Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Motherhood, the 4th time around, how I really feel...

This post is not my typical update of family fun and homeschool adventures.  This post is about my experience with starting all over again with a new baby.

So, there I was, in my 30's with an amazing husband and three beautiful children.  They were all growing up so fast.  We were becoming so much more independent in our comings and goings. No more diaper bags, carriages, changes of clothes, sippy cups etc.  We had left those burdensome baby days behind and our family was complete...or was it? 

After Ian was born, (almost 7 years ago now) so close to Isaac, I knew I was done with having babies for awhile.  Three kids in 4 years was plenty for me at the time.  I always joked that I would have another "batch" in my 30's.  And suddenly I found myself in my 30's mulling over that second "batch".  "Should we or shouldn't we?  Is it bad stewardship?  We can barely afford the three we already have.  Will I be able to give everyone the love and attention they need?  What about that big age gap?  If we have one more baby will I feel complete?" and the ultimate question "Is it God's will for our family?"  All of these questions rolled around in my head as my biological clock ticked louder and louder "Do it now before it's too late!"  All in all, I never came to a conclusion.  Instead, last year I was driving home from a science club that the kids were attending and a strange "knowing" came over me.  I had been talking with the other moms about babies and the struggle with knowing if we are "done" or not.  On the drive home, we were listening to a book on tape called Tia Lola Learns to Teach by Julia Alvarez.  In the story, Tia Lola explains a Dominican word.  The word is ñapa.  It means to have an unexpected extra, but always in a good way, like finding a 13th cookie in the dozen you bought. Suddenly, although it defied logic, I knew I was pregnant.  I came home, took a test and I was rather dumbfounded.  The questions in my head didn't change at all but the answer to the ultimate question had been given.  "Yes, it is God's will for our family to have another baby."  Oh the joy!!!  I was sooo excited.

 Was I a little apprehensive (and extremely nauseous for three months)?  Yes.  Did it dampen the joy one bit?  No.  One thing I was extra apprehensive about was how badly I wanted a girl.  I wanted a baby girl so much I was afraid to admit it.  I would have been disappointed to find out it was a boy (I can only say that now because Amelia is a girl, of course).  When we found out it was a girl, however, I knew that my strong desire for one must have come from God too, because He knew all along.

As the pregnancy progressed and the time came to finally meet our 4th child I was a bit anxious.  Anxious in the good way, as in anticipating and anxious in the bad way, as in worrying.  Labor?!  No thanks.  I'll be backing out now.  Yeah right.

As you know it all went smoothly and soon that baby girl was in my arms.  The most precious gift I had received in  6 years!  I can't even tell you how blessed I felt (feel) with her in my arms.  It was like winning a bonus.  She truly is our little ñapa.

Ok, I didn't anticipate such a long prologue but I didn't really plan this out.

 So, now I am 4 months into it and I can truly say that I am enjoying every minute of having another baby.  She brings something out in me that I had been missing.  She rekindled a gentle patience that I only seem to have when a baby is around.  She has made me a better mommy to all of my kids.  I value each of them so much more (although I hadn't thought that possible) as I remember more clearly who they were as babies and how much they have grown and changed.  In some respects, I think she has made them value me more too.  When Amelia first came home I was worried I wasn't giving everyone enough attention during that very demanding and exhausting first few weeks.  Isabella came to me and said "Mom, I love watching you love and take care of her.  You do such a good job and I know you did that for me when I was little too.  You're the best mom in the world"  * postpartum tears everywhere*

In terms of logistics, it has been an adjustment, as I have mentioned in other blogs.  I have been around this baby block a few times so I knew what to expect to some degree but it has been awhile and I had forgotten a lot.  It is certainly a lot easier with my 3 big kids to help me.  Isabella is really a mini mommy and I don't know how I did this when they were all little lol.

I was surprised how some things changed in 6 years.  Car seat recommendations are different, they are pushing more vaccines and I can see the major effect that social media has had on parenting since Ian was born almost 7 years ago. I have noticed a distinct push to define yourself as a parent through things that the media blog world has decided make good parents...

 (Seriously, you can buy this shirt, although I don't know why you would because your sling would cover it)

Look, here I am "baby wearing"!  You didn't know I was that cool did you?

It seems so silly to me that social media is directing us to define our parenting by these things in order to identify with other parents.  Parenting is defined by loving, nurturing, providing, laughing, cuddling, enjoying, not by baby wearing and how we feed or where we sleep.  As a mom of a 10 year old, I know that defining oneself as a parent by nursing and cloth diapering is not going to be very effective long term.  You need more in your parenting arsenal than that, they don't nurse forever.  This is not to say that the above mentioned things aren't wonderful, they are, and, as I said, I do most of them.  For me, they are a part of being the best parent I can be but they aren't what makes me a good parent.

Anyway, enough of that rant and on to our experience with cloth diapers.

We decided to cloth diaper Amelia for a few reasons.  The main reason was so that we didn't have to add a package of diapers every week to our budget.  I also think it is better for her skin than the crunchy chemicals in many disposables and I think we have a pretty large diaper "footprint" in the landfills from the last 3 lol.  I did not choose to cloth diaper because it makes me an awesome mommy.  (although I do feel a little bit more awesome than I used to because I did not give up due to poopy laundry overload).  I didn't know anything about cloth diapering and I started researching it early in the pregnancy.  It was a good thing I did! There was a lot to learn.  There are so many different types of cloth diapers now and the industry is booming.  In all of my searches, I found an amazing organization called Giving Diapers Giving Hope.  They help financially strapped families, like ourselves, by lending gently used cloth diapers.  They sent me a shipment of newborn diapers for the first few months and when I sent them back they sent me a shipment of one size pocket diapers and inserts that we can use until Amelia is potty trained.  People have also given us some diapers and I have now accrued a decent diaper stash.  We had some serious rash issues in the beginning because I was using too much detergent but once we got it figured out, it has been awesome!  I wouldn't go back to disposables now.  I just love how cute they are on her!  If you know me, you know I love color.  What could be more fun than putting a rainbow on the baby's butt everyday?!

Is there anything I don't love about having a new baby?  Not really.  I'm not a huge fan of puke on my clothes everyday (none of my other babies spit-up like Amelia does) or the whole  postpartum weight issue (but that is mostly my fault for eating too many cookies) but those things are so minor compared to the joy that this adorable little peanut brings to us all.

So, there you have it.  A little peek into motherhood, the 4th time around.  Tune back in next week when we return to our regularly scheduled TLC blog fun.

Please comment to make me feel loved.


  1. I wish so much we lived closer!!! Your passion for motherhood is remarkable and I love that someday when I become a mom I can turn to you for endless advice on how to be awesome with cloth diapers and slings, while sharing in the love of becoming a parent. Until then I will remain awed at all you do and appreciate how special it feels to be just and Aunty :)

  2. Awwww....i always feel the love reading your blog postings. your babies indeed are blessed to have you as mommy. I chuckled at your sis's remark cuz i can hear your voice right now saying you like to be a know it all... im laughing now as much as i fid 7 /8 yrs ago when u first said it..

  3. I love you guys, especially Amelia....no for real, no girl could have a better friend than you and no family could wish for a better mom....:) I love this special edition to your usual blog!

  4. So beautiful Melissa! All those kids are so blessed to have you for a mom and you have a lot to teach so many other moms and moms-to-be. I know that you always inspire me to be a better mother! And as for the vaccines...do what you feel is best. Be careful what the 'media' says, so to speak. If you look up what they need for school, you'll see it's far less than what the doctors' push. I have declined some (they make you sign a form), and I have put off some. (Talia is 4 and I still have yet to give her the MMR). Anyway, I just think you are fabulous, and I love how Amelia was given to you (great story how God worked!). Hugs to you.

    1. Thanks Jan!
      I have to admit that I am still a bit of a traditionalist for the major vaccines and I do them on the dr recommended schedule. Bella had pertussis (despite being vaccinated) when she was a toddler and it was so awful. I never want my babies to suffer like that again so I have given them the vaccines. I don't do the flu shot and was skeptical about Roto. I think hep B vaccine is pretty much a joke. Its not a place I have done a ton of research though. Hope you are well!

  5. What a great, awesome, beautiful post!! It made me smile because God is just so good. You are such a blessed Mama with such a blessed family:)

  6. I love the stage of life you are in!!! I'll be turning 50 years old this year. (How did THAT happen!!) Next year is my last year of homeschooling. (How did THAT happen!!) Jason is moving into his own apartment. (Seriously, how did THAT happen!!!) Enjoy every minute. Time flies and all of a sudden you are in a new stage of life. (It's all good though.) :o) Christine

    PS - I LOVE the t-shirt!!