Mar 29 2013
Today is 6 weeks since we brought Jack home from the hospital. They let me go a day early because I was doing well and told them I felt ready to go home, with my son, to my husband and daughter who I missed so terribly.
Not a day goes by when I don’t think about that extra night I should have spent at the hospital, having food and drink brought to me, the baby changed and cared for, and wondering if they’d turn me away if I showed up right now to collect that night. (Memo to my wise, mother-of-3, business partner: yes, you told me so).
It has been the most challenging 6-weeks of my life. Not the worst 6-weeks of my life-that was in 2004 when I had back surgery, was bankrupting myself by foolishly going to graduate school and my beloved grandma died all within a few weeks of each other. But challenging in a will-I-keep-it-together-or-won’t-I kind of way. Many days I think I will not.
And, I mean, I realize complaining is unseemly. After the first night home from the hospital I bitched on Facebook about sleeping for 30-45 minute stretches and a friend of mine noted that I should be thankful for two healthy (touch wood, spit, spit) children when some people want that but don’t have that. And while I feel like, c’mon, complaining about not-sleeping is a G-d given parental right like Californians complaining about traffic, or something, I still feel like I should preface this whole post by saying that I am so grateful for my children, so blessed, would kill and die for them, wouldn’t trade them in for anything, not even better sleeping, better behaved ones.
But wow was I unprepared for the horror that is having two children.
The first two weeks Jack was home my sweet Sadie was an unrecognizable nightmare. She cried, she screamed, she was defiant and rude and uncontrollable. And while, yes, all signs point to acting out about the new baby (whom she is completely in love with and would hug and kiss and squeeze all day everyday) the truth is the story I told about her screaming “don’t talk to me” at me in a restaurant was a good month before the baby arrived and seemed like the actual precursor to her attitude problem. Maybe it’s just 3′s, more likely it’s that she dropped her nap and is perpetually exhausted, but in any case things have since improved. She’s gotten better, back to being more like herself. Of course, no sooner do things behaviorally improve than she spends two nights screaming her head off in pain and it turns out she ruptured her eardrum. I know this kind of thing can happen when you only have one child but when you’re sleeping 2 hours at a time with the newborn and the toddler wakes up crying during (of course) those 2 hours all you can think is “why G-d, why?”
In the midst of all this, I still have a business which requires my attention. My partner and our manager have been amazing about allowing me to be checked out when I need to be but I’m not on anything resembling “maternity leave.” I have work to do every single day so I have to muster up every available brain cell, do the work and then go back to the half-asleep life I’m living.
And of course, my husband. He’s been getting the shortest end of the stick. He’s been great about it, and an amazing help, but it seems the only way life works right now is if one of us is sleeping while we’re together. He is lightly snoring beside me right now. We don’t have the kind of marriage where we’re ok with not spending a lot of time together. We love our children but we’re each other’s first priority. I miss him.
How do people do it, I frequently wonder. I think a lot about people I know who have three (or more!) kids. I have a lot of help. My mother or mother-in-law are over almost every day. My husband is seriously doing the second shift thing where he works his ass off all day at his job and comes home to me wiped out, needing him to take one or both children off me. Help is great but eventually help goes home or goes to sleep and anyway, I’m the mama, there’s only so much other people can do for me. “Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama.” “WHAT?!” “Watch me twist the spaghetti.” No one else can watch for me.
How do other parents physically survive with more than one child? When you’re nursing one and the other is on the potty ready to be wiped, who wins? How does leaving the house work–do I have to just plot out bathrooms and changing stations along all possible routes? What about nursing? As soon as I leave the house the race is on to get back home to nurse or pump. I’m not even sure what happens at the 4 hour mark. I’m afraid to find out.
Which brings me to my next problem: I am fucking boring. I have nothing to talk about right now. I don’t know who Buzz Bissinger is or why he’s in rehab for buying too much Gucci, I don’t get your twitter memes, I haven’t read that article or heard that song, I don’t remember anything in the past which is being referenced. I am physically much better than after Sadie but mentally I’m a mess. I don’t have the baby weight despair because it turns out breastfeeding really is some miracle eat-cookies-all-day-and-lose-weight secret. Of course, breastfeeding is also likely the cause of my more limited sleep (2-3 hours at a time instead of the 4-5 I was doing with Sadie by this point) but as my friend Julie pointed out “your choice is either food or sleep…but once you choose sleep you can never choose food again.” So, food and mental incapacity it is for now!
I’m trying to wrap this up without going the corny but-it’ll-all-be-ok-and-I-love-my-kids route because yes, it (touch wood, spit, spit) probably will be and obviously I do, obviously. If this blog is about remembering this time in my life I want to remember the bad with the good and not just have a Instagram’d-rosy-colored glow over this period–but, sidenote, wow do I have some good Instagram shots: It has been extremely difficult and I don’t want to forget it. We wanted three kids and right this second I just can’t see how that happens. Unlike people who have kids late because they met the right person later in life (or did it on their own when they didn’t), my husband and I have known each other since I was 20. Why couldn’t we fall for each other earlier? We could have done 4-5 years between kids, it just seems so much easier that way. Now I’m 35 and we don’t have time for gaps which make child rearing simpler.
I say there is a 95% chance we’re done with baby-making and the only reason I leave 5% open is this: while giving birth to Jack I asked my husband to tell me stories of Sadie to keep my mind off what was happening. She brings us both so much happiness. He told me funny things she’s said or done. We giggled together about her, the time flew by and then we heard Jack cry. That first cry is the most amazing sound of all time, I’ll never forget the sound of Sadie’s or Jack’s first cry, and there is a 5% chance I’ll forget all I’ve written here and need to hear that cry again. So that’s my happy wrap-up. No matter the misery, the sleeplessness, the pain, the agony, the crying, the loss of independent life (and there is all that! Don’t let anyone lie to you and tell you there isn’t!) that sound and everything that comes after is more powerful than any of it.