Thursday, July 26, 2012

Perfect ten

July 26, 2002
My dearest husband,

Exactly 10 years ago today, I woke up early to a summer rain shower.  Even though we planned an outdoor wedding, the weather didn't concern me in the least.  There was a smile on my face that wouldn't be shaken.  Because I knew that rain or shine, no matter what the setting for the ceremony, that day I would be marrying the love of my life.  When the sun set and the day ended, when all of our friends and family headed back to their respective lives, I was beginning my happily ever after.

It's hard for me to believe that what started with me writing you notes on our clarinet sheet music in band class 20 years ago (!) has grown into something so fundamental to my being.  I simply would not be who I am today without you.  When we first started dating, I used to worry that one day you would realize that I am not really as wonderful as I seem to be through your eyes, and you would end the relationship.  I am as flawed as anyone, but you don't seem to notice.  You find my idiosyncrasies endearing, you don't let my bitter moods get between us.  I never feel more comfortable in my own skin than when I am with you.  After all we've been through together, I no longer fear that you'll come to your senses... besides, the child support would be insane.  ;)

It's been almost 16 years since our first date, and a decade since our wedding, yet I still get that giddy feeling in my stomach when you take me on a date.  I remember the day after you, my biggest and seemingly unattainable crush, asked me to Homecoming our junior year of high school.  I was standing at the top of the ramped entrance to the cafeteria during lunchtime.  I caught your eye down below, sitting with your friends from the football team.  You smiled at me and gave a small wave, and I waved back.  What you couldn't see was that my heart skipped a beat and then dropped into my feet.  Fast forward through the years, and today I still can't wait for you to come home from work -- not just to have your help with the kids (although dude, I totally need your help with these kids), but because being around you simply makes me happier.  You can still reduce me to a puddle when you walk in the door and smile at me in the way you do that says, "Thank goodness you are here, there is no one else in the world I'd rather be with right now."

Now we are in the grind of daily life.  We spend our days working to exhaustion for our children.  Four gorgeous boys who exist because we love each other and went to great lengths to build a family together.  They will grow up and be men one day, men who may have spouses and children of their own, who will always remember their shared childhood in our home.  (Some therapy can probably help them get through that.)  It's a lot of responsibility for us, and it's a lot of hard work.  And when our boys do eventually leave us for their adult lives, our house will feel quiet and empty.  I can bring myself to tears just thinking about how much I will miss them.  But I take heart knowing that you will be here with me.  I know we will still be happy just to be spending time together, whether it's shopping at the grocery store or trying out a fancy new restaurant.  It was you and me in the beginning, and it will be you and me in the end.

Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for putting up with me, for telling me that I am beautiful, for making me laugh every day, for hugging me when I feel down, for indulging my whims, for treating me with respect, for providing for me, for letting me listen to my radio station in the car, for cooking me the recipes that I rip out of magazines, for being my best friend.

Thank goodness you are here, there is no one else in the world I'd rather be with.

I love you always,

Sunny xoxo


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On holding my baby and holding my breath

In addition to struggling to find the time to post these days, which requires more than 60 second intervals to gather and express coherent thoughts, I've been having a bit of bloggy block.  Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, maybe it's the lack of time to process what's going on, or -- very likely -- it's because I feel like I'm on an emotional rollercoaster and it's hard to talk about.

In the comments of my last post, the very sweet Mina (newly minted mommy of two!) said, "I would very much like to hear how your life is right now, how the little one is adjusting, how the nursing and sleeping are going (peachy, I hope), yadayada."

From the trenches of my daily grind, it was comforting to know that someone was out there, listening for my voice.  I will try to use her questions to guide my wandering mind.

Let's start with the easy question: how the nursing is going.  GREAT!  After stumbling through the mechanics with my first baby, and then fighting with my supply while breastfeeding twins, I have had my groove with this little man from day one.  I continue with my fenugreek supplements and we have no issues.  The doctor confirmed it when she told us that the baby is in the 95th percentile for both height (24.5 inches) and weight (13 lbs 3 oz) as of his 2-month appointment five days ago.  I have no doubt we'll make it to my 12-month goal -- barring divine intervention, of course -- and then we'll see how the baby and I feel about continuing.  Bean, if you'll recall, self-weaned at 18 months due to my pregnancy with the twins, and I actively weaned Nix and Gax at a year because my breasts were starting to talk mutiny.  But yes, after four children I have finally mastered breastfeeding.  Go me!

Sleeping.  Well, on the bright side, I do a whole heck of a lot more of it than I did when the twins were infants.  This baby is definitely the best sleeper of any previous newborn in this household.  But that's relative, of course.  I'm still up with the baby two times each night, nursing and changing diapers... and then on top of that, Bean is usually up at least once with some crisis, and we occasionally get a twin needing attention as well.  While I am far from the fog of twinfants (DH and I often lament that we have no memory of the first year of their lives), I am not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed either.  Fortunately they make tinted moisturizer.

The baby is adjusting to Life in Chaos very well.  He is loves watching his older brothers at play; it seems like he wants to jump out of his bouncy seat and join the shenanigans.  All in good time, my little man, all in good time.  I am in heaven, snuggling with him and smelling his head.  I have to restrain myself from eating him right up.  He is happy and easy-going and seems to enjoy life so far.  And his brothers, for their part, are really enjoying him as well.  Bean loves to hold him and wants to take care of him.  Nix still covers him with toys and likes to put his face REALLYCLOSETOTHEBABY'SFACE and repeat, "Hi Hukey! Hi Hukey!"  Gax is a little less enthusiastic -- he will tell me that the baby doesn't want to eat when I nurse him, or he tells me that the baby wants to go in the swing when I hold him.  But no major issues, thank goodness.  I think with children seeming to materialize out of thin air around here, the appearance of another one doesn't phase them much.

The answer to how I am adjusting, though, isn't so clear.  I was chatting with a neighbor yesterday, who has three grown daughters who are close in age. She and their father divorced when the girls were little, so she raised them as a single mom.  She asked how it was going, and I admitted to her that I was feeling overwhelmed.  She nodded knowingly and said, "This is the time of life that you are one-hundred percent focused on their needs.  You don't have any time for yourself.  It's hard."

And it's true.  I gave birth to four babies in four years.  Most people don't do that, for good reason.  Three of them are in diapers.  Three of them can't communicate in full sentences.  (The twins are stringing 2-3 words together, but it's far from completely fluent language.)  I realize parenting is a 24/7 job, but meeting the constant basic needs of my children is absolutely exhausting to me.

I'm not sure how the subject came up, but DH and I were talking about retirement.  I told him I want to sell our house, buy a tricked-out RV, and travel across the country with him like one of my mom's friends does with her hubby.  I can't imagine anything better: spending time with my best friend, completely free, seeing all the sights and having new experiences.  He was a bit surprised to hear this, because the nomadic lifestyle doesn't exactly fit with my personality.  But I've really latched on to it and think about it often.  My inner counselor finally spoke up and said, "The reason you have this fantasy is because it speaks to what is missing in your life right now."  DUH!  Although DH and I do a darn good job of feeding our marriage, if I do say so myself, we are far from our ideal of quality time spent together.  I miss him so much!  And leaving the house is quite a production.  Well, not so much the logistics of leaving the house -- I'm actually pretty good at rounding up the munchkins, making them presentable, and getting them in the car.  But we can't just go ANYWHERE at ANY TIME.  It must be somewhere contained, unless I have a whole team of adults with me.  It must not conflict with meal time or nap time, because keeping our schedule means keeping us sane.  There are times when I just feel so... fettered.

Now I mentioned that these emotions were a rollercoaster, and that's true.  What I detailed above is obviously the down.  But it's not all doom and gloom -- I still absolutely love being a stay-at-home mom to these boys.  I feel very lucky and I'm grateful to DH for his hard work to make this happen.  And although I occasionally feel a pang of jealousy for my friends who have two kids and are able to maneuver through life with a little less complication, I am embracing and loving being a larger family.  When all my boys are interacting together, I can't even describe the feeling in my heart.  Each child adds so much joy to my life, and teaches me so much.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am incredibly excited for Bean, Nix, Gax, and the baby to grow up and experience life together as brothers. My family is very special to me, and I truly feel blessed.  They are adorable, hilarious, and all mine.

I am trying to work on a plan to help level out this emotional rollercoaster, to add a bit more of "myself" back into my life.  You'd think it'd be easier, given the incredible team of Geema (twinspeak for "Grandma") and Bumpa who are so willing to give of their time to lend a hand and spend time with the boys.  But with a breastfed newborn in the mix, it's not quite as simple as it used to be.  Right now my escape is the computer -- my email and forum friends give me a link to the Outside World that almost feels as important as air.  But I'd like to wean myself (well, at least a LITTLE ;) and have another hobby or focus.  Because I'm feeling so lumpy and out-of-shape, I did some soul-searching and researched my options for exercise.  I'll spare you the process, but I settled on hot yoga, which I first tried briefly more than three years ago.  There is a studio just down the street, so I can be there and back in 90 minutes.  But getting the timing right for a class is difficult, and it's too much to ask my mom to watch all four boys while I go during the week.  Evenings are still tough -- I don't want to ask DH to put all four of them to bed himself, yikes, although I'm sure he would try -- and weekends are busy and our precious few hours as a whole family when DH is home.  It all sounds like excuses, but I truly want to go and can't find a good way to make it there consistently.  Anyway, with the failure of that, I am considering going against my complete distaste for healthy eating and joining Weight Watchers.  (SlimFast is the one diet that I adore, but I can't do that one while breastfeeding.)  I'll keep you posted as to what I decide.  I'm still weighing which is more depressing to me: the thought of being overweight for the next year until I can do SlimFast again, or the thought of eating oatmeal for breakfast and forgoing my afternoon Raisinet break.

So yes, things are going.  I recognize that these are the most beautiful moments I will likely ever experience, but they are the most demanding as well.  As my babies get older, I will sleep more and they will be more independent.  But as my neighbor said, there are other challenges that come with that.  In the meantime, I am doing my best on a minute-by-minute basis, trying to savor the time when my children are small... and holding my breath until I can regain a bit more footing in my life.  Wish me luck.