Posted by: Ingrid | December 1, 2016

Thirty-seven

Once upon a time, for many many years, whenever I arrived at my birthday, all I could think about was how to create a protective shell around the emptiness that I felt. If somehow I could simultaneously have cute clothes that fit, be at the perfect weight, have hair that looked good, whiten my teeth, and figure out the key to makeup application the rest of life would fall into place. If I could organize the chaos of the external, maybe the internal would follow suit and life would be full and meaningful and I would be happy.

It never happened. Life has remained too fluid, too chaotic, and too messy for my external checklist to be realized (though hat tip to Nursing School that has taken off all the baby weight plus a few pounds -thanks!) and I have grown up enough to realize that none of those things would have made me happy anyway.

If anything, these past few months packed with uncertainty, exhaustion, tears, and interesting information and experiences has shown me that you can sometimes feel most alive when you come home exhausted from a long day at clinicals and your kids dog-pile you and clamor to tell you everything that happened and most happy when you lie on the floor with your baby and watch him try to pull the cat’s tail. Life is just weird like that.

This time, as I hit another birthday (and yes, suddenly 37 seems dangerously near to 40 which makes me feel that I’m almost 50 because they are only separated by a decade) I want to remind myself today of things that I might tell myself in another 37 years. I know that if I could now give advice to myself half a lifetime ago I would have such sensible things to say. With that in mind, maybe I can listen to the advice I have been given by people who are further along the path of life than I am.

  1. You can’t do it all. This has never been more apparent to me than right now. I may have dreamed of being mother of 4, doing all the pinterest projects, hanging out with my husband, semi-educating my children at home while reading books and training for an ultramarathon all while going to Nursing School, getting straight A’s, cooking healthy dinners, spending quality time with everyone, keeping the house organized and clean, and being mindful of friendships and self-care. Yeah. The bar has been set way low over here by week 14.  We eat pop tarts. (Who am I kidding, we ate pop tarts before that too, and they aren’t even organic.)
  2. Keep the things that you love and don’t bother with the other things.
  3. Don’t shut down your dreams and ideas (or other people’s). Life is stranger and has more potential than you will ever guess.
  4. Don’t be so hard on yourself. This seems to be a common theme I get from people, including instructors, so I am trying to tell myself now that it’s okay to be my own best ally instead of my worst enemy.
  5. Find the people who make you come alive and don’t despair if it seems like they’re hard to find.
  6. Hug and hold and touch the people you love because you don’t know how long you get them. I have never been more acutely aware of this as I am now as I interact with the elderly population in the hospital and extended care. Take nothing for granted, it’s all a gift.
  7. If you want to say something, don’t wait for people to draw it out of you because they probably won’t and you’ll just be annoyed.
  8. Even if you speak the language of guilt fluently, try not to let it drive everything you do.
  9. Little moments matter more than perfectly fulfilling your plans, especially when kids are involved.
  10. You will never regret loving people more, even if it hurts. And it will hurt.

I think that is plenty of advice to see me through the next year along with the words of Sara Groves in her song This Cup. I generally have some sort of song that I am “feeling” when my birthday rolls around. This year, with life upended and crazy and not enough of me to go around my goal and my prayer is to be right here. Here in the present instead of worrying about what lies a month down the road or wishing life were somehow different; easier and more pulled together.

So take up what we’ve been given
Welcome the edge of our days
Hemmed in by sunrise and sunset
By our youth and by our age
Thank God for our dependence
Here’s to our chasm of need
And how it binds us together
In faith and vulnerability

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This challenging reality
Is better than fear or fantasy

 

 

Posted by: Ingrid | November 5, 2016

6 Months x 4

I hunted through my photo files so that I could see what our four kids looked like at 6 months. I’d forgotten that our first model had teeth and could sit up on his own by 6 months!

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Rothell 1.0

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Rothell 2.0

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Rothell 3.0

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Rothell 4.0

Posted by: Ingrid | November 3, 2016

Six Months: Rolling along

Dear Wesley,

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You are the reason I get up in the morning.

Doesn’t that sound poetic? Now let’s flesh that out a bit. You are the reason I get up in the morning. Before my alarm. At times too early to mention. In short, you are the reason I am sleep deprived.

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You are six months old today, and as I sit here looking at a blank computer screen all I can think about is the fact that I feel more exhausted than I ever remember feeling.  For some reason you have stopped sleeping even four hour stretches and wake up at least every two to three hours each night. Combined with Halloween, school, my first week of clinicals (early mornings), and all of the things that need to get done, this is very painful.

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Aside from sleeping like a 17.6 pound newborn, you are a delightful fat baby with chubby thighs and big blue eyes. You look very much like Jonathan and Lily looked as babies. You are all over rolls, including rolls over your non-existent wrists. You are ticklish on your thighs and knees and belly and under the chin. You laugh easily and have learned how to squeal with delight. Sometimes you do this when I pick you up from day care. More often than not, you save the squeals and talking for the middle of the night between when you wake up and forty-five minutes later when you decide you should eat a little, stop talking to yourself, and start crying in earnest.

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You started this month ponderously rolling from front to back or back to front. It looked so laborious!  So taxing!  Perhaps my favorite instance of rolling involved you rolling from back to front so that you were facing our bookshelf wall. You pushed yourself up on your arms and in slow motion looked up and up and up, miles of books of all colors stretched out to the ceiling. You stayed like that, just taking in the glory of books. That’s my boy.

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You push way up on your belly now, almost get on your knees, pivot on the wooden floors, and roll until you run into something or someone.  Then you wail as if the universe has conspired against you because someone put a wall right in your path. We had to put away your other swing because you were constantly trying to roll out and had turned into quite the fall risk.

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You have also been known to roll yourself up in things; my bathrobe, any blanket you are laid down upon, and, my favorite, your sister’s new Snow White costume with the glittery skirt. This means you now have a fine dusting of gold glitter all over your face and hair this morning. Not all that glitters is gold, sometimes it’s just an overly roly baby and a Halloween costume with a surplus of glitter.

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Some favorites this month are Grandpa, the cat, your lovey, sleeping on your stomach, and trying to grab everything in sight, not necessarily in that order. I am pretty sure Grandpa comes first though, because you hang out with him, smile, make noises when he tries to disappear downstairs… it is pretty cute. You have really taken a liking to Poseidon this month, as he brushes past your bouncer.

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You can’t wait to get your hands on that furry creature, and he is starting to look a little nervous around you. Wait, he’s a cat, he always looks nervous. You really like the soft lovey that you have with different textured tags on the end but in a pinch you are also happy grabbing beards, hair, glasses, and jewelry. You are my first child to be an adamant stomach sleeper which is throwing me off. I lay you down on your back, you yell, flip over, and go directly to sleep.

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You have spent half the month with some respiratory gunk and half the kids in daycare had croup and double ear infections two weeks ago and I am just knocking on everything wooden in hopes that you don’t get really sick. In the meantime, your cap refill looks good, you are happy and eating well, so I’m not too worried. I did try to listen to your lungs and gained a new respect for anyone who works with pediatric patients. When you have a stethoscope on a child’s chest and he starts babbling? Ow.

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I feel like you will be mobile early, like Jonathan was. You are so alert and so interested in the things and people around you that I can almost see you plotting how to get from one place to the other. In other news, you were a dragon for Halloween, wearing the costume all your siblings have worn. But we have no real Halloween pictures because it was the first week of clinicals and man, were things a mess. This month also marked the first time I ran with a baby in a stroller twice in one month. I have lowered the bar that low. You of course fell asleep, but I still prefer solo runs.

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You have been with us for half a year, Wesley! I can’t believe how quickly it is flying by, how sweet you are, and how much we love you.

Love,

Mom

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Posted by: Ingrid | October 4, 2016

Five Months: Talk to the hand

Dear Wesley,

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I blinked and another month slipped by. I really don’t know where September went. Somewhere in the midst of my school and every one else’s school, and activities starting a month has flown past. And this is with me being more attuned to the moment now that time is so precious.

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You have not been idle this past 30 days, oh no. You are now 17.5 pounds (yes, you, who started out at 6 pounds 12 ounces only 5 months ago). You are huge. You have rolls everywhere, you nurse well, and you can suck down a bottle at day care like no one’s business.

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These are all good traits in a baby. On my end of things, I finally, finally saw 0.1 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight and rejoiced. Because people will tell you to be happy with your body because it had a baby and that’s all well and good. But I know that as moms we secretly like our babies just a little more when we no long feel “just a little bit pregnant”. It’s true.

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But I already was so much in love with you that this was just icing on the cake. Or cookies. Or brownies. Or just icing.

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You, my child, are in love with your hands. They mesmerize and distract you and often you really will talk to them. They are like built-in dangly toys. I don’t remember watching the other three kids discover this the way I watch you, perhaps because you are the last or perhaps because each minute I get with you feels precious and not to be wasted. So I notice all the little things, even when I’m tired, and often it brings me to tears because you are growing so quickly and there are no more babies unless I start taking other people’s. And that is often frowned upon and comes with a prison sentence.

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You sleep well, except when you don’t. This means that if I have a test the next day you are likely going to wake up every 2 hours and then the following night you will wake up once. You tend to sleep well though, overall, and I make sure I go to bed very early in order to get my 7-8 hours. Though 9-10 sounds enticing. I still swaddle you and you take a consistently good morning nap.

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After you wake up and stretch, Grandpa takes you to day care, and from the reports I hear, you wake up happy. You are fairly content in the mornings too, when my activities from 6:30-8 am are totally devoted to getting four other people fed, dressed, cleaned, and out of the house with all of their stuff. When you do start getting restless Isaac is often happy to swoop in as your entertainer.

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You are now in size three diapers and have already been in 6 month clothing for a month. You have not sprouted much hair and you definitely don’t have teeth yet, though you are gumming everything in sight. You still try to lick and suck on anything that comes near your mouth. You make lots of noises and your baby belly laughs are the best.

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You love when we blow raspberries under your chin and are are starting to throw your weight around (literally) by pushing off of everything when you are held. It’s a good thing you haven’t been dropped!

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You have also started squirming out of things when not secured, including your car seat. Soon I will lug up the bouncing saucer with the lights and music that your siblings will play ad nauseum. You are practically out of your swing, which is good, since your brothers found other things to put in it…

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Feet have been another big find this month. You have not starting chewing your toes, but you like to grab them and hold on. I have been religiously placing you on your tummy but you haven’t been doing much rolling. Then I was told by our day care provider two weeks ago that you roll. Repeatedly. And you thought I wouldn’t find out. Here’s a secret, buddy. Mommy always knows. (And if I don’t, one of your siblings will tell me.)

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This next month I start clinicals and our schedule changes again with me gone for longer stretches of time. I am enjoying school so much but I hate the way it cuts into my enjoyment of your babyhood. I will keep enjoying the moments I catch, though, because this all just goes way too fast.

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Love,

Mom

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Posted by: Ingrid | September 3, 2016

Four Months: Hands and giggles and day care, oh my!

Dear Wesley,

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This month we did something with you that we have never done with any of our other babies. We took you to day care. Never mind that it’s just next door. Never mind that, what with putting you down to nap at our house and Grandpa taking you over when you wake up you are there just long enough to make it full time (over 5 hours). Never mind that I come home on my lunch break and feed you.

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It is just very weird.  The good news is that you seem to sleep better now, can take a bottle, and seem to be generally happy. This bodes well for when I enter clinicals and am gone from 5 am to 4 pm and then have to write up my notes. Our first child to take a bottle. I am so proud. Other notable events included your brother’s 7th birthday and a visit from Uncle Peter.

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You are right at 15.5 pounds, with the most delectable rolls of wrist fat.  Grandpa has you doing leg and arm exercises, but they are no match against your delightful baby rolls. I feel like you have gotten so big, so manly, in a Michelin man sort of way. Your ears aren’t quite as flush against your head as they were, giving you a Yoda-esque look.

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You discovered your hands this month and spend a great deal of time staring at them. Sometimes you watch, mesmerized, as your fists pass in front of your face and then go cross eyed as they meet in the middle.

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I picture it as the baby equivalent of an epic scene from Star Wars. All you see is stars and the vastness of space and then, out of the darkness… the Death Star appears!  You look at your hands with great wonder and in the past few days I have noticed you sending speculating glances towards your toes.  Those… things. They seem so far away but maybe they are attached too?  I can’t wait for you to start chewing on your toes.

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Your brothers and sisters still like you. Lily likes to choose your pjs and clothes and Isaac likes to scoop you up and hold you. Your expression tends to mirror your feeling about the trustworthiness of whichever sibling is paying attention to you.  I wouldn’t trust a two year old with a stethoscope around her waist either.

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Jonathan will generally pat your head when he notices you. You can roll over. Sometimes. You can also push yourself with your feet, which has led to some unfortunate situations for you as you push off your tummy time blanket and face plant on the floor. You have very nice head and neck support and I try to remember to put you on your tummy whenever I think about it. You have been sleeping really well lately, in 7 and 8 hour stretches, which I so appreciate.

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You have they most delightful smile and laugh. You laugh and snort when I run my fingers from your tummy to your chin, when we lift you high in the air, and when I suddenly bring you close to my face. Your laugh is my favorite right now. Last night I was lying on my back with you propped against my knees as you did baby rowing. I held your hands and moved you forward and back and you thought it was hilarious.

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Your smile appears out of nowhere and often you stick your tongue out as well.  You are a shameless flirt, leaving broken hearts and a trail of drool in your wake. Everything makes you open your mouth. It’s fun to kiss your cheeks over and over because you open your mouth wide, like a baby bird, each time.

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You like to have something in your mouth; your hand, a blanket, anything you can make contact with, but you won’t take a pacifier.

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Last night we got a fairly defined “hi” out of you. I remember with Isaac that when that happened we felt like we must have a genius baby on our hands. Now the sounds are just fun. I love hearing you make sounds (this month you added the age appropriate “agoo” and “gah” to the mix). You are very loud. Loud when you talk and even louder when you vocalize your complaints, generally when you feel ignored or if you’ve spent too much time on your belly. You have voice inflection down and you truly believe in what you are saying.

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You have started actually touching things with your hands. A few nights ago as I was lying next to you on the bed you reached over and touched my face.  These are the things I cherish now that I’m on my fourth baby.

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Love,

Mom

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Posted by: Ingrid | August 28, 2016

Seventy-Eight M&M’s

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So the first week of the first semester of nursing school is in the books. That would be 1/15 of the way through, in case you are counting.

This week one of our instructors told a story I’d read or heard at some point in the past. It was about (in a very brief and poor synopsis) a man who realizes that if he lives to be in his seventies, he only has 1000 Saturdays left. He puts 1000 marbles in a jar and every Saturday pulls a marble out.  He uses this visual to cherish the time he has and knows that once all 1000 are gone, if he gets another Saturday it’s a gift. The challenge was for us to appreciate the time we have it school because it will go by too quickly.

I came home from that class and filled a jar with 78 M&M’s, one for each day of instruction during this first semester of nursing school.

Now, just to be tangential, why has no one told me about the autumn M&M mix? These giant, delectable, white chocolate morsels have been sitting in my pantry ever since I bought them clearanced out last November. I didn’t know they were this good. And I’d be a fool to choose marbles over chocolate, anyone with common sense knows that. Also, I have an up-and-coming crawler and the Legos all over the floor will be choking hazard enough, I definitely don’t need marbles. This was my rationale for going with candy.  Also, way cheaper.

I put them in a jar with the idea of watching them decrease as the semester goes on. I even color coded them; my clinical days are the white ones. I’m hoping no one else eats them before I do. There are many resourceful people in this house and I wouldn’t put it past any of them.

78 days is not very many. It does not feel like nearly enough time to learn what I need to and to learn it at whatever percentage of proficiency I am supposed to achieve. Part of the problem is that not only are these 78 days of my education, they are 78 days of Isaac’s first grade year, of Jonathan’s new preschool, Lily’s daycare, and Wesley’s infanthood. 78 days during which I want to be the best student I can while knowing that at the end of the day I am also my children’s best advocate, their model, their source of all sorts of things at the top of Maslow’s pyramid but also their source of food and clean clothing, and heaven knows that took a back seat this first week.

Even though it may sound silly, I have been sitting down for just a few minutes every day and picturing this opportunity as a gift. If I don’t do this, I am afraid that I will be overwhelmed by the enormity of change that has occurred. I am old enough to not take this for granted, old enough to know that everything falling into place so that I can go to school, from the childcare to the location of the school to having my Dad here the first semester, are all part of the gift. Not an easy gift (but neither was staying home with my children for seven years) and definitely one in which challenge is inherent.

This is not the type of gift where someone hands you the keys to a prefabricated home. This is a harder gift. More along the lines of someone dropping a ton of bricks and gallons of mortar in your yard and handing you a book entitled 1,001 Steps to your new brick home (some assembly required).

I have a lot to do, a lot to prioritize, and not enough hours in the day to do 75% of what needs to get done. Breathe, study, hug children, feed people, sleep, run, repeat.  That is what I will do for now.

And every time I eat an M&M, I will be thankful.

Posted by: Ingrid | August 3, 2016

Three Months: Bubbles and Smiles

Dear Wesley,

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This month was delightful.  We celebrated the Fourth of July in South Dakota and returned home a few days later, driving a full 10.5 hours (longer with stops) in one day.  Other excursions have involved dressing like a cow for free Chik-fil-a and visiting a battle ground from 1869. The summer seems to have flown by, June and July have ticked down and now it is August and summer is on it’s way out.

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You have magnanimously granted me several 8 hour stretches of sleep.  The couple of days when 7.5 to 8 solid hours coincide with a 5 am wake up have been bliss. You nap well too, though I find myself bellowing, “Shhhhhhhh!” more often than I prefer because your siblings are so darned loud.

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Speaking of siblings, they still like you and you are still alive, so this is all good. Isaac remains your devoted fan and has to be told not to wake you too early in the morning.  He wakes up early, comes into our room, and just stares at you.  He is the most tenacious at trying to get smiles from you and to get you to “talk”.

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He also will hold you. Lily still likes you and pays attention to you and Jonathan enjoys you as well.  Everyone is willing to hang out with you during tummy time.  Speaking of which, you rolled a few times this month, but not consistently.

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You drool in great bubbly trails now, and are sometimes called Mr. Bubbles.  Other nicknames include Bubby and Baby Beluga. You actually sound like you speak Whale now.  Sometimes you look like a cross between Buddha and Chris Farley.  All of our kids, including Lily, went through a Chris Farley stage.  I blame your father. You have reached one of the best milestones EVER, the one where you make eye contact and start making sounds like you are trying to carry on a conversation.

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I love this.  You do this to almost anyone once you lock in on them.  All of these sounds come out of your mouth and sometimes you are so serious, though mostly you look happy and animated.  A few times, when you have been placed in your swing, I have caught you loudly complaining to the pink birds that circle overhead. Most of the time you see them and smile and coo.

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You are now almost 14.5 pounds. I weighed you last night, stepped on the scale and wondered how I was still so close to my peak pregnancy weight and how I’d gained 18 pounds since the morning. I stepped on again and off again twice before I realized that I was holding a baby. When you had your doctor’s visit this month I asked the nurse about your head size since all the other babies in our family are in the 97% percentile at this point.  You were at 50% so I came home and told your dad that you might not be his.  (I kid, of course, just look at the resemblance!)

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You are into size 2 diapers and quickly growing out of 3 month clothing.

When you cry, usually when you are hungry or have been left unattended too long, you sound like a little deranged goat.  Often if I come up to you and place my hand against your chest you immediately calm and start flirting with me and conversing.  You also seem to feel wet and dirty diapers more acutely than your siblings did because changing your diaper is almost a personality changer.

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You are suddenly all smiles and jokes. You have laughed a few times, some of them in your sleep just as you finished nursing.  You are a great eater and I am enjoying my reading time, though now that I have breezed through the Ender’s Game series I am going through literary withdrawals.  Sometimes I just watch you eat – it always amazes me how fat babies get drinking milk and how proficient they are in just three months.  You still really like to suck and often finish eating and then promptly start sucking your clenched fists as if they are a giant lollipop.

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You are a delightful, jovial, and fairly easy baby, Wesley.  Hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself by typing that!  I love the transition from month two, when smiling looks so taxing for babies, to month three when it comes so naturally. Smiley, fat, babbling babies are a delight.  And delicious.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t talk about wanting to eat your cheeks and nibble your fingers.  I remember being horrified when people said that with Isaac and now I am the crazy lady who wants to eat the baby.

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We left you for the first time this past week.  For four hours we attended a wedding without children.  I felt just a little lost, but it was fun all the same to not have to spend half the time somewhere feeding you.  This is a natural divide that I have found with all my babies, the three month mark is when leaving them with someone else sounds like a really good idea.  Usually this starts with the church nursery, but not this time.  You still like to eat in the middle of the sermon and last week, you entertained the quadrant of church we were sitting in by giving a long satisfied belch as soon as I quietly brought you back into church.  It was awesome.

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You are enjoying the mirror more these days, particularly when we gaze into it together and you smile brilliantly at the mommy-in-the-mirror and gaze quizzically at the other baby.  I am trying to soak in all of these moments, knowing that the pace of life is going to drastically increase in just a few weeks.  Half of me thinks there’s no way I can leave you for 6-8 hours a day.  Half of me thinks it will be just fine, particularly since I will be in and out to feed you. But it will be different, I know that. So I cherish and savor the moments and your easy smile and jovial ways. A quarter of the year has already passed in the blink of an eye. I don’t know that I can deal with time flying by any faster.

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Love, Mom

Posted by: Ingrid | July 31, 2016

A Radical Act

Since coming back from vacation my activities have been focused on one thing – going back to school in the fall.  I have placed my order for scrubs, purchased a stethoscope (!), had two TB tests (one isn’t enough any more), had a ridiculous amount of blood titers taken to test for any number of diseases, purchased expensive textbooks that could double as small weapons, and tried to finalize child care.

I have found it takes a ridiculous quantity of energy to upset the normal of the past seven years. For seven years I have been at home with children.  For seven years I have been pregnant, nursing, and taking care of people as my sole job. In under a month our entire life will be upended as I go back to school.  It is exhausting, not so much in the details, but in the mental energy that it takes to know that I am making the choice to disrupt our family equilibrium, I am sending us down the road to crazy-ville.

Going back to school is high stakes because it feels like if everything falls apart into chaotic ruin, it’s my fault. Fear of failing at everything comes near the top of my list of fears, just above fear of all things awkward. It has been my job (self-appointed, but still) to hold things together and keep things running smoothly, a job I took seriously long before I got married and had children.  I juggle the logistics, I make things happen, I ensure that there is food in the house, on the table, and that laundry gets done.  I have a very vivid memory of going to premarital counseling, perhaps the only thing I remember, when our counselor advised trying to work things out so that only one of us was “crazy” (ie. busy, really stressed, dealing with significant life changes) at a time. I took this to heart because it already was part of how I operated.  Oops!  Everyone else is crazy… must not be my turn yet. But here’s the secret that I have found over the past ten years.  People around me may be less crazy at times, but there’s never a time when there is no crazy and someone asks me if I’d like to maybe take a turn disrupting life in a big way.

I was on the stationary bike sometime in January reading Stitches by Anne Lamott book and a paragraph caught me and had me doubled over in tears (a sure sign something has hit home) as I read it.

I never used to take my turn. I always gave my turn away. I helped others have a great turn. I must have had a clipboard by the time I was six, because by then I had a whole caseload of people to keep track of. After they had all gotten a turn, then maybe I could go, if there was time and it didn’t bother anyone.

Now I take my turn, as a radical act.

That was it exactly, the knowledge that, for me, this is a radical act. It is the feeling deep inside that is giving me the ability to fight against the sometimes strong desire to give up going back to school. It’s hard to stay home with kids. It might be even harder to figure out the logistics of not being home with them. It is much more difficult than I thought to not only give lip service to the idea that it’s okay to go back to school to do something that I’ve wanted to do for so long, okay to entrust my children to other people while I am in classes, clinicals, and studying, okay to not orchestrate everything in our family, but to also put my money and time behind it (both difficult things for me to part with). That is scary and hard.

I don’t know that I have done anything this good and terrifying in a long time.  I am excited and scared to death at once. The enormity of the list of things-that-must-be-done in three short weeks has me anxious. I keep telling myself that this change in our lives has to be akin to marathon training; you never think too hard about the 20+ mile runs the first week of training because if you did, you would talk yourself out of it. You wait until you’re well into training and then, somehow, it fits and makes sense.  I hope that’s true in this case as well.  In the meantime I keep reminding myself that radical acts are hard and taking deep breaths is necessary.

Hopefully thorough oxygenation will see me through the next 22 days.

 

Posted by: Ingrid | July 15, 2016

Transplanting Lives

A month ago I tried transplanting the pumpkin shoots and vines that had sprung up, uninvited, in my garden.  They looked magical.  I truly thought a fairy godmother and coach would be following soon as the intricate tendrils unfurled.  Despite my attempts to interest them in other areas of the yard, none of the transplants took. Within minutes of their move they were droopy and wilted beyond recognition.

I’m glad I’m not a pumpkin vine.

Two years ago today we arrived at our new home in Colorado.

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Two years, almost the entirety of my daughter’s life so far, seems like such a long time.  In a small town, however, where families have lived and farmed and measured the time in generations, two years is nothing.  For those who say that it’s easy to move with children, I politely disagree.  Easy to move with a baby, yes.  I have done that.  Easy to move with older children, to uproot from any support and friendships that you carefully cultivated? A thousand times no. Two years in and I feel like I am still sprouting fledgling roots and trying to anchor myself.  I was out running shortly after we moved and Alanis Morissette’s song Not as We came on my ipod. Once again, my life was explained in music.

Reborn and shivering
Spat out on new terrain
Unsure, unconvincing
This faint and shaky hour

Day one, day one
Start over again
Step one, step one
I’m barely making sense
For now I’m faking it
‘Til I’m psuedo-making it
From scratch, begin again
But this time I as I
And not as we

I can say with heartfelt gladness that I am glad we moved. Glad for my husband’s job that he loves, his fantastic co-workers and interesting subject matter to teach. I am glad for what the move meant for our family, glad for the things that have happened in the two-year span; two marathons, buying our first home, having Wesley, the friends we have made and the people who have been by our side as we moved and started to settle in.

But moving and starting from scratch is hard work.  Changing the landscape of our lives has been anything but easy and I still have the feeling of “faking it”, the feeling that I must be stuck somewhere off in no-man’s land between Michigan and Colorado.  Probably at the emotional equivalent of being on the border of Illinois and Kansas. It still surprises me how long it takes to settle in and find a place where I feel like I fit and belong.  I keep fumbling towards that and not quite getting there. Forgetting it takes time and feeling frustrated with the slow progress.

I just need to keep reminding myself that it would be much worse if I were a pumpkin vine.

Here’s to the next two years of the transplanting process.

Posted by: Ingrid | July 11, 2016

Two Months: Eyes Wide Open (From July 3)

Dear Wesley,

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This letter comes a little late, as we are vacationing in South Dakota.  Because that’s what you do when you have your fourth baby, you take a road trip.  And truly, it hasn’t been bad aside from trying to travel with a baby who cries and can’t keep his pacifier in his mouth.

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So far you have seen Mount Rushmore and driven through Nebraska and South Dakota and been adored by family members in Watertown and visited the zoo.  You won’t remember any of it, but It’s pretty sweet to see, particularly the family love.

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At two months you are somewhere between 12.5 and 13 pounds, a veritable chunk of baby with squishy thighs and kissable cheeks.  I still think you are our prettiest baby and everyone comments on how much you look like your dad. You now have a barely visible hairline and the softest ever peach fuzz on top of your head.  Sometimes I just rub a finger back and forth because it’s so soft and it won’t last. You have a lovely olive complexion, blue eyes, a strong grip, and a myriad of diverse expressions that play across your face while you are awake and asleep.

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You are such a little man now.  I call you that, sometimes, when you look at me so seriously.  Other times I call you a Chubby Bubby.  Don’t even ask, it’s a weird rhyming thing that happens when people look at cute babies and lose brain cells.  When you are well fed and happy, you look very zen, very Buddha-in-training. You are into non-violent resistance, particularly during tummy time.  You have discovered that subversive tummy time is only a nap away. You never know when a nap may hit.

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You have moved out of Newborn clothing and into 3 and (sometimes) 3-6 month clothes.  This is a little sad for me, but it is also good, since you are our off season baby and therefore have more winter options in your closet than shorts.  Fortunately, it is entirely appropriate to take your baby out in just a onesie in the summer.  I still swaddle you when you sleep but either you are really strong or I am a lazy swaddler these days because you always get out.  I love carrying you in your Baby K’Tan and can always manage to get a nap out of you when I wear you.  Downside is that it feels like wearing a mini furnace on my chest and you drool all over me.

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You are on more of a schedule now, but when you get particularly upset because feeding time is delayed you sound like a little goat and start frantically sucking on your arm.  As an aside, you are so drooly that I am starting to wonder if you are teething.

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You can nap with decent consistency now and gave me an 8.5 hour stretch of sleep one of our nights we were on vacation.  Most nights I am up two times, which isn’t terrible. You remain a good eater, and by “good” I mean that you eat well and often and are fat.  It’s okay, I like my babies fat. Plus your eating schedule has me reading at an amazing rate. I really love the amount of time I spend reading when I am nursing a baby, currently I am plowing through Orson Scott Card’s books like you wouldn’t believe. You are not a discreet nursling, which doesn’t shock me at all.  You are just so loud, smacking your lips and gulping like you haven’t eaten in 120 minutes or something.

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I have decided that everyone who suffers from insomnia should be given a fat, swaddled, well-fed baby to put on their chest.  When you nap this way (which I know will not be for much longer), I fall asleep and feel like I can’t possibly wake up, like your warmth makes everything inside me feel centered and the rapidity of your breathing deepens and lengthens my breaths.

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Part of me is sad that you are no longer a newborn and part of me is delighting in seeing how you learn to relate to the world.  When we had Isaac, I thought it looked so silly when people would get in his face and talk in exaggerated tones to try and get a smile.  Now I know that it’s one of best things in the world to get a smile out of a baby. You are smiling real smiles more and more, and when your siblings get them, they LOVE it.  You tend to smile more at your dad than at me.

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When you hear my voice you look worried, like your food source might leave the building and then where would you be?  At the beginning of the month it was so difficult for you to focus on a person when you heard a voice.  Half the time I wasn’t certain if you were interacting with me or my colorful and dangling earrings.  Now you have all these signals; your little noises, your smiles, the way you march your legs up and down, all signs that you are trying to communicate so hard with the outside world.

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Watching you wake up to and see the world around you is amazing, but not nearly as precious as the first time I walked into the room and found you awake in your pack n play and leaned over.  You were zoned out looking at the ceiling fan and then all of a sudden you saw me. All your attention centered in with the precision of a laser beam and it took my breath away. It seems so simple to talk about being seen and recognized by a baby but the experience of it is profound. I look forward to catching more of those moments as you change and grow.

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Love,

Mom

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