5 Things 3 Weeks with 4 Kids have Taught Me

1. Stances Schmanzes.

We sent Leila to ‘Buela Camp for the first ten days of Ruthie’s life. ‘Buela Camp is the place one sends 22 month olds so that their mother can recover before facing the reality that she has two babies. But really, the mother spends the whole time, while recovering, crying because she has sent her older baby away whilst receiving pictures from her parents such as this one…

assuring the Crazy Mother, that not only has Older Baby completely forgotten and replaced her family of origin, but she is fully enjoying the all-inclusive resort lifestyle we all long for.

But then soon enough Older Baby returns.

And remembers that she missed her mother so much she best not let her out of her sight.

Or let her sleep alone.

I’ve never “believed” in having children in my bed.

Stances yield to survival. (Except if you notice technically, she has the bed to herself. She sprawls out so much there really isn’t room for us.)

2. Some things you don’t get good at…no matter how experienced you are.

Hello Post-Partum…Basically, when I come home with an adorable baby I  cry uncontrollably, have fearful thoughts all night long, and make every scheduling decisions based on whether or not I need to get dressed.

I also watch far more TV than is my usual routine.

Meaning…I have wept too many tears over George and Amahl’s wedding, jumped every time the floor creaks at night and lived in luxurious maternity pajamas with matching newborn nightgowns. Yes, thanks to borrowed pajamas I can match Baby Ruthie as we sit around crying. It’s like she’s my live American Girl Doll.

3. Personal Space is a completely unnecessary cultural construct.

Leila sits on my lap while I feed Baby Ruthie. To keep her from rubbing Ruthie’s face and head raw, or pulling her fingers (she calls it “petting”), I say “Don’t touch the baby, you can touch Mommy.” She then pokes my nose, mouth, and pulls my ears.

Friends, at some point during these every 2 hour scenarios, my personal space has evaporated so fully, that I find myself transcending. It’s like I’ve reached a higher plane. I look down on myself and say, “Someday you will be alone again. But alone now means only 1-2 children with you – in the bathroom.”

4. Stay Current.

The hospital no longer enourages umbilial cord care. This was the process of cleaning the baby belly button with rubbing alcohol until the super gross, yet metaphorically beautiful, cord stubb ( does it have a name?) falls off. This was Travis’s thing with our other babies. He really leaned into this job. He owned it. I don’t look at the belly button for the first two weeks.

Well somehow in the past two years, they said “You know, we don’t think that alchohol is doing anything anyways, let’s just leave it alone.” Like that. 50 years of supportive spousal contribution out the window. Not only does it no longer matter. IT NEVER MATTERED. All that meticulous cleaning.Poor Travis.

Stay current friends. This means talk to first time parents. And buy all new stuff. Clearly. Always.

5. The Great Sibling Shake up

I used to carry Leila around.

This is her new mode of transport:

Olivia used to be The Middle Child, and now she’s been bumped to Top Tier…and picked up a maternal edge along the way…

 It’s been a WILD couple of weeks. I still whisper to Travis every day “Are we going to make it?” I can’t figure out how to go anywhere, so I don’t, things are louder than ever, no one’s sheets match.  But seeing these relationship dynamics shift has been a delightful surprise. Add someone new to the mix and that whole seemingly immovable Family System gets all shaken up.  We are not who we were 3 1/2 weeks ago, and I welcome that. Preferably during the daylight hours, but I can’t be too demanding –  we’re a “Large Family,” now,  no one can.

 

 

Meet Ruth[ie]

Ruth Miriam joined our family on Thursday, October 2nd. Surprise! She is a girl.

We were not really surprised.

She is named for my sister and my Aunt, joining a rich legacy of Ruth Miriams and providing increased confusion for Puerto Ricans everwhere. Growing up, on hearing “Ruthie,” my mom would go “Ruthie my sister or Ruthie my daughter?” I cannot wait to say this. Except it will be “Ruthie my aunt or Ruthie my sister or Ruthie my daughter?” At that point the speaker will have forgotten what they were going to say.

Look how relaxed we are as a family of three…

except…

Yes. That’s more like it. I should have asked if I could just wear that monster blood pressure cuff home with me. Or can I at least be swaddled?

Here’s to more than we could have ever hoped or even imagined. Humbled and thankful over here – in deeper ways than ever before.

Onward.