Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Day in the Life at 6 Weeks Postpartum

Chris is back to work, his parents are gone home, and now Grampa Neil is gone too. Today was one of those days that made me think irritably that it had better prove true what I'm told by older women: that "the days are long but the years are short." These days are sure long!

I look at women with large families and I really think they have it all together, but the truth that I'm coming to hear confided in me if ever I ask them is that they're figuring it out day by day. At some point, there is no more "having it all together." There is just trying one's best, asking advice of wise women who have gone before, and leaning on God's providence.

And so far, with number five, I feel like my best looks more like a fish flopping around pathetically.

A Day in the Life at 6 Weeks Postpartum

Mama was awake for two one-hour stretches last night, which are long wakings for Thomas at the ripe old age of 6 weeks.

5:00 Baby wakes too early, laughs and coos till 6:30 when he falls asleep in my arms. I dare not set him down.

I took this video of Thomas smiling in the afternoon as an example of his early morning cuteness.

Mama can't go back to sleep but just lies there holding the baby so I can rest.

6:40 Margaret comes in to tell me that she is awake; I send her away.

7:20 Margaret comes back to tell me she's going to read a book in her room.

7:30 Joseph comes in to snuggle with me. He wakes up the baby. I get up.

There is a standoff at morning prayers with a child who plays mute. After about an hour of various discipline, the child agrees to pray. Child skips breakfast in protest and the kitchen closes.

I grab a cheese stick (all the kids got themselves cereal but I've been awake for three hours without food) while I escort four kids upstairs to get dressed. John holds baby while he screams--being out of mama's arms--while I race around pell-mell helping everyone. It is a success that I brush my hair before pulling hair into a frizzy pony tail; some days I don't even have time to brush my hair.

Told the kids I hoped to make homemade pancakes (which I haven't done in months). They get their hopes up. Instead I served frozen waffles.

I pump milk with two kids watching cartoons, telling other two to do their independent school work. One child flatly refuses. Discipline.

Try teaching school again. Standoff with a child over capital letters. No adult can ever know anything as this child knows everything and makes sure every adult knows he or she is ignorant and wrong. 15-minute time out, then sent to principal's office. Doing math with other child.

It took an hour of two parents disciplining to get child to admit that capital letters are big and lower case are little. I realize that today is going to be about one child learning respect and me learning surrender rather than anyone learning academics. I pray to accept this and want to cry.

Meanwhile, Margaret is playing piano and Joseph playing in sun room except he keeps escaping to back yard. Send Margaret out to back yard with him. Feel like a loser parent for assigning a 4-year-old to babysit a 2-year-old.

I've been holding baby for about three hours now. Baby falls asleep in sling and I dare to try to set him down in swing.

Trying to catch up on about six loads of laundry. Laundry is everywhere.

Within 5 minutes, baby has woken and is screaming bloody murder. So much for folding laundry. This is why laundry is piled everywhere.

I nurse Thomas while teaching math and he poops everywhere on himself and on me. Assign John to babysit Margaret and Joseph, and bring Mary with me to administer a baby bath and change both our outfits. The baby screams a lot because he wants to be napping but is being bathed instead. Feed baby a bottle.

Margaret gets injured outside.

Mama wants to cry or scream.

Children are getting their own food out of the kitchen without asking and eating it while they wander around the house. I don't even say anything because I can't enforce the rule right now.

Go downstairs and turn on Mr. Wizard for "science." Lock back door so no kids can escape. Nurse baby. He spits up profusely so I need a new outfit.

Standoff with child about using white board pens. Child ruins own outfit with permanent marker and throws school books on the ground in protest of me. Discipline.

Assign John to practice piano. Assign another child to fold towels. Get baby to sleep in my sling. Child throws clean towels on the floor in anger at me. Discipline. I fold the next load of laundry and put in a new one.

Assign John to read his literature chapter from "The Lost World."

Joseph hits sister several times with a sword, bursts in repeatedly on John reading, and keeps throwing my desk supplies on the ground. I put on a TV show to babysit him and feel like one lame parent.

Give Margaret a reading lesson. Mary is just playing by herself and I have no energy to assign her schoolwork or chores. I'm still holding the sleeping baby.

11:45 a.m. Tell kids to play for 15 minutes while I check Facebook. I am so tired.

I ask Mary to make lunch for everyone while I pump milk and she cheerfully agrees. Small mercies. I set down sleeping baby and he stays asleep. More mercy.

I scarf deli potato salad and teach children to load their own music backpacks.

The babysitter arrives to watch the 2-and 4-year-olds and I think I hear a chorus of angels.

I turn into a screaming lunatic when John and Mary interpret my instructions to get their shoes on in the garage and load into the car to mean disappear in the depths of the house and not respond to my calling for them repeatedly.

I try to load the sleeping baby and rascally children in the car but discover that it is packed to the gills with bicycles from last night's bicycle ride. I now choose to stop screaming and become "scary quiet" while I unload bicycles.

Recite our CCE memory work while we drive--school on the go.

1:00-2:15 music lessons

I arrive home and take one blessed hour to nurse the baby, pump, then bottle-feed the baby--without interruptions!!!--because the babysitter is still here.

4:00 Come back downstairs with baby to check email, fold another load of laundry, direct various kids to do afternoon chores.

5:00 Let the kids watch a TV show: "How Things Are Made," which I hope counts as a "science" for homeschool. Open freezer and ponder dejectedly what meal to make that my kids can complain about tonight. Of course, I haven't managed to make a meal plan for this week.

So far postpartum, I don't think I've completely made a dinner for my family yet. I began making simple fare of hot dogs, canned soup, and frozen peas when the baby began crying because I'd stopped holding him ten minutes before. He wasn't satisfied by big sister holding him, so I took over Baby Duty while Chris took over Dinner Duty--as usual. Thank you, honey!

While holding the baby, for only the second time in his life, he rejected a bottle in favor of His Real Mama, which made me feel delighted. He is making progress in learning how to nurse!

At dinner, Mary complimented the soup and asked, "Who made this soup?" I said that I bought it store-made from Costco and she said encouragingly, "Well, you still heated it up!" Oh dear, we really have sunk that low. I haven't actually cooked anything in months.

After dinner, I offered to do the dishes if Chris would hold the baby, just so I could have a break from holding the little guy. He's cute, but I'm definitely "touched out" by the end of each day.

6:30-7:30 Chris and both boys go to the store to buy a soccer ball. I manage some computer time (while simultaneously holding the baby--a circus trick!) while the girls play a sweet game outside making up their own language. The girls cover themselves in dirt glued on with melted Fudgesicles.

Girls take a bath, I nurse baby to sleep, boys come home.

7:38 I set deeply sleeping baby down.

7:42 Baby rustles awake. He's no dummy.

I get baby back to sleep in my sling while reading a story book to Joseph. I direct girls in bedtime routine while Chris gets the boys settled and Joseph asleep. I read a chapter of "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic" to Margaret.

9:15 FINALLY, I SET DOWN THE BABY AND HE STAYS ASLEEP. I have been holding him for nine hours straight.

Evening routine of racing around to do a little bit of cleaning up, last pumping before bed (and I'll pump overnight too), and feeling successful if I can brush my teeth.

This too shall pass, right?


  1. This too shall pass. You are doing an AMAZING job. Heck, even your television choices are inspiring because Mr. Wizard and How It's Made definitely count as science. I read something on a blog that said, basically, when you need to resort to television for a babysitter, remember that is OK. You're giving your children a whole person they'll have for the rest of their lives in a sibling. This small and short period of time is barely a blip on the radar compared with the generosity and gift of that sibling. So don't sweat it. This phase and season will pass and the TV will recede into the background.

  2. I just lost my long comment....oh are amazing!!!! Hope you can take a nap this weekend! Sorry these days are so hard!!

  3. You're an overachiever. :) "I don't even say anything because I can't enforce the rule right now." Yes, this describes the first 10 years of parenting for me. Did you see my walls at the Mableton house? LOL