There was this moment, after Jessica was born. She was an emergency c-section, and my pressure bottomed out, post-op. I remember that I couldn’t hold her, because I couldn’t stop the shaking and it was so awful, not being able to hold my baby that I just closed my eyes. In a very real sense, I sort of gave up for a few minutes. I don’t mean that I lost the will to live or anything, but that I was so disoriented and felt so powerless without her that I pretty much consciously passed out. The doctors and nurses gave me some nice drugs – and most important, Marc brought Jessie over right beside me and I calmed down, the blood pressure came back up and all was well. The point of my story is that right from the very beginning – I had this colossal NEED for my baby. I didn’t much see the point in breathing without having her.

They say that the bond isn’t immediate with everyone, and I can attest to that. With Jessica it was. It just was – from the instant she was in the world, I needed her more than anything else. With Sam and with Julie, it took a little bit longer, but the need (because it’s not just love – it’s a visceral need) for them – it’s just as strong.

I worried with each of them, the two children I had after Jessica, that I wouldn’t love them enough. Sure, I’d like them and stuff, but love them? The way I did with Jessie? And even after having Sam, even after knowing that it was just as strong – I loved and needed him just the same way, I still worried when I had Julie. How could I possibly love her the way I loved my other two? How would it be possible to love that much, again?

I think with Julie – with the nursing strike on the fourth day – I really, really freaked out about it. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to nurse her, that we wouldn’t have that bond, that it wouldn’t be the same. I was afraid not so much that I wouldn’t love her – I knew by then that I would die for her, but that she wouldn’t be as attached to me as the other kids were. That if I couldn’t nurse her, if I could be replaced by anyone holding a bottle of formula – how would she even know that she was mine?

And I was wrong. Just flat out, totally, totally wrong. I love her, adore her, just as much as I do with Jessica and Sam and she is just as firmly attached to me. We were at a funeral today – and of course, everyone wanted to hold her. So I’d pass her to this cousin or that aunt, and she’d start to cry. They’d hand her back, she’d stop immediately. Someone else would ask for her, I’d give them a shot, but my girl wanted nothing to do with anyone. She was overwhelmed, confused and the only place she wanted to be was in my arms. Because she’s my baby – and my babies don’t like playing “pass the baby,” my babies are legendary on both sides of our family for being incredibly bonded to me – and Julie is just as strongly attached, just as bonded as her brother and sister. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

I love these three children. I don’t know what I did in a past life, or what price I paid earlier in this life to earn these particular children, this particular man, this particular life, but I am so profoundly grateful, every day.

We’ve been joking since Julianna was born that she has four basic expressions – confusion, indignation, indignant confusion and confused indignance. But I’m very happy to report that we can add another to the list – flat out delight. She’s got a grin that just lights up her whole face and I laugh every time I see it, because it’s so incredibly thrilled. I sit her up on my lap and she’ll look around and around from side to side and then finally stop and lift her eyes up to meet mine and then she’ll just smile with this look of utter delight and joy. It’s amazing.

I love my sisters. All of them. Mandi, my baby sister, who could not possibly be more different from me – and yet if I don’t talk to her daily, I feel just a little bit off. My cousin Becky, my big sister. We grew up together, have seen each other thru everything and the person I think of when I hear the phrase “best friend.” My stepsisters, Aimee and Karen. We didn’t grow up together, I was so much older than they were, but as adults – we’ve found this closeness that I love and value more and more all the time.

And I can’t tell you how incredibly happy I am to have two daughters – to be able to give each of them a sister. For Jessie to have a baby sister, for Julie to have her big sister. Jess is in the tub, singing to herself, as is her habit. And I’m tired and touched out and ready to sit and have a tall glass of iced tea, and have nobody on my lap. Sam’s been asleep for a few hours again, and Julie has been nursing non-stop for the past three hours. I may exaggerate slightly, but it really does feel like she’s been nursing constantly.

So I went in to wash Jessie’s hair, and brought Julie’s bouncy seat. I plopped it on the floor in the door way to the bathroom and washed her hair. Then I went to go get towels for her, and realized that my two girls were perfectly happy together. Jessie is singing to Julie, and Julie is cooing back at her. They already have that bond – and I couldn’t be happier about it. Now I’m going to sit, sip my tea, and enjoy the silence 🙂

I was accidentally watching Caillou this morning (actually, it was on the television because I was letting the boys watch tv longer than I normally do for a variety of reasons) and that little boy makes me insane. Putting that experience together with a couple of awesome essays I read earlier on babble ( and made me think about my own theories on parenting, what I’ve learned over the past seven and a half years. My beloved Jessica is exceptionally dramatic. This is fabulous, mostly. But not so much when she stubs her toe and screams like it’s been sawed off with a knife. Not so much when she can’t fold the towel to fit in her beach bag and has to throw herself on the bed and sob like someone has died. My son is very easy going, almost all the time, but exceptionally stubborn when he does have a tantrum – to the point where I mostly give in if he’s really, really upset.

Caillou bugs me because he whines and complains and acts younger than he is, just because he’s lazy and a wuss. Okay, I’ve said it. I like kids who try to do stuff, who don’t pretend that they can’t because it’s fun to be babied. I like children who can play independently, “using their brains” is the phrase I use when I flick off the television and insist that they play. I never played baby dolls or cars with my kids – because they are perfectly capable of creating their own games. I encourage my seven year old to get her own clothes together, my four year old to get his own drinks. I want them to grow up. I love this stage, with little kids and babies but have no real desire to keep them this way (other than the wistful little moments when I want to freeze time and keep them like this forever).

But I also really hate making my kids unhappy. I hate it when I have to draw a line in the sand, have a battle of wills and win just because I’m bigger and I’m the parent. I know it’s a necessary part of parenting, and hands down, it’s the area I struggle with the most. How much am I accomodating their needs and how much am I letting them get away with stuff they shouldn’t?

Does every parent always feel a least a little bit inadequate? I think I’m pretty good at this job, and the basic mechanics of it, those I’ve got down cold. I know how often to feed them, how much sleep they require. I know how to give a bath, how to entice a child to eat veggies. How to set limits, teach manners, and how to balance out free time versus structured time. But the other stuff… that’s where I’m constantly questioning myself. Should I let Jess and Sam bicker or do I intercede? Should I try harder to get Julie on a routine, or continue to just let her day sort of flow according to her needs and mine? Where do you draw the line between protecting your kids and encouraging them to take risks and try new things?

– Take out really does make my life so much easier. Given the option, I’d always rather have take out, over cooking at home or eating at the restaurant. I know it’s the definition of lazy, but seriously – I adore it. Food delivered directly to your door – is there anything better?

– It’s extra special nice when my kids really, really get along. The squabbling and bickering can get so tiresome and irritating, and when they actually forget that they are supposed to battle, and get along, it’s so incredibly gratifying.

– When it’s ninety degrees outside, birthday parties are just better when they’re inside and air conditioned.

– There is nothing cuter than my favorite cousin, twenty two weeks pregnant. Just nothing cuter. I can’t wait for Julianna’s best friend to be born.

– Being the second wife never actually gets better. It gets easier, as the kids grow up, I get more used to the role, etc – but it still always has the potential to suck. Hard.

– Sometimes, when your little boy wakes up with a nightmare, and is inconsolably sobbing, and finally chokes out “I want DADDY!”, your primary feeling will just be relief that it’s not you who has to get up and sit with him for the next two hours. I do the vast majority of the nighttime parenting, partially because I nurse, but also because I think I’m just better at it. Sam is such a great sleeper, and almost never gets up – but was up Saturday from quarter of three until after five in the morning – and I got to sleep thru it. It was AWESOME.

– Going to the movies with my daughter is endlessly fun. Sometimes, it easy to forget that it was once just she and I – she was my only baby and my only focus. Now I’ve got three little lovelies to pay attention to, and while the love I feel for Jess has never diminished, the amount of time I was able to spend one on one dropped significantly, with the advent of her siblings and her starting school. I really, really enjoyed spending Sunday night taking her to see Ramona and Beezus.

I think I forget sometimes, just about how much sheer TIME I spend nursing. I nursed Sam for so long, my primary breastfeeding memories are still of nursing a preschooler, and that’s fast and easy. Nursing a baby is so very different. Julie really is perfectly content to spend ALL of her time latched on. Sometimes nursing, sometimes dozing, sometimes actually sleeping, sometimes sipping occasionally while pondering whatever it is that she ponders. I don’t think I did anything else really today. I mean, I did, obviously. I fed the kids, did some laundry, some dishes, cleaned Jessie’s bedroom, vacuumed. But mostly, I just sat and nursed. On the upside – Grey’s Anatomy is on three times a day on the Lifetime Channel, and I’ve been watching my way thru that. I read an article, where they asked three different doctors if moms should watch television while nursing and all three of them said no – it was prime bonding time and mothers should spend their time gazing lovingly into their child’s eye. Not that I don’t gaze lovingly – but all I could think was that none of those doctor’s clearly were ever SAHM’s who nursed an infant full time.

I’m kind of worn out today – touched out, frazzled and tired. I’m ordering take out for dinner, and Marc’s at the gym. Jessie came home from camp, breezy and beautiful and thrilled with herself. Sam is overtired and I’m hoping he’ll eat before passing out for the night and Julie, my little Julie bug, has been cooing at her big sister, I swear she misses her when she’s gone all day, and is just now starting to fuss. Time to settle her down for a nap, hopefully, but other than a good nap this morning, the only sleeping she’s done is at the breast. She bounces awake every time I lay her down.

Some mornings just are unpleasant. But I did what I’m constantly trying to teach my daughter NOT to do, and made sure that everyone was just as unhappy as I was this morning. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess, and I’m reminded of when Marc told me that Jess was me with no impulse control. The house is cluttered and messy, clean laundry is scattered all over the house waiting to be folded, everything is hot and sticky and Marc had piled a big bunch of paperwork all over the dining room table. Jessie couldn’t find her bathing suit, and I lost my cup of coffee. Everything just piled up, one after another, until all I could do was just plead with the universe to let me go back to bed and start over again.

But, since going back to bed isn’t an option, I’m doing my best to start again with a new cup of coffee (I’ll find the old one eventually). I’ve got the kids’ combo birthday party on Saturday, and then one of Marc’s aunts is having a cookout in the afternoon. Sunday is probably a day when nothing will happen, as Marc has made plans to be with his friends for the bulk of the day, but I’m hoping to take Jess to see Ramona and Beezus that night.

All is well with the kids. Jess is really enjoying summer camp this year, she’s growing up so fast. She’s all tanned long legs and big eyes – her new hair cut makes her look so much older, somehow. Sam is bouncing around my bedroom right now, fighting the imaginary bad guys with Jordyn, and Miss Julianna is sound asleep on the couch. One thing I really like about her schedule is that she wakes up to eat and then goes back out for an hour, or sometimes two or three, first thing in the morning. It gives me time to get the dishes done, or the laundry, or to blog, in this instance.

Sam is in the living room, Julie is asleep on the couch (thank goodness – yesterday was a no nap day), and Jessie and Marc have already left for camp and work. And Sam’s got his army guys and his fireman figurines out and he’s in there chanting quietly to himself “Never give up, never give up, never give up…” It’s an odd sort of song that he made up to sing while he plays with his guys – and I love it. I love the message it sends, I love that he emulates strong men who dedicate their lives to helping those who need it, and that he totally gets that the goal is to “never give up.” Having a son is so freaking cool.

Ah – it starts again. I hate teething – I hate the idea that my kids are in pain and there’s nothing to do but suffer thru it. Poor Julie is drooling all the time, chewing on her fists and having such a hard time sleeping. It’s ten of two, and she just now fell asleep for her first good nap (she normally naps from around nine until eleven and then at least one more good nap in the afternoon, sometimes two). There are no teeth popping thru yet, but I know the signs. Jess and Sam both cut their teeth relatively early (Jess was five months, Sam was seven), and I’m fearing that Julie will be even earlier.

Which would be par for the course, since we’ve had more nursing battles, she and I, than I had with the other two combined. It would only make sense that we’d start the biting earlier as well. My breast infection seems to have cleared up, thanks to Dr. Marc. I’m using lotrimin ointment (yes, the same stuff used for athlete’s foot and jock itch) and it worked better and faster than anything else I’ve tried. Julie is still showing signs of thrush, so I give her to nystatin whenever I happen to remember it, and just hope that it doesn’t get bad again.