I’ve been looking back through old blog posts from when we brought Zinashi home to see what it was like one week into our home life with her. I have very fuzzy memories of that time, of lack of sleep and life feeling overwhelming. It’s interesting that now I have many of the same feelings, but for different reasons. The first week at home with Elvie has been a good one, but a challenging one. The good outweighs the challenge for sure, but I want to document both because it’s so good to look back and see how far we’ve come, as well as what’s remained fantastic the whole way through. This first week feels like a victory, but there’s so much good still to come.
The main challenge in our lives has been getting enough sleep. It’s better here than at the hospital, so I hesitate to even mention it, but the truth is that I’m running on way too little sleep. Elvie alternates nights that she’ll go longer stretches between eating, giving me blocks of three to four hours between wakings, and nights that she eats every hour. I have arranged with Jarod to have a sleep in day one day a week, usually on Saturdays, and until Elvie’s sleep schedule normalizes, I’m pretty sure I will look forward to it as the highlight of my week. Everything is harder to do when I’m sleep deprived, and I’m still trying to figure out just what is reasonable to accomplish. Tackling the entire mountain of accumulated laundry in one day, it turns out, is not the wisest idea. Two giant mugs of coffee before noon, however, is.
I’m also still working out how to give each of my daughters what she needs each day. I feel like I need to give Zinashi some more of my focused time, but I’m trying to figure out what that looks like in terms of fostering attachment with Elvie. Because she is such an easygoing baby, it is easy to let her need for contact slide. I want to hold Elvie as much as possible, but Zinashi still needs time on my lap sometimes, too. When Elvie naps well, this is not an issue, but so far she’s only doing one solid nap per day, and we haven’t gotten the timing right yet to line up with things that Zinashi would like me to do with her and for her.
As an introvert, I need some time to myself each week. I’m discovering that there’s a certain grace period that allows me to function well with less time alone than usual, but that grace period is running out. My best strategy is to simply stay up later than everyone else; Elvie needs to eat shortly after midnight anyway, so staying awake for that makes sense, and I can have some time to myself in the quite house until then. It does, however, cut into the aforementioned need for extra sleep, so I’m trying to figure out a good balance between the two needs.
With the challenges come good times, and we are doing well in some key areas. So far, I’ve managed to keep up with having enough clean diapers and bottles available every day. Zinashi gets her bedtime routine every night, just like before Elvie was with us. Elvie is being fed and fed and fed some more, and consequently she continues to grow and improve and move further and further away from her malnutrition diagnosis. She’s figuring out how to make new sounds, how to move her body in new ways, and how to get the attention of each person in our family when she wants to connect. It is a joy to watch her interact with Zinashi, and to see how much Zinashi loves and wants to help her baby sister.
At one week home, we have definitely not hit any sort of normal stride, but I didn’t expect us to. In most ways, we are exactly where I anticipated we’d be, and that is good. We have weeks upon weeks to figure everything out. We are just happy to finally be home to be able to do it. I’ll go ahead and call this first week a success; we’ve worked hard, and we have loved each other well. I’ll take it. I can’t wait to get further down this road, to evaluate things at two weeks, at a month, at six months home together. Building a family takes work, and we are ready and willing to do it.