Life with three littles is wonderful. You can never really remember what it's like to have a baby until you have one again, with little thighs to gently squeeze and soft cheeks to kiss and that little face to grin up at you one hundred times a day.
It's also harder than I imagined it would be. Towards the end of my pregnancy with Molly, Ree finally began sleeping through the night at the ripe old age of 2.5, and Nathan and I joked that God was taunting us with how good life could be for a couple of brief months before the new baby arrived. We knew we were about to push the Reset button of life big time.
The nights are hard, of course. Actually, Molly's a pretty good night sleeper at the moment (albeit a terrible daytime napper!), but perhaps because she's sleeping in her own crib instead of in our bed like our other two girls did as babies, or perhaps because after five years of constantly jolting awake during the night you just become something of an insomniac, I've developed the entirely unhelpful habit of staying awake for approximately two hours after each and every waking from any of our three children. So, I'm averaging about four hours of sleep per night, which is not working too well for my mental state. A couple of days ago it became evident (in the form of my husband returning home from work late one evening to find me weeping on the bed, in a state of sheer panic that I couldn't fall asleep, wouldn't stay asleep if I did, might never sleep again, and incidentally, all of my life was closing in on me with ominous stresses on every side) that something needed to change, so my wonderful husband has been handing me a half a Unisom and a glass of water each evening and taking the baby monitor for the past three nights. Three nights with only brief wakings to nurse the baby without having to get out of bed? Bliss. The rawness of my nerves is beginning to feel soothed. In a surprising way, coming down with a fever and being bedridden for the better part of two days helped, because my own body forced me to sleep, and to sleep a great deal.
The days are hard too, though, in that endlessly busy yet mindlessly monotonous all at the same time sort of way.
A couple of days ago I thanked Nathan for always saying, "How was your day?" instead of "What did you do today?" Because most of the time, of course, I have no idea what we did aside from keeping our heads above water. Meals and playing and reading and cleaning and baths and other mundanities? Mostly I tried to get the baby to nap and then felt frustrated when the nap was altogether too short.
I know now that now matter how tired I am, I may yet be even more tired in the days to come. But I also know that no matter how many ways I try to capture it all with my memory, someday I'll be trying to recall just how it felt to hold those little thighs in my arms and carry that babe around constantly. Or how it felt to nurse her back to sleep with her hand grasping my finger tightly until at last it relaxed into deep slumber.
Someday, when I'm quite old and feeble, perhaps you'll find me walking down the baby aisle at Target. I'll be looking for a bottle of Shea Moisture baby shampoo, because I'll want to open the lid just a bit and let the scent of it waft into my nostrils, to breathe deeply of the memories of a freshly washed babe -- three of them, really -- who lived in my arms for long, long days but then grew up all too quickly.