Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Own Sweet Spot

Soccer class has ended up being kind of a dud. Just too much for my girl right now.
What started as my taking the girls to soccer turned into an epic eight hour play date.
The girls were so happy to be together (and played so nicely and independently), it made my heart hurt a little.
This is their first year apart after three years of 40 hours a week together since three months old.

Despite all the big changes in our house, I'm finding us in an unexpected sweet spot.

Due to her very long days and early starts, I'm trying to make life as easy for Calliope as possible right now. I wait as long as I can in the mornings, until I'm fully ready and Amelie is taken care of, before I wake Calliope. Then I bring her milk to her bed, and let her drink before I start getting her ready or even talking to her. Once the calories have kicked in, she's generally much more cheerful. Then I dress her, sunscreen her, brush her teeth... the only thing I don't do for her is pee on the potty for her! But I do keep her company in the bathroom if she asks. I find it's both faster and more energy efficient to just do things for her than to harangue her into doing things for herself. I certainly hope that in a couple more weeks, as she acclimates to her new life, she'll want to start doing more things for herself -- this is a kid who insisted on dressing herself at age two -- but for now, I'm trying to conserve energy for both of us.

I'm also trying to avoid conflict with her wherever I can. The rules still stand, but I try to say yes whenever I can -- does it really hurt me to take a minute to be silly with her, even if it doesn't sound fun? -- and when the answer is no, to make it sound like a yes. So if the question is, "can I have some ice cream?" the answer is "Yes, you can have it on Shabbat (Friday)" instead of "no, not tonight." It sounds silly but it really does make a difference.

The surprise benefit of all this is... she's much more agreeable. It's amazing how avoiding conflict whenever possible means we are both more patient with each other. When I ask her to do something, she's much more apt to agree... occasionally after only one request!

And even beyond that, we are just enjoying each other's company more. She says so many funny little things. It's amazing to watch her work to understand the world.

Anyway, it's lovely. Despite all the hardships, I love seeing her little face at work. And she's so thrilled to see me at the end of the day. It kind of makes me feel like royalty.

So things are smooth with her.

And Amelie, well. She's just delicious. Walking home with her today in the baby carrier on my chest, looking down at her downy little head, I feel my heart just overflow with love and joy.

And the last few nights, she hasn't woken up until 5 am, and then goes back to sleep after I transfer her to the RNP... without nursing. So I'm cautiously optimistic that soon she will spend the entire twelve hours in her crib.

I had a scare with my milk supply not nearly keeping up my first week back at work, and burning through my entire freezer stash save one bag of milk... but thanks to herbal supplements and lots of pumping, I'm caught up and have a growing stash again. I've actually been able to drop the bedtime pumping, which is great.

And the girls together... also so lovely. They just adore each other.

And I'm finding my rhythm with work and commuting with Calliope and all the rest. I'm taking shortcuts wherever I can at home, including asking Susie to help a little bit around the house, and paying a little more. I'm trying to not feel guilty about occasionally leaving dishes in the sink. I'm loving not having to get up extra early to work out in the mornings, and instead getting to work out in the afternoons... even if it is hard to not just lounge and play with Amelie instead. Calliope, however, loves to work out with me in the afternoons. So that's a nice activity for us as Susie feeds the babies their dinner -- she lines up their highchairs and feeds them off of a single spoon. So cute! (I tried to feed Amelie her dinner on Friday and Susie gently brushed me off -- she has a system and doesn't want it interfered with! So I folded laundry instead.) She also bathes the babies. Not something we asked for and sometimes I'm sad not to get to do it myself (and sad that she bathes them in the kitchen sink with not enough water to splash around in), but the truth is that my overall quality of life is better without this extra task to complete.

I've been doing physical therapy with a therapist that comes to my home once a week -- so great that she comes to me! -- and I'm thrilled that the last couple of weeks, she's been impressed with my progress. My overall tone is greatly improved and my diastsis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) is healing! My stiff and sore lower back is 90% better as a result. And all that work on my posture makes me feel better about myself.

Things are good with my family and my sister in law is due to have a baby any day now... I'm so excited for us to have infants together! I think this will be really good for my relationship with my brother.

And I'm dreaming about upgrading to a house some day, but for now, we are making do with our two bedroom apartment and feeling relatively content here.

Now (Amelie and Leo, aka Nanny Share 2.0)

And then. (Calliope and Eleanor, 2012.)

*** Credit to Obernon for her "Sweet Spot" title.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Six Months

A half a year of Amelie!

She's adjusted easily to being with the nanny instead of with me. Truthfully, it's probably easier for her because the nanny can devote the day's schedule to the needs of Amelie and Leo, her nanny share buddy. With me, I'm constantly having to compromise Amelie's naps in favor of Calliope's needs... or occasionally my own. Things like needing to go get an oil change during her nap time.

So she's always pleased to see Susie when she arrives, and screeches with delight at Susie's early morning smiles. She looks a little puzzled when I come home at the end of the day -- "you again? back already?" but then lights up with smiles.

Due to Calliope's repeated entreaties to not sleep alone, Amelie's crib has been moved from my room to Calliope's, err, the girls' room. That was enough for Calliope -- she didn't want to get dressed alone, either. So last Rosh Hashanah (two days off from school), Susie helped me sort baby clothes and then move everything into Calliope's room.

Amelie is in 6-12 month onesies (though the 3-6 month ones often still fit) and 3-6 month pants... and they are still big on her. Girlfriend has got some short stubby legs. But they are covered with delicious squishiness!

She just rolled onto her back from her stomach on her six month "birthday" and is sitting pretty well these days though still needs a pillow behind her because when she gets excited, her arms fly up and she falls backwards. I neglected the pillow the other day to tragic results. Poor baby cried and cried (probably less than a minute though my guilt made it feel much longer) though luckily there was no bump.

She's enchanted by her sister and the feeling is mutual. Calliope asks to hold her every day. Though Calliope positively glows when I sternly admonish Amelie, "No pulling hair, Amelie." It's always good to not be the only one getting in trouble.

I feel bad that Amelie so often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to my attention. But she's so easy going and Calliope needs a lot of attention these days. Soon enough, Amelie will be needier and less accepting of others for attention. For now, though, she basks in the love of anyone who will smile back at her.

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 2015: A New Era

Last Wednesday, Calliope started PreK.

It's a new era for us. Prior to this, she's been home with a nanny (share) and for the last two years, in a part time preschool co-op, also in our home. She's gone to some summer day camps, but they were short term.

But now, she's in school. Real school. New York City Department of Education school. In my building. Which houses more than 1300 children. My school growing up had 400 children for grades 7-12.

So far, I think she's... okay. She hasn't cried at drop off, though apparently she cried several times during the first day or two. But never when I was in sight. It may be more a sign of her physical exhaustion -- she's having to get up way earlier than she's ever had to do before -- than true distress, though being tired always makes her miss me.

After a childcare snafu last week -- daycare suddenly said they couldn't pick her up, on my last weekday before returning to work, ugh! -- and my nanny's son picking Calliope up from PreK one day (which gets out at 9:40 AM for these first few days!), Calliope's been hanging out with another little girl and her nanny during the day until I'm done working. We met this family at a PreK playdate in the park before school started and Calliope and this child, Maya, really hit it off. So that's been working out great.

But this adjustment? It's HARD.

Partly it's coming back from summer, and from maternity leave. That's bound to be hard. And having a kid on a much more rigorous schedule is hard. And putting the both together? Very very hard.

I'm so grateful that we have this Monday and Tuesday off for Rosh Hashanah. Normally I'm annoyed to be forced to use vacation time so early in the year, but this time, I'm profoundly grateful.

My new schedule:

5:45 get up, brush teeth, get dressed (no morning shower, for the first time in my adult life. Also no morning workout, for the first time since I got pregnant with Calliope.) drink a small glass of kefir to tide me over.

6 nurse baby, play with her, gush over her gorgeousness

6:30 wake Calliope, hold her or sippy cup while she drinks and slowly rouses from a deep stupor. dress & sunscreen Calliope, walk her to the bathroom, brush her teeth, load her lunchbox (from the fridge) into her backpack, instruct her to put on her backpack

6:50ish nanny arrives (of her own volition, she started coming early, instead of at 7:15, god bless her). hand her the baby and give a quick update.

7 grab my backpack, breakfast and lunch, breast pump, child. leave the apartment and hurry to the car. (first time commuting by car on a regular basis.) load slow-moving child into car. start driving.

7:35 arrive near work and frantically look for parking, knowing that with each passing minute, it's harder to find, since school starts at 8:10. find parking and practice deep breathing as slow moving child takes twenty minutes to walk two blocks.

8:00 clock in. walk to my office. unpack our breakfasts. hurry slow moving child through her breakfast -- no time to pump.

8:10 walk Calliope to class, four doors down the hall. hang up her backpack, read her a book, give her a hug.

8:25 return to my office. pump. check email. wash dishes and pump parts.

9:00 see a patient or two.

9:38 return to Calliope's classroom. wait impatiently in hallways as class runs ten minutes later than it's scheduled to. hug Calliope and pass her to babysitter.

10 return to clinic. see patients until 12:30.

12:30 pump and eat an unofficial lunch -- we have decided to skip lunch so we can leave an hour earlier. I don't think Calliope could last until my previous end time of 4 pm.

1-2:30 see patients, chart, try to check something off my personal to-do list.

2:30 Calliope gets dropped off. finish charting with her in my lap, or get her to draw pictures with her new-only-at-Mommy's-work-markers. Give her a snack.

3 stop working/trying to be productive. usher Calliope to bathroom, try to pack up and not get frustrated at how long it takes to get out the door.

3:05 -- technically able to leave. sigh as Calliope dances around and does nothing to get us out the door.

3:20 walk out the door and sigh, move slowly towards the car. drive home through worsening traffic.

4:00-4:30 park, head up to apartment, say hi to Susie, cuddle the baby, try to fend off clinginess from Calliope. Try to squeeze in a workout while Susie feeds the baby her solid food (new as of a few days ago!) and Calliope clings. Offer her another snack.

5:15 serve Calliope dinner.

5:30 put baby down for nap

5:45 cajole Calliope to finish eating. She ignores me and generally eats nothing.

6 get Calliope ready for bed, then 10-15 minutes of Special Time -- legos or Littlest Pet Shop

6:30 Amelie wakes up. Read stories to Calliope (and Amelie).

7 Calliope goes to bed. I wish it was earlier. Nurse Amelie and play with her.

7:30 put Amelie to bed. Walk to kitchen and feel overwhelmed by Calliope's dinner sitting out, dirty dishes, and the fact that I need to cook and eat myself. Cook. Eat. Clean up. Make breakfasts and lunches for Calliope and me.

8:30 or 9 Finally finish in kitchen. Sit down to pump while I drink my "dessert," kefir, sometimes with fruit. Pump for 30 minutes then wash the parts.

9:30 Put away milk and leave the kitchen at last. Get into bed.

10:30? Go to bed.

It's a long, long day. I can check email or the SMC Forum while I eat, which is awesome, but otherwise, I try to stay on task.

Complaining about all this and how tired I was, my friend Elizabeth asked, "Isn't there a way you can throw money at this problem?"

That made a lot of sense. So now I'm paying Susie a tiny bit more money to help make breakfasts and lunches and help with dishes (unlikely I will leave dishes -- I feel too guilty -- but I will try). Feeling a little better.

Today she came to work and I didn't have to work so she helped me sort baby clothes and get out the 6-12 month stuff and pull out the 0-3 month things (Amelie is small so she's still wearing mostly 3-6 months stuff at just shy of 6 months) and move them into Calliope's room. Calliope has been eager to have a roommate so Amelie's crib was moved into Calliope's room, which should now be called the girls' room. And now Calliope wants Amelie's clothes in there as well. So today we made good progress. It was amazing to have help with this project. And hard for me to ask. But worth it.

So much more to say and I'm really missing blogging but just too hectic and tired to write any more.

(And I don't know how to post pictures once they've uploaded from my phone to the computer. Where do they go once they are uploaded? Too tired to research it, always.)

So that was totally disjointed but... good night. xoxo

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Rolling at Five Months

She's been doing this for a little while now but I finally remembered to capture it on video.

She's typically very very quick but the camera was all too distracting...

Interview with Calliope, Age Four

Normally Calliope will never let me videotape her but seeing Amelie get all the glory apparently didn't sit right with her.

So she said "I want to smile for the camera. For a video."

Hence the grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Saturday Night Date

What's more fun than growling with my daughter?

I started out videoing where she couldn't see me but wanted to capture more of her face... Makes me laugh every time when she notices the camera.