The following is a list of things we did (some rather foolish), moments we treasured and things we survived in the first month of Josie’s life:
– We introduced Mackenzie, Caitlyn and Daniel to Josie at the hospital. They discovered they had a baby sister and I basked in the life-changing moment it was for them. Siblings are friends and support for life!
I always look forward to this moment and often, I’ll admit, I’m underwhelmed because my kids are usually excited to see ME more than the baby. But, this time was magical.
Even Daniel had eyes only for Josie when he first walked in, though fairly soon his attention was diverted to the bulb syringe and the window seat.
So much so that he is absent for our family photos.
Right about here is where I was thinking again at how lucky I am:
– Scott brought me a care package: freshly picked concord grapes and my favorite chocolate, which always brings back memories of our Epic Europe Trip 10 years ago.
– Even though I knew my dad is an excellent photographer and was in town in large part to take excellent photos, I still couldn’t resist snapping some on my cell phone while snuggling Josie. She’s just beautiful to me.
– Weird hospital thing: They don’t want you to dress your baby in clothes from home (for security reasons? They’re less identifiable as a hospital baby that way?)… but they don’t provide any clothes for them to wear… just a blanket. And the nurses were wonderful women, but all were awful swaddlers. They were constantly coming in to unwrap the sleeping baby to take vitals, and leaving her cold and fussy. One more reason I was glad to head home!
– Somehow I blew it and forgot that nursing babies need to be burped even before your milk comes in. Poor Josie was unhappy that first night in the hospital and I was so tired I couldn’t figure out why, until about 3 am when she started spitting colostrum everywhere. Doh! Rookie Mom move for sure. (See also the cold baby issue above. Had I been thinking straight I would have done things differently.)
– We checked out about 24 hours after she was born, 25 hours after being admitted. I went home and had a nap, woke up and made bread and soup for dinner. That’s how much easier my recovery was this time around compared to my first birth! 🙂
I snapped a selfie as I was leaving the hospital, as photographic proof of why women should bring maternity clothes to wear home. I warned my kids in advance that I’d still have a big belly. It wasn’t a belly full of jelly like it was after my first baby, though. Instead this was very firm and way out front, just like I was still pregnant but not as far along.
– The very next day all four of my kids had semi-emergencies/messes/tears at the same time for different reasons and I had my first try at meeting everyone’s needs. Whew. We’re all going to grow in patience for sure. My dad took the big kids to the children’s museum while Scott and I had a date at his office getting Josie checked and showing her off. It was soooo nice to have Scott by my side! I fell in love with him all over again watching him tenderly care for our little lady. The last two babies were born during busy periods of residency and I was flying solo more often than not.
– The day after that, I cranked up the thermostat until we were all sweating, my dad spent lots of time shoving furniture around, I bathed everyone and fed everyone and we attempted a photoshoot of newborn Josie. It was an awful day. Honestly, just awful. All the kids were clamoring for attention, all are tricky to photograph, and one child who shall remain nameless kept pooping on the props.
So I was over the moon when I saw the photos had turned out beautifully.
Side note: Bearing children has given me a profound respect and appreciation for my body and what it’s capable of. The photo above isn’t so flattering when compared to my typical physique but it’s absolutely staggering to me that I’m holding a baby in my arms who was safely growing inside that belly a few days previously.
– Grandma Bean came that night and we discovered she has a talent for snuggling Josie into a super deep sleep.
It came in handy! Sweet Josie is still a total snuggler and I’ll always maintain that she learned that from her grandma.
We’re definitely not complaining.
Side Note: She earned her nickname, “Ducky” because she was so dang snuggly in those ducky jams. The day she grew out of them was a sad one.
My dad captured some moments with Grandma Bean during the 24 hours or so their trips overlapped:
– When Josie was five days old, we took a trip up to Portland and hit up the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (yes, really). I just kept Josie in my Moby wrap and watched the other kids burn off energy while Scott dropped my dad off at the airport.
– When Josie was six days old, we went to church. Scott had an early morning meeting so I got everyone ready myself. I’m still shaking my head at this as I type, but those are the facts. Then I came home and napped until Scott’s sisters and some of their kids rang the doorbell. They had driven down from Washington just to see
us Josie for a few hours! Those Beans are baby people for sure. They showed up with pizzas to bake, they listened attentively to the whole labor story, swept my kitchen floor, doted on all my kids, snuggled Josie, and then they were off.
– We started homeschooling again. Not because I’m super woman, but because my kids to better with routine and I knew I’d have an easier time getting back into a good groove if I had Grandma Bean’s help to do it. So we did. Slowly.
Days That All Blurred Together
– We went apple picking with Grandma. 4 varieties. 80 lbs. We had been there a few weeks previously with Grandpa, when I was largely pregnant. The woman at this family-run orchard was surprised to see me back so soon, baby in tow. Caitlyn proudly announced, “My mom had the baby! It’s a girl one!”
Lunch was just about the lowest key picnic on the planet: a loaf of bread (and apples of course!) My kids are used to me so they just happily trotted around the orchard munching bread. It was warm, whole wheat cinnamon walnut bread but it only took 5 minutes to throw in the bread machine, which is waaay faster than making sandwiches and wiping jam hands.
– I was actually so distracted with kids and chatting to the cashier about the new baby that I left the store without paying for groceries. Yup, I really did. The cashier didn’t notice either for a few minutes and then she chased me down in the parking lot. It’s a good thing it takes a long time to buckle four kids into carseats!
– Grandma left after a blissful week in which she did all the dishes (among other things) and I cried as the car backed down the driveway. I’m not usually a crier but hoo-boy there have been some waterworks around here in the last few months.
– I burnt chili and brought it to our ward cook-off anyway. Someone complimented it by saying it had a “smokey” flavor. It definitely did have that. 🙂
– I had several pretty rough days. I’m going to call it “baby blues,” which I’d never had before. It felt sort of like being kicked while I was down. It’s rough functioning on little sleep and setting a loving, patient tone in a home with young children. It’s rougher to do it while still recovering from delivering a baby and with super charged emotions. In stretchy pants. Actually those are glorious and I always miss them when I’m back in regular jeans that have to be buttoned.
– I failed at trying to take away Daniel’s naptime and nighttime diapers. It turns out that you can’t motivate a kid with a sticker chart when he’s physically incapable of doing what you’re asking him to do. The poor kid sleeps super deeply and was clueless each and every time he woke up soaked. I figured I was up all night with a baby anyway, I might as well make potty runs with the three year old… but it was not to be.
– Scott and I (and Josie) went on a date to a Halloween party, sporting paper masks we made:
We picked those designs because we liked ’em, but Scott thought of a clever tie-in right before we went: James Pond and his foxy lady. Nice, right? Nobody got it. They all thought we were from a t.v. show or video game they’d never heard of. The fact that it was hard to hear and be heard when inside a paper mask probably didn’t help our attempts to explain, but hey, the masks were rad.
And, it’s the first time I’ve been called “foxy” two weeks after having a baby.
The Silver Lining of Less Supervision
The older kids had some good times as well while I was caring for Josie and resting.
I had less time to spend on school so they had more time to build stuff like this:
I had less time to spend cleaning up after meals, so they ate more meals outside:
Notice Caitlyn’s eye patch, Mackenzie’s bike helmet and stuffed bear? They were in the middle of a very involved play scenario when I called them for food.
I had less time to spend making meals, so they ate cobbled together meals composed of things that Mackenzie can make and serve. The lunch above? Roasted butternut squash cubes, random leftover waffle, and apple slices. Heaven for my kids.
I had less time to give them baths so I said “yes” to them playing in the rain and put all three of them in a quick shower when they came in freezing, muddy and grinning. Hygiene? Check.
And of course the ultimate silver lining:
(Getting to pick out Josie’s outfits.)
We celebrated Josie’s birth and then within the next few weeks mourned the loss of both my aunt and my grandmother.
Aunt Robin, my father’s sister, has always been so sweet to my kids. They love wearing the “Robin Hats” she and her knitting group had so faithfully supplied over the years, and adorable cards would arrive in the mail periodically to the delight of all.
This photo was taken when I was pregnant with Mackenzie:
I remember she would always carry on conversations with babies like they could understand every word. 🙂
Here are my kids showing off their Robin Hats a few winters back:
Grandma Johnson was a pillar of love and support in my life. She always thought I was the bee’s knees and nothing I ever did seemed to convince her otherwise. Her death was rather sudden and I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. I ache to hear her voice on the other end of the phone line. I want my kids to know her and remember her as I did. But they’ll hear the stories from me and I’ve got great ones to tell. 🙂
She died a week after her 11th great-granddaughter was born. And tomorrow Scott will bless that baby in the same white dress my grandmother made for me 31 years ago.
A Beautiful Blur
The “fourth trimester” is a special time. I’m so tired, so happy, so emotional, so exhausted, so blessed and so challenged all at once. I cry more often. I sleep more often, but for far fewer cumulative minutes. It’s true that I worry less with every child but I have more children to worry about!
The days run together and I take hardly any photos, but I do write my thoughts down and pray a lot. For patience, for greater capacity to care for the needs of each of my kids. For some of the sweetness of these days with a new baby to sink into my soul to be savored again later when I have had more sleep.