Maternity Leave, the final countdown

Maternity Leave final countdown

I apologize for being MIA for the past week. It’s been a tough week on me emotionally. This is my last week of Maternity Leave, which means on Monday morning, Abby heads off to daycare and I go back to my office after spending 20 weeks with just my baby girl.

First off, let me say how lucky I am that I was able to take so much time to spend with Abby. Secondly, how dare it make me feel “lucky” to get such a small amount of time with her. And thus, the constant battle of Maternity Leave in this Country.

So the end to Maternity Leave. I’m honestly heartbroken that it’s over. I spent most of the week soaking in as much time with Abby as I could, breaking into tears at random moments, and telling myself that it was all for the best. And every time I soothed her during hysterical cries, I would battle visions of her at daycare, unable to be calmed by teachers. How could they understand that her long cries indicated hunger but her short cries just needed cuddles? Would they cuddle her, or would they be too distracted? And in the next instance, I’d remember that they are professionals, and her teachers handle this situation everyday. And immediately, while she would still be crying in my arms as I rocked her, I’d feel defeat believing that her teachers would be able to sooth her better than I could, thus making me feel like a failure as her mom. I hate that I can’t stay with her longer, especially as she has just entered this incredible exploration stage. Her gaze follows our pup around the room, she reaches for everything possible, and she’s trying with all of her might to transition to crawling. It’s going to happen before we know it. And of course now I’m terrified that I’m going to miss that moment when she finally pulls her self up and coordinates her limbs to move across the floor.
I know it is for the best. We talked about the benefits of her going to daycare and the importance of me continuing to work – electricity, food, and a roof over our head is important. But, I just didn’t expect it to be this hard. Everyone tells me she’ll be fine, she won’t even notice, and that makes me feel even worse. I hate that she won’t even notice that I’m gone. If she doesn’t notice that I’m gone, will she even notice when I return? I’m going to miss her so much. Just the thought of leaving her is breaking my heart, and she won’t even notice that I’m not there to comfort her when she wakes up in a foreign crib, or when she is fed by a complete stranger, or when her pup isn’t there to lick her feet as she attempts to crawl.

Baby girl, you’re growing so fast. I’m sorry I have to leave you when you’re not even five months, but I’m leaving you in amazing hands. Three days a week, you’ll be at daycare with teachers and other children. Two days a week, you’ll be spoiled by Grandma. And every night, I’ll rush home to see you smile, give you diner, and read you a story before bed. Please do not worry that I won’t be there during the day. But please do not forget me either. Mommy loves you baby girl. 

Ignore the mess, I’ll distract you with a cute baby, pup and cat

Ignore the mess

I seriously think my mother is a superhero or has at least consumed enough coffee that it races through her veins giving off nonstop energy and motivation. Growing up our house was always tidy. Yes, messes were made, but they were always clean by the time we woke up in the morning. My mother raised three kids, would spend the day caring for those not in school, helping with home, working in the afternoon, making dinner in the evening, then spend her nights, after everyone was sleeping, cleaning her house. Before Abby, I barely had enough energy to put dishes in the dishwasher after working all day. And now – let’s just say Abby is lucky I wash her bottles. It’s a good day if I’m able to fold the laundry within the week I actually do it (and bonus points if I remember to switch laundry from the washer to the drier within the same day).
Here are some things you’ll notice when you visit:

  • Clean laundry in the dryer because when you attempt to fold laundry with a baby on the brink of crawling, a dog whose mission is to chase the cat no matter what is in her path (including a freshly folded tower of towels), and a cat who has decided that every clean pile of baby clothes is now her new bed, you learn quickly that it’s just not worth the effort.
  • Dirty dishes in the sink  (but no bottles because I’ve learned from experience when you have to wash a bottle when a baby is hangry all is lost). Plus, I just really hate washing dishes.
  • Baby bibs stuffed in every corner of the house, including couch cushions, on top of the cat tree, and hanging off every cabinet knob because baby’s are gross and bibs are needed constantly.
  • Mashed green beans, pumpkin, sweet potatoes or any other food like substance in my baby’s ear, on my own forehead, and on the leg of the table because, as mentioned previously, baby’s are gross, and there probably wasn’t a bib close enough.
  • Baby socks in random nooks and crannies, like kitchen drawers, by the cat dish (possibly in the dog water bowl), and in the bathtub because baby socks have a mind of their own and are out to get you. Those little jerks come off for no reason and when you have animals, anything that falls to the ground is fair game.
  • Not a single made bed because, well, that one is basically because I’m lazy. If you ever come over and my bed is actually made, it means you are highly important and I’m doing whatever possible to impress you, or I recently changed the sheets.
  • A smiling baby (unless she’s hungry, then she’s the devil), an energetic pup that wants you to pet her for the rest of your life, and an uncoordinated cat who will, at some point, run into a wall or get trapped behind a baby gate because she forgets she’s a cat and could simply jump over it.

In truth, I’d rather spend anytime I should be cleaning, snuggling or playing with Abby. And if she’s sleeping for the night, and the house is finally quiet, perhaps I should take the time and effort to clean the house and be a responsible adult. I could finish the laundry, wash the dishes, tidy the living spaces, and all other responsible adult chores.  OR, I could pour a glass of wine and sit on the couch with John. That sounds more fun.

PS – And if you were wondering, yes those are my socks on Abby’s feet in the featured photo because when I do get around to folding laundry, it’s more fun to put adult clothing on the baby and see her reactions than to continue folding. And then that is typically followed with putting baby clothes on the cat. That may also be a reason the laundry is never folded. 

 

 

Cat and bib

Baby Girl, you are beautiful

strong is beautiful

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I think one of my biggest fears of raising Abby, is raising a daughter who is confident and loves herself, despite what the world may throw at her.
It took a long time for me to gain confidence but I still have that little voice in the back of my head who, out of nowhere, reminds me of the times when I felt helpless. Like when I was eight and an extended family member made a joke about me not fitting into a new dress as I bit into a cookie, or when I was ten and a girl in my class told me I wasn’t invited to her birthday because I was fat, or when I told my first crush how I felt and he laughed in my face (and when I later told a friend what happened who “comforted me” by telling me I shouldn’t be surprised). On the surface, those seem like little incidences that shouldn’t still matter, but they do. I remember those and countless other times when I let someone knock me down, and my response was to shrink away. In time, I’ve grown to move past them, in part, but those little jerks are hiding in my subconscious and  every so often they sneak back with, what I imagine, is a villain laugh. But it’s those villainous memories that are the reasons I question when John tells me I’m beautiful (especially since being pregnant), I didn’t wear my first bikini until my mid 20s, and that I spent the first days of Abby’s life avoiding the camera.

I’d be naive to think that she wont encounter situations in which people or situations will try to take her down a notch. And I know that my daughter will not be perfect because perfection doesn’t exist and honestly, being perfect seems kind of boring. The most amazing people in my life (and in Abby’s) are not perfect and each has a vice. But they are the most passionate, caring, and devoted people I have ever encountered. I want her to be confident, to be strong, and to embrace her imperfections.

I wish I could reach the world and ask every parent to raise their daughters and sons to not pass judgment over those who look, act or feel differently than them, but I can’t. And if Abby is judged for being too tall, too short, overweight, underweight, or everything in between, I want her to stand tall. I’m sure someone will hurt her enough that she’ll cry. If I could prevent it, I would do anything in my power. But the world isn’t always kind. I want to protect her, keep her safe inside a bubble, but I can’t. And I know, somewhere inside, that she needs to get hurt, so she can learn to be stronger. I want her to stand up for herself because there are so many situations that I wanted to for myself, but kept quiet. I’m sure she won’t be perfect. And I’m sure that, although I’d love her to, she won’t always fly every time she jumps. But for each misstep, each negative comment, and each time it didn’t work out the way she dreamed, I want her to be able to pick herself up, dust herself off, and embrace those imperfections. Abby is beautiful and I want to raise her to love herself, no matter what happens. I want her to know that she is loved and that people who put her down are not worth her emotions or time. And no matter what happens, I’m always going to be there – to listen, to provide advice (if needed), or put extra sprinkles on a big scoop of ice cream because ice cream really can solve so many problems.

I love you baby girl. Be your own kind of beautiful!

Side Note: Moms – Please, I beg you, take at least one photo with your new baby in the hospital and when you go back home. You will regret not having that photo. You will not look perfect, BELIEVE ME. But just do it! You will think you look puffy and tired. You’ll wish you had showered first, but do not worry about it. You just had this amazing beautiful baby (or in some cases, babies). Get some photos with your newest addition/s and enjoy the moment. You’re a rockstar! Then get some sleep because those newborns can cry and cry! 

Abigail – 4 Months Old

Four Months

Today Abigail is four months old. I honestly can’t believe it’s been four months since I walked into the hospital in more pain than I could have ever imagined (childbirth is no joke). While the other months had their own unbelievable experiences, this month has been my favorite (so far). When I was pregnant, John and I kept talking about what we thought she would look like, her hair color, would she get his ears and my eyes, would she be tall like her father or need step stools like her mother. So many questions and daydreams, but the area that would always make me tear up as we discussed our future baby girl was hearing her laugh. I’m not sure why, but I just couldn’t wait to hear and see her laugh for the very first time, and this month we experienced it. She laughs with her entire face – her nose scrunches, her eyes open wide, her smile is huge, and the sound is impossible to describe but it is my favorite sound in the entire world. I wish I could record it and make it my phone ring tone (though that may be a little weird). I cried the first time I heard it – ok I still tear up when I hear it. Yea, I’m an emotional crazy mom – but I’m sure there are many of us. We need t-shirts and chocolate and wine.

So here are a few events that happened this month in the life of Abigail:

She laughed (as mentioned):

Her favorite game is being raised above your head with her face looking at you, as if she’s flying. No matter what is happening, she laughs in response.

Spent the night away from mom and dad:

Abby survived and so did we, though I think it was easier on Abby than us. We are so lucky to have a baby who has no issues sleeping in a foreign environment. Of course, I spent most of the time worrying and missing her, so perhaps she had a more restful vacation.

Rolled over from back to front:

Now it’s gotten to the point where each time she is put down awake on her back, she’ll roll to her front, then get frustrated because she hates lying on her stomach and is just too lazy to flip back. Oh my child. By the way, the first time I discovered this was when I put her down on the floor (on her lamb pillow), turned away to grab more laundry from behind me, and turned back to see her on her stomach. I didn’t actually see her do it until weeks later. She’s so sneaky.

Pooped all over Mama’s Swing:

This is more of an exciting event for me. Abby has pooped through her diaper on her car seat, crib, play mat, bouncer, swing, etc. Basically, you name it and we own it, she’s pooped on it. However, she had NEVER pooped on any of my mother’s items (even when she was staying overnight). I actually started to think it was something I was doing – were her diapers too loose, was I not changing her often enough, was I feeding her too much? So many questions. Then, she did it. We were at my mom’s house and Abby was in the swing for longer than we expected. My mom went to check on her and there it was, she pooped through her diaper, through her clothes and on the swing. Good job baby girl. You just restored mommy’s confidence.

Took her first dip:

Her first time in a pool was not pretty. She screamed when her toes touched the water, as if you were torturing her. But we kept with it and after a few moments she calmed and just studied the water. She spent the entire time staring at the water, no emotion on her face. The next time, she actually enjoyed it – kicked her feet, splashed, and smiled.

Wore baby overalls:

Ok this one is cheating, because it was really something for me, but I don’t care. We got these overalls as a gift and I just couldn’t wait until she could wear them. By the way, they are size 9 months – oh my child!

Interacted with the animals:

For the past months, our pup has claimed Abby as her own and our kitty has pretty much ignored the situation (I think she’s still mad at us for bringing the dog home) and Abby just laid there, not really sure what to make of this. This month, she petted Caffrey (the pup) on her own for the first time, and Caffrey LOVED every minute of it. And, in a twist, Mozzie (our cat) actually approached Abigail. It was a short-lived relationship, but I’m hoping it will grow.

Celebrated some first holidays:

Father’s Day, she pooped all over her outfit before we left. Independence Day, she waited to pee all over it until after we arrived. So, an improvement I think. We also discovered that she can sleep through fireworks. Our pup cannot. Poor pup.

I can’t wait to see what next month will bring.

 

Parenthood and sleep, the struggle is real

Parent hood and sleep

So let’s talk about the one thing you’re never supposed to talk about as a parent, the one thing that, if your child is actually doing, you keep your mouth shut, get on your knees and thank God for this incredible gift because the first rule about parenthood is to not talk about it – that’s right, sleep. And giving that it is currently 3:30 am as I write this, I thought it only appropriate.

Shortly after Abby went on formula … (side note: I am truly thankful for all of the kind words and comments after sharing my breastfeeding vs. formula feeding battle. In my head I have thanked you in an unforgettable poetic fashion, however, it being 3:30 am, words aren’t flowing as easily. I promise to make it up as soon as my brain functions again – so probably in 18 years). As I was saying, shortly after Abby started drinking formula regularly, her nighttime sleep patterns were incredible! She would have a few large feedings in the evening hours, go down for bed at around 8:30 pm, wake up one time in the middle of the night, and then be asleep until morning. Then, after a week or so, she eliminated that middle of the night feeding. We felt like we had won the baby lottery. We were parents with a two month old who would regularly receive between 6-8 hours of sleep a night! After weeks of waking every 2-3 hours and basically walking through life as zombies, the change was exhilarating, to say the least. I was ready to pat myself on the back and brag about my advanced daughter who had sleep down before she could crawl. We were amazing parents – superhero status would be given to us, parades would be organized in our honor, the world would bow at our greatness.

And then, of course, I was knocked off my high horse into a flaming pile of …. well, you can imagine.

As we enter into Abby’s fourth month on this planet, and let our guard down, she has decided it is time to regress because she’s just as manipulating as she is sweet. At first, it was just once in a while. She had an unusual heavy diaper, or just needed to be held for second, or just a few ounces of formula to get her back to dreamland. And it would only take a few minutes to get her back down. Before long, she was back to waking up regularly in the middle of the night with demands, so many demands. Then she started fighting her usual bedtime. Before, 8:30 pm would come and she’d be fast asleep, and we would embrace what I like to call “grown up time.” And yes, this typically involved drinking a glass of wine, watching mindless television, or playing video games (or all three), before heading to bed to enjoy a night of uninterrupted sleep. As I’ve mentioned before, neither of us are very “cool” individuals. But, of course, our grown up time started diminishing as Abby had new thoughts on when bedtime would actually start. And, as this is all happening, Abby began fighting daytime naps, which means mom, who is still on leave, is never sleeping. Abby does sleep, but only if being held. If I even think about moving her to her crib, game over. How can such loud noises come out of a such a tiny person? It’s just not fair!

Welcome to month four where she devilishly smiles at you at 11 pm, refusing bedtime; wakes in the middle of the night screaming for a new diaper, bottle, to be held, and your entire savings (I swear, I’d give it to her if it would make a difference), and daytime napping is a fantasy. And yes, she will nap only while you hold her in one arm and chug as much coffee as possible with your other, while debating if you should take another sip knowing if you need to move her in order to empty your bladder she’ll make you regret it. And, of course, right now I should be sleeping since her nighttime feeding was completed at 2:30 am, but in the thirty or so minutes it took to sway her back to dreamland, my brain woke up and refuses to turn off. Imagine an energetic puppy who just realized it’s morning and is ready for breakfast and playtime. My dog is snoring as I type this by the way. I envy her. So, here I am, now 4 am, and awake. And by the time I do fall asleep again (hopefully in the next 30 minutes), it will be too late, because her normal waking hour is around 5 am and the routine continues.

No wonder babies are so adorable – to allow others something pleasant to look at as they advert their eyes from the zombie pushing the stroller.

Pretty soon she’ll do backflips

First 4th of July

Abigail is celebrating her first Independence Day and a few other milestones as well.

Guess who can now roll over?! Yes, that’s right, our sneaky beautiful baby girl can now roll over, but of course not the way we intended. Abby can now roll over from her back to her front. This feat is supposedly harder than front to back, however, Abby, when placed on her back, will flip to her front. Then she’ll stare at you, knowing you are waiting for her to flip back. But that would be too easy. Instead she smirks again and stays tummy side down. And then – BAM, she’s demanding you to flip her over. And, now that she has mastered rolling from back to front, it’s just a matter of time before she’s on the move. Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed and proud of my baby girl  but I’m no where near prepared for her to be running around. Oh to long for the time when I could put her in her swing or on her lamb pillow and she just laid there. Now if I avert my eyes for a second and she’ll be leaping on top of the dog. I’m telling you, it’s going to happen.

And, in other news, someone also took her first dip in the pool. It was a tough transition at first but I think she got the hang of it. And, I learned something new as well – just because a bathing suit says size 6 months, doesn’t mean it wont be too small for my (almost) four month old. Guess it’s time to invest in some 12 month clothing.

Swimming

Not too sure about the water

 

Swimming

“Ok, now like it”