Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Remembering to Love My Baby

This afternoon Baby Charlie and I stopped for a visit at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  They had been out of town, and therefore had not seen Charlie for about a week.  As my mom took Charlie in her arms to hold him, she immediately started smothering him in kisses, telling him how much she loved him.

In that moment, I realized that sometime, somehow in the past few weeks, I had forgotten to love my baby.  My heart sank, and I was filled with guilt.  How could a mother forget to love her own child?

Let me explain.

When Jackson was born, I spent hours upon hours just holding him.  Looking at his face, kissing his squishy cheek, listening to him breathe, trying to make him smile, whispering soft "I love you's" into his ear.  I remember one day just holding him and sobbing, overwhelmed at the feeling of finally being a mother, realizing it was the best feeling in the world.  Up until about two months ago, he fell asleep in my arms almost every single night.  And he really was a perfect baby - hardly ever cried, cute as can be, just a happy baby.

I went back to full-time teaching when he was seven weeks old, so all I wanted to do when I got home from work was hold and love my baby boy.  Granted, so much baby-holding wreaked havoc on my arm, shoulder and back, but holding him was the absolute best.  All of that holding created a very close bond between mother and son.   School was stressful, of course, and there was always something going on, but it never seemed to interrupt my time with Jackson.  Loving him was easy because it was just him and me (oh, and Mitchell!).

Six weeks ago, Charlie joined our family, and we could not be more obsessed with him.  He is almost an exact carbon copy of Jackson when he was a newborn, so apparently we can only make ridiculously cute babies.  I probably spend just as much time holding Charlie as I did Jackson, but there are some major differences in our lives now vs. our lives then.

First of all, two years ago I only had the one child to keep alive.  Now, with two of them, I feel like at least half my day is spent being screamed/cried at by one if not both of my children.  Constant headache.  I fully admit my 2-year old watches an inordinate amount of TV (Netflix - a blessing or a curse?).  If not for Thomas & Friends and Dinotrux, I would never be able to survive a day with these boys.

Speaking of crying, Charlie is having a hard time figuring out the sleeping thing.  I have not had more than 3 hours of sleep at a time in the past month and a half (I think I've gotten just a couple 4-hour sleeps in there somewhere).  I am exhausted.  I feel like I shuffle around the house like a zombie most of the time.  If I leave the house without at least a little mascara on, I feel sorry for anyone I have to interact with.  I am so tired of being tired.

We moved into our new home about 3 months ago, and I am still living in chaos.  I don't have a closet yet (it's a work in progress), so all of my clothes are still in suitcases.  I have access to about 15% of my wardrobe, and it's the 15% that is maternity clothes, t-shirts and yoga pants.  We are currently in the beginning stages of remodeling the boys' bathroom (it was demo-ed in the initial remodel phase and has just been waiting for a little attention).  The study was the dumping ground for everything that didn't have a home when we were unpacking boxes, and not much has changed or improved in the last two months.  Chaos.  And I don't function very well in chaos.

Also, C-section recovery.

In the middle of all this, I hold Charlie.  Practically all day, it feels like.  What I forgot though, and what I just today realized, is that I should be loving my baby, not just holding him.

Despite all of the stress, the exhaustion, the guilt, the worries, the pain - I need to just love him.

Even when he is crying and fussing and screaming.
Even when I am tired out of my mind.
Even when I am trying to make dinner and he is wrapped around me.
Even when the house is a complete disaster.
Even when I haven't been able to get any online work done.
Even when he is spitting up all over me.
Even when he refuses to sleep in his crib.

I should be looking at his face, kissing his squishy cheek, listening to him breathe, trying to make him smile, whispering soft "I love you's" into his ear.

And I do.  I do love my Charlie Boy.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday Recap

I have about half a dozen different blog posts in draft form (including Charlie's birth story), but for some reason the only thing I want to write about right now is the day I have just had.

First, Charlie's night sleeping is getting a little better (4 hour stretches, whoo-hoo!), but every morning at about 6:00 AM, I struggle with the decision to stay awake and get the day started (shower, clothes, food), or to collapse in my bed and try to catch up on a couple of hours of sleep that I missed out on during the previous night.  Getting a start on the day almost never wins, and this morning was no exception.

Once I actually did get out of bed (at who-knows-o'clock), I decided that today was the day I was going to start exercising again.  And by exercising, I mean simply walking around the block.  What would have taken a normal person (ie: a person not currently adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn) about 30 minutes to accomplish took me no less than 4 hours to do: wash face, brush teeth, put in contacts; pull hair up into non-attractive messy buns; put on running walking clothes; find watch, sunglasses, iPod and visor; fill jogging stroller tires with air; get baby ready to go on run walk.

At regular 5 minute intervals, the task I was trying to complete was interrupted by one of my children.  So I stopped what I was doing to tend to the need or want of said child (who was usually crying).  After a massive meltdown involving Lightning McQueen and Mater toy cars, I finally gave in and put Jackson in front the TV so I could finish getting ready.  Miraculously, I somehow made it out the door and down the driveway (at 1:00 PM) with Charlie in the jogging stroller, sunglasses and visor on, music playing in my ears, ready to finally start moving my body.

I DID NOT EVEN MAKE IT PAST THE MAILBOX.  Charlie has a strong aversion to his car seat, and no amount of pacifier-stuffing or stroller-rocking was going to calm him down enough for us to make a loop around the neighborhood.  So back up the driveway, back inside, back to the chair.  

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening (and now late night) in my running walking clothes, alternating between being somewhat productive (working on the computer, making dinner) and trying to calm a fussy baby.  But, like, trying to calm a fussy baby every 15 minutes.  Not that I had hoped to accomplish grand things today, but I would have liked to have done something - for the house, for myself, for work - something that made the day worthwhile.  But, no.  The entire day was stop and go, stop and go.  One interruption after another.

And then, tonight before bed, this happened:

It is now 1:00 AM.  I'm still in workout clothes (which really just means that I didn't shower today).  I've been working on this post for about 2 hours because Charlie has apparently decided that sleep is not for him tonight (actually, I'm typing this one-handed because someone is hungry again).  The kitchen is a mess.  There are toys, pillows and couch cushions strewn across the living room floor.  There is a pile of clean clothes on top of my bed, waiting to be folded and put away

But, oh well.  There's always tomorrow.