Monthly Archives: August 2011

In and Out, Up and Down

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Lately I am floating in and out of a state of inner calm and contentment. My moods go up and down a lot. The stress of adjustment to our new schedules and responsibilities is definitely evident.

I didn’t realize how long the days get when you are working and have a baby. Mornings don’t have slack time anymore: it’s racing to get everything together and racing out the door. No reading a book over cereal … sigh. But there still can be lovely moments, like my daughter’s wake-up this morning. Roll onto tummy; push up to a crawl; look right at mom; and smile. Then lean closer and nestle head on mommy’s chest and crawl onto her chest to cuddle. That alone kept me in bed for an extra 15 minutes.

Days at work bring lots of satisfaction. I’m making task lists and getting them done; connecting with people; organizing the office; setting in motion plans for the year. It feels good. I’m also meeting and visiting with interesting people all around the university, and it is rejuvenating. At the same time, I find I am rushing through my day from start to finish. My breathing is shallow most of the time, though I am consciously integrating deep breathing whenever I notice I need it. I’m still not sure how I feel about working at this time in my daughter’s life.

And then there’s the evening. So far I haven’t been able to get out of my mom’s before 6. What with a later start in the mornings and drive time, I don’t get there before 5. Then there is nursing or pumping, and a few moments to unwind and see my family. Usually it’s a good time for baby to eat dinner which can take a while; and I’m hungry so I eat too. Then packing up the car … why is there so much stuff? By this time it’s 6 or nearly 7. Sometimes baby will fall asleep going home, but more often she’ll be overstimulated and exhausted and fuss and cry. She loves throwing her toys out of the car seat. Then she cries because she doesn’t have them. I can’t and don’t believe in driving when she’s crying which results in sometimes a few stops over the course of the drive home.

Once home: sometimes she falls right into bed. Other nights, like tonight, it’s 10:30 before we can get her solidly to bed. She was nearly there a few times, but it didn’t take. Still have bottles and laundry to tackle.

On the upside: while all this is going on it’s sometimes great. She is playing and talking with us. She wants to be with her mommy after a long day away so I get to carry her around. We had some amazing playing on the bed to night as a family, her rolling around, growling, laughing. I gave her a leg massage which always makes her giggle. It’s generally amazing.

And then there’s simply appreciating the moment. When it was getting on to 10 and she wasn’t asleep my husband offered to take her for a walk in the stroller. I took a shower while they were gone and as I was getting out I felt the approach of fall. Cooler nights, cozy house, family all together, cuddling in bed. What a comforting feeling. And right now: baby is asleep. Husband and I are sitting in the same room working on computers, me blogging, him researching blenders. Nice.

And now: back to bottles.

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Loss/Gain

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Returning to work is not easy. But there must be reasons I’m doing it. Today was a bit of both.

On the down side is stress over my girl. Her eczema is getting a lot worse, but I don’t have the time to deal with it or figure out what to do. I did a bit of quick research online today, but really still have no idea what is wrong.

I spent most of the day stressed and rushing around. I kept trying to deep breathe. My abdomen feels hard and my chest doesn’t want to move. Trying to pump while stressed is also not working so well. I pumped twice, each time slowing down, breathing, looking at pictures of baby.

And the bigger loss: time with my girl, closeness, the relaxed pace of being at home with her. Yes, I sometimes get frustrated and down when I’m home too long alone. But I also get to see everything she does, feed her when she’s ready to eat, plan our time together based on what she needs and what works.

And then today I participated in a stimulating discussion group with some teachers and staff about creating inclusive classrooms. My mind was stretched, and I was able to contribute and get more ideas for the work I do. I loved it.

Working Mom

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Today, the start of my first full week of work, I definitely feel like a working mom. And it’s too late and tomorrow’s too busy to really write it all out. I’ve had several versions of this post running through my head but no time to complete any of them.

In brief: busy productive day at work with good reconnections. Happy seeing my girl again at my mom’s. Rather incautiously decided to go blueberry picking with her on the way home; she loved being in that beautiful spot and played well by herself while I picked. But didn’t fall asleep on the way home. When she moved from fussing to crying, I parked, walked, tried to put her in again but ended up walking an hour home (thank you, Ergo), passing my husband on the way (thank you, cell phone) who picked up the car. She calmed down, slept, laughed, loved it. But didn’t go to sleep.

Home. No sleep. More peaches. Bath. No sleep. Walk walk, daddy walk and play, nurse cry, finally finally sleep. More chores to do to prepare for tomorrow.

Lessons. Life is busy. Enjoy it. And a happy, laughing baby + good exercise for mom are preferable to crying baby and rushing home. Very grateful for a supportive husband because tonight would have looked a lot different otherwise.

Flow with the Unexpected

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Today didn’t go as planned. And that’s okay. Going with what needs to happen or simply is presented to me is a strength and weakness of mine. I kind of love it when things fall apart and I have to make things work in chaos. I also can be incredibly frustrated when plans – good, quality, well-prepared plans – go awry. Today was a third variant: general expectations that simply flowed in a new direction due to external circumstances.

I imagined Sunday to be relaxing and productive. Food prep for week, work preparations, a fun party for my niece, maybe shopping at VV, getting a new toilet, maybe a walk. Lots of moving, coming, going, doing.

Sunday arrives. Baby was up at 6:30. Pretty typical. We got up and played and hung out and I got to work prepping some food for her and us for the day. I woke up my husband a bit later (Sundays are his sleep-in day) and he took her for a long walk. There ensued a breather of rest and productivity as I made and ate a peanut butter/banana smoothie, watched the end of Date Night on Netflix, organized some of my writing papers, baked some bread, changed sheets & put in laundry, checked email, read some articles from Mothering online. Amazing what an hour can buy you! When husband got home, baby was adorably asleep in the stroller so I continued my productive/relaxing streak. I sorted postcards I’ve collected on my travels and selected some to put up on my writing inspiration board. [why do I love listing what gets done? why? I think it’s a sickness. I hope it doesn’t progress].

We tackled one task we’ve not been looking forward to. Our renter wants to move out before her lease is up so we agreed to see if we can find a tenant. The stress of looking for someone new wipes both of us out. I find it incredibly emotionally draining as my sympathy overdrive imagines the devastation of each person we don’t rent to. We posted our revised ad online on two popular sites. Done.

Knock, knock. Brother-in-law and two kids come by, so glad to see them. Shortly after, baby wakes up. We nurse, she plays with them, I realize we need to leave in 10 minutes to get to niece’s birthday by 11. Mad, mad dashing around as laundry is hung, baby & mom are cleaned and dressed, diaper bag is packed, food is organized, and we’re out the door only 15 minutes late.

About 10 minutes before arrival my husband points out steam pouring off the car hood and the raised temperature gauge on the dash. He cranked the heat and we made it there. On arrival the various mechanically-inclined members of the group surveyed the damage and created an action plan.

The party was great. Just family, so smallish (9 adults, the two babies). Relaxed. Moved at the babies’ pace. Good food and conversation. Babies unwrapping gifts :). Lots of baby playing, eating, screaming, chasing. One awesome scene where they were chasing each other back and forth down the hallway, walking & crawling, then calling to each other from the far ends.

After relaxed baby-partying and eating my husband went out to get the part to fix the engine. This took a while as they didn’t have it at the store as they said they did so it had to be driven over. Then when everyone was back engine repair began. In the meantime, I continued visiting, nursing baby for a brief nap, and visiting more. Much walking around of baby and preventing baby collisions or overly-enthusiastic greetings between the two.

Then we ate. Dessert. Peach cobbler, blueberry pie, birthday chocolate cake. There was supper available but I wasn’t hungry for it.

Then with the car engine cooled, husband and BIL finished work on the engine. It was after 6 by now. I bathed baby together with my sister/niece and put her in a clean shirt to be bed-ready. A while later she was ready to nurseĀ  and she nursed and bottled herself to sleep in my arms as the family regathered in the living room to talk. We stayed to talk for a while, reveling in family time, and finally headed home. Baby transitioned well to the car seat and then to bed where she’s still sleeping.

And now? Well, another mad dash to prepare for the week (laundry, kitchen cleaning, diaper bag prep). Getting this done efficiently as a team is something my husband and I have fallen into pretty easily. And then my husband hit the phone and I hit the emails, calling back prospective renters.

Today was supposed to be run-around fun-tasky. Instead it was family-centred time-intensive and mad-dash priority-week-prep. As the hours ticked by at my parents’ (8+ hours, really!) I didn’t worry and didn’t care. I wasn’t perturbed that I haven’t picked out my wardrobe for this first full week of work. I wasn’t upset that we don’t have a menu plan, food made or anything ready for the week. We got to spend time with family in a way we don’t get to often, and it was great.

Seize the Day = Peace?

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After a reasonable day (nice dinner out with family; no nap; some happy playing and some whining) we were heading into the evening stretch. After ascertaining that neither of us was very hungry my husband made up a deluxe salad for us. Baby, however, wasn’t in the best mood. Whine, whine, whine. WHINE!!! Argh argh argh.

So we decided to accelerate and modify evening plans. My husband packed up the salads to go and fried some mushrooms for baby’s dinner. I bathed baby and got a few more food things ready for us. We hit the road, strolling downtown to a park by the lake where they have music on weekend nights. Stretched out on a blanket, eating our dinner, baby playing, clapping and eating. Boy she loves being out! Party girl!

Husband ran into some friends of ours out on a childless date night so we sat together and talked for a while. Then it got later, baby started to look both hyper and tired. We packed up, Ergoed her and walked home. She took part of a bottle and slept on my chest (best feeling in the world!). I was able to lay her right down on the bed to rest.

Within a short span of time, by being flexible, we got in a picnic, walking, music, friends, talking, and transitioned to happy baby and finally sleeping baby. All in all, a good choice. Having fun, breaking with routine, and finding a way to do what needs doing (eating, calming baby, putting her to sleep) in a joyful way adds to life.

Praying

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I’ve been trying to get back into praying more meaningfully and regularly. Baby & I say prayers morning & evening, but it’s not the same thing when she’s crawling all over the bed/floor/me. I think I need some divine inspiration in my life, and some inner peace, I know this is a clear path to get some.

I’m starting to use driving time to/from work for prayer. When baby is not enjoying the ride (and even when she is) I sing prayers for her, mainly the Remover of Difficulties. I say a longer one driving to/from my parents’ and work.

When I was single I prayed in the car a lot more. To and from work, and the first stretch of a road trip was breathing, prayers, affirmations. It was incredibly rejuvenating. In the 8 months before I met my husband I was praying particularly intensively and the car was a big part of that process. The prayers were also a big part clarifying who I wanted to find. Funny, since meeting him my car praying has declined. I’d like to get back into it.

I think I also want to have prayers in our home. Maybe a mom-baby prayer gathering on alternate Fridays? I don’t know yet, but it’s something important to me spiritually, for building community and nurturing friendships. Who would come? I have no idea. I’m just starting with the vision.

3 Stories

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Let’s start with mama guilt. Why do I feel that I should be with my daughter 24 hours a day? Why do I want to be with her all the time? I know that’s how bonding hormones work: the more contact, the more you want. And I believe in being with your child lots and lots, for you (to learn to read them and parent effectively) and for them (to develop that sense of trust and security). But nonetheless, I think it might be helpful if I didn’t feel horrible when I leave her sleeping in the bedroom and I do chores, computer work, even relax and watch a movie with my husband. And really, I don’t think I want to feel torn when my husband offers to take her for a walk so I can have time to myself. But this, folks, is where I am at. I’m even hesitant to book a massage, in spite of my husband’s urging, because it would mean an extra hour away from her.

What is this really about? I certainly trust my husband with her and know that she loves being with him. I know in my mind that I need some time to myself to do a few things and just to breathe and unwind. And the reality is that life requires constant work and maintenance and it’s not possible to do all the things that need doing while caring for an active baby. What is stopping me from taking a more balanced, healthy perspective on time with and away from my daughter?

Pause while I wait for writing-induced inspiration.

I don’t know. Maybe in this case, emotions and the mind will constantly be in opposition. She is incredible and delicious and I want to be with her all the time. Realistically, I can’t. I hope that by writing a bit about this struggle my subconscious will get to work and help me figure out what I need to do to feel more peace about how I spend my time.

Next story: accidental shoplifting. With the day off, baby & I went to do some errands. The Bay had Jockey underwear on sale and I decided to spring for a few more pairs. I needed a new watch battery but the watch desk was closed for a few minutes. We wandered through the clothes, then I decided to venture into the mall. We went as far as Chapters where I picked up a book on breastfeeding for a pregnant colleague. And noticed that the 3 pairs of underwear were still hanging from the stroller handle.

Was I tempted? I can honestly say no. But I was amused and slightly horrified to consider what might have happened.

Final story: friends. While waiting in line back at The Bay to pay for my underwear I found myself in front of a family: mom, just-finished-crying baby in arms, girl and boy standing. The girl (9?) said baby was cute and asked her name. I asked back, and she introduced the rest of the family. We talked for a while, the girl and I, (including her gibing me when I asked if the large bikini was for her) while I eyed up the mom. She looked around my age and had a beautiful, calm, inviting face. Just from the way she comforted her baby, from her expressions, I felt like I knew her and that we could be good friends. But I don’t feel in a place right now to make that social leap and connect with someone in line with me. Baby was getting tired too, but really it was about my hesitation. I would like more friends, and more close friends, but reaching that goal seems challenging (see story 1 for the time limitation aspect of this challenge). Later at the park my sister and family made the acquaintance of a woman, baby & mom from Kazakhstan who are here for a while. I was glad to make that linguistic and friendship connection too, though it didn’t feel the same as the woman in the store.