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:
- If she's just eaten and she falls asleep in my lap (and I let her continue sleeping in my lap)
- 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)
- If we're on a long car drive (above 30mph and she was tired when we started)
- If Fatima puts her down for a nap in her crib
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.