It’s been a wonderful nine years.
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.
Emily’s second month was a good one. She’s a fantastic little baby, growing and being cute and doing all the things that babies do best.
At two months old, Emily is still a super mellow kid. She likes: cuddling, wiggling on her mat, eating, and sleeping. She doesn’t love tummy time, but she does enjoy impressing everyone with how strong she is. She can hold her head up pretty well, and she loves “standing” with us holding her up. She even accidentally rolled herself over once during tummy time, but it was a total fluke. She happened to tuck her arm underneath herself just the right way and pushed herself onto her side, then over to her back. She hasn’t done it since, so I won’t go bragging about my early roller just yet. (But she’s such a strong baby, seriously.)
She’s gotten into a pretty good eat-play-sleep rhythm in the last couple of weeks, which has made our days a bit easier in that we’re not constantly guessing what she wants when she fusses. Instead, we can look at what she’s done recently, figure out where in the eat-play-sleep cycle she is, and accommodate her needs accordingly. She likes to mix it up sometimes, but for the most part, she’s pretty easy to please.
She dislikes: being bored when it’s play time, being hungry, being persuaded to take a nap. Thankfully she’s a good sleeper at night — we’re down to just one wake-up most nights — even if it is harder to convince her to take good naps during the day. Tim has figured out that she naps better when her feet are covered (cold toes aren’t conducive to napping, as it turns out), so the daytime sleep situation is improving too.
Milestones this month: First real smiles, which may or may not have brought tears of joy to my eyes. (Okay, they definitely did.)
First time swimming — she was completely unfazed by the pool. She just kept being her mellow self, albeit a slightly wetter version.
First time meeting her G.G. (Great-Grandma), combined with her first weekend at my parents’ house in Ft. Collins.
This month was also my first Mother’s Day with 2 kiddos. It was wonderful.
She got a clean bill of health at her 2-month checkup, and didn’t even react too badly to the dreaded 2-month shots, further cementing her status as the World’s Mellowist Baby. She weighed in at 11 pounds and half an ounce, and about 22 inches long. She’s solidly in the 50th percentile, and healthy as can be.
And she’s also super adorable, obviously.
Emily’s first month has been so different from what I remember of Alexander’s first month. There are the obvious reasons, of course, related to having two kids instead of one, but overall I just feel so much better this time around. My recovery has been easier (although I’m struggling more with lingering baby weight preventing me from fitting into even my biggest non-maternity pants, but let’s try not to dwell on that) and, despite being exhausted pretty much all the time, the newborn days are just so much easier when you’ve been through them before. (Thanks, Captain Obvious.)
I remember, with Alexander, being so scared of doing anything with him by myself. If he needed a bath, for example, I always waited until Tim was home and could help me make sure I didn’t bump his fragile, slippery little head on the side of the baby tub, accidentally drown him, etc. I think A. was probably a couple months old, at least, before I dared give him a bath by myself, and even then I was terrified of accidentally breaking him.
I’ve had no such hesitation with Emily; five-and-a-half weeks in, and I’ve given her almost every bath on my own without fear. (This is not to say that Tim doesn’t help; he does help, a lot. It’s just easy for me to bathe Emily during the day when Tim’s at work and A’s at daycare, so that’s when I do it.) It’s a good thing, too, because Little Miss likes to spit up all over me some mornings (luckily only on mornings when I was already planning to give her a bath), and we’d have long, stinky days ahead of us if I waited until Tim was home to bathe her.
The occasional epic milkbarf aside (she doesn’t spit up often, but when she does, it gets everywhere), Emily’s completely wonderful. She’s growing like crazy, as babies tend to do. She doesn’t have her 1-month check up until next week (on her 6-week birthday…oops. Apparently I’m not as good at scheduling timely well-checks this time around), but a non-scientific check on our scale at home puts her right around 10 pounds already.
It shouldn’t surprise me, seeing as how she’s a great eater and has grown out of a lot of newborn-sized clothes, but it still blows my mind that she’s gained nearly 4 pounds in just a month.
She’s strong, too. She can hold her head up on her own for several seconds at a time, and she does some pretty impressive push-ups during tummy time.
I get the feeling she’s going to be an early crawler; whenever I lay her down on her play mat, I can tell she’s frustrated about not being able to move. She tries to roll over, works her arms and legs like crazy, and squawks in frustration when she can’t get to a toy that’s just out of her reach. She really wants to move.
Emily’s spending more and more time awake every day, and it’s so much fun to see her little personality develop. She’s getting more alert and expressive, and I love seeing her little eyes light up when she sees something she likes and/or recognizes.
The other day, a friend was holding her while I chased Alexander around the house, and when Emily heard my voice as I walked by, she immediately arched her back and twisted her head to look in my direction. For her, it was probably just a moment of, “Hey! I just heard the Milk Lady walk by! Come back, Milk Lady!” But for me, it was a very cool moment of, “My daughter recognizes my voice!”
She’s an okay sleeper, and overall, the newborn sleep-deprivation has been easier for me to deal with this time than it was with Alexander. However, I’m also impatient to be done with this multiple-wake-ups-per-night phase. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only been a month, and it’s actually pretty good that I’m getting about 3 hours of sleep at a time. But, man, I’m really looking forward to some 5-6 hour stretches of sleep.
Alexander continues to be the world’s best big brother, and he melts our hearts every day with how sweet he is with his baby sister. He asks a lot of questions about her and loves telling us everything he knows about babies. He frequently comments on her tiny, adorable feet, then reminds me to feed her lots of milk so she can grow big like him. If we ask her a question, Alexander will pipe up with, “Her doesn’t know how to talk yet,” in a tone that implies we should stop wasting our breath asking her questions she can’t answer. This doesn’t stop him from talking to her and asking her questions, of course, but he’s awfully quick to correct us. He also constantly brings her toys to play with, and gives her hugs and kisses every chance he gets. I know they won’t always get along perfectly, but I’m so excited to watch their friendship develop. Emily’s very lucky to have Alexander as her big brother.
Here she is on her one-month birthday:
She’s an awfully cute little munchkin. I think we’ll keep her.
I forgot to mention in my last post the fact that Alexander tripled in size while we were at the hospital having Emily. I didn’t notice it when he came to visit us, but when we got home, my baby boy was suddenly HUGE. It’s most obvious in his hands and feet; rather than itty-bity, chubby, little baby hands and feet, he somehow is sporting these giant, big-kid hands and feet. Where did they come from? How did this happen?
I guess I should have seen the warning signs. He recently saw an episode of Super Why featuring the giant from “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and ever since, he’s been going around muttering “Fee, four, five, fum!” He’ll start this chant at random points throughout the day, announcing with glee, “I’m a giant! I live on top of the bean-stop!” Sometimes, hours after we put him to bed, we’ll hear him whispering over the monitor: “Fee, four, five, fum!” I thought he was just pretending, having a good laugh. But, in fact, this is no game of pretend. He actually is a giant.
At his 30-month check-up today, the doctor told us he’s 32 pounds and just over 3 feet tall. I spend 36 hours away from him to go have a baby, and he goes and grows into a full-grown kid. Not only full-grown, but positively gigantic.
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