On l’appelle Boulette: the return of the four gestational dwarves

I’m coming out of blog semi-retirement (a.k.a. parenting a toddler) to announce that Jean-François, Arthur, Odie and I are expecting an addition to our family in June.

The four gestational dwarves are back! We’re nicknaming the fifth – the squiggly human in my belly – Boulette, which is French for meatball.

Boulette: view from above

When we embarked on our first adventure in human creation, I had no idea how difficult being an adequate all-at-once parent/wife/employee/family member/friend/neighbour would be. We’re knee deep in child-rearing and I don’t know how I keep up with my life.

So much mischief

Here’s a quick comparison of my two pregnancies.

Pregnancy awareness

  • Baby 1: I kept a lengthy journal, read a dozen parenting books, and took prenatal classes. Lumpy was the centre of my universe.
  • Baby 2: I actively have to remind myself that I’m 22 weeks pregnant. I lift heavy boxes before noticing that my belly is in the way. I pour myself a second cup of strong coffee before realizing I can’t drink it.

One of two belly pics I’ve taken

Exhaustion

  • Baby 1: I napped regularly. I took baths. I meditated. I went to bed before 10 p.m.
  • Baby 2: I wake up with my toddler at 5:30 a.m. I fall asleep at 11 p.m. having spent my evening cooking, playing and cleaning. I don’t sleep well because my brain worries about all sorts of dumb things. Remind me, what are naps?

Diet and exercise

  • Baby 1: I ate pretty well and made time for long walks with Odie. I biked, stretched, and focused on making my body a friggin temple.
  • Baby 2: I make a balanced breakfast and dinner (for my son) but lunch is a disaster. I binge on cookies. And my BBQ chip consumption is way up. I’m lucky if I can get my tired ass out to yoga class once a week.

Me and my main squeeze: BBQ chips

Preparedness

  • Baby 1: I kept a ruthlessly organized to do list and steadily ticked every box. When Arthur was born my house was spotless, freezer full, birth plan printed, nursery fully stocked, carseat installed, and hospital bags packed and loaded.
  • Baby 2: I’m kinda getting there, I think?

Telling people

  • Baby 1: When I announced my pregnancy on Hello Field I was three months pregnant and had already told close family and friends.
  • Baby 2: I’m about five months pregnant and I still have a niggling feeling I forgot some people on my “Yo, I’m knocked up!” list. Sorry guys!

The photo I JUST took to announce the pregnancy on Facebook

Money

  • Baby 1: Boy did we have it good! Our expenses were limited. We were showered with gifts, and bought all our additional baby supplies without batting an eye.
  • Baby 2: Daycare is hella expensive. We’re saving aggressively for a) a (eye roll) minivan and b) 18 months of parental leave. This little girl is going to be wearing a lot of red plaid and blue stripes, because we’re not buying her a new wardrobe.

Our relationship

  • Baby 1: We went on weekly date nights, talked for hours about what life with the baby would be like, and stayed constantly connected.
  • Baby 2: We’re lucky if we get to slump onto the same couch for 30 minutes to watch TV. JF is still my superhero, but now it’s because he devotes his heart and soul to being an amazing parent. Dates are a distant memory.

JF is my all-star

Given the lack of care and attention Boulette is already experiencing, I am a bit anxious about life with two children. Will I manage to offer them both enough love and support? How in the name of Moses will my house stay clean?

BUT that doesn’t take away the excitement, deep in my gut, at the prospect of meeting this brand new person. I look forward to that baby smell, first smile, and the weight and warmth of her tiny body on my chest.

This time around, I have the added anticipation of watching my first baby fall in love with my second. What a joy that will be.

Arthur, at three(ish) days old

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To the kale washers

I hate washing kale. I like eating kale, cooking kale, and even picking kale. But I hate washing it.

When I’m rested and happy, I manage to push past my distaste for the task. I even find the energy to de-stem it, carefully cut it into bite sized pieces and make salad dressing.

When I’m tired and cranky, the kale slowly yellows in the fridge until I guiltily throw it into the compost. As I toss it, I think about the hungry people in this world, the money I just wasted, as well as the resources it took to grow and ship the kale to Elmvale.

Here’s the thing about being a new parent; you’re always tired. Always. Why? Because :

  • Labour itself is a sleepless two-day marathon.
  • Babies don’t come with an instruction manual, so they cry — a lot.
  • They need to be fed every two to three hours, day and night.
  • Newborns are preceded by months of sleep deprivation (imagine snoozing with a bowling ball on your bladder).
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Me and the babe. I’m happy but can you see the bags under my eyes?

I love my little dude – so, so, so deeply. With a love intense enough to frighten me sometimes. But all that wakefulness is starting to take its toll on my body.

So the short version of the story is : I haven’t been washing much kale lately.

Luckily my enormous, beautiful, supportive network of friends and family has once again jumped in to save me from a BBQ-chip-based diet. They’ve cooked, cleaned, driven, dog-walked, babysat, grocery-shopped, and gardened for us. Many travelled long distances — through cottage country traffic — to visit.

As I watched my little sister scrub kale in my kitchen sink the other day, I thought about the wealth of love underpinning my whole life. Kale may be an odd topic for an initial postpartum post, but I can’t think of a better way to describe how special our baby’s “village” is

I want each benefactor (a.k.a. kale washer) to know: it mattered. Every kind action was noticed and appreciated. Thank you. xo

Home Sick

This morning, I woke up with a runny nose and a big lump in my throat. After about ten minutes of trying to remember what day it was, I realized I couldn’t face a full day of using my brain. So I called in sick. And then I did what I’m sure every 29-year-old woman does on a sick day; I called my mom.

At this moment, my mother is making what she calls and “immune-boosting” soup with kale and about a dozen onions. I am sitting in front of her fireplace, curled up on her comfiest chair. I look like shit and there’s a big pile of used Kleenex next to me, but it sure beats sitting at home.

A view of the fireplace

Sitting comfortably at my mom’s

Why would I rather be here? Well aside from the obvious nice company, toasty fire and great food, being at my mom’s means not doing housework.

Sitting on my own couch, I can’t help constantly contemplating what task most needs doing in our clunker of a home. There’s the everyday stuff like laundry, raking leaves and cooking. But it’s the once-in-awhile jobs that get me – stuff like sharpening my garden shears and repainting trim. Together, they make my to do list gargantuan.

I have a theory that the constant housework (and stressing about housework yet to be done) has made me ill. I’m literally home sick.

I really don’t know how grownups do the whole homeownership thing and still find time to exercise, go on dates, or call friends. Either they are better, faster and stronger human beings, or I am way more anal than I thought I was. It might be the latter, since JF has actually said the words “you have to lower your standards.”

Perhaps this illness is my body’s way of saying: “slow down – I am going to implode!” or maybe “you should eat better and exercise more!” or even “your house will never look like Elle Décor anyway!” Or maybe it’s just that the flu is going around. Time will tell. In the meantime, I’m going to eat some of my mom’s soup.

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My mom’s immune-boosting soup