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I survey the situation from my place on the couch, the cup of coffee I’ve already reheated three times cold again in my hand. The floor is littered with Matchbox cars, discarded stickers and various bits and pieces of other toys. Dog hair tumbleweeds around the furniture. I need to vacuum, but that would require buying some new vacuum bags, and if we’re being honest, last week I just pulled some old hair out of the last bag to make some room. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink; bloated, milk-logged Cheerios floating amongst coffee grounds.

It’s 8 o’clock in the morning. The older boys are still playing fairly well together, though very loudly, but I know the clock is ticking. Some time in the next 45 minutes their bro love will expire and they will transform into shrieking bear cubs tackling each other (and getting covered in dog hair). I know I should get up and start getting us ready for our day. The baby is napping — thank goodness — though it’s taken much longer to get him down than it did even a week ago. He needed to nurse more, had to poop, wanted to check out the world around him. When I nuzzled his neck before placing him in the crib, I noticed he smelled faintly of parmesan. I make a mental note to wash away the traces of spit up when he wakes up.

I’m tired. Six weeks of middle-of-the-night baby time coupled with refereeing the older two is catching up with me. The bags under my eyes can no longer be hidden by makeup. I avoid showing my face when we Skype with my mom so I don’t have to hear her say I look tired. I know I look tired. I AM tired.

I hurl myself up and head to my room. The clothing situation is bleak. I throw on a clean(ish) nursing bra, one of the few shirts that doesn’t emphasize the postpartum middle fluff, and a pair of stretchy shorts I got at Walmart for $3.77. I do my best attempt at eye circle coverage, and twist my hair into a top knot.

I return to the living room just in time to catch the tail-end of an argument over…blocks? A truck? World peace? I don’t even know. Whatever the reason, it involves shrieking, and I end up yelling at them to just leave your brother alone already! before hustling them into clothes and out the front door. Go. Play. Now. I reheat my coffee for the fourth time and join them outside.

They play. Eventually I hear Drew stirring and go to retrieve him. He screams bloody murder as I change his diaper (how DARE I?), but is content when we settle into the Adirondack chair to nurse. As we do, I occasionally have to shoo his brothers away from him, telling them to get out of his face while he’s eating. Repeat this process all day.

~

I know how this sounds. It sounds like I’m not so much into this three kid thing. Truthfully, it’s hard. It’s harder than I thought it would be. We are finding our groove and it’s certainly getting more manageable, but still. For every easy hour there are a handful of tough ones. The biggest challenge? I’m just totally outnumbered. It’s nearly impossible to attend to everyone at once. I just don’t have enough hands!

Despite all that, this three kids thing is also pretty spectacular. Owen and Ryan absolutely adore Drew. The first thing Ryan asks for every morning is “Baby Dooooo”, and Owen has really begun to shine in his role as Biggest Brother. And Drew? Oh, my littlest boy. He is pure sweetness and everything that is good. He’s a bit fussier than I would like, but he sleeps fairly decently and graces us with big gummy smiles and coos. And when he doesn’t smell like parmesan, he smells pretty delicious.

I know eventually the postpartum pounds will drop away, I will sleep through the night again, and my boys will graduate from shouting “THAT’S MINE!” to at least not needing me to referee every fight. I know this is a season in life and one day I will look back on it wistfully. So I am doing my best to stay in the moment and navigate with grace.

Unshowered, sleepy, occasionally grumpy grace, but grace none-the-less.

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I blame it on that smell.

It lingers in the fold of his neck, grazing his cheek and wafting up towards me as I nuzzle into him. It’s not the newborn smell anymore, the smell I could never quite pinpoint the origin 0f (though I swear it came from his eyes), but the smell of baby. Sweet, pink, baby smell.

My baby fever is returning. I wasn’t expecting it so soon, but it here it is knocking at the door. It surprises me, this pull towards another baby, because I couldn’t even begin to imagine another so soon after Owen. It wasn’t until he was a year old that I even started to consider it seriously.

Ryan will be eight months in just a few days and I can’t believe he is that much closer to turning one. Maybe it’s because he’s my second and there is so much more going on, but I feel like his first year of life is hurtling by me at top speed. He spoke his first word — “mama” (be still my heart). Yesterday he was thisclose to getting up on his knees, prevented only by one chubby leg getting stuck. It’s all just happening so quickly.

A few months ago I found myself in the “two week wait”, wondering if a positive pregnancy test would be at the end. It wasn’t planned — I felt it was too soon. I wasn’t ready, not at all. While I worried about taking away from Ryan’s babyhood, about throwing yet another baby on Owen, about my milk supply drying up from pregnancy before Ryan was even a year…Michael calmly and happily said another baby wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The more we talked about it, the more I began to think maybe he was right.

As it turns out, I wasn’t pregnant. As I stared at a single pink line on the stick I felt relief, and just enough disappointment to know that our family isn’t full yet.

Something has shifted in the last few weeks. As I watch my boys double over in giggles while they play with each other, my heart swells and whispers to my head, another baby.

It would be a lot, sure. A lot, a lot. I’m tired now, you know? I just got back to my happy weight. I’m still nursing. I just got one out of diapers. There are enough reasons to rationalize it’s too soon, and yet I feel myself starting to ache for the time to be now.

My body, as it turns out, is in control. I didn’t ovulate for 14 months after Owen, and while it appeared I was trying to a few months ago, I’m pretty sure I haven’t yet as my cycles haven’t returned. Because of that, I might be longing for #3 for quite awhile.

Don’t get me wrong, my boys — OH, my boys. I don’t want another baby to replace the two who are growing so quickly. I want another baby because I’ve tasted how delicious this time is and I want more of it.

It’s really the smell’s fault. If only the baby didn’t smell so good.

Although, sometimes the baby smells like yogurt…

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- I finally took the Christmas decor down last week and now it is glaringly obvious that there is nothing hanging on the unpainted walls. My living room is basically a sterile environment. If you don’t count the Cheerio crumbs and dog hair. I started to pin ideas for the room so if you follow me on Pinterest, I apologize for the recent onslaught of photos of mantels and gallery walls. I would also love to paint, but the room is big and neither Michael nor I likes to paint. Hiring someone isn’t in the budget right now so either we suck it up and do it ourselves, or continue to live in the vast whiteness.

- Anyone remember when we watched my mother-in-law’s crazy dog last year? I swore it would not be a repeat thing, and yet, here we are one year later and about to embark on 13 days with Lucy. Last year she was skittish and whiny and afraid of men. Which meant that any time Michael would come into the house…she would pee. And then, to add icing to the cake, she freaked out and expressed her anal glands in my kitchen, and I’ll just take a moment to let that sink in.

Expressed her anal glands. In my kitchen.

That smell is burned in my memory and so help me, if she does it again I am shipping her off to Florida so my MIL an deal with it. So, SO gross.

- Speaking of my MIL, she bought a cow. Not a whole cow, not even half of a cow. She bought something like a fourth of a cow so we could split it between us. Only, we don’t really eat that much red meat. Maybe once or twice a month. She was insistent, however, so now the entire bottom half of my freezer if filled with beef. Because even splitting up a fourth of a cow is still hundreds of pounds of cow. I’m not kidding when I tell you this meat will last us a year, maybe more. There’s just so.much.beef. I’m going to have to host a beef party or something just to put a dent in it.

Except a beef party sounds disgusting. No one would come if I cordially invited them to a beef party. Or they would, but they would think it was an entirely different type of party with a whole different kind of beef, if you catch my drift. And that would be awkward.

- No baby. Seems at this point I should start off with that…ha! We are at the point where I have to text, not call, my family or they automatically answer the phone with, “Baby??????” Well-meaning friends check in daily for updates too. Only, there isn’t any. He’s still in there.

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Today I’m 39 weeks 2 days, the exact day Owen was born. I thought for SURE #2 would be here by now, even if only ahead by a day. He is making it very clear that he’s going to do things his way.

We have done all the Get Out tricks short of Caster Oil (because, yuck), but I guess until he’s ready, they won’t work. That doesn’t stop me from starting each day by issuing a verbal eviction notice.

- The good thing about still being pregnant is that we have spent a lot of time as a family this past week. Michael was on vacation and our time together as three has been really special. Last night as we zipped around on the boat (hitting every wave, as requested by me!), I watched my little boy shriek with delight as he helped drive the boat and laugh into the wind and thought how lucky I am for these wonderful boys in my life.

- I cringe to say this, but I’m starting to understand the appeal of a minivan. The back of my Honda is packed solid. (Is Baby Got Back in your head now?)

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Two car seats! Eeep! (For anyone interested, that’s a Graco Snugride and a Britax Boulevard. I’m a big fan of both.)

- What can I eat for breakfast to induce labor? I’m thinking leftovers blueberry pie… (What?!)

This weekend the clouds parted and graced us with two days of sun, the first in a week. We celebrated by spending as much time outside as possible. Our front and back yards are two of Owen’s favorite places to play, but the beauty of where we live is within minutes our toes can be in the sand.

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We explored. We discovered rocks and shells and the feeling of sand falling between our fingers. We threw rocks in the ocean and chased seagulls. Yesterday, in an effort to combat Owen’s afternoon crankies, I grabbed a bucket, plopped our butts in the sand and spent an hour hiding and unearthing a pile of rocks of with him. We left with tangled hair and smelling of salt water. It was perfect.

It hit me this weekend that our time as a family of three is running short. With just over nine weeks until baby is due, I’m noticing more and more each day how big Owen is, how personable and funny and beautiful. I want to bottle the memories of these last weeks and carry them with me, always remembering what it was like to be a mommy to one amazing little boy.

I cannot wait to meet our new baby, to watch Owen become a brother, but still, right now, I want to hold on so very tightly.

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Brothers on the beach

I know that come July I won’t be able to imagine my life without my two boys. I know that our puzzle isn’t complete yet, and baby is one of the pieces we’ve been waiting for. I know that Owen won’t remember these days of just the two of us digging holes on the beach, but I will.

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I will, my little boy. And I will cherish them forever.

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