The Looming Return to Work

I go back to work in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Where did the time go?

I am freaking out, to be honest. It wasn’t like this with Jack. Back then, I couldn’t wait to go back to work. This time is so, so different. I want to stay home with my baby and watch him grow! I want to be able to pick Jack up from school and help him get his homework done!

I don’t want to spend 3 soul-crushing hours a day in a car commuting to a job where I take care of other people while I pay someone to take care of my kids.

This all makes the daycare search harder. I mean, aside from the fact that there are so few places in my area that take infants (which feels like silent judgment that I should be home with my baby), it’s difficult to find a provider I trust. If I’m going to outsource parenting to someone else, I want them to be AWESOME and better than me! I haven’t found that so far, though. I’ve found one place that is acceptable, but she has a tiny house and limited hours and only takes kids until they are 2 years old. And because she’s the only one taking care of the kids and there is a toddler and a 6-month-old, she wouldn’t be able to help Dez get to sleep – he would have to learn (quickly!) to fall asleep in a strange place by himself.

It doesn’t feel right.

I’m still searching. I know it’s down to the wire and so incredibly close to the holidays, but I’m doing my best to shove any rising anxiety to the back of my mind and continue about my business. This is how I’m getting through things (like yesterday’s nightmarish task of taking Jack to get his blood drawn – he is deathly afraid of needles and pain in general).

It’s not strength – it’s denial. LA LA LA EVERYTHING IS FINE. JUST KEEP SWIMMING.

How about a cute baby picture to distract us?

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Calgon, Take Me Away

I finally downloaded WordPress onto my phone. I’m much better at using my phone while nursing than a laptop. I lack coordination. Hopefully this will lead to more blogging.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Jack was hospitalized with a blood infection. The baby and I got sick. And then I got a case of mastitis.

Jack is out of the hospital and doing fine, but he’s been on a rigorous antibiotic regimen that involves mixing medication and running an IV several times a day. The worse one is the dose in the middle of the night, but the afternoon dose hasn’t been a picnic, either – usually I’m mixing the IV drugs while using my foot to bounce Dez in the bouncer. I’d run away to join the circus but I’m already there!

This case of mastitis is a bitch. After several days of trying to unclear a plugged duct in my armpit and dealing with horrid shakes and chills and dizzy spells, I called and got some antibiotics. Unfortunately Dez was not tolerating them well at all! So I did what you’re totally not supposed to do – I quit taking them a few days in. Dez is doing much better but I’m not. I now have a mass in my right breast and it hurts like hell! I assume if I keep nursing non-stop on that side it will eventually work itself out (or the breast will fall off?). In the mean time, I want to stay in bed and cry and sleep.

But! Jack has follow-up appointments. And Dez needs shots. And I return to work in a few weeks so I need to find a daycare that takes infants.

Ain’t no rest for the weary…

Kids Notes

I have had so little time to write. It sucks. I need to write. I am much happier when I have been writing.

That’s not to say that I haven’t been happy – I’ve been surprisingly free of baby blues and depression! But how long can I maintain good mental health without participating in something I know keeps me sane?

Anyhoo…here we go with a mad-dash post typed with one hand.

Notes on baby Dez

Dez is a very good baby thus far. Although he absolutely hates getting his diaper changed and wails every time. I think we owe our neighbors some wine for putting up with it. So far I’m not too sleep deprived, but I bet that will change when he wakes up to the world more. And when I go back to work (sob).

David gave Dez his first bottle last week. He took it just fine and then went back to nursing with no problems. Yay for Comotomo bottles!

I got my first smile out of the little guy yesterday when I stuck my tongue out at him. It was awesome! After 5 weeks of nothing but naps and nursing and diapers…finally some interaction!

I’ve been struggling with oversupply again. My body continues to think I should be feeding triplets. This means Dez is gaining weight like crazy and going through zillions of diapers. The cool part of oversupply is that I can pump 3.5 oz. in 5 minutes – on one side. There are lots of cons, though – green poop, gas, choking during letdown, more frequent nursing, so many diapers!!! I am managing better than last time since I know what I’m doing but it’s still frustrating. At least Dez is dealing with it much better than Jack did – maybe because it’s not quite as bad as last time.

At 9 days old, Desmond rolled from his tummy to his back…several times. And he has repeated that performance pretty much daily. He can also go from his back to his side…it’s only a matter of time before he can roll both ways. I fear the toddler years, which will likely come sooner than I would like!

It took a good 3 weeks for his umbilical stump to come off and the area still hasn’t healed so it will need to be treated with silver nitrite. The same thing happened with Jack. I don’t know what’s up with my kids’ belly buttons!

I’m slowly searching for a daycare provider to send Dez to when I return to work in December. It’s a stressful task, to say the least. I’m taking it slow so that I don’t go into a panic and decide to quit my job so that I don’t have to leave my precious baby with a stranger. I thought it’d be easier the second time around but nope! I hope we find a good one right off the bat so that we don’t have to go through everything we went through with finding good care for Jack.

Notes on Jack

Jack is a great big brother. He fetches all kinds of things for me and the baby and always tries to distract the baby during those torturous diaper changes. He’s been good at keeping himself busy when I can’t put the baby down. I’m so thankful we still have our reading and snuggle time together before he goes to sleep so that we can still connect.

He’s generally been in better health and made it to school most days this year. Just a bit over 5 months of treatment left!

We met with his new teacher and found out that he is behind where he should be for a third grader. The things the teacher has noticed are in line with what we’ve seen at home and are common learning problem areas for kids who’ve undergone chemotherapy. We asked his teacher to document anything she sees and we’re going to (again) seek an IEP evaluation – and this time we won’t back down. We’ll be in a better position to argue for the testing now that Jack has been going to school regularly and his teacher is actually noticing his difficulties.

He’s been struggling with his friendships at school. He is so upset when his best friend doesn’t want to play with him and says other kids don’t understand the imagination games he likes to play. I wish I knew how to help him. I had similar issues as a kid but I don’t remember being quite so upset by it. Jack is just so sensitive.

I’ve been very surprised that lately he’s talking more about cancer, too. He found a game in the app store that is all about destroying cancer cells and he loves it! He’s also been drawing blood cells and he found a plush cancer cell on amazon. It’s a little unnerving that he is suddenly so focused on it, but I also think it’s good that he is talking about it. Maybe therapy has helped?

 

Alright, I’d better post this before it self-destructs. More soon, I hope.

Letting Go

Today is Jack’s last day in daycare.  He’s been with G for over two years (a miracle when you think back to all the daycare dramas early on in his life) and made some awesome little friends there.  G’s house is basically Jack’s third house – there were many weeks there where he spent just as much time there as he did at my house or his dad’s.  G feeds him and teaches him and celebrates his victories and birthdays.  Jack was potty trained there before he was at home!

In the last 2+ years, G has taken only ONE unscheduled day off – for Jury Duty.  One day, you guys!  She is simply amazing.

I’m having a hard time walking away from this lady.  She is one of the most reliable, dependable, trustworthy, and caring people I have ever known – it has been a BLESSING to be able to put Jack in her care.

I don’t think it’s hit Jack yet.  He knows today is his last day and that he’ll have a goodbye party, but all he could say was that he was hoping for presents.  :P   We tried to tell him this isn’t the kind of thing you get presents for.  In any case, he starts school Monday and I’m guessing somewhere in that week he’ll really start to miss G.  I know I will!

I had a difficult time coming up with a gift that conveyed how much we love G.  What we ended up with was this poem made into an artful poster by Etsy artist MySoulShines and matted/framed:

They Will Remember

by Eileen Koscho

I take care of your children.
I love them.
I teach them.
I clean them, and I feed them.
And when nighttime comes,
my heart worries about them
I take care of your children.
I see their first steps.
I hear their first words.
I share their happiness, and
I feel their hurts.
I take care of your children,
as if they were my own.
And when they are grown, and
no longer need me,
My love will be a part of them
deep within the heart of them.
They will know that I was there for them unconditionally.
And they will remember!

 

This morning it occurred to me that I should have had a coffee mug or something made with Jack’s artwork to give to her.  Dang it!  Maybe I’ll ship that to her…

Here is a picture of G with Jack on his birthday (she is so cool – she got him the alien space ship Legos):

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A little bit of discipline in my life

There is a part of me that really misses those earlier days of parenthood when all I had to worry about was keeping my baby alive and myself sane.  It didn’t seem like such an easy task at the time but at least it was fairly simple.  Now it’s not enough to keep the kid alive – I need to teach him stuff, too, and he is not quite as open to learning as he was as a little chubby, spongy baby.

Jack has been testing limits all over the place.  When he is asked to do something, he says “Mooom, I WILL – in 5 minutes.”  When that 5 minutes is up, he needs another 5, etc.  It’s not enough to give him choices or bribe him – he thinks even if he takes an hour to get dressed, he is still entitled to a reward.  And whenever he eventually does get around to doing what he is supposed to, he doesn’t want any adults watching him.  It’s like he is saying, “I can behave, but I refuse to do it for your benefit!”  Then there are the times when I tell him I need to take something away from him until he complies, he often responds with, “You can’t do that!”  It takes a lot of self control to not engage in an argument about what I certainly CAN do as his mother!

He’s been increasingly vocal about disliking going to daycare, as well – a place he has loved for nearly two years.  He claims he doesn’t like it there, that he doesn’t like the provider, that he doesn’t like learning or painting…nevermind that he is the last one to put his painting supplies away and many days when we pick him up he doesn’t want to leave.

Last week he started pushing some of the smaller kids in daycare (apparently because he doesn’t want them to touch his toys), and he has gotten into a “fight” with another boy his age.  Suddenly I am needing to discipline my kid!  We had a talk about appropriate behavior and I took away one of his favorite shows (Ben 10) until he could show me that he could behave at daycare.  There have been some major crying fits over this and that has been very hard for me.  My instinct to make him STOP CRYING is insanely strong and it kills me to hear him upset (and I now TOTALLY understand why some moms say “your dad will deal with you when he gets home!”).  I held my ground, though, and finally yesterday he got himself in gear.  He got to watch his show last night and this morning he asked if he could watch it again if he had another good day.  I said yes and then we talked about alternatives to pushing when the younger kids try to grab for his toys.  So…fingers crossed.

I’m not entirely sure what is driving Jack’s recent behavior (maybe it’s just a 4 year old thing) but theories include the testosterone surge that supposedly happens in 4 year old boys and the possibility that daycare isn’t challenging him properly anymore.  No matter what the case, we’re thinking it’s a good idea to channel this energy into something productive and maybe more physical like a tumbling class or peewee sports, where he can learn better impulse control.  His dad will be taking him an extra day a week soon and there are a lot of community resources for this type of thing in his area, so he’ll try some things out soon.

This is a weird place for me to be in.  I’m a real grown up now.  I’m that person saying, “You need to listen to me because I’m your mom and it’s my job to teach you about life!”  This more than anything makes me feel old.

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A little step

I did it.  I filled out the application for Jack to attend elementary school in Fall 2011.  I’ll swing by the SFUSD this week to turn it in and verify my identity and address.  After that we’ll get to sit back and wait to see whether Jack gets into any of the 10 requested schools.  We won’t know until March or so.  Jack will get a bit of sway when it comes to our #2 school because of where we live but since he has no siblings, is white, and speaks only English he is much further down on the list of students with priority.  With that said, we live in an area where half of our neighbors probably send their kids to private school and there is a huge portion that are not white, so Jack might just be the minority.  I really don’t know but we will find out.

In the mean time I am fighting to get Jack to daycare in the mornings.  He is increasingly resistant to going.  Today in particular he was not interested in going to daycare or going to his dad’s house afterward.  He said, “I just feel like staying home with you forever.”  I told him I know how he feels, that I don’t like going to work and would love to stay home, too.  In fact, I had nightmares about going to work last night!  Of course now he is going around saying he is having nightmares about going to daycare…oops.

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Truthiness Day 15: I want money

Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

This may sound shallow, but I’m going with money.  Let me explain…

It’s not that I want a lot of things or like to shop a ton (I do like a good deal but that is not the same as liking shopping).  I grew up poor, some years at the poverty level.  We got those blocks of government cheese.  We had boxes of powdered milk that we used when we ran out of the regular stuff in between paydays.  My grandmother mixed water with the “cream of” soups…

None of that stuff is that bad, though.  I mean, I didn’t really care at the time although I was much less excited about food back then.  The thing is that because of my family’s circumstances, we were left vulnerable to bad situations.  Examples include:

  • We lived in an area where housing was cheap, so I went to a school that was in disrepair – they constantly had issues with asbestos-filled ceilings caving in…I went to a school in which race riots occurred.  My vice-principal was fired for sexually harassing a student.  A student was murdered by the janitor.
  • I didn’t see a dentist until I was at least 8.  By the time I was 12 I had two crowns because 70% of those two molars were cavities.
  • My mom couldn’t afford daycare, so she relied on my grandmother because her care was a fraction of the cost.  You can read about my grandmother if you go back to Day 8.
  • To make ends meet and pay the mortgage, we had various unsavory people living in our house at various times.  This included my mom’s abusive boyfriend, her drug addict cousin, and some friends who couldn’t afford their own place.  Due to the combination of these people in our house all at the same time, we had at least one occurrence of fist fights in our living room which resulted in holes in the wall and a near smashing of my siblings.

I don’t believe that the lack of money caused any of this, but I know it put my mom in situations where she had to accept circumstances out of necessity that she might not have otherwise in order to keep a roof over our heads.

When Joe and I moved to Humboldt for him to go to school, we had trouble finding work.  When we finally did, it didn’t pay well at all.  Not to mention that Joe worked seasonally.  When we had Jack, we qualified for subsidized childcare.  That was nice, except it was hell trying to find a decent provider (my long time readers will remember all the crap we dealt with in seeking good and reliable childcare back then!).  We also racked up quite a bit of debt (even while eating a diet of macaroni & cheese with canned chicken mixed in).  We took out minimal school loans because even once Joe’s degree was acquired, there was no guarantee that he would get a job (in fact, his advisor told him he would likely NOT get hired any time soon – and he still works seasonally to this day).  Those years in Humboldt were some of the most stressful of my adult life.  Again, the lack of money didn’t cause it but we did get stuck for a while there and it sucked big time.

I could physically live without money but mentally?  I have way too much trauma associated with being poor as shit.

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This fish is named…

Jack has recently taken to naming things.  He doesn’t choose people names; instead, he either makes up a nonsensical word or picks an inanimate object for a name.  Case in point (click for bigger):

Clashing Work Schedules

For those not in the know (because somehow I forgot to write about it before now) Jack’s dad recently took a new job that is an hour south of where he lives, which is about 1.5 hours south of where I live and Jack attends daycare.  The commute to the new job meant that he would no longer be able to participate in daycare pick up or drop off, Jack would be in daycare an extra day, and Joe’s time with Jack would be reduced to only his days off.  Since his days off were Saturday and Sunday, this also meant that Jack and I wouldn’t have weekends together until Joe’s seasonal position ends in June.  Needless to say, I was pretty bummed about that.  I’m pretty burned out after work most days of the week and don’t get a lot of quality time with Jack.

Luckily for all of us, Joe was able to rearrange his new work schedule so that he will be working Sunday through Thursday beginning in March.  We each get a weekend day with our kid to do fun stuff and we can keep Jack out of daycare an extra day (which is great for us moneywise in addition to allowing the munchkin to be with his parents that much more).  Good all around and a huge relief for me!

The only con is I won’t be able to get out of town for a weekend without the kid for a while (since Joe still won’t be able to take Jack to daycare), but that is not unusual for your typical parent anyway.  I can totally handle that.

Drop-off Drama

Jack has suddenly become super clingy during daycare drop-off.  This morning it took me roughly 20 minutes to extract my legs from the tangle of his limbs and get out the door.  I tried every trick I could think of:

Jack, will you do me a favor and close the door for mom?
Jack, I have a job for you.  I need your help!
Jack, your friends need you!  They want to play with you.
Jack, there’s a party today!  Don’t you want to have a party?  (this is true)
Jack, mama’s work is no fun.  There are no kids there.
Jack, G needs a hug.  Can you give her a hug so she isn’t sad?

The kid didn’t budge.  Finally I picked him bodily and stuck him inside the door and quickly closed it behind me.  I just about collapsed on the stairs, though.  Days like this break my heart because I feel like I am abandoning my kid.

I am not sure if this is a phase or what.  The reading I’ve done suggests that is the case.  I’m fine with that…but I’d like to find a way to make Jack feel more secure and get myself to work on time.  If it’s just a matter of waiting it out, then I hope this passes quickly.