Thursday, April 3, 2014

April Flowers (and some showers)

The morning is quiet, as I sit and sip my coffee.
I highly doubt I'll be able to finish this post, or probably even more than a few paragraphs, before there are little feet thumping on the wood floor. But for now I am reveling in a semi warm cup of coffee and the feeling of being decently rested.
Last night was the first night all week that The Dude did not wake up once. I'm not sure why he's been night waking again. He generally goes back to sleep relatively quickly, but requires his arms to be wrapped tightly around my neck while he does. Sometimes it makes me feel a little panicky, wondering what is going to happen in a few short weeks when there is a tiny newborn, requiring 2 hands to steady his floppy head, wheedling for my attention, and The Dude angrily demanding it.
When The Dude was born I had planned and prepared intricately for that situation, by not caving in to Aquaman's demand for cuddles during that last trimester. I had every intention to do the same this time around. But I've just gotten more relaxed. Somehow I just have this feeling deep down that, well, things are going to work out. We're going to probably be tired, and have a few hairy middle of the night moments. And then we're going to be ok.
For now, I am basking in these last few weeks snuggling The Dude to sleep, hearing his sweet voice, with the last thing he says as he's going to sleep, and the first thing he says when he's waking up: "mommy? You're my BEST friend."

I'll never forget the first night home from the hospital with The Dude. Aquaman called out to me in the middle of the night, and I came to his bedside, cradling his little brother who was up eating. 2 yr old Aquaman took one disgusted look at his little brother in my arms and said "just go back downstairs, Mommy."
I was no use to him, holding that thing.

The Dude is finally mostly outgrowing his nap, which makes the 3 day work weeks much more manageable. It means he is asleep by 7:30- 8, giving me a few quiet moments to read and talk with Aquaman without his using me as a jungle gym. Giving me a chance to fold the laundry and actually put it away while Aquaman chatters and works on his homework.

I've loved those couple of extra minutes with my biggest boy, who is at such a lovely age right now. Truly, he is all little boy. All silly words ("I live in the land of cuckoo, and in our language, 'hello' is 'mucklydoo'.") and upside down on the couch and cartwheels on the rug. His nonstop talking occasionally makes me feel insane. Because it's not just talking, it's talking that he insists I actually respond to. And most of the time it is about diggers and steam engines (every fact he has memorized from books and movies), and occasionally he'll bring up the occasional juicy tidbit about school, though of course never when I ask, and usually during a time when he is supposed to be getting his shoes on, or going to sleep.

At night, I sit in the rocking chair in his room for about 10 minutes after he climbs into bed and read a book while he falls asleep. Lately, he tries to steady his overactive mind by counting, somewhat emphatically and excitedly, to 100. Then he wonders why, when he gets to 100 he is still awake. I tell him he has to count to himself, and he said that always makes him lose his place.
He always gets down at least once and runs to me to tell me that "I have a scary thought in my head that I can't get out." And always within about 30 seconds of praying that God would fill his head up with only good, and right, and true things, he is fast asleep with his head flung back against his pillow.

I love him so much.
I still can't completely figure him out.
Though I did have a completely brilliant epiphany about why parenting him has been such a monumental task since the day of his birth the other day.

It is so interesting how unique each child is, and it is one of the most fun things about having more than one. I have long wondered what it is about Aquaman that makes me struggle so, and feel so inadequate as his mother. Is it is sensitivity? I read "the highly sensitive child", hoping this would hold the magical key, and I would say "aha! This is my child, and this is what I should do." But while it reminded me a lot of me as a child, and while it certainly fit him in some aspects, it did not leave me completely understanding him.
So I recently read "the out of sync child", because he's always felt just a little..."out of sync" to me. He certainly marches to his own drumbeat. From birth, he never seemed quite comfortable in his own skin. "hold me right!" I used to narrate for him at weeks old when he struggled to get comfortable in my arms. My touch is always too soft or too rough to him, and yet he craves it. He is very easily overstimulated and overwhelmed. The noises of even the tv made him wild as an infant. I don't remember his tense little body fully relaxing until the day we brought home an industrial sized fan and turned it on. He still would never want to go to the movie theater, it's far too loud.
Regular kid's movies terrify him. Recess is so overwhelming that my roly poly little boy sits by his teacher's side, quite happily throughout the whole thing.
He is never quite sure where his body is. He spills far more drinks than his little brother. He falls multiple times per day. He can eat the exact same thing as The Dude and get it everywhere, and The Dude doesn't spill a drop.

But "the out of sync child" doesn't describe him either. Because despite those things making him different, they don't make it impossible for him to function in the world. His kindergarten career has been wildly successful. He has no difficulty maintaining the self control to stay in his chair, even though he would rather be doing something else. He does not struggle with his numbers and letters, quite the contrary, working above grade level even though he is so young.

The other children adore him, and though he tends to stay on the fringes, it appears, to me, and to his teacher, that it is entirely by choice.
It is not that he doesn't know what to do in social situations, but simply that he chooses to behave in a different manner than everyone else.
At his Character Counts award ceremony, he was the only child who had to be led across the stage to receive it. At his Ice Cream social, he was the only child who sang with his back to the audience.
When other children wave enthusiastically at him in the school parking lot, he smiles confidently in the other direction, with his nose in the air. Occasionally, he throws a cursory "cuckoo!" in their face and then turns away.
Despite many of the sensory quirks he has, and his high sensitivity, 5 year old Aquaman seems to be quite comfortable in his own skin.

But there are some children that you know are always going to bob back up to the top, no matter what comes their way. The Dude is one of those, and that is, what I have found, has made him so much easier and less terrifying to raise. It's just  part of his nature. To be sure, his 3 year old self plunges dramatically to the depths of despair multiple times per day. But there is always that reassurance that, basically whatever I do, whether I talk him through it, comfort him, or give him space to move on, that he will inevitably, and in usually a relatively short amount of time, come popping back up, take a deep breath, and right himself.

Not so with Aquaman. With Aquaman, there is the constant precarious balance of wondering whether I should go in after him. He gets stuck upside down. He struggles mightily. Sometimes he has to be rescued from himself.
It is my job to let him struggle sometimes. It makes his struggling muscles stronger, and someday I won't be there to push him to the top. But at the same time, you can't let your child drown either. And sometimes, he seems quite close to drowning. It's a lot of pressure as a mother. It requires a lot of prayer.

And now the little one grows larger within me. Last week I got an extra glimpse of him when my fundal height measured a full 4 weeks behind where it is supposed to be. He was measuring right on time. The placenta looked healthy, the fluid level was perfect. Though my stomach does look smaller to me, he does not in any way feel small. My insides feel bruised by even his little movements.

My uterus, I have decided, is irritable. Some days I have crampy Braxton Hicks contractions every 2-10 minutes for the entire day. Not drinking enough water can bring it on. Having a full bladder can bring it on. In other words, there doesn't seem to be anything in particular I can do to prevent it. I doubt it is doing anything to bring labor faster, and don't want it to, since I'm still hoping for a late baby, but it's slightly tiring.

And it just recently occurred to me, as each week I collect a few more last minute supplies for this baby, that he is going to be a little person. Pregnancy does not really feel real to me. It is hard to picture a real life little baby in there.
 Bu there is. A tiny little newborn with a forehead that wrinkles when he stretches his arms out. With a rubbery bald top of his head, and probably only the slightest peach fuzz on top of it, if he's anything like the other two.
I'm starting to really look forward to those few days in the hospital, getting to know him. I can't imagine a home birth for a wide variety of reasons, but one of the biggest being those first few days in the hospital are such a relaxing chance to get to know your new baby. There are no other children to entertain, no laundry to worry about. Your only job is to hold and feed and get to know this new life.
I have just started thinking about what his birth will be like. Will it be more like Aquaman's?  I still remember the song on CMT playing while I pushed: "if it looks like we were scared to death, like a couple of kids just trying to save each other, you should have seen it in color." For a moment everything changed to black and white and slowed down, and in an changed forever.
He was late, he had meconium, and he struggled to breathe right after his birth. I didn't get to hold him for over an hour. Will it be more like The Dude's? An easy and quick induction. 3 pushes and out. I watched him come out with the mirror, and then they immediately placed him on top of me. They let him me nurse and cuddle him for an hour before they took him for his bath.
Probably, it will be a completely unique experience. Definitely he will be a completely unique baby.

The morning is rushing on. Since I started writing, first Aquaman appeared down the stairs, followed shortly by the Dude. They ate cereal and drank Boost. They watched mighty machines and fought over the purple balloon that Aquaman got on his Publix field trip yesterday. There were a lot of tears, and just as much laughter. Aquaman, worked on homework. The Dude scribbled on a piece of paper. We dropped off Aquaman at school, and the girl he says he's going to marry, whose hair was in a neat french braid this morning, took him by the hands and led him into the classroom. He scowled and smiled at the same time, and went willingly.
The Dude is filling up the baby pool, and I need to take a shower before heading to his well visit and my 36 week checkup.
This weekend, JT and I are looking forward to 24 hours of kid-free marriage conference at the Hilton. It is our early anniversary trip, since more than likely we will have a newborn by our May 5th 7 year celebration.

We may celebrate in the hospital this year.It will be no less joyous. 7 years of being best friends, and 3 beautiful little boys.
Some days I wonder what we've done. Most days, I wonder what we're doing.
But the one thing I do know is, we're doing it together still. And still following the One who does know what He's doing.
And for now, for today, that's enough for me.

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