Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The other adult in the house

If I ever appear to be talking to myself, I don't have a blue tooth and I'm not crazy. I'm just talking to God. Some days he's the only adult around until my husband gets home. And I'm pretty sure he's listening because I haven't been on the evening news yet as the crazy-exhausted mommy who drove her minivan full of kids into a ditch.

However, my conversations with God are often full of "Yeah buts ... " and sarcasm. It seems irreverent, I know, but, sometimes, it's the only way he and I get to talk. And I think he knows that and meets me where I am. Many of our conversations lately sound like this:

God, are you sure about this three kids business? I mean, my husband is back at work and I'm ALONE with them.

You're not alone. You've got me. And besides, you said you wanted kids.

Yeah, but they're so close in age and I'm getting old. And gray. And really tired. And one of them pooped his pants the other day.

You wanted three of them, remember?

Well, if we had stuck to my plan we'd have had kids two years earlier than we got them and I wouldn't be so, well, old, you know.

If we'd gone with your plan, we wouldn't be having nearly as many conversations, now would we?

Touche. Can you please just make it so I don't end up on the 6 o'clock news? I don't want to be THAT mom.

I'll give you the good sense not to get behind the wheel when you're exhausted, okay?

So, that's a "No" on making my children sleep longer?

Silence ...


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A cry or a cry-sis?

A friend of mine is fond of saying that babies (and kids) just figure themselves out eventually. This smart woman realized this after just one child. I, on the other hand, am a little bit denser or, perhaps, just more stubborn. I had to have three kids to learn the difference between your average, run of the mill fussing to communicate or self-soothe and full-on, do-something-dammit crying. It's taken the experience of three babies to garner the patience to let a child fuss himself gently to sleep, to not step in too soon to soothe a growling infant (yes, my son growls and so did Danny), to realize that sometimes baby noises are just that: noises.

The neediness of newborns and the constant physical contact required by my firstborn was such a complete culture shock that I just assumed I was not a baby person. Of course, three years later, I'm saying to myself, "You know, I'm just not a toddler person." So, while I was excited about having this baby, I was not looking forward to the newborn stage. But the reality is that there are challenges with every stage and experience and attitude are key to coping with the slightest modicum of dignity and grace.

My need to fix things or keep the peace got the better of me with my first two: they'd bust out of a swaddle; I gave up on swaddling. Danny would fuss in his bassinet; I automatically put him in bed with us. Fiona wouldn't sleep anywhere but her car seat; I obliged until it was too dangerous to continue (then paid for it dearly for the next sleepless six months).

This afternoon, I swaddled Owen tight (gotta get those arms down by their sides for it to be effective, I just learned), laid him down for a nap in the bassinet and waited while he murmured and growled and eventually fell fast asleep. I gave him a chance to fall asleep in the bassinet and he did. It's really hard to wait it out like that when the window for sleep between feedings is so short. I just want to go to sleep, not lie in bed wondering if I should just give in, put him in our bed and let him nibble on the buffet or wait a few more minutes. Of course, my husband warned me to not be lulled by these early days. He's just waiting for Owen to bust out into the kind of Baby Danny-style crying for no apparent reason from which we are still recovering. I guess what he's learned after three kids is that the other shoe does drop eventually.

So far, though, Owen doesn't cry much, unless he has a good reason like diaper changing (he hates it), waiting for food, and wanting to be swaddled when he's overtired. Oh, and when his monster of a sister pats him a wee bit too hard on the head or pinches his foot.

This time around I feel like I have more patience than I did with the other two. I have the patience to let him figure himself out when he can and the discernment to know when to hold him which is, admittedly, a lot lately since I do have trouble putting him down (after all, he was inside me for 42 weeks and 2 days). The other night, I read a book in bed, hands free, while he dozed on my chest. It was so sweet and relaxing that I had the craziest thought ever ... I actually do kind of like babies ... maybe this won't be my last one. (just kidding dear husband!)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sleep aids, Danny style

Every night after we put Danny to bed, we hear the steady clank of metal on metal, little Matchbox cars being taken out of and put back into a basket on his bed. Then in the morning, I find Danny fast asleep next to cars either lined up end on end or set perfectly side by side on his bed.

This morning over breakfast, Jim commented that he needed to get back into his usual routine of getting up at 4:30 starting this Monday. Since Jim has been home this week, he's been staying up really late. Jim has one more week at home and wasn't sure he could start getting back to his normal sleep routine cold turkey.

Danny perked up and said, "You need a car show."

"Is that what helps you sleep?" Jim asked.

"Uh huh," he replied.

So there you have it. If you can't sleep, line up your cars in a neat little row and call it a car show. He has my OCD tendencies for sure.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Germ warfare

It's been a challenge lately to keep Danny from hurting Fiona for being, well, a very precocious and curious 1-year-old. From his point of view, he is just playing with his toys, minding his business, when this beast of a sister comes along and wrecks everything, strews puzzle pieces, takes cars, crowds him in the sandbox, grabs his snack and lunch and water bottle ... you get the picture. We have a strict no hitting/no touching policy, but I feel bad for enforcing it when he's just trying to protect his stuff. We're trying to give him options like ask for help, walk away if you're frustrated, show her how to take turns. But really, we can't always get there in time to intervene and redirect her.

Today, as she approached his puzzle, he head butted her, poked her, all but hurled his entire body at her, but didn't hit her. Jim reminded him that head butting and poking still constitutes touching.

So ...

He coughed on her.

It's boot camp for Fiona

Since my husband is home for the rest of this week and next, we decided it was time to start using some firmer discipline techniques with Miss Fiona. Trust me, this girl needs a full-time tag team of parental guidance right now. She's 15 months old, very strong willed and mature enough to understand what we want. You can just tell by the look in her eyes that she knows.

A few nights ago, we decided to start putting the two older kids (my, that's a weird thing to say, isn't it?) to bed at the same time. The routine is bath time, yogurt and banana smoothies and a few episodes of Curious George. That's been Danny's routine since he was Fiona's age. All we wanted was for her to sit on her bottom in the chair for a few minutes. I began telling her and placing her on her bottom in the chair each time she stood in the chair. After about the sixth time, she began responding to my voice commands. Then Jim walked in. She took one look at him and stood up in her chair and repeated it at least six more times while Jim told her to sit and placed her back in the seat. After a while, she would respond to voice commands from both of us but scream hysterically in our direction. You'd a thought that we had asked her to sit on a bed of nails. 

You know, when I first got pregnant this last time, I had thought a sister would be nice for Fiona. I have a sister whom I love dearly and can't imagine my life without. I want Fiona to have that, too. However, as her personality unfurls, I'm starting to sense that she is all the girl I can handle. Women in my family are just like that ...

Owie, Owie, O, Owie
Owen already has a nickname. I call him Owie and then the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz are chanting in my head, "Owie, Owie, O, Owie." He's a very sweet baby so far and fairly alert, at times, for his age. It's too early to make very many generalizations about this guy, but one this is for sure - he looks almost exactly like his big brother and I have the photos to prove it. Holding an almost carbon copy of baby Danny in my arms helps put my frustrations with the whiny 3 year old version of Danny into perspective. And I've discovered the great advantage to having a baby in the warmer months ... I don't have to dress him. He's been in a diaper and swaddled or wrapped in my sling most of the week which means not as much laundry as with the other two.

The kids are responding well to their new baby brother. Danny is absolutely in love with him. He wants to get bunk beds. He tells us, "Owen will sleep on the bottom. I'll sleep on the top." So maybe we have a few more years before we have to turn the attic into a fourth bedroom. The reality may be quite different when Owen begins taking an interest in Danny's toys, however. And for a few days, he insisted that Owen was a girl, yet correctly identified him as his brother.

Fiona is getting better about being gentle. She comes over and pats him pretty gently now as opposed to a few days ago. I'm pretty sure Owie is terrified of her. I've learned that trying to physically shield Owen from her advances makes her more determined. She just tries to move my hand and, let me tell, she is strong for her age. So now, I just watch closely, try not to hover. One day this week, she actually leaned into his bouncy seat and put her head lightly on his chest as if to hug him. Then she gave him a small toy. Well, she kind of threw it at him, but it's a start.

And I'll leave you with this little gem ... Danny asked me the other day "What's wrong with Owen's penis?"

I thought, "How strange. He's never seen me change his diaper and we haven't discussed that only boys have a penis."

Then it hit me. Owie has just been in a diaper and swaddled most of the week and part of his umbilical cord is still attached. 

 I explained to Danny that Owen's umbilical cord is not his penis.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Worth the wait

Owen Patrick Meehan finally arrived, 16 days overdue, on May 2 at 5:55 a.m. He weighed in at 9 lbs 7 oz and was 22.75 inches long. He's perfect and beautiful and looks a lot like his big brother did as a baby, only Owen is a whole 3 pounds heavier than Danny was. I'm not sure where I hid that much baby (and I'm not taking suggestions as to where, just in case there are any smart alacks out there).

Danny's reaction to his new baby brother was priceless. And I was really looking forward to hearing his impressions since he's so verbal now. He walked in, eyes wide, and said, excitedly, "Baby Owen came out. Now he not make you tired." For months, he's heard me say, "Mommy's tired, she has a baby in her belly." Apparently, he doesn't know how this works just yet. The baby is going to be making us tired for quite some time, I'm sure.

Fiona, on the other hand, is going to be a challenge. She is 15 months old, has no impulse control and is a very strong-willed child. She walked right up, pointed at him and said, "Baby." Then proceeded to not-so-gently pat him. She did seem rather concerned when he started crying this morning and can say his name. It's adorable, let me tell you. Videos soon, I promise!

And for those who like birth stories, here's an abbreviated one:

On Saturday night, we left our children with Nana and PopPop and came home. Well, first we stopped off for some candy (licorice) because we had planned to watch a movie. Licorice, my midwife tells me, can induce contractions. And we bought the good quality licorice. Whether it was just his time or whether it was the licorice, I may never know (it's safe to say, though, that it was probably just his time since he was 16 days late!). I went to bed at 11, slept until about 12:30 and woke up feeling crampy but didn't think it was contractions because, well, they just didn't start and stop. I walked around for a bit, got back in bed and rested with a warm rice sock and waited. Then the contractions started, first at 5 minutes apart for about an hour.

I woke Jim up to tell him that it was starting and he told me I needed to get some rest, which, based on Fiona's and Danny's labor, was the right answer. However, Owen had other ideas and apparently, the dog knew about it. Bob just stood by Jim's side of the bed and looked at him like, "Well, aren't you going to do something?" And there was a lot to do ... blow up the pool, turn up the temperature on the water heater so there would be enough hot water, get out the birth supplies, make sure I had Smart Water and snacks and probably a lot of other things that my husband could tell you about.

Rather quickly the contractions became 3 minutes apart and by 3:30 or so they were 2 minutes apart and double-peaking. By 3:30 a.m. I was almost fully dilated. By 5 a.m. Owen was making beginning to make his descent as I labored in the birth pool in our bedroom. I pushed for about 9 minutes and he was out. The cord was wrapped loosely around his neck twice but his heart rate never dipped during labor. I felt around in the warm water to check the gender, which was a surprise to us, before our midwife brought him up.

Start to finish, this labor lasted five and a half hours. This kid broke all kinds of records ... heaviest baby, longest baby, longest overdue, shortest labor. Yesterday was pretty rough for me. I began to vomit when I was in labor and got myself into a low-blood sugar spiral where I couldn't keep anything down, not even water, for the first 12 hours after the birth. I was too nauseous to even sleep. By late afternoon, I was so depleted that my leg muscles were cramping. What finally worked was my midwife's suggestion that I take a bite of food every fifteen minutes when I was awake, then take a Tylenol PM and get some sleep. It worked. I slept and Owen slept 5 hours last night (that is actually the longest stretch of sleep I've had in months!). I had to rouse him for a feeding this morning.

Much of what went on yesterday is unknown to me, as I was puking most of the day. But Jim says the kids had a blast in the backyard at Owen's very first "birthday party." Even Owen spent a little time outside. The night before Jim had set up a little water park in the backyard with the slip and slide and the pool around the swing set area. Then he grilled turkey burgers for dinner.

Right now, they're all sleeping and I've eaten something other than the BRAT diet and ice chips today. Needless to say, I'm feeling a lot better and getting to know our new little guy who is sitting in his bouncy seat  all snuggled up in my new favorite piece of baby gear - a swaddling blanket. It's like a straight-jacket for babies. Genius!

Here are a few photos of our precious baby boy. Also, here are some photos that my dad took.