I went back to work last week. Our little girl was 9 weeks old. It felt like I sprinted out the door Monday morning, ran full-tilt all week, and sprinted in the door Friday night. It was a full week. FULL. The temp attorney actually did a very respectable job keeping the worst of the work under control while I was gone. There are huge stacks on my desk, of course, but it's not the chaotic mess I feared. Just a lot of work requiring me to focus every minute I'm there on the task at hand, so I can dash out the door at 4:30 to start my home shift at 5. I'm working 7.5 hour days without a lunch break, which means that I have to pack all my food for the day so I can eat at my desk.
If I could leave the house earlier in the mornings, it would be helpful, but the sleep deprivation makes that impossible for now. Since the Mister is a nightowl, he's handling the Boy's lengthy bedtime process, and I try to go to bed with the baby at 9pm. She usually sleeps solidly until midnight or 1am, then feeds for an hour or so. After that, she naps an hour here and there in between feedings. She's a loud sleeper after midnight, so even when she's asleep, I'm not able to fall fully asleep for the rest of the night. I often seem to be awake or dozing with her in the chair from 1am to 5. She'll usually toss and turn in her bassinet from 5 to 6, when she needs more food. My alarm goes off at 6:30, the Boy is up at 7:30, and we're off to the races. I can barely get out the door by 8:30 when our nanny arrives.
And then we're spending half the weekend seeing various friends -- a friend's birthday dinner Friday night, brunch/playdate this morning, dinner/playdate tonight -- and Sunday morning we're having a photographer over to do our first set of family pix. After that, I plan to pass out. In all likelihood, I'll end up paying bills instead.
My maternity leave consisted of 2 weeks of sick time, one week of vacation time, and 6 weeks of short-term disability leave (at 60% of my usual pay). It was the best we could cobble together. I'm working 4 days/week, with the 5th day being unpaid FMLA leave. I'll do that until we can't afford it anymore. I wish I could stay home with the baby for the next few years, but that will have to wait until my next life when I'm reborn in the Netherlands or some other civilized place that mandates reasonable parental leave and universal health care.
The Boy is in preschool 4 days/week and his nanny has transitioned to being our baby nanny 3 days/week (she's in college the other 2 days). For now, the Mister has both kids on Tuesdays and I stay home with the Girl on Thursdays. We're hoping to switch the Boy's schedule around so that the Mister only has the baby on Tuesdays. Not that he can't handle both kids, but he'll be able to do a little bit of income-producing work if he only has one kid, and we need his income to pay for all this childcare. Figuring out our schedules has been like a very complex game of chess. Figuring out our finances is a never-ending balancing act, performed in the spare minutes I can grab here and there. Somehow, we're making it work, but it feels a bit like a house of cards -- if one extra thing piles on (visitors, school vacations, etc.), the whole thing could come tumbling down.
I'm breastfeeding the Girl as and when I can. We got off to a rocky start. She had a great latch from the first minutes after her birth (our doula called her a hoover because she had such a strong suck), and I apparently have the perfect equipment for nursing. (Never in my life did I imagine that I would have so many women complimenting my nipples as I did in the days after her birth ... nurses and lactation consultants literally oo'ed over them! Way to make a girl proud ...)
But our little Girl had severe jaundice when she was born, and spent 36 hours under the bili lights at the hospital (bringing our total hospital time to 6, count 'em, 6 days). She had to be hydrated quickly, and my milk hadn't come in, so I gave them permission to start her on formula. I went to the nursery every 3 hours to nurse her, and I'd bring as much colostrum as I could pump in between visits. But it wasn't an ideal start. Eventually my milk came in (engorgement, ouch!), but it's never been enough to fully satisfy her ravenous hunger, so we're supplementing with formula.
This is good in a way, because it gives us the flexibility to use formula when we're in a place where nursing might be awkward, and the Mister can step in at 4am when she's been nibbling on me for the past 6 hours straight so I can get some sleep and my "perfect" nipples can get a break. The lactation consultants all suggested various ways I could increase my flow, but most of those methods involved more work than I had time for. For example, they told me to pump after every feeding, which was pretty much impossible, since she was eating every 2 hours and took up a full hour to eat because she'd fall asleep as soon as she latched on. I'd wake her up, she'd suck down a few drops, and pass out again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then I'd have an hour to clean the pump parts, deal with the 3-year-old, do laundry, eat, sleep, pay bills ... Um, yeah. So post-feeding pumping was a non-starter. I'm actually fine with it -- the situation is what it is. I nurse her in the morning when we wake up and once more before I leave for work. Then I pump twice a day at work (yay for a private office -- I can pump and work at the same time). Our nanny feeds that milk to her the next day via bottle, with generally one additional feeding of formula. I nurse her as soon as I get home and then she might have one more bottle of formula before bed. After that, it's mostly breast milk the rest of the night. Sometimes she wants an extra couple of ounces of formula towards dawn, but I've worked up to managing most of her feedings all night. Which, of course, means that I'm getting less sleep, but that's okay. The minutes may drag, but the days fly quickly, and before I know it, she'll be weaned and I'll be glad I did what I could.
Did I mention she has an enormous appetite? Seriously, our little girl went from the 12th percentile on the growth charts in the first weeks after her birth to the 75th percentile at her 2-month well baby appointment. It's truly astonishing to watch her grow. She blew through the newborn clothing in her first month and is now out of the 0-3 month clothes too. The Boy was always on the lower end of the growth charts, so I'm a bit stunned by our little Amazon. She's going to be tall.
So much to say; so little time. Must wake up the Boy and get myself and the baby ready to go out. More another day.