Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mothering and multi-tasking

I'm at that stage of newborn with Gabriel...if you have kids or younger siblings you'll remember...nothing gets done.  I mean nothing.  If the family is fed and some laundry is done, and in our case, school is done, well then - all is good.  Forget about extras like plucking eyebrows or vacuuming.  Those things come later, once the baby learns about sleeping in increments that surpass 15 minute spans.  Thing is - ninth time around I'm mostly okay with this.  This time will pass, I'll never get it back, and I'll scarcely remember it when it's gone.  Getting things done is over-rated, and I'm not going to spend my son's tiny days wishing that he were bigger so that the floors could be cleaner.  (I've spent plenty of children's tiny days wishing exactly that, and I'm not going to do it again.)  And yes, *disclaimer*, I do let Gabe sleep on his tummy when I'm in the room and am watching him. 

The one thing I do get  a plentitude of, and that is nursing baby and holding baby time.  Along with cherishing baby time, and melting in his softness when I rub his head time, and rolling his bead-like toes between my fingers time, I've learned that I can do a few other things while sitting and feeding him.

I read.  A lot.  I've read...9 books in 3 weeks.  (Actual novels, not just picture books, people!)

I write.  For sheer pleasure, not for public consumption.  I've written about the days leading up to Gabriel's birth.  I've written down our family's feelings and the emotions surrounding his home-bringing, the reactions the small children had to his's for Gabe but it's also for me.  I don't want to forget.  I love to write - there's so much to record in each day.

And for me, this last one might be the ultimate in multi-tasking.  I've learned that I can also KNIT while feeding the baby.  I'm sure that enterprising or creative mothers have already learned this long ago - but it's a new skill for me.

I'm delighted.  Of course I'm making a sweater for him - it's out of a delightful, light-weight, soft merino blend by Debbie Mum.  

It's coming along quickly, I already have the back and one side of the front finished.

LOVE the wavy texture, the color pathway in this yarn.  I hope to finish the sweater up in the next week or so, then move on to a little hat and booties.  (Not sure I can do DPNs (double pointed needles) though.  It might turn out looking like I was DUI.)

Now for a little dose of reality.  Here's the scene in front of my chair while I am feeding the baby and entertaining myself with a little bit of knitting.  Consider it proof that a mother really can't do it all, nor should she necessarily try.

And the view to my side:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some other things that I forgot

It turns out that I forget other things besides my infant's name.  (Read the post below if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

When I had baby number 8 (also known as Mariam...) I forgot clothes to bring her home in.  Oh, I had packed a bag for the baby, long before she was due.  It had everything that a newborn could need and more contained within:  diapers, wipes, t-shirts, a carefully selected incredibly tiny outfit made of pink velour, socks, EXTRA clothes and t-shirts because everyone knows that babies make great messes right when you least expect it, and - a beautiful pink sweater and hat set that I had worked on for months before her birth.  There's a picture of her wearing the sweater in my left sidebar.  Oh my.  I was just so eager to dress my new little girl and to bring her home.

The problem was....that when the time came to leave the hospital, we realized we never did pack THAT particular bag into the car.  My lovely newborn princess was carried home in her diaper and a generic long-sleeved t-shirt with the words "St Mary's" stamped down the side of the arm.

Maybe I was too proud of the baby and that sweater?  (*cough*)

This time around, with baby number 9, I made sure to grab the baby's bag and actually PUT IT IN THE CAR.  (I also noticed that someone had failed to put away the chicken from the crockpot and took the time to put it in the refrigerator.  I know, I know.  Frugal to a fault.  But I knew the family would want to actually eat at some point in the next few days.)

I have this thing at the end of every pregnancy.  Since it feels like FOREVER, I actually begin to believe that I will be pregnant FOREVER.  There's something in my warped little brain that thinks "Nah, it won't happen yet.  I couldn't actually have this baby EARLY.  Why pack my bag?  I won't pack until it REALLY happens."  Most times I pack anyway - but this time I bought the myth.


When it really was baby time (at 37 weeks) I was not ready.  I had not packed.  (You'd think I was a beginner at this game, wouldn't you?)  While I was in labor, I did not mind at all that I had not packed, but once I'd had a few hours to recover and wanted to shower, I found myself...inconvenienced.  To top it off, Labor and Delivery had lost my clothing that I wore INTO the hospital.  I didn't even have shoes.

We had the baby at 5:38 a.m.  Since I told him I was just going to be sleeping, Jeff had gone into work.  He was at work an hour away by 9 a.m.  He couldn't bring me anything.

At some point this summer our hospital stopped giving out the "personal care" packs - you know, the ones that have shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, and the like, all tidily tucked inside your own personal emesis basin?  Yeah.  I had nothin' except for a toothbrush and some lotion from my purse.

I assessed my situation, and decided that I could "make do."  Here's what I learned:

  • The hand soap that comes from the wall dispenser actually gets your teeth really, really clean.  The taste is kind of addicting, too.  Lots of foam.  I assume it's antimicrobial as well.  Bonus.
  • It works as shampoo, too.  So, you have to frequently get out of the shower to get another pump of know how to rally.  It'll do.
  • Hand lotion can work as conditioner, in a pinch.  It can even serve as a sort of hair spray, if it has to.  (It had to.)
  • Hand lotion does NOT work well as a deoderant.
By the end of 48 hours my family had (at separate times) brought me three tubes of toothpaste and a bottle of shampoo, clean clothes and socks and shoes.  The conditioner and hairspray never did appear, nor did a razor.  I missed the razor the most.  

 And now you know why there are very few photos of me at the hospital this go-around.  (Well, that, and the fact that our camera batteries weren't charged and we were only able to take a few...)  Learn from me, ladies.  Pack your bag before you need it.  Life is coming, and you really do want to be prepared.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gabriel's first week

Back in the day, when we were trying to come up with a name for this baby, our five year old Sammy suggested that we call him "The Peaceful Noodle."  Well, I don't mind telling you that his innocent suggestion made us laugh, alot, and we DID call the resident neonate "the Noodle."
Now that he's here, we still call him The Peaceful Noodle at times....because....well, he's a fairly calm newborn and sometimes he's just downright...noodle-y.  Let me stop and confess something right here and now.  This morning, Jeff and I took ourselves to church.  Alone.  Just he, and I, and the baby.  The kids are still struggling with colds and some of them have earaches, so we left the big ones in charge and went by ourselves.  It felt very odd and quite cavalier, to be so alone - two adults, with one wee child.

We settled ourselves in the back row, in two chairs near the aisle so I could leave if the baby awoke and demanded that it was time to eat.  During one of the songs a sweet lady came up to say "congratulations" and look at the baby.  She asked me all sorts of difficult questions, such as, "Is it a boy or a girl?"  (I thought it was obvious, with the blue shirt with a train on it and brown pants - but really, with a baby, who can tell?)  I answered that question okay, and felt proud of myself.  I AM sleep deprived, after all.

The questions got harder.  "What day was he born?"  I knew this one, too.  October 7th, I confidently replied.  My poor, zoning brain began to wander around the room - and right when she asked me my baby's name, it left me completely.  Maybe it went out to where they serve coffee, mmm-hmmm?

"What's his name?"

To which, I drew a complete and utter blank.


I was grasping, calling out to my brain to return to me.  What was this kid's name?  Joseph?  Caleb?  I looked helplessly at Jeff, giving a weak "Ha Ha."

Fortunately, he covered for me.  I gave a little cough, as if something had lodged itself in my throat and I was unable to speak.  I'm sure I didn't fool anyone.

"Gabriel," he said.  His name is "Gabriel Joseph."

We turned around and had a great laugh into the noise of the music.  At least I didn't tell her his name was The Peaceful Noodle.  Ahem. 

I'll tell you - we've had a wonderful ten days since he's joined our family.  He's just loved.  Simply and profoundly loved.  I can't help but think that every child born into this world deserves to be surrounded by so much love.  It took so much work to get him here - babies are lots of effort and sacrifice  - but I am powerfully reminded that they are worth it.  A unique life, an individual, a chance for someone else to live and breathe and to "become," is always worth the work, the pain, the cost.

This journey we've been on since spring has been so hard, so arduous, so difficult, right up until his birth.  The day that I had Gabriel I had driven five hours and taken both of my parents in to see their surgeon (loading and unloading, helping my father with his broken hip up and down stairs, pushing a wheelchair, carrying his walker) and then grocery shopping, prescription drop off and pick up, banking, working in their garden, making sure they had all that they needed, etc.    In retrospect, I am so grateful to have made it home and to have my water break in the middle of the night rather than in the surgeon's office.  I have, for the most part, been able to enjoy a week and a half of a glorious baby-moon.  I've enjoyed it so much - getting to know and understand and anticipate the needs of this little individual.  I feel great, too (other than that little sleepy brain blip thing I had going this morning....) so relieved and so thankful that he is here and that we have reached this point in all of the surgeries and healing processes.  (I don't think that I ever mentioned here that my father's joint replacement didn't go so well - his hip was broken in the process.  What was supposed to be a very brief heal time turned into at least seven weeks of no weight bearing.  My mother still struggles with a lot of pain in her knee replacement, as well, in fact, we have an appointment to check that out tomorrow.)  But at least we are this far down the road.  The sun is shining, and Gabe was the prize we were able to hold at the end of the marathon.  And yes - it really DOES feel like it was a marathon.

Forgive the self-conscious look.  I do not like having my picture taken, but know that I should for the sake of family history.

And so, life goes on in our big and noisy family. We know that we have been blessed.  Once again, we look forward to the days to come.

Wishing you all much peace -


Saturday, October 9, 2010


The birth of
Gabriel Joseph 
5:38 a.m.
October 7
8 lbs. 12 oz.

Gabriel was born at 37 weeks (and one day...)
and his labor was quick, smooth, and peaceful.
(Jeff says that I make it look too easy.  I say that is easy for him to say.)
We are all home now and Gabriel is doing fine - settling into life 
in a busy household.  He seems accustomed to the noise - it doesn't bother him 
in the least.  He is so very loved by all - he is never lacking for arms to hold him.

We give thanks to God for this wonderful little guy.