It seems like yesterday. It seems like ages ago. Three months have passed since I gave birth to Arlo. Our fourth trimester is over. It feels like new life has truly begun. We are emerging now. We are all here. Us four.
I’m overflowing with gratitude this time around. Gratitude for perspective, gratitude for patience, gratitude for friendships and family, gratitude for all the things I did not have the first time. I only wish Henry could have gotten this mom. Gratitude for modern science and medication and the ability to proudly ask for help. And I’m so grateful I don’t have to return to a job I despise, like I did 10 weeks after Henry was born.
Our days finally have a pattern, a rhythm I find most comforting. Arlo and I usually wake around 6:30 to cook breakfast and finish packing lunches for Henry and Matt. Arlo loves to watch Henry get dressed and brush his teeth and hair. Once they leave around 7:15, Arlo plays under his play gym for about 15-20 minutes while I either sit with him, check my email, or clean up the kitchen. Usually Arlo can’t stand to be awake longer than 90 minutes. I change his diaper, swaddle him, nurse him, and he’s down for his morning nap before 8:30. This first nap typically lasts 40 minutes.
When Arlo wakes he likes to nurse again (he’s more of a snacker, whereas his brother was a vacuum with actual hours between feedings). We play or I lay him down near me while I fold laundry or cook or whatever. We usually leave the house around 11 and drive down to Town Lake. In the early days, Arlo screamed the whole way, but now he falls asleep within the first 5 minutes. I run a 4-mile loop around the lake (soon better increase to 5- my comeback is going to be the Cap 10K in March!) while Arlo sleeps in the stroller. After this I eat lunch or run some errand (with Arlo usually asleep) and we go get Henry from school by 1. Arlo wakes to nurse before we drive home or to a playdate and then he usually falls back asleep until 2 or so. Then he takes a third nap, usually around 4ish.
The times change but generally he naps 90 minutes after he wakes. The morning nap is the shortest at 40 minutes, the mid-day nap is the longest at close to 3 hours, and the late day nap is usually around 1 hour. I put him to bed at 7. He wakes again at 7:40 and I have to put him back on the boob or he freaks. Then sometimes he wakes again around 8:30ish. Usually after this wake-up I can get him to sleep until sometime between 10:30-midnight. After that he pretty much wakes to feed every 2 hours but he is always easy to put right back to sleep. He never fully awakens. We ditched the cosleeper and bought a Fisher Price rock n’ play sleeper, based on a piece in Babble and excellent reviews on Amazon (thanks, Heather!). We all love it. But the medication has calmed me enough that I no longer stay awake all night long worrying about rolling on top of him (among other things), so many nights now I just keep him nestled close to me in bed.
I will say we’ve had a handful of nights where I put Arlo down around 7p and he slept straight until 1 or even 2a. These nights give me great hope for our future.
Arlo rolls front to back and back to side. He’s working on back to front so I think that will mess up his sleep pretty soon. He constantly chews on his hands, so I think that will mess up his sleep, too. (Meaning he may be like his brother and have a tooth at 4.5 months.) Whether it does or not, I’m gradually phasing out the swaddle so he can get to his hands better. If I can lay with him for a nap, I don’t swaddle him anymore. I change his diaper once at night, usually around 4am or so (ha! I remember being so neurotic about changing Henry’s diaper every time he woke up), and sometimes after that I just keep him unswaddled and next to me. I love the way he kind of holds me in return, his arm rested over the top of my boob, his head cradled into the underside of my arm, his little legs curled into my belly.
The unswaddling still feels so weird to me, like I’m running errands in the nude. We swaddled Henry until he was 8 months and the only reason we stopped was that he’d ripped all the Miracle Blankets to shreds. I mean, on one hand, it calms Arlo down; on the other hand, he is obsessed with his hands. Might unswaddling make him less obsessed with my boobs at night? Sometimes I think I need to be swaddled more than Arlo does.
I can’t believe I’m writing a 3-month update. We made it three months! The early days were marked by sleepless nights (mostly me, though there were a handful of nights Arlo would stay up for a few hours in the middle of the night), traumatic car rides, and many, many tears. Tears for everyone (but again, mostly me). It’s one thing to be on the outside, supporting families through this transitional time. It’s another to be inside, to never get to leave. But I dare say, for now, anyway, we’ve found our stride. Even in the darkness of winter, in the midst of sick season.
Arlo was born just days after a harvest moon. Three months later, here we are: winter solstice, lunar eclipse, full moon, all in one.