Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Big Three . . .

Yesterday summed up perfectly what I find to be the hardest three things about this particular phase of mamahood that I am currently immersed in. It was a beautiful fall day, and Zoe had an appointment to get her Remicade infusion in town right after lunch. Since her appointment typically takes 2 1/2 hours, I decided to take the two-under-two crew to Rockwood Park while we waited for her to finish up. Like I said, it was a beautiful afternoon. The sun was shining and there was a gentle cool breeze blowing that made it the perfect temperature for jeans and a t-shirt. We had the entire park to ourselves, but unfortunately, thanks to Leif's recent aversion to a full night's sleep, I was exhausted. Rather than run and play alongside Leif on the climbing structure like I typically do, I sat on a nearby bench with Harriet on my knee, encouraging him from afar.

Good job, Bud. Now go down the slide.

As any parent will tell you, this does not work well, and Leif quickly became bored. Can you blame him, though? It really isn't fun playing by yourself. Thanks to boredom, Leif did not stay in one place for long and so we spent the majority of our time at the park meandering back and forth between the lake and the playground.

I really hate being tired and this is one of the hardest parts of being a mama right now for me. I become very cranky and impatient when I am tired and neither of these qualities are conducive to handling an equally tired toddler whose tantrums increase in duration, intensity and frequency with each hour of sleep he misses. Let's just say that Leif and I were not the best of friends yesterday, and those days make me sad. I know what kind of mom I can be, and I really like her, but on very little sleep, it is like I can see that mom drifting out to sea and as hard as I try, I cannot reach her to bring her back.

Ugh . . .

Leif has not been sleeping well for the past two weeks. He wakes up numerous times at night and then is waking up for an hour or so at 4am and falling back to sleep just as my alarm goes off. Then, because he is in a state of over-tiredness, he is not napping well either - 30 minutes tops. We are both about to lose our mind. I suspect this inability to sleep is thanks to the abundance of words he is all of a sudden able to say. With my older three kids, monumental milestones always accompanied an inability to sleep. I think it has something to do with the flurry of activity that is going on in their little brains at that time.

But I also think that this sudden disruption in sleep could have something to do with our lack of routine. Since school has started, as hard as I try to stick to nap times and daily routines, it has not been working because every day brings a new schedule. With five kids, someone always has one appointment or another - doctor's, dentist's, physio, etc. Throw three different school soccer schedules in the mix and we find ourselves running this way and that most days. I suspect all of this disruption has really thrown Leif's system out of whack, and this brings me to the second hardest aspect of my current state of mamahood - a lack of routine. With five kids ranging from infant to teenagers, our life is busy, crazy busy and I am really struggling trying to establish a routine.

Anyhoo . . . 

Back to the park. Growing tired of chasing Leif back and forth for an hour and a half, I plopped him and Harriet into their double stroller and we went for a walk. After his initial fuss over being restrained, Leif quickly settled into his seat and began to enjoy the sights of our walk.

Wuz zhat? Wuz zhat?

Then my phone buzzed. I looked down to see that Baby Girl had texted me. My heart leapt . . . woohoo! She is done.  Then my heart broke as I read the next three words.

It happened again.

I knew exactly what she was talking about; two infusions ago, Zoe had a reaction to her Remicade, which caused her airway to swell and made it difficult for her to breathe. This is one of the many, and probably least scary, side effects of Remicade . . . Ugh. For the record, I HATE colitis and I hate the fact that I have to give my big, Baby Girl this drug, but after dealing with this disease for almost four years now and having nothing else work, this is what we have to do.

Can you come. I am pretty shaken up.

I picked up my pace and quickly returned to the van with the two-under-two crew. Leif, who was soaking wet from wading in the lake, needed to be changed but I did not want to waste any time. I whipped his pants and shoes off, strapped him and Harriet into their seats and drove off. My heart was racing. I was so mad at myself for not being there . . . again . . . for Zoe during this scary experience. Yes, I also missed the first reaction . . . ugh.  

We pulled into the parking lot. I stopped the car, and jumped out. I quickly found Leif's change of pants and slipped them on. Since his sneakers were too wet to put back on, I placed him on my hip and put Harriet on the other and then ran inside, where I was greeted by the nurse.

She is sleeping right now. We gave her more Benadryl. We have restarted the IV and she seems to be okay. Since we had to stop and restart it at a much slower pace, she will not be done for another two hours. We will text you when she is ready to be picked up.

I stood there looking in on Zoe who was peacefully sleeping under the fleece red blanket I had made her two years ago. Looking at the two babies on my hips and seeing how many patients were currently hooked up to IV's in the tiny, cramped clinic, I felt completely helpless. I knew I couldn't stay, but I really did not want to leave her side. Her nurse must have read my mind:

She is going to be okay, Krista. When she wakes up, I will tell her that you stopped in.

Thank you.

With my babies in tow, I turned around and walked back to the car, much slower this time. I felt like all the life had just been deflated from my body.  No matter how hard I try, I consistently let one of my kids down. By attending the older kids' soccer games and appointments, I have disrupted Leif's sleep schedule. Because I have two babies to care for, I can no longer sit with Zoe during her appointments. Because I am not getting much sleep, I am not as patient as I once was while doing homework or as fun on the playground. . . and so on and so on. I think not being able to attend to all of my kids' needs is definitely the hardest and most frustrating part of being a mama of five.

I could have really beaten myself up, but I chose not to. Instead, I headed to my mom's house where Coca Cola flows on tap and where there is never a short supply of arms or laps to hold and entertain two babies under two.

By 7:30pm we had all returned home. As I stood at the island, putting the day's dishes in the dishwasher, I looked around at my family:  Mr. Level-Headed was discussing Elliot's soccer game against Rothesay High School with him, which they tied . . . woohoo!, Leif and Avery were in the middle of an intense game of tag, and Zoe was snuggling with Harriet, who has recently found her voice and currently spends most of her days telling us off . . . er, I mean . . . telling us stories. I couldn't help but smile at all of them. They are all mine. I may be doing a craptastic job at this mama of five gig, but I am trying my best, and I think that my sincere love for each of them and my desire to be the best mom I can be will shorten the gap between the mama I know I can be and the mama I actually am. I hope.

Elliot #20, rushing the goalie. Thanks Monique for the pic!

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