Emily’s Fifth Month

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At five months old, Emily continues to be the happiest baby there ever was. Sure, she gets fussy from time to time (incidentally, I had to take several breaks to comfort her while writing this post because she’s really cranky tonight), but when she’s happy, she’s really happy. And it doesn’t take much to make her crack that big ol’ grin, either. She’s positively delighted by: the dogs, her big brother, her toys, her feet, her parents, her grandparents, people she’s only just met…the list goes on and on.

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As she gets more expressive, her little personality is starting to shine through, and — surprise, surprise — it’s lots of fun. When I see her make goofy faces at me, it makes me all the more excited to see what she’s going to be like as a toddler. I can’t wait to hear all the things she has to tell us. I mean, look at this face. You just know she’s got some hilarious stories to tell.

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There’s another part of me, though, that wants to tell her to just slow down — stop growing up so fast! I remember being so impatient for Alexander to grow up and reach all the big milestones. With Emily, I’m really not a hurry for her to grow up and stop being my tiny baby. She has her own ideas about that, of course. She’s rolling all over the place and can get across a room in a matter of minutes. She’s babbling and laughing and blowing raspberries and flirting with the baby in the mirror. And then, on her five-month birthday, this:

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She sits up now! Totally unsupported! Alexander didn’t sit unsupported until he was six-and-a-half months old, so she’s way ahead of the game by those standards. I know every baby is different, but it’s so interesting to me to see the similarities and differences between my own two kids’ development. I expected Emily to do things a little earlier than Alexander since she has him to mimic/keep up with. But I did not expect her to hit milestones a full six weeks before he did. Crazy little overachiever. (She still doesn’t sleep through the night, though. That’s one milestone she can hurry up and reach any day now.)

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Speaking of Alexander, he adores her, and she him. I know they won’t always get along perfectly, but at the moment they’re best buddies, and hopefully they’ll stay that way for quite awhile. Seeing her face light up when he comes into view, and seeing him help her figure out new toys…my heart is so full.

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Emily’s other big milestone this month was starting solid foods. (Alexander, of course, was right there to help her out.) She took to it like a champ, and it only took a few bites of rice cereal before she was opening her mouth wide, baby-bird style, waiting for another spoonful. She ate rice cereal for a couple weeks before moving up to vegetable purees, and so far, so good. She’s not a huge fan of green beans, but everything else we’ve offered, she’s gobbled up enthusiastically.

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Did I mention that she also scoots all over the place in her walker? Seriously, kid, with the growing up too fast! Oh, but she’s so proud of herself when she manages to scoot across the kitchen to me in that contraption. She’s not great at steering, though, and we frequently have to re-direct her when she’s stuck up against the kitchen island or has a wheel wedged under the couch. An Emily in motion would very much like to stay in motion, and she’s not shy at all about expressing her displeasure when she gets stuck somewhere.

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Her other favorite place to hang out is in her jumparoo. We introduced her to it shortly after she turned four moths old, and she was immediately impressed. And then! She learned how to swivel herself around in the seat! And discovered more toys at every turn! The first time she turned herself  around and discovered another set of toys, the expression of sheer delight that came across her face was priceless. And then she turned a little further and was delighted all over again when she found even more new toys. Babies really know how to appreciate life’s simple pleasures.

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I think I’ve written before about how Alexander is the world’s biggest Daddy’s boy. He loves me, sure, but he very much prefers Tim. If he needs something and I try to help him, nine times our of ten he’ll respond with cries of “No, not you! I wanted Daddy!” It’s fun.

Emily, though. I know it’s a little early to say for sure, but I can already tell she loves me best. There are the usual indicators, like the fact that I can usually comfort her quicker than Tim if she’s upset, and the way she can be sleeping peacefully in my arms then start fussing the instant I try to hand her off to Tim. But the real proof is this: Every single time she’s been dressed in an “I love Daddy” or “Daddy’s little princess” onesie, she’s had a major diaper blowout, forcing us to change her outfit. Every time. (Okay, there was maybe one day she managed to wear a “Daddy’s girl” onesie all day without soiling it, but that was obviously a fluke.) Doesn’t get much clearer than that, folks. This girl loves her Mama.

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Daddy’s still pretty good too, though.

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So there you have it: Emily at 5 months. She’s 14.3 pounds of happy energy who can barely sit still long enough for me to get a non-blurry picture. And she’s positively delightful.

 

Emily’s Fourth Month

Emily had a busy month! Let’s get right to the photo highlights, shall we?

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She had her first 4th of July. She spent the morning lounging poolside, waiting for someone to bring her an umbrella drink.

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She found her feet! She likes playing with lots of different toys, but her feet are a big favorite since they’re always nearby.

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She got baptized! We had her baptism on July 20th so that my best friend, Amy, who Emily’s godmother, could be here for the ceremony. It was a nice ceremony, and it was wonderful getting to spend the morning with Amy and her family.

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Amy’s kids are very close in age to Alexander and Emily — her daughter is 5 days older than Alexander, and her son is 7 weeks younger than Emily. They live in Boston, so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, but it’s always a great time when we do get together.

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Emily and Walker holding hands — already best buddies!

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She rolled over! She’d been rolling back-to-front for a few weeks, but then she’d get mad because she was stuck on her belly. Then one day she finally figured out how to roll front-to-back, and everything was great again. She’s rolling a full month earlier than Alexander did, and she couldn’t be more pleased with herself. I expect her to be crawling any week now. (I’m only half joking about that.)

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Alexander’s the sweetest big brother in the world. He takes such good care of Emily, and always makes sure she has a toy to play with, whether she wants it or not. He loves to smother her in hugs and kisses, and he still likes to hold her and exclaim, “I think she likes me!” just like he’s been doing since the day we brought her home from the hospital. She’s incredibly lucky to have him for a big brother.

Here’s an 8-second video of Emily and her signature full-body smile. That’s her default smile; it’s like she gets so overcome with joy that she can’t help but react with her whole body. And it happens almost every time she smiles. She’s basically the world’s happiest baby.

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At the end of this month, Tim went back to work, so Emily started going to daycare full time. It’s going very well, as expected. Linda, our daycare provider, loves Emily to pieces (who wouldn’t?), and Alexander really likes having Emily at daycare with him.

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Speaking of daycare/working parents, I’ve been at my new job for two months now, and it’s going really well. I love the work, I have a great group of coworkers, and, most of all, I love coming home and being greeted by two kids with ear-to-ear grins. I’m also relived that pumping at work is going much better for me this time than it did the last time around. With Alexander, I could never pump enough to keep up with his appetite, and I just really hated the whole experience. With Emily, for a number of reasons, everything is 100 times better. I’m keeping up with her appetite just fine, and I really don’t mind pumping at work. I look forward to my short breaks throughout the day to unwind for a few minutes, catch up with Twitter and Facebook, and give my brain a break from all things work-related. My initial goal was to make it to 6 months nursing and pumping; that was my goal with Alexander, and I did it, but it was a struggle. Everything’s going so much better this time, though, that I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Of course, things change, and I know there’s no guarantees that I’ll be able to keep up with it. But for now, I plan to keep nursing/pumping for as long as I can. I’d love to make it a full year, but who knows if it’ll work out that way. Regardless, I feel happy with my success thus far, and I count every day that it keeps going well as a win.

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At her 4-month checkup, Emily weighed in at 13.5 pounds and 24.5 inches long. She’s growing like a champ!

Emily’s Third Month

Somehow, Emily is three months old already. I can’t believe it. Weren’t we just bringing her home from the hospital yesterday?

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This past month has been one of adjustment for all of us. Tim started his summer break, Alexander dropped down to part-time daycare for the summer, and I went back to work, leaving Tim at home to wrangle the kids during the week. It’s been great overall; being away from my family has been difficult for me, but I take comfort in knowing they’re all having a great time together. And, I gotta say, the best thing in the world is when, the moment I come home from work, Emily flashes me one of her great big grins. She’s been doing that since my first day of work, and it makes my heart burst every single day. It feels good knowing she’s so happy to see me.

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Emily took her first trip to the zoo this month to celebrate her cousin Johnny’s first birthday. I was at work that day, but Tim reports that Emily slept through the majority of her first zoo experience. (Alexander had a blast, though.)

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Tim has proven himself to be Super Dad over the past month. With Alexander only going to daycare a couple days per week and Emily home all the time, he’s on his own with both kids the majority of the time. When I was home with just Emily, I was lucky to get myself showered and fed; if I did a load or two of laundry I considered it a productive day. Tim, on the other hand, frequently gets both kids out of the house to do fun things (zoo, pool, park, pancake breakfast, etc.) and also manages to have the house straightened up by the time I get home at least once a week. These kids are lucky to have him home with them.

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Emily started sleeping through the night this month, too, which has been amazing. I’ve figured out that she can sleep for about 7-8 hours at a stretch at night. Sometimes she falls asleep early in the evening, and it’s impossible to wake her up and get her to eat when we go to bed later, which means she’s awake and hungry between 2 and 3am. But if she happens to wake up and eat when we go to bed around 9:30, she usually won’t wake up to eat again until 5am. Since my alarm goes off at 5:15, this works out pretty perfectly for me. I get to start my day with baby snuggles before dragging myself out of bed to get ready for work. And then she goes back to sleep for a few more hours, allowing Tim to stay in bed until Alexander gets up at 7. It’s a pretty good system.

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Every night, without fail, she wiggles and squirms until she’s wedged herself sideways in the co-sleeper next to our bed. I can’t imagine it’s comfortable, but she seems to prefer it. Whatever; if she’s sleeping, I’m happy.

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She doesn’t just wiggle at night; she loves to move all day long, too. She can easily roll herself from her back up on to her side, and she uses this trick to spin herself in circles. She’ll roll up to her side, wiggle, and plop down on her back, having rotated a few degrees to the left. She does it over and over again, turning in a full circle in the space of about 10 minutes. She also wiggles her way off her playmat pretty frequently. This girl has places to go, and she’s not about to let a little thing like an inability to crawl stand in her way.

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Emily wasn’t going to have a three-month well-check, but she ended up going to the doctor on her three-month birthday to get a rash checked out (she’s fine), so we got some bonus three-month measurements. (Tim wrangled both kids to the pediatrician and then to the grocery store to pick up Emily’s prescription. Super Dad, seriously.) At her two-month checkup, she was just a hair over 11 pounds. At three-months, she weighed in at 12.3 pounds and 23 inches long. She’s gained nearly a pound and a half in the past month! Apparently she has no complaints about eating from a bottle while I’m at work.

Nine

Then…

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and now:

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It’s been a wonderful nine years.

Back to Work

If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that I’d spend my maternity leave polishing my resume and applying for new jobs, I probably would have laughed at you. I loved my job. The work was satisfying, and I had some really great coworkers. When I started to get burnt out on the daily grind, my manager found other projects for me to work on, allowing me to network with other departments and sharpen my writing and editing skills. I had wonderful flexibility when it came to being able to work from home with a sick kiddo or taking personal time for appointments. My manager and I developed a great professional relationship and even became good friends. It wasn’t a perfect job, but I was happy there, and I was in no hurry to leave.

Back in January, I started working from home full time. I cleaned up our home office, which previously was primarily used as a stroller parking garage and clutter collector, and set up a really nice workspace. Being on daycare dropoff duty meant I didn’t get to be lazy about showering in the mornings, but not going into an office meant it was totally okay to spend my days in yoga pants or my most comfortable (although somewhat tattered) jeans. I got to cook myself whatever I wanted for lunch instead of settling for something I could warm up in a breakroom microwave. (This was Tim’s least favorite aspect of my working from home, as it meant I generated quite a few more dirty dishes for him to deal with.) When Tim and Alexander got home at 4:00, I got to cover Alexander in hugs and kisses, and listen to my two favorite boys play together down the hall during my last hour of work. It was wonderful.

Working from home also meant an easier transition back to work at the end of my maternity leave. The plan was, when I started working again in July, Tim would still be on summer vacation, so he’d be home with Emily, and my going back to work would only take me down the hall from her, not across town. Plus, my last month of leave would overlap with Tim’s first month of summer break, which essentially meant I’d get the whole summer at home with my family. It was going to be amazing.

However, for reasons that aren’t worth getting into, it became apparent a few months ago that it was time to start looking for other career opportunities. And so, although job hunting was one of the last ways I expected to spend my maternity leave, that’s exactly what I did. I knew that applying for jobs shortly after Emily was born meant there was a possibility I’d have to end my maternity leave early if I was offered a job before my leave was over, but I needed to be smart about my situation and do what was best for all of us in the long run.

So when a company offered me a great position several weeks into my job search, I accepted. I asked to push my start date back by two weeks so Emily wouldn’t have to go to daycare while we waited for Tim to finish out the school year, and the company immediately agreed. I spent the last few weeks of my maternity leave soaking up as many baby snuggles as I possibly could between filling out new-hire paperwork and shopping for work clothes that fit my post-baby body. Tim finished work for the summer the last week of May, and I started my new job Monday, June 2.

Starting a new job and going back to work after maternity leave are both anxiety-filled events on their own. Tackling both of them at the same time kicked my stress and uncertainty up to a whole new level. Along with my new-job/back-to-work anxiety, I also struggled with (am still struggling with, if we’re being honest) sadness about ending my maternity leave three weeks earlier than planned and giving up my summer at home with Tim and the kids. I was really looking forward to having a whole summer of family time. Instead, I had only a few days with everyone home together. Throw some extra-fragile postpartum emotions into the mix, and…well. There have been some tears.

Hard as it is to give up my summer family plans, there are so many positives to focus on. Tim is home taking care of Emily through June and July, and it helps tremendously knowing she’s in such good hands. With Alexander only going to daycare part time during the summer, the three of them will really get to bond. And even though I don’t get to be home with everyone, at least I can look forward to lots of family lunch dates over the summer.

On the work front, I am very excited about my new job. It has many of the same qualities I loved about my last job, along with increased job security and opportunity for growth. It’s a slight step up in pay and responsibility, which is always a good direction to move. My first several days have gone really well, and it seems like I’m working with a fantastic group of people. It’s good to be back in an office environment, working side-by-side with my colleagues instead of communicating exclusively over phone and email. This is a good step for my career in a lot of ways, no question.

My maternity leave and subsequent return to work definitely turned out to be much different than I expected. But I know I’m doing the right thing for my family, and I feel good about what the future has in store for us.

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