A lot of people ask me how I manage to do it all, and the truth of the matter is, I don't. A lot of things have fallen by the wayside. I'm not *quite* the neatfreak I'd like to be anymore. I'm not *quite* as attentive to J's activities as I'd like to be anymore. I'm not *quite* as awake as I'd like to be anymore. I do my best, but my best isn't *quite* as good as it used to be. And that's okay. My standards aren't any lower, but my ability to reach those standards isn't always there. And that's okay, because this isn't forever. Each day I get a little more of me back, and some days are better than others. It's probably going to be like this for a long time. I still get a heck of a lot more accomplished every day than I think most people dream of. In addition to being a full time mom to four children (and do not believe for one second that just because I'm a working mom means I'm not a full time mom - do you know how much of my day is spent coordinating appointments and fitting in therapy for the babies or for J or calling teachers or scrambling over to the school for a program between meetings or running to a doctor's appointment for a sick baby or thinking of my angels in a spare moment? Believe me, I'm a full time mom!), I'm also a full time employee, a blogger, a wife, I am a board member at my synagogue and I am the programming chair for my local parents of multiples club, and I volunteer for the NICU programming committee at my former NICU, the March of Dimes Family Support Program and Preemiestoday.org.
So how do I get it all done? Well, we've already established that I don't sleep much. But the rest of it is good, old fashioned, teamwork. I truly have the greatest husband in the universe and I really need to tell you about him, because he's really something special.
When I was pregnant on bed rest, Seth made sure I had water, snacks, my laptop, remote controls, my monitors, and everything I needed for the day before he took J off to school and headed off to work. He called throughout the day to make sure I was doing all right and to monitor my progress. If I had any appointments, he would check in to see how they went. When I went into the hospital, he picked up J from school every evening, got him home and fed dinner, put him to bed, got him a babysitter, and then came to visit me before heading home to bed himself only to turn around and start all over the next day. He was awesome. He took very good care of me. After I delivered the babies, I insisted that he spend the first night at home with J so that J wouldn't feel displaced, but I had such a hellacious night that he spent the next night at the hospital with me, scrunched up on the little couch in my room. Needless to say, he was amazing while the babies were in the NICU, but it was after they came home that he really began to shine.
Seth and I never really spent a lot of time planning how we were going to handle feeding and caring for the babies, particularly overnight. We knew we weren't going to have round-the-clock help. We knew we weren't going to hire a night-nurse, as many parents of multiples (particularly higher order multiples) do, but we hadn't even discussed how we were going to divide up responsibility between ourselves once the babies came home. We simply didn't know what to expect or what the babies' needs were going to be. I did know that my ultimate goal was to be breastfeeding all three of them, so the bulk of the responsibility was going to be on me regardless, but clearly I was going to need some help. We didn't know ahead of time what the babies would be capable of coming out of the NICU. As it turned out, within a couple weeks of coming out of the NICU, Sam and Ellie were fully able to breastfeed but Abby was never able to make the transition; she had simply been born too small. This made for an easy division of responsibility, though it was always unspoken.
From the first night home from the hospital, we woke the babies up every three hours. I would feed Sam and Ellie while Seth fed Abby. We'd change their diapers, and then put them back to sleep, I would pump, Seth would snooze, I'd stumble back into bed, close my eyes for ... oh... 20 minutes and the alarm would go back off. Lather, rinse, repeat until morning when Seth would have to get up and get J ready for school and go to work. Never once did I hear Seth complain about getting up all night, despite the fact that he was also having to get up and go to work all day. Never once. Though I always had it in my head that I would eventually take over night feeding all together, that never actually happened. Seth always got up every night. When the babies got older and didn't have to be woken up every three hours, he fed Abby every time she needed to be fed (she was the last to sleep through the night) and if Sam woke up, he would always get up and bring him to me so that I wouldn't have to get up (Ellie slept through the night very early on, and was impossible to feed in the middle of the night even when she was supposed to be eating every three hours).
Until these babies came into our lives, I never realized how well Seth and I work as a team. We never talk about it, but our lives are just pieced together seamlessly... effortlessly... in a way that makes our world keep moving. For example, the babies came home I was washing my hands so much more often than I used to and I ran out of soap in the dispenser in our bathroom. I scratched my head for a minute and realized I had absolutely no idea where we keep the soap to fill the dispensers. It's not so much that it's "Seth's Job" to fill the dispensers, it's just that in six years of marriage there's always been this magical "soap fairy" that has gone around filling soap dispensers and it had never occurred to me that this was a job that had to be done by an actual person. I decided to look under the sink, and lo and behold, there was a very large container of soap which I used to fill the soap dispenser. Turns out, there's one in each bathroom. My soap fairy had not let me down. I had never realized that this was something Seth had always taken care of for me, and I called him that day to thank him for being my soap fairy for six years. The first thing he did was apologize for not having filled it before I needed him to.
Since those early, bleary days, Seth and I have continued to support each other in a myriad of ways. Some nights I get home and it's all I can do to feed the babies put them in their cribs and pass out. On those nights, Seth feeds J, plays with him, gives him a bath, reads him stories, sends him to bed, and cleans up. Other nights we're up together working on a plan for J's various therapy appointments, medication changes, school projects etc. Some nights Seth's out for the night, some nights I'm out at meetings. He never complains if I ask him to stay home with the four children. He plays with all four of them as if it is the most fun and exciting thing in the universe I could ask him to do; in fact, I never have to ask him to play with the children, he plays with them because he loves to.
When I stand in the kitchen cooking, he's right behind me doing the dishes. When I put in a load of laundry, he's right behind me putting it in the dryer and folding it (I hate folding laundry). When I'm changing a baby, he's changing the next one. When I feed Sam and Ellie, he's feeding Abby. When I give the babies dinner, he's getting their PJ's ready. When it's time to put them in cribs for bedtime, he's there to give them smooches and help carry them down to their cribs. If I have a migraine, Seth's right there with pain medicine. If I mention vaguely that I needed something at the store, it's there for me even if I barely remembered that I asked for it. If I'm feeling a bit down, even if I hadn't really noticed it, he brings me flowers on his way home from work. When I can't figure out how to manage between work and appointments and doctors and therapies and parenting and school and one more thing comes up and I can't make it happen, Seth rearranges his work schedule without complaint and without being asked and he makes it happen.
I've never asked Seth to do these things. He just does them because, well, he rocks. Admittedly, I've made it clear that I probably couldn't pick up the slack on much more without quitting my job. But he hasn't asked me to, either. And he hasn't suggested that I should stop volunteering for the shul, or the multiples club, or the NICU or any of those other things. He hasn't told me I should start saying no to things, because he knows that I just don't have that ability and it wouldn't make me happy. Instead, he silently finds ways to make my life easier and he steps in wherever he can.
I never, ever have to feel like I'm doing this on my own. We make a great team.