Family of Five: A Day in the Life

I don?t know if it was the surgery that threw me off with this baby or the fact that he?s the third or maybe just the big gap between kids that somehow aged me into a not-so-baby person, but adjusting this time around has been HARD. Like crazy hard. I really don?t remember things being this complicated with Dorian and truthfully, I don?t remember much about Dante?s early days, except for the dual diaper changes, dual bottles and . . . . well, that?s about it, actually. So maybe it was hard and I just lost that part of my brain.

Dominic isn?t a difficult baby, but he doesn?t sleep that much during the day and likes to be carried 24/7 in the sling. That makes it tough to get some things done. Trying to manage a baby and two older kids has been a bit of a challenge and I was really stressed about Irving being gone all of Semana Santa, but we are starting to fall into a routine, with or without him (he?s had a lot of processions lately, so we?re getting early practice). Here?s what a typical day looks like for us right now:

4 or 5 am: Dominic wakes up. I bring him into bed with me to nurse him. We both drift in and out.

6 am: The older boys get up and start playing Lego in the kitchen. Dorian puts on a Japanese song on the computer, at top volume, waking me and the baby up. I change Dominic, getting lots of cute baby smiles in the process (he?s a happy waker upper!).

6:30 am: Get cereal for the boys, bottle for Dominic, since he?s finished off all I have to offer. Sit down to check email and Facebook. I still haven?t broken my computer habit, even though I?m not really working right now!

7 am: Time for school! I haul out the books and we sit at the kitchen table. Dominic ?helps? with the lessons by giving math problems in a squeaky voice. The boys love it!

9 am: To finish school up, we do a science experiment. We built a fog machine the other day, we also have tested what powders dissolve in water and what happens to liquids when they get very hot or very cold.

9:30 am: Kids wrestle on the floor while I feed Dominic again.

10 am: Kick hyper children outside and put on some laundry with Dominic sleeping. Switch him to my back so I can wash dishes and fold laundry.

11 am: Realize it?s too late to make bread for lunch and start thinking what to serve. Kids come back from playing outdoors, covered in dirt and wondering what?s to eat.

noon: We sit down to tortillas and avocado. Simple, but edible and the only thing I could whip up since Dominic started screaming just before I got to work making lunch.

1 pm: Kids watch Curious George on Netflix, I watch Dr. Who while feeding the baby.

2 pm: Send one of my clients to a fellow writer since I don?t want the work right now. Dominic is fussy and won?t settle, so I rock in my rocking chair and eye the dishes, wishing I could do something about them.

3 pm: No attempt to sleep from the baby, kids are fighting on the chair, punching each other and yelling. I yell at them to stop fighting for the hundredth time and am ignored, so everyone gets time outs.

4 pm: Put Dominic in his bouncy chair to try and make something for supper. He screams his head off, so I throw on a pot of water and decide it?s pasta again.

5 pm: No one wants to eat pasta. Tell them that this is it or they won?t eat tonight. They counter with ?But we ate pasta YESTERDAY!? I reply, ?Yeah, well, if you weren?t so picky, you might have more options, eat it or starve.? Dante bursts into tears with ?You want me to DIE?!?

6 pm: Get boys to clean up their Lego, assorted cars and action figures off the floor while I throw dishes in the sink and bounce a wailing baby in the sling.

6:30 pm: Get older kids to brush their teeth, change them into PJs and field ?I?m hungry!? complaints.

7 pm: Dominic is still fussing, it?s his bedtime. Read stories to kids while feeding him, get them tucked into bed.

7:05 pm: Kill a spider the boys found on the wall.

7:07 pm: Fill their water bottles that I forgot to fill before bed.

7:08 pm: Dominic falls asleep. Dante comes out to pee, slams the door upon returning to his room and wakes the baby up again.

7:15 pm: Get after boys for making too much noise.

7:30 pm: FINALLY get Dominic to sleep for good. Put him in his car seat (he doesn?t sleep in his crib, sigh).

7:45 pm: Get the night chores done, boil water for bottles, fill the thermos, wash dishes, clean table, sweep and wash/boil bottles.

9 pm: Head to bed.

midnight: Irving gets up with Dominic. Thanks, dear!

When Irving is here, he does most of the cleaning, as well as handling the older boys part of the time.

Will I Have You Forever?

The other night, Dorian was sitting on his chair, watching Curious George when suddenly he looked over at me and said, ?Mama, will I have you forever??

That?s a loaded question. How do you answer that truthfully without sending a child into a panic? I remember asking something similar of my mother at that age and when she told me that she would likely die before me . . . I spent months of nights worrying about my parents dying. Dorian is just as sensitive as I was, so I knew that telling him, ?Nope, I?ll be dead long before you? would send him into a tailspin . . . but I didn?t want to lie either!

?Well, people don?t live forever,? I said carefully.

?I mean, are you going to be here at home always, with me??

?I hope to be here as long as you need me,? I told him. And that was that. All he needed to know. I have no idea what brought this questioning on, but I am glad he wants me around forever. Especially considering that he told me earlier in the day, ?I will never, ever love you again!?

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 39

Dante: ?These eggs are really small. And these ones are big. I think they?re growing.?

Me: ?Well, some chickens are smaller and lay smaller eggs, some are bigger and lay bigger eggs. The eggs aren?t still growing.?

Dorian: ?What a great idea!?

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Dante: ?Mama, Shorty (in-laws? dog) was trying to bite me and I told him to stop. I am not a toy! I am not food! I am not for biting!?

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Dante: ?That lady is just like you!?

ME: ?She kinda looks like me, huh??

Dante: ?And she?s really old.?

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Dorian: ?I have 24 seconds to grow up!?

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Dorian: ?Mama . . . I?m really sorry about the eggs.?

Me: ?What happened to the eggs??

Dorian: ?Um, they?re broken.?

Me: ?Oh??

Dorian: ?Well, I was killing flies and there was a fly on the egg . . . I?m really sorry.?

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Dorian: ?You have to use your (intestinos) intestines for this part of the game, Papa.?

Irving: ?You mean (instintos)  instincts, not intestines.?

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

And now for something totally different! I thought you might enjoy a break from baby blabber, but I had nothing else to say, so I thought I?d do a movie review. :S

Irving and I watched Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close a while back and my sister and I watched it again when she was here. Yes, it?s that good.

The movie is about a young boy who?s father (Tom Hanks) died in 9/11. On the Last Day, he came home early from school and found the answering machine full of messages from his father. He stole the answering machine and replaced it, so his mother would never have to listen to the tape, but he tortures himself with it frequently.

A year after his father?s death, Oskar finds a mysterious ?clue? . . . a key in an envelope in a vase in his father?s closet. Convinced that his father left him one last treasure hunt to follow, Oskar takes to the streets of New York, trying to find the lock that the key fits. He?s on the autistic spectrum, so it?s not easy for him. As he says, everything is scarier after 9/11 and while he was originally scared of swings, bridges and trains, now he?s frightened of much, much more. But he sucks it up, divides the city into tiny squares that he estimates will take him over 3 years to cover and begins to follow the clue his father left him.

Oskar?s journey is a heartbreaking, yet fascinating one. He is joined by ?The Renter?, an old mute who rents a room from his grandmother in the apartment across the street from Oskar and he meets countless people along the way, carefully documenting everything and organizing the information he gathers in a desperate attempt to preserve what he had with his father.

In the end, he does find out what the key fits and it?s not what he expected. The end result, however, is not the point of the movie. The focus is on the growth of a young boy who lost his father far too soon and under horrible circumstances and his gradual coming to grips with the new reality, living with his grief. It?s an incredible movie and Thomas Horn, the young actor, does an incredible job of portraying a very hurt boy who doesn?t fit in with the rest of the world, and who has just lost the only person who really understood him.

What No One Tells You About C-sections

The first week or two after Dominic arrived was tough. I was in a lot of pain, but we realized (after talking to some other C-section moms) that my pain relief was minimal, so it was changed to include a new med that a reader told me about (Aleve in the U.S. and THANK YOU, Begonia!). It helped immensely! However, there were a few surprises along the way that I never found in any literature about C-sections, so I thought I?d do a quick post on what no one tells you about C-sections.

1. Your feet get even more swollen. I went into the hospital with swollen feet, eager to lose that particular symptom. Imagine my surprise when I got home and had feet even MORE swollen than when I went into the hospital. First thought, kidney problems. But no, apparently this is normal after a section thanks to the extra liquids in your body combined with the IV solutions. It takes up to 2 weeks to go away. (Note: My swollen feet turned out to be postpartum pre-eclampsia, so if you notice headaches, pain in your shoulder or dizziness, you should ask your doctor about this.)

2. Your doctor doesn?t know you?re in pain. You?d think it would be obvious, but nooooo. Or at least, not always. So speak up when you?re in pain to make sure you get the meds. Pain can prohibit the breastmilk from coming in, so it?s actually better to take the meds than to just deal with it.

3. Talking gives you gas. I can?t verify this one, but this is what I was told repeatedly during the surgery and for a day afterward. Like you aren?t going to talk the first time you see your baby. I did try to restrain myself during the actual surgery except to ask if Dominic was ok, but after  . . . well, I didn?t get too much gas and Irving chalked it up to the doctors not realizing that I was made to talk. ?If you talk half your usual amount, that?s more than most people and you probably wouldn?t get gas and nausea,? he said.

4. You feel like you have a bladder infection. Remember my worries about the catheter? Well, it turns out, I had no idea they even put a catheter in because they took it out again before I could feel anything. So I was not impressed when I figured I had a bladder infection! When I mentioned it to the doctor, he said it was irritation from the catheter. sigh. My fears were justified, it was awful, but went away in a week on its own.

5. Your back will hurt. Who knew? In retrospect, it makes sense that when your stomach muscles are unable to take on the job of stabilizing your body, your back muscles will do the job and they get tired and sore FAST. A girdle really helped with this.

6. You might not realize something is wrong. I had no clue that my scar was infected or had a bad reaction to the treatment for the infection. My advice? Get a mirror and use it. It?s not fun to look at the scar, but you do need to know if something is wrong. I falsely assumed I would feel it if there was an infection, but I didn?t . . . the nerve damage numbs you enough that you might not feel everything like normal.

7. Weird lumps appear in your abdomen. The inside stitches (holding together layers of muscle, fat, abdominal membranes and your uterus) can get irritated and turn into this really weird, hard lump in your abdomen. I had it right above my scar, my friend had it below. I have to admit, I kind of panicked. It felt like something was seriously wrong in there! It fades over time.

Anything else to add?

The First Month

I can?t believe Dominic is almost 5 weeks old already. It?s gone by in the blink of an eye! We took him to the doctor today and he is perfectly healthy, but we didn?t get a weight since the nurse hadn?t arrived yet and she had the key to the office. He?s getting chunky, though!

A look back at the month and who Dominic is, now that we?re really getting to know him.

- He has slept twice for 7 hour stints. The first time I was awake for half, thinking he?d be up any minute, but the second (last night!), I took full advantage.

- He has a sort of schedule, sleep from 6:30 or 7 pm until midnight, get up for a couple of hours, but pretending to sleep so we?ll go back to bed and then wake up again. Around 3-4 he falls asleep again. Sometimes, if I?m particularly worn out, I will just nurse him in bed and we both get some rest.

- Smiles! Dominic LOVES to smile at his big brothers. Dorian gets the most smiles in the family, Dante the second most. Irving is runner up and I?m a distant last . . . perhaps because I spend most of my time feeding him instead of playing with him.

- He even laughed the other day when he was trying to climb Irving?s stomach. Irving lay on the bed and had Dominic propped up against his stomach. Dominic would stiffen his legs to sort of stand/lean on his papa and grin as he tried to scramble up. I think that?s why he got so worn out and slept for so long last night.

- He spends about 5 hours a day awake, in chunks throughout the day and night and he doesn?t like to stay still. If you put him in the bouncy chair, you had better be ready to scoot it around every few minutes for a new view or there will be screaming! He loves being outdoors, so we sometimes put him out there in his seat and Irving sits with him and plays music.

- He likes funeral marches. He?s totally a papa?s boy!

- Irving is the only person who can get him to burp.

- He screams any time Irving?s mother holds him. I won?t say anything about that except . . . that?s my boy!

- He prefers to be held upright, sleep sitting up and generally just be with his head higher than the rest of his body. You could say he?s STILL breech. I know now that we never would have gotten him head down.

The poor kid has also worn pajamas or onesies his entire life. We finally got some pants for him today. I guess this is one of those third born things . . . the first gets cute outfits galore, the second has a few handmedowns and the third gets sleepers. Sorry, Dominic!

We?re tired, but enjoying our family of five.

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 38

Dorian: ?If we get another baby brother, they would probably fight.?

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Dorian: ?I really love this baby when he?s awake, but not so much when he?s sleeping.?

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Dante: ?It?s so cold! It must be Christmas.?

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Dorianplaying with Dante outside ?We are doomed. It is our destiny to destroy the city, so we better hurry up before we die.? (I don?t know WHERE he gets this stuff!)

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Dorian: ?Dominic really loves Lego! He smiles every time I show it to him.?

Me: ?Well, keep it away from him, because he could choke on it, there?s a lot of small pieces.?

Dante: ?He won?t eat it!? holds a Lego man in front of the baby . . . Dominic tries to eat it. ?Oh. Ok, no Lego for you, baby!?

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Dorian: ?Mama, if I can?t fit a toy in my mouth, then Dominic can?t choke on it, right??

Me: ?Right.?

Oops, now they try to fit everything in their mouths before giving it to the baby. :S

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Dorian: ?OH NO!?

Me: ?What??

Dorian: ?Dominic fell asleep! I wanted him awake!?

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Dorian: ?Hey, Mama, I think you said something about popcorn . . . ?

Me: ?Yes, I did.?

Dorian: ?So . . . I was thinking, I like popcorn.?

Dante: ?I like popcorn, too. Can we have popcorn??

Me: ?Sure.?

Dorian: ?I was thinking, I also like Pepsi . . . ?

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On the weekend . . .

Dante: ?When do we do school again??

Me: ?On Monday.?

Dante: ?Oh. That?s a really long time.?

Me: ?It?s two days, see?? Pointing out the days on the calendar.

Dante: ?I can?t wait two days. Can I do this schoolbook now??

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Me: ?We?re going to visit some friends tomorrow, they have twin boys and a new baby, too.?

Dorian: ?Twins? Like they?re the same? Like 6 and 6??

I Heart Dr. Valle

Years ago, when I was fresh off my third miscarriage and had completely given up on having children of my own, I got sick. I had chronic bladder infections and it was to the point where I was having maybe one or two good days out of every week. Since I detest doctors (more so after the miscarriages and run-ins with Catholic doctors who thought I was miscarrying on purpose), I was loathe to go see one, but my friend, a Guatemalan, suggested her doctor.

?People come from other cities, they even travel overnight to see him,? she told me. And, he only charged Q50, at a time when most doctors were at least twice that.

I went. He was located at the end of an alley in Jocotenango, in a tiny little hut that had two rooms. I wasn?t expecting much, but he listened to my symptoms and told me that he suspected something much larger than a bladder infection and asked me to get a urine culture done. As I was leaving, I mentioned that I?d lost three babies and wondered if he could help figure out what was wrong. I explained that everyone thought it was my divided uterus (I have a wall in the middle of my uterus that divides it in half), but that I?d read up on it and that wouldn?t cause problems as early as I?d lost the babies. He agreed, told me that he knew a specialist, but suggested that we deal with the infection first .  . . then he mentioned that the infection might actually be causing the miscarriages.

When the test results came back, it was just as he?d suspected. I had E. coli and it was deep in my kidneys and had been for probably two years. Since I was prescribed antibiotics in short courses every time someone thought to check my urine and assumed that I had a run of the mill urine infection, the E. coli was resistant to all but three antibiotics. Two required hospitalization and IV administration. In the end I did a two month course of two different antibiotics and it got rid of the infection completely. I totally trusted Dr. Valle.

Before I could go talk to him about the miscarriages, I found out I was pregnant with Dorian. When the pregnancy stuck, I was stunned and my admiration for Dr. Valle rose ten points. In fact, to this day, I credit him with being the one who made it possible for me to have my three wonderful boys. No other doctor would listen to me when I said I was losing babies for other reasons and not one caught that this was a long term thing, they were too focused on the weird uterine malformation to bother with silly things like bladder infections.

Of course, we took Dorian to Dr. Valle after he was born. Irving thought we needed a pediatrician, so we went to about four before I told him I was done with specialists. All of them focused on his colostomy. I wanted to know if the zits on his face were normal. We knew about the colostomy, we knew how to deal with that and we knew he would need more surgeries. What we didn?t know was whether he was healthy apart from that. Dr. Valle told us, ?You have a surgeon to deal with the colostomy, so I?m here to examine and treat the baby as a baby.? And he did.

Later, when Dante came along, we didn?t even bother looking at other doctors. Dr. Valle was the one we went to.

As Dorian got older and finished his surgeries, Dr. Valle became more and more important in his life. Without a surgeon to advise, we turned to Dr. Valle to help with the daily management of Dorian?s issues, particularly after his emergency surgery last April. And he rose to the occasion like the awesome doctor he is. Not only did he have great suggestions to keep Dorian regular, he actually went online and researched his condition! Every time we came in, he would excitedly tell us what he?d learned and he got samples of new laxatives that weren?t previously available so we could try them with Dorian. He prefers to do things naturally and is very, very careful about meds and antibiotics, particularly with Dorian because he says they throw off Dorian?s system and then we have to deal with constipation, blockages and other problems. He is also the only doctor that Dorian will willingly see and be happy about it, because he trusts him.

Dr. Valle still practices in Jocotenango, but he also started to work at the local free clinic in our town last year. He?s literally two blocks away from us on weekday mornings. Since Dorian?s problems often show up early in the morning, this has proven to be insanely helpful. We just run over and get him checked early on. Dr. Valle shows up early to the clinic most days, before the nurse even arrives.

When I was pregnant, he would always ask how I was doing when Dorian went in and check my blood pressure. One day, Dorian was very sick and we had to give him an enema. Dr. Valle called me at 8 pm to see how Dorian was doing (his office closes at 5:30) and to ask if I wanted him to come to the house to check on him. He?s not a house call doctor, so that really surprised me!

A few weeks ago, we took Dominic in and his eyes lit up, ?he?s here! What a gorgeous baby!? It was like introducing Dominic to a grandparent, he was that thrilled to see him. He also is the one who caught my post-partum pre-eclampsia, something that my OB/GYN missed because my blood pressure wasn?t too high yet. Dr. Valle asked me to come back a few days later because he suspected something was going on, even without the higher pressure . . . and when I went back, it was sky high.

We?re so blessed to have this wonderful man in our lives. With him, I know my kids are getting awesome care.

You might be wondering why I wrote a post gushing over our family doctor . . . it?s because a fellow bloggerrecently wrote that she feels a bit silly for wanting to ?click? with a doctor for her kids and it made me think about just how very important it is to have an awesome doctor. I don?t think it?s silly at all to look for the perfect one. It?s just good parenting.

Starting Over

From the time Dorian was a few months old, I?ve been working as a freelance writer. Back at the end of 2011, one of my gigs turned into a full time job, though I was paid by project and I was essentially made manager of a team of writers. It was great, at first. I was working long hours, but it was ok, because I needed the money for Dominic?s arrival. Things kept getting more and more complicated, though and attempts to adjust the situation didn?t work as well as hoped.

As a result, I was completely and utterly burned out by the time Dominic made his arrival and while I?d planned to take a week off, I ended up with three weeks off because of the assorted complications from the surgery. I have to say that my boss was very understanding of this. When I went back, however, things were still stressful and after realizing that there was no way I could handle a newborn with his constant feeding and deadlines, I made the decision to leave the job completely. Irving has Lent processions and Semana Santa is coming up, plus he is in a new band, so we discussed it and decided that he will be the one to focus on earning for now while I focus on family.

This opens up a whole new world to me. I?ve been working so much for the past several years that I feel like I?ve completely missed chunks of Dorian and Dante?s childhood. I didn?t want to do that with Dominic and I want to be able to enjoy my kids. And now I can.

The best part? Over the past five years, I?ve been working on Squidoo, slowly building up my collection of lenses and my earnings. At this point, I have enough passive income coming in to survive even if I do nothing more to earn. The plan is to gradually build that up to have enough passive income to not just survive but to live decently without worries. But, I will be doing that in between dealing with life, homeschooling, and loving on my boys.

I?m also hoping that at some point, I can finish writing a novel that has been bouncing around in my head for ages now. Late nights spent with the baby strapped to my chest could be just what I need to get the story written down. We shall see.

Most of all, I?m looking forward to enjoying my kids instead of being frustrated with them for distracting me when I have to work. Irving says he?s seen such a difference in me in the past few weeks when I haven?t been working . . . ?you?re actually relaxed and nice to be around.? The boys have also commented that I?m not as mean, something that makes me realize that this really did have to happen. Even if we are living simpler, it?s worth it to have the chance to prove to my sons that I can be a nice mom, too!

Ups and Downs

I had postpartum depression with both my older boys and I was really hoping to avoid it with Dominic. So far, so good, I think. However, there are always ups and downs with the arrival of a new baby and the craziness of all those extra hormones and being a blogger, I thought I?d document them.

Up - Dominic is starting to smile at everyone.
Down - He has decided that sleeping is for the birds and screams all night long unless I have him in the sling.

Up - Breastfeeding is going very well in terms of latching on and all.
Down - I don?t have enough milk. :( I?d really hoped to do 100% breastfeeding, but between what appears to be genes and the diuretics, it?s just not happening.

Up - I?ve lost a total of 30 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight . . . so maybe being sick the entire pregnancy wasn?t all bad.
Down - I STILL don?t fit the XXL girdle that Irving got me.

Up - My C-section scar is FINALLY healed, as is the skin around it that had an allergic reaction and then a yeast skin infection.
Down - Weird stuff is going on in my abdomen. The dr. assures me it?s normal, but I feel like there?s a big rock in there . . . it?s apparently the interior stitches.

Up - I quit my job, so I now have time to actually enjoy my children.
Down - Dominic doesn?t agree with my plan and needs a lot more attention than anticipated.

Up - The boys love their baby brother and are both big helps when it comes to distracting him or bringing me things.
Down - They think they can do more than they can. I was in the other room yesterday and heard Dante say, ?Hey, I can carry the baby!? I yelled for him NOT to carry the baby and ran out to find Dominic perfectly safe in his car seat, though tilted to one side.

Up - I have a new cot mattress on my bed so it?s finally comfy enough to sleep on.
Down - I don?t actually get to sleep on it much these days.

Up - I can finally eat anything I want without getting sick and throwing up!
Down - I still can?t eat chocolate or cabbage or avocado because they make the baby sick.

Up - Irving has tons of work for Lent and Semana Santa . . . he?s double booked most weekends, so his brother has to fill in for him.
Down - He?s gone all weekend. :(

Yup, there are lots of ups and downs. But they?re not THAT bad. I could really use more sleep, I?m feeling pretty sleep deprived. And a minute to myself without a baby wailing in the distance would be nice, but that will come. For now, we?re just trying to work out the best position on the couch that lets baby stay in the sling and Mama get a few minutes of shut eye.