Call me cajun

While driving to Lake Charles, I pointed out a storm to Gemma that we would be traveling through. After a few seconds, she asked, “And is it going to flood us in our car?”

The recent 500-year flood in Louisiana has left her worried that any storm could flood us. It has left me worried that any storm could flood us even though not a single drop of flood water came into our house. I can’t begin to imagine how the flood victims feel.

I was home alone that weekend with my girls – three non-swimming little girls. My husband had to drive through the storm and attend a work meeting in New Orleans. I went to bed Friday night exhausted and feeling sorry for myself. I woke up early Saturday morning dismayed after seeing the amount of water outside. I tried to think of what I would do if the water did enter our house. After thinking and thinking and not finding a solution, I began praying – praying that the water wouldn’t get any higher and that my husband would make it home safely.

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Luckily, we were spared from any flood damage. Somehow, most of our city was spared while neighboring cities were not. We have family and friends spread throughout Louisiana and amazingly, they were all spared.

Maybe it was because Vivienne blessed me five times before going to sleep or maybe it was simply because we were lucky. Either way, part of me feels guilty. We had it so easy while so many others lost everything.

My heart aches so much for all of the flood victims. I often find myself deeply immersed in reading articles, watching videos and looking at pictures related to the flood so I can put myself in their shoes. Just 10 years ago I lived in Baton Rouge. It could have easily been me.

Weeks ago I wished that my walls weren’t so bare and today, I’m extremely thankful that I have those walls, along with everything in those walls, along with my life and family’s lives.

The flood has been a geography lesson, a science lesson and lesson in compassion for Gemma. She’s ready and willing to give away so many of her gently-used toys and clothes as soon as we can find another little girl that has lost all of her’s.

Because of the flood, Gemma will soon have lessons in cajun – lessons in crawfish, Mardi Gras, zydeco and lastly, southern hospitality. This state doesn’t make the top of many lists (test scores, cleanliness, best state to have a baby). There’s been many times that I haven’t been proud to be a Louisiana native and there’s been many times that I wanted to move out of Louisiana.  However, because of this flood and because of how so many Louisianians treated other Louisianians during and after this flood, there is no other state I would rather live in.

There is no other state I want to call home.

“Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” -Colossians 3:11

You are doing it … and conquering it 

“I don’t want to do this anymore.”

I texted that to my husband along with several other comments venting about my stay-at-home-mom gig.

I instantly felt a tremendous amount of guilt and waited for him to tell me how horrible of a person I was for writing that, but he never did. He was too busy with his own job.

I am in the middle of the worst season of motherhood that I have ever experienced. What should have been the most wonderful time of year was actually downright exhausting and miserable and it’s still going on. We’ve recently been through several different viruses, two babies cutting teeth, a torn mouth frenulum and a damaged and lost toenail. The fevers, the snot, the tears. It just won’t end.

Because having three littles isn’t hard enough. Because the holidays aren’t busy enough.

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In my spare time I was supposed to be Santa, decorate for the holidays, bake goodies, find fun crafts and plan a magical mermaid bash, but instead I kept fevers down, wiped noses and lugged around a 23 lb. baby that refuses to sleep in her bed.

Just when a sickness ends, teeth start cutting. Just when teeth protrude, the girls catch another illness.

At the end of the day I don’t have enough energy to even focus on my favorite TV shows. At the end of the day I just sit. At the end of the day I just take in the absolute nothing.

I’m tired.

I’m so tired of being tired.

And I don’t want to do this anymore.

That’s honest. That’s real. This is the motherhood that I envisioned when I saw my third positive pregnancy test. This is the motherhood that terrified me.

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I’ve also said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” during labor with my second baby. My midwife replied with, “but you are doing it!”

And I am doing it now. In fact, I’m conquering this motherhood thing even during the worst of times. My girls had an amazing Christmas season. I was told by my oldest that Santa did a really good job this year. They were still able to decorate cookies and gingerbread houses. They made several Christmas crafts. They opened thoughtful gifts from Santa, visited Santa and enjoyed a magical mermaid party.

I’m falling apart because I am giving them everything that I have and more. And that’s what motherhood is.

I give and I don’t know how to stop giving.

Even when I’m exhausted and at the end of my rope, they come first and it is absolutely worth it. When I’m old and gray I won’t remember all of our tears. I won’t remember what I thought was a hard day. I’m going to remember how they shared the last bit of cookie dough. I’m going to remember them telling Santa that they wanted an amulet and a Belle doll for Christmas. I’m going to remember how much they loved their dollhouse.

In fact, when I think out my previous day, I often ask myself, “Was it really that bad?”

Yes. Yes, it was.

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If things go like they do in labor, the hard times will subside and there will be rejoicing. The baby won’t cut teeth forever, the illnesses will subside, the holidays will be over and I will be able to concentrate on my TV shows once again.

It may just take longer than I want. But the longer it takes, the more I’ll embrace the good seasons.

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Pushing through potty-training

It’s official. My 22-month-old is a big girl.

Aging from 1 to 2 is a transitioning period from baby to full-on toddler. There are a few milestones that my babies reach that help with this transition: weaning from breastfeeding, weaning from pacifiers, sleeping in a big-kid bed and lastly, potty-training.

The first three milestones were a breeze with Vivienne so I had hoped potty-training would be just as easy. It was almost too easy with her older sister, taking only three days at 20-months-old. She was completely out of diapers and pull-ups even at night before she was 2. Potty-training was the only thing that was easy with her though.

I decided to try potty-training Vivienne after she began taking off her wet diapers. It was just three weeks before my due date with her new sister. I really wanted to get potty-training out of the way before I had two babies in diapers, but after three days of not getting anything in the potty other than tears, I called it quits.

I was physically exhausted from bending down and picking her up, running waddling fast with her to the bathroom and wiping up mess after mess. Unexpectedly, I was also emotionally exhausted.

She looked absolutely terrified of “letting go” on the potty. She would happily sit on the potty – unless she actually needed to potty. When she needed to go, there were wails, fits and screams for 30 minutes until she couldn’t hold it anymore and released a very large puddle on the floor. She cried when I put her on the potty and she cried when I took her off.

I was at a loss of what to do and felt like I was torturing my child to get her to do the right thing.

I guess neither one of us were ready to “let go” of Baby Vivienne. I felt defeated but I happily put a diaper back on her because I was glad to keep her my baby for a little bit longer.

Three months after welcoming the new baby, Vivienne pulled off a dry diaper and peed in the house twice (once in my bed and once on my new rug). I decided to try round 2 of potty-training. She still cried on the potty and she still cried when she needed to potty, but it wasn’t as intense.

Diapers were all she knew and they were easy for her. In a way, they were comforting. And all of a sudden I was asking her to stop something that she’s done since birth.  I was asking her to do something that didn’t feel normal. I was asking her to do something she clearly didn’t want to do. I was asking her to grow up.

Part of me wanted to stop potty-training again. I hated seeing her so frightened. I knew she was ready though. She just needed a little push.

It was a journey – a week-long, messy journey. Potty-training started off with me holding her on the potty while she cried until she finally gave in and let go. It transitioned into her happily sitting on the potty and taking a few minutes to let go. It further transitioned into her immediately letting go with the cutest and proudest smile on her face.

It’s been a week and she’s still smiling. She’s still applauding herself. She’s still saying goodbye to her tee tee. She’s still so proud to not need diapers anymore.

Even though potty-training is over, she’s still going to face many more battles throughout her life – with school, with friends, with Satan. I hope I always have enough perseverance to keep pushing her to do what’s best – even if it takes two rounds.

10 must-haves for mamas with 2 or more little ones

Some links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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With three little ones running around I don’t have much time or energy these days. I need easy. I need practical. I need quality. Because I have girls in different stages in their lives with different needs and wants, it’s really beneficial when I find a product that I can use for at least two of them. The following products meet all of those needs AND they meet my want, they’re stylish. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of research on baby gear and these are some of the best products out there.

Here is my list of baby items we are currently using that I would not go without:

1. Joovy Caboose Ultralight Stand-on Tandem Stroller
I bought my Joovy at the end of my second pregnancy after researching several double strollers. This thing is so versatile. Some days I put my newborn in her car seat carrier in the front and my toddler sitting in the back. The back rear-facing seat has a buckle keeping my toddler from hopping off and running away. In a matter of seconds, I can switch to my toddler sitting in the front and my 4-year-old standing or sitting in the back. The quality is superb and should be able to last for many years. It’s so lightweight that I was able to lift it into my Suburban throughout my entire pregnancy. It’s also super compact when folded. It fits perfectly sideways in the back, but I often have my third row seats folded down and store the Joovy longways. The Joovy is also great storage for delicate groceries like eggs, bread and fruit. Purchase the rear seat for more configurations.

2. Diono Radian RXT Car Seat
Because I’m having to fit three car seats in my suburban, I need car seats that are compact. My one-year-old’s convertible car seat wasn’t cutting it. That thing was huge! Safety is also a priority and so I wasn’t ready to switch her to a compact forward-facing seat. I changed out her previous car seat with this 17″ wide Diono and she and I both adore it. In fact, she hasn’t fussed to get out of the vehicle ever since I installed it. She is always wanting to go, go, go now.  I opted for the plum, not only for the pretty color, but also for the smooth ultra-suede fabric. It may be a little heavy but its steel alloy frame and aluminum reinforced sides make it safe. It holds children from 5 pounds up to 120 pounds so each one of my girls can fit in it. This is THE car seat for larger families keeping safety as a priority. Did I mention that I also bought newborn one for when she’s too heavy to carry in the car seat carrier?

3. Aden and Anais Burpy Bibs
I became a fan of Aden and Anais after my first pregnancy. Their muslin blankets are big, soft and super stretchy. I tossed out all of my other blankets and only saved the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets. Their burpy bibs are just as amazing. They contour around my neck which helps to keep them in place. They’re quite large which helps to catch any and all flying spit-up. The muslin fabric is soft against my baby’s face. The prints are super adorable. What makes them really stand out is that they can turn into a bib for when my baby is ready for solids OR I can also use them for my toddler right now.7041_1-bib-muslin-burp-cloth-feather-wink4. Little Biscuit Bows Headbands
I’ve always been super picky about headbands on my babies. I made most of the headbands for my first daughter. I recently discovered these headbands on Etsy. These were the only headbands that my second daughter would leave on her head. They’re so soft and stretchy, fitting newborns to young children so each one of my girls can wear them.

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5. Graco Glider Elite Gliding Swing 
I purchased my first swing-and-bouncer-in-one for my first baby. Unfortunately, it stopped working during the second baby’s infancy. I liked it so much that I purchased a newer version for my third baby. So often my babies fall asleep in the swing and I like them moved to a different room or outside while the other girls and I play. Instead of having to take them out of the swing, I just lift the bouncer off and carry it with me. And because I have a very curious child and toddler,  it’s crucial that I have my newborn in eyesight at all times. I am constantly switching from swing to bouncer and back to swing. It’s also small which leaves me more room in my house for more baby gear.

6. Bebe au Lait Hooter Hiders Nursing Cover 
I’m a big believer in breastfeeding and that it’s natural and normal and that all women should be able to feed their babies without being covered. However, there are certain locations that I’m in or certain outfits that I wear that I feel its more appropriate for me to be covered. I would love to able to just throw an Aden and Anais blanket over me and my baby, but again, I have two other curious children that are constantly wanting to expose me. So I play it safe with my nursing cover. Honestly, I feel like I’m wearing an apron and that I’m drawing more attention to my nursing self, but it does keep the girls hidden very well.15994555

7. Matt and Nat Diaper Bag
I purchased so many diaper bags over the years. I think I bought three with each child. I’ve never found one that I liked and that I would like for years to come until my Matt and Nat diaper bag came in the mail. Its large size will hold everything I need (diapers for the baby, diapers for the toddler, my wallet, sippy cups for the older girls, snacks for all of us, etc.). Its timeless style will keep me wanting to use it for several years. It also comes with an adjustable strap that makes it possible to easily store on the Joovy stroller or wear as a crossbody. The vegan leather exterior and lining made out of recycled plastic bottles make this bag eco-friendly.

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8. Honest Company Diaper Subscription
I’ve been trying to make our household as chemical-free as possible. So it only makes sense that I purchase eco diapers; however, our local grocery stores do not sell any. Even if our stores did sell them, it’s more convenient to get them shipped to my front door. It’s one less thing that I have to make room for in the grocery cart and it’s one less thing that I have to worry about purchasing. I am able to order diapers for my infant and throw in training pants for my toddler. With the diaper subscription, I get a 25% discount on any Honest Company products so I also often throw in the shampoo + body wash in sweet orange vanilla. It smells so delicious and just like creamsicle popsicles. Yum! Product-20-slide_with_zoom-171c81f1-0a91-44d7-ba14-1ef9c45eb3dd.png9. The Safe Sippy 2 by Kidbasix
What parent doesn’t go throw several sippy cups? I’ve been through many and have never actually liked any of them until I found these. I bought them thinking they would be just travel cups, but we use them on a daily basis. These stainless steel cups keep drinks cold while the thermos sleeve keeps little ones’ hands from also getting cold. The removable handles, sippy valve, straw hook-up and travel lid make these cups super versatile.

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10. Ergo 360 Carrier with Newborn Insert
I am a big fan of wrap baby carriers. I love having my babies snuggled on me. I love the K’Tan for it’s convenience and I love the Solly Wrap for it’s soft, stretchy fabric. However, my babies get big fast and I need something with a little more cushion and support. My babies are also very curious and like to see out. The Ergo 360 was my solution. If I had to recommend one carrier, this would be it. It can be used from newborn until 3-years of age. One day I can wear my infant in the front. Another day I can wear my toddler in the back without having to adjust anything. Bonus: my husband can sport it.

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Summer wouldn’t be as sweet without our Aden and Anais burby bibs and Honest Company diapers.

 

Normalizing nursing for the girls with “the girls”

I didn’t want to breastfeed Gemma. I was weirded out by the idea. I hadn’t been around breastfeeding enough for it to be normal.

I felt like I had to though. I quit my job to stay home with her and then there’s the saying, “breast is best”.

The first time she nursed it felt weird. Very weird. I had this new being feeding from one of my private areas. But I kept nursing.

It hurt A LOT. My only relief from the blisters and cracked nipples was from Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Natural Nipple Butter and Booby Tubes. I experienced a sharp, shooting pain for every let down – almost like my body was making crystals instead of milk. Breastfeeding still hurt even at 6-weeks postpartum when it wasn’t supposed to hurt anymore. But I kept nursing.

It kept hurting at 8-weeks postpartum when I realized that Gemma and I both had thrush. Her mouth itched. Her bottom itched. My chest itched. She cried. I cried. But I kept nursing.

I felt lost. I felt confused. Every day I wanted to stop. But somehow I just kept nursing.

Eventually, breastfeeding was no longer weird and there was no more pain. It had become such a natural and easy thing. We made it until Gemma was 14-months-old.

It became so normal for me that I almost nursed my friend’s baby boy – by choice. After his first nursing session, he wouldn’t latch on to his mother and part of me blamed myself. A nurse had sent my friend home with nipple shields, a bottle of sugar water and feeling as if something was wrong with her body.

I was there. I should have stood up for her. I should have insisted that everything was fine and that her baby had nursed beautifully an hour before. Knowing how badly she wanted to breastfeed, I would have done anything – even become her wet nurse until we figured it out.

When her baby wouldn’t latch on the next day, I knew that he was just confused. In such a short period of time, he nursed his mom, latched on with the nipple shields and drank from a bottle.

I never nursed him and not because I tried and he wouldn’t latch. It was because together, my friend and I figured it out. The baby latched on with the shields and was able to eventually wean off of them.

Towards the end of my pregnancy with Vivienne, I became excited to nurse her. I couldn’t wait to have that incredible bond with my new bundle of joy. I had the same feeling for Eloise. I was still afraid that I would endure the same pain that I did with Gemma. During my second two pregnancies, I stocked up on Earth Mama Angel Baby breastfeeding products, but I didn’t need them. Nursing was a breeze.

The first time I told Vivienne that Eloise was hungry, she quickly found her baby doll’s bottle and put it up to Eloise’s mouth. She hasn’t done that since. Instead, she’ll often stare at us in amazement. Whenever I do cover us up, she tries to peak in.

I’ve been on a mission to make breastfeeding normal for my girls. If or when they have their own babies, I don’t want them to feel as if they’re doing everything wrong or that they were made wrong.

I bought Gemma a Nursing Nina plush cat after Vivienne was born to help explain to her about breastfeeding. Soon after, I caught her leaning over our dog, Ruffles, with her shirt lifted trying to get the dog to latch on. She still pretends to nurse her baby dolls.

It has become so normal for the girls. So normal that Gemma recently stated, “When you and Daddy go on a date, you should get a mom to come here and feed the new baby.”

Breastfeeding is simply that – feeding a baby.

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Sucking it in to soak it up

I never planned on wearing a swimsuit this summer.

I’ve spent the majority of every summer that I can remember in or near a pool. (The last few summers it’s been kiddie pools, but it totally counts.) I try to make it to a beach every year. I love wading in water. I love soaking up the sun. I worked at a pool. My husband and I met at that same pool.

Summertime plus water plus sun equals happy for me. A piña colada adds more happiness. And summer isn’t quite the same unless I spend most of my days in a swimsuit.

But I just had a baby. And my body isn’t quite the same.

My girls also love summer. On the days that they can’t swim, they’ll often dress-up in their swimsuits. Unfortunately, we haven’t spent many of this summer’s days near a pool. It’s not very feasible with a newborn. So our pool days are only on the weekends when their daddy is home.

This weekend I dressed in my usual tee and wind shorts. Trey asked, “You aren’t gonna wear a swimsuit?”

I grimaced. “Uh, no! I doubt I have one that fits and if I do, it’ll make me look like a stuffed sausage.”

After I helped the girls dress into their swimsuits, I decided to try on one of mine. I knew I had one that was too big pre-pregnancy.

Since having Eloise, I don’t get to spend nearly as much quality time with the older two girls as before and I’m really starting to miss them. Sure, I see them all day long, but most of our interactions is me tending to their needs.

We rarely play together. We barely laugh together. There’s seldom cuddles and kisses.

I want my girls back and spending a little bit of time crammed in a kiddie pool with them may be what I need.

I managed to easily get the swimsuit on and eyed myself in the mirror. I turned sideways, poked my belly out and then sucked it in. In the dim lighting I didn’t look so horrible and certainly not “stuffed”. In fact, when I sucked in my stomach as much as I possibly could, it was so close to almost being flat.

I guess I could keep this on and get some bonding time with the girls. 

Gemma walked in my room and saw me. “Mom, that swimsuit is so cute! You look wonderful in it!”

She dashed across the house to her room, changed out of her rash guard swimsuit and into her frilly swimsuit.

She didn’t see my large postpartum belly and thighs. She saw her “wonderful” mom that she wanted to be like. She saw that her mom was going to play with her in a cute swimsuit.

She looks up to me. I’m her role model. And it seemed as though she misses spending time with me as much as I miss spending time with her.

So for the rest of the summer, I’m going to forget about my new curves. I’m going to ignore the larger belly and thighs. And instead, I’m going to play. I’m going to laugh. And I’m going to cuddle and kiss.

 

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We are those parents 

Since having Eloise, the girls and I have become major homebodies. I can’t handle the three of them alone in most public places. Vivienne is in the Miss Independent stage, wanting to see and check out everything. Gemma thinks she knows best.

Vivienne is that kid that would climb into a gorilla cage. Gemma is that kid that would insist on wading in water filled with alligators. They both are those kids that would climb into a hot vehicle to play.

I recently passed on an invitation to play at a splash pad. I envisioned Vivienne running away – running away into a stranger’s arms or into a moving vehicle. I can’t chase after her while holding 2-month-old Eloise. Controlling her at the ballet school while Gemma dances is difficult enough.

It’s not that I’m a bad parent because I can’t always control my kids. It’s that my kids are their own person – wild and very independent person. I can’t watch all of my children 24/7 or prevent every accident. It. Is. Not. Possible.

Gemma almost drowned. She was 3-years-old. We were at a small pool party. There were a handful of adults around the pool. She “forgot” that she couldn’t swim, climbed down the ladder into the deep end of the pool and let go. She didn’t splash loudly in the water. Instead, she quickly sank. Her daddy was the only person that saw her. He was also in the deep end holding then 9-month-old Vivienne. I had no idea what was going on until I heard Vivienne crying from also going under water so Trey could save Gemma.

If she drowned, we would have been those parents.

Vivienne overdosed – on elderberry gummies. Trey was sleeping on the couch and I was busy removing burnt green beans from a pot when I found her with a mouthful of the gummies. A dosage is one gummy and she ate 8 plus another one hours before. There are no major side effects from overdosing on elderberry, but she could have gotten into the Advil instead.

If she overdosed on the Advil, we would have been those parents.

Gemma dropped Eloise. While I changed Vivienne’s diaper, Gemma tried to pick Eloise off of her play mat. Luckily, she was only strong enough to pick her up a few inches off of the floor.

If she had picked up Eloise much higher and then dropped her, we would have been those parents.

My mom lost me when I was little. While at Walmart, I once ran away from her to check out the toy aisle. I was 4-years-old. I knew better. I knew that a stranger could easily take me. I was a good kid that always listened to my parents. And yet, I ran away. In fact, I thought I was cool because I got away. I had no clue how much I terrified my mom. I just wanted to see the latest toys.

If she hadn’t found me, she would have been one of those parents.

We are those parents.We are all those parents. We are all one small accident away from a major accident happening. We all turn our backs for a minute. We all look away for a second. We all juggle several things at once. In those seconds and minutes, crazy-bad accidents involving gorillas, alligators and hot cars can happen.

Some of us are just a little bit luckier.

I pray to God that He helps us keep our girls safe and healthy – that we are always the lucky ones.

 

 

We’re loving it

Before I became a parent, I thought that I wanted a large family – like at least five kids.

Things have changed.

After birthing Gemma, I told myself that I didn’t want to birth any more babies. After Gemma’s infancy, I told myself that I didn’t want to raise any more babies.

And then my husband and I decided to give her a sibling.

After birthing Vivienne, I told myself that I didn’t want to birth any more babies and that we would adopt. After my marital separation, I told myself that we needed to wait awhile before having more babies.

And here I am with another baby … that I birthed.

Like a friend said, “Having kids is just what we do now.”

For years, my husband claimed that he wanted three kids. We currently have three kids and he talks about having more – not one more, but more … as in many more. It frightens me every time I hear him say “more”.

I don’t have a special number of kids. I don’t know if I want many kids or just the three kids we have. I’m more of a wait-and-see kind of baby maker. Let me get through this baby’s infancy, please, and then maybe he can say “more”.

I do know that the more kids we have, the merrier life gets. It doesn’t just feel like we have kids now. It feels like we have a family. The relationships keep building between everyone and intertwining in the process. It’s so fascinating how we each shape everyone and make us the family that we are.

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Many people say having three kids is the hardest. For me, it’s not any harder than it was with just two or even with just one. Yes, it is non-stop. Sometimes it’s complete chaos. I am exhausted at the end of every day. But that’s how it was with just one child and then again with two. I grow with each one and each day. I parent better and we “family” better every day.

Part of me feels like Eloise is a little gift from God for Trey and I staying married and finally working everything out. It was such an easy pregnancy and birth. And she’s such an easy baby that both her older sisters adore. She fits right in. It’s as if this is how our family has always been.

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The best thing that has come from having a third child, is that Gemma and Vivienne have become friends. There’s been a few times that I needed Gemma’s help to care for Vivienne. While I nursed Eloise, Gemma has wiped peanut butter and jelly off of Vivienne’s face, found a toy for her and even helped dress her.

Because of that, Vivienne has learned that she needs Gemma and that she can trust her. Gemma has learned to be compassionate and caring towards Vivienne.

Sure, they still fight like crazy, but as the days go on, they’re fighting less and playing together more.

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I may not have wanted this chaotic, non-stop life, but I’m doing it. And we’re all loving it.

Crying over leaked milk

One morning I woke up to my milk everywhere. My nightgown was soaked, the sheets were soaked and the burp cloth was soaked. Eloise had just gone through a growth spurt and it drastically increased my milk supply.

Vivienne was awake and cranky, so I quickly changed into a clean nightgown and scooped her up before her cries woke up Eloise.

After a meltdown from Vivienne over me giving her a banana for breakfast – the banana that she asked for – Gemma woke up.

By the time I fixed Gemma’s breakfast, Vivienne was done with her’s and began crying over something else.

I changed her diaper and sat with her on the couch. Gemma quickly joined us. My milk started leaking onto my clean nightgown and I began crying.

I cried over spilled milk – or leaked milk.

I hadn’t had any coffee, yet, much sleep the previous night or a minute for myself. I felt overwhelmed in the 30 minutes that I was awake and my hormones were still trying to get normal.

Gemma saw the tears and began singing a song from Doc McStuffins,

“Hey! What’s going on?
Tell me what’s wrong.
I know there’s something we can do.
It might not be clear.
And that’s why I’m here.
Tell me what’s bothering you.”

I take many supplements and essential oils to help get my hormones and energy levels normal. This is the happiest time of my life. I am loving having three little girls. And yet, I cried because my milk was leaking.

The thing is, my milk is always leaking. I’m getting tired of my milk leaking. I’m getting tired of the extra pregnancy weight, of changing diaper after diaper after diaper, of all of the cries, the blowouts, the spit-ups, the backaches. I’m tired of being tired.

This is postpartum and it is such a humbling, bittersweet time.

The pregnancy is over – along with all of the aches and pains – and I have the new, adorable baby but I’m still not normal. I still don’t feel like myself.

Extra pregnancy weight is preventing the majority of my clothes from fitting. Even if all of my clothes did fit, I don’t have time to pick out an outfit. And what’s the point when it’s just going to get some form of bodily fluid on it?

Just when I start to feel at peace with my new fuller figure, my kids remind me of reality.

The day of Eloise’s birth when I was feeling like an accomplished superwoman, I dressed into a nightgown to lounge around my house. Gemma said, “You’re wearing that!?!”

Two days after Eloise’s birth when I was feeling slim because my uterus was half its pregnancy size, Gemma stated, “You’re belly isn’t low, yet.”

And a few days after that, “It looks like you’re gonna have another baby.”

Ah. Sweet, innocent children. Its because of them that this happens.

I feel far from beautiful and not my best self … but I am. Each and every day motherhood molds me into a new, better self.

The t-shirts and sweatpants. The muffin top. The thigh cellulite. The bare face that clearly shows bags under the eyes. The crying. The messy bun holding up hair that desperately needs a trim. The headaches. The back aches. The leaking milk. The engorgement. The mastitis. The crying. The diapers. The poop. The pee. The crying.

That’s part of motherhood.

And that’s beautiful.