Archive for July, 2015
For the third time, I returned to work last week after being on maternity leave.
Of course there was that inevitable sadness that comes with separation from your baby (or babies in this case), but this time, it was MUCH better.
I am so thankful that I work in a place that is very supportive of families and has been very willing to be flexible with my schedule so I could enjoy three months home with my babies (three months, I might add, that were crucial to us being able to establish breastfeeding and allowing me to recover fully from my c-section.. *trying hard not to step on post partum recovery soapbox*).
In the past, when it was time for me to return to work, I took the older girls to a daycare. It was a very good daycare, but it was still a place that wasn’t my home full of people I did not know well. And that absolutely crushed me to have to leave my baby with strangers in a strange place all day long. With Sarah, that sense of “awayness” was the worst. In addition to her being my first child, I had post partum depression and severe separation anxiety from my baby. I would go to work and sob every time I broke out the breast pump as I thought about strangers, albeit very capable and nurturing strangers, taking all my time I should have with her. It was a horrible, dark well of emptiness inside me that made me question if I was doing the right thing constantly. But, eventually, I got to know everyone at the daycare, recovered from PPD and saw how much fun she was having when we took her there and felt better that she was in capable hands and making friends, even though she got sick nonstop for nearly two years while she was there.
With Norah, it was better. When I took her to daycare, I already knew everyone who worked there and, after watching them with Sarah over the years, had no worries about her being in good hands. But it was still hard. Again I felt like I was abandoning my baby to a strange place away from me where she couldn’t nurse and take comfort from her mother. I bounced back more quickly that time though and again got use to it as I watched my baby flourish and interact with her little friends.
This time though, things were different.
Putting four children in full time daycare was financially impossible for us, but so was me quitting my job. So we started on a quest to figure out something that would work. I lost so many nights of sleep and shed many a tear over what I was going to do with my babies when I had to return to work. I prayed over this issue repeatedly, and my prayers were answered. We managed to find someone we know and trust very well to come into our home to keep our children part time, at least until September. Then the youngest three will go to an amazing part-time place where my mom works and their caregiver will be at home with them the other part of the time. All of these puzzle pieces falling into place has been the biggest blessing. Mark and I are still having to juggle our work schedules to accommodate this scenario for now, but it’s working, and for that, I am so thankful.
So when I had to go back to work again this time, I was able to leave my babies at home with someone I trusted, away from the sickness that permeates day cares, and in a place I knew they were comfortable in. I am so especially thankful for this scenario this time with my teeny tiny little Vera and my son who had oxygen problems initially. It’s such a gift to be able to keep them away from other small kiddos for a little while, at least until they chunk up and get a little older, a little bigger and a little healthier.
And now I’m going to confess something else: I LOVE being back at work. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was back in my office, doing a job that I love. I think my coworkers must worry that I’ve gone off the deep end because I tend to hole up, put my earbuds in and work. True, I have a LOT to catch up on, but I am also blissfully enjoying a little quiet and the time to focus on my work and stretch my creative arms again. It helps that we just won two pretty big awards for our magazine, and it also helps that it is undergoing a major design change and expansion (which thrills me!) Plus I’m getting a new Mac next week at work. Add that all together and I’m practically tap dancing into work every day.
Do I miss my kids during the day? So much! I love those sweet little smiles and hugs and coos and snuggles. But I also love coming home every day and being inundated with hugs and shouts for “Mama!” My patience with everyone is infinitely better, and I think their patience with me is better too. And, when I tell them their nanny is coming in the morning, they cheer her name and shout, “Yay!”
Going back to work this time has been better than I could have ever imagined. I am so thankful for answered prayers, both for my kiddos and for myself.
And now I’m extra grateful for afternoon and night time snuggles.
I’ve tried to write this post a number of times between now and five days ago when the babies actually turned three months old. But things stay crazy around here and this keeps getting delayed. I think that’s a pretty healthy sign of how things are going to be for a long time.
But! We’ve made it to month #3, and what a (mostly) good month it is.
Both babies are smiling now, the big gummy, nose crinkling, dimpled grins that make me turn into a big goofball in order to keep them coming. Luke has even managed a giggle. It’s pretty great!
Sleep still isn’t amazing though. It takes them forever to go down at night and they get up at least once a night, sometimes twice. But we did have a surprise night this past week where both babies slept seven hours straight and it was amazing! Too bad it’s only happened once, but it still gives me hope.
Luke, ever the pace setter, has also rolled from tummy to back. I didn’t see it happen because I was in another room, but when I left, he was on his tummy and when I came back he was on his back, mad as a hornet that he had gotten off his belly.
Vera still HATES tummy time and somehow manages to put all her arms and legs up in the air while she’s on her belly, effectively turning herself into a rocking boat while she screams her head off.
Both babies are nursing champs now, however tandem nursing is becoming a bit of a challenge. I put them in the football hold, latch one, and the other one gets angry and tired of waiting for their turn and kicks off with their feet, effectively shoving the nursing pillow out and dropping their sibling’s head in my lap. I get so frustrated when they play this game in the middle of the night, and I’m not sure what to do once they get too big for the football hold. I guess someone will have to wait their turn.
I had to go back to work last week, and when I did, Luke took the bottle like it was his job. Vera put up a good fight that lasted nearly a week, but finally started to take the bottle as the week drew to a close. All three of my girl babies hated the bottle, but at least V isn’t putting up the year long fiat against it that Sarah did.
Both babies continue to love bath time and calm down instantly when we put them in the tub. They also both love the swing, which almost always magically calms them down, as well as going outside, even if we are having triple digit temps.
Both babies love their sisters, especially since Norah has gotten much less violent with them. Anytime the big girls dance and sing, the babies look on in awe and show off their best grins.
Luke continues to be my happy day time baby, taking naps and sitting contently in his chair, while V is my fussy daytime baby, crying or whining unless she’s being held or entertained. They switch roles at night (of course) and Luke is always the one to wake us all up, where Vera would be just fine if I didn’t wake her up to eat, thankyouverymuch, but I still make her to ensure I get the most sleep possible.
Still things are getting progressively better: there are longer stretches of night time sleep, more efficient nursing sessions, longer stretches between feedings, and, of course, those awesome grins that make it all worth it. We are all adjusting to our larger family and all the work that often means, but we are getting into a routine and schedule and everyone is learning to share time with mom and dad, and we, in turn, are learning how to better share our time with all our kids.
Today is a surreal and sad day. My grandfather, one of the most important and formative people in my life, passed away today. I immediately felt two strong emotions well up inside of me: the sadness, of course. How can I not be sad that my Paw Paw is no longer available for a goofy grin or a silly joke, or to ask me where I’m traveling to next and take pride in my achievements? But another part of me was instantly relieved. He has fought a long and hard battle with Parkinson’s disease that grew especially difficult and frustrating for him over the past two years. I know he was ready to go.
On Monday, fearing the end was near, the six of us loaded up the van and drove over to see him. Having lost control over most of his ability to communicate, I didn’t know what to expect. But I watched amazed as he perked up when I brought the twins to see him, smiled at Mark and me, and even managed a small wave as Norah boisterously shouted “Paw Paw” and wiggled her little hand at him.
That was my Paw Paw, always a man who loved children.
Over the course of today, I’ve been thinking about the huge role he played in my life and the lives of my sisters and cousins.
He led a big life. He was the Louisiana Secretary of Commerce, the grandson of a construction company dynasty, sat on numerous boards, co-founded a school and even climbed to the very top of Amway. But he was also “Paw Paw,” a man who dropped everything to spend time with his grandchildren, who he loved fiercely.
“Paw Paw! Let’s ride the airplane!” we’d cry, and he would load us all up in his Caddy and drive his car through the front yard in circles, narrowly avoiding magnolia and pine trees, bushes and ditches. We would squeal in delight and he would giggle right along with us. He would take us to his office after hours, and let us decorate white boards, dig through office supplies, use the old typewriter and raid the company snacks.
At the infamous family annual Christmas party, Paw Paw would don his well worn Santa suit and load up his sack with presents as we each begged for the chance to be his helper elf (which usually involved putting on a very tight white and green striped onesie with curled green shoes).
Our family has always loved to play games together, and he was always eager to jump in. Party Lines was a favorite and he was great and coming up with lines that got the whole family laughing with tears pouring out of our eyes.
Ever the sports fan, Paw Paw kept diligent notes about sporting stats and encouraged us all to take up a sport. I remember many a summer spent at LA Techsters basketball camp while Paw Paw rubbed elbows with the coach and visited with everyone – after all he knew everyone who lived in Ruston.
One day, my grandfather and I sat talking when I was 16. He asked me if I could travel to anywhere, where would I choose. New York City was at the top of my list. A couple weeks later my parents received a phone call. My grandfather had a business trip that would be taking him to NYC and would I like to go with them? Together we sat down and made a list of all the things and places we wanted to see and go to. When the time arrived, he took that list with us to New York and made sure we did every single item on the list, crossing each off as we accomplished them.
Together, my grandparents and I traversed the entire city, eating at Tavern on the Green and Sardi’s, going to the top of the Empire State Building and visiting FAO Schwartz. We saw The Lion King and Les Mis on Broadway, and I even remember venturing out to Hard Rock Cafe late at night with them just to cross it off the list.
My grandfather lived to bring joy to others. Each year he would foot the bill for all four of his children and their families to go to the beach together. Inevitably the kids would get tired of just sitting outside, and he and my uncle Mix would load all the children up and take us to the Big Kahuna water park while the other adults enjoyed the peace and quiet. Another day, they would take us down to the Holiday Inn where we would sneak in through the side door to use their swimming pool and enjoy the arcade. He certainly encouraged a us to have fun, even if it meant a little mischief.
My sisters and I went to visit him and introduce him to the twins a couple of weeks ago. In a rare moment of clarity, he looked up when we came into his hospital room and said, “Let me see that baby,” and grinned when I brought Luke over. He also spoke my name. I’m so glad that we got to see him at the end, and even introduce the twins to him.
Dear Paw Paw, I’m so glad you’ve found peace, but so sad my children will never know the way your face lights up when you see your children and great grandchildren, how you always have a funny joke or well-timed wit, or how much and unselfishly you loved with your whole heart. I am so thankful that you always encouraged me to be a better person, and to travel and be successful. I am so blessed and so grateful that I had 30 years with you. Thirty years to love you and bask in the glow of your smile, to hug you and kiss your cheeks.
Going through some old things tonight, I found this letter he wrote to me after our trip to New York. This was everything he was to me in a nutshell.
I love you Paw Paw, and I miss you terribly. I look forward to the day we meet again on the other side.
- My Sick Bonnie Girl
- Celebrating 9 Years
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