Walking into the our athletic club to take the kids swimming yesterday, a woman passed us and remarked “Wow, four kids. That ain’t for the faint of heart.” Little did she know exactly how faint in the heart I’ve been feeling the last week. It’s funny how strangers can completely disarm you with one simple little comment. I had no response beyond swallowing the lump that formed in my throat.
It’s now been 12 days since Evangeline was born, and just yesterday I ventured out of the house with her on our first real family activity. We decided to take the kids to the pool-it’s warm and outdoors, and there were barely any other people there now that summer is over. I was stressed out having her in public but once I got comfortable and was able to actually watch Jack, Zoe and Beau playing and having a great time, I felt nearly normal for the first time since Evvie officially joined our family.
Normal is the best feeling.
A few surprise breastfeeding issues aside, Evangeline is doing so well. With a little help from my lactation nurse (who knew this would be a challenge after breastfeeding three children previously), she’s sleeping and putting on weight well, which means I’m sleeping and able to care for myself, too. My struggle lately is finding time for the older kids; Helping them with homework, playing puzzles with Beau, painting Zoe’s nails and even throwing the ball to Theo. I’ve been able to make some dinners and lunches-something I love to do-but other than that, Evvie and I are bound to each other with little leeway for much else. I’ve spent much of my days the past week in tears, mostly from missing out on these things. My mom and Justin have helped in that way tremendously-she’s here so often cooking and Justin is always playing with them, giving them the one-on-one attention that they all have been craving lately. I’m so fortunate to have our family around us, but I’m also trying to find my zen about being noticeably absent from the big kid’s lives, while being dedicated to one fragile, beautiful little baby for this preciously short time.
She’s truly a spectacular baby. I’m memorizing every single little dimple on her face, her expressions and the sweet little noises she makes when she’s dreaming. I wish I would have had this clarity with my oldest especially, but I think that’s just how parenthood goes. I remember more about how much of a failure I felt like to him rather than any of his sweet little baby trademarks.
Somewhere along the lines, we grew up together, me and Jack. At seven years old, he’s the steadiest in his tone and moods of anyone in the house (save the dog), and he’s made sure to understand just as much as he wants to about his baby sister. While Beau and Zoe are incredibly interested in baby Evvie, Jack has made it a clear point to check up on me instead. He asks me how I’m doing, or if he feels that something is amiss, he checks to see if I’m OK. This boy takes care of my heart in ways that I never knew were possible, and his maturity has become so evident even in the last 12 days.
Something about having my fourth baby made me expect that I would be an expert at parenting. Nothing could be farther from the truth, in fact. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting, it’s that there isn’t anything you can expect for sure and it’s a waste of energy to even try. That’s the fun part though, and what keeps me going lately.
One thing is for sure, though: Babies will always be wonderful and smell delicious.
I can’t believe this is my last time doing this. Fortunately my heart is much more content than my mind.