I thought it would be nice to share a little bit of what the past four weeks have been like as a mama of two. Everything is different now and it would be impossible to share everything, but I want to share a some bigger experiences we've had. For us, becoming a family of four has been beautiful and life altering.
Ivy is an absolute dream. She is the perfect addition to our family and I simply cannot imagine life without her. Her sweet spirit brings so much joy and love to our lives. I still look at her with the most gratitude that she chose us.
While I was pregnant with Ivy, Wesley developed a very strong bond with my belly. Each night when he would lay down for bed I would pull up my shirt and he'd rest his hand on my stomach while drifting off to sleep. He'd lay his head on my belly while watching Curious George, rub and kiss it in the grocery store line, at church and even in the pedicure chair. That belly got a lot of love! It sounds sort of silly I'm sure, but it became a comfort to him for whatever reason and it was really sweet. He loved the "baby" and would ask every day at the end when she would come.
So you can imagine our surprise when he wanted nothing to do with her when she arrived. I think back to that night we had her and see areas where we could have done better at introducing them. We had my mom bring him to us that night and he was just thrown into the situation. He came into the room and saw me with a baby on a bed with a bunch of people he didn't know everywhere. He kept his distance the next morning only wanting to be held by Darren and wanting nothing to do with me or the baby. I was really disappointed but thought once we left it would get better. We got home that first day and he was excited to help bring her car seat into the house, but the excitement pretty much ended there and the meltdowns began. The next 48 hours were so rough on all of us. My heart literally ached for the next two or three days as I watched him be so emotional over every little thing. I could see that he was physically hurting and that he just wanted his world to go back to normal. Pair that with a lack of communication, it was tough. We decided quickly that the best thing to do would be to go about our days as normally as possible, not asking him to do or be anything with the baby. It seemed that was the thing that helped him the most and he was fine from that point on. He still didn't acknowledge her, but it was better.
Meanwhile, I spent my time bonding with and getting to know Ivy. The night we met her was a whirlwind. I labored so fast that it all felt very surreal for the first couple of days and because of that, our connection came a little later. I can't believe I am admitting that here, because I still feel a little bit of guilt about it. But it was my experience. The love you instantly feel for your child is incredible. It's amazing how you can love someone so much at first sight and I definitely felt that. But I woke up that first morning having a really hard time sorting my feelings. I loved her so much and cared for her needs, but I think I was still in shock. I would compare it to a numb feeling. It was such a bizarre way to feel and I hated it. I finally told darren through my tears how I was feeling. Of course he reassured me that I was a good mother and reminded me that I was probably just hormonal. He said that he, too, was still in shock that she was here, as if it wasn't real. It helped me so much to know he was with me and understood. Looking back, I realize I was more hormonal than I knew at the time. But also, I think it's probably more normal than people think. When I had Wesley, he instantly became my world. I was very protective and emotional over his hand and my heart was bursting open for the first time. I was overwhelmed with happiness, anxiety, worry and even sadness. Pretty much every emotion. So when I didn't have the same experience with Ivy, I worried that it meant I didn't love her as much. Now I see that it was just different. Since then though, I have felt so much peace and happiness with her and each time I look into her eyes my love for her deepens even more.
Those days Darren was home with us, Wes got to spend playing, going to the library and being with daddy every day. He was in heaven! He didn't want much to do with me and the disconnect was really hard for me to understand and accept. After a few days once I was able to be up and around more, we started to carve out times during the day for just us two to be together. I would make a point to really greet him in the morning and make him feel special and loved with hugs and kisses. We made breakfast and read books.. the little things we normally do. It made a difference and I began to see that just the smallest amount of attention would be enough for him to have a pretty good day. Slowly but surely he's come around to her and finally asked to hold her when she was about two weeks old. Far longer than I imagined, but in his own time, and it just keeps getting better.
Since Darren has gone back to work and we've started our days as just us 3 now, it's been tough. So many good moments and small victories in between, though. We have days where we cry and then days where it feels really easy. For us, it's not so much a challenge as far as going places, keeping up with the house or having dinner on the stove, as it is all of the emotional stuff. Wes and I are both pretty emotionally charged, so it can be a little nuts at times. Sometimes I feel as if I am living two different lives because I have my heavenly time with Ivy full of nursing, smiling and cuddles all day. And then there's my time with him that just feels like a battle. We are both missing what life used to be as we try and get used to life as it is now. He's definitely testing and challenging us (me) a lot more now and it leaves me baffled and sad more times than not. Nighttime has been rough, having both of them wanting and needing only me, so we are working on figuring that out. We've had to set more boundaries and limits with him, which has been a huge learning process for us as parents and he's learning to consider the needs of others and it's helping him to grow a little more.
I'm very much in the thick of it right now, trying to make each day better than yesterday. Learning so many lessons and trying to remain gentle with myself even when I feel like I'm failing over and over. Mostly I worry about not being able to meet everyone's needs. I worry about being present with them and soaking up this time enough, so that I won't look back and wonder where it all went. I worry about mine and Wesley's relationship never being the beautiful thing it once was again. But I'm taking it a day, or even a moment at a time and constantly reminding myself that things like this always get better with time. It's just a huge huge adjustment, one that will take some time getting used to.
The last photo of me and Ivy was taken yesterday by Darren and I love it for so many reasons. Mostly because I know what's behind those tired eyes. I look at that photo and see a woman who's trying to figure it out. One who hasn't showered in who knows how long, is exhausted beyond comprehension and feels inadequate most days. But I also see women with so much love in her smile. And a tiny little girl clinging to her mama, the only one she wants or needs. And I am fulfilled. The love we have and feel is more than anything I could have hoped for, which makes all of it worth it.