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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Final Week (Week 11, Day 3)

This Monday starts my final week of maternity leave. This time next week, I'll be at work - probably pining to be home. So far it's been a perfect day with Madeline - a good nights sleep (over 5 hours in a row last night, can we say progress??) followed by a lovely long morning nap on mommy's chest, in which mommy might have dozed herself. My sister in law and mother in law came down and spent the day with me, and we took a long walk through the park and zoo, had a yummy lunch and some playtime with the kiddos before another snugly nap. If you can't tell, I'm doing my very best to soak up every moment before reality sets in. I know this week will whiz by, and I want to make the very most of it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sleep, Magical Sleep (Week 11, Day 1& 2)

It happened! The magical sleep has arrived, at least for one night!! 
Saturday we spent the morning at brunch with the girls (because Maddy just loves brunch and girl time) and then a trip to the suburbs to see the grandparents. We planned to come back to the city before dinner, so we could put Maddy to bed at a reasonable hour and watch the Blackhawks game. Maddy fell asleep on the car ride home, giving us a chance to make a quick grocery run. When she woke up, we changed her, fed her and put her to bed, and over SEVEN hours later she woke up. SEVEN. You read that correctly. I couldn't believe it. I almost didn't know what to do with myself - I felt like I should stay up and make up all that extra time I spent sleeping as a celebration! I don't want to be overly optimistic that this will now become a routine quite yet, so right now I will sit and bask in the 3AM glory of knowing that these longer sleeps are possible, and are slowly but surely becoming a reality.

Making Mommy's Night

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Preparing My Brain for Work (Week 10, Day 7)

Maddy ready to meet Mommy's work friends!
After a good cry and long walk in the sunshine with my babe, I felt much better about the whole going back to work prospect, and spent the rest of the day enjoying Maddy and our time together. 

On Friday, I was now mentally prepared to meet my boss for lunch and talk shop. Maddy was a dream baby - as if she knew how important it was that she didn't freak out, she slept through the entire lunch meeting, and was smiling and cooing at everyone she met once she did wake. It was nice to get into the office and see familiar faces, and know that I was missed. It was weird to discuss work topics, progress that has been made and for people to remind me of  things going on and tee up topics for discussion when I return. 

I did find it amusing that anyone thought I cared deeply about getting my head around work topics yet - I'm doing my darnedest to keep work in a separate drawer, that was opened for a brief moment, and has been promptly closed so that I can enjoy my final week with my daughter before the great balancing act begins.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Anxiety (Week 10, Day 6)

Okay, so I'm officially stressed about going back to work. How in the world do people return to work after only 3 months? You have a baby that is still getting up throughout the night, and not yet on a good sleeping schedule. Trying to get them out the door dressed, changed and fed in time for you to be in the office by 8AM seems damn near impossible. Especially when they are usually asleep, or about to take a good nap right about the time you should be getting them out the door. Then to actually go to work and focus on something else besides your child; well the thought of using my brain in that way is actually appealing, but I haven't really grasped how I'm going to manage it yet.

As with all milestones in this new chapter of my life, I'm realizing that Maddy's transition to daycare will likely be easier than my transition back to work. I'm a very organized person, and I'm currently feeling anything but. I know that I want (and need) to work, but I'm feeling overwhelmed as to how to make all the moving pieces fit together. I'm confident things will fall into place after a few days, and we will establish a routine. I will dig in, get organized, and figure it out. But right now, in the early morning light with my beautiful girl fast asleep on my chest, I'm feeling very glum about the whole prospect.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Goodbye Mommy Support Group (Week 10, Day 4)

Today was my last visit to my new moms group. Next week is my birthday, and the hubby has offered to take the afternoon off to spend it with me, so today is it. I almost didn't make it at all- Maddy took a monster nap and didn't wake up until 30 minutes before it started. I had just enough time to feed her, change her and race there and only be a few minutes late.
It's bittersweet for me this afternoon in many ways. In talking to the doctor, I realize while I've learned a lot from him, there is more to do. Finding a balance between just enjoying my baby's company regardless of sleep habits and feeding her needs for regular sleep patterns takes dedication, and some sacrifices of time spent with her. If I were truly following the doctors advice, there would be less walks during nap time, and a much earlier bedtime. This will enable her to be less fussy, and perhaps improve her growth habits. While I know it's the right thing to do, the thought of putting my baby to bed at 6PM once I return to work feels like a great sacrifice. I discuss her current sleep habits with the doctor and he points out that because she has a later bedtime, her naps are also not tuned right and she is over tired. I know this is true, but am not sure how to change it with daycare looming just days away. While I know I should get her into a routine soon, I know a routine is going to be forced on us in a matter of days, so why not continue to enjoy our schedule until then?
As for my friends, many of the familiar women are there, and looking around it is great to see how much we've all grown over the last few months, and how we've helped each other. Each of us seems more comfortable in our new role as mother, and have bonded with and understand our babies more. We're also familiar with each others babies, and know each others issues with sleep, nursing, tummy time, etc. There is a real sense of camaraderie among us, and I'm sad that I won't continue to see these women on a weekly basis. We've exchanged emails, and many have become friends - one will even be attending the same daycare. But there is still a sadness as I feel a door closing, as this chapter of maternity leave ends.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fleeting Maternity Leave Moments (Week 10, Day 3)

Time to play!
Two weeks. That's all that's left of my maternity leave. Just two weeks. Where did the time go? It feels like a flash of time, just a moment ago we were bringing Madeline home from the hospital. I'm determined to make the most of it, and cram as much quality time as possible into the next two weeks.
The forecast for the week is 80's and sunny, so I have plans to take Maddy out for fresh air as often as possible. We have big plans for snuggle time, flirting with the fan, and discovering hands, feet, and the animals on the play mat. This will be in between walks to the zoo and long luxurious naps. I can't wait for the week with her, and at the same time don't want to see it start because I know it will be over before I can blink. I'm trying to use my full concentration to stay in the moment, rather than worry about all the things that need to get done before I return to work. They can all wait. This precious time with my little girl cannot.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

From One Mom to Another (Week 9, Days 6&7)

This week has been a slow and steady path to recovery and sleep for both Maddy and myself, and we couldn't have gotten through it with such grace without my mom here to help. My mother has a knack for gently going with the flow, while still making sure all our needs were met - having her here to help with Maddy has been wonderful. I've been able to get things done around the house, and do crazy important things like shower every day. She's been able to spend time getting to know her granddaughter, and learning to read her and help me get her used to other people putting her to bed. 

When I was exhausted from worrying about her cold, and my husband was tired from returning to work after a weekend of travel, my mom was there with dinner ready and an extra hand to help with Maddy. She even came to our chosen daycare with me to check it out and ask questions, and reassure me that I've made a good choice for caring for Maddy while I’m at work. More than anything, she was a sounding board for my worries, and an advocate for my joys of all things Maddy. I loved having a week with my mom to enjoy my forever changed relationship with her.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Father's Day (Week 10, Days 1 & 2)

Maddy flirting with the fan

It is again time to marvel at how fast Madeline is growing. While all the doctor’s scales and charts identify her as either at or above average for height and weight, I just can’t wrap my head around how fast she is changing. She’s even longer than she was last week, and even though she’s got plenty of baby cheeks and chubbiness to go around, there is a definition to her face developing, and she is looking more and more like a little girl. It’s hard to believe that by the time she is one, she’ll be walking and possibly talking. The amount of change that occurs in the first year of life is mind blowing.

Over the last few days, Madeline has begun a discovery phase that now provides a world of entertainment to my husband and I we never thought possible. She has discovered her feet, her hands, my husbands beard, and most importantly fans and lights. She flirts with the fan in our living room with such joy that you can’t help but laugh at her sheer delight. She is providing hours of entertainment during her wakeful hours, just by discovering the world around her. 

Happy Father's Day Dad!
Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day, another first for our family. We were lucky enough to have both our parents in town for Fathers Day, and celebrated with a big family brunch. It was a gorgeous Chicago day, and we spent the rest of the day just the three of us enjoy the park and our little family. It was a perfect lazy Sunday to celebrate my husbands new role as father, and the growth of our little family.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Roller Coasters and Rolling Over (Week 9, Day 4 & 5)

What do you mean I have to sleep?
In the ongoing bedtime sleep saga, Maddy may currently be winning the battle, but I'm determined to win the war. Between traveling, the wedding, lots of relatives holding Maddy, and her first cold, Maddys sleep habits have gone from beginning to show signs of consistency to a giant puddle of tears - both mine and Maddy's. She has been over stimulated and under sleeping, drawing out a fussy and teary baby that previously had not existed. Her naps are too short, the long stints of sleep at night vanished, and because of her cold, her ability to sleep on her back in the crib is short lived. The alternative - sleeping on Mommy or Daddy in her rocking chair for the majority of the evening.
Now I can't say I regret any of the weekends activities. I don't, and wouldn't change a thing. Now, we just have to begin the "re-set " process of getting Maddy back to good sleeping habit. This includes a team effort from my mother, husband, and myself to coax Maddy into sleeping in the crib, and continue to habitat the area after waking up. It works sometimes, and as Maddy starts to feel better, she begins to show glimpses of her old self again.
The highlight of the week is seeing Maddy roll over. She was in the crib working on her escape route when she went from her side to her stomach, and laid there wondering how the heck she had done it! My husband and I stood there peeking in through the window in the door, and were so excited and proud - until she started cry and we raced in to pick her up. I don't know if she'll do it again anytime soon, but it was a fun milestone to watch!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Baby Sniffles (Week 9, Day 3)

My fears came true - Maddy got my cold. I'm feeling like the #1 worst parent for getting a cold and transferring it to my helpless two month old. Luckily, it's just a cold and no fever or full blown disease, and luckily, my mother is now staying with us for a week and can help me deal. But watching my relatively easy going baby change from smiling and happy to snorting and crying is painful - and not being able to immediately fix it is torture. We call the doctor, and do all the things they advise, and try to get Maddy to sleep as much as possible. She's mostly comfortable, with a few moments of crying when she can't get her sinuses figured out. And now we wait for her to get better. 

Thank goodness Moms like me also have Moms to help us get through the hard times!

Maddy having a little steam in the bathroom, and discovering her feet!

It's now the wee hours of the morning and I'm up with Maddy working on her recovery. Her sleep schedule is out the window, as is her duration - she is down from her 5 hour sleep window back to three - which is just fine with me if she just gets better!
Today I notice that Maddy has smelled funny since she got her cold - not dirty or needs a bath, but just doesn't smell like she usually does. This reminds me of when I was growing up, and my mom picked me up from school after being sent home sick. On the way home my mom told me I didn't smell right, and I distinctly recall thinking she was nuts. How could she smell anything different about me when I was sick?

It's only taken me a few decades to finally get what my mom was talking about. I didn't understand until I had kids of my own what she meant. And now here I am, sitting in my my baby's dimly lit room at 2AM, shaking my head and laughing at myself for thinking my mother was so silly all those years ago, and yet again connecting with her in a way I never would have understood until I had kids of my own.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Small Spaces and Screaming Baby! (Week 9, Day 2)

Traveling back to Chicago with Madeline did not go quite as smoothly as the previous trip. Perhaps it was the time of day, the extra flight that was required, or just that all the commotion and disruption to her sleep and eating habits had thrown her off schedule. Our timing just seemed a little off for feeding, changing and getting on and off planes. Explosive bowel movements occurred, outfits needed to be changed. Luckily, people love little babies, and no one seemed to mind a few whimpers and cries here and there. 

However, there was one event that left Mommy's nerves shattered. While in route from Denver to Chicago, Maddy woke up needing to be fed. While feeding her, it became clear from the smell wafting out of her that she now needed a change. While I knew this need was imminent, she was now sleeping soundly and I was hesitant to move her. My husband reminded me that the people around us probably didn't appreciate the smell, so I steeled myself against the fact that she would probably wake up and scream, set my mind up for another herculean feat of changing a baby in a tiny airplane bathroom, and set out for the back of the plane, diaper, wipes, changing pad and baby in hand. 

Once in the bathroom, I was able to get Madeline on top of the toilet and on the changing pad, and myself crammed up against the bathroom door. It was at this point when the captain come on to PA system to announce we were hitting turbulence, and asked everyone to take their seats. Before he is done with the announcement, the plane is bopping around, and Maddy is putting her full force into announcing her displeasure at this diaper change. It takes all of my resolve and patience to change her diaper, get her onesie buttoned up, and get her back in my arms without screaming like a baby myself. Maddy grabs a large chunk of my hair and holds on for dear life, and I try to find anyway I can to soothe her, while standing up braced against the turbulence in the airplane bathroom. I'm dreading leaving the bathroom, knowing that the entire back portion of the plane now thinks I've performed cruel and unusual torture on my daughter. With her pants shoved in one pocket and her socks in the other (getting the onesie on was all I could muster) I pull my things together and step out on the bathroom. Luckily, there were no annoyed glares to greet me - only helpful flight attendant, understanding passengers and a very concerned husband ready to help Mommy finish the very long day.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Marriage! (Week 9, Day 1)

Happy Wedding Day Carly!
My baby sister got married today! It was a picture perfect day for her in Jackson Hole. She had planned everything perfectly down to the last detail, and the weather had complied to make the backdrop of the festivities breathtaking.

Maddy ready for the wedding!  
It was once again Phil's responsibility to take care of Madeline for the day, and he did a great job of getting Maddy fed and changed and overall happy throughout the day. It seemed odd to not have her with me all day long after 2 months of being pretty much inseparable. It was a good lesson in letting go of control for me, and good practice for the upcoming daycare days. Nonetheless, I couldn't wait to see Maddy and Daddy when they arrived at the ceremony. We (well, I,) bought a very fancy dress for Maddy to wear to her first family wedding, complete with matching headband and shoes. She looked like a teeny bride herself, and a little angel sleeping peacefully in her carseat. I don't know how it's possible to be any cuter.

Phil on Dad Duty
While Phil and I were worried that now that we have a child we wouldn't be able to enjoy a wedding reception in the same way we have in the past, we found that dancing with Maddy soothed her to sleep, and once again relatives came out of the woodwork asking to hold the baby, allowing us to sneak some dancing in. We did have to leave a little bit early, knowing Maddy had reached her limit. It was a successful evening for us as new parents, and we were so happy we were able to watch my sister get married!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Two Month Olds and Travel Days (Week 8, Day 6)

I'm two months old today!

Today Madeline is two months old! Phil and I once again congratulate ourselves on our new found ability to keep another human being alive for two months. Pictures were taken, and we marveled at how much she has grown in two short months. Our fragile little newborn has turned into a solid little infant, complete with adorable chubby cheeks and legs, a strong neck and powerful legs. 

Today we begin a new adventure - airplane travel with a baby. It feels like another episode of re-learning how to do something you've been doing for years. From attempting to pack, to navigating airport security, bathrooms and plane seat selection, all areas of travel now need to be reevaluated and assessed for the baby factor. 

O'Hare here we come!
After packing a gigantic suitcase (plus a suitcase for Phil, a carseat carrier, diaper bag, milk bag, carry-on, not to mention Baby Bjorn and the actual baby - today was the first day I actually wished I was an octopus!) we leave for the airport with several hours to spare. Chicago traffic is monstrous as always, but we still make it to the airport with plenty of time. Several truly unfortunate occurrences coincided when we arrived at the long term parking: 1) We could not find a parking spot close to the airport tram 2) It started to rain, and 3) Maddy got hungry and started to cry.  One of these incidents might have been just slight annoyances, but all three equaled pure catastrophe. It's hard enough to wrap our minds around getting all three of us plus our luggage onto the airport tram and to the terminal successfully. Now add a long walk, pouring rain, an unhappy baby and shake well. Somehow I managed to give Maddy a mini feeding (lets just say it was the start of a progressive meal) throw her in the Baby Bjorn with a hat to protect her from the downpour, help carry what bags I could and trek off to the tram. My husband, who has a loathing for rain unlike anyone I've ever seen, packed most everything on a cart and moved faster than I thought possible towards the tram. Luckily, the appetizer course has satisfied Madeline, and she is blissfully asleep through the entire ordeal. The rest of the trip is rather uneventful - Maddy slept throughout loading the plane, taking off and landing. No screaming, fussing or nursing required. We even completed a diaper change in the airplane bathroom, which in itself should merit some sort of Olympic medal. 

We arrive safely in the picturesque mountains of Jackson Hole, to find that while our luggage came with us on the trip, our carseat did not. Luckily our rental car company was able to accommodate a last minute change, and we quickly were in our way to join our family, who had already arrived. For the wedding weekend, our family rented a house on the ranch where the reception was being held, so that we could all be together and enjoy all the grand kids. The house did not disappoint - it was a gorgeous spacious place, with stunning views of the Grand Tetons and plenty of room for lounging and visiting. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing with family and getting settled in. My sister Meagan was finally able to hold Madeline, and we were able to play with her son Jack, who just turned one. It was crazy to look at him and know that while right now Jack and Maddy look years apart, in one short year Maddy will be at the same stage as Jack, and they'll both be walking, talking, and turning into little pint sized people. It's hard to imagine. 

While I'm doing my best to soak in the beautiful setting and perfect family time with my sisters, parents and aunts and uncles, I'm distracted by an itchy throat and start of a cold. By the time I go to sleep that evening, it's a full fledged cold. This brings on a whole new bought of worries - what if Maddy gets sick? What if a slight cold for me is a full blown disease for her? Where am I going to find the strength to take care of her, myself and be the matron of honor my little sister deserves? I dealt with it the only way I know how - by powering through. I spent a sleepless night fighting my cold, while Phil took care of Maddy between feedings. 

The next day, our family did a group hike in the Grand Tetons, and fresh air did all of us good. The rest of the day was spent with preparations for the wedding and rehearsal dinner. One of the best parts of family get togethers, I now realize as a parent, is that everyone wants to see your baby, and is more than willing to take their share of playtime. Because of this, I'm able to successfully get Madeline and myself dressed and to the rehearsal and dinner on time, and can focus on celebrating my sisters nuptials. Phil does a great job of stepping up to his first challenge of a night without Mommy - it is an Everett Family tradition that all the Everett girls stay together the night before their weddings, and babies or not, this was no exception. Phil was able to give Maddy her bottle and get up with her throughout the night, and I got to spend quality time with my sister, and actually got six consecutive hours of sleep, which did me a world of good.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Trials and Tribulations (Week 8, Days 4&5)

The firsts continue this week! That's the great thing about babies - you may think you are in a routine, but they will change it up and throw you off guard in a heartbeat!

On Tuesday night, Madeline continued her 5 hour sleeping streak. It seems the flip has finally switched, and her night sleeps are getting longer. I'm over the moon about it, and enjoying all the extra zzz's. When she woke me up to feed her at 3 AM (aka started howling) I peeked in her room and jumped out of my skin - she had somehow managed to lodge her leg in between the bars of the crib, and was stuck there! I rushed in to get her out, and wasn't sure who was more scared. After getting her back to sleep and staring at the baby monitor fretting about broken legs, I finally drifted off to sleep, only to be awoken an hour later to find this time, Madeline had gotten BOTH legs lodged between the bars! At this point I'm concerned we'll be making an emergency room visit by the end of the night, so I decide to ditch the crib and have Madeline sleep on my chest for the rest of the night. I spent the wee hours of the morning researching broken baby leg occurrences and alternatives to bumpers.
The end result of comprimise

Wednesday is a big day of firsts. My baby sister is getting married this Saturday in Jackson Hole, and Thursday will be our first experience flying with Madeline. To prepare for this, I would like to get Maddy comfortable with the Baby Bjorn, as I think it will be easier to navigate at the airport. Most babies love the Baby Bjorn contraption, and I thought Maddy would love being against my chest and so close. Maddy had other ideas. Every time I put her in the sling, she screamed like a banshee. Finally, after much nursing and compromise (mostly on my part) she allowed me to leave the house with her snugly nestled against me. We enjoyed a lovely morning at the farmers market and zoo, and she slept peacefully the whole time. Success!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Playdates and Pee (Week 8, Day 3)

Madeline slept for a FIVE hour stretch last night! And she didn't starve to death! I didn't think it was possible. What a big girl she is turning into! Now if we could only get her to GO to sleep without a major meltdown...

Playdate with the ladies!
Today we went out to the suburbs for a play date with my college girlfriends and their kids. It was great to get to see their children and where they are in their lives, and I love being able to share Madeline with them. It's always amazing to see children that are older than Madeline (these girls are between one and a half and two) and realize that in one short year, our child will change so much. The difference between her and the other girls is great now, but in just a year or so she'll be walking, talking, and chasing after these ladies with the best of them. It was so fun to see the stage we have to look forward to - the interaction and seeing the world through a child's eyes. And as I hold Madeline asleep on my chest and enjoy chatting with dear friends, I realize she won't want to spend her days cuddled up like this forever, and remember to live in the moment and relish this joy now.

Another “first” happened today - the first time my daughter peed on me. That’s right, peed on me This is one of the firsts I’m a bit less excited about. It didn't happen in the expected in the expected location - the changing table. It did happen while we were all cozied up in our little chair, Madeline changed into her sleeper, eyes half closed and on her way to sleep, and me feeding her, feeling good about a successful transition from her sleeping position in the car seat to almost asleep and nursing. I noticed that she seemed awfully warm against my stomach as she eating, but didn't think anything of it until I picked her up to burp her - that’s when I noticed the wet spots on her, and on me. And realized I was going to have to start the “going to bed” process all over again. Sigh. You win some, you lose some I guess.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Week Eight Pro Parenting (Week 8, Day 1)

Week 8 kicked off with my husband's birthday! It turned out to be a day that made me realize we are past all the firsts of leaving the house with a baby. We had a day filled with a long leisurely brunch with friends, then dinner with family in the suburbs. I realized sometime during the day that all the elements of catastrophe I had worried about week two of Madeline's life were there - out of the house for long periods of time (causing potential for nursing, diaper changing, and general baby screaming at any moment), and potential rain and thunderstorm.

 Yet at week eight, these once major obstacles were barely a thought as we packed up and headed out for the day. I've now mastered dealing with the feeding, changing and crying while out in public, and we were armed with umbrellas in case of a storm. We enjoyed a lovely time with friends and family who did not mind these small interruptions, and Madeline napped like a champ in between feelings, even hamming it up with some smiles for her admirers. It turned out to be a wonderful day!
Happy Birthday Poppa!