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?
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