Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Baby I Didn't Know I Needed

I really can't say that any of my babies has been "planned." Most, in fact, were conceived while we were actively (albeit inexpertly) attempting NFP. I guess Frankie would be the closest to a "planned" pregnancy. After finally figuring out how to use NFP effectively, and using it successfully for over a year, I really, really wanted to have a baby (slash really, really didn't want to be doing NFP anymore). So we quit NFP, I got pregnant on my first cycle and was immediately plunged into my most difficult pregnancy, labor, and baby.




We knew we didn't WANT to do NFP anymore, and didn't feel like we had a grave reason to postpone, so for the first time ever, after Frankie, we just didn't do anything. No charts, no stickers, no thermometers, no folded up pieces of toilet paper, no peeing on a machine, nothing. Just breastfeeding, but Frankie was my youngest to wean and my only one to wean himself.

So after Frankie was a year old, it really was whatever may come.

But now I had big kids. I had kids who could do their schoolwork with less supervision than they used to require, and who could, in a pinch, help the younger kids with directions or concepts. I could run out to the grocery store if I wanted to without loading up a van-full of children, all of whom would need shoes. Ideally, matching shoes. I could even go out during . . . NAPTIME. Yes, entire segments of the day, closed for a decade, were now open to me.




And the evenings? Forget about it. Evenings were now a vast expanse of time I could count on to be able to ACCOMPLISH ALL THE THINGS! Frankie was in bed for good by 6:30 or 7pm, even the big kids around here are in bed to read by themselves by 8:30. I don't need a whole lot of sleep myself, so that gave me hours and hours each night of uninterrupted doing stuff. It was pretty glorious.

I tend to get my cycle back around 10 months postpartum, which is also about when the baby stops nursing during the night. I have often gotten pregnant again right then. Well, Frankie had long stopped nursing at night, and had moved to his crib and . . . still no new baby. Ten months, a year . . . still not pregnant.

It was actually just before Frankie was born that I finished writing A Little Book About Confession for Children (which is FINALLY coming out in early February!), but when he was about a year old, I dusted off the word processor and started writing picture books, and trying to find an agent or an editor who liked them. The first part was easy, I could write one of those suckers per night. The second part . . . I had a number of close calls, but never did have any takers. So, when Frankie was fourteen months old, I started this blog. And boy, if you're looking for a very fulfilling time suck . . . blog -- look no further.




It's still a middling blog for sure (which is fine with me!) but it grew pretty fast, and I joined Facebook to promote it, and I was working on it every night. And then it was Lent and I was making all of our food from scratch and going on extra field trips and killing it homeschooling and even occasionally doing an art project with the kids.

And Frankie was fourteen months, sixteen months . . . and I still wasn't pregnant. I honestly had hardly noticed the time going by. I wasn't charting, so I wasn't obsessing about what day it was and if I should take a pregnancy test. And really, for the first time ever, I wasn't sure if I still had that baby ache. After all I was doing a lot of stuff now. Stuff that barfing a lot and/or holding a new baby might interfere with. I already had six children, which -- let's face it -- in any but my own particular circle of Catholic/homeschooling is a LOT of kids.

I already had the genius, the caretaker, the goofball, the athlete, the beauty, and the troublemaker, how could I need any more?




But then I DID turn up pregnant again. The kids were super excited, of course. And I was . . . fine with it. I was never unhappy to be pregnant (which I actually couldn't quite say about my first two little NFP failures which were met with tears of frustration and uncertainty). But I was, leery of it. I had gained this freedom. I had this new purpose outside of just stay at home mothering. I was helping/entertaining people. I didn't want to give all that up.

The pregnancy turned out to be a pretty easy one. As long as I took a nap in the afternoon, I was still able to crank out blog posts until the wee hours. But there was still the question of what would happen once the new baby came.

And now she has.




And it's still very early. She's less than two weeks old and still in the "sleeps all the time even if I'm typing" phase, and I can still pass her off to someone if I need to format something and I know that this part won't last forever and next comes the "she'll only sleep on me and inexplicably wakes up if I sit down at the computer" phase. I know it's coming.

And I don't care.

Because I love her so much my heart might burst just from looking at her. I love every little thing about her. I love the smell of her breath and how she squeezes her face up and wiggles in her sleep. I love her little noises and little shudders. I love her warm searching little mouth. I love the smell of chrism oil that lingers in her hair. And I know that there isn't anything more important I could be doing than bringing her into the world and looking after her to the absolute best of my ability. 

Hopefully that will include blogging. Goodness, it certainly has so far. Sitting in this glider all day for the past two weeks has made for the single most ineffective blog hiatus in the history of the world. I'm posting way more than I used to. I can't be stopped. But in all likelihood, she's going to take up more of my time, and the blog will take up less. For a season. As it should. And then in six months or nine months or a year I'll be back to my over-accomplishing ways.




But I plan to keep a firm grip on my new perspective. Babies are way more fulfilling than blogs. I shouldn't have needed a reminder on that one. But I did.

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Lulu and the husband and I hit the very fancy and very old timey Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles Saturday night for his work Winter Ball. We were all gussied up, so in lieu of what I wore Sunday, here's what we all wore Saturday night!





Happy Sunday everyone!




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15 comments:

  1. She is adorable..and you look great! I love babies....babies make everyone happy.

    Blogging with babies is easy (IMO)...I started/resurrected my blog when Elsa was about 3/4 months old. Holding a sleeping baby that can't be put down is the BEST time for blogging. LOL Even at 14 months, she is really good while I blog. I probably spend way too much time on the computer, but if I'm sitting here blogging, she will happily play nearby. But, if I'm moving around the house, trying to do stuff (cleaning, laundry, cooking, schooling) she's whining and hanging on my leg and generally just getting into stuff.

    So...you can totally have your blog and baby too. LOL

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  2. Wow, you look so glamorous and put-together! I'm thinking you made several women want babies/more babies by attending the winter ball looking like that and holding such a ridiculously sweet looking baby girl! And isn't it funny how seductive doing-all-the-things can be? I do the exact same thing, I slowly increase my productivity as my baby grows older and then just when I feel like I'm doing something really productive I get pregnant and proceed with throwing up and sleeping. But it always turns out that the new baby is far more productive and worthwhile than any other project I fill my time with.

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  3. Oh my goodness, could you all look any more fabulous? I think not.

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  4. Great post, Kendra. Sometimes I think I get hung up on those seasons where I can GET STUFF DONE. Now that I'm not utterly sleep deprived (Gwen's only waking once or twice a night) I can function and be productive and I like it....but I forgot how much a new baby is totally worth the chaos and exhaustion and even the horrible months of puking. We're doing NFP right now so I have a few months to get healthy as possible and HOPEFULLY avoid the worst of the morning sickness next time around...but I'm totally hating it and I want to get back to AFP as soon as I can. Babies. Staring at my sweet Gwen right now and thinking how perfect and worth it all she is. Also, can't WAIT for big kids like yours! How awesome and fun. And you look glamorous as always ; )

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  5. I completely understand. My three-month-old daughter is four years younger than her closest sibling. My three older kids are nine, six, and four. I didn't plan that. We actually miscarried our fourth, so my baby girl is our fifth baby. I was nervous about all the new baby stuff. I usually don't feel good when pregnant. We had gotten into a great routine where I could "over accomplish" again (also an over achiever here!). It wasn't until I came out of the first trimester sickness that I realized I had been kinda depressed since miscarrying (for over a year!), and I hadn't really recognized that until I felt normal and functional again while pregnant with my newest baby. And then she was born, and I have been in love with her ever since. She is hitting that super clingy 4- to 6-month age, and I will gladly hold her and snuggle her and not get a whole lot done! I truly forgot how babies are so wonderful that all the inconveniences really aren't that big of a deal. Now I remember.

    I haven't charted for most of our marriage, but I did chart using Creighton to achieve our most recent baby. I was scared of miscarrying again, so I charted, identified pregnancy at 4 weeks, and promptly took progesterone since I was low. Other than that situation, I really like the no-charting method too. I think in my "old age" of 32, I now need a little more help to achieve and keep baby healthy. You are blessed to be able to ignore that!

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  6. You guys looks so glamorous and tall! Are you and your husband both tall, thin giants? And did you nurse in that dress? You're probably a pro ninja nurser as well.

    Sooo...I totally understand you about the feeling of freedom and I've only felt a small, small, bit as my largest gap between a baby and conception is 13 months. I find it really hard to sacrifice that sense of normalcy, of getting things done, of feeling semi-normal with enough sleep to function. I'm not good at sacrificing that part when it comes to having a baby yet at all. I still grumble just the other night when Nora was up 6 times. Let alone having time to write a book, go out of the house by myself, maybe I'd be even worse about sacrificing that time and God doesn't give me the option? But I understand completely what you're saying.

    And NFP...its both really encouraging to hear your experience with it and really depressing. I envy you and other women who can choose not to practice it. I envy the choice even to decide each month. Just the choice. I mean, right now I just pray that that could just happen to me one day. I can't imagine it because of our experience though and where we are right now. Its so unimaginable.

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    Replies
    1. Christy, I was able to nurse in the dress, since it's basically just a strapless dress with a halter strap. I just had to be careful with the pashmina. But thanks to the comments on my nursing post last summer, I learned about using scarves. Fancier than nursing drapes and probably stealthier too.

      And I know what you're saying on the NFP front. It is HARD when they just keep coming and the big ones aren't big enough to really be helpful. It wasn't until my oldest was past the magic ten that we gave up NFP and now I'm 37, so I think they're coming more slowly for me now anyway. So . . . Easy for me to say.

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  7. blogs, like life, have seasons. I had times I loved the back and forth comments and blog friend relationships. I promoted and advertised and it was good. Then there are the more quiet times. The time away from the blog, because what was happening under my roof felt more sacred when I didn't make it so public. now I am in a new season. the writing that comes from God, through me. No comments. No followers. Just my words. And that feels right for me.

    Where ever your blog takes you, no doubt it will be done with a beautiful baby on your lap, the voice of God shining through, and you looking fabulous!

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  8. One of my favorite of your posts ever (and that's saying a lot!) I'm in the can't set her down phase, and the this typing threatens to wake her up phase, but I'm still right there with you.

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  9. Thank you for this post--I feel like I gained so much perspective. I'm only 7 1/2 months into baby #1 and feel like I'm finally almost on the brink of being able to be productive, which my busy-body, extroverted, organized self really yearns for. It's awesome to hear from someone who's been on the other side, who's gone through this season and is wiser for it. Also, I really enjoy hearing about people's experience with NFP postpartum as I have exactly zero friends IRL who have navigated those waters. :)

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  10. For various reasons, we have pretty large gaps between our four -- 3 years, 4.5 years, 4 years -- we've used NFP to space, and it's been challenging for sure! It is always quite a transition to go from that mode of more freedom that having slightly older kids gives you to the total, constant physical drain of pregnancy, baby, toddler again. The flip side is when it's been a while, you know how fleeting those times are and can cherish them amidst the craziness. My youngest is a toddler now, and it's still astonishing to me how difficult it is to get anything accomplished -- and I had forgotten how much of a complete disaster my house always is at this age! But I look at my big kids (now 13, 10, and 5) and I know that things will calm down again (if I can just keep my sanity intact until then, LOL!) and try and savor her 1 year old cuteness.

    God's timing can be so incredible -- my sister and I got pregnant at almost the same time, each with our fourth babies, and at first it just seemed like a humorous coincidence. The day her daughter was born, 2 weeks after mine, my beloved dad was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer, already in Stage IV, and given only months to live. Those two babies were such a gift and comfort to us in my dad's final illness -- so many times when my mom was sad, we just plopped them both in her lap to cuddle. The night before my dad died, my sister and I and our babies, then 6 months old, all slept in shifts with my mom in her bed while we took turns sitting with my dad around the clock. Every time my mom woke up from a short rest, there was a baby next to her. We said many times that God knew our family needed two babies around last year.

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  11. This was awesome! After #3, we were "definitely done". For about 3 years. And then we thought, maybe....! And along came #4, followed pretty quickly by happy surprise #5! I look at my youngest now and I can't possibly imagine our family without him. I ALWAYS say "thank goodness God knows better than me what I need in my life!"

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  12. Little Louise is a beautiful baby and we all love her sooooo much. Her older brothers and sisters wait in line to hold her and do for her. She's a very lucky little girl baby. Grandad and Nana also stand in line to cuddle her. Nanacamille

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