We spent three long days driving back and forth to the Prentice NICU in Chicago, coordinating babysitters to watch the kids while we learned how to feed and care for our newest child. The quiet darkness of her hospital pod was a stark contrast to the chaos of back to school routine I left behind each night for the 9PM feeding. On Friday morning, Nurse Sally called at 10AM to tell me the doctors had just cleared Sophie to come home.
While crying hormonal tears of joy, waiting for Steve to get back from an hour at work, I cleaned our dirty minivan. I couldn’t bring little Sophie home in a car littered with half-eaten toaster waffles and forgotten McDonalds Happy Meal toys!
By 2PM, Sophie was nestled in the same bassinette as her brother and sisters, sleeping soundly, swaddled tight. When the school bell rang at 3:10, our family was finally all under the same roof, ready to begin a long weekend of nesting and adapting to the rhythm of life with a newborn. Night and day blended together, feeding, burping, and changing Sophie every three hours.
The kids took all the change and gear in stride, even my frequent pumping sessions while we wait for Sophie to have the strength to breastfeed on her own. Juliette promptly named the pump the Mommy Boobie Milk Maker and suggested that someone invent a better milk maker with machine boobies that actually made breast milk without me being attached to it. “Then,” she explained, “you’d have more time to push me on the swing, and do other fun stuff like that.”
Bella took over the baby care like an eager first time mom. She organized the diapers, coordinated Sophie’s outfits, and cradled her sister gently in her cupped hands, singing soft lullabies. On the second night, she told me, “I love Sophie so much, I didn’t know it was possible to love like this. She is so much better than a puppy.”
Meanwhile Jack took more of a scientific approach to this new lifeform, questioning whether we were really sure she was a girl, and asking why we still couldn’t feed her through her “electrical” cord to make it all go faster. It wasn’t until day three of our nesting weekend that he commented that Sophie seemed to really love him a lot already because she was always looking at him. That’s when he admitted that she really was beginning to get to be sort of cute.
Tomorrow life returns to normal, sort of. Steve goes back to work. The big kids go back to school, and Juliette starts preschool. Even though Steve’s parents are coming to help for the week, I’m nothing short of terrified to emerge from the snug little cocoon we built this weekend. Like a baby swaying in the womb, I loved the lull of our easy rhythm of pump, feed, burp, change. Now begins the juggling act of mothering four children.