Well, here we are then: Isla is four weeks old and we have been doing this Family of Four thing for a month now.
Wow, that has flown!
I blogged three weeks ago about my first impressions of our new domestic setup. Now, things have had time to settle down a bit, so how are we getting on? Well…
Lilly is still being pretty good about the new addition. I blogged recently about their fledgling sisterly relationship. Hopefully now, Lilly can’t really remember life as an only child. And still she hasn’t been jealous or resentful. However, she is getting more confident with Isla now, which means she is more likely to try and touch her, poke her eyes or press her tummy. She never means to hurt her, but obviously she doesn’t always know how hard she’s pressing on her, or that her feet are dangerously close to kicking Isla in the head. Constant supervision is needed and you can’t leave them alone together for more than a second or two. Not easy when you’re potty training the toddler and you’re at home on your own with both of them. The other day as I was running upstairs to the toilet to empty the potty, I said to Lilly: “Don’t poke Isla while I’m upstairs, Lilly”, as she was hovering near Isla’s pram. When I came down again a few seconds later, Lilly had been good as gold and not touched her sister. Then: “Can I poke her now, mummy?” she asked…
I am still combination feeding Isla breast and bottle. This is probably a whole other post, but I’m pretty proud of myself for this as I ended up bottle feeding Lilly and never thought I’d be able to breastfeed Isla while also looking after a toddler. Poor Isla does end up getting dramatically de-latched numerous times when Lilly needs help on the potty, or has some kind of toddler incident. But it hasn’t been too bad. Lilly’s main reaction has been to request many, many drinks of milk herself, although the novelty of this seems to be wearing off now.
Isla is still a prety chilled out and sleepy baby. If if was up to her she would sleep all day until about 5pm and then have her awake time until about 10pm, then sleep all night (waking three hourly for feeding). When she decides she wants to sleep, it is pretty impossible to wake her up, even for milk. Her usual day sees a morning breastfeed on the sofa downstairs with me, then a long nap in her pram, followed by a bottle and then a little bit of awake time, followed by another long lunchtime nap. Ideally then she’ll be awake for a few hours, then in the evening she likes to tank up with a big breastfeed then bottle before bedtime, which could be 7pm if she’s been awake a while in the afternoon – or could be 11pm, if she’s been sleeping all day. During the night she’s on a 3 hour cycle, sometimes stretching to 4 and a half – those glorious 8, 9 or even 10 hour stretches she managed in the first week or so have disappeared for now!
Miraculously, Isla’s crying doesn’t seem to disturb Lilly in the night, which was one of my biggest concerns before she was born. Luckily, Isla is not a big crier, she’s a very chilled out baby, and when she does cry it isn’t really that loud. However, when she wakes for food at night, she has to have a nappy change (her poos are extremely explosive!), and she isn’t all that happy about it – so we get anything from loud snuffling to full on wailing. This only seems to have woken Lilly up once or twice, much better than expected. However, Lilly’s sleeping is still not great – she tends to wake once or twice a night and come running into our room, wanting to be tucked back into bed and for us to “Do A Sssssshhhh”. And she’s up at 5.50am for the day these days, way before her sleepy little sister!
One of the biggest challenges I already feel very aware of is spending enough “quality” time with both the girls. On the days when I have both of them on my own I try hard to do at least one really fun thing with Lilly – making cakes, doing painting, playdoh or some arts and crafts stuff. I also try to do some book reading or colouring. But for sanity’s sake we still rely quite a lot on CBeebies and numerous kids programmes on Sky Plus! Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been as good as I wanted it to be lately – lots of rain – so we haven’t got around to all the outdoorsy things I imagined pre-baby. But after the experience of taking the two of them to Ikea, when I actually had help from my mum and it was still one of those “Oh My God How Do People Manage More Than Two Children” moments, perhaps I need to take it slowly!
As for quality time with Isla – well, a lot of the day she’s asleep. When she is awake I try to give her plenty of attention, but it is hard because if Lilly is awake then inevitably she manages to take centre stage with her numerous toddler needs while Isla is pretty relaxed about life. If Isla’s awake time comes after Lilly has gone to bed, I try to spend plenty of time cuddling her and talking to her, or letting her play on her mat or bouncy chair. But then again, in the evenings I have bottles to wash, sterilisers to change, muddles to de-muddle all over the house, dinner to make, shopping lists to prepare, washing to hang up etc etc. It makes me feel guilty that I’m not spending that time just with Isla. But I know being a mummy is all about guilt, I just try to offset it with making quality time whenever I can!
I’ve also been trying hard to establish some kind of bedtime routine. As Tony works in the evenings it is down to me most nights to put both the girls to bed single handedly. Lilly, thankfully, is in a very good routine of teeth, story & milk, tucking in and sleep, so I’m working the new routine around the part that already works. At present the plan is to take both girls upstairs at 6pm, put CBeebies bedtime hour on in our bedroom while I change Isla and give her a big feed. Lilly either sits in bed with me watching TV or plays (causes a huge mess) in her bedroom… or both. Once Isla has had her fill, I put her down in her moses basket and get on with Lilly’s bedtime routine. If things go to plan, Isla is asleep, or almost there, by the time Lilly is down.
And, Isla is now a month old. In terms of her development we can see her putting on weight and getting a little bit chubbier – I’m sure she has the beginnings of a first smile at the moment too, can’t wait for that! She has also got a lot stronger holding up her head already – she began life very floppy, compared to Lilly, who was able to hold her head for quite a long time from day one! We are also starting to hear the occasional coo sound, which again is lovely. Her eyes are still a very dark, deep blue, and her hair is still all there – and it’s jet black still. We have had to say goodbye to the newborn clothes already as her legs are quite long, and so are her toes… they were getting bent back in the smallest size! We are still in the size 1 nappies but soon will need size 2.
So, that’s life in our household at the moment! It is a pretty 24-hour lifestyle at present! But well worth it.