Friday, January 8, 2016

First Week Back to Work

Disclaimer: this is a long one. Possibly my longest post to date!

I was very excited to return to work - sad to be leaving my baby... but happy to be back in the corporate world! I mean, we did just move half-way across the country for my new job, I can't really decide now that I want to stay home (maybe part time would be nice?).

A few things I learned this week:

1. Pumping is no joke!
I was pumping 1-2 times a day over the last 6 weeks trying to build up a freezer stash (and then some) so that I can feel comfortable with our milk supply. I am supposed to begin traveling for work in March and I'll be gone about 3 days every other week. I'm glad to report that our freezer stash is nice and healthy with 200+ ounces of milk! (Brad says that we are running out of space - I say we just buy another freezer! joking, no but really) ... but apparently pumping 1-2 times a day still doesnt prepare your nipples for the amount of pumping you do when you go back to work.

2. Your schedules HAVE to be flexible!
This was the schedule I saw in my head (and what we'd been practicing):

2-3am: Jo occassionally wakes up - daddy feeds her a pumped bottle
4:30-5am: mama wakes up and pumps, eat a piece of fruit
5-6am: 30-min exercise video and eat breakfast
6-6:30am: get ready for work
6:30-7am: mama wakes up Jo, feeds her, changes her, dresses her for school
7am: mama leaves house and drives to work
8am: daddy takes Jo to school

If Jo has a good night - then that means I get to sleep 6ish hours straight and I have the energy to exercise. If she doesn't go back to bed after her 2-3am feeding and I hear her and daddy struggling - I usually try to relieve him so he can go back to sleep (best husband ever award goes to him for taking on this feeding so I can sleep!). Usually my plan goes out the window if she doesn't have a good night. My new favorite quote about parenthood: "You just have to roll with it". She seems to have gotten the hang of sleeping through the night - but she doesn't do it consistently yet. This week I was able to get in 3 out of 5 morning workouts and I am taking that as a WIN!

Our evening schedule seems to be working out pretty well though (knock on wood... until there is a parking lot of cars on the interstate due to an accident or a work meeting that runs late). When either of the above happens and I am just really late, I imagine Brad will pick her up and start our evening routine and I'll jump in once I get home.

4pm: mama leaves work
4:30-5pm: mama picks up Jo from school
5:30pm: nurse Jo at home
6-7pm: dinner then playtime/reading, usually 20min nap
7-8pm: bath, baby massage, ready for bed, pumped bottle
8-10pm: wash bottles, prepare next day bottles, clean kitchen, pack lunch, shower , pump one last time ...then bed

3. Now, I understand why people live for the weekend.
I knew that working was going to be time consuming. Come on now, most people work 8 hour days, some people 10 hours - not including your commute. What I didn't expect was how few hours I would actually get to spend with her. I leave the house at 7am so I only get 30-45 minutes with her in the morning (daddy drops her off at school between 8-9am). I pick her up between 4:30-5pm so by the time we get home, I've only got about 2.5 hours with her before she goes to sleep. When I add up how much time I actually have with her, its sad. We went from spending all day together (she sleeps in her crib since we moved to Texas) to roughly 3 hours a day. As much as I love my job, I do look forward to the weekend when we can spend more time together. Our limited time is definitely more meaningful and I try not to take it for granted - even when she is being fussy. Needless to say, I can't wait for the weekend when we can do fun things together. Plus, I'll be happy not to look at that pump for 2 days.

4. Sick babies break your heart!
I'm sad to say that between the continuous change in weather this week (30s one day and 65 the next) and her first week of daycare - Joanna may be coming down with a cold (to be expected). This is the first time she's gotten sick so you could imagine how first time mommy feels over here. FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS! She started with a stuffy nose (no fever) and although she still has a smile on her face, you can tell the extra gooey in her nose and throat doesn't feel good. She just wants to be held and cuddled ... and that's all mommy wants to do too. I find myself just trying to do whatever I can to make her feel better because it just breaks my heart to see her not feel well.

5. Communication is everything!
Brad drops off Joanna in the morning and I pick her up on my way home from work. He usually only sees Teacher A (who is the lead teacher for her room) and I usually only see Teacher B. I realized I have to do a good job at communicating anything that is wrong to Brad (and Teacher B) so that they can both relay the information to Teacher A. Needless to say, parenting is the phase in your life in which you HAVE TO SPEAK UP. I guess I'm usually a little passive-aggressive (who isn't?) and I don't like to upset people. But when its something about your baby (or about how many bottles you feel like you are washing a night), it's best to communicate your concerns. For us, life has continued to get more complicated over the last 6 months (and now that Brad will be starting a new job with opposite hours it's only going to get more complicated) and the only way we can survive is by being honest with each other and communicating our needs/wants.

6. It's important that your spouse feel comfortable with baby
Let's face it - new mommy's are control freaks. Even before we decided to have children, I was really the one who planned our schedules (outside of work) and even our meals! When we realized that I would have to travel more a lot for work after we moved to Texas, I had a reality check on my control freakness. Basically, I had to give it up. As mommy (and go to parent in the beginning since I was spending so much more time with her than he was), it was going to be my job to make sure that he felt comfortable with her and confident enough to take care of her when I wasn't around. None of this "I can't leave my baby with my husband" stuff. Nobody has time for that nonsense. So, this is what I've been doing to prepare us for going back to work:

1. We have a dry erase board on the side of our refrigerator with the time of her next feeding so we can both better gauge when she is hungry and when she is tired.
2. We also list 3 dinner meals for the week - which we have ingredients for in the house and they can be cooked after we run out of leftovers. Brad is a much better cook than I am... reason number 247 why I started this blog ;)
3. Brad and I alternate feeding her before bed. I nurse or he gives her the bottle. She needs to get accustomed to being put down by either of us in the event that one of us is not there.
3. Show your partner what you have found that works and doesn't work with baby. Although you communicate that baby likes to be held in position A versus position B - you have to let them do their thing without hovering.
4. That doesn't mean you don't check on them when crying has lasted more than 3-5 minutes (people like to feel supported). But don't go running into the room asking to take the baby when crying has only just started either; give them the opportunity to soothe baby themselves.
5. Trust your partner! They are their parent too!

All in all, we survived our first week. If there is one thing I know for sure, it's that parenthood is just adapting to the constant change and trying your best. I feel like we are really in a good place for our first week. No metldowns, no tears. A few hours of lost sleep and a few workouts missed - but hey! you just gotta keep adapting.

Mama Stephanie

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