Our first full day was spent mostly trying to establish a routine, and allow everyone time to get to know each other. Baby was one week from being six months old. She had terrible torticollis that had been untreated, when lying on her stomach she could not hold her head up, could not roll over, could not hold her own bottle, could not sit or pull up, and would not engage with toys around her. Failure to thrive. (I think that means, if left in her current state, she would not thrive...would not develop...may not live.) Our boys were all pretty active by six months old, so it was hard to see this little one, virtually unable to move. I sat with her on a blanket in the middle of the living room floor and let the boys play around her. She loved to watch them run and play, moving her head side to side and occasionally stretching out to them. I'm not sure she had ever seen such activity and she wanted to be involved, just didn't have the means. The activity was good for her, but it wore her out and often frustrated her.
She cried, a lot. Spit up, a lot. Needed held, a lot. Which are all expected with a baby. In and of themselves, not a big deal, but the boys were crabby, and it was difficult to 'enjoy' the sound of crying from an unfamiliar baby in our already loud home. This is a hard sensory effect to try to explain, and maybe it needs no explanation for some, but I feel it deserves just a little. (This is based on my personal experience and is not intended to speak for anyone else who may feel differently about these things.) A crying baby is only sweet for so long. I LOVE babies and their unique form of communication, but, after a time, it can be hard to take. This was true for all three of our sons when something in their little world was amiss and all they knew to do was keep on crying, and now it was astoundingly true with her. If you recall, I was pretty well ok with closing our home and not having any more kids show up, rocking the metaphorical boat I was steering, but now another was here, and she wouldn't stop crying. Worse than the crying for me, was how hard of a time I was having with compassion for her tears. I had two fussy boys that needed me and the third starting to get puny. I was busy. I tended to her needs, but I wasn't full of joy in doing so. I was selfish and a little begrudging.
We made it through that first full day and second night. Our new feeding regiment and style didn't have much affect that first night, but she did seem to enjoy not sleeping in the car seat. I could see her little body trying to stretch and squitch about the crib, which was good, even though it was accompanied by more reflux and spit up. I prayed that we had done the right thing saying 'yes' this time, but inside, I was a little worried.
It was Saturday night now, and all were asleep. We debated about going to church the next day, but decided we should. We needed the prayers and encouragement of our church family. We needed to get out of the house. And I needed a break from, well, my fussy kids and the new crying baby.
Being on time for church was a weekly battle, never mind adding a fourth child...the three crabby boys that I was not convinced were well...two exhausted adults...and a Gram. Somehow, we managed to get out the door relatively close to on time. The support we have always received from our friends at church is astounding, in and of itself. They are loving, encouraging, kind, thoughtful, helpful.....it was good to get a few hugs that morning and, even though it had only been 36 hours since her arrival, it was good to get a breath that was not shortened or deepened due to the needs of our little people.
Sunday brought a little hope as we watched people we love, love on her. Our families, although maybe a little hesitant when we first told them, were coming around. And while they were concerned for our well being, as per their usual, they loved baby girl right from the start.
That nights sleep made Friday night look like a dream. Now all three boys were feverish, coughing, complaining, and crying...along with the every two hour plan that she was on, we hardly shut our eyes. I would be heading back to the doc Monday morning, alone with all four. I was doubting my abilities, frustrated by a lack of sleep and struggling to figure out how to hold three sick boys, while bottle feeding and cooking breakfast.