How to survive

Remarkably, having a third child isn't as hard as I thought it would be. I was envisioning utter chaos around here - constant wailing and productivity of any sort grinding to a complete halt - but it hasn't been like that. At least not yet. There is still the potential, guys. 

For now though, our life has been slightly crazier than having two children. That's pretty much all.

Going from non-parenthood to having Nora was one of the biggest shocks of my life. The jump to two children was notable for its seemingly illogical increase in physical work; we'd doubled the number of kids but it felt like an exponential difference. 

Two to three, so far: not that big a deal. The difficult times of day are still difficult. The issues are still the same. It's just that now I sometimes have to hold a baby while we're working it out.  

That doesn't mean being a mother to a newborn again isn't challenging. While taking care of Adriana is pure enjoyment - there's a true sense of relaxation in knowing the ropes - I'm still dealing with the physical and mental weirdness associated with that first month or two postpartum. Tired, loopy. Drained from caring for children and constant breastfeeding. My body isn't quite my own.

I feel particularly wiped out in the evening, naturally, and sometimes worry I won't be able to make it through the period from evening til the next morning's coffee. Nothing dismal. Just a quiet refusal. No more parenting. No talking to anybody. Nothing possible but coma-like sleep. Please. Just the sleep. 

Then - wait a second - you know what? Turns out I'm just hungry. I eat something, anything, and am bolstered by an immediate rush of energy. I am able to get our newborn fed and down for the night. I am able to contemplate life beyond this strange version of life. 

All of this is tempered, however, by my third-time-around knowledge that this will pass in the blink of an eye. So when people ask me how it's going, I answer, honestly, that it's wonderful. I am sleepy and forgetful, and our darling Gabriel is having a bit of a rough time adjusting to his new position as middle child (a subject that deserves its own blog post) but, OH MY GOD, that BABY. I could not love her more. All the difficulties I had the first time around - finding time to eat and shower, for instance - now seem fleeting and inconsequential. 

Still, as mentioned, by the end of each day I'm exhausted. And the difference between collapsing in defeat and collapsing while remaining optimistic about days ahead often has to do with small details in the way I spend my day. It's easy to self-sabotage when you're already a little off. By eating cookies for dinner, let's say, which seems like an excellent idea when all I can think about is ingesting as many calories as I can, as quickly as possible.

Luckily, it's also easy to take a little better care of yourself, and doing so seems to be the key to doing well. 

Parenting materials talk a lot about staying hydrated, resting when your baby rests, and having plenty of lean protein and vegetables. If you can do it, wonderful. But I find that even a semblance of conscientiousness goes a long way. Just a little common sense. 

During a late afternoon walk with the baby and my dogs this weekend, those moments of inevitable concern I feel at day's end - knowing that bedtime is close, but not quite close enough - started to recede. The sun and moderate amount of exercise worked wonders.

I thought, "Hey, I should do this more often!" And that realization was followed by others, like that I shouldn't wait until I'm experiencing extreme thirst to drink a glass of water, that watching good television is a perfectly good way to relax and that a five-minute nap is worth a million times more than scanning social media outlets when there is a rare period of downtime.

I'm not going to get it right every day - no parent is - but trying goes a long way. Then, before I know it, I'm going to be feeling more myself. The baby will be able to entertain herself with toys for a bit every now and then and this period of life will be a hazy memory. In newfound moments of quiet self-reflection, I'm sure that at least for a moment or two, I'll miss it.