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.



Mrs. Gamgee said...

I was so glad to see a post from you. You are my inspiration. You make even the tough stuff sound do-able and acheive-able. I feel like such a schmo for whining about lack of sleep and the logistics of going anywhere with two... YOU ARE AWESOME!

I was also glad to see that I'm not the only mummy to a giant. Glad to hear that nursing isn't an issue and that you are getting touch more sleep.

I am with you on wanting to find something else that is 'me' oriented. I love blogging and Pinterest could suck all my free moments, but I want something other than the internet to fill my time.

Mina said...

Wow! I was just thinking of you! And this post, I read it twice already. You seem to have read my mind. The future, immediate and long term, is also giving me a lot to think about, and for the first time in three years, my own self is on the list. And planning it all and stuff, well, it takes focus, and I am not even sure I spelled that right, not to mention actually doing it.
I am happy to hear about the good parts. More sleep makes everything better, and being able to remember is nice. :-) Things do change, without us making any effort, so being in the present is a great gift to yourself, I guess.
Hugs, mama! I am sure you'll figure everything out. :-)

JOLT said...

I am a SAHM with 2 year old twins, and I can SO relate to your need for something for yourself. When I was in a similar place about 8 months ago, I found the YMCA. I live in Seattle and go to the Dale Turner branch in Shoreline. I love it, and the kids love it! Childcare is included in the membership (regardless of how many kids you have) and it is wonderful childcare. I drop them off, go to a 45 minute spinning class and then, take a shower all. by. myself! The Y has been so great for me, I get time to myself, exercise, community and two happy boys who are ready to go home for nap.

AJ said...

It is tough - but you do it beautifully! Balance will come - and what constitutes "balance" will change over time. Keep doing what yuo are doing - because you are awesome and so is your family!

Mego said...

Hello! I've read your blog for awhile now, but never commented. I'm amazed at all you are doing and in awe of how the heck you are able to manage 4. I'm pregnant with my 2nd, and my first is super active... I often wonder how I'm going to manage to get out of the house.. And that's only with two kids.
I do have a suggestion for efficiently fitting working out into your schedule... It's called superslow weight training and it takes literally 20 min twice a week! I started this after I had my first and couldn't fit in my old gym schedule and I absolutely adore it! I was able to get below my pre-prego weight really quickly after a few months of doing it... And the best part is that it takes literally no time at all, yet you feel like you worked out hard core whenever you leave. I always say I feel like my arms are shaking so much I can't hold my iPhone for a few mi afterward. Lol! It's very intense 20 min and definitely expensive, but the results are freaking amazing and the time commitment is the best ever when you're a busy mom! With your sessions comes nutrition counseling ( if you want it) and that I swear has changed my life! I have learned to make healthier choices and love love love my new eating habits because they have become a way of life... Not a painful diet... I know it sounds too good to be true, but I swear it's for real! After a few mis of twice a week you can even go down to once a week and get amazing results. Most areas of the country don't have superslow... I have no idea why... But there is one in Seattle!! I looked for you:) check it out: Google superslow weight training Seattle. I can't recommend it highly enough!
Good luck! Keep us posted on how you're doing! We think you are amazing!

Mego said...

Actually, if you're thinking of doing hot yoga, it's not that much more expensive than that... But just as great of results with MUCH less time commitment. I did hot yoga before I switched to superslow last year.

Lisa said...

awww, sunny! i love your posts cause you often write SO much more eloquently what I am feeling but my brain doesn't quite write it out! :)

Glad to know you are alive and well though. And that baby boy is doing so well. So I have hope of surviving?? :)

Well you know I love ww, and I know that it works. once you get into it, it is just like normal life!

What about walking or jogging? Its free and maybe you could go in the mornings before dh leaves or when he gets home? Or when the older boys are in school? Just thinking outloud. I like the person who suggested the Y too! A shower alone sounds heavenly! ;-)

Keep up the posts when you can, we love hearing from you!! Hugs, momma!!

St Elsewhere said...

I feel overwhelmed with one kid, and here you are, running queens with four kids. When I read the part where you wanted to live the nomadic life, I actually understood that part so well...I sit on my balcony every morning for one peaceful cup of tea and watch the neighbours go through their life. I see them, not with the purpose of spying, but rather what schedules they stick to...and I see this young fellow who falls out of the door usually in his shorts to get the paper...and I am like...when will I get to wake up like that?

Life is talking clock for me.

I love to read your posts...and I hope that you will continue as and when it is possible to do so.

Most importantly, I hope you will find that emotional footing for yourself soon...some time-out that works on your schedule rather than relying solely on the quirks of kid-feet.

Erin said...

Hey there ;) I can relate 100% to this post. I can't find the time to blog, mainly because I don't have enough "me" time to think about what I want to write. It's mentally exhausting to have your thought process constantly interrupted. I have Viktor and Riley and Ira (which he's 16, quite a different scenario) and I also watch another toddler during the day. So I feel ya girlfriend!! These are the best times of our life but also the hardest, no doubt. The whole sleep disturbance every.single.night for years on end is extremely difficult as well.

I miss having my husband all to myself sometimes.

Glad to hear kids are well.

Ginny said...

I just joined WW and breastfeeding moms get an extra 14 pts. It's the only way I could do it without starving.