Sunday, March 2, 2014

Holding on by our fingernails: 2 months as a family of 5

He almost always has a skeptical look on his face.  I think he's wondering how he got assigned to this particular family.
Little dude, this post is a lot less about you than it is about us.  Because you do what babies do.  Namely, everything but sleep.  I should be used to it by now, but I am not.  The reality that you are a troubled sleeper is finally sinking in.  There is no magic age you need to hit in order to sleep better, I think you are just a generally crappy sleeper.  Up 3 to 5 times every night.  It is terrible.  Your longest stretch is from about 7 to 12 most nights, though sometimes it's just 7 to 10.  But the earliest I could climb into bed, if I tried very hard and got all my chores done quickly, would be 8.  And if I want a moment to myself, then it's more like 9.  I have learned that if I do that, and don't have a drop of alcohol (which upsets my sleep just enough) and don't have a drop of coffee after about 8:30 in the morning, then I can survive with some grace.

But gosh, all that is hard.  I am such a night owl, always have been.  I feel a bit crazed going to bed so early.  And I love to have a beer after the kids go to bed.  And I love coffee.  All these things... go against my nature.  Against my habits.  Sometimes I do them anyway, and then I am tired and grumpy and lose my temper, primarily with MJ.

I think that if you were our second child you would have been our last.  Someday you'll have to thank Greta for being a pretty great sleeper.  The upside, that gives me hope, is that you generally go to sleep pretty easily.  Sometimes I look over at you in your bouncy seat and you are sound asleep.  Without a peep, you just drift off.  So at some point, maybe you'll become a good sleeper?  I have nothing against sleep training this time around.  When I feel you are ready, it will be time.  For the sake of everyone in this family, mama needs better sleep.  I can't forsake everyone else.  So that is coming down the pipeline.

This has been a tough month.  I really should be writing more, because I'm sure my sleep deprived brain will remember nothing.  We went with some friends to a cabin up north, which was lovely.  Just to get away for a couple days.  No chores to do.  Arriving to a tidy cabin with no toys scattered everywhere.  No bathrooms to clean.  Getting to just chat with friends, in spite of our children's early bedtimes.  It was lovely.

There was also a bout of mastitis two weeks ago.  And a clogged duct before that (or was that last month?).  I've never had these problems before, but have already had three of them since Teddy has been born.  We did a bit of breastfeeding this month, but he's still just terrible at it.  Nurses for a bit, just enough to take the edge off his hunger, and then he's hungry again 20 minutes later.  I still end up needing to pump because he doesn't nurse well.  I tried to just go for it while we were at the cabin and hubs was there to help, figuring baby boy would figure it out if that was his only option.  But no.  I basically just spent 2 solid days nursing.  It was terrible.  So I still try to nurse on occasion, but have pretty much given up hope.  Especially after that bout of mastitis, it's just not worth risking that he doesn't empty me and then I get a clogged duct.  In fact, now that I think about it, I think it's been about 4 days since I last even tried.  This recent study again makes me question whether the hour (usually more) I spend pumping every day is truly worthwhile.  Even Greta has come to hate my pump, because she knows it means I will be sitting down, not playing, not doing what she wants for a while.  She hears me say "I have to pump" and freaks out.  I don't know how much longer I'll continue.  I have stopped pumping as much at night, usually just once or twice, for the sake of more sleep.  That has helped, though doesn't do any favors to my supply.  Ugh.  I'm just tired of thinking about it, stressing about it, wondering if I'm making the best decision.

Teddy has remained healthy despite a few viruses making their way through the house.  Protective benefits of breastmilk?  Responsible hand-washing habits?  Who's to say.  This month, he became happy just sitting there.  He did not need to be constantly held.  If he's well fed and not overly tired I can set him down while I wash dishes or eat lunch and he just looks around.  His sisters make sure he has plenty to look at, so I can't imagine he's bored.  And Greta has started to learn how to be nice to him.  Which includes getting his pacifier when he cries and not trying to scratch his eyeballs out.

We also found a nanny this month.  She's a college student, an early education major, and the girls just love her.  This past week we had our first date night, and I also had an afternoon to get some work done (in preparation for this class I'll be teaching this summer).  I was so nervous about finding a nanny, and leaving the kids with someone we didn't really know, and I now feel so comfortable.  Greta climbed right into her lap like she'd known her forever.  In fact, I've never seen Greta so comfortable with someone she didn't know.  It is the best feeling to have a nanny hired and feel completely comfortable with it all.  On top of that, she actually picked up after the kids (something I've had such a hard time getting a babysitter to do!)  She is everything we were hoping for.

All in all, I can mostly just say we're surviving.  We knew having kids this close in age would be challenging, and we were so very right.  Our social life has mostly disappeared.  Anything other than just surviving with the kids is a rare event.  Part of this is the cold, which has been extreme this year.  I am hopeful that when the weather turns Teddy will be sleeping better, and we'll reach the magical land of well rested, home made meals, long walks for exercise and all those healthy things that will make us better.  In the meantime, here we are.  Thankful for the amnesiac effects of fatigue and early childhood on us and the littles.  But also making sure I record this so as not to think this was a magical, care free time.

I love you little man.  I'm so glad you're part of our family and you really do make everything feel complete.  Perhaps all these wake-ups are just your way of insuring you get some quality one-on-one mama time, just like the girls had in their day.  I'm trying to soak in your babyness while I can, and remember how fleeting these days are.  Give me a few more zzz's and I promise to do a better job at all of that.


  1. Just a few more weeks til you're in (relative) warmth and sunshine too - that will help!! I hear ya about the alcohol and coffee - so annoying to be dealing with a sensitive sleeping baby at the same time that YOU can't just sleep at the drop of a hat either. Ugh.

  2. Oh girl, you are NOT alone! I refer to my first 4-ish months as a mama to 3 as resembling a deer in headlights. I constantly felt like I was drowning. Mine are all close in age as well (my first 2 are 18 months apart and then there is 2 years between #2 and #3 - so they were all 3.5 and under when the third was born). And he is also a TERRIBLE sleeper. He did finally figure out the sleeping thing around 8 months, but he is still my mr. whiney pants most of the time. So different from my girls, who were so mellow.
    Anyway, things started to look up when he was about 6 months old and I really do feel like I have a grasp on life with 3 now (he's 10 months now). So you'll get there, mama!
    I don't know if life calmed down or if I just got used to the chaos, haha, but regardless, it does get better :)
    And don't you let anyone tell you that having 3 little kids isn't challenging or that it's easy as long as you have a positive outlook, yada, yada, yada. The only people who talk like that are those who do NOT have 3 kids yet or their children are grown up so they have forgotten how nuts it is :)

    1. I totally confess, it makes me feel better to hear about other peoples struggles. So many people claimed the third is easy, they just fit right in. I didn't really believe them, but I did still hope that was true. It has not been true at all for us, in part, I'm sure, because the 2nd was not very difficult. It also makes me feel better to know things get better, and not in three more years but in a few more months. At least that's what I'm holding out hope for....

    2. My 2nd was a total gem too - easiest baby and slept like a champ from day one! I knew that I wouldn't get that again, but I definitely wasn't prepared for how tough my little guy is.
      It's comforting to know that we aren't alone in this. I have several friends who have 3 kids and we all agree that it's totally nuts, ha! Especially in the beginning. In fact, almost everyone I know who has 3 (even those with grown kids) agrees that the transition to 3 was the hardest. It really is tough. But like I said, it definitely gets better! And before we know it, it will feel like everything (and everyone!) just fits right into place :)