Reality is setting in. People have stopped bringing us meals, and we’re pretty much done using the “newborn baby” excuse to simplify our schedule. Things are pretty much back to normal, except now we have four kids instead of three. So far, so good, but it’s definitely tiring.
Zachary has been waking up two or three times each night to nurse, and I’m noticing the effects. He’s eating really well and is growing, and I’m thankful for that. I think it’s a combination of the lost sleep with nursing and the physical toll of making all that milk to feed him, but I’ve had a couple days where it all seems to be catching up with me. I got headaches, and found myself struggling to keep my eyes open as I read books to the big boys. It’s days like these when the old adage “sleep when the baby sleeps” would come in handy. Too bad Max refused to nap the day I had my worst headache, and besides, there’s too much other stuff to do. So, I grabbed a little diet drink pick-me-up and soldiered onward.
We had another busy week, and an especially busy weekend. Mostly fun-busy, but it also contributed to my tiredness. On Saturday, I made my yearly batch of Christmas candy, and we went out to dinner with our camping club friends. I also spent a lot of time during the weekend preparing to have my mother-in-law’s family for our Thanksgiving/Christmas gathering. I usually host the Thanksgiving bash the weekend after Thanksgiving, but that was just too soon after having the baby. The alternative of going to a restaurant wasn’t appealing, especially because there are three new babies in the family, along with eight other kids; none of us parents felt like corralling the kids and trying to get them to behave in a restaurant.
It was important to get together, so we decided to do a combined celebration this weekend, and even though it was a lot of work to prepare, it was so worth it. My older kids and their cousins ate a few bites of dinner, then ran off to play trains, cars, and tractors, leaving the adults plenty of time to visit. The preparation Sunday afternoon was busy and occasionally frantic, but once dinner was ready to be served, I got to relax and enjoy the company, rather than worrying about my kids’ behavior and manners (or lack thereof) in a restaurant. All the kids were dressed in matching Christmas shirts, and as we took pictures in front of the tree I got a nice warm fuzzy feeling having all the family together, especially with the three new little cousins.
At one point this week, I looked down at the sweet, sleeping baby in my arms and realized: Oh my goodness: He’s not a newborn! His skinny, old-man-looking features are starting to fill out, especially his wrinkly forehead. He’s starting to look more like a “baby” than a newborn, and while I’m glad he’s growing and thriving, it makes me a little sad. I know he has to grow up, but it’s all happening so fast. I’m not quite ready for these visible changes.
As I write this, I’m thinking about my mother-in-law. Since she no longer works, she spends a lot of time with my kids, and they love her like crazy. She’s having surgery today for breast cancer, and I can’t help but worry about her. Especially right now, when it feels like my life revolves around breastfeeding my baby, it’s hard to think about that part of the body being life-threatening rather than life-giving. We’re hoping that the surgery will get the cancer and she can avoid chemo or radiation, but we won’t know for sure for another week or so. It’s hard to know how much to tell the kids, but we’re trying to be as honest as possible without scaring them.
So, it’s been a physically and emotionally tiring week, and I know from experience that it’ll probably be that way for a while. For the most part, I’m keeping my head above water, but there’s a mountain of laundry and dishes waiting for me when I’m done writing today. I might get to them today or I might not. We’ll see how long my energy holds out and my kids stay asleep. At least I know that the most important thing is to take care of my kids, and hopefully do my best at taking care of myself a little too.