Thursday, May 28, 2015

My first week back

Well, this week was a doozy.

I went back to work on Tuesday.

Predictably, Monday night after putting Olive to bed I started to feel that deep heartbreaking sadness that this lovely little period of our lives was over.  These last three months were like a dream, getting to know my girl, lots of ample time just the two of us.  Constant cuddles, daytime TV and Netflix, driving the brothers to where they needed to be everyday.  None of it was real life, bringing the boys to daycare and then heading right back home to a quiet home with my very calm and easygoing and sweet little baby... not real life.  But I guess it was, sort of.  For the last three months it was our life.  That's what Olive and I grew to know, and it felt extravagant and peaceful in all of the best ways.

But all of that is over now, whether I like it or not, so we must carry on I suppose.


So as I packed the pump bag with little yellow bottles and plastic parts, as I made my turkey sandwich and washed some berries and threw a Diet Coke in my bag... I tried not to think about it.


Dan hugged me there in the kitchen and said it's all going to be okay and with a lump in my throat I agreed with him.  Of course it will be okay, we've been through this twice before, but surprisingly that doesn't seem to make it any easier.

I love her so much and I love this precious newborn time so much and now I have to go back to WORK.  And me and this girl, well we know each other on this level that no one else does.  It has been her and me for her whole life.  And now she will have to start to get used to this new life that does not include me always being there.  

Gosh, I have so been here before, these are the EXACT same feelings I had when I went back to work after having both Gus and Louie.  It's kind of comforting that the feelings don't really change, regardless of perspective.  It's still sad.  And that's totally okay.

So Olive is officially my most stubborn baby with the bottle.  Gus never had a problem taking a bottle, Louie fought us all the way until two days before I went back to work, but after that didn't really have a problem.  And Olive.  Well... Olive is ridiculous.  She's all, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

Dan's sister Maria is watching her this summer at our house, which I am so so so thankful for.  I would have been even more of a wreck if I had to drop a baby off at daycare still refusing to take a bottle.  Tuesday she drank about 1 to 1.5 ounces all day.  9 hours.  Yeah. 

That night I got her to drink about an ounce out of a different bottle with an orthodontic latex nipple, so Maria tried that one and a number of other bottles on Wednesday... but it was more of the same.  She drank maaaybe 2 ounces.  She will latch, sometimes, but then very quickly gets pissed.

Then last night I again tried with yet another nipple and she took 2 ounces from me out of that, so I felt some hope.  And I sit here tonight so grateful to be able to say that Maria MAY have had a breakthrough today, at about 3:00, when she finally downed a damn bottle.  We kept telling ourselves that she just had to get hungry enough, that it was just a matter of time.  Well I guess it took 3 days of starving herself for her to get hungry enough.


We'll see.  I'm not going to declare victory yet, and let's hope next week isn't just more of the same, because this one was emotionally and physically draining for all involved.  Especially poor little Olive, who was just strung out by the time I walked in the door each night (after sitting in traffic for 45 minutes stressing out about the whole situation.)

And my mind goes to crazy places when I feel like any one of my children's basic needs aren't being met.  Like, "She's never going to drink from a bottle, and she's going to start losing weight and stop thriving and I should just quit my job because clearly my baby needs me and we are torturing her and I pumped 14 ounces today so that's 14 ounces that she is essentially not getting and oh my goodness her poor little tummy must feel so hungry..." and on and on and so on forever and ever.

Well I've done my very best each evening this week to nurse her to her heart's content.  Constant nursing, multiple let downs in each session, dream-feeds, doing everything I can to fill this girl's belly.  Amazingly, she's still pretty much been sleeping through the night all week long.  Each night she has started stirring at about 4:00 am so I just got her up then and focused on getting her a really good feeding.  But that's it.  About 8:00 pm to 4:00 am and then back down until 6:30 or so.  I really can't complain too much, even when she's being a psycho bottle--refuser she's still so laid back and such a good little sleeper.

Oh and the poor boys have been completely neglected all week, because I just can't even deal with them right now.  I know that is so terrible, but it's the truth.  I have made some effort to engage with each of them, but mentally I have been so consumed with all of this absurdity.  And like I said I've spent each evening basically on the couch nursing their sister.  Wednesday night Dan had softball so he was gone all evening.  And... yeah.  That night was not my finest evening of parenting.  I just didn't even want to put Olive down, because I felt so much guilt about essentially abandoning her to starve herself all day, but I had to somehow feed the boys dinner and get the dishes done and play with them and read stories and put them to bed and then pick up the whole house because the cleaning lady was coming the next day.  I'll say this, I can't even count how many times I had to apologize to each kid for being quick to yell or snap at them.  I kept telling them that I was sorry, and that I wasn't mad at them, I was just feeling really sad and stressed that their sister wouldn't eat when I was at work. 

I didn't even want to write about all of this because I'm just sick of it taking over our lives, but I figured it might be nice to remember all of this torture she put us through and have the ability to throw it in her face when she's 16 and giving us a run for our money.  ;)

Tomorrow is Friday, Hallelujah! I am done with work for the week and I get to sleep in, or at least lounge around the house, with my baby and be with her all day and be her mom and make her feel safe and hopefully actually be a mother to the boys.  I have high hopes for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.

One week down.  Check.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saying Goodbye

My grandpa died last Thursday.

He's been suffering from congenital heart failure and a miriad of other old-age things for the last three or four months, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I had the realization that his time with us in this life was limited.  

He was 87 years old, and he lived an incredibly adventurous life, filled with travel and laughter and faith, as well as service to others. It was a good life.  He left his mark.  But still, I'd be full of it if I didn't say that his passing felt way too soon.  He was just this incredible presence of a person and I can't believe he's not here anymore.  The last three days of celebrating his life and mourning our loss as a family have been almost dreamlike, none of it seems real.  

This is, of course, Gus and Louie's first time dealing with the death of someone close to them.  New parenting territory, that's for sure, but I think we provided the boys with enough grace, time, and the right information so that they were able to process my grandpa's death in an age appropriate way.  Who knows though, I mean I'm not even quite sure how to process all of this.  Death is scary, and we don't know what happens after we leave this life.  I have faith that there's a heaven, that God is real, but when life throws something like this at you, when death is suddenly such a tangible thing... I just... well we don't really know, do we?

Heaven is a very comforting thing to believe in, and I am glad we can give that to our kids.  We told the boys that grandpa's spirit went to heaven.  That his body is still here, but he isn't, he's in a better place and he's not sick there.  Gus asked me if an angel came to get him and I told him that I hope so.  I hope grandpa had someone wonderful to guide the way to heaven.  Both boys really wanted to see his body.  Like, we walked into the visitation on Sunday night and the first thing they said was, "I want to go see grandpa."

So that was surreal.  And sad.  I'm so glad both boys got to see and talk to him in the hospital on Tuesday because yeah.  His body.  Well it definitely didn't quite look like him.

Louie is a bit all over the place, and at three years old I can't imagine he'll remember any of this, and I really doubt he fully understands. He acted out quite a bit actually, and was pretty much insane all weekend long.  So there are three of them now, (WE HAVE THREE KIDS, WHAT?!) and Dan spent a lot of time managing the boys so I could visit with family and make all the small talk and be there for everyone else, as well as have a chance to grieve, myself.  But on Monday, right before the funeral was to start, after a morning of trying to control a three year old who was just flat out nuts, not listening, running away, rolling on the floor, Dan laid it all out for me.  "He needs you.  You need to just hand over the baby to someone and deal with Louie.  You are the only one he wants."  He was right, of course.  He may not have been able to explain how he was feeling, or even understand it himself, but he needed his mom.  I held him through most of the service, rubbed his back when he got antsy, held his hand.  And he made it through.  He did great actually.  Sometimes you just need your mom and you don't even know why, and that was exactly what Louie was going through.  

Gus is old enough to have a lot of questions.  There have been a lot of moments with him over the last week where it was very clear that he's processing this all on his own time, something's going on in that cute little noggin.  What he has wanted is information.  The truth.  And lots and lots of reassurance that this isn't going to happen to any of us anytime soon.

"How old was grandpa again?  He was 87?  Louie, grandpa was 87 year old!  That's really old.  And he was sick.  I'm not old, and you're not old, mom's 33 and that's a long way from 87.  We're not going to die.  We're healthy, and we're not old."

Last week in the car he said to me, "Mom, Jesus died, and then he rose again.  I wish Grandpa Winkelman could rise from the dead."  I told him that was a special Jesus thing (Ha!) and he said, "Yeah, I know.  But I wish he could."

Yesterday we buried my grandpa at the little cemetery near the family cabin, after a very emotional and exhausting few days with the visitation and the funeral.  Really, aside from the reason we were all together, it was a good few days.  I spent a lot of time with my brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins, catching up, drinking beer, and of course telling stories about my grandpa and reminiscing about the past.  It felt good to be together.  My grandpa loved his family, was so proud of everyone and loved having us all together, and I know if he's looking down on us somewhere he appreciated that his death brought us all a little closer.  That this family isn't going to stop being family without him.

Last night in the bath Gus looked at Dan and said something about Grandpa Winkelman.  About how he's really gone.  Dan told him that yeah, Great-Grandpa isn't here anymore and no, he's not coming back.  You're not going to be able to sit on his knee anymore, he's not going to tease you with silly songs ever again.  And then Gus got that face.  He looked up at him with tears in his eyes, the corners of his mouth turned down.

I'm sure there will be more moments like this.  And more moments for me as well.  Like the first holiday without him.  Father's day.  Or Gus's birthday in September.

He will be so missed.