Thursday, September 4, 2014

The more things change...

I said it before and I will say it again: 4 kids is really, really kicking my butt.

After we had Lucy I was pretty sure it was only going to get easier to add kids to the fold because, well, she was a really good baby and the transition just wasn't that hard. However, instead of pinning the easy transition on her being an easy baby, I told myself it was because I didn't have anything new to learn and had this parenting thing down.  Ha!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I scoffed at first-time-mom-Ana who freaked out over not sleeping at night and who got angry at a screaming infant Naomi because she wouldn't! stop! screaming! It was pretty easy to scoff at that Ana while I had an infant Lucy, because infant Lucy never screamed, in fact she barely cried at all unless she was hungry and she slept great her whole baby life. (So to my first-time-mom self- I am sorry for scoffing at you, just know that you are just as clueless now as you were then)
You would never know Lucy was our easiest one...

I sit here with my cup of black coffee, too tired to get some creamer and not wanting to move more muscles than my fingers for fear that I will disturb a slumbering Moby-wrapped Joseph and then have to bob around and walk him down from yet another screaming fit.

I am utterly shocked at how baby #4 has made me feel back at square one as a mother. Shouldn't I know what is wrong with him while he screams bloody murder? Shouldn't I have a better plan to get him to sleep through the night? Or shouldn't I just be so used to this sleep deprivation thing that it just doesn't phase me anymore?

No, no, and no.

I am learning slowly but surely that each baby is their own person from day one and does their own thing. Babies are not predictable, and each of my babies has had new, fun things to teach me about myself. I am starting to think that I am just scratching the surface of all there is too know about motherhood. Sure, I can change a diaper in 10 seconds flat and I have figured out some pretty creative ways to hold Joseph to sooth his incessant gassiness. But when it comes to patience and perseverance in the day to day and growth in virtue after virtue, I am feeling very much at square one, or pretty close to it.

It never gets old, this life-giving thing, and it always serves to bring me out of my selfish, lazy self and does some much needed rooting up the "old self", so to speak.

It's pretty hard to be super complacent or to get too comfortable with things while having newborns, just by virtue of how much they need. I get nice and comfortable as my babies turn into toddlers and fall into some sort of routine. I can be sure of various down times throughout the day- time to sit and write, to workout, to read and pray- and things start to feel doable and normal. Then the newborn comes and BOOM- no routine, no down time, no sitting, no free arms, no normal. There is just a constant call to service for this little person who cannot do even one thing for himself.

In the end having newborns around is the best thing for comfort seeking and loving Ana, who loves the normal, the predictable, the easy a little too much. The call is the same: holiness. The person is completely different: Naomi, Bernadette, Lucy, Joseph. All I can try to do is respond with generosity, and that is the tricky part and the part I am just begging for the grace to be able to do.


  1. Ana, have you ever considered chiropractic for baby J's gas? For baby #3 we went to a pediatric chiropractor, and it was life changing. You have to go fairly regularly at first, then as the spine stays in the correct position longer you go less frequently. It was a pain to drag all the kids out (especially as I was doing it this past winter!) But it was so worth the peace we got out of it.
    Baby chiropractic is very gentle. There is no cracking spines or anything like that, it is a gently realignment. More like what an osteopath would do I think.

  2. Noooooooooooo.......I'm still heavily deluded with ideas of "I have clearly perfected mothering on baby #3" ........say it ain't so!!!!!!

  3. Oh gosh Ana this is great...and the 5 of you look beautiful in that last picture.

    And, okay, all your kids are adorable but baby LUCY oh my gosh, stop. Stop.

  4. Great reflection. That picture is a framer.

  5. I'm just 5.5 months into #2, but those hard hard hard newborn months are already a distant memory as #2 literally (well, I guess not literally) flipped a switch at right about 4 months. After 15 weeks of constant bouncing, he decided to put himself to sleep, nap in stretches, and (shortly after) sleep most of the night. I thought in the thick that it would never ever end. And now I think, it was a breeze! only a couple of months! Let's do it again! Amazing what a little perspective (and sleep?) can do. I think the best knowledge that I know this time around is that it ends! So thankful for all of you writers, though, that make it clear that motherhood is hard, but that's ok, and it's making us better in the process.

  6. I was going to echo Lizzie above about the chiropractor. Or maybe reflux? Such a precious picture of you all together. This was such a great thing to read, as I was challenged by my 9-year old today - no matter the age they are definitely our path to holiness!! Hang in there.

  7. Do you co-sleep with Joseph? That has helped me a lot. My baby sleeps much better when near me.

    All five of my children scream a lot the first two months and it seems once they hit that two month mark, the gas issue decreases significantly. I've spoke to the pediatrician about it often and he said the gas is very common for very young babies and usually clears itself up with weight gain and gas drops help too. My youngest is 2.5 months old and he is doing so much better than before. I feel like he and I are getting more rest now. I know how hard it must be. My oldest is almost 5 and so many days I feel like I can't sit down and cooking supper doesn't even seem possible. Homeschooling gets pretty interesting too with my 2 year old and 1 year old smearing peanut butter and putting weird things in the toilet. Praying for you and please pray for me too!

  8. Love this perspective! I always wish I just knew everything, but yeah, path to holiness and all that jazz, I suppose that's good too...

  9. This is some good good perspective. Lucy June wasn't half the crier that Jake was. Gosh fussy babies are hard. How I wish someone had communicated to me that it wasn't my fault that Jake cried all the time. I felt like such a horrible mother because he cried all the time and I couldn't make him stop. I wish someone had told me that I was a good mother because I held him while he was crying.

    Thanks for writing this! I hope your little man cuts you a break soon :)

  10. Love that picture of you guys! I hope the gassy phase passes quickly!

  11. I still only have three and I just think no matter what those first 6 months are so freaking hard!!!
    Love that top pic! Your kids all look SO much alike!

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you. One of the best things I've ever read. Dealing with #5 here (oldest just turned 6), and yes, yes, yes, there is no free hands, no free time, no predictability, no routine - BUT I WANT IT! And I am such a good mother when I have it - hahahaha, Thanks for reminding me that's not what it's all about. I think I'll print this out and read it every day, at least until I can stop groaning when the baby wakes up yet again. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Naomi! I am so with on WANTING it, I so so do and I totally am such a better mother when I have those things, which is why I work so hard on getting back into the routine at some point. I feel like it pushes me just the right amount to be without them for a time, but that if that time were indefinite, I might just lose it :) So glad you like the post!

  13. Beautiful perspective!! I will pray for your continued growth in holiness!!! :)

  14. The struggle is real. My sixth baby is nine months old and currently a teething pain in the behind. I frequently wonder how I dealt with this five previous times. Probably because I forget. I forget who I've talked to the day before. Ignorance is bliss!

  15. Oh Ana, I'm sorry. It sounds like you have colicky babies and it is just torturous when that happens. Both mine were. And does anyone ever REALLY get accustomed to sleep deprivation?! The worst worst worst.

    Saying a prayer for you! I hope it gets easier stat.