1. My First Meal
I made my first dinner solo this week, so one month postpartum. That is thanks to so many generous folks from our parish bringing us meals, and to my husband for cobbling together dinners on the other nights.
I share this because other mothers of large families sharing their humbling 'smallness' has been of great and inspiring benefit to my spirit. No, one does not have to be perfectly competent to have many children.
I managed Breakfast for Dinner: frozen waffles, frozen sausages, and fried apples--that I peeled and sauteed myself! This delightful repast was served on the finest of paper plates.
This wasn't even my first attempt. I had tried to make dinner one night the week before, the baby wouldn't stop crying, everything was falling apart, and Chris finished work and found me just flailing about in the kitchen, with us past dinner time, and he stepped in and rescued me.
2. Meal Planning
I put a meal plan into effect this last week (although it turned out that not many of us were eating with the illness in the house). I wrote out a blank monthly calendar and wrote into it our regular outings that would affect preparing dinners: twice monthly altar server practice, Scottish dance Thursdays, YMCA classes, and so forth. Then I planned Week A meals and Week B meals, so there are only ten different meals served every 14 days, and then they repeat (so 20 different meals every 28 days).
And they are very simple meals.
They're so simple, I'm a bit too prideful to publish them on the blog. For example, one night I plan on regularly serving PB and J sandwiches. I remember years ago how shocked I was when I heard that one mother of over a dozen children served cold cereal to her children on game nights during sports season. Well, now, I 'get it.' Now I've got a lovely friend who gives her kids a big spoonful of peanut butter on a spoon when they come home from sports games and get ushered straight off to bed . . . and this time I thought the mother was brilliant.
Anyway, I don't have time or energy to be cooking anything interesting these days. Apparently, it is heroic of me to make frozen waffles and fixins with a crying newborn in my arms.
3. Sibling HelpersI find I'm going through this newborn phase differently with #6 than I did with the earlier babies, especially with the first three. I feel like I'm parenting as a team effort: I simply cannot do it alone.
I learned after the first two weeks of exclusive pumping that I needed to bring a child with me for every daytime pumping session. The second two weeks have gone so much better because I simply choose a child every time I have to pump. Even if the baby is asleep, I park a child next to the baby to watch him and pick him up if he wakes.
This practice results in my finding cute sibling selfies on my phone.
My children know so much more about baby care than I did. Mary (8) is my most devoted mama's helper, and I maintain that every newborn should come equipped with an eight-year-old sister. The dinner and evening hours are proving to be tough ones with a crying baby and frazzled mother. One evening, I was trying to manage all these things by myself when Mary took over with the baby and all went peacefully quiet. I found her curled up on the bed, with him in the crook of her arm and her face on the top of his head . . . exactly how I put him to sleep every night.
When my two biggest kids were both sick one night, and the baby was wailing without me as I ran to and fro during bedtime routine, Margaret (6) went to his side without my even asking. He went quiet, and I found her calmly reading "Jungle Book" in the master bedroom while supervising a very quiet, happy baby. She said matter-of-factly, "I knew to put David on his side, give him a pacifier, and put a blanket on him, and now he's happy." Which he was!
There was special privilege in having my first baby, when I could manage to do everything for him: I could hold him nonstop all day or rock him in peace and quiet as long as I wanted. While I truly miss being able to provide all comfort myself to my precious infant, there is also something special in having built a village that can take care of this little fellow, who will grow up feeling loved by a bunch of 'bigs.'
4. Baptism of David James
Sunday was David's baptism (click here). Joseph became sick that night, but then bounced back, so we thought it was a one-time event. (Foreshadowing: we were wrong!)
We cancelled Monday's doctor's appointment due to illness, but did manage some family errands. John is finally old enough to graduate from being a Junior Postulant to a Postulant, so he attended his first regular altar service practice as such.
On Tuesday began our YMCA classes of the fall: Track for John, and P.E. for the oldest four children. Don't think that stopped Thomas (2) from joining in: he ran about the periphery of the room where the P.E. classes for ages 4-7 was being held, jubilantly throwing balls, dancing, imitating all the exercises: he was a hoot!
By Tuesday night, kids were falling sick fast, so we cancelled another doctor's appointment on Wednesday, both Scottish Dance and a special Mass and veneration of the True Cross on Thursday, and CCE on Friday due to illness.
While the nation's news helicopters and drones were capturing footage of Hurricane Irma lashing Florida this week, a hurricane of a virulent vomiting illness was lashing us at home. As one who has fought such battles before, I recognize what I believe can only be my arch nemesis Norovirus. The look, the feel, the smell: they're all the signature of that beast of a virus which is so dramatically contagious and long-lived on surfaces of the home.
Of course, Noro struck me at my most vulnerable: while my husband was away all week on a business trip 3,000 miles away. In fact, she sneakily struck him too such that he flew to California, checked into his hotel, and became symptomatic just as the children were collapsing here at home.
Nine loads of laundry created the first night, me catching tiny snatches of sleep during that worst 24 hours in between changing the laundry loads in the dark, stripping sheets again, scrubbing carpet on my hands and knees while praying the newborn would stay asleep, multiple kids vomiting at once, changing their pajamas and mine repeatedly, using up latex gloves with rapidity . . .
The horror, the horror!
By Thursday, we were in the "calm" eye of the hurricane, so I decided to take all six children--no longer vomiting hourly but still weak, dehydrated, and clearly ill--to Urgent Care by myself to obtain more prescriptions for Zofran. By that night, I had three kids relapsing.
|Steam cleaning the carpet after the horror|
7. Nursing ProgressDavid chose this bizarre, busy week to make major strides in nursing capability! He achieved numerous milestones:
- Finally being able to transfer milk from the left side (previously, always 0 mL)
- Nursing up to 3 oz sometimes
- Reducing his need for overnight bottles from three, to two, to one, to one-half (because he's filling up on nursing)
- Occasionally rejecting a bottle of milk for the comfort of nursing
According to my rough calculations (and not all of this can be calculated), David is getting about half his milk directly from Mama! Soon he should be free of bottles! Please keep up the prayers for us.
For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum.