It's possible that I am not doing entirely as well as one, namely me, would hope.
I've got a call in to the pediatrician's office tonight, at around 9 pm. To the pediatrician on call, who happens to be the chairman, who isn't my boss, but is one of my bosses' boss, so isn't entirely not my boss.
I called in, and am awaiting a call back, because my baby is coughing. Hacking.
She was fine all day, apart from the same runny nose that has been plaguing her the last few days. I still can't find the Ba.by Com.fy Nose (aka Sn.otSucker), so I went to CVS and bought a little baby first aid kit with nasal bulb aspirator to use until I can get to the baby store (where, unforunately, you cannot buy babies, only products for babies) tomorrow to buy the much more effective Sn.otsucker.
But since I put her down, I can hear her hacking every five minutes. In a way that seems far too loud and harsh for such a small baby.
I haven't gotten out the stethoscope to listen to her, because I am sure she must be fine. Plus, as I said before, I really don't want to "play doctor" (or "play nurse practitioner," to be more precise but less succinct) on my own child.
But seriously, I won't be able to sleep in the same room with her the way she's coughing.
On the other hand, how can I not sleep in the same room with her? She's sick and I abandon her???
I don't know, what do you more seasoned mommies do?
(Excuse me while I cough. Yes, I reckon I know where she got this cough from. What I don't know is where I got it from. After my first year of pediatrics -- a new cold every week for ten weeks, then pneumonia, then bronchitis. What a year that was! Anyway, since then I rarely get sick. But this is my third cold since Calliope was born... and I'm not even around sick kids yet! What will happen when I return to the germ fest that is my work?)
Anyway, while I wait for the doctor to call back, I am pumping.
I've started pumping at night in addition to the mornings because I'm nervous about my milk supply holding up. Yes, I have three gallon zi.ploc bags in the freezer filled with little baggies of milk. But my milk supply used to be so overly abundant, and I'm worried that now it's merely (?barely) adequate. Calliope used to only nurse for 5-10 minutes, even as a newborn! And now she can easily go 15 minutes per side. And I worry that she is stopping simply because she's tired of working so hard, not because she necessarily got enough to eat.
Of course, she looks healthy and great. She is smiling all the time, and just starting to figure out how to use her hands to grab something. I offered her this plastic ring in the tub tonight, and she oh-so-carefully calculated the distance... slowly reached her hand out... extended her fingers... and missed!
Luckily I caught it all on video.
Anyway, I spent the day racing (mentally) around the apartment. I still have so many items left on the to-do list. For every one that gets crossed off, it seems another two get added.
I was talking to my cousin about this tonight. I was telling her that I am not caught up on thank you notes. She advised me that I am doing a great job, and to cut myself a break.
And I realized that I am holding myself to this ridiculous standard... of perfection. It is unacceptable to me that thank you notes not go out, preferably promptly. Is this because I am a single mom (by choice)? Do I feel like I have to prove myself? Is this the American career mother conundrum? Are we all doing this? If yes, how do we stop?
I'm trying to let go, to recognize that this is most likely displaced anxiety about leaving Calliope... and that the best antidote, whatever the cause, is to spend time with her. So tonight, after her short evening nap, we went for a quick walk to the hardware store to see if they could fix the keys they just made that don't work (they tried, but nope, still not working, but I didn't have the heart to drag the baby on a third trip to the hardware store) and then she took a lovely long bath while I watched and cooed and read her a bath book, several times over.
I asked my friend Catherine recently, "what, exactly, do you do with your baby?"
Because I know all of the things I do to her, like bathing and feeding and changing her diapers. And some of the time I also sit next to her while she plays on the floor. But then I'm just observing.
And so recently we've started reading together, and also doing nearly nightly baths. And so these are what we do together. We read lots of stories -- it's adorable and incredible to watch her looking intently at the pictures at such a young age! -- and we do long baths. Where she churns her legs and coos long liquid phrases... and I sit on the closed toilet lid and watch, and listen, and coo back at her.
I just re-read the salient parts of Hea.lthy Sleep Hab.its, Happy Child, and so now I am feeling very focused indeed on how I should be prioritizing her napping times, and not interfering with her rest.
But lord, it is hard to not compromise a child's sleep when she is only awake for 1:15 (that's one hour, fifteen minutes) in the morning and 1:30 in the afternoon and then 2 hours in the evening. You try getting an errand done in that 1:15 window (which has to include nursing, diapering, and ideally, changing clothes... yesterday she stayed in her pajamas all day long and it made me feel sluggish every time I looked at her)! After those brief awake periods, she sleeps until the next feeding... so yes, those are some long-ass naps.
So now I have one more thing to feel guilty about!
Does it ever end?
The doctor just called back and of course he told me there's nothing I can do that I haven't already done (humidifier, saline nasal drops, bulb syringe, suffer... perhaps I made that last one up). He may have sounded a little impatient. Or else tired, since it was 10 pm when he called. He did, kindly, encourage me to bring her in tomorrow to be seen. Perhaps because that lessens his odds of hearing from me again tomorrow night?
He also asked if she was having trouble breathing. Which of course is such an obvious question, but duh, well, I hadn't really checked. She was so completely fine when she went to bed. So I just went in and laid a hand on her chest, and she's breathing fine (at what age do you stop creeping to your child's bedside and laying a hand on her chest to make sure she is still breathing? this is still at least a once-or-twice-a-night ritual for me, and I, for one, am tired of facing that moment of fear so frequently.)
So now I have to decide if I want to bring her in tomorrow. Also on the list for tomorrow: visit midwife to get clearance to return to work and also say an emotional goodbye/thank you of sorts, ideally with a gift, visit entirely crush-able RE with baby at long last, go to employee health to get cleared for work and also to show off baby. Oy. Adding a visit to the pediatrician in the mix, although geographically convenient, adds a whole new level of complexity. Even without considering nap schedules.
My mom (who I just called for commiseration) had the brilliant idea that I could take the baby to an urgent care center tonight.
But even I, in my hysteria, recognize that it would be sheer lunacy to wake a peacefully sleeping baby, even if she was coughing badly (oh yeah, it has subsided for the time being).
Thank god for small favors. Such as the fact that I am physically removing myself from the keyboard now. No more verbal diarrhea for tonight.