Two week recap November 25, 2009
Well, it has certainly been a crazy couple of weeks.
First of all, let’s talk about Maggie’s head. Two weeks ago at her 2 month well baby appointment, the pediatrician noted that the soft spot on the top of Maggie’s head felt smaller than it should. Her exact words were “Do not panic. I will tell you if/when you need to panic”, but to be on the safe side, she sent us for an ultrasound to get a better idea of what was going on since the ultrasound would be a lot more exact than just her touch. So I didn’t think much of it, and we scheduled an appointment the next day at Children’s Hospital to get it done. Needless to say, Maggie did not like having the lady squeeze gel onto her head and roll the wand around on it.
The next day, we got a call from the pediatrician’s office confirming that, yes, her soft spot is extremely narrow, but it’s still open. They were also worried about the possibility of it closing way way sooner than it should, so they told us to take her to get her head X-rayed so that they could see the bone structure of her skull. The nurse that I spoke to was very matter-of-fact and very calm and very helpful with answering my questions about where we needed to go. I called Children’s, found out that we didn’t need an appointment for X-rays, and thought that we’d just go the next day.
THEN I got off the phone and googled “soft spot closing early” and FREAKED THE EFF OUT. Terms like “severe mental retardation” and “surgery in the first year of life to relieve the pressure” were mentioned, among other equally scary things. Fifteen minutes later, Mike was pulling in the driveway from work and I was on my way down the steps to meet him with Maggie in tow. We made the drive in record time, did the whole fill-out-the-paperwork dance, and waited our turn.
Maggie liked the X-ray even less than the ultrasound. And it broke my heart to see her thrashing around on a big slab of metal with the protective pad over the rest of her body while three people tried to keep her calm and get all of the pictures they needed. It turns out that, for now, everything is OK. They’ll just have to keep an eye on her head measurements to make sure it’s growing the way it should and that the soft spot isn’t closing prematurely. So although it could be worse, I get that nervous fluttery feeling inside when I think about it and start to imagine what will happen at her next appointment if her head hasn’t grown.
At the end of that week was our 10 year anniversary. Mike and I went out alone for the first time for a few hours while Mike’s sister watched Maggie. It was such a weird feeling for both of us to be out without the baby, and we spent a lot of the time talking about her and missing her, but it was nice to have some alone time with Mike outside of the house.
Last Monday was my last day of maternity leave. We had decided to start Maggie in daycare that day and Mike took off work so that we could both take her, get her settled, and get our crying out of the way without having to rush off to work. We had a ton of errands to run for the American Cancer Society benefit that we do, so it worked out well that we kept busy while she was there so that we weren’t tempted to just sit in the parking lot and talk ourselves out of going back in to get her.
Daycare has worked out pretty well. We really like the staff and the facility. It’s very clean and they’re very organized and, most importantly, we’re comfortable with the care that she’s getting. The infant room is segregated from the other kids and the adults either have to take their shoes off prior to entering or wear booties over their shoes to keep the carpet as clean as possible for the kids that are crawling. Maggie’s in with 5 other kids, roughly 4-10 months old, so she’s the youngest.
Last Wednesday when I got there to pick her up in the afternoon, I saw that her crib had been moved from one side of the room to another. I asked about it and was told that she and the girl in the crib next to her were “talking” and waking each other up during naptime so they separated them. Yes, my 2 month old daughter got in trouble on her third day of daycare. For talking. I can only imagine what the teenage years will bring!
MAKING IT ALL WORK
We seem to have a pretty good schedule figured out for the mornings, and Maggie was very cooperative last week by staying asleep until WE were ready for her to get up. I get up and get showered, dressed, and dry my hair. Mike gets up and gets in the shower while I finish getting ready. I get Maggie up, change her diaper, and get her dressed. Mike starts to feed her while I get my lunch packed, and then I sit with them for a few minutes until it’s time for me to leave. Mike drops her off at daycare since he typically doesn’t leave the house until an hour after I do, so that’s one less hour she has to be there and can be with one of us instead.
She’s exhausted by the time she gets home. There’s a lot more for her to look at during the day now than there is at home and a lot more activity and it really wears her out. She’s been napping a little better at daycare than she was at home, and her caretakers are amazed that they can just lay her down in the crib and she’ll fall asleep since there are other, older, kids there that are so resistant to sleeping in a crib and have to be in a swing to fall asleep. I think I can honestly say that she gets her ability to sleep anywhere from me!
Mike and I don’t eat dinner until we put Maggie to bed at night. She’s been ready for her last bottle and to fall asleep by 7:00 each night, so we only have an hour and a half to spend with her before she conks out and I don’t want to waste that time eating dinner. While I was off, I spent a few Saturdays cooking in bulk and freezing meals, and that has worked out incredibly well. It seemed to cost an arm and a leg at the grocery store at the time, even though I would buy meat and the more expensive things when they were on sale. But the extra expense upfront has been well worth the time saved each night now. We’re eating a home-cooked meal and not wasting a ton of time cooking and cleaning up. And it should save some time at the grocery store now each week. Once we near the end of these meals—I made enough to last us through January—I’ll have to devote some time once or twice a month to stocking up, but it’s so worth it.
I’m also trying to get in the habit of laying out Maggie’s clothes for the week, and also my own, on Sunday nights, so that there are a few less things to think about in the morning during the week.
RETURNING TO WORK
Not as bad as I expected, but still tough leaving Maggie each day. I was overwhelmed at first, forgetting passwords and where to find certain files that I needed. But within a few hours I had gotten back into the swing of things and it was like I had never left. And even though I’m busy all day, the time seems to drag, which it never did before. Now I’m counting the hours until I can see Maggie again.
Most of you know that Mike and I run a benefit each year for the American Cancer Society. It was this past Saturday, so we had all of the preparations for that combined with me returning to work falling in the same week—needless to say, it was a crazy week! This year’s event was fantastic. We had over 200 people, which is more than we had ever had before. We ended up getting some great silent auction items which brought in a lot of money. Donations are still coming in from people that couldn’t attend but want to contribute. We’ll be over $8000 this year once it’s all said and done, and that amazes me. With as tough as things are financially for so many, it’s great that people are able to open their wallets and contribute to such a good cause. Thank you to everyone that came to the benefit or donated online—we really appreciate it. And if you haven’t donated but have a few extra bucks that you’d be willing to part with, please visit our website.
The benefit has gotten a little bigger each year, and I’ve slowly been letting go of my need to be a control freak about how things happen that night. And, this year, with Maggie added into the mix, I think I realized that I can’t do it all. I tried to sell raffle tickets along with one of our friends that we recruited for the job, but my mind wasn’t on it. Maggie hung out in the Baby Bjorn for awhile, but she got really hot in it which made her fussy. And since she was awake later than usual, she needed an extra bottle. So I had to give up on the tickets, grab my sister-in-law to fill in for me, and take Maggie into a side room to settle her down and feed her. Mike was concerned about her being OK, so he was leaving his post by the door and having his sister’s friends fill in for him. Without the help of Mike’s sister, her friends, and our friend Jen, the night would have been chaos. Maggie was really good the whole night, smiling at everyone and wide awake early on, and then falling asleep in her chair for about an hour. But she woke up cranky at 11:30 and I knew she had had enough. We had gotten a room at the hotel a block away to make it easier at the end of the night, and it was definitely worth it. Mike and I took her back to the room and I stayed with her while he went back to clean up.
MAGGIE’S FIRST COLD
So many people have told me that daycares are cesspools of germs and illness, but this one gets blamed on me. I woke up with a cold last Monday. Bad timing with all we had going on last week, but I don’t have room to complain since I went all of last winter cold-free and flu-free. It got worse as the week progressed, and I started to lose my voice on Thursday. Saturday night at the hotel, I noticed that Maggie seemed to be a little congested, and by Sunday night it was definitely a cold. On Monday Mike decided to work from home and keep Maggie home from daycare so that he could keep an eye on her to make sure she didn’t get worse. Technically, she could have gone since she didn’t have a fever, but he felt better knowing that she was being closely monitored. Other than the congestion, she was fine all day.
Monday night she went to bed at her usual time, but woke up 2 hours later because she was so congested. We put her in her chair and she fell asleep—I think the little bit of incline helped everything drain and made it easier for her to breathe. She slept in our room last night because we expected to be up a lot, but she slept pretty soundly until 5:00 this morning. We suctioned her, fed her, and she fell asleep in her crib. When I left the house a little before 7:00, Mike wasn’t sure how the day would play out, but she ended up sleeping until 8:00 and then he took her in to daycare—she was smiling and giggling and fine except for a little congestion. Same for today, so hopefully she’ll be back to normal in a day or so.
Well, that sums up my life for the past 2 weeks or so. Now I’m excited to have 4 days off work to spend with Maggie (and Mike too, of course)!
Going back November 15, 2009
I go back to work on Tuesday.
“Conflicted” doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.
I have to go back. I don’t have a choice. The little things like health insurance, retirement plans, and, well, a paycheck, make it necessary for me to go.
But, if I had a choice, if money and benefits were not an issue, would I want to stay home?
Actually, no. At least not full time.
I feel guilty even typing that.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being here with Maggie. I’ve fully enjoyed the time I was able to be off. I was thankful that by having a C-section, my doctor wouldn’t release me to return to work for 8 weeks, and then I had 2 weeks of vacation time that I was able to use so that I could have a full 10 weeks with my baby. And I know that when we drop her off at day care, I’ll cry and spend a good portion of the day missing her. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it.
But I need more of a challenge, I guess you could say. Not that raising a child isn’t challenging enough, but I sometimes feel the need for “shop talk” that doesn’t revolve around children. I need more adult interaction, a reason to wear something nicer than jeans, someplace to go where I can take a purse instead of a diaper bag.
And I feel so selfish wanting that.
I know that by the end of next week (if not sooner), I’ll be longing for the days to be like they’ve been for the past two months. The novelty of returning to work will wear off quickly. I’m only the third woman at my company to have a child since it was founded over 15 years ago and will be the first one to come back; the other two quit after their children were born. Most of the people I work with are older than me, and most are men. With the exception of a few, no one’s really going to want to hear me blather on about Maggie. There will soon be a such a sharp division between “work” and “home”, and I know that will irritate me to a degree.
I’m a fairly organized person (just don’t look in my basement or garage, because either one would totally blow your mind). But my organization skills are going to be put to the test once I go back to work. Being off work, I’ve been able to keep the house somewhat clean. I’m almost always caught up on laundry (but I love doing laundry, so don’t let that depress you if you have mounds of it to do). I’ve been able to spend time blogging. I started my Christmas shopping, something I usually don’t do until mid-December. I even cooked a real dinner every once in awhile (and I freaking HATE to cook).
But once I go back, that will all change. And quickly. Just the thought of getting up in the morning, getting Maggie up/dressed/fed, making bottles to go with her to day care, getting showered and dressed, packing my lunch, and getting out the door by 7:15 at the absolute latest makes me want to curl up in a ball. Figuring out how to get the house clean, the laundry done, errands and grocery shopping accomplished, and meals made is going to be a juggling act. I’ll have about 2 precious hours each day to spend with Maggie during the week, and I’m already feeling a little bitter about that. There won’t be enough hours in the day.
I’m whining, I know. So many people do this. People with more job responsibilites and longer hours. People who travel for their job and don’t even have the chance to spend 2 hours a day with their children. People with more children. People with children that don’t sleep as much or as soundly as mine does at night. People who don’t have a spouse that is willing to help. People that don’t have a spouse at all.
I know it will all work out. That we’ll get into a routine. That some things will be sacrificed (such as cleaning the bathrooms, because I hate cleaning bathrooms). We’ll find our balance. We’ll find our groove. We’ll hit the lottery. OK, maybe I’m stretching it on that last one.
But right now, I’m overwhelmed. I want to work. I want to stay home. I don’t know what the hell I want.
So, I guess the ideal situation would be for me to work part-time, get paid what I do now (or more . . .) for working full-time, retain my health benefits and retirement plan and stock options, and have the flexibility to work when I want. Then I could still have a lot of the day to spend with Maggie and wouldn’t have to put her in (or pay for) day care. Is that too much to ask, really?
OK, back to reality!
Beginning November 13, 2009
As our tenth wedding anniversary neared, I felt that I had to write something special, to look back upon what Mike and I have shared in our life together up until this point. I figured I’d start at the logical place, the beginning. But, as silly as it sounds, I didn’t know what the true beginning was.
Was it the day we met for the first time? I can pin that down to a season, but not a particular day. And our relationship wasn’t one of those “love at first sight” deals where our eyes locked across a crowded room. There wasn’t even a specific moment where we fell in love with each other.
Was it when we started dating? That, too, is fuzzy. We would date for awhile and then, not wanting to limit our options, date other people. It’s just that we explored those options, found them lacking, and regardless of the time that had passed, ended up back together. There was never truly a “first date.”
So I elected to write this post in the manner that our relationship evolved . . .slowly. Looking back, it’s like we were little kids at the beach for the first time, looking out at the vastness of the ocean ahead of us, scared to death of the unknown. We stood at the shoreline and dipped our toes in, hesitating to go further, afraid to commit, waiting for the water to warm up. Inch by inch, we slid our feet into the depths, panicked when we couldn’t see clearly, and then frantically pulled back. Only to have to start over again, although a little less afraid.
Overall, it took months to write this. I would get into it with such intensity, abandon it for awhile, and then find my way back to it. I’m thankful that thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years ago, I had the sense to find my way back to Mike, that we found our way back to each other. Because, truly, my life would never have turned out the way it did without him.
It was 1993, the beginning of the fall semester of my sophomore year. Two friends and I shared a bedroom in a suite in Bruce Hall, with three strangers in the other bedroom. One of those girls, Heather, was a little older than the rest of us, was originally from Pittsburgh, and ended up hanging out a lot with friends from her high school that were also students at Pitt.
One of those friends was a guy named Mike. Not my Mike, so for the purposes of this post, I’ll call Heather’s friend “MikeG” and my Mike “MikeL.” MikeG lived in a house off-campus that he shared with a few other guys, one of whom was MikeL. They were all old enough to drink legally or had fake IDs, and there were many nights when they would all go out to the bars (the cool bars that didn’t serve underage college kids), and stop back at our suite afterwards, telling us of their adventures. And there were random times when a few of us girls and a few of the guys would all grab a bite to eat, or go see a free movie at the auditorium at David Lawrence.
It wasn’t long before Heather and MikeG started dating, and we started to see more of the guys than we did before–we travelled in packs, after all. One weekend, the guys had a party at their house. I’m sure they didn’t want a bunch of underage sophomore girls there, and I’m sure Heather didn’t really want us tagging along, but we talked her into inviting us. I didn’t have much to drink that night, so when MikeL stopped me on the stairway as I headed down to the dungeon of a basement to use the bathroom and said, “You want to kiss me, don’t you?”, I was totally turned off (because, you know, that would have sounded like a great come-on line–and probably would have been much better received–if I had had a few drinks in me at the time). What a pompous jerk.
In some ways, that was the beginning.
We flirted, we hung out together. Sometimes we were part of a bigger group; sometimes we were alone. It was never anything serious. We were friends, brought together by other friends.
At some point during the spring semester of that year, a study partner from one of my business classes offered to sneak me into the Upstage. It was very clever of him, really. He went in, got his hand stamped, left, and we went to an office supply store where he bought a fine tipped black pen. We went into the McDonald’s next door and sat down. He licked his stamp and used it to imprint my hand. Once he had the faint imprint on my hand, he drew the rest of the design using the pen. I then went to the bathroom, ran my hand under the faucet, and used a paper towel to blot at my fake stamp to get the faded stamped look. I sailed right into the Upstage.
Both MikeL and MikeG were there, along with my roommate Heather and a few other friends. I ditched my study partner (who by that point was drunk and just a little bit creepy and gropy) and hung out with all of them the rest of the night. Two o’clock rolled around and MikeL and I left. Mike convinced me that we should go to another bar, one close to his house, so we set off down the street. The bar, Babylon, was closed–after all, it was after 2:00. Mike, gentleman that he was, refused to walk me back to my dorm and asked me to stay at his house. To this day we laugh about how he tricked me and how I insisted over and over that I would sleep on the couch because I wasn’t “that kind of girl.”
In some ways, that was the beginning.
The next school year, I moved into an apartment off-campus, one street away from the house that Mike still shared with friends. Both groups–the guys and the girls–were constantly in each others’ lives, at each others’ parties, in each others’ classes. Mike would come over to borrow notes from classes. He would stop by after he got done with work on Friday nights. He was my “date” for formal events I attended.
One night I even sought refuge at his house when I was hiding from a crazy guy I had been dating for a few months who went berserk on me and got really abusive. I was literally running from him and was afraid to lead him back to my apartment, so I made it to Mike’s house and got inside before he could catch me. Mike distracted him for awhile so that I could sneak out the back door, climb the fence in the back (and tear my favorite sweatshirt), and make my way through various backyards to my apartment building.
In some ways, that was the beginning.
As the months passed, we became really good friends. At points it seemed like we were kind of dating, but not really. It definitely wasn’t serious; I don’t think either of us wanted any form of commitment at that point, afraid to mess up the friendship. The summer after my junior year rolled around and I stayed in Pittsburgh instead of going back home.
Mike and I were on the phone one day, I think it was in late May or early June, and he got off the phone suddenly, saying he’d call me right back. He never called. Not that day, not the next. He had graduated by this point, and had moved back home with his parents. I called his house and left a message with his Dad. When he still didn’t call, I took the next logical step. I had my friends call his house repeatedly. As the weeks passed and I still hadn’t heard from him, I let it go.
That definitely WASN’T the beginning.
The fall semester of my senior year, I was out with my roommates and ran into Mike and some of his friends at CJ’s. I was so angry with him that I could barely meet his eyes. It had been five or six months since we had even talked to each other, after over a year of talking to each other just about every day.
I agreed to go for a walk with him. We walked around the block, in the cold, slowly. And, also slowly, we started to talk to each other. By the time we made it back to the bar, we were friends again. It was almost like no time had passed at all since we had seen each other.
I was dating someone else by this point, a guy I had known and had classes with for a few years. J and I decided to go to New York City after finals were over that December to see Miss Saigon. It was a horrible trip. The hotel lost our reservation, there was a blizzard, and J and I realized that we weren’t really meant to be together. He dropped me off at my parents’ house on the way back to Pittsburgh. The longest car ride of my life.
I ended up back in Pittsburgh the week between Christmas and New Year’s. All of my roommates were gone over the holidays, so I had the apartment to myself. I went out with some friends New Year’s Eve and intended to spend New Year’s Day by myself, reading and watching TV and just being lazy.
Mike knocked on my apartment door unexpectedly that day. He was on his way home from a party at Seven Springs and stopped by to give me a Christmas present. He ended up staying for awhile and we watched Oregon play in whatever bowl game they were in that year.
It was the beginning of a new year, and in some ways, it was the beginning for us.
J and I had broken up, Mike ended the relationship he was in at that point, and we’ve been together ever since. Three years later we were engaged. And on November 13, 1999, we were married.
It wasn’t the beginning, but it was a beginning.
We’ve never really been the kind of couple to take note of or celebrate the anniversary of our first kiss or our first date. And we’ve never really done anything special for our wedding anniversary. Sometimes it was an excuse to go out to dinner, sometimes we just spent a quiet evening at home. And even now, on our tenth anniversary, we’ll probably just go to a casual dinner, if that. Because it’s not THAT DAY that’s important. It’s EVERY day.
And today, 10 years after we were married, over 15 years after we first met, I still feel like we’re at the beginning.
It’s just that now, unlike all of those years ago, we’re a lot more sure of where we’re headed.
Someone in our house weighs 13lbs 1 oz . . . November 9, 2009
. . .and has been a bit cranky since her shots this morning. She’s taking a nice long nap and will hopefully feel better when she wakes up.
Two Months November 8, 2009
Somehow, two months have flown by. This next week will be my last week off work, my last chances to spend hour after hour, day after day in a row with Mags. I’ve always looked forward to the weekends, and once I go back to work I know I’ll look forward to them more than ever.
Maggie has such a personality. She likes to “talk” really really loud–so loud that it drowns out the TV if it’s on. She’s becoming more and more aware of her surroundings and is getting more control when she moves her arms and legs. I’m starting to understand her a little better and am able to read her “signs”.
She’s a very happy baby. But when she’s hungry, it’s typically not a gradual progression. She goes from extremely happy to violent meltdown in a matter of seconds. Anyone who was in the post office in my area last week may have witnessed one of those meltdowns. It was so quick and so extreme that we left without mailing the packages just so that she could get fed as soon as humanly possible!
She’s such a good sleeper. She rarely WANTS to fall asleep (she’s very nosy and would rather look around than go to sleep), but once she does, it’s for long periods of time. She’s usually asleep by 8:00 or 8:30 each night and stays in her crib until at least 6:30 or so. She started doing that 3 weeks ago and at first I thought it was a fluke, but then it happened night after night. She’ll wake up in the middle of the night a few times, although she rarely cries. We’ll wake up because we hear her “talking” or moving around and go in and put her pacifier in and she’ll drift right back to sleep. Even when she wakes up in the morning, she’ll lay in her crib and “talk” to herself until we realize she’s awake and come in and get her. She’s even started sleeping during the day now. She used to only fall asleep for longer than 20-30 minutes if we went somewhere in the car. The 3 days we were home during the day in the past week I was able to lay her down in her crib and she took a 2 1/2 -3 hour nap each time. She still takes a 30 minute catnap in the morning and one later in the day.
She’s also a good eater. A REALLY good eater. She usually averages about 32 oz of formula in a 24 hour period, 6-7 ounces at a time. We go to the doctor tomorrow for her 2 month checkup and I’m anxious to see what she weighs. We went to our baptism class on Thursday night and there was a couple that had their 11 week old baby there. He was a smaller baby at birth, around 6 lbs, and is now over 8 lbs. I couldn’t get over the differences between the two of them; Maggie looked like an Amazon next to him! When the mother pulled out a 4 oz bottle to feed him, I almost laughed out loud–we gave up on the 4 oz bottles 2 weeks ago!