Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Welcome to the freak show!

Do you know what time of day Eve took a bite of the apple?  I’m quite certain it was between 4:00 and 6:00pm because surely that is the hour when women everywhere (or at least mothers) are feeling the most cursed.

Consider myself no exception.

We’ve had lots of friends bringing us meals since Joci’s arrival.  It’s been AMAZING.  Naturally, they arrive at my house right around dinner time.  In other words, right around the time my kids are going CA-RAZEEEE!!
Boy bridges ... right amongst my neatly folded laundry.
Have you ever been around a puppy?  You know how they act when they first see you?  Jumping up and down, climbing on furniture, falling on the floor, peeing their pants … yup , that’s my kids.  I would say it’s downright embarrassing but most of my fellow mommy friends (at least the ones with multiple small children) just smile and say “Oh, that makes me feel so much better!”  Because really, there's nothing quite so comforting as knowing someone else has it just as "bad" as you do. :)

Apparently, we've crossed over into "large" family territory with this new babe.  We've started venturing out as a family of six.  The week after Joci was born, Jon opted to come with me to the grocery store rather than stay home with the kids.  I thought things went rather well.  Jon would disagree.  But he's also never taken the kids grocery shopping by himself.  We've also returned to Chipotle, our first time back in months!  I thought that went fairly smoothly too... once you get used to all the stares.  I mean, seriously, they're just kids.  And there's *only* four of them.  Oh, and yes, they're all mine.

One thing I'm not enjoying this month is Jon's work travel.  He's back at it, visiting the west coast on two different trips these past two weeks.  Which means if we run out of milk ... mama's taking everyone with her.  I've taken all four kids to Target twice now.  And both times I swore to myself I would not try it again.  First of all, there just aren't carts big enough to corral my offspring.  They should make them with harnesses or something, you know, like horse and buggy type deal.  I digress.  Secondly, I usually end up holding Joci most of the time.  I'll think about bringing my Moby, decide it's too difficult to wear her and keep my other three in line, and then I wind up carrying her in my arms anyway.  *sigh*  And finally, my brood requires too many bathroom breaks to accomplish any worthwhile shopping in the small space of time that the baby doesn't need to eat.  

We take corn husking very seriously around here.
Now the mall is a different story.  We went last week because Mama had a coupon for free underwear that couldn't go to waste.  Jack and Jude spent an hour in the free childcare center, the girls and I had time to visit three stores, and then we all met back up in the "Family Center" where we enjoyed a packed lunch, movie and a peaceful, quiet place to feed the little one.  Not bad Annapolis mall, not bad.

She doesn't husk the corn, she just steals the cobs and eats them raw.

And finally, we made a visit to Chick-Fil-A after stopping at the consignment store.  While we were eating two home daycare ladies came in with their kids and I could tell they were studying my table, trying to determine if I was "one of them."  Nope, all mine.  And I hang out with them all day FREE OF CHARGE!

"Mom, look at me!  LOOK AT ME, MOM!"
Yes, we are a crazy bunch.  I try to embrace the freak show.  Enjoy the novelty.  Or at least look like it when I'm out in public.  Sometimes, at home, it's another story.  So many people ask how we're doing.  And I'm still trying to find the best answer that's upbeat and still genuine.  Quite frankly, my dear, this has been one of the most difficult months of my life.  I mean, have you ever tried to put three toddlers to bed while simultaneously nursing a fussy newborn?  Or, how did I lose all this baby weight?  Well, I'll let you in on a little secret, it's called the "one and one diet."  I only eat what can be consumed with ONE hand, in ONE minute's time.  And any calories I do manage to to swallow are quickly gobbled up by my ever-growing 4-week old.  How am I sleeping?  Oh, I'm not really.  I just turn off my brain between 10pm and 6am and flip on the auto-pilot.  How do I function?  That's easy.  All I need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus!

This was before she ended up covered in corn silk...
This period of my life has been quite the experience.  I'm always hungry, usually exhausted, sometimes grumpy, occasionally short-tempered, and surprisingly lonely.  But I can honestly say I'm not unhappy.  Not one bit.  And so, when it's all been said and done, I guess my best response is "It's all good."  


And now for a shameless plug.  MOPS is starting back up this fall!  Joining MOPS was one of the best things I did last year.  There's nothing quite so exciting and encouraging as a group of moms who are enjoying breakfast and free childcare all at the same time! ;)  If you’ve never been to MOPS I highly recommend you check one out.  You can find a group near you by looking here: http://www.mops.org/groupsearch/ 

The theme this year is “A Beautiful Mess.”  I confess, I’m extremely giddy about this!  It’s going to be great for those kinds of moms that skip showers and don’t get their teeth brushed until 1:00pm, keep an entire set of Legos hidden in the couch cushions, or still have last night’s dishes in the sink. *cough, cough*  I’m sure you all know a mom like that, so you should probably invite her too.   I promise it will be good.  It's all good!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Life with Joci

It's so easy to forget what life is like with a newborn.  You forget how tiny they are, how many diapers you go through in a day, what it feels like to be so.incredibly.tired.  But you also forget about those baby sighs, that adorable horse whinny sound they make, the way they curl onto your chest and are more than happy to rest there for hours and hours.  Seriously.  I just love babies.

And this one is no exception.

She's your typical newborn - hates having a dirty diaper, squirms when she has to burp, cries when she's tired, and likes to nurse the better part of a day.  Sometimes she's up every hour and a half at night.  Other times she'll toss me a four or five hour stretch.  Often, she eats, falls asleep, waits until I'm just about there myself, and then begs to be picked back up and held just a little bit longer.  Oh, and she always, always waits until I've changed her diaper before pooping.

Speaking of poop, she initiated Uncle Jared (and his work clothes) the first time he held her.

And I'm totally okay with that.  If anyone out there reading this blog is on the fence about having a fourth baby ... just do it.  They're amazing.  I mean, I thought my third as an absolute joy.  But this one, she's pure awesomeness.

And no offense to either of my girls, but it probably has a lot less to do with them and a lot more to do with me as a mama.  It's only taken me four rounds, but I feel like I'm finally grasping the pure joy of newborn mamahood.
Baby yawns.

It's Annapolis, we like crabs around here.

Yes, I'm tired.  My head aches from not getting enough rest.  My vision has been blurry for three weeks now.  My brain is sluggish.  I spend the better portion of the day in my pajamas and my hair is in dire need of washing.

It's impossible to take a good photo of these two squirmy girls!
But I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Because I realize now, more than ever, that it's all so very fleeting.

The fist pump.

One of the kids thought she needed some company for her nap...
And not just because every other veteran mama we see at Target likes to stop and tell me so.

Love her "O" lips!

Our life is chaos right now.  The boys watch too much TV.  Lia spends too much time picking up new habits from her brothers.  If it wasn't for our wonderful MOPS friends bringing us meals we might be eating cereal for dinner every night.  We're surviving by only taking care of dire needs - washing dishes - yes, scrubbing toilets - no.  Folding laundry - yes (after it's been sitting there for a week or so), picking up toys - no.   Buying groceries - yes, changing the sheets that Joci peed on - no.  (Okay, I'll admit, that one's pretty bad.  But it was the middle of the night and I completely forgot by the next morning.)

First tubby, didn't mind a bit!
I wish I had more time and energy to write.  I wish I could describe life with this little girl more completely.  I wish I hadn't already let three weeks go by without mentioning the way her little lips curl down when she's utterly relaxed.  The way she stretches and clenches her tiny fists.  Her big, bright eyes during those few moments each day when she's alert and taking in her world.  Her soft, soft hair and the way that resting the back of her head in my hand reminds me of the very first time I held her.

But I suppose that's what motherhood is all about.  The things you forget and the memories you hold on to.  The chores that don't get done and the hours spent just ... holding, kissing, swaying ...  The nights and days that seem so, so long.  And yet the years that go by so, so fast.  And somehow, it just keeps getting better.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Twists and Turns, Joci's Birth Story Part IV

Both Jon and I agree, we're so happy with our decision to go with the Birth Center.   Lia's birth was great and all, but this time we actually got to take advantage of all those things that make midwifery so wonderful (except for the whirlpool, why didn't i use the whirlpool??).  I just love their approach to birth - that it's this normal, healthy process that (most times) will just take care of itself.  It's so much more laid back than the hospital, but they're mindful too.

For me, and with a normal, healthy pregnancy, I think hospitals are a tad excessive.  But I'm also not in to that whole freebirthing movement where I'd go out for a walk in our woods or something and come back home carrying a baby.  The Birth Center's middle of the road approach seems to be right up my alley.  But I also understand that not everybody feels the same way and I'm totally cool with that.  All I know is I'm so incredibly grateful that we ended up in this part of Maryland and that I was able to have my last two babies here.  It's really been a wonderful experience!

Throughout my labor the nurse and midwife were regularly checking my blood pressure and pulse, as well as the baby's heartbeat.  But it was only a few minutes each time, and I didn't have to be tied down to a bunch of different machines beeping and humming all around me.  I'm so grateful the midwife and nurses were around though, because there were a few, er, twists, to Joci's birth.

She loves the swaddle!
First of all, the cord was around her neck.  Thankfully, it wasn't tight and I realize this is actually very common in births.  But I'm just relieved that if it had to happen to one of my babies, it wasn't the one that was I was catching in the front seat of the car.  Susannah actually asked me to stop pushing once Jocelyn's head was out so she could determine how to maneuver the baby around the cord.

There was also a true knot in the cord.  We're guessing it had been there a long time because if you even loosened it a little it immediately went back to it's shape.  This could have been a little more serious and is one of the reasons they recommend moms do kick counts.  I never took that aspect of pregnancy very seriously, but there was one night a few weeks ago that I noticed I hadn't felt the baby move in a couple of hours.  I called the midwife and then laid down and prayed over my belly.  Thankfully, Baby Girl got the hiccups before the midwife had a chance to call me back.  It was a scary evening and a reminder of all the things that go on in my womb that I may not be aware of.  I'm  just thankful that God watches over even our unborn children.

Our little blondie.
Finally, and then I promise I'll stop talking about Joci's cord, it was super long.  They say that active babies tend to have longer cords and Girlfriend was definitely my most active baby!  As a result of all that tugging and pulling she earned herself a herniated belly button.  In other words, the Little Miss has a major outtie.  Good thing she won't need to wear a bikini anytime soon.

But all these things are no big deal because our daughter is just beautiful and perfect.  She never cried after being born.  She just laid on my chest and blinked her big, blue eyes.  She's the blondest of our babies and I personally think she has a bit of a wave (dare I say curl??) to her hair.  She was also the least swollen and we think she might be our prettiest newborn, but that's hard to say.  She took to nursing right away (I'm serious, it just keeps getting easier and easier with each kid!) and didn't stop for a good 3 hours.  So of course, by the time we weighed her, she had already eaten everything I had to offer and pooped all over me and the blankets.

Okay, so this was only 12 hours after she was born and long before her hair was ever washed but don't you see those curls?!

Ironically, I had a little bit more trouble after the birth this time around.  There were some concerns about bleeding and blood clots.  Without going in to too much detail let's just say the midwife had to do some things that I didn't know could be done.  And the nurse practically jumped on my uterus a few times throughout the night to make sure it was contracting correctly.  And then there was the shot to my thigh.   And then a second shot in my other thigh a little bit later.  I mean, as if having a baby wasn't enough, I practically got beat up by the staff after she was born!  The only difference between the pain of labor contractions and the pain the midwife was inflicting on me was that I got to hold Joci in my arms with the latter.  And somehow concentrating on her sweet little face made things a bit more bearable.
Four hours old, ready to go home!
I was afraid they weren't going to let us go home but after they were assured that I was fine and that I knew how to take care of a newborn, they let us leave with our baby a little after midnight (which is why there are no "coming home" pictures).  And so, despite having a daytime labor, by the time I was able to take pictures it was completely dark.

Baby's first car ride.
We crept into the house and headed straight to bed.  I don't remember much about that first night.  I know I spent the better portion of it awake, but I did manage to get some sleep and by the time the "big" kids were up Joci and I were ready to greet them!

Her bee-bee.
Can I just say how weird it is to say "the three older kids."  I've said it a lot over the past 10 days and it still feels strange.  And, of course, it goes without saying that Julia is now huge.  I mean, I actually put her on the scale the day we came home because I was certain she had gained a few pounds in the 24 hours I hadn't seen her.  I guess it doesn't matter how old your last child is, when they lose their status as "baby of the family" they suddenly seem all grown up.

He was so excited!
Jack is totally into Jocelyn.  He'll say, several times a day, "her so cute!"  He loves to hold her (for like 30 seconds).  And he pretty much can't keep his hands off of her, or his face away from hers, or his Monkey from touching her little body.  Julia is all about the "bee-bee" as well.  She also likes to hold her and does this thing where she lifts her hands and wiggles her fingers when she wants a turn... and then screams and stamps her foot when she doesn't get her way.  But she's also very sweet with doling out kisses.

Surprisingly, Jude, the child who was most in to my belly while pregnant, wants the least to do with the baby.  In fact, he's still very interested in my belly - whether there's another baby in there, why my other two "little bellies" *cough, cough* are suddenly bigger, and where the door is that baby Joci came out of.  Oh, and while we're on the "kids say the darndest things" subject.  Jack was very disappointed that Joci's birthday is in July.  Apparently, he thinks her birthday should be in August (we had told him she could be born in July or August).  So he's requested that the next baby be born in August.  Yeah, I'm sure Jon will be all over that one.

Anyway, we're all adjusting well.  I'm a little surprised at how well my recovery has been.  They say that postpartum pains tend to get worse with each baby.  They were bad with Julia, like brought tears to my eyes a few times bad.  So I was prepared for the worst this time around.  The midwife even suggested pain killers if necessary.  But oddly enough, I've hardly felt a thing.  I think my sore thighs from all those lunges have largely outranked any other possible pains.

So yes, so far all is well.  I have a feeling I'm about to hit a wall soon.  Especially if Baby Girl doesn't start giving me more than 2 hour stretches at night.  But for now, in this moment, we are completely delighted with this cutie pie.  I wasn't sure how a fourth baby would be, I'm still not sure.  But I do know that the whole family is in love.  And with five of us spreading the love these past 10 days, well, that's a whole lot of lovin' going on up in here.  I really can't ask for more than that!
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