Thursday, July 31, 2008 lieu of payment

I'm not one for poetry, but I do love a good haiku. It was a second grade English lesson, and it is my favorite poetry to write to this day. What does this have to do with first-time motherhood, you ask?

(Why are you reading over my shoulder, jackass)
[Sorry, the husband's being nosey. He just asked if that's staying in...]

Back to haiku...I was at work when my cell phone rang. The ID flashed "Restricted," so I didn't answer. I know it's a bill collector calling, but there's only so many times I can say:

"I was on 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave...oh, thank you [the collector just congratulated me]... I just returned to work in the middle of a pay period, and I now have three cents in my account, so I won't be able to send you anything until the first of the month."

So I was thinking I should compose a haiku for my outgoing voicemail message.
How's this?

I know I owe you
I work for a non-profit
You earn more than me

Or what about this?

Bills are overdue?
When I got it you'll get it
The best I can do

Third time's the charm...

Hi, bill collector
I have no money for you
Now have a nice day

Will it work? I'll let you know :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No More Velcro Straps!

Tallu's been out of her harness for eight days!
She can kick her legs, and stretch out whenever she feels like it. I don't catch a whiff of sour milk every time I pick her up. Our little turkey is free.

The weaning process was important, physically for her, and mentally for mom and dad. I think taking her out of it cold turkey (I need another poultry reference...) would have been overwhelming. It took the four weeks to me to re-learn how to hold her, and I'm sure Tallu needed time to get used to not being confined twenty-four-seven.

Taking her out for two hours each day was simple. We took her out at 6pm, put her on her gym, gave her a bath, put her in, nursed her and put her to bed. It was a short break enjoyed by all.

Temptation became stronger as the breaks out of the harness stretched, especially during the last week. She only wore it at night, and it seemed so cruel to strap her in for bedtime. We had established a routine by the eight hours out week: I'd nurse her and put the harness on while she slept. (I was amazed she could sleep through it) The most difficult night was last Monday. She was asleep on the bed, and I paced in and out of the room for a half hour, harness in hand. What's one less night? I thought. She won't know she skipped a night. But I would, and I was afraid that one night would ruin months of progress. So I went back in the room and prayed for the strength to strap her in that stinky thing one last time. Of course I took photos of her last night in the harness.

She slept well, but I was on edge the whole night. When she woke up for her 4 am feeding, I was all too happy to call her night over, and I took her out for what I hoped would be the last time. Her doctor's appointment was a week later, so we wouldn't know for sure if the therapy was complete.

We went to CHOP yesterday, and Dr. Flynn said we can burn the harness:-D
Her hip has healed very well. We return for follow-up X-rays at the end of September, and March of next year. Tim and I spent Monday night creating a thank you card for the staff, a collage of Tallu from the inverted leg, through the phases of treatment, to the end result.
Dr. Flynn thought the card was awesome -he could show the nurses who came with him what her leg looked like before treatment. One of the nurses said it should be a marketing tool for other parents, so they can see how well the treatment works.

I just thank God she was born in the 21st century, that she did not need surgery to fix her leg and hip, and that we never have to put her in that contraption again.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Let's Try This Again

Fast forward to Day Four of Tallu in Daycare...she's doing fine. Eating, sleeping (especially since I starting bringing her little bed, so she can stretch out instead of sitting in the car seat), and generally enjoying herself. The word on the street is at this early age there's no separation anxiety because the baby doesn't know you're gone. It's harder on the parents than the baby. If she were six months when we would start daycare, then there would be an issue.

It was very difficult for me to put her in daycare. I didn't cry when I dropped her off, or when I got to work. I'd done my crying over the weekend, while everyone was asleep. We spent the weekend at the shore and in NYC, so I used the time to wean her from having me all day long. I only held her to nurse, and I'd try not to be in her eyesight. I was also weaning myself from having her near me all day long. It was awful, but I had to do it if I was going to go to work.

Meanwhile I was a horrid person to my husband the whole weekend. I think Monday he said I was acting as though I was blaming him for my return to work. I've never been so proud of him in all the years I've known him- he picked up on non-verbal clues! It only took what, nine years?

So did I really blame him? Yes. He wasn't insisting I stay home if I really wanted, which pissed me off- it made me feel like he really wanted me to go back. His being sad at having to put Tallu in daycare annoyed me, since he wasn't the one who had spent every day and night with her. And not once did he offer to work from home, a perk which he successfully lobbied to his boss to gain. He did work from home while I was on leave, but he didn't do much in the way of care for Tallu during the day.

But I blamed myself, too. I was returning to a job where, working part-time (but closer to full-time) I worked myself into an early labor, for a meager salary. If I didn't have student loan and credit card debt, I wouldn't feel compelled to go back to work after spending only three months with my baby. I'm also thinking of my career. I only have a Bachelor of Arts, and I've worked my way up in this institution, from volunteer, to consultant, to employee. I'm at the very beginning, and to leave now would be a major setback.

Was it worth sacrificing full-time motherhood to return to this place? Yes, believe it or not. I have switched departments as of today. It's not a glamorous job- I'm assisting with the reorganization of the collections- lots of administrative work, and data entry. But part-time means part-time. No more 25 hours-but-really-40-hours bullshit. And, my new boss doesn't see why I can't work from home! I'm going to see if I can get a laptop from work so I can do my five hours remotely twice a week.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quick Update

It's Day Two of Daycare for Tallu, Day Two: Back to Work for Me.

We're both tired at the end of the day. We come home, I eat, then she eats, then we take a nap together. She's been asleep since about 6, and it's almost 1 am. The daycare gives a sheet of when she ate, dirty diapers, and nap time. She only napped from 10-11 this morning. She does like to be up, but I guess she can't get terribly comfortable sleeping in her carseat. I must remember to bring her little bed, maybe that will help her go down for naptime.

I'm pumping at work. My boss put up a curtain for me so I can have some privacy at my cubicle. (Of course, Tallu would start to fuss as I'm writing this at damn near 1am...)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Good News, Everyone!

After a manic search, I've found a daycare for Tallu. It's a few blocks from home, it's been around for 40+ years, and they have availability and can take her this coming Monday. I'm very excited about leaving her. There are now breastmilk freezer bags in the house. We're going out of town this weekend, and I'm taking the pump with me. Maybe. I'll definitely have to take it to work to pump if she's going to continue to be "breasted."

There is some question about whether a baby can be called breastfed if she takes her mother's milk from a bottle. I guess technically the baby's not being breastfed, but po-TA-to, po-TAH-to, I say.

Anyhoo...The center is divided into two campuses. The infants are on the campus on the Ave, which means I'll get on the bus instead of the train for work. It's pretty convenient, and because it's nearer to home, I will not be able to work past 5. Daycares charge ridiculous late pickup fees- ours is $10 every fifteen minutes, some charge by the minute. It's clean, the ladies seemed nice, and the babies looked happy.

I will have to supply diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and food. I'm planning to bring her sleeper bed, and leave the stroller there during the day. My one concern is food. One of the providers, Ms. J, asked if Tallu takes water or juice, after I told her she was breastfed exclusively. I will have to send lots of milk to guarantee that no one gives her juice or water. Of course, I cannot control what they give her, since I am leaving her in the care of someone else. I don't know how I'll be able to tell that they gave her juice, either. Smell her breath, maybe?

Ms. J said they have a few breastfed babies, so they know those babies tend to need extra holding time. That makes me feel good. I don't really want people setting her down to cry it out. She's an infant, jeez. Besides, I think the harness frustrates her, so I like to keep physical contact with her so she doesn't feel constricted AND neglected. That's my psychosis, though.

Speaking of the harness, the weaning is going well. She into the 4 hours out this week, and next Tuesday begins the 8 hours out. I have to leave that in the hands of the day care providers also.

I'll only see my baby in the morning before work and for a few hours when we get home. I'll have to check her over every day to make sure she's okay. I'm not being a paranoid new mom on this. The church secretary told me how her son's babysitter mistreated him as an infant, and it might not have gone unnoticed if her mother hadn't demanded she take a good look at the child.

This center seems like a good one, and I pray that my child will be well-cared for and safe. I'm truly sad that I have to leave her in the care of someone else so soon. But I have to put my full-time job on hold for the part-time job that pays money. I knew this day would come, but I was hoping it wouldn't.

Have a safe 4th of July, enjoy your weekend.

The Trouble With This Blog

is that I have to be careful what I say. There are things that I'd love to write but I can't because certain people are reading this. It's a pain in the ass to censor myself, but I've learned it's a necessary pain in the ass. Could I keep a diary? Yes, and I probably should again, so that I can write what I need to write without the potential, perhaps inevitable, hurt feelings that would come if I put that stuff into this forum. I love politics, don't you?

I asked my job if I could work from home. They said no. There isn't enough work that I could do out of the office. I'm not surprised. I work part-time, 25 hours, and someone needs to be in the building as a contact person for the department. Oh, and I have to do these damned gallery checks! Plus there's a gallery that needs to be flipped when I get back. During gallery turnaround there is no such thing as a 25 hour work week. I can't bring Tallu with me.

The HR director called to give me the news, then paused and asked "So, will you be returning to work?"

"Yes, I have to."

I did some research about childcare for Tallu. The large childcare down the hill from us has no space for infants. There's a lady who does childcare in her house, but she has one infant, and doesn't like having more than one in her care. Someone has offered to watch her for the next two weeks, but her availability wouldn't work for me.

This last minute scrambling is what I get for putting all my eggs into one basket, and not having a plan B already in place. It's getting down to the wire, and I have to come up with a solution two weeks ago. It just dawned on me that Friday's the 4th of July, so places will be closed. This has to be figured out by the end of tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Blah blah blah blah

Hello everybody!
It's 12:30 am. I should be asleep, since the rest of my family is. I'm hungry, and I'm trying to fight the urge to eat a dark chocolate almond sandie cookie. If I just went to sleep, I wouldn't have to fight the cookie.

Anyhoo- I've realized that I now need to get up about 45 minutes earlier if we need to go anywhere. I need time to shower and eat before I can get Milady ready. I've had two special occasions go by where I didn't get a chance to shower or eat because I needed to get her ready. The first time I was getting my hair cut, and Dad had some mishap with a bottle, so Tallu got more milk on her than in her, and he didn't have time to clean her up because he needed to shower. When I got back from the barber, I had to dress the poor hungry thing, who wasn't clean, didn't have time to finish feeding her because we were already late, and had to listen to her cry for the 45 minute drive.

The next time I went sans shower was the day of her baptism. This time Dad went to get doughnuts and coffee, which he did after he showered. I sponge-bathed Tallu while he was in the shower, hoping to get a fast one in before the guests arrived. I never got the chance- I greeted one of the godmothers at the front door with Milady at the boob, and the crowd kept coming. It was also my baptism (yep, a double whammy), and I was unshowered and hungry. My hair got a holy water rinse. The Holy Eucharist was my first meal of the day. At least I wasn't funky, or if I was, no one said anything.

You never really understand your own mother until you become one. My dad took his time getting himself ready, and my mom had to get two girls ready for church or school, plus herself. Dad was pretty much useless to her during these times. If I want to be clean and fed, I gotta get up before everyone else. Now I get why she rose so much earlier than the rest of us.

You know what? I'm going to get a bedtime cookie. HA!

(Sorry, Tallu's dad. It was either this, or Tallu's Saturday night bath story...yeah, that's what I thought :-)