First week of work

I guess it is typical during the first week back to feel very out of synch with everybody else.  I learned it after my first mat leave that the world moved on without me, and I need to put in the effort to catch up.  

New technologies were implemented and new policies were brought in place while I was away.  I had to learn some really basic things like how to make a phone call with the new system, and some really annoying things like how to fill out a gazillion new forms and get multiple approvals before I can do any work for a client.

If you told me 4 years ago I was going to have two kids, and that I was going to be crying in my office because I missed them, I’d tell you that you’re nuts.  My career was everything to me, and I would gladly sell my soul for it.  How things have changed!  The little buggers in my life got me wrapped around their little fingers.  I missed both kids all day.  With Joshua, I feel like at least I can explain to him where I was and he would understand.  It’s hard to explain to Savanna where I’ve been all day.

Cliff was fantastic with the kids and making all the meals.  I never doubted his ability to make everything work.  I was surprised, however, that he was very determined to get Joshua to eat some vegetables.  If you know my struggles in that area, you would know that I’ve given up and often make a separate meal for Joshua because he won’t eat what we eat.  Cliff told Joshua the theme of the week was carrots, took him to buy carrots, and made all sorts of dishes with carrots in it.  Joshua actually ended up eating a bit of carrots this past week.  That was a huge accomplishment.

Savanna obviously bonded with Cliff this week.  When I was holding her today, she actually reached out to Cliff and wanted him to hold her.  She has never done that before. While it broke my heart a little, I actually feel much more comforted by the thought that she’s bonding with daddy, and that she’s just as happy being with him.

Joshua-2-2 Joshua-2 Savanna-6939 Savanna-6989 Savanna-7024

Weaning

With my return to work date looming, one of the things I have to do is start weaning Savanna.  Ever since she quit drinking from the bottle at 3 months of age, she has been exclusively breastfed.  For the past 6 months, we’ve been in a very comfortable routine of nursing 4 times a day, while I take the maximum dosage of domperidone.

This week, I stopped taking domperidone, and reduced the feeding to 3 times a day. Later this week will be 2 times a day, then next week onward just keeping one feed a day. Savanna is a pretty good eater, so I’m not worried about her missing vital nutrients.  I can tell right away that my milk production has reduced greatly once I stopped the medication.  Thank goodness for the meds, or I would never be able to breastfeed exclusively!

This afternoon while I was nursing her, I had her cradled in my arm, with a warm fuzzy blanket covering both of us.  The afternoon sunlight was streaming in from our window, shining beautifully projected streaks on Savanna’s face.  She looked up at me with her bright eyes, while scratching my neck with one hand.  It made me a little sad to think that 10 days from now I’ll be sitting in my office, churning out tax work, rather than being with my baby.  I’ve had a much better experience with breastfeeding this time around, and I am really going to miss all this bonding time I’ve had with her.

A year is a long time, and a short time.  It’s long because you sleep little, you’re chasing after a toddler while trying to care for a baby, and you’re cranky because your toddler is growing a personality.  A year is short because your baby is still just a baby, barely taking a few steps, and barely saying a few words.

Weaning Savanna is harder for me than it is for her.  I feel like I need to be weaned off my attachment to her, and all the sweet and luxurious amount of time I got to spend with her.

I’ve missed you

Dear sweet pea,

Today was our day at home together.  In many ways, Fridays are my favorite day of the week!  I selfishly get you all to myself.  I always look forward to this day, and it’s such a great way to get into the weekend when all four of us are home together.

Once you’re a little older, you’ll understand that winter is always a busy time for me at work.  You may not know what time I tiptoe out of the house for work in the morning, or how long I stay up to work after you go to sleep, but it feels like work was all I focused on for the last two months.

When I woke up this morning to your singing and babbling in the crib, I had a huge smile on my face.  We had breakfast together, took Sam for a walk in the rain, went to get groceries, rode the bus for the first time (for you), visited with our very dear friends, had some lunch, and by then you were so wiped and ready for a nap.

As I watched you fall asleep, my heart melted with how sweet and peaceful your face looked.  I sat beside you and just enjoyed the rare luxury of watching you sleep.  Your little chest raising and falling at a rhythm, your little hand resting on your chest, your little toes curl up involuntarily, and you almost looked like you were smiling.  I said to myself, gosh, I’ve missed you! I missed having all the time in the world to spend with you, I missed knowing everything about your day, I missed being the first to see the new things you’ve learned or a new word you’ve learned to say.

Today was exactly what I needed to feel more connected with you.  I truly treasure the time we get to spend together.  Thank you for making my life so amazing.

Love,

Mama

 

Being back at work

I went back to work in early November last year, a week before Joshua turned 1.  Since then, many people have asked me, “How has it been, going back to work?”

To be honest, that’s a loaded question.  How has it been?  In what sense?  I contemplated for quite a while how I answer that question.  It’s been almost 4 months now, and I figured it’s time to come up with an answer.

In terms of the work schedule, I’m back full time, but not exactly.  I had a lot of vacation days accumulated, so I take every Friday off as a vacation day.  So technically I’m back on a full time basis, but I’m only in the office from Monday to Thursday.  I am in the office from 7 am to 4:30 pm.  I’m definitely not in the office for the same amount of hours as pre-Joshua!  It gives them the impression that I’m not around as much as before.

Transitioning back into work was not very difficult.  I was worried that I would have forgotten everything in a year.  Of course, I did forget some of the details of tax law, or specific percentages of something.  But the general principal hasn’t changed and I can quickly look up the details or specifics to have an intelligent conversation with a client.  Most of the people I work with are still the same people, so it was quite easy to pick up where we left off.

Some things have been easy, like getting re-aquainted with my colleagues, or getting into the groove of working. 

But then, some things are really hard. 

One early morning Joshua woke up crying, and I went to get him from his room.  I picked him up from his crib, and as he leaned his forehead on my face, I can feel that he had a high fever.  He was clingy and whiny, and didn’t want me to leave.  I had to go wake up Cliff and hand Joshua over to him, so I can make it to work in time for a meeting.  When I left, I can hear Joshua crying after me, and it just about killed me inside.  Some nights when I come home from work, it takes Joshua some time to warm up to me.  It’s almost like he’ll need to be around me for 15 or 20 minutes to then all of a sudden remember how close we are. 

When I was on mat leave, it was a no brainer that Joshua preferred me.  He wanted me to comfort him when he’s hurt, he wanted me to put him to bed, he wanted me to play with him.  But now often he’ll choose Cliff to put him down at night.  Sometimes I walk out of his room leaving Cliff to put Joshua down, and I’ll go and turn on the shower to drown out the noise of my sobbing.  Those are the nights I wonder what the heck I am doing with my life.  Everything inside me screams that I want to be home with Joshua everyday, but the reality of life is not the case.

So, how has it been being back at work?  The answer probably varies depending on the week or the even the day I’ve had.  I do enjoy the work I’m doing, but I’d be kidding if I tell you I don’t think about Joshua all day long and wish to be home with him.

It’s not that I am competitive

Very early on in our marriage, I learned that I cannot play video games, or a sport game, or be in direct competition of any sort against Cliff, if I wanted to keep our marriage afloat.  Every time I do, we end up fighting.  I’ll admit, sometimes I’m a sour loser.  So we eventually figured out that to keep peace at home, we need to play on the same team.

But that doesn’t stop me from finding other things Cliff does to compete with.  I think it’s some sort of disease I have that cannot be cured.  I just can’t help it.  I know my doctor doesn’t have a prescription for me on this!

If we’re both trying to lose weight, I’ll get so mad that he’s losing weight faster than me.  If we have friends over for dinner and they only praised the dishes Cliff prepared, I’d be upset all night.  If we took separate cars and left some place at the same time, I’d be miffed when he beats me home.  Yes, stupid little things…but please tell me I’m not alone!!

Where is Cliff in all this, you might ask?  Oh, he has no idea we’re in a competition.  Often he wonders why I was upset with him.

The point is, I can’t stand losing.

While I was on maternity leave, often Cliff comes home from work and I haven’t showered or prepared dinner.  Toys will scattered about, I might still be in my PJs, and laundry might be overflowing.  I always told him that it’s not easy taking care of a baby and try to get things done, and he was always accepting of that fact.  Before I went back to work, I told Cliff to be prepared mentally for staying home with Joshua, and that I would be completely accepting to get home from work to see no dinner on the table.

Now that Cliff’s the one staying home with Joshua while I go to work, I was totally expecting to come home to a messy apartment and sobbing husband.  I expected him to text me and ask me what Joshua’s routine is, or where can he find the kind of tofu Joshua likes, or what to do if Joshua fell and cut his head open.  I expected that nothing will get done at home like cooking or tidying up or laundry.  I expected to come home after a long day at work to step on some toys when I walk in the door and scramble to put dinner on the table.  And I would be ok with all that, because I know it’s not easy to get things done when you are taking care of a baby, right?

The first week I went back to work, I came home each night to find the living room in a orderly state.  Not spotless, but at least not a disaster.  And dinner would be roasting in the oven or already made.  I figured, ok, Cliff was just trying to impress me.

The second week, same thing.  Now I’m getting a little annoyed.  Not only did he never text me out of panic, he sent me 3 or 4 pictures each day of him and Joshua having fun.  He managed to go to CostCo with Joshua and brought back a truckload of groceries and supplies.  Again, I go home each night and dinner was all ready.

The third week, same thing.  No panic phone calls or text messages.  No messy disaster at home.  Dinner is ready.  Laundry had been done.  They went to the neighborhood family place to play and borrowed toys from the toy library.  They crossed the border and brought back things we purchased on-line.  Cliff even managed to have a play date at our place and made sushi for his friend!

Ok, I know it’s not a competition about who’s the better parent.  But come on!  Why does everything have to be this easy for Cliff?  So I asked him how he managed to get all these things done, and he kind of looks at me like I’m asking something very obvious.  He shrugged and nonchalantly said something like “it’s not that hard.”  Oh, that just about sent me over the edge!

No, I’m not competitive, damn it!

Alright, all jokes aside, I am very impressed with Cliff.  We’ve been married for 8 1/2 years and he just continues to amaze me.  I always knew he would be a great dad; I just didn’t know he’d be this amazing.

Babe, I think you’re the most loving and kind person in the world.  You’re an awesome dad!

 

A day at home

Today is my day off from work while Cliff goes to work.  So it was just Joshua and I home.  We spent a lot of time playing in the morning, and Joshua was quite happy sitting with me or sitting on my lap for a lot of the time.  He was in quite a good mood all morning.

I took a conference call while Joshua had his nap. It worked out well that the call started right after he stopped crying and fell asleep.  Then we went to Oakridge for lunch with Karen right before Joshua’s 1st year check-up and shots.  He got FOUR shots today!  Poor baby.  He took them like a champ, and didn’t cry very long afterwards.  We had some fun playing at home in the afternoon and taking a nice long nap together before Cliff came home.

When I am at work, I don’t think about how much I hate it.  But this morning while sitting on the couch with Joshua, I realized how much I hate being away from him.  I spent the whole morning telling him how much I love being at home with him, and how much I’ve missed him, then I started crying.  I just hate missing the little silly things he does, or his giggles, or his mischievousness, or even just him playing with his toys.

Last month of maternity leave

As hard as I tried for the past 11 month to stop the clock from ticking, time just flew by.  I look at the little boy Joshua has become, and it’s bittersweet for me.  I love how he interacts with us, crawls around, causes chaos, whines, giggles, and chases Sam.  But I also miss the tiny little baby I held in my arms all hours of the day and night.

A month from now, I’ll be returning to work.  The type of job I have doesn’t allow me to work just 9 to 5.  In addition to the long hours I have to work, there is a lot of stress that comes with the package.  I have no idea how I am going to maintain the level of output at work and still spend as much time as possible with Joshua.

I have imagined many times in my mind of not going back to work at all.  But the reality is that financially it makes more sense for me to go back to work and Cliff staying home to take care of Joshua.  Cliff’s work has been part time for almost a year now.  Keeping Cliff’s current hours and putting Joshua in daycare just doesn’t make any sense, so we decided that Cliff will reduce his hours and stay home with Joshua 4 days a week while I work. And on my 1 day off, Cliff will go to work.

It is very hard for me to imagine not being with my baby 7 days a week.  I am starting to feel the separation anxiety already.  I’ve grown so attached to being with Joshua everyday.  We have so much fun together.  Some working moms tell me that it’s very nice to go to work and have adult conversations, and be able to drink a cup of coffee quietly without a baby tugging on your legs.  But honestly, I don’t feel like I lack adult conversations, and I really don’t mind Joshua tugging on my legs when I drink my coffee.

My career is all I cared about before I had Joshua.  The moment I found out I was pregnant, my world changed.  I knew that Joshua had to be the priority now.  It will take some time for me to figure out how to adjust my working life and family life so that neither has to suffer.

I have exactly 1 month left of the maternity leave.  1 month left to be with my son everyday.  1 month left to breastfeed.  1 month left to enjoy the stress-free days of parental bliss.