Pregnancy and pandemic: 2 weeks postpartum

So we are two weeks into being a family of five and seven weeks into being at home.

Seven.

Weeks.

At. Home.

With toddlers. And now a newborn. It’s been really hard some days. Lesson plans aren’t really being followed and there is far more screen time than I really care for, but right now we are in survival mode and the big humans of Suddreth Manor are being fueled strictly on caffeine and dreams at this point. The only human being who sleeps more than two hours at a time is #TheSequel (🙌🏼 – but also TEACH YOUR BIG BROTHER!). And the wonder idiot dog keeps rolling around in raccoon poop because apparently he isn’t getting enough attention. 😑😑😑😑😑

BUT, it isn’t only crisis management at The Manor. It’s beautiful chaos. Brett takes the boys outside to play as much as possible. The Cozy Cottage arrived and the kids LOVE it – I mean who wouldn’t? It has flower boxes and a doorbell that WORKS! The tree swing is up and the swing set/playhouse was finally delivered and is being put together this week.

The state and county stay at home orders are set to expire Sunday, and while things are definitely far from over, just knowing that people are thinking about how to safely bring some sense of normalcy back to life has been comforting. Soccer and swim classes are trying to figure out how to safely continue to serve the community and The Sequel’s school is preparing their reopening plan.

The last two weeks have been a very different recovery than I had originally expected, but everyone is starting to adjust to having another person living with us. I had my post-op follow up with my doctor today via video conference, which was an interesting patient experience, but I definitely appreciated not having to leave the house yet. The best thing is that I was cleared to start picking up The Sequel again. I didn’t realize how much I missed holding him until I wasn’t allowed. I definitely gave him a big old hug as soon as I could – it was awesome.

Probably the hardest part of the last couple weeks has been clearing events off my calendar. The very hardest one was canceling Baby Suddreth’s birthday party. I might have cried deleting it from my calendar. But, when we are allowed to gather in groups again, I’m throwing him the most ridiculous, over the top, extra, don’t care what it costs, party because he deserves the entire world and it’s not his fault a pandemic is ruining everything.

I’ve noticed that the longer this goes on, the more aware Baby Suddreth is becoming to the fact that nothing is normal. And his conversations are becoming more focused on things we can’t do “because of the germs.” Like, “there’s no baseball or Royals because of the germs, right?” And, “all the stores and swim class and soccer are closed…because of the germs, right?” Or “are the germs gone yet, so we can go to a football game?” He misses his friends and his teacher and as a parent all I want to do is fix everything for him.

So, I’m still working through my emotions of not being able to control any of this and trying to focus on what I can do – which is heal…and love my babies hard.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 1 week postpartum

So, it’s actually closer to two weeks postpartum, but life is a little more hectic the last 11 days so let’s just pretend it’s still a week.

We brought #TheTrilogy home less than 48 hours after delivery which seems insane to me considering her arrival on earth. My recovery is going well though, but I really wish I could help more with the boys; especially #TheSequel. He’s still too little to understand what’s going on and doesn’t get why Mommy can’t scoop him up for snuggles, or put him in his chair for snacks, or get him down when he’s finished. That’s been really hard.

Also not being his bedtime buddy – that’s harder than I thought it would be, too. I’ve put him to bed (nearly) every night of his life and now I can’t even walk up the steps to at least be part of the routine. It’ll get better, I know that. And I’ll heal and be able to go back to picking him up and snuggling him before bed, but I wasn’t ready for recovery to take those things away from me.

But, that’s sort of par for the course these last five to seven weeks. Not a single thing has gone according to plan. Nothing. For a person who schedules, plans and coordinates things for a living, not being able to control the outcome of my own daily existence is maddening. I’d be lying if I said it isn’t affecting me. I’ve cried a lot over the last 11 days.

Today marks day 44 of my quarantine. In case you’re curious, day 42 was my breaking point. It’s the day I cried the most and the hardest at the loss of normalcy. At the loss of physical connection. The loss of control. But I’ve given myself permission to feel all the feelings. To recognize they are valid. But I’ve also given myself permission to not live in those feelings. And to find some peace and comfort in the loneliness of having a newborn that requires 100 percent of your time and attention.

One moment of peace and comfort came just a few days ago as Brett was putting #TheSequel to bed. Every night we sing a bedtime song indicating it’s time to go upstairs for bed. It goes:

Night night Baby (insert baby’s name)

Night night Baby

Night night baby

It’s time to go to bed

I don’t know the tune of the song we use, it’s something we modified from our swim class. If you take lessons through Emler Swim School, it’s their bye bye song for the littlest swimmers. Anyway, we sing that to him so he knows it’s time to go upstairs. And when we start singing it, he waves his little hand and says “bye bye” and walks towards the steps. Wednesday night as he was walking to the stairs I said “good night, buddy; I love you!” And he responded “I love you” and that’s the very first time he’s said that and my hormonal, emotional, quarantine weary mama heart couldn’t handle it and I cried all over #TheTrilogy’s head. Sorry ‘bout that, Sis.

But those are the moments I’m trying to remember. The ones that are surprising and new. The funny ones. The silly moments that make me belly laugh (even though it hurts to do so). #BabySuddreth has been particularly threenagey lately and I know this quarantine is a large reason why, but tonight I played him a video of the Happily Ever After fireworks display from Disney World and he was mesmerized. He shouted excitedly as he saw characters he recognized “MOANA! WRECK IT RALPH! LIGHTNING MCQUEEN!” And he pretended that he was the person making the fireworks appear in the sky. It was magical.

So postpartum life in quarantine isn’t exactly what I had planned, but it’s also creating some pretty incredible moments I might not have gotten otherwise.

Stop telling parents to “enjoy it because it goes so fast”

A lot of my friends and I are in the stage of our lives where we have young kids. Many of us have toddlers AND newborns. We are all living on caffeine and dreams (and dry shampoo). I see my friends post things on Facebook or Instagram about how hard a particular day or moment has been and I sympathize. Because oof; I’m right there with ya.

And then I see the comments. Sigh.

Why do parents with older children constantly tell those with young children to “enjoy it.” “They grow so fast.” “You’ll miss this.” “Just wait until…”

We know.

We see our toddlers and realize how quickly they went from baby to kid. We watch them hit milestone after milestone and see how fast time is escaping us. We are aware of how many days there are until they graduate high school (for my oldest it’s 5,641 as of this post).

But in the thick of struggle, we don’t need to hear “enjoy it.” “You’ll miss it.” What we need to hear is “How can I help?” “Do you need a hand?” “Can I watch the kids?”

I miss holding and rocking Henry to sleep; I don’t miss crying while doing it because he just wouldn’t go to sleep. I secretly miss sleeping next to him and waking up to his perfect little face; I don’t miss the three months I spent sleeping next to him on a futon mattress on his floor because he refused to sleep in his crib.

I know I’ll miss the funny things he does and says as a toddler; I don’t think I’ll miss the constant power struggle over every. single. thing. we ask.

I know I’ll miss Charlie being this tiny, perfect little bundle of amazing. But I’m not sure I’ll miss being unable to communicate with each other. I’ll miss holding and staring at him while he sleeps; I won’t miss the (seemingly) endless back pain brought on by his need to be held.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore each and every age and stage we’ve gone through, but that’s because I’m looking at the whole picture; if I look at individual pieces, there are some I’m glad we are past.

And so, Parent-of-older-children; I know you’re well-intentioned, but those comments aren’t helpful. Yes; they grow up so fast. The days are long, the years are short. We know. But because parents must have a selective memory, you don’t remember (or are choosing not to remember) how hard this stage is.

Right now, we just need a sympathetic ear. And maybe a ten minute break to drink the tea or coffee we’ve warmed up six times today because our kid is crying about socks.

Party of four

As we counted down the days until we became a family of four, I sat reflecting on this pregnancy and everything that had gone in to it.

This entire year seems like a whirlwind; Brett left a job to run his own agency full-time; five minutes later we discovered I was pregnant! Throw in a major house renovation and a toddler and it all adds up to a chaotic, messy nine months.

It’s been a (mostly) beautiful mess. During the last nine months I’ve watched my husband grow and support a business; something he’s wanted to do for a long time. I’ve watched my son grow and thrive in ways that catch me off guard and take my breath away. I’ve watched the relationship between him and his dad evolve, strengthen and deepen. It’s such a beautiful thing and I’m eternally grateful to witness it.

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity, because there were times when I thought I’d never get to see it.

We have been pretty open about our journey toward starting a family and the struggle we endured. Henry is our miracle; fearfully and wonderfully made. It took a long time and a lot of tears to get him here. What most people don’t know is that the journey to get his brother here has been equally as difficult.

After Henry was born, we knew pretty quickly we wanted to grow our family. And since we didn’t know if we would experience the same challenges, we started trying as soon as we could. And we gave it time, and no expectations. And were met with the same challenges. Month after month. It was hard to walk through the battle of infertility a second time.

But then, last July, after nearly a year of struggle, I had a positive pregnancy test! We were elated. We did the calculations and discovered that we’d be having a St. Patrick’s Day baby – how fun!

But, the pregnancy didn’t stick. I was home by myself with Henry. I called Brett at work, sobbing. I could barely get out a sentence. “I need you to come home.” I choked out. And he did. And we sat together and cried at our loss. Wondered if our house would be full of kids like we had imagined. I felt guilty for my sadness since we have Henry and he’s perfect.

It took nearly another half of a year, but eventually I received another positive test! I was ecstatic. And terrified. And anxious. I told Brett and we cried happy tears and worried together; every day. Until we heard his heart beat. It was beautiful and perfect. We cried more happy tears. We worried some more. Until the fetal scan that showed us how strong our son was growing. We cried more happy tears.

When March arrived, I told Brett “I think the timing of this pregnancy is not an accident. I think the universe knew that March was going to be a hard month for us, so while we fight through the grief of not holding a baby like we expected back in July, we have a new joy in this pregnancy to help us through that.”

And now, nearly two and a half years after Henry made us parents, we are finally a family of four!

I am so looking forward to watching Brett and Henry grow closer, and I’m equally excited to watch him bond with our new son. I can’t wait to see Henry as a big brother; I think he’s going to be amazing.

I sit in awe at the absolute miracle that life is. And while my path to creating it has been anything but smooth, I am so grateful for the opportunity and blessing. I hope I teach and show my sons that they are precious and loved. And I hope they understand that if I seem like I over-worry about them it’s because I made them from scratch and they are the best things I’ve ever created.

You’ll Never Remember

You’ll never remember the two and a half years you spent as an only child.

You’ll never remember life before your little brother; before you were promoted and given the title Big Brother.

You’ll never remember a time you didn’t have an upstairs bedroom and that your brother’s room was once yours.

You’ll never remember that two days before your brother was born I made us take this picture.

That this is the last picture we have of you as an only child; our last picture as a family of three.

You’ll never remember that I hugged you extra hard as you left for school the Friday before you became a big brother. That I sobbed as you walked out our front door saying “bye, Mommy.” for the last time as an only child.

You’ll never remember that you went to bed on a Saturday night as our only baby and that when you woke up on Sunday we weren’t there because your brother was being born.

But I will.

I’ll remember all of those things. I’ll remember the two and a half years where my time and energy weren’t divided; where my sole focus was you and your every need.

But, I’ll also remember the look on your face when you came to visit us at the hospital to meet your baby brother. How you beamed the best, most proud smile I’ve ever seen. How you immediately knew to be soft and gentle with your brother.

I’ll remember your sweet voice saying “hello” and “I love you.” And how you gave soft kisses on his head.

I’ll remember that you were very concerned about all the people looking at your brother and you instructed the nurse “don’t hurt my baby brudder.”

I’ll remember how excited you were when we came home with your brother and how you just wanted to sit next to him and hold his hand.

You’ll never remember any of that. But I will.

And I’ll get to witness every single day of you as a big brother.