Monday, September 23, 2013

State of the Union (SOTU): August

Each day this week I will provide a SOTU for a member of the family. I mean, how perfect that there are five days in a week, and then 2 extra for overage since I am pretty certain I won't be able to write all 5 SOTUs tonight and schedule them out all week.

If my lapses in posting reflect anything, it's the family unit's SOTU in general:
CRAY CRAY.
Why yes. I used that tired phrase. It's far easier to say than "crazy" and most days I'm lucky enough to get English out of my mouth, let alone commit to using more than two consonants in a word.

But amid the insanity, there is such deep rooted happiness and appreciation for a full life. And I have to thank *THIS GUY* in large part:


I mean...puh-LEAZE (I felt bad about "cray" so added a "Z" in here.)

SOTU: August Meyer
 
Over the course of my pregnancy, and even after having Gus, I heard stories and commentary about how 3 children is the hardest number to have. Apparently parenthood only works in even numbers. I've been told that God must "hate" me for having 3 boys. (Oh, to see that father again and knock him over the head with the comeback comments about sperm, chromosomes, and menstruation that have flooded my head since that afternoon.) And I confess--3 is HARD. 3 is TIRING. But it's downright amazing. (Shout out to this great post on third kids.) I was a third kid, and overall, am pretty darn happy that I'm here.
 
I remember once we had 2 kids, I kept thinking "how did I ever complain with just ONE!?!?" Two kids was just so much more difficult. I fell into that pit of wanting to say to every mom of one baby "oh, you have *NO* idea. Just wait until you have another." You know, like a good, annoying mother of a second child tends to do. No judgement...it's just a rite of passage I think many of us have taken.
 
But then over the course of time you adopt an invisible third hand (If Eric read this, some sort of naughty joke will be coursing through his brain), and you find yourself multitasking and doing impossible feats like nursing a baby while making your toddler homemade fruit roll ups, folding laundry, and finishing a work PowerPoint right after you put in a second load of whites and switch boobs.
 
Then #3 comes. And you would imagine that one would feel even more inclined to say to those with 1 or 2 kids: "oh, you have *NO* idea. You think 2 is hard? Ha!" But you know what? That thought rarely crosses my mind. Instead, I quite often feel a great sense of completeness with 3. Sometimes, I admit in full disclosure, I do want to say "you have *NO* idea," but the unsaid second half of the sentence is not that it's impossibly hard having 3, but that it's sometimes so much more rewarding than having 2...for our family. But then I remember--different strokes for different folks. Sure, it's substantially harder than having 2, but seeing how this particular baby has completed our family just overwhelms me with gratitude most days. Which is a blessing because admittedly, days can be long, hard, and emotionally taxing with 5 yo, 3 yo, infant, and full time job. Oh, and don't forget a marriage to tend to.

Case in point. Tonight at our Sunday Family Meeting, Eric's weekly "I love Gus because..." contribution was that he had kooky hair and didn't care. And Gus's reaction to us talking about his hair was hysterical. He was sort of shocked and tickled and just started being silly. The next thing you know, all five of us are laughing so hard that I'm pretty sure at least one of us will have to change underwear. It was 20 seconds of sheer joy. And those moments are ones when I realize, "yeah, this kid is meant to be here." (I also found it both cute and annoying that Miles kept asking us to repeat the phrase so that we could all laugh like we did the first time. He still hasn't come to grips with the idea of spontaneous laughter and how it's impossible to "recreate.")

If I had to sum up the SOTU: August Meyer in 1 word, it would be "Chalm." That's "chill" and "calm". And sort of sounds like a Trader Joe's frozen Indian dish.
 
By #3, a little of this (see below) doesn't FREAK THE YOU KNOW WHAT out of me as much as amuse me:
 

 
 
And generally, I'm a much calmer parent. Whether it's due to experience, exhaustion, or just a lack of time, I think it has made my appreciation for Gus all the more robust and dedicated.
 
Gus is doing great. Brother is certainly not hurting for calories. So let me say, don't let anyone tell you that chest size has any bearing on quality and quantity of milk production. Even with his penchant for making some Jackson Pollacks on his bib area (see above), he doesn't lose enough calories to avoid thunder thighs (nomnom) and cheeks where he is apparently squirreling away something yummy. He's a good nurser (yup, we are still up in the middle of the night), and takes to a bottle fine. He likes a good pacifier, but isn't showing signs of needing a 12-step program.  He's sweet. He's a flirt. He's generally a pretty quiet observer. He seems delightfully typical (ie, he wasn't premature, he doesn't have PT, his sleep is fair).
 



He melts my heart every morning when we get up together. He watches his brothers so intently and I know is going to want to follow in their foot steps (just don't pull the whole "I can't walk" bid-ness that your bro's do when they are clearly capable of walking, m'kay?)

He rolls from his back to his tummy, but isn't terribly advanced in the gross motor development. He just drinks breast milk. Lots and lots of it. But I think is getting interested in table food, so in the next month or so, we may set up a splash area and give him some avocado chunks and have him go at it.

Sleep. It happens. And that's all I'm going to comment on. He falls within the normal range of what breastfed babies do at this age. Have I thought of doing some more formal sleep training? Sure. But I am not there, yet.

By far he is my easiest baby.
By far, though, he has gotten the least amount of undivided attention of all 3 kids.
But by far, he has contributed to this family in ways that one cannot even begin to describe.

What I am loving the most is that he is developing into his own little person. Miles and Felix tend to be such polar opposites there was a part of me that was wondering if #3 would just get lost in the middle. And yes, part of me was hoping if we had a girl, that her sex would help differentiate her. But the truth is, Gus is so individual and lovely and delightful in his own ways. Personality doesn't exist on a bifurcated pole (Insert private joke for Eric--a stopped clock...you know the rest).

One area I have found truly interesting is how different each of my children have nursed. Miles was a comfort nurser who just lounged and lingered nursing for hours upon hours. Felix was like a breastfeeding mullet: business on the nipple, party at the feet. He nursed only until full, all the while kicking and partying with his legs, then popped off and was all "okay, what structure can I launch from?"

Gus tends to be more of a comfort nurser, but he also does so many of those mid-nursing smiles it's just to die for. He doesn't pop off, but I am also not doing the Pantley pull off method thinking I'm emotionally scarring my child when  he is acting as though I am withdrawing life support. He's pretty much nursed with me everywhere in public, but is also fine taking bottles. And the truth is, sometimes nursing Gus is the quietest time I get in my day. It's when I dream about our family's life and watch him gently stroke his own little hairline and eyes. And more than not, he grabs my two fingers and just holds them. You know, I get the same butterflies I did when Eric held my hand for the first time.

I recently read a passage from Kundeera's Life is Elsewhere, and if you can put any of your discomfort about breastfeeding aside (because I know one or two of you have cringed at me writing about breastfeeding), I think this truly sums up the experience I have with Gus:

“...a wave of sweet vibration thrilled deep inside and radiated to all parts of her body; it was similar to love, but it went beyond a lover's caress, it brought a great calm happiness, a great happy calm.”

and:

“She lovingly watched the fish like motions of the toothless mouth and she imagined that with her milk there flowed into her little son her deepest thoughts, concepts, and
dreams.”
 

Is it possible to be proud of a 5 month old for an intangible reason that just hits you so deep in the core that you feel like this child was so very much meant to be in your life?

I'm here to tell you that yes. Yes it's possible.

3 comments:

  1. What a cutie!
    I support the use of "cray cray." I actually think it connotes something more crazy than "crazy."

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  2. This so just hit a chord within in me. I am so in love with my 8 month old for such intangible reasons as well; the way she smiles at the best moments, the way she has just folded herself into our lives like she's always been there, and the way her different and unique personality feels like it has always belonged in our family; she was just waiting to announce her presence. I was just saying to my friend the other day that before I had her, I could only see my family with one child, and had no idea how another would fit in. And now, she's been with us 8 months, and all I can think of is that I can't imagine our family without her. She's the perfect fit. Thanks for this.

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  3. awwww great post. i agree with maura in full support of using cray cray.

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