Oh boy, Guys. Has it ever been crazy around here! Not just the run of the mill holiday stuff, but seriously my life has felt so out of control with nearly everything. Where do I even start?? I guess at the beginning...which is about a few days after bringing Bonus Baby home.
I wasn't even out of the hospital a week before I came down with a nasty head cold. So on top of trying to recover from major surgery and take care of 5 kids, I felt like absolute crap. Everything I could take had the potential of drying up breastmilk, and at 2ish weeks postpartum I didn't want to take the chance of messing up my supply. It took me nearly 2 weeks to totally kick that crap...only to be well for a couple days and catch yet another cold. This one started out horrible but got better by day 5. A couple days after that was over, I picked up a GI bug...no vomiting but I couldn't eat anything without spending the next hour in the bathroom. I guess my body was just over-stressed and unable to fight off anything, because no one else in my family was really getting sick. Except the toddler, but I will get to that.
In the middle of all my illnesses, my life felt completely out of control. Between all the breastfeeding, housework, my toddler, and older kids I couldn't get a handle on anything. Bonus Baby...oh he is easy compared to everything else. I can do babies all day long. But man!! I felt like crap, so I was pretty cranky from that. Hubby and I were bickering more than normal because everything was stressing me out. The 2 kids in the middle, especially my sweet 9 year old boy, started taking advantage of the situation and doing things he knew was wrong...like not turning in his iPod on Sunday nights and then sneaking and staying up late playing on it all night. I figured it out when he was falling asleep on the way home from school. Stealing and hiding then binging on the Halloween Candy. And lying about it when asked or caught. Oh, my boy. It's been things like that. My teenager has decided she doesn't want to be here much, to which I take no offense because she's 15 and it's sort of like Romper Room around here. But she also has been making wildly concocted plans and then telling us about it and needing us to chauffeur her all around town at ridiculous hours. And my toddler. Well, he is 22 months.
21 month age gap is awful. 15 months was so much easier. He is just old enough to truly notice and be affected by the change in the household. And to really be vocal when things don't go his way. Someone is always losing out, it seems. I either have to put the baby down to cry and deal with the toddler, or the toddler is screaming because I can't get to whatever he wants/needs fast enough because I am nursing a baby, or I have to leave his side to go get the baby. He is a later talker so he doesn't have a ton of words yet, and he has regressed some since the baby came along so the words he does have he refuses to use. So there has been a LOT of whining and crying and screaming and fit-throwing. And a huge test of patience. And I admit I haven't always been at my best during this. I am working on it.
My older kids have been frustrated with the toddler, too. And so it has served as a good reminder to me, too when I have had to stop them from getting mad at him to say "Guys, be gentle. Remember that he is not even 2 yet". Toddler Baby is also used to playing with older kids, and he's a boy. So he is a roughneck. Everything in his hands has to be banged against something or thrown across the room or down the stairs. We have lost a lot of Christmas ornaments that way this year. We are working on it. But like my other kids at this age, he finds the 3 stooges type routines funny. He also occasionally get so wound up rough housing that he bites. It almost comical to see older kids come running crying that the toddler bit them.
Laundry. It is just never ending. Combine the usual with the fact that my 9 year old (who has never been dry all night on a consistent basis and who doctors reassure me it will eventually stop) has peed his bed every single night this week...I am just done with that. He stopped wearing night time pull-ups or whatever long ago because he would just take them off. He goes for stretches where he is dry, but this week it's been bad. I try not to make a big deal about it cause it already bothers him. Another test of patience.
My animals have been driving me crazy. You can't say the word "outside" without them running around the house like mad and scratching on the sliding glass door. If I even walk in that direction they start going nuts that they are going outside. But then they bark and act stupid so it's a constant in and out all damn day. And my cat!! She started peeing all over the carpet downstairs, which is the playroom. Cat pee is so strong. Nothing is wrong with her other than she is "stressed out". My God. My new baby has stressed out my CAT. Are you kidding me?!?! After spending a small fortune on enzyme cleaners and spray to create a "no marking" zone, I got fed up. One morning I found 5 spots of pee. I caught her and put her out of the house. At night. In the cold. Not for more than a couple hours. She didn't even go far. But she has not done it since. I was ready to take her to the shelter because I do not have time to deal with this every single day. And we tried every trick we could find to stop her from peeing. But my husband who claims he can't stand all the pets just couldn't bring himself to take her. I am obviously not a cat person, but the dogs are my furry children.
For the past week my toddler has had Hand,Foot,Mouth virus and his mouth is full of sores from it. My other kids never got this particular symptom when they had it, so this was all new. He ran a terrible fever for several days, so that in and of itself made him miserable. But he was also hungry on top of it and everything he tried hurt and he didn't understand why. So for 3 straight days it was all day long crying. Toddler because he was hurt and hungry and feeling bad, baby because he kept having to be put down in between everything, and me because days of nonstop crying when you are 5 weeks postpartum is hard! And I felt so helpless. Nothing I could do was making Toddler Boy feel any better. Not even ice cream and milkshakes and cold milk and Popsicles. Finally mashed potatoes last night worked. Yesterday he was feeing a little better. The kids got out of school early so we stopped at Subway. Toddler Guy loves subway. He was so hungry and excited when he saw the bag in the car, climbed right up at the table to eat, and started crying from the first bite. He was so mad he crumbled his chocolate chip cookie and threw it on the floor. And he has been banging his head on things a lot because it helps him deal with the pain in his mouth. It was the saddest thing ever. Just broke my heart.
My days have otherwise just been insane. They almost never nap at the same time. So once I get one settled, I move on to the next one. I feel accomplished if I can manage to empty the dishwasher and get it reloaded. Showers between the hours of 7am and 3pm are an optional luxury. If I am going somewhere and need to shower, I usually swaddle the baby and jump in. Toddler Boy stands crying at the bathroom door for the 10ish minutes it takes me. I haven't shaved my legs since before I had the baby. I figure it's winter and I am still off and on bleeding so what's the point? Things are slowly getting more manageable, but it's a process. I think if I hadn't been dealing with so many illnesses, mainly my own, I would be further along than I am. I have a stack of weekly magazines I read that go back about 8 weeks by now. I haven't touched them. It took me over a year to get caught up after the last baby. I will eventually read them in order. I don't ever get to talk to anyone. If I was a bad friend before...I may as well not exist now.
I have been simultaneously planning my son's 10th birthday party and the class Christmas party. Both should be easy, right? Well...haha. Not only does my son need a snack for school to share to celebrate, he needs a cake or something for his friend party and then one for the family dinner on his actual birthday. And I am the queen of homemade. So there's that. And the fact that the class party we use the class money, which is supposed to be easy to access. But someone new is handling that this year, and I have jumped through I don't even know how many hoops and still don't have the money. So that's super annoying. Especially because I have done this before and know it doesn't have to be such a production and made to be so difficult. The original point of the class money was to make it easy for parents who volunteer to plan the parties. I have the ideas down I just have to finish shopping for both parties and carve out time to do some baking of treats.
Speaking of baking...so every Christmas I am the cookie maker. For our families and for my husband to take to work. They also fill in as gifts. I usually make the dough and freeze it and then spend one day just baking. I finally managed to get 2 kinds of dough made. One more to go for this year, I am cutting back how many kinds I make. It doesn't take long to actually make the dough, it's just getting the time when I have an extra hand if someone starts crying or needs to eat or whatever. So it means that during the day is usually out because I never have any stretch of time where someone isn't needing something. On top of the baking there is the 2-3 batches of homemade jam I need to make for gifts for my husband's office. If I left it up to him he would do exactly nothing. But his is a small company with a semi-close office staff who insist on exchanging gifts. Hell, even his holiday party is deemed mandatory, and it is not even during work hours! Each batch take about an hour. But that is something you have to stand right by, there is no walking away from it. So again, that is an evening thing. Or weekend. So my time is already limited. And yes, I have tried to find ways to cut corners but these are 2 things I can't not do.
As for Bonus Baby...he is so soft and squishy and cuddly. I call him my little toaster because he's so warm and snuggly. I am getting a good amount of sleep because I co-sleep. Well...because of having a C-section it was more comfortable to sleep propped up. So I have been sleeping in the over-sized rocking recliner in my room with the baby and my breast friend nursing pillow. It's a fabulous set up, and I probably get more sleep this way than I would otherwise. He mostly sleeps in my arms and roots around every few hours for some milk. It's pretty fabulous.
My recovery is going as to be expected. I have been living on Motrin and was still just a little sore until a few days ago. I must have overdone it or it all caught up with me because I am way more sore now than I had been. I am supposed to go back to work in a few weeks but I have my 6-week check up next week so I am going to try and finagle a few more weeks of leave if I can get it approved to be paid. We will see. Physically I feel like I could use it.
So in order to gain a feeling of control over my life now that I am feeling better from all the illnesses I had, I was really upset with myself that I had been living just to survive the day. I wasn't miserable or ungrateful for this life, but I was in survival mode. Here it is my very favorite time of year, and I couldn't wait for each day to end. So I made a huge mental note to change that thinking. I started praying more for grace and patience and strength to do this. I took a deep breath...or 10. And I woke up feeling better. I sat down with the kids and went over what was expected and wouldn't be tolerated. I highlighted all the fun festive things we could do as a family if everyone cooperated and helped each other more. My biggest complainer, the teenager, has been vocal about us not doing the holiday stuff like watching movies together, but is the first one trying to never be at home. I addressed that. I laid out a game plan of things we were going to do.
I have also been trying to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and get outside more. It was hard those first couple weeks home because it got so cold and that sucks with a newborn. But now that it's warmed up, it's been good to get out and get fresh air and just move. Yesterday I scoped out a great hill for sledding that is in walking distance when it's time. I also realized that I feel better when I have somewhere to go, no matter where it is or what it's for. When I don't have to leave the house all day, like last week when my husband was able to pick up the kids from school, I just felt more moody and out of sorts. I feel much better about life when I feel I am being productive, even if it's just stopping at the grocery store. Which I try not to do with my toddler. He is definitely not my easiest child by a long stretch.
I have been trying to write this blog all day. I have stopped and picked it back up a million times. So I apologize if this is all over the place. I have also been reading all of your blogs, even though I haven't managed to comment...Mel, Misty, Amanda, Jess, and all the rest of you. I'm still here reading and silently supporting you!
One last thing for now...I just want to say that I am happy. My life is crazy by design. And yes, it's been hard. And I haven't been the best me all of the time these past 5 weeks. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. I never expected it to be easy. This post isn't to complain...it's just to be real about how my life has been.