Tuesday, February 25, 2014

back to work, 11 weeks old

I’ve been back at work for over a week now. Over a week in which I have felt like some bizarre combination of a disembodied head attached to an electric pump. It has been disorienting, exhausting, stimulating and also, for good measure, TEARY. Mostly, “work” has just become the stuff that happens in between pumping. It’s all very bizarre. Here then are some new-working-mama-lessons-from-the-back-to-work-trenches™.

(1) They can hear you

I had it all planned out. It was 9 am and time to pump. No matter that I had a VERY IMPORTANT PHONE CALL with a VERY SERIOUS LAW ENFORCEMENT TYPE. I would simply hook myself up to the milking machine and disguise the incessant, thumping sound of the pump with a series of scarves and other patented sound mufflers (my hands? A down coat?). Because that’s just who I am. SUPER MOM/MACGYVER.

<A mere 3 minutes into VERY IMPORTANT PHONE CALL>
Serious law enforcement type: (laughing uncomfortably) I’m sorry, but I am having a really hard time concentrating – what on earth is that sound?
Sarah: <totally awkward and not at all believable reference to “construction” happening “outside” plus, oh I don’t know,… an ambulance?>
Serious law enforcement type: <brutally long pause while deciding whether or not to call me out on my totally not plausible explanation>
Sarah: <searches for excuse to end phone call immediately>

Ahem. Lesson learned.

(2) Simple pleasures

The pleasure of using the bathroom alone and for more than 8 pained seconds cannot be overstated. Really. Really.

(3) Getting used to answering the same god-for-saken question

Means-well-but-only-kind-of co-worker: How old is your son?
Sarah (under eye bags prominent): 11 weeks
Means-well-but-only-kind-of co-worker: <with great anticipation> Is he sleeping through the night?!
Sarah (under eye bags growing darker with each passing minute): No.
Means-well-but-only-kind-of co-worker: <grave disappointment>


(4) Growing efficiency mixed with complete distraction

There’s something about the incredible demands of an infant, the exorbitant cost of child care and the singular drive to go home and go to sleep AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE that makes one exponentially more efficient at work. Also, DISTRACTED. Because, you know, baby, baby, baby, must sustain human life, must look at pictures of baby and watch video of baby while at desk writing important legal brief. See also: BABY. It’s baffling, really.

So guys, what am I missing? What other back to work life lessons should I be made aware of?

Rockin' his hipster threads.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

the great nanny search, 10 weeks

Not technically a picture of our nanny.

It’s hard to say when I knew it wasn’t a good fit. But my money is on, oh I don’t know, the moment she went running down the hallway, dramatically locked herself in our bathroom, and screeched that she just KNEW our dog was going to bite her. (Spoiler: our sweet, but energetic, Labrador retriever did not bite her. Or anyone.).

And that was just the beginning.

She did refer to our son as “papa” (as in, puh-PAH), which was a definite selling point.
Alas, the great nanny search of 2014. C went back to work six weeks in and I put on my working-mother-tiara full time next week. HARK! CHILDCARE!

We’ve gone back and forth on the best option for us and for Ezra. C works crazy hours including, in the next five months alone, two full months of thirty hour, overnight shifts. My schedule is less GITMO-esque-sleep-deprivation, but there are still many days when I am out of the house for going on 10-12 hours. <Parents of the year, right here>

So, ultimately, we decided that YES, we do want to commit approximately 95% of our income to the great child care abyss (do you hear that sucking sound?). Enter: Mary Poppins nanny.

Of course, being a thirty year old amateur lawyer and fly-by-night internet blogger, I am absolutely unqualified to employ anyone. So we asked the internet what to do we muddled our way through.
There’s something very bizarre about interviewing nannies. You invite them into your home and within seconds of meeting them, you hand over the most precious thing you’ve ever created[1]. Then they sit there, holding, swaddling, singing to and trying their hardest to soothe your screamy, downy headed infant in an effort to win you over while you stumble through inane questions like what do you love most about newborns? and will you help us with a nap schedule? or maybe, if you’re feeling bold, can you tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a previous employer and how you resolved it? <said with great confidence, though conscious that I appear roughly 13 years old and am not qualified to be asking a middle aged woman ANY of these things>.

It’s like a deranged form of speed dating where one of you smells like a urine soaked milk carton and the other pretends not to care.[2]

Needless to say, we hired someone. It wasn’t the first applicant, fan of our dog though she was. So now we have a nanny. *gulp*

[1] The paper mache clown I made in forth grade coming in at a very close second.
[2] I’ll let you guess which is which.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Routine?, 8 weeks old

Becoming a parent has revealed what, honestly, I already knew: I am a control freak creature of habit. I like routines, predictability and schedules. I promise I’m not boring. I’m adventurous! And spontaneous! And fun! But I’m also kind of Type A. And in parenthood, there is no room for Type A. In parenthood, I do not drive the proverbial bus. I am barely a passenger. This has been most apparent in my son’s schedule, or absence thereof. I present to you:

The first six weeks, a snapshot:
<I don’t know what time to “begin” this snapshot because honestly, time just kind of passes during the first six weeks. There are no days, or nights or “bedtimes.” There is just time. Time that moves slowly and chaotically and during which you cling to some semblance of normalcy, fighting the DRASTIC changes affecting every last facet of your life. Also, JOY. New baby! Cute baby clothes! Sausage arms!.>

So… let’s start at 8:30 am, shall we?

8:30 am: Baby is awake! You are not awake. You do not know what day it is. You barely know your name.

9:00 am: Feed baby. Baby is dopey eater. Baby takes approximately 70 minutes to drain your boobs. That’s at least two episodes of <insert morally questionable reality TV show>.

10:30 am - ????: The middle of the day is unclear. You forget to eat lunch. You are unsure how to “play” with this amphibious creature the hospital nurses swore was your son, so you intermittently sing him random songs you remember from Hebrew school/expletive laced hip hop, lay him on his tummy for 30 seconds until he screams, and shove toys in his face though you are unsure whether or not he can see them. Also, your boobs feature prominently during this period.

2 pm: Stuff baby in Ergo carrier and hurry off to your “new mother group.” Pray that your baby will not be the baby who screams his way through the entire hour and a half. Feed him relentlessly so that he remains calm. Commiserate with other mothers about your lack of sleep. Wonder why this new mothers group can’t just be a group nap time where someone else is hired to watch your offspring. Everyone would be happier.

3:30-4:30 pm: Get coffee with other new mothers. Do not sit down because baby is finally sleeping in Ergo carrier and you MUST NOT STOP BOUNCING[1] for fear that he will wake up. Have engaging discussion with other new mothers about various bottle and nipple types and bemoan the end of maternity leave. Make plan with other going-stir-crazy-in-my-house mothers to go for vigorous stroller walk the next day.

4:30 pm-????: The evening is a blur. Your partner comes home from work and while on one hand you MUST HAVE A MOMENT TO YOURSELF RIGHT NOW BECAUSE NEED TO POOP/SHOWER/EAT, you are also, kind of clingy and alternately do not want to stop holding the baby/want to have 3 more just like him. BUT ALSO, you have passing feelings of resentment toward people who don’t have children and who are at the gym/at the bar/doing nothing right about now. It’s all very confusing and difficult to explain. You know because when you try to explain it to your partner he appears concerned for your mental wellbeing and suggests that you relax and have a glass of wine. You give him the baby and become immediately unable to focus or accomplish anything despite the BIG PLANS you had earlier in the day. Again, your boobs feature prominently.

7 pm: You’ve read a lot about setting up a “bedtime routine” for your baby, and you decide that TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT. But despite your best efforts, the bath results in that I-forget-how-to-breathe-scream that turns your baby bright red and leaves you reduced to tears. When you try to “read a book” to your baby, you can’t help but feel like you’re actually reading a book to your partner, who looks on with great interest at the pictures in Goodnight Moon. By contrast, your son appears disinterested/distracted by something shiny.

7:30 pm-????: Nighttime is a blur. You have no idea what your baby’s “bed time” is nor any clue how to find out. He will not tell you, despite your relentless inquiry. Sometimes he sleeps for a few hours at a time. Sometimes he awakes every 45 minutes. Sometimes you give in and allow him to sleep, upright in your arms for FAR TOO LONG, while you doze in and out of sleep/check Facebook on your phone in the dark. Sometimes you check every fifteen five minutes whether or not he’s breathing because he is FAR TOO QUIET.

2:30 am-6 am: Baby wakes constantly. Baby “cluster feeds”. Or at least that’s what you’re calling it. Because new moms really like to throw this term around and it seems to provide an appropriate and normalizing name to what might otherwise be termed “COMPLETE FUCKING INSANITY.”

6 am: Baby wakes. You pretend he isn’t really awake because SLEEPY. You half-heartedly feed him and let him doze in your arms for the next couple hours.

8:30 am: Rinse and repeat.

Weeks six, seven and eight:
And then, like that, we kind of fell into a rhythm. Sure, the rhythm involves a gazillion nighttime wakings – in a way that is not strikingly distinct from weeks one through six – and also involves a deep and abiding uncertainty about whether my son prefers his crib to the co-sleeper or the co-sleeper to the swing (IT DEPENDS. Like, BY THE MINUTE. GAH!). But at least the unpredictability is predictable. Sometimes he sleeps from 7-10 pm. Sometimes he wakes up at 8:30 pm. Sometimes he sleeps from 10 pm – 2am and sometimes he wakes up at midnight and fusses for an hour, looking at me wide eyed like a wild banshee. It’s kind of a roll of the dice. Of course, there are some things we do kinda know, despite failing miserably at keeping track of his every ever-loving movement with a fancy Smartphone app that promises to make pie charts of your child’s bowel movements. Yes, despite failing at baby technology, there are still some common denominators (that, having now spoken them aloud, will probably not come true EVER AGAIN). For example, he actually kind of has a bedtime. He usually goes to bed around 7 pm and wakes around 6-6:30 am. Then, about two hours after waking up, once he’s been fed/changed/played and danced around, he’s ready for a nap. He naps for about an hour/hour and a half – in the swing, woman! Only in the swing! – wakes at 10 ish and plays until 12:30 or so. Then he eats again and goes back down for another nap around 1. The afternoon can be a bit of a crapshoot – will he take a third nap? Will he pretend nap in my arms for 6 unbelievably short minutes then fuss his way to bed time like a little terror? Will he happily bounce around in the Ergo or nap peacefully in the stroller while we dart about town/various mamas groups/a walk outside? Maybe. Also, maybe not. It’s not the rhythm I would have chosen; not the type-A control freak routine I might have envisioned back in the easy days of pregnancy, when my expectations were WILDLY UNREALISTIC. But whatever it is, it’s our routine.

What about you guys - what's your routine? What can I expect going forward? 

(Of course, now looking back and comparing weeks one through six with weeks six/seven/eight, I am struck by how it’s actually not the baby that’s changed at all but rather, it’s my own – drastically lowered – expectations. AWWWWW, SHUCKS.)

My 8 week old baby. In his preferred sleeping arrangement - dressed like a bear, strapped in a car seat.

[1] It is also during these early weeks that you find yourself bouncing while not carrying the baby. For example, while standing in front of the refrigerator or in the shower. Some habits die hard.