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Friday, June 28, 2013

Getting Inventive (Week 7, Day 7)

Madeline slept for 4 hours!! Not only that, it was AT NIGHT! WHILE mommy was sleeping! Yeah! I haven't had 4 hours of consecutive sleep since she came home from the hospital. If anyone's counting, that's six weeks. I may be the only one counting. Granted, I woke up like clockwork two hours into her sleep schedule to find her squirming on the baby monitor, but not awake or calling out to be fed. I shut my eyes and waited for the inevitable cry for food and voila! Two hours later she wakes up! I feel like a revitalized woman. At least for now. At 3am.

Another milestone occurred today- I showered! Now I need to clarify. I shower frequently, it's sort of a good hygiene habit I try to keep up. But since Madeline was born, I've been fitting showers in when Phil is home and can hold Maddy - before work, at the end of the day, etc. Lets just say the habit has become less than daily. On the days I can't fit in a shower before Phil leaves for work, I throw on workout clothes and pretend I'm off to the gym. There. You know my secret. I wasn't at the gym. In fact, I was probably just eating a cookie. And not showering. Sue me. 

Back to the milestone. As it is said, necessity breeds invention, and today I needed to get inventive. Maddy and I went to the stroller fitness class (Fact: I am no longer in shape, and this class is hard), and I actually used those workout clothes to work up a sweat rather than mask my uncleanliness. When we got home, it was clear I was going to need to shower before Maddy's afternoon doctors appointment. Since Maddy had no intention of taking this opportunity to nap contentedly in her crib, it was time to think creatively. I look around at Maddy's multiple playthings to see what was most appropriate, and wouldn't make her scream in protest. I settle on moving the floor bouncer to the bathroom - it seems the most logical and allows me to have her in the room with me . While she didn't sail off to dreamland as hoped, she didn't cry, and seemed to find the hair dryer fascinating. And mommy got to take a shower, and keep up her good hygiene habits. I call it a win-win.

Mommy's little helper!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away (Week 7, Day 6)

Today was a slow start to the morning. With Maddy up in the middle of the night for a second night in a row, a good morning nap was in order for Maddy - and for Mommy too (I’m definitely going to miss naps when I return to work - my company frowns upon nap time in the office!). We are still waiting for “The Magical” moment when Maddy sleeps for longer periods through the night - we are now up to three hour stints, which is a welcome change, but not much relief to the sleep deprived parents.

Today we encountered on of the drawbacks to being a city baby. It was a hot Chicago day, and the possibility of storms had been looming over the city all week, keeping us from our usual walks to the zoo. This afternoon, we ventured out to lunch with one of the other moms from our group, and just as we stepped out of the restaurant to head home, we were hit with a downpour. Having only the stroller with partial coverage and no umbrella, I ducked into the closest bar for cover. Downside - stuck in the city in the middle of the storm. Upside - there are so many bars/restaurants shops downtown that it’s easy to find a place for coverage pretty quickly. Maddy and I camped out until the rain ceased, and headed home. Now I know that my enormous survival kit that I carry with me everywhere (aka diaper bag) is missing one key element - an umbrella!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Deposit (Week 7, Day 5)

After a rainy day, and even rainier night, the clouds finally part and I wake up to a beautiful spring morning. Which is great, because the thought of staying indoors two days in a row is not appealing. Maddy and I pack up and head off to the days agenda - the farmers market and securing her spot at our chosen daycare.

The farmers market is teeming with people, and we meet up with Amy for our weekly coffee and late breakfast chat. I love doing our shopping at the market, and my conversations with someone that has become a dear friend. Maddy seems to love the bustle and noise - or at least I think she does because she falls asleep and very rarely wakes up for this outing. This is a Wednesday morning tradition that I’m going to greatly miss when I return to work.

In the afternoon, we head off the daycare that we've selected (and been accepted to) to drop off the deposit - we've been given strict instructions around dropping off the deposit within 5 days of verbal confirmation lest we lose our spot. Such is life in the cut-throat world of Chicago Daycare. As a final check to make sure we’d made the right decision on daycare, I visited another major daycare facility close to our home the previous day. It was nice, clean, secure, and felt like a kindergarten school. But it wasn't quite right. It had gotten less than stellar reviews on some of the sites I had researched, and the children didn't look quite as happy or well looked after as the daycare we were considering. I just got a bad vibe about the place. Plus, it was a bit more expensive, and less convenient for dropping off/picking up. My mind was made up.

When I walked into the daycare center today, I remembered why I liked it so much. The staff is courteous, calm and friendly, and one of the directors came right over to say hello to Madeline when I explained why I was there - paying more attention to her than to me, which is the way I would want it. The place was not cluttered or disorganized, and the children all looked really happy as they stomped out to the playground. The seemed genuinely pleased to have us joining their community in July. It was great confirmation of our decision.

The male receptionist looked up our account to find the deposit amount needed, and commented “Oh, July 1st start date, that’s coming up!”. FYI dear receptionist - I know this. I do not need to be reminded. Whether I like it or not, the days are speeding past me like a race car at the Indy 500. Very soon I’ll be dropping off my flesh and blood at this site, and it will take all my resolve and resilience to drive away and not come back until the afternoon. I know it’s coming up. But he meant well. And clearly doesn't have children.

He also offered (without me asking) for us to come in for another site tour, to help us refresh our memories and drop off clothes, diapers, etc so that the first day we drop Maddy off, we are focused on her and not all her accessories. Okay, he made up for the July 1st comment. While I know I need to set this up soon as June is right around the corner, I think I’ll delay just a little bit and continue to enjoy my maternity leave and time with Maddy - no need to plan ahead too much on this one and remind me of the inevitable.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fuss Buckets and Rainy Day Blues (Week 7, Day 4)

The forecast in Chicago is showing rain and thunderstorms for the next three days, really cramping our outdoor adventure style. Today we spend the morning recovering from the long weekend and Roadtrip (aka napping) and going to the regularly scheduled new mom support group. As always, it's comforting to hear the other new moms questions, and know that we are all struggling to figure out the nuances of our little people. Many of the moms have become friends, and I have play dates with a few later in the week.

Madeline is now past the "peak" fussy stage that occurs at four to six weeks, with just a residual 30 minutes of her fuss bucket time happening at the end of each day. I've been working to follow the sleep doctor's advice, and begin to look for signs of "bedtime" behaviors from my babe starting between five and seven. Each night, I get her changed into jammies, swaddle her up, and go through my small repertoire of songs to put her to sleep. All of this works like a charm, with her nodding off somewhere between "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "You are My Sunshine". However, each time I put Maddy down in the crib during this witching hour, she inevitably wakes right up and begins to cry. As she is not a terribly fussy child, this can be very frustrating. The only cure I can find is for her to sleep ON me - literally wrapped around me with her head nestled into my chest.

I can't say I mind this position all that much - any parent will tell you it is the best feeling in the world to have a baby cuddle on your chest, and they would be right. The serenity on an infants face, their deep satisfying breaths and sighs, and their changing expressions as they dream provide a soothing effect to even the most stressed out person. The only downside - the position very much restricts you from doing just about anything else - no laundry, no dishes, no making dinner (or eating it either). The only other feat I'm capable of is perhaps writing this wildly entertaining blog on my smart phone :)

I know that soon enough, she'll be too big to sleep on my stomach all cuddly and close. And I'll miss her head on my chest, her heartbeat so close to mine. These quiet moments together will be fleeting, and soon enough she'll be a teenager and not want me in her room at all. So for now, I let the dishes pile up, the laundry go unwashed, and leave the dinner plans to the husband. And I sit and enjoy some quality time with my darling little girl.

The Battle of the Fuss Bucket

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Roadtrip! (Week 7, Days 1-3)

Over the river and through the woods...
This weekend we went to Fort Wayne to visit my parents and spend some quality time with Maddy and the grandparents. It was also the first roadtrip with a baby, and all the joys that come with it. Who knew that babies require so much gear? We packed several more bags than normal for a short weekend trip including diapers, baby monitor, sound machine, and several change of clothes in case of diaper blow outs.

The drive was fairly uneventful, with Maddy waking up once for a changing/feeding. We arrive at my parents house, where they are anxiously awaiting our arrival. To be accurate, they are awaiting Madeline's arrival - they couldn't be happier to see her after 6 weeks, and spend the next few hours fawning over her. I actually thought my mom would've slept sitting up that night if Madeline continued to sleep on her.

We enjoyed a few days of extra hands and help, and Maddy once again had no issue with the change of scenery for sleeping locations. I'm becoming increasingly aware of the fact that babies will do what they like, and we are all just figuring out how to accommodate them.

Happy Grandma!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Surviving Stroller Fitness (Week 6, Day 7)

No idea what I'm in for
For the past few weeks, I've been looking up different “Mommy and Me” workout classes and trying to find something that would be a good fit. There are several challenges:

1. Technically, I’m wasn't cleared for working out post-delivery until 6 weeks (although I've been feeling fine for several weeks now)
2. Most will not allow you to participate unless the baby is 6 weeks old
3. Many are not walking distance (and schlepping the baby in the car to work out seems like a workout in itself)

Last week, I stumbled onto the perfect opportunity. Literally. I was out taking Madeline on our daily stroll through the park, when I saw a group of moms with their strollers running down the path. Someone was giving them instructions, and they all stopped and began doing crunches on nearby stones. I stopped and watched for a minute, and realized I had hit the jackpot - Mom’s with strollers! Working out! Outside! Close to my house! Now the question was - how do I find out how to join them?

After chasing after them (Yes, I looked like a crazy stalker lady running through the park with my stroller chasing after other moms), I spoke with the instructor and found out they were doing a stroller fitness class that happens 3 days a week starting at the zoo. And there is no age limit on babies, or moms post delivery.  Perfect! They even allow you to do a free trial class to see if you like it. Even better! The only challenge now was working around Maddy’s morning sleep habits (and my opportunity to get some rest if we have a rough night) as the class is mid morning.

Today was my chance. Maddy was awake and in between naps - I could get her fed/changed and out the door in time to walk to the zoo, and get her to fall asleep on the way. It’s a crisp Chicago day, but warm in the sunshine. I make it to the class on time, and everyone says hello and is very friendly. The instructor begins class, and we take off to a grassy knoll for warm ups.

Now, to give some context, I am in relatively good shape. I have been working out with a trainer for the last few years (even through the end of my pregnancy) and have taken up running, doing races here and there (again, continuing through most of my pregnancy). Nothing to write home about, but I've been active. So I’m thinking a stroller fitness class will be relatively easy breezy, a nice way to step back into things after 6 weeks sans workout routine, and I’ll be able to keep up.

Wrong. These moms (and this instructor) are not messing around. Within a few minutes, I’m sweating and wishing I hadn't bundled up so much for this outdoor workout. We run laps, do crunches, squats, leg lifts, and jumps. The movement is constant, and each exercise the instructor comes up with is followed by an exuberant “Let’s do 50 reps!”. The women all seem to used to this madness, and dutifully follow instructions. I look at them like they are all crazy, and try to keep up.

The hour flies by, with Maddy sleeping blissfully in her stroller (throughout the workout I’m jealous of my infant and wish I could be sleeping soundly in a stroller) and me sweating like a pig and chasing after these clearly fit women. By the end I’m aching pretty much all over, and need a nap. While the class wasn't what I expected, it was a fantastic way to jump back into shape, and easy and convenient. I may complain about it every step of the way, but I'll be dragging my butt (and my sleeping baby) right back there next week!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Acceptance (Week 6, Day 6)

Today was another lovely fun filled day of morning tea with a girlfriend, meeting another friend for lunch, and a visitor in the afternoon to see Madeline. If I were so inclined to stay home, I could definitely find a way to fill my time!

In the afternoon,  I received a phone call from the daycare which we applied for prior to Madeline’s birth - yet another reminder that my maternity leave is fast approaching its end. They called to congratulate us our acceptance into the daycare, with the flourish and excitement I would expect of a college admittance announcement. Not to say we are not excited - Phil and I are thrilled that we found a place that we were happy with, and felt was safe/comforting/suitable enough to leave our precious little babe in their care for eight hours a day. I’m just surprised at the intense screening and exclusivity of daycares.

Approaching finding someone to watch Madeline when I returned to work was an area I was able to glean much advice from Chicago Moms that had braved these waters previously. My friends have run the gamut of nannies, corporate daycares and home daycares. When Phil and I discussed what we would like to do with daycare, we decided to move forward with corporate daycares - after hearing some of the horror stories of nannies flaking out and leaving our friends stranded with no notice, we liked the idea of many hands at a daycare to support our child’s needs. We also really liked the social interaction Madeline would get at a daycare filled with other infants.

A co-worker of Phil’s had recommended a daycare to us that was right down the street from us. Knowing that Chicago daycares have wait lists that can sometimes be in the “years” category versus “months” (I have to say, I’m a planner, but how in the world do you plan out a child’s daycare YEARS in advance?) I dutifully scheduled a tour with the facility a good four months before our daughter was born - including my maternity leave, that gives us seven months advance notice. That should be plenty of time, right?

Our trip to the daycare was positive. We found the place very secure - so secure that we couldn't figure out how to actually get into the building! It had a nice little outdoor playground in the back, with trees and swings and all the necessities for good toddler play time. The facility was clean and organized, the staff was friendly. The director took us on our tour, and with every room we entered, the children grinned at the Director, clearly recognizing her face. They genuinely looked like happy children enjoying their time there. Our minds were made up before the tour was over, and we were in luck to find out they “probably” had openings.

From this point, we put down a deposit, hoping to get the “probably” open spot in July. Which brings us to yesterday’s call. I’m thrilled to have everything lined up for when I return to work, and that I feel very comfortable with our choice in daycare. Knowing that I toured the facility so long ago, before Maddy was even born (heck, before we even had a NAME for our little girl!), I have lots of questions for the Director of the site and am considering asking for another tour just to refresh my memory. I’m also quietly ignoring all the fears and worries that I know are going to build over the next few weeks as the countdown continues on our beautiful weekdays together - What if the supervisors and nannies don’t cuddle with her all day like I do? What if she doesn't make friends with the other babies? What is she doesn't sleep there? Worst of all - what if she doesn't like it? What if she is unhappy there, and I've traumatized her for life with the experience?

Deep breaths, everything will be fine. I think.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Magical Sixth Week (Week 6, Day 5)

From the first day at the New Moms Support Group, the doctor has talked about this magical time in week six of a child's development in which they begin to distinguish day from night, and develop circadian rhythms - the nervous systems "urge to sleep". The doctor basically said babies will begin a fussy period from four to six weeks of age, and then at six weeks begin shows signs of wanting to go to bed at night, and longer intervals of sleep.

Phil and I have been counting down the days until this monumental occurrence, and here we are, smack dab in week six. And nothing. Okay, not nothing, but no fairy tale land of a non fussy baby blissfully dozing off to sleep at 6 and sleeping for a good six hours. My little munchkin is still wailing every evening in pure fussiness, and seems to be holding on for dear life to her 2 hour sleep interval schedule. Sure, she'll give me a 3 hour stretch here or there, but I'm not quite jumping for joy with the added continuous zz's yet.

And so we wait, like Cinderella waiting for Prince Charming, we wait for our beautiful sleep to arrive.
The elusive sleep

Monday, June 17, 2013

Anniversary (Week 6, Day 4)

Today is our two year wedding anniversary! It's hard to believe Phil and I have only been married for two years - our lives are so intertwined now that it seems he's always been apart of my world, and it's hard to remember the 30 years that occurred before we even met. While today is the day I will make sure to tell him how lucky I am to have him in my life, I'm reminded everyday what a perfect match his is for me. There are a thousand little things he does to make me smile.

To celebrate this cotton anniversary, we've planned dinner sans babe at one of the restaurants that's been on our list. Which brings us to another first for Maddy and mommy - first time with babysitters. This milestone is less dramatic than I expect it to be - we've asked Phil's parents to come down to the city to watch Maddy, while we go to a restaurant that is walking distance away. I've left plenty of milk for Maddy (so there is no fear of her starving to death) and showed his parents where to find everything, including the first aid kit. His parents are delighted to spend the evening with Maddy, and do a wonderful job with her. As for me, aside from one brief moment when I worry that a text from someone during dinner is an alert that something's wrong at home, I'm able to enjoy a lovely and luxurious dinner with my husband - using both hands, and taking my time without worrying about when I'll need to tend to the baby. We all survived this milestone quite well!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Results (Week 6, Day 1)

As with everything else, the co-sleeper transition project seems to be most traumatic for, well, mommy. When we finally get little Maddy into some semblance of sleep in her crib, Phil and I climb into bed in the other room and turn out the lights for the first time since we've had Maddy home. We've had the lights dimmed low so that we could see Maddy in the co-sleeper and get in and out of bed easily. I've gotten so used to the light on that a dark, still room seems foreign. With the baby monitor now securely in place where the baby used to be, I turn on the screen to see my baby laying quietly in her crib.

And I lay in bed and stare at the monitor. Phil's breathing tells me he's already sound asleep - how does he do it? I used to be the one that could fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Now I can't imagine closing my eyes anytime soon. I thought having her in her own room would be easier for both of us, but now I'm worried about all the disasters that could befall us in the night- what if I don't hear her cry? I've got the sound on the baby monitor cranked as high as it will go and truthfully can hear every wimper. Further, we live in a shoebox sized apartment, and even without the baby monitor I can hear every whimper in the other room. What if she's too cold? Too hot? What is she misses a feeding and starves?

The biggest irrational concern I have to face is not being able to tell whether or not she is breathing. When she is right next to me in the co-sleeper and sleeping like an angel, I can see her chest rise and fall or touch her to see if she's breathing. Viewing that same serenity on a baby monitor, I can't tell her little chest is rising and falling.

As I prefaced, I know this is irrational, and a new mommy freak out. But as I stated from the start, new parents take great pride in just keeping their babies alive in the first weeks, and a new mom associates keeping a baby alive with keeping the baby literally attached to you for most of day. The first night of this less than fifteen feet separation brings on an anxiousness and worry that I was expecting, but was still surprised at when it stared me straight in the face.

Somehow, I made it through the (sleepless, but just for me!) night without grabbing the soundly sleeping Madeline and bringing her back in our room. I woke up every time she cried (or whimpered, or coo'd) and she did not actually starve to death, stop breathing or randomly combust in any way. If fact, none of it seemed to phase her in the slightest. Maybe Mommy needs to take a lesson from Maddy on this one and stop worrying so much.