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Tag Archives: maternity leave

Back to Work

Today was my first day back at work. It was okay. I didn’t cry, but I’m not much of a crier. I’m the working-outside-the-home type. It’s good for me – I like the routine, the adult interaction, the use of my brain, and I do think a little separation from the fam is good for me. So returning to work is generally good. I’m a little numb this evening, but I’ll fall back into this just fine. Luckily I hand my baby off to Mr. Handsome, so a whole bunch of worries are alleviated right there. He works a couple nights a week and stays home during the day with the kiddos.

Two kids. It’s still kind of weird to say that I have two kids. Weird but nice.

So this morning I packed up my big-girl purse and my lunch and my pump bag and headed off to the office. Suddenly my “small and discrete” pump bag feels huge and covered in neon signs that read, “This lady uses her boobies to feed a person!” The thing is bigger than my purse (and I carry a big purse). But, I managed to lug it in and around the building.

All my breastfeeding books say you should check out your company’s lactation facilities before going on maternity leave so you know what to plan for and expect upon your return. Yeah… I totally didn’t do that. I work for a big enough company. I should be fine. I figured, even if they didn’t have a room, per se, I would figure something out. There are a couple spare windowless offices. There’s always the bathroom, if nothing else. I could buy one of those electrical outlet adapters for my car if I get really desperate.

Well, lucky for me, my company does have a lactation space and it isn’t too bad! I have to ask for the key from security every time I use it, and let me tell you that was pretty awkward the first time (“Um, hello, breast breast breast, can you help me, breast breast breast”). I’ll be seeing the security guard about three times a day so he and I are going to get to know each other pretty well this year. Score.

Anyway, the space is nice, private, clean, well-lit. The room has two high-walled cubes to pump in, each with a chair and table, there’s a little fridge and microwave (for storing milk and sterilizing pump parts, respectively) and even a private bathroom! The toilet doesn’t work but they only have it to fulfill some “running water” requirement for the space, so the security guard tells me. I had no idea there were requirements!

So I used the space three times and Baby2 has fresh milk for tomorrow. On Mondays we’re using my stash of frozen milk (I counted 350 ounces!) and on Fridays the milk will go in the freezer. I’d still like to donate some of my frozen stash, but for now I’m holding on to it.

All my co-workers were super sweet and accommodating, slowly bringing me up to speed as my brain adjusts to real-time use. Shoot, all I really did today was clear out emails and apply for new positions (within the company, I am overdue for a promotion) and my brain already hurts. Damn.

I’m not sure if Baby2 fared as well as me, though. I’ve talked about how she’s not a napper. Well, she really didn’t nap at all for poor Mr. Handsome. On my way home I started to wonder how he was getting ready for work this evening with a crying baby to deal with. I walk in to him flossing while holding Baby2 (he has one of those flosser tool things). Poor guy. Then I get home and Baby2 passed out at the boob. Go figure!

Anyway, enough of my fragmented, discombobulated ramblings. We survived the first day. We’ll take it day-by-day from here. And the paychecks and health insurance will continue.

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Our Sleep Game, Vol. 3

Baby2 is amazing. Somehow, despite my inconsistencies with following my own baby sleep rules, she has managed to cross the threshold to lengthy nighttime sleep. She’s been riding a minimum five hour stretch of sleep every night for the past two weeks! At six weeks she started sleeping six hours, then a couple five hour nights, now this week I’m getting up to seven hours some nights! I love Baby2. I love her so much.

The timing couldn’t be better since I’m back to work starting Monday. Saddest face ever. But I think we’re both ready. I won’t be able to sleep until 10 like I did sometimes during maternity leave, so I am super grateful for these long stretches of sleep that Baby2 is giving me.

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This cutie is all ready for a good night’s sleep

So how did she do it? I have no clue. I have been trying to follow our Babywise routine as much as possible, but it has been difficult to get good naps during the day because we’ve been so busy. With people in town for a month, keeping Kiddo1 entertained and otherwise completing outside-the-house obligations we haven’t really put her on a set schedule per se. We do follow the eat/play/sleep routine but sometimes she’s got to eat and then it’s car seat time for a hour while we run around town. She’ll stay awake for a bit but this baby cannot fight the jiggling, sleep-lulling goodness of the car (or the wrap if we’re walking around). She’s too much like her daddy. Right to sleep she goes. And who could blame her, really? Full belly, cozy seat (or wrap), jiggling. It’s a recipe for a great nap if you ask me. There’s no stopping it.

If she isn’t being jiggled into dreamland then she seems to have a hard time giving herself over to sleep during the day. She’s just so alert a lot of the time now! Which is great, but when it comes time for a nap she will just fight, fight, fight. She doesn’t cry about it much, she’ll just be playing with us or laying around in our arms and her eyes will get droopy but then they’ll pop back open. We’ll put her in her crib and she’ll cry a bunch. I’ll let her cry for a few minutes but I end up giving in after a few rounds of put down, cry, soothe, cry, pick up and soothe, put down, cry, soothe, cry, blah, blah, blah. At that point she’s probably not going to nap. Eh, it is what it is.

Sometimes we can get her to nap in her bouncy seat though (we call it her chair). I think she wants to hang out with us so bad that she just can’t stand going to her crib. I’m making this up for her, of course, but I think it’s a reasonable explanation, right? So she sleeps in odd places, but most of the time that’s okay (and I kind of like that she is able to sleep anywhere!). The only problem is that she doesn’t nap very long. She’ll get to that 45-minute mark and start to stir. She has trouble moving from one sleep cycle to the next. We will give her a few minutes to see if she’ll get back to sleep but mostly it’s a no-go. So I’m reading about that right now to see how we can help her get full 90-minute naps.

Daytime naps, hit or miss. But nighttime, oh nighttime, she is a dream. Sometime between 8 and 9, depending on when she took her dinner feeding, I’ll start her bedtime routine. She gets fed again, then a new diaper and changed into her pajamas (babies look so incredibly cute in those little sleeper pajamas with the feet – like a little lump of amazing baby cuteness). Then we get the room all dark and walk around in it together. I pat her back and hold her close while she lays her head on my shoulder. I hug her and generally savor every moment of being able to hold her like this. Insert contented sigh. Then, and here’s where I hope I don’t jinx myself by disclosing this, I put her down in her crib, give her a little pat and walk away so she can quietly close her eyes and get herself to sleep. And lately that’s been working about 80% of the time. I’ll take it. Then she sleeps for that solid five to seven hours, wakes around 3 AM, gets changed and fed and goes right back to sleep for another three or four hours. Blissful sleep. Joy.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier about Baby2’s sleep progress. She doesn’t always make it to the crib for daytime naps, but I believe she is learning to self-soothe and we have been really good about not rushing to her if she wakes mid-nap. I’m interested to see how my return to work will change her sleep patterns. I am reading a bit about sleep regression, too, to keep myself from surprises around four months when apparently most babies turn their backs on their sleeping norms. I will probably have lots to update next time then! Happy sleeping!

Earth to Mother Mary

Where the hell have I been lately? I don’t even know. It must be some other planet – Planet Baby – because not only is life so very different here but it is so out of touch as well! The fog/high of delivery gave way to a fog of visitors followed by a brief fog of routineless, carefree summer, all mixed in with a whole lot of Baby Time.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppSo much is new. Baby2 is growing so fast – why must they grow so quickly? She loves working on holding her head up, pushing her feet down in a “standing” position, moving her head and holding it up during tummy time, all that good baby exercise stuff. She already seems and feels so much bigger. She doesn’t fit in the dress she wore when we took her home from the hospital. That was a little sad to discover! But she did just start smiling so the blow of ill-fitting newborn outfits has been softened, somewhat.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppKiddo1 started fourth grade on Wednesday. Deep breath. Fourth grade feels so… old! This year he is applying to be a safety helper or recess helper – only fourth and fifth grade students can do those jobs, so he’s very excited. He’s talked about doing those since kindergarten.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppLuckily before school started we could fit in a camping trip. Baby2 is pretty good at night so we knew it wouldn’t be too bad. We stayed pretty close to home and found a great site on a river (river noise covers baby noise!) with only one other close campsite. Baby2 did great all night anyway so I didn’t have to worry so much about finding a good site. She gets up to eat but as long as she’s dry she’ll go right back to sleep.

I have so much more to write about with her sleeping and baby-wearing and of course breastfeeding, which specifically needs a lot more attention since I wussed out on most of my planned posts for August’s National Breastfeeding Month. Sigh. I’m slowly working my way out of this baby fog!

Book Review: The Milk Memos

This book was recommended to me by fellow new second-time mom and blogger, The E is for Erin. Thanks Erin! After reading Nursing Mother, Working Mother, I was looking for more books on the topic of breastfeeding moms working outside the home.

http://www.milkmemos.com/The Milk Memos is about a group of moms who work at IBM and pump their breastmilk. This real group of women kept spiral notebooks in their “pumping palace,” as they called their lactation room. They wrote back and forth to each other and encouraged each other to keep pumping and somehow stay sane in the endless search for work/home balance.

I identified so much with the women in this book. I returned to work six weeks after my son was born and pumped breastmilk several times a day. I recall the struggle to leave my baby at such an early age. Luckily I left him in the capable hands of Mr. Handsome (which I will do again after this maternity leave ends) but that hardly takes away the separation anxiety that a new mama feels upon returning to work. The women in this book felt the same things I felt then and will feel again when I return to work in September.

What’s great about this book is that the women are like characters in a story that is woven through a practical breastfeeding book. These women suffer through everything that typically plagues working mothers of infants: separation anxiety, struggles with milk production, faulty pumps, “mama brain,” unsympathetic bosses and co-workers and finding balance between a job you love and a baby you adore more than anything in the world. I very much enjoyed reading about their real lives and how they overcame real struggles, struggles that I’m sure I will have once I return to work.

Like I stated, this book is also a practical breastfeeding manual, covering the typical sub-topics but also giving them a working-mom slant. There’s great advice on buying a pump, storing milk, reheating milk, educating care-givers about handling breastmilk, finding an appropriate childcare solution, dealing with sleep deprivation, and on and on and on.

Also, the idea of keeping a notebook to write to other pumping moms in the company is complete genius. When you work in a big company (my office contains several hundred people), it’s hard to find co-workers in a similar situation. Having the notebook in the room not only helps to find like people but also encourages support and sharing within those people. I’m inspired to bring a notebook to my company’s lactation room so that I can try to find something similar to what “the milk mamas” had.

This book is well worth the read for any breastfeeding mama working outside the home!

Next review: Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC

Our Sleep Game, Vol. 2

Sunday I pledged to start working on Baby2’s sleep routine and start developing sleep habits that align with my philosophies. And that’s what we did. It has helped that all our visiting family has headed home. We appreciate their visit and time we got to spend with them! But… we’re relieved to have a little time to ourselves. Perfect time to start settling in to our “new normal,” as Mr. Handsome calls it.

Here’s how we have fared so far…

Rule #1: No sleep props.

50% success (progress, right?). We aren’t completely there with the naps yet. Both Sunday and Monday I used a lot of “Shh”ing, a technique from The Happiest Baby on the Block, to quiet down Baby2 a few times. Sunday she was just not having a good day in general. She didn’t eat a lot (always makes a mama worry!). She slept a good bit but struggled with falling asleep. Let’s just say I was done with Sunday!

Monday wasn’t too much better. Today I’d like to try waiting a little longer before putting her down for a nap. However, whenever I did put her down she was obviously tired. So we’ll do some experimenting there.

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Peaceful crib sleep

Nights were not bad, though. During the night Baby2 didn’t have an crying fits, a vast improvement over the Saturday night debacle which started this whole thing! Getting her down at the start of the night was just as difficult as the naps, though. She went to bed about 9:00 both nights, which is about an hour after her last “day” feeding, but I resorted to a little “comfort nursing” before going to sleep. I must stay strong tonight! She doesn’t seem hungry before bed (she doesn’t have a strong suck, she mostly just lies there and watches me, etc.) so I know she doesn’t need the before-bed nursing. But it does calm here really well!

Rule #2: Sleep in crib.

90% success! The past two nights were great: I successfully put Baby2 back in her crib after each feeding. Well, to be completely honest, we did sleep snuggle for 30 minutes or so after one early morning feeding (both days), but I’m giving us a pass. We do need some lazy snuggle time! Plus I do get her back to her crib to finish off the night eventually. So no harm, I say.

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One nap didn’t make it to the crib!

Baby2 slept in her crib for all but one at-home nap since I made the renewed commitment to healthy sleep habits. That one nap she was just not having. Mr. Handsome and I took turns every few minutes with her, but ultimately I felt like she was hungry so we abandoned the nap attempt. My suspicions were correct: she nursed for a solid ten minutes but then she was out like a light. No eat/play/sleep routine for that round, but I’m okay with that every now and then. Buuuut I did just let her fall asleep after eating and she slept in my arms for almost two hours. Eh, win some lose some right? (I don’t know… that loss felt like a win at the time!)

Rule #3: Self-soothe.

90% success! Baby2 stirred on every one of her naps and I did not immediately jump to pick her up! I did check on her, of course, but only one time did she actually need to be pulled from her crib. Okay, two times if you count the nap that just didn’t happen yesterday. Another time she woke about 45 minutes into her nap. She was obviously hungry so maybe that one was a pass. Maybe I should give myself more than 90% on this one.

Only time will tell if these scores keep up, but I do feel a ton better about getting on track with our sleep habits. Next I’ll be forming my own routines so I don’t go completely crazy during maternity leave. Wish me luck!

Tie Tuesday

PhotobucketMonday

Well, don’t I look triumphant? This was the first official day of maternity leave and a day or two before the anxiety had set in of wondering when this baby would come. Happy day!

It’s been hot this week and we don’t have air conditioning so jeans are pretty much off the clothing menu. Plus, I’m kind of afraid to put them on anyway! What if they don’t fit anymore? I don’t want to face the idea of it! But these shorts from the Gap worked fairly well, although by the end of the day, sitting in them was getting a tad uncomfortable. Still, it felt good to get at least one more wear out of these shorts, since I did only buy them like two months ago. Perhaps they’ll come in handy for the first couple postpartum weeks, too?

I went for this purple tank from Old Navy for some color – and to keep me cool as well! The Forever 21 necklace gave me a good “bling” feeling, too, although by the heat of 4:00 or so it had to go.

 

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Knocking on my belly, starting to wonder when she’s going to come out! She doesn’t respond to knocking though – or any of the other tactics I’ve tried to coax her out!

In keeping with trying to stay cool, I steered away from pants again on Tuesday. This outfit is all Old Navy, except for the shoes. These Kenneth Cole Reaction sandals are apparently my go-to shoes of the week: they are comfortable to walk in and they let my toes be as free as can be! Plus I might as well take advantage of being able to sandal-it-up to my heart’s content now that I’m away from the office (not that being in the office really stopped me from wearing these, but I couldn’t get away with it every day I suppose).

This Old Navy skirt hadn’t been a favorite at first, but the last couple weeks I’ve been loving it. It’s loose and flowy, which makes me feel a little pretty, plus it’s a nice soft cotton. And it keeps me cool! Plus the waistband is super stretchy so it is not at all constraining, even as I continue to grow! Score!

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Feeling pretty down on Wednesday, but I got up and dressed myself anyway! I’m slouching a little in this picture, but I think my belly still looks pretty low. It’s hard to tell – some days she seems at her normal height and some days, like Wednesday, I can feel her little bottom has sunk down a couple inches at least. I suppose she just hasn’t made up her mind yet!

On Wednesday we went to the science museum and this man told me I was having a boy. It was kind of awkward. But I guess that means my belly is looking pretty compact lately? He went on about his grandchildren and what not… Strangers are funny.

Anyway. this shirt is more Old Navy. It has a little sparkle mixed in with the print (although it’s hard to tell in this photo). People always seem to like the sparkle!

The straight skirt is knit from Forever/Love 21’s defunct maternity line. I like that it can sit above or below my belly. Nice versatility!

PhotobucketThursday

By Thursday, I needed to feel pretty. It’s funny, I don’t feel as big as I think I look sometimes. I catch myself in the mirror and I’m shocked at how big the bump is! But when I’m just sitting or walking around I don’t feel big at all. Especially when I’m laying down, I sometimes forget the bump is there. Weird.

I love this Old Navy dress. It’s so soft, I love the cut on the sides that pull the dress back to my body from the “waist” down (“waist” being defined as below the bump, in this case). This simple trick makes me feel like I don’t look huge, which is always a bonus! Some of my dresses that just hang straight down from the bump have gotten the, well, bump from my wardrobe lately. They just make me look so much bigger than I feel! And that’s not going to help anything right now!

To dress this up I added these two long necklaces, one from Target and one from Forever. These two necklaces always seem to go together, and lately they’ve been a handy set for any outfit I want to dress up a bit.

PhotobucketFriday

I needed to feel really pretty on Friday, as it was my due date and nothing was happening! I put on make-up and everything! It’s nice that my mind feels a little bit better when I do something as simple as dress nicely for the day. It only takes a few more minutes in the morning but the effect lasts all day!

I did discover that all my shoes are now too tight so I didn’t wear these pink flats for long. I changed into some bronze sandals but I was too lazy to take another picture. The dress only made it a little over half the day, too, until I changed into my Old Navy skirt and a tank because it was hot! Plus, this dress is one of those that just hangs from my bump, so I wasn’t too excited about it. It’s nice for the midwife’s office (which was the main event Friday morning) – easy access to the bump with this wrap style!

So that concludes week one of maternity leave. I’m writing this on Sunday and, of course, there’s no baby yet. I plan on keeping Tie Tuesday alive until Baby2 arrives, so who knows? Maybe we’ll have a Tie Tuesday post next week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for not having one though!

On a More Positive Note!

Still no baby, but I have been busy the last couple days which has helped my mind a lot!

Last week, Kiddo1 received his shipment of Titanic memorabilia. He was very excited about getting these commemorative coins and reproductions of Titanic stuff. We came up with the idea to frame some of the cool stuff so he could always look at it without having to get it out of a box or something. Yay project for me! I finished it up last night while he was at a sleepover. We still need to get it hung (always a sticking point for me!) but here’s a picture we took of it just now…

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I used a new mating technique where the mats are raised a little by another layer of mat board hidden underneath the other two layers. Difficult to describe, easier to show. I think it makes the mat a little more interesting.

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Also during Kiddo1’s sleepover away, Mr. Handsome and I got in a date night! Probably the last one we’ll have for awhile! We went out to dinner downtown and stopped for some ice cream to celebrate National Ice Cream Day. Yum!

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Then today I not only fit in two, TWO, naps, but we also took Kiddo1 and his sleepover buddy downtown with us for lots of walking and to see some sand sculptures that were being built for a festival this weekend. I had no idea how hoping downtown is during the week! We usually only venture down there on the weekends, and I figured those were pretty busy. I guess all those people working come out of their buildings and make it quite a busy place!

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We stopped by a toy store, too, and the kids got a little crazy with some ride-on toys. Normally I would not condone this behavior (I swear!) but it was pretty cute and the store was dead. Then the kids crashed, which was hilarious.

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I’m glad Kiddo1 got some energy out. He seems to have been a bit anxious himself these last few days. He releases his anxiety by basically going a little nuts and bouncing all over the house. We go to the park, get out to museums and generally “run him” at least once a day, but right now that isn’t really cutting it. I really hope his extra energy is due to nerves (that sounds bad, but stay with me) and not some kind of energy surge in general because that will make a house with a newborn kind of crazy! We’ll still be able to get him out of the house, though, and with family here he’ll have lots to do. He insists that he wants to just stay home after the baby is born, but I’m sure he’ll get bored enough to want to go out with them after a couple days.

So not a bad past 24 hours or so. I’m feeling more zen this afternoon than I was this morning. It helps to be accomplishing things, like the framing. Now I must find something else to create!