The million dollar question is, how is Miles doing?
So that we can end on a good note, let’s begin with the bad:
* The concept of “be quiet now, the baby’s sleeping” DOES NOT COMPUTE. This is a problem since among his new big brother behaviors is a variety of horrid, ear drum shattering screams and whines that make it sound like a parade of emergency vehicles are driving through our home whenever he is annoyed, frustrated, angry, or (just a theory) simply trying to drive me insane. The irony is I am usually trying to get the baby to sleep so that I can spend time with Miles or put him to nap/bed without the baby in the way. It’s super frustrating.
* He continues to be super clingy at naptime and bedtime. He wants to lay in my arms and he wants me to sit by him until he falls asleep, which can take well over an hour sometimes. Toward the end of my pregnancy he was getting into a Daddy mode and did not want me to read bedtime stories anymore, which I thought would be AWESOME once the baby was born, but he promptly switched back and now Daddy can’t read stories or do bedtime at all. This means that the drudgery of bedtime falls squarely on me whether or not Mike is here, because Miles needs me to fall asleep, and Julius needs my boobs to fall asleep. Needless to say, this is taxing.
* As a result of that clinginess, things get UGLY if his special times with me are interrupted by Julius crying and/or cluster feeding, which can’t always be helped. He is never aggressive or angry toward the baby, only toward me. Sometimes his reaction is delayed, and he will seem perfectly okay with going to bed, smile when I say goodnight, and then two minutes after I leave he’ll have a complete screaming and crying meltdown. I find that I can often head these off by having a little heart-to-heart with him before I leave about how I understand things are a little hard for him right now but he’s doing great and I love him. But this isn’t always possible – if Julius is screaming for the boob, or if I am just too exhausted by Miles’s acting out to dig deep and be sweet like that.
* Sleep regression. Oh my god why did no one warn me about this? I have heard of potty training regression and speech regression (doing “baby talk”) when a new baby comes, but NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT THIS. After two years of horrible sleep habits I finally had a toddler who slept through the night in his own bed, and now? I do not have that at all. This one kind of crept up on us, starting with a few squawks in the night and snowballing into a full fledged disaster. It’s a double feature of horror: night wakings and early morning risings. He wakes up in the night and SCREAMS. If we’re lucky he just needs his binky (which he used to retrieve on his own even if it fell on the floor) and if we’re unlucky he’s pleading “chair, chair, chair,” meaning come sit by me until I fall asleep again (and it must be Mommy, not Daddy, of course). In the morning we (Mike) started letting him come snuggle with us in our bed, so he has cleverly pushed this back and back and back to 5 am, 3 am, 11 pm. If you add into this picture that Julius is waking up to nurse and needing diaper changes, you can imagine how little sleep I am getting some nights. All I can do is remind myself that this too shall pass.
* I realize I ended up making that all about me. So how is Miles doing? I think he is adjusting well, with several very normal though unpleasant side effects. All of his “bad” behaviors are perfectly understandable: he is attention-seeking because the baby is stealing attention away from him, he has chosen non-negotiable times when he wants me to himself, he’s sneaking into the family bed because the baby gets to sleep there and he wants to as well. None of this is misbehavior for misbehavior’s sake; if anything, I think these new behaviors show that he’s finding ways to cope and adapt in his own ways.
And so for the good:
* For all his frustrations, he NEVER takes them out on the baby himself or shows any aggression toward him whatsoever. The most negatively he ever behaves toward Julius is to suggest, rather politely in fact, that I put him in the “crib,” “changes diaper” (so I’ll stop nursing), or “open it” the wrap and put the baby down.
* Though he does sometimes urge me to “get up” when I’m sitting down nursing Julius, overall Miles is soooo incredibly patient about the amount of time I spend nursing, and that’s saying something, because sometimes even I find it a bit much. Julius still spends a long time nursing, not just in the evening, but at most meals – he just goes back and forth, left, right, left, right, and just when you think he’s done, he wants more. I try not to just park my butt in a chair to nurse, but I still can’t do *that* much while feeding Julius because he pops off a lot if not held in place. Miles tends to play by himself for much of this time and rarely complains.
* His interactions with the baby are so sweet it just slays me. I was a bit surprised by this because he has never shown a great interest in babies or even younger toddlers, hated his baby doll, and never demonstrated an ability to be gentle with me or the dog or pretty much anything before. He still does not want to hold the baby in his lap. But he’ll come up to Julius and smile, pet his hair with a touch as light as a feather, touch his nose or cheek with just a finger, giggle at his little hands and feet. As he’s gotten a little more okay with sharing me, he likes to climb into what’s left of my lap when I’m nursing or wearing Julius, and snuggle with us together, touching the baby’s head softly and grinning. I also taught him to give Julius a fist bump, which, yes, is the cutest thing ever. So although right now it’s a bit crazy and sometimes difficult, these moments remind me why we wanted another one of these little guys…