When we came home from the hospital, Elliott was super excited to inspect his new sister. He had only seen her for a few minutes in the hospital, and there was a lot going on, so we enjoyed watching him hold her for the first time in the quiet of our home. He was smiling from ear to ear looking her over, touching her little hands and tiny toes. He kept saying over and over in his sweet little baby talk voice "aw my Julie-annie... my baby sister." It was precious!
[My mom was a huge help the first week. She kept E for us for most of the week. He came to visit, but we needed a little time to get settled, and learn Julianne's personality before we were ready to really dive into life as four. She made sure to give him lots of extra attention to help balance all the attention we were having to give Julianne.]
When we had Elliott, we were re-admitted for jaundice after our first night home. I was a wreck. He wouldn't eat, he wouldn't use the bathroom... he was either screaming or lethargic. I cried when they re-admitted us. (see here.) It was terrifying for a first time mom. I was totally caught off guard. He ended up loosing almost a pound, and we had lots of trouble nursing and gaining weight for the entire first month. (see here.)
So, when they told us as we were being discharged with Julianne that we would need to go for blood work the following morning because her bilirubin levels were borderline for needing photo therapy, I felt much more prepared. I spent our first night home working hard to get her to use the bathroom to bring her levels down. We nursed every two hours, I pumped, and gave her anything I got from a syringe, in addition to some formula. We went in to see our pediatrician the next morning for blood work, and despite my efforts, her levels had increased and her weight was dropping. So back to the hospital we went. My parents had to go to Arkadelphia early the next morning for my sister-in-law's college graduation, so Gary stayed home with Elliott and I spent the night at the hospital with Julianne.
It was a terrible night. We weren't able to be re-admitted on the maternity floor like we were with Elliott. Instead, we were in the main hospital, with nurses who weren't accustom to working with newborns. Julianne hated not being held, and refused to take a pacifier, so she screamed most of the time she was under the lights. It was heartbreaking for a hormonal momma to watch. I worked hard again that night to triple feed - nursing, pumping and supplementing every two hours, listening to my screaming baby in between. (On top of all that, I was having painful contractions as my body was working to pass a 3 inch clot!) I got very little sleep.
The next morning three different nurses attempted to draw blood from Julianne to check her levels. As I mentioned before, they weren't use to drawing blood from an infant. It was painful to watch, and the final nurse was extremely rude. I was on the verge of tears, when Gary and Elliott arrived. They brought donuts and coffee and gave me a much needed boost of encouragement. They couldn't stay long, because a hospital is not the ideal place for a two-year-old to hang out for an extended period of time, but it was just what I needed.
Shortly after they left, I was relieved to find that my hard work had paid off! Julianne had gained 3 ounces over night, and her bilirubin level dropped from 17 to 12. We were discharged and instructed to start weight checks with our pediatrician on Monday until she got back up to her birth weight.
We were finally all home as a family of four! Within a couple of hours, Elliott had picked Julianne up out of her swing and was carrying her across the living room. I almost had a heart attack, but we can laugh about how cute it was now.
The first night went much better than I expected. It almost felt natural. I continued to work hard triple feeding to help Julianne gain weight and continue to flush out the jaundice. It didn't seem nearly as stressful this time. She nurses quickly and efficiently, and I feel more confident as a mother having done this all before. We find we can sooth her much quicker that we could Elliott. We are both much more relaxed, and I think it's rubbed off on her.
Elliott had colic/ reflux and spent most of the first six weeks screaming if we weren't standing up bouncing him while he was wrapped tightly in a swaddle blanket. It was rough. It took time to learn how to soothe him, and we were stressed and exhausted in the process. This time around it has been much easier. Julianne nurses and then goes right back to sleep. She doesn't seem to notice all the chaos around her, she just snoozes away. She rarely cries, and when she does, it's likely because she's ready for a diaper change and wants to eat.
I'd say adjusting to life as 4 has been a much easier adjustment than adjusting to life as 3. Maybe it's because Julianne is more laid back than Elliot was, or maybe we are, or maybe it's both. Either way, you know what to expect the second time, and you know how to handle most of what your newborn throws at you. I've been pleasantly surprised.
|^^^ Julianne meeting Grandma for the first time. ^^^|
|^^^ Elliott helping with the first bath. ^^^|
He's very protective of her too. He does't care for other people holding her. He often insists that she be with me, like he knows that's where she belongs. The only time I've seen him jealous is when his Pia holds her. He's not ok with sharing her :)
The other night we were in the car heading to Sonic for milkshakes, and Elliott was talking to a crying Julianne in the backseat. He said "It's ok Julianne, we're going to Sonic, it's gonna be fun!" Another time she was crying and he asked her "Julie-Annie, are you trying to tell me something?" I hope he'll always look after his little sister like he does now.
Life as four has been great. Julianne is bringing all kinds of new joys to our family. Watching Elliott interact with her has been one of the greatest joys. Sure, our house is a mess, and we're always in need of a cup of coffee, but we wouldn't have it any other way.