Friday, May 12, 2006

Growing Pains

Photos: Top from right to left are Gabrielle, Preston, and Alexandria awaiting food!!

Photo on left is Hunter and Preston after being fed well. They couldn't be closer.

Over the last week of having all four home, we have been having sleep deprivation x 4. I am finally listening to the advice "sleep when they sleep." I have a host of things to do on my "to do list" which never seem to get done. Checking e-mails, doing updates on the blog, sending out thank-you notes, get pictures copied and sent out, pay bills, organize the babies' rooms, get all the paperwork together for income tax preparation, get all my certifications updated for work, take the dogs to the vet (poor dogs) for their shots and check-up, but how does that all get done when I have 4 babies? I barely manage to clean the house and eat myself. 4 babies crying at the same time!! Can you imagine?

For the most part, I have had help during the day from family members. I had my first opportunity to take care of 4 babies by myself at feeding time a couple of days ago. I did it again yesterday afternoon and then today I am by myself. I had a few visitors who I greeted by plopping the baby in their arms right after they had sanitized their hands. "Here hold this one while I feed the others" I told Aunt Katie. Then my mother and grandmother came by with a few groceries right while a friend from church was visiting, Nancy, and the babies started crying while they were here. I made bottles and told them they weren't getting out of here without feeding a few. I love my babies - don't get me wrong, but they are MORE THAN A HANDFUL.

They are going through their growth spurt, eating more and eating more frequently. Just as I have put all four down after feeding them, at least one is ready to eat again. I told Alexandria today "this isn't an all-day smorgasbord. Eat at the assigned time please." She isn't abiding by the rules. For that matter, none of them are. I don't think time-outs apply to babies, so I guess they get to set the rules right now. They only let me think I am in charge, but we all know the truth.

I hear from my mother and my husband that I favor the boys. "You don't ever seem to put them down." "You are always holding the boys...." I assure them that I don't have a favorite child. The boys just won't let ME alone. They are so fussy. The girls aren't loud enough to get fed first or held longer. I can't count the number of times I have fed them and held them, rubbing their backs, to the point that they are sound asleep and I try to lay them down. Seconds later I hear blood curdling screams. I know if I don't pick them up, all four will be awake. Also, I know that if I don't respond to their cries, they may not form a basic trust. Okay, at least according to Erikson, that's the theory.

Many a night, we have just gotten to sleep and Preston or Hunter will start to cry. My husband or I (depending on who is less sleep deprived at that moment) will get up and hold one counting the seconds till we can climb back into bed because we know that in 3 hours and 27 minutes we have to get up and feed all four. 'Please stop crying and fall asleep Hunter' Okay, make that 3 hours and 1 minute. 'Oh God, what is wrong with him that he won't stop crying' It's now 2 hours and 49 minutes till feeding. 'Oh thank God, he finally fell asleep. Let me put him down and get a little bit of sleep.' I climb into bed and just start to fall asleep when I am again awoken with the cries. I awake with a startle, disoriented to time. Is it feeding time already? It feels like I just fell asleep. I look at the clock. It is only minutes later - not feeding time. I start to cry with him.

Someone recommended that we start a bedtime routine and bathe them right before bed so they will sleep better. I did it with the boys the other night, keeping the girls' bath time in the mornings. We had our first decent intermittent sleep. We only had to get up at feeding time. We didn't do it the next night because baths are only supposed to be every other day. Boy, we paid for it. Bathtime might have to be a nightly ritual.

While they sleep, I run around the house cleaning with a frenzy. I have to get so much done in a short period of time. People say house cleaning isn't as important as spending time with the babies and while they may be right, if you let it go for a while, it mounts up. Before long I have burp rags and empty bottles adorning every square inch of the living room and kitchen. I have a pile of dirty dishes and laundry for days. I don't want to get too overwhelmed, so I do it all day and all night a little at a time. It is neverending. As it is, the house doesn't look like a home anymore. The living room is filled with bouncy seats, activity mats, and swings. Pack n plays are in almost every room of the house.

We have doctors appointments all the time. It's such an ordeal to go somewhere. It isn't like I can just go with them by myself. Even if we had 2 double strollers, one of us couldn't push 2 strollers at the same time, safely anyways. We don't even have a van of our own to take the babies anywhere. For right now, we are borrowing Aunt Nicola's van. She was gracious enough to loan it to us so we could get the kids to doctors etc. We can't afford to buy one yet and it isn't like anyone will be giving us one free, though many people seem shocked by that. It isn't their responsibility to take care of my babies. They didn't have them and we don't expect that any car dealership would do that. My husband works for Alan Jay Automotive Network and Alan Jay Wildstein (the owner) was nice enough to offer us a $2000.00 discount, but even with that, we can't afford one right now.

Financially, it is more than a struggle. I am trying to go back to work and was planning on doing some part-time work for home health, but just as I thought there would be a little money coming in the home, I get my hopes crushed. I am told that I have to come back full-time or not at all in order to keep my insurance. The hospital was very nice to let me have coverage for a couple more months at employee family plan rate, which my parents pay. I was initally quoted over 1200.00 per month for coverage under extended medical leave, which would of made it impossible to keep. Fortunately, administration was kind enough to allow my insurance to continue at a more reasonable rate of 431.00 per month. So, at least for now the kids have insurance coverage.

We are struggling but surviving. I know that I have food for our family and we have a roof over our head. God provides, so I know not to worry. We have always survived and will continue to. Well the babies are starting to cry, so I will have to end here.