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Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
Life’s moving pretty quickly over here. Vera turned four months old last week. She’s rolling over and holding her head up and filling out six-month clothes quite nicely. Time is moving so quickly that sometimes, it’s hard to catch my breath.
I mean that quite literally. Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming that I have to physically stop and breathe in and out. In and out. Slow my body down, and try to get my mind to do the same. I know. It’s exactly because I feel that I can’t stop that I must. Yes, I must slow down.
Yet one more thing I must do. Just what I need.
Do you know what I mean?
I can’t believe the last time I posted was Vera’s first day of daycare. Honestly? It went pretty awfully. She didn’t sleep and cried a lot. Her mornings usually consist of lots of sleeping and no crying whatsoever.
The bigger, more heartbreaking challenge, however, was Roy. We tried Vera on half days. That first one, Roy was so excited, until I can to pick her up—and not him. I’d told him that would happen, but he’s two. He had no idea how that would feel. Clearly, it felt awful. For both of us.
I thought he’d get used to it. He didn’t.
I ended up taking Vera out of that particular equation. My provider also has a new baby, and another provider is helping her in her home, so there’s a lot of new going on there. Vera’s back to sleeping and smiling. Roy, on the other hand, has decided he doesn’t want to go to daycare anymore.
We’ve never had this problem before. Usually, at drop-off, I can barely coax a good-bye kiss out of the kid, he’s so excited to hang with his friends. Now, it’s all sobs and clinging. Breaks my heart. I have no idea what to do.
And while it’s true that Vera is sleeping wonderfully during the day, she’s decided to quit doing so at night. Girlie came out of the womb sleeping for 4-hour stretches and became a regular 9PM-to-5AMer in no time flat. Then, for the first time in her life, she started waking up every couple of hours. Then she went ahead and switched her nursing style, and my nipples hurt like crazy.
So, to recap: I somehow gave my toddler a severe case of separation anxiety, my infant has decided to recapture the newborn state she never had, and I’m having a hard time finding a minute to chill the f out.
Not that I expected life to be easy right now. I didn’t. I really didn’t.
Not that life is without its beautiful moments. It isn’t. It certainly isn’t.
But it’s hard, too.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
The first time I tried to start my daughter in childcare, she was two months old. I cried just dropping off the check.
But I’m a freelance writer, and Corporation Me has no paid maternity leave. Before I had her, I’d determined that two months was what I could manage. It sounded like plenty.
When that two-month mark arrived, everything was in place. I’d cranked my workload back up to full speed. Roy was back in daycare full time, with a provider I love and trust, where Vera could join him.
But the reality of two months old snuggled in my arms; helpless, adorable little Vera Loraine with the easy smile and the chubby thighs and the excited screeches. If only someone would pay me to cuddle her full time. I’d be awesome at that job.
I brushed my tears off as typical. Reminded myself that some people don’t even get two months and that this was the trade-off for my incredible job flexibility, which allows me to work from home, come and go as I please, and take most Fridays off with the kiddos. “You won’t feel ready no matter when you do it,” my friend Konnie consoled. She was right.
I forged ahead. The night before her first day, as Clint put Roy to bed, Vera and I bustled about the house getting her packed—diapers, bottles, pacifiers, extra little onesies and sleepers. I laid out her first-day outfit, a cute little blue polka-dot swing shirt and stretchy pants with pink cherries embroidered on the chest. I nursed her to sleep, then sat down to write out her schedule and preferred soothing techniques, as my provider requested.
Again, tears. They wouldn’t stop. I just didn’t want to tell someone else how to comfort my two-month old. I wanted to comfort my two-month old.
When Clint came downstairs and saw me he said, “Don’t bring her in. We’ll figure it out.” He was right. The tears were excessive enough that I had to pay attention. We would figure it out.
With Roy, this would’ve been near impossible. The boy only napped twice a day for 45 minutes at a time, if that. Vera, on the other hand, is a champ napper (thank you, universe), sleeping four hours at a time with hour/hour-and-a-half periods of wakefulness in between. I managed to keep up with my full workload during these prolific naps, plus evenings and weekends, gobbling her up like a crazy woman during her brief awake times.
Flash forward a month and a half. The house is a complete and total wreck from top to bottom. Non-essential paperwork is accumulating, and likely becoming essential. We are making it work, but at the expense of things like these, which can only be ignored for so long. We are making it work, but just barely.
A month and a half is a long time to a baby. Vera still sleeps well, though less. She’s wonderfully alert and grows more interactive each day. She’s got cheeks that don’t stop, and at three and a half months old, she’s filling out six-month clothes quite nicely. She’s healthy, happy and strong, and an absolute pleasure to hang out with.
Last night, when I packed her bag, I didn’t cry. I didn’t when I typed up her schedule, either. I did when I dropped her off, of course. Who wouldn’t, handing over those tiny onesies, eensy diapers and wee yellow sunhat? The directions, the bottle of milk and then the little baby chubby cheekers, smiling that wide, toothless grin?
I cried all the way to the gym, where I logged my first 5K since she was born. Running always helps me.
We’re starting with a half day. I’m focusing on how lucky I am that my job’s flexible enough that I can ease us both in like this.
I’ll probably look at that photo above, taken over last week’s trip up north, a hundred times before I pick her up at noon. It makes me smile.
So how did the first drop-off day go for you?
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
With Roy, it hit me like a truck. A big ol’ bulldozer. Like a hungry young prizefighter, or a grand piano whose pulley-rope snapped twenty stories directly above. Bam! I was done for.
A fierce protectiveness expanded inside me so quickly it seized my heart; pushed a boulder into my throat; forced tears from my eyes. I was blind, dizzy, sick in love with this nameless tiny boy, who took his first breath mere moments earlier. Mine, I thought. I can’t believe that he is mine forever.
With Vera, it happened differently. Not to say that I didn’t love her immediately, because I did. I loved her before that, even. Maybe that was part of it. The first time around, I didn’t fully comprehend the connection between baby in tummy and my son until I saw him. Held him. So when I did, the reality of that connection, and everything that comes with it, exploded like a Fourth of July finale.
With Vera, the floodgates were already open. I knew her name. I felt her personality. I had no trouble connecting the thumps jostling my tummy to the little tiny feet kicking from within, connected to roly-poly legs, which I would squeeze and gobble one day soon, which would carry her across a room way too soon after that. I got it. And I could not wait to meet her.
So when she arrived, she was just here. Finally here. There was crazy excitement and pure joy, but not exactly trucks and pianos.
Friends had told me not to worry about loving kid number two. They had worried; didn’t know how that surprising, expansive, all-encompassing love for your firstborn could possibly leave room in your heart for anything else. It grows, they told me. Somehow, it grows.
So I didn’t worry. I just loved her and waited.
I bathed her and slept next to her, with my lips touching her head. I wore her in a sling, pulling up the sides so she could sleep against my chest in darkness and resting my hand on her back to feel the steady rise and fall of her breathing. I took her on walks and named the things that made her eyes wide: Birds. Leaves. Flowers.
I listened to her, too—to the trilling coos directed at stuffed animals dangling above her bouncy chair, to the happy grunts and gulps as she suckled, to the throaty groan-sighs that accompanied whole-body stretches as she woke from deep sleeps. I locked eyes with her and smiled. She smiled back, all slick gums and glossy baby-blue eyes and cheeks so chubby they run seamlessly into second chin.
And then, it happened. I’m not sure exactly when, I just know that I feel it. That crazy-powerful mama-bear love; the I-would-throw-myself-in-front-of-a-bus-for-you love.
My friends were right. My heart grew. Not in one big, painful bang, but in a happy succession of pretty little fireworks.
I can’t believe that she is mine forever.
How did it happen for you, my fellow mamas? Papas, too. Fast or slow?
Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Coincidentally, all the kids at daycare are boys. When I dropped Roy off this morning, they circled him, showering him with high-fives and fist-bumps, like he had just joined their secret tough-guy club. I need to follow up on one friend’s suggestion and track down some temporary tattoos. Maybe a barbed-wire armband or the classic “mom” heart?
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
The phone rings at noon. Seeing my daycare provider’s name on caller i.d. makes my heart skip a beat.
First thing out of her mouth, “Berit, you should come get Roy right away.”
Heart resumes beating—much faster than usual.
“He ran into the fireplace and cut his head open. He’s going to need stitches.”
Oh, baby boy. I toss “Trucks,” “Goodnight Moon,” his stuffed loon (aka Looney) and sock monkey into his bag and rush out the door. When I arrive, he’s sitting on her lap, looking at a book as she applies a paper towel-covered ice pack to his head. She removes it so I can see the bright gash above his right eyebrow. Uf. She’s right. He’s going to need stitches.
Our fabulous family practice doctor squeezes us in immediately, as he’s done every time Clint’s needed stitches. I’d really been hoping that in this realm, my son would not follow in his father’s footsteps, let alone before the ripe old age of two.
I keep Roy calm during the cleaning and prepping with the books and toys, but then we must get down to business.
“You’re in charge of his hands,” the doctor instructs. As much as I don’t want to be the one holding my baby down as pain is inflicted upon him, I comply. Roy screams as the anesthetic needle goes in once. Twice. I can’t look. “Hug? Hug?” poor guy wails. The doctor OKs a round of hugs before the real work starts. It’s so incredibly hard to pull away from his clingy little limbs.
It takes a very long time to put four stitches in a strong, wiggly toddler. He cries, and I want to, but I focus on keeping my face calm and reassuring—quite a feat in the face of his pleas for hugs and Daddy. Moments after the stitches are complete, his head is on my shoulder, his body limp and sweaty in my arms. He falls asleep on the car ride home, after which I smuggle him up to his crib, where he’s been sleeping ever since.