Wednesday, October 01, 2008

One is the easiest number

I'm only now coming to understand just how grueling the first couple weeks of the girls' life was, now that I have a singleton to compare it with. I had very easy babies, so my stint as a new mom of multiples was easier than most women's, but it really is a whole different ballgame when there is only one baby to contend with.

The memory of the girls' insane feeding schedule makes me thank the sweet baby Jebus whenever Andrew wakes me up to nurse. He's waking up at 1-2 am, 4-5 am, and 7-8 am, which was about the same frequency as the girls did. However, I don't have to turn on the light, strap on the giant twin nursing pillow, struggle to latch two tiny little mouths, spend the nursing session gritting my teeth in pain from cracked nipples, change two diapers, and then pump. With Andrew, I have achieved the impossible dream of being able to reach over, pluck the baby from the co-sleeper, latch the baby, and go back to sleep. (G is currently on diaper duty because the uterine infection makes it so unpleasant for me to get up -- as of today, I'm starting to feel a tiny bit better, but I have a long way to go still, and am likely to spend several more days recovering.)

Nursing is somewhat easier simply because I'm experienced now, but the bulk of the difference is physical. I don't have cracks this time, because my nipples are only subject to half as much abuse, and it doesn't hurt that Andrew was as big at birth as Claire at six weeks. With the girls, I was so aggressive about ramping up milk supply so that I could nurse two babies AND supplement with pumped milk that my production went crazy -- I would nurse them, then turn around and pump 6-8 oz after each feeding. When you're making that much milk, you have to be religious about removing it promptly, which is why I constantly struggled with engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis. I haven't pumped at all with Andrew so far, though I really ought to start building a freezer stash, so I don't know how much extra I am making, but the oversupply troubles are far less. He's having some gas issues, which implies a foremilk-hindmilk imbalance, but this time I can actually use block feeding to resolve it.

Andrew likes to cluster-feed during the day -- really, what he does is nurse on one side, fall asleep for a bit, and then wake up for the other side 30 minutes later. I nursed the girls "on demand", but when one baby woke up and wanted to eat, I woke the second baby and fed her as well, and I made them stay awake long enough to eat full meals. With Andrew, I don't have to be as hard-core, and can allow him to nurse more frequently if that's what he wants to do; sure, I spend more time nursing, but it's nice not to force him to stay awake. As he gets a little older, I'll guide him to finish his meals more promptly, but I don't feel the need right now.

I also spend so much more time holding Andrew during the day than I did with the girls. He sleeps in his co-sleeper without complaint at night, but during the day, he takes one or two naps in it, and spends the rest of the day snuggled up with me. He might be soundly asleep on my chest, but should I try to put him down, he'll start howling like his bed is full of baby-eating crocodiles. Again, I'll steer him toward more naps in his crib or bouncy seat as we go along, but I really actually like holding him, so I'm indulging us both.

As a result of all the one-on-one nursing time and the holding time, I do feel like I'm closer to Andrew than I was each to the girls at this point. For the first month or two, they were a unit to me -- I did things with "the babies" or "the girls", not so much with Claire and Katherine, if that makes sense. Newborns don't express a lot of individuality anyway, so pair-bonding was the default. Now, there is just Andrew, so I can focus twice as much on him. We noticed this literally even in the delivery room -- G wasn't running back and forth from baby to baby, trying to focus on both at a time.

One luxury I do have is a nanny for the girls, so Andrew is an only child for me right now. I'm not physically capable of taking care of them myself, due to the infection and the c-section recovery before that, any more than I have been for most of the pregnancy. However, in a few weeks from now, I'll be letting the nanny go and spending some time as a full-time mom to all three kids. Our nanny is pregnant, and not having the easiest time of it, so she's pretty ready to stop chasing after three toddlers (her son is two years old, and she brings him and cares for all three children). I'm not sure what the long-term plan is -- we're discussing putting the girls in day care after Christmas, and I will stay at home and work around the baby for a few months -- but again, it's great to be able to focus just on the baby, instead of juggling the needs of all three children.

Even when the girls were tiny, I loved having twins. I always felt like they had a companion, and I think they found each other's presence comforting, even as tiny babies. Now that they're a little older, they have a built-in best friend, and entertain each other to a degree that makes my singleton moms envious. They fight too, especially in the last couple weeks (new baby upheaval, I'm thinking), and right now Katherine is sporting a set of Sister's toothmarks on her forehead. Plus, at 30 pounds each, they can be physically different to manage when they want to be ornery. Still, I'm glad that they are twins and sisters, and during my pregnancy, I wondered if Andrew would feel lacking because he didn't have a twin.

I still think he may do so, as he gets older, but at the moment, my perspective has completely changed. I feel that he's getting a chance the girls never had, to be my only child. He has not yet had to cry in his crib because I am feeding or changing his twin -- this will come in a few weeks, I'm sure, but for now he's able to get what he wants when he wants it. I'm able to give him undivided attention and love, and I'm wistful that I missed out on that with the girls, even if I didn't realize what I was missing at the time. I'm really thankful that I'm getting to experience what it's like to mother a singleton, and to have a "babymoon" with him.

1 comment:

Jody said...

That sounds so lovely -- just what I imagined the best of a singleton after multiples would be.

I hope you're healthy very VERY soon so you can enjoy it completely. It already sounds heavenly....