August 30, 2013

Goodbye Swaddle, Hello Errands

Today has been a hard day so I thought there was no better way to end it than to jot down some of the thoughts that have been flowing through this Swiss cheese brain of mine these days. Robert is back to work and boy am I feeling it. I wish I had had the time and energy to write an account for those first crazy days. I believe one day I didn't eat until 3 pm and another I didn't brush my teeth until 5 pm, yikes!! I anticipated that this transition would be hard, but I honestly thought it wouldn't be as testing as it has been.

My husband has a very unusual schedule and a rather demanding job. It seems he is working about 6 days a week, and they don't seem to be consistent either. I knew this before we had a baby. I have lived with a rather erratic schedule for many years now, but that was when I was just me. It rarely bothered me that I would sometimes sleep alone, or have to partake in couples activities as a single. He loves his job, and I like my me time. But having a baby is so different. Sometimes as I am sitting in the rocking chair breastfeeding or walking laps around the living room trying to rock her sleep I miss having someone to talk to, someone that can talk back at least. Or when she is screaming because she doesn't want to go down for a nap that she really needs and I need to go to the bathroom really bad, it would be nice to be able to hand her off for a second, but I can't. With overnight shifts, mandatory overtime, training, court, and pop-up protests I find myself alone with Marilyn a lot. I am not complaining I am just a little off guard at how hard this has been.

I am a patient person. I can wait in line for a long time before getting upset, I was a pre-school teacher, and I rarely get road rage from stop and go traffic. I consider myself very patient, but having parent patience is way more intense than any DMV line or Berkeley during commute hours. It is something that I need to perfect and something that has been thoroughly tested as we have taken this new curve. It was ironic that not only were we getting used to Robert going back to work but we were also transitioning Marilyn out of a swaddle. Apparently you should only swaddle babies up to 2 months as it can cause hip joint issues if done too long, since our little monster as we playfully call her, is as tall as a 4 month old right now we knew that we could not mess around with the swaddle cut off date. However at the same time all of this was happening she began to develop some serious body movement. Her arms flail faster than Michael Phelps on most days and for a newly free sleeper this is not a good thing. Why you ask? Because imagine you can't control your arm movement and that they are flying around at warp speed as you are drifting off to sleep. Your arms are moving and they only have so many directions that they can go when you are lying flat and one of those directions is right at your face. Next add the fact that your hands are 90% of the time in a fist and you can see why this is a nasty combination.

Needless to say she didn't nap for a few days, or she would simply sleep for about 20 mins before she beat herself up enough to cry. Was her arm flailing worse because she was dependent on the swaddle? Who knows, my inclination is yes. See she slept fine without a swaddle when we first brought her home, but she slept longer in the swaddle, and while in the hospital they constantly swaddled her, so we did too. Eventually we were swaddling her for every nap and bedtime until our doctor warned us of the 2 month cut off. So here I was on the day and night shift with a baby who could not sleep, you can imagine the bags under my eyes right? One night I nursed her in bed with me and when she fell asleep, I set her flat on her back and put my arm over her arms so when they flailed they couldn't hit her. After a while I began to worry that the weight of my arm would hinder her breathing, so carefully with my free arm I stacked pillows opposite her for my arm to rest on keeping it off her chest but still blocking her arms. She slept, I caught a little shut eye, but woke with a very stiff arm. Eventually she began to flail a little less in her deep sleep, they still Phelps it up with she is not as deep, but her sleeping has become better. She even slept through the night again close to her 9 week mark!

My mom told me countless times that the biggest shock of being a parent was that you could no longer just "run in" anywhere. That every outing was like you were leaving for vacation. I rolled this off my shoulders thinking it can't be that hard, but alas I was so WRONG! When Robert and I would run errands together often times he would drive around the parking lot while I ran in to grab whatever we needed. We would strategically plan when to leave and have the car packed long before take off. At the grocery store he would have her in one cart while I darted around getting the things off the list with another cart. Now that Robert is back to work and has one day off to spend with us, the last thing we all want to be doing on that day is running errands. So I have been learning to do them on my own.

I am not going to lie I was totally scared to drive in the car with her alone. I can't see her, and no one is there to tell me that she is okay. I can recognize her different cries somewhat at this stage and couldn't fathom being in the car with a hysterical baby. I was too scared. But with the thought of errand running for our family outings looming over my head I bit the bullet strapped her in the car and did it. I needed to find a gift for Marilyn's cousin Ava's first birthday and thought the bookstore in Point Reyes would be great. I could buy the book, walk to the post office to get some stamps, get bread at the local bakery, and grab milk at the little market there. This would require that I find ONE parking space, get her out of the car ONE time, get my items done, and then drive home in one piece. Well as I embarked on this adventure I ran into some serious road construction on my usual route, the gentlemen told me I was looking at a 10min wait before I could pass, she was already fussing. I couldn't do it, 10mins of baby crying in an idle car, no thank you. I turned myself around and rethought my plans. The only other way to Point Reyes would require that I drive to Central Marin and then out to the coast making my 20min drive into more like an hour, again no thank you. So instead I decided to head up to Downtown Petaluma, inland and about a 15 min drive. There I could park equal distance between the market and the bookstore and I could pick up fresh bread at the bakery. The only thing they didn't have was the Post Office which could wait.

I got there, found the perfect spot, and strapped her in the carrier. She fussed as she usually does so I stood on the street corner bobbing up an down to get her to settle before making my way to the bookstore. I got a few funny looks, probably childless people I assumed. She made it through the bookstore and the bakery and even one antique store (her first!). As I began to walk over to the market I realized that I was way over dressed for the hot Petaluma weather, I was planning to go to Point Reyes remember, so the sweat began to set in. Of course the journey to the market was a sunny side walk with juvenile trees. I ditched my purse (in the car) and just carried my debit card as this pack horse is not well enough to be working that hard just yet. I dashed through the market like a lightening bolt grabbing the provisions I had set out to get and it was not until the check out line that she began to cry. I think it must have been a sight to see me with baby strapped on front carrying two groceries bags in wool pants and long sleeves dashing through the parking lot and down the street with sweat streaming from my forehead. I wish someone was filming me especially as I took that shortcut through the plants :) I made it to the car and she and I both were much happier when we finally separated.

It was not until we were approaching our exit on the freeway that she began to wail. You know the hysterical I need to eat right now cry. My heart races every time I hear that cry and this time was no different. And what would you guess happened next? I got stuck behind some annoying person driving 20 mph in a 35 mph zone. Really? Why do people do that? I was ready to throw my shoe at his car, but alas we made it home. I quickly unstrapped her to get her in the house and on the boob, when I realized I had milk in the car. What to do, what to do...screaming baby and milk on a hot day. I grabbed her and ran her in the house and strapped her in her chair then ran back out to the car and grabbed the groceries. Threw the milk in the fridge and whisked her away to feed. We were home, we made it, and the best thing is that I realized I could do it. I could run errands on my own and now I am getting pretty good at it. I have even made several trips in one day!

Yes, I would like a pat on the back ;)

We spent our family day having a picnic in West Marin instead of running errands. Here she is on the picnic in the carrier asleep :) She slept through her first picnic.

Robert and Marilyn catching a morning nap together. She kept scooting herself closer and closer to him until she was buried in his chest, so precious.
Giggly in the morning.

Check out those blue eyes.

So cute.

Pouting lips :)

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