I’ll admit it: my major dread with a new baby is bodily fluids and middle of the night wake-ups. I remember tough nights with Remy, who had severe colic until nine months. We felt like he never slept. And Tess? She had to eat all the time to gain weight, but never wanted to. It was the soap opera of how many calories we could get into her. As Dave reminded me, we weighed her diapers in the hospital, for god’s sake. Every drop counted!
No one cares about Griff’s diaper weight. The sheer quantity of formula he can pack down even makes the pediatrician marvel. Griffin is thriving. He’s alert and peaceful when we should be sleeping. Or grumbling, looking for snuggles. But always eating!
One feeding involved three diapers, two burp cloths and four sets of pajamas – two of them mine. It wasn’t a pretty night. And yet, after exploding in every way possible, this beautiful boy and I stared into each other’s eyes while we attempted another bottle. In the silence of a barely lit room, we studied each other’s faces. I had a lot going on in my mind at the moment. He reflected whispers of my non-poker face expressions back at me, making us both smile.
The magic of a newborn is the flip side of the nightmare that makes us roll our eyes about lack of sleep and spit up on shoulders (or everywhere – see the pajama count). Those midnight moments of solitude are incredible, and I missed them terribly. Who knew you could miss missing sleep?!
This family of ours rocks my world in the best way. We had a homestudy post-placement visit recently, and even our social worker was astounded (or pretended well!) at how big and chatty Tess and Remy are; and how sweet Griffin, or mini-Elvis as she dubbed him, is all the time. These little humans grow so fast from nugget to mini adult. As I fed Griff, I was already wistful for these hours that are flying by. And as I considered his seven-week old self (how is that possible?), I realized how much I loved and miss these moments in the dark with our other kids. We’ll never get them back. They continue to gain in value as they vanish farther into the past.
In that regard, Leah is a whole different experience. We didn’t have those moments in the dark, those small discoveries in the early months – weird quirks at random times a day, the face they make before they explode in laughter versus tears, their first fever and tooth…In some ways, it’s like opening a book to chapter 2. As we watched her play with our older kids, we’re learning her as much as they are. She went for the stairs, and I wondered, “Do you know how to go up the stairs? ” Apparently she does. Down? Not so much. Good to know.
I find myself filing little pieces of her away, noting that she loves cords and to be held, or that she’s most interested in Tess and Remy when they’re not looking at her. She cries as we tuck her in, but then sit in silence before snuggling down into her bed and sleeping well. She loves her butterfly blanket and shows only disdain for her stuffed rabbit. She also loves the musical whale light show more than the white noise sheep. She kicks her powerful little legs when eating and happy! She loves food, but won’t eat if she can’t see everyone else from her vantage point.
By nature, we encourage independence in our kids. We hold back, waiting to see if they can solve whatever they’re working on by themselves first before lending a hand. That often means extra special whining or stomping of feet. They look so delighted when they break through on their own though; it seems to inspire them to try new things, making the mild whining worth it in our eyes.
David and I love parenting that way, and have been very predictable with Tess and Remy. I feel extra protective of Leah though. Her entire world just imploded. Joining this family, these boisterous children and their keepers, must be completely different from anything she has ever seen or experienced. Leah is such an observer that I find myself constantly checking to make sure she isn’t lost in the chaos. Don’t get me wrong! The chaos is beautiful, full of energy and laughter. Still, I know that quiet can often disguise culture shock and a sensitive soul. As she adjusts to life in our household, she has her siblings and her parents watching out for her. Not to mention Joy, Sassy and Poppi!
With your first kid, everything’s new – even the right to complain about no sleep, spit up and bleary-eyed 3 am moments. With the second kid, you’re exhausted at 3 am from balancing the toddler and the baby. It’s survival mode. Apparently, third kid means realizing how quickly these opportunities vanish, and how big your first little kids really are. I think Griff is getting some extra babying from me every night in honor of his brother and sisters! And fourth? Our fourth in the door is a light in my heart. Where Tess and Remy are willpower and laughter, she is a small, gleaming quiet space where I mourned before. Griffin is comfort and warmth. We just keep saying, “What a beautiful family we have! ”