Saturday, August 30, 2014

Forced to Resurface

One of the great things about having a baby is you have a really good reason/excuse to check out of life for a while.  Not like a drug-induced-coma-check-out, but like you have no responsibilities or obligations to anyone.  Don't feel up to going somewhere?  Don't go!  You're kind of a crazy person if you do jump right back into life.  Aren't you supposed to be home resting, keeping your baby away from crowds and germs?  Your clothes don't fit?  Just keep wearing your maternity clothes and pajamas-- after all, you just gave birth.  You don't feel like cooking?  Don't-- have your husband pick up some take-out on his way home from work.  You need to rest and recover.  Your baby was up four times during the night?  Just sleep when he sleeps during the day.

Isn't this pretty much what those dreadful pregnancy/parenting magazines tout?  And I'll tell you what, it is great advice for the first week home or longer for a first time mom with no other children at home.  When you have six other children ages 4-15, that is just not going to work.  Let me address the problems with such a postpartum plan of attack.

----"Don't feel like going somewhere?  Don't go!"-- for the first week this is a very reasonable approach.  For the first week you can camp out in your room, banishing everyone, refusing phone calls or visits.  But just because your world-- mentally and physically-- has been turned upside down does not mean your children's lives have ceased.  You decided to have another baby and believe me, the children have sacrificed for the family quite a bit already-- they lived with you for nine months of pregnancy (not pretty).  The children do not want to hibernate for a month.  They still have activities they need rides to.  It is best if your husband still has a job when you resurface, so he most likely is not available to taxi the teenagers around.  So, everybody, load up in the van, it's time to go.

----"Don't have any clothes that fit?  Wear your pajamas."  Once again, all bets are off for the first week, but after that you really must get dressed.  Teenagers prefer that their mother wear clothes when going to the store and when their friends come over.  If it calls for a quick trip into Kohl's to find some shirts that fit, so be it.  I am a big proponent of nursing, but I can understand that on some level it might be embarrassing for a 15 year old boy to witness his mother nursing a baby for hours a day.  Blame society.  Nevertheless, let's not exacerbate the embarrassment with ill fitting black stretchy pants.  And perhaps comb your hair and throw on a little makeup for good measure.

----"Don't feel like cooking?  Call for take-out."  If you are so blessed to live by many good people who will kindly feed you and your army for a week, then graciously accept their generosity and enjoy the feasts.  It is, however, unreasonable to hope that it will continue long term.  Take-out  is yummy, but pricey for a family of 8.  A Little Caesar's pizza here and there can help out in a pinch, but good, quality, sit-down family dinner is the grease that makes the family roll.  You can't go more than a couple of weeks without cooking real food before things start to deteriorate fast.  And you can't (or at least we can't) eat out for long before it really pinches that pocket book.  So, you can have older kids help out with food for little ones for a little while, and every man for himself works for a little while, but if you want happy children-- FEED THEM.
----"Your baby was up four times during the night?  Sleep when he sleeps".  This is fantastic advice for a first time mother.  But it's really not that great for even the first week with every subsequent child.  A house with six children is loud.  Not necessarily loud with fighting, just loud with doors opening and closing, toilets flushing, cupboards and dishes, children playing, movies, video games.  And mother nerves are seriously frayed with a new baby and sleep can be elusive in the best conditions.  Yeah, you're probably not going to sleep during the day unless everyone goes to friends' homes.  Not a bad a idea I might add.  However, farming 6 kids out is considerably harder than farming a couple here or there.  No, I think praying for sleep at night is the best bet.

The good news is also the bad news.  Eventually the baby will sleep through the night and the sleep deprivation will end.  But then you won't get to snuggle that soft, warm little bundle in the quiet of the night.  Eventually, they will settle into a more reasonable pattern of nursing, but then you won't have the reason to just sit and stare at them for hours on end.  Eventually you won't change 15 diapers a day, but you won't get to kiss his little feet and rub his little froggy legs.  Eventually the hormonal surges will calm down, but then you won't be so easily overcome and moved to tears just thinking about the blessing from heaven you are beholding.  

1 comment:

Amy F. said...

I wish I was there to help! I'm exhausted just thinking about all you have to do on no sleep right now. You are wise to enjoy the cute legs and adorableness. He is darling!!