I came home from hospital with baby bear Elke on Sunday- she was 5 days old and I was 5 days the mother of three. As I walked from my hospital room out into the blustery world I took a deep breath in preparation for what was to come.
I confessed to Dave that I wasn't quite ready. In his over confident way he assured me that 'yes, yes I was' before raising his hand for a high five. As our hands made that familiar slapping sound, I believed him.
We drove home with our newest bundle in tow. She didn't make a peep.
It was around 11am when we pulled into our white picketed drive. Dave unpacked my hospital bag, endless bunches of flowers and many gifts from the car while I carefully unstrapped Elke from her seat.
We gave her the grand tour of her new home before collecting the 'big kids' from the neighbours place. They greeted their baby sister with joyous fanfare and much excitement. She indulged us as we all took turns of holding her miniature frame and kissing her fluffy head.
For about 15 minutes things were blissfully calm. They were a beautiful 15 minutes.
But toddlers and pre-schoolers seldom stay still for long. Their excitement at having their mother back at home along with the many emotions that come with sudden and immense change were tangible and right there began The Beautiful Juggle.
Everybody talking at once, everybody needing something at the same time, everybody needing everything immediately. Myself included (i've gotta wee, take pain relief, breastfeed somebody, listen to somebody, sleep, eat, wipe away toddlers tears and eat again).
It became evident that if were were going to get this family of 5 thing right- we needed to start now and we needed to start well. Stripping everything back, simplifying as much as possible. Making time, touch and love our priority.
Then and there I decided, with great ferocity, that we were to bunker down as a family. Just the 5 of us getting to know each other and figuring out how things should work. There's been an awful lot of boundary pushing from the young ones - an obvious request for affirmation that they are still loved, despite our divided attention.
Dave and I are making a conscious effort to provide them with the words they lack when melt downs and temper tantrums occur (i'll be honest, it's a stretch at times). There is an abundance of change and an ocean of newness to comprehend for all of us.
After a caesar (or any birth, I should imagine), so much rest is required and what little energy the body has is spent on feeding and settling a new born treasure. Just as it should be. But when there are two larger, less new treasures that also need to be emotionally nourished, things can be tricky.
We are spending all of our energy focusing on the kids.
Each morning Dave takes them into the garden for planting and weeding and feeding while Elke and I sleep on. Once she and I are up we spend time in the kitchen or at the table, colouring, cooking or reading stories. Of course, each day is punctuated with with the usual and expected kid bickering, negotiating and disciplining but on the whole - we're getting the hang of this family of 5.
Our days have been as slow as is possible, which is not that slow. They have been as quiet as possible, which is pretty loud. But what they lack in peace and quiet they make up for in crazy and in my book, crazy is awesome.