Catch up

It’s been fairly busy around here lately, what with the new baby and all.  So just to catch you up, here’s a sort of montage of what I’ve been up to lately.  Admittedly most days are blurring into each other, but there are some memorable moments.

Out and about, showcasing our impeccable manners.

Out and about, showcasing our impeccable manners.

Thanks, kiddo, shout that out, nice and loud.  Make sure she hears you.  *sigh*.  But overall, one day is pretty hard to distinguish from the next.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t “lost” myself.  I am still the same as ever.

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I wish I… nah, forget it.

I have to admit, though, less days start like that now.  I save it for weekends.

Now, most days start more like this:

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She said, knowing full well they would ignore her.

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He asked. When he could have been dressing the children.

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Tried it the other way around but my toast got soggy in the shower.

Some days we stay in…

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This happens about 10 times a day, but out of kindness I’ll only show you once.

Some days we go out…

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To splash about in puddles, one inch deep…

And to keep sane, every now and then Mr Bodysoluble and I enjoy an occasional date night.

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We could do with a bit more practice.  But we try.

A bit.

Or we will.

When we get more time.

Maybe.

In the meantime we get to enjoy this:

fish kick

And this…

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OK twice. I changed my mind.

And every so often, this…

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So that’s me, in a nutshell.

No, that’s not quite true.  THIS is me in a nutshell:

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Looks quite comfy really… A nut is as inviting as an armchair, to the woman who has no time to sit down.

And on that note, I’d best get back to it.  If I get all the chores done, I might have a few minutes to myself, to work on another post, or play a computer game, or even, if I get lucky enough, chill out in an oversized walnut shell.

It will always be the dream.

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Full House

They say that the biggest change for parents is going from having no children to having children.  The birth of that first child is the biggest learning curve parents will face.  This is very true.  That first child is akin to trial by fire.  But what is less often talked about is how the third child impacts a family.

Back at the start, immediately upon becoming parents, my husband and I both found ourselves in situations we were ill-equipped to handle.  We were challenged in ways we’d never imagined.

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Sometimes we took it out on each other.  OK, I lie.  It was most of the time.

It always reminded me of that old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”  I could see where that was coming from.

Also, I used to find that I was one arm short.  I have two hands, one was always holding a baby.  In general, I think that nature caters beautifully for everything.  However in the case of human parents, I suspect that nature got it wrong.  With the birth of any child, to better manage the new workload, both parents should each grow a new arm.  It’s only fair.

For example, after your first child, you should have three arms.

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Er… little help?

Then simple things like laundry wouldn’t completely paralyse me.

And, by simple extrapolation, after having three kids, you should have five arms.  Because after having three children, two arms is laughably inadequate.

Before we had three children; I used to think that this was a mess:

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Now we call this a slow day.

These days I practically have to rely on sonar to find my children.

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Even though one of our kids is completely immobile, I am hopelessly outnumbered.  The overall effect is that I have downgraded my expectations of my day significantly.  I used to think it was reasonable to expect the house to be clean (ish), dinner of some sort to be prepared, and that I would get a shower daily.  Often I would also get plenty of sleep, find time for a haircut when necessary, and have a few hours each week to play computer games or get a shoulder massage or something.

Parents of three or more children will find this hilarious.  Some may even by crying by now.

These days my expectations of every day are simple: Get through it.

That’s it.  Survive.  That’s all I can aim for.  Anything else is a bonus.  If I get some laundry done, then I give myself a big gold star.  I stick it on my baby-vomit-stained shirt and wear that bad boy like a medal.  Do you know how long it takes to get three young children dressed, breakfasted, and all their teeth brushed?  Saturday.

After three kids, your days are never, ever productive.  They are not even predictable.  Heck, they are barely tolerable.

I will give you an example.

This afternoon, I accidentally dropped my keys in the toilet.  (I will spare you an illustration of that.)  Yet I can honestly say that this wasn’t even the worst part of my day.

That’s what having three kids is like.  You fish those keys out and keep going.  You have no choice, you HAVE to keep going.  While quietly making plans to buy a new car and move house, because now you can’t bear to touch your keys.

But seriously, my day was actually fairly typical of this “new normal”.  It began as they always do.

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I am not a morning person.

I was feeling a little extra flat than usual, so I thought I would have a second cup of coffee.  By now the baby was awake.  So I put her in the sling, thinking that this would free up my hands at least enough to make more coffee.  The older kids were playing quietly together, and I got all ambitious and decided to make real coffee.  Because I will never again have time to buy it in a real café.  So I fired up the machine and went at it.

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My first mistake was thinking I could steam milk.  I used the hand furthest from baby, because safety is the cornerstone of success.  Or at least, safety is the cornerstone of not spending the day in an intensive care unit.

For a brief, shining moment I actually believed I could achieve my aim.  But then I realised I couldn’t use the other hand to feel if the jug base was warm.  And I had no way of turning the steam off, without either nearly scalding the baby or actually scalding myself.

While this dilemma played out in my mind and I grew more and more anxious and the milk steamed hotter and hotter, the baby began to fuss, the kids erupted into a huge brawl which tumbled into the kitchen, and the phone rang.  All. At. Once.

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Also, my nose began to itch.

I only got out of it when realised I could turn the power off at the wall, using my foot.  So I gave myself a gold star for making to 9:00 am without giving third degree burns to anyone.

Soon after, my husband took the older kids to the park.  Because I told him to.  One might even say I begged.  So in those quiet moments after they’d gone, I decided to take the baby for a quick walk.

It took an aeon to pack the baby bag, dress her warmly, find my walking shoes, find myself some clean clothes, wrangle the enormous pram out the back door and down the steps while holding the baby in the sling.  All of those things combined took longer than the walk would take.  Even then, as I was about to place the baby in the pram, I realised that the tyres were flat.  And the rear of the house is kind of, well, cat-litter-y, so I had to keep holding the baby while I pumped the tyres back up.  Using one hand and two feet.

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Another gold-star moment.

When we got back my unfettered hausfrau ambitions prompted me to begin making pumpkin soup.  With the baby nestled comfortably in the sling.

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OK… now what?

I did not get very far.

My husband and older kids eventually returned.  I realised we need a few things from the supermarket and I said as much to my husband.

He got all excited, because going to the shops is a legitimate reason to escape from the house for a time, and get some relative peace and quiet.  We tend to squabble over those small opportunities for solitude.  They are rare and precious… so very, very precious.

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I’ll give you $100 if you’ll let me do it.

After his offer, I pointed out that the kids already knew about it, and were insisting that they be allowed to come too.  Suddenly it lost all its appeal.

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I’ll give you $1,000 if you’ll do it.

I love my husband.  And I know it’s true love, because even after three children, when he leaves his dirty laundry beside the laundry basket instead of inside it, when he doesn’t change a toilet roll, or forgets to put the rubbish bins out, or uses an entire packet of wipes on one (one!) nappy change, I still haven’t divorced him.  THAT is true love, right there.  Either that or it is fatigue.  I am too busy to know the difference any more.  Or to care.

So anyway.  I am certain that we’ve all, us parents, had the moment where we are changing one nappy/diaper too many, and our spirit is just starting to flag.  There is something about the monotonous inevitability of someone else’s endless stream of poop that can really wear you down.  I really felt myself really sagging today, over this one soiled nappy.

OK to be fair it was REALLY soiled.  I mean, there was a deep end, just like at the local swimming pool.  Looking at it, I felt all the fight in me just draining away.

So I changed the nappy.

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Even at the best of times, it’s still the worst of times.

Except it wasn’t like this.  This picture is positively serene.  This picture shows a person who can achieve their aim.  This picture shows a woman in control of the situation.  The reality was a tad more… dynamic.

First, there was another person around.  With other-person type demands.

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Cos I just love thinking about food while handling poo.

And another person with a whole different set of problems.

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Pictured: A complete representation of the body’s relationship to solids

Oh yeah, and we weren’t at home.  We were in a car park.  And this particular explosive nappy situation was a bona fide poop emergency.

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And I needed to pee.

Still not stressful enough?  Did I mention the rain?

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There you go.

Whatever you think you can handle, kids will always, always¸ find a way to make you handle just a little bit more.  And then a bit more.  And then a bit more.  And then nature comes along to finish you off.  And there you are, soggy and defeated in a car park.

But that wasn’t the worst part of my day either.

The worst part was after the evening kafuffle to get the kids into bed, complete with demands for extra stories, the frantic cleaning to find the floor and the cat once again, wiping the slime off the sofa, washing all the dishes and tidying everything up, I had enough time to watch a movie we’d rented.  And to make my aching old feet more comfortable, I removed my shoes, stood on a splinter, and spent the entire film trying to extract it.

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Too grumpy to cry.

I am lately feeling rather like a cautionary tale.

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Or perhaps someone out of a nursery rhyme.

I am really starting to understand what that old woman in the shoe was about.  I don’t know what gruel is though, and it sounds like something made by wringing out a water rat.  I wouldn’t want to eat that.  So instead I road-tested a microwave brownie-in-a-mug recipe, which lived up to the hype.  So I can thankfully say that the day ended on a high note.

Who can even imagine what tomorrow will bring.

I am living in interesting times.

Hospital Stay

Having a new baby makes doing anything (ok everything) more difficult.  Having three children, one at school, is an absolute hand full.  The day I came home from hospital, I was wishing that I had stayed longer, because they take care of things like meals and cleaning, and I didn’t have to do very much.

But then I remembered what it was like being in hospital.

For starters, labour sucked.  I mean, it was REALLY painful.  To be fair, that isn’t the fault of the hospital.  Mostly it was about me, and my inability to handle the huge amounts of pain I was in, partly from being already very tired, but mostly because, well, it’s a huge amount of pain.  I’ll spare you the details, but it felt a little like this:

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There is no labour, only Zuul.

Once that was all dealt with, and I had a wonderful, healthy little baby, I was still very tired.  Suddenly the little things that usually just irritate me, began to grate on my nerves at a whole new level.

There is the hospital attitude to linen.  I can understand with newborn babies, the need to swaddle.

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See? Makes sense.

New babies like to be swaddled.  New mothers, however do not.

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I’d press the call button, but I can’t move my arms.

As if being strapped down by bed linen isn’t bad enough, the toilet paper in my bathroom was installed to run down the far side of the roll, against the wall.  This is an abomination.

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YOU’RE KILLING ME!!

But the thing that stands out most is the interruptions.  I was there for about 48 hours, during which time I should have slept for at least 16 hours.  I think I may have managed 14 minutes in total.  I wish I was exaggerating.  It wasn’t because of any noise.  (Not like last time).  But because of constant interruptions.

There was the nurse who kept coming in to ask if I had been to the bathroom yet.

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She will lose that enthusiasm when I tell her what I think of the toilet paper situation.

Then the people related to the new mother in the next bed, who kept passing me by and peering in.

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They were super excited. And apparently unaware of the notion of peace and quiet. Or privacy. Or coloured fabrics.

The ritual of the breakfast tray lady, ridiculously punctual, serving breakfast at the crack of dawn.

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GOOOOOOD Morning Sunshine!

By this point I was trailing a sleep deficit of about 3 weeks, due to the end of pregnancy generally sucking and pre-labour going on for the two days prior to labour actually kicking off.  Eventually I cracked under the strain of fatigue.  I asked the midwives to take my baby to the nursery where they would mind her for a few hours, so that I could get a little rest.

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I want it back in one piece, you hear me?!

This apparently prompted more people to ooze out of the woodwork.  Like the nurse who came in 20 minutes later, JUST AS I WAS FALLING ASLEEP, and said “I’ll just give you this before you take your nap”.

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I named her “Nurse Deathwish”

Apparently word of my nap was getting around, because she was followed by another midwife who wanted to see if I needed any pain killers (paracetamol, sadly, not the cool ones) in order to help me sleep.

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Actually, yes, can I please have 500mg of Get The Hell Out Of My Room?

Curiously-Prompt Lunch Lady then came back.

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Seriously, is there a queue outside my door?

At which point the midwife brought back my baby because she was starting to get hungry.

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OH FOR THE LOVE OF – oh it’s you.

Well, that was thoroughly pointless.

Later in the day, a midwife asked how I was feeling, and I said “tired.”  I saw no reason to hesitate.  She said “we could mind your baby in the nursery for a while if you like, to let you get some peace and quiet.”  I said, honestly, “the baby isn’t the problem.”.  I did not take up the offer, I couldn’t bear to get my hopes up again.

However the day ended well, and eventually there was one interruption I was very pleased about.

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That sound you hear is my heart melting.

Although I never did get a wink of sleep in that hospital.

Sleepy

So very tired today.  Lately, one child won’t fall asleep, the other won’t stay asleep.  So I’m awake for countless hours of the night, exhausted and staggering about like the town drunk during the day.  So many things to do, and so little time left in which to do them!

Tomorrow, the kids are in day care for half the day, and I’m trying to narrow down my list to the essentials that I can’t do with the kids around, which is pretty much everything.  I’m also trying to prioritise what HAS to be done versus what I WANT to get done.

Obviously, toy shopping is a high priority at this time of year.

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Mental note: when sleeping on toy shelf, pick the one with the stuffed animals on it.

But I do worry that I’ve already done enough of that, and the remaining money could be better spent.  You have to draw the line somewhere.

So then I thought about how people always say you should do something for yourself now and then, and I usually forget that, and thought about getting a pregnancy massage.

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Ah, sweet mmmmmf zzmffmzzzzz.

But again, I worried about the expense.  So next on my list is cleaning the house, which is filthy at this point.  My floors are actually crunchy.

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Ah, sweet sleep sweep. My favourite.

Cleaning really should be a priority at this point.   Except that I can do housework any time, whether the kids are here or not, so it’s not really a good use of day care.  So I considered the things that need to be done, but can’t be done with the kids around.  Like driving the car to the mechanic for a check up.  I can walk back from there, so long as I don’t have kids with me.

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OK this is just plain wrong.

The downside of this option is glaringly obvious.  Also if it’s a warm day I probably wouldn’t even get so far as to start the ignition.  I would likely just pass out from cozy-warm-car-ness upon first contact.

So I thought about the things I would do if I wasn’t doing anything.  Generally, that means computer games.  Something along the lines of Sim-Civ-World Domination – Apocalypse Edition.

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When I wake up my face will look like a waffle.

Downside, time goes so quickly, and I am guaranteed to feel like I totally squandered my entire day.  So I thought about doing something not too expensive that I wouldn’t normally do, but that would be reasonably relaxing and rewarding.

What the heck am I doing. I don't even like popcorn.

What the heck am I doing. I don’t even like popcorn.

And I have reached the conclusion that ultimately what I need to do with my time tomorrow is take a BIG LONG NAP.

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YIPES!! What time is it?! When do I have to collect the kids?!

aaaand cue the pregnancy insomnia.