, Max is doing pretty darn well all considering – oh, and so is Hal.
The other challenge, which really isn’t as bad as I was anticipating, is just getting Max acclimated to seeing Bella nurse on his beloved num-nums. Introducing Max to Bella was amazing and easy. He got very excited to see her, knew right away that it was Bella lying on the bed, and started clapping while exclaiming, “It’s Bella! It’s Bella! Yay! Bella not in mommy’s tummy any more!”
It was the best, most sweetest eva introduction of a baby sister to her big brother. He immediately wanted to hug and kiss her, lay next to her in bed, and just stare at her. The whole time he had this big excited smile on his face. It was so touching that Hal started to cry! Max was pretty much like that until he saw her nursing. Then the lessons on boundaries began. He’s taking it well, though, and understands (after only two days of teaching this) that he has to nurse on the other boob (because you know at first he had to have the same one), has to be gentle when he latches on, has to make sure he isn’t laying on top of Bella, and has to wait until mommy latches Bella on first before he can dive in. He’s a very smart kid and I’m very proud of how well he comprehends everything.
Look at that forced smile! Inside I’m thinking, “How the heck did I get myself into this!”
Max has been great with Bella about 95% of the time. The other 5% has been a slap on the face here, a pinch there, even a wide open mouth-full-of-teeth pressed a little here – on the head. First, my way of dealing with it was to talk to him about how it is not nice and he can only touch nicely – then I showed him how and allowed him to follow/copy the behavior. The second approach I took was to, in the spur of the moment, I popped him lightly on the cheek (didn’t even leave a red mark but startled him good) when he hit Bella on the face and another time when he screamed in her ear. I did this once for each offense. It felt right when he hit her but not when he screamed in her ear (I felt bad for that one). Both times I explained that mommy had to protect Bella from him if he was going to hurt her the same way I would protect him if someone bigger was hurting him. I also said, which he probably didn’t understand (too wordy) – it was more for my benefit – that when she can protect herself I’d let them work it out alone but until then mommy will be protecting Bella. After this, I gave him a lot of love – kissing his cheeks where his “owie” was – and just reminded him how much I love him.
I’m not comfortable at all with hitting my children (regardless of whether or not it “felt right” in the moment) so in my heart knew – even in the moment it was happening – that it wasn’t something I could add to my repertoire of disciplining. I think it happened almost as a knee-jerk reaction to being both frustrated with Max’s behavior and desiring so badly to “drill” it into his head that he can not be “mean” to Bella. Oooh the irony in adult behavior sometimes! Don’t be mean! Slap! Anyhoo… so now, my way of handling Max-Lashings on Bella is to just ignore it. I get up and walk away from him (taking Bella with me of-course) without punishing, rewarding, or responding to his actions. And at this point, I know that he knows that what he did was not nice and that it upsets mommy and Bella. On the flip-side of ignoring the undesirable behavior, I am making a BIG DEAL out of it every time Max is nice to Bella. As a result, he has started showing me (making a big deal out of it) every time he is nice. I am most comfortable with this approach – it feels right. All of this in the span of 6 days.
I can’t sing Hal’s praises enough so I won’t even try. However, I will say that he is the kind of partner that makes all of this feel more like “team-work” rather than “mama’s-work” – which is in my opinion how it should be.
The healing of my body has been a lot easier than it was with Max. There is way less soreness down in my neither regions and way less physical, emotional, and mental shock to my psyche. The whole after birthing experience, in general, has been easier. I’m assuming this can be contributed to the fact that everything is already familiar to both my body and mind. What a relief about that!
Bella is fantastic. Perfect in every way. And already so different than Max who is also perfect in every way.
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