So we are now four months in to this whole having three kids thing. How’s it going? Things are constantly in flux and still a little crazy, but I feel like we’re starting to get our sea legs. I’ve been wanting to share more here, but I haven’t for reasons I’ll get into here. So here’s what we’re up to and how a typical day looks for us right now.
Are you sleeping?
Yes and no. We weren’t and then we were and lately we’re not again. When he was born, Arthur did the usual three-ish hours. We would usually get at least one longer stretch each night. I dabbled with trying to go to bed early myself vs. staying up until 10:00 pm and going for a dream feed. And instead of focus on creating solid routines, we pretty much tried to cuddle him as much as we could. (Still do.)
Then he somewhat quickly went from three meals a night to two and a half or so. For example, midnight, 4:00 am, and then I might top him up at 6:30 am so that I could get the boys ready before I needed to be with Arthur again. Then I think I stopped topping up. Then maybe around three months, he started making it to 4:00 am on his own. Some days even with a number with a 5:00 in it. Once, he went until 6:00 am which I would have thoroughly enjoyed if it didn’t feel like my boobs were about to explode. Still, I was elated. One wake up? 4:00 am or later? THIS I can work with.
Now he’s hitting the four month sleep regression right on time. Once a night has gone back to two or three. I was again reminded how much sleep affects you as I went from functioning reasonably well to an emotional mess who usually trailed off mid sentence. We’re trying to use this as an opportunity (heh) to actually establish some daily routines that will hopefully help him be a good sleeper. He falls asleep on his own for his morning nap so I at least have hope that it can be done. Stay tuned.
I’ve been doing more co-sleeping this time which surprised me. Henry and Mac started spending time in their own rooms after they were a month old. (And this is after they had a bassinet beside the bed.) I don’t know why, but Arthur I can’t seem to leave alone. Which is weird because I don’t necessarily enjoy co-sleeping. Mostly because I don’t really sleep. But it was like I couldn’t just stay away. (And I’m not trying to be pro or anti co-sleeping here. As long as whatever you are doing is safe, you do you.) It’s gotten much better now that Arthur is hardier and I’m not constantly worried that he’ll somehow get something over his face. I’ve gotten better about moving him to his crib, but sometimes I’ll leave him if it’s two hours or less until I need to get up and we occasionally have enjoyable naps together. On our overnight trips, Arthur and I have shared a king bed together and that has been fine, but mostly because I make sure that we can both sprawl out instead of cuddling all night.
How are things with the older boys?
Good! Mostly! I’m not gonna lie, the early days were hard. I missed Henry and Mac desperately, but I also couldn’t stand to be around them. At first, it was just physically tough. They were always jostling me and seemed to painfully poke my boobs. But even telling myself that it was just a phase and it would get better, I still felt bad.
But then it did get better, and it gets easier every day. Arthur’s sleep is now so that I can usually spend an hour with the boys in the morning helping them get ready for school. James did plenty of this as well, but I really missed this time together and I’m glad to have it back.
After school has changed as well. Last semester the boys took the bus to school, but I still picked them up after. Now they are taking the bus both ways. Sometimes I feel guilty about this and sometimes I don’t. It means that instead of my leaving before 2:00 pm, fighting for a parking spot, and schlepping kids across a sweltering or rainy parking lot, I just go downstairs at about 3:00 pm and collect them. We used to hang out and play at school after school. I miss the outside time for them as well as more personal interaction with their teachers, but I really don’t miss the mechanics of it all. Some day I’d like to pick them up again, but that hasn’t happened yet. For now, it’s nice to have an easier time of it and I’m glad Arthur can get a better afternoon nap.
After school is now much the same as before. We talk while they eat their snack and I work on dinner. We read or play together or they do their own thing. We have a family dinner. It’s nice.
For the most part, they are very loving or at least tolerant to their brother. Mac has surprised me because he seemed very protective and into the baby, but now he’s the one that I’m constantly having to ask not to stick his hands in his face or squish the baby. Let’s just say I’ve only had to say “don’t jump over your brother” to one of them. But Mac usually cares for his brother in the car (Arthur sits in between the two of them) and can always be counted on to replace his pacifier or try to cheer him up. Henry is also into him and is at least somewhat more reliable on not damaging him. Henry sometimes reads the baby books and my heart just about explodes.
So we’re still finding our equilibrium. I’m sure the boys sometimes feel our fractured attention, but for the most part they have just accepted Arthur as part of the family. We still have family movie nights. We just occasionally pause now because no one can hear with the baby screaming. Writing this reminds me that we’ve really come a long way in just a few months.
So what do you do all day?
Uh, so you know not ask someone this. Right? (Right??)
It’s an interesting question though. It changes a lot. Sometimes it feels like there are no typical days or weeks. I’m OK having less schedule than with the other boys. Sometimes. I also like having a schedule.
This is an area where having my focuses for the year has been very helpful. We’re making good progress on our trips and travel planning. After some initial difficulty getting Arthur out of the country (I’ll tell you that tale another time), we went to Hoi An for spring break. For our beach vacations, we’re booked for a resort in Thailand in June, and we’re eyeing another beach trip to Penang in August. James (who is a travel planning rock star) just booked our flights to New Zealand this fall. We’re still working on our Christmas in Chiang Mai (and hopefully Luang Prabong!), but it’s coming together. Also, because it’s me, we’re looking at some bonus trips to Cambodia and Legoland and other day trips. BUT I’m proud of us. I feel like we had a clear vision, and we are executing that vision. Slowly but surely.
I’ve been fairly single-mindedly focused on my upcoming personal training exam. I’m signed up to take it at the end of June. This whole thing has been both a blessing and a thorn in my side. On the one hand, it has been nice to have a project to focus on. Something of my own to do when it is very easy to be completely swallowed by baby land. On the other hand, it has been tough to squeeze in. Outlining my notes and reading giant books haven’t meshed well with caring for a newborn. I find myself with mismatched energies. The times when I have the ability to study, I don’t seem to have the energy. My brain is so fried that I’ll read the same paragraph ten times without really absorbing it. The times when I have the energy to study, I don’t have the ability because I’m doing something with Arthur. But I’m getting better at carving out some time. The days when Arthur gets me up and it’s only an hour or two before I would wake up, I try to just get up and get to work. I try to hit the books hard during his morning nap. And we have a fantastic helper who comes three mornings a week. Over the last month, I’ve started to utilize her more for Arthur help both for errands and sanity and to study. (She really is wonderful, but Arthur hasn’t reliably taken a bottle and he’s not on a defined schedule so I’ve been nervous to go far.)
This is why I haven’t been writing. I’ve missed it. I’ve written all sorts of blog posts in my head. But any free time at a computer is spent studying these days or keeping minimally on top of email and other online stuff. And I’m pretty behind on that these days. But I’ve got a study plan mapped out, and I’ll at least see it through. If I pass the exam, I don’t have plans to set up a personal training business immediately. But it would be nice to have this step out of the way. I wrestled for a bit with jettisoning the whole project–just wondering if it wasn’t the right time–but I’ve decided to try.
Arthur and I are in three playgroups so we usually hit those once or twice a week. We run errands. We go to lunch with James. We hit the doctor. Sometimes it feels like we have too much going on. Sometimes it feels like we need to do more. It’s all over the place.
But how are you doing?
I always tell people I’m doing OK for the most part. Again, this is an area where I marvel at how much things have changed in just a few months. The first month was an emotional roller coaster. I really did try to lay low and just recover more this time around. This was not always successful, but better than the other boys. But the emotions did hit and not sleeping made everything worse.
I did have one therapy session last month. I feel like I’m processing well for the most part, but there is a lot going on and it was good to clear my head with a professional. Afterwards, I definitely felt lighter and calmer. I’m not scheduled to go regularly, but I’d like to make sure I get some appointments in when I think it could help. I’ve struggled with wondering if my anxiety is flaring and keeping me from doing things or if I’m being smart and not trying to push myself to do too much too soon.
This is changing constantly, but my capacity is more limited these days. I can’t do as much, and I’m mostly not trying to do as much. It’s a phase. It will change again.
These months have mostly been about being comfortable with the tension. Of sitting in this place of in between. I want to be able to do all the things or at least more of what I did before, but it’s also the time to enjoy having a baby. I want to get back into exercise and be able to do what I did before, but it’s the time to remember that slow is fast. I want to fit into more of my clothes and feel like my body is more me, but it’s the time to remember that my focus is on feeding a baby at the moment. Things change so much, so quickly. Even when it doesn’t feel like it at the time. As much as I can, I’m trying to quash the feeling of impatience. Wanting to move on to the next thing or next step. No “once he’s sleeping through the night.” No “when I’m not constantly feeding him.” Just trying to enjoy where I am as much as I can. It’s hard. I’m not always there. But my goal these days is to be comfortable being in the in between.
Oh, and all of my hair is falling out. I can’t touch my head without a handful of hair coming away. Washing my hair takes forever because of all the hair loss. I’ll be glad when this is over.
How is Arthur?
He’s the best. He’s huge. At his four month appointment, we learned he’s tracking bigger than his brothers. So maybe he will be able to defend himself better some day.
For the most part, he is a very chill guy. Baths don’t bother him. The shower doesn’t bother him. The pool doesn’t bother him. Servers at restaurants carrying him off to go look at things doesn’t bother him. (This happens more than you would think.) Loud noises don’t bother him. (He’s been to three movies in the theater; something that would never have even occurred to me to do with the other boys). These days he really only gets upset when he’s hungry.
He’s quick to smile. Quick to laugh. Pretty easygoing. Hopefully we’ll get a bit more of a schedule together and figure out this sleep situation.
You know the expression that you get what you can handle? I always joke that I must not be able to handle much, but I’m OK with it. He’s not a perfect baby. He definitely has his moments. But it’s been such a pleasure to hang out with a baby again. Especially now that I’m not worried about every little thing like before.
So that’s it for now. I feel like I’m barely covering what things are actually like, but at least I’m recording some things before I forget. Sorry for no pics, but you can catch more of those on my Instagram.
Miss you, hope you’re doing great, talk soon!