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.


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