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Three weeks in and Hanukkah 2020

It’s now been almost three weeks since we had our little Aaron. Everything has been going well, Aaron gained weight at a healthy clip and is healthy. I’m recovering on schedule, though definitely slower than with Adam, in no small part because having a toddler and a newborn is more difficult than caring for just a newborn.

One thing I’ve quickly realized with having a second was how intense the learning curve was the first time around. We didn’t remember everything, but we did fall into a pattern quickly with this one, and were less worried about everything. We have an established plan for feeding, we know how to change diapers, and we generally feel more comfortable with this delicate, new little human than we did with the first. It’s still exhausting like no other exhaustion, especially when he goes through nights of waking up every hour, but there’s less stress this time. I also am more in tune with my own moods this time, in particular I know that a little sleep will go a long way when I start feeling sad, and I know when to ask for help. Usually I just need a break and a nap, and that snaps me out of whatever slump I find myself in.

We also quickly learned how different children can be immediately. For instance, Adam would get out of all swaddles we tried to craft with receiving blankets, and generally rebelled against heat, even now he prefers lower temperatures. Aaron is happy to remain swaddled, and reacts very negatively to the cold. I suddenly realize why there are so many products on the market for everything from soothing and sleeping to feeding. Parenting advice really has to be taken with a grain of salt, since what works well with one newborn may completely fail with another. So that learning curve I mentioned? Turns out we did still need to learn some new things with this one!

It’s not been all baby though. With all of us home, a few house things have gotten done. The big one is solar finally going online! Our solar project began back in September, so we were waiting on a series of inspections that needed to happen before we could actually switch it on. I’m excited that it’s finally done because it’s a cool new system with the Powerwalls, but I’m really excited to see out electricity bills drop, which were getting to be quite excessive during the hottest periods of the year.

We also went into San Francisco for my first time this year. In spite of being regular visitors since we moved away, I never made it prior to the pandemic in 2020 due to traveling elsewhere a lot. Then the pandemic restrictions have kept me close to home in the east bay for the rest of the year. This time was an important visit though, to see our Rabbi and Mohel for Aaron’s bris and baby naming. Due to restrictions, we couldn’t have guests from outside our household, and had to do it in a doctor’s office instead of at the synagogue, but we were able to do a video conference and actually have more family in attendance than we normally would have been able to! Silver linings. As an aside, I had some reservations about writing about this here. Both religious gatherings of any type outside of the household and the bris itself are controversial topics. As a Jewish family, the decision to do a bris is one made millenniums ago. The gathering which included the Rabbi in person (the Mohel was required) was a risk we took, because we felt it was important to Aaron’s path. After doing such a big event with family flying in and a whole social gathering with food at the synagogue, it broke our hearts to do something so much smaller for our second son, so we wanted to do all we could to make this event as special as we could, even in light of the pandemic.

And then there was Hanukkah! I prepared everything before going into the hospital, which ended up being the right move, even if it did make me extra tired at the tail end of the pregnancy. As I mentioned in a previous post, a pile of wrapped presents were placed inside the rails of our model train. Beyond that, a few decorations were scattered around the house, and while we were in the hospital our au pair and Adam took care of putting up some lights and Hanukkah garland that I ran out of energy to put up. Finally, I ordered some Hanukkah pajamas for the boys, so we could take some photos of Aaron’s first Hanukkah and Adam’s second.

Food-wise, we were quite over-stocked! Relgious-wise, Hanukkah is not an important Jewish holiday. However, it’s proximity to Christmas and the delightful celebration centered around delicious foods and eight nights of candles and gifts for children make it a popular one in the US. We ended up ordering a Hanukkah meal with brisket and latkes from a Jewish deli in San Francisco, and also getting some fancy doughnuts from a diner in town. Finally, a family friend dropped off an assortment of delicious cookies!

In the midst of Hanukkah celebrations, we also celebrated Caligula’s 17th birthday on December 13th. We’re slowly integrating his new kidney disease diet, but not as quickly as I’d like just due to exhaustion. He seems to be doing well though, he quickly adjusted to the new baby at home, and most days he spends mid-day upstairs in the family room with all of us lounging in the sun and getting familiar with his growing human tribe.

I began this post by mentioning my own postpartum recovery. I took my first walk outside last Friday, and while there was still pain, it was very nice to go out for something other than a doctor’s appointment. On Saturday we ventured out to the outdoor farmer’s market for the first time since before the little one arrived. In general, I’m finding each day to be a little easier, and I’m able to do a few more chores around the house. I still need to avoid picking up Adam, since he’s over the weight limit I’m allowed for a couple more weeks, but there’s plenty to do house-wise without any toddler carrying! I wish I could say I was enjoying having a break from a bunch of the chores, but it’s actually been somewhat stressful as things pile up and I know these tasks await me when I’m feeling better. Still, I am doing my best to take it slow with this recovery so I get to the end more quickly and with as little pain as possible in the meantime.