From Three To Four

Dear Readers,

As I write this, we’re 11 weeks into our new status as a family of four. It’s been a huge transition, to say the least, but a joyful one at that. Many of you have asked how things are going, so I wanted to answer some of your questions here and share an update on how we’re adjusting from three to four!

(Photos by Bumblebee Boots Photography)

How did you introduce Caroline to Ronan for the first time?

I agonized over this for months. How should we do it? Who should be in the room? What do we say if she gets upset? I asked everyone I knew how they handled this situation, and we ultimately decided that the best thing for Caroline was to keep it low-key with just the four of us. She has a tendency to get overwhelmed when all the attention is on her, and I think if we had multiple people in the room watching her reaction, it wouldn’t have gone as well as it did.

Our first photo as a family of four!

Mac brought Caroline to the hospital the morning after Ronan was born, right after having her school picture taken. She was FEELING herself that day – pretty new dress, cool pink backpack, a promise of treats when she arrived at the hospital. She strutted her stuff down the corridor, basking in compliments from the nurses and doctors, and by the time she got to my room, she was grinning from ear to ear. She walked right up to Ronan, said hi, and then asked for a popsicle! Ronan had to leave for his circumcision, so it gave us time to cuddle Caroline and give her presents from the baby. (Her first Barbie! Ronan scored big points there.) By the time he came back, she couldn’t wait to hold him and didn’t leave his side until it was time to go. It was one of the best days of my life.

What has been the biggest transition since having Ronan?

Mac and I have to divide and conquer on everything – the kids, the housework, even sleep. There is no down time for either of us, independently or together. This is how it will be for the foreseeable future, but we also know it won’t be like this forever. We’re trying to live in the moment and enjoy these early days because we know how fast they go. It feels like just yesterday I was pregnant with Ronan, and now here I am, typing this on his 11-week “birthday.”

Why did you decide to keep Caroline in school during your maternity leave?

Much like myself, Caroline thrives on routine. She loves her school so much, and we felt that taking her away from her teachers and friends would be a cruel thing to do in the midst of all this transition at home. (Not to mention, we’d most likely lose her spot at the school, which would create another problem altogether.) I was worried she’d feel left out when she realized that Ronan would be staying back with me, but she’s done remarkably well with everything. I’ve kept her home a couple days here and there, and we’ve had so much fun together!

And to be honest, I’ve loved having this time to bond with Ronan. When we first made the decision to keep Caroline in school, I felt guilty about it. A friend of mine put things into perspective and reminded me that Caroline had us to herself for over two years; Ronan could at least have me for 12 weeks. I was sold after that.

Are you going back to work? If so, how do you feel about it?

Yes, I go back mid-February. I really love what I do and am lucky to be part of an amazing team, so I’m excited to get back to it. But, I’d be lying if I said my heart doesn’t break when I think of not spending my days snuggling Ronan. Every time I think of dropping him off at school, I cry. I went through this with Caroline, too, and I know it’s all part of the process. Things will be good; it’s just the anticipation of it that’s so hard.

I was finally able to admit something to myself while on leave, and I think it’s worth sharing here. The thing is, I like to work and I want to work. Maybe it’s because I love my job – that’s certainly a big part of it. But I also love problem-solving, stretching myself creatively, learning new things and collaborating with people. It doesn’t mean I love it more than being a mom, or that I don’t find motherhood fulfilling enough on its own. My family will always come first, no matter what. But I also feel very fortunate to do both, and I know it’s the best thing for me – and our family – for many reasons. It’s not without its challenges or sacrifices, but the rewards are so much greater.

What are the best things about having another baby in the house?

By far, seeing the connection between Caroline and Ronan. They’re going to be best friends, I know it. It makes every sleepless night, plugged milk duct, and dirty dish worth it. Ronan’s smile melts every heart; he’s the sweetest baby, and the joy he’s brought to our family is immeasurable.

Oh, and the baby snuggles. We can’t get enough of them.

What are the biggest challenges right now?

This is a new level of exhaustion, you guys. It’s a juggling act caring for two little ones who are so dependent on us – not to mention being there for each other. It’s a one-day-at-a-time thing. Some days, we kill it and pat ourselves on the back; others, we fail miserably and crack open a Miller Lite. That’s parenthood for you.

Are you done with two, or will there be a third in your future?

Ha! This is a loaded question. I’m willing to discuss #3, but I want to make the decision one way or another by Ronan’s first birthday. Mac already knows his answer, but I’m making him think on it for another seven months.

How do you feel postpartum?

Good! Things have been easier – and more relaxing – this time around. I’ve been on a dairy and soy-free diet since Thanksgiving because of Ronan’s acid reflux, so I’m eating healthy and for the most part, sleeping well (when it suits Ronan). I’m still nursing and hope to do so until Ronan turns one.

I have hernia surgery scheduled for early February, but I’m looking forward to getting into a regular exercise routine once I’m cleared by my doctor. There’s a gym right by work, so I’d like to join and hire a trainer for the first month to help me get on track. To get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, I still have about 20 pounds to lose, but I’d be happy with 15. And, quite frankly, I’m so thrilled to be wearing regular clothes again, I’m not too bothered by it. All in good time.

Other than that, I’m treating myself to a salon day before I go back to work! I’m going for a major chop. It’s time for something new…and might help with the inevitable postpartum hair loss.  Throw in highlights, an eyebrow wax, and a mani/pedi, and you’ll be looking at a brand new woman soon. (Can you tell this mama rarely leaves the house?) I’ll share some pics in my next post, when I tackle postpartum style!

A very special thanks to Bumblebee Boots Photography for shooting this beautiful family session – too many favorites to count.