William, Charlie, Ikey, Benny, Henry

William, Charlie, Ikey, Benny, Henry

Monday, July 23, 2012

Home

Well, here we are...home with the baby we've been anticipating for 9 whole months. I held back tears as we left the hospital and then my breath as we walked through the front door. "Dreading" isn't the right word, but I wasn't exactly "relishing" the thought of trudging through this next transition. I've been pretty upfront in depicting our chaos, but probably less obvious in revealing the toll it's actually taken. The truth is, the closer we stepped towards Henry's arrival, the more fragile I became. In the 24 hours before our departure for the hospital, I was a teary-eyed (okay, bawling) mess that frenetically moved from bills to laundry to cleaning to sorting to packing....and through any other tasks that rapidly popped into my series of fleeting thoughts. Trying to exert control in our situation is like trying to stop a freight train by throwing a handful of gravel. We do our best, but we're tired of the troubleshooting in our chronic state of temporary. Needless to say, we sucked it up, told each other that this, too, will be okay, and headed off to welcome our brand new boy.

Day before Henry!

Luckily for us, there is nothing in the world more beautiful than birth. Being witness to the first moments of a life, feeling as though the entire universe has expanded to accommodate this arrival, and the elation that follows is almost more than I can bear. Despite my best intentions to remain composed, the intensity of every emotion is just too overwhelming. I think my heart gets so full that it actually bottoms out, in a way. The flip side of feeling so blessed by such a beautiful gift is the potential to get tipped the other direction very easily. With this perfect, pure, tiny being comes a heavy feeling of responsibility...responsibility to do everything humanly possible to protect their well-being and provide the best life you're able to give. So, this time around my hang-up has been the idea of "home." I've been sad, and I mean SAD, about not having a "home" for our kids, and bringing a new baby "home" to our temporary set-up. I take it very personally and often feel it's a huge failure on our part that these circumstances have dragged on so long. Although rational Emily knows she's not personally responsible for factors outside her control, irrational and emotional Emily gets fixated on this notion quite often.

When we returned home from the hospital, I found a gift waiting for me. It was a framed, antique piece of poetry by Edgar H. Guest entitled "Home." As I sat and read the sentiment in the poem, tears were streaming down my face. The gift was from my old dance teacher, someone very dear to me, and the message was exactly what I needed. I practically grew up in her house, a second "home" from the time I was toddler (not even three!) until the day I graduated high school. It occurred to me that "home" is not necessarily about being in our specific house with all our things in order. The message of the poem points out that "home" is love and living and family...things I should be appreciating every day. Home is wherever Jason is, where our children are, and all the moments of our being together, not our street address.


Next to my mom's bed is a framed snapshot of my dad holding Betsy and me when we were little and a magazine clipping with a quote slid inside the frame. The quote reads, "It is astonsishing how short a time it takes for very wonderful things to happen." --Frances Hodgson Burnett  That's how I feel when I look at this picture.
Although we can agree we've had a lot of each other in the past 7 months, the truth is that we're so lucky to even have this option of extended-family-living. We couldn't do it without them. From my parents putting us up and sacrificing every day of their retirement to help with our kids to my sister doing everything to support me despite having a baby of her own only 4 weeks ago (this includes providing little Henry a stash of her milk to supplement his mama's inadequate supply...honestly, Betsy should really be the older sister, not me), we are so thankful.

Ahmie and Pa with baby Henry

Auntie

My grandparents with all SIX of their great-grandBOYS!!!!!! From left: Henry, Johnny, Benny (blue), Charlie (green), Ikey (orange), and William

I'll go even further and remind myself that this small town community is also "home." It's the dance teacher who believes in you, the the old friend from high school who sends an email out of the blue that makes you think you might be good at something, the one that realizes you might need some alone time with your spouse and sends a gift certificate for dinner at his establishment, the one that calls when you need a friend the most, the one that always offers help whether it's dinner or diapers, the one that comes to your rescue by taking care of your children when you're in the hospital having ANOTHER baby, the old teachers, the parents of friends, the church you grew up in....the people who have your back. Honestly, what more do I want?? This morning I sat waist deep in a mess of toys that have no official "place," the baby strapped to me in his wrap, three stocky little toddlers clinging to my knees, and my "big" boy leaning in to snuggle his new brother, when I was struck by William's simple observation. Amidst his kisses for Henry and his arm hugging the other three closer, he said "Look Mama, we're a family." Good point. As it turns out, we are "home."

Snug as a bug in a rug

So, a few highlights from our first week. It took less than an hour before Henry endured an injury at the hands of his brother. He was laying on the ottoman for all to admire when Charlie reached out and clawed his face. Big gash across the forehead. Honestly, blood already??? I think my heart almost stopped watching it unfold. It was like a gang initiation...I guess he got "jumped" in or something. I felt like an awesome mom explaining what happened at his weight check.

Baby hazing
Henry likes to sleep, but only if you're holding him. Needless to say, we've had some long nights. Not that it matters (the triplets slept in Rubbermaid storage boxes for 5 months...whoops, don't tell anyone), but Henry doesn't have a proper bed yet, so maybe that's our problem. Operation Big Boy bed looked super promising, but failed in the end. Since William won't cough up his crib, I'm trying to figure out where to set up a 5th crib. Yikes.

If you could just hold me like this all night long, that would be great!

That's all for now. This post kind of got away from me and with two refusing an afternoon nap and one hungry newborn, I better go. Thanks for all the kind and congratulatory words...we are truly grateful.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

He's Here!!!

If you sensed a bit of love in the air yesterday morning, it wasn't your imagination. The world became a happier and more beautiful place as we welcomed our FIFTH baby boy at 9:05 am on July 16th! Henry Michael is 7 pounds 3 ounces of utter sweetness, and we adore all 20 inches of him from head to toe.



Henry is the spitting image of Daddy and looks exactly like William as a newborn. He has super long fingers and much to our surprise, blondish hair. Upon first glance I exclaimed, "He's huge! And blond! And BALD!" (He's actually none of those things, but within the context of our family he's our biggest baby, with the lightest hair, and definitely the least on top of his head.)

His delivery was smooth and I am recovering well. I had a lot of anxiety going into my c-section, lingering fears from our last time around. Fortunately, it's been very therapeutic to experience childbirth "normally" again, and without trying to sound like Oprah, I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity to close this chapter by coming "full-circle."

I will post more later (it's tough to complete a thought with all the comings and goings in the hospital), but wanted to preview a few pictures of our little lump of sugar before too much time passed.

Super proud big brother



Auntie was here for Henry's birth and actually gave him his first bath. Here's a clip:
video

Finally, I haven't formally introduced John Robert just yet, but here is a picture of Johnny and Henry. Cousins only three weeks apart and already best friends!  Boys, boys, and more boys...


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Greetings from Crazy Town

38 weeks pregnant + 7 months of living with my parents + 3 mortgages + 4 kids + 1 house under construction + 1 house still on the market + 1 new job (minus 25% income) = ???

I've never been great at math, but I'm fairly certain "2 sane adults" is not the answer to this story problem. I'm not necessarily complaining because really, most of these "problems" ultimately result in happiness, but I'd definitely settle for fewer moving parts at one given time. It's completely laughable to look back at photos from a year ago and remember saying things like, "Everything will be "better" at this time NEXT year ...". Famous last words. Fast forward 365 days and I guess we didn't know just how crazy "crazy" could be. Of course many of our old difficulties ARE better. Exponentially better. But what we failed to predict is that a fresh crop of challenges would pop up to fill the gaps...and then some. Maybe that's the lesson...forget expectations for the future and appreciate the tides of life. Sounds kind of cliche to me, but I probably shouldn't snub it....someone, somewhere, is obviously trying to teach me something. Or having a good laugh.

Here's a quick summary of our life these days. I'm feeling pretty pregnant, but can't tell if I'm ready for the baby to just be here, or so unready that I'd rather stay pregnant...for another 2 years or so. We've made very few baby preparations, so it's safe to say we'll be winging it again. I'm (kind of) okay with that, I have to be.

Even though we've hit maximum capacity at my parent's house, (in both physical space AND emotional tolerance) it looks like we'll be squeezing one more person under this roof very soon. This place is like a clown car...it's quite surprising how many people we've managed to pack in. With our house in Illinois STILL on the market, we've long given up the dream of being in our new abode come baby day. We've set our sights on Christmas, but that might be outrageously and insanely optimistic. Jason put a new roof on our Illinois house over Memorial Day weekend (the single last piece of the house never updated) and then topped it off with a decent price reduction. Bring on the showings, please.

We work on our Baraboo house as much as we can, which basically boils down to a couple hours a week. We'd love to pick up the pace, but everything is dependent on that sale we've been anticipating for 379 days (but who's counting?!?). In the meantime we make plans, build some walls, tear off siding, bust out an old chimney...all the fun things that require time and effort but no money. I've become less and less help with the heavy lifting. I think the last time I went down to "work" with Jason I ended up sitting in a folding chair handing him tools. I did manage to catch one error that would've cost him quite a bit of time, so I guess I'm still good for something. I did, however, buy us a new bed while Jason was at work yesterday. It was an unnecessary splurge...we clearly have a million other ways (which happen to be much more pressing) to spend our money, but it felt like I was purchasing a little piece of hope. I love to imagine us curled up in our new bed, with NO kids sharing our bedroom, maybe even reading or watching tv...settled, peaceful, relaxed. It will have to sit in storage upon arrival, but I'm happy knowing that once that first stubborn domino falls, we are READY for the dream.

An odd thing happened right after William's birthday. As if we weren't feeling unstable enough, Jason accepted a new job. Over the past 10 years, we've been very fortunate in the opportunities, flexibility, relationships, and experiences provided by Jason's career. To say he was unhappy, in any way, would be untrue. So, what happened was this: Jason was approached by a local dairy cooperative and acted on a gut feeling. It was a GIGANTIC leap of faith and the decision was not made lightly. Despite the long list of "pros," it was hard to ignore the simple fact that our family (already dependent on one income) would be increasing and his salary decreasing. It's easy to say "money isn't everything", but  not so easy to believe when your family is on the line and you are voluntarily agreeing to less. And, in all selfish honesty, after having Jason working from home for the past 7 or 8 months, I absolutely dreaded the thought of him being away all day. We talked and talked and talked...never more indecisive. In our defense, we've become a little gun-shy with the big decisions. Many of our well-thought-out, what-could-go-wrong, common-sense, "right"-thing-to-do choices have either blown up in our face, or ended with a completely unexpected result. So, after countless debates, we went for it....and surprisingly, it was exactly what we needed. Without realizing, we had fallen into a complete rut...too many days with neither of us getting dressed, too much flexibility, and too loose of boundaries. Home life interfered with work, and work hours seeped into family time. Overall, we had become much sloppier versions of ourselves. First day on the job, the new energy was contagious. By the end of week one, Jason was so happy and in turn, I was too. Two months later, we're 100% sure of our decision. It served as a good reminder that change is good afterall.

The boys are great. Luckily, even as stress mounts, they don't seem to notice. We've had a good summer so far and have managed quite a bit of fun despite the heat and circumstances. We had their 15 month well-baby check this morning and most importantly, everyone is healthy and progressing. Charlie is 24 pounds and robust in both size and spirit. He's eating bits of table food and says "Uh Oh" and "Bye Bye." He has a temper, but is equally jovial. My mom says he's the most like me.

Charlie
Benny is 21 pounds and so coordinated. We predict he'll be our best athlete. Like Charlie, he's eating real food and has two words, "Mama" and "All Gone."

Benny
Ikey FINALLY started eating solids about 2 months ago and FINALLY broke 20 pounds. He's still his own man, and in a lot of ways, runs the show around here. His vision remains a question, but he'll have a test in the end of the month that should give us a better idea of what we sees out of each eye. Besides that, we continue to watch his blood pressure and kidney calcifications, but he's doing so well overall. All three are almost walking. They crawl super fast and walk around furniture. I love to see them moving throughout the house...it amazes me, actually.

Ikey

William has really "grown up" in the past couple months. He's really loving his brothers these days and it warms our hearts to see the four of them actually playing together. He calls them "my babies," even when frustrated with them, ("Mama, my babies are wrecking my cars!!!!!!!!") and seems to view them as FUN now that they're more mobile.

First try at swimming lessons. Let's just say we have some things to work on in the water.
I could go on for hours, but will wrap this up for now. As our family evolves (again) over the next couple weeks I promise to be in touch. Hope the summer is treating you well. As always, more soon.