Posts Tagged ‘The Mommy Gig’

June 26, 2018

Perceived Importance

After five months of being firmly anti-binky, Dana did something unexpected yesterday. She was sleepy, but too full to nurse to sleep, so I did something I hadn’t done in weeks. I gave her a binky. She didn’t hate it! In fact, she went to right to sleep with it. Not knowing when or if it would happen again, I decided to take as much photographic evidence as possible. I have photos, videos, and even slow motion videos on my phone.

I am reminded of the faux fall photos we did with Nicole. I say faux fall because it was a super warm Thanksgiving day. We dressed her in a sweater jacket, found a sad little leaf pile and carefully took pictures reminiscent of the kinds I would expect growing up in the north east.

The photos of Dana with the binky were about as authentic as Nicole in the leaves. Yes, it really did happened, but the photo conveys something that isn’t really true. She still doesn’t really take the binky. I got her to do it again yesterday afternoon, but just once, and not at all today.

(Edited to add: She appears to be teething. In retrospect she appears to be chewing on the pacifier in some of the pictures, not sucking on the pacifier.)

The experience has me thinking about the perceived importance of moments, and which moments we choose to photograph and remember. This moment felt extraordinary because it was rare. Ironically, it would have been a more meaningful moment to capture if it was more representative of our experience, yet I may not think to pick up the camera in that case. This realization has been weighing on me lately. I pick up my camera often with Dana, capturing both the every day and the extraordinary alike since we spend so much time together, but the older two? I keep meaning to take more photos each weekend, but the weekends are so busy we rarely have time to follow through. The last photos I took of the girls? I can’t remember. It feels like ages.

Things will settle down. I will find a way to make more time for photography. It is my life blood, after all.

May 23, 2018

Operational Knowledge

I have been joking lately that I have experienced all of motherhood. Breastfeeding? Yep. Exclusively pumping? Yes. Formula? That too. Binkies and Thumb Suckers? Double yes. I also like to joke that my memory is a steal sieve. The realization there may be more truth behind that second joke, and that I may be forgetting more of the experiences than I realize, has started to get to me.

A few months ago my inbox started nearing capacity. As I was pruning some of the older messages I came across an email Conversation between Domingo and I, back in our apartment days. I was home with a sick toddler, while Domingo was at work, and told him how Nicole had figured out how to take her dolls’ clothes off and now all the dolls were naked. Not only do I not remember that incident *at all*, but I really couldn’t picture many sick days with Nicole the not quite two years we lived in Silicon Valley. I know they happened, but it’s hard to remember what they were like and how we passed the time.

Adding insult to injury, Domingo remembers all kinds of things I don’t. He remembers it taking hours to get baby Nicole to go to sleep, that sometimes she’d wake herself up a half hour in and he’d have to start the bed time routine all over again. I believe it, since it mirrors our experience with Dana, but my memories of rocking Nicole are more about her snuggled into the crook of my neck. I remember her as an excellent little sleeper.

I’ve come to the conclusion that for a lot of things I have mainly operational knowledge. I know how to do things, my memory is just a little foggy on how I came to learn how to do them.

As we enter new stages with Dana, or even new stages with Alexis, I often feel like I know what to do. I can recognize different rashes and know how to handle them, have a feel for how long we’ll last in each set of diapers. I have more strategies for soothing a crying child than I can count. It’s second nature. It’s like muscle memory. Too much like muscle memory. That’s the frustrating part.

While I may forget a lot, I tend to remember the details surrounding pictures. (That’s not the case for everyone, admittedly. I think the difference may have to do with how frequently I go back and look at old photos. All.the.time.) I also have old blog posts, and facebook status. Thinking back about our sleep experience with Nicole, I remember the post I wrote about needing to sleep train, which brought back some memories of rocky nights. Now I’m even more inclined to keep blogging, even though I don’t really have time for it.

February 24, 2018

Too Much

This evening, as I was bending down to change Dana’s diaper and felt such a sharp pain I couldn’t help but let out a yelp and start to cry.

My pain level has been gradually increasing over the past couple of weeks. One day I’d be fine giving Dana a bath in the tub. Three days later I’d wince reaching over the edge of the tub to set her down. That yelp, which happened within earshot of my whole family, was my breaking point. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. As soon as the kids were in bed I called the advice line.

Everything is fine, but I am way, way over doing it.

When I called, I was told I shouldn’t be doing chores like vacuuming or laundry. I had just changed a load in the dryer a couple hours prior to changing that diaper. I had also spent the morning photographing my newest favorite subject, and all the moving, bend and contorting that entails to get the right angle for the shot. (Yes, I said I was done. Momtographer is never done. Besides, that was newborn photography, I’ve moved on to baby photography!)

Just when I was starting to get that nesting energy back I’m told that I need to start taking it easy again.

I’m trying to take it easy, I really am. I know the dust bunnies won’t cause any harm. But the task list that’s falling onto Domingo is totally unfair. He’s doing the cooking and the dish washing and the bed time routines and the homework and the pick up drop offs. He’s doing all my chores on top of his, and that isn’t exactly fair. He may not have given birth, but he’s had the kids’ cold now for what feels like months. Besides, I miss the dance parties with the girls. I don’t want to be taking care of myself and Dana at their expense. They need their mama too!

This week I’ll be setting my camera down. I had hoped to try again for a family photo (it gets so much harder with each additional person), but realistically next weekend will work just as well and Dana will still look just as ‘newborn’ as she does this weekend.

I told Nicole that the doctor wants mommy to have a special helper, and she’s super excited to fill the role. She likes to run upstairs and ask if I need anything. Alexis likes to ask to see my owie and give it a kiss. I have the best little helpers looking after me.

February 23, 2018

Renewed Focus

Someone once told me after having kids you become highly efficient with your time. You’re less inclined to waste it by checking Facebook at work. Instead, you’re all about getting your work done so you have you’re evenings free to be with the babes. I didn’t notice any changes in my efficiency after my first two, but boy do I now that I’m a mom of three!

I’m thriving right now on micro tasks and multi tasks.

Micro tasks are short easy tasks that involve very little mental effort. Putting the laundry away is a daunting chore, especially when there’s been so little sleep the past couple of nights. Getting the bathroom towels out of the laundry basket and rehanging them is not, especially if I’m on my way upstairs anyway. It’s much easier to find the energy to do little micro tasks than full on chores. There’s also something highly motivating about crossing off something on my todo list, no matter how small. The more micro tasks I complete, the more on top of things I feel, the more motivated I become. It’s a feedback cycle that works for me.

During the day I make a mental note of micro tasks I should do in the evening. Things like put the nail polish away, or the bed time stories we read the previous night back on the shelf. Once all the kids are asleep I spend a half hour to an hour getting things done. It feels great, and doesn’t eat up much time so I can still get a reasonable amount of sleep. Reasonable being relative of course.

My phone has gone from a fun time waster, to a useful multitasking tool. I’m shopping on the phone, something I rarely ever did before, typing up notes for blog posts or website edits, and editing photos with snapseed. Snapseed, by the way, is amazingly powerful. I have one photo where I manage to change the direction of the light source using nothing more than the exposure brush.

Where was this ability to get things done when I was supposed to be nesting and didn’t also have a newborn to care for?

February 7, 2018

Courage and Confidence

I’d be lying if I said there were never times when the prospect of 3 kids didn’t overwhelm me. Pregnancy is 9 months, and no matter how on top and in control I feel when we start trying for another baby, inevitably there are moments that make me question my sanity. When I was pregnant with Alexis, Nicole went through a very difficult sleep phase, which meant no sleep for any of us. This time around it was coordinating two different school schedules that made the prospect of another child feel completely unmanageable. How in the world was I going to make this work?

Someone told me that while the three can seem overwhelming since the adults are out number, in practice you’re so experienced by this point that it’s no big deal. That is proving true for us. Domingo is back at work (kind of, he’s home sick) and my parents have flown back to their home. It’s just me and Dana during the day.

The first time Domingo returned to work leaving me home alone with a baby I remember being overwhelmed. I was unsure of myself and my abilities. When Alexis was born I was nervous about the first time watching both a toddler and a baby by myself. What if they both needed me at the same exact moment? Even when it was home on Maternity leave and it supposed to be just Alexis and I, I found it tempting to ask Domingo for a helping hand whenever he was working from home.

This time around has been very different. Whether it’s Dana and I hiding out on the weekend to (unsuccessfully) avoid the family cold, the middle of the night wakings wakings for food and diaper changes, or just Dana and me during the week, I got this. I am the master of one handed sponge baths. Domingo can work from home without fear of frequent interruptions. Today I even managed to take footprints on my own. The trick, I found, was not facing baby’s feet. When I did that, I had to hold the paper in front of me and pull her feet towards it. It’s awkward, difficult to see and leads to a lot of smearing. It was far easier to sit parallel to baby so I could see what I was doing. We’re still working on handprints. I have no idea how I managed them with Alexis, even with the extra help.

Here are my tips for saving your sanity when adding another baby to the mix:

  • Buy gear in duplicates, overstock. Yes, I know it seems wasteful, especially if this is your last baby, but you can’t put a price on sanity. I have a rock n play, pile of burp cloths and binkies, diapers and changing pads by the upstairs and downstairs rocking chairs. (Yes, I have multiple rocking chairs – 3 to be exact.) If I need to go upstairs because it’s big kid movie time, or downstairs because it’s big kid bath time I know I will have everything I need. As a first time mom it makes sense to prefer quality over quantity. Beyond, my advice is to go the other way – buy cheaper if it means you can have multiple. Gently used stuff can always be resold or donated for a tax write off.
  • Get ride of anything that wasn’t used the last time. Yes, those hideous onesies from great aunt Edna’s dentist are in great shape. They’ve been holding up well since they’ve never been worn. What makes you think you’ll put them on this baby if you didn’t put them on the last one? They’re just clutter at this point. The more you have, the more time is wasted looking for the ones you are willing to put on the baby. Save yourself the effort, give them to someone who will use them. Same goes for any baby item you haven’t used yet, no matter how expensive.
  • When it comes to time and attention, quality beats quantity. When kids are old enough to hold on to their jealousy, rather than just feel it in the moment I really like our one-in-one special time to be things they can do that the baby can’t to reiterate how much fun it is to be big. Currently I’m working on a treasure hunt we’re the final clue leads them to my little pony lip gloss.
February 4, 2018

Neonate’s First Cold

A couple days after bringing Dana home from the hospital, the Alexis’ cold crested. I called the advice nurse wanting to get ahead of the germs and spare my 6-day-old her first cold. It may have been overkill, but with all the news articles about the worst flu in decades, and associated deaths, I was not about to chance it. Not to worry, the nurse assured me, neonates rarely get colds. To steady my nerves and as a precaution, she gave me some tips and warning signs to watch out for.

The week passed, Domingo and my mom caught the cold but Dana, Nicki and I avoided it.

Then, on Saturday morning I noticed some of the funny rapid breath breathing sounds coming from Dana I had been warned to watch out for. The episode was short lived. Her breathing quickly returned to normal, and she otherwise seemed fine. No nasal discharge, no cough. At noon, each breath became audible as they were forced through the now obvious congestion. My baby was sick. The moment that realization struck me, as if on cue, she cried and everything got so much worse.

Dana couldn’t both breath and cry at the simultaneously, so each cry was punctuated by a grunting snort which made her even madder, which then made the breathing sound that much more labored. I couldn’t calm her, not with singing or rocking, couldn’t get her to latch or take the binky.

My not yet two weeker had her first cold, and it was terrifying.

While juggling the phone to call the pediatrician I somehow managed to get her calm enough to stop crying, and while the snorting temporarily subsided I watched her clavicle rise and fall with each breath as she struggled against the congestion.

Since Dana was so young, and I had reported fussiness while nursing, the pediatrician wanted to see her to rule out possible dehydration and confirm no fluid in the lungs. When babies are so tiny small problems can develop into big ones fast. Little passageways can become blocked easily. Thankfully everything checked out well. Her lungs were clear, oxygen level was fine. The pediatrician even confirmed it is just a cold and the scary flu. Just a cold. Dana will be fine in a couple of weeks. We are just going to be in for some long, sleepless and stress filled nights in the meantime.

January 29, 2018

Positive Thinking

It dawned on me recently….

I miss my bed, but I can’t beat that view.

My view

Don’t worry, the blanket is only there during nap time when I’m sitting right next to her.

Stairs are no longer proving to be the challenge they once were, but climbing into bed is still difficult and the bed too soft for me. Instead, I’ve set up shop downstairs on the cheap Ikea couch which is both low to the ground and firm. From here, I need only to look over at the rock ‘n play to see Dana. Best part? She need only to look over to see me! The rock ‘n play is too short when next to the bed for the occupant to see anyone who isn’t leaning over them. I like to think that she sees me, and knows I’m close to her, even in the middle of the night.

The ironic thing about this situation is that the old Ikea couch was never intended to be kept beyond the apartment. It was supposed to be a cheap stop gap, since we didn’t know what the layout of our eventual home would be, or what color would match the new place. All of our other couches are way to soft. This is the only place I can comfortably rest. I am always happy my frugal tendencies prove useful.

I hated the diet, but I love the results

My official weight gain at my final appointment was 5.5 lbs, less than any other pregnancy and less than Dana at birth. I’ve lost so much weight since then that she and I can now stand on the scale together and still weigh less than my pre-pregnancy weight. That rocks.

I may not be at full strength, but my family is

I feel like I’ve been shirking on my responsibilities. I’m no longer driving the girls to school/daycare, no longer picking Nicole up early from her after school program to do homework or helping with the bed time routine. And, it’s ok. While I’ve been recovering my family is still thriving. Domingo and my mom were able to work with Nicole so she mastered her numbers and sight words well enough to pass her kindergarten requirements for the year. She’s also moved up a grade in readers. I couldn’t be more proud of her, or grateful for my family.

It’s amazing how well things tend to work out.

October 17, 2017

Unicorn Sandwhich

Yesterday when picking Alexis up from daycare she immediately wanted to be held, burring her head into the crook of my neck. I felt the warmth radiating from her and just knew she had a fever. The thermometer at home confirmed: 102.4. She would be staying home today, even though her temperature was back down. Daycare rules.

What ever was brewing last night seems to have blown over. She slept reasonably well, all things considered and her fever is gone. She’s energetic, and her usual happy self. The only indication that she may not be feeling well was a reduced appetite. She eat only a few bites of her morning cereal when she can normally eat a bowl and a half. A few hours later she was asking for gold fish like a champ.

Since my little tropper seemed to be doing so much, but had to stay home anyway, I was looking for ways to make our impromptu Mommy and Me day a little more special. After all, big sister just had a bunch of them, and she got go to the movie theater!

One of my ideas: Unicorn Sandwhiches. Sprinkles have about 2-3g of sugar per teaspoon, depending on the brand. A pinch can be estimated to be, what, a 1/16 a teaspoon? Not enough for the added sugar to disrupted a vulnerable stomach, but enough to add a bit of excitement.

Alexis eat about 3/4ths of her sandwich. Not as much as I was expecting, but she loved the sprinkles and asked if we could have more Unicorn Sandwiches on the next home day.

September 21, 2017

Overwhelmed by Homework

When I enrolled Nicole into kindergarten, I read through the kindergarten handbook cover to cover. (Yes, I am that kind of parent.) I loved their stance on homework: No more than half an hour any school day, never on the weekend or holiday, and at least twenty minutes of that half hour was to be reading time. We already did bedtime stories, though they usually weren’t twenty minutes long. We could stretch it. That only leaves 10 minutes of potential “work” time. It felt very reasonable for a kindergartner!

For years I’ve been seeing other parents share the overwhelming amount of work their elementary school age kids brought home. It seemed excessive, especially for working parents. There just aren’t many minutes left in the day between the end of the work day pickup, dinner, bath and bed time. But 10 minutes? Doable.

Homework started with a calendar – choose any 12 tasks in a 4 week month, 3 per week. Since homework was due back Friday, we’d have a “skip” day should things get to crazy.

Then there were sight words that needed to be gone over daily, in addition to the homework calendar, until they were memorized.

And then additional reading. Along with the 20 minutes of parents reading to Nicole, Nicole had to read two “readers”, paper back books designed to emphasize one or two sight words a piece. Then two “readers” and her “bag books” (4 total, albeit short, books) so she could also practice reading at the right grade level. And then yet another form of reading for Nicole to do.

Before I knew it “10 minutes of extra work” was a half hour or more per night, and we’d often have to skip or greatly lessen the amount of time spent on bed time stories because the kids were just so exhausted by the end of the day.

I started photo copying the homework calendar so we could work on it on the weekend. Sight words, too, got relegated to the weekend, but that was too spaced out for us to really learn them. I started picking Nicole up from the after school program a couple hours early on Wednesday, just so we could have time to get it all done.

I don’t know how parents with traditional 9-to-5 jobs do it. I feel like we’re barely fitting it all in, and only because I can be as flexible as I need to be with my schedule. So much for my let-them-play-not-work parenting philosophy. Perhaps if I started earlier this wouldn’t seem so overwhelming now. At least she doesn’t seem to feel overwhelmed, even if I do.

September 9, 2017

In Twos, not Threes

I am full of Mommy guilt lately.

Ever since giving birth to Nicole there was a part of me that thought about being a mom of three one day. I loved being a parent. I loved all things baby and pregnancy related. But we weren’t sure it would work out for us. California is expensive. Age is a factor. Careers are a factor. Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you envision. I didn’t let that stop me from daydreaming.

After Alexis was born we struggled to find a house and move out of our tiny apartment. Being on top of each other was stressful. Long commutes were stressful. Bay area housing was stressful. We decided the best course of action for family happiness was to move closer to Domingo’s work and give me the chance to do my own startup that I always envisioned. Another child didn’t feel compatible with all that. I thought our family was likely complete.

We gave away baby clothes and gear. We bought toys for the girls in pairs; princess shoes, dolls, matching outfits. (I never thought I’d be a matchy-matchy mom, but the girls insist on wearing the same clothes.)

Now that we’re about to add another child to the mix, especially another daughter, I’m starting to feel a tremendous amount of guilt that we don’t have these things in threes. Nicole and Alexis currently share a big girl room. They got to spend time together at recess in preschool, being just two and a half years apart. Nicole and Alexis are close in a way that’s hard to envision Z3 will ever be with either of her older siblings.

Z3 will be three years younger than Alexis, and will still in the toddler room when Alexis is ready to start school. They’ll never get recess together, never share a ride in the tandem bike. The girls will likely be ready to have their own rooms again, just as Z3 will be old enough to share a room. Nicole and Alexis have gotten fancy dress-up photos taken together. It was arranged through their preschool, so even if the preschool does it again while Z3 and Alexis are attending, Nicole will be the one left out.

Fairness is very important to me, even though I realize fairness for fairness sake is neither practical nor, well, fair.

My mom keeps reminding me that it’s ok for the girls to all have different relationships with each other. Different does not mean lesser. They are different people with different personalities and needs, and having different pairs o relationships are to be expected.

Perhaps the best way to cultivate each pair of relationships is to be sure each pair gets to spend quality time together, much like the Mommy & me days. In fact, when Mommy is giving one of the girls undivided individual attention, it may be the perfect time for Daddy to arrange for something fun for just the other two.

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