Summer Update

I was looking at my recent blog entries and noticed that, other than our feeding drama, I haven’t talked about life with a second child.

I don’t have postpartum depression this time. This makes a huge difference in all aspects of my life and how I relate to my children. I can’t even begin to describe the difference. I spent the first month after Julian was born thinking he was an easy baby. We had feeding issues but I wasn’t as obsessed with feeding Julian The One True Way and so was able to focus on nutrition over dogma. Having lived with Julian for four months I now believe that Julian isn’t what most people would consider an easy baby. However, he’s less intense than Calvin was, and we’re more experienced, so he’s easier for us.

The first couple of months after Julian was born I put myself on a very strict schedule. My order of priority was:

  1. eat
  2. sleep
  3. shower
  4. everything else

Julian would wake up for the day between 7:00-9:00am. I’d feed him when he woke up and then start down my to-do list until Julian was ready to nap. Usually I had time to eat before Julian had his first nap. Sometimes I showered. However, as soon as Julian napped, I religiously rested. I didn’t always sleep but I always laid down1. Then Julian would wake up, I would feed him, and we’d repeat until night time. Initially, it looked like Julian was going to sleep through the night2 quickly. However, Julian learned to wake up every 2-5 hours because the pediatricians told me I had to wake Julian up every 4-5 hours until he regained his birth weight.

I planned on twelve weeks of maternity leave. I was very fortunate to have enough sick/vacation combo that I could cover it all at 100% of my normal pay3. At four weeks postpartum everything seemed incredibly easy and I was getting bored. I took the opportunity to catch up on all my work email and started wondering if I could go back to work early. Then, all of a sudden, Julian started screaming unconsolably most evenings for an hour or so. Other things must have changed also, though I can’t put my finger on anything in particular, and all of a sudden I did not have the time or energy to go back to work early. The screaming tapered down a bit around six weeks but Julian was still on the fussy side.

At Julian’s two-month appointment I learned that he had a milk protein allergy. This meant we got to switch from regular formula to expensive formula. I’m not sure if Julian’s fussiness was related to the milk protein allergy or not. I didn’t see an instant improvement when we switched formulas. However, Julian hated the formula and possibly wasn’t drinking as much as he really needed. At around 3 1/2 months we switched to a different hypoallergenic formula which Julian obviously preferred and his intake doubled overnight.

At the beginning of June Calvin, Julian, and I flew to Washington state to visit my parents. Jaeger and I believe that one reason Calvin is such a good flier is because we started him early. So, of course, it was important to start Julian early also. I create all our packing lists on our personal wiki and so I was able to pull up my packing list from when Calvin was the same age. I was astonished to see that at the same age Calvin had been drinking six ounces of formula while Julian was only drinking two. This wasn’t because I was making more breastmilk this time, Julian was just eating less food.

We left for the airport with plenty of time and breezed through security only to learn that our flight was delayed. One of the flight attendants gave Julian a first flight certificate. The flight went well other than our plane being delayed and Calvin and I having a disagreement over whether our supper had been lunch. Julian slept most of it and I don’t think he cried at all once we were on the plane.

We got to my parents’ house a bit after midnight and I was horrified to discover that the first couple clothing layers in our luggage were soaking wet. This included Julian’s sleep sack. I’ve had planes delayed by weather before and sometimes the outside of the luggage has been damp but never the inside. Fortunately, the baby monitor survived unscathed4. A couple of days after we arrived my parents took us to the beach for several days. Calvin had a lot of fun but I mostly stayed inside the rented house because Julian did not approve of the wind. Still, I find coasts on the northwest very invigorating.

The following Monday I started work. We were going to have an au pair come from China to watch Julian but she wasn’t scheduled to arrived till late July so Jaeger’s mom watched Julian. I was really excited to get back to work but also nervous. I was worried because I had a hard time after Calvin was born being productive at work. I think it was different this time because 1) I was getting more sleep 2) I didn’t have to rush Julian to daycare before I could work and 3) I worked in the morning instead of the afternoon.

At about 3 1/2 months my mom came out to watch Julian. Julian continued to reject the first hypoallergenic formula. In fact, it had gotten worse since I started working because he started getting some breastmilk in a bottle. Easy delivery plus better taste must have made him decide he had no need for the icky formula. I was at my wits end because I wasn’t producing nearly enough to exclusively feed him breastmilk and Julian was getting crankier. I called the doctor’s office and they suggested I try a different hypoallergenic formula. I was dubious because it seemed, on the internet, that everyone preferred his first formula. However, Julian definitely preferred the second formula over the first. In fact, all the adults also agreed the second formula tasted better (yes, I tasted it, I wanted to know what I was giving him). Immediately Julian doubled his formula intake. I hadn’t realized until that point how much his feeding had been stressing me out. I was emotionally so much better than I had been with Calvin that I hadn’t really noticed the stress points that still existed.

Breastfeeding had been getting progressively harder. It had gotten to the point where Julian would only eat well at night when he wasn’t very awake. Since I now felt Julian was getting enough food from formula, I decided it was time to start cutting down on the breastfeeding. I did it very slowly as when I stopped pumping for Calvin I got mastitis. This time I was much more careful. Eventually I was down to only a couple of times a night, mainly as an enhanced pacifier, while we waited for the formula to warm up5.

Also at about 3 1/2 mounths Julian’s sleep deterioted noticably. He was having a very hard time napping during the day and also started waking up every 2-3 hours to feed. I was hoping that getting adequate amounts of food would allow him to start sleeping through the night. Calvin was sleeping through the night, a solid 8+ hours, by 3 months. However, more food didn’t seem to increase Julian’s night-time sleeping. Julian is now back to sleeping every 3-4 hours, which is a great improvement, but not where I’d like him to be yet.

Typcial schedule at almost five months:

  • 6:00-7:00pm – Julian goes to sleep
  • 9:30-10:30pm – Julian wakes up for first feeding
  • 12:30-3:30pm – Julian wakes up for second feeding (if I’m very unlucky he’ll stay awake an hour or two before sleeping again but this only happens a couple of times a week)
  • 4:30am – Julian wakes up again. I transfer him to the rocking chair and feed him, if needed, then both of us doze for the rest of the night
  • 6:30-7:30am – Julian wakes up (next week, when school starts, I’m going to have to start getting up at 6:30 so Julian will probably also)
  • Upon waking up, feed Julian his first morning bottle
  • Julian usually eats every 3-4 hours during the day and sleeps every 2-3 hours (though anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours, usually on the shorter side).
  • Rinse and repeat

As long as I fall asleep by 9pm every night I usually get enough sleep. Naturally, Julian’s worst night are usually correlated with me cheating and going to bed late.

Our Chinese au pair was suppose to arrive at the end of July but two days before she was suppose to leave China we got a message that she had fainted and was having major surgery at the hospital. She wasn’t going to be able to come on time. Jaeger and I discussed it and decided that a recovery for that major of a situation probably meant that we needed to go ahead and find another au pair immediately. Jaeger’s mother was having surgery on her hand and would be unable to take care of Julian past the original dates we had agreed upon. Some frantic searching passed and we found an au pair that needed to transition from her initial host family due to personality and lifestyle differences (she’s vegan). We looked at her profile and thought she looked like she’d work out. She’s now been with us for about a month and so far it has worked out very well. She’s very good with Julian, which was my number one requirement, and being vegan her diet is also compatible with ours.

Next week Calvin will start 1st grade which will add different complications to our schedule. I think he’s also going to be joining cub scouts because one of his good friends will be in it so that too will be a new experience for us.

Speaking of Calvin . . . Calvin is doing incredibly well with Julian. Sometimes when Julian is screaming, and I’m not immediately available, Calvin will try to put the pacifier in or hand him a toy to play with. I decided not to put Calvin in any summer camp or daycare. I had some idea of making him read to me every day as well as doing a bit of math. That fell through once I went back to work. Calvin has spent most of the summer listening to audiobooks while playing with Legos. Right now he’s listening to The Odyssey6. I’m sure this books is too mature for him. However, I was so tired of loading multiple books every single day. At least The Odyssey is long enough he’s been listening to it for multiple days7. I do try to push him outside at least once a day and he does enjoy playing in the sandbox and watering everything but the plants. Summer hasn’t been a particularly stimulating experience for him. However, I think this may actually be a good thing because he’s looking forward to starting school. This would be a major advantage over last year when he went from a play-based preschool to a more classical oriented and traditionally structured kindergarten.

My biggest aggravation at the moment is my lack of reading time. I’ve listened to a ton of books but have read less than five since Julian was born. I love listening to audiobooks but it’s a different experience than reading them8. I have finished two books in the last week so maybe I’m slowly ramping up again.

All things considered, I don’t find the second infant experience nearly as demoralizing as the first. It helps that I can look at Calvin and know that some day Julian will sleep through the night and I won’t have to choose between reading and sleeping.

  1. Unless I needed to eat and then I stuffed some trail mix in my mouth before lying down.
  2. For the record, I consider this 8 hours. Possibly medically inaccurate but Calvin slept 8+ hours very quickly so I naively assumed Julian would also.
  3. My work also offers short-term disability for maternity leave but I think you only get 2/3 your regular paycheck. Definitely better than nothing but 100% is best 🙂
  4. For the return trip I zip-locked everything and of course nothing got wet.
  5. The second hypoallergenic formula is edible, which is a big plus. However, it’s also very lumpy when made with room temperature water.
  6. Translated by Robert Fagles and narrated by Sir Ian McKellan.
  7. This is also deepening my suspician that he’ll listen to just about anything.
  8. Though, for the record, I think listening to audiobooks is just as legit as reading the book. It’s just one can multi-task with an audiobook and reading a book requires some time when things are relatively calm

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