Monday, October 29, 2012

She's Baaaccckkk!

It's a little surreal to be sitting at my desk like the last three months never even happened. People seemed happy to see me, but now at 2 p.m., I think I've told two dozen people that "I'm doing OK!" and "Yes, I know my child is adorable!"


I also have exactly zero work to do, so I spent most of the day doing the following:
  1. Deleting emails
  2. Filing emails
  3. Eating with two hands 
  4. Freaking out about Hurricane Sandy (my sister, her husband and their new baby are in Jersey)
  5. Chatting on the Internets like I used to do when I was single (and married) and free of responsibility (child-free)
Joking aside, I cried several times last night and this morning leading up to the point that I walked into my building. I did not, however, have any hysterical breakdown or threaten not to go back. And since then I've been fine. More than anything, my biggest concern is continuing to breastfeed my baby, but I'm trying not to stress about it too much. It is, after all, only day one.

I'm very lucky that I work for a very understanding and accommodating workplace. My boss told me to leave early today. She's wants me to "ease into things" and won't even send me projects until we have our group's staff meeting tomorrow. So basically, now that I have run out of emails to delete, it's "me time."

Coming back has given me a little more perspective on maternity leave (yes, six hours into being back). I really lucked out--having a healthy baby, an easy pregnancy and labor/delivery, a fairly quick and uncomplicated recovery not to mention pretty good weather during my leave.

Everyone's maternity leave experience is different, but we had the opportunity to do so many fun things in the first almost three months of Emme's life: walks, the zoo, the botanic gardens, lunches with friends, visits with my mom, a roadtrip, baby + mom yoga, an infant massage class, and countless other outings. We even made some new friends. Looking back, even though the first several weeks were tough and there were plenty of moments when I questioned whether or not I would keep my sanity, we (or maybe I?) also had a lot of fun.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Flashbacks

My sister is deep in the throes of the first weeks of new mommyhood. I was reading through the comments on the Facebook post that announced my nephew’s arrival, and several people posted some variation of this message (stop me if you’ve heard this one): Enjoy every moment during this amazing time!

Um. No.

Let’s talk about this. Yes, every second of a wee babe’s life is precious, but from the perspective of a new parent (never forget!), those first weeks home you are in literal hell (FINE, FIGURATIVE HELL), which consequently defies laws of physics because you are simultaneously in hell and amazed by, in awe of, and in love with your new baby.

But literally (figuratively), it is hell.

Here’s the thing though... other parents will give you this line about enjoying every second somewhat wistfully (“They are only that small for a short period of time.”) because they have forgotten that they too were in a sleep deprived, confused, hormone-induced, post-delivery recovery hell-state (NEVER FORGET). All they are left with is the memory of sitting in the nursing chair rocking a tiny perfect brand new human who is sleeping peacefully, which, yes, is awesome, but the other stuff is hell. 

Em's first moments at home.
My advice... grit your teeth and hang on as tight as you can until you hit four to six weeks at which point you will have probably stopped crying several times a day and it starts to get better.

Seriously though, I’ve talked to my sister several times since they got home, and it’s true that you forget how rough it is really quickly. I listen to her and I have these moments of reliving the sheer exhaustion that is recovering from giving birth and learning how to take care of a newborn who has her days and nights mixed up and likes to scream. But in reliving those moments, I realize that I had already forgotten them. It all seems so far away, and yet, it was only 11 short weeks ago.

But the point is, a) it gets better and b) never forget.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trying Times

I made a promise to myself at some point: I will try to give slightly more of a fuck about my appearance when I return to work from maternity leave than I did before I left. Combine being huge and tired with not really caring that much to begin with and... yeah, I basically wore yoga pants to work for three months.

The first step of this process was to clear out my closet of items that I don’t wear, that don’t fit, that I haven’t worn in years, or that are in bad shape. That last one is the hardest for me. I am terrible about getting rid of clothing that has seen better days. Right now, I’m wearing my old Ohio U Bobcats long-sleeved t-shirt which has about 18 holes in it. I mean, I’m not headed to the office, but it’s probably beyond worth sleeping in.

This is the pile of “get rid of,” which is now sitting in a bag in our basement waiting for me to sort through it again to determine if items should be tossed, Goodwill-ed or sold.


I packed up my spring/summer clothes, maternity clothes (after some debate, I decided against continuing to wear the elastic waistband pants), and some clothing that doesn’t quite fit, but I love too much to get rid of (I like to hold onto hope). 


The next part of the plan is to make sure I have some clothing that fits. Good news/bad news, I guess: Because my weight tends to coughflutuatecough, I have a vast array of sizes to choose from and am actually able to wear some of my old non-maternity clothes even if I’m not quite at a weight where I’m totally comfortable.

In my closet, I hung the clothes that I can use. I took a few items to the tailor for minor alterations, which should help extend their lifespan. And next week, I’m going shopping. I’ve abandoned the “I’ll shop when I’m at X size” attitude. I’m determined to feel good about what I’m wearing regardless of what the tag says. I’m going to get a few pairs of pants, some easy-access nursing tops (as I will be pumping at work), a cardigan or two, and maybe a new pair of brown boots (if I can justify the splurge).

How long will my attempt to give a fuck last? I have no idea, but it seems like returning from maternity leave is a good time to make an attempt.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beginnings And Endings

Everyone who has ever been on maternity leave with the intention of going back to work will tell you this: The moment it feels like things are starting to fall into place--your babe is smiling, interacting, and starting to do the cool discovering-the-world-around-her stuff; you’ve adjusted to a new routine that you can allllllllmost count on; you're getting a reasonable amount of sleep most nights; and you realize that you’re actually having fun with your kid--is exactly the same time maternity leave ends.

I don’t think I’ve sugar coated my maternity leave experience, but there are times lately when notice that I’m actually kind of, really happy. Emery is not (and may never be) a laid back baby, but her crying no longer overwhelms me. And the truth is, she’s less fussy everyday (though she's challenging that observation today). She’s more soothed simply by me talking to her rather than me spending hours on end holding her while walking and bouncing. She’s more entertained by "stuff," which means that mom can often eat a sandwich while Emery hangs out in her baby gym. Mom tends to be a much more pleasant person when she can eat a sandwich.

Mom and Baby Yoga
On Monday, Em and I met AT for mom and baby yoga. How much yoga happens depends entirely on your baby. Em and I have been twice, and this time Em was on pretty good behavior. I probably got to do about 70 percent of the class. That didn’t happen the first time, and it may not happen the next time, but it definitely felt worth it.

Sleep
We’ve been so lucky with this. Em’s been a decent sleeper from the pretty early on. Like most newborns, once Em got her days and nights straight, she went to bed later, often around 10 or so. And she regularly slept a stretch of five hours by four weeks old. It doesn't sound like much, but that's actually pretty awesome. At seven weeks, we started experimenting with an earlier bedtime. It got earlier--a lot earlier--fast. We’ve now realized that Em not only goes down easier if we get her to bed around 6:30pm, but she also sleeps longer. Though we still get nights where she her longest stretch of sleep is six or seven hours (a couple weeks ago we had one night when she woke up every three hours -- nightmare), she’s been consistently sleeping eight to nine hours for about three or four weeks now. Except for the last two days when she's slept for... 11 HOURS STRAIGHT. I often wake up praying it's after 3 a.m. When I looked at the clock the last two nights, I nearly cried tears of joy when I saw it was nearly 6 a.m. I'm trying not to get used to it.

Eat
I've been obsessed with BLT's (+ Avocado) and soup lately. I made a slow cooker tortilla soup that was awesome, but now that I'm out, I've been relying on Trader Joe's tomato soup and their roasted red pepper and tomato soup. I highly recommend both.

Workout
On Monday, 60-minute Hot Power Fusion at CorePower Yoga (in addition to mom and baby yoga).
On Tuesday, a brief 30-minute walk around the neighborhood.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hello World

I’ve been posting a lot about me and how having Emme has affected my life. While I think a blog is a perfect outlet for all of the crazy feelings that come with new mommyhood, I realize I haven’t written much about what Em has been experiencing over her nearly 11 weeks of life. So I'll start doing that.

Baby About Town.
But first, this happened:

My sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy late on Thursday night after a very LONG labor. His name is Cliff. My mom says he’s an old soul.

In some ways, my little sister having a baby is even more surreal than me having a baby. I’m not sure I can adequetely explain this, but in my mind’s eye, it’s almost as though I can see the next ten years or so unfolding in fast forward -- holidays together, summers at the lake, our kids growing up with grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles. And I just kind of know that one day we’re going to look back and remember these years as the some of the best, most amazing, happiest times in our lives. It makes me feel very sentimental, and I’m going to stop talking about it now because crying makes one nose stuffy and I don’t want to have to deal with that shit.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Revise My Previous Statement

I was reading through a few of my posts (I do that sometimes, go ahead and judge me, whatever), and I realized that I've described just about everything surrounding pregnancy, giving birth, and having a baby as "weird." Clearly, I'm lacking words.

Anyway, I officially had my first daycare mini-meltdown on Monday night. I am still not dreading going back to work, but I realized, it's not that easy. I am dreading leaving Emme with virtual strangers. If I was able to leave her with my husband or MIL (though I think that those caretaker arrangements often come with their own special set of challenges), I'm pretty sure I might be sad to be gone for an entire day, but ultimately fine.

The truth is, I don't really know how much Emme knows. She seems like a pretty with-it baby, but what does that even mean? So on Monday night, I was crying in bed to my husband that our baby wouldn't understand that we were coming back for her. I imagine this is not the last daycare meltdown.

So there's that...

The other day, a friend of mine stopped by briefly and brought me lunch, which was awesome. She only had a few minutes, but wanted to hold Emme, so I said, "If you hold her, I'll probably try to shove some of this food in my face." So she held her, and I shoved food in my face.

As we hung out, I realized how much more engaged she was with my baby than I usually feel like I am. I also realized that when I hang out with her baby, I am way more engaged with her baby. With my baby, I'm trying to figure how to do 18 other things while holding her or while attempting to convince her that she's FINE in her bouncey seat.

It was kind of eye-opening. When it's not your kid, it's easy to ignore the fussing, the crying, the screaming, the pooping, etc. It's easy to stop for a few moments and just BE WITH THE BABY, maybe because you know it's temporary. Anyway, it made me feel bad, like I'm not focusing on Emme and just Emme enough. I don't expect to be able to do that all day, everyday, but I'm trying to make more of an effort to spend more time during the day when I focus on her and don't check my email or read the Internet or try to clean or cook or eat. I'm attempting to "play" with her now, though I will admit, I don't quite know how to play with a 10-week old (yes, 10 weeks today!).

In other news...

My sister is now literally "due any day," with MM's and my first nephew and Emme's first cousin. I am so excited for this little guy to show up! Let's go baby, we're ready for you!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

I Am Sort Of Not Dreading Going Back to Work... At All (Yet?)

Having a baby is such a weird ass thing, when you really stop to think about it. I mean, my husband and I brought a little, helpless human bean into this world, and for three months, my only job is try to stop that kid from screaming and figure out how to make life *seem* normal again.

Maternity leave is its own little time warp where the world stops and speeds up all at the same time. As far as I'm concerned, I've been home with this baby MY ENTIRE LIFE, and in the blink of an eye, I'm going to be back at work like nothing ever happened.

That's weird, right?

I emailed my boss today to get the ball rolling on my return. I contemplated waiting another week because I didn't want to seem over-eager, but the truth is, while I don't want maternity leave to end necessarily (in theory), I'm kind of ready to go back to work.

This was unexpected. I lack career ambition at this point (Sad? Who knows anymore?) having chose work/life balance over titles/money/long hours many years ago, and I barely wanted to work prior to becoming pregnant. With the excuse of having a child, I really thought that the prospect of returning to work post-maternity leave would hang over my head like a dark cloud, and I'd sit around coming up with household budgets based on MM's salary alone and making pros and cons lists about returning to work vs. staying at home with Emme. Turns out, the thought of doing any of that stuff never even crossed my mind until right now. And I still have no desire to do them.

The truth is, I'm looking forward to going back. I love my daughter, but staying at home with her 24/7 has been somewhat of a challenge for me. It's selfishness no doubt (I'm still struggling with the whole selflessness of parenting). But I can't help but be excited for the most meaningless shit -- like to be guaranteed one meal a day that I can eat with both hands without any one screaming in the background and with nothing hanging from my boob.

It's truly the little things.

Another thing contributing to my totally relaxed attitude about returning to work is that I'm "easing in" to a full time schedule. Until January 1, I will only be working three days a week. Come January, I will be back full time for realsies. I do have a feeling that that transition will actually be harder and that three days on, four days with my baby will be a nice balance, but I'll cross that bridge if/when I come to it.

I do realize that I could end up being wrong, wrong, wrong, and I might become hysterical and try to bargain with the universe the closer I get to the reality of work, daycare, commuting, spending adequate time with Em, etc. But right now, I am really looking forward to that sandwich, eaten with two hands while chatting on the Googles, uninterrupted.