Zooey update: four months

We’re in the States on a family visit and Zooey turns four months.

The themes of the last month include:

  • Very social smiles turn into very surprised sadness quickly… a rainbow of emotions.
  • Sisters in your face… Cosby show style…

  • Coos and coos and coos – there’s a lot to say, apparently.
  • Also bubbles and drool. A lot of bubbles and drool.
  • Wearing baby scrubs and otherwise modelling outfits your siblings never got through

  • Chub thighs. So proud of those.
  • Your second trip abroad in your lifetime. Ten-hour flights? No problem.
  • Desperately trying to figure out what will make you ok with sitting in the car… new car seats… mirrors… siblings’ singing… a creepy doll staring at you? Nope nope nope.

Summer of mom.

I’ve been having the best time and I want to tell you about it.

But first, a disclaimer – there’s a lot of grief out there – sanctimommies and all that – but I’m being completely honest, no-holier-than-thou, and you can trust me because my kids haven’t really had lunch in a couple weeks and just today the seven-year-old watched 3.5 consecutive hours of unsupervised youtube clips, and that’s the 513586th time in 513586 days.

I’ve been having the best time just being a mom, constantly. I’m on maternity leave, and this has been the most fun by far. The last two I spent job searching, and the first is the first but it’s different. This time, I’m getting to spend the summer with my two older kids in what we’ve dubbed Kaytanat Ima (mom camp), since we aren’t sending to any official (and expensive, jeez c’mon) camps.

And every day I start out so grateful that I get to spend the day with my kids, and I’m  not stressed about work, and I’m not checking my phone for emails, and I’m not cursing out a perfectly nice work colleague. I’m not debating how to handle a ‘crisis’ and I’m not taking care of anyone I didn’t give birth to.

I’m not doing any of that while trying to hang with/feed/bathe/love my kids.

Also – I’ve been making dinners, like full food groups dinners.

I’m asking what they think about stuff, we’re discussing life, we’re laughing over stupid jokes, we’re making up songs, we’re cursing out the drivers in front of us together. We’re seeing new parts of the country we hadn’t seen before. We’re doing science. We’re doing good deeds and volunteering. We’re getting wet. We’re learning how to photoshop. We’re uncovering fairies. We’re learning new skills together. We’re making snow happen in July. We’re painting while wearing socks. We’re seeing our first movie in the theater together. We’re spending hours playing with 6-shekel flashlights. We’re enjoying coffee together. We’re poking a storm trooper in the eye.

I don’t want it to end, this may actually be the first time I’ve felt it like this. Whole picture, not just I don’t want to leave my little baby. But I think part of it is I work myself too hard so when it’s time to play, with no work in site, I can appreciate it to a degree I’ve never felt around my kids before. So the contrast has made these past months so much more wonderful.

Part of it, is of course, their ages.

And it’s killing me that it has to end eventually, at least in part. I’m not going to dwell too much on that right now because I’m still feeling rainbows and kittens from two paragraphs ago.

Tell me, how do I keep a taste of it for the long haul?

Zooey update: three months

Zoooooooey!

Biggest mind blown moment of this month: when we weighed you and you were 5 kilo just after turning two months. So that means we have more to mush, kiss, bite, pinch and tickle than I ever had with your siblings at this point.

Obviously your smiling, silent laughing, coo laughing, and laughing in mini fits when warranted. Which is often because everyone here is all over you, making faces, touching, tickling. Is that why you’ve proven to be so sociable?

Sociable, and intense – that’s what a lot of people you’ve met have said about you. Your sister Nettles was intense too. What was going on in there all those months? Or maybe it’s because, like everyone else in the family, I make you nuts till you push back?

You’ve learned to fit right in. It’s not so much ‘fit’ as it is ‘just is’ When everyone’s playing in front of you, you’re content. And sometimes we’ve had to force it out of necessity, because, well, you know. Four.

And you’re slowly bonding with each of your siblings… but no one more than Nettles, who I’m pretty sure thinks you’re a new toy I brought home for her pleasure. She’ll talk to you, ask you questions, introduce you to her dolls, steal your diapers to dress her dolls, essentially she has spent your college tuition in stolen diapers.

And, when everyone else has gone to bed, she’ll come down, climb up next to you, and, well…

Zooey, you’re still new here, but at least once or twice a day I look at you and consider how I can’t wait to know you in another six months, year, two years, four, six, beyond…

What will you care about? How will you make us laugh? What will you teach us?

 

 

Zooey update: two months

Eight weeks, eight questions for you, Zooey.

  1. How did you manage to form a perfect side-eye in just a  few weeks? 
  2. How do you feel about the fact that I keep dressing you in blue because Koala’s leftovers are the best kept clothes so far, and everyone tells me my son is adorable and I’m too lazy to correct them? 
  3. How do you manage to throw up exactly five minutes after I’ve bathed you, oiled you, dressed you, kissed you, and said to myself, ‘wow, at least she hasn’t thrown up!’? 
  4. What’s it like having three older siblings to help you, cuddle you, and annoy you? 
  5. What are you thinking about? 
  6. What’s it like to have already traveled across the world, at only six weeks? 
  7. What’s it like being on the outside? Is this what you expected? Hoped? 
  8. What exactly is so funny?! 

Oh, just another childbirth.

Here’s what I felt more than anything after the birth of my fourth nearly two months ago: so, so grateful.

I’ve felt very lucky to have had mostly positive experiences in pregnancy and childbirth, even if at times there has also been frustration, stress, and fear. My heart goes out to women and their partners who have experienced true trauma, pain, fear and loss – I don’t take for granted that the road for me has been smooth.

That said, here’s a little word on my most recent childbirth.

After Nettles was born, I realized something. All three of my previous births had turned out to be a good indicator of the child’s personality, which we only came to know deeply later on. I don’t know if that is some kind of hindsight bias, but reading the old birth stories and knowing my kids now makes it clear there is some kind of correlation.

If that proves true for number 4, then perhaps we can say that she is a ‘tachlis’, no-bullshit, in control and chill kind of person. That’s how it was.

We learned from Nettles that chances are it would be pretty quick this time too. So we went in prepared. Once again, I could not have a home birth unfortunately. This birth was like Nettles’ but with much less intensity.

I woke up at 3:30 am with a contraction and a cool head and, waited for two more – about twenty minutes later. Then I woke up huz. Next, called our midwife/doula, who promptly came over. She checked me out – 8.5 already.

“You must have been walking around in labor the last few days!”, which, if you know my work life, is probably just generally true for the last two years.

We had to make a call. Last time, I was 9.5 when I got to the hospital. Would I make it that far this time?

So the options were – drive and make it, drive and birth in the car, or stay home to birth and go by ambulance after. We chose the first.

We made it… calmly out of the car, calmly to the ward, calmly responded to 35734896 interview questions. I will point out, once again, the antibiotics situation was bullshit and I would have been better off at home with the proper antibiotics through an IV as needed, but I’m at peace with it.

Within three hours, in time for sunrise, my biggest by by a pound – 3.5 kilo – baby girl was out and into my arms (one after the other – first time I grabbed the newborn myself!). I had an absolutely lovely and encouraging midwife at Hadassah Ein Kerem. Don’t underestimate the value of excellent bedside manner.

One thing is for sure: when it’s the fourth, a major thought going on during pushing is ‘shit, I am TIRED.’ Like, existentially tired.

Like – I had to buy a seven-seater car tired.

Like – I have so many children now I have to keep track, tired.

Like – yeah I’m so tired but I’m actually also in control and calm and can think this through clearly, tired.

But it ends.

And when it was over, I looked at her and thought, so – is our experience symbolic of your personality?

We’ll find out.

Welcome to the weird, Zooey.

Hi Zooey.

Just taking this quick opportunity to explain to you why Zooey?

Nothing significant,  nothing overwhelmingly meaningful (or underwhelmingly meaningful).

When your mama comes up with a blog nickname, it’s not going to necessary mean anything at all.

In your case, it was as simple as this: I was watching this old SNL skit while waiting to get out of the hospital.

quirky with zooey

And it reminded me of when I first saw her name, I thought it was pronounced Zoo-ee. Like, if ‘zoo’ had to have a use as an adjective.

And I was a native English-speaking adult with a degree in English at the time.

And the video reminded me of this and I giggled. And looked at you and said, Zooey!

The lesson here, Zooey?

Welcome… this family don’t take itself too seriously.

Koala update: seven years

Koala,

This was a great year – I loved going through age six with you.

The questions you ask. The interests you take on.

The requests you make, constantly, for an ‘iPhone, iPad, or even a computer.’

Uh huh.

Anyway, I can’t keep up with you. Here are (just) seven new things you learned to do this year:

1. Swim

It was clear you had matured enough to try this out; we just weren’t sure at five if you would handle it. But this year it’s been a total pleasure cheering on as you tackle this. You bonded with your swim teacher and left any kind of fear in your trail. Maybe the best part is, you know you have to keep going and that great skill doesn’t come in five weeks.

2. Education

This is my absolute favorite. Watching you navigate through first grade has been inspiring, nostalgic and a lot of fun. I realize how lucky we are – you’re the kind of kid born to go to traditional school. You’ve played a role in getting your younger sister excited about the prospect of learning math, reading and writing.

Probably all the candy you get at your Israeli school helps with that, too.

Anyway – my absolutely favorite part of the year has been sitting by you while you learn to write, learn to read – in two languages.

You’ve taken a serious and oftentimes freaky interest in math – like the time you just walked on over to us with this piece of paper where you had just casually scribbled out some math problems we had no idea you were even capable of recognizing.

3. Computers

This helps redeem the fact that you incessantly ask us for an ‘iPhone, a computer and an iPad.’ I don’t even know why you know what an iPhone is (I mean, I do, schoolfriendsolderkidsparents) but I do admire your drive to attain one or all of these items by saving money you get instead of spending it on crap.

Anyway – yes – computers. They’ve taken a backseat to the smartphone you’re always snatching from me behind my back… but become familiar with them. I wouldn’t be sorry if you went into hi tech.

4. Jokes

I know we are your parents and will support you in (most) things you do, and your father and I are pretty ridiculous and laugh at the dumbest sh-stuff… but you jokes range from ‘eh’ to insane person and keep it coming. That stuff takes practice. At least you crack your friends up.

5. Negotiation

When you were younger, tantruming, and frankly, kind of intolerable, I used to put my hands on your heaving shoulders, look you in your red crazy eyes, and tell you: instead of this, try negotiating with me.

A few times it clicked and you’d pause from your outburst and ask me what negotiating is. And I’d tell you. But you didn’t try it on the spot.

Maybe it got through to you when there was money at stake, though. Your letter to the tooth fairy says it all.

6. Wanting to know how things work 

You ask to try new things, to learn more about the kinds of things we adults do, or to understand how certain things work. You get that from your dad, the guy who watched one repairman fix the window blinds once and from then on not only fixes them himself, but also goes over to fix other people’s when the mood strikes.

And it’s awesome for us since we’ve been getting some coffee out of it.

 

7. Become a more affectionate big brother

When I started putting this together you had two younger sisters, now you have three. That’s a lot of sisters – way more than I ever had.

You’re doing a good job of it, Koala.

I can’t speak from experience but I can hope that you continue to cherish the affectionate relationship you have with them, and nurture that side of yourself.

That will take you far in relationships one day.