We welcomed a baby girl into the world two weeks ago. Lottie, Sidney and Arthur are thrilled with their new little sister. Our hearts are brimming with love. Our hands are full. And the chaos is rising as we adjust to life as a family of six. Baby days are finally here.
A name is still in the making. Though this is nothing out of the ordinary. We have a history of taking a long time to name our children. It took one month to name our third baby. Perhaps we like listening to the stream of quirky name suggestions from adoring family. Perhaps the suspense is addictive. I think we just like doing things in our own time.
And what a strange time it has been. A virus that has killed more than 400,000 people around the globe, intrastate border closures and social distancing, the bedlam of home isolation with three children while heavily pregnant, my husband working on the medical front line, our way of life uncertain. Thankfully staying home did save lives and Tasmania now has no cases of ‘the virus’, as the children called Covid-19. And hooray for ‘essential exercise’ in deserted carparks and neighbourhood waterways. Our patience was wearing thin and the children’s hair growing long and wild. But mostly I am grateful that we survived and had a healthy baby — a baby born in the time of Corona — perhaps that’s another story.
Motherhood feels a little like deja vu, fourth-time around. At night, I feel myself move almost unconsciously, to soothe a baby at my breast and tuck arms under folds of muslin and love. And there is a murmur of confidence under my skin. I know that everything will be alright. I can do this. And then there are the delicious breastfeeding hormones flooding my heart, softening anxieties and soothing aching shoulders. Though I know there is a bumpy road ahead. And these heavenly newborn days with my husband at the helm will come to an end. Then the tiredness and reality of parenting four children will take hold.
The children adore her. “He’s my little brother and he’s really cute”, our two-year-old Arthur tells his Auntie when she visits. The pronouns are a muddle but his love is honest. After school there is a rush to cuddle the baby, their ‘boo-boo’. “I can see my face in the baby’s eyes”, says Sidney, our four-year-old boy, his face beaming with delight. “Can we change the baby, Mum?”, our six-year-old daughter Lottie pleads. Yesterday she spent the afternoon arranging outfits in shades of pink, lace and flowers petite.
And there have been some hilarious moments. “Arthur tried to get milk out of my boobies”, says Sidney when climbing out of the bath, a concerned look on his face. And I tried not to giggle when the children poked my still rounded belly and asked, “When is the other baby in your tummy going to come out?”. Oh how I love the way children make sense of their world. Though I’m glad that the baby didn’t ‘blast out’ and go up to the moon ‘really high’. A theory of labour imagined by our two boys, Sidney and Arthur.
As I write this story I am sitting on the couch breastfeeding the baby. The lounge-room floor is littered with train-tracks, books and the fallen remains of cushion-cubbies. In the corner, a mountain of dry washing threatens to topple. Yesterday’s Vegemite toast dries on a plate above the fish tank. Our home looks as if it has been ransacked — by three small children. But the chaos is not forever. And when I hold our sweet baby girl in my arms everything else fades.