My baby was ten days old Monday. He lost his umbilical cord stump but I didn’t notice until the two-year-old repeated, “fell off?” while pointing at his belly button. There is much less time to sit and observe this baby and that’s what my heart longs to do more than with the previous three.
When the two-year-old was an infant, I realized I had given up despising the night feedings. Granted, he was a decent sleeper so we weren’t usually up all night but I still found it much easier to treasure those tiny, quiet moments when I could simply hold him without needing to correct or love on anyone else.
When I had my first, I simply felt smothered by this person who suddenly needed me all the time. Amazing how a few years and a few more babies gives you more perspective. They go from needy infants to hilarious- and sometimes defiant- three year olds so quickly.
My husband took two weeks off work with this baby. We’re easing past the middle of this second week and I’m slowly, slowly trying to craft a routine for our family. Not the same routine- life will never be the same- but a new routine. One where I’m adding back in some normalcy for us but also trying a few new things because life with a newborn is different.
We’re starting out our mornings with fruit and a trip outside because it’s been so hot. Earlier this week I even fed the baby while we were at the playground, sitting on the asphalt of the basketball court because all the seats were wet with dew. (Note: take a towel or change everyone’s pants when we get back home.) Then back in for breakfast. After breakfast is a nap for Luke and some activities for the rest of us. My first two babies learned to nap in their beds because I needed the break; my last two because I needed my hands. I need to cut up grapes and swap out the laundry and I can only carry him in the wrap so much. He has to occasionally stretch his legs.
Right now I have to let go of the dream schedule and think of what we need. I need time to sit and nurse the baby, especially when he’s less than a month old and sometimes needs some encouragement. I need time time to drink the coffee (I take it on our morning walk) because even though I resent being up at night much less, I’m still missing the sleep. I need courage and patience and determination to love and train my older three instead of being overwhelmed at the task in front of me.
Tuesday I gave Luke a bath and nursed him on the couch while my husband finished lunch and fed the older three. Next week I’ll need to manage both. Occasionally I feel like I’m going to dominate four boy motherhood; that we will rock this out with style and class and enjoy at least most of it. Other times I’m sure it’s going to be complete chaos and I won’t need to worry about scheduling that hair appointment because I will have pulled it all out trying to tend to everyone’s needs.
We’ll fall somewhere in the middle I’m sure. We have brought home three other new babies and somehow, after some time, fell into a rhythm that allowed us to all survive, and even thrive for the most part. It will be chaotic. There will be days when I’m sure I’m doing nothing right and I start searching for new plans and routines and maybe a different sippy cup that will magically solve all our problems. There will be days when I fall into bed begging God to help me be a better mother because I lost it again. There will be days that seem like magic and beauty and wonder all tied up in one. But mostly there will be days.
There will be days when we go outside and read books while I nurse the baby and eat lunch late because I had to feed the baby and hunt for socks because no one put them inside their shoes like they were supposed to. There will be days when I wish for bedtime at four in the afternoon and serve up some strange combination of bacon and carrots for dinner because there’s not enough left of me right then to care. There will be days when we finish the to-do list and end the evening at the sandpit getting filthy before bath time.
But there will be days. Days that will make up their childhood and all of our memories and most of the hard stuff will fall from mind and I’ll remember snuggling the baby at three in the morning cherishing the moment of quiet and the scent of a newborn under my nose.