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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Baby Pollock (Week 22, Day 7)

Another week has passed, and our daily routine has seemed to become more, well, routine. However, there were three key points to the week that I wanted to make sure to not forget:

1. At daycare this week, they taught Madeline to paint. At 5 months! Now, I’m not saying she is a Picasso - she’s probably more influenced by Pollock at this point - but more importantly, she had a blast. There is another child in the daycare her same age, and the nannies decided to set them up in a mini highchair, give them some paint, and let them go to town. They took pictures and sent them to me (one thing I love about these ladies!) and said they could barely stop laughing because they were having so much fun. I loved that they did something I never would have thought of doing with Maddy - heck, I didn't even think she could sit up in one of those chairs! I love that she got to have new experiences with the other babies, and I love that they saved her “artwork” and we now have her first piece prominently hanging on our refrigerator.  I of course would have liked to have been there to experience the whole thing with her, but have to remind myself that it’s good for her to have fun times and experiences with others, and it will help her to grow and become more independent.
2. This week, one of my dearest friends Gina had her second child (a beautiful little boy Jack) and I was able to visit them at the hospital. She delivered at the same hospital that I had Madeline in, and it was my first time being back there since she was released. It was a somewhat surreal experience, to be in the maternity ward visiting, and all the emotions and experiences of those first days of motherhood come rushing back. Holding Gina’s healthy little boy, he felt light as a feather - he was born a month early, but was bigger than Maddy at birth, and I found it absolutely amazing how quickly you can forget how small your child was at birth - Maddy is so much bigger today than those first days at the hospital, but it seems like no time has gone by. Being there and sharing this special time with Gina and her family, it brought back how wonderful those first few days are with your new addition.
3. Maddy has really started to understand who Mommy and Daddy are, and loves to be with both of us, and we love our time together. Phil and I drop Maddy off together at daycare most mornings - so far it’s worked out with both our schedules, and we love spending the mornings together as a family. Also, with her sleep habits, she is usually asleep by the time Phil gets home from work, so it’s a nice time for him to get spend time with Maddy.  

Today we did our usual routine, getting ready to go, packing all our bags up and heading out to daycare. Nothing was different, nothing was out of the ordinary. But for the first time, as Phil and I were leaving the Infant room waving goodbye to our sweet baby girl, and Maddy was doing tummy time and smiling up at us, she realized we were leaving and started to cry. She has never done that before - not once. She’s actually barely acknowledged we’d left. But today it seemed to click that we were leaving and not coming back for a few hours. And she didn't like it. It only lasted for a few seconds - Miss Sarah was there with a hug and a toy to play with, and Maddy quickly moved on to her next area of focus. But Mommy didn't. It was hard to see my little girl cry when I left, and harder to realize that it won’t be the last of it - whether it’s to go to work, have a date night, or who knows what other incidents will come up, there will be times when I have to leave my baby, and she will not like it. And I don’t see it getting any easier.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Taking Tummy Time to a Whole New Level(Week 22, Day 3)

It's 9:30 PM, and it might as well be midnight, as I'm the only one in the house up. I know I should be sleeping, and that Maddy is going to wake up any minute wanting to nurse, or cuddle, or just protest sleep in general. Phil and I have taken turns trying to soothe her this evening, and after finally getting her to sleep, decided staying up to a normal bedtime was just too much effort, and gave in to exhaustion.
Except now I can't sleep. Why, you might ask? Because Maddy has hit another milestone. This one is called "I like to sleep on my stomach". It's a new one, and tonight is Maddy's first test drive of this recent preference. And so now, after months of worrying about SIDS and having the saying "back to sleep" rammed into my head by every doctor out there, my baby is peacefully sleeping on her belly. And my options are either to wake her up and move her, or let her sleep and lay here watching the baby monitor for signs of movement, and worry about her breathing habits. I know her neck is absolutely strong enough now to support her head, and that she is perfectly capable of rolling into whatever position she chooses. However none of these facts are currently helping me sleep. So here are lay, watching my baby sleep, and knowing this will be another first that is going to worry only mommy.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

5 Month Old (Week 22, Day 1)

I have a 5 month old! Who would believe it - the time has flown by, and our little girl is longer than ever before. At 5 months, she is already stretching the limits of some of her 6 month clothes, and it won’t be long before I’m having to change out her wardrobe once again (FYI - I just changed out her last wardrobe last week - I’m starting to feel like this will be a frequent routine). It seems in the last few days that she has stretched even more, and the baby fat on her legs is morphing into lean limbs that are getting ready to crawl and move very soon.
Her 5 month milestone coincided with Grandparents day at daycare, and it worked that Madeline’s grandparents that live close by were free to come down to the city and spend the afternoon with her. I was admittedly a little bit nervous for them to be at daycare for the first time, and worried that I could not leave work early to spend time with them and help show them around. Luckily everything went very smoothly, and they were able to find the daycare, and the staff there was helpful in showing them around. When I arrived at the end of the day Maddy was happily playing with Grandma and Grandpa. The only snafu was that Maddy’s cute little pink dress I had dressed her in that morning was long gone - Maddy had a diaper leak first thing in the morning and was wearing her backup clothes by the time the grandparents had arrived, but no one seemed to mind.

In honor of her 5 months in this world, we once again carted out Darth and Yoda to celebrate. She is becoming more aware of her little friends, and said hello to Darth Vader by sticking his hand in her mouth. I think she is really taking a liking to them both ;)
Maddy and her buddies

Monday, November 18, 2013

Resisting the Urge (Week 21, Day 3)

Labor Day weekend was a chance for our little family to lay low after several busy weeks. We had made very few plans, and were thrilled to have the weekend mostly wide open to relax. I can say we somewhat accomplished our goal. While the weekend was not rushed or busy, with Maddy's cold and diaper rash it wasn't altogether restful. Her sleep patterns have gone backwards, and she is now up every 2 hours at night, if not more. After a few weeks reprieve, this change was difficult to take on again. At the same time, I had decided to begin training for a 10k run in October, and decided to start by going back to a trainer. Trying to work out with a military style trainer on no sleep should be classified as some sort of torture.
By Labor Day itself, Madeline was starting to feel better, the rash had all but disappeared, and Mommy's soreness from training had started to subside. Labor Day itself was filled with the highs and lows that only a parent can appreciate - a lovely breakfast at one of our favorite spots, ending in a major diaper blow out and trip home to do several loads of laundry. The afternoon was spent enjoying the last of the beautiful Chicago weather at the beach, toes in the sand, listening to Madeline coo and talk endlessly. This trip ended because the nap we thought we could get Maddy to take with the sounds of the lake lapping in the background never happened, and we knew we were in for tears and a struggle at bedtime later.

At the end of the day, after bath time and story time and quiet time to prepare for sleepy time, I gently laid Maddy in her crib drowsy but awake, so that she would soothe herself to sleep. This is something we try to do routinely and she is usually fast asleep in minutes, after finding her comfy spot in the crib. Today was not one of those days. She wiggled around, and began talking intently to the mobile above her head. This is always the moment that is the hardest for moms, because you want to go in and try to get your child to sleep, however also want to allow them to learn and grow on there own, and discover and explore their surroundings. Since Madeline was not crying and in fact was enjoying herself, I chose to watch on the monitor and see what she was learning. I'm so glad I resisted the urge to go in and soothe for her, because as I watched on the baby monitor, she wiggled around the crib, until she found her binky, and placed it in her mouth. She would suck on it briefly, then take it out and hold it in her hand, talk to the mobile, and put it back in again. I'd never seen her do that before! It made me realize how important (and hard) it is going to be to allow Madeline to chance to learn and grow on her own without hovering too closely. I can see this getting harder as the years go by!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rash of the Diaper (Week 21, Day 1)

I'm upset about my diaper rash - can't you tell?
Every parent will tell you that as soon as you start to develop a routine, something will change with your child and everything will be chaos once again. It feels that way today. Or should I say in the wee hours of this morning. Yesterday was Maddy's doctors appointment to finally get her 4 month vaccinations - we needed to wait an extra 3 weeks to fight the fever and ear infection before doing her shots. The night before our appointment, Madeline developed diaper rash, and a bad cold. This didn't preclude us from being able to get her vaccinations, but it did change up her schedule again. The (sacred) long stretches of sleep at night are now gone, replaced with short stints of sleeping, followed by coughing, crying and diaper changes.
Like any parent, I worry about Madeline, and want to make everything better. It bothers me to look at the redness on her tiny bottom and know that I can't immediately make it go away. To see her cry and feel pain  because of it and know there is little I can do tears me apart. It's the ultimate act of patience to methodically apply Desitin with every diaper change and just wait for the redness or soreness to go away. Lets hope the waiting doesn't last long.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rush Hour (Week 20, Day 5)

End of the day smiles from Maddy
It's 5:40 PM, and Maddy is asleep. For the night. Sure, she'll wake up at least once or twice wanting to be fed or changed, but beyond that, she'll be out. It's weird how the end of my day can be the best and worst part of my day. It's the worst because I'm constantly rushing out the door at work, hoping I haven't left something behind, my task list not done and the list of work I'll need to do at night growing by the minute. I'm always rushing to get to Maddy, so I can get her home, fed, and have a little snuggle time before she inevitably is fast asleep between 5 and 6.
It's my favorite part of the day because when I get to daycare and Maddy sees me, I get a big smile and Maddy just wants to snuggle for awhile. When we get home it's just the two of us and we get to laugh and play as I rush to get her unpacked, changed and fed. Most days we manage to get a book read or sing a song. And by 5:30 or 6:00 PM, it's all done. She peacefully sleeping, and I'm wondering where the whirlwind of time just went, and wishing she stayed up just a little bit later so that we could spend a bit more quality time together.

Friday, November 1, 2013

20 Week Reflection (Week 20, Day 1)

Madeline is 20 weeks old today. I'm well beyond telling people that now - in the beginning new moms count everything in weeks, and you know you're beyond the newborn phase when you start counting in months, not weeks. But then I realized that she's only been alive half the time I was pregnant this week. At 20 weeks pregnant, we found out we were having a little girl. And we were thrilled. At 20 weeks, it all became more real for us, as we got serious about putting a name with the little being growing inside me. Before we knew the sex of the baby, we were coming up with crazy names - like Umbutu for example. It wasn't a front runner, but it certainly was joked about frequently. Now 40 weeks later, that little being we dreamed about is a happy 4 month old, and growing bigger every minute.

We spent the morning playing together as a family and making a big weekend breakfast. Mornings have begun to be  my favorite time for quality family togetherness - Maddy is always most awake and active in the mornings, and we get to laugh and giggle as a happy little family. Madeline has begun to test out her vocal chords in the last few weeks, and I swear once she starts talking, it’s going to be a real treat.Today she laid on her playmat and talked to her Owl and Squirrel forever and Phil and I watched and laughed. She’s begun cooing and calling out to people when they speak to her, and tonight she talked herself to sleep. It’s hilarious. I can’t wait to find out what she’s been trying to tell us.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There's More Than Corn in Indiana (Week 19, Day 6)

Saturday in Chicago is absolutely gorgeous, and we decide to make the most of it by driving down to the Indiana Dunes and going for a family hike. After packing up a lunch and getting Maddy ready for the trip, we head off. Now, a more reasonable parental unit would probably choose a short, easy hike as their first outing in the Dunes, much less with a small child. But not THIS parental unit. We choose a moderate route consisting of a 4 mile loop, and head off. 
Bernard family trip to the Dunes!
When we get to our first climb up a sandy dune I’m thankful we didn't choose a more rigorous route - it’s a fairly steep incline, and difficult to navigate alone, much less with a baby strapped to your chest. Phil is carrying Madeline as I've somehow managed to get tendinitis in my bicep - most likely from lugging around a giant car seat on a daily basis.
At the top of the Dune is a beautiful view of Lake Michigan, and a steep drop down. We admire the view, but don’t stay long as there is no shade and it’s hot in the mid-day sun. The path leads us along the top of the dune, along a very small sandy path. While I’m grateful I’m not carrying Maddy, I can’t help but constantly look back to make sure Phil is okay and watching his step - there are a few legs of the trail that are a bit nerve racking.
Once past the treacherous ridge, the path gets easier and more shaded, and we enjoy a nice leisurely and very secluded walk - in fact, we don’t see anyone else for most of the trip! The last mile of the hike becomes the hardest leg of the whole hike - not because of the elevation; in fact, the last leg is mostly downhill, and an easy path. It’s the hardest because we are now tired, hot and ready to be done. Phil is covered in sweat from the hike and carrying Maddy, and his back is starting to ache. I've been lugging the diaper bag on my one good arm, and now have 2 sore arms. Maddy is now well past her nap time, and has no intention of sleeping while there is so much to see and do. She spits out at least two binkies onto the sandy path, leaving us dangerously low on pacifiers to calm her down. Perhaps a 4 mile walks WAS a bit of a gamble for our first hike!

In the end we made it back to the car, and got Maddy (and Daddy) changed out of their sweat drenched clothes. The car ride home was quiet, as Maddy got some much needed rest.While our execution of our hiking plan didn't go quite as planned, it was still a memorable and fun day with the family, and a great way to spend a gorgeous day outside.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Daughter Hands (Week 18, Day 6)

It occurred to me today that Madeline is now double the size from the day she was born. It shouldn't be that surprising at 4 months, but it's amazing how gradually it happened, and now her she lies, sprawled across my lap, all body and legs and so much bigger than that first day we brought her home.

The thing that amazes most his her hands. Not only have they grown in proportion to the rest of her, but they've also woken up and come alive just as Maddy has as she's grown. Where her balled up, tight fists used to be, there are open palms and extended fingers, always reaching and grabbing and exploring the new textures. These new appendages have little experience holding anything - and have the worlds softest palms to prove it. But that won't last long. When she is awake those little hands don't stop moving, and even as she falls asleep, her hand wanders across my face, grabbing my nose and exploring my chin, trying to make sense of it all. I think these little hands will always be a wonder to me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Two Month of the Grind, Grind, Grind (Week 18, Day 5)

Night Night Baby Girl!
We are now into month 2 of Mommy being at work and Maddy at daycare. It seems Maddy is fully immersed in daycare and has no issue with her daily routine. I wish I could say the same for mommy - while the mishaps and forgotten items have gone away, the feeling of constantly rushing, being behind and not able to catch up have not. It's slowly getting easier. And I have to remind myself that getting promoted while on maternity leave and starting a new team is an amazing opportunity, and I would be bored coming back to my old job. But I have to remind myself a lot, as being bored sounds a whole lot easier right now.

The end of the work day is always the hardest, as it's the time when meetings are running over, I haven't sat down at my desk to check email in hours and could sit down and crank out some good quality work for a while. Instead I'm rushing out the door so I can pick up Maddy, get her home, changed, fed, and spend a few precious moments with her prior to her falling asleep somewhere between 5:30 and 6. Which is exactly what I want to be doing, and therefore find myself working at night just to keep up with the daily grind.
The great thing about the end if the day is the few minutes of quality time I do get with Maddy. She is overjoyed to see me at the end of the day, and her hugs and snuggles make any thought of work disappear. She makes it easy to focus on all the good things in life. And when she does fall asleep all too early for the night, her sweet innocent face reminds me of what most important in life and why I rush out the door every day to get to her.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ear Infections and Medication Time (Week 18, Day 2)

Maddy's Sick Face
It’s Sunday night, and after a long and busy weekend, mommy and daddy are exhausted. Maddy’s 4 month doctor’s appointment happened Friday morning, and rather than getting her 4 month shots as originally intended, we got a prescription for amoxicillin - our little girl now has an ear infection. After 3 weeks of a cough and cold, this was not the news we wanted to hear. Luckily, the medicine seems to be doing the trick, and her fever and fussiness immediately died down after her first day on medication. 
We had a jam packed weekend of friends and family visits, both to us and travelling to see friends, as well as hosting a cookout for the other new moms I met on maternity leave. As always, Maddy was a champ through the whole thing - she of course had her moments but all in all went with the flow and was happy as could be, even with her first experience with medication. Talking to my other friends that have older children and they trials they’ve endured with daycare, sickness, colic, and general infant fussiness, I’m reminded about her laid back and relaxed nature - very few things seem to get her riled up, even  though I anticipate with anxiety large tantrums at each new experience. I have to remind myself how easy I have it with our little girl!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Baby Sleep Talk (Week 17, Day 6)

Sleep Talk!
As new parents, kids provide endless entertainment. Tonight Phil and I put Maddy to bed and decided to watch a recorded show on television before calling it a night. Part of the way through, Maddy began making funny little cooing sounds, and Phil went in to check on her. Shortly after, he popped his head out and said I should come in and see this. I knew from the noises Maddy was making and the laughter in Phil's voice that nothing was wrong, and she was doing something funny. 
Standing by her crib, we watched as Maddy wriggled around in her sleep, eyes shut, cooing and talking as if she was having a conversation with us. She was fully asleep, but the noises she was making were as if she was awake and playing. It was hilarious. Phil commented that watching her was way more fun than the television show we had planned, and we both agreed that Maddy seems to take after mommy in that she is developing the habit of talking in her sleep!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Star Wars Measuring Sticks (Week 17, Day 4)

Madeline is 4 months old today! I can hardly believe the time has gone by so quickly. She seems longer and more like a toddler than ever, and she seems to be changing daily. She is even making sounds today I've never heard her make before - almost as if she is trying to sing along to songs she hears.
As it's Tuesday, this milestone was celebrated with 4 month pictures before heading to daycare and work. Before Madeline arrived in the world and made me into a mom, I noticed that when my mom friends had monthly pictures of their children they would have something in the picture to show the babies change in size - a stuffed animal, sign, etc. I liked the idea of showing the changes relative to some inanimate object, and stored the idea for later use.
Now, every month, I have my chance to stage a photo showing Maddy's growth. Each month I take a relatively normal picture of Maddy on her purple hippopotamus play mat that is cute and girly and sweet. Then comes the picture I look forward to every month. The picture of Maddy with Darth Vader and Yoda.
Mom, who ARE these guys?
What? Yes, it's a little unconventional, but when you have Darth Vader and Yoda stuffed animals that are currently larger than your child, I really don't see any other option but to use them as yardsticks for measuring growth. Growing up my husband and I were both big fans of Star Wars. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but Darth Vader was one of my imaginary friends. I emphasize ONE of. I had several, including a dragon and an Indian. You could call me an eccentric child. Before Maddy was born, my mom came across the dolls and thought they would be a hilarious gift for my daughter. When she received them however, they were much bigger than she anticipated - each one is about 2 feet tall!
Which brings us to today. Maddy dutifully poses next to Darth and Yoda every month, and every month we get either humorous or horrified comments from our friends on the pictures. Soon enough Maddy will get Mommy's sense of humor, and hopefully won't be too scarred for life by the encounter.

What were the crazy imaginary friends you had growing up? And what sorts of objects are you using to measure your children's growth?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Recovering from Sicky Times (Week 17, Day 1)

While Madeline didn't sleep extremely well last night, she shows definite signs of improvement from her sickly last few days. She is still as bright eyed and cheerful as ever, and the clinginess, scratchy cries and major spit ups disappeared. 

We spent the morning walking with Maddy facing out in the Baby Bjorn for the first time, and she love looking at all the bright colors at the farmers market, and watching the monkeys at the zoo. She even took two good naps in her crib - a major improvement over the prior day. The afternoon was spent at a family birthday party, where Maddy was able to meet lots of second cousins and watch children play. All in all, it was a good day!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reflection on Month 1 of Being a Working Mom (Week 16, Day 6)

As the week continues, so does Maddy's cold. It feels like it is never ending. After a week and a half, her common cold has stayed consistent, and the coughing has gotten worse. We finally took her to the doctor to ensure there was nothing more we could do to help her recover. The kind nurse practitioner examined Maddy, and validated our assessment - she has a cold, and nothing further can be done to help her recover beyond rest, frequent nose cleanings, and feeding her often. And while her cough wakes her up and makes her feel uncomfortable, she is still smiling and playing and enjoying her awake times.
One thing I noticed today in the ever changing world of my daughter was her hands. They've all of a sudden gone from little balled up fists, unable to coordinate motion and only used to flail aimlessly, to purposeful extremities. Beyond grabbing and grasping, her hands are open, feeling and touching all the time. When soothing Maddy in her crib, those little hands wrap around mine as a sense of reassurance, palms open and flat, feeling my fingers and hands for comfort. There is no touch more delicate than that of a baby learning to use their hands for the first time. It's something that I've been experiencing with Maddy for the last few days but couldn't quite put my finger on, and now I realize it's the experience of new sense of purpose with these perfect little hands.
Day 6 (again):
My first month being back at work and a new working mother is officially complete, and I'm officially exhausted. Every working mother said it would be hard, and they weren't lying. The forgetfulness, feeling of being constantly rushed, trying to run full steam ahead while running on empty, all the while trying to halt and take in the precious moments of awake time with your little baby have taken their toll.
For the last two weeks Maddy has been sick, and I've been sick too. So to cap my end of month 1 at work, I stayed home with my slightly feverish daughter. To be honest I was relieved at the thought of spending the full day with her, but knew this would not be a fun filled day outside like on maternity leave. The weather called for rain all day, and every time I put Maddy down, whether it be on her play-mat, the couch or her crib, she screamed bloody murder. She threw up on me 3 times, somehow managed to get poop on me and would only nap laying on my lap. So much for trying to get some work done while she slept! After several outfit changes on both our parts, I was able to get a few calls in (whispering during nap time) and send a few emails, but the rest would have to wait for the weekend.
I know things will get easier. I know I'm in the thick of it now, learning to balance my need for perfectionism at work with setting clear boundaries and expectations for myself. I know that rushing to and from work will get easier, and I'll get into a routine and stop forgetting things and have to come home.
The one thing I know for certain is the quality time with Maddy will continue to be precious, and as long as she stays the happy, smiling, bright girl that she has been, we'll be able to get through this together.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Small accomplishments (Week 16, Day 3)

Gummy Grins
Maddy waved today! Who knows if it was voluntary or not but it happened! Phil and I were dropping her off at daycare this morning and Miss Sarah was holding her and saying good morning. I kissed her and waved goodbye and she lifted up her her arm and dropped it as if to wave back! Phil and I were both excited, and Phil of course made fun of me for getting teary eyed. At almost 4 months, Maddy is starting to do more new things every day, and hone her skills at grasping, grabbing, and putting things in her mouth. She seems to be learning so much everyday, it's hard to know if we are doing enough to stimulate her. The one thing we do know is that her big gummy grins continue, so we must be doing something right!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rookie Mistakes (Week 15, Day 6)

Finally another Friday rolls around. Maddy's cold has gotten better, but her cough has gotten worse. It's the middle of the night and I'm sitting up in her room making sure she can sleep alright. I've made the rookie mistake that every new mom will make - I've looked up her symptoms on the Internet, and am now worried about a myriad of diseases and infections that she probably doesn't have. Darn you Internet. Maddy is still insanely happy when awake so I don't think there is anything major wrong, but nonetheless I'll be calling the doctor in the morning to make sure I don't need to bring her in. I don't think the sense of worry for your child will every go away.
Sleepy time worries

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Long Weeks and Immediate Perspective (Week 15, Day 5)

This week has dragged on, slowly but surely. My husband and I have spent 2 nights sleeping in a chair next to Maddy's bed. Last night, she was significantly better, and we were able to get some shut eye in between feedings. I've now developed Maddy's cold, so while she's on the road to recovery, I'm feeling the full effects just begin.
All of this has led to a very stressed out mom and employee. I'm beating myself up for not being able to keep up with all the tasks and urgent pieces of work that need to happen in my new role, and my to do list is getting longer and longer. Luckily, my boss is fully supportive of me and with 3 children of her own, understands its going to take me a while to get up to speed.
Today however, life dealt a blow that reminds us what is important. Today we heard news from a co-worker that his daughter had died. While we knew it was likely based on her condition, it was none the less painful to get the confirmation. And as a new parent, it is incomprehensible. There are no words that can be said that can justify and make sense of why a parent should have to bury their child. None. My heart is aching for my friend.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nose Contraptions (Week 15, Day 3)

Week 15! Where has the time gone? The weekend is filled with baby birthday parties and family time, and we all have a chance to catch up on sleep. This turns out to be a blessing, because Sunday Maddy wakes up with a cold, and Phil and I spend Sunday night swapping staying up with her all night. It is so hard to see our little girl uncomfortable, and know there is not much we can do about it. The one new contraption we decide to try to relieve some of the discomfort is the Nosfrida, a Swedish invention designed to suck the snot out of your child's nostril. And I mean suck. With your mouth. I know, I think it sounds gross too. Amazingly, it is actually painless for Maddy, provides her with some relief, and to my relief, has a filter so that it is not possible for us to swallow her snot. This is of key importance to me. Although I have to admit I'm a total wimp - thus far, Phil has done the honors.
NoseFrida the snot sucker product photograph
The Nosfrida - icky, but effective
After being up with Maddy all night, we expect to have a very fussy baby in the morning. The amazing thing is, she is happy as a peach! Congestion and all, she is all smiles and happiness, which takes away all sleepiness and enables us to power through the rest of the day.

Friday, September 6, 2013

TGIF! (Week 14, Day 7)

We've made it through the week. 
By Thursday, I was able to make it to work without forgetting something critical and having to turn back. On Friday, I spilled the milk I had just pumped all over myself.When I say TGIF, I sure as heck mean it. 
Luckily, my company has instituted summer Fridays, and therefore I was able to get extra quality time with Madeline in the afternoon. While I know I should stay the full day to catch up on work, I know that my “awake” time with Maddy is limited, and vow to open my computer again this evening to compensate. The weather was far too hot to go outside, so we spent the afternoon having some quality time in Maddy’s room - reading books, singing songs, and generally having some quality girl time. As Maddy drifted off to sleep in my arms after our second full week of work and daycare, I let my exhaustion take over and close my eyes as well - who knew that my Friday nights would turn into naps times with my baby, and end up being the most fun Friday nights yet?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Three Strikes You're Out (Week 14, Day 5)

Back Home Again
Three strikes, you're out. I did it again. For the third time in a row, I forgot something at home that is needed for the day, and have to turn back. This time, I'm not just a little annoyed, I'm downright mad at myself. Every morning I leave the house confidently, having double checked I have everything I need, and about 30 minutes later I'm heading back to the house to grab said forgotten item (today's it's nipples for Maddy's bottles) muttering words of frustration to my self like a crazy person.
I know it's because we are not in a routine yet, and because I'm still not getting a good nights sleep. And because, lets face it, I'm human. But being a normally well organized person and admittedly a perfectionist, these things are not condolences to me.
To get me through this week of forgetfulness I have to remember how lucky I am to have a daycare that is so close to my home, and work that is conveniently 20 minutes away. In a big city like Chicago, that's a blessing. And while I'm furious at myself for these continuous mishaps, I have to remember that no one else is - I'm still making it to work at a reasonable time and putting in the time and energy required to do my job. As usual, my worst critic for how I'm managing the transition back to work is me. And if I were to cut myself a little slack, I would be able to admit I'm not doing such a bad job.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Working Mom Routines (Week 14, Day 4)

Work this week has taken on a similar disturbing pattern - get everyone ready and out the door, drop off Maddy at daycare, return home for things I forgot. At least today I remembered before I made it to the office, and could easily adjust my schedule.
While I'm focusing on getting the daily routine down, I need to focus even more energy around getting up to speed in my new role. Every day in the office feels like it goes by at warp speed, and with my desire to run out the door to see Madeline at the end of each day, I find that I need to be extremely efficient and make every moment in the office count. Gone are the days of staying late to think through a problem, or getting in early put in a few extra hours towards a goal. Add pumping into the equation 3 times a day, and it's a wonder I know which direction I'm heading most days.
Daycare Nap time
Slowly but surely however, things are getting easier. Plans are being built to reach work goals, and I'm starting to transition from the "I've been out for 3 months and don't know what's going on" stage to "the direction I think we should go with this goal is ..." stage. I'm even able to find some time to think once Maddy goes to bed at night.
What makes all of these challenges abundantly easier is seeing Maddy thrive at daycare. She is loving the other children, the activity and and the nannies. Most days when I pick her up she's just finished a nap, and is excited to see mamma. Had she been more fussy and not transitioned to day care well, being away from her would be torture. As it is, it's hard for me to be away from her when I know she is awake and playing and I just want to watch her grow, but at least I know she is happy with her current situation, allowing me to push aside any concerns and focus on the days race.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Memory Failures and Getting into a Routine (Week 14, Day 3)

Starting my third week back at work things are starting to feel more routine. Last Friday, as I was racing to get to the daycare and pick up Maddy (well within the speed limit of course) I realized I had left all my pump accouterments in my office desk drawer. After cursing myself for my stupidity, I turned around and went back. So today, I make sure to check my things, and ensure I have pump, accompanying parts, bottles and nipples for Maddy, and my lunch all ready to go. I feed, change and prepare both of us for work/school (as I like to call it) and with husband in tow we all head out to see Maddy off to daycare. I'm feeling great about my ability to get organized and out the door to work in a timely manner as I walk up to my office - and it's at this exact moment that I realize I've left my computer sitting inside our secretary at home. I literally stop in the middle of the street, looking perplexed as to how I could have been so - stupid. Once again, I turn back to fix my mistake.
The day gets continual better as it goes on, and I realized that although I'm getting the hang of balancing work and more importantly life, I have a long way to go.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Work Grooves and End of Day Story Time (Week 13, Day 6)

The second week back at work, while still daunting, is much easier to wrap my head around than the first. We are starting to figure out a morning routine in which I'm able to get everyone in the family successfully dressed, fed and off to work/daycare in a timely manner. Being back at work has its advantages - I'm excited about the new opportunities for me to contribute and have some important challenges in front of me that are motivating and important to the success of the business. My days are full, and I'm enjoying work. The hardest part of it all is knowing how much of a go getter I am, and finding the balance between driving myself as hard as I did pre-baby against my overwhelming desire to leave everyday and see my daughter. I realize more than ever that the only one pushing me to stay late and over achieve is me. It's never been a bad thing, and my dig in deeper and get the job done has gotten me where I am today in my career. But it's hard to dial it down, and in these first weeks I'm finding that I'm going to have to scale down my expectations for myself at work, or I will successfully drive myself mad. While I still want to excel and do my very best, I can say without a shadow of a doubt I want to be home on time everyday so I can spend some awake time with Madeline and put her to bed. If that means I'll need to work at night to satisfy my need to stay ahead, so be it. The priorities have so greatly shifted that I find myself racing out the door every day to see my precious baby's smile. Reading her a story and putting her to bed has become my favorite part of the day.
End of day cuddle time
Today was a family luncheon at the daycare, and my schedule worked out well enough for me to attend. It was a special treat to visit in the middle of the day, and be the one to pick Maddy up from her nap. She seemed thrilled, and we got a little extra cuddle time in for the day. There were several other families there, and it was fun to see the community of children and parents. Talking to the nannies there, it was heartwarming to hear how much they enjoyed Maddy, and were falling in love with her smile and happy personality. It made me feel wonderful knowing how much these women care for the children they see everyday.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weekend Warriors and a 3 Month Old (Week 13, Day 2)

Three Months Old!
Maddy is 3 months old! How has the time gone by so fast? I've been taken pictures of her each month, and it's amazing to see how much she's grown. Mainly how long she is - 3 months ago her whole  little body could fit on my chest, and now she sprawls across me, legs reaching to my torso. I have a feeling that before I know it, my daughter will be towering over me.
The rest of the trip to see my grandma was filled with stories of grandma's family, and learning about distant relatives and life on a farm in South Carolina. Grandma was tickled to spend time with Maddy. As hard as the trip was for us - a very long car ride, lots of changing temperatures to deal with, and Maddy getting way out of whack with sleep, it was worth every minute. We returned home on Saturday, so that the whole family could have a day to rest before getting back into the week. It turned out to be the best idea yet - Maddy needed the rest, and mommy and daddy needed the time to relax.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Getting through Week 1 of Work and generations of Everett Women (Week 12, Day 6)

Thankfully, the 3 days of work go by quickly, with few hiccups, and Maddy does great at daycare. In fact, she does so well that by 6 PM she is fast asleep, and mommy and daddy enjoy taco night, sangria and some couch time to wind down from the big week.
Maddy, Mommy, and Grandma
In the morning, we get up and begin another day of travel - this time heading to Evansville to see my grandmother, Maddy's great grandma. It's a long drive, so we've planned it over the 4th of July to be able to take our time.
The drive down to southern Indiana is a non event - again the stresses of the 'first' travel journey are gone, and we enjoy some family time in the car. Once we arrive in Evansville, we head to the assisted living home to see my grandma. Her 90th birthday is next week, and we are visiting early to celebrate. It's her first time seeing Madeline, and I was excited to have my daughter meet her great grandma.
Four Generations of Everett Women!

My grandma could not have been more pleased to see Maddy. There was something very special about seeing the two of them together. At one point grandma held Maddy, and Maddy reached up and wrapped her hand around Grandmas finger. I think that image will stay with me for a long time - my grandmother with 90 years of life and memories in her, and my daughter with all her life and memories to be made ahead of her. It was a special moment.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to Work: Day 1 Post Maternity Leave (Week 12, Day 3)

This is it. It's Monday. It's now or never. We spent the weekend preparing as a family for this, getting groceries, washing clothes, hugging baby. Today is the day a new chapter begins.
It's hard to describe the emotions I'm feeling, it's somewhat surreal to me. I'm not sure I'll know what I'm feeling until I actually drop Maddy off at daycare. It just feels, well, weird to think I won't be with her all day. I wonder if she'll have trouble sleeping, or taking her bottle. Most of all I wander how much she'll notice, and how much it will affect her.
Daycare Day 1 - So far, so good.,
End of day: we did it. We all somehow made it through the day. As usual, it seems to be hardest on mommy. The drop off went better than expected; Maddy was awake, and there was no crying when she exchanged hands. Mommy was the only one shedding tears. After arriving at work, the day dragged on, with my brain slowly starting to dust off its cobwebs and remember the key initiatives, strategic objectives, project plans and coordination needed to do my job. It seemed people were much more excited for me to be back than for I was to be there, but the warm welcome felt good. I do know  I'm going to enjoy the work, but am currently overwhelmed by the amount that needs to get done in a short period of time. Add pumping during the day, figuring out drop off and pick up times, and the overwhelming feelings multiply. But, there is an increased sense of efficiency that comes with returning to work- my priorities have been altered so greatly that I want to make every moment away from Maddy count, and therefore use my time as wisely as possible while in the office.
Texts and notes from friends and family, along with pictures from the daycare of Maddy help me get through the day.
Picking Maddy up after work was the best part of the day - the quality time was even more meaningful, and she did a great job with her newfound friends. Lets just hope we can keep the positive momentum going for the three day week.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The End of Maternity Leave Reflection (Week 11, Day 6)

Well, this is it. Today’s the day. My last day of Maternity leave. On Monday I return to work. For all intensive purposes, I did my best to enjoy this last weekday with Maddy - met up with another mommy and baby for coffee, took a final weekday walk through the zoo to soak in the gorgeous summer weather and fresh air. I’ll have the weekend to run errands and relax, before jumping into Day 1 back at work on Monday.
I can’t lie and say that I’m ready. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Mom that is. Like anyone else, I have lots of questions about how I’m going to make the daily schedule work, how I’ll ensure I leave work on time so I don’t miss an extra minute with Maddy, how I’ll continue to pump while at work so that I can provide breast milk for my daughter when she’s away from me, and how I’ll compartmentalize everything so that when I’m at work I’m not pining for Maddy, and when I’m with Maddy I’m not thinking about all the things I need to do in the office tomorrow. These are all major things that I’m not going to get right day 1. But I’m determined to figure it out.
What I AM looking forward to is giving Maddy the opportunity to socialize with other babies, something I think she will really enjoy based on the play dates we've had with other babies. I’m looking forward to having adult conversations, and the satisfaction that comes with truly driving change within an organization. I’m looking forward to the scary newness of the role I’m going back into, allowing me to be challenged when I go to work rather complacent with something I already know. I’m looking forward to being the role model I want to be for Maddy, even though she won’t know it for many years from now.
When I think back on my maternity leave and the “goals” I had, my main goal was to not have any - In my day job I’m a planner, an organizer, someone that moves things forward and makes things happen. Back in April, when I would think about the time after Maddy was born, I wanted to really focus on being in the moment - no goals, no objectives. I looked at the three months as a wide open block of time to be defined once the baby arrived - and to take the shape of whatever we decided it would be.
The continuous amusement of Maddy Moo
Now at the end of my maternity leave, I can feel good in saying we accomplished our goal. Each day was dictated by how Maddy felt. We did things I didn't expect us to do, had days that were jam packed, and others that were lazy and luxurious. We met new people, made new friends, and connected with old ones. We took advantage of the glorious weather and the rainy days. And for the most part, we tried to live in what was happening that day - what stage of development Maddy was in, and how that would change our lives and schedule. I was able to learn who she was, and in turn how to care for her.
More than anything, I was just able to watch my baby grow from a newborn to an infant. Solidly in a new stage of babyhood, she continues to amaze me everyday. As we take this next step together, I know there will be ups and downs, and I'm looking forward to seeing where this next stage will take our family.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Discovery Time (Week 11, Day 5)

After 2 ½ months, I’m still amazed about how much Maddy changes each day. Sometimes when she is sleeping, I’ll look through the pictures of her we've taken, beginning with the day she was born. It’s incredible to see how much she’s changed in such a short period of time. Not just in her size and weight, but her expressions and movement. Every day it seems she is discovering something new, and is more alert and amazed by the world around her. Her play-mat (the little infant contraption with animals that hang down over her when she’s laying on her back), once something she had little interest in, now is a daily amusement, and it seems she finds something new about it each day. Mirrors provide endless excitement as she tries to interact with the baby she sees in front of her. Her toothless, gummy grin is more frequent every day, and her coos and calls begin to feel like a conversation with her. Best of all, she finds Mommy and Daddy hilarious, and often looks at us and laughs. Many of my parent friends say that with every new stage, being a parent gets more and more fun, and now I know why. I thought I couldn't enjoy being a mom to Madeline more, and then something happens to make it even better. I'm feeling truly blessed today for my little girl!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Birthday Celebrations (Week 11, Day 4)

How big is Mommy?
Today happens to be my birthday, and I'm so thankful to be on maternity leave to celebrate it! It was a simple day, filled with much if the same everyday activities, but Phil took the afternoon off, so the day was that much sweeter spending it with my little family. We started the afternoon by dropping off supplies at Maddy's daycare. Phil had not been there since our first visit and therefore needed to know the basics of the drop offs and pick ups. Once again the women who were going to care for my babe were kind, patient, and supportive.
Lunch followed, with Phil and I having a long discussion about my maternity leave ending, and me returning to work. I am lucky to have such a supportive husband - he is fine with whatever I would like to do in regards to work, is fully supportive of me returning to work, and understands how important it is to me to find a balance between having a career and being a mother. I truly believe having both will be beneficial for myself and for my children.
The rest of the day was spent piddling around the house, with a nice afternoon walk. One of my favorite things nowadays is doing nothing with my little family, and the afternoon was a gift in itself.
As a birthday present, my sister came to babysit Madeline, so Phil and I could enjoy an adult dinner. There were many little birthday pleasantries to be grateful for:
1. My pre-pregnancy dress fit. You know, the dress in your closet that you can only pull off when your looking and feeling skinny? That one.
2. I was able to eat dinner with both hands. One hand did not have to be used to rock a baby stroller.
3. We were able to take our time. No worry about an eruption of tears or a breast feeding emergency.
4. I was able to have an evening of full conversations with my husband, with no distractions or interruptions.
5. We were able to go to a new fancy non-kid friendly restaurant. No strollers or wee ones to be seen, just dim lighting, soft background music, and a restaurant oozing with sheek ambiance.
As you can tell from this blog, I adore my daughter, and cherish our time together. However every mommy should take a break now and then to do non-mommy things and clear their heads, and dinner was just that. I was amazed about how giddy I was to just be out alone with my husband and eat oysters, drink wine, and just enjoy 'us' time as a couple. I didn't realize how much I needed that break and adult time until we were actually having it - I guess the constant activity and drain that comes with all the mommy responsibilities had become so natural I didn't realize had much it had taken out of me.
To top off the evenings festivities, we came home to a happy sister that was able to put Maddy to sleep with no issue. All in all, the evening was a success for everyone!