Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sleep Training: One Night In

We are one night in to sleep training (something had to change).

We spoke with the Kaiser Health Education sleep specialist, and she gave us some really great support. We talked about Margie's current patterns and our needs and wants. We talked about what I feel ready for and what I don't. We talked a lot. And we came up with a plan that incorporates it all.

Here's what we decided:

  • We're not night weaning yet. I'm just not ready to give up nursing Margie to sleep (my baaaaaaby I want her to neeeeeeed me) (yes this feels selfish but it is what it is), and she is still getting a decent amount of calories overnight. I'm ok with two night feedings, and I know she can go 4 hours between night feedings (biologically, she could go all night). She will likely drop one of these night feedings on her own, and at that point, I'll support that and go with it. But I don't want to force the issue yet.
  • We are doing a modified version of crying it out. It's an "intervals" approach. I think this is technically Ferber.
    • Nurse her to sleep, but try to put her down drowsy and awake. Ideally, after I nurse her, I pass her along to Will so he can put her down. The goal here is for her to not be asleep in our arms - to get used to falling asleep in her crib, so that when she wakes up she isn't surprised not to be in our arms, and she knows she's safe to go back to sleep. This really resonated with me. It's a concept that makes sense.
    • If she starts fussing, let her fuss.
    • If fussing turns into crying, let her cry for 3 minutes. Then send Will in (as the non-lactating parent, so she doesn't think she's getting fed) to pat her, shush her, and reassure her. Stay in the room for no more than 20-30 seconds and then leave.
    • If she keeps crying, let her cry for 5 minutes. Repeat Will going in.
    • If she keeps crying, let her cry for 7 minutes. Repeat Will going in.
    • If she keeps crying, let her cry for 10 minutes. Repeat Will going in.
    • If she keeps crying, let her cry for 10 minutes. Repeat Will going in. Repeat indefinitely.
    • Once she falls asleep, if she wakes up and it's been 4+ hours, I'll feed her. If it's been less than 4 hours, and she is fussing, let her fuss. If she starts crying, repeat the 3-5-7-10 intervals.
We started this last night around 8:30pm. By 8:45, we were putting her down, drowsy but awake. She went from fussing to crying in less than 5 minutes...and the crying was rough. She cried these loud screaming cries, guttural and heartbreaking. I cried. A lot. Big, unsuppressable sobs. Poor Will was dealing with a crying baby and a crying wife and I just couldn't stop myself. But he stayed strong, though I know it was hard for him too, and we kept an eye on the clock and stuck to the schedule.

After 3 minutes, she was still crying. He went in, did the shush, and left after 30 seconds. Still crying. After 5 more minutes, she was still crying. He went in, did the shush, and left again. Still crying. During the 7 minute stretch, she seemed to be calming down when Will went in, like she knew he was in there to reassure her. As soon as he left, she started crying really hard. That might have been the worst. But then...she didn't even make it to 10 minutes before falling asleep (I think it was around the 7-8 minute mark). She just...fell asleep. Around 9:15pm. We're talking a total of around 20 minutes of "crying it out." It was horrible. Some of the worst minutes of my life. But then it was over. And she slept.

Just before midnight, we heard her start to fuss, but didn't go into her room (it had been less than 4 hours since she'd eaten). She must have fallen asleep, because she didn't ramp up to crying, and we fell asleep (and I can't sleep while she's crying). At around 1am, she woke up and was fussing a bit. She hadn't eaten since 8:30, so I figured it was time. I fed her, she fell asleep, I put her down, and she slept until 3am. At 3, we heard her start to fuss, didn't go into her room (again, it had been less than 4 hours since she ate), and we all fell asleep. She woke up at 5am, and since it'd been 4 hours, I fed her. She fell asleep, I put her down, and she slept until 8am. She successfully put herself to sleep twice in the night - that's two times when ordinarily I would have gone in and nursed her back to sleep. 

So. More details than you maybe wanted, but I wanted to document this situation. I know it's a pattern of one. And there's no guarantee that tonight will be the same or better. But we're going to try it again, because it seems like she's ready. And knowing that she can do this, and be ok (better than just ok - she was great, her normal happy self today), will (I think) make it easier to do it a second night. We'll see. I might cry the whole time tonight too. If she fusses to crying in the middle of the night instead of self-soothing, I might feel broken again. There's no way to know until we're there.

But for now, I'm glad we started trying. And I'm hopeful for better sleep ahead.


PS my friend Lyz has an excellent new column at Jezebel and her latest piece is very timely.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Let's (Always) Talk About Sleep (LOLSOB)

I'm not coming from a good place as I sit down to write this. I'm not my best self, or even close. I sat down to start writing this over a week ago, when I was about two weeks into a really tough sleep pattern, and thought I might be losing my mind. Then I took a week of maternity leave. Then Margie had a couple of nights of good sleep. I thought I'd delete this draft, and not subject the internet to one more blog post about babies who don't sleep well. I'm not unique, and it's tired material. (har har har) If you're sick of hearing me pitifully weep into the void about baby sleep, please feel free to ignore this blog post.

But then the last three days, we're back to awful sleep. And I barely feel human. I feel like a walking, mumbling, zombie of a person, stumbling around trying to make my brain feel like more than a lump of nothing inside my head. And I have to get these feelings out there, not because I have some sort of unique perspective, but because I need to not just have this cycling in my head. And maybe seeing this will make someone else feel less alone. At the very least, it's not just in my head. Maybe I'll look back on this and laugh someday.

The topic of baby sleep is fraught with controversy. There are more methods of "sleep training" than I care to count, and I can't keep track anyway. The most popular discussions boil down to some version of letting them "cry it out" (aka let them cry themselves to sleep) vs. not (aka getting up and soothing/nursing every time baby wakes up). It's not black and white, but it can seem that way. And it can feel that way. And it's completely overwhelming and I have no idea if it would be less so if I were a fully functioning, not sleep deprived zombie of a person, but that's who I am and that's how it feels.

Up until the last few weeks, I wasn't anti-cry-it-out, but I wasn't in any hurry to do sleep training either. Part of me wasn't sure it would work, part of me didn't really think it was necessary because waking up 2-3x/night was pretty manageable. I didn't want to fix what didn't feel broken, you know? But now I feel like I'm in a different world. After over two weeks of mostly-not-sleeping, we're starting to discuss Sleep Training. We have an appointment with a health educator from our hospital on Wednesday to talk about options. I have a feeling the conversation will go something like, "here are some options, do what you feel comfortable with," which is only mildly helpful, I think. But maybe talking it out with a person will end up being helpful. Maybe we can make some sort of plan.

For context, right now (at ~6.5 months old), a good night of sleep looks like: bed at 8pm, feed at 11:30pm, 1:30am, feed at 4:30am, awake at 7:30am for the day. Eating every three hours or so. Most nights look more like: bed at 8pm, awake a few times between 8-9pm, awake at 11, 1, 3, 5, 7. Occasionally, awake at 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. It's been every 1-2 hours for the last few weeks (with the exception of a couple good days). Sometimes she wakes to eat, sometimes to fart, sometimes just to fuss. Right now, I'm getting up to try to soothe her back to sleep by whatever means necessary. She's rejecting Will in the middle of the night, only seeming to want me, even if she doesn't want to nurse. Once upon a time, she'd have a first stretch of 4-5 hours, and then wake every 2-3 after that. That was fiiiiine. Do that again, Margie!

Last night at 2am, I tried to hold off - I waited in bed when I heard her wake up, to see if she'd soothe herself back to sleep. She wasn't even crying loudly, just whimpering to herself, and it had only been an hour since I'd last fed her. She sounded uncomfortable though; my instinct was that it was likely gas. After 20 minutes, I couldn't take it. It felt unfair to leave her alone in her room, uncomfortable, crying, so I got up and gave her gas drops (simethicone) and nursed her back to sleep. She slept for another hour, followed by two two-hour stretches with nursing in between. Those two hour stretches felt positively luxurious after the one-hour spells. Perspective, eh?

And I know we're lucky. She takes a pacifier (most of the time). She's nursing well, and breastfeeding is going great at this point. She's an otherwise healthy, happy baby. It could be much, much worse, and I know that. And I try to stay grateful for that. But I'm still wracked with guilt and exhaustion and indecision.

We've been advised by a few friends that I should leave for a few days, leave Will home with some bottles, and have him do the sleep training. They say it's easier for both mom and baby if mom is not there. This is one theory. And a part of me agrees. But part of me feels guilty, like I'd be abandoning my baby. I've literally never spent a night away from her. I worry my milk supply will lessen if I'm not feeding her during the night, since I don't feed her while I'm at work either. I worry that we'll lose some of this special connection if I'm breastfeeding less often. I worry that she's waking up to nurse and be comforted by me so often because she misses me, and that we won't be as bonded if I'm not doing that (I know, I know). But I also worry about my own health, and I know I need to sleep. Will says he's ok to do it, but I don't know if I feel ok doing it. I don't know if I feel ok not doing it. Last night I started a sort of meditative listmaking around 3am, where I started thinking of which friends live close by, have an extra bedroom, have no children, and would let me cry on their shoulders as I feel guilty about running away from my baby. I am not mentally capable of handling this right now. Which I guess is the point.

This morning as I left for work, I nearly cried looking at her little round face and touching her soft baby skin. I held back tears on the bus as a friend texted to tell me it was ok. I'm choking back sobs typing this right now. The physical pain of hearing my baby cry and choosing not to pick her up was not something I was prepared for. I didn't expect such agonizing guilt and feelings of helplessness, and I didn't realize I could be so obsessed with sleep - mine or someone else's. It's all I think about and all I talk about. It even takes over my giant running list of "emotional labor" type to-dos I'm always wrestling with. It's torture.

I'm still not sure what we'll decide to do. Sometimes I think sleep training sounds and will feel cruel both for me and for her. Sometimes I think it will teach her necessary independence and we'll all sleep better and be better for it. There is no overall right answer, and I don't even know if there's a right answer for our family. And what if we do it, and it doesn't even work?


So. Sleep. Does your baby do it? How? When? What did you do to help it? How did you decide? Let's talk about it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

6

Margie is 6 months old today, and I'm full of feelings. Rather than try to eloquently and poetically describe my current mental state, I thought I'd share some recent highlights and lowlights.

Last night, we ate dinner as a family. Margie sat at the table with us in her booster seat/high chair and mashed some banana and avocado around, occasionally eating some of it, while we ate our full meals. It was pretty magical.

Last night, she also decided that 1-3am was the perfect time to be awake and playing, unless she was being held and rocked to sleep. Ok, perhaps "decided" isn't the right word, but that's what happened. This happens on occasion and I don't understand it. But either we hold/rock her, or watch her play in her crib (leaving the room results in tears that lead to meltdowns).

Right now, we're in a very mama-heavy phase. It's beautiful and sweet and I feel so loved and needed by this not-so-little creature. It's wild to see her developing emotions and feelings and needs that she expresses with her eyes and her limbs. This weekend she was particularly clingy, contentedly spending hours sitting in my lap, arm draped around my neck or side. She's not feeling well (teething! but no teeth yet!) and that's translated into what I'm sure if she had words would be "mama mama mama". It's exhausting, but her tiny chubby hands are so sweet when they reach out for me that I just scoop her up and snuggle her sweet baby smell.

The mama-heavy phase, of course, translates into nighttime, and she's only content to be nursed (or occasionally rocked) to sleep by me. The Dad Tricks that used to work are no longer sufficient: it's mama or nothing. And the teething means we're up a lot to nurse. I try not to mind it, and generally I don't mind it. I remind myself that there's only this relatively short period in her life when she'll need me in this specific way, and there's something kind of awesome about this time. But it's also very difficult and exhausting.

Did I mention I'm tired?

We hosted our first play date this weekend - we were going to go to the park but rain cancelled those plans, so we invited our friends and babies over for an all day open house style play date. Generally, folks came in two shifts, and it was super fun to hang out with parents and babies...and we had an excuse to get the house in order. It's *finally* getting to a place that doesn't give me anxiety, so that's a pleasant side effect.

In terms of baby things, lil Marge is sitting like a champ. She loves to sit and play with her toys, and has started reaching for things without toppling over. She also loves to stand up, and practice walking - I call it the Godzilla Stomp. She doesn't really roll consistently yet, though she's rolled from back to front a couple of random times. I'm a little scared she's going to skip straight to walking. She's starting to enjoy bathtime - she splashes her hands around and it's very, very cute.


I can't believe this little nugget has already been out in the world for 6 months. Our lives without her seem both so distant and like they weren't all that long ago. I can still recall the ease of babyless life, and sometimes I do miss the ability to just hop in the car and go, or to grab tickets to a show last-minute. I'm tired from the pumping and the wakeful nights and from being stretched too thin. And I don't really like the cliche of "it's so hard but it's so worth it"...even though it's true. I love this little bug and if I keep writing about her I'll start to cry. Can I still blame postpartum hormones?

At 6 months, I can see glimmers of how life might return to something that feels like normal. Not the normal we had before, but also not the normal of newborn life. I can see the light that looks like more predictability with sleep schedules (oh, we're not there yet, don't worry) and getting into routines for our family. I can see how this eventually becomes less like survival and more like living.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Pumping Mama: My Lansinoh Smartpump and Me

As I sit at my desk at work, rehydrating with tea (wait, is tea actually dehydrating?) after pumping, snacking on dry Cheerios like I did as a toddler, I can't help but...wait, what was the rest of that thought? I have no idea. Because I have severe Mom Brain. I need this 15 minute writing break to refocus the thinking parts of my brain before I dive back into work. I thought pumping would provide much needed breaks in my day to rest and recharge (ha!) but it turns out, pumping is draining. Literally and figuratively. I don't leave my pumping sessions feeling rejuvenated and ready for action. I'm often tired and...well, like I said, drained.

I'm using a Lansinoh Smartpump at work, which I generally love. I used the Medela Pump In Style Advanced once and exactly once - the Lansinoh is simpler to use and I find the flanges more comfortable. I was initially excited about the Smartpump because of its tracking features - it has an app that connects to the pump via bluetooth so you can log how long your pumping sessions are and what your output is, among other things. And for the first few months, I found that super useful. Now, however, as I've been pumping for about two months, I find that manually logging my ounces is more trouble than its worth, and I don't track anything else baby-related anymore. I'm not super concerned with tracking output over time because it's relatively stable, and I know how much I'm pumping because it says so right there on the bottle. As long as I fill those bottles over the course of the day, I don't care quite as much how much I get in each session.

Pumping at Work, Working While Pumping
Awkward photos are my specialty.

Pros:

  • Super easy to use. The digital display makes keeping track of time, pumping strength, and "style" super easy, and the buttons to adjust are great. I hated the Medela's knob-style adjusters, and I felt like I could never get the pressure and speed quite right. I like the different pumping styles, and find it very easy to match one of their pre-set sucking patterns to how my baby typically nurses.
  • The flanges are comfortable. I'm kind of in between sizes with the Medela ones, but the Lansinoh ones fit me great.
  • Pretty quiet. Our conference room walls are pretty thin, and I'm told that it can't be heard in the room next to me.
  • It's a pretty compact little system (the cooler bag it comes with is large enough to hold 4 bottles, and ice pack, and all the pumping parts in a ziplock bag). I can fit the aforementioned cooler bag full of gear, the pump itself, and my hands free pumping bra in the small tote bag that Lansinoh provided. It's a bit more discreet than the Pump in Style backpack for sure, if that's something you care about (I don't), and I find it easier to carry than a backpack, or at least more convenient to carry.
  • My baby likes the Lansinoh mOmma bottles, so it's convenient to pump directly into the bottles she's going to drink from. The wide mouth makes them easy to clean as well.


Cons:

  • Lots of parts. The Medela is a little more universal; there are substitute parts made by third parties that reduce the number of individual pieces you have to wash. The Lansinoh pump isn't difficult or complicated, but there are 5 separate pieces to wash (times 2) and it would be nice if there was an all-in-one type solution.
  • The rubbery part on the flanges sometimes catch drops of milk that I wish would flow down into the tube/bottle. When I take the flanges off, it's a little bit of a delicate balancing act to try to catch those drops (even though it's only a drop or two, every drop counts, right?) that stick to the rubbery lip.
  • The ice pack it comes with is a standard crappy little ice pack. I prefer the contoured hard pack that came with the Medela, so I use that one in my Lansinoh cooler bag (which is a better size than the Medela cooler bag).


Neutrals:

  • I honestly don't find the "smart" elements of the pump to be that useful. If it automatically tracked the quantity of milk I was pumping, that might be better, though I don't know of any pump currently on the market that does that (perhaps the Willow, when it comes out?). The additional step of manually entering my #oz isn't useful enough to justify the extra couple of minutes...especially since the app asks for the quantity in ounces, and the bottle has more ml lines than oz lines, so I end up having to Google conversions to get the amount right when I'm in between whole ounces. The app allows you to track diapers and breastfeeding and bottles and growth and more...and I just find that I don't have the bandwidth to care about so much tracking. For folks who are super into data though, it would be useful to have all your baby-related tracking in one app.


Overall, I like this pump enough that I'm considering selling my Medela and all its accessories and buying an extra Lansinoh pump to keep at work (though I probably wouldn't get the "smart" one unless the price was the same, because eh), just so I don't have to unplug and replug every day. One less thing to carry back and forth, one less thing to do. The Lansinoh Smartpump retails for $174.98 on Amazon (vs $109.99 for the regular double electric pump), so it's competitively priced, as far as I'm concerned. I have a Medela hand pump as well, which I'm considering replacing with a Lansinoh hand pump, just to have uniformity with my bottles - baby is bottle agnostic, but it's kind of a pain to go back and forth and it would be simpler to just have one system to use.


Do you pump at work or at home? Do you have multiple systems or brand uniformity? What kind of pump do you have and why do you like it? Does pumping melt your brain or is it just me? Is it the pumping or the sleep deprivation? Or both? This too shall pass, right?



full disclosure: I received the Lansinoh Smart Pump for free in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own; they did not request a positive review or in any way influence this review.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Oh hey.

I'm alive.

It's amazing how little time I've found to blog lately, but with the rush of returning to work plus the holiday season, time has been somewhat limited.

As I ease back into working (both full time at Disqus and still dedicating part time hours to OrgOrg), I'm finding myself in front of a computer more often, which means more stolen moments at lunchtime or while pumping to blog. So you'll probably see more of me around here again soon.

Motherhood is full of very high highs and some low lows...sleep deprivation is a very real torture, and while I kind of enjoy the middle of the night feedings, for their special bonding time (especially since I'm not breastfeeding all day while at work), waking up 3x/night to feed a baby is exhausting (even if Will gets up to give her a pacifier because I know she's not actually hungry; I still wake up).
We have a great nanny who watches her while we're at work, and I stress about pumping enough milk to get through each day since we haven't tried formula yet, but I'm trying to relax about it. We think she's teething, which will be a whole new ballgame...and I'm just hoping we don't get hit with a major sleep regression (waking up every hour instead of every 2-3 makes a huge difference!). I stress that she's not sleeping enough, that we should be sleep training her, that she doesn't nap well, that I can't get her to nap...there's always something new to worry about. I hear that's just Babies.

I feel like my brain is only partially functional at this point, and I'd like to feel more functional. More like myself, I say, but I don't really even know what that means. I'm in bed by 9:30 most nights, because I try to go to bed when I put Margie to bed to maximize sleep potential. That means the house is an explosion of stuff (hello, two weeks of traveling) and Will and I don't do much hanging out alone (except for the occasional "late night" TV binge, until 10:30pm or so), but this is all a phase, I hear. I'm trying to enjoy the minutes and not wish they'd pass more quickly, as much as I can.

In the meantime, I've been testing out my Lansinoh Smart Pump (review coming soon) and some cute nursing clothes from Bun Maternity (review coming soon), and trying to maintain some modicum of sanity in the few hours I have home and awake with this little nugget of joy before we all go to bed exhausted each night. Her round little smiling face makes up for a lot :)



Thursday, December 1, 2016

More changes. More feelings.

As the days of my parental leave dwindle away, I can't help but feel loads of feelings. Mostly guilt. Some regret. Some hysterical joy when I make Margie giggle or she just wants mama snuggles. But let's go back to the guilt and regret, shall we?

I feel guilty that I'm going back to work after only 12 weeks home with her, when I have 6 more weeks of paid leave left to use. I can use it within the next year, but why not use it all at the beginning? It's a choice I made, and stand behind (when I'm not getting emotional about leaving my baby for 9 hours a day). I love the work I do, and I am looking forward to being back at work. Heck, it's two meals a day where I'll get to sit and eat! I'll probably gain 10 pounds in the first month. I might even get to nap on the bus. But truly, I'm proud to work at Disqus, and I'm looking forward to getting back to business. But I'm sad that that means being away from Margie.

I feel guilty that there's a part of me that's looking forward to not being a stay at home mom. I used to think I wanted that; I thought I'd make a good SAHM and that I'd enjoy it. And I do. I just think I'd do better at 100% Mom Time if I could do that but *also* have a nanny or sitter a few hours a day. It's a long day to be home alone with the baby, and it's really hard. Like, way harder than I thought it would be. And with the whole not-napping-well-anymore thing, being at work might just feel like an escape. And I feel guilty about wanting that escape, and I'll probably feel guilty if I enjoy being gone.

I regret the things I haven't done. I had all these ideas that while on maternity leave, I'd send thank you cards and get the house in order (and keep it that way) and cook fun meals and take walks to visit Will at work and go to baby yoga and music and swim classes. I've done none of those things. I have been busy. So busy. My new parent support groups keep me sane, and I get out of the house every day to at least take a walk. But I haven't made it as far as Will's work (30 min walk from our house). I haven't done a single baby yoga class. I haven't made it to Aquatech baby swim time. I went to one music class because a friend canceled last minute and we were available to take her spot. This morning, we went to an art event to make some handmade gifts. It's not like I've done nothing. But the house is still a mess (my hospital bag is still sitting on the floor full of magazines and books I never read). I can count on one hand the number of times I've cooked anything. Caring for an infant is way more time consuming than I had imagined.

Anyway, I know this is all normal and I know I'll be full of feelings for a while longer. I'm taking a couple weeks off for our holiday travel, and I may take some time off in January or February as well. So I won't lose those 6 weeks I have left. I will make use of them eventually. And I know there will be time for fun things on the weekends, and I'll have a few hours in the evenings with Margie before bed. But man, this is hard. For now, I guess I just have to soak up the time I have and buy stock in Kleenex.

Sleepy snuggles after a long day of art workshop and mom group


Monday, November 28, 2016

Transitions.

As I type this, Margie is napping in her crib. This is not something she does for me; only for the nanny. Oh yeah, the nanny. I never thought I would be a person who hired a nanny; nannies are for celebrities and rich people, right? I thought so. But when Margie was about 9 weeks old, I realized that I was losing my mind a little bit, and I needed someone to watch her for a few hours once or twice a week so that I could write, or do laundry, or take care of myself a little bit. Plus, the thought of going back to work eventually, and going instantly from 24/7 Mom to Working Mom was scaring me a bit, and I thought having someone watch her for a bit might ease the transition. I found a great nanny who was available and affordable and she's been coming 1 day a week for a few weeks now, and it's great. She takes Margie to the park, and plays with her, and they get along swimmingly. Fatima, you are wonderful. And because we can't get into any of the local day cares (protip: listen when people tell you that you need to get on wait lists before the baby is born. make the time to check them out while you're pregnant. just do it.), it looks like we will be full-time nanny people when I go back to work. We're hoping to do a nanny share both to defray costs and to have some built in baby socialization, but yeah. We'll have someone caring for our baby while we're at work, and doing some cooking and cleaning as well. Which feels very bougie, but is actually more affordable than most day cares, and is certainly more convenient. I see a lot of value in both options, but here we are.

Anyway, today I'm treating Fatima Day as if I am working; practicing pumping throughout the day as if I was at work, and having her give Margie bottles, instead of me feeding on demand while I'm home and just giving a bottle if they go out. It's difficult emotionally - more difficult than I imagined it would be, I think. Knowing my baby is here in our (not-large) house and that I'm not taking care of her. Knowing that someone's giving her a bottle when I'm right here, and then pumping the milk out instead of feeding her myself...I didn't expect to be affected so much by this. 

Relatedly, I've been having trouble getting Margie to nap during the day. She'll only nap in a few specific circumstances: 

  1. If she's just eaten and she falls asleep in my lap (and I let her continue sleeping in my lap)
  2. If we're on a walk and she's in the stroller or strapped to me in a carrier (and she was tired when we started out)
  3. If we're on a long car drive (above 30mph and she was tired when we started)
  4. If Fatima puts her down for a nap in her crib
The concept of a Regular Schedule For Naps during the day, where I put her down and she falls asleep for a few hours, seems crazy. I know that at 12 weeks, she's still a bit young for that anyway, but it's still something to aspire to someday. If I try to put her down during the daytime, she wakes right up and cries until I pick her up. But I know she's capable of it because she does it for Fatima! And she goes down easily at night. Maddening.

Here's a fun little anecdote for you: This morning, Fatima fed Margie a bottle, put her in the swing for a few minutes, and then picked up the getting-sleepy baby and put her down in her crib. After a very short amount of fussing, Margie was out. I started pumping, and when I walked into the kitchen (which is connected to the nursery) to put the milk in the fridge, Margie started making little noises in her sleep like she was going to wake up. Fatima said "she smells your milk and she wants to be with mama." I put the milk away and left the room to get dressed and she's been out ever since. She napped for an hour.

So maybe it's good that I'm going back to work. Margie will actually nap during the day, and maybe a nanny can help her establish a regular routine of some sort. But it's strange, during this time, being home and not taking care of her. Listening to someone else soothe her as she cries (which, to be honest, can be both a tremendous relief and completely heartbreaking). Starting to turn my mind to working again, to writing, and thinking, and having conversations that aren't about babies. I am practicing to be gone.

I'm grateful to have had as much time as I've had (with a few weeks saved up for later), and for the opportunity to transition back slowly. I know how lucky I am to be where I am professionally, and knowing that I have a supportive company environment to go back to makes this easier. But not easy. And the guilt that I feel about looking forward to leaving and going to work (I'll get to eat! Twice a day! With both hands!) mingles with the sadness I feel that I won't be with her every day. It's been a special and unique time, and I can't believe it's already been nearly three months.

I look down as I type and see the small scar on my wrist from where I picked at the scab from my IV when I was in labor. I'm sure there's a metaphor here about how she'll always be with me even when I'm away, and of course I'm tearing up as I write this. I'm sure I'll cry a lot over the next few weeks, as I've cried for months from the combination of hormones and responsibility and love and exhaustion. Motherhood is no joke. Parenthood is no joke. I could write a whole lot more about the struggle to balance caregiving and career, and maybe I will. But for now, I'm going to run an errand, do some prep work for OrgOrg, and start putting the house back in order after a whirlwind Thanksgiving while a lovely and loving woman named Fatima takes Margie to the park.