Friday, July 1, 2016

Surviving My First Week

I survived my first week at work! It was good to feel productive and have adult conversations with some friendly faces. Surprisingly, I had no emotional breakdowns about being away from my baby. I think the easy transition was due to:
  • knowing that Lucas is in good hands with Daddy (I shudder to think of how much I'll freak out when he's in daycare!)
  • Nap training starting this week, which means there's a lot of crying going on during the day - can't say I'm sad to be missing that (big kudos to Jeff for taking this on!)
  • my boss and team taking it easy on me because it was my first week
  • returning the week before July 4th weekend - many people were out on vacation so work was slow
  • Lucas bottle feeding well when I'm not around
  • having enough downtime and milk supply to consistently pump more than Lucas needs while I'm gone (I worry about my milk supply when work picks up and I can't step away three times a day to pump)
  • Lucas sleeping much better at night, usually waking up only once to feed (for the first time in his life, he's managed to sleep through the night this week - twice!)
Given that some of these are temporary (Jeff staying at home with Lucas, the light workload before the holiday weekend, etc.), I do anticipate this whole working mom thing will get harder. And even with all these different factors to make it easier on me, there are still challenges. It sucks to come home and know that I have only 30-60 minutes to spend with my baby before he goes to sleep for the night. But I won't compromise his sleep and force him to stay up just so I have more time with him. He tends to wake up at 6am so I try to cherish those early hours with him (even if I am half asleep!). 

Breastfeeding also makes work challenging, even though I'm determined to go keep going for now. I can't rely on too much caffeine to keep my energy levels up. It also sucks to have to rearrange my schedule every time a meeting, lunch, or happy hour invite comes up that conflicts with pumping. I skipped a pumping to attend a colleague's going away happy hour and I'm already paranoid, thinking about how that could possibly affect my supply longterm. I also got a clogged duct on Sunday night, making my first day back pretty painful. I wasn't able to tend to it during the day, since it would make my coworkers quite uncomfortable if I was massaging my chest all day. Luckily, I managed to get two last minute appointments for ultrasound therapy and milk blister treatment so I'm on the mend. 

In the meantime, I'm feeling energized and refreshed even though I still wake up every 2-3 hours, as Lucas slumbers away through the night. Here's to an even better week 2! If I'm being greedy, I'd also love to throw in better naps and more sleeping through the night. :)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Getting Help As A New Mom

Warning: ranty post ahead!

As a new mom, I have had so many wonderful loved ones offer invaluable help. Many have been awesome enough to go out of their way to pick up my favorite meals and desserts. They have come over and entertained Lucas for me so that I can take a break, eat something, and take care of some household chores. I even had a friend offer to help out with some of those chores. While I couldn't possibly take her up on her offer to be my maid, I fully recognize just how lucky I am to be surrounded by amazing people! They often know exactly how to help - and when they don't, they just ask.

However there are tricky offers I don't know how to politely refuse. For example, when I'm at church, people offer to take my baby into the chapel and hold him through the service. But I don't actually want my baby to sit away from me for a whole hour! Especially since people then start passing him around and I have no control over where he is and who's touching him. I've seen well-meaning grandmas wipe his mouth with used napkins and offer him chocolate. I've seen a sniffly cougher touch him with unwashed hands. Ugh. Furthermore, Lucas can only sit still for 90 seconds before he starts fussing - if you try to force him to sit quietly in your lap for any longer, he's going to get upset and be harder to calm down. Quite simply, this kind of help is not helpful at all.

I also have a family member who's constantly asking why I won't go out so that she can "help" me babysit. The honest truth is that she has no idea how to take care of an infant and I would never let her be alone with mine. I've tactfully turned her down by telling her that I need to feed Lucas every 3 hours so it's challenging to be away from him for too long - which is true. She's countered by asking why I don't just pump and leave her milk. First of all, if I choose to pump instead of feed, I still have to pump every 3 hours if I want to keep my supply up so that saves me no time at all. In fact, it wastes much more time because now I have to take the time to pump, someone has to take the time to feed Lucas, and then I have a pile of pump parts and bottles to wash at the end. Second of all, after all the hard work I put into pumping, I'm not looking to use the precious ounces I pump out haphazardly. Why would I go through all this unnecessary trouble? Again, this kind of help is not helpful at all.

Maybe I would feel differently if I intended to be a stay at home mom. But as a working mom, I actually have very limited time with my baby. Is it wrong that I feel so possessive of Lucas? Whenever people ask to "help", I keep feeling like they're just trying to take away my precious time with him. I am very aware of how quickly time passes and I want to savor every bit of it that I can - even when it's not all giggles and sunshine. I'm sure all too soon, Lucas will be all grown and I'll wish that I spent more time with him as a baby. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Thoughts on Going Back to Work

I still have no profound revelations to share on the topic but the sadness hit me hard today on my last official day of leave. As Jeff and I were having lunch, I started tearing up thinking about how this time has flown by. Part of me feels like a failure because my kid is a terrible sleeper and has no regular schedule. I feel like I could have done better, like I should have made more progress by now. Instead I'm barely surviving and I feel like my only accomplishment has been keeping him alive.

I'm also sad to leave my baby because if he needs me, I won't be there for him. And if it turns out he doesn't need me, then that might just make me feel even sadder. 😔 

I know it's not all doom and gloom all the time but today just feels a little cloudier than usual so I'm going to snuggle my baby tighter today and try not to think about how much I'll miss him starting next week.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Last Week of Maternity Leave

I'm sad to realize that I've entered my last week of maternity leave. While I crave the freedom of being able to leave the house and have regular adult interaction, I'm certainly going to miss spending so much time with my baby. It's a good thing that he will be in Jeff's capable hands so I don't have to worry about him for the next two and a half months. I'm sure I'll be a wreck once we start daycare though!

I feel like this is when I should be making some profound statement regarding working women having it all - something along the lines of "as much as I love my child, I also love the fulfillment I get from my career". But honestly, I'm scared that I may not feel that way. I worry that the pull to stay home with my child in his formative years will be too strong to keep me in the working world, despite my expensive education telling me that I need to keep working for many more years to justify the hefty tuition bills. On the other hand, I also worry that my career ambitions will keep me from my child longer than I would like. I might miss bedtimes and spend more time with my breast pump than with Lucas.

But I can't tell the future - I don't know what will happen and I don't know how I will feel. So I have no profound proclamations for how I intend to reconcile all these thoughts in my head right now. Instead, I'm going to focus on savoring my last week at home with my beautiful chubby little boy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The First Three Months

It's hard to believe our baby boy is already 3 months old! I truly am living the cliche of days being long but years being short. My days are made longer by the fact that lovely little Lucas sleeps fairly inconsistently through the night, sometimes waking hourly, and then requires being held for all naps during the day. I often spend up to 6-7 hours a day just holding him, which means I don't get to eat, drink, or use the restroom when I want to. But when I look down at his peaceful, (seemingly) angelic sleeping face, I'm overwhelmed with a sense of love and gratitude. Then I get sad thinking about how the first three months have flown by - how much faster will the rest of my maternity leave go! I read a sad statistic about how there are only 936 weekends from the time he's born to the time he turns 18 and he leaves for college - I've already used up 13 of them. His childhood is going to fly by in the blink of an eye...I miss him already. :(

Being a mom is truly an emotional roller coaster. There are so many highs and low:

  • tears of frustration because my screaming baby is overtired and nothing I do calms him down
  • the sheer relief that I'm overcome with when he finally falls asleep, along with the trepidation of never knowing if he'll wake up in 3 hours or 3 minutes
  • moments of pure joy when he giggles and coos at you
  • the quiet peace and bonding of nursing him and providing comfort
  • anguish of seeing him experience any kind of sadness or pain and wishing you could suffer in his place (I am soooo dreading sleep training and hoping that his sleep magically gets better on its own so that sleep training isn't necessary!)
The highs truly do outweigh the lows, even in those moments of fatigue and frustration. For my own sanity, I've had to stop comparing notes with moms who have kids that do (insert baby activity) better than mine - my big one is sleep and my baby's lack of it. I've read the books and I'm following the rules as best as I can but they don't seem to work for Lucas. In the end, I just have to do what works for my baby. A few of the Facebook mommy groups I've joined are focused specifically on baby sleep, and when I post about Lucas' poor sleep habits, one of the moms always comments "it's time to sleep train him!" She means well but it makes me ashamed to participate further in any of the conversations. At the same time, she chooses to let her 5 week old baby cry for hours. I don't know why in these Facebook groups, there's so much focus on being respectful of those who choose to let their babies cry it out very young but then it's absolutely okay to shame the mom that practices poor sleeping habits (out of desperation mind you, not because I enjoy waking up hourly). It's sad that we can't just be respectful of one another. I guess this is what they mean by the mommy wars. 

Luckily, my real life mom friends are a pretty great group. Those that have babies who sleep poorly like Lucas commiserate with me while those with babies who are great sleepers are still very supportive and non-judgmental. I'm so grateful they are a part of our village!