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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!