Well February was kind to us, and we are looking forward to another new month and hopefully some warmer weather. It would be fun if this were the month we meet our newest addition - I am hopeful for an early delivery! We managed to keep everyone healthy last month, which seemed to require more effort than usual. We kept the kids out of the church nursery and public play places, tried to pay more attention to hand washing and sanitizers, wipes, eating balanced meals with lots of fruits and veggies, and guarding our rest times, and it seems to have paid off. A little extreme? Probably. But my sanity was at stake, and a pregnant momma can only take so many sleepless, worry filled nights of little kids coughing and vomiting, and I had exceeded my limit. It seemed like every time we came home from Sunday School or Monkey Bizness, someone was coming down with something. (My theory is their immune systems were weakened and having a hard time fighting off anything! I don't know if that is even possible but it seemed like our reality.) So we are looking forward to getting back into a more balanced, regular routine and activities... but for now it's important for us to pace ourselves.
I'm so thankful for the kids' health right now because as soon as we got that under control, I started to get much more uncomfortable with the pregnancy. The baby is definitely starting to drop, and I had forgotten what that felt like since Ellie was a breech baby! Many of the baby's movements now cause sharp shooting pains, the need to stop and be still or take a deep breath, and especially at night as I'm trying to fall asleep the need to change positions. Like my other two, this little one gets the hiccups frequently. Like Robbie, this one seems to have a foot poised just under my right ribcage and I have never wished for a longer torso more than I do when I am pregnant. My poor babes just run out of room to stretch and grow.
I thought, heading into this third pregnancy, how nice it would be not to be too surprised or worried about things since I've done this twice already (and not so long ago!). But like they say, every pregnancy is different. And while I haven't worried as much about things I tended to obsess over during my pregnancy with Robbie (blue cheese! caffeine! never skip the prenatal vitamin! don't lift anything over 8 lbs! hahaha...), and have felt much less anxiety about the birth and even bringing home an infant, this past weekend I was thrown a little curveball. Friday I was pretty uncomfortable in general - the baby seemed to be moving and changing positions a lot, and my stomach muscles were shot as I had not been cautious about how much I lifted and physically managed Robbie and Ellie throughout the week. By late Saturday night, after a fairly busy day that involved lots of activity and carrying/lifting the kids, I was having very real contractions and lower back pain. It was horrible and totally surprised me, since I didn't have a single painful contraction with either of the other two kids until the day I delivered both of them. They finally subsided after about 2 hours and since they were never coming at regular intervals I held off on going into the hospital to be monitored. At my regular doctor's appointment on Monday, I was told that this is actually fairly normal for a third pregnancy and that I can even expect to have more contractions from here on out, and not to be alarmed unless they present a pattern and start to come close together. Yikes, that was not fun to hear although it definitely made me feel less anxious about having experienced contractions at 34 weeks.
I have been trying to keep our days quiet and restful so that I don't experience any unnecessary contractions - they are stubborn when they come and so painful I can't do anything else until they subside, thinking and breathing included. And on the days I overextend myself physically, getting comfortable and relaxed enough to simply fall asleep is a chore no matter how exhausted I am. Yeah, that doesn't pair very well with mothering 2 other very active, small children! So although we are past the whole avoid-germs-at-all-cost phase, we have now entered the don't-do-anything-that-begs-for-early-labor phase!
I've had to adjust my expectations a lot recently (again - this theme seems like it will be a permanent fixture in my life as a mom, and I'm getting a little better at not fighting it). We were hoping to potty train Robbie before the baby comes, but he is just not ready. Also on hold is the process of transitioning to a big boy bed. We've had weeks of success but more nights than we can count of him refusing to stay in bed regardless of the consequences, and nothing we do seems to remedy this situation. Offering rewards for staying in bed and consequences for getting out don't seem to affect him. He cannot help but take advantage of the opportunity to roam around and stay awake. Put up a baby gate and ignore him when he gets out of bed, you say? He has responded by stripping himself naked and peeing on the carpet or 'decorating' his walls with poop when it's available if left unattended for long amounts of time, as well as shoving so hard on the baby gate that he knocks it loose. That one was especially bad - at least poop wipes clean. Sharpie marker on my favorite sheets is forever (although it could have been worse!).
Anyways, we have decided that the best thing for Robbie and our family at this time is to continue to make attempts at potty training and big boy bed sleeping, but not push the issue. He will show us when he is ready and developmentally able to conquer these things! Does it stress me out? A little. Mainly because at this point I am coming to the realization that I might very well have 3 children in cribs at the same time. Um, that seems a bit much. But whatever - I will just be that mom with those kids for a little while! There are upsides to having all of my kids contained during sleep times, and at this point I'll choose to acknowledge and take advantage of those benefits, thank you very much.
Also decided was the need to accept more help than I am able to give out at this point in time. This has been so difficult for me. I love to pour out for others, to be there in critical or difficult times for those I love, and to do extra things that are thoughtful and spontaneously communicate love and care. This season for me has not left room to do these things, and I have struggled so much with that. Not only am I just not able to extend myself for others (physically and otherwise), but I simply cannot keep up with some of the day-to-day things that I typically don't think twice about. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, even physically keeping up with my active little kiddos! I am spent. Accepting help in the form of having the sitter come over more often, or letting my usual household chores be tended to by my mom or by Rob has been hard. I just love being the one to be involved or to accomplish these things. As often as it seems best, I am trying to let go of what I 'usually' do or accomplish, and accepting a lesser standard from myself as well as accepting help from others to make up the difference.
So thank you, February, for being kind. You didn't dump too much more snow on us, and you were cooperative with slowly warming temperatures that allowed for what snow we did have to melt slowly and avoid flooding. But more importantly you will be remembered as the month I learned to a greater degree the necessity of flexibility, letting go, and being kind to myself and to my family. I hope that with each passing month I continue to grow in my ability to look inward at my family and decide what is best for us as a unit, and for each of us individually. It is so tempting and easy to compare myself, my family and my kids in particular to others around us. But it's damaging in so many ways to do that, and it robs me of peace and contentment. There is so much joy and goodness to be found in this phase of life, and in each day, and I don't want to miss it.