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It’s been a month since your fourth birthday and so far I have to say, I like four better than three . Don’t get me wrong, we had some great times last year, but we also were introduced to Owen the “threenager”, and he was more often than not grumpy and defiant. While you still have some tough moments, I’m beginning to see you coming out of your angst and shining through as a really cool, smart, and insightful kid.
You seem so big to me now. Part of it is that the moment Drew was born, both you and Ryan seemingly grew three feet overnight. But that’s not the whole reason. You are a preschooler — a kid who likes to read, and build, and explore. A kid who fearlessly rides his bike down hills and makes up funny songs. You are sensitive, and your capacity for love is overwhelming. When you’re not beating up your brother, you are hugging and kissing him. You throw yourself into my arms when you first see me in the morning and your adoration for your daddy is written all over your face. And you LOVE your baby Drew. Sometimes I catch you just lying next to him holding his hand. The other day I was in the kitchen when you yelled for me to come quickly.
“Mommy! Drew smiled at me so big! I feel so special!”
Well, I teared up right there.
Every mother who has encountered you has taken me aside and told me you are just so sweet, just so kind. And so inquisitive. This part always makes me laugh because, oh buddy, do you ask a lot of questions. There is so much in this world to know, and you want to know it all. You begin talking as soon as your eyes open (which is still usually no later than 6:15 a.m.), and continue all day. Sometimes the questions are silly (or make no sense, really). Other times they are really interesting and make me stop and think before answering. And sometimes they are really tough.
My mom always said age four is magical — that the attitude calms down a bit and the child begins to say very profound things. I’m finding that to be true, as now you are beginning to ask the hard questions; questions about why people are different shapes and sizes, what it means to die, questions about god. You ask the things I don’t always have the answers to and I can feel the protective bubble I’ve been able to keep you in slowly beginning to burst. I hope I do my best in answering these things for you, while also keeping you as innocent as I can for a few more years. The world isn’t always a good place, my love. For now, I only want you to see the best in it.
I’m really proud to be your mommy. You make me laugh with your goofball humor and you might not notice it, but I often find myself just staring at you, especially while holding your baby brother, and wondering where the time is going. Your chubby baby cheeks have long given way to those of a long and lean boy, but your eyes continue to twinkle as brightly as the first moment I held you.
Here’s to your fourth year, Mr. O. I can’t wait to see what it will bring.
I love you through and through.
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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.
Oh, hey! I had a baby! Three weeks ago! Andrew “Drew” Jay joined us on June 8th. We are overcome with love and happiness. Here is his story.
On Friday, June 6th, I felt off. I can’t explain it exactly, but I felt differently than I had the previous 39 week. I was also losing my mucus plug (Oops! Sorry! Gross TMI birth stuff a must.), and since the same thing happened the entire day before my labor started with Ryan, I had an inkling this baby’s birthday was not far off. At just four days from my due date and having experienced lots of false contractions near the end of this pregnancy, I didn’t expect much to happen, but I called my mom anyway and told her maybe it was a good idea if she made the 3.5 hour journey my way. She agreed, and I went off to get a much anticipated pre-baby pedicure. I left the appointment with pretty toes, and headed to the grocery store.
While I was in the checkout line, I started to feel tired. SO TIRED. Like, about to fall over with exhaustion tired. It frightened me for a second until it passed, but reiterated what I already knew: something was up. A few hours later my mom arrived and we spent a nice day with the boys playing, planting flowers, and just…waiting for something to start. I was REALLY grumpy all day, too. Just like before Ryan. It did not go unnoticed haha!
Friday came and went without incident. Saturday morning I heard Owen calling for me at 6 a.m. I stood up and had a very mild contraction. I didn’t think much of it (again, lots of false labor), and went about my morning. The contractions continued on and off, but were not very strong nor regular. Sometimes I would have one an hour. Then maybe three. Then none. I was frustrated. I wanted labor to either ramp up, or the contractions to stop. Not this in-between nonsense. I was grumpy and emotional. Michael was supposed to be at work but after lots of back and forth (and an emotional breakdown from me), he decided to stay home. I’m so glad he did, because it was one less thing for me to stress about.
By the afternoon the contractions were stronger, but still not regular. Ten minutes apart. Then 22. Then five. Then THEY WOULD STOP. I started to walk circles around our cul-de-sac, occasionally being stopped by neighbors wanting to chat about how I was doing. By seven p.m., 13 hours after the contractions started, I had fed the boys, given them a bath, and done their nighttime routine. In that way, I was glad the labor had progressed as it had, because I was able to give them that stability and say goodnight to them. I told Owen there was a good chance I wouldn’t be home in the morning and his grandmother would be here instead. He understood what that meant and happily kissed me goodnight.
After the boys went to bed, it was almost as though my brain allowed by body to really get going. I bounced on an exercise ball and the contractions got more intense and closer together. For the first time, I experienced back labor (OW), so my mom would push on my lower back during a contraction. It helped a ton. This went on from 8-10:30 when suddenly…the contractions stopped. Cold turkey. That’s it. I’m done. I’m going to bed, I thought. If I wasn’t going to have a baby tonight, I wanted to go to sleep. I was exhausted from laboring all day. Just before 11, I texted my sister who was almost at my house. I told her to let herself in, lock the door, and I would wake her if anything happened. I got ready for bed, climbed in next to Michael, and we heard the door open.
“Your sister is here,” he said.
“Yeah, I hear her,” I replied, grumpily.
And then my water broke.
I shuffled to the bathroom to get stuff together as Michael let the hospital know we were on our way, called his mom to come stay with the boys and gathered up last minute items. Those mild and irregular contractions had instantly turned into strong and regular ones after my water broke, so I didn’t feel like hanging around the house much longer. By 11:40 we were in the car and making the short, familiar drive to the hospital. All my babies began their labors at night, so there is something nostalgic about that middle of the night drive for me. Though, contractions in a car are hell. Pure hell.
We arrived in no time at all, and soon enough I was changing into a particularly difficult hospital gown. (It took three of us to figure out the snaps on it!) I was hooked up to the IV and the fetal heartbeat monitor, and tried to find a comfortable position, which proved difficult with the contractions now only seconds apart. Michael applied pressure to my back and I worked through some of them laboring on my hands and knees. When I was checked, I was dilated to about five centimeters, and decided to once again get the epidural. The anesthesiologist was already on the floor, so it wasn’t long before I was being prepped for what I knew would be sweet relief.
I leaned into my wonderful nurse as the epidural was put it, and tried to focus on the sound of my baby’s heart beat coming through the monitor. I told myself the pain was worth it. It was bringing him to me. And soon I would feel relief and could rest. There were no longer breaks between the contractions, and I began to wrestle with my thoughts. I didn’t feel like I could do it any more. The pain so so intense and so constant. I tried to tell myself it would be easier soon, but I didn’t believe my own words.
Finally the epidural was in, and I leaned back onto the bed. I knew from my previous births that relief would come shortly. Only, it didn’t. Suddenly I began to feel intense burning and shouted at the nurse that something was wrong. She calmly said she would check things out, and her check revealed I was fully dilated and the baby was on his way out. Looking back, I realize now I was going through transition while sitting absolutely still for the epidural. Which explains the crazy head games and also ALL THE PAIN.
I am told Andrew was born in just minutes, but it felt like hours. I now understand what women mean when they speak of the “ring of fire”. I had always wanted a natural birth, but changed my mind in the end. This time, I didn’t have a choice. Drew was born the fastest of all my babies at 1:01 a.m., just an hour and a half after my water broke and hard labor began. And…before the epidural kicked in. As a matter of fact, the only thing I got from the epidural before they took it out was tingly feet 10 minutes after he was born. I won’t lie. It was the most painful hour and a half of my life, but I felt amazing afterwards. Like a rock star!
He was placed on my chest and my heart once again filled with love for our new son. He had a full head of dark hair, the longest fingers and toes, and lungs that announced to all he was here. We lay skin-to-skin while I delivered the placenta, and soon he began to nurse.
A few hours later, Michael brought Owen and Ryan to meet their new brother. Suddenly we were a party of five. In the time he’s been here, I find myself delirious both with lack of sleep and love. Every day is more challenging than I thought it would be, but oh. My three little boys. I am so very lucky.