It's been a very busy month since my last entry into this blog. Christine and I had been spending most of our free time getting ready to welcome our third child into the world. Three weeks ago today, we did just that.
A baby boy that we named James Daniel Isom entered our lives at 5:37 p.m. on August 9th, 2017. Both mother and baby are happy and healthy, and our other two children Grace and Benjamin have been great overall throughout the process. The point of this entry to is talk about a few different things like our choice of name for those of you who don't know, the dynamic of having three kids that need care and attention, how sleep is seemingly overrated, and whatever else comes to mind as I get going here.
What's in a name?
First, let's talk about the name, James Daniel. Before I get into the reason we went with that name, let me just tell you that agreeing on a boy's name was very difficult for us. Unlike girls' names, we seemed to really dislike the names that the other did like. Before we ever had kids, maybe even before we were married, we had a list of both boy's and girl's names that we liked. I kept it in a word document and edited from time to time as we found new names we liked and fell out of love with others for a variety of reasons. Some names that we absolutely love were just too popular at the time so we moved away from them. I'm not going to go into the history of how we settled on Grace and Ben for our first two children but those two were agreed upon with no argument.
James on the other hand was supposed to be a middle name for our first boy but we both agreed that we didn't want our son's initials to be BJ, for silly school house teasing reasons. We liked the name Spencer for a long time and thought Spencer James sounded like a fine name but somewhere along the line I think I didn't like it as much as some of the other names I really liked including: Jack, Oliver, and Liam. All three of which have been pretty popular. Christine liked a lot of traditional names like John and Eric which are fine names, just not ones I liked for my son. One day, Grace suggested we use James as the first name, and since we both liked it we went with it. I agreed and shortly there after we agreed on using my first name as his middle name but not because we were naming him after me in a way. No, both his first and middle name are actually homages to our grandfathers. My father's father was named James and he was a big part of my life growing up. It's been nearly two decades since he passed and I still regret not going down to see him one last time when he was very sick, but that's a story for another day. Daniel also happens to be Christine's mother's father's name. "Pop Pop" is still alive and well living in Syracuse. He has been such a huge part of Christine's life, he actually was the one who gave her away at our wedding, that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to honor him in some way.
So that's the little story of how James Daniel Isom got his name.
I know it has only been three short weeks since we added a third child to our brood, but we've already noticed how different having three kids is compared to just two. Having one kid is like having a small pet that you carry around with you everywhere you go. It's SO easy having a single child when there are two of you to care for them. Adding a second was the most difficult thing I've had to endure in my entire life. To put it into my mother's words "Now you're really parents," a phrase she said shortly after Ben was born. Truer words have never been spoken because it took a lot of time to get that situation working and it was still a challenge some days even before number three entered the picture.
So why add a third child if two can be so difficult? Maybe it's because we're stupid or hate sleep or want to be stressed out from the time we wake up to the time their little eyes close for the night. It's not really any of those things, well maybe we're a little stupid. We wanted to have a third child so the other two always had somebody else that they could rely on, play with, talk to, interact with, and love. I have one brother, Matt, who I tortured growing up because I have a hard time entertaining myself. Having another sibling would have at least allowed him to take half the beatings. Christine on the other hand has two sisters, her twin Michelle, and their younger sister Katie. She pointed out that if she was fighting with one, it was likely that she wouldn't be fighting with the other. So she always had at least one sibling that she could do stuff with. That's obviously not the only reason to have three kids instead of two but it seems like it will help all involved as they grow. Because of their ages, having two years and two months from one to the next, they'll all be relatively close in age as they get older. So when Christine and I get old and decrepit, God willing, having a support system of three will make things easier to bear than just two. It's kind of morbid to think that way but Christine and I have always been long term planners.
In the first few days of having James home with us, I've barely noticed any change in trying to raise an extra child. I know as he gets older and more mobile that it will change, but for now it's been pretty easy. We can still give Grace and Ben the attention they need, even if Grace is adamant that she's not getting enough time when she really doesn't want our attention, she just doesn't want the baby to have it at that very moment. I can still get into the kitchen and cook an actual meal, although during the time I've been back to work it's been a lot of reheating meals that I made and froze before James joined us because I'm too tired to put forth much effort once I get home. But I did make bagels, potato salad, three loaves of banana bread and a dozen muffins this past weekend. I still have time to get cleaning and yard work done. I still have time to give the kids a bath, I just sit James in a bouncer seat next to me in the bathroom. We even have time to watch a little TV before bed. What I'm saying here is that we have the time to do just about everything we did before the baby, it just doesn't get done as quickly and that's okay. As I said before, I know this will change but I think the transition from two to three is going to be much easier than one to two.
Sleep is overrated...or rather the thing I miss most
If you've had a child or spent any amount of time overnight in the same house as a newborn, you'll know that they could give two shits about sleeping. When they're hungry, everyone is getting up until their need is met. James is no exception to this. He loves to sleep for long stretches throughout the day, although he has been waking to eat more often as of late. Then at night, he grumbles away in his cradle and wakes up three to four times to feed. I've been up with him a couple of times in the early morning hours to give him a bottle but Christine has taken on almost every feeding, as we store pumped milk for when she goes back to school in October. I forgot how little a newborn sleeps and when coupled with a kid who sleeps in your bed, Ben, and another who wakes up at least once a night in her room, Grace, sleep has been at a premium in our house. I'm pretty sure Christine hasn't slept for more than four hours in a given night since the baby was born so I try not to complain.
There have been a few situations where I sit up with him just so Christine gets some sleep since he sleeps better when being held than he does laying on his back in the cradle. I did that Monday morning starting at roughly 2:40 a.m. and then never went back to bed because when he decided to wake up to eat, the alarm would be going off in a half an hour. I didn't want keep Christine awake later on by going back to sleep for a bit so I just took a shower and got to work really early. I used my standing desk for nearly the entire day because if I sat down I was going to fall asleep. It was probably the most tired I've been in a long time. But I got through it and I know that getting a little more sleep will happen in time.
Going for 4?
For me, it's a no. One of the first questions after you have one child is when you plan on having a second. It's not a matter of if you're going to but when. When you have the second, there's still a portion of people who ask when the third will join you but the majority ask if that will ever happen. We've now gotten to the point where the question is always the same, "Are you going to try for four?" My answer is always adamantly no. Three was a compromise because I wanted two and Christine wants four (she'd have twenty if I let her because she loves being pregnant and giving birth, I think she might be a crazy person...don't tell her I said that). It's funny to think about compromising on how many lives to bring in the world. This isn't compromising on a location of a home or how many bathrooms you really need, it's not settling on how you're going to spend your Friday night, it's bringing a life into the world that you'll be responsible for for the rest of yours. Having three is enough for me, my rapidly receding hairline is proof of that, but I do feel bad that this was Christine's last pregnancy when she still wants one more. That doesn't mean I'll waiver on this decision, I just want to show some compassion for the wonderful woman who did me the honor of giving birth to three amazing children.
Time for just Us
This topic just came to me as I was getting ready to wrap this post up so bear with me as I try to get a coherent thought typed out. Every time you add a child to the mix, finding time for just you and your spouse just gets that much harder. After we had Grace, we never did much without her because we didn't have anyone here to watch her and paying for a sitter gets crazy expensive very quickly. Thankfully, my dad moved to town right after Ben was born and he has been a gigantic help. Not only is it nice to have somebody who can watch the kids, but having somebody who will do it for free is even better. Sometimes he just comes over and spends time with the kids while we're home but he really stepped up and had been watching them every weekend for at least a few hours while we went to the grocery store and then for around 6 to 8 hours while we went and spend time with our friends to play board games.
Getting out of the house together just the two of us, even to just buy groceries, has been great for our relationship. Being able to spend hours and hours with friends is great too, but you HAVE to make time for just you and your spouse when you have kids. It doesn't mean you love your kids any less or that you're bad parents. Because if the two of you aren't able to connect and work on your relationship, its going to suffer which will in turn hurt everyone involved. Now we haven't had any time away from all three of the kids yet for obvious reasons but that time will come eventually so Christine and I plan to get back into some sort of routine where we can get some time away, even if it's just an hour to have lunch out somewhere. A time where we can talk, hopefully not entirely about the kids, and just have some time for us. In the meantime, having my dad over to play with the kids in their play/daycare room downstairs for a few hours on the weekends will be our Us time and time for just Christine, James, and I to spend time as three.
I'm nowhere near an expert on parenting and I know that I make mistakes every single day but if you're out there and have questions about having kids, navigating your after-having-a-child/children relationship, or just want some average parenting advice from someone with some experience at it, feel free to contact me whenever. And I really do mean whenever, I'll probably be awake.