I don't get much time to think these days. Ever since Collins and I left the hospital to rejoin the family at home it feels like I've been running on some sort of alien autopilot. My body knows the motions it needs to go through- wake, feed, diaper, pump, fall into REM and fall out just as quickly, eat as many things as possible with one hand, etc. but I can't always say that I feel readily present while going through said motions.
After all, my body has been through this before. Twice, as a matter of fact, just within the last three years. It knows how to do babies. It gets babies. It doesn't, however, get babies and toddlers and preschoolers, husbands and households all at the same time.
Someone (actually, just about every blog and family/parenting website on the Internets) once reassured me that the transition going from two to three children was much easier than the transition going from one to two. When I first heard this, I must have stared blankly back at them.
Anyone with any sense of logic could have called their bluff right then and there. I mean, how could it not be more difficult going from two three? You don't need to have a mathematician's degree to see that there is obviously strength in numbers. Not to mention that said strength lies in the court of the offspring, not the parents. Mistake numero uno.
I could see the transition being easier, if say, the children were older or spaced more than twenty-something months a part. Or if you had a full waitstaff on hand to cater to everyone's needs.
Let me set the record straight here. I am no Parenting Rock Star. This is easily evidenced by a video that I recently posted to my Instagram account. I am by no means a professional mother but I will be the first to say that three kids is hard. I want to stomp my feet and whine and say, "it's really really fucking hard," but that wouldn't exactly be demure of me so we'll just say it's hard. How hard is it?
So hard, in fact, that by the end of the day I'm seriously questioning my sanity and considering my ability to adequately parent while remaining a calm, collected and contributing member of society.
My husband hit the nail on the head the other night when, while laying in bed, he turned to me and said, "I feel like I start the day with an 'A' and end it with a 'C-'" Now, some of you might be happy with those statistics but for two first-born overachievers like ourselves, we may as well don our Parenting Dunce Caps and walk ourselves down the hall to detention.
Similarly I told him that I often wake up feeling like the proverbial Valedictorian of the Motherhood class first thing in the morning and that by the end of the day I feel much more like the renegade high school drop out strung out on drugs, yelling obscenities at The Man who by no fault of his own greatly wronged him. In my case, however, I would be yelling obscenities at Three Little Men who may as well have full dictatorship over our household. I might even venture to say they could probably run the house better than my husband and I at this point.
And it's not "hard." I don't think that's the proper word I should be using in this instance. Like I said earlier, I know what needs to be done. I know whose needs require meeting, when they require meeting and what happens if those needs are met too early or too soon or with the wrong type of milk. There just isn't enough time. There isn't enough time to make everyone happy every minute of the day.
As a matter of fact, screw happy. At this point I'm aiming for just amicable. Simple middle ground. Nothing great or profound. I'm not shooting for the Parenting Olympics. I just want everyone to be satisfied and alive at the end of the day.
But doing just that for three tiny humans is exhausting. As if someone always wanted something from you before before now there's one less parent to child ratio to support the something. Someone always has to wait and let me tell you, nobody likes waiting in this house.
I know we'll eventually fall into a rhythm and that this will all just be a distance memory that I look back on one day and laugh about. That day may not come until I'm forty but it's nice to know that day is out there.
It's just that I'm a people-pleaser who appreciates having a modicum of control over her family. It's difficult to maintain that control when my 4 year old is melting down over chocolate versus vanilla milk, my 2 year old is consistently letting himself out the front door and the baby is hanging from my nipple by a thread. And by thread I mean the K'Tan wrap because without the ability to baby wear this time around, I surely would have not allowed anyone to discharge us home from the hospital. We would have stayed forever and ever.
And these feelings? All of these feelings have been felt while having the comfort of my husband home to co-parent alongside me. If I'm speaking honestly, there have actually been very few moments since our arrival home that I've actually had to be in charge of more than two of our children at a time.
For what it's worth he goes back to working full days on Wednesday. I want to say something totally witty and cliche like, "at least there's always wine!" But let's face it. That only numbs the pain and just a week out of major abdominal surgery I'm in no form to start day drinking just yet.
I think I'll save that for when the baby becomes mobile, no?
So, you're thinking of having a third baby? I strongly urge you to come spend a day with us in our home. Think of it as kind of like a Major Life Decision Site Visit. No, no. Don't let the idea of it sway you.
Let the shrill screams of fighting brothers and the exhausted sighs of two wet-nosed parents of three speak for themselves.
Welcome to being a Party of Five, I guess. One day we'll get the hang of this. Today is just not that day and tomorrow isn't looking too great either.
*Collins' birth story to come. The third child we never knew we always wanted and we are grossly enamored with him. He is beautiful and wonderful and every ounce of sheer perfection in our eyes. I mean, just look at that face!
"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!
I really don't like these kinds of posts. The ones with bullets and brain dumps and a whole bunch of unrelated word vomit. That said, that's about all I'm capable of lately. It's not that I don't want to write here, it's that by the time I find a free minute to sit down and gather my thoughts, the words don't flow. The words don't flow and I'm exhausted and thinking of the other 472 things I should be doing instead of sitting.
But sitting feels so good.
I'm 36 and a half weeks pregnant and feeling about 57 weeks pregnant. I'm convinced my pelvic floor up and left me and that my hips will become disjointed from my body at any given moment. Due to the shape of my pelvis, my babies will never settle correctly and always manage to make themselves comfortable lying transverse with their heads nestled into the socket of my right hip.
That does not feel so good.
What else is remarkable about this 36th week? Let's see. My clothes don't fit, I have trouble picking out which black yoga pants to wear each day, I'm up nearly every hour at night to pee and once 4am rolls around, pregnancy insomnia has me up for the day.
It's really all quite lovely and for the love, could I be any whinier? I'm really sorry. I'd want me to shut up, too. I just want this baby here already!
These third babies are a funny thing. Hospital bags haven't been packed, car seats haven't been installed and lord knows this baby doesn't even have his own nursery yet, let alone a fully redecorated one. As much as I would love to do all of those things, at the end of the day, I'm all shruggy shoulders and "meh, it'll get done eventually."
With my first (and even my second) babies, I'm fairly certain I had our entire Before Baby To-Do list accomplished with weeks to spare. This time around I have diapers, boobs, a closet full of sweet-smelling layette clothes and I figure I'm good to go.
Let's just get this party started already, alright?
Being that this is my last pregnancy, I really want to try and capture some at-home maternity shots with the boys. Nothing fancy by any means- just me, the belly, the boys and my camera remote. I want to be able to remember this time because we know that all too soon mom-nesia will set in and this will all become a distant memory. I never had any maternity shots done with my previous pregnancies and although I don't regret it, I know I will this time around.
That said, I have to admit that I'm a bit excited that this is my last pregnancy. The last time I will gain upwards of 40 pounds and have to lose it again. The last time I will watch my boobs, butt and belly expand at a rapid pace. The last time I will have to wear pants with elastic waistbands. Okay, I'll admit, I'm a little sad about that last part. But after working so hard to get my body back after baby number two, I cannot wait to do the same this time around and keep that body. For the rest of my life.
I think the boys are excited about their new brother. I know Carter is. He keeps saying that he "can't wait to hold baby Cowwins and love him and play trains with him." Maclane is really none the wiser and I expected that. After all, he's just one month younger than Carter was when he was born and Carter really had no idea what was happening back then either. Maclane does keep lifting my shirt to expose my belly saying, "Baby done yet, Mom? Baby done?" It's really quite cute. I know it's going to be much less cute once Collins arrives and Maclane is asking us to send him back to the hospital.
I still haven't moved the boys in together. Their new bedroom is a work in progress and I can't decide whether or not I want to tackle Operation Big Boy Bed this close to welcoming number three. The walls have a fresh coat of paint on them and brand new bed linens have been procured but I'm still missing wall decor, curtains, a lamp base as well as an accent table to sit between their two beds. As it is, Maclane still sleeps in our bed for a few hours each night and that in itself is starting to give me anxiety. Not because I necessarily want to move him but because I just have no idea how this will all go down once we bring Three home from the hospital.
I guess you can say my plate is pretty full, but in a good way.
One thing I do have a handle on, however, is Easter baskets! Even though Easter is going to look a little different in our house this year (read: much more low key since I'll be admitted to the hospital the following Monday) I wanted to make sure the boys' baskets were full of new goodies to keep them occupied while I'm away in the hospital for four days.
Now, before you go all, "Hello, this isn't Christmas" on me, relax. The boys' baskets will be filled with a couple of new books for bedtime stories, puzzles and Legos to keep their little hands busy, new rain boots because they don't own any, hooded beach towels for the beach house, knit Zubels dolls and, of course, their favorite monogrammed Jellycat bunnies from Peekawhoo which continue to be staple favorite lovies and bedtime buddies in our house.
Speaking of the bunnies, Peekawhoo is offering all ILYMTC readers 10% off their order of Jellycat bunnies with code "CARROTS14." You can head on over to their site here and order yours in time for Easter!
My friends at Peekawhoo were kind enough to send both Carter and Maclane their beloved bunnies for Easter last year and they surprised us this year with another bunny for sweet Collins which you can see on my Instagram feed. I'm not kidding when I say that these bunnies are the softest, most plush stuffed animals the boys own and it's no wonder why they've quickly become their number one favorites!
Hopefully by next week I will be back with some more substantial thoughts and feelings. I swear they're in my brain somewhere. In the mean time, go buy some bunnies and think of me when you're bending down to tie your shoes. A simple act that has me grunting like a big, fat milking cow. How's that for a mental image?