Thursday, June 30, 2016

Maternity Leave Musings (Or, Sorry for Not Writing More): 7 Weeks Young

Bonjour! Hola! Hello, friend. Thank you for reading. How are we (almost) through the month of June and I haven't published again? I suppose summer is my maternity leave and summer vacation. A vacation where I attend circus camp, or, learning to juggle of three kids under three years old and handle toddlers who want the blue cup, not the yellow, or whatever her sister has (currently).

Hi yourself! What have you been doing?!

Stephen was born, I turned in my students' grades, and I was balancing three different medication schedules. Lyme, thrush and postpartum anxiety. PSA: check yourself and your family for ticks, if you spend time outside.

How are you feeling?

If you would have told 18 year old me that I'd be tired by 9:45 p.m. when I was 28, I probably would have laughed. I've always been a night owl... which means now is I can be up at 4 a.m. to walk Stephen around until he falls asleep; collapse into bed; wake up with my two chicks clucking from their bedroom.

Motherhood makes me stronger. It's endurance training. It's creativity and adventure. It's the tea bag in hot water metaphor that Eleanor Roosevelt said. I'm re-learning my limits and re-organzing our schedule/ house. I'm reading books for fun! (Need more David Foster Wallace! Currently reading about Catherine the Great and listening to Tolkien on cd.) I'm getting outside and enjoying our summer schedule; starting postpartum exercise. Grace was just approved for eye surgery by our insurance (hooray! more on that later!), so that's one more thing going our way.

Which is to say, I'm feeling fine. How are you?

Okay, elephant in the room: Seriously - how do you handle three kids by yourself?!

I don't live on an island alone. I have a husband who pitches in with everything and helps keep me focused and organized. I have a cleaning company come once a month since our rental is so old and our children are so young. Friends to text. And family! My MIL came for three weeks, then my mother for two weeks, and after I was alone during a number of night shifts (shakes fist at scheduling gods), my MIL arrived for another couple days stay to pick up our former Honda CRV. It's been a revolving door, honestly.

Sure, many days, I am alone. I've taken the kids out of the house multiple times - the grocery store, therapy, and even wrangled them to two doctors' appointments last Monday. I pack my bag full of snacks/bribes, diapers+wipes, and give myself enough time to get from point A to point B.

You're not convincing me, lady. 

It's a day by day thing.

I take a deep breath, nap when I can (or mentally rest with a t.v. show while I take care of Stephen if the girls are napping) and practice the value of "me" - enough sleep, water, nourishing food, exercise (even just a little), prayer and my medication. Last night, we took a walk to the emergency department for a change of scenery and to give Will dinner; it was a win-win for both of us.

My parents came to visit us after the Youth National Rowing Championship my brother and sister were in a few weekends ago, and my dad reminded me that they got a nanny after three kids. That sounds like a dreamboat, even though I do not work full-time like my mom did (does).

 It does give a person perspective, though. I'm officially in zone-to-zone defense.

Stop the presses. I read "medication" earlier. Are you on medication because you're crazy enough to have three kids in three years?

I developed anxiety while pregnant with Stephen; there were a lot of factors, but by the time the birth came, I was feeling amazing. When Will and I were walking home from the hospital with Stephen, I remember telling him that this was the best I've ever felt after a birth, and how excited I was to jump into this new adventure. About a week later, I felt the baby blues; a week after that, I felt them getting worse. I called my PA and immediately took action (but not before crying to the Phone Nurse). I'm trying to be honest about this because these meds are going to be with me for the summer, at least - and to remove some of the stigma of going on medication. Sometimes, you need it.

And yes: having three kids under three is the craziest and most amazing experience yet. You'll have to trust me there. I don't recommend it to (or for) everyone. But I'm thriving.

What makes it so amazing?

One thing my PA told me is that a lot of women get postpartum depression/ anxiety because their partner is not supportive of them. This is not my issue, and she stressed to me how lucky I am. I can 110 percent say that I could not do this without Will, even though his hours are not super-changing and residency is still residency. Have you ever been part of a team where your side is always for you? Even when you're crying because you ordered the birth announcements and made a minor error that no one else notices unless you point it out to them?

Will and I are both very independent people, and one of the best parts of having more kids is how we've become more interdependent on each other and really embraced the family lifestyle. This is not easy with our schedule; whether it's falling asleep on the girls' floor after a shift so he can be there for the bedtime routine, or staying up late to clean the kitchen and get ready for the next day.

One of my favorite sayings its from Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." Will and I choose each other every day. It sounds romantic, and it is; it can also be hard and self-denying. Still, we see beauty in what we know and how we choose to love ourselves, each other and our family. This is amazing. The actions we do each day builds our family, our adventures, our life. Boring is a perspective.

So! Things we're doing:
  • Cleaning up/out every single room in the house. We've completed 4 so far; working on the dining room (dining room/ my downstairs office/ the girls' art table) right now
  • Writing/ sending birth announcements and thank you cards 
  • Playing outside and taking walks to the park
  • Adjusting nap schedules 
  • Eating popsicles
  • Napping and getting to bed earlier 
  • Books on cd; tv shows from the library; podcasts during the day and night
  • Starting potty training (and watching Potty Time)
  • Adding more items to my Subscribe & Save (guilty pleasure/ part of our kids budgeting)
  • Making a zillion lists
  • G's therapies 
  • Trips to the library and grocery store
  • Exploring new places
  • Work stuff (third year and last year of residency starts tomorrow!)
  • Posting on Instagram 
Hopefully, I'll publish more too (I write all the time, but I'm trying to keep it 50-50 with my reading). But in the meantime, here's to new adventures. May you have one every day.

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