Saturday, September 27, 2008

Today was better than yesterday.

(It's amazing how bored you can get when you attend a scientific conference without attending any actual part of said scientific conference)


Today we had a great day here in this quaint rainy little town. Baby N. got up with us at 6AM, had some breakfast, and came downstairs with Hubby and me so we could eat our breakfast. I was really good and didn't even have any bacon or french toast. Fruit, bagel, decaf coffee and skim milk. The baby was also slightly better with all the strangers around, too, which is encouraging. After breakfast, we came back upstairs, hung out, had second breakfasts at 9am, and then N. went down for a nap lickety-split. My baby, how I love him ;-)

After lunch, though, instead of a nap, we went out exploring... which was really quite interesting, considering that "downtown" here consists of a sum total of 3 city blocks. It's really damn small. But, we went to the gift shop, got some cute things for N., a t-shirt for me, and then we went on a little adventure.

Being as we're in Cape Cod, there's actually ocean right off the main street, along a little boardwalk. So, N. had his first experience with the ocean, which meant a great deal to me. I grew up on an island in Eastern Canada (that should narrow it down, since there are only three), and I don't feel entirely settled unless I'm living somewhere within a few minutes drive of the Atlantic. By the time we get to my parent's place next, it'll be too cold to visit, so we took advantage of what we had here. The water was still surprisingly warm, warm enough to dunk tiny toes into. I'll post pictures when we get back to the apartment, since I didn't bring my camera cord with me. N. seemed to enjoy the sand on his toes, which was great.

After coming back, he fell asleep before supper (I had to wake him up to go down to the cafeteria so I could eat before they closed). He was a little fussy for the remainder of the evening, even spitting up a fair bit, but I started feeding him again around 8PM, and as of 8:45PM, he's sound asleep.

I think his schedule is shifting because of my going back to work. He used to get up at 9AM, and go to bed around 10:30PM. Theoretically, getting up at 6AM should mean bed at 7:30PM, so 8:45PM really isn't that far off. Once we get back to the apartment, I'll have to try and keep it up. I also have to try to force myself to go to bed shortly after he does. If he's sleeping at 9PM, there's no reason for me to stay up puttering and watching TV until 11PM. Making lunch and getting ready for the next day shouldn't take more than half an hour, and as for the TV, pretty much everything is available online these days anyway.

Gee, this post got really rambly really quickly. Maybe I should snooze until Hubby comes back from his evening presentation session...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Blogging from away

I'm away in a quaint New England town, at a departmental retreat (Hubby's dept, that is), and since he's at talks, and it was baby's bedtime, I'm sitting alone in our room, in the dark, with a laptop monitor turned as dim as humanly possible, trying not to twiddle my thumbs.

(I couldn't anyway; can't see the damn things)

While people don't often bring spouses to this particular annual event, Hubby encouraged me to come because a) it's a change of scenery, b) it's sciency, which I like, and c) he could tell I wasn't ready to be left alone all weekend with Baby N. The problem is that I can't actually expose myself to much of the sciency stuff, since N. isn't overly social this past little while.

It's still a welcome change, though. We had a nice, albeit rainy, drive here, and it took pretty much exactly the amount of time the map said it should. We stopped quickly for food for us grown-ups, but fed N. in the car by bottle so as to make good time, and it worked like a charm.

Luckily, there's wireless here, and while Hubby was at the afternoon presentations, I was able to catch up on some TV online while N. napped. We had a social supper, and now I'm waiting for Hub to come back from the evening sessions.

I put N. down to sleep for the first time all by myself, which leads to the conclusion that I likely would've been just fine alone for the weekend, but it's nicer to be here. Hopefully he'll sleep well tonight, and be his charming little self tomorrow.

I'm not entirely convinced that the charming part will happen, because it seems like our little overachiever is hitting more milestones early, namely the "strangers r bad, m'kay" phase. He flipped out when the pediatrician talked to him yesterday, and he usually loves her; there weren't even any needles involved this time, so that's not the reason. He's also crying at about 50% of the "strangers" that come to say hello, and that includes some of Hubby's labmates. It really makes me feel bad, because he seems to get upset at the ones that are sweet and kind and love babies, and he laughs for the ones that are standoffish. Our ped said that because he's hitting this stage early (by about two months), he should get out of it early and quickly (hopefully).

We also had a 5-month weigh-in, and my little bruiser is 17lb, 11oz. He's still following his growth curves nicely, completely back on track for his birthweight and percentile. He's starting to show interest in what I eat and drink, so I think we'll be trying some rice cereal with him soon. I'm not sure when I'll do that; it might be after his 6-month birthday, or maybe a little before, since that's when we'll be home at my parent's place for a wedding (more on that later).

But, since he's sleeping, maybe I should catch some shut-eye. I don't dare put a lamp on to knit, and the computer screen doesn't provide enough light for my tastes. I just hope Hubby doesn't come storming in ;)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My first work "week"

Well, I survived. I should be sleeping right now, but I thought you might like to hear how everything went :-)

Hubby and I had worked out that Monday and Tuesday would be the best days for him to stay home, since it was essential for him to be at work Wednesday and Thursday**.

So, we planned out the days for them, and off I went to work. This week was a bit unusual, since it turned out in the end that Hubby had a reason to come in both Monday and Tuesday, but it worked out.

I woke up at 6AM on Monday morning (which was more painful than I could ever imagine), and nursed Baby N. We tried to put him back down for a morning nap, but according to Hubby, he stayed awake until his 9AM feeding. He napped after that, though, which was good. Hubby had to be into work on Monday for around 2PM, but kept the baby with him for the meeting. I got to visit with them for a few minutes, and Hubby stayed in one of the conference rooms with the baby for the rest of the afternoon, so we could walk home together.

The uni is really good to support breastfeeding mothers, and I've been able to book timeslots in one of the "mother's rooms" twice a day. That way, I can go in, pump for 15 minutes, and be able to bring that home for the next day's feeding. The rooms are really comfortable, with spaces for two moms, and there's a sink to clean pump parts and a microwave to sterilize them. I'm booked in twice, four hours apart, but when the baby is at home, he eats every three hours, so I pump twice, but he has three feedings. It means that some nights I might only feed him once more, and then he goes to bed. All in all, it works out pretty well.

Tuesday was a bit tougher - Hubby had a last minute lab meeting, which meant I had to take over for an hour. Luckily it started at the same time as my first stint in the Mother's Room, so instead of pumping, I just nursed the baby. We spent some time making friends with the departmental secretary, and once Hubby was done with his meeting, they went home.

All in all, it was a fairly successful few days. I've learned a few things, though, that we'll have to pay attention to:

  • I have to make my lunch the night before; there's no time in the mornings
  • It works out best if I sterilize all bottle/pump parts as soon as I get home (or early Sunday evening), and lay out bottles of breastmilk/formula the night before I go to work. Otherwise Hubby wouldn't get any work done during his days home, which is essential to keep his boss happy
  • We have to be really careful to schedule my work on days where Hubby has no meetings. Having done it both days this week, I know now that it just complicates things.
  • Getting to bed early is essential. I can't stay up to watch TV or knit, as much as I'd like to. Luckily, Comcast broadcasts most of what I watch the following day; unfortunately, sometimes it'll cost me $0.99.
  • I need to get up when the alarm rings; otherwise, I catch the bus on the return loop, and don't get a seat.
It's not easy, but it's do-able for the time being. I miss my boy something awful, but I realize I get to spend five other days a week with him, and I'm so grateful.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The daycare debacle, part 2


One thing I've been repeating to myself lately comes from Hubby's aunt (well, not originally, but it's something she lives by, and I'm starting to adopt it):

Things have a way of working themselves out.

I have to hold on to this, because if I didn't, I just might go bonkers. I mentioned before that I wasn't optimistic about getting into the daycare we applied for before Christmas. Turns out even that's unrealistic. We've come to find out Hubby's boss sits on the board (and is definitely NOT the type of person to use her connections for undue influence, so no advantage there), and she was forthcoming with information that the director was not.

There are 15o people on the waiting list.

Hubby's boss seemed really irritated that the director refuses to tell people this, and keeps parents' hopes up falsely, and I have to say I agree. But, does this change much for us? Not really. We still need a daycare that's within walking distance, because we just can't afford daycare and a car.

His boss did know of another daycare that's somewhat close to our apartment (about a 15 minute walk), so we're going to get on their waiting list too. I'm not holding my breath for a start date before Christmas there, either, but it's all we can do. We can't afford in-home care, and besides - if you get a nanny through a reputable agency, the majority of the contracts require you to provide that nanny with transportation, i.e. a CAR.

We'll figure it out. Somehow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Keeping my eyes on the prize

Originally uploaded by Dr. Ellen

I just spent ages rambling on about how much this end-of-leave-getting-into-daycare thing is stressing me out, and I forgot to share the most important part -

I have the best, most adorable baby in the world.

Still sleeping like a champ, still happy pretty much all the time.

Every day I love him more, and I think I'll burst with all the love, and then another day arrives, and the love just keeps going.

The daycare debacle

I don't like to write about this, because I don't like to think about it. Unfortunately, it's one of those things that, when ignored, rears up and whacks you in the face and then laughs about it.

My maternity leave is coming to an end in a week.

(Pause. Sob uncontrollably. Gather. Pause. Continue.)

My contract (which we're in the process of trying to get renewed with our funders) is part-time, because I had to switch when I was pregnant. Full time was too much to handle, physically, so working part-time gave me the chance to rest, and I also got to make up time from early on in the pregnancy when I was really really sick. It turns out that it's a good thing - it enabled us to stretch out the first contract by 7 months, keeping our benefactor happy. It's also a good thing because we don't have daycare yet.

When I first thought about having kids, I'd hoped that we'd be living close to my parents, along with having the Canadian option of at least a year of maternity leave. That way, I could bond with the munchkins, and when I had to go back to work, my mother could take over (because she works part-time too). Here, like I'm sure I've mentioned, maternity leave sucks, at most you can have 5 months, but a lot of people only get 6 weeks. So, I knew I had to apply for daycare.

The problem, believe it or not, is the mentality most people around here have about their cars.

CARS? Wha?

Well, the deal is this. We got info from HR about daycare options, and they were generally helpful for most people, but not for us. There is basically one daycare that's accessible to us as a car-free family, and there's a wait-list (which we're on). The HR woman who specifically takes care of child care was shocked that we didn't have a car, and took great pains to point out the fact that there's only one daycare we can get to without one. Her advice?

"You're going to have to buy a car."

Now, I'm sorry, but that's just not realistic. If I'm working part-time (which, because of the contract issues, might not last forever), we can just afford to pay for daycare. Daycare that's full-time, since there are no real part-time options. If we bought a car, between gas and insurance and the initial expense of the actual purchase, we'd be in the hole every single month, and our small savings from last year would be eaten up within 8 months.

So, we have to wait until we get into the daycare that's close by.

Which means a heck of a lot of juggling. I'm technically on 53% time, which means 21.2 hours a week. That works out to two really long days of 10 hours, 42 minutes; I'm thinking I might do two 10 hour days and then use the third day to meet with my boss for updates and planning sessions (I can bring the baby for those). In order for me to work those hours, Hubby has to stay home and babysit. We can't afford a nanny, and I'm not willing to just get a temporary babysitter, since I don't know anyone here and would have a hard time checking references in any way that I would trust.

Hubby, of course, works full-time, and needs to put in at least 40 hours a week. If he takes two days off to babysit, he needs to find a way to get his computer work and paperwork done during those days, so that he can put in for those hours. That way, he'll only have to work three or four of the remaining days and we'll have at least one day on the weekend together as a family.

When we applied for daycare, we put in a start date of November 1st, since we're taking two weeks off for a wedding in October. If we were to get in on Nov. 1st, we'd only have to do this juggling thing for 3 weeks. I'm not optimistic that we'll get in before Christmas, though.

Sorry for rambling, I'm just trying to mentally prepare for this. I know it's going to be a hard couple of months, but I also know we have no choice. We'll make it work somehow, I just want to make sure that we don't get so stressed out that it's detrimental to the baby and to our relationship.

If only we were living at home...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Brain mush

I used to write all the time, and it was theraputic. Now, most days I feel as if my brain has turned to mush, and it's all I can do to get up, get dressed, and carry on simple conversations with Hubby.

And I never want it to end.

If I was back in Canada, I still wouldn't even be halfway through my maternity leave, but the reality of it is, I have three weeks left. The other side of that reality is that my grant only has three weeks left on it after I start back. We have to reapply or I could be unemployed, and that is some scary shit, people.

But, I have to be completely honest about the whole thing, because I'm torn. On the one hand, there's a large part of me that would love to have more time off, and that's the part that feels guilty about going back to work. I know that there are many many mothers here in the US who don't even get five months off, and I'm really grateful, but I feel guilty. On the other hand, and I feel even more guilty about this, there's a part of me that needs to be a grown-up with a job again.

I think that's why my brain is mush - I keep trying to reconcile this, and it melts my synapses. I can't understand how I can love N. so much, and even consider not being with him 24 hours a day. When I think about leaving him at daycare, I start to cry, but I look forward to getting back to my experiments.

It's killing me. And, evidently, making me ramble.