Archive for January, 2009

Yippee for Pregnant Peoples

January 30, 2009

Now that I’m back at work and in the world again, I see pregnant ladies everywhere and I have nothing but love for them. I keep forgetting that I no longer have my telltale new mom belly so instead of realizing that I’m smiling at them as a welcome to the new parent club, I’m just another one of the many people gawking at their bloated abdomens.

I also have two co workers who are about to burst (well, one’s wife is), and I am so excited about the prospect of more babies in the world. I almost have that same sensation of mild jealousy I used to feel about someone else who went into labor back when I was still pregnant, but different. Instead of wanting to just get it over with, I want a do-over. Not that I’m unhappy with my experience at all (despite the mayhem) or that I could possibly want to experience another contraction, but oh my god to hold my baby for the first time again and be able to be more cognisant of just how big a deal it is… of being able to smell the small one’s newborn smell again and keep smelling it with the knowledge of just how quickly it will fade. That’s what makes me so excited for these nearly new parents.

Of course, at the same time I am so grateful I’ve left behind such “joys” of newborndom as round the clock feedings, my milk coming in, and the general roller coaster feeling that is coming home from the hospital. But oh to hold my baby boy as a newborn again – if I could time travel I’d go right to the nursery a just rock him.

I am a cheeseball. I know.

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Back to the rat race

January 30, 2009

It was remarkably easy going back to work. Sure, it felt weird leaving the house, but once I actually sat down and started digging through email, I fell right back into the swing of things. It was almost as if I’d never left, which was only made more unnerving when everyone kept asking me how I was holding up in this tone that assumed I should be mere seconds away from weeping and moaning “I miss my baby boy” all afternoon.  If anything, I feel guilty that it was so easy, as if my not completely falling apart implies I wouldn’t have made it as a stay at home mom, and that the whole making more money and being the source of health insurance bit was simply a convenient way for me to pawn the babe off on my husband.

That being said, once I left the building for the evening, I speed walked at a pace just short of a jog to get home and see the small one, who I proceeded to hold until it was time for him to go to bed (a scant hour and fifteen minutes after I got home – so sad).

Now we’ll see how I feel next week, when I spend a full five days away from the child.

23,700 emails

January 29, 2009

That’s how many unread messages greeted me this morning.

Sure, most of them were due to my being on way too many email lists at work, and only 600ish actually need to be sorted through, but yeah. Welcome back indeed.

Maternity Leave – a Performance Review

January 29, 2009

On the eve of my return to the working world, I thought I should do something corporate.  I’m giving myself a performance review on my role as a stay-at-home mom.  Now, being I’m doing this as a half-joking memoir, I’ve already failed to set objectives against which to judge my actions, so I’ll just have to wing it and make some up now…

1. Bond with child
This was the easiest part.  Despite my fears that I would be handed a baby after delivery and all I’d want to do was hand it back and get some sleep, I was completely elated when (after being in the post-op recovery room) I held the small one for the first time.  I tried to mentally prepare myself for having to grow to love my baby, but that was completely unnecessary, as it was most certainly love at first sight (and smell – my god do newborns smell amazing).  So from my end, mission accomplished on day 1.

As for the small one, I couldn’t pinpoint when I knew he knew me.  That being said, I am 100% sure he knows who I am by smell, sight, sound and touch at this point, and that he’s even happier and calmer when I’m around (especially when I’m holding him), which I must admit is just about the greatest feeling ever.

Overall grade: A+ (we’re tight)

2. Learn to care for child
This one took me a bit more time, but I am happy to report that I can confidently identify when he’s hungry, change a diaper, coax out a burp, give a bath, extract boogers, clip fingernails, change clothing, treat diaper rash, use a car seat, use a stroller, use a baby sling, and do all manner of rocking/bouncing/walking/singing/cooing to sooth him when he’s upset.  So yes, I can care for my child.

I will admit that while much of this came naturally, I was hesitant when it came to leaving the house with the small one until about week 6.  Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe it’s just because I never got the cabin fever I’d expected (and therefore had no urge to leave home), or maybe it’s just that I know what a terrible driver I am, but the thought of taking him on an outing all by myself (no husband to help) was daunting at first.  I can’t say that I look forward to outings even now, but I am definitely able to strap him in the car seat, pack up the stroller and run errands.  What can I say, maternity leave made me a home body.

Overall grade: A (I wouldn’t go open a daycare, let alone attempt to care for someone else’s child, but I can handle my own without trepidation)

3. Watch out for postpartum depression
This was a big fear for me, not that my family has a history of it or that I have ever struggled with depression, but I really wanted to be sure I’d set up all things baby such that I could call in for help if I needed it.  And while I did experience the wild ride that is crashing hormones (night sweats, crying for no reason whatsoever), I was never depressed.  I was definitely touchy, and my husband would probably tell you I was more fragile than is usual, but I never felt incapable, never fearful about holding or caring for my baby (although I was anxious about night feedings for the first week or so), and I never felt out of control or overwhelmed.  I credit my husband, for having such a flexible schedule and for being so supportive, and my neighbor who would stop in (she’s our resident baby/child expert) and serve as a great point of reference.

Overall grade: A (disaster averted)

4. Breastfeed exclusively
Yes, the first two weeks hurt like hell and I’ve had ducts clog on three separate occasions, but overall breastfeeding has gone remarkably smoothly.  The small one latched on the first time I held him and has fed like a champ ever since (hence his monster size).  If anything, I’ve had an oversupply problem, which means I now have a plentiful stash of frozen milk as back up for my return to work.  I’ve even mastered using both my electric breast pump (Medela Pump in Style Metro Bag) and the plunger-style hand pump that comes with it.  I am confident that we will be able to breast feed for a year, and may even decide to go longer.

Overall grade: A+ (not a drop of formula touched the child’s lips, and I am lady boobs these days)

5. Meet new moms
Definitely my weakest performance.  Because of my aforementioned hermit-like inclinations, I didn’t start being social until the last two weeks or so in terms of meeting new people.  Honestly, I think this would have been a bigger deal if I were going to continue to stay home, in that I would eventually catch cabin fever and need to find someone to hang out with while the rest of the world toils away at some form of employment.  But because I knew I was going back, I didn’t want to take the effort (and let’s be honest, meeting new people is way more tiring than midnight feedings) to meet new people who I wouldn’t see once I was back to work, but I didn’t feel like I could hang out with the working moms until I was back to work and officially among their ranks.

To remedy this, I’ve started joining things.  There’s a holistic moms group in town and I plan to attend their meeting next month, along with La Leche League and a local group called Birth Circle that I attended a few times while pregnant.  And once he gets older, I’ll take the small one to the mommy and me swim classes at the gym on Saturday mornings, as it solves to inevitable problem of the working mom – I get to be social AND spend time with my son.

Overall grade: Incomplete (retake next semester)

6. Create transition plan for return to work
Haircut [check]
Manicure [check]
Majority of pre-baby work clothes fit [check]
Mastered using breast pump, purchased all gear need to successfully pump at work (including a large water bottle to make sure I hydrate and plenty of healthy snacks to feed my ravenous appetite) [check]

Honestly, I don’t think I can grade this one yet, but based on the last three practices days, my husband will be a-okay fine as a stay-at-home dad, I can certainly pump enough to keep the fridge stocked with milk, and I’ve timed it and as long as I get up by 7:15 AM for the small one’s first feeding of the day, I can make it out the door in time to be at work at 9 AM (it is a beautiful thing to only live a 15 minute walk from your office).  That, and I only need to get through two days before I get a weekend to decompress.

Overall grade: TBD

7. Enjoy maternity leave as much as possible
Maternity leave is a fantastic thing.  I can’t imagine having less than 12 weeks… especially those poor women who go back after 6 weeks, which is almost exactly when the kid first starts becoming more than an adorable ball of need.  In fact, if I’m in a good enough position both financially and professionally, I’ll try and take off six months for the next one.

But did I enjoy it, you ask?  Yes, absolutely.  Even though I’m not a co-sleeper, I adore napping with the small one laying next to me, just listening to him breathing.  The hours of holding him may take a toll on my back but I can’t imagine having missed out on them.  And I really did succeed in avoiding doing anything more than staying at home and enjoying my new baby – dishes went undone until he was asleep, we kept the cleaning lady once a week so I wouldn’t need to take on new chores, and I lived in my pajama bottoms and cardigans whose shoulders were constantly coated in spit up and drool, just hanging out with the boy and having no responsibilities beyond keeping him happy, fed and clean.

I never missed work or felt isolated, and while I did have moments during the first month where I wished my husband didn’t have to go to work, by the end I enjoyed hanging out with the boy just me and him almost more than the time we spent all together as a family – he’s so calm and serene when it’s just to two of us staring back at each other.

It was definitely the most amazing three months I can recall.

Overall grade: A+ (wish they offered it again this semester)

and now I go back…
I don’t dread tomorrow.  I think I’m probably still in denial about it (as evidenced by the fact that I should probably be in bed by now and I still have to pump).  I don’t look forward to it either, but it’s like the end of a good vacation (not the one where you stay a day too long and really wish you were home, but the kind where you’d love to extend and you know that you can’t but you still feel like you got to let go and relax).

All that is to say, I hope I can get through the next two days without crying.  Or at least not in front of anyone.

the day before

January 28, 2009

I go back to work tomorrow. I know, already. Three months have absolutely flown by, exactly like everyone said they would. And yet. In those three short months it feels like my life has been altered completely while somehow remaining totally recognizable. I don’t get it either… maybe that’s the thing about becoming a parent, it just works and while everything you do or don’t do revolves around the babe, you are still you, your husband is still your husband, and you still look forward to spending Wednesday night on the couch with a bottle of wine, waiting to see how the sadistic writers on staff for Lost fuck with the characters this week.

Of course, this relative balance could get rocked starting tomorrow. In hindsight, it was pretty easy to replace having a job with having a baby for three months (sure, I slept more when I was working, but being home was sooooo great and napping is pretty much the greatest, all comments about wanting to be around the small one at all times aside). And now I have to add work back into the mix, albeit with my husband taking on most of the parenting responsibility.

I would say something like “we shall see” but it’s not like we have choice (okay, not like we have a choice that doesn’t involve winning the lottery or selling all our possessions and living off rice and beans for the next two years). So instead I’ll say “here goes…”

He Knows

January 22, 2009

Sure, there’s a high likelihood that it’s just the three month growth spurt, but for the last two nights the small one has reinstituted the midnight feeding, putting us back to two middle of the night, interrupt mommy’s sleep nosh sessions.

My theory is that he knows I’m going back to work next week and is trying to debilitate me with exhaustion to prevent the inevitable. I was hoping he’d take the kill her with cuteness and profound ease and regularity to make her feel guilty tactic, but alas, he must be too many generations away from his catholic heritage.

Milk is gross

January 21, 2009

Next to my love of carbs, dairy takes a close second.  And while I’ve been breastfeeding for nearly three months now, today is the first day I was grossed out while drinking a glass of milk (cow not mine, geeze!).

Maybe it’s because my hoodie is so covered in cheese-like spit up right now and the smell of sour milk is so permeating my brain today that I couldn’t help but think of my own sore nipples and freezer full of pump and save bags when I stuck my face in my glass in order to wash down the peanut butter toast I’m calling lunch today.  But yeah, it made me completely nauseous.  Am I swearing off dairy?  Oh hell no.  But I’m not about to head down to the fridge for a refill either.

Hmmm.

Soy milk is suddenly sounding strangely appealing.

On this day…

January 20, 2009

… when a man I have admired for 5 years was sworn into office, I should have been watching. I planned to watch.

But instead. I spent the afternoon napping with the small one.

Because. YouTube and CNN and the like will be able to provide me with endless replay of his inspiring words, and he certainly didn’t need me present and accounted for to accomplish his mission.

Meanwhile. I have only three days worth of lazy afternoon naps remaining with my son. I think my time was well spent.

The Last Full Week

January 19, 2009

of maternity leave, that is. Yup, next Thursday at this time my ass will be back in an ergonomically questionable swivel chair attempting to sort through three months worth of unopened email and generally banging my head up against a wall that I can’t just take a nap after pumping like I would after breastfeeding the small one. Oh, and that I have to wear pants. I know, it sounds like a tolerable request, but just for practice, today I managed to put on a pair of trousers before noon for the first time in I don’t know how long. I’m going to miss my “work” attire of pajama pants, nursing tank and spit-up covered cardigan when I return to the world of blazers and button downs and other such things that involve either dry cleaners or irons.

I won’t even touch the whole “miss my baby” thing, as that would imply I was actually dealing with the transition. Last night the small one slept until 6:45 AM and part of me missed the 4 AM feeding, I’m such a freak for spending time with this kid. I am doomed.

Which is why next week is practice week. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be getting up at 7, feeding and changing the small one and handing him over to my now stay at home husband. I’ll then shower, eat breakfast, kiss the boys goodbye and leave the house by 8:30 AM and go somewhere just to practice leaving the house on time (so I have a sense of how long my new working mom morning routine will take). Yes, this is very type A of me to practice something as simple as leaving my home, but this is how I deal, I make a plan. I’ve even planned a treat for myself, as I’m getting a massage on Tuesday (along with a hair cut and mani/pedi so I no longer look like someone who hasn’t left the house in a fiscal quarter).

And this last week at home? I plan to accomplish nothing. For the last full week in the foreseeable future.

mommy’s first hangover

January 17, 2009

It’s official. I have gotten drunk post baby, and it was as fun (and later, as painful) as I remember it.

The husband decided that I was very much in need of a night out, despite my insistence that I didn’t have cabin fever at all. As usual, he was so right on the money. He had two of the college girls who work for him come and babysit in exchange for two bottles of wine and a dinner of short ribs and mashed potatoes awaiting their arrival.

By the time Z arrived, the small one was down and I just finished pumping out the remaining contents of my breasts for her emergency bottle. Plus the 8 oz of milk in the fridge she could heat up. Not to mention the freezer full of back up. Of course, I didn’t expect her to need any of it (and she didn’t), but this was the first time we left the little guy with a sitter, so I had to be over prepared.

And off we went. To a nice restaurant in a resort-style hotel in town. For a five course meal. And a bottle of champagne. And a bottle of burgundy. And oh sure Mr. Sommelier who took a liking to us, I’ll take a complimentary glass of dessert wine with my fois gras. And port older than me with dessert. Why not, we are celebrating our first outing!

The food was lovely, the wine was fantastic and as the only customers in the place on a frigid weeknight in January when everyone who is not counting calories is counting pennies, we had a wonderful time.

We got home to find that the small one hadn’t made a single peep, and Z teased us that next time she could actually babysit when the child was awake.  We thanked her profusely, and both downed a few glasses of water before heading up to bed.

When the small one awoke for his nightly nosh at 3:30 AM, I was acutely aware of my body feeling achy and flu like, and my head being cloudy.  Ah, the hang over.  Part of me freaked out that I was nursing my child after having so imbibed, but it had been 6 hours since I’d had a drink, and while my brain was still suffering, I suspect my BAC was fine.  Or at least that’s how I’m going to rationalize this moment of bad parenting.  The next morning I made sure to join the small one for all his naps, as mommy needed them more than he did, and because it’s fun to cuddle up with a ten week old and let the sound of his breathing lull you to sleep.

What’s not fun is the way a cry echoes through a wine-addled brain, but that was to be expected.  Needless to say, this isn’t an experience I plan to repeat, but I do think it was good for me to, well, act like me again, if only for a night.  (Judge away that my definition of acting like me involves multiple bottles of wine.)