I'm not sure with what frequency I will be posting these updates, but the first two weeks are already a blur and I want to remember these days. Mostly so that I'll never be tempted to have another baby. :) Half-joking!
It is amazing to me how you can be so completely in love and completely exhausted and mostly exasperated all at the same time these first few days and weeks. Juliana is amazing and her creation and birth...her very being here is amazing and such a "full circle" moment for me. Also, either Jaylyn was a perfect infant or I have completely forgotten what it is like to care for a newborn. I don't remember being this tired the first go around. I also have no recollection of being helpless to quiet a baby at times... like when I know Juliana isn't hungry or wet, when I've given her gas drops and burped her well, and she is still fussy. Chris has asked me several times what is wrong with her in these moments...I think because I've done this before, he expects me to have some secret insight into the inner workings of infants. I definitely wish I did!! And I suppose, I'm more seasoned at changing diapers and giving baby baths. I didn't freak out when her umbilical cord remnant came off--things like that. But when Juliana is screaming at 3am, I'm surely as clueless as I was at 19. (My friend Miranda told me that she remembers me saying similar things about the baby Jaylyn, which makes me feel better, although I still like remembering her as the perfect baby.)
Parenting a newborn is tough. It's also a lot of fun and very emotional. Entire days pass with me just gazing at Juliana's sweet face. I can't believe how quickly time is passing, even with the sleep deprivation and mushy post-preggo brain. She's already changing so much.
Juliana has not established much of a schedule yet, other than she loves to nurse and wants to do so often. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I think a mother can do. It is painful (at first, although I think we are over that hump now) and completely demanding. It is really an extension of pregnancy since you are still sacrificing your body for your baby...since your baby is still in charge of your body. I don't love it. When she starts to cry to nurse after only an hour or 90 minutes since the last feeding, I fantasize about putting a nipple on the ready-to-eat emergency formula I have stashed in the kitchen. I know that I won't give it to her, but that doesn't stop me from really wanting to at some point on most days. I know that I am doing what is best for her and what is best for me (already being 5 pounds below pre-preganancy weight is a brag-worthy perk as well!).
Mostly I'm glad that I alone can offer her nourishment and what seems to be the ultimate comfort. And that makes me very happy. I know that it will continue to become a sweeter and sweeter time as my body adjusts and she gets a little bigger so that she can go longer between feedings.
I've encouraged Chris to write down his own thoughts and emotions about these first two weeks. It has been amazing to see him become a father. Nothing brings a couple closer than loving a child together. I won't attempt to write his story, but I will say that he was completely unprepared to fall in love at first sight and hasn't stopped talking about it since. His father said to me a few weeks before Juliana was born that he expected Chris to fall deeply and quickly in love with his daughter. His father was completely right. My heart nearly bursts with love watching Chris gaze at her in wonder. He was nervous with her at first...a bit unsure of how to hold her and what to do to ease her cries, but he has quickly come into his own with her. I hope I never forget his eagerness to do things "just right" these first few weeks. Probably the first 10 times he changed her diaper, he would call me over to check his work. Lesser, prideful men wouldn't have done that. He is completely selfless in how he loves her as well as how he loves and takes care of Jaylyn and, especially, me. He has completely taken over all the cleaning and meal prep and makes sure I always have a snack and something to drink. The man barely lets me do anything for myself. I love him so. Also important to note: the sense of pride Chris takes when Juliana passes gas or fills her diaper loudly (which is always). Only if you know Chris, does this make complete sense.
I have not completely wrapped my head around the fact that I have two daughters. When I called Jaylyn from the hospital and told her that she had a new baby sister and offered to send a picture, she quickly refused and said that she wanted the first time she saw her to be in person. I love that. Jaylyn has been everything I knew she would be...helpful and sweet, loving and funny. She has started getting herself up for school without parental prompting and she and Chris have taken over getting her lunches ready. In the mornings, she lets us sleep but quickly comes in the bedroom to give Juliana and I a kiss goodbye, and also so I can see what she is wearing! She is so busy with basketball and homework that she doesn't get to spend as much time with Juliana as she wants to, but she does hold her some everyday. I don't know what kind of relationship my two girls will have with their age difference being so big. I think they will blissfully get to miss out on the bickering that most siblings endure. I know that their relationship will be unique and I know that Juliana will adore her big sister and have such a good role model.
It seems like a lifetime ago, or rather that I was a different person, when Jaylyn was born. When I see Jaylyn holding Juliana...I don't have any words to describe how I feel. To be honest, it is still a bit bizarre to me to love another being like I love Jaylyn. Yet I do....maybe words will come to me and I can explore that more later.
Two week stats: 8 lbs 13 oz, 21.5 inches long! Juliana did the normal weight drop after birth and was down to 7.15 when we left the hospital. At Jaylyn's two week check-up, she still hadn't gotten back to birth weight (the benchmark for healthy weight gain) because we had so many struggles with breastfeeding. I was ELATED that Juliana has gained weight steadily and has passed her birthweight. (This also makes her a bit chunkier than Jaylyn was at 2 weeks, even though Jaylyn was bigger at birth; length was the same for the two.)
The pediatrician, Dr. Breedlove, said she looked great and had no concerns. Juliana's been doing the occasional baby cross-eyed thing, which Dr. Breedlove said was typical and should clear up by 3 months. Jaylyn told me she'd blame my occasional glass of wine if her eyes didn't straighten out. Crazy kid.
Juliana also left Dr. Breedlove flabbergasted when she rolled from her stomach to her back on the exam table. She said we could officially tell the grandparents that she is advanced since she shouldn't be able to do that until 4 months! She's done it a few times since then as well...
First big outing: Her first official outing was when she was 5 days old for a weight check, but we won't count that. She had her newborn photos taken at 10 days old and that was amazing, and then we took a chance and had a late lunch at Joe's Italian in Alabaster. We left her covered up in her car seat and she slept the entire time. Chris had a beer and I had a glass of wine and we felt like ourselves again. It was lovely and perfect. Umm...that makes it sound like we need to drink to be ourselves...not what I meant, although probably a grain of truth there. (Grain, ha!) It was just nice to have a meal out and be adults for an hour.
Nicknames: Julie bean, the bean, milk monster. I find myself wanting to use the same nicknames that I used for Jaylyn and wish I could be more original. I've tried to think of new nicknames but that feels so fake and forced. Juliana is such a big name for such a tiny little girl right now though. And as Chris said last night when he was making up lyrics to songs for her, "And Juliana rhymes with...nothing."
Visitors in first 2 weeks: Mom, Marty, MJ, Parker, Abby, DeWitt, John, Jessica, Cooper, Chloe, Amanda, Erin, Pamela, Tameka, Tonya, Laina, Chloe, Mia