A Maternity / Family Session & Interview, with Jessica Kraus

Because sometimes one interview isn’t enough… (You can read the first one here)
Tell us a bit about this pregnancy thus far.
Well it’s been, for the most part, pretty pleasant. Other than the kidney stone issues during the second trimester, It’s been just as enjoyable as each of my experiences prior. Though I should say that I do have preventative cerclages (stitching the cervix closed) placed early on with all of my pregnancies (aside from the first) so there’s that to deal with, but it’s a simple procedure and they typically remove the stitch around 38 weeks. With Leon I was put on a couple months of bedrest to help ward off preterm labor issues I was dealing with – which was downright tortuous – so anything outside of that really kinda pales in comparison.  
How pissed are you that you can’t drink beer? Really though, admittedly, I had a beer or two while pregnant. I don’t think it’s a big deal. But how pissed are you that you can’t drink a lot of beer?
I think it’s always harder for me in the beginning. I really like beer and typically tend to drink more in the summertime so it’s an abrupt end to that aspect of your social life, but I’m fine now. Plus I’ve replaced that vice with Chocolate, so all is well. But I can’t say I won’t be pretty darn happy to see margarita in my lap at some point after the baby, when the weather warms up. 
I read an article about how strangers like to give you advice when they know you’re pregnant with your first but by the time you’re pregnant beyond your fourth that those same strangers look at you more dumbfounded because they now realize you probably know a lot more than them. How’s that for a run-on sentence? Have you experienced this?
I’ve had my fair share of advice tossed my way but it’s never bothered me. Some of it has even been incredibly useful. But yes, by this stage no one is offering any life changing tips or suggestions by way of child reaering. Choosing to have four children these day totally mystifies a lot of people. We get that “look” regularly, and the typical congratulatory remarks feel a bit different with each pregnancy, but, I get it. A big family is not for everyone. Mike and I were always set on wanting three kids, four was a loose “maybe”, but in the end we decided to make a go for it. I mean, really, what’s one more kid at this point? Our home is already constantly a messy, chaotic, loud madhouse most days but it’s what we love. There is never a dull moment and as grueling and exhausting as it feels at times, it’s a hundred precent worth it. Always. 
With four kiddos, I’m assuming you have to rock a full on mom-mobile. Do you feel any less cool yet? I suppose you will. Just kidding. I’m pretty certain you can make a minivan look cool.
I honestly could care less about new cars. Anyone who knows me would attest to that. I’ve never cared about my daily driver and I likely never will. I just want anything that will cart around as many people as possible and be dependable and get us to the beach. I hate picking out new cars more than anything though, so it might take awhile. It’s the old cars we love. The weekend joyrides that we hold dear to us, so as long as we have something cool to make our breakfast runs in, I’m happy.   
I had intentions of co-sleeping, but it just didn’t work for us. Both of my boys, as well as my husband and I, slept better in our own beds. Do you have a plan for sleeping arrangements?
Oh gosh, I am super strict when it comes to kids and their sleep schedules. Only because with each baby I realized more and more how vital my own sleep became to all of our well being. Having them in bed with me meant I wasn’t getting good solid sleep, so while I do love a newborn sleeping beside our bed for the first 2 or 3 months, I usually try and get a patterned sleep schedule established as soon as possible. I mean, let’s be honest, naps save sanity. It’s the only time I get anything done so it’s crucial. Plus as much as I love to cuddle and lay with them in bed, I also take pride in watching my babies fall in love with and gain security in their own sleep space. Listening to them coo and talk themselves to sleep is my favorite. All of my boys loved their cribs, and their naps (up until recently) And I like having the bedroom to ourselves as a couple at a certain point too.  
I assume your fourth baby must just fall out of you, right? Kidding
Yah, that’s about right. I’ve had ridiculously easy labors so I am expecting this one to just about “fall out”. Rex was born within an hour of arriving at the hospital, and the others not much longer. Knock on wood this one follows suit.   
Hooper was 9 lbs. and Van was 9 lbs 8 oz. I’ve heard they get bigger, and thus, I’m scared to have a third. How big were your first three?
Arlo was born a month early and weighed just over 6lbs, Leon was a little over 7 lbs and Rex was 8 lbs even, so I guess they do keep getting bigger.  
How much to you think Rex will help with the baby? That was a joke. Don’t comment. I’ll bet Arlo could lend a helping hand though, no? 
We try not to think about Rex with an infant too much. The last time he played “peek-a-boo” with my friend’s baby girl he sent her into a fit of hysterics. He’s . . . um, quite intense, so maybe seeing his brothers be calm and gentle might help? We’ll see. Arlo, though, he’s a lot of help and Leon too. They’re going to be amazing with a baby I think.
I think there’s a lot of pressure out there, partly due to blogs and social media, to hold ourselves to unmatchable mom standards; to breastfeed f o r e v e r and only feed our kids food we grow in our own gardens and to homeschool and so on and so forth. Can you speak briefly to these pressures and how you manage to sell yourself on the fact you rock as a mom? Because, really, we all rock as moms…
I don’t get too caught up in all that. And I try to never pass judgment on my end either. I’ve always said, we’re all in this together. Everyone loves their kid(s) A LOT, and at the end of the day we’re all doing the best we can. Some things work for different families and households and I just find it very unfortunate when women allow themselves to stand so divided because of differing parenting views. It’s hard work, we should all be more embracing and encouraging of one another. Luckily I’ve been able to surround myself with a few ladies who feel the same way so the support helps tremendously. Also, the more kids you have the more you start to really cling to: “don’t sweat the small stuff’ type credo. Some days you just roll with it and know tomorrow is a new day and things turn around pretty damn quick. No matter how trying it feels at the moment.  
I don’t give advice to new moms other than to remind them that what feels permanent is most always temporary. What advice, if any, do you offer to new moms?
Trust your instincts. And learn to laugh about the plights you are faced with daily. My boys drive me insane constantly throughout the day, but most of the time I think the trials are hilarious. There is humor in all of it. And really, it’s such a fleeting time. You blink and your babies turn into boys and boys into men. Goes by way too fast. . .
Before you became a mother, how many children did you envision yourself having?
From age 4-8 I claimed I was going to have twelve babies. I drew pictures and named them all. Then, when I was around ten, I became much more practical and decided on six. Six was my number for a long time. I’m at four now, but everybody knows Rex already counts as two (maybe three), so . . . 
Your boys are nappers. So are mine. I always envisioned myself being a “carefree” mom who could give two shits about schedules. But, when the boys miss their naps there is hell to pay and you better believe I’m the one that has to flip the bill. In hopes that you hold all the answers, tell me how you balance structure with non-structure; routine with spontaneity.
We just do. 75 precent of the time we rely on specific lunch hours and nap times, ect, but there are days I just throw it all out the window because of whatever we have planned. Sometimes it’s awful and I regret it and sometimes they pull through and it all works out. I’ve learned to just go, and not worry too much about the day’s possible outcome. Otherwise we’d probably never leave the house. I mean, they do do much better when they’re rested.
A babysitter just showed up at your front door and volunteered to watch the kids. How do you and Mike spend your evening?
Oh easy. Mexican food, margarita and a movie.
Not that the right tune takes away the pain or makes the pushing easier, but do you have a labor tunes playlist? I had fun making CD after CD but as soon as those contractions started, I wanted to tell James Taylor to kiss my ass. It was fun making them anyway and I suppose it helped me envision a beautiful, magical, music-playing-baby-slipping-right-out birth; even though that vision was all far from the truth. I digress, are you making a labor tunes playlist?
No, I won’t be making any playlists. Like I said, I deliver quick and I’m done. I want to go home immediately. We both do. After Rex was born I was ready for champagne and was (irrationally) fantasizing about going out to dinner. Seriously, it felt like a party, so there’s not much down time. We get to the hospital, have a baby and start begging for release soon there after. The last time we went home after ten hours and we were grateful. But this time I might not push too hard, a little quite time away from the boys, to get to know the new baby sounds kind of dreamy now that I sit and consider it more.  
Some women write up elaborate birth plans that they hand over to the nurse in the hospital. I’ve even read about some moms writing up a sort of contract that they have their doctors sign. I’ve heard of other moms who simply show up to the hospital and tell the nursing staff to take good care of them and leave all the decision making to someone else. I had planned on a home birth, so when I ended up in the hospital I gave one instruction: please don’t offer me an epidural (I greatly regretted this decision – in the moment – when I was clinching my teeth and yelling at anyone in the room to apply counter pressure). Do you have a plan or a vision, rather, of how you would like things to go? If so, paint us a picture.
I just hope it goes as smoothly as the first three. They were all great, stress free experiences so I’ll be lucky if things happen the same way with this one. No birth plan, or instructions. You’ve met me. I’m not the most organized person in the world. Lists are just not my thing.  
Briefly touch on post-partum body image. I always dreamed of imagining myself pregnant, frolicking around in a field of tall grass, not a care in the world. When I became pregnant, I watched as my body changed and I felt that little sense of impending doom — like I would never be the same. I’ve come to terms since and – though I have a long wishlist, just like anyone else – I don’t hate my body or the way it’s changed. Tell me about your experience. 
Well, I don’t mind the changes in body during pregnancy. I enjoy being pregnant so that doesn’t phase me, but have to say that with each baby, it’s been harder and harder to fully “bounce back.” Weight wise, I tend to loose the weight easy enough, but it’s muscle tone that’s mostly affected. Meaning I have to really work a little harder at getting back to where I’m happy with my body after each baby. And the older you get the harder it is as well, so I know now to truly savor all the indulgences I allow while pregnant. It will all have to end soon enough. And then it’s all back to salads and light beer. Counting calories and skipping doughnuts.
JESSICA KRAUS | Blog | Etsy | Instagram

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