Saturday, February 26, 2011

On My Toes

My kids are doing their fair share of keeping me on my toes (as much as humanly possible). All four of my children are learning at warp speed right now. For Lily, it's first grade wonder. She's really into the solar system all the sudden, among other things. Above is a picture she drew during my last weeks of pregnancy. When I found it in her backpack, I laughed out loud, even though I was alone at the time.

Max, my preschooler, is really getting bookish. He's finally crafting, wanting to do his homework, coloring well and asking really cool, thoughtful questions. He even made me a potholder this week!

Colby is expanding his vocabulary. He can now say "baby" and "mine." I'm beginning to take his "binky" away at times so that he'll be more likely to learn to talk. Daddy reported tonight that he knows how to whistle a bit, which dismayed Lily, who is definitely a late bloomer on that skill.

Luke is starting to have long periods of wakefulness. His mind is taking in so much right now about the world in which he lives. He seems to be on the brink of smiling. In the past couple of days, I've seen what I call "pointy lips," where he seems to understand he can control them and just might break them into that magical shape we call a smile.

Thank goodness for all these kids. While they might be the source of my tiredness, my foggy mommy brain and my forgetfulness, they do keep me thinking, moving and improvising.

The other day, way too early in the morning, Lily had me spinning in her web of questions. "Mommy, did they have question marks when you were little?" "Did they have questions marks when you were a baby??" "Why don't question marks look old when you write them?" "Who wrote the first question mark?"

And, later that day, from Max: "Mommy, how do animals burp?"

Ah, the thoughts of childhood. Aren't they so much nicer than the questions we ask ourselves, like "How am I going to make ends meet this month?" or "Did I send the yearbook money to school yet?" or--seriously, for me lately--"Is it the weekend?"

I asked that very question this morning as my mom, sis, niece, Lily, Luke and I made our way to Parkersburg and Vienna for some much-needed girl time and shopping. (Sorry Luke... you're stuck with me for awhile.)

And, this time, the answer to that question was yes. It is the weekend. I'm striving to be more like my kids, to pay more attention to the wonders around me and less to the mundane things that drag me down.

And I'm aiming to stay on my toes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Kids Are All Right

The details of my life, my musings and my wonderings continue to float about my sleepy, hormone-riddled mind. I'm swinging back and forth between feeling sufficiently efficient and overwhelmed. I don't feel terribly unlike myself or incessantly chained to a newborn. Instead I feel important in the way that I have not chosen to be, but just am. I have moments without Luke, say forty minutes in the grocery store across town, when I remember him at home, startle and wonder if he's awake and needing me. It's like I've grown another appendage that can sometimes be removed, but not for long. To put it simply, it's like I've gained another 8 pounds of my heart, living outside of my body.

I'm also aware that I need to take care of myself. The first twenty pounds have melted off, and now the work of getting the final twenty-five off must begin. At this point, I just want to hydrate and to be mindful of my meals. I am trying to curb the sweet tooth a bit and choose the colorful fruits and veggies instead. And I'm being gentle with myself. I'm completely aware of the amazing thing my body just did by growing and nurturing a fetus and birthing a newborn, and by what it is doing now by keeping a newborn completely hydrated, fed and growing with only my breast milk. And I'm remembering that I thought the weight wouldn't come off completely the other three times, but it did.

As if the care and keeping of Luke and me isn't enough, there are four more members in the family. It's hard, but I think we're doing it. I think we're not only surviving, but thriving.

I'm so proud of Shrek for the father he is. He truly gets better and better all the time, and I am more in love with him than ever. It's been so great to see how he's finally not rattled by the rattling screams of a newborn. When you're a first-time parent, or even the second or third time around, those cries make you feel like the apocalypse is near and that the clumsy, slowness of your fumbling fingers on the diaper tabs and the endless snaps and buttons are to blame. But, at some point, you realize this is what babies do. Newborns--or Roberts newborns, at least--don't really like being naked and cold during bath time or diaper changes. They like to express their discomfort. But Shrek and I? Well, we don't take it personally.

So, we're nearly four weeks in on baby number four. As a family, we've managed a high school basketball game, two Masses, and a long trip to Athens for a meet and greet at my workplace. With Shrek and I dividing up the kids and conquering, we have been able to do much, much more. We've even managed a movie date night at home complete with wine and much laughter.

We're not following any manuals. We're finding our own way, trusting our guts and loving one another. And it's all working out. It's a crazy life. Our hands and our hearts are full. And the kids are all right.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting It Right

My mind has been working overtime. I tell you: the details float around my head like you wouldn't believe. I am trying to stay on top of so many things: paperwork, bills, memory keeping, laundry, dishes, preschool, first grade, gymnastics, visitors, emails, on and on... oh, and the care, keeping, feeding, diapering, bathing, chauffering and sleeping of my four children.

I'm doing a decent job. I keep telling myself this--that not writing in my journal for more than two weeks is completely normal for my situation, that my mind can only remember so much, that I am doing a really good job at not sweating the small stuff. That, basically, I need not be so hard on myself. I shouldn't be my toughest critic. That I really can't feel guilty for two opposites at once: feeling bad because I can't keep up on all the things I want to do, yet alternately feeling bad for trying to catch up when I should be sleeping. It's crazy!

I do know this: random memories keep popping into my head at strange times. For instance, just yesterday I remembered how I caught myself, sometime around 5 a.m. the first night we were home with Lucas, burping him upside down. I'm not kidding. I was very tired and very groggy, and something wasn't quite right. Upon patting down the baby, I realized his head was where his legs should be and his legs were where his head should be. No lie. I laughed about it then, and I am laughing now.

I just had to call a good friend to relate a quick funny story yesterday. While I was on the phone, the boys ran amok and the baby fussed and started to root around for a snack. Somehow, I rubbed my eye and wa-la! My contact was gone... As in, it could have been anywhere on me, on my shirt, on the baby, the Boppy, the blankets, or even in my eye, and I could not find it. So I squinted my way through the next twenty minutes of mayhem and finally resorted to opening yet another new contact. I told Dave last night that I had a gut feeling it was still in my eye somewhere, but that I couldn't tell. And, just now, I remembered how this morning, after I settled back into bed after the 4 a.m. picnic Lucas has established and as Dave was rising to go to work, I rubbed my eye and out it fell. I handed the contact to my tired, befuddled husband and told him to put it in an empty case I remembered was laying on the bathroom counter.

And I made a pact with myself to pick up the video camera today because, as I told my sis yesterday, I didn't think I'd picked it up since she filmed some of the baby's first moments after delivery. After I finished the DVD today and reviewed it, I found that I had filmed much more than I thought and had no recollection of doing it until I saw the clips.

All of this really just points to the fact that my brain is on overload. It's tired and excited and overwhelmed by my newly enhanced (again) life.

In spite of all my doubts, my oops moments and my shortcomings, I am okay. I am really focusing on the kids, the essentials, the moments that take my breath away.

I might be wearing mismatched socks, Colby may have worn no socks at all under his barn boots today and I may feel like I have more socks to fold than the Duggars, but I'm okay!

I'm finally here. I've arrived. I'm savoring all I can, and I'm finally getting it right.

Monday, February 14, 2011

True Love

I had a lot of crushes growing up, as I know most teenage girls do. I pined over a great number of boys, boys who did nothing to deserve my adoration. If you were a teenage girl like I was, the difference between you and me is probably only that I have all of those embarrassing emotions captured in my journals. While I almost never have time to go down memory lane anymore, it's a blessing where those years are concerned. Some of the want is so raw and so ridiculously dumb that it hurts to read.

I was pretty grounded in that had one prayer for God in the midst of all that teenage angst. I wanted someone, simply, who loved me as much as I loved them. And now? Well, my life is full of those people, some of whom knew me and loved me before I even knew myself.

But there are more. There's Shrek, for one, who has made our love a challenging, yet rewarding and worthwhile, experience. There are our four kids, who bask in my love and give it so freely in return. And there's you, dear reader, who I'm sure would love to sit down with me, over coffee, and just visit, if we'd just find the time to do it.

There are so many beautiful people who have helped to show me what true love is. And that's what Valentine's Day is about. It's not the commercial train wreck that tries to make us believe our lives and love relationships aren't good enough. It's not the diamond jewelry that none of us can really afford. And it's not the dumb heart-shaped hot tub on vacation that will probably end up giving you an infection of some sort.

No. True love is what remains when all else fails. It's the one real letter you actually want to open amid the endless bills that are your mail. It's the four-year-old who knows you're about to cry and leans his head on yours and saves you from your own silliness. It's the call from a friend that reminds you just when you are teetering on the edge of sanity that you're not alone in your pile of laundry, dishes and mismatched toys.

And, for me, tonight, it was dinner at home with my husband and kids. It was perfectly timed garlic bread made entirely by my seven-year-old, my dead-on replication of my favorite retired Olive Garden dish: Chicken Vino Bianco, and the small glass of Beringer white zinfandel I enjoyed with my meal. (Oh, wine, how I missed you...)

And true love is what I felt for my Luke, pictured above, who is struggling through his first head cold. It's my husband on the loveseat, me happily pecking away on my laptop on the couch, the elder kids asleep upstairs and our little one snug beside me in his Boppy, snoring through his tiny little stuffy nose.

It's really not wanting anything more than what I have.

Happy Valentine's Day... May true love find you when you need it most.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Give Me Twenty Minutes!

It's amazing what a mom can do in twenty minutes!

Say a mom wakes up at 7:15 and the bus comes around 7:38. A mom can sneak out of bed, leaving the two-week-old sleeping, gather up the rest of her kids, get her seven-year-old dressed, remember it's picture day so fix seven-year-old's hair, fix said kid's breakfast and shove her out the door.

Then that mom might forget it's a morning the four-year-old goes to preschool. When she does remember, twenty minutes before preschool starts, she can call a ride, get four-year-old dressed, sign 17 Valentine's on behalf of four-year-old, pack a lunch, gather up homework, and then switch gears to change the 20-month-old's poopy diaper, one that is so messy that a mere couple weeks ago would have meant bath time but currently just means baby powder and a fresh diaper. Before that 20 minutes is up, she can even pull her warm-again coffee out of the microwave and sit down for another nursing session with the newborn.

So far, since we've been home with baby #4, we've only had a handful of mishaps, like when Max peed his pants, was told to dress himself and then somehow got all of his body parts in the wrong holes of his underwear. Colby got into sissy's purse and used her brown lipgloss to paint a bandit mask on his face and into his eyes. And Lily? Well, she's amazing as long as we make sure she gets enough sleep, which we haven't been doing.

But life is good and full and busy and wonderful. Here's a snap of our Luke, who was two weeks old today on his actual due date. He is doing well, and so is his momma.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jaundice Be Gone!

Oh, my dear readers. What a week! It has been one of unexpected twists and turns, and I am so behind on so many things that it's overwhelmingly not. Does that make any sense? I have reached a point in my life and in my motherhood where I know my limits. That is to say, I see where I want to be and I accept where I am. Blogging has waited for me, as will many other things.

My Luke has had a harder week than I have. He's been undergoing light therapy for jaundice. Together, he and I spent seven days and six nights in the hospital over the course of eight days. I'm happy to report that my little man is quite the trooper. His feet look as though little ninjas have had their way with him, to the point that his daddy says his feet must be so sore that "he won't walk for days."

It seems Luke suffered from breast milk jaundice. He's steadily gained weight, almost reaching his birth weight again at only a week old. But something about the combination of his liver and my breast milk has caused his body to hold on to bilirubin, making him a bit on the sunny side.

I cried at times, as did he, but we're here now, on this side of the mountain, with more perspective than I could have guessed. As a veteran nursing mom, I was surprised by this new challenge. But, as my sister said, I have now passed the jaundice test.

This morning's blood draw showed his level just shy of goal. While we were permitted to return the bili-blanket to a home health care company, we have one more lab visit and stick tomorrow morning. I have come to believe that our new pediatrician is more conservative and cautious than most, but, in this day and age, I will not bemoan a doctor who cares too much but instead appreciate the level of care my Luke has been blessed to receive. Still, it is my sincere hope that this will be the end of it, and that we can finally, truly settle in at home as a family of six.

Many of you already know about my week, because I've been able to stay in touch on Facebook with my new Droid, which I think is sometimes smarter than I am. Alas, I have been so thankful for that thing. It allowed me to stay sane when staying sane was hard to do. I texted my sis and my hubby in the middle of the night, downloaded a stress-relieving Yahtzee app, researched jaundice at all hours and stayed in touch with friends and family via Facebook and plain old telephone calls.

To all of you who have thought of us, said a prayer, made a meal, watched a child of mine or more in the past 12 days, THANK YOU. It helped.

In spite of the C-section, the multiple hospital stays, missing my other kids and being at the mercy of never-ending lab results, I feel remarkably grounded. This is my element. If I am anything, I am a mother.

I'll slip sometimes and have bad days. But I'll lead my family through thick and thin, and I'll do it with confidence, pride and joy.

With any luck, I'll get more sleep than I did last night, more peace than I had last week at this time and more wisdom than I ever dared to believe I'd need.

Because this motherhood gig is a crazy ride. But I'm in it for life.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Welcome, Lucas Anthony!

Here's our little man, Lucas Anthony Roberts! He is now five days old and doing well. We had a pretty good birth experience. It was not my best, by far, but it ended with a healthy momma and a healthy baby, and, for that, I am ever grateful.

Let me tell ya, it got a little scary in there! Lucas's umbilical cord was wedged between his head and the bottom of the uterine wall. While I dilated to nine and he tried to engage in the birth canal, his oxygen and blood supply were repeatedly cut off, causing alarming drops in his heart rate. Long story short, this champion VBAC mother (with two successful attempts) ended up in her second Cesarean section surgery. It was not ideal, and I was very upset at the time, but most of that was fear that I wouldn't deliver a healthy baby boy, while I certainly did. All my thanks and great love to the OB team for making the right decision when it needed to be made!

Here's a shot of Shrek and I getting our first glimpse of our little Luke.

I felt ROUGH at the time of the surgery but was lucky to have both my husband and sister in the operating room with me. They were such an awesome support team! Here's a photo of me with Luke after all my worst fears were dashed and my final, healthy babe was placed in my arms!

The kids had to wait until the next day to see him. They were thrilled with him both at at hospital and at home.

Unfortunately, Luke and I landed back in the hospital yesterday afternoon because of his bilirubin levels. I was quite surprised, as he is nursing well and none of the other kids have had trouble like this.

Suffice it to say that between the C-section and the looonnnnngggg night alone with Luke in the hospital, this mother warrior has risen. I am tired and recovering. But I surprise even myself with what I am able to do.

There's so much more to say, as I'm sure there will be countless times over the next few months. But, if you'll excuse me, I must go shower, catch a bit of sleep and nurse my new babe as much as possible so that we prevail victorious at tomorrow's follow-up bilirubin check. It feels very good to have all of my chicks in the nest here at home.

These are my reasons, and I couldn't be more proud!


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