Aug 17, 2014

The Butterfly

A butterfly appeared this year. It flitters between our house and the neighbor's, disappearing over the fence or into the trees. I catch a glimpse of it's yellow and black wings as the girls play in the driveway.

The first day we brought Nora outside after bringing her home, the butterfly made it's first appearance, resting very briefly right on her nose and then fluttering quickly away. It has since visited numerous more times, above our heads, just out of reach, but close enough to be noticed.

This butterfly, it makes me think of Calvin.

I don't think the butterfly necessarily is Calvin, but I sort of think of it as a sign from Calvin. A periodic "hello," or a checking in to see his big sisters riding bikes, spraying the hose, singing and laughing. I think of the butterfly on Nora's nose as Calvin's acknowledgement of his little sister and a welcoming her home.

* * *

Today marks the one year anniversary of my delivery of Calvin. It marks one year since laboring at the hospital, the horrible contractions brought on by induction, the fuzzy calm of pain relievers. One year since seeing our baby boy for the first time. One year since the heartache of holding our stillborn son in our arms.

Today we all dressed ourselves in blue and went out for brunch. We bought a bouquet of brightly colored daisies and found a bridge over the river. Today we separated the blue daisies into five single flowers, one for each of us, and gently tossed them into the water. We followed them under the bridge, watching them drift down the river, until they were a tiny speck of blue in the distance.

Today we spent the day remembering our son, their brother. We lit his blueberry scented candle and rested together in the living room, reading the newspaper, playing games, cradling Nora.

My heart will forever break for the loss of my son. My soul will forever ache to know him.

I love you, my dear Calvin John. Always.

xoxo, christine

Aug 11, 2014

In the Middle of the Night

We are exhausted. I am exhausted.

I have two Big Girls who are right now packing their suitcases full of underwear and plastic food, and who somehow really believe they are driving themselves to Washington D.C. today to visit their Auntie. And I have one Baby Girl who is snuggled on my chest snoozing away.

All of this I want to be soaking up and enjoying fully, yet instead I am exhausted, finding myself vacillating between complete indifference and extreme irritation. (Yes, apparently when I am sleep deprived my irritability comes out like a maniacal monster.)

This beautiful miracle asleep with her legs curled under her and arms splayed, with her head of dark hair and pursed lips, with her chunky double chin and pointy elf ear, sleeps so peacefully.

Except when she doesn't. Which is usually at night.

Oh, hello. You mean I'm supposed to be sleeping right now?

The first several weeks were fine, good even. The next two weeks, when Adam was back at work, even seemed survivable. But this fifth week, my darling third daughter's fifth week of life is kicking me, hard.

I am coming off a week of mastitis and nights where I was awake with her anywhere between one and three hours at night. She is not crying uncontrollably, something I know to be incredibly grateful for, but anytime I try to put her to bed after nursing she wakes up and fusses. And the fussing turns to cries until she is picked back up, soothed, and rocked to sleep. All of which began with a sleep deficit already in place.

I am a zombie. I am one of those bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived, new moms. Except there's nothing funny or amusing about any of it. I am one "Mo-om" request away from breaking into sobs, one whiny-pout away from screaming.

I am not enjoying my three beautiful-spirited daughters, I am surviving. ("Surviving" is probably even questionable.) If I could, I would wrack up some major guilt. They are spending too much time in front to screens. They are not getting outside, going to the pool, seeing friends, getting out of the house, enough. Their diet is mostly snacks. I am crabby. I am short. I snap and sigh and spend too much time on the couch with my eyes closed. But I don't even have the energy for guilt.

There is no doubt in my mind this will all change. I know that eventually we will find our way, that Nora will get into better sleep habits, that none of this will last forever, or even very long. I am not wishing time away because already I feel like this month has flown by and my tiny newborn is quickly turning into a chunky baby. I know that everything is a season and I will look back and miss these early days, even though (or maybe especially because) they are foggy and filled with desperation (for sleep).

But right now I am tired. Oh-so-tired. And I am just trying to survive. Trying to remember to relax. To breathe. To not let my grouchiness get the better of me. To apologize. To give hugs. To love every minute I can -- even the ones I am awake for in the middle of the night. And to forgive myself when I can't.


Aug 4, 2014

I'll Take an Quadruple Shot of Espresso, Please

Well, it's only taken about four weeks, but I think the lack of sleep is finally catching up with me. Don't get me wrong, I've been exhausted since the beginning, but the past few nights Nora has needed extra cuddles and last night I was up with her from 2:00 until 4:30, and I'm pretty sure my patient parenting is fading quickly.

I have no problem giving her the cuddles she needs. In fact, I've spent the past four weeks feeling overwhelming love when she wakes me up at night (after the initial grogginess clears), smiling at her and whispering sweet words to her, even when she's awake multiple times per night, even when I've just put her down and snuggled back under my covers, only to be summoned back minutes later for more rocking and cuddles.

But like all humans, I have a breaking point, and there's a reason not letting prisoners sleep is a form of torture. I'm not quite the hot mess I expected to be today, but I can tell that a meltdown is bubbling just below the surface.

I am bone-tired. And when I'm tired I feel overwhelmed and grouchy and like I am lacking in all my titles. The big girls bear the brunt of my crabbiness, unfortunately, although I noticed last night that it was harder to smile and coo at Nora after already being up for an hour. This makes me unhappy on top of my lack-of-sleep irritability because I like being a patient and gentle parent. And I'm not feeling very gentle or patient today.

I know that all I need is more sleep, whether at night or napping during the day, and everything will be put back into perspective. I know that I am not a bad parent, that I'm just tired, and this tiredness will someday (soon?) be a distant memory. I need to go to bed earlier (even if Adam is still up) and sleep more when Nora does during the day (even if my older girls already feel like I'm napping too much).

I just need more sleep. And while I'm at it a couple of large coffees wouldn't hurt either.

Wishing you sweet dreams.

xoxo, christine