Week 9: Maternity Leave, In Pictures
by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
Bottle # 1
I don’t usually do this feeding, but Doug is too tired tonight. So I do it.
Now, that Henry is waking up at 6 or 6:30, I’ve been getting up at 4:00 or 4:30, just to ensure that I have a whole hour of alone time to exercise. His naps are still too unpredictable to put much hope in fitting it in later.
Laundry Load # 1
Today’s supply of formula
This is when I realize that we’re just about out of Similac Soy, which is what he can eat that won’t give him diarrhea or constipation. I would buy six containers on Amazon like last time, but Amazon just increased its Prime listing to $31.50 (as opposed to $27.99, like before) and now only offers the $27.99 price through Prime Pantry. That’s a big deal for me because I can’t get that price unless I’m able to fill a “box” to make the shipping worth it. And six containers of Similac only fills 12% of the box.
So now I have to go to the store.
Horror of horrors.
It will be Henry’s first trip to Target. Yeah, it’s true. I’ve managed to avoid it this long by leaving him home with someone else or sending someone else to the store for me.
But it’s probably time.
So we’ll need a stocked diaper bag. And I’ll cross my fingers that he’s able to sleep through the entire trip.
Steel cut oatmeal, raspberries, and dark chocolate chips. Always have a little chocolate in the morning. It’s good advice.
Pack Child # 1’s lunch
She doesn’t realize how good she has it.
Dish Load # 1
(I refuse to hand-dry all that plastic.)
Bottle # 2
Sometimes, This Is How You Have to Shower
Halfway through brushing my teeth, the baby is giving an ear-piercing scream. Why? Who knows. I abandon brushing my teeth and spend the next 35 minutes going through the list of things to calm him down. He finally sucks down the last ounce in his bottle and passes out. I swaddle him and put him back in his crib.
Coffee # 1
For ten glorious minutes, I sit down with coffee and listen to NPR’s Morning Edition.
Child # 1’s Daycare Drop-off
With some stern words after ten minutes of asking nicely, Felicity has dressed and vitamin-ed herself. When we’re in the car, she says, “Please can I have Shake My Body“? (Technotronic’s “Move This.” I know. This is completely my fault.)
(a.k.a. Why I Hate Shopping with a Newborn)
The car seat occupies basically the entire cart and you have to cram your stuff in the space around it. (Nope, you can’t put the car seat on the top of the cart, near the handlebars. This is a big no-no.)
I’m sure someone is thinking, “Put him in a baby carrier!” That doesn’t work for me because every time we go out in the car, he falls asleep and ain’t no way I want to wake a baby from sleeping. Not gonna do it. If I can avoid having a cranky baby at the end of the day, I will do anything.
Coffee # 2 + eggs
Bottle # 3
Yes, I’m cloth diapering again. For now. We’ve both agreed that we’re going to quit earlier this time, probably once he completely transitions to solids and fighting the solid-poop smell takes too much effort.
Getting out of the house is pretty important to my mental sanity. Even if it is just for a short walk. This was a good week since he was able to fall asleep in the stroller. Sometimes, it’s just screams.
His Nap # 3
My Nap # 1 (a whole 30 minutes)
When he first starts stirring, I ignore it. No, I think. He’ll go back to sleep. Then, he starts crying. I run to try to salvage the nap. I sneak into the room, slip a hand into the crib without him seeing my face, and give him “the disembodied pat-down” to try to calm him.
Because he chomps on his hands with his formula-coated mouth, “Cheesy Hands” needs a bath. But first, I need to pry open his Death Grip to get the soap between his fingers.
It takes time.
Laundry Load # 2
It’s all ready to fold and then…
Bottle # 4
Today is a hard day to get him to nap by himself. After several attempts to get him to sleep in the bouncer, I settle in for an hour and hold him. I watch Frontline’s “Divided States of America.” It’s excellent, of course. I love PBS. I’m glad we donate to them. After an hour or so, I manage to slip him onto the sofa on his back without completely waking him up.
Dish Load # 2
I leave the bottles for a thorough scrubbing later, with the rest of the day’s bottles.
This is the pretty part of the dinner. The rest is scrambled eggs and some oranges.
Bottle # 5
Today was a great day for her. She even washes her hands when she comes in the door without the All-Out Meltdown. She impresses me with the sentence, “Be careful. It’s delicate.”
Who is this kid? Can we keep her?
Dish Load # 3
Nap # 5
Today is an interesting day. He decides to go to bed for the night at 7:30. He doesn’t wake up for his next bottle until 2:00 a.m. Nice stretch, but can’t we have it from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.? Maybe next week.
A few stories, a trip to the bathroom, (“No, you don’t need any more water.”), and some snuggling. Don’t let her fool you. She’ll leave her room at least three more times before she falls asleep, just to make sure that no one is doing anything fun. In her mind, I know she thinks we’re downstairs enjoying episode after episode of Paw Patrol while she’s doing nothing but boring sleeping.
(Not pictured: Nine diaper changes. Do you really want to see that anyway?)
Obviously, maternity leave isn’t a vacation. It’s not all baby smiles and cute clothes (although those are nice…) It’s also not like other medical leave. You don’t have weeks and weeks to take it easy and recover. If anything, it’s like a marathon that you run for months.
When I go back to work full-time when he’s about three months old, it will be the first time since January when I’ve had eight straight hours completely to myself. (Kind of.)
Eight hours to think by myself.
Eight hours to not be a mother.
Time with your children is valuable. Time with your baby is priceless.
But as all mothers know, so is time by yourself.