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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.
It’s been a long time since I stopped by here. No excuses or anything, it just is what it is. Let’s just dive right in then, shall we?
Today I am 35-weeks pregnant with our third little guy. I feel fortunate that aside from a really crummy first trimester and the fact that I caught every single illness Owen brought home from preschool this endless winter, this has actually been my easiest pregnancy yet. I’m sleeping, I’m not really waddling, I’ve gained less weight than before and aches and pains have been minimal. Maybe this one knows I can’t possibly handle feeling like crap while chasing the boys around.
I am officially out of cool weather maternity clothes that don’t make me look like a sausage casing, though, so if this warm weather could stick around I would be grateful.
With five weeks to go (and I truly anticipate him staying in the whole five weeks. My babies tend to stick it out till the end.), it’s only just starting to hit me that he’s coming. Soon. Someone recently asked me if I was ready for him. I stared at her a few seconds and then said, I guess I will buy some diapers soon. And…wash some baby clothes? I mean, I do want to set up his nursery and all that jazz. It just hasn’t hit me as pressing yet. Talk to me next week and I might be singing a different tune. I always pack my “just in case” hospital bag at 36 weeks. You know, in case. I won’t need it, though.
As much as I’m excited for him to be here, I’m also not in any rush. Just like I wanted to savor the last days of our family of three before Ryan was born, I am feeling that way again. Before This Little Baby 3 arrives, I want time with my boys. My boys, who alternately drive me crazy and make me want to smother them with love.
Owen, at nearly four, is a BOY now. A smart and curious boy who is writing letters and trying to sound out words. A boy who joined a soccer team and has blossomed in preschool. He is an amazing big brother to Ryan and I am so excited to see him do it again at this age. He is excited for “his” baby and all the help he can give. While he continues to give me tons of “threenager” attitude and challenges my parenting daily, I am overwhelmed with love when I look at him. He is truly an awesome kid.
At almost 22 months, Ryan is in one of my favorite stages. While he definitely exhibits some Terrible Twos-like behavior, overall he is fantastic. His language has really exploded and he talks to us all day long. Everything is “why?”, and he wants to do absolutely everything Owen does. Monkey see, monkey do. Because of this, he has already climbed onto Owen’s bike, is fearless in most endeavors, and would run head-first onto the soccer field if I let him. After a little rocky transition into a new room, we also moved the boys in together to free up the nursery. After the first month I can say for certain that it was the right idea. They bonded so much more and adore having each other there.
Ryan is my mama’s boy. He will be going a mile a minute, then instantly stop to climb in my lap for a snuggle. I know from experience he will adjust when the baby arrives, especially since he has Owen, but I do worry about him a little bit more. I worry about his transition from baby to big brother, from youngest to middle child. Hopefully it goes well!
I’m so lucky to be mommy to these boys.
And I know the gift of a sibling is the best thing I can give them. Come June, my lap and heart are just going to be so full. I can’t wait.