Call us crazy. We added another.
We are now happily, crazily, exhaustedly a family of SIX. We welcomed our fourth child, Payton Andrea Remke on 6/6/12. She was, as I predicted our biggest baby (at 7 lbs) even a week and a half early. She was a slow (at first) then really fast delivery, and in the end only took about 10-15 min of pushing before she emerged at 4:46 p.m., cord wrapped around her neck twice. I figure this was just practice for the Survivor-like roughing up she'll experience in this house with her big brother and two big sisters wreaking havoc. We brought Payton home from the hospital the next day, and all she's done since is sleep and poop. She can sleep through the dog's barking/howling at the UPS guy, Brayden's whistling and his Batman video game noise, Mia's daily temper tantrum screams and Téa's happy yelling and fork banging at the dinner table. She's got big eyes, which will, I presume be a beautiful brown like all her siblings, and lots of dark hair. She most resembles brother Brayden when he was a baby. She's an adorable baby and some days I get a little sad thinking she is probably (according to Matthew) our last child. I really am trying to soak it in, since babyhood went way too fast with Brayden and the twins.
The kids love on the baby so much - they want to hold her, feed her, give her kisses and hugs (death grip squeezes I should say) - I wish I had a nickel for every time I say, "LEAVE THE BABY ALONE!"
I should keep a video camera handy during these first weeks with her, some of the things the kids say are so funny - it would be a sin not to remember it all.
There are some days I really think I'm losing my mind. I can't remember what life was like before four kids and nonstop chaos. I promised myself I'd never lose "me" - doing things for me, exercising, reading novels, writing, or just taking care of myself and certainly not going out in public when I didn't look half way decent. But I'm going to admit - all that is out the window at this point. I've been to the grocery literally after having fallen out of bed -- beat up T-shirt, no makeup, jammie pants (underwear? I have no clue)... during one of these trips the cashier actually asked me if I had (food stamps). Wow. I must really have looked stellar that day.
I asked Matthew if he felt like sometimes we were playing "house" - like we're still too young to be in charge of a house, four kids, a dog, bills -- and that thing I never mastered called "dinner." (Matthew said if we were just "playing" house he would have left the game long ago!) But that's how I feel sometimes. I am not sure where the time went. Just yesterday I was on spring break in Key West, where Matthew and I met, and I'm wearing my tiny green and white bikini listening to my headphones at the hotel pool (yes, remember we wore headphones?) sunning myself without a care in the world.
Flash forward to last week during one of those hot, humid days, Matthew came home from work to find his children naked (save diapers) playing in the plastic pool in the driveway with yours truly barefoot and breastfeeding our baby in a lawn chair just outside the garage near the garbage cans. I'm pretty sure this was the point I realized I've really thrown in the towel.
A couple days ago I thought it was a good idea to drag 2-year-old twins and a newborn to the neighborhood pool in 100 degree heat. I know that's stupid. Trust me - I was thinking one thing - it will make them tired for nap! So the girls and I fumble out of the minivan with the stroller, baby's carseat, two bags of towels, pool toys, diapers, snacks, sippie cups, floaties and pool rings and we find a shady table near the baby pool to unload. After getting sunscreen on the girls (which is like trying to chase down and apply SPF to a butterfly) and changing a poopy newborn diaper, I sit on the edge of the pool soaking in much-needed sun on my pale parts. Since all my other children were born in the winter, this is a new experience, to be able to "enjoy" the outdoors so soon after having a new baby.
Well, the "enjoy" part quickly fades, as I see a teenage girl arrive at the pool with two kids she is obviously babysitting. She's wearing a cute red bikini no bigger than a cocktail napkin and she's got lovely tanned skin and a long, blonde ponytail atop her head. I try very hard not to hate this girl that I don't even know, and my mind flashes back to 18 years ago, when I was about the same age. I was a lifeguard, so I too, had a great tan and could rock a tiny bikini no matter that I ate a cheeseburger a day that summer. I whipped around my long, dark-haired ponytail too, girlie! No, you'd never guess it by looking at me now, covered up in this horrid ugly mom-kini suit with my ginormous leaky breasts spilling out the top and my post baby belly pouch trying to bust loose at my sweaty waistband. I look and feel like a big, gross gummy bear - like the kind that has been sitting in someone's pocket for a long time. I remember a 30s-something mother with kids telling me, "it'll all catch up with you someday honey!"
I guess I never realized that crazy lady spoke the truth.
Just then, Téa swims up to me and points to a cluster of varicose veins around the side of my thigh, and points, "what's that momma? you got owwee?"
Thanks dear child. I almost forgot about that imperfection too -- my veiny, fat upper thighs, courtesy of a 45-lb weight gain with the twins and lack of an exercise regimen for the past couple years.
I know, I know, all of this is for the greater purpose - my beautiful children - all these imperfections and the frumpy body and stretch marks and veins are my "badge of honor" for motherhood and childbirth, right? I will say I wouldn't trade any of my children or their being born for a zillion dollars. I loved the experience of having each of them and I love the string of experiences we're messing with now. This is what LIFE is ... but... there is a little piece of me, who's willing to maybe pay a zillion dollars - just for one day, to get back into that green and white bikini, and rock out at the pool by myself with only my headphones on;-)