Sunday, January 6, 2008

One day at a time

Although I'm finding it hard to write because of time constraints, it's also partly because each day seems to blend into the next without much fanfare.

Being on maternity leave has completely blurred my concept of time -- sometimes I don't even know what day of the week it is. Sure, the thought of having 12 weeks off probably sounds like a vacation to most office dwellers, but I can assure you that's not the case. In fact, the only difference is that I'm on-call 24 hours a day and my boss is 25 inches long and screams without reason.

In a weird way, this time at home reminds me of the two months I was unemployed after losing a job in 2004. Although none of my days stood out and I struggled not to feel wretched and worthless, I recall much of that time very fondly. There were so many wonderful moments spent with Jer taking sub-zero walks in the snow, dancing in the kitchen to music while making dinner and renting tons of movies.

My maternity leave feels vaguely similar. Although I struggle with my inability to get out of the house -- mostly because I hate leaving Allison even for a moment -- and I'm spending most of my time in sweatpants and baggy T-shirts covered in spit up, I know I'll look back at these few months with nostalgia.

And although there's seemingly not a lot to write about, the big picture of how we're spending our days in this house is something I don't want to lose to time and memory lapse.

It's nothing spectacular. In fact, it's probably best described as ordinary. I've found my favorite spot to feed Allison during the day is on the right side of the couch, and because of that, I've taken to watching much more TV than usual.

"CSI" reruns to be exact.

Thanks to the writers' strike that has every major network airing a dismal abyss of reality garbage and uninspired game shows, I found myself searching for something, anything of substance.

In my remote control travels, I stumbled upon a "CSI" marathon on Spike. An obscene amount of DVR recordings later, Jerry and I are hooked. And because it has been one of the most popular shows for over a decade, we have more than ample catching up to do. Sure, we don't get them in sequence, but we're starting to put a pattern together -- much like the investigators on the show.

When we're not talking in our newly discovered crime jargon, we're usually splitting the duties that come with owning a house, having a baby and a dog, and catering to the necessities in life like eating and sleeping.

Although Allison is an awesome baby, she really likes to be held, which leaves one of us with our arms tied up almost all the time. Fortunately, Jerry has found a way to balance her on his chest while she's napping that also allows him to get in a little video game time. Even better, it allows me to walk around the house freely.

Those are moments I think all three of us enjoy. Well, four of us if you include Toby who is usually curled up on Jerry's lap.

But my favorite time during the day is when we play with Alli. We put a blanket on her floor, place her in the middle, read her stories, hold up toys and just talk to her. I think Toby loves it too because he has access to sniff her freely.

Eating dinner has gotten a little easier in the past few weeks. I've found that if I feed her right before we sit down, Jerry and I have a little more time to actually converse at a normal tone instead of attempting to enjoy a meal over a symphony of screaming. We've actually made it through without her crying on a few occasions, and each time we wonder what we did to deserve it. Regardless, we certainly don't take it for granted.

I wouldn't say we've quite fallen into a routine, but it no longer feels completely overwhelming. Allison's biological clock still varies from day to day, but much less than it did at the beginning. I've found that if I can get her to midnight, she'll usually fall asleep for a significant period of time, leaving me feeling much more rested and able to handle the curveballs.

That said, I'm starting to stress about returning to work. I have four weeks left and wonder how the hell we're all going to make the transition. I'm worried about leaving her. I'm worried about Jerry getting enough sleep. I'm worried about me getting enough sleep. I'm worried about Jerry and me getting time together and to ourselves. I'm also worried about continuing to breastfeed and all of the hurdles that come with it -- pumping at the office, keeping up my milk supply, keeping up with the bottles and sterilizing everything.


But just when my head starts to go crazy worrying about the "what ifs," I try and remind myself how much she's changed since we brought her home. A lot could happen between now and February.

I'll just do my best to enjoy every moment. As uneventful as they may seem, I know I'll be wishing I could get them back in a few weeks.

11 comments: said...

"A lot could happen between now and February." Yes, Allison will have learned how to cook a simple dinner by then for when Jerry and you get home (at different times of day, of course!)

Seriously, look at all the imponderables that have worked out during the past months --- so don't worry about the transition, it will all fit into place when it is time. :-)

Chelsea said...

Who'll be with Alli when you're back at work? Whomever it is, Jerry or your parents, you should train them to use your camera so they can e-mail photos to you while you're at work. But you still have a month to go until you go back!

Diane said...

Do all Americans only receive 12 weeks of maternity leave, or does it vary dependent on the company giving the leave? I'm surprised that it is only 12 weeks. Women are guaranteed 1 year in Canada. Granted, my job would only pay for the first 40 days and then the government gives me a whopping $400.00 for the rest of the year, but I'm still shocked at only 12 weeks. If you have the time, which I know is a precious rarity right now, would you mind explaining how maternity leave works in the U.S.? Thanks.

Pauline said...

If there is one piece of advice I can offer you... It's to not even think about tomorrow, much less four weeks from now. Focus on today, and all the amazing things that happen through-out the day. How she gives you a half smile, while trying to be mad at you. Watching her breathe in and out, while she sleeps. Everything will work out with your job, and you will have 'you and Jerry time'. You might have to fight for it, but it'll happen ;-)

fiona said...

I have more pictures up. Including a couple of her in the sleeper she has that's like Alli's. But I just enabled friends lock so add me as a friend and I'll add you.
Oh, and I am dreading having to find a job and leaving Katelyn in the hands of someone I don't know.

Ray said...

I love reading your long posts. It's great that you could do it, with a little one in the house now. ;o)

It looks like you and Jerry are finally getting into the swing of things with Allison. A good thing. I'm happy for you. Also worrying is only natural, so I hope that when you do go back to work, that it won't be so hard on you and Jerry. And that you get into a schedule that works out best for all of you.

I liked that you mentioned finding time for you and Jerry. I'm not married but I think that when you have kids, it's so important to still connect no matter what. And I hope that you find that time for just the two of you. With Allison under great care of someone that you trust of course. Because I think no matter how stressed out you may be as new parents, if you two are still connected it's not only a beautiful thing: but it'll make parenting that much more easy.

Waking up in the morning to a screaming baby can make you nuts. But when it's waking up to a screaming baby and to a partner that you care for, and see eye to eye with, it's easier. It has to definitely make things more wonderful no matter what. Knowing that you have the support system.

Like you said though: enjoy it while it lasts. And take lots of pics and video!

Take, care. The best to you all.

Chris said...

All I can say is... thank God for Three's Company reruns at 2am for those long night up with a baby. They kept me laughing when I just wanted to cry.

lioncloud said...

Women in Germany get TWO YEARS off and are guaranteed their jobs back. YOU get your pregnancy year and then another after the baby is born.

I met a German woman last summer who had had three kids in a row, so she had been out of work for six years, and was still guaranteed her job after the last baby was a year old.

What American women are expected to endure is barbaric.


Suzy said...

My little one isn't even here yet, I get only 6 weeks, and I'm already dreading coming back. It's a very bittersweet thing. We HAVE to work, but it's not like we LIKE the fact.

Kriston said...

I understand how the days blend together.

Heidi said...

Have you tried using a baby swing or vibrating chair? They work wonders for Keagan. To the point where he sleeps in his swing at night because he likes the motion (and hates his crib). He also likes to be held, and loves interaction with his mom and dad.
PS: I agree with Glrr - what American women have to endure is barbaric! I get a year off - not getting 100% pay, of course. My work tops me up to 84% for the first 6 months, and EI (government) tops me up to 50%. So worth it in my opinion!