Emily had a busy month! Let’s get right to the photo highlights, shall we?
She had her first 4th of July. She spent the morning lounging poolside, waiting for someone to bring her an umbrella drink.
She found her feet! She likes playing with lots of different toys, but her feet are a big favorite since they’re always nearby.
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.
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.
Emily and Walker holding hands — already best buddies!
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.)
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.
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.
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.
At her 4-month checkup, Emily weighed in at 13.5 pounds and 24.5 inches long. She’s growing like a champ!
Alexander talks up a storm all day, every day, and he’s getting better at pronouncing words properly all the time. He no longer says “Huppa-cotter” for helicopter or “Boo-mint truck” for cement truck. And long gone are the days of insisting a monkey is called a “bacon.” Despite the dwindling adorable mispronunciations, the kid still makes us laugh every day with the things that come out of his mouth. Here are a few of my recent favorites.
After eating pizza, all the while exclaiming how much he likes it, and even asking for seconds and thirds: “Why did you make pizza? I wanted a hot dog.”
Whenever he sees me wearing a skirt: “Oh, Mommy! You look like a princess!”
When something doesn’t go exactly as planned: “That’s okay. Sometimes that happens.”
When I tell him he’s a silly bean: “No, I’m not a bean. I’m just Alexander.”
When he’s pretending to be a frog and I tell him he’s doing some good hopping: “I think you mean, ‘Good hopping, Mister Frog.'”
When we left his cousin Maeta’s house one day: “We need to get a crane and pick up Maeta’s house and put it next to my house.”
About Emily: “Aw, what a cute little baby!”
I had to help Alexander go potty at a neighbor’s house and asked the neighbor to hold Emily while I took A. to the bathroom. When we came back out, he walked straight up to the neighbor (who he’d just met) and said, “Now can we please have our baby back?”
One day we were getting out of the car, and I said “Hi, pretty girl” to Emily as I unbuckled her. Alexander asked me, “Are you getting the pretty girl?”
When we drive past the hospital. Seriously, every single time: “Oh, there’s the building! That’s where you guys got Baby Sister out of your tummy. And now you can carry me!” (The most important part of this story is the fact that I can carry Alexander now that Baby Sister is finally out of my tummy.)
Referring to his tears after he’s been crying: “There’s crying in my eyes.”
When he spotted some dandelions on the way to the park: “Oh! Look at these lovely flowers!”
Several times while we were swimming on the Fourth of July: “What a beautiful day at the pool!”
He is constantly narrating his own life, and he gleefully tells everyone what he’s doing, usually punctuating each word with an excited jump. One night we were out to dinner and I had to take him to the bathroom. There was a man outside the bathroom, waiting for his daughter, and Alexander proudly informed him, “We’re going potty!”
At bedtime, he asked me to tell him a story about Santa, Aladdin, Clifford, and a monkey. So I started with, “Once upon a time, Aladdin and Clifford went to the North Pole…” He interrupted “Yeah! And then we took off our clothes and went swimming! We went swimming in the North Pool!”
A few weeks ago, we went to a kids’ festival sponsored by Rocky Mountain PBS, and Alexander got to meet Super Why.
It was basically the best day of his life, as evidenced by his ear-to-ear grin.
Later that night, totally out of the blue, Alexander exclaimed critically, “Hey! That Super Why didn’t have a Why Writer!” (We assured him that Super Why’s friend Alpha Pig was probably holding his Why Writer for him so he’d have both hands free to give Alexander hugs.)
Alexander is totally obsessed with Aladdin lately, and he requests viewings of “The Genie Show” on a near-daily basis. Every night at bedtime, we get to tell “The Aladdin Story,” highlighting his favorite parts of the movie (mostly centered around the Cave of Wonders; that boy loves the Cave of Wonders) and usually starring Alexander in the role of Aladdin’s Best Friend. (Sometimes Mommy, Daddy, and/or Emily get to be in the story, too.) Frequently, after I tell the Aladdin story, Alexander says “Now it’s my turn!” And then something like this happens:
Transcript: Once upon a time, there was a boy named Aladdin, and his friend, Daddy! And they did the “One-Step” dance and got some bread. And then they went to the Cave of Wonders. And the Cave of Wonders said, “Who disturbs my slumber?” And they said, “It is I, Aladdin.” And– and– “It is I, Daddy.” And they went into the Cave of Wonders, and they found a magic carpet, and a magic lamp, and then that– Abu, that silly monkey, touched the Forbidden Treasure. So they went down the slide. And then, the magic carpet saved them from the hot stuff on the ground. And then a genie came outside. And the Genie said, “You get wishes!” And Daddy said, “I wish to be a rabbit!” And the Genie said, “Poof! You’re a rabbit.” And the Genie turned Aladdin into a train! And the Genie said, “Poof! You’re a train.” And then they stomped off to the palace. And then, the– Oh. I guess I didn’t say the soaked part. I guess they did not get soaked.* They stomped off to the palace, and then they stomped back to the palace, and they lived happily after. The end!
As you can see, not all of the adorable mispronunciations are a thing of the past. He is such a cute little stinker.
*The “soaked part” refers to the part of the movie where Jafar has Aladdin (a/k/a Prince Ali Ababwa) thrown into the sea. Usually when Alexander is telling the story, he emphasizes, “And then Pwince Ali Bwa Bwa got soaked!” He’s very concerned about the fact that our story’s hero gets all wet and needs dry clothes.
Somehow, Emily is three months old already. I can’t believe it. Weren’t we just bringing her home from the hospital yesterday?
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.