So…in the space of a week my husband and I officially, legally became the parents of 3 children!
First, our 2 gorgeous daughters, whose adoption was finalized on October 16, 2015.
Second, the birth of our son on October 22, 2015.
And then we were a family of 5.
And they lived happily ever after!
Oh, except for…
sleepless nights…which turn into harried mornings where we miss the bus,
attachment issues revisited,
the barrage of colds and flus on stressed out bodies,
the physical recovery after being stretched to 10 cm (have you looked at that on a ruler!? 10 cm!!)
The impossible balance of learning how to divide your time between 3 little people and realizing that means you’re never, ever alone!
The never ending “Can I hold Karter?”…which turns into a competition of
“Is it my turn yet?”
“I think he wants me.”
“Mommy, she won’t give me a turn!”
“Don’t pull his arms!”
and the inevitable cry of a baby.
Lest you all jump to the conclusion after my last two posts that we are living in some sort of sparkle land filled with rainbows and unicorns I thought I better fill you in on the realities of life around here.
Let me clarify.
We are incredibly blessed and over the moon in love with our little man, but the arrival of a new little person in a home invariably means adjustments for all involved and we are no different.
Throw adoption in the mix and some of you will understand very well what I mean when I say that a new baby triggers all kinds of emotions, memories and insecurities that make their appearance in all kinds of erratic behaviour! (Aka: a little bird chirping in its nest…really?!?! Sigh. Don’t even ask.) Despite one’s deepest determination to be sensitive and kind and gentle and patient…the notes home, phone calls from school, jealousy, defiance…it all gets old really fast even when you know your child is struggling with feelings of insecurity. It’s so much easier to say that you’re going to pick your battles and leave the ones that don’t matter. So much easier. I’d like to say I’ve responded perfectly every time in the last month, but that would be lying. I’m never a perfect parent and lack of sleep apparently doesn’t make it easier!
And then there’s the hormones.
They’re actually real!
I really never thought I’d be that Mom that was flooded with all kinds of thoughts and emotions that to anyone else seem completely irrational!
Leaving the hospital I totally had “that” moment. The one where I froze inside and went, “They’re actually letting me take him home?!” Which was followed by the intense desire to run back the other way and keep my newborn safe inside the hospital walls.
I had to force myself to let other people hold him the first few days and I could hardly bear to watch him lying somewhere not being held even if he was perfectly peaceful and content.
I didn’t turn off the lamp in the nursery at night for at least a week…just because it felt so dark!
Karter slept in his crib instead of his bassinet for the very first time last night. One month old. The difference being only that the bassinet is small and cozy and the crib is just so, so big!
I’ve cried. A lot.
I’ve been irritable and easily overwhelmed.
I’ve called my sister at 5 o’clock in the afternoon in tears with the words, “I’m a terrible Mom!” and “I am so tired!”
And the crazy thing?
I’ve had such an easy baby! All this with the sweetest little angel on the planet. He is so chill and just such a happy, content little guy.
But you know what?
It’s still an adjustment. It’s still a huge life change. You’re still inevitably going to go through that moment where you panic mentally and go, “What have I done?! Can I handle this?!”
But I knew that was coming. I’ve experienced that moment of panic every single time a new child has entered our home. And it’s perfectly ok.
What’s made a huge difference is something a friend of mine told me…no, showed me.
With her third child she made a conscious decision while she was pregnant that no matter what, she was going to enjoy this baby! She was going to hold him as much as possible. She was not going to complain about the sleepless nights and the aching breasts and the dirty diapers. She was going to choose to see this tiny human being as God sees him…a wonderfully, beautifully crafted gift meant to be treasured.
I watched her love her little boy so beautifully over the next year, and I saw Jesus in her.
That made a huge impression on me, and I knew I wanted to do that…to feel that.
I wanted to be the Mommy who sees my children as blessings.
To see every moment as one of a kind; a gift I get to enjoy.
So I’ve been trying really hard.
When it’s 2:15 am and I’m bleary eyed in the rocking chair, I’m trying to remember to look down at that little boy and trace the lines of his face.
When I hear his cry while I’m busy I am trying to remember that he is so much more important than anything else I could be doing.
When he poops all over the clean diaper I am just about to put on, the change table, the floor, the door, my hands…I am trying to grin and just shake my head that he got me…again!
When I can hardly see over the car seat perched on my shopping cart I am trying to take the time to notice the joy in the eyes of the old woman who stops to peek at my precious cargo.
I am trying.
To see my children as Jesus saw the ones He scooped up in His arms and loved.
To love my children and offer them grace even when they don’t comply with my schedule or my plans.
To remember that my daughters are still healing, still growing, still learning my love is limitless.
To face the realities of children damaged by trauma and prenatal alcohol exposure with courage and unwavering optimism even when the trenches feel dark.
I am trying to say yes more than no; to ask “Does it really matter?”
To draw her body close for a cuddle even though my personal bubble is screaming not to be touched!
To cheerfully repeat instructions the third, fourth, fifth, tenth time.
And most of all I am trying to count my blessings every day.
I am so incredibly blessed.
That is the one thing I want to sing to the world. I want everyone that sees me to see in my eyes that these little people are valued. That their lives are cherished and nurtured. That I believe they were created in the image of God.
He has been so good to me.
So are we blissfully revelling in a happily ever after wonderland?
But we are very blessed and honestly…
I wouldn’t trade any of it.
It’s mine, and I’m blessed to own each and every little flaw of our life’s canvas.
We’re real, we’re scarred and we’re a little cranky some days.
Still a masterpiece in the making!