And then there were five of us.
It's still so strange to me, because for many minutes of almost every day, I still feel like I am my twelve year old self... Just with a job and a few wrinkles and car keys and a mortgage... And THREE kids. THREE.
In the months leading up to Erez's birth, I was told by many friends, acquaintances and strangers that the third child CHANGES EVERYTHING. I was told that my husband and I would henceforth be outnumbered and powerless in our own household, that we would instantly age by about ten years, and that the only way to get through parenting more than two children is to not care about anything. I always half believed these folks and half thought "meh, it can't be THAT bad!"
And it's not. THAT. BAD. But in the month since Erez was born, I have come to nickname our home "Casa de Chaos" as a term of endearment. Our bundle of joy came with a bundle of adjustments for everyone in our family, and we are all still acclimating, slowly but surely.
Erez himself is adorable. He is tiny, cuddly, sounds like a pug dog, and has eyes that seem to fill up his entire face. For the first week of his life, Erez was such a super calm baby that I almost thought something might be wrong with him. Then I brought him home from the hospital.
I honestly feel bad for the kid. He went from the cushy warmth and serenity of my womb to the quiet sterile tranquility of the hospital to the absolute madness of our home. His siblings love to get right up in his face and squeal at him or shake things at him, try to dance with his tiny body, and seem to have screaming contests whenever he is trying to nap.
And then there are the digestive issues. His first formula made him gassy and fussy. The second formula made him constipated and fussy. He went from being a happy baby to a very very sad and cranky baby right around week three, I believe mostly because his system just wasn't dealing with the nourishment he was taking in. The third formula seems to have made him a much happier, calmer baby again. Fingers crossed.
Generally, Erez seems like my "old soul" baby. I can't quite describe why I feel this way, and maybe my perception will change as he grows, but his little face seems wise, serious, concerned. He smiled at me this morning and I was so thrown for a loop, because I have gotten so used to his furrowed brow and pensive expressions.
As for the rest of us, well, Oren probably had the worst of it. He went from being my baby boy to needing to compete for lap time and hugs. Shortly after Erez came home, Oren started waking frequently at night, having more nightmares, throwing more tantrums, getting more boo boos, and just generally being super sensitive. He seems to have settled in to the new normal a bit and the anxiety seems to be waning, but my heart definitely broke a little bit for him. If I could somehow add hours to the day, I would add an hour where I could just hug Oren and make sure he knows that he is (and will always be) my beautiful little boy.
Ember has been awesome. She has taken on the role of older older sister like a champion. She wants to hug the baby, feed the baby, carry the baby, and I think she thinks she could do a better job than me raising Erez. She has acclimated and compromised without much fuss, just the occasional need for lots of attention. Her ability to adapt to a pretty enormous change has really impressed me.
Chris is doing well, other than continuing his ongoing battle to get adequate sleep. He has been an amazing partner, doing all the stuff I have no time to do anymore, kissing my forehead and hugging me when I seem overwhelmed, and keeping this parenting gig light and fun and silly, even in the stressful moments. It goes without saying that I wouldbe nowhere without him. Actually, scratch that. I would totally be in an asylum without him.
And me? After getting over the initial shock of what it is like to care for three kids, I am doing really well. I'm finding my groove. Yes, I still spend a great deal of my time feeling guilty over my inability to breastfeed the baby, over my upcoming return to work and Erez's daycare attendance at such a super young age, over my lack of availability to Ember and Oren, over my talent for eating a crap ton of chocolate even as I finally attempt to reclaim my body after five years of pregnancies and surgeries. The list of things I feel guilty about is truly endless. But I have always been rather good at beating myself up over things I both can and can't control. The good news is I am also getting better at recognizing my own limitations, patting myself on the back for staying sane and positive (most of the time), and appreciating all that I have, which is SO VERY much, especially now that we are a party of five.