Almost everyone I see asks me how I feel being back to work and I’m finding it hard to answer. I’m so so proud I’m making this work and it seems do-able. And if I’m being honest, Arya being such a chill and easy baby is probably 95% of why this feels so manageable. She still mostly sleeps through the night so I’m getting about 7 hours of sleep a night, she goes to bed around 7-7:30 so I have a few hours at night to myself, she is perfectly content hanging out with most people, and she is able to entertain herself for decent stretches of time. And yes, I am fully aware of how lucky I am and I tell Arya every day how grateful I am for her.
But I have a constant fear of money hanging over me. We are just barely squeaking by. We are completely living check to check and we would be completely screwed if I were to ever lose my job (or our rent controlled apartment). Not only is this terrifying but it also makes me so angry. I’m an attorney and I make almost six figures. And while this pales in comparison to what many of my classmates (who chose much more lucrative legal careers) it shouldn’t be this hard..right? So fuck capitalism and can we please get universal free childcare, healthcare, and education already?
On a very unrelated note, I had the weirdest interaction with Arya’s daycare yesterday. When I dropped her off she was wearing a onesie and baby leg warmers. The outfit looked a lot like this:
One of the teachers was like: “look at you today!” I assumed she thought the outfit was cute. Later, when I picked Arya up the same teacher was like: “today we called her sexy girl!.” Um what? I didn’t ask her to elaborate and just responded “oh haha.” I’m thinking she thought the legwarmers looked like women’s thigh high stockings or something. It was so weird and a bit gross and I know this wouldn’t have happened if she was a boy. Can you please not sexualize my six month old?
Despite the weirdness, I decided not to say anything. I have been super, duper happy with how they are taking care of Arya and she is so happy when I drop her off and pick her up. I have to pick and choose my battles and this just isn’t worth it. But WTF?
This is the start of my fourth week of work. It’s been surprisingly nice being back and having a routine with Arya. I know it sounds awful but I thought I would miss her more than I do. Not to say I don’t miss her, but its been great to have some balance. I also love how I’m actually excited when I pick her up from daycare when her smile seriously melts me.
But this post isn’t about Arya, its about work. On one hand, its so refreshing to use my brain for more abstract things and to be working on issues related to social justice (especially during this dumpster fire period in my county’s history). But, I’m also feeling like I need to “prove myself” and my “worth” to my organization. To be clear, no one has said anything to me to to suggest this is the case (actually they have all been super sweet and welcoming). But, I was pretty checked out when I went on maternity leave. As I’ve discussed on this blog, I had an absolutely awful pregnancy. I was sick the entire time. This made it really hard to work and keep on top of everything. I’ll be the first to admit that my work suffered. I had a review with our executive director before I left on leave. While it was mainly positive he did mention that I need to pay better attention to detail and be more meticulous about what I put out. I completely owned it because it was true. I vowed to up my game when I came back and I was serious.
I’ve made a huge effort to be really efficient and on top of things since i’ve returned. I’ve taken a lot of initiative to jump right back in and I feel good where things are at. At my first meeting back with my boss she asked how things were going. I mentioned how much “more on my game” I feel now and I admitted that I was having a hard time with the pregnancy sickness and lack of energy. She seemed happy I mentioned the elephant in the room and we continued our conversation. I think she has a hard time having difficult conversations with me because we were friends before she became my supervisor and we hang out socially outside of work, But I just wanted her to know that I’m committed to doing a good job.
Also, they are letting me work a modified schedule because Arya’s daycare is only open 8:30 to 5:30 so i can only be physically in the office 9:30-4:30. I’ve been super focused while in the office and have worked straight through (not taking a lunch) so I can be as productive as possible. I’ve also been putting in (some) hours on nights/weekends to make up for the time i’m out of the office. I’m honestly feeling like I’m pulling my weight and it feels great.
So on Friday I asked my boss if she would be amenable to me working from home once a week. This isn’t unheard of-many people in my office do this. Almost all of our work can be done remotely. I explained that with the additional time I would gain not commuting (because daycare is like 2 blocks away) I could work more (i would gain about an additional 1.5 hours). I expected her to be cool with my request but she wasn’t as enthusiastic as I expected. She basically said she wanted to think on it and ask our executive director. She expressed concern about me being out of the office more (which was definitely valid). And then she asked me how I was making up my missing hours. I told her I was doing nights and weekends here and there. Then the conversation ended and I left feeling very uneasy.
Now that I’m writing this, I’m thinking maybe I asked for too much. Maybe I should have waited a few months into this transition back to ask for this? I can seriously see both sides of this issue so i’m on so pins and needles until I get a final decision. In the meantime I’m trying to not get too spun out on this. I did a bunch of hours this weekend (thank god Arya is amazing at entertaining herself). But I can’t help but feel a bit judged.
This outfit isn’t particularly cute ( and Arya spit up on it) but it made me really emotional to see her in it this morning. It’s the outfit I bought while I was doing IVF and didn’t know whether it would work. Everyone tells you not to do this but I needed to do something hopeful after 2 years of surgeries, appointments, giving myself hundreds of injections in my belly, and spending tons of $$$$. I bought this when I had just transferred my one “ good” embryo- whittled down from 35 others with genetic abnormalities. This was my only shot and I wanted a baby more than anything. When I brought this outfit home I remember looking at it and not being able to imagine I would ever have a baby to wear it. I stuffed it deep inside a drawer thinking it would make it even harder when the embryo transfer didn’t work.
And now I have this amazing tiny human and I can’t even express how grateful I am for her and her loud belly laughs and smiles.
Arya has four siblings that I know of. The sperm bank I used has their own sibling registry and I finally got around to registering us. Three of the babies are boy triplets. I really hope that the parents of these kids want to connect. I write a message a few weeks ago and haven’t heard anything back yet. But the messages are housed on a private bulletin board that doesn’t give notifications that someone has posted. So, I’m hoping they will still contact me.
Also, I talked to Arya’s daycare and she starts September 1st. This made me a lot sadder than I expected to be. I always predicted I would be super ready to go back to work but I wish I had six more months. I’m also having strong urges to have another baby. ( more on that later).
Figuring out what hands are for
Scheming for world domination?
The Bay Area in June.
I’m so so blessed to be on maternity leave for six months so I decided to take a small vacation while I have the time. My friend and I had been talking about going to Santa Fe to see the Meow Wolf exhibit so I convinced her to take a week off to explore Northern New Mexico with me and Arya. Luckily, she loves babies, so unlike most people she was excited about traveling with a three month old.
It’s shocking how much crap you need to travel with an infant. I was adamant that we would be bringing our beloved rock and play along- because Arya sleeps so well in it. After several foiled attempts at ordering one delivered to the local Target so we could use it for a week and then return it ( sorry not sorry ) I realized I could take it apart and put it in the suitcase. In the end we had one huge suitcase, one small suitcase, the stroller/car seat, and a diaper bag. Not too bad but it sure looks like a lot more when all together:
We stayed at an air bnb with a nice but very strange couple. The husband told my friend that he is 400 years old from not drinking flouride ( ummm..).
We spent the first day at Meow Wolf and it far exceeded our expectations! It’s very hard to describe but basically, it’s an all immersive art exhibit with a sci-fi backstory. The exhibit has several different ” worlds” and is a collaboration of tons of artists and it is constantly changing. I can’t recommend it enough. We stayed for four hours but could have happily spent another day. When Arya was actually awake, she loved looking at everything.
The next day we hiked around Bandelier National Monument where you can hike around and explore well preserved pueblos in this beautiful canyon. People thought we were crazy hiking in the desert with a three month old but she did great.
The next day was my 40th birthday! We are tons of great food and I got a massage. We splurged on a fancy dinner but our much less expensive breakfast was the big highlight- blue corn cakes with mole, syrup, and red chile sauces:
I thought I would be more freaked out about turning 40 but I feel pretty great about it. The issue that would give me the most pause when getting older was always my worry about running out of time to have a baby. I also have an awesome community of friends, my relationship with my family has never been better, I have a good career and I’ve certainly taken advantage of my first 40 years by living life by my own rules and traveling extensively. So yeah 40 is feeling pretty good!
We also spent some time in Taos where I saw an old friend ( who is also a single mom), saw some absolutely spectacular nature, and ate our way through Northern New Mexico. I’m already daydreaming about taking Arya on our next adventure.
Well I guess it’s not a huge secret now that I’m writing about it on the internet ( but who knows how many people actually read this). The reason it’s a secret is that I’ve been told that this is a taboo topic amongst parents, So here it is….
…..Arya has been sleeping through the night for the past month!
Yes, she is only 10 weeks old.
No, haven’t been doing some sort of torturous sleep training- or any type of sleep training.
No, this didn’t result from my amazing parenting skills-she just naturally sleeps for long stretches.
Yes, I have been loosely following the advice from ” the Happiest Baby on the Block” and I swear by this swaddle but generally I think I just got lucky.
I’m thinking maybe the people in my family are just good sleepers. My mom was insistent that both my sister and I slept through the night as infants. I thought she was exaggerating because this couldn’t possibly be true. Also, when I told my sister about it she told me that my nephew also slept through the night as a newborn.
I get why I shouldn’t be rubbing this in the face of all of my other parent-friends. Sleep deprivation sucks and is arguably the hardest part of parenting. But, I still want to shout it from the rooftops. So, I’ve been confiding in my non-parent friends to get it out of my system. But even when I tell them I find myself qualifying it with “well she is doing this for now but who knows what will happen in the future..” I do this because I feel a bit ashamed for talking about it-which is ridiculous.
I think this “shame” comes from a conversation I had with the doctor who did Arya’s two month check-up (he was filling in for our regular pediatrician). I told him about her sleep because I was happy but also because I wanted to gauge how normal this was and the chances that this would continue. After giving me his opinion (you never know) he said twice “don’t brag about it.” I thought maybe he was joking but he didn’t say this with a smile-just very matter of fact. So thanks for raining on our parade Mr. buzzkill pediatrician!
And, here are a few baby pictures because why not?
I was worried about feeling alone and not having enough help but between my family ( my sister and dad were here a week and my mom a month!) and the amazing number of friends coming by-i felt so loved and supported. As you can imagine, the first few weeks was a blur of sleep deprivation and figuring things out. Due to Arya’s tiny size, I was breastfeeding and supplementing with formula every 2-3 hours and pumping 6 times every 24 hours. I was beyond exhausted. Also, it was painful to abide by her doctor’s instructions to wake Arya to eat but she needed the calories. On top of this, I was having a hard time getting the hang of breastfeeding. Arya seemed super frustrated every time and she would just conk out after a minute or two.
Despite all of this hard work, she lost almost a pound by her first checkup. The pediatrician asked me to increase the feedings even more and she immediately brought us to a lactation consultant. They assured me that my milk would come in soon because ( at that point) I was only producing a tiny amount. The nurses encouraged me to increase her formula and gave me reassurances that should would be fine.
Unfortunately, my milk never really came in. After pumping 6 times a day, I was only producing about 1-2 ounces- but Arya needed about 15-20 to continue growing. It was so frustrating and was breaking my heart. I was so excited to breastfeed and accepting that it wasn’t working out was bringing me to tears. A friend of mine offered me pumped milk and to occasionally breastfeed her for me and I became irrationally upset. Not at her ( she was trying to help) but the thought of someone else having the bond of breastfeeding that I was unable to have just killed me. I did happily accept the frozen breast milk and feel really lucky to have an awesome friend willing to share it.
After a month with no increase in my supply, I made the decision to throw in the towel ( or the breast pump). It was tough at first but soon I felt so much better. And my amazing girl is healthy and growing! She gained almost a pound at her next checkup.
While I feel exponentially blessed that my mom came to help us for a month, I was worried it might cause more stress. Shockingly, we got along incredibly well. With no prodding, she took care of all the cleaning and cooking so I could take care of Arya. She also would take her in the morning so I could get a few hours of sleep which helped me feel a little less crazy from sleep deprivation. We had a few small hiccups ( she has very traditional views on what girls should wear and thinks you can ” spoil ” a newborn). But generally, the focus was on the baby and not on my various shortcomings, so we got along great for the most part. Also I think it set her at ease to witness the immense amount of support I have from my community here. I seriously didn’t want her to go home. If you had told me this a year ago, I would never have believed it but the baby really did transform our relationship. We talk nearly every day now.
One of my favorite mom moments happened when I was driving her to the airport. She said ” I have to tell you something..” I immediately thought her cancer had come back or something equally horrible. Then she blurted out ” I secretly baptized Arya while you and dad were at Target!” She then went on to explain that she tried to bring holy water with her but that her church was out. But the nuns told her she could use regular water instead. I guess she did it in the sink. She said it made her feel better because she truly believes unbaptized babies go to hell.
I think she thought I would be mad but I thought it was hilarious. I laughed so hard I was crying. Such a classic mom move.
Here are some pictures from Arya’s first month: