PSYCH!!

IMG_2478 copyOur days continue to be full of sweet, nuzzle-y moments (exhibit A, Iris playing with Oliver after tub time). Our nights, however, have mostly gone to hell. Not that Oliver doesn’t sleep; he actually sleeps pretty fantastically after eleven or midnight. Until then, he mostly screams/fusses/requires 100% of at least one parent’s energy (sometimes both. It depends) starting about the time we put Iris to bed. Since he is otherwise all sunshine and rainbows, I think it’s either normal baby stuff or maybe we just make colicky babies? (And if this is normal baby stuff and you don’t have kids yet, the Gandalf FLY YOU FOOL gif might just continue to be one of the more relevant ones out there). I really have no idea. He naps well, eats on demand, spends most of his day in the carrier…

He’s a happy, healthy little chunk. Just not between 8 and 11pm.

Basically, they tag-team us. Oliver keeps us busy until 11 when we collapse into bed, then they take turns getting us up in the night, and Iris pops up for the day somewhere between 5:30 and 6.

I. Am. Dying.

Not just from the sleep stuff, although that sucks, but with Oliver’s colicky evenings I literally have no breaks for the mental health stuff—the creative pursuits and showers sans crying babies. I’m actually writing this standing up at the kitchen counter because Oliver’s napping in the carrier on my chest and he’ll wake up if I sit down. Iris is asleep upstairs, but she only went down for her nap because I drove her around for a while in the car—although I can’t let her STAY asleep in the car, because then Oliver wakes up and (yes) cries. My days are pretty much one of those nonsensical logic puzzles Lewis Carroll excelled at.

But that’s life. Those are the problems inherent in the life I chose, and I know it won’t be like this forever.

It just is right now.

So until it stops, I’m pretty much putting everything else on hold. Project 52, better blogging, having a schedule for Iris other than Netflix… I’m going to have to figure that out later. Maybe that can be my goals list for 2014.

And in the very short-term, maybe I will even go upstairs and change the whole changing table since Ollie soaked it when I changed his diaper mid-paragraph a few minutes ago. Who knows. I might even get something legitimately clean before Iris wakes up and wants chicken nuggets.

IMG_2479 copyBut yes. This photo (exhibit B) is pretty much why everything in my life right now. Babies are magical little monsters, and that shaggy forelock is killing me. She looks, running around the house with smears of chocolate and dirt, a lot like a wild pony from Chincoteague.

 

 

Advertisements

Me Again

IMG_2441

Asleep in the car after dropping Carl at work

For the first time in weeks both babies are asleep and I am—by choice!—not also napping. Woot woot! We’ve had a lot of sketchy nights in the sleep department, including a stretch where Iris woke up a couple of times in the night and then was up for the day at 5:30am. Carl and I have become quite good at strategizing while half-asleep, and since the air mattress is still set up in our office, there have been a couple of mornings where we either divide the kids up or just take turns getting that last half an hour of sleep in peace.

Eh. We knew there would be hard moments.

There are also a lot of incredibly fun and sweet ones, and in what other job would I get to have two super cute babies fall asleep snuggling me every day? I’m more aware this time just how fast infancy goes, and the awareness makes me enjoy it so much more. It’s hard to believe Oliver is almost a month old already.

Although there are tell-tale signs…

For starters: I’m not asleep right now. I feel pretty great physically. We’ve stopped eating both freezer meals AND fast food. And, maybe most telling, it’s starting to make me twitchy to not be writing anything.

You know you’re getting to the end of recovery when resting, ironically enough, just makes you more restless.

IMG_2446

 

4/52: Change

IMG_2352I did a lot of little things last week. I took this picture—simple, yes, (and blurry, my internalized Carl might add), but symbolic to me. I like it.

I also planted daffodil bulbs in the front yard, which might count toward creativity if we’re playing loose. I took more pictures. I thought a lot about writing, and then didn’t write anything. I thought about my half-finished painting but didn’t work on it.

I feel a little shuttered.

I ate empanadas and reread Under the Tuscan Sun for comfort, to regain a sense that life is full of simple pleasures if you’ll only be intentional enough to look for them. It helped.

But I’m having trouble motivating myself to take on one more thing I’ll probably be bad at… or not finish… which sounds incredibly Eeyoric written down like that but is still nonetheless true. I’m still not feeling very strong and shiny today.

Life is good, but the edges are rough. For starters, my entire body feels like pizza dough. Now I have never been a fitness fanatic or particularly obsessive about my body/weight/appearance, but it’s still a bit disconcerting to lose 10 pounds of fluid weight (yay!) and suddenly discover that your skin everywhere is loose (not yay. Like a million yays in reverse). With a nice layer of maternal fat that is pretty much a given—and healthy enough, as far as that goes—for pregnancy. But still not the body I remember or the body I’d like to find my way back to, and there’s not a whole lot to do about it 10 days postpartum. It just takes time.

And as much as Iris loves her baby brother, she’s feeling the changes in our family rhythms too. Yesterday when I was holding Oliver she bluntly pointed at him, made a sad grunt, and then pointed to his bouncy seat. Put him down. Be with me.

Well I did, and I’m getting better at accommodating two babies on my lap, but there are moments every day when I feel like I’m shortchanging one for the sake of the other. I did a mini photo session with Oliver today because he has a newborn-sized pumpkin hat and you don’t take those lightly, but I also had to cut it short when Iris wandered off glumly and the pounding noises from the other room became suspiciously loud.

Change is good, but sometimes change is hard too.

IMG_2355 copy

 

Awake

IMG_2388Finally we can take non-sleeping snapshots. Someone is starting to wake up, revealing and asserting little bits of his personality. It’s hard to say whether he’s actually more laid back than Iris or whether we’re the ones who have changed, but it certainly feels different this time. I remember the cold water dousing when I realized Iris was going to wake up about every ninety minutes every night for months…. I didn’t even check the clock for the first week, but when I finally got around to timing last night I discovered that Oliver also wakes up to eat about every two hours on the dot.

But we keep him within arm’s reach of us at night, and feeding him isn’t that much more disruptive to my sleep than getting up 5 times a night to use the bathroom used to be—my somewhat horrifying third trimester average. The only sleep I genuinely miss is the hour long nap I used to take when Iris went down for hers, but I still get that on the weekends when Carl is home to take over with Oliver. I’m not hurting yet.

We were already nicely in a parents-of-young-children time zone, so there’s less jetlag this time around. We expect to get up around 6:30 every morning. We are not surprised when Oliver poops out a diaper 20 seconds after we changed the last one. When he falls asleep, I put him down so I can spend one-on-one time with Iris or (occasionally) clean something, and to my surprise he often stays contentedly asleep… through dance parties, through cartoons, through exuberant kisses from his big sis. My memory is that Iris NEVER slept except in arms, but maybe I never gave her the chance to figure out how to either. I certainly monitored her every movement in a way I don’t with Oliver. Babies seem simpler and sturdier than I used to imagine. All in all, I find myself wondering now how much of an infant’s personality is objectively real and how much is just imagined, the product of parental necessities, expectations, and habits.

Hard to say, but whatever his personality turns out to be, through whatever channels of nature and nurture, we sure are enjoying him.

 

 

Solo Flight

IMG_2331Carl went back to work today, so I had my first taste of solo parenting with two. So much less drama than I anticipated last night when I was moping around the house. I really hate the hormone mythology that gets tossed around ALL THE TIME with women, but last night was one of the few times in my life when I genuinely felt there was some chicanery going on with my emotions.

I mean, I have always been aware that having two children meant I would be parenting two children solo at times. That does not seem like a ground-breaking truth. But for some reason it felt like the end of all good things, and I wasn’t sure how we would all manage.

Turns out: just fine.

Oliver napped contentedly through the laundry folding session, the dance party, the walk to the park, and the ball-kicking in the back yard. Their naps overlapped by 45 minutes, so I took a short one too…

And then I ran out of ideas, so we camped out on the couch until it was time to put in the frozen lasagna my friend made for us and pick up the house a bit before the evening routine started. It wasn’t the most brilliant piece of parenting ever, but everybody was happy, nobody got hurt, and we all got enough to eat. Plus I got to hang out with these cute people.

Works for me.

IMG_2339 IMG_2343

Light Therapy

IMG_2301

 

Oliver is very seasonal. He kind of looks like a pumpkin no thanks to his jaundice, which has had us going to the hospital lab every morning to get his blood tested. We had to do the same with Iris, so it’s familiar territory, but on the very bright side it’s also been the perfect excuse for a little sunlight therapy.

Yesterday Carl set out the bouncy seat and lawn chair for us, and we basked for a while just Oliver and me. I could get used to the recovery life—a nap every afternoon with Iris, no heavy lifting (and toddlers are heavy), no cleaning, a little cooking just because, games with Iris, snuggles with the little fellow.

Not that it’s not busy with two little people. I did hole up in the bathroom the other day to take a shower and brought my poetry book to read “while the water warmed up”… which ended up being a lot closer to “until the room was too steamy to be comfortable.” Am reading Jane Kenyon, and I just finished the book today. Such good stuff. Nobody can be the Jane Kenyon of New Hampshire life better than the real Kenyon, but it does occur to me that somebody really should be the Jane Kenyon of life with young children. I would read that.

In the meantime, life continues to be good. I’ve been trying to take better care of myself emotionally this time around. I’m not sure how much of that’s really controllable, but I’d like to avoid as much of the baby blues as possible. Soaking up the October sunshine with a snoozing baby and a book of poems isn’t a bad way to start.

3/52: Welcome, Small Soul

IMG_2300

 

Oliver Owen arrived at 9:06 in the morning on September 27th. Our second Friday baby. Our second 8 pound, 11 ounce gift.

In a less rosy vein: it was the best of births, it was the worst of births. Any labor where your partner is upright, not vomiting from pain, and fully present has to be an improvement from our last go, but at the same time it had been a frustrating wait. The OB told me she expected me to be a week or two early… I ended up being induced a week late. The hospital told me to call at 4am the morning I was to be induced just to make sure there was a bed available… we called back every two hours until a bed finally opened up twelve hours later. The doctor said my body was ready for birth and it could still easily be a September 26 baby… we had the baby at 9 the next morning.

And after a 10 for 10 epidural experience the first time, I now understand a little bit why some people are wary of them. The anesthesiologist, a cheery man who told Carl to “bounce” when it was time to place the epidural because he’d had one too many fathers pass out during the procedure (yeah, it took us both a couple of seconds to understand what the heck he was talking about; one does not feel especially jaunty an hour before midnight while in labor)—he did his business with the needle just fine, but it was threading the tube that proved a challenge. I could literally feel it pushing into the very wrong areas of my spine. I don’t feel good, I said. The nurse held my hands encouragingly. No, I mean, I think I’m going to throw up. She got me a plastic bucket. No, I mean, I might pass out. I need to lie down. Now.

No, no! The doctor insisted brightly. You can’t do that. I’m almost done! Won’t be a minute!

I woke up to strong lights, a room full of medical personnel, and a crash cart a few seconds later. I was fine. The baby was fine. But it never ceases to surprise when people don’t take the hey, I faint thing seriously. This is not a too-much Victorian lit thing. I have lowish blood pressure and the genes for it. Sometimes I pass out. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. people. I don’t need the headache and nausea of returning blood to the brain on top of labor.

They let Carl back into the room a few minutes later. He said I had made groaning sounds like I was in excruciating pain and then somebody had yelled for ammonia salts and then a bunch of people had run down the hall. He said that we were done having kids.

But an hour later the epidural had kicked in and the adrenaline had kicked off, and we were both asleep. ALTHOUGH, I will say that the epidural continued to be annoying because even after all the issues getting the placement right it still wasn’t right, and when we hit transition the pain on my right side was manageable and on my left side I felt like my ribs were being crushed, my side torn up, and a horrible throbbing pain radiating down to my knee. So, probably normal transition pain? It was pretty awful. I can’t say I’m a fan.

At least it was over quickly. The doctor on the floor that morning is one of my favorites in the practice, a chipper woman in her early forties who genuinely likes her job. You’re fully dilated, she said, so just tell us when you feel like you want to push. Well, I never did feel like I wanted to push (the sense had been overwhelmingly obvious the first time around, so it caught me off guard this time). But I was pretty done with the contraction pain, so we caught the next one, and suddenly he was crowning. It had taken almost an hour of pushing with Iris to get to that point. Oliver was born within five minutes. So fast, in fact, that his forehead was bruised and his poor little eyes are still bloodshot. The body remembers its job, that’s all I’ve got on that front.

There’s no point trying to describe the feeling of having your baby placed on your chest after birth—a tiny, hearty, blood-spattered, crying, disoriented, perfectly complete human being you love but have never met before. I’ve never felt anything like it before or since or anywhere else. Which is probably true for a lot of things, but it does make it hard to describe.

I cried.

He looks just like Iris to me. Right down to the sweet mouth, the dime-sized chin lost in a cute swath of baby fat. He’s a sleepy baby so far, perfectly content if held and regularly fed, calm in the face of Iris’s exuberant affection. Our biggest challenge is keeping him awake long enough to eat a square meal.

We debated his name until the end, put off filling out the paperwork as long as possible, and—at least, I did—spent some time looking him over for clues. Nothing seemed right quite like Oliver.

So that’s what we named him.

We’ve liked the name for a while now, but I didn’t love it until I started thinking more about the meaning. Meanings are important to me, and I wanted his name to carry something special. I wanted it to be a good first birthday gift, one that would wear well through his life.

Oliver for olives, a symbol of peace and plenty.

I know that all children—at least those fortunate enough to grow up at all—have to grow up and decide for themselves who they are, who they aspire to be, how and where they want to spend their energy. But inasmuch as a parent is allowed to have hopes for her children, I hope ours fulfill in some quiet way the promise of their names. I hope they find the grace to turn outward now and then. I hope that like Saint Mary Magdalene and the goddess Iris they have a message to share in life, and if it’s going to be a message worth sharing, then I hope it’s a message of peace and the hope of prosperity.

Not the illusive prosperity of multi-national business tycoon crap, but the prosperity that is as tangible and simple as an olive grove, a life of rewarding work and peace both inside and out. Because it really doesn’t matter whether you see the world through a religious lens or a more secular one—I think the majority of us can all agree that the world would be a better place if we could learn to live more peaceably with ourselves and with others.

But until we reach such enlightened planes, I’m sure enjoying the trip.

I keep looking at Carl and being sort of astonished by how natural it feels and how good. We have kids! Plural! How did we ever get so lucky?

It’s nice to love the place you are.