Whoa baby baby.

I was chatting to a family member last weekend about kids and he was asking how on earth I handle four kids as one child was a challenge for him. I agreed completely that it was and it got me thinking about our numbers and how each child affected me.

One child – Exciting ( & exhausting )

The very prospect that I was now married and could get pregnant if I wanted to was a very big stamp in my ‘grown up’ book. I was now ‘allowed’ to get pregnant. That was a very novel and exciting thought to me.

The excitement didn’t wear off either from first discovery and secret smiles, to telling the world, and carrying life into a large bump and – okay not on everyone’s ‘exciting list’ – but all the way to labour! Everything was brand new to me, how I was feeling, thinking, craving. It was an exciting adventure that only I could physically and emotionally experience.

As most of you know I was told I may not be able to have children, let alone carry one due to my kidney transplant but my husband and I believe in an awesome God who can do the impossible and He did and along came our first girl.

When we brought her home and life began it was like being smacked in the face with a tired stick several times in a row, every single day and looking after her was utterly relentless but it was a joy because I’d never known a love where I would literally bite someone’s face off if they so much as laid an uninvited finger on her.

Two children – Exhilarating ( & exhausting )

In my naivety I thought I had motherhood down and so when the question; “Shall we have another?” came up I answered, “why not?” After all two’s company right?

After a reasonably ‘simple’ labour (if that’s possible?!) of just two hours my boy entered into the world like a whirling dervish. Completely the opposite of my first girl who was text book. He was born with a poorly heart and needed surgery at 3 months old, then he started teething at 4 months (!!) so I don’t think we had a solid nights sleep in months. That alone isn’t good for the mental health yet we had two kids. Everything worked. The ratio worked. One child per hand. One child per adult. A ‘normal’ sized car. One girl and one boy. 2.4. Done right?

Nope.

It just wasn’t enough noise for me. Enough chaos. Enough bodies to hold. Enough cereal to pour. So we went for number three which for me was…

Three children – Experimental ( & exhausting )

It was juggling on a whole new level. Yet since we’d already dealt with the initial juggle of two, one in each hand, three just seemed to keep rolling. The eldest was turning four and at school later that year and she wanted to be treated as a ‘big girl’ which meant a whole new independent phase for her, plus she was more than happy to be the ‘entertainment’ for the others which helped me immensely. Plus this second girl was different all over again and the thrill of guessing what she would look like and act like kept us on our toes.

( She, if you want to know, is a brown eyed, brunette, curly haired fire-cracker quite the opposite of our straight blonde and blue first girl. )

Four children – well…I haven’t got a word for that one yet but I can definitely tell you … Exhausting.

Now, in a strange Mother Earth kind of way, I feel complete. Satisfied. Full up and mostly at my wits end.

I mean I wanted chaos – I got it. I wanted bodies to hold – I got five! And meal times? I’m considering buying a trough and just pouring it out in front of them each time.

There is a constant commentary from each child about what the other child / children are doing and frankly there’s only so many times in a day you can say ‘oh right’ in an interested tone.

The baby is currently going through a growth spurt, touch of tea-time colic (apparently it’s a thing) forgetting how to sleep, post injection meltdown so cries the whole time she’s awake which doesn’t really work along side the Sonos blasting out ‘Hallelujah’ in a bid to exercise her spirit.

But I have made my bed and sometimes I wonder why I made it so big because some days I could drown in it but most of the time I happily lie in it surrounded by sweaty little bodies and stinky morning breath and it is heaven to me.

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The train wreck of nasty kind of a week

I thought I’d regale you with the tale of our worst week to date.

Of course everyday brings its trials and treats whether you have children or not but this particular week for us will go down in our memories as a nasty train that flew into our lives, uninvited, and smashed into smithereens all over us, to put it bluntly.

This is the same week that featured my near heart attack that wasn’t actually a heart attack at all but a trapped nerve in my shoulder, that should give you a taster of what we were up against.

It was a week full of extreme highs and tentative lows waiting for the extreme highs again and it all started with an unconfirmed ‘bug’. You know one of those bugs that are ‘going around’ because someone’s sisters, next door neighbours, auntie’s dog was sick one Sunday afternoon and therefore it’s fully logical that my daughter would therefore be sick too. Which she was, for four days and three nights two of which saw absolutely no sleep by me at all.

All she did was walk towards me one Saturday afternoon saying she didn’t like the apple I’d just sliced up for everyone’s afternoon snack and next thing I saw the apples again but in pieces along side some carrot, which was rather suspicious as we’d not eaten carrots in at least 24 hours?

There it carried on every twenty minutes or so for the rest of the day. Everyone was on sick watch. Any movement in my toddlers chin was reason to bolt to her side, bucket in hand. As evening came she slept in our room surrounded by towels, buckets and paper towels. I led on my side keeping one eye on her for what felt like hours as my other eye got some rest. At the allotted time, with my rested eye, I got up to feed the baby.

Feeding in the babies dark room I began to feel a little dizzy. I assumed it was just my eye playing tricks on me but the feeling got worse. Suddenly saliva filled my mouth and I knew what was going to happen. I desperately gurgled my husbands name through the baby monitor and thankfully it must have sounded weird enough for him to come dashing through. He took the baby and in one dramatic dash (nothing less for me) I swooped into the bathroom and regurgitated everything I’d ever eaten in my entire life into the sink.

By morning the next day nothing had changed in the toddler vomit routine, although I had miraculously recovered?!We moved toddler from the bedroom to the sofa where we could keep several eyes on her as she napped on and off in between throwing up. Day slowly shifted to night and sleep at last came to all. I slipped into a temporary coma as my head hit the pillow which left husband exposed to the night shift.

In the middle of a particularly deep REM I was abruptly woken with a bright light and a baby. Husband declared, as he knelt in front of the toilet, that he was going to throw up and then collapse should I need him. After a few dry wretch attempts he moved onto the latter part of his declaration and curled his body around the cold porcelain. He laid there for the rest of the feed and only when I returned to our room did he scramble back to his side to sleep it off.

The following days were a blur only to hit another vomit high on Wednesday. My eldest daughter told me she had tummy ache over chicken and rice. After an obligatory chorus about how, to grow big and strong you must actually eat something, and a rendition of the classic, ‘you need to eat what your mother has made you’ we allowed her to skip her meal and go to bed early. (We sound like tyrants!)

Not half an hour later she called me in to say her tummy really did hurt. I swapped sick buckets from the toddlers bed to the eldest in a bid to sympathise with her only to catch an outpouring of her entire stomach before it hit the bed. Which I was quite relieved about as my washing pile was warping a stud wall in my utility.

Our train wreck of a week ended with antibiotics and tummies tenderly nursing toast and water and successfully keeping it down! The final straw however, after my near death experience with a trapped nerve that is, was the following Monday afternoon. My husband rang to check in when I heard an all to familiar retching noise. I looked to all three children sat at the table their angel faces glowing with innocence only to realise it was the cat throwing up on my door mat!! I shoved his retching body back through the cat flap in a wake of suspicious carrot pieces?!

My boy was the only one left standing after the attack of the mysterious bug. We are all getting back to normal now and carrots have been removed from the menu for a while…