Thursday, September 23, 2010

The end, and a beginning

I'm in my last week of leave; I start back to work on Monday. I took Elle into the office this week to show her around, which was fun. It was a little surreal to sit in my office and feed her. Talk about worlds colliding.

It's amazing how quickly the twelve weeks have passed. The first six weeks or so truly were a blur, and I still feel like each day moves at lightning speed... yet crawls at the same time.

I have good day care for Elle, and I'm going back on a reduced schedule which will give me some flexibility. (Also, less money-- with my reduced schedule, unfortunately, comes reduced pay. We'll see how long I can afford it.) I'm very lucky on all counts. In addition, my workplace is being fabulously accommodating about just about everything-- it helps to have tenure, and to have both your bosses think you do good work.

Everyone's asking how I feel about going back to work. I'm probably not going to really know until I'm actually back at work. But honestly? I think I'm going to be OK. I don't think I'm cut out to stay home full time with an infant. I know many women are, and I think that's amazing.

But many of those women also have spouses/partners. I don't. So being at home is completely consuming, and there's no one to hand her off to. There is literally no time for anything but taking care of Elle, every day. And remember-- she doesn't nap. Hardly ever. The little bit of time I get when she's gone to sleep at night is mostly filled with washing bottles, making bottles for the next day, folding laundry... and when I'm back at work, I'll have to also do things like pack lunch, figure out what to wear, yadda yadda. (I steal time on the internet once she's in bed, but I should really be going to bed myself. Which I'm going to do as soon as I finish this post.)

The past week or so, she's been very hard to entertain-- she's been fussy and generally high-maintenance. Which is new, because other than her non-napping self, she's a really happy baby. I was telling a friend at lunch today that I think this personality change was designed to make it easy for me to put her in day care! (I actually think it's a combination of residual effects from the immuniz.ations she got last week-- poor baby-- and a three-month growth spurt.)

All of this combined makes me think that I am probably going to be a better mom to her when I'm back at work. And truly, I think she's going to love day care-- she's such a social little pumpkin that I think having other kids around is going to be the BEST THING EVER for her little self. It will give her the stimulation that you don't really get from a single parent/one child household.

And then we'll both come home and the time together will be that much more precious.

Along the lines of going back to work, I'm also taking the advice of some of the other single moms I know and making sure I have people (other than my amazing, amazing friends) in place so that I get some "me" time that's not work. The daughter of a friend is going to do some mother's helper type stuff for me occasionally-- just having her help with the baby so I can do things around the house is going to be incredibly helpful (and again, Elle will love it-- a new face!). I've put feelers out for a babysitter so that I don't have to automatically turn down every invitation I get that's not baby-appropriate. My tight budget means that babysitting will not be a frequent treat, but at least I'll have someone in line for whenever it is possible.

I'm sure there are those who will say I'm a bad parent because I'm not spending every single waking moment with my daughter-- and I don't want to spend every single waking moment with my daughter. They're entitled to their opinion, and I'm entitled to disagree.

What I want to do is to be the best possible mom for my daughter, and I firmly believe that I'll be a better mom if I have some balance to my life. It's all too easy as a single parent to let your child consume every single molecule of your existence; I'm already a ridiculously boring conversationalist because I want to talk about her all the time! So I need to make sure that I'm still Me, and not just Elle's Mom.

So yeah, I don't expect next week to be easy, and I'm going to miss that little face and her fantastic chubby cheeks. But... I think it's going to be OK.

I hope.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm going to bed as soon as I hit "publish post" on this, so please forgive me if it's a brief update!

Visiting the family out-of-state went well. Elle was ridiculously well-behaved, which served the dual purpose of helping my parents worry about me a little less... but they worry about me a little less because they think she's a perfect angel.

She's pretty awesome, but she's no angel. ;)

Got home Tuesday. Wednesday, she had her two month pediatrician visit. This included her first round of vacc.inations. It's now Friday, and my good little snuggly baby has been a raging, screaming hellhound of DOOM ever since.

That is perhaps an overstatement. But not a big one.

She ran a temp Thursday; that's gone today (Friday) but the overall fussiness level remains at Code Red. She was up extra early this morning, too (hey, at least I got a shower in, just in time). She barely napped yesterday, which didn't help how poorly she felt, so today we took three fairly long walks, and on two of them she got at least a half hour nap each. (She will reliably sleep on walks.) That's not much for many babies, but for Elle the non-napper, it helps.

Add in the two other short naps she had at home, and today was at least a day where I wasn't considering breaking out the baby Benad.ryl just to give her poor little body some rest.

I'm hoping she's back to her usual sunny self tomorrow. I'll call the doc if she isn't.

She fell asleep in my arms tonight-- no doubt completely exhausted from screaming her lungs out (I'm sure my neighbors are ready to call child protective services)-- and I looked down at her tiny little face and thought I grew you. You didn't even exist a year ago, and here you are. You're a whole little person, right here. She's amazing.

Now, if she could just get back to herself again. How in the world do mothers (single moms, especially) of colicky babies do it? Seriously, how?

To bed. Hopefully, for the night.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Time flies

Seriously. My baby is eight weeks old already. When the heck did that happen? Really, when?

Elle's still not on much of a schedule, but is at least a little bit predictable-- to the point where I can do a bit of advance prep in terms of preparing bottles, or knowing about what time to head upstairs to start the going-to-bed routine. It helps.

When she's awake, she's almost always happy. I am so lucky. She likes going out and seeing the world (easier when it's not 0ver 90 degrees and humid), she likes new faces and people talking to her, and she likes light/windows/shiny things. She interacts with the ceiling fan in my bedroom-- coos and warbles and chirps, as if telling the ceiling fan how awesome he is. (What gender is a ceiling fan, anyway?) She doesn't quite yet see well enough to find mirrors fascinating, although they're definitely more interesting than they were even a week ago.

In other words, she's a pretty typical baby: just wants to be loved and interacted with. Oh, and fed on a very regular basis.

She's napping right now-- woke up early and hungry, snarfed down several ounces, and passed right out. My friend E-- who was my fabulous acupuncturist-- handed me down a rocker thingy (this one), and Elle is much more willing to nap in this than she is in her pac.k and play or her crib, so she's in that and I've had a chance to do some exciting things like start some laundry, wash a bottle... you know, that fun stuff.

E also gave me a ton of clothes and probably $100 worth of diapers that her daughter had grown out of. I'm reminded, again, of the generosity that's out there. Not just generosity of stuff (though diapers are so, so welcome), but generosity of spirit. It's scary being a single mother, and sometime I'll do a post about that. But the support and friendship and love I've gotten from everyone has been humbing and amazing. From the friend who comes over every Tuesday after work, just to help, to people who call to check in, to diapers...

It's hard and scary, especially in this economy, to be a single parent. But I think we'll be OK.

Someone's waking up (and sadly, it's not me) so I'm off. And truly off-- I'm headed out of town at the end of the week to visit family, so they can show Elle off. My plans include naps and getting some sun, since the grandparents will be more than happy to take Miss Elle and spoil her rotten. (And probably do a variety of things I'd rather they not do, including feeding her rice cereal; but that's another post.)

See you mid-September!