Monday, June 10, 2013

The new normal

I am back at work.


I am pretty sure I had about 10 weeks off, but right now it seems to be only a vague recollection. A blur. Where did it go?


Everyone was positive I was going to have the baby early. Even me. Though I kept in the back of my head how ironic if I were overdue with this one like I was with the other two. Well irony struck. I was tired and very pregnant and having contractions for about 3 weeks (one day I would be certain we were headed to the hospital in a few hours, and the next not a single contraction) before he came. When Silas was born I had been off about 2 weeks, which was really, really nice to have that time to myself.


The hardest part during that time was convincing myself not to respond to work stuff. I had a delegate for a reason. Then there was the dealing with people, which isn’t always my forte. My own kids wondered when the baby was going to come and it was a huge unknown to them. AB and I knew what to expect, basically, but conveying that to the kids just wasn’t working well. The baby was doing gymnastics and the kicks were visible and painful. The kids found it hilarious. I got tired of the hilarity. Then there is the other people outside my little family. The friend who asks, “are you sure you are having contractions?” The work stress – losing out on leading a major program because they needed someone “there”. (I get it, really I do, but it was stressful.)


Then we had the baby (see the birth story), but the complications didn’t stop there in our world. With the other two, the baby was born and we went home. With Silas, he was born and we stayed because of his multiple issues. The hardest thing about him not coming home was that AB used all his time off from work running kids around. He felt very gipped that he didn’t have that week home with Silas and me. I was a “boarder mom” and had food available to me and a bed and shower just down the hall from Silas. AB had to get the kids up and on the bus, feed them meals/make lunches and because they were also concerned and wanted baby and mommy time, he fielded them back and forth to the hospital daily. Then home for baths and bedtime. I was bored in the hospital, and AB was run ragged.


I was starting to feel gipped in many ways too. I felt like my maternity leave was slowly dripping by, no one was going to extend it because the first nearly 1/6 of it in my mind, “didn’t count”. I didn’t get those first pictures of him straight after birth (or even days later) on my chest. Then the first few weeks of photos after he got home were icky as his face was all marred up from the tape they used to tape the tubes in place. If we went out (even just to the doctor’s offices), people glared at me and asked what happened to his face, did he get scratched already? They softened dramatically when I would explain it was a reaction to the tape from the tubes he had in his throat. And even when we were barely keeping heads above water going through things we didn’t anticipate, we had the people factor. The person who the “exact same thing happened to them” - or so they say, but they don’t really listen to hear that it isn’t “the exact same thing”. Or the person who thinks you aren’t doing things just right. Or the person who acknowledges that their situation was completely different, but I should make sure that I do X, Y and Z. (And maybe only Y is semi-applicable.) Or the people who don’t read. The ones I texted or e-mailed that it was a bad day with the baby in the NICU and they would reply, “glad to hear everything is going well!!!” (Two of those.)


A few years ago a friend of mine had twins who went into the NICU. I don’t remember why, but he had stopped by the house a day or two after they were born to get something I was loaning him. I had packaged up our leftover soup from dinner (Chicken enchilada soup with all the fixings) and sent it with him. For months after his girls were home he raved to me about that meal, how I didn’t know how helpful that was and how good it tasted after all the hospital and fast food they had recently.


Now I know how helpful it was. Should I ever (and I am sure I will) know someone with a baby in the NICU, I will provide a meal during that time. It was so generous of people to provide meals to us and it was nice to have them when I was home. But the value of having food for AB and the kids when I wasn’t there, that he didn’t have to fix was tremendous. Once I was home we could work together to get meals. It was so much harder when AB was shouldering everything for 5 days.


We got home and I went into my reclusive self. I would get up and get the kids ready and on the bus. And then I would spend the day with Silas, watching TV, napping, doing laundry, doing little projects around the house… Occasionally I would have people stop by to hold Silas and visit. It was always welcome, but as a recluse I found it a bit stressful by myself. I would have to make myself presentable – harder than I had remembered with my other two! Pick up the house a bit. And get Silas ready. With a newborn it just takes longer to do everything. I had a few people drop by during those first few weeks and I tried to be thankful that people cared and wanted to see us, but I would find myself fuming because I didn’t really want my secret out that I spend an hour (or so) in the morning in my pajamas with a baby stuck on top of me and watching Downton Abby!


We did get into a groove and I quit napping – knowing that my leave would be coming to an end and napping at work is generally frowned upon.


I even managed to get me and the other two kids out of the house on a semi-regular basis.


I formed an addiction to Starbucks Caramel Macchiato. And Great Harvest Cinnamon Burst bread.


I wandered Target constrained only by how long my baby would sleep.


I spent Fridays with my husband and no children who could speak.


I ate at nice restaurants for lunch on Fridays with my husband – places we could only take a newborn.


I let the umbilical cord to my other two stretch some by letting them go to the bus stop by themselves.


I didn’t read. Well much anyways. I am a reader, but for some reason reading wasn’t appealing to me while I was on leave. It would have required I take my eyes off my newborn. And that wasn’t happening.


I didn’t check my work e-mail. I had permission to do so, but I resisted for the most part.


I made homemade cookies a lot.


(And I ate a lot of homemade cookies. )


I snapped 87923 photos of my newborn. At least. Maybe more.


I may have forgotten I had pets that also wanted attention. Poor pets.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Camping Trip #2 2013

Time has flown.
During my maternity leave I kept intending to go blog. And then I would get stuck under a sleeping baby. And do you know how hard it is to move when you are stuck under a sleeping baby?
Before I wrap up a big post about my 10 weeks off, I thought I would do a quick short one about camping. But if you know me, you know that I don’t write anything quick and short. Anyways… you can deal or navigate away.
We have gone out on two camping trips this spring so far. The first one was our shakedown trip for the year at a nearby site. What all have we forgotten? What works in the trailer? What needs fixed? Oh and how will a 6 week old infant handle camping?
The answers? We had forgotten a lot – topping the list was dish soap and cheddar cheese. Dish soap to leave in the trailer. Cheddar cheese, not to leave in the trailer, but really, how could I forget my daughter’s main source of calories? Post-partum brain is how…
What works in the trailer? Most everything except for that broken propane hose… yes, seriously.
How was it camping with a 6 week old? Fine. We worried a lot about where he would sleep. I didn’t really want him in the bed with us as it is mushy, uneven (because AB and I like different thicknesses of foam) and small compared to our king at home. But we weren’t sure how the pack and play would work, would he get cold? Wouldn’t you know that I have a shelf right next to my side of the bed and the “newborn napper” insert from the Pack and Play fits absolutely perfect? See picture.
So we ventured further away on this last trip out. The Tucannon. We really love this area and have camped there about 4 times in the few years that we have had our trailer. The kids love fishing and catching trout there, AB enjoys fly fishing (I do too), and we like the fact that we are in National Forest land and can camp anywhere, have few rules and regulations to adhere to, it doesn’t cost anything and there is a lot of wildlife (deer, wild turkeys, osprey…).
We planned for a very low key trip and upon arriving AB scouted an area and set up “hammock village”. Last year I bought AB an ENO hammock for Father’s Day. He never got to use it. Ever. Our kids adopted it. So Leif got a hammock for his birthday and he spent many camping trips laying in the hammock reading, what could be better? Oh but then Skadi immediately started complaining that she had no hammock. Guess what she got this spring for her birthday? Three ENO hammocks and three sets of slap straps. Hammock village. It would have been a whole lot nicer though if it weren’t for all the mosquitos, ticks and horse flies. Skadi and AB seem to be fairly immune to biting bugs. But not Leif and I. He and I are the only ones who have had ticks this year and were swarmed by the mosquitos and horse flies. Not so much fun. Skadi and AB aren’t bothered by them and Skadi managed to walk away from the trip with one bindi-like mosquito bite in the middle of her forehead (or her “twohead” as she still calls it because I can’t bring myself to tell her it is actually a forehead now that she isn’t two anymore) and one big huge swollen horse fly bite on her thigh that she hasn’t batted an eyelash at. Leif and I didn’t fare so well.
The bugs drove Silas and I inside the trailer much of Saturday, while AB flyfished the river 100 feet from our trailer, and the kids alternated between being inside and playing outside. We bought a new game based off recommendations from two sets of friends, Sleeping Queens. Love that game. Both kids really got into it and it is fun for adults as well. Highly recommend it.
At one point Skadi was in with me, while Leif was outside and she admitted something – she wanted to learn to play chess. So we set up the board and she and I played… until Leif came in and ruined it for her by telling her what to do… typical brother!
One treat for the kids while camping is TV series shows. Our trailer doesn’t have a TV. We didn’t want a TV earlier when we bought one. (Our next trailer will have a TV.) But we have a makeshift TV. I bring the laptop, we keep an old flat screen monitor that we can hang up in the TV alcove and I download TV shows we ALL enjoy. One of the family favorites is Modern Family, the kids love it and get only 10% of the humor and bonus it has been an easy way to teach inquisitive minds about different types of families (gay, multicultural, regular old nuclear). Last summer the kids watched The Last Airbender series in the trailer. This year it is Legend of Korra. AB and I watched Breaking Bad last year (in and out of the trailer) and are presently evaluating options for this summer, Homeland is leading.
We love our trailer and enjoy having our own home away from home. I have enjoyed making it ours. It dawned on me on our first trip out this year that we really needed hooks. Then I remembered those Command hooks and how perfect they would be! I put hooks up all over the trailer last weekend and it worked so well I am buying another large pack for the next trip. It drives me up the wall how stuff gets thrown on the floor – and it isn’t all just laziness on the part of everyone but me in the trailer. There just isn’t a good place to put say sweatshirts that you don’t want to go into the laundry bag. We are always losing keys and dog leashes. Not anymore! Well not anymore, if I can get a certain person to use said hooks for said items.
I have an addiction to Target and may or may not have a weakness with the $1 bins. They had a camping section in the $1 bins a few weeks ago and I may or may not have gone nuts there. But seriously, tiny little towels? Can’t live without them. Then I found these little “survival kits” on lanyards. Most of the plastic crap I buy in the $1 bins is pretty worthless. Not these.
When AB was about Leif’s age he got lost in the woods. And scared. Well he doesn’t say he was scared, but I can tell it scared him because he mentions it a lot. And it scares me to think of my kids wandering off in the forests. The survival kits are on lanyards they wear around their necks, they have a whistle, a compass, a sparker (and yes, it works to make a fire, AB proved it could be done), a “dry” container to house a few matches. The most valuable part in my mind, is the whistle. But anyways, the kids LOVE those lanyards. I hung them on a hook (yay hooks!) by the door and they kids grabbed them whenever they went outside. Someday maybe knowing they have whistles on them, I may give them a longer lead to wander…
We saw a lot of deer this time out and had one deer that was pretty bold. It kept venturing into our campground with us sitting there and our two dogs off leash. The dogs stayed under the trailer growling, which became AB’s sign that the deer was in the campground. The kids LOVED watching the deer. We had the bow and arrows out and the kids immediately thought it would be a good idea to try and get the deer… don’t worry, we told them no.
On Sunday after the kids had a taste of trout that AB had caught, they decided they needed to catch their own. We packed up and headed to one of the many stocked lakes. I nursed Silas in the car while AB took the kids over to the lake, then came back to get the second load. All of a sudden Skadi is screaming, “MOM, DAD!”
We headed over to see her standing there with the net and a good sized fish flopping inside it! Leif had thrown his line in the water and caught a rainbow trout nearly immediately. He calmly and rationally got his sister to net the fish for him! We had a fun couple hours fishing. AB helped the kids and took care of Silas while I fished with the fly rod – I had a few bites but didn’t bring any in. Skadi fished for a few minutes every 20 minutes or so – focus is not there yet, though desire to catch a fish is. Leif caught a second fish, which thrilled him completely. His goal for the weekend was accomplished.
He outfished AB.