Sunday, July 28, 2013

From Flip Flops to Heels

So, the time has come.  I have ventured back to work.  Though initially I was a little peeved about how things worked out with daycare, having to start paying for it a month earlier than we wanted to to guarantee our slot, I now think maybe it was kind of for the best.  It allowed Allie and I to transition into it gradually, and I never really had to go through that awful first day that so many people talk about where you drop the baby off, leave for an entire day, and just cry.  It really has been baby steps for us, leaving her only a few hours at a time at first and slowly building the time up to a full day.  I've really had the chance to get used to the idea.

Allie at daycare for "water day", chillin in the kiddie pool.

I also have an awesome boss that allowed me to take all this time off and then also agreed to let me start back at work part time for two weeks before going back full time.  I did a bunch of half days where I dropped her off at daycare in the morning, then picked her up at lunchtime and still got to spend the afternoon with her, which was really great.  

I think it helped that we're now at five and a half months and that I did get to have so much maternity leave to spend with Allie.  I have loved every second of being with her and know I am SO LUCKY that I had the chance to have all this time with her, because most working moms don't get this much maternity leave.  It's been so awesome to have this extended time to bond with Allie, watch her grow, play and cuddle every day, and just enjoy the time together.  At the same time, I like the idea of her socializing with other babies and people at daycare.  I think she's been particularly dependent on me, since Greg is away so much, and I want her to be comfortable with other care givers, so I think daycare can be good for her. I'll admit it again too- I always saw myself going back to work.  While I AM torn about it, and know there is a part of me that would love to be with her all day every day, there is another part of me that wants to work to keep that part of my life going.  I like the work I do, the people I work with, and work has always been a pretty big part of my identity, so at this point I don't want to completely give that up and I it feels okay that I am back at work at this point.  I really can't imagine going back much sooner though, so I'm glad I got to be out this long.

In case you are wondering, my work doesn't give me any free paid maternity leave- I used a combo of my own sick leave, annual leave, and FMLA (unpaid), which basically meant I got paid every two weeks while out but it was about half of what a normal paycheck for me looks like and I used a lot of sick and annual leave.  Using leave was actually fine with me, because I had accrued a ton of leave in my years of working and wanted to use it for this very purpose.  I've always kind of hoarded my leave, thinking I might use it for maternity leave some day.  I was also lucky that the lack of pay for the days I took unpaid leave also wasn't an issue because Greg makes a ton more than he used to under the new airline contract he just got (excellent timing).

Breastfeeding/pumping is going well so far.  My Ameda pump (which I got free through insurance), came with a handle black travel bag, and I just pack it up with my parts and bottles every day.  I have only done a couple full days so far, but on those days I pumped for times, twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, and got about 15 oz total.  I also pump at home before bed at night, so between the work sessions and the night one, I usually get enough for the next day for daycare.  If for some reason I don't, I dip into my freezer stash, which is huge (pretty much a whole shelf in our freezer).  I've been leaving four 4 oz. Dr. Brown bottles for a full day of daycare, and actually, that's more than enough.  Allie usually only ends up eating three of the four at daycare.  I think it's because when I have her and breastfeed, she eats close to every two hours, but doesn't usually eat 4 oz- probably more like 3 oz or less since it's more frequent.  At daycare they go a little longer, like three hours, between feedings and then she eats more.  It's good because that ensures that she finishes the bottle and that they don't have to keep trying to get her to eat.  It is sort of annoying that she usually doesn't eat one bottle, but it's good to have more than enough than not enough.  I don't want to waste it, so what I've been doing is usually getting home and feeding her the extra bottle, and then breastfeeding her a couple hours later before she goes bed, because I can usually only get two feedings in from the time we get home to before she goes to bed.

As for how pumping at work is logistically?  I am lucky to have a private office, a mini fridge, and a microwave, plus a kitchen with a sink down the hall, which make it all fairly easy.  When I'm ready to pump, I just close my door (it is locked from the outside), and pump.  It takes me about 10 minutes and I'm getting good at actually working while pumping.  What I've been doing is pumping one time, then putting each assembled flange/bottle in a ziplock bag in my fridge.  Then I reconnect them to the pump again for the second session.  After that one, I disconnect the bottles, put caps on them, and store them, then take the flanges and parts down the hall to the kitchen to wash them (I keep some Seventh Generation soap there).  Then I put them in a Medela steam bag with 2 oz water, carry them back to the office and microwave them to sterilize them.  I do the same thing for the afternoon sessions.  I also bring a cooler bag with an ice pack to transport the pumped milk home in.  At home I have a dishwasher and a big Babies R Us bottle/part sterilizer, so I use one or the other on Allie's bottles and my other pump parts.  I feel like I'm getting used to it.  I have eight 4 oz bottles, and a bunch more of the pump bottles, and an extra set of flanges and parts, so I just kind of keep rotating through everything.  Breastfeeding is much easier than dealing with the pump and bottles, but I'm glad that pumping seems to be going well so far so that I can continue to give Allie breast milk.  When I'm not working, I pretty much avoid pumping and bottles as much as I can.

I'm getting used to wearing heels again for the first time in a long time.  I was so swollen at the end of pregnancy, I wasn't wearing heels much the last couple months and have barely worn heels at all since having Allie.  My normal mom wardrobe has been t-shirts and shorts with flip flops for the past couple months (and jeans and t-shirts before it got hot).  I actually sought out some shorter pants so that I can wear flats to work more, because I have gotten so used to not wearing heels!  Another consideration is breast pump-friendly attire.  I have a couple cute dresses that zip up the back, and haven't worn them to work yet, because I feel like it's going to be a huge pain to unzip and take them half off to pump.  I gravitate towards "mom friendly" or well pump-friendly outfits now :)

Work is going pretty good.  I literally had 700 emails in my inbox when I got back, but luckily a lot were stuff from months ago advising of outages that already happened, old news letters, and events that have already passed, so I was able to weed through a delete a lot.  I have an awesome back up person and she did a great job of keeping things up to date so the first few days weren't too terribly overwhelming.  However, as I've been back longer and people have figured out I am back, the flood gates have sort of opened, and I am definitely pretty busy.  My boss has also mentioned some projects he's been waiting on til I got back, so I know I have some big stuff coming up.  On one hand it feels like I never left, but on the other, it's weird to be back after so long.  There's new faces of new people that have come in since I have been out and changes to some of our systems that I'm getting used to.  For the most part, it's the same old thing though, and I've been pleasantly surprised that I haven't forgotten how to do my job and can jump back in.

I will say that just as I suspected, there are not enough hours in the day with Allie on the days that I work.  I get a little time with her in the morning when we're getting ready, but usually not more than about an hour from when she's awake til we leave.  When I pick her up after work, she usually smiles when I walk in and as soon as I get her home and out of the car seat, the clock is ticking and I'm cuddling and playing with her for the two to three short hours I have with her before she goes to bed.  BUT, the good news is that I appreciate that time all the more.  It used to be that after a long day with her I would sometimes be watching the clock waiting for her bedtime because it had been such a long day.  Now I feel like I watch the clock because I only have a certain amount of time with her and I don't want it to end.  I can tell I am holding her a snuggling her longer and soaking the seconds I can spend with her.  Those hours of the day that I do get to spend with her are so special.

Could you die?  That lower lip!

I think being a working mother is working for us so far.  As a mother, I don't know that you're ever completely satisfied one way or the other- at home or at work, but this feels right to me for now.  I'm getting used to our new normal, and I think Allie is too.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Five Months

Allie is now five months old!  Wow.  It's hard to believe she's been with us for five months now.  In some ways it seems like longer than five months and it some ways it seems like it's flown by.  I think all new mom's have that same sense of time going by slow and fast at the same time, it's hard to explain.

It's been a wild five months with this little girl!

Allie is still rolling over like a pro.  I've actually seen her do a complete 360 roll a couple times, rolling from back to front to back again, but usually she rolls from back to front and stays propped up on her arms for a while.  You can tell she wants to crawl and go somewhere, because she often pulls at the blanket or play mat she's laying on, and rapidly kicks her legs and tries to scoot forward.  I think we still have a ways to go, but at the same time, with most of the skills she's mastered, one day she's struggling to figure it out, and the next she's doing it, so you never know.  We bought a fence for the living room to contain her in case she gets ambitious and starts moving.  It is also good for keeping Clyde away from her.  Though he isn't a threat, he does love to lick her and we try to keep that to a minimum.

We have been working on sitting.  She's still fairly wobbly, but I prop her up against me or with the Boppy pillow around her to get her used to the idea.  She doesn't seem to completely get it yet, but again, hopefully it'll be one of those things she just all the sudden can do.

Allie is less fussy than she was at four months.  Not that she doesn't have the occasional bad day or meltdown, but I feel like we kind of resumed less fussy behavior again, which is a relief.  The other day she was awake in the car for about a half hour and was even smiling and cooing without a pacifier, which is rare. She's definitely awake a lot more when I'm out and about with her these days, and that's something I'm still getting used to.  I feel like it makes planning outings a lot less predictable, so I find myself bracing for possible meltdowns.  Usually she surprises me and does fine while out, even if she's awake.  She doesn't like being confined in the car seat too long, so that's usually the biggest issue if she's awake while out for a longer stretch.  I try to be conscious of her need to be out and give her time to play, so outings are usually short for this reason.

Greg's parents were here for a few days recently, and this was their first visit with her since she was three weeks old, so it was fun to see them with her.  They are enamored with her like everyone else is.  Allie is pretty good about being held by and interacting with others and a few times Greg's dad had her laughing hysterically.  One thing I've noticed though, is that after too much stimulation she definitely gets upset.  Sometimes she'll be laughing and smiling and then a couple minutes later she'll start crying and I can tell she's had enough and just wants some quiet chill time.  I can also tell that I am her go to person for calming her down.  Others try, but usually as soon as they hand her to me, she immediately stops crying and is okay.  It doesn't surprise me since I'm with her far more than anyone else.  I definitely get a certain satisfaction in knowing I am her comfort person.

Daycare is going well, but we have yet to do a full day.  I'm starting work next week, but will only do a bunch of half days at first and will see how it goes.  I have been putting off planning out a schedule, but finally talked to my boss and decided on three partial days next week.  Probably the week after we'll do at least one full work day before I go back full time, just to make sure I have the flow of dropping her off and picking her up down.

As far as the emotional side of daycare?  I'm doing pretty good with it.  Probably better than I expected.  I think it's been good for me to sprinkle in some "me" time here at the end before I get into work and motherhood at the same time.  While we're getting used to some half days of daycare, I make the most of it- cleaning, grocery shopping, working on her baby book, working out, stuff like that.  Still, it's kind of like this quote, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body" -Elizabeth Stone.  Now, I can't spend anytime away from Allie without a little bit of ache.  She's always there in my mind.  She's my heart.

It seems that Allie misses me too.  The teachers asked if I could leave a shirt or something to see if it helped her feel more comfortable with bottle feeding, so yesterday I left the fleece jacket I had on.  They said she did a lot better than usual with the bottle with my jacket draped around her, and when I went to pick her up, she was sleeping in a crib clutching my jacket tightly like a lovey.  It totally melted my heart.  She missed me and was comforted by my smell...

When I'm with her, Allie still usually eats every two to three hours.  At daycare I think she's going closer to three hours between feedings, and then eats between 3-4 oz from a bottle.  I did switch her to the level two nipples on her bottles and the ladies at daycare are pleased with those (apparently it was taking them like 45 minutes to feed her a bottle with a level one nipple because the flow is so slow).  I think she eats less at an individual feeding from me, but I feed her more frequently, so we're kind of figuring out the whole daycare bottle feeding thing.  Pumping for bottles seems to be going pretty well, and I haven't felt like I have had any supply issues lately, but I'm also really conscious of drinking tons of water and eating a lot every day to make sure I keep my supply up.  I'm interested to see how pumping goes when I go back to work.

Sleep is still fairly good.  Not much has changed.  She goes down around 7:30pm and is almost always up once a night to feed (the time varies anywhere from like midnight to 4am), then usually sleeps til 5:30am to 7am.  We have some mornings where she is up before 6am and those are a little rough- seems to be a trend lately.  I probably need to go to bed earlier, but I kind of enjoy my couple hours after she goes to bed, and rarely go to bed much before 10pm, often later.  I really shouldn't complain though, I know this is a lot of sleep for both me and the baby compared to what a lot of people get.  It's going to be interesting to see what it's like once I go back to work and she's at daycare for a full day.  Allie still sleeps in the Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit, but I've been thinking about trying a night without it to see how it goes.  She takes naps without it at daycare in a crib and seems to do okay, and sometimes it seems like the suit is preventing her from sleeping in a position that might be more comfortable and might help her sleep better, so it might be worth it to try it without it.  I just have to work myself up to it, like I did switching her from the bassinet to the crib and all the changes we've made.  My fear is that she'll sleep worse without it or that I will because I'll be watching the monitor all night to make sure she's okay, and I haven't been willing to deal with that yet.  Baby steps!

Watching the baby monitor with a glass of red wine.

Weight- 13lbs 8oz (by my scale)
Still size two diapers, and I don't see us moving to size three for a while still.
Mostly 3-6 clothes, depending on the brand.  She can fit in to some 6M stuff, and actually can still wear some of her 3M stuff too though, so there's kind of a wide range right now.

What else?  We aren't starting solids til closer to six months.  Our pediatrician said she doesn't think babies digestive systems are completely ready til then, so we're waiting.  We're also going to skip rice cereal and may do oatmeal, but we're going to discuss at the six month appointment.  Honestly, in my opinion she doesn't seem to be showing much interest in food in the way they describe babies who are ready for it anyway (grabbing for it, etc...).  I feel like she's still all about the boob ;)  Also, she can't sit on her own yet either, so I'm not in a huge rush.  I did buy the Sage Spoonfuls cookbook and containers for when the time comes though.  I think I'll probably do a combo of Baby Led Weaning and purees.  Allie has tried teeny tiny amounts of two foods though- Breyer's vanilla ice cream and applesauce.  Both went over okay.  I think she was confused about it more than anything else.

Allie's likes:
-Repeatedly making the sounds of different letters of the alphabet
-Being talked to in silly voices
-Being tickled
-Being kissed on the cheeks
-Being sung to
-Her Taggie blanket
-Rolling onto her belly
-The Rock N Play (well, better than any other baby holding device)

Allie's dislikes:
-Not being talked to, played with, or looked at enough
-Being held sideways unless she's tired (she prefers upright on the shoulder).
-Too much stimulation
-Being confined in the car seat

Nicknames:  Sweet Cheeks, Little One, Baby Girl, Allie Girl, Little Allie, Little Peach (We called her this more when she was first born).

I feel like Allie and Greg have bonded a lot more, and that really makes me happy.  I think it helps that she's getting bigger and smiling and laughing more, he sees that she can be fun now and she will give him a big smile if he tries to play and interact with her.  I hope their bond continues to grow.

As for me?  I was thinking the other day about how when you have a baby, it's like you start life over.  You experience life from the beginning again, through a baby.  It's neat.  You think about how life and everything in it must look for someone experiencing it for the first time- flowers, people, places, holidays, everything.  Surreal.  For me, I feel like I left a bunch of stuff behind, and while I do sometimes miss it, I'm completely okay with it at the same time.  I used to be really social and loved going out to dinner, which is something I pretty much never do now.  I'm still in touch with my social side, but it's more in the form of mommy play dates now.  Running was one of my big passions prior to pregnancy, and it's just not right now (although I did get in a two mile run while Allie was at daycare the other day).  It's mainly due to life with a baby, but also partly due to weather (I hate running in the heat), lack of desire, and lack of motivation.  Life has changed.  Priorities have changed.  My ability to do certain things has changed.  I'm happy, but I also look forward to Allie being at an age where we can interact differently- talk more, go more places, do more together.  That will be fun.  At the same time, I love her at the stage she's in.  She's just super cute and cuddly, and it's so easy to love her in this phase.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

As Of Late

This post is coming to you with a baby asleep in the Moby Wrap on me.  Allie has never really liked this thing, but this morning I felt the desire to get it out and try it again and she hung out in it while I did laundry, unloaded dishes, and walked around and seemed to do pretty well in it.  I think she kind of liked looking at everything I was doing, and then eventually got cozy enough to fall asleep on me when she got tired.

So, blogging has become really sporadic, I know.  I've been busy with life and motherhood, and most of the time there doesn't seem to be a concise blog topic in there, it's just a jumble of my life.  Still, I feel the need to update and document anyway, so here I am.

Last week, Allie and I spent another five days in Hilton Head with my parents.

Out to breakfast.

Nothing you guys haven't seen before- tons of great meals, walks in the plantation and at the beach, floats in the pool, shopping at the outlets...  Oh, there was this epic lobster roll from a farmer's market food truck...

Allie had her first real dunk in the pool.  Til then it had just been toes in, but this time we did the swim diaper and bathing suit and actually put her in the pool.  She did great!  Unfortunately none of us remembered to bring a camera, or even a phone, so it kind of went undocumented.  Fail!

Allie started daycare this week.  That's probably the biggest news around here.  She did half days on Monday and Tuesday.  We are gradually transitioning her in.  It actually went better than I thought it would.  I didn't cry and she seemed to do fine.

Right after I took this picture, two babies tried to steal Allie's toy.

We are still getting used to daycare.  I brought three bottles with about 4 oz. each both days, and she had two each day (she was only there like 4-5 hours).  The daycare ladies said I should try switching to level 2 nipples because it was taking her forever to eat from the bottle.  I actually wasn't surprised they suggested this, because I have also been wondering if I should do this.  I know I'm a little clueless about bottles since she mostly breastfeeds.  For a long time I didn't want to switch to level 2s because you want the baby to prefer the breast over the bottle and they might not if the bottle milk flows faster, but now I think we'd be okay to switch to the level 2's so I'm going to get some.

I think it helped that I went to yoga while Allie was at daycare both days.  I actually had a yoga pass to my studio that was expiring this week so I went three days in a row, and it felt great.  A couple times I came close to crying when we were winding down and slow sad songs came on and I thought about Allie, but overall, I think it was good for me to be there doing something for myself.  I'd love to be able to continue to go with some consistency, but with Greg's schedule all over the place and going back to work soon, I don't see it happening.  I think I'll probably just drop in for classes once in a while if I can.

I talked to my boss recently and will be starting some work the week of 7/15.  I haven't come up with a definite plan yet, but he said I could do half days or whatever I wanted, and then I'll go back full time the week of 7/29.  I am trying to wrap my head around it.  On one hand I think I'm a little excited and ready to be back in my office.  I bought some new clothes for work to kind of get myself in the mood.  I also had lunch with a co-worker yesterday and kept asking her a million questions about work, so I know I feel like I've missed a lot and do want to get back and catch up on things there.  On the other hand, I realize that my unlimited time with Allie is coming to a close, and it's incredibly emotional and sad that I won't get to be with her as much as I want.  I think about how week days will go and worry about getting to spend enough time together if we only have a couple hours after I get out of work.  She sometimes goes to bed as early as 7pm, which leaves us maybe two hours together at night.  I feel like that's not enough.  Ugh.

I've been soaking up the moments with her, even when she's melting down and have been letting her fall asleep on me for naps, even though I know I should be trying to get her to nap in the crib, just because I know I won't have these moments as often anymore in a couple weeks.

Well, I really just wanted to check in and say hi.  We are having a pretty uneventful 4th of July, which mainly involved a trip to Buy Buy Baby and some ice cream, but I did dress Allie in a red, white, and blue outfit, just to be festive.

I'll definitely do a 5 month update on Allie since that's coming up in about a week!  Yipes!

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