Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 1, Round 2

Today was my first day back to work in seven weeks.  It's one week shy of a full two months away.  In some ways it sounds like a long time--when I left it was the middle of winter and now it's spring (technically, anyway).  I was away for nearly 1/6 of the year.  But knowing that my Canadian counterparts get a full year off, the two months seems pretty paltry in comparison.  Still, I know that my absence was felt greatly, and while I know they're happy to have me back, things have already been a little too crazy for them to have a chance to express it!  I wasn't even here for three hours when the first day-long, miserably tedious, darn-near-impossible project came across my desk.  And I pretty much had no right to complain because they've had rather hellish weeks while I was gone.  Welcome back, eh?

The experience of coming back has been very different this time around, even though a lot of the scenarios surrounding it have been similar.  I guess the easiest way to describe it is that last time I was happy to get back to being "me", whereas this time it feels like I was far more at home in the mom role and this work thing is infringing on that.  I guess it makes sense, though.  Last time, prior to giving birth, working was my main identity.  So it makes sense that I'd feel like getting back to work would help me feel like myself again.  This time, while I still worked, I was already also a mom.  And perhaps having Carter tipped the scales a bit to where I felt even more like a mom, and work should clearly be secondary.  Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way in reality, and that's where the mom guilt starts to creep in.  Instinctively I feel like I should be with him, and work is getting in the way of that.  Perhaps I'm simply more aware this time of how hard the balance is, and I knew that the moment my maternity leave ended, my relationship with Carter would never be the same.  I have been with him nearly 24/7 for the last seven weeks, and I'm the one expert on everything having to do with him.  Now I'll be missing more than a third of his day and most of his waking hours.  In addition, in the little time I do have in the evenings, I'll be splitting time between two kids, in addition to dinner, bottlewashing, laundry, and oh yeah, Craig, too.  Don't even get me started on the guilt I'm already feeling about being gone part of the next two evenings for a workout and taxes.  Both are sorely needed, but it will be hard to spend even more time away. 

I think my eagerness to get back last time also had to do with the fact that Jacob wasn't the best napper and I was nursing around the clock.  I was exhausted.  I'm still the main feeder, but perhaps the nursing thing was a little more draining (more on that in another post).  And since the formula change, Carter has generally been a happier baby, with a couple exceptions, so my days have not always been a constant string of neediness.  I think I've probably taken more care to take care of myself, as well, and to be more aware of when I need a break.  I haven't needed a lot, but I think the mere fact that I'm less nervous about going out of the house helped me feel far less isolated this time around.  So where last time being able to go to the office offered a bit of a break from being all baby all the time, this time around I'm just sadder about leaving him behind and worried about losing the flexibility I had to get things done around the house.

Despite being sadder, the actual drop-off was probably far less traumatic this time around.  I was a little sad but didn't cry.  I know he's in good hands.  While I don't know the infant teachers well, I get a good vibe from them and trust everyone else there that I do know.  It's definitely a different drop-off experience from Jacob, since I pretty much just hang up his coat and bag and give him a hug.  I have to bring Carter's bottles, give the time of his last change and feeding, and just make sure he's got all he needs for the day.  I have never had to do that at this daycare, since Jacob was already 18 months when we started there, and it's just a different setup than the place he was at as an infant.  It's like starting all over.  Maybe this is just the second-time-around parent in me, too, but Carter didn't seem quite as tiny and helpless as I feel like Jacob did when I handed him over.  Maybe it's what I was talking about a couple weeks ago, about Carter having to mature earlier because of giving up nursing so early.  Not sure what it is, but for some reason it felt different.

Getting up this morning was a challenge, but it went fine.  I didn't get to bed until around 11:30 last night because I was trying to get everything ready for this morning.  Carter woke up around 3am and I was back to bed maybe 45 minutes later.  My alarm was set for 6am.  I snoozed for a bit, but finally got myself up and showered just before Carter woke up at 6:45.  I fed him, dealt with a blowout poop near the end of his feeding, got flashed a big smile when he was on the changing table, and then put him in the swing so I could get ready and get Jacob up and running.  I had to get all of his bottles together, pack my lunch, and load up the car.  I snuggled him while I talked to the teachers, and finally kissed him goodbye before heading off to give Jacob one last hug.  I got a good report during my lunchtime call, and work kept me plenty busy the rest of the day, though I thought about Carter often.  He ended up having a great day overall, though he went through a lot of clothes!  He seemed happy to see me, though, if he can seem happy without clear smiles.

Interestingly, out of curiosity I pulled up my blog post from Jacob's first day of daycare, and there were some bizarre similarities.  Jacob was apparently on the same type of schedule that Carter is now.  He fell asleep around 9:30 and woke up at 3:45, which is within a half hour or so of what Carter has been doing lately.  That made me hopeful that Carter might follow in Jacob's sleeping-through-the-night-at-10-weeks footsteps!  Fingers crossed.  The other bizarre similarity is that Jacob had a blowout during his feeding that morning, too!  Carter's only done that during feedings a couple times, and never during his morning feeding, so the fact that it happened this morning was surprising.  But to read that Jacob did it on his first day of daycare, too...well, that was sort of freaky.  In contrast, though, Carter is already a formula and bottlefeeding champ after a couple solid weeks of practice (his morning feedings went very well), whereas Jacob had a hard time on his first day. 

I will say that it's been a bit of a relief to not have to lug my breast pump with me or take time to pump during the day.  The flip side of that, of course, is that I cringed as I had to scoop eight scoops of formula into bottles this morning, making a cavernous hole in our big can.  It's no worse than doing it one at a time all day, but doing it all at once just looks scary.  I will say that I also appreciated being able to sit at my desk without sciatica pain or having to take half a dozen trips to the bathroom.  I like coming home craving time with Carter, as opposed to being frustrated by his neediness.  It's not all bad, but I'm not gonna lie...I truly appreciated this maternity leave far more than my last one, and getting back in the groove today was not quite as rewarding as last time.  We'll get through, but it's not going to be easy.  It's hard to spend all day craving the sight of your sweet baby's chubby cheeks, but snuggling up to a computer screen full of numbers instead.

I'm just relieved the day went well, and by all accounts we're still in one piece.  I still have some laundry to fold and I'm doing my best to finish up little tasks here and there, but all things considered, not bad.  Too bad I have to do it for four more days before I get a break!  And now, for your viewing pleasure, a few pictures I captured tonight showing off a few of Carter's many looks...

He looks concerned..."Mommy, what are you doing?"


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