"I'm going to be giving away one of our children today. I hope you don't mind," he said to me over the phone, very nonchalantly, something my husband usually is not. "I just want two of them and right now I would like to give away the almost-middle one."
I ask why, intrigued while I sit in my hospital bed for the third day in a row, hooked up to continuous baby monitoring, our third son's heartbeat, a familiar chorus in the background.
I was admitted three days prior after some pretty intense contractions at home which resulted in my throwing up of not only a staple in my diet, peanut butter sandwiches, but also a morning cinnamon bun. Two foods that will no longer be a part of my diet ever, ever again.
"We were ahead of schedule, you know. You'd be so proud of us. Everyone had been fed and dressed and we had time to spare before I had to load the boys into the truck. Carter even had his school bag packed and at the ready," he continued.
I laughed. I really was proud of them. Mostly, I was really proud of my husband who stepped up to the challenge of quickly becoming a work-at-home Dad while I was away. I've always been proud of him as a Dad. Most days I feel like I hit the Husband-Daddy lottery in that regard and of course, I never give him enough credit.
We're very different parents, he and I, something that obviously never made itself known until we had kids. Some days I have to wonder how we'll ever co-parent these boys, especially when he's refusing to give them "sugar milk" [chocolate almond milk] for breakfast, sending them both into hysterics. Hysterics all before the 8am hour. I wince just thinking about it.
It's usually in those moments that I kindly remind him that parenting is a lot about choosing which bears to fight. Clearly, I do not fight the chocolate milk bears.
"I quickly looked outside the front door to gauge how bad the rain was and how quickly we would have to bolt out to the car. It was then that I was shocked to see that I had left my back window down in my car. I thought, 'wait a minute, I've never even put that window dow...' And then I noticed that all of the windows were down. And maybe even the sunroof..."
I knew right where this story was headed.
It was a torrential downpour of epic proportions. One that had now filled the cup holders of my husband's barely-three-month-old car. The glorious new car smell was quickly being replaced with wet leather smell and would likely become a damp musty smell in the weeks to come.
I cringed as he continued, "I swear, he only had my keys for 5 seconds. 5 seconds! And I was standing right there in kitchen with him. That's all it took for Maclane to hold that one button down to open all of the windows. I should have known."
I laughed because I knew. I sighed because I felt horrible for him. I laughed because I knew how mischievous that Maclane could be and how it never took longer than a few seconds for him to get into trouble. I sighed because I felt horrible that my poor husband had a veritable swimming pool in his front seat.
Despite that tiny setback, they did manage to make it to school drop-off on time. Extra points for that and that was only Day One.
Day Two was remarkably better. They made the usual rounds at all of the local parks. Had a picnic, played games and almost forgot about my absence. Apparently, I'm easy to miss. My husband must've been feeling like he could take on the world. After all, keeping two little boys, specifically our two little boys fed, entertained, out of the emergency room and alive for an entire day is no easy feat. I know this.
Day Three, however, the day of my discharge, proved to be another one of those days that would earn my husband yet another parenting badge. The following exchange took place over text message around 10 o' clock in the morning:
Me: It looks like they're discharging me within the hour. Doctors are on different pages and since no progress is being made, I'd rather just be home than have to stay here for continuous monitoring.
Husband: Okay! We're just finishing a late breakfast. We'll leave right after.
Husband: On our way!
Me: Great. Can't wait to see you.
Husband: Umm... the dog got out.
Me: Like how "out?"
I break into a cold sweat. I try to imagine how the dog got out. Did he make a run for it as my husband was trying to herd the boys out the front door and to the car? Did that sneaky Maclane let him out on accident? Or did my husband forget to check that the back gate was locked before letting him out in the yard to do his business?
You see, I'm the mom. I can predict these things happening before they actually do. That's why after the first time the dog ran away on me, it never, ever happened again.
Twenty minutes goes by without an update. Finally, a "got him" pings through on my phone. Insert giant sight of relief.
It wasn't until they arrived at the hospital to pick me up that I learned what really happened. As I had imagined, the back gate was ajar just enough for Sheepie to squeeze through and make a run for it. This also meant that it was at least five minutes before anyone realized he was missing. It wasn't until my husband called for him to come back inside that Sheepie's walkabout became known.
I asked my husband when panic set in. Laughing uncomfortably, he admitted it wasn't until his third loop through the neighborhood that he started wondering just how he'd break the news to me, his nearly 10 months pregnant, ferociously contracting wife, that he had lost our dog.
Thankfully around that time and no doubt by the grace of God, Sheepie was spotted in the garage of a house in a cul-de-sac a couple of blocks away. As my husband threw the car into park and prepared himself to jump out and tackle him, Sheepie merely sidled up to the back of the truck as if to say, "Thank God you found me Dad. I'm too old for this shit."
As I popped open the trunk of my truck to load my hospital bag in, I was met with a chorus of "Mom! We missed you! You're back!" and it wasn't until the door was fully raised that I noticed the wily stowaway who came along for the ride. The look on Sheepie's face was priceless. I'm fairly certain he was just as excited as the boys at the prospect of my return home.
Later that night, after the boys had been bathed and put to bed and Sheepie was allowed to sit on the couch with us (I can't help but think of why he could have possibly wanted to run away, just a mere four days before we welcome another baby), my husband turned to me and spoke words about this stay-at-home parenting gig that have never been truer.
"It's not all easy, but it sure is a lot of fun."
I smiled. He was right and I couldn't have said it better myself. It's not at all easy. Ever. But each day we make sure to have fun and usually, more fun than frustrations which I consider a win-win.
But even then it's nice when someone else acknowledges that.
Even if it did require a waterlogged car and canine walkabout.
I've found myself trying to freeze certain moments to memory these last few days more so than ever before. It's almost as if my subconscious takes over and is all, "STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND REMEMBER THIS. REMEMBER THIS FRAGMENT IN TIME BECAUSE YOU'LL NEVER, EVER GET IT BACK." And I feel like I should be doing more.
More before we become this family of five.
I know why- I know it's because we're just a week away from adding another little human to the mix but it feels different this time. A little bit rushed, maybe. Like maybe we're not ready after all. I mean the thought of three kids under 4 makes me nauseous today. Not something I thought much about ten months ago. Well played, motherhood.
And by "not ready" I mean, we are technically ready. I have boobs and a bassinet and diapers and wipes and really all the things one needs to survive at least the first six weeks of newborn-dom. We're prepared, there's no doubt. I just am not quite sure whether or not we're ready. But are you ever? I should know this. This isn't the first time I've done this.
I've found myself creeping into the boys' rooms at night and staring at them. Committing to memory Carter's crazy post-bath curls and how sometimes they plaster themselves in a sweaty mess around his ears and down his neck. How he sleeps so peacefully and how it's the most quiet he is all day. No unreasonable demands being made like "take the skin off of my apple but not all the way and then make it look like a dinosaur." Like, what does that even mean?
I've found myself really trying to soak in more of Maclane. I think this is where I feel the most rushed. I'm not ready for him to sacrifice his role as the baby of the family yet. Obviously there isn't a whole lot I can do about that now but it saddens me to think he'll be giving up this role so soon. Every single day he grows an inch, I'm sure of it. His baby chub is all but gone and he's turning into this wily, passionate, lean little boy before my eyes. This little boy who has full on conversations with you about birds and trucks and movies and playing at the park. I'm afraid that when this new baby arrives, I'll miss these moments. I will rush these conversations and take them for granted.
I wish these moments weren't so fleeting.
I've found myself thinking much less about this new baby because I've been so wrapped up in the living of every day life. Having your third baby is so much different from having your first. There's just so much less time to focus solely on him. I haven't thought much at all about what he might look like. Something that nearly consumed my days when I was pregnant with Carter and even some with Maclane.
Will he have blonde curls like Carter? His Daddy's coloring? Or will he favor me and look more like Maclane? Or will he completely break the mold and be the perfect mix of the two of us? For the love of all things parenting, I hope he sleeps better than Maclane. I don't want to wish this last week away but I almost cannot wait to find out.
Soon, I know. It's funny how this last week can be both the shortest and longest week of one's life.
As for me, I'm trying hard to be the graceful, gracious, patient pregnant lady these last days but it's really, really difficult. Things are starting to swell, standing, walking, sitting and downright breathing have all become uncomfortable and oh, the comments that roll in when I step outside of the house. Just this morning I heard, "you look like you're about to topple over!" while standing in the pre-school drop off line. Oh, bless their hearts.
I think someone should conduct a study about the amount of money a woman spends throughout her pregnancy. I have a funny feeling that it nearly quadruples during the final week of pregnancy. I mean, there really isn't much else I can do and Amazon Prime just makes it oh, so convenient. I know the two lamps I ordered for our bedroom are driving my husband insane. He doesn't understand why we needed them. I don't understand why he can't just appreciate them for what they are in their stunning mercury glass glory. I mean, they really do accentuate our headboard.
I know, I've officially lost it.
I'm looking forward to my days in the hospital. Despite the hefty insurance bill and the major surgery, I'm looking forward to getting to know this new little baby. Just the two of us. I'm selfishly looking forward to having meals delivered to me and being able to actually download and read a new book. Something I haven't done in way, way too long.
But I'm going to miss our family of four dynamic. I mean, we were just getting things down. Really easing into our groove. People might actually look at us while we were out and about and think, "wow, she really kind of sort of knows what she's doing."
We are no strangers to acts of kindness around these parts. If you've been following along on our adventures then you may remember the thirty random acts of kindness that my awesome sister-in-law put together for me last year as a thirtieth birthday present that started as the perfect sounding board when it came to really introducing the boys to what it meant to be kind.
Sure, being kind isn't something that should be reserved for one day every so often and we are well aware of that. As a mom, I'm always seeking out opportunities to foster compassion and kindness in the boys and reinforcing what that means. Sometimes, however, it's just nice to set aside a whole day dedicated to being kind and spreading that kindness in the community around us.
When our friend Courtney of The Chirping Moms reached out to us about participating in their Kids & Kindness series, we absolutely jumped at the chance. This opportunity was extra special because it involved a copy of the awesomely fun book, "Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed," a story that has quickly become a favorite in our home.
It's a heartwarming and beautifully illustrated story about Mary, an ordinary little girl who does an ordinary little deed that sets off a giant chain reaction of kindness around the world. The kindness eventually comes full circle and rewards Mary even further at the end of the story.
We spent about a week reading this book before bedtime each night and talked a little bit about what it meant to be kind. Carter, at 3.5 years old, picked up mostly on saying nice words, sharing toys and being a good friend. Maclane, at 1.5 years old, mostly likes to run around the house saying, "be nice friend!"
When it came time to do our own act of kindness, it didn't take long for us to figure out just what we would do. As I'm due with our third little boy in less than two weeks, we've received such an outpouring of help these last few weeks from so many friends that we wanted to take the day to return the favor and say "thank you." From offers of cooked meals and child care to dropping everything and chauffeuring me to the doctor's office during a bout of pre-term labor, we couldn't be more grateful for our friends who have bestowed kindness on us.
I knew right away that we would use our day to give a little bit of that kindness back to them.
We started the morning bright and early as we gathered in the kitchen in our pajamas to bake some cookies. As the boys waited patiently for them to finish, we put together our fancy little treat bags and read "Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed" one more time. Once our cookies cooled, we stuffed the bags and attached a quick note that explained what we were up to.
We then piled into the car and started out on our journey to spread kindness. We visited five of our friends' houses and each time we stopped, we tucked our delicious treats into their mailboxes and I reminded the boys the purpose of our adventure. Once we returned home, we sent each of our friends a quick text message letting them know to peek inside.
With so many leftover cookies, we even packed a few bags and left them for our mail lady, UPS man and FedEx carrier who have all been so wonderful dropping off packages for baby as we prepare for his arrival in the coming weeks.
Did we do anything extravagant this day? Absolutely not but when it comes to matters of the heart, I like to think that even the smallest of deeds make a difference. When I asked Carter what his favorite part of the day was, he happily replied, "being kind just like Mary!"
Talk about the warm and fuzzies! It's one thing to invest time in your kids, raising them up to be good, decent and kind human beings. It's another when they actually get it and emulate that behavior. I've never been more proud!
If our story or any of the stories you read below inspire you to do your own acts of kindness, I would love to hear about them and if you're looking for a little something extra to stuff in an Easter basket this month, I absolutely recommend a copy of "Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed!" Be sure to follow the hashtag #ordinarykindness on social media to see more random acts of kindness!