This week has absolutely blown me away. I’ve been keeping quite busy tending to five, fabulous little people and… well that’s about all I’ve been doing. No housework to speak of… none. In any case, we have a new routine set with our sweet Kyrie added to the mix, and it is working out better than I ever could have hoped for. After a very long and difficult winter, things are certainly looking up! In fact, things are smoother around here now than they have been since we got home from Ukraine. Never did I expect adding a child to the family would make my life easier, but it seems to have done just that.
A huge part of that has to do with my own attitude and perspective. I will be the first to admit that many of the struggles we’ve had as a family in the last several months were really just issues with how I was managing (or not managing) the household. Emotionally I was running on empty, which meant a lot of withdrawing was going on and not a lot of intentional presence with my children. Our routine always seemed crazy and hectic, and I was constantly overwhelmed with what needed to be done like… yesterday.
We still have a million and one things to do. But I’ve just had to take a step back and realize that God has this under control. We can only get done what we can get done, and my first vocation is to love my family. I can’t love my family well when I am so caught up in the “needs” of the world. Has He not provided all that we need? Will He not continue to do so? Including providing us with days to run errands and make appointments?! Of course! So I’m going to stop stressing over those, and wait on the Lord to provide those opportunities in His good time.
And while I wait, I am working on making my world much smaller and focusing on just being present with the beautiful family He has entrusted to my care. With Kyrie here I knew I had to lower my expectations with what I could accomplish. Going into this week I was determined to bring my “A Game”, because I knew I’d need it, and I knew better than to expect anything but the minimum from both myself and the kids.
I have also been convicted lately of not putting as much work into this job of motherhood as I would have if it was a “real” job where I was getting paid monetarily and had to answer to a supervisor who I wasn’t also married to. Ahem. Yeah, quite humbling to realize how I stack up against my own self! Especially since that self was a college kid from seven years ago. Yikes.
Yes, there are totally differences between the 24/7 job of motherhood and an 8 hour shift in someone else’s home where you only spend about 20 hours a week. However, I can do better. And I know it. So that’s what I’ve been working on this week. While the children are awake, they are my job, and I am trying really hard to treat it that way. No more Facebooking at “work”, no more saying “Just a minute,” when I really mean “I sure hope he forgets what he asked for so that I don’t actually have to add that to my to-do list.” Etc…
This perspective has really been working well, though it’s the equivalent of having a 14 hour shift every single day that ends with being on call until the next shift starts… which is totally exhausting, but also incredibly rewarding and worth it. It’s also doable, and I know this season of life won’t last forever. It’s also the reason why I’m not blogging too terribly much. When I do have a break in the middle of the day now I have been finding I must take that afternoon nap. It has been a lifesaver, and that is typically my computer time when I’m awake.
I know ya’ll understand that I’m busy, but I also love blogging too or I wouldn’t be doing it. It’s a great outlet for me, so I’m definitely going to keep trying to make time for it where I can. Self care is so important when you have other people depending on you for their needs, and with five very needy (and lovely) people depending on me day and night – I have come to realize that I need to take care of myself if I’m going to be a healing presence for them.
But anyway, enough about me! I did title this my fabulous five for a reason. I wanted to let you all know how the children are adjusting to our new normal, because that’s the question everyone has been asking. The answer is… they are doing amazingly, astonishingly well – all five of them! Let’s start with the itty bitty one first shall we? Kyrie is a dream. She fits like a glove in our family. She is the easiest baby I’ve ever had. She sleeps when we sleep, at nap time and at night time. I’m getting more sleep now than I did when I was pregnant! She is very content in her bouncy chair, which makes my days actually doable. She almost never cries; she is doing really well with her pottying, which means we won’t have to have two kiddos in diapers. Woohoo! (Yes, I will blog more about that later.)
And, best of all, she sleeps through everything. Anyone who has spent time in our house or on the phone with me will know that this is not a quiet place, and she doesn’t care one bit. Thank you Lord for little mercies! When she is awake, Kyrie is always very still and quiet, much more so than I remember Evie or Stephen being. She seems to have a very contemplative nature, which will be quite an interesting dynamic to add to our very active crew.
Speaking of active Stephen is next. He is doing great with his new big brother status, it hasn’t fazed him one bit. He loves to dote on his little sister and holds her every day. He’s always saying how he loves the baby, and if she isn’t in bed when he is (his bed is still in our room as well) then it is quite concerning. He is the classic protective older brother, and we haven’t seen even a hint of jealousy. I expected regression in several areas, but the only change has been that he’s much more clingy in the wee hours of the morning. That usually ends in an uncomfortable Mommy sandwich with Kyrie on one side and Stephen on the other. Suffice it to say, I hope this phase ends quickly.
Dear Evangeline has also been doing better, much due to our new routine that has everyone less stressed. She is incredibly empathetic and perceptive and is a sponge to the emotions of everyone around her. Because Jake and I have been doing a lot better the last few days, she is also doing a lot better, which I am so grateful for. Her nurturing side is just basking in having a baby around to care for. She would hold her all day if Kyrie would allow it.
Kyrie is also just a healing balm to weary souls. (What baby isn’t?!) But she especially ministers to her older sister. If Evie is having a hard time falling asleep I’ll even make a point of taking Kyrie in with me, and her presence seems to calm her in a way that even I can’t. It’s beautiful watching God’s compassionate hand working through even the smallest and neediest of people.
I would say of all of them, Jacob’s life and demeanor seem to have changed the least in the last week and a half that his new sister has been here. He loves her just as much as the others do, but his interaction with her is noticeably less than theirs. He does hold her and give her kisses, but he just doesn’t seem quite as interested as Evangeline and Stephen are. Is it a personality difference, an institutional thing, something else entirely?
It’s really hard to know, but either way he does love her and we aren’t seeing any regression with attachment or in other areas, so I’m perfectly happy with where he’s at right now. We’re still in the process of finishing up his evaluations to get therapy services from the school district, and that should be done mid-March. I’m looking forward to seeing him add occupational and speech therapy to his repertoire!
And saving the best update for last… sweet Hope. Things are changing around here for our darling girl, but mostly indirectly due to Kyrie’s arrival. She doesn’t have much contact with the baby other than a few attempts at teaching “gentle touches” here and there throughout the day. She is certainly interested in the squirmy bundle on my lap, but she still can’t do much in the way of interacting with her. Many of the children she shared a room with in the orphanage where babies, so I think she rather likes having Kyrie around, she just doesn’t know how to show it yet.
So, how has our new bundle of joy added to Hope’s life? There are a few ways. First, having a new baby forced us to change our routine with Hope. What we were doing was not working. I’ll try to blog more extensively about this too, but really, parenting a child who spent nine years in a laying room is a puzzle. There are very few people experienced in this sort of care, meaning our doctors and therapists and experts can help by laying out tools and resources, but we are the ones who have to figure out which ones to use and how to use them. As my dear husband says, she is a riddle wrapped in a question mark.
Much of our parenting Hope has been trial and error. I can’t even remember how many different sleeping arrangements we’ve tried in the last six months. My midwife, on a visit a few days after Kyrie was born, suggested we try a Tryptophan supplement for Hope to help her sleep. Sure enough, she has slept through the night three times this week! A first as far as we can remember. Typically she either doesn’t go to sleep for hours or wakes up around 2 or 3 am. Having her sleep better is a blessing for all of us and I really pray that it continues.
We are also giving her more intentional sensory/play times, as well as intentional resting times during the day. Our routine really revolves around her schedule now, as the other kids’ activities are much more flexible. It’s too early to say how much it’s helped her improve, but it certainly has made our family’s dynamic more peaceful and that is absolutely worth it.
And finally… drum roll please…
Hope has words!! She started talking! Seriously!!!
Mima spent several days with us that first week postpartum and started a new game with her. To everyone’s surprise, she loved the game (she is usually motivated by nothing but stimming) and she was so eager to play that Mima got her to attempt the word “ball” whenever she handed the little ball over to her. The more they played the more her word sounded like ball, and now she will do it consistently when asked! Crazy! Then yesterday at lunch I was able to get her to say “oooo” for food. She tried adding the f sound to the beginning, but we’re not quite there yet.
She actually has sounds that she uses that have meanings attached! I can’t emphasize how huge this is for her. Our ten year old girl is learning how to talk!!