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.