Monthly Archives: April 2012

My Village

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We’ve all heard the “it takes a village” quote when it comes to raising children. The other night something Noah said made me think about how my village is much different than most of my friends’ villages.

Tuesday night on our way home from therapy in Michigan, Antonette and I were chatting and as we ended our call I gave her my usual, “if you want to come sit on my couch later I’ll be around.  And if it’s any temptation Glee’s on tonight and there’s plenty of dinner!”  When she walked in the back door later that evening I was sitting on the couch attempting to calm down a really grumpy baby and Steve was working on his latest Mr. Fix It project.  Noah came running in the room yelling, “DAD! Antonette’s home!”  Not Antonette’s here. Antonette’s HOME. We all started cracking up. He knows she belongs here, and while this isn’t her home that she lives in she’s a part of our home when she’s here.  I love that my kids recognize that.  My village is my friends.

Most of my friends have a lot of support from their families. When I ask them who is babysitting their kids the typical responses I get are the in laws, grandma, grandpa, an aunt or uncle.  Someone blood related.  I don’t have that. For various reasons we don’t have the physical support of our family.  I know I can pick up the phone and call and text my Mom, Gram, and Aunt whenever I want but it’s just not the same as having them sitting on my couch with me so I can quickly shovel dinner in my mouth before the baby starts crying again. And as far as in laws go, well, I’m not going to go there.

At the end of my pregnancy with Chessa I had a very emotional conversation with my Gram.  I was starting to panic a little about running a household of 5 kids. 4 is hard, how would 5 change things? The kids I can handle, the rest of the crap (laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc) that comes along with this mothering thing I kind of  really suck at.  Eventhough I’m an only child, I grew up in a large family. I watched both of my Aunts raise 4 children and it gave me such an intense desire for a large family too.  BUT,  my Aunts had an invaluable resource I’m not able to tap into.  My Gram.  Growing up I just assumed when I had kids I’d have similar family help.  I never thought I’d have to stress about who would come over if someone was sick and I needed to run an errand or who would sit with the sleeping baby while I ran to get the other kids from school or what the heck happens when I realize on a Sunday night no one has underwear for school. Well, the sick kid comes with me and the sleeping baby gets woken up and my kids have had no undie days around here.

My Gram had four kids too and then had a heavy hand in raising me so she gets it, but she was also really good at all the other “stuff” too.  Everytime we talk she gets such a depressed tone to her voice and says, “I hate that your mom and I can’t be there to help you. You need help.” I assure her that while I wish they could be with me too,  I have a support system that is amazing.  Yes, I do need help, but thank God I have my friends.

One of my favorite memories from Chessa’s birth is when when my midwife’s birth assistant, Steph, watched Antonette pick up the garbage bag full of laundry from the birth and walk out of the room with it. She looked a little confused and surprised and said, “She just took all the laundry!”  I responded with, “Yep, she does dishes too!”  Those are the kind of friends I have. The kind who will take my birth laundry to their own home to wash it.  So while my house is rarely spotless and Addison can rarely find that one pair of pants she just has to wear, with my little village I keep my head above water and enjoy this time while they are little.  So, thank you to all of you who make my life a little easier on a daily basis. Whether you’ve  held a sleeping baby, folded a pile of laundry, made me dinner, spent a holiday with us when we were bummed about not seeing family, or just sat and had a cup of coffee with me when I needed a chat (if you are ever interested in this option I’m ALWAYS up for a coffee date!) know that you are important to me.

10 things I learned on my first day alone with 5 children.

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1. Do not trust a two year old who asks to sit on the potty. She will sneak away and poop on your floor.

2. Do not attempt to stretch out a Chessa feeding any longer than two hours even if it means holding your pee til your eyeballs are floating. At exactly 121 minutes she turns into a banshee.

3. Everytime Chessa cries Maggie will cry. Gonna take awhile to get used to that one.

4. Chick fil a has a gluten and dairy free kids meal now. I ate two. Shhhhhh.

5. Waking up at 5:30 am means you are ready for bed at 4:30 pm. Your kids will not be down with that idea. Maybe I should have set the clocks ahead a couple hours?

6. Telling your usually responsible 7 year old, “Sure, go ahead and make yourself a snack.” will end in shredded vegan cheese all over the living room the one time you try to sneak a 20 minute nap.Which wouldn’t upset me nearly as much if I didn’t have to pay as much for a bag of cheese as I do a pack of diapers.

7. If it weren’t for Antonette I’d probably have lost way more than the 20lbs I already have since birth. Thank God she feeds me. Oh, and she buys diapers too. You know, for the toddler up there ^ who pooped on my floor.

8. Your first day alone with 5 kids is not the time to let your three year old son wear a Super Man cape all.day.long. He will think he actually IS Superman and act accordingly.

9. Even if you haven’t needed breast pads your entire week post partum leaving the house to take the baby to visit a classroom of 8 year olds will be the ONE time you do need them. Thank God for the awesome sweatshirt Tracy bought me and for the mental clarity to stop before walking out the door and grab it.

10. As crazy as this day was, it was my crazy and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Day Three

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First off, could this face BE any cuter?

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I’ve had 5 babies. Hearing those words, typing those words, it’s still unbelievable to me. 10 years ago right now I was preparing to graduate college and planning a wedding. If someone would have said to me, “10 years from now you’ll have 5 kids!” I would have laughed and said they were crazy! Yes, the plan was always a big family, but 5 kids in 8 years? Wow. I had Steve fairly on board with 4 (although from the name of this blog you can see that he was more keen on three) and neither of us really thought 5 was even an option. I always wanted 5, but I knew he didn’t so I didn’t push it. God had other plans for us though, and as I look at Chessa snoozing next to me I can physically feel that my heart is finally full. There was still this tiny little gap and now that she’s tucked her little 7lb self in there there is no doubt in my mind our family is complete and I’m looking forward to the next stage of watching them all grow into amazing people.

So, back to the “I’ve had 5 babies” thing. You would think after 5 babies I’d have this whole pregnancy, birth, post partum thing down pat. Granted, every one of my births has been unbelieveably different from the one before, but there are similarities that run through them all. The most outstanding similarity is Day Three. Nine years ago I started this journey completely trusting the medical community with my body and my child. It failed me. Twice. So, after Alaina and Addison on Day Three I blamed them. I sat, I cried, I blamed everyone I could think of from the nurses who roughly shook my babies to get them to cry to the doctors who preformed procedures I hadn’t consented to for the horrible feelings I was feeling. With Noah I had an amazing natural birth, but still Day Three came and there was that flood of doom and gloom again. Maggie, I blamed Day Three on the unplanned transfer from my homebirth to the hospital for a c-section.

Yesterday was Day Three. I woke up yesterday morning and almost immediately the tears started. I layed and nursed Chessa with the other four kids crawling around our bed watching cartoons. When I got out of bed I was hit by a wave of exhaustion, soreness, and loneliness. I immediately reached out to my my friend Teran and started typing out an insanely long text to her about how lonely I felt and before I even hit send she called me to check on how I was feeling that morning. We have this wonderfully bizarre connection, and I’m pretty sure she knows how I feel before I do. I burst into tears and just unloaded on her how alone I felt and how every inch of my body ached. Laying down and sitting makes my tailbone pain worse. Standing makes my cramping and abdomenal pain worse. I felt like I just couldn’t win. After listening to me rant finally Teran said to me, “Christina. It’s Day Three.” I of course was like, “What the hell does that mean?” And then it hit me. I had a big “AH HA!” moment. My usual way of dealing with Day Three is to get the heck out of the house, even if it is just to the grocery store. However, towards the end of my pregnancy I started having some mild anxiety and it seems to be creeping back because just taking Chessa to her first doctor appointment on day two was enough to make my chest tighten and a sense of panic set in. I was going to have to come up with a new way to deal with Day Three this time around.

Most woman come home from the hospital after 48 hours. Think about your Day Three. Your nurses aren’t taking care of you any more. No one is telling you how adorable your baby all day anymore. Your milk fully comes in and adds extra pain on top of the already existing aches and pains from birth. Your baby morphs from this peaceful angelic creature who slept for 2 days straight into a demanding angelic creature who seems to sleep MUCH less (although Chessa is still a dreamy baby, I don’t remember liking my other kids this much on day three. Kidding. Kinda.) With a homebirth your sense of time after the baby is born is sort of skewed. I didn’t expect the Day Three crash b/c none of those factors were there. But, crash I did. Hard. Thank God for good girl friends who provide endless hours of comedic relief to take my mind off The Crash. Jill is already starting her antics (she had Maggie rolling over at some insanely early age thanks to her persistance) and Antonette is already trying to teach her inappropriate words (one of Maggie’s first words was Beer.) I have been truely blessed with the friends I have made during this crazy Motherhood thing. Today’s the day to pick myself back up and keep moving on. Looking forward. I promised Alaina back on Tuesday that if I was feeling ok enough I would take her to therapy so Miss Maria could meet Chessa. Say a little prayer for me that the anxiety stays away.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately why I want to be a post partum doula, and the answer is simple- Day Three. Now that our family is complete I can’t wait to help other moms through their Day Threes. I’ve had 5 Day Threes and each one has sucked just as bad as the one before it. No woman should be alone, with out another female, to support her on Day Three. As much as our husbands love us they don’t get it. They are also going through their own adjustments after birth, and I think that often gets over looked. I think it’s especially important for woman like me, who don’t ask for help.