Three weeks ago, my husband, three children, and I welcomed a sweet, gentle, wiggly little baby boy into the world. He weighed in at 7lbs and we named him, John Christopher, after my father in law, one of the most wise men I’ve ever known. One of these long, exhausting days I’ll get around to writing his birth story. But for now, I’m back peddling into blog catching up.
Motherhood threw shock my way within the first moments of my being one. Our first baby boy was incredibly loud (even to the ears of an Italian) so much so that he was kicked out of the nursery because he woke up the other babies after the terror of his first bath, had the latching skill of a piranha, and slept in 5-7 minute cycles before demanding to be fed again. There I sat in perhaps the smallest hospital room (closet) ever designed in a quarantined floor because swine flu swept the nation in the very same way that Ebola might. I was alone and completely clueless with my very young, new husband. My hospital bag packed full of text books, pre-pregnancy jeans, and, my high heel booties, was of absolutely no hope. My plan to study for the graduate school finals I suffered through 5 days post baby while dressed in pants that button and stilted shoes quickly vanished from my delirious mind as all of my thoughts turned to, “how will I ever sit down again?” While everyone told me their congratulations, well wishes, and sent adorable plush stuffed animals, I was somehow left in the dark when it came to bleeding nipples, stitches, mesh underpants, and normal baby behavior. The three of us, still, somehow survived, and we did so happier than ever.
While I’m fully accustomed to the joys of mesh underpants this fourth time around, motherhood, so it seems, is and always will be, full of surprises. Here are some of its most recent unexpected joys:
- 3am occurs 24 hours in a row, or so it feels: I know it, you know it, all other moms know it. Children have no idea and still expect to be fed. If someone could only inform my infant that sleeping all day and partying all night is only acceptable in college, all will be well.
- There will be blood: I sat across from Jim at our very dirty, mostly falling apart, hand me down kitchen table. With James reaping the benefits of having successfully tackled both of his sister’s in the race to tend to baby John Christopher’s desire for a pacifier, Rita drowned her sorrows in a third helping of steak. Josie continued in trying to distract her big brother from his post through song and clumsy dance. With everyone occupied, we raised our first post baby glass of wine and toasted to a Friday night home and together. Just as the delicious fermented grape touched my lips, Josie’s dance routine grew increasingly spirited catching Rita’s concentrated love of meat off guard. Three spins and the most clumsy plea ballet has ever known later, Rita’s chair was accidentally shoved out from underneath her feet. In that moment, Rita learned that heads, unfortunately, do not brace falls very well. After Jim and I discussed “I think it looks fine? Maybe not?”, we took our great parenting to the expertise of group text. Consensus confirmed stitches. To med express Daddy and sweet Rita went as I waited anxiously by the phone. Jim’s calm demeanor was first challenged when Rita did what every woman wants to do at the doctor’s office and threw a complete screaming and crying fit when asked to stand on the scale. The dr went on to diagnose that she needed staples. Every single postpartum hormone began to be released in hysterical tears. My favorite detail, however, is the med express doctor’s immediate recognition of our last name based on the frequent visits from our next door neighbors. “Give Maria and Dan and all their boys my best,” he said as they left. Lesson learned: more kids, more med-express.
- It will be humiliating in unexpected ways: Like when I thought servicing the furnace would take 10 minutes and cost 10 dollars, it might take 4 long hours and cost much more. Enter: unprepared HVAC technician into a house with 8 children all 4 and under (the neighbors came to visit). After one hour and a leggo fight, he returned from the basement to say, “something is broken.” With the sweet sound of “Mom!! Wipe my bum!!” in the background, 45 minutes after that he asks, “is it possible something is stuck in the vents?” “Yes.” I confirm. Two hours and a sawed off pipe later, as JCDII demonstrated his impressive skill of nursing and yet simultaneously vomiting all over me, and Josie ran around in only underpants, he had found the problem. “Sorry that took so long, Ma’am,” he began nervously. “But it looks like the furnace exhaust had been stuffed with a considerable amount of rocks, chalk…and it looks like… a pair of dirty underpants.” Upon sight of my visible embarrassment, my sister comforted me with, “At least it’s not poop filled diapers in your gutters.” Lesson learned: it could always be worse, and it usually is next door.
- Questions are Asked: The last time I gave birth my oldest kid was two and mostly uncommunicative. This time 3 of them speak and they speak well. Questions include: “Mommy’s Diaper?” “Why can’t we jump on your belly?” “Why does your belly look like that?” “Why is that milk yellow?” “Why does that pumper sound like that?” “If the baby is out, why is your belly still big?” “Mommy, are you pregnant again yet?” “When will you be pregnant again?” “Can we help you get pregnant?” “Next time can you have two babies?”
- Generosity will astound: The meals, the gifts, THE PRAYERS! Unbelievable.
- Joy will permeate: In perhaps the greatest grace filled moment of my life, I held sweet baby John Christopher and heard the rest of the clan’s pitter patter down the hospital hallway. My heart was beating in pure excitement that I could barely contain myself from jumping out of the hospital bed to greet them. EVERYONE TOLD ME THAT I WOULD BE TIRED. EVERYONE TOLD ME MY HANDS WOULD BE FULL. NO ONE TOLD ME I WOULD CRY IN COMPLETE JOY UPON INTRODUCING MY NEW BABY TO MY BIGGER BABIES. So they spilled chocolate cake all over the floor, wiped their faces on my sheets, broke the buttons that make the bed adjust, and nearly jumped on me so many times that my husband thought I might hemorrhage all within a twenty minute visit? THERE IS NO GREATER GIFT THAN THAT OF A SIBLING, EVEN IF THE YOUNGEST IS DISAPPOINTED THAT HE ISN’T A DOG.
- Somehow it’s easier Maybe it’s because the last time I had a baby no one could yet walk down the steps or maybe it’s because three were still in diapers, or maybe it’s because JCD’s siblings are totally obsessed with him? But, I swear its easier to have a fourth kid around! Don’t get me wrong, my hands? They are at their fullest. But, to have a new little newborn life! What a grace, what a life, what a love.
This blog is coming back. Stay tuned.