Friday, May 02, 2008

Whirlwind Round-up

In the last ten weeks...

I returned to work. There were countless tears, an anxious countdown, and many fears. I sat at our dinner table with my head in my hands and tears on my cheeks, babbling incoherently. I had made two lists-- things I needed to have the next morning and things the baby needed. The Boy took the list and tore it in half. "Don't worry about these things," he said, and I tried not to. We laid out outfits for all of us, with a back-up for her, diapers, wipes, bottles, blankets, lunches and even coats. I set the coffee timer for 6:30. And when I woke the baby up to feed her AT 5:30 in the morning, I did not cry. I did not cry when I dressed her or myself, and I blinked away only a stray tear when I saw her in the backseat of The Boy's car. At work, my eyes were red, mostly from lack of sleep. I learned how to use the Nursing Mothers' Room, so my breasts did not explode, as I had feared. I met my new supervisor, and she was welcoming and kind. I met with my former supervisor, and received last year's performance evaluation and this year's raise. It wasn't a terrible day. At 4 PM I raced away; I couldn't wait to see my baby girl. Now I try to stay at work a little longer, but no later than 4:30, or I run the risk of being late to day care. I lug a pump to and from work every day and have two sessions in the Nursing Mothers' Room, despite only producing enough to send the baby with one bottle of breastmilk per day.

Which brings me to the topic of Mirabella's unsettling diagnosis in early April. We noticed she did not seem to be gaining weight. I was devastated when the chart at the pediatrician said failure to thrive. So now I do all the work of a nursing mother and all the work of bottles. I'm told I shouldn't feel guilty and I am not alone. I still struggle every weekend, as my child rejects me when I try to feed her. But I'm giving it everything I have, even if that's not enough, and my baby has gained more than 3 pounds in the last month.

I have said, too many times to count, that work is now the easiest part of my day. When I leave at 4:30, I feel like a stopwatch starts. Pick up the baby, fight traffic, squeeze in a powerwalk with the stroller, if the weather is good, feed the baby, cook and eat dinner, clean the kitchen, give the baby a bath, put her to bed by 8ish, wash bottles, make new bottles, pack lunches, make breakfast, do laundry, lay out clothes, pack a diaper bag...and attempt to spend a few minutes alone with my husband. Granted, he takes some of these tasks usually, but the pressure to get it all done and manage to spend some precious time with my infant in the few waking hours I share with her gets to me. I start each week strong, with groceries, meal plans, and schedules, but come Thursday (Wednesday on a rough week), I kind of lose it. There were no breakdowns this week, and I'm pretty sure I didn't yell at The Boy, so maybe we are improving.

We took our first roadtrip since the baby, a long weekend at Deep Creek Lake for Dad's 50th. Lots of Wii bowling, board games, Easter candy, snow and family meals. The baby slept in her travel crib in the walk-in closet, and we enjoyed the king-size bed, even though we weren't really alone. Oh yeah, and on the way home, I pumped in the car. That was awesome.

Meanwhile, at work, my contract is ending at the end of May, and my affiliation with my beloved company is threatened. I am working and hoping hard to stay with them, as they have been good to me, but so far nothing is for certain.

Throw in a couple visits from in-laws, a minor mouse infestation, a toilet that almost fell through a second-story floor, first-floor ceiling, a bathroom that has lacked a floor, intact walls and a sink for the last couple weeks, a sister-in-law who is now a neighbor, and you're pretty much caught up.

It's all alternately exhausting, indescribably joyful, heartbreaking, disappointing, unexpected, frightening and exciting, many times over each day. Always I am overwhelmed. Like everyone says, life has drastically changed. I thought by now I would be used to it, but really all I'm used to is change. As soon as I get comfortable, it all changes again. Because I guess that's the only constant anyway.

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