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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Food For Thought For Those Considering A Big Family

I've been pondering some ideas for blog posts lately. I think a recurring one is the things I think about when I think of our decision to have a large family and having all the kids so close in age. While I (obviously) wouldn't change a thing, I do have some "nuggets" I would pass on to parents contemplating having kids so close together. Food for thought that I didn't realize before we started our family.

*While it's GREAT having kids who are interested in the same things and at similar stages of development, it's also nearly impossible to enjoy events (like storytime at the library) with one when you have others who are just young enough that they can't enjoy it, wreak havoc the entire time, or are not allowed to participate because they are too young. Because I publish a newsletter for my community that lists great kid-friendly events in the area, I get to see how much there is to do with kids. So much great stuff...but I have to live vicariously through the readers who DO participate because I can't realistically take L (who's 4) and have E & M (who are 3 & 1, respectively) along because it isn't age appropriate for everyone. Getting a sitter for a 45 minute-1 hr event seems silly to me (and not exactly practical.)

I wish I had more of an opportunity to experience those "mommy & me" types of things with each.

*I confuse details of when things happened to each child because they are all so close together. Here's the breakdown of ages:

R-born 5/3/2005
L-born 5/17/2006
E-born 12/18/2007
M-born 6/20/2009 and
H -due 1/22/2011.

R is a little easier to remember since he was our first, but then after that, it all kind of gets smooshed together. I would love to say I can just refer to each child's baby book, but, well, then I would be lying. I made a valiant attempt to record everything in R's baby book. I think I got up through year 2. By that time L was already turning 1. L's ends somewhere around 11 months. E doesn't even have one, although I looked many times for one. M? I didn't even bother. Isn't that horrible?

*Because our 2 oldest are SO close, they were in essence raised as twins. Not because we deliberately did that, but because they're both boys, they share a room, they wear roughly the same size of clothing, they are very close developmentally and participate in most of the same activities and on the same teams, etc. So, imagine L's chagrin when R started kindergarten and L didn't. It was a little ugly, Because they had [almost] always done the same things at the same times, L couldn't understand. Also, he was too young to realize that R was around for a whole year before L was even born. To him, they have always been together. It's fine now. Espcially since L started preschool and has his own "thing" but it was rough for him at first.

*People feel entitled and even compelled to make comments about the size of your family, the closeness of ages of the children, the fact that you and your partner didn't prevent so many pregnancies, etc. It can get personal. Even when it's said in jest and by people you know, it still gets old. Every person who makes a comment must think he or she is the first. If you never tire of hearing, "So, have you figured out what causes this yet? or "Are they all YOURS?!" or "Are you "done" yet?" or "One of you needs to see a doctor about this," then you will have no worries. Otherwise, decide now if you will paste on your best permasmile and shrug it off or if you will throw out a zippy comeback.

*If you are someone who does not welcome touching, prepare yourself now. Nothing seemingly screams "Touch me!" more than a pregnant woman's belly. I consider myself a touchy/feely individual, but I draw the line with someone touching my "bathing suit areas." My belly is in that holy, sacred, not for public use areas of my body. I would never DREAM of violating anyone else by touching them there, so it always surprises me when others cross that line. Family is different (at least for me.) It's strangers or acquaintances who floor me when they reach out and rub, pat, grope, or squeeze my belly. I found a GREAT shirt at Burlington/Baby Depot that says what I may be too shy to say, "Touch the Belly, Lose a Hand." Isn't that awesome??? 'Nuff said.

*Unless you are independently wealthy, you may need to give up the idea of using name brand everything for your kids. Huggies were my favorite with R. I turned up my nose at those who used Wal Mart brand. And then L came along...and then E. They were ALL In diapers at the same time. No longer could we afford the $25+/box diapers. Especially when we were buying 3 different sizes. We discovered Target (Up & Up brand) and it was love at first sight. Same with formula. We used soy for R & L. Then E came along and we realized we could save $5 a can on the milk-based. Imagine the happy dance we did when we found out we could save another $10 per can if we used Target brand--which as all the same stuff in it as the name brand???

We have also gotten much better at shopping at stores like Gabriel Bros, Marshalls, Once Upon a Child, Target (of course. We love Target so much we have them listed as our emergency contact should anything happen to one of us!) consignment sales, and--our favorite--hand-me-downs from wonderful friends and family. Gone are the days when we would buy 4-5 outfits at Gymboree--full price-- because we thought they were adorable. Now, we realize that we could buy 20-25 outfits somewhere else for that same amount of $$.

*Driving/vehicle usage may be a challenge. Expect to have at least 5 car seats at once if you have 5 or more kids in 5 years. We have 2 boosters, 2 forward facing and soon we are adding a rear facing for the newest addition. We drive a standard minivan, so we are hoping for the best as far as everyone fitting inside the van while we travel. Otherwise, we hate to break it to R, but he may be our new hood ornament. HAHA. Joking, obviously. Put down the phone. No need to call CYS.

If we decide to have even 1 more...we will be investing in the John & Kate style full size van. I'm not ready to be compared to them in any way.

*Your body may revolt. I was never in danger of having a 6-pack, but now I can almost hear my abs sobbing, wheezing and gasping to hold it together. They are dangling by a precarious little thread and at any moment the dam could burst. I picture them with their fingers laced, eyes squeezed shut, and smoke pouring out of their ears, struggling to keep it all together. If I get up too quickly, I am immediately doubled over in pain. The books call it "round ligament pain." I call it "did anyone see who just stabbed me in the gut?!"

I used to say my favorite time of pregnancy was at about 6 months. That's when you get that little bump that looks like more than a beer belly but is still adorable and fun to dress up in maternity tops. Then, during the third pregnancy, that changed to about the 5th month. This time? I hadn't stopped looking pregnant from the previous baby, so my belly "popped" to looking about 7 months from week 3, I swear. I seem to have surpassed that "cute" phase altogether.

Also, kindly pardon the delicate subject, but let's talk about hemorrhoids. We've all seen the Preparation-H or the Tucks commercials where a pad is used to extinguish a match--the match, of course, representing the hemorrhoid. Um, no. That doesn't even begin to detail what a hemorrhoid is like during pregnancy or after delivery. I was scared to death to have my first #2 after having R. Little did I know that they come back during pregnancy (and sometimes even when you're NOT pregnant.) It's like giving birth. There may or may not be blood, yelling or white-knuckling involved. It can really dampen a perfectly good magazine reading session in the ol' library, I tell you.

You may get acne reminiscent of your teen years. I have been blessed enough to get it on my face, my neck, my shoulders AND my back with this pregnancy. Since I didn't have it as a teen or for any other pregnancy, I guess Mother Nature was feeling frisky and decided to give it to me all at once this time.

As far as all the other typical aches and pains and the sheer discomfort that feels endless, save up your pennies or ask for gift cards for cleaning services, babysitters, or massages. The shine and excitement of others pampering you has surely worn off (for others) after about baby #3. Gone are the days when people rush to carry things for you, rub your aching [insert body part here], call often just to see how you're feeling, or take the kids for a few hours so you can get some much-needed rest. I've been told many times that it's now a non-event when I'm pregnant because it happens so often. I've also been told that I'm such a trooper when I'm pregnant that people forget until they see me. I appreciate those kind words. I really do. I just get so tired. It's draining. Yes, it's also my choice and my life, but...ya' know? A little pampering and fuss wouldn't be out of the question, would it??

*But, most of all, try to prepare yourself for the most overwhelming...engulfing... all consuming love you will ever experience. It's been said that being a mom is to have your heart walking around on the outside...or something like that...well, being a mom of many is like that times 1,000,000. Even if you fear there won't be enough love to go around, believe me, there is! And who knew you could function with so may pieces of your heart roaming around. It's truly the best, hardest, most stressful, draining, rewarding job there is. I strongly recommend it, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart!
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